Political Happy Hour: May 16, 2016

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Here's your afternoon Cîroc Vodka Peach Bellini flute of politics, from Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe at the Massachusetts State House.

PAGING TECH SECTOR READERS — NON-COMPETE LEGISLATION MOVING, via Matt Murphy of the State House News Service: "Legislation that would restrict the use of non-compete agreements in Massachusetts began moving closer to a vote in the House on Monday as a committee started reviewing a finalized bill that would advance a goal House Speaker Robert DeLeo outlined to the business community months ago. The bill ... would limit the length of non-compete agreements in most circumstances to 12 months, and prohibit employers from enforcing the agreements on minimum wage workers, college students or employees 18 and younger.


The attempt to compromise over the use of non-competes, which are commonly used in the technology and financial sectors to prevent employees from bringing proprietary information to competitors, comes after similar efforts fell short last session. ..." Behind paywall: http://bit.ly/1TW3Y84

HOUSING MATTERS, via Tim Logan on BostonGlobe.com: "Governor Charlie Baker is proposing an 8 percent increase in state spending on affordable housing next year, and an 18 percent increase over the next five years, to a total of $1.1 billion. Baker proposed using a sizable portion of the new funds in the state's capital budget to help preserve some of the 3,300 affordable housing units that are set to become market-rate in the next few years. The plan would also fund more programs for mixed-income housing, for homeless families and for improvements to public housing across the state. Baker made the announcement at a national conference of housing developers Monday. ..." http://bit.ly/1XuRHdX

LONG VIGIL TO END, via AP Legal Affairs Writer Denise Lavoie in Boston: "Parishioners of a church closed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston in 2004 say they will end their 'round-the-clock vigil now that the Supreme Court has refused to hear their case. But the parishioners say they intend to create an independent Catholic church without the archdiocese. Parishioners have occupied the St. Frances X. Cabrini church in Scituate (SIH'-choo-iht) for more than 11 years. ..." Link via Boston.com http://bit.ly/1Tk2C7d


Love those AP pronunciation guides for non-locals.

SOMETHING YOU DON'T SEE EVERY DAY — A PIECE CRITICAL OF SECRETARY OF STATE BILL GALVIN, via Brookline's Eitan Hersh, an assistant professor of political science at Yale University. This was posted on CommonWealth magazine's website in April, but it was promoted today in a CommonWealth newsletter. The article: "... The state's failure to keep up with the times stems from a leadership vacuum. This vacuum is especially pertinent now, because in November, for the first time, state law will allow voters to cast early ballots — a mode of voting already available in most states and already utilized by 25 to 30 percent of American voters on a regular basis. However, because of the lethargy that characterizes the state election authority, we are at risk of a botched implementation of the law ...

Secretary of State William Galvin ... has cultivated a reputation of competence in the election office ... But when one looks around the country and sees how other states have worked to make voting easier for citizens and more efficient for administrators, it is clear that Galvin's reputation for competence is undeserved. ..." http://bit.ly/1TF38tK


BILL GALVIN RESPONDED TARTLY to what he characterized as a "very stale" piece in a phone call with me: "There are no facts in it. They are all assertions, which are inaccurate. We've aggressively tried to make early voting work," he said.

"My biggest problem with the article is it's completely inconsistent with the facts," the secretary continued, taking particular issue with the author's use of the phrase "low-energy."

"We have the highest number of eligible voters we've ever had," Galvin said. "The turnouts have been high as well. In [each of] the last two presidential cycles, we've had over three million people vote."

Galvin also said that "Mr. Hersh himself is not a very good voter. When he did vote here in Massachusetts, he didn't vote all that much."


(How often someone votes is public record.)

