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Political Happy Hour with Joshua Miller

Monday, March 30, 2015
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Here’s your afternoon re-purposed water bottle of politics, from Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe.

BREAKING FROM NEW YORK, via CNN: “An explosion rocked a heavily traveled section of Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday in what officials called a possible building collapse. ...”

CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE COMMUTER RAIL STATS, via pollster Steve Koczela on “Commuter rail ridership is up. No, it’s down. Actually, it’s held steady. These three statements cannot all be true. And yet, all three are supported by official data collected and published by the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in recent years. As leaders on Beacon Hill weigh the future of the MBTA, they do not have reliable figures on this most basic measure of the commuter rail’s performance. Instead, they have a choose-your-own-adventure story, where any particular point of view can be supported with official statistics ...”

CARSON BEACH EXCITEMENT, via Martin Finucane on “With a small boom and a cloud of smoke, State Police detonated an antique cannonball on Carson Beach Thursday morning. State Police believed it might have contained explosive powder. The cannonball, which was 12 inches in diameter, had a slight depression on its surface where a wick could have been inserted, said David Procopio, a State Police spokesman. ...” With video:

TOP JUDGE SOUNDS ALARM ON BAKER BUDGET, via Andy Metzger of the State House News Service: “Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget would lead to more severe service cuts in the Judiciary than during the ‘darkest days’ of the Great Recession, requiring hundreds of layoffs and court closures, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants told House and Senate budget writers ...” Link via

IF YOU WORK ON BEACON HILL, I BET YOU’VE ALREADY READ THIS ARTICLE, via Andrea Estes and Scott Allen on the front page of today’s Globe: “Federal prosecutors are pressuring disgraced former state probation commissioner John J. O’Brien to testify in a renewed investigation likely to focus on politicians who took part in the illegal hiring scheme he once ran, according to two people briefed on the probe. ...”

BIG NEWS OUT OF D.C. TODAY, via Jennifer Steinhauer and Robert Pear of the New York Times: “The House overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes to the Medicare system on Thursday, in the most significant bipartisan policy legislation to pass through that chamber since the Republicans regained a majority in 2011. The measure, which would establish a new formula for paying doctors and end a problem that has bedeviled the nation’s health care system for more than a decade, has already been blessed by President Obama, and awaits a vote in the Senate. The bill would also increase premiums for some higher income beneficiaries and extend a popular health insurance program for children. ...”

FOR YOUR RADAR next week, via press release: “The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (EMK Institute) will open with a formal dedication at Columbia Point in Boston on March 30, 2015. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend. Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, current and former Members of Congress, other government officials, members of the Kennedy family, and friends and colleagues of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, also will gather to mark the occasion. ...”

PARK AND SWIPE — NEWS YOUR CAN USE, in case you missed it in today’s Globe, via Nicole Dungca: “The City of Boston will replace parking meters citywide with new machines that allow drivers to pay with their credit cards — and eventually their smartphones — instead of pocket change, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said ...”

LATEST POLL ON 2012 (!) PRESIDENTIAL RACE, via James Pindell on “Why did former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney lose the 2012 presidential contest to President Obama? New Hampshire Republicans say he was too nice and couldn’t connect with voters. That’s according to a new Suffolk University poll that also asked about the potential candidates in next year’s GOP presidential primary. ...”​

NO APOLOGY, via Steve Mistler of the Portland Press Herald: “Gov. Paul LePage doesn’t plan to apologize to author Stephen King for suggesting that the best-selling author doesn’t pay taxes in Maine, saying he doesn’t believe he actually slighted the Master of Horror. ...”

YOUR MBTA-DELAY LONG READ, a powerful narrative worth your time, via Albert Samaha of BuzzFeed News: “Before the state of Georgia gave him a million dollars and before he lost it all, Clarence Harrison was convicted of rape and robbery and sentenced to life in prison in 1987. Years passed. His wife divorced him. ... His mother died. ... He lost hope. ... Then in 2004, 18 years after he was arrested, a DNA test proved that he was innocent. ... The exoneration was a lead story in the local news. ... Harrison moved into his wife’s house in Marietta ... [He got] a job at [a] bookstore ... He did the media circuit for a while, but soon the attention faded away. ... But when the lights turn off, an exoneree’s struggle is just beginning. ... the $1 million is gone, the future annuity checks aren’t coming, Harrison is jobless and depressed and broke ... and has no idea how to get his life back on track. ‘Ain’t no justice in my release if I’m going through what I’m going through,’ he said. ...” Worth your click:

FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF GOOD EXCUSES TO DO SOME WORK IN ST. JOHN, via the Associated Press: “A Maine biology researcher is being credited with discovering a new species of marine worm near the U.S. Virgin Islands. University of Maine at Farmington lecturer Nancy Prentiss says she found the unfamiliar fanworms on the underside of a rock while snorkeling at Hurricane Hole off of St. John. ...” Link via MPBN:

And, if my bosses at the Globe care to send me to St. John, I’m sure I will find a fascinating never-before-written political story. But it will take a lot of time to run down. Many days. Maybe weeks.

I could do some happy hour research down there, I mean, research for Political Happy Hour, which you can sign up for here and which will return on Monday.

Send word. I’m on email at and Twitter, @jm_bos