On sexual assault, a partisan divide
It is widely anticipated that Minnesota Sen. Al Franken will announce his resignation today, as the number of cases of alleged sexual misconduct against him grows. If the one-time Saturday Night Live comic does take his leave, he’ll be the second Democratic member of Congress to resign this week under the cloud of sexual misconduct allegations. On Tuesday, 88-year-old Rep. John Conyers, the longest serving member of the House, resigned in the wake of misconduct charges against him.
Both men faced growing calls from leaders of their own party to step down. But it’s no longer just a matter of whether Democrats have called out colleagues accused of misconduct, but a question of when.
US Rep. Seth Moulton not only called this week on Franken to resign, he said House minority leader Nancy Pelosi should step down from her leadership post because she was late in calling on Conyers to throw in the towel. Pelosi not only came late to the position, said Moulton, she “didn’t respect the women” who brought allegations of misconduct against Conyers when the Democratic leader appeared recently on Meet The Press.
Yesterday saw a rush of senators, led by a group of female senators, calling on Franken to quit. It was as if the #metoo hashtag was hijacked by those eager to get on the record calling for Franken to quit before it’s too late and he already does so.
Battenfeld says Warren has created at least a small opening for her Republican challengers to try to exploit in next year’s election. He says two of them, businessman John Kingston and Republican operative Beth Lindstrom, have already called out Warren for her reluctance to denounce Franken early on.
But if there’s any partisan advantage that might be emerging from the spate of sexual misconduct cases involving politicians, it would go to Democrats. Though Dems have been rightly questioned about how they dealt with sexual misconduct charges against Bill Clinton, the party that has championed women’s rights issues has at least seemed willing to engage in a bit of self-reflection on how it handled that issue in the context of the new day of reckoning we’re in. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, for example — who won the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton — said she now thinks Clinton should have resigned the presidency over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
“But has any Republican come out and said, ‘Now that I look back, I realize that Anita Hill was probably telling the truth, and Clarence Thomas should never have been put on the Supreme Court’?” asked Paul Waldman recently in the Washington Post.
If there is a difference on how the parties are dealing with past cases, there is an even more important “partisan split” in how they’re addressing current ones, writes Rick Klein in “The Note,” the ABC News daily e-newsletter.
It was Democrats who pushed Conyers out, just as their calls to resign are expected to lead Franken to call it quits today. “Contrast that with the GOP, where Roy Moore now has the support of President Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee, and a still-growing number of Republican senators going into Tuesday’s election in Alabama,” writes Klein.
Author Diane Hessan has been writing Globe op-ed columns about the ongoing conversations she’s been having with a cohort of 400 voters since the 2016 election. Of Moore’s campaign in Alabama, she writes today, “There are lots of controversial issues in our country, but when you come right down to it, it’s easy to say you don’t like pedophiles.”
Or so one would think. So how do conservative Alabama Republicans defend their continued support for Moore, who is alleged to have molested a 14-year-old girl while in his 30s? They simply don’t believe the charges, says Hessan, perhaps more evidence of the effectiveness of Trump’s “fake news” crusade against the media.
They might celebrate in Alabama, but such an outcome could be a disaster for Republicans nationally, writes Gabrielle Levy in U.S. News. And that isn’t just the view of Democrats. She cites the political editor of the conservative website TownHall, who tweeted: “If Moore wins & GOP doesn’t vote to expel, Dems will nationalize the issue, claim high ground (despite past sins), and, I suspect, draw a LOT of political blood. GOP will deserve it.”
Opined Fox News commentator Brit Hume: “Republicans should now pray that either Franken refuses to quit or Moore loses. Otherwise, a hot mess for the party as Moore becomes their hood ornament.”
And then, of course, there is the biggest elephant in the Republican room on the issue. Trump will not be Time’s “Person of the Year.” But the man who bragged of his ability to grab women at will by their genitals gets some prominent ink in their story on winners of this year’s designation, the “Silence Breakers” who have opened the door to widespread discussion of sexual harassment and assault.
With his narcissistic need for ego gratification apparently boundless, Trump will probably stew privately over not winning the magazine’s designation. But when it comes to what Time is declaring the issue of the year, he should know he is the first among equals.
A Berkshire Eagle editorial said the politicking for Senate president should wait until the Senate Ethics Committee completes its investigation. If the committee finds that Sen. Stanley Rosenberg was unaware of his husband’s actions and did not allow his position of leadership to be compromised, the newspaper said Rosenberg should return as president with no punishment. “The anger and openness about sexual harassment triggered by the Harvey Weinstein scandal is welcome and overdue, but it must not evolve into a new form of McCarthyism, in which allegations are tantamount to a finding of guilt and suspicion compromises good judgment.”
Three Democratic women senators — Linda Forry, Eileen Donoghue, and Karen Spilka — say they’ll vie for the Senate presidency if Stan Rosenberg’s temporary leave from the post becomes permanent. (Boston Herald)
Who is Harriette Chandler, the new acting Senate president? (MassLive)
A Herald editorial hopes the election this week of Republican Dean Tran in a special election for a state Senate seat long held by Democrats signals a trend toward greater party balance in the Legislature.
