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.

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.

Inbox [Feb. 7]: News and notes about Worcester Economic Index and Massachusetts Small Business Development Center

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 economic growth slows

The greater Worcester economy grew at roughly 1.0 percent during the fourth quarter of 2017, down slightly from the revised 1.3-percent figure realized in during the third quarter, according to the latest update of the Worcester Economic Index.

The WEI, which is included in the Worcester Economic Indicators report released each quarter by Assumption College Professor of Economics Thomas White, Ph.D., is an estimate of local economic activity based on recent Worcester-area employment and unemployment data.

“While the area continued to add jobs in the fourth quarter, this year’s numbers showed less of a seasonal bump than usual, which contributed to the slow growth of the WEI at the end of the year,” White said. “The December unemployment rate for Worcester was 3.3 percent, which is still below both the state and national estimates.”

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.

Worcester’s Power Players, a more definitive list

If we are going to honor the developers, we also have to acknowledge the role of those who create the crucial infrastructure of a vital built environment – the artists, the preservationists, the tree huggers and the tree planters. … They too are the “power players.”

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 238]: The ascension of another Kennedy, a response

President Trump gave his State of the Union address last week.

It was as tremendous as we all expected.

Since 1966, the annual dog-and-pony show has been followed by a rebuttal from a rising or established star of the opposing party. Future presidents George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton have all had the honor.

This time it was Bobby Kennedy’s grandson, Joseph P. Kennedy III, a fresh face for the aging Dems.

Hitch, much like Tomi Lahren, was not impressed.