Zombie politics

Stephen Murphy lost his at-large Boston City Council seat in last week’s election, but a delicious piece of gossip buzzing through political circles has him rising from the political dead thanks to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi reports the gossip may be nothing more than “wishful thinking on Murphy’s part,” but she proceeds to concoct a political chain reaction that would put Murphy back on the council despite being rejected by voters.

According to Vennochi, Baker would nominate Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley to a judgeship. Baker would then appoint Michael Flaherty, fresh from his reelection victory to an at-large Boston City Council seat, to the DA’s job, leaving an opening that Murphy could fill since he was the next-highest vote-getter in the race for at-large council seats. (Four incumbents and newcomer Annissa Essaibi-George ran for four at-large seats and Murphy came in fifth.)

Vennochi suggests Baker might orchestrate this game of musical chairs to garner support among Boston Democratic powerbrokers and to help Flaherty, who supported him in his run for governor. It sounds plausible but highly unlikely, particularly now that everyone is watching.

Murphy isn’t exactly a sympathetic figure over at the Globe. The newspaper reported in June that Murphy had hired Robert Powers, a friend and neighbor in Hyde Park, as a $75,000-a-year aide even though Powers had been fired from his job as clerk magistrate at Barnstable District Court. In October there was a story on the easygoing work habits of city councillors, which suggested Murphy didn’t spend much time in the office and spent many winter workdays in Florida.

Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham has almost made it her mission to oust Murphy from the council. In a late October column, she implored voters to get rid of him. “Anybody would be better than Murphy,” she wrote. “If a Roomba had declared an at-large candidacy this year, I would urge you to vote for the robotic cleaning device.”




The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court asks the US Justice Department, Attorney General Maura Healey, and the State Ethics Commission to investigate how a sealed transcript of House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s 2010 testimony on hiring practices at the Probation Department was leaked to the Boston Globe. The Globe used the transcript to question DeLeo’s truthfulness in a story in late October, but the newspaper also had portions of the transcript as early as January 2011. (CommonWealth)

DeLeo is promising action on a public records bill before the Legislature breaks for Thanksgiving but the legislation is facing pushback from police and municipal officials. (Salem News)

A Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report decries the draining in recent years of money from the state’s rainy day fund meant to shore up the budget during tough fiscal times. CommonWealth spotlighted the trend last spring and again in September.

A Boston Herald editorial praises Gov. Charlie Baker‘s veto of a measure that would mandate spending 0.5 percent of any state capital project over $4 million on public art installations.

Baker touts his opioid legislation, telling a business group, “I don’t want to be the governor who ends up presiding over 2,500 opioid deaths, or 3,000 in one year … or 3,500. Especially when there are things that can be done to deal with this.” (Boston Herald) Eight Massachusetts sheriffs announce their backing for the bill. (Boston Globe)


Cape towns are preparing for the worst this winter and are raising their snow removal rates for contractors. (Cape Cod Times)

Boston restaurants will begin getting letter grades based on the results of health and sanitation inspections, a system that has been in place for years in New York, Los Angeles, and other cities. (Boston Globe)

Departing Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter is asking the City Council to approve a transfer of $1.1 million from the rainy day fund to the sanitation budget as mandated by the Department of Revenue, a move that will essentially deplete the stabilization fund for the new administration. (Herald News)

The ACLU of Massachusetts has stepped in on behalf of panhandlers in New Bedford who have been the focus of an effort by police to stem the begging, which the civil rights group says is a constitutionally protected form of speech. (Standard-Times)


Twin Rivers made its final push to the Tiverton, R.I., Town Council for their proposed casino just over the Massachusetts border next to Fall River, hoping to get a jump on any Bay State facility. (Herald News)


All eyes will be on Marco Rubio during tonight’s GOP presidential debate, writes the Herald‘s Chris Cassidy.Keller@Large says the debate tonight should focus on veteran’s issues, which would acknowledge their needs as well as avoid the circus that has appeared in the last few encounters.

