The Codcast: Smoke and mirrors

Both sides of the debate over the ballot question to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana are running television ads in the final weeks of the campaign and it’s safe to say neither will be awarded points for honesty. The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, the group started with the backing of Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, has begun running an ad that is being panned as a modern day version of Reefer Madness. The commercial shows a mom and daughter driving to a strip mall and warns of “thousands” of pot shops sprouting up around the Bay State. The closing shows a boy, who doesn’t look to be out of his teens even though the ballot question would restrict sales to 21 and over, coming out of a pot shop loaded with paraphernalia before stopping in his tracks when he sees “mom.” They hope it’s enough to scare you to just say no.

But the Yes on 4 folks themselves have a little arm wrestle with the truth. The campaign has two ads out, including the latest one featuring a doctor touting the medical benefits of marijuana and the relief it will bring when people in pain can finally access the herb to help them cope day to day. The problem is the ballot question isn’t about medical marijuana; Massachusetts voters passed that in 2012. It’s about recreational sale and use, but how do you sell that to a public confronted with an ongoing opioid crisis?

The group’s first ad also stretches the truth some. A retired Boston police sergeant disputes the anti-pot message of people walking the streets in a cloud of smoke unaware of everyone around them. The ad states emphatically that “Question 4 bans consuming marijuana in public.” Except it really doesn’t. Section 13 on page 21 of the 25-page referendum says, “No person shall consume marijuana in a public place or smoke marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited.” In other words, in the reading of some experts, if you can smoke a cigarette in some establishments, you could be able to smoke a joint there as well, the way the initiative is written. And how does a cop tell if someone on Boston Common is eating one of Aunt Betty’s fudge brownies or a THC-infused chocolate square?

John Carroll, a Boston University professor of communications and former journalist and commentator, and Dave Wedge, a former political reporter and currently a vice president at the political consulting firm Northwind Strategies, bring their expertise to help us break down what’s real and what’s just smoke and mirrors in these ads and the marketing campaigns for both sides.



