Baker, Bump continue to clash over DCF audit

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker delivered a forceful rebuke of Auditor Suzanne Bump’s review of the Department of Children and Families, calling the claims in the audit released last week “irresponsible” and in some cases “simply not true” in a letter to DCF staff.

Baker wrote a nearly two-page letter to the DCF staff thanking them for their work and applauding their efforts over the past two years to improve the agency. But he also outlined his problems with Bump’s focus and messaging.

“I appreciate that the Auditor also cares about ensuring these children are safe. But for this report to ignore nearly everything you have done for the past two and a half years to improve the agency’s ability to do its work strikes me as wrong,” Baker wrote.

The charges and counter-charges back and forth between Baker’s administration and Bump over the days since the audit was released highlight the sensitivity around an agency whose well-documented problems at the end of Deval Patrick’s eight years in office served to sour his standing with the public.

From the Sun archives: The road to tragedy at DCF

Chandler’s staff moves into Senate president’s office

Monday was moving day in the Senate president’s office.

Much of Acting Senate President Harriette L. Chandler’s staff moved into the president’s third-floor suite Monday as they take over operations of the office, but at least for now Chandler, D-Worcester, plans to continue working out of the majority leader’s office and will use the suite for meetings, caucuses and other official business, according to an aide.

As a rank-and-file member of the Senate, Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, will retain a small staff, while the remaining staff who worked for him while he was president will stay on to assist Chandler. It is expected that Rosenberg’s chief of staff Natasha Perez and communications director Mara Dolan will remain with Rosenberg.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 223]: Worcester’s winter gripes piling up

The list of things in Worcester more fun to do than find a convenient parking spot is a long one, indeed — once the leaves fall and the snowbanks rise, it’s pretty much infinite.

And when the forecasters usher in a conga line of declared parking bans, well, all bets are off. Thing is, in many neighborhoods, the city’s upkeep generally leaves Worcester residents wanting more, no matter the season or the weather.

Hitch, accordingly, has a question.

Mass. buoys transportation security following Manhattan bus bomb

Massachusetts planned to up the visibility of law enforcement at transportation hubs following the detonation of a bomb in New York City’s main bus terminal Monday, but Gov. Charlie Baker said there were no known threats to the state.

Baker told reporters his administration had been in touch with the Fusion Center, an information-sharing cooperative of state and federal law enforcement, following the morning explosion that injured five, according to the New York Times, including the suspect who was taken into custody.

Social consumption, home delivery marijuana rules debated

BOSTON — The first day of policy debate among state marijuana regulators indicated that the Cannabis Control Commission is working toward industry regulations that would give consumers more options for how they obtain marijuana and where they will be able to use it.

The commission worked through policies Monday dealing with home delivery of marijuana products and social consumption of marijuana, among others. The policies, some of which were agreed to, will be enshrined into draft regulations for the newly legal industry, which the CCC plans to put on file with the state by the end of the month.

Mariano: Why I can’t quit Worcester

I am a Worcester guy. I know everyone does not love our city, but I truly do. Oh sure, there are things that we should fix: Worcester could be much cleaner, our roads and sidewalks could be in better shape, and Kelley Square is a mess. But, warts and all, Worcester fits me perfectly.

Polito: Commonwealth makes inroads against opioid crisis

When Gov. Charles Baker and I ran for office, the opioid epidemic was not an issue we expected to focus on. But we’ve heard heartbreaking stories from people about loved ones struggling with an opioid-related addiction everywhere we’re gone.

GOP reform bill will be taxing for teachers, small businesses

The tax bill being pushed through by the Republican Party threatens the foundations of a vital and healthy economy. By reducing deductions for charitable donations, for teachers’ expenses, and for state and sales taxes, the bill makes it less likely that we will be able to financially support the services and projects that depend on them to succeed.

In the name of capital gain, the tax-reform plan threatens the human-based economy that is the foundation of our thriving, growing communities, cities and neighborhoods. Without the personal contributions and professional incentives to sustain local activity and involvement, society fails to adapt and flourish with the skills necessary to address the problems of the future.

Let’s think of our economy as similar to a brain, with many moving parts. How do we successfully prepare that well-rounded economy for the people who will be entering into it?

The aptly named “whole brain teaching” approach to education is now taught in many schools across the country. The aim is to impart knowledge through various modes of learning that tap different parts of the brain.

Sina-cism: A thankfully modest sunrise for local journalism

The Worcester Sun’s print debut represents a very modest chapter in the history of American newspapers, and one for which we can be very thankful, for if there’s anything that journalism in America today needs, it’s more modesty.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

The Sun’s move to print got me wondering about the state of journalism in America, so I turned to the Columbia Journalism Review, whose fall “Trump issue” carries the one-word title, “Takeover,” with a sub-heading “The year that changed journalism.”

Editor Kyle Pope proclaims that Donald Trump “… doesn’t seem to accept the central role of a free press in a democratic society. That’s never happened in the United States before.”

On the bright side, Pope continues, Trump’s election has forced journalists to grapple with enormously difficult issues, including the appropriateness of discussing the president’s mental health and how journalists should cover race.

“Someday,” Pope concludes, “when history looks back on The Year That Changed Journalism, we’ll all have the great good fortune to say, ‘I was there.’ ”

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 222]: Shining a light on Worcester tax relief

You can say one thing, for sure, about the city’s infamous and divisive dual tax rate: It tends to encourage a lively debate.

While talk is good, action is better.

And when it comes to taking action, the City Council continues to err on the side of trying to keep the majority of their constituents happy. Of course, when tax bills rise for residents and businesses alike, it’s tough to see a winner.

Hitch flips the switch on another predictable outcome.