Lobbying firm, Brayton Point near settlement

A messy legal dispute between the state’s top lobbying firm and the St. Louis company that bought and razed the coal-fired power plant at Brayton Point in Somerset appears to be coming to an end.

Court records indicate the lobbying firm of Smith, Costello & Crawford and Brayton Point LLC, a subsidiary of Commercial Development Inc. of St. Louis, have reached a settlement. The settlement, which is awaiting final approval from the parties, would mark the end of a lengthy court battle that has raised questions about the ethics of the company that is now in a battle with town officials and residents over the future use of the property.

According to court filings, Brayton Point LLC hired Smith, Costello & Crawford in February 2018 to help develop the 308-acre property. The lobbying firm, which specializes in energy development, said it introduced Brayton Point to offshore wind companies, a gas power plant developer, and a solar developer. The firm says it also successfully lobbied for a $15 million state appropriation to dredge the area around the pier at Brayton Point to support future offshore wind development.

Smith, Costello & Crawford said it was to be paid a monthly retainer of $5,000 plus 1 percent of any sales, leases, or other revenue from the property up to a cap of $300,000. 

“As the project finally reached the stage where third parties were in the process of advancing proposals to invest in or lease the property, Brayton Point LLC unlawfully cut Smith, Costello & Crawford out of the process and refused to honor its contractual obligation,” the original complaint states.

Brayton Point LLC denied the allegations and the two sides have spent the last several years preparing to go to trial, first in state court and then in federal court. Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, and probably won’t be.

Brayton Point LLC has come under fire in Somerset for sending mixed signals to the town, promising offshore wind development at the property and, when that didn’t materialize immediately, leasing space in mid-2019 to scrap metal and road salt operations that neighbors complained were dirty, noisy, and caused a lot of heavy truck traffic. 

The town and Brayton Point are now in court and residents have mobilized against the business, although one promising sign recently was the announcement by Mayflower Wind that it plans to bring ashore at Brayton Point electricity produced by any future offshore wind farms it constructs off the coast of Massachusetts. (Mayflower is currently moving ahead with one wind farm, but the electricity from that project is coming ashore on Cape Cod.) The Mayflower announcement could trigger development at Brayton Point, but there is no guarantee Mayflower will win future power contracts from Massachusetts. Even if Mayflower does, a project is unlikely to get off the ground for years.



UMass, senator at odds: Language inserted in the Senate budget demanded a meeting between lawmakers and the UMass board, which is strange because lawmakers with control over the purse strings of public institutions usually get a meeting whenever they want and don’t need to use state law to arrange it.

  • Documents released by UMass in response to a public records request suggest there’s a rift between Sen. Michael Rodrigues of Westport, the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and the university. The documents also suggest Rodrigues is pushing for a former legislative colleague to be named chancellor of UMass Dartmouth.
  • A UMass statement called the budget bill language “unnecessary and redundant” and raised concerns about outside interference. Some of the documents released by UMass were redacted based on a claim of attorney-client privilege, suggesting an attorney has been called in to help deal with the situation.

Read more.

Virtual meetings: A legislative committee took testimony on whether public bodies should be allowed to continue to hold virtual meetings once the pandemic emergency ends. Most witnesses hailed the virtual meetings for allowing far more residents to participate and the convenience they offer. But concerns were also raised about access to the technology needed to participate and the loss of in-person access. Read more.

Beacon Hill budget spat: Everyone on Beacon Hill seems to agree that $100 million in federal funds should go to the communities of Chelsea, Everett, Methuen, and Randolph, but the cash isn’t moving while the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker wrangle over who should control the funds. Baker has been deferential to the desire by lawmakers to have more control over the funds, but he has also raised concerns about the slow pace of the Legislature. “We need to put this money to work relatively quickly,” he said. Read more


Flavored cigarette ban called failure: Jonathan Shaer of the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association calls the state’s ban on flavored cigarettes a total failure — a huge loss of tax revenue with no offsetting health benefits. Read more.





The drama over embattled Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White continued, with his former wife granting her first public interview, refuting his claims of being a victim of abuse and saying White “verbally, physically, and emotionally abused her throughout their marriage.” (WBUR) Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld criticizes Acting Mayor Kim Janey for holding her hearing yesterday with White behind closed doors. 

Lawmakers protest a DCR plan to demolish the old, abandoned Rutland Prison Camp, saying it has value as a historic site. (Telegram & Gazette)

A federal relief program that distributed boxes of food in Worcester ended yesterday due to the receding pandemic, but volunteers who worked there say the need for food assistance remains. (Telegram & Gazette)


Mobile vaccine clinics will be set up outside some Market Basket stores, and anyone getting a vaccine will get a $25 gift card to buy groceries. (Associated Press)


“This morning I filed to run for State Auditor, the most important office in Massachusetts state government that you’ve probably never heard of,” transportation advocate Chris Dempsey wrote in a Facebook post yesterday that linked to a donation page for his run for statewide office. 


Amazon plans to build a large warehouse in Charlton. (Telegram & Gazette)

A federal judge moves forward a bankruptcy plan for Purdue Pharma that clears the way for the Sackler family to gain immunity from many claims. (NPR)


The Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science in Worcester had nearly perfect attendance last year, despite the pandemic, giving it the highest attendance rate in the state. (MassLive)

Fall River school superintendent Matthew Malone, who has come under fire for his behavior and was disciplined earlier this year by the school committee over his treatment of employees, will resign effective November 1. (Herald News)

Several bills filed on Beacon Hill are taking aim at school segregation, which has increased by some measures in recent years. (Boston Globe)


The film industry is lobbying lawmakers to reject changes proposed by the state Senate to the film tax credit. (Salem News)


Ferry service between mainland Massachusetts and the islands is slowed by a ransomware attack. (Associated Press)


The Boston Harbor islands, threatened by rising sea levels, have been named one of the 11 most endangered historic sites in the US by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. (Boston Globe)


USA Today asks whether public pressure is and should be influencing the investigation into black teen Mikayla Miller’s death. 

Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins says she’ll prosecute fully a fan charged with throwing a water bottle at Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving, calling the episode an “act of unprovoked workplace violence.” (Boston Globe)

Forty clergy and laity were added to the Springfield archdiocese’s list of those who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. Some allegations date to the 1940s. One case involved a former faculty member at Smith College. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)


The Biden administration discloses that the Trump Justice Department seized phone and email records of reporters at CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times in a bid to trace leaks. (New York Times)

Dan Kennedy reports on the Boston Globe’s plan to launch a Rhode Island podcast and the paper’s running of a full-page ad from union groups criticizing the Globe for hiring a law firm looking “to stifle the rights and voices of Boston Globe journalists and staff.” (Media Nation)