House members following DeLeo-Mariano script

One veteran House lawmaker said on Monday that Ron Mariano’s ascension as speaker has been one of the smoothest, most unified, most calm transitions he has ever witnessed.

That’s because this speaker transition is following a script that has been honed and crafted for years. As House Speaker Robert DeLeo prepares to hand off the speakership to his majority leader, the two men have left very little to chance.

The transition, according to sources, began several years ago when Mariano and his allies began lining up support. It was done quietly, with rumors only occasionally surfacing. No one would say anything on the record about the vote-gathering, but in retrospect the most important thing about it was that DeLeo let it happen.

In the past, DeLeo dealt with potential threats to his leadership decisively. In January 2011, he demoted Charlie Murphy, his Ways and Means chair, and James Vallee, his majority leader, who reportedly were building their own power bases in the House. Both men left the House the next year.

Brian Dempsey, the former chair of the Ways and Means Committee and the man who many considered the heir apparent to DeLeo, left the House in 2017 to take up lobbying. Rep. Russell Holmes of Boston took note of Dempsey’s departure and suggested the Black and Latino Caucus “should be strong and united in our selection of the next speaker of the House.” For that remark, he lost his vice chairmanship of the Housing Committee.

Yet DeLeo did nothing when Mariano began soliciting support, suggesting the speaker had given his blessing to his majority leader. To be sure, Mariano and his allies were not seeking to topple DeLeo. They were only gathering pledges of support, preparing for the day when DeLeo, the state’s longest-serving speaker, would decide it was time to move on.

That day arrived last Wednesday, when NBC10’s Alison King, citing a source, said DeLeo was planning to take a job at Northeastern University. DeLeo’s office released a strange statement saying the speaker “has had no such talks with, much less does he have any agreement with, Northeastern University.”

The very next day Mariano’s allies in the House told reporters the race to succeed DeLeo was effectively over.

“I would say there is no speaker’s race,” Rep. Claire Cronin of Easton, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, told the Boston Globe.I think when Speaker DeLeo decides to leave or whenever he does leave, Leader Mariano will be the next speaker of the House.”

Michael Moran, the second assistant majority leader, told CommonWealth the same. “When and if Bob DeLeo decides that he is going to leave, I am very, very, very confident that Ron Mariano is going to replace him,” he said.

On Friday, right on cue, DeLeo filed a notice with the clerk of the House disclosing that he was about to begin job negotiations with Northeastern. The notice said he had not had any discussions yet with Northeastern, but somehow, the notice implied, he knew now was a good time to begin them.

Holmes announced on Friday that he would run for speaker. A couple veteran lawmakers who are retiring this year, Reps. Jonathan Hecht of Watertown and Denise Provost of Somerville, decried the wired transition in an op-ed in CommonWealth. But everybody else on Beacon Hill kept their mouth shut. In truth, the decision about who would be the next speaker of the House was made long ago and now the House is just going through the motions.




Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia sign on to the Transportation Climate Initiative, which places a price on the carbon contained in vehicle fuels and uses the revenue to promote emission reductions. The initiative comes with price protections to prevent the price of gasoline from rising too high.

The Senate passes amendments to the policing reform legislation to satisfy concerns raised by Gov. Charlie Baker and the House seems likely to follow suit.

The Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee faults Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson for failing to comply with a state law that required him to admit Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz to the jail a day after a melee there. Two Republicans vote no on the report, saying the committee has more important things to do.

Opinion: A vote for Rep. Russell Holmes for Massachusetts House speaker would be a vote for democracy, says retired environmental lobbyist Phil Sego.




