DA races drawing candidates and attention

Back in December, when the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts launched a voter education campaign targeting the state’s district attorneys, it seemed like a long shot. After all, races for district attorney are located pretty far down the ballot, places where the power of incumbency usually rules.

But as election season starts to heat up, races for district attorney are drawing candidates and attention. Passage of criminal justice reform legislation on Beacon Hill is providing a political context for some of the races — are new DAs needed to accompany a new approach to public safety that is more focused on keeping people out of the criminal justice system? In other races, controversy is giving challengers an opening.

Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early is coming under fire for meddling in the handling of a State Police report on the drunken driving arrest of a judge’s daughter. Attorney General Maura Healey issued a report Friday saying no criminal laws were violated, but she referred the matter to the State Ethics Commission for review.

Early, who was first elected in 2006, has twice run unopposed for reelection. This year he is facing Blake Rubin, an independent who launched his campaign shortly after the controversy over the drunken driving report first surfaced. Rubin, whose campaign slogan is “Justice not politics,” on Monday called on Early to resign for his involvement in altering the arrest document.

There are also some stirrings in the race for district attorney in Berkshire County, where the incumbent, David Capeless, announced in early March that he was resigning  after 14 years as DA and handing the reins of his office over to his assistant, Paul Caccaviello, so he could run as an incumbent. The move drew fire from the Berkshire Eagle editorial page, which criticized Capeless and Gov. Charlie Baker for trying to discourage competition and give Caccaviello a leg up. Even so, Andrea Harrington, an attorney from Richmond, and Judith Knight, an attorney from Great Barrington, have jumped into the race.

Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan is facing a challenge from Donna Patalano, a former Suffolk County prosecutor who lives in Winchester and seems to have cribbed her campaign playbook from the ACLU website. Patalano has called Ryan’s office a “black box” and promised more transparency and accountability about how the justice system works if she is elected.

The most wide open DA’s race of all is in Suffolk County, where the incumbent Dan Conley stunned everyone in February by announcing he was stepping down at the end of this term. His announcement has set off a scramble among five candidates, most of whom are using talking points straight off the ACLU website.

It’s still too early to say whether the lineup of DAs in Massachusetts will change much in November, but it’s clear that district attorney races are assuming a much higher profile this year than they have in the past.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

More than a dozen quasi-public state agencies appear to be flouting the law by failing to publish payroll and spending data on a state transparency website. (Boston Globe)

Gov. Charlie Baker said he won’t be campaigning for reelection until after the Legislature recesses for the year. (MassLive)

After three years, the North Shore once again has a Registry of Motor Vehicles office in Danvers. But the rent is much, much higher because the market changed in the meantime. (Salem News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. is enlisting a team of local power brokers as he tries to lure the Pawsox to town. (Telegram & Gazette)

Worcester’s poverty rate is among the fastest growing in the country. (Telegram & Gazette)

Airbnb is running online and radio ads featuring a host named Barbara who is concerned legislation in Boston regulating short-term rentals could put her out of business and possibly out of her home.

Quincy officials, concerned about the number of vacant storefronts in the redeveloping downtown, may resort to drastic action such as eminent domain takings to trigger more activity. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a list of at least four dozen questions he wants to pose to President Trump to determine Trump’s ties to Russia and whether he has attempted to obstruct justice. (New York Times)

A Globe editorial says Michelle Wolf nailed it at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner with her “mic drop” comment about Flint, Michigan, residents still lacking clean drinking water (and it says conservatives should get over the rest of her routine, too).

The chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, which has been targeted for elimination by the Trump administration, announced she will step down in June. (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively is embroiled in a federal lawsuit in which he was accused of conspiring to deprive gay Ugandans of basic human rights. In a strange twist, the suit against Lively was dismissed, but he is now essentially appealing his legal victory because he objects to comments against him made by the judge in the case. (Boston Globe)

A Herald editorial agrees with Gov. Charlie Baker’s comment that “there is no place and no point in public life” for Lively — but it says Baker ought to address the concerns of conservative Republican delegates who put the virulently anti-gay pastor on the party’s primary ballot.

Despite controversies dogging two Brockton Democratic lawmakers — Sen. Michael Brady who is facing drunken driving charges, and Rep. Michelle Dubois, who called for renaming the Hooker entrance at the State House because of how it sounds — neither appears to have drawn a primary or general election opponent. (The Enterprise)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Wages are rising for those at the top and bottom, but are increases are lagging for those in the middle of the income distribution. (Boston Globe)

The American Prospect looks at the pluses and minuses of public-private partnerships on infrastructure projects, with some comments from former Massachusetts transportation secretary Jim Aloisi and MBTA control board chairman Joe Aiello, who, in his day job, is a partner at Meridiam, a huge multinational firm that finances and manages big public infrastructure projects.

The state approves new waterfront zoning for Boston that could clear the way for developer Don Chiofaro’s new tower next to the New England Aquarium. (Boston Globe)

Amazon has agreed to lease a 200,000 square foot building in Braintree for a warehouse and distribution center. (Patriot Ledger)

The Trump administration has delayed imposing the planned tariffs on the European Union, Canada, and Mexico for 30 days. (New York Times)

Women continue to lag far behind men in running companies as a Pew Research Center analysis finds just 5 percent of the S&P Composite 1500 companies have female CEOs and few women in the pipeline to move up. (U.S. News & World Report)

EDUCATION

The Wareham School Committee voted to close one its elementary schools, shifting eighth graders from the middle school to the high school and placing third and fourth graders in the middle school. (Wareham Courier)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board is struggling with how to estimate future ridership. (CommonWealth)

The MBTA hired Transdev to replace the contractor that didn’t work out in handling reservations and dispatching for the T’s paratransit service. T officials said they hope the process used to hire and oversee Transdev will improve future outsourcing initiatives. (CommonWealth)

Repair work on the Sagamore Bridge, which has reduced travel on the span to a single lane each way since it started April 1, will wrap up Friday, a full month ahead of schedule. (Cape Cod Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

If it’s Tuesday, Pilgrim nuclear power plant must be offline again. Workers shut the Plymouth facility down following discovery of a faulty regulation valve just eight days after being restarted. (Patriot Ledger)

The state’s utilities are required to disclose by Tuesday how much in the way of savings they can pass along to customers as a result of federal tax reform. (Gloucester Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Joan Vennochi says stripping the Wynn name from the Everett casino is akin to putting lipstick on a pig, and argues that top company officials besides Steve Wynn, including new CEO Matt Maddox and general counsel Kim Sinatra, need to go if the firm is to pass the state suitability test and retain his license here. (Boston Globe)

Shrewsbury, where the statewide referendum to legalize marijuana was rejected by voters in 2016, failed to pass a ban on recreational pot when a vote in Town Meeting did not get the two-thirds approval necessary. (MetroWest Daily News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Providence Journal has filed a complaint against a Superior Court judge claiming she violated the paper’s First Amendment rights when she ordered reporters not to contact jurors following a high-profile murder trial and refused a request to release a list of the jurors’ names.

Defense lawyers in the federal trial of lower-level employees of New England Compounding Center want the judge to bar testimony that details of the dozens of deaths connected to contaminated drugs from the company, arguing these workers had no role in producing the tainted drugs at the Framingham firm. (Boston Globe)