Hefner causing unwelcome laughs

It’s hard to say who is the punch line in the saga of Bryon Hefner, the 28-year-old fiancé of Senate President Stan Rosenberg, whose loose-cannon persona is causing headaches for the once-perceived serious progressive policy wonk who has overcome a lifetime of obstacles to lead the historic chamber. But one thing is clear: People are laughing.

Hefner’s latest attempt – intentionally or unintentionally – to make Rosenberg cringe came to a screeching halt one day after it was floated that the former Senate intern-turned-public relations executive, now unemployed, was giving serious consideration to a run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Anthony Petruccelli of East Boston. It had holiday recess filler written all over it as those inside the State House and in the media jumped on the story with bemusement and befuddlement for so many reasons, not the least of which is Hefner’s total lack of experience. And lack of ties to the district. And lack of recognition. Other than that, he would have been viable.

Hefner’s confirmation to Politico that he was eyeing a run did not cause backroom giggles; it triggered open guffawing and no one held back. The Boston Globe‘s Yvonne Abraham used her column as a faux “Love Letters” with a plea from “Stan from Amherst” for advice about his fiancé making his job as the “boss” difficult by meddling in the office’s affairs.

“Look, I love the guy, but this is hard,” Fake Stan wrote. “I’m a serious person, but his antics have turned me into a joke.”

An empathetic Abraham responded, “Your fiancé must find his own life, and career, for both your sakes. He seems like a resourceful guy, adept at social media, hungry for attention, and good at getting his own way.”

Here at CommonWealthour headline on the State House News story had a touch of snark to it: “No go: Hefner’s ‘due diligence’ didn’t take long,” a reference to a Rosenberg comment during an uncomfortable Q&A with the Globe on Tuesday that Hefner was doing “due diligence” in looking at the race.

Some readers of the stories on several sites said the coverage of Hefner’s dalliance with the race had an undertone of homophobia, given the relationship between Rosenberg and Hefner, not to mention their 38-year age difference. Rosenberg himself told Boston Herald Radio Thursday morning he thinks the attention comes because he’s an openly gay politician. Perhaps there is some of that, but it appears to be more of the track record Hefner is building up in making head-scratching decisions for which Rosenberg is forced to explain and apologize.

Whether it’s meeting with senators last year as Rosenberg was ready to assume his new post and talking committee assignments with them, apparently without Rosenberg’s knowledge or consent, or tweeting out disparaging remarks about then-Senate president Therese Murray, or circulating a picture of him with Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Hefner has made a name for himself that has nothing to do with professional accomplishments. The Globe‘s first-day story about the potential run even included a fascinating nugget that Hefner had talked to some Amherst Democrats about possibly challenging his boyfriend for the Senate seat, which Rosenberg denied.

It’s fair to say if this was a heterosexual relationship or one between generational peers, the actions would still be news. There is a history of political spouses and significant others making life tough for those in the spotlight. Remember Martha Mitchell, wife of former Attorney General John Mitchell? Margaret Trudeau, the wife of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau? More locally and recently, Patrice Tierney, the wife of John Tierney. Her family did the ousted congressman no favors.

The problems transcend sexual orientation, age, even politics. It is a messy and evolving private life playing out in full public view and the roadside wreck gawkers are having a field day. Little, if any of it, is of Rosenberg’s doing.

But not being his fault doesn’t negate that it’s Rosenberg’s job to put the toothpaste back in the tube and he’s not doing a very good job of it. His responses to the questions from the Globe‘s Josh Miller during the livestreamed interview about Hefner having the “right to run” and dodging questions about his view on the matter didn’t help.

As Abraham aptly put it, quoting Emily Dickinson, “The heart wants what it wants.” But Rosenberg, who has admitted he’s never been in a serious relationship before, has to learn to use his head.

JACK SULLIVAN

 

BEACON HILL

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg calls for lowering the target rate of return on the state’s pension fund. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Globe names Boston 2024 rivals John Fish, who dreamed of a Boston Olympics, and Chris Dempsey, who succeeded in painting the effort as a fiscal and planning nightmare, “Bostonians of the Year.”

The Boston City Council votes to allow patrons to bring their own beer and wine into restaurants. Now rules need to be developed to make it happen. (WBUR) Meanwhile, the body’s two longest serving members, Charles Yancey and Steve Murphy, both ousted in last month’s election, bid farewell at their final council meeting. (Boston Globe)

A Hingham policeman at the center of a $40,000 anonymous letter investigation is indicted on insurance fraud. (CommonWealth)

WBUR profiles Fall River’s newly elected 24-year-old mayor, Jasiel Correia.

