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Political Happy Hour: December 27, 2016

Here’s your Boston mug of politics from Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe, straight chillin’ at the Massachusetts State House.

GOTTA LOVE MASSACHUSETTS’ FULL-TIME LEGISLATURE, via a tweet from the State House News Service: “Playing offense and defense, lobbyists outnumber legislators at end-of-year House, Senate sessions.” http://bit.ly/2ib543r

HAPPY RETIREMENT. SORRY OUR GIFT IS A LITTLE EARLY, via Sacha Pfeiffer of the Globe: “Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, one of the state’s largest nonprofits, gave longtime president Barry Shrage an unusual $1.34 million payment after deciding he had been underpaid for years.

The one-time cash payout was called a retirement payment even though Shrage, 69, has no imminent plans to retire. It was made in 2014, on top of his $563,000 in compensation and benefits, but did not have to be disclosed until the organization filed its most recent tax return this year. ...

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Shrage’s compensation package also includes chauffeur services, as well as an auto allowance or leased vehicle. ...” http://bit.ly/2iaWGko

MASS. 2018 RACE FOR GOVERNOR — SETTI WARREN’S YEAR-END PLAY, via an email from the Newton mayor to supporters: “... In the coming weeks, I will be evaluating options about my next steps and one option I am strongly considering is entering the race for Governor in 2018. I promise to keep you informed as we go and we will be holding a fun event at the end of January for everyone who has done so much to make these last years possible. We will be in touch very soon with the details. I hope you’ll be able to join us.

But right now, as 2016 closes, there is an important fundraising deadline for us to raise resources to allow a full consideration of all options. ...” The formatting was weird, but I put the full text in a PDF here: http://bit.ly/2ibj658

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FLASHBACK, from the well-sourced Jim O’Sullivan weeks and weeks ago: “Newton Mayor Setti Warren has made calls to Democratic donors, asking for campaign contributions and saying he will challenge Republican Governor Charlie Baker in 2018, two people who spoke with him said. ...” http://bit.ly/2ib3rCA

POLITICAL MOOD MUSIC — HOUSING MARKET HOT, HOT, HOT, via Katie Lannan of the State House News Service: “Massachusetts single-family home sales in November hit their highest level for that month since 1998, climbing to 5,061, according to numbers released Tuesday morning. ...” Link via Telegram.com: http://bit.ly/2ibhU1l

RIDE-HAILING NIGHTMARE, via Laura Crimaldi on BostonGlobe.com: “A woman was stabbed in the neck by a Lyft driver Christmas night after an argument erupted over how many people would be taking a ride, according to a Boston police report made public Tuesday.

A 20-year-old Dorchester woman summoned a Lyft to pick her up in front of 967 Blue Hill Ave. Sunday night, but the driver became upset and began arguing when she learned the customer gave her wrong information about how many people would be riding with her, the report said. ...” http://bit.ly/2ib0Ys2

SOME MASS. LEGAL CONTEXT, via a press release from Governor Charlie Baker’s office last month: “[T]he Baker-Polito Administration announced that the two largest Transportation Network Companies (TNC) in Massachusetts have entered into agreements with the state, ensuring the immediate implementation of the most stringent ride-for-hire background check system of any state in the country.

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The agreements were executed individually between the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and Uber and Lyft. The agreements require the companies to begin background checks for all TNC drivers operating within the Commonwealth by January 6, 2017, and guarantees that every TNC driver in the Commonwealth will have passed the state background check no later than April 3, 2017. ...” http://bit.ly/2ib7w9V

INTERESTING DATA FOR LEGISLATORS IN STATES THAT HAVE JUST LEGALIZED MARIJUANA — SUCH AS MASSACHUSETTS, via the prestigious JAMA Pediatrics journal. Study published today has data to support claims by both pro- and anti-legalization forces: “Question How did the prevalence of adolescent marijuana use change in Washington and Colorado following legalization of recreational marijuana use?

Findings In this difference-in-difference analysis of 253,902 adolescents in 47 states, marijuana use among eighth and 10th graders in Washington increased 2.0% and 4.1%, respectively, between 2010-2012 and 2013-2015; these trends were significantly different from trends in states that did not legalize marijuana. In Colorado, the prevalence of marijuana use prelegalization and postlegalization did not differ.

