Mass. lawmakers, businesses step up for furloughed federal workers

While Washington and the Trump administration continue their disastrous handling of the federal government’s partial shutdown, legislators, municipalities, and businesses across the Commonwealth are searching for short-term solutions to the financial plight of the impacted workers.

As we enter day 35, many of the 47,000 federal employees living in Massachusetts are feeling the strain. Gov. Charlie Baker is readying a presentation to lawmakers on how his administration can assist the unemployed workers struggling to pay rent and mortgages. House Speaker Robert DeLeo is on board and Senate President Karen Spilka announced a bipartisan eight-member Senate working group to evaluate any proposals.

“What we’ve been working on most is trying to figure out how to make the unemployment insurance system support these folks,” Baker told reporters. “Our goal is to have some thoughts about how to do that that we could talk to the Legislature about next week.”

As workers miss their second paycheck today, local banks are stepping in to offer zero-interest loans. The list of banking organizations includes Eastern Bank, City of Boston Credit Union, Congressional Federal Credit Union, Hanscom Federal Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union and Service Credit Union are among many banking organizations making this pitch.

US Rep. Ayanna Pressley is meeting with furloughed workers today and her Massachusetts colleague Seth Moulton has created a website where federal employees can learn about heating assistance and SNAP benefits, and what to do if your son/daughter is planning on college but can’t complete their FAFSA application.

Restaurants are providing free or reduced-price food. Ola Café in East Somerville is offering full breakfast and lunch as well as a full espresso menu. Eater Boston has an exhaustive list of restaurants offering deals for workers who show government ID. Boston chefs are joining acclaimed chef Jose Andres and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen in an effort called #ChefsForFeds that serves meals to furloughed employees.

Furloughed workers are also turning to food pantries. Holy Tabernacle Church in Dorchester runs a food pantry that furloughed workers are using and the Greater Boston Food Bank shipped groceries to 800 Coast Guard personnel on the Cape deemed essential but unpaid. In Devens, where almost 500 employees work in a federal prison, FMC-Devens, Loaves and Fishes is inviting the furloughed employees to stop by its food pantry.

Furloughed employees also need to look good, so Lauren Craig Salon in Wayland is offering free cuts and blow drys.



The Globe urges state leaders to reach agreement on a new education funding formula — with an editorial carrying the same headline as last week’s Codcast conversation on the topic. Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan includes new state powers to intervene in struggling schools. (Boston Globe)

The Registry of Motor Vehicles, working with union groups and immigration advocates, finds a workaround that lets immigrants with temporary protected status retain their commercial driver’s licenses through September 9, when the Trump administration plans to revoke their status. (CommonWealth)

Baker says he would veto any legislation allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s’ license, as would be authorized in a bill filed by Sen. Brendan Crighton of Lynn and Reps. Christine Barber of Somerville and Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield. (Boston Herald)

A Berkshire Eagle editorial backs Sen. Eric Lesser’s proposal for the state to pay people to move to western Massachusetts and telecommute to work.

The state Senate unveiled new rules that would require training for all members and staff on sexual harassment issues. (Boston Herald)

Sen. Jo Comerford of Northampton files a State House resolution calling on Congress to impeach President Trump. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)


Advocates for a Dot Greenway running along the Red Line tunnel cap between Park Street (near Fields Corner Station) and Ashmont form a partnership with the Livable Streets Alliance. The MBTA is already on board with the project and plans are in the works to raise $5 to $7 million. (Dorchester Reporter)

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council chairman Cedric Cromwell  is no longer in charge of the tribe’s finances, stripped of the role in a council vote. (Cape Cod Times)


Roger Stone, a veteran political dirty trickster and longtime informal adviser to President Trump, was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller on seven counts, including witness tampering and obstruction of an official investigation. (New York Times)

