Window Into The State House


Window into the State House provides our readers a synopsis of important issues of interest, past and current, that are being proposed, debated or acted upon by the Massachusetts Legislature. Many issues that are not related to local city government services are acted upon and have a direct impact on daily life. They are tax policy, transportation infrastructure, judicial appointments, social services and health, as well as higher education. We will excerpt reports from the gavel-to-gavel coverage of House and Senate sessions by news sources focused on this important aspect of our lives. These sources include a look ahead at the coming week in state government and summaries and analyses of the past week, re-caps of a range of state government activity, as well as links to other news.

 ‘Journalists can’t run around with their hair on fire for the next four years’

Medic critic Dan Kennedy has been following the harsh criticism of Donald Trump by conservative Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College and Harvard Extension School, and thinks he’s earned the right to also criticize the media’s often over-the-top coverage of Trump. Dan: “There are multiple reasons to think that Trump represents a unique threat to democracy. But journalists can’t run around with their hair on fire for the next four years. The best way to cover Trump is with calm, fact-based reporting — not with hyperbole that does not hold up to scrutiny.”


Watertown historian: Bannon not only thrives on crisis, he firmly believes in its historic inevitability
Instead of running around with their hair on fire, maybe members of the media can slow down to actually try to understand what makes Trump’s supporters tick. Dana Forsythe at Wicked Local has done just that by interviewing Watertown historian David Kaiser, who discusses how he once talked with current White House aide Steve Bannon for Bannon’s documentary “Generation Zero,” which basically follows a theory by amateur historians that says America is hit about every 80 years with some sort of catastrophic crisis. The idea is key to understanding Bannon, Kaiser says.


Why is the left embracing the right-wing’s anti-Warren meme?

WBZ’s John Keller, writing in the Globe, isn’t overly surprised that conservatives are bashing away at U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. But why are many liberals also bashing away? From Jon: “The irony is striking. Amid a golden age of political trash talking, the leading female critic of the political establishment is cast as a somewhat unhinged hypocrite by the right, a meme now being channeled by the left.” The answer, we think, is partially tied to the fact that most of her critics, left and right, are ideological purists.
Lynch hears it loud and clear from constituents: Start opposing Trump — or else
The moderate U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, who faces a primary challenge from the left next year in the Democratic primary, got an earful from constituents in Milton last week, some of whom demanded to know what’s he doing to do to oppose President Trump, reports Mike Deehan at WGBH. “You are in a very safe district,” one constituent told Lynch. “We have a strong history of liberal causes and fighting tyranny. … Be out there, and we want to see you. Take this guy and hold this guy’s feet to the fire.”


‘God of persistence, God of … our own modern day patriots’

Speaking of SHNS, our friends there sent us this prayer that House Chaplain Father Rick Walsh apparently offered yesterday (bold emphases are his):

“House Prayer – February 6, 2017 — God of persistence, God of hope – we pray today for the members of our legislature. Today we celebrate and honor the historic achievement of our own modern day patriots. Just when our hopes were deflated, we witnessed a performance of super proportions. May the members of this House be ‘embradied’ to champion seemingly lost causes and to persevere in their team efforts to craft just legislation and to promote bills that are creative and strategic. May God continue to bless our Commonwealth.”

Bitter embarrassment: Globe’s early edition prints wrong Pats outcome
Far be it for MASSterList to point out others’ mistakes (see our last buried item today on our own Pats coverage), but this one is a whopper, as reported by Jen McCaffrey at MassLive: The Globe’s early editions in Florida got the Super Bowl outcome wrong, with the massive headline “A Bitter End,” apparently written and printed before the Pats’ spectacular come-from-behind Super Bowl victory on Sunday. … The Herald’s Howie Carr pounced on the blunder.
Skepticism greets Patrick’s ‘absolute privilege’ claim at SJC hearing
At least one Supreme Judicial Court justice at a court hearing yesterday didn’t appear overly impressed with claims by attorneys for Deval Patrick that the former governor is protected by “absolute privilege” from defamation suits connected with his duties as governor, reports the Herald’s Bob McGovern. “What if we had a governor who had no respect for the truth and in a situation like this said: ‘I fired this person because we found child porn on her computer?’ said SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants. ‘It turns out to be totally false and absolutely defamatory.’” McGovern has all the details of the case.
Healey shifts her focus west and beyond
Attorney General Maura Healey is throwing her support to a lawsuit in Washington state that’s seeking to block President Trump’s controversial immigration rules, now that a similar case in Boston appears moot, the Herald’s Chris Cassidy reports. The Globe’s Laura Krantz and Jim O’Sullivan, meanwhile, take a look at how Healey and other Democratic AGs across the country are emerging as a legal “thin blue line” against all sorts of Trump policies, not just on immigration.
Federal judge launches probe of fee padding by law firms
From the Globe’s Andrea Estes: “A federal judge plans to appoint a special master to investigate whether prominent law firms in Boston and other cities padded their legal bills by millions in a class-action lawsuit against State Street Bank, saying the lawyers may have to pay up to $2 million, in advance, to fund the investigation.” The fee of the managing partner’s brother jumped from $53 an hour as a court-appointed lawyer to $500 an hour, Estes notes.


Won’t be missed: T gives heave to parking-lot operator
From CommonWealth’s Jack Sullivan: “The MBTA’s oversight board voted to approve a potential 15-year contract with one of the country’s biggest parking management companies, ending a troubled relationship with its longtime lot operator that resulted in missing revenues that went into the millions.” At least the vendor won’t be missed.
The T’s on-again, off-again commitment to late-night service is on again
Speaking of the MBTA, the agency’s control board is signaling its cautious support for subsidies to restore late-night bus service, following recent surveys showing the service would be popular with overnight workers, airport passengers and late-night commuters, CommonWealth’s Jack Sullivan also reports. We’ve lost track of how many times the T has experimented with, then backtracked, then re-backtracked on late-night service.