Sharp elbows in fight to replace Rosenberg

It’s pretty much a given now that former Senate President Stan Rosenberg will remain just that – former – and the possibility exists he may not even remain in the Senate. There’s blood in the water and the sharks are circling and word could come as soon as today that the Democrats in the chamber will move on from the embattled Amherst senator.

Rosenberg and his allies had held onto the hope that allegations of sexual harassment against his spouse, Bryon Hefner, would not show any malfeasance on the part of Rosenberg. They were convinced that the probe by the law firm appointed by the Senate Ethics Committee would conclude the firewall Rosenberg says he erected between him and Hefner when it came to Senate business was firmly in place and all Hefner’s talk of influence in policy matters was just that – talk.

But Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham burned the firewall theory down over the weekend when she wrote that Rosenberg instructed his staff to give Hefner access to his emails and calendar and Hefner, in turn, lobbied senators and staff on issues and showed a keen insider knowledge of what was happening. Perception or reality, the clock ran out as everyone from Gov. Charlie Baker to colleagues to editorial boards around the state said the allegations had just too much meat to be dismissed.

Senate Democrats are planning to caucus today and the pressure will be on Rosenberg to formally vacate the chair and even if he doesn’t, it’s likely the 31-member caucus will do it for him. There’s too much ambition in that room for the status to remain quo and there’s too much concern that Rosenberg’s presence overshadows any legislating that needs to be done.

So moving on, who’s the next man – or woman – up? Because the original allegations after Thanksgiving last year hit like a lightning bolt, there was no real succession plan in place. There’s always talk of the usual suspects but no one had yet mounted a campaign to garner support. That changed quickly.

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Karen Spilka was and is an obvious candidate, mostly because the Ways and Means post has been a natural launching pad for the big chair. Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry had expressed interest but now she’s leaving the chamber to take a well-paid vice president position with Suffolk Construction. Sens. Eileen Donoghue and Sal DiDomenico have been taking their colleagues’ temperature about support but no one had really emerged, largely because of a solid bloc of support for Rosenberg and his democratic (small d) style of power-sharing coupled with his progressive counterweight to Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

But into the breech, there’s rumblings that youth will be served, or at least wants to be. Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow, two terms into his elective career, has been looking to amass votes to seize the chair. The 32-year-old former Obama aide is one of a new breed of senators, including the likes of first-termers Julian Cyr of Truro and Adam Hinds of Pittsfield, who are young, smart, progressive, and, the most senatorial characteristic of all, ambitious.

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

Attorney General Maura Healey sought assurances from the Baker administration that the decision on what to do about the stalled Northern Pass clean energy procurement won’t be left to just the state’s three utilities, a group that includes Eversource Energy, a partner in the Northern Pass project. (CommonWealth)

The justices of the Supreme Judicial Court seem to struggle with whether the proposed millionaire tax ballot question passes legal muster. (CommonWealth) Herald editorial page editor Rachelle Cohen says the court should toss the question from the ballot.

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg pleads for more money to hire alcohol control inspectors, saying she narrowly avoided layoffs last year. (MassLive)

The Baker administration urges the state Cannabis Control Commission to trim back its agenda to exclude licensing pot delivery services or other things beyond the “immediate requirements” of the law. (Boston Globe)

Three lawmakers — Reps. Natalie Higgins, Byron Rushing, and Denise Provost — make the case for paid family leave and a boost in the minimum wage. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Lowell City Council had a raucous meeting full of shouting and anger over the rejection by the state of the city’s designs for a new high school. (Lowell Sun)

A Framingham charter school student has convinced the City Council to take steps to rename two streets that could be deemed offensive to Native Americans. (MetroWest Daily News)

Some of Weymouth’s unions have filed unfair labor complaints against the town, claiming Mayor Robert Hedlund and his chief of staff unilaterally changed the Family Medical Leave policy without bargaining with the unions. (Patriot Ledger)

After a 4-1 vote, the Dudley Board of Selectmen dismissed legal counsel Gary Brackett for his handling of the legal fight with a Muslim cemetery. (Telegram & Gazette)

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera gave a state of the city speech that had a relatively modest agenda for his second and last term. (Eagle-Tribune)

A Miami company that offered far more money than its rivals to run beach concessions in Gloucester dropped out of the running.(Gloucester Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump’s administration is giving serious consideration to a military parade in Washington. (Washington Post)

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said some immigrants are “too lazy” to sign up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that defers deportation. (Associated Press)

ELECTIONS

A Democratic group led by former attorney general Eric Holder and backed by former President Barack Obama is focusing its resources on all-Republican states in an effort to thwart the GOP from having a stranglehold on redistricting maps after the 2020 elections. (New York Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Quincy has entered into an economic development agreement with County Cork, Ireland, that will bolster tourism, education, and investment between the two regions. (Patriot Ledger)

Five hundred baggage handlers and other workers are slated to go on strike this afternoon at Logan Airport against what they say are efforts to intimidate them from forming a union. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Former Boston city councilor and mayoral candidate John Connolly is appointed chair of a committee that will appoint a superintendent and oversee the schools in Lawrence. (CommonWealth)

Higher education leaders nationally call on Harvard to look for a new president who can be a leading voice against an anti-intellectual wave sweeping the country that they say President Trump is helping to advance. (Boston Globe)

Mayor Marty Walsh says inadequate education funding from the state is reaching a “crisis level” for Boston’s schools. (Boston Globe)

Tom Daniels, the principal of the Stanley elementary school in Swampscott, announced he is transgender and will identify in the future as female. Daniels also began using his middle name Shannon. (Salem News)

Facing parents angry about the suspension of three Andover hockey coaches, the School Committee voted to spend $2,500 to investigate allegations that the coaches withheld food and water from players after losses. The state Department of Children and Families is already investigating. (Eagle-Tribune)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A new report says Massachusetts has the highest rate of child abuse in the nation — and the rate has not budged despite several years of reforms to the state child welfare agency under the Baker administration. (Boston Herald)

TRANSPORTATION

Gov. Charlie Baker moves ahead with a phased approach to South Coast Rail that would begin service in late 2022. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Shirley Leung takes apart the Baker administration’s handling of energy procurement that resulted in a bad bet being placed on the Northern Pass proposal. (Boston Globe)

CASINOS

The board of directors of Wynn Resorts reluctantly accepted the resignation of Steve Wynn as CEO and chairman of the company and moved president Matt Maddox into the CEO position. (Wynn Resorts press release) Maddox, 42, joined Wynn Resorts in 2002 and is one of the employees who was closest to Steve Wynn. (Las Vegas Review Journal) The company says the scheduled June 2019 opening of is Everett casino remains on track, but the state gambling commission will have the last word on that. (Boston Globe) The commission paid more than $4 million to the New Jersey investigation firm that was charged with scrubbing Wynn for his suitability to be awarded a casino license here. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

State Police arrested Randolph Town Councilor James Burgess and another man and charged them with possession and distribution of methamphetamine, the result of an ongoing investigation. (The Enterprise)

The lawyer for the retired head of the State Police, RIchard McKeon, filed a motion to dismiss lawsuits against him from two subordinates in connection with their allegation that they were ordered to change the arrest report from an incident involving the daughter of a Worcester County judge. (Boston Herald)