Political baby talk

It became a high-profile debate over open carry.

But unlike the matter of openly flashing lethal weaponry while strolling through town, which people in some states regard as much ado about not much at all, this open carry debate got played out at a high level.

The controversial subject of this carry kerfuffle: newborn babies.

The tempest in a sippy cup was set off when Sen. Tammy Duckworth became the first sitting member of the Senate to give birth while in office. The Illinois Democrat didn’t have the option of having anyone fill in for her to take votes while she was on leave, so she decided to return to the Senate for a key vote with her 10-day-old daughter in hand.

Before she could do so, however, the Senate had to vote to change its rules, which had prohibited children from the floor while it is in session. In the end, the rule change was approved unanimously, but not before a little fretting over what opening the baby gates might portend.

Calamity had not seemed this close at hand since the Music Man warned the mothers of River City about the horrors that might follow once their sons start rebuckling their knickers below their knees. The world’s most august deliberative body, which sometimes seems to double as a senior center for octogenarian men, went into a mild tizzy.

The Great Senate Baby Scare of 2018 was captured best by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch. The  84-year-old Utahan asked his colleagues to ponder where this could all lead. “But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?” he asked.

“That would be wonderful and a delight,” answered Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

For Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, the Senate baby talk was all too familiar. Both of the at-large councilor’s sons were born since the time she took office in 2014. And in an essay she wrote for CNN in the wake of Duckworth’s historic arrival last week on the Senate floor with newborn Maile, Wu wrote, “I have been cheering on Senator Duckworth with admiration and empathy.”

Before a child care slot opened up, Wu brought her older son to committee hearings, where he slept soundly on her desk. The reaction of colleagues and the public was overwhelmingly supportive, but Wu said she was blistered by an online critic who went so far as to call on her to resign.

“If she cannot devote her full attention when doing Council business, she should not serve,” she says he tweeted at one point.

“Too often, our societal norms still set up a false choice between parenting and professionalism,” wrote Wu.

Granted, in lots of jobs people would never have the option to have a newborn at work with them. But in settings where it’s possible, it seems like a perfectly reasonable step into the 21st century.

What’s more, writes Sarah Kliff in Vox, a world with 10 babies on the Senate floor might even bring better financing of child care services or be one where fathers play a bigger role in parenting. “Come to think of it,” she writes, “a world with 10 babies on the Senate floor doesn’t sound so bad at all.”

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Senators and reps from the Cape and Islands call for a legislative oversight hearing on how Thomas Latanowich, who allegedly murdered Yarmouth police officer Sean Gannon, was on the streets and not locked up. (Cape Cod Times)

The Baker administration makes it official, delaying the selection of the winner (or winners) of an offshore wind procurement until May 23. (State House News) The need for a delay was first reported by CommonWealth.

The state Senate has paid out more than $230,000 to a Boston law firm investigating former Senate president Stan Rosenberg. (Boston Globe) Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner, whose alleged acts of sexual harassment and assault are what set off the controversy and lead to Rosenberg’s downfall from power, pleads not guilty to all counts against him at his arraignment this morning in Suffolk Superior Court. (Boston Globe)

A Salem News editorial calls for making the Legislature subject to the state’s Public Records Law.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The city of Lawrence takes over a private relief agency that had been occupying a municipal building without paying rent or utilities. (Eagle-Tribune)

The EPA is facing opposition in Danvers to its plan to temporarily store arsenic-contaminated soil at a parking lot before shipping it out for disposal. (Salem News)

Quincy city councilors discuss a possible ordinance to require a special permit from the council for any bridge construction project, the latest wrinkle in the city’s efforts to block Boston from rebuilding a bridge from Quincy to Long Island, which is owned by Boston. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes to advance Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be secretary of state after Sen. Rand Paul, who had steadfastly vowed to oppose the pick, flips and votes to confirm him after being pressured by President Trump. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

A new coalition made up mostly of organized labor groups will be leading the charge against a ballot question cutting the state sales tax by 20 percent. The coalition is calling itself the Save Our Public Services Committee. (State House News)

The three Democrats running for governor, appearing at a forum sponsored by several environmental groups, say Charlie Baker has not enough on environmental issues. (Boston Globe)

Hingham town meeting attendees vote to ban recreational marijuana shops in the tony seaside community. (Patriot Ledger)

EDUCATION

Gubernatorial candidate and former Newton mayor Setti Warren, who earns $70,000 a year for teaching a class twice a week and doing community relations work for Mt. Ida College, said he had no idea about the school’s dire fiscal condition before the recent announcement that it was closing. (Boston Herald)

The Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee decides not to share a superintendent with North Adams. (Berkshire Eagle)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The Massachusetts Health Connector launches a $164,000 outreach campaign targeting “multicultural” young men in Gateway Cities who don’t have health insurance. (MassLive)

TRANSPORTATION

No sign of consensus on when to build West Station. (CommonWealth)

A new study from MassINC suggests there is tremendous economic potential around commuter rail stations in Gateway Cities if the municipalities can make themselves part of the Greater Boston economic ecosystem. (MassLive)

T notes: Protected bike lane sought for Longfellow Bridge and Massport CEO Tom Glynn nixes airport access fee. (CommonWealth)

A Commonwealth Avenue bridge fix means a difficult three weeks for commuters this summer. (WBUR)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A group from Long Island that is worried about storm-induced flooding tours the New Bedford hurricane barrier. (South Coast Today)

Coastal real estate is losing some of its luster in the face of climate change and worries that waterfront homes could one day end up underwater. (Boston Globe)

Gasoline prices are on the rise. (Boston Globe)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Town Meeting members in Shrewsbury give the green light to retail marijuana establishments. (Telegram & Gazette)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Massachusetts Bail Fund is a nonprofit that provides poor, arrested individuals with the money to get out of jail. (WGBH)

The former head of the State Police payroll department was arraigned on charges she stole $23,900 from the agency. (Boston Globe)

A former Newburyport City Council president and one-time mayoral candidate is being held on charges that he raped a teenage boy. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

Newspaper readers are dying off, and Joan Vennochi pens a poignant tribute to one of them — her 85-year-old neighbor. (Boston Globe)