Choices and consequences
Elections have consequences. And the message of the last election appears to be if you didn’t vote for Donald Trump, prepare to face the consequences.
The latest reminder comes in the form of a threatening letter from the Justice Department to 23 so-called sanctuary cities, counties, and states, including Lawrence, to comply with an order to turn over documents to prove they are cooperating with federal officials on identifying illegal immigrants. The letter threatens to withhold criminal justice grants for those who fail to comply
“Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement – enough is enough.”
Sessions offered no specifics about the threats but the timing of the letter – just hours before President Trump was slated to meet with a delegation of the nation’s mayors – gives the threat an aura of political theater as well as policy enforcement.
“Instead of helping the good guys by working on a solution for the Dreamers or a path to citizenship, they are focusing on imaginary bad guys,’ Rivera said in a statement. “Lawrence is not harboring undocumented criminals.”
The letter was a follow-up to the initial demand made of the nearly 29 municipalities and states last November seeking documentation. The one common thread in all the districts? Every one voted for Hillary Clinton, including several in states that went for Trump.
The US Conference of Mayors had a scheduled White House meeting Wednesday with Trump on infrastructure when word of the Sessions’ letter got out. They canceled the meeting, though some went anyway, and Trump labeled the boycott a stunt, failing to see the irony.
“The mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal, illegal immigrants over law-abiding America,” Trump said, repeating a message his administration has been hammering of late.
Among those receiving letters were Louisville, in one of only two of Kentucky’s 120 counties that voted Democrat, as well as Jackson, Mississippi, and West Palm Beach, Florida, which also bucked their red states’ trend. The states of California, Illinois, and Oregon also received the threatening letters, which comes as no surprise since the states of California, Illinois, and Oregon cast their electoral votes for Clinton.
Lawrence, with its heavy Hispanic population, and Burlington, Vermont, in a state with just 4.5 percent of its population foreign-born, were the only New England cities to get the threat. They are also in areas that voted 2-1 for Clinton.
It’s a coincidence that’s beginning to reveal a pattern. The Justice Department’s rescission of an Obama era guidance that had allowed states to legalize recreational marijuana has a direct impact on eight states – seven of whom, including Massachusetts, voted for Clinton. Only Alaska, among the legal pot states, voted for Trump.
But what Florida has, in addition to voting for Trump, is a Republican governor who the White House is urging to run for Senate and who will be helped by the waiver. Oh, and Florida’s coast is home to a place called Mar-a-Lago, which also goes by the name of the “winter White House.”
Elections have consequences.
Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed $40.9 billion budget for 2019 takes another stab at shifting about 140,000 low-income Medicaid recipients off that program and into subsidized private insurance plans, but the Senate’s top budget writer expresses doubts about the move. (Boston Globe) With the economy humming, why isn’t the state budget running a big surplus? (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial decries the “whining” of those who always want to see more spending, zeroing in on Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz who said K-12 education funding has not kept pace with inflation.