CASINOS

A Herald editorial does some cheerleading for the state’s nascent casino industry, saying it is producing jobs and revenue for the state even if the Plainridge slots parlor’s performance has been way under the projected estimates.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A troubling investigative report in the New York Times details the alleged beating of Afghan detainees by US SEALS that resulted in at least one of the prisoner’s deaths. The incident was apparently covered up by Navy officials who did not bring charges despite four American soldiers as witnesses.

The Federal Reserve raises interest rates. (Time) The hike is the first of several the Fed plans over the next year to raise rates by about 1 percent and start bringing some normalcy back to monetary policies. (U.S. News & World Report)

A mistrial is declared in the initial Freddie Gray case. Gray, a black man, died in police custody in Baltimore and six police officers have been charged in connection with his death. (Time)

Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP who was ousted after it was revealed she is actually white, says race is a state of mind, not a matter of genetics. (Guardian)

Pope Francis‘s visit to the US earlier this year triggered an increase in giving, especially among Catholics, according to a new poll. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

ELECTIONS

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, once fast friends in the US Senate, have turned on each other big-time as each positions to become the solid conservative alternative to Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. (Boston Globe)

Ya think? Lindsey Graham says the intense “dislike” of President Obama is “unhealthy.” (Christian Science Monitor)

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, borrowing a tactic from William Lantigua, the man he ousted, posted a searchable database on his Facebook page of all of the people who have signed a petition seeking his recall. He is asking for help in identifying forged signatures. (Eagle-Tribune)

Framingham schedules a March vote on whether residents want to adopt a city form of government.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Tracked down: Forbes profiles gossip columnist-turned-baker Laura Raposa.

EDUCATION

Swampscott High School principal Edward Rozmiarek resigns due to allegations of inappropriate use of school computers. No details were provided. (Salem News)

Two views on charter schools: Kathie Skinner says charters claim better outcomes, but actually teach a different population than district schools, while Cara Stillings Candal says charters are doing a good job recruiting and teaching English language learners. (CommonWealth)

Fall River Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown, whose future was murky with a new mayor and several members of the School Committee being non-committal about renewing her contract, formally accepted the superintendent position in Barnstable. The new positions pays more money and the district is half the size. (Cape Cod Times)

Dartmouth parents are upset they were not notified about the abrupt removal of the high school’s resource officer after an alleged disagreement between the officer and the principal over security measures. (Standard-Times)

An effort to recall Mashpee School Committee chairman Scott McGee is underway led by another local educational official who thinks that he is too close to the Mashpee Superintendent Brian Hyde, who faces criminal charges related to allegedly visiting student’s home unannounced.

Adjunct instructors at Northeastern University are threatening a one-day strike if they don’t have a contract by January 19. (Boston Globe)

More than 13 percent of UMass employees earn more than $100,000. (Boston Herald)

The head of the right-leaning Beacon Hill Institute think tank, which was cut loose from its long-time base at Suffolk University, said the organization may find a home within another group and remain afloat. (Boston Herald)

Opportunity Youth United, a Boston-area youth group wants to establish a national movement to fight youth poverty.

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Andrew Dreyfus, the president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, offers a poignant meditation on the end-of-life decisions made by his parents and brother. (Boston Globe)

The state Department of Children and Families fired 10 workers who failed to pass and obtain a social work license, as required by a law passed last year in response to problems with the department’s oversight of child welfare cases. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

It’s official: The operator of the runaway MBTA train is no longer a T employee. (WBUR)

Charles Chieppo offers some advice on how to fix the T. (Harvard Kennedy School)

The MBTA wants the Boston Herald to pay more than $2,300 for information on whether any new hires at the agency have close relatives who are in elected office or significant public posts, a disclosure required under a 2011 reform law. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The state AFL-CIO has filed a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of five Teamsters being charged in federal court with extortion for trying to intimidate a TV production to hire union workers. (Boston Globe)

The Supreme Judicial Court rejected an appeal by convicted child-killing pedophile Charles Jaynes to change his name to reflect his Wiccan religious conversion. (The Enterprise)

The owner of a Brockton driving school was arrested by State Police and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. While in custody, he allegedly went on a drunken tirade in his cell, smearing the walls with his feces. (The Enterprise)

A Saugus couple, both of them teachers, is headed for jail for allowing underage drinking at their home. (The Item)

MEDIA

The FBI disputes reports in the New York Times and elsewhere that the alleged assailants in the San Bernardino massacre were espousing radical tendencies on social media. (Washington Post)

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson takes a lot of heat from readers for her earlier column dissing the megastar singer Adele.

The Washington Post and the New York Times can both claim victories on the digital front. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

The mystery owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal turns out to be Sheldon Adelson, the Dorchester-born, hard-core Republican who now owns Las Vegas Sands Corp. (Fortune) The Review-Journal reports that Adelson’s son-in-law orchestrated the purchase.