Editorial: Oui, the people

It was less than a week ago that President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

That the president’s statement bore only passing resemblance to the truth, that the White House’s transcript of the president’s speech contained fewer facts than mentions of the word “applause” (15) — these are matters we will leave for another time.

Additionally, international reaction — from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s disappointment with the “United States federal government” to French President Emmanuel Macron trolling Trump with a message that read “Make our planet great again” — is best reviewed in another forum.

What bears examination, and praise, here is the immediate and broad opposition that transcends political ideology, geographic boundaries and income level.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 169]: Staying cool, with Charlie Baker

It’s not easy being a Republican in Massachusetts — or, really, anywhere these days, what with President Aerosol chiseling new holes in the O-zone whenever he takes a break from tweeting jibberish.

Baker, though, has not been shy about disagreeing with Trump on health care and other socioeconomic issues; he again strayed from the pack to affirm the Bay State’s commitment to address climate change.

Hitch thinks this won’t be doing Baker any favors with the already-skeptical state GOP.

Inbox [June 7]: News and notes from Worcester Tech, Main IDEA, Mass. Symphony, WPI and Holden Democratic Town Committee

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Worcester Tech student earns second place in Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge

Worcester Tech student Adhi Murillo earned second place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) New England Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge recently.

Adhi Murillo

Courtesy of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) New England Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Second Place Winner Adhi Murillo of Worcester Technical High School.

Murillo and winner Allison Pereira of New Bedford will represent New England at nationals in October in New York, where they will present and defend their business plans to compete for prizes totaling $20,000.

Murillo created Katharoes and won $500 for her plan for an app for on-the-spot cleaning services where customers can request one room or an entire house to be cleaned.

On Beacon Hill: What does it all mean?

Recap and analysis of the week in local, state and federal government
from State House News Service

BOSTON — Words can inspire, they can sting and they can leave one scratching their head.

The words spoken last week — and still to be uttered — from Boston to Washington, D.C., did that and more as gubernatorial candidates geared up for a weekend of Baker-Trump bashing, the president excoriated an historic international climate pact, the feds busted a major fentanyl trafficking ring in Lawrence and Democrats sniped each other over ideological purity.

But as Trump might say (or Tweet): “Covfefe.”

More than 5,000 Democrats descended on downtown Worcester starting Friday night for the party’s off-year platform convention, where the three declared candidates for governor had their chance to address the party faithful.

Former state budget chief Jay Gonzalez, Newton Mayor Setti Warren and environmentalist Bob Massie were all looking to send activists home feeling energized about their campaign and chances to topple Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018.

Gonzalez got a jump on the convention by releasing a criminal-justice platform that calls for eliminating all non-murder-related mandatory minimum sentences, while Warren stood up for a party platform that pushes Democrats far to the left of what the actual power brokers at the State House appear willing to accept at the moment.

A fourth man — former state Sen. Dan Wolf — has not made up his mind on 2018 yet, but at a Somerville Democratic City Committee meeting last week, he called out House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, as one of the party leaders “tone deaf” to a grassroots agenda that includes single-payer healthcare.

“If they seem tone deaf to the platform then people should run against them,” Wolf said.

DeLeo, whose views on tax increases are always evolving but is on the more conservative end of the Democratic spectrum, has not made life easier for himself with the progressive set with his refusal to commit at this point to the future Democratic nominee for governor.

Sam Doran (SHNS / file photo)

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo

Unlike Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, who is all aboard the beat-Baker train in 2018 and was set to speak at the convention, DeLeo skipped the Worcester festivities, and it may be for the best, at least for him. The reason for his absence went unexplained Friday by staff after the party told State House News Service earlier in the week that he would be among the party elders at the convention.

The same night Wolf challenged DeLeo’s big “D” bonafides, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, the dean of the Bay State delegation, was in Boston giving a public interview to Josh Miller of the Boston Globe in which he lamented the “pure party” approach to candidate recruitment.

