On Beacon Hill: Baker’s budget ax grinds DeLeo’s gears

From State House News Service

ON THE AGENDA

  • Baker’s $98 million move rankles State House leaders
  • Keefe, area legislators denounce governor’s broad budget cuts
  • Legal marijuana on tap this week as votes are ready for certification
  • McGovern gets down to business in Boston
  • DeLeo signs off on new Red Sox ace Chris Sale

Gov. Charlie Baker last week unilaterally slashed $98 million from the state budget to address flagging revenues.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker last week unilaterally slashed $98 million from the state budget to address flagging revenues.

TOP OF THE HILL

Baker’s budget ax grinds DeLeo’s gears

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and his band of not-so-merry Democrats tiptoed out on a limb last week made of brittle budget projections and the hopes of a snowless, crimeless, healthy winter full of Main Street shopping and large bonus checks.

Underneath, Gov. Charlie Baker sat with his calculator banking on the branch to crack.

Baker warmed an otherwise mild political off-season last Tuesday when he announced he would use his executive authority to trim $98 million from the state’s $39.25 billion state budget, a rather modest sum until lawmakers began to see where he applied his X-Acto knife.

From the governor’s perch, he decided he had seen enough of yo-yoing revenue reports — including a disappointing November — that had tax collections up one month and down the next. Rather than wait to see what December or January brings, he started paring back spending immediately.

On Beacon Hill: Mr. Moore, state senator, goes to Washington

From State House News Service

ON THE AGENDA

  • Mr. Moore goes to Washington, in a position to make an impact
  • AIDS Project Worcester caseworker speaks at State House
  • McGovern needles Trump in push for tax-return transparency legislation
  • Neal nabs key leadership post on Pelosi team
  • Chandler joins healthcare fact-finding mission to Minnesota

TOP OF THE HILL

Millbury senator tapped for U.S. Attorney General planning panel

While Massachusetts’ influence in Washington could wane with Republican Donald Trump in the White House, at least one state senator expects to be among those making suggestions to the new administration’s Department of Justice.

State Sen. Michael O. Moore of Millbury, a Democrat and member of the DOJ’s Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative Global Advisory Committee (GAC), spent two days in Washington, D.C., last week working with the GAC on ways to use data to fight the opioid epidemic, combat sex trafficking and improve information sharing.

Video: Gov. Baker on ‘bathroom bill’ implementation, DCR scandal resignation

Watch Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker react to the possible challenges of implementing the transgender protection laws, known collectively as the “bathroom bill,” which went into effect Oct. 1. And his thoughts on a top-ranking administration official’s resignation following a summer scandal.

On Beacon Hill: Retribution allegations put heat on Baker administration

From State House News Service

ON THE AGENDA

  • Aide: Baker knew about alleged retribution earlier than he first said
  • Democrat leaders mulling options amid ‘troubling pattern’
  • Video: Polito joins governor to honor Bay State police for valor, bravery
  • Baker considers ‘status quo’ as charter school expansion hangs in balance
  • Warren-backed sheriff lays out bid for top state Dem post

TOP OF THE HILL

Aide: Baker knew of alleged retribution in June, not September

Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters on Thursday that he learned about an alleged retribution case within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs about two weeks ago, but an aide later said the governor misspoke about the timeline.

“We were made aware of the allegations about 10 days ago and told EEA they needed to conduct an investigation with oversight and input from our legal office,” Baker said Sept. 22. “And the allegations are extremely troubling and we want to see what comes out of that investigation.”

The retaliation claim involves a staffer, Cynthia Lewis, who reportedly said she faced harassment and was told she would be transferred to a different office after her fiance, J.D. Parker O’Grady, a Democrat, launched a Senate campaign against Republican incumbent Sen. Donald Humason Jr. of Westfield.

According to a cease and desist letter quoted by the Boston Herald, which first reported the allegations, personnel officer Jared Valanzola, himself a failed Republican candidate for the House, suggested Lewis, who worked for the chief of environmental police, “break off her engagement” with Parker O’Grady.


Watch: Baker reacts to ‘unbelievably disturbing’ allegations


Drought Management Task Force members -- co-chair and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs' assistant director of water policy, Vandana Rao, left; Energy and Environmental Secretary Matthew Beaton, center; and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg -- met Thursday and received an update on drought conditions from various state and federal agencies.

On Beacon Hill: Officials tighten Worcester, area water restrictions as drought envelops state

From State House News Service

ON THE AGENDA

  • As drought widens, Worcester water ban gets tighter
  • Videos: State, city and weather officials talk next steps vs. drought
  • Discovery of trackside body delays Worcester-bound train
  • Tax amnesty program leads to $137M state windfall
  • Worcester Fire’s Safe Cooking Program among federal grant recipients

TOP OF THE HILL

Officials tighten Worcester, area water restrictions as drought envelops state

Restaurants in Worcester and Holden can no longer serve tap water to diners unless specifically asked to do so, a result of those Central Massachusetts communities ratcheting up water-use restrictions in the face of a deepening drought.

The Worcester Department of Public Works and Parks moved the city to a “Stage 3 Drought Emergency” on Thursday, and implemented additional water-use restrictions “in order to assure the long-term availability of water to meet the critical health, safety and economic needs of the city,” DPW&P Commissioner Paul J. Moosey wrote to City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr.

The reservoir system that Worcester, Holden, Paxton and parts of West Boylston rely on for drinking water was 55.1 percent full as of Sept. 1, Moosey wrote. The Sept. 1 average is 81.7 percent full.

Drought Management Task Force members -- co-chair and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs' assistant director of water policy, Vandana Rao, left; Energy and Environmental Secretary Matthew Beaton, center; and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg -- met Thursday and received an update on drought conditions from various state and federal agencies.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Drought Management Task Force members — co-chair and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ assistant director of water policy, Vandana Rao, left; Energy and Environmental Secretary Matthew Beaton, center; and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg — met Thursday and received an update on drought conditions from various state and federal agencies.

Residents in those communities are also banned from all outdoor watering, except for using a watering can to water plants by hand, and are prohibited from using water to wash cars, clean driveways, decks, sidewalks or filling swimming pools, the city said.

Weld defends Libertarian running mate Gary Johnson on Aleppo gaffe

BOSTON — Former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld cast aside suggestions last week that his running mate for president, Gary Johnson, forgetting the Syrian city of Aleppo could do lasting damage to their campaign, saying the mistake could happen to anyone — even him.

“I’m not going to say that couldn’t happen to me. You do blank,” Weld said after speaking to a class of Emerson College students in Boston.


Watch: Weld speaks at Emerson last week


Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for president, appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Thursday, Sept. 9, when he was asked what he would do as president about Aleppo, the city at the center of a bloody war in Syria. “And what is Aleppo?” Johnson responded, touching off a firestorm of criticism.

Johnson later issued a statement apologizing for the lapse, saying he “blanked.”


From Chris Sinacola: Of Antioch and Aleppo, with a detour on Lancaster Street