Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 241]: Barking up a taxing tree

The state Supreme Judicial Court has begun hearing arguments related to a potential 2018 ballot question that would implement an additional surtax on Massachusetts’ wealthiest taxpayers.

And while nobody doubts the high-priced accountants of the well-heeled will leap this latest regulatory hurdle with aplomb, a healthy dose of consternation lingers.

Hitch thinks it’s time to put a leash on this debate.

Charlie Baker

Baker eyes $200M for roads, Warren nets endorsement

News and notes from State House News Service

Baker paving way for $200M road repair bill

It’s pothole season in Massachusetts, and Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday said he’ll soon be filing legislation awaited each year by municipal officials eyeing the approaching construction season and a chance to fix their winter-battered pavement.

Baker said he plans to file a $200 million local road repair bill “very shortly.” In each of the past two years, he’s filed a $200 million bill in mid-Feburary — on Feb. 16 in 2017, and Feb. 12 in 2016.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 240]: On the fall of Stan Rosenberg

On the bright side, being the former president of the Massachusetts Senate is probably better than never being Senate president at all.

Amid deepening reports of his allegedly meddling husband incinerating the “firewall” Rosenberg says he built to prevent such corruption, the pioneering lawmaker’s fall from grace continues.

When will it end? How far will it go?

Only a political observer the likes of Hitch could know for sure.

Sina-cism: Undermining your rights in the name of gun safety

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

On Feb. 1, an unknown number of law-abiding citizens among us became criminals.

They didn’t break into a jewelry store, assault their neighbors, embezzle money, cheat on their taxes, or have too much to drink and get behind the wheel.

These new Massachusetts lawbreakers simply happen to possess a bump stock, a device that uses a weapon’s recoil to increase its rate of fire. Two of the devices, which retail for about $100, were found at the scene of last fall’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, in which 58 concert-goers were killed and more than 500 wounded.

More reports of Hefner misdeeds spur concern, calls for Rosenberg’s ouster

New allegations of a breach in the supposed “firewall” between Sen. Stanley Rosenberg and his husband while the Amherst Democrat was leading that chamber prompted one Democratic candidate for governor this week to call for Rosenberg’s resignation. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said that, if true, there should be “no way” that Rosenberg be allowed to return as Senate president.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a longtime House member who led the House Ethics Committee before winning the mayoralty in 2013, also questioned how long the Senate could go before its lack of a permanent leader begins to impact state government.

In Sunday’s paper, the Globe reported that despite a purported firewall, Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner, had access to Rosenberg’s Senate email; lobbied for and then against an earmark for the Lancaster-based Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, where Hefner worked for a time; and gave direction to Rosenberg’s staff.

“If those allegations are true, and at this point they’re allegations, then I don’t see any way he could remain Senate president, no,” Baker told reporters Monday.

More allegations surfaced this week against Senate President Stanley Rosenberg’s now-separated husband, Bryon Hefner (at center).

Rosenberg, in a statement, repeated his past denial that Hefner had any influence over his actions as Senate president, but did not directly address the claims about access to email or other actions Hefner allegedly took to interfere with Senate business.
The latest allegations build on the newspaper’s previous reporting that Hefner had sexually assaulted and harassed four men involved in Massachusetts government and politics, and had claimed to hold influence in the Senate.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 239]: The Purple P.C. Eaters

Are you telling us we got Tommy Heinsohn all worked up for nothing?

Before he was a mercurial, referee-hating color commentator for the Celtics, Heinsohn was a legend on the hardwood whose career began on College Hill, back when men were men and Crusaders were Crusaders.

Tommy was among throngs of Holy Cross alums aghast at the idea of changing the school’s mascot to prevent religious and cultural offense. Well, he can rest easy … for now.

As for Hitch, he’s still on the warpath.

Caucuses signal political thaw as campaign season warms up

This is the first in a series of monthly notebooks chronicling the 2018 election season and its various campaigns, from the writers and reporters of State House News Service and Massachusetts Political Almanac.

As of today, the elections are nine months away, but the gestation period of political victories is longer.

While the official political calendar commenced with the opening of caucus season, and volunteers and staffers were out statewide to meet, greet and above all gather signatures, they didn’t just spontaneously decide to show up.

Campaigns came to life last fall, or back to life in the case of incumbents, and are for the most part morphing from the consultant to the staffer stage.

Worcester’s affordable housing gap

Before the 20th century, low-income housing was a fairly profitable investment. There was little regulation, and developers simply maximized density and minimized amenities.

Today, building codes have forced developers to add amenities and use space differently, which has taken away some of the profitability of developing affordable housing. While government programs to combat this have arguably helped, Worcester still has plenty of low-income renters paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing costs.