SPICY GE CLICK BAIT, via David Filipov on BostonGlobe.com: "General Electric's slogan for decades was, 'We bring good things to life.' It was never: 'We put infernally hot things in mouths.' But the industrial conglomerate, looking to add pep to its image as it overhauls its business and prepares to move to Boston, has teamed with a hot sauce company to produce a limited run of an intensely scorching mixture called 10³² K. ..." http://bit.ly/1Ox6bbc

NATIONAL — FUN POLITICAL PROFILE OF TRUMP-OPPONENT-TURNED-ALLY BEN CARSON, "Is Ben Carson the worst or the best surrogate of all time? Yes," via Ben Terris of the Washington Post: "... Since joining Team Trump, Carson has acknowledged that the mogul wasn't his top choice and that supporting him was merely 'pragmatic.' He's called into question Trump's Twitter habits, said he 'has major defects' and recently went off-message by suggesting they might consider picking a Democrat for the ticket. And despite all that, or perhaps because of it, he apparently has earned the trust of Trump, speaking to the candidate a few times a week, making the rounds on television on his behalf ... and, yes, helping campaign manager Corey Lewandowski come up with a list of possible VP candidates. ..." http://wapo.st/24Vdz4o


THE POWER OF ART, via WBUR's Andrea Shea in Salem: "A few works of art connect so deeply with us that they are universally recognizable. There's Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa' — Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' — and one that for the next three months is right here in Massachusetts.

It's Auguste Rodin's 'The Thinker.' A monumental version of the pensive, muscle-bound figure can usually be found in Paris at the Musée Rodin, but now it's in Salem for a new collaborative exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum ..." Six-minute listen: http://wbur.fm/24UTivO

DAILY DRONE. Just because. This one of spectacular spots, mostly in Hawaii and California, via Metron on Vimeo. Great distraction if you have a boring conference call in your future. Maybe pairs well with a cold beer: https://vimeo.com/154202116

YOUR VERY POWERFUL MBTA-DELAY LONG READ, "Unearthing the Secrets of New York's Mass Graves," via Nina Bernstein on the front page of today's New York Times: "... New York is unique among American cities in the way it disposes of the dead it considers unclaimed: interment on a lonely island, off-limits to the public, by a crew of inmates. Buried by the score in wide, deep pits, the Hart Island dead seem to vanish — and so does any explanation for how they came to be there.


To reclaim their stories from erasure is to confront the unnoticed heartbreak inherent in a great metropolis, in the striving and missed chances of so many lives gone by. Bad childhoods, bad choices or just bad luck — the chronic calamities of the human condition figure in many of these narratives. Here are the harshest consequences of mental illness, addiction or families scattered or distracted by their own misfortunes.

But if Hart Island hides individual tragedies, it also obscures systemic failings, ones that stack the odds against people too poor, too old or too isolated to defend themselves. In the face of an end-of-life industry that can drain the resources of the most prudent, these people are especially vulnerable. ..." So very much worth your time, when you have the 20 minutes or so to read it all the way through: http://nyti.ms/1siiQEO

NATIONAL — SUPREME COURT AVOIDS MAJOR RULING IN BIRTH CONTROL DISPUTE, via the AP's Mark Sherman: "The Supreme Court failed to resolve a knotty dispute between faith-based groups and the Obama administration over birth control on Monday, the latest indication of the shorthanded court's struggle to find a majority for important cases taken up before Justice Antonin Scalia's death. The justices asked lower courts to take another look at the issue in a search for a compromise, issuing an unsigned, unanimous opinion. The case concerns the administration's arrangement for sparing faith-based groups from having to pay for birth control for women covered under their health plans. 'The court expresses no view on the merits of the cases,' the justices wrote ..." http://apne.ws/1YvWwlt

I express no views on the merits of anything. Except these important matters:

1) It is great fun get Political Happy Hour by signing up here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/politicalhappyhour

2) It would be so cathartic to tell me something important and secret by writing to joshua.miller@globe.com

3) It is a fact that, as the earth rotates, we will once again find ourselves staring at our computers and smart phones tomorrow afternoon. And, as if by an occult hand, a newsletter about politics, leavened by snark and booze references, will appear.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com.