Vennochi, Herald miss the point

Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi and the Boston Herald editorial page rush to the defense of the Beacon Hill insiders who last week pushed through legislation tweaking the timetable of the marijuana legalization law passed by voters in November.

Vennochi, who voted against pot legalization, tells pot lovers to take a chill pill. She says the ballot question’s timetable for retail sales of marijuana was too fast and “the state is right to assert its control over the process” by delaying the start of sales by six months.

The Herald takes a different path to a similar conclusion. The tabloid’s editorial says lawmakers employed “no tricks” in passing the delay and chides unnamed progressives for not raising a similar stink when lawmakers refused to comply with a law passed by voters requiring the rollback of an income tax hike.

Both Vennochi and the Herald seem to miss the point. Beacon Hill pols were probably wise to delay implementation of the newly passed pot law, but the way they did it was terrible. They passed the measure on Wednesday with no advance notice during informal mid-holiday sessions attended by just a handful of lawmakers. Gov. Charlie Baker then signed the bill into law on Friday, just before the New Year’s holiday.

If everything was on the up and up, why not take action this week, when everyone is around and there can be a legitimate debate about the delay? The answer is obvious: Beacon Hill insiders preferred to alter a voter-approved law when no one was looking.

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

It’s 2017 (Happy New Year!), but today is the last day of the 2015-2016 legislative session, and there are several bills that could see action before the clock runs out and the process starts over again. Trash, and what to do with it, is the focus of one dispute between the branches. (CommonWealth) And a Gloucester Times editorial wonders why the House and Senate can’t get to agreement on a bill cracking down on metal thefts.

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas trashes outgoing US Attorney Carmen Ortiz for her now-overturned convictions of three top Probation Department officials for engaging in good, old-fashioned patronage.

Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, says it’s time for everyone to step up to the threat of a Donald Trump presidency. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS 

A Globe editorial says the US attorney’s office should complete its investigation of alleged labor shenanigans quickly so that there is some resolution one way or another before Boston Mayor Marty Walsh faces reelection in November.

An incoming Barnstable County Commissioner, who once served time in federal prison for threatening the lives of the late senator Ted Kennedy, former president George H.W. Bush, and others, is raising concerns over some bizarre antics since the election including seeking a personal waiver of the state’s Open Meeting Law. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

In a surprising secret vote, House Republicans moved to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics despite opposition from several GOP leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan. (New York Times) According to a confidential report by the Office of Congressional Ethics, 10 lawmakers (six Democrats and four Republicans) and dozens of staff members took all-expenses-paid trips in 2013 to a  conference hosted by the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic. (Washington Post)

US Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to bring pot shops out of a banking limbo. (Associated Press)

Newly uncovered notes from an aide to Richard Nixon indicate the disgraced former president subverted peace talks with North Vietnam through back channels while he ran for the office in 1968 to prevent then-vice president Hubert Humphrey from getting an electoral bounce should the talks succeed. (New York Times)

Howie Carr’s family Christmas letter gets mixed up with his columns and printed in the Herald, as he shares news that he and his family were among the very chosen people at Donald Trump’s very exciting New Year’s Eve party — and that one daughter scored a White House internship in the process and a second one, now a sophomore at Boston College, may have one waiting for her upon graduation. (Boston Herald)

EDUCATION 

A state commission is planning to release recommendations for schools for dealing with a rise in suicide attempts by Massachusetts students. (Boston Herald)

The number of reported sexual assaults on college campuses in the area was up in the latest federal report on the data, an indication, observers say, of effective outreach and heightened response by school administrators and law enforcement officials. (The Enterprise)

MassBay Community College has become the latest to offer free tuition to graduates of Boston public schools who enroll at one of the college’s three suburban campuses. (MetroWest Daily News)

Allan Weatherwax is named provost of Merrimack College in North Andover. Weatherwax has been serving as dean of Merrimack’s School of Science and Engineering. (Eagle-Tribune)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE 

More than half of US doctors have cut back on prescribing opioids in the wake of the addiction crisis, but more than a third of physicians responding to a national survey think the practice has harmed patients suffering from chronic pain. (Boston Globe)

MassHealth is considering making it harder for older residents to maintain special health needs trust funds while still qualifying for nursing home coverage and other care. (Boston Globe)

A Methuen 10-month-old was airlifted to Tufts Medical Center and revived after somehow ingesting the powerful opiate fentanyl. (Boston Herald)

The Massachusetts Medical Society votes to conduct a survey of physician attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide, a possible sign of the group’s shift away from steadfast opposition. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

A Milton man was killed when his car was hit by a commuter rail train in Holbrook after he drove around the gates at a crossing trying to get through. (Patriot Ledger)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT 

A group of Chelsea activists is suing Exxon Mobil, charging that the company is negligent in not protecting the community from the effects of climate change. (Boston Globe) Damali Vidot, vice president of the Chelsea City Council, calls Exxon’s storage terminal a ticking time bomb. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS 

Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian helps lead an effort to divert inmates with mental and substance abuse issues from the criminal justice system. In 2015, 46 percent of incoming inmates at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction had a history of mental illness and 43 percent had to be detoxed. (Lowell Sun)

A state and federal manhunt is underway to track down a man who escaped from a Rhode Island detention facility and is believed to be in Massachusetts. The man, identified as James Morales, is accused of stealing weapons from a Worcester armory. (Telegram & Gazette)

A spate of “flash mob” thefts where a gang of shoplifters descend on an electronics store and steal thousands of dollars of display merchandise in seconds has retailers concerned because of the increased use of social media to organize the raids. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA 

Globe editor Brian McGrory sends a rally/marketing missive to the troops in advance of his planned unveiling of the “reinvented” paper. (Media Nation)