Stacked deck at Cannabis Commission

Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg stacked the Cannabis Control Commission with people who voted against legalizing recreational marijuana.

Four of the five appointees voted against the ballot measure, and now will be charged with implementing marijuana legalization on a fairly tight timetable. Already, people are saying there won’t be enough growing facilities to meet expected demand.

No one has a clear handle on what to make of the appointments. Aside from Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, the new commissioners aren’t people with political track records and they have shunned interviews so far. Most likely they will do their best to get the industry up and running, but it’s logical to assume they will approach their jobs with a great deal of caution.

Neither Baker nor Healey have explained why they went with an opponent of legalizing recreational marijuana in making their appointments. Goldberg said she had little choice, given the law’s mandate that she name someone as chairman of the commission with experience in “corporate management, finance, or securities.” She said that background requirement pushed the selection in the direction of someone from “a more conservative cohort.”

The Boston Herald’s Joe Battenfeld said the loading up of the commission with opponents is another clear signal of how state political leaders are doing everything they can to stall pot sales. Battenfeld highlights a series of transgressions, including how Beacon Hill delayed implementation, took appointment control away from Goldberg, and underfunded the commission.

“The voters spoke loud and clear,” Battenfeld wrote. “They believe recreational marijuana, including the opening of pot-selling dispensaries, should be legal. It shouldn’t be up to the Legislature and a state-controlled commission to muck things up any more.”

The liberal Berkshire Eagle, in an editorial, generally gave the appointees the benefit of the doubt, but worried that having so many opponents of marijuana legalization on the commission could lead to a lot of foot dragging.

“The CCC must develop regulations on over 30 topics and accept licenses for retail, growing, and manufacturing facilities, all to be accomplished by June of 2018,” the editorial said. “It will be a challenge to enforce the will of the majority while addressing concerns that many share — including undoubtedly many who voted in favor. It will require care and deliberation, but without a slow-walking of the process that could hamstring a promising industry.”

The five members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission weren’t big advocates of gambling and lacked casino experience when they assumed their posts in 2012. In fact, Steven Crosby, the chairman of the commission, had been an opponent of legalized gambling. But the commissioners, despite strong opposition from Boston and other communities, pushed the industry forward. No one ever accused them of trying to sabotage the industry.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

A 30-year-old patronage hire in the Baker administration’s Department of Conservation and Recreation left his post abruptly last month, and the Globe says there are questions about the his claim of having a college degree.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Brockton police who responded to a false hostage report are warning about the dangers of “swatting,” a hoax call made to get a SWAT team to swoop down on the house of an unsuspecting person. (The Enterprise)

Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald says Red Sox owner John Henry is “currying kudos from the PC crowd” with his call to rename Yawkey Way.

Easton officials say they see benefits to affordable housing and are open to more developments despite the town sitting at the state-mandated 10 percent threshold for Chapter 40B projects. (The Enterprise)

A suit against Truro officials by a homeowner trying to stop the construction of three affordable homes being built by Habitat for Humanity has been given the go-ahead after a judge rejected a motion by the town to dismiss the suit. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Attorney General Maura Healey and Cardinal Sean O’Malley co-author an op-ed calling on President Trump not to end the DACA program. DACA “is not just about public policy — it is also about public morality,” they write. (Boston Globe) In the latest Codcast, national immigrant-rights advocate Ali Noorani says that emphasis on values, not just on policy, is key to building broader support for reasonable immigration policy. (CommonWealth)

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, says North Korea is “begging for war” and urged the Security Council to cut off oil and other fuel shipments to the rogue nation. (New York Times)

US Sen. Chris Christie? The New Jersey governor hasn’t ruled out appointing himself if Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez is convicted in his federal corruption trial that starts this week. (National Review)

Governing explains how Connecticut, America’s richest state, became a fiscal mess.