Meaning A cautious interpretation of the findings suggests investment in adolescent substance use prevention programs in additional states that may legalize recreational marijuana use. ...” http://bit.ly/2hqC1tT

LOL — DEPARTMENT OF ■■■■■■■ ■■ ■■■■, via MuckRock on Twitter: “CIA’s got nothing on Amtrak’s redaction game” http://bit.ly/2ibbn6R

Full item from J. Patrick Brown, executive editor of MuckRock, a non-profit that helps people make freedom of information requests: “Last June, MuckRock user Conor Skelding requested all complaints Amtrak received regarding its lounge cars over the past two years. Last week, after nine months of processing, the responsive docs finally came in, and boy, those must have been a busy nine months. ...

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But the real star here is the amazing redactions — who’d a thunk it, but Amtrak’s has black highlighter game that’d make the CIA jealous. ...” http://bit.ly/2i47DpW

IMPORTANT, POWERFUL STORY MAKING NATIONAL WAVES, via Deirdre Fernandes reporting from Fall River on the front page of today’s Globe: “In this struggling industrial city, changes in trade policy are being measured not only in jobs lost, but also in lives lost — to suicide.

The jobs went first, the result of trade deals that sent them overseas. Once-humming factories that dressed office workers and soldiers, and made goods to furnish their homes, stand abandoned, overtaken by weeds and graffiti.

And now there is research on how the US job exodus parallels an increase in suicides. A one percentage point increase in unemployment correlated with an 11 percent increase in suicides, according to Peter Schott, a Yale University economist who coauthored the report with Justin Pierce, a researcher at the Federal Reserve Board.

The research doesn’t prove a definitive link between lost jobs and suicide; it simply notes that as jobs left, suicides rose. ...” http://bit.ly/2ib3BtX

THE WORLD WE LIVE IN, via the Portland Press Herald: “Portland police are looking for the person suspected of using a baseball bat to smash six storefront windows at Ahram Halal Market on Forest Avenue on Christmas Eve. Advocates for Islamic Americans have also called for police to investigate whether bias against Muslims contributed to the attack, citing an uptick in anti-Muslim incidents around the country since the November election. ...” http://bit.ly/2hqxkQK

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JESSER SAW THIS TRUMP WIN COMING, via Globe State House Bureau Chief Frank Phillips: “Ed Jesser, the crusty Boston political operative who, now at 74, is pretty much resting on his well-deserved laurels, just got a big shout-out on national television. His old friend Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ program, singled out Jesser for correctly predicting — since the start of the year — that Donald Trump was going to win the presidency. Matthews and Jesser worked together in Jimmy Carter’s White House. ...

Matthews’s recognition of his old pal — who voted for Clinton — was touching. Jesser was a kid from the South Boston projects who made his way to Boston Latin and never lost his feel for his neighborhood roots. At the age of 8, he rode the city streets in a sound truck for Jack Kennedy’s last congressional reelection campaign. His long and close relationship with Mayor Tom Menino capped a career that spanned the presidential candidacies of George McGovern, Sargent Shriver, Jimmy Carter, and Paul Tsongas. ...” http://bit.ly/2iaQZD5

By the way, if you’re into Massachusetts politics and have never read Jon Keller’s piece on Jesser from back in the day in Boston magazine, do yourself a favor: http://bit.ly/2iaVMV8

Y OUR TERRIFYING MBTA-DELAY LONG READ, “World War Three, By Mistake | Harsh political rhetoric, combined with the vulnerability of the nuclear command-and-control system, has made the risk of global catastrophe greater than ever,” via Eric Schlosser for the New Yorker:

“The harsh rhetoric on both sides increases the danger of miscalculations and mistakes, as do other factors. Close encounters between the military aircraft of the United States and Russia have become routine, creating the potential for an unintended conflict. Many of the nuclear-weapon systems on both sides are aging and obsolete. The personnel who operate those systems often suffer from poor morale and poor training. None of their senior officers has firsthand experience making decisions during an actual nuclear crisis. And today’s command-and-control systems must contend with threats that barely existed during the Cold War: malware, spyware, worms, bugs, viruses, corrupted firmware, logic bombs, Trojan horses, and all the other modern tools of cyber warfare. The greatest danger is posed not by any technological innovation but by a dilemma that has haunted nuclear strategy since the first detonation of an atomic bomb: How do you prevent a nuclear attack while preserving the ability to launch one? ...” http://bit.ly/2iaWCRt

Yikes! Send me tips about government malfeasance while you still can: joshua.miller@globe.com and @jm_bos

Enjoy the slow holiday week. I’ll be back tomorrow.


Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos and subscribe to his weekday e-mail update on politics at bostonglobe.com/politicalhappyhour