Baker and Lyons — match made in need

Gov. Charlie Baker is taking heat for traveling to Andover Monday night to appear at a fundraiser for Rep. Jim Lyons, a Republican whose conservative politics and take-no-prisoners style on the House floor have made him something of a pariah on Beacon Hill.

Baker and Lyons don’t agree on a lot. Both are fiscal conservatives, but Lyons is a lot more vocal and far more specific than Baker. The governor signed the grand bargain ($15 minimum wage and paid family and medical leave), while Lyons voted against it. Lyons wanted to remove a judge from the bench who gave a soft sentence to an immigrant subject to deportation, while Baker says the problem with sentences is the law, not judges. And Baker signed a bill into law providing more protections for the transgender community, while Lyons voted against it.

Conservative Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr calls Baker Tall Deval, but he wanted to give a profile-in-courage award to Lyons for opposing efforts to add a third gender to the Massachusetts drivers license.

A Boston Herald story, quoting GOP consultant Brad Marston, suggested Baker backed Lyons to remind Republican primary voters that he is, indeed, a Republican. Baker is facing hard-right pastor Scott Lively of Springfield in the September 4 primary.

The 40-odd protesters who showed up at the event, including Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie, Third Congressional District candidates Alexandra Chandler and Sen. Barbara L’Italien, and Lyons’s Democratic opponent Tram Nguyen, suggested Baker was at the fundraiser because he is not that far apart from Lyons politically.

“You have to watch the difference between what Gov. Baker says and what he does. And by being here, to actively help Jim Lyons get reelected to the State House, Gov. Baker is actively working against … basic rights for transgender people,” Gonzalez said. “He is actively working against banning the horrific practice of gay conversion therapy.”

Terry McCormack, a Baker campaign spokesman, said the governor and Lyons do share a commitment to combating the opioid epidemic. (That’s about as apple pie as you can get.) He added that Baker “does not expect that everyone he works with on Beacon Hill will share his position on every issue and believes in working past political differences to deliver the best results for the people of Massachusetts.”

The likely reason Baker attended the Lyons fundraiser is practical politics. Lyons is one of just 34 Republicans in the 160-member House. He is also a proven vote-getter. He won his seat in 2010 by ousting the incumbent, L’Italien, who went on to be elected state senator and is now running for Congress. He may have a conservative fan base, but he is also the rare politician on Beacon Hill who is not afraid to buck the go-along-to-get-along culture..

When the House earlier this year was debating whether to hike rental car fees by $2 to fund training for police officers, Lyons was one of only four reps (all Republicans) to question the new fee. He called the fee an “absolute joke” at a time when the state budget is topping $40 billion.

“If we cannot make police training one of our priorities without raising a fee, where are we spending this $40 billion?” he asked.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Not just the Staties: The Baker administration has done little to crack down on possible payroll abuses at the Massachusetts Environmental Police, an 83-officer unit within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs that is helmed by a former State Police sergeant who was Baker’s campaign driver in 2014. (Boston Globe)

A new independent auditing unit will oversee the State Police in the wake of allegations of widespread overtime abuse in the agency. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Chatham officials have agreed to hire an outside attorney to conduct an independent review of the town’s byzantine mooring bylaws that allow people who own the valuable anchor spots to lease them out while others remain on a waiting list for a decade or longer. (Cape Cod Times) Back in 2011, Commonwealth examined the mooring mess in many of the state’s coastal communities and it appears little has changed in the ensuing years.

Two Boston city councilors want the city, which two years ago lowered the default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, to lower it again, to 20 mph. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Following a day of withering criticism over returning the flag at the White House to full-staff and his refusal to issue a statement honoring Sen. John McCain’s life and legacy, President Trump ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until the late war hero’s burial on Sunday. (Washington Post) Michael Graham says McCain and, as the late senator called them, the “wacko bird” wing of the Republican Party that forms Trump’s base, have always hated each other. (Boston Herald)

The US and Mexico agree to a framework of a trade deal that replaces NAFTA but does not include Canada. (Wall Street Journal) In an awkward call with the Mexican president before reporters, Trump declares it “maybe the largest trade deal ever made.” Not even close. (New York Times)

Is Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani a shrewd tactician in his public defense of his client or someone “untethered” to reality? (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Beacon Hill incumbents are flexing their financial muscle, with Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez spending $198,122 in his primary fight against Nika Elugardo ($87,027) and Sen. Jason Lewis ponying up $119,335 in his campaign against newcomer Samantha Hammar ($30,877). (CommonWealth)

The Globe endorsed Lori Trahan in the 10-way Democratic primary in the Third Congressional District and suggests Lawrence state Rep. Juana Matias was its runner-up choice.

