Columbus on hot seat in Framingham

The list of early-adopter Massachusetts communities that have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day is about what you’d expect: Amherst, Northampton, Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville. School committees in Mashpee and Pittsfield have also jumped on board.

But now the school committee in Framingham is considering making the switch, and it will be interesting to see what happens in a more politically mainstream community.

Framingham is Democrat country, but it’s no Amherst or Cambridge. Republicans have made respectable showings there. Scott Brown ran about 1,000 votes behind Martha Coakley in Framingham when he was elected to the US Senate in 2010. Charlie Baker ran about 1,700 votes behind Coakley in Framingham in 2014 when he was first elected governor; he cruised to victory there this year.

The issue is clearly gaining steam across the country as more and more communities consider a holiday name change. Berkeley, California, became the first community to make the switch in 1992, but the idea dates back to the 1970s.

Gloria Pascual, the chair of the Framingham School Committee’s racial equity subcommittee, got the ball moving in her community in late November when she said renaming Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day was the right way to go.

“What he (Christopher Columbus) stood for is not what we stand for,” she said, referring to the genocide and oppression of Native Americans that many associate with the Italian explorer.

But at Wednesday’s meeting of the School Committee it was clear there was no consensus on the issue. The committee voted 6-2 to table the issue until the January 2 meeting. Members who voted to table the matter said they needed more time to study the issue, raised procedural concerns, or simply opposed the idea.

“What bothers me is it’s a national holiday and I don’t think it’s our purview to change a national holiday,” said school committee member Rick Finlay, according to a report in the Metrowest Daily News.

School superintendent Robert Tremblay took a Solomon-like approach, suggesting the system celebrate a “Columbus Day-slash-Indigenous-Peoples’ Day.”

“If I had to take a position, I would include both days in an effort to be inclusive and acknowledge both Columbus Day as a long-standing, 80-year-old holiday as well as Indigenous Peoples’ Day to acknowledge we’re moving in a different direction,” said Tremblay.

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

Beacon Hill seems poised to intervene in the bitter labor dispute between National Grid and the 1,250 steelworkers the company locked out in June. Gov. Charlie Baker says he is in favor of extending the workers’ unemployment benefits, which will run out in January. (CommonWealth) Senate President Karen Spilka says the Senate may pass a bill to do just that on Thursday. (Boston Globe) And Paul Levy, a former chairman of the Department of Public Utilities, says there is precedent for intervention if a utility breaks its “social contract” with the state, but he urges extreme caution. (CommonWealth) Meanwhile, the DPU offers to lift its moratorium on National Grid field work, but only if the utility accepts new  restrictions on how it would operate. (CommonWealth)

Phillip Sego, a retired lobbyist for the Sierra Club, explains how the Massachusetts House really works and, as he says, it’s nothing like what you saw in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. (CommonWealth)

Michael Trotsky, who oversees the state pension fund, was awarded a $25,000 raise, putting his base salary just shy of $500,000. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Herald editorial urges Boston city officials to press tax-exempt nonprofits to make good on promised payments in lieu of taxes.

Confusion reigns in Fall River over efforts to recall Mayor Jasiel Correia, who is facing federal fraud charges. (Herald News)

Fentanyl exposure is suspected in the death of an 11-year-old Haverhill girl who was visiting her uncle in Lawrence. (Eagle-Tribune)

Shrewsbury opened a new state of the art water treatment facility in October, but residents are still complaining about the color and smell of what’s coming out of the tap. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Against the advice of military and civilian advisors, President Trump announced the withdrawal of all US troops from Syria, a declaration that Pentagon and State Department officials are now trying to talk him out of. (New York Times)

The Republican-controlled Senate passed a short-term funding bill that keeps the government going until February, delivering a blow to President Trump’s threat to force a government shutdown by the end of the year if Congress doesn’t fund a border wall with Mexico. (Washington Post)

Exiting House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered his farewell address, trying, according to the New York Times account, to “burnish a legacy of dubious accomplishment.”

ELECTIONS

The Massachusetts population is growing faster than any other New England state and should be able to hang on to all its current congressional seats. (State House News) Nationwide, fewer births and more deaths were the ingredients for one of the lowest national population growth rates in generations. (New York Times)

Outgoing Republican state Rep. James Lyons is jumping into the race for chairman of the state party after Geoff Diehl says he won’t seek the post. (State House News)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Red Sox are planning an upgrade of Fenway Park’s bleachers as well as a 5,000-seat performing arts theater adjacent to the ballpark. (Boston Globe)

Apple plans to lease one floor of space in a new Kendall Square building, yet another sign of the Cambridge neighborhood’s boom tech sector. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Over vocal protests, the Boston School Committee voted to close two West Roxbury high schools. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Nearly a third of state residents older than 65 have been treated for depression, according to a new study from the University of Massachusetts Boston. (Boston Globe)

Kristina Cunningham of Berlin suffered a stroke while attending a wedding in Kansas and was flown back to Massachusetts. The flight was approved as medically necessary by her insurance company, but she still received a nearly $475,000 bill for the trip. (WBUR)

McLean Hospital paid a $75,000 fine to settle a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Maura Healey alleging that the Belmont psychiatric facility lost personal health information of 1,500 patients, employees, and brain donors. (Boston Herald)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Marijuana entrepreneurs say New Bedford’s zoning arrangement for retail pot stores makes it almost impossible for them to open one, which sets off a shouting match on the City Council. (South Coast Today) In Lowell, meanwhile, residents turn out in force to oppose a retail marijuana store at a busy intersection, with the Lowell Sun’s Rick Sobey writing “the only thing lacking from Wednesday’s community meeting about a proposed recreational marijuana dispensary were residents waving pitchforks set on fire.”

Worcester, by contrast, is opening its arms to pot shops and is also about to land the home office of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. (Telegram & Gazette)

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno vetoes a City Council order that would require 50 percent of the local sales tax on marijuana sales to flow back into the city’s neighborhoods. (MassLive)

A Brockton city council committee completed work on two city ordinances governing the eight retail marijuana licenses the city plans to issue. (Enterprise News)

State reps from Everett, Chelsea, and Revere say they are eager to see the state gambling commission resolve the issue of Wynn Resorts’ casino licensing and see the Everett gambling facility open on schedule in June, regardless of who ends up operating it. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Hampden County district attorney notifies defense attorneys that he may have exculpatory evidence in connection with cases involving five members of the Springfield Police Department narcotics unit. (MassLive)

In a plea deal, the former police chief in Hanson and his wife have largely avoided any punishment in connection with charges that they stole $400 of clothing from a Kohl’s department store in Hingham. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

Actress Eliza Dushku pens a powerful condemnation of CBS and the sexual harassment she received while working on Bull, starring Michael Weatherly. Dushku revealed details about her $9.5 settlement with the media giant after Weatherly was quoted on the issue, ignoring a confidentiality agreement. (Boston Globe)

Boston Globe publisher John Henry tells Dan Kennedy, by email of course, that the Globe will turn a profit this year and probably next year as well. (Media Nation)