Northeastern professor Bill Kirtz wonders if polling reflects or drives public opinion. (Media Nation)

Brockton City Councilor Shaynah Barnes says she will run for the state representative seat that opened up when Rep. Michael Brady won last week’s special election to the Senate. (The Enterprise)

A Salem News editorial says Americans are developing a sad tradition of not voting in elections. Meanwhile, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse thanks voters for voting…for him. (MassLive)

Why the Democrats probably won’t win the South. (Christian Science Monitor)


Ben Affleck is coming to Lawrence this week to film scenes for his latest movie Live by Night. (Eagle-Tribune)

A small number of giant outsourcing companies are cornering the market on H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers by flooding the process with thousands of applications for the limited number that is available, increasing their odds of winning one of the coveted visas. (New York Times)

Charitable giving is up worldwide but down in the United States, according to a Gallup survey done in 140 countries. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)


Boston-area journalist Charlie Pierce, who writes a national politics blog for Esquire, sends Boston City Hall into a tizzy with an item likening Marty Walsh to Wisconsin’s anti-union privatizing governor, Scott Walker. Pierce says Boston’s mayor has pulled a 180 since his campaign for office and is now in bed with ed reform “grifters” pushing charter schools and that he plans to close 36 district schools. The Walsh administration fired back with a statement saying the item was “untrue and unsourced” and that there are no plans to close three dozen schools. On the broader charter school issue, Pierce seems unaware that Walsh sounded support for charters during his campaign two years ago, and served for years on the board of a Dorchester charter school. Pierce fired back Monday night with an email to Boston.com, saying his piece was neither untrue nor unsourced — and questioning City Hall’s reading comprehension skills.

A survey of students in Gloucester schools finds alcohol use dropping but marijuana use increasing slightly. (Gloucester Times)

An Item editorial praises the idea of vocational education, saying Americans can’t build things until they learn to fix them.

Westerly, R.I. is offering a course in Common Core math for parents to help their children. (U.S. News & World Report)


The hunt for a 67-year-old woman from Lowell is called off when a body fitting her description is found in Chelmsford. No foul play is suspected, police said. (The Sun)

Northborough decides to permit a medical marijuana facility. (MetroWest Daily News)


Former transportation secretary Jim Aloisi says the T should not receive a fare increase until service improves. He says the transit agency can receive additional funding other ways. (CommonWealth)

Millennials say access to public transportation is the most important factor in choosing where they live, according to a new poll by the Urban Land Institute and the MassINC Polling Group. (WBUR)

The Baker administration is getting behind self-driving cars. (Boston Business Journal)


A Danish energy firm is proposing a massive wind farm 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard. (Boston Globe)

In Round 2 of the debate over heating oil vs. natural gas, former Department of Public Utilities chairwoman Ann Berwick argues against expanding natural gas pipeline capacity. (CommonWealth) A Boston Herald editorial snarkily dismisses all manner of environmentalist moves on the energy front, including opposition to a gas pipeline through West Roxbury.

Coastal communities in Plymouth County are scrambling to determine what changes were made in the new federal flood zone maps they received on Monday to take the place of the disputed ones issued earlier this year. (Patriot Ledger)


One of every 10 inmates on death rows in America is a veteran, a report says. (NBC News)

Police body cameras indicate the father of a 6-year-old autistic boy had his hands up in the air when police in Louisiana opened fire, killing the boy and severely wounding the father, according to the family’s attorney. (Time)

Police in Lawrence arrest Luis Crispin Jr., a standout wide receiver on the Lawrence High School football team, who was allegedly going to school and playing football during the day and selling heroin by night. (Eagle-Tribune)

Police say a fatal crash in Mansfield was the result of a road rage incident involving a 67-year-old Norton man who was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. (The Enterprise)

Lynn police arrest James Woodbury in his apartment lying on a bed watching TV while his girlfriend was on the floor dead in another room. (The Item)


The Globe reports on the talking points being disseminated to Catholic dioceses throughout the country for discussing with parishioners issues raised by Spotlight, the new movie about the Globe investigation of Catholic clergy sexual abuse of minors.

Protesters at the University of Missouri, including an assistant professor of mass media, block reporters and photographers from an area where students had set up an encampment. (New York Times)