Political Happy Hour: December 7, 2015

Here’s your evening half-kiwi of politics, from Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe, back at the Massachusetts State House — and feeling immense gratitude for my wonderful colleagues who filled in for me while I was away in New Zealand.

2016 — UMM, via Donald Trump press release this afternoon: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. ...” More, via the New York Times:

CHARLIE BAKER RESPONDS WITH ANGER, just now at the State House:


QUESTION: Your response to the press release?

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BAKER: “As I’ve said before, I don’t like getting into presidential politics because that’s not what I got elected to worry about, but I think that’s ridiculous and I would never support a policy like that.”

QUESTION: You feel it’s just trying to grab attention?

BAKER: “I have no idea what the motivation is on that. First of all, it’s unrealistic. Secondly, it’s inappropriate. And third, it doesn’t make any sense.”

QUESTION: Is this your first time hearing about it?


BAKER: “Yes.”

Baker then asks a reporter for a print out of the press release, reads it, flicks it angrily with his hand, and speaks again.

BAKER: “I just sat here and celebrated the miracle of Hanukkah, which is about religious freedom. And the fight of the people of Jerusalem to ward off a bully who was trying to take away their right to peacefully practice their faith. I’m standing in a State House that’s less than a mile from the Warren Tavern, which is where the patriots of this nation began their initial conversations about how to secure their freedom out from under the British crown. And I’m standing in the State House, which is probably the most significant symbol in this city of the original fight for freedom, which goes all the way back to why people came here in the first place, which was to have a chance to practice their faith and their religion. And I can’t believe that I’m reading this, which is basically directly in contrast and in conflict with most of the most important values that people in this country hold most dear. Among them, the right and the ability to practice your religion peacefully. Yeah, I think this is a really bad idea.”

BAKER UNVEILS MUNICIPAL MODERNIZATION LEGISLATION, LAUDED BY LOCAL OFFICIALS, from me on “Cities and towns would gain greater power to issue liquor licenses under a controversial bill proposed Monday by Governor Charlie Baker ... aimed at streamlining state oversight of municipalities. At an afternoon State House event, the governor ... backed by scores of cheering local officials, unveiled legislation ... [that] would get rid of ‘obsolete’ laws, such as one that mandates municipalities publish certain notices in newspapers, allowing them to publish the notices electronically instead. It would lift the cap on the number of restaurant and bar liquor licenses towns and cities can give out, so they don’t have to ask the Legislature for approval for new permits. ... And it would allow municipalities to fine utility companies for leaving up what are known as double utility poles, seen as unsightly and sometimes unsafe, for too long.

(Double poles are often put in place for utility upgrade projects that requires bigger, stronger poles. The old ones are supposed to be taken away within 90 days — but sometimes are not.) ...”


My alternative headline was ‘BAKER USES CONSIDERABLE POLITICAL CAPITAL TO ADDRESS SCOURGE OF DOUBLE UTILITY POLES,’ but I haven’t quite gotten my snark sea legs back yet.

WITHOUT ADDITIONAL COMMENT, via Nicole Dungca on “Dukakis says he got 26 turkey carcasses after Thanksgiving”

2016 — THE BAY STATE AS CLINTON COUNTRY? via James Pindell on “Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released a list of 190 Massachusetts endorsements on Monday ahead of the state’s March 1 presidential primary. Clinton’s ‘Massachusetts Leadership Council’ includes many who have already endorsed Clinton like Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, US Senator Edward Markey and state Attorney General Maura Healey. The list includes all nine Massachusetts US representatives and 23 state senators. ...”

THAT WAS(N’T) EASY, via Eric Convey of the Boston Business Journal: “The Federal Trade Commission moved today to block the $6.3 billion merger of Framingham-based Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) and Office Depot, a transaction Staples CEO Ron Sargent recently called a ‘top priority.’ ...”

FAMILIES SUFFER AS MEDICAL EXAMINERS STRUGGLE WITH BACKLOGS, via Denise Lavoie of the Associated Press: “One of the most difficult things about losing her son was not knowing why. Rosanne Carruthers needed to understand how an active, outdoorsy man with no apparent health problems could drop dead at 34. ... For the Carruthers family and others across the country, long delays in receiving death certificates and autopsy reports from medical examiners can not only compound grief, but also can create financial hardships by holding up life insurance payouts and other benefits. ...

In Massachusetts, it took more than a year for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine that Neil Carruthers died of complications from an undetected congenital heart condition. While his family waited for answers, his life insurance provider refused to turn over a $45,000 payout from the estate of his wife, who lost her battle with brain cancer two days after he died. ...” Link via

LEADING BOSTONHERALD.COM THIS AFTERNOON, and in today’s paper, via Hillary Chabot: “State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are blasting Gov. Charlie Baker for letting 70 state workers back on the payroll after they took early retirement, saying the freshman gov’s plan was passed during a ‘honeymoon period,’ that will cost taxpayers in the long run. ...”

OVER THE TRANSOM JUST NOW FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: “NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE: Marcela Escobari, of Massachusetts, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Mark Feierstein, resigned. ...”

GOOD NEW ENGLAND POLITICAL READ — ‘Mayoral Race in Maine Could Help Define City’s Future Amid Demographic Shift,’ via Katharine Q. Seelye of the New York Times in Lewiston, Me.: “...Lewiston is preparing to vote on Tuesday in a runoff election for mayor. The election comes as ... Maine’s second largest city seeks to define its future against a backdrop of roiling demographic change. Because of an influx of Somali refugees starting 15 years ago — drawn here by abundant affordable housing, after unhappy relocations to other American cities — Lewiston is on the leading edge of otherwise glacial shifts in Maine’s demographics. ... The nonpartisan mayoral election ... offers a sharp generational and ideological contrast ...”

THE LOCAL TAKE, from Eric Russell of the Portland Press Herald: “The position of Lewiston mayor is a part-time, mostly ceremonial job that pays an annual stipend of $4,200. And yet this year’s race, which culminates in a special runoff election on Tuesday, has become the most intriguing election in all of Maine, one that has generated statewide and even national interest. ...”

THE LAST (AND ONLY) TIME I REPORTED FROM THE LEWISTON AREA, circa 2005 in my college newspaper, we came up with this headline, “Teenager with record crashes party,” and this lede: A 19-year-old “danced the night away at Quinby House on Saturday, September 17, impressing many with his moves. A week later, sitting with his mother watching the Polar Bears play football, the Brunswick Police Department issued him a criminal trespass warning. ...”

OBAMA SPEECH LAST NIGHT, if you missed it:

ANALYSIS VERY MUCH WORTH YOUR TIME, from Rukmini Callimachi of the New York Times on Twitter. Start by scrolling up to the top here:

AN EMBARRASSMENT FOR JOSHES EVERYWHERE, via the Associated Press with a Latrobe, Pa. dateline: “Police say a suspect had his first name stenciled on a sweat shirt he wore while breaking into a western Pennsylvania taxi company where he used to work. That’s why 26-year-old Joshua Jording, of Latrobe, faces a preliminary hearing on burglary, theft and related charges Dec. 14. State police security video showed the suspect wearing a shirt with the name ‘Josh’ on it. They searched Jording’s home and found that shirt, as well as two guns and two smartphones taken during the burglary ...” Link via Yahoo! News:

It would be particularly humiliating if this Josh spelled ‘embarrassment’ wrong.

Back tomorrow with some photos from my journey to New Zealand. And also your daily dose of political news. In the meantime: and @jm_bos are ways to reach me.

Joshua Miller can be reached at