The Codcast: Pacheco Law punch-out
In what may be a precursor to a soon-to-come Beacon Hill debate on the Pacheco Law, state Auditor Suzanne Bump squared off with Greg Sullivan, research director at the right-leaning Pioneer Institute, to discuss (sometimes heatedly) the pros and cons of the law that regulates privatization of state services.
The Legislature approved a three-year suspension of the Pacheco Law at the MBTA as part of the state budget passed in mid-2015. T officials say the law’s suspension has been critical to their efforts to control costs and hold public sector unions in check. The T has privatized the operation of its money room and warehouse operations and is currently looking at outsourcing some of its bus maintenance operations.
In December, when the T signed a contract with the Boston Carmen’s Union that reined in employee compensation in return for job protection guarantees, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the agreement would not have been possible without suspension of the Pacheco Law. “Without outsourcing on the table, we would not have reached this agreement,” she said.
Bump, whose office oversees the administration of the Pacheco Law, scoffs at such talk. She said the T could have done all of its outsourcing and negotiated the Carmen’s Union contract even if the Pacheco Law had remained in effect. She said her job is to ensure that privatization initiatives are not being done to unfairly favor private contractors, and noted the T’s historical record on outsourcing has not been that good. (A union official pointed this week to the T’s Silver Line bus repairs as another example of outsourcing-gone-bad.)
Even so, Bump said, the auditor’s office has approved 14 of the 17 privatization requests to come before it. “We follow the law and we believe in accountability,” she said.
Bump angrily refuted Sullivan’s suggestion that she lets politics guide her enforcement of the Pacheco Law. She noted that, in another Pacheco Law dispute involving outsourcing at the Department of Mental Health, she ruled against a public sector union that had backed her politically and financially. Bump said the union sued her and she won.
A final note: The debate between Bump and Sullivan was spirited until the end, when tempers flared and Bump accused Sullivan of engaging in personal attacks and slander. It ended rather abruptly at that point.
Gov. Charlie Baker, in an editorial board meeting with MetroWest Daily News, said he wants a bill amending the legal marijuana initiative passed by voters on his desk by May and cited four areas he wants change: more local control, restrictions on edibles, a cap on potency, and limits on home grow to reduce the risk of black market sales.
Protesters interrupted Baker during an appearance at Tufts University, calling on him to be more aggressive in opposing President Trump’s immigration policies. (Boston Globe)
Baker appoints a commission to advise him on how to bring prosperity to black communities. Deborah Enos, the former CEO of Neighborhood Health Plan, will chair the group. (State House News)
A Herald editorial suggests the year they voted themselves a break in the form of big pay raise should not be the same one in which legislators again deny state residents the break of a sales-tax holiday, as they did last year.
A Gloucester Times editorial calls the Governor’s Council an embarrassment.
A disciplinary hearing for two suspended managers at the Fall River Housing Authority was halted amid accusations and heated exchanges about retaliation, FBI investigations, and charges of lying. (Herald News)
Sen. Eileen Donoghue of Lowell files a home rule petition that would require municipal candidates in her town to file 150 rather than just 50 signatures. The goal is to weed out non-serious candidates and eliminate the need for costly preliminary elections. (Lowell Sun)
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to tamp down media reports that Trump campaign officials were in frequent contact with Russian intelligence operatives during the campaign — a revelation of White House meddling in the investigation that Democrats say is alarming. (Associated Press) Trump promptly unloaded on the FBI this morning via his handheld weapon of choice.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he expects “greater enforcement” of federal laws against recreational marijuana use, signaling a crackdown on states that have legalized commercial pot. (Boston Globe)
White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon appears at a gathering of conservative activists and says the Trump administration is engaged in an unending battle for “deconstruction of the administrative state.” (Washington Post)
US Sen. Edward Markey bashed Trump at an “emergency town hall” meeting in Northampton. About 650 people filled the Smith College auditorium and hundreds more watched from an overflow room. (Berkshire Eagle)
US Rep. Seth Moulton has been unwavering in his harsh criticism of President Trump but has not been a fan of Democratic leadership either. (Greater Boston)
Vice President Mike Pence, a buttoned-down social conservative, is probably biting his tongue a lot at the wacky ways of the Trump White House, but he may be seeing it at all as a path to one day winning the top job himself, says James Pindell. (Boston Globe)
Trump is energizing Massachusetts Democrats. (Boston Globe)
Imitation and flattery? It turns out the “We are Boston” theme Tito Jackson rolled out for his mayoral challenge to Marty Walsh was used in campaign ads four years ago for Walsh’s successful run for the seat. (Boston Globe)
The wife of the one formally announced candidate and three would-be Democratic candidates for governor tried out their stuff in front of Cambridge Democrats (with a one-time Baker campaign tracker lurking in the shadows). (Politico)
Legal advocates say the Trump administration crackdown on illegal immigrants could be a boon to shady employers who take advantage of undocumented workers. (Boston Globe)
Dorchester’s waterfront Port Norfolk neighborhood is the target of big development plans. (Boston Globe)
A Newton developer says he’ll pursue a project via the state’s affordable housing law that allows projects to skirt local approval after getting continually held up by local objections to his plans. (Boston Globe)
Google‘s self-driving car spinoff has filed suit against Uber claiming the ride-hailing tech company is using information stolen from its computers to develop its own autonomous vehicles. (New York Times)
Mitt Romney denies a report that he’s looking to acquire a stake in the loathsome New York Yankees, a move that, if true, would mark his final diss of the state whose highest office he once held. (Boston Herald)
Public colleges and universities are increasingly buying or leasing private planes for use by their athletic departments as a perk to entice coaches and recruits. (Associated Press)
A Boston Foundation report says the number of families seeking shelter in Massachusetts more than doubled in the last nine years. (Associated Press)
Craig Hughes, the head of a T workers union, says outsourcing isn’t working out so well with Silver Line bus repairs in Maine. (CommonWealth)
Environmental advocates say the Baker administration’s solicitation for clean energy is biased in favor of hydroelectricity projects favored by some of the state’s utilities. (CommonWealth)
Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will discuss in detail the results of their findings from an intensive review of safety and operations at the Pilgrim power plant at a public meeting March 21, a process usually done privately with the plant’s owner. (Cape Cod Times)
Two Connecticut Indian tribes are days away from announcing plans to open a relatively small casino valued at $200 to $300 million near the Connecticut-Massachusetts border as a way to stem the loss of sales to the MGM casino under construction in Springfield. (MassLive)
A Middleton man who was carjacked by a suspect in a Peabody double murder recounts his harrowing tale. (Boston Herald)
State Trooper Nicholas Holden made his own videos of his traffic stops, which reveal his disregard for those he pulled over and at times contradict what he included in his arrest reports. (WCVB Ch. 5)
UTEC combats gang violence with mattresses, yes mattresses. (WBUR)
The family of a 19-year-old Roxbury man fatally shot on Tuesday says he might not have been killed if police had solved the nonfatal shooting he was a victim of in November. (Boston Herald)
The owner of a Boston drain company is arraigned on manslaughter charges in connection with the death last October of two workers at his firm who were killed when a trench collapsed on them in the South End. (Boston Herald)PASSINGS
Mildred Dresselhaus, the first woman to be appointed a full professor at MIT and who worked diligently to advance the cause of women in science, has died at the age of 86. She was known in scientific circles as the “Queen of carbon” for her pioneering research and use of the material and was featured in a GE commercial recently asking, “What if Millie Dresselhaus were as famous as any celebrity?” (New York Times)