At the outset of the 2017-2018 session, the Legislature passed a surprise bill giving themselves pay raises, along with judges and statewide officeholders. Yet lawmakers have been slow to accomplish much else.Read More
Eleven months into the 2017 fiscal year, Attorney General Maura Healey's office has received 16,000 calls to its wage theft hotline, or about 70 per day, said Cynthia Mark, the chief of Healey's Fair Labor Division.Read More
Former House Speaker Thomas Finneran will lose his pension because of false testimony he gave in relation to a redistricting court case, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled Wednesday.
The high court reversed a decision by the Boston Municipal Court and sided with the state Retirement Board, which found "his crime constitutes a 'violation of the laws applicable to his office or position'" requiring the forfeiture of his pension, according to the decision written by Justice Barbara Lenk.
Finerran pleaded guilty in 2007 to one count of obstruction of justice related to the 2001 redistricting law, according to the decision.
The Supreme Judicial Court case was remanded to the "county court where an order shall enter reversing the judgment of the Boston Municipal Court, affirming the decision of the board, and remanding to the Boston Municipal Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion." Finneran is a registered lobbyist. He worked in biotech and the media after leaving the Legislature.
– Andy Metzger/State House News Service
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;
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.
By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
People opposed to the payraise bill vetoed on Friday should “make their voices heard” as the House and Senate prepare for override votes this week, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.
Massachusetts residents have already been dialing into elected officials to give feedback about the legislation that would cost $18 million to hike the pay of legislative leaders, statewide elected officials, and judges.
“It was the single largest number of calls we've gotten on one day, on Friday,” Baker said during his monthly “Ask the Governor” segment Monday on WGBH Radio. “And we've gotten a lot of calls on a lot of things. I mean, keep in mind, we're the administration that had the MBTA breakdown.”
With a 116-43 vote in the House on Wednesday and a 31-9 vote in the Senate on Thursday, both branches would have enough votes to clear the two-thirds threshold for a veto override if that level of support holds.
Both branches meet in formal sessions on Thursday, giving them an opportunity to pass the payraise bill into law over the governor's objections.
“If it comes over from the House we are planning to take it up on Thursday,” Senate President Stan Rosenberg told the News Service on Monday.
The matter came up when a caller – identified as Ken in Amesbury – thanked the governor for the veto and asked, “Is there anything more that we can do, the taxpayers of Massachusetts, to keep these legislators from overriding your veto?”
All Republicans in the House and Senate voted against the measure, and they were joined by nine Democrats in the House and three Democrats in the Senate. Those hoping to sustain the veto would need to flip either 10 Democrats in the House or five in the Senate.
“People should encourage those who share our views to reach out to and speak to their legislators about it, because that is in fact the best way to bring attention to this and to get it on people's radars,” Baker said. He said, “I think it's important for people to make their voices heard.”
Hull’s state representative is newly-elected Democrat Joan Meschino, who voted in favor of the payraise. State Sen. Patrick O’Connor, a Weymouth Republican, voted against the bill.
The bill (H 58) is the first major legislation to reach the governor's desk this session.
Last week, the Senate president said the legislation would provide needed updates to the compensation of lawmakers, which starts at a base salary of about $62,000.
“We are losing young people every election cycle,” Rosenberg told reporters Thursday, “particularly the younger members, who are trying to start families and start their own career, they cannot live on this."
Baker was scheduled to meet Monday afternoon with legislative leaders, but their meeting was cancelled Monday morning.
To contact Rep. Joan Meschino, call 617 722-2425, or email Joan.Meschino@mahouse.gov.
To contact Sen. Patrick O’Connor, call 617 722-1646, or email Patrick.OConnor@masenate.gov.