Massie, who has made a career out of environmental activism, also got a ready-made applause line last week when President Trump announced that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, warning that the deal, unbalanced in his estimation, would disproportionately hurt American jobs.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Baker enters Mass. into governors’ climate alliance [+video]
  • McGovern on Trump’s Paris call, Chandler on ‘Casey at the Bat’
  • Hernandez ruling prompts move to uphold convictions
  • Baker measure would elevate tech, security chief to cabinet position
  • State labor secretary resigns

THE BIG DEAL

In wake of Trump Paris accord reversal, Baker adds Mass. to governors’ climate alliance

On Beacon Hill: Chasing unicorns from Boston to D.C.

Recap and analysis of the week in state, and federal, government
from State House News Service

The stage was set this week for what could be an awkward two weeks as senators prepare for their annual budgeting exercise knowing whatever they approve appears unlikely to stand up to the stress test it will go through in negotiations with the House later this spring.

But even the state’s latest mini budget crisis couldn’t compete for oxygen with the conflagration that engulfed the nation’s capital and had tongues wagging 450 miles north, up the I-95 corridor, after President Donald Trump swung the ax that landed on FBI Director James Comey.

Comey’s firing led to breathless questioning and speculating about the president’s motives, conflicting accounts from the White House of how and why it happened, and a made-for-SNL moment starring Sean Spicer emerging from some shrubbery ordering camera lights killed before he would take any questions.

Gov. Charlie Baker said he was “shocked” by the Comey firing, and joined with the state’s all-Democratic Congressional delegation and Attorney General Maura Healey in calling for the FBI’s investigation into Trump campaign ties with Russia to be transferred to an independent authority.

“Can you believe what’s happening?” a flabbergasted state Sen. Linda Forry asked a reporter.

The Comey flap also seemed to draw attention away from the fate of the American Health Care Act in the U.S. Senate, where U.S. Sen. Edward Markey equated attempts by Republicans to strike a deal that would appease all factions of the GOP to “looking for a unicorn.”

While cable news flickered in the background last week, Beacon Hill’s top three elected leaders got it started by commiserating in House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s office over the state of the state’s financial affairs.

“There were no answers today other than, I think, a shared commitment to find the right way forward,” Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said after the meeting of minds resulted in a number of theories being batted around as to why, in a period of economic growth, the state seems to lurch from budget crisis to budget crisis.

Baker said he’s working through a solution to the $462 million shortfall in revenues, hoping against hope that May tax collections will alleviate some of the pressure on this year’s state budget.

— Matt Murphy

Sam Doran / State House News Service

Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore said the fiscal 2018 capital plan prioritizes funding to “maintain and modernize the state’s existing assets while also making targeted investments for the future.”

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Baker touts capital plan, $4B in investment
  • Video: DeLeo, Lepore join Baker heralding new spending
  • Senate takes on budget; House OKs pregnant workers bill of rights
  • McGovern, Warren and Healey tweet Trump takes
  • Offshore wind progress hinges on supply chain, experts say

To the editor: Pipelines under pressure in Massachusetts

“Today’s ‘natural’ gas is loaded with carcinogens injected during the fracking process. Should Spectra construct an extremely high-pressure pipeline which might leak or explode, Grafton assumes enormous risk while Texas-based Spectra benefits.”

On Beacon Hill: No breaks for Baker when it comes to making the grade

Recap and analysis of the week in state, and federal, government
from State House News Service

Schools broke for April vacation, but midterm grades started to come out this week and had to leave Gov. Charlie Baker wondering what a guy needs to do to get an A.

It seems everyone in Massachusetts is a tough grader, the governor included.

It probably did not shock the governor or his team when, for the second straight year, a coalition of environmental advocacy groups gave Baker a “mediocre” grade of C for 2016.

Despite solid marks for energy efficiency and electric vehicle promotion, environmental activists have been unimpressed with the progress Baker has made toward a campaign promise to boost funding in the state budget for environmental issues.

The governor’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal actually backslides from the target of 1 percent of total spending, and the governor’s support for natural gas pipelines has not endeared him to those in the green community.

So he got one C grade. But surely, the governor’s performance would be looked at more kindly by the woman with whom he shares a home? Apparently not.

Sam Doran / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker

First Lady Lauren Baker, it would seem, was equally unimpressed by her husband’s recent 75 percent approval rating in a Morning Consult poll, which made him once again the most popular governor in America, now more than two full years into his first term.

“Congratulations. You got a C,” the first lady reportedly told her husband. Ouch.

