Baker getting nicked by those around him

November 6 can’t come soon enough for Gov. Charlie Baker.

The Republican who is more popular with Democrats than his own party is getting nicked by clouds of scandal around him and at some point, those tiny cuts could cause him to bleed out before Election Day.

The latest problem for Baker is the suspension of Col. James McGinn, the head of the Massachusetts Environmental Police. It’s not just the fact McGinn heads up a department within the Baker administration but rather his ties to the governor that resulted in his appointment to the post. McGinn is a retired State Police sergeant who served as Baker’s driver before landing the plum $132,215 post.

“I’ve known Jim for a long time and he has 20 years as a state police officer,” Baker told Boston Herald Radio in defending the promotion a couple years back. “He left the force as a sergeant, he worked for FEMA as a disaster recovery specialist.”

Baker, though, was silent on the suspension yesterday, leaving it to a spokesman for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to confirm that McGinn was suspended without pay “pending the completion of an internal review of operational issues.”

McGinn has been in the middle of a number of tempests since his appointment, including trying to transfer an employee who claimed she was pressured to get her fiancé to drop his Senate challenge to a Republican incumbent. He also has come under fire for allegedly promoting friends and demoting disloyal employees.

More recently, reports surfaced that officers in the force were collecting overtime by working split shifts as well as some getting paid while working from home. It’s unclear if any of these issues triggered the harsh step – for Baker – of an unpaid suspension. But it’s a new problem the notoriously cautious governor can ill afford to hang.

Baker is still trying to clean up the mess from the ongoing payroll problems at the State Police. He’s also increasingly being hounded over what is happening with the investigation into allegations his son groped a women on a flight from Washington, DC, to Boston back in June.

Baker, who has pretty much been seen as a nice guy with little personal baggage, is now in a position to have to explain the actions of those closest to him and why he shouldn’t bear the responsibility. None of these growing scandals directly involve Baker but who ever said politics and perception are fair?

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

The Cannabis Control Commission gave final approval to two recreational pot licensees in Leicester and Northampton, but the vote wasn’t unanimous as commissioner Shaleen Title abstained because she feels their agreements with host communities violated the law. (CommonWealth)

State revenue came in above projections for the fifth straight month in September. (Boston Herald)

Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield is leading a study of school transportation policies and costs with an eye toward saving money. (Berkshire Eagle)

Gov. Charlie Baker signs an executive order creating a special security task force to deal with large venues like Gillette Stadium. (WBUR)

The family-sponsored obituary of former state senator Brian Joyce says he died peacefully at home and appeals for donations in his memory to the Innocence Project to “help the victims of wrongful prosecution.” Actually, the Innocence Project helps victims who it believes were wrongfully convicted. Joyce was facing trial for taking kickbacks in return for actions as a state legislator. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Four Braintree residents with disabilities have filed a federal suit against the town for lack of access to services, programs, and activities. (Patriot Ledger)

The former executive director of the Bridgewater Housing Authority and a former board member are battling a decade-long dispute in court in a defamation suit with allegations of deleted files and use of the authority’s computer to visit a website for married people seeking affairs. (The Enterprise)

The Mattapoisett Planning Board is demanding a developer return a $1.5 million surety bond for failure to complete work on a housing project in the small town. (Standard-Times)

The special election to replace two Rockland selectmen who resigned amid a tawdry sex scandal has been set but the list of candidates does not include the husband of one of the former selectmen who said he would run for his wife’s seat but changed his mind. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Sen. Susan Collins said the supplemental FBI look at Brett Kavanaugh appeared to be “very thorough,” but she has yet to formally declare how she’ll vote on an issue that is guaranteed to generate serious backlash at home for the Maine Republican no matter which way she goes. (American Prospect)

Leland Keyser, one of the people Christine Blasey Ford identified as being at the gathering where she says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, told FBI agents she felt pressured by friends of Ford to revise her statement about not knowing about any attack. (Wall Street Journal)

The Kavanaugh case is a revealing a gender divide, sometimes even within couples. (Boston Globe)

Two people who have brought attention to sexual abuse and violence have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

Does Harvard have constitutional protection from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez’s endowment tax? (CommonWealth)

Peter Lucas wonders whether Barack Obama got confused and didn’t mean to endorse fellow Democrat Jay Gonzalez but instead “Trump-bashing RINO” Charlie Baker, who he said has been even more outspoken in denouncing the Republican president than his Democratic challenger. (Boston Herald)

Baker says he will oppose a vehicle miles traveled tax if he is reelected. (MassLive)

Both sides of the transgender rights ballot question launch new TV ads. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Labor Department released jobs figure Friday showing the unemployment rate is at its lowest since 1969. (New York Times)

EDUCATION

A new study indicates Massachusetts four-year public colleges and universities lead the nation in terms of black student access and success. (CommonWealth)

A Globe editorial calls for changes to the admission process for Boston Latin School that would boost black and Latino enrollment.

PHILANTHROPY

The latest round of 25 winners of so-called “genius” grant MacArthur Foundation awards includes six people with Massachusetts ties. (Boston Globe)  

TRANSPORTATION

The two top officials at the Lowell Regional Transit Authority receive 5 percent raises retroactive to the beginning of 2018. (Lowell Sun)

Service to Philadelphia launches at Worcester Regional Airport. (Telegram & Gazette)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

New safety policies implemented by Columbia Gas following last month’s leaks and explosions in the Merrimack Valley raise troubling questions about the procedures the company had in place prior to the incidents. (Boston Globe)

Barnstable officials have signed a host community agreement with Vineyard Wind that includes $16 million in payments to the town to allow the energy company to run transmission lines from its planned offshore wind farm. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Voters at a special Town Meeting in Natick overwhelmingly approved zoning proposals for recreational marijuana, paving the way for retail stores and other related industries to set up show in the town. (MetroWest Daily News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in the case of Michelle Carter, who is appealing her conviction on involuntary manslaughter charges for coaxing her friend Conrad Roy III to commit suicide. (Boston Herald)

Rachelle Cohen decries the power of clerk magistrates in the state’s courts and the closed-door policy governing show-cause hearings they oversee. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

Digital First Media, the owner of the Boston Herald, lays off more of the tabloid’s employees, including two veteran photographers. (CommonWealth)