ELECTIONS

A Salem News editorial applauds two proposed ballot questions that would limit campaign donations by people outside the state and require full disclosure of the donors.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Tyrek Lee Sr. of 1199SEIU says unions are the best way to address some of society’s biggest problems, including income inequality. (CommonWealth)

Trump takes a pounding at Boston’s annual Labor Day breakfast. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

David Osborne says more school-level autonomy is key to improving education for all students. (Boston Globe)

RELIGION

Despite some parishioners protests, St. Lawrence Church in New Bedford is selling 14 historic bells that have hung in the church for nearly 130 years as part of way to finance much-needed repairs to the aging structure. (Standard-Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Six people overdosed in Gloucester over the weekend; one of the overdoses was fatal. (Gloucester Times)

Despite a drop in opioid overdose deaths, the number of 911 calls to local police has increased and first responders are having to use stronger doses of Narcan to keep victims alive. (Patriot Ledger)

Alex Beam rips the Massachusetts Dental Society for opposing a bill that would expand the procedures that trained dental therapists can perform. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA is refusing a request from the Boston Herald for a list of other finalists considered for the T general manager position.

Road tests for licenses for Massachusetts drivers are being delayed by as long as two months because of a backlog at the Registry caused by understaffing, especially a lack of qualified examiners. (MetroWest Daily News)

Keolis, the MBTA’s commuter rail operator, plans to conduct random ticket checks across the system starting on Tuesday. Eventually, Keolis plans to conduct checks of all passengers at Back Bay, South, and North Stations. (Eagle-Tribune)

Dan Grabauskas, a former general manager at the MBTA, is returning as executive director of commuter rail. He will work as an independent contractor and be paid $30,000 a month under a one-year contract. (MassLive)

The MBTA says its outsourcing efforts so far under the Pacheco Law will save $400 million over the next decade. (CommonWealth) James O’Brien, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, says privatization at the T isn’t the answer to fiscal stability. (CommonWealth)

A Herald editorial decries efforts by the Conservation Law Foundation to push Massport to study adding a drop-off and pick-up fee for cars entering and leaving Logan Airport.

CRRC, the Chinese company building new Red and Orange line railcars for the MBTA, loses out on a contract to build vehicles for the New York subway system. (Albany Business Review)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Hurricane Irma, barreling down on the Caribbean and South Florida, has intensified to a Category 5 storm. (New York Times)

Rip Cunningham and John McMurray oppose tinkering with the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, saying restrictions are needed to protect the area’s ecosystem and biodiversity. (CommonWealth)

Berkshire County’s wide open spaces are attractive to solar developers, but the area’s aging infrastructure makes it costly to connect solar arrays to the power grid. (Berkshire Eagle)

Area drivers are experiencing sticker shock with gas prices soaring as much as 25 percent at the pump in the week after Hurricane Harvey. (Patriot Ledger)

Federal officials are reviewing the status of a pair of river herring species to determine whether to extend endangered status on the fish which are threatened by dams and climate change. (Associated Press)

CASINOS/GAMBLING

A Herald editorial says the state needs to keep up with changes in the gambling market, including the move to online lottery sales.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments today on whether Joseph Cousin, convicted of the 2002 killing in Roxbury of 10-year-old Trina Persad, an innocent bystander to a gang feud, should be granted a new trial because his attorney had a conflict of interest. (Boston Herald)

A Herald editorial says the Baker administration needs to quickly get to the bottom of a brewing controversy over the reliability of alcohol breath tests used by the state for drunken driving cases.

Former US attorney Carmen Ortiz is joining the Boston law firm Anderson & Kreiger, where she’ll focus on internal investigations, corporate compliance, and white-collar defense work. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

Tronc buys the New York Daily News for $1. (Chicago Tribune) The New York Times gives its city rival some love.

George Donnelly, the former editor of the Somerville Journal, says digital news may be faster, but it’s not always better than its analog predecessor. (CommonWealth)

 

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Gee whiz, CommonWealth couldn’t at least add the MBTA’s report didn’t document precisely where the outsourcing efforts under the Pacheco Law will save $400 million over the next decade?

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Looks like the Boston Globe is taking a page out of CommonWealth’s book and running commentaries from nonprofits without disclosing some basic facts about those nonprofits. For example, the Globe describes David Osborne as directing the Reinventing America’s Schools project at the Progressive Policy Institute so I checked out that nonprofit on Charity Navigator. Due to numerous errors in Progressive Policy Institute’s IRS 990 filings over several years, Charity Navigator issued an advisory: “We find such practices atypical when compared to how other charities operate, as well as a departure from how has reported its finances in the past. We have reached out to for further clarification, but have not received an adequate explanation and have thus issued this Moderate Concern CN Advisory. The Progressive Policy Institute registers and files its Form 990 with the IRS as Third Way Foundation.”