Nearly 20 organizations and more than 200 individuals signed an open letter urging Gov. Charlie Baker to pass paid sick leave, close indoor dining, reinstate the evictions moratorium, and use remaining CARES Act funds to help small businesses. (MassLive)


Mayor Marty Walsh said people “should trust the police” but he knows “a lot of people don’t” after the release of body-camera footage from protests earlier this year showing officers boasting about the rough treatment they’re giving demonstrators. (Boston Globe) Joan Vennochi says the Boston police union response to the videos shows it is not serious about embracing needed reform. (Boston Globe) Some Boston police officers have been on medical leave for years, costing the city millions of dollars. (WBUR)

Churches adjust their Christmas services due to COVID-19, with many requiring pre-registration and limiting singing. (Telegram & Gazette)

Brockton’s proposed combined public safety facility could cost up to $98 million to build, says Mayor Robert Sullivan. (The Enterprise)


Glitches continue to mar the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to frontline health care workers in the state. (Boston Globe) Doctors, nurses, and other staff at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center became the first people in the state to receive the newly-approved Moderna vaccine against coronavirus. (Boston Herald) Long-term care facilities are expected to start receiving the vaccine next week. (WBUR)

Attorney General Maura Healey reaches a $10 million settlement with a Lawrence home health care company accused of falsely billing Medicaid. (Eagle-Tribune)

Some hospitals are borrowing ultra-cold freezers to store vaccines in, but other hospitals say they don’t yet need them, since the Pfizer vaccine comes packaged in thermal containers with dry ice and can remain there for 30 days if the ice is replenished. (MassLive)

There are few mechanisms to receive compensation from vaccine-related injuries. (Associated Press)


Christian Wade of North of Boston Media Group looks at how the new federal stimulus bill will help Massachusetts workers and businesses. The Associated Press details what exactly is included in the new bill.

More than 2 million people have passed through security checkpoints at US airports over the last two days, despite officials’ pleas for people to stay home for the holidays amid the growing number of COVID-19 cases. (NPR)

House Ways and Means chair Rep. Richard Neal says the stimulus package is a good start, but another one will need to be passed in 2021. (MassLive)

The New York Times offers a primer on what’s known about the coronavirus variant now spreading in the United Kingdom. 


A group called Lawyers for Civil Rights sues Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald Jr., alleging his agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement violate state law. (WBUR)


Both the New York Times and Washington Post have in-depth looks at November election results that offer a sober warning for Democrats about what lies ahead, despite the victory by Joe Biden in the presidential race. 


Berkshire officials say the long-expected wave of evictions is here. (Berkshire Eagle)

Gov. Charlie Baker announces that nearly $49 million in grants will be awarded to 1,158 small businesses. (MassLive)

Out-of-work parents struggle to make Christmas special for their children this year. (MassLive)


More than 200 residents file a petition seeking an open meeting of the Amherst School Committee to discuss how to bring students back to in-person learning. An agreement between the school committee and the local teachers association currently prevents in-person learning. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Framingham State University says it will not increase tuition, fees, or housing rates next year. (MetroWest Daily News

North Shore Community College offers between 9 and 12 credits to incoming students who demonstrate proficiency in English and another language. (Daily Item)

North Brookfield schools will eliminate the use of their “Indians” mascot. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Old Rochester Regional School District has passed 60 positive cases of COVID-19. (Standard-Times)


Tucked into the $900 billion stimulus bill agreed upon by congressional leaders this week is a commitment to expediting the replacement of the aging Cape Cod Canal bridges. (Cape Cod Times)


Congress is expected to pass a bill inspired by the Merrimack Valley gas explosions that would require a monitor to supervise all work on natural gas pipelines. (The Salem News)


A group of state residents is petitioning the Supreme Judicial Court to void agreements Massachusetts sheriffs have to handle some enforcement tasks for the federal immigration authorities. (Boston Globe) A Globe editorial says the US Department of Homeland Security should end its contract with Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson once the Biden administration takes over. 


The Kansas City Star investigates itself and concludes the paper marginalized black residents of the city for much of its 140 years. 

Facing a legal threat, Fox News airs a news package debunking many of the election fraud claims made by the network’s own hosts. (CNN)

The Washington Post plans to add 150 employees next year. (The Hill)