With the Amherst-Northampton area losing a lot of its long-time lawmakers, the race to succeed former senator Stanley Rosenberg has taken on added importance. Four candidates are running, only one of them on the ballot. (CommonWealth) The Springfield Republican endorsed Jo Comerford, a write-in candidate, for the Senate seat.

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas identifies the chink in Josh Zakim’s armor — the man who wants to oust Secretary of State William Galvin as the state’s chief elections officer has missed a lot of votes.

Suffolk County DA candidate Rachael Rollins was charged with receiving stolen property as a 19-year-old student at UMass Amherst, a case that was ultimately continued without a finding. (Boston Herald)

The Globe finds very tepid support for Nancy Pelosi among the 24 Democrats vying for the state’s nine House seats, with only six of them saying they would definitely support her for another term as minority leader or as speaker should their party retake control of the House.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Tim Murray, who heads the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he has received eight inquiries from companies interested in development opportunities in the area where the new minor league ballpark is slated to go up. (Telegram & Gazette)

Boston is the fourth most expensive place in the country to rent an apartment, according to a Zumper study.

RELIGION

John Allen at Crux offers an insider’s view of the crisis in the Catholic Church stemming from the unprecedented allegation by the former Vatican envoy to the US that he personally told Pope Francis about sex abuse allegations but the pontiff covered it up. Allen says the charges are serious but should be “taken with a grain of salt.” The call by the former diplomat, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, for Francis to resign shows the growing split in the church between angry conservatives and the pope over his attempts to remove the church from the culture wars. (New York Times)

Cardinal Sean O’Malley will hold a closed-door meeting with priests in the Boston archdiocese as the church reels from questions about its handling of sexual misconduct allegations. (Boston Herald)

EDUCATION

The perils of beginning the school year in August: A number of school districts that have started class in aging buildings without air conditioning will dismiss students early on Tuesday and Wednesday because of the expected record high temperatures. (MetroWest Daily News)

UMass President Marty Meehan and UMass Boston chief Katherine Newman point out there’s something new at the Boston campus this year — 40 percent of the freshman class is staying in dorms. (CommonWealth)

Judith Scannell, the schools superintendent in Methuen, admits she doesn’t have the license required to do her job. Questions about her status surfaced after an anonymous letter from parents. (Eagle-Tribune)

Harvard made a last filing in federal court aimed at heading off a trial in a suit alleging the university discriminates against Asian-American applicants in its admission procedures. (Boston Globe)

PrideStar EMS Inc. and North Reading Transportation Inc. are trading barbs and threatening lawsuits over a special ed busing contract in Lowell. (Lowell Sun)

Graduate students and Brandeis University have reached a contract agreement, making them the first teaching assistants at a New England private higher-ed institution with a collective bargaining agreement. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Researchers say there is an unrecognized increase in suicides by opioid, a trend that is being overlooked by officials with the two-fold effect of exacerbating the opioid crisis and undercounting the number of suicides. (Tribune News Service)

Boston Children’s Hospital will spend $11 million over the next three years on projects aimed at helping families affected by racial and economic inequalities. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

A second plane has crashed at a small airfield in Hanson, just three days after an engine failure on takeoff at Cranland Airport resulted in the death of one man and severe injuries to his brother as the siblings were preparing to spread their father’s ashes. (Patriot Ledger)

New York is the latest metropolitan transit system to revamp its archaic bus routes to make it more efficient and rider-friendly as the system has seen a dramatic drop off in passengers one example is the “express”bus from Staten Island to Manhattan that makes nearly 70 stops and takes three hours. (New York Times)

CASINOS

Officials with the Mashpee Wampanoag said a decision by the Interior Department on whether the agency can keep the tribe’s land in trust, central to the Native Americans opening a casino in Taunton, is expected by Sept. 21. (Cape Cod Times)