Mariano: Petty vs. Gaffney, Round 2

In many municipal elections, candidates have to work hard to show the distinctions between them. Often the differences are a matter of degree – candidates agree more or less on what needs to be done. Not in this one.

On Beacon Hill: Vienna sausage making, the State House way

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

BOSTON — The Legislature continued the budget process for “Fiscal Year Two Thousand and … Infinity” this past week — well, half the Legislature.

A budget document unveiled when President Trump’s approval rating exceeded his disapproval rating sauntered through its eighth month, still not truly final, as the House replaced $275 million of the $360 million in vetoes Gov. Baker made in July.

The next step in the saga must be taken by the Senate.

The hangup for now is that there’s a rhythm to legislation and, as fortune would have it, that rhythm is the same as a Viennese waltz: ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three. … And the third step of the override process was paused for the moment, as senators awaited the return of their leader from Austria and the Czech Republic.

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg was in Europe — a development that first surfaced publicly when his staff said he wouldn’t be at the weekly leadership meeting Monday with Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and would phone in for the session. He did.

The president, normally quite eager to share the details of his public schedule, made no mentions of his planned sojourn.

State House News Service file

Senate President Stan Rosenberg

His travels through Vienna, Graz and Prague were underwritten by the United Nations Association of Austria, the city of Graz and the Senate Presidents Forum, which collects money from corporations such as Coca-Cola, Pfizer and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and passes it on to presidents in the form of grants for such policy and cultural forays.

Thomas Finneran, late of the Massachusetts House speakership, is on staff as moderator of Forum discussions — a role he filled during the Central Europe sessions, said Rosenberg’s spokesman.

And so the Senate, eager as it may be to restore spending after senators decried vetoes as severe and unnecessary, extended its six-week summer formal-session hiatus. The vetoes may be taken up the last week of the month, after the autumnal equinox.

The 62 overrides processed in the House chamber covered statewide programs and accounts, and Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez said another batch, addressing local needs and services, is forthcoming. [See video below.]

Republicans said the Senate should in fact be in no rush to follow the House’s lead. With state leaders mired in a years-long inability to accurately project tax revenues and then keep spending within actual receipts, GOP representatives said both branches should wait at least another month, preferably two, to see if the overrides are affordable.

For their part, the Baker administration said there was “no basis” to restore spending now, given revenue performance so far.

But Sanchez, speaking for the Democrats, said a conservative approach was already baked into the budget that landed on Baker’s desk in July — that $400 million had been removed from the bottom line before Baker saw it. The spending restorations are sustainable, he assured.

By much more than the necessary two-thirds, Sanchez and his boss Speaker DeLeo had the votes.

For much of Wednesday, House members sat chattering and nattering and fiddling with their digital devices, punctuated by the sonorous reading of one veto after another from the podium. Which items would come up and receive a “yes” vote had been decided in secret over the past eight weeks, so there was no debate.

One by one, with nary a decrease in din, representatives added money back to the commonwealth’s fiscal 2018 bottom line — the scoreboard glowing green on its leftward Democratic side, and more or less solid red on the Republican.

And while wiseguys needed both eyebrows this week — one to raise over Rosenberg’s trip, and the other over the prudence of budget regrowth — the people actually affected by the line items — people hoping to keep their apartments or their jobs — likely breathed a sigh of relief. Or half a sigh, anyhow, if that’s possible.

And by the way? If those real people avoid the hit, they won’t begrudge Rosenberg some late-summer Transatlantic meandering.

— Craig Sandler

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Minimum wage, renewable energy, online Lottery on tap
  • McGovern on health care, Warren on veterans, Polito on bike trail
  • Senators begin joint talks on language learning bill with rebuke of past efforts
  • Watch: DeLeo, Sanchez on budget veto overrides
  • Framingham contractor fined $167,500 for shoddy Worcester Airport work

Inbox [Sept. 10-16]: News and notes from Worcester Arts Council, Worcester Fire Fighters Local 1009, Clark, Assumption and Seven Hills Foundation

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.

[Editor’s note: This roundup contains a political endorsement from an advocacy group. The Worcester Sun sharing these publicly available statements in no way constitutes an endorsement on our part of the corresponding organization’s choices or opinions.]

Worcester Arts Council accepting grant applications

The Worcester Arts Council is accepting grant applications for its 2018 funding cycle. The deadline for all grant applications is Oct. 16.

Based on community input received during 2017, WAC will give preference to community projects in the following categories: Public Art (murals, monuments, street art, etc.); Children’s Programs; and Visual Art (ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and video), However, all projects within the realm of arts, sciences and humanities will be considered. WAC will accept grant applications from the following: individuals, nonprofit organizations, associations that can establish a nonprofit objective, schools, libraries and other public agencies.