The New York Times and Washington Post both have stories saying President Trump has more than met his match in Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to whom he caved in postponing his State of the Union address until the government shutdown ends. The Post says despite Trump often characterizing himself as a never-surrender guy, “at pivotal moments throughout his career, when confronted by people wielding equal or greater power, Trump has proved to be someone who does back down.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren will propose a new tax on the super rich that would impose a 2 percent annual levy on those with total assets of more than $50 million and 3 percent on those worth $1 billion or more. (Washington Post)


During a campaign visit to Columbia, South Carolina, her first such visit to that state, Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew a gasp from the crowd when citing statistics about the racial disparity in home ownership. (WGBH News)


A provision in Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget plan would require online vendors like Amazon to collect sales tax on behalf of third-party vendors, a move that Globe business writer Jon Chesto says would be a “victory for the brick-and-mortar shops in the state.”

The communications technology firm MACOM has postponed the ribbon-cutting ceremony for an addition to its Lowell headquarters on account of the shutdown. (Lowell Sun)

Long a dry town, Rockport has granted a license for off-premises beer and wine sales some 13 years after allowing local restaurants to serve beer and wine. (Gloucester Daily Times)


Lisa Guisbond of Citizens for Public Schools says Boston officials should stop slandering their own schools. (CommonWealth)

A majority of those who borrowed from the Massachusetts No Interest Loan Program for college students are in collection, according to a report by the Hildreth Institute, which believes the students never graduated. (WBUR News)

Stoughton’s new $123 million high school is on schedule and on budget to be completed by June 2019. (Brockton Enterprise)


Some Harvard University Medical School students are saying oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma has had minimal influence on Massachusetts General Hospital. (Harvard Crimson)


Architectural plans for the renovation of the Victory Theater in Holyoke win approval. (MassLive)

Cambridge filmmaker Errol Morris is having a tough time finding a distributor for his documentary on right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon. (Boston Globe)

Students at MIT and female inmates at South Bay House of Correction have collaborated on a surrealist mural at the facility, which will be replicated on campus and through an augmented reality experience. (WBUR News)

Magic Mike the Musical,” based on the similarly titled bawdy movie, will premier at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre at the end of the year, on its way to Broadway. (WBUR News)


The private company hired to run the MBTA’s parking lots and garages sues the transit agency for refusing to negotiate and pay incentive bonus payments. The lawsuit also raises questions about major revenue losses at the Haymarket Station garage. (CommonWealth)

The MBTA, acknowledging it needs to do more to get CharlieCards into wider circulation, makes them available in Chelsea City Hall. (CommonWealth)

Martha’s Vineyard Airport director Ann Richart announced this week that she will resign in May
after nearly three years on the job. (Vineyard Gazette)


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to hear from the public about Seabrook Station, pulling back from an earlier announcement that it would grant a 20-year license extension to the nuke plant just north of the Massachusetts border. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Cape Cod lawmakers Rep. Dylan Fernandes and Sen. Julian Cyr want to block plans for opening up Massachusetts waters for oil exploration and similar bills have been filed in New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. New Jersey, Delaware, and California banned offshore oil drilling last year. (Gloucester Daily Times)


Methuen says it may have to layoff more than half of its police department. (Boston Herald)

It’s a real-life takeoff on the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The mother of a person who claims to have been sexually abused at the Sheffield Center School in Sheffield decades ago has put up a billboard on Route 7 in Great Barrington asking other victims to come forward and help police. The billboard asks: “Did something happen to you in the bathroom at Sheffield Center School?” (Berkshire Eagle)

James “Whitey” Bulger’s five siblings have filed court claims to be heirs to his estate, which is said to currently have no assets, a situation that could change if a planned wrongful death lawsuit wins an award against the federal prison system in which the serial killer was himself killed. (Boston Herald)


Newsroom layoffs spread across the industry — at Buzzfeed, HuffPost, and Gannett. (CNN)

The Columbia Journalism Review interviews former New York Times editor Jill Abramson about her new book, Merchants of Truth.


Joseph Howze, the first African-American bishop to preside over a Roman Catholic diocese church in the 20th century, has died at 95. (Boston Globe)