All of that tough love must have rubbed off on the governor who, when asked this week to grade his own administration’s performance with the MBTA, handed down a grade of …. C+.

“I would argue that that’s because a big part of the investment that we are going to be making over the next several years in the core system is just getting started,” he said. Baker gave his team an A- for organizational improvements at the T.

Judgment will also be coming soon for the state Department of Correction following the shocking suicide of former New England Patriots tight end and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez.

Just days after being acquitted of a separate double homicide, Hernandez was found dead in his Souza Baranowski Correctional Center cell in Shirley where he hanged himself using a bedsheet. Leaving aside the question of why Hernandez took his own life, Gov. Baker said he would wait to form judgements on how it was allowed to happen until after the full investigation.

“Anytime anybody kills [themselves] in a prison, something clearly went wrong,” Baker said, nevertheless extending his “full faith and confidence” in state Correction Commissioner Thomas Turco.

[Watch video of Baker’s comments on Hernandez below.]

The Hernandez suicide rocked an otherwise sleepy news week as Beacon Hill slipped into its pre-budget debate slumber, and marathon runners gave Bostonians something to cheer for as summer temperatures briefly warmed the Patriot’s Day holiday.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Robust tax collections spike sluggish revenue pace
  • Legislature stares down impending budget imbroglio
  • McGovern scoffs at Trump; Polito honors top teacher
  • Trump to nominate Scott Brown for ambassador to New Zealand
  • Video: Baker on Hernandez
  • Grant provides boost for energy efficiency upgrades

Inbox [March 1]: First Unitarian art exhibit reception set, Anna Maria adds 2 majors to HEART Initiative, EPA honors Upper Blackstone chief, Central Mass. gets new EV charging station

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.

‘Open Spaces’ art exhibit at First Unitarian Church plans closing reception

The art show “Open Spaces” will end with a public art reception from 2 to 6 p.m., Sunday, March 11. The show can also be viewed in the meantime in the Merritt Gallery/Wallace Robbins Chapel, First Unitarian Church, 90 Main St. on Sunday and by scheduled appointment during regular business hours by calling 508-757-2708.

“Open Spaces” is a show of art that opens visual spaces to the outside and invites viewers to hold an inner space in which to read into the work. Four artists share artwork based on this spirit of dialogue and exchange. Through a diversity of expression and genres, we hope to inspire an atmosphere of inclusion and openness to the possibility of a visual, emotional and conceptual connection.

In her photography, Tasha Halpert captures openings in everyday situations, which give pause and encourage reflection. Her “harmonious combinations of shapes, interesting lighting effects” and “a long history of capturing a poetic moment” leave the viewer with a feeling of pleasant surprise to have shared such a moment, the release said. Much of her long history in art is with her companion, Stephen Halpert, whose collages have been arranged complementary to Tasha’s photos.

Worcester Weekly: Restaurant Week, Assumption hoops + more, as February turns to March

Sunday, Feb. 26 — Assumption women’s basketball vs. Le Moyne, NE-10 Conference quarterfinal, 3 p.m., Laska Gymnasium, Assumption College, 500 Salisbury St.  Basketball is kind of a big deal at Assumption, and recently it’s been the ladies taking the lead. Back in the conference tournament with a 19-7 record, the Greyhounds are poised to make a run behind a strong senior triumvirate — forward Jo Impellizeri and guards Allison Stoddard and Kelly Carey — and one of the stingiest defenses in all the land. Except, the last time these two teams met, the Dolphins came away with an ugly 48-42 victory.

Then again, this isn’t the first rodeo for coach Kerry Phayre, who’s wrapping up her 10th straight winning campaign and would no doubt like to stretch her 21st season at the Greyhound helm a few more games.

Editorial: Bill would help ensure energy, and economy, are renewable

A bill recently introduced in the state Legislature holds the promise of helping to combat climate change while transforming the Massachusetts economy.

An Act transitioning Massachusetts to 100 percent renewable energy, filed by Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, calls for  “100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and 100 percent renewable energy economy-wide — including electricity, heating, transportation and other sectors — by 2050,” according to an article by State House News Service.

“Massachusetts has a proud history of clean energy leadership. Now, more than ever, it’s critical for us to lead the way,” Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts, said in a release.