WAC will be offering two types of competitive grants in 2018: Project Grants and Fellowship Grants.

Solar farm

Inbox [Aug. 20-26] News and notes from Assumption, city of Worcester, Greater Worcester Our Revolution, Quinsigamond CC, and You Inc.

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’s economy grows in 2nd quarter

Following a slow start to the year, the Worcester Economic Index, a quarterly economic analysis compiled by Assumption College Professor of Economics Thomas White, Ph.D., has shown that the greater Worcester economy grew at a modest clip during the second quarter of 2017. Since March, the WEI is up 1.1 percent on an annualized basis.

The WEI is estimated using Bureau of Labor Statistics data on employment and unemployment in the Worcester metropolitan area. The unemployment rate slightly increased to 4.6 percent in June while household employment has gone up by 6,400. The BLS payroll survey also showed an increase of 4,200 jobs since June 2016.

“The data shows a labor market that is steady but without much growth, which is the reason the WEI grew at a modest 1.1 percent rate during the second quarter,” White said.

Inbox [Aug. 6-12]: News and notes from American Cancer Society, Assumption, Auburn and Solomon Pond malls, Hanover Theatre, UMass Medical School, state

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.

American Cancer Society honors Worcester business leader

The American Cancer Society recently honored Kham Inthirath of Northbridge with a Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Values Award.

The award recognizes Inthirath’s accomplishments in support of its mission to celebrate and save lives and to lead the fight for a world without cancer.

Kham Inthirath

Courtesy of American Cancer Society

Kham Inthirath, right, receives the Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Values Award from Holly Grant, executive director, American Cancer Society.

As founder and president of Worcester-based Envision Digital Group, Inthirath donated the services of his digital marketing agency to produce compelling videos to illustrate the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events in Worcester and Boston in 2016 as well as the Real Men Wear Pink of Worcester Reveal Party.

Access Denied: Mounting opposition, pricetag bury pipeline plans

For activists fighting the suspended Access Northeast pipeline project, their arguments about its incongruity with green energy conversion have finally borne fruit.

Developers Thursday withdrew their proposed $3.2 billion Access Northeast pipeline project, which would cut through nine communities as it works its way to the state’s coastline south of Boston.

The decision was cause to celebrate for pipeline opponents. But they do not believe their work is done as pipeline supporters indicate they may submit plans down the road if they can find a way to pay for it.

“Over the last three years, we have seen a truly incredible wave of grassroots resistance to new fossil fuel pipelines in Massachusetts,” Craig Altemose, Executive Director for 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future, said in a statement. “Thousands of concerned citizens have called and emailed their legislators, submitted public comments, packed into public hearings, and taken to the streets for massive rallies and multi-day marches.

“Spectra recognized that their deep pockets were no match for grassroots power. It’s only a matter of time before other fossil fuel companies come to the same realization. We look forward to Spectra similarly abandoning their plans for the similarly offensive and unnecessary Atlantic Bridge project.”

Inbox [June 14]: News and notes from Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester Center for Crafts, Assumption, WPI and Worcester Public Library

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.

Historical Museum to honor Patty Eppinger with 17th Harvey Ball Smile Award

The Worcester Historical Museum has named Patty Eppinger the recipient of the 17th Harvey Ball Smile Award.

Noting “the significant work that Patty Eppinger is doing for Worcester and her dedication to education and children,” the Historical Museum will honor her at a reception on Thursday, Oct. 5.

The festivities kick off at 4:30 p.m. with a block party at 30 Elm St. where there will be face painting, storytelling, music by Chuck and Mud, food trucks and more. The reception is scheduled for 6:30-8:30 in the museum and will be followed by a post-reception party, 8:30-10.

Sina-cism: Adieu, Paris accord, you meant so little

Sadly, the media doesn’t focus on the science at all, but almost exclusively on the politics of climate.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Much ink has been spilled and many BTUs of hot air generated since President Trump announced on May 25 that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accord, but it wasn’t until Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty declared his support for the deal — joining dozens of other mayors nationwide — that I realized just how ridiculous the whole thing is.

Look, there is plenty of evidence that climate change, or global warming (or whatever term is in vogue this week) is taking place. I don’t want the Earth’s flora and fauna to die. I have nothing against residents of the Netherlands, 47 percent of whom are threatened by rising sea levels. And while I’ve never been to the South Pacific, I hope the low-lying island nations there do not sink beneath the waves.

But the Paris climate deal was never going to save the planet — and never will — regardless of what the United States does.

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.