The joke's on them: Pols roast Trump, each other at St. Patrick's Day breakfast

By Michael P. Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

.In between name dropping, Irish songs, and conventional messaging, Massachusetts public officials tried their hands at stand-up comedy Sunday, focusing a stream of zingers and duds on recently approved legislative payraises, the immigration debate, and – of course – President Donald Trump at the annual St. Patrick's Day breakfast.

Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, a black Haitian-American who lives in Dorchester, set the tone in welcoming Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and noting that she had not invited Trump.

"We're just going to stick with the one token Republican this year," said Forry, the host. "Ironically, I used to be the token at this breakfast."

Forry mocked Trump's Twitter obsession with her own fake tweet from the president, holding up a sign that read, "Good Luck on yur STUDID breakfast SAD!!"

The governor's devotion to the Republican Party was also a topic, with Forry telling him, "You know you're not really a Republican," and at another point calling Baker "the least favorite governor at the White House."

Baker fed into that thread with his post-election video dubbed "a bipartisan love story" that strung together photos of the governor smiling and laughing with the state's top Democrats as Barbara Streisand sang longingly about memories.

Attorney General Maura Healey tweaked legislative leaders for the hefty payraises they approved for themselves this year, displaying House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg riding in "tricked-out Mercedes."

"I thought they told you not to spend that payraise all in one place," Healey said.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also capitalized on the raises. "What I do love is when elected officials take a stand," Walsh quipped. Singling out Forry and South Boston Rep. Nick Collins, he said, "They are profiles in courage. I mean voting for your own payraise, on a roll call. That takes a lot of guts."

Collins jabbed back at Walsh, of Dorchester, for shortening the route of this year's parade in South Boston.

"Remember that year when Mayor Flynn, a Southie guy, decided to shorten the Dorchester Day Parade?" Collins said. "Me neither. Never happened."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren kept up her focus on the president, describing the Irish as "the immigrants Donald Trump likes."

Referring to the Patriots come-from-behind Super Bowl win in February over the Atlanta Falcons, Warren said, "Wasn't it great to see a victory that wasn't decided by the Russians?" She added, "I am still amazed by Julian Edelman's catch. Those are big hands. Not tiny little presidential hands."

She wrapped it up with: "Any minute the president will declare that when you're famous you can grab someone by the blarney stones."

Sen. Edward Markey also targeted Trump. "It's hard to measure the historic meanspiritedness of this administration," he said. "Saint Patrick was famous for driving the snakes out of Ireland and unfortunately they seem to have all landed jobs inside the White House."

Baker, regretting his resemblance to villainous NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, recalled being mistaken for him by Pats fans at the Super Bowl parade.

"The boos start raining down," the governor said. "This is no joke. So I looked out and I said 'Hey, wait a minute. I'm not Roger Goodell. I'm the governor.' And they booed even louder."

Several speakers riffed off of Trump's orders aimed at blocking entrance into the U.S. of foreign nationals from six majority-Muslim countries.

Congressman Stephen Lynch said he was "worried sick" that his Irish mother-in-law, who lives with him, might be deported.

"It would be so easy for the authorities to pick her up any weekday Monday through Friday at 6:07 p.m., when she gets off the bus at – the Number 9 bus, at G and Broadway," Lynch said.

Breaking into song, Lynch spoofed on Walsh's invitation for undocumented immigrants to stay at City Hall. "Got no visa," he sang. "Have some pizza."

To the tune of Beauty and the Beast's "Be Our Guest" he added:

"If you're human,
just join the union
and you'll find a welcome here;
Better yet,
from Tibet,
just no cheering for the Jets;
Know the Red Sox starting lineup,
that's our test."

Walsh said he was supposed to visit Ireland this year for St. Patrick's Day.

"I was going to go over and go back to the homeland," he said. "But I had to cancel my trip because I wasn't sure that immigration would let me back in the country."

Healey joked about running for governor against Baker next year and the fact that Baker didn't vote for a presidential candidate.

"I backed Hillary," Healey said. "He was backed into a corner."

Clips of the breakfast are posted on the website of the station that broadcast the event, New England Cable News.

AG launches site to help families make sense of college finance packages

As high school seniors and their families make college decisions, some are sorting through financial aid award letters. Attorney General Maura Healey on Wednesday launched a campaign to help families understand those financial aid packages before making a final decision on which school to attend.

"I know looking through and figuring out those packages aren't very easy, and I'm a lawyer," Healey said at a press conference Wednesday. "Acceptance letters are not straightforward. Financial aid award letters are really difficult and can be confusing."

 The attorney general's website uses graphics, sample forms, and other resources to help students and families understand and compare award letters. Users can calculate the cost of each school and, after financial aid, how much they would still need to borrow.

"Sometimes the award letters don't even list what it's going to cost – the full cost – of going to college... It doesn't list tuition, it doesn't list fees, it doesn't list room and board," Healey said. Watch: AG Healey, Treasurer Goldberg, Jim Rooney 

Healey's office is collaborating on the campaign with uAspire, a nonprofit that provides student counseling. uAspire is a member of the Student Debt Working Group formed last year by Healey and Jim Rooney, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Post-secondary education "is an education marketplace of buyers and sellers," Rooney said Wednesday. "Any marketplace needs transparency and to inform consumers about their investments and purchases, about costs and financing, and about outcomes and results."

 Making financial aid and repayment options more transparent will help local ensure students and families can continue to contribute to the Greater Boston economy, Rooney said.

–Sam Doran/State House News Service

Track, temps alter storm outlook, but officials urge caution

By Michael P. Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Warmer temperatures along the coast and a changing storm track have lowered the projected snow totals in eastern Massachusetts, but Gov. Charlie Baker early Tuesday morning warned that high winds and periods of heavy snowfall will create "extremely difficult" driving conditions and advised drivers to stay off the roads if they can.

"The roads for the most part have people on them, but nothing like a typical commute," Baker said.

While he has not instituted a travel ban, Baker said, "If people can stay off the roads for the rest of the day, and give the crews the space and the time and the ability to clean up after all of this, that would be terrific."

New York, Connecticut, and western Massachusetts are experiencing significant snowfall and the snow is moving east, Baker said at an 8 a.m. briefing with transportation and public safety officials in Framingham.

"This storm is still coming. It's still real," Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin said.

The latest estimates Baker said, call for 8 to 12 inches of snow in Boston and 10 to 24 inches elsewhere in the state.

Meteorologists are predicting six inches or less of snow in parts of the South Shore, southeastern Massachusetts, the Cape and the islands.

Winds are expected to reach 40 to 50 miles per hour and 50 to 70 miles per hour along the coast, which may lead to power outages when combined with the effect of heavy snow, the governor said.

Non-emergency state workers were not required to report to work Tuesday and state offices are closed.

"We full expect everybody will be back at work on full strength tomorrow," Baker said.