Three teenagers were shot, one fatally, outside a Mission Hill youth center in Boston last night. (Boston Herald)
East Bridgewater residents are questioning the transparency of the selectmen after the board held an unusual afternoon meeting with a required posted agenda of several controversial items at Town Hall but without notifying local access cable or making a public announcement. (The Enterprise)
The Globe spotlights the YIMBY movement sprouting up in a few areas in and around Boston, where residents are calling for more, not less, density in development projects. Check out this recent Codcast conversation with leaders of the local YIMBY movement.
Former governor Deval Patrick is among the current and former prominent black political officials expected to descend on Alabama between now and Tuesday in an effort to rally black voters to turn out in support of Doug Jones, the Democrat now running neck-and-neck in polls with Republican Roy Moore for the US Senate. (Washington Post)
In testimony before a closed-door congressional panel, Donald Trump Jr. declined to give details about a phone call with his father during the campaign about a meeting with Russian representatives, citing attorney-client privilege because both dad and son had their lawyers listening in. (New York Times)
The House passed legislation expanding gun owners’ rights. (Associated Press)
Wildfires in California have moved into the heart of Los Angeles, threatening the city’s Bel-Air neighborhood with landmarks such as the UCLA campus and the Getty Museum. (New York Times)
Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, told the North Shore Chamber of Commerce that his group feels under siege by ballot questions that would hike taxes on millionaires, raise the minimum wage, and provide paid family and medical leave. Hurst’s group is pushing back with its own ballot question that would cut the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent. (Salem News)
A ballot question to eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions failed to gather enough signatures to go before voters. Rep. Jim Lyons of Andover led the push for the ballot question. (Gloucester Times)
Former vice president Joe Biden will preside over Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s swearing-in ceremony for his second term. (MassLive)
President Trump is encouraging Maine Gov. Paul LePage to run for the US Senate against Sen. Angus King. (Washington Post)
Several boat captains and the owner of New Bedford’s largest fish auction business warned of layoffs and economic turmoil resulting from the decision by federal officials to close down Sector IX, one of 19 commercial fishing areas, for groundfishing because of illegal activities of now-convicted Carlos Rafael, the so-called “Codfather.” (Standard-Times)
Those living in wealthy Boston suburbs could take a big hit under the tax bill moving through Congress, which would limit deductions for property tax and state income tax, student loan debt, and mortgage interest. (Boston Globe)
The Victoria Station restaurant on Pickering Wharf in Salem is shut down after its lease expires. (Salem News)
The economy added 190,000 jobs last month, led by gains in manufacturing and health industries. (U.S. News & World Report)
Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch is proposing adding more time to the school day, first by reducing the number of half-days used for teacher planning and development and then by extending the start and end times of classes. (Patriot Ledger)
The Boston School Committee approved a move to make sweeping changes in school start times, changes that are likely to push the start time for many high schools past 8 a.m, while moving to early start times for some K-8 schools that currently dismiss students after 4 p.m.
“Painful choices” may be necessary at UMass Boston, which facing a flood of red ink, but “who will feel the pain,” asks Joan Vennochi, ticking off a number of very well-paid higher-ups who never seem to appear in the budget-cutting cross-hairs. (Boston Globe)
Advocates in many states that are pushing for more state funding for schools are following a new legal strategy that seems to be working. (Governing)
Boston’s Public Health Commission signed off on Boston University’s plans for a Level 4 biosafety lab in the South End, the final approval needed for the center, whose siting has stirred years of controversy and opposition because it will undertake research on the world’s deadliest pathogens. (Boston Globe)
The Barr Foundation funded three bus rapid transit pilots in Arlington, Everett, and Cambridge-Watertown. The pilots focus primarily on dedicated bus lanes and traffic light synchronization that will give MBTA buses preference at intersections. (CommonWealth)
James Aloisi rails against gondolas, autonomous vehicle predictions, and generational delays in build the proposed West Station in Allston. (CommonWealth)
Gov. Charlie Baker hands out $20 million in grants as he tries to kickstart the energy storage business. (CommonWealth)
The massive Massachusetts clean energy procurement is prompting a lot of unusual lobbying for what is essentially a private RFP process. The latest is a claim by Central Maine Power that its project to delivering hydroelectricity from Quebec into New England would have the cheapest construction costs and therefore the lowest price. (CommonWealth)
A fentanyl dealer arrested in Lawrence pleads guilty and is sentenced to four years in prison. (Eagle-Tribune)
A Swansea man is appealing the $400 fine he received for violating the town’s fire code when he burned a New England Patriots jersey to protest players kneeling during the national anthem. (Herald News)MEDIA
The 10 most retweeted tweets of 2017 didn’t include any from President Trump, arguably the most prolific user of the social media site, but did include three from former President Barack Obama. (Time) The most retweeted message was form a 16-year-old Nevada high school student who asked Wendy’s food chain how many retweets he’d need to qualify for a year’s worth of chicken biggest. The answer was 18 million but the company settled for 3.4 million.