Metro

Political Happy Hour: April 5, 2017

Here’s your evening human genome map shot glass of politics, from Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe at the Massachusetts State House.

BIG BREAKING BOSTON NEWS, via Laura Krantz who just posted this item on BostonGlobe.com: “UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley will step down at the end of the academic year amid a cloud of unrest on the campus over its major financial problems, the central office announced Wednesday evening.

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The announcement came after Motley met with UMass President Martin T. Meehan Wednesday afternoon at the UMass central office on Beacon Street.

Motley has been chancellor since 2007, a time of great growth on the Columbia Point campus. But despite its new buildings and increased stature, the campus faces a deficit of up to $30 million, declining enrollment, overdue construction projects, and weakening fund-raising, according to UMass officials.

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Motley’s contract with the school expired in January, and trustees thus far had not renewed it.

Amid concerns about the finances, Meehan installed former Bowdoin College president Barry Mills to oversee the daily operations of the campus while Motley was to stay as the university’s popular, public face. ...” http://bit.ly/2nFBPGY

MASS. STATE BUDGET SIREN. In February, tax revenue was 9.1 percent below what Massachusetts expected to take in. Last month? 3.4 percent below the benchmark. What kind of hole is that for the fiscal year that runs through June? At least $220 million but could be more. Ruh roh.

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QUICK TAKE FROM A SMART PERSON ABOUT OUR $40 BILLION BUDGET, via Eileen McAnneny, president of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation: “Clearly, this is unnerving. Given the experience last year, the state needs to operate under the assumption that tax collections will fall short of expectations for the fiscal year and that shortfall will need to be actively managed.”

TITO JACKSON AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY.

↓PART ONE, posted by Jim O’Sullivan last night and published today on the front page of the Boston Globe: “City Councilor Tito Jackson has made the drug addiction epidemic a centerpiece in his campaign for mayor, lamenting ‘an opioid crisis which has not been addressed.’

But long before the scourge of widespread opioid abuse fully came into public view, Jackson worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative, and it was his job to convince doctors, pharmacies, and medical experts that one opioid in particular — the morphine-based Kadian — was an alternative to better-known drugs like OxyContin.

Jackson marketed Kadian for New Jersey-based Alpharma when he worked for the company from 2004 until 2006. The Food and Drug Administration describes Kadian as a ‘long-acting (extended-release) opioid pain medicine that can put you at risk for overdose and death.’ ...” http://bit.ly/2obgp8s

↓PART TWO, via WGBH: “Philip L. Redo, general manager of WGBH News, Wednesday sent a letter of complaint to Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Tito Jackson about his encounter with a WGBH News reporter at a community meeting Tuesday night in Roxbury.

The reporter was asking Jackson about his past work as a pharmaceutical sales representative when he grasped the reporter’s forearm and pushed it aside, before releasing her. He then answered the question, concluding the brief interview.

Jackson initially maintained he had ‘guided the reporter’s microphone away from my face,’ according to a statement an aide emailed to WGBH early Wednesday morning.

Redo sent Jackson a letter Wednesday afternoon. ‘You engaged in physical contact with our reporter during a one-on-one interview. We stand by our reporter’s account that you grasped her forearm, pushed it aside and then removed your hand,’ Redo wrote. ‘It is unacceptable conduct to engage with a member of the press physically — in any manner.’ After receiving the letter, Jackson phoned a WGBH editor and apologized. ... Jackson also spoke to the reporter by phone and apologized.” http://bit.ly/2obj5mG

YOUR UBER IS ARRIVING — YOW! Via Adam Vaccaro on BostonGlobe.com: “More than 8,000 drivers for ride-hailing companies including Uber and Lyft have been denied licenses to operate in Massachusetts under a new state background check process. The most common reason for rejections were related to driver’s license status: many had suspended licenses or had not been driving long enough to qualify for the ride-hailing services.

But statistics released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities revealed that hundreds of drivers were rejected for having serious crimes on their record, including violent or sexual offenses, and others for driving-related offenses, such as drunk driving or reckless driving. The state said it rejected 51 applications coming from sex offenders. ...” http://bit.ly/2obrF4H

LEXINGTON HIGH SCHOOL IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, via Kyle Spencer: “Small rocks from the beaches of eastern Massachusetts began appearing at Lexington High School last fall. They were painted in pastels and inscribed with pithy advice: Be happy.… Mistakes are O.K.… Don’t worry, it will be over soon. They had appeared almost by magic, boosting spirits and spreading calm at a public high school known for its sleep-deprived student body. ...

[The rocks] became a visual reminder of a larger, communitywide initiative: to tackle the joy-killing, suicide-inducing performance anxiety so prevalent in turbocharged suburbs like Lexington. In recent years, the problem has spiked to tragic proportions in Colorado Springs, Palo Alto, Calif., and nearby Newton, Mass., where stress has been blamed for the loss of multiple young lives. In January, a senior at Lexington High School, who had just transferred from a local private school, took her own life.

Residents in this tight-knit hamlet, with its high level of civic engagement, are hoping to stem the tide. Mary Czajkowski, the district superintendent, was hired in 2015 with the mandate of ‘tackling the issue head on.’ ...” http://nyti.ms/2nZ68KG

NO PENSION FOR FINNERAN, via John R. Ellement on BostonGlobe.com: “The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Wednesday that former House speaker Thomas M. Finneran must forfeit his state pension. Finneran pleaded guilty in US District Court in Boston in 2007 to one count of obstruction of justice for providing false testimony during a civil lawsuit challenging legislative redistricting undertaken while he was speaker and a Democratic representative from Mattapan. ...” http://bit.ly/2nYSBCH

SEATING MATTERS, via Matt Stout of the Boston Herald: “... Sitting down at the National Governors Association dinner back in February, [Governor Charlie] Baker’s seat placement that night next to first daughter Ivanka Trump earned a lot of headlines the next morning. But on the other side of him, he said, was [Secretary of Transportation Elaine L.] Chao, who oversees the Federal Transit Administration that this week approved the Baker administration’s $2.3 billion budget for the long-stalled Green Line plans.

‘I spent half the night talking to Secretary Chao about the Green Line Extension project,’ Baker said during an appearance on Boston Herald Radio ... today. ‘I’m very excited about that opportunity. It’s a terrific infrastructure project, and the fact the feds will be a big co-sponsor indicates that they believe it’s a great project, too.’ ...” http://bit.ly/2nYWLuo

DIEHL HIM I...I’M SORRY. NO PUNS. Via the AP: “Massachusetts state Rep. Geoff Diehl is edging closer toward formally launching a 2018 challenge to incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The Republican announced Wednesday that he’s opening an exploratory committee. He’s already launched a website seeking campaign donations. ...” Link via WBZ: http://cbsloc.al/2nZ8xVE

MAINELY TROUBLE WITH POT, via Kevin Miller of the Portland Press Herald: “A legislative committee split Tuesday over which agencies should license and regulate marijuana businesses in Maine, highlighting the difficult path ahead as the state moves toward retail sales of legal weed. ...” http://bit.ly/2nZ0Bn3

CASH FOR CONN., via Christopher Keating of the Hartford Courant: “When many consumers finish drinking their soda and beer, they throw away the bottle – not thinking much about the extra nickel deposit they paid.

In a growing trend, about half of the bottles and cans in Connecticut are never redeemed – to the tune of more than 600 million containers per year. That’s a lot of nickels. But the supermarkets and distributors don’t keep all those nickel deposits. Instead, the money goes to the state, adding up to more than $30 million per year.

Now, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is looking to double the deposit to 10 cents ... [and] knows that many consumers still won’t redeem the cans, and he’s estimating that the state will collect an additional $12 million per year as one of many moves to balance the budget. ...” http://cour.at/2nYZaFg

AND NOW VERY SHORT EXCERPTS OF THE NEWS

+BANNON OUT OF NSC, via the AP: “President Donald Trump has removed chief strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council, reversing an earlier, controversial decision to give Bannon access to the group’s high-level meetings. ...” http://apne.ws/2nYY38t

+TRUMP TAKES HARDER LINE ON SYRIA, via FoxNews.com: “President Trump condemned the deadly chemical weapons strike in Syria in his strongest terms yet on Wednesday, saying the attack which he blames on the Assad regime ‘cannot be tolerated’ – just minutes after his U.N. envoy hinted at the possibility of unilateral action. ...” http://fxn.ws/2nZ2RuN

+TRUMP SUGGESTS SUSAN RICE COMMITTED CRIME, via Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: “President Trump said on Wednesday that he thought that the former national security adviser Susan E. Rice may have committed a crime by seeking the identities of Trump associates who were swept up in the surveillance of foreign officials by American spy agencies and that other Obama administration officials may also have been involved. The president provided no evidence to back his claim. ...” http://nyti.ms/2nYXOua

+OOPS, via Daniel Victor of the New York Times: “Pepsi has apologized for a controversial advertisement that borrowed imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement, after a day of intense criticism from people who said it trivialized the widespread protests against the killings of black people by the police. ...” http://nyti.ms/2nZ0OGW

The spot: https://youtu.be/dA5Yq1DLSmQ

I’ve long been a water or booze guy, myself. 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.
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