Baker criticized the way a state agency has gone about making changes in state employee health coverage options that have public employee unions and several top Democratic officials livid. (Boston Globe)
The state Civil Service Commission sharply criticized Quincy’s “seriously flawed” process for hiring firefighters and what it called a legally indefensible background questionnaire that is outdated and asks overly broad questions that are “impossible” to answer. (Patriot Ledger)
Worcester city councilors are due a 2.5 percent raise, which will bring their pay to $32,320, but two councilors say they won’t accept the pay hike. (Telegram & Gazette)
US Attorney Andrew Lelling continues to keep everyone guessing on marijuana, saying he may prosecute even hourly wage employees at pot dispensaries. (State House News) Sen. Elizabeth Warren is leading a bipartisan coalition of 54 members of Congress who are pushing the Trump administration to restore the federal government’s previous “hands-off” approach to prosecution of marijuana cases that involve state-approved sale of pot. (Boston Globe)
President Trump now says he will speak under oath to special counsel Robert Mueller in the investigation into Russia meddling with the elections but added “subject to my lawyers, and all that.” (New York Times)
Residents who fled storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and advocates in the Boston area say the arrivals here are getting short shrift from FEMA in their pursuit of emergency housing assistance. (Boston Herald)
Raise Up Massachusetts, the group behind ballot questions raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich, and mandating paid medical and family leave raised $700,000 last year, mostly from labor unions and liberal groups. (Gloucester Times)
The speaker of the House in Rhode Island said he is willing to sit down with Pawtucket Red Sox officials to discuss a bill that might keep the Red Sox triple-A club in Pawtucket. He had earlier said a stadium financing bill passed by the Senate was dead on arrival in his branch. (Telegram & Gazette)
General Electric says it’s under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting irregularities. (Boston Globe)
The abrupt bankruptcy filing by Zoots dry cleaning has left thousands of customers unable to retrieve clothes they had dropped off before the company closed its 17 stores this week. (MetroWest Daily News)
The new Whole Foods store in Shrewsbury opening on the site of the iconic Spags discount store will be an ode to the late Anthony “Spag” Borgatti, with the widely recognized Spags marquee and a wall mural of Borgatti and his famous cowboy hat among the decorations. (MetroWest Daily News)
The Fall River City Council approved plans for a new Durfee High School at a cost of $263.5 million, with the state picking up 62.5 percent of the pricetag, making it one of the most expensive schools in the state if approved by voters and the School Building Authority. (Herald News)
More than 200 activists gathered yesterday at Harvard calling on the university to divest its holdings in Baupost Group, a Boston-based hedge fund that holds nearly $1 billion in Puerto Rico’s debt, arguing that the debt is holding back recovery efforts there. (Boston Globe)
The University of Massachusetts Boston, which is facing budget troubles, is putting up for sale the 20-acre site of the former Baystate Expo Center, hoping to cash in on a hot real estate market that could see the parcel fetch $200 million or more. (Boston Globe)
Salem school officials plan to close the Bowditch elementary school in a desire to end segregation at the school. (Salem News)
Boston City Councilor Annisa Essaibi-George, the new chair of the council’s education committee, plans to hold hearings on the idea of returning to an elected school committee. (Dorchester Reporter)
A Globe editorial calls for more research to improve the flu vaccine.
Harvard increased its support for West Station, offering the state $8 million for an interim approach (simple commuter rail) and $50 million for a complete, multi-modal facility. (CommonWealth)
Quincy officials are ramping up their opposition to the planned rebuilding of Long Island Bridge, with several elected officials telling a legislative hearing Wednesday that water transportation should be looked at more closely as an alternative. (Patriot Ledger)
Lawmakers from Berkshire County urged Gov. Charlie Baker to put someone from their region on his future of transportation commission. (Berkshire Eagle)
Matthew Beaton, the governor’s secretary of energy and environmental affairs, called the burning of nearly 2 million barrels of oil during the recent cold snap an economic and environmental disaster. (State House News) CommonWealth first reported the heavy reliance on oil in New England.
The state has given the okay for Nantucket bay scallops to be harvested and eaten following a million-gallon sewage discharge but local officials warned that shuckers could still be sickened by the liquids in the shellfish. (Cape Cod Times)
A group proposing a 1.1 million square foot marijuana cultivation facility in North Andover is offering the municipality $5 million a year for 20 years. (Eagle-Tribune)
Saying “I just signed your death warrant,” a Michigan judge sentenced Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the US women’s gymnastics team, to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting as many as 160 young girls, many of whom gave impassioned victims’ impact statements including gold medal winner and Needham native Aly Raisman. (New York Times)
More trouble at the State Police: this episode, detailed in a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination complaint filed by a trooper, involves porn, a fake Taser gun, and a now-ended relationship between two officers. (Boston Herald)
MEDIAJoan Vennochi comes to Megyn Kelly’s defense against attacks from “TV’s liberal mean girls.” (Boston Globe)
The posh male-only charity fundraiser in the UK was shut down after an undercover reporter for the Financial Times detailed all the groping of “hostesses” that went on. (Time)