Baker talks tough on Syrian refugees

In times of crisis, elected leaders don’t want to appear indecisive. When the Tsarnaev brothers went on their Boston Marathon rampage, former governor Deval Patrick shut down the city. When the Islamic State claimed responsibility for blowing up a Russian airliner over Egypt, President Vladimir Putin vowed to hunt down those responsible to the ends of the earth. And when terrorists attacked multiple targets in and around Paris, French President Francois Hollande launched airstrikes in Syria and promised to destroy the Islamic State.

Tough talk is commonplace in tough times, so it was no surprise that half the nation’s governors, including Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, vowed on Monday to block the entry of Syrian refugees into their states. All but one of the governors were Republicans; New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan was the lone Democrat.

Baker, a wildly popular governor in Massachusetts, has generally focused on his job and  stayed out of national and international politics. But he took a slightly nuanced stand against accepting Syrian refugees (the Boston Globe called it a “relatively careful concern”), one that appeared to be at odds with his earlier support for accepting them, and set off a firestorm.

The Globe rushed out an editorial that harshly criticized Baker. “While security concerns are reasonable in the wake of a terrorist attack, this knee-jerk reaction is not,” the Globe said.

Patricia Murphy, writing in The Daily Beast, called the governors “clueless,” in part because refugee policies are set by the federal government, not state governments. The Boston Herald’s Bob McGovern pointed out that neither Baker nor any other governor has authority to control who does or doesn’t enter their state. Refugee groups criticized the governor’s statements and Syrian refugees in Worcester decried Baker’s stance.

But others were not so quick to condemn the governor. UMass Boston political science professor Maurice Cunningham said the criticism of Baker itself seemed knee-jerk and ignored comments from Democratic pols that also seemed to hedge their position on the refugee issue. A Herald editorial took a similar position, saying Baker “isn’t channeling his inner Donald Trump. He’s doing his job.”

Acts of terrorism wreak havoc and stir up fears and emotions, which is their goal. The Item in Lynn reported that many people in the area were canceling trips to France because of terrorist concerns. An editorial in the newspaper lamented the trip cancellations, suggesting they mean the terrorists have succeeded and “we are contributing to terrorism’s ultimate victory.”



Gov. Charlie Baker testified on behalf of his opioid bill and its controversial provision to allow hospitals to involuntarily confine addicts for up to 72 hours. (Boston Globe) The Associated Press account is here. The Massachusetts Medical Society calls for changes to that provision and one limiting an initial opioid prescription  to a three-day supply of medication. (WBUR)

Solar advocates slam a net metering bill released by the House Ways and Means Committee Monday night and scheduled for a vote by the full House on Tuesday. (CommonWealth)

A new poll finds Baker is Mr. Popularity in Massachusetts, but his MBTA is not. (CommonWealth)

Baker faces questions about his effort, which was ultimately scuttled by the Senate, to get legislative clearance for his revenue commissioner to remain on two corporate boards while serving in his state position overseeing tax policy and collections. (Boston Globe)


A Stoughton School Committee member is going forward with his complaint about an Open Meeting Law violation after the board failed to resolve his issue. (The Enterprise)

The Lowell Target and the Tewksbury Home Depot are checked for bombs after police say they received threats that turned out to be from a mentally ill person. (The Sun)


Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders gives Wynn Resorts the green light to take depositions of one of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s top aides and his outside counsel in a bid to find out who leaked subpoenas to the Boston Globe. Wynn Resorts says the city’s subpoenas were libelous. (CommonWealth)

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) may appeal a court ruling that ended their plans for a Martha’s Vineyard bingo hall.


France is seeking the support of European Union countries in its military attacks on the Islamic State. (Associated Press)

A judge in Utah who had ordered a foster child to be removed from a married lesbian couple but then reversed himself has recused himself from the case with no explanation. (New York Times)

Mosques across the United States experience vandalism after the Paris attacks.


Donald Trump says he’d be open to shutting down mosques in the United States in the wake of the Paris attacks, an idea he says should at least be studied. (New York Times)


A Washington, DC-based nonprofit with New Bedford connections is seeking to form a national coalition of commercial fishermen to advocate for the industry’s interests. (Standard-Times)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is turning up the heat on DraftKings and FanDuel. (Boston Globe)

More cranes on the skyline: The HYM Investment Group reveals its plans for a mammoth Government Center garage project which be  one of the largest construction projects in Boston. Meanwhile, Massport updates its plans for a South Boston hotel project. (Boston Business Journal)

A Boston Harbor dredging project and a buried power line not buried enough have prompted a lawsuit by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority against Eversource Energy. (Boston Globe)


Nearly 1 million foreign students — the most ever — came to the United States to study last year, a 10 percent increase from the year before. (U.S. News & World Report)

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A Gloucester survey inds 39 percent of students at the O’Maley Innovation Middle School and 24 percent at the high school say they have been bullied in the last year. (Gloucester Times)


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High deductible plans sold under the Affordable Care Act are proving to be unaffordable, as subscribers face huge out-of-pocket costs before coverage kicks in. (Boston Globe)


US Rep. Seth Moulton jumps on board the North-South Rail Link bandwagon. (State House News Service)


The lawyer defending Philip Chism, the Danvers High School student who is accused of killing his teacher Colleen Ritzer, claims his client was suffering from a psychotic disorder. (Eagle-Tribune) Ritzer’s mother will take the stand at the start of Chism’s trial today. (Boston Herald)

A federal judge has ruled that Boston police promotional exam discriminates against black officers. (Boston Herald)

An audit of the Dracut Police Department finds that officers were required to write at least two tickets a day, a policy officials say is illegal in Massachusetts. (The Sun)

Federal Judge Mark Wolf has rejected a motion by prosecutors that he recuse himself from the death penalty retrial of serial killer Gary Lee Sampson because he had a chance meeting with a defense witness at a Martha’s Vineyard cocktail party. (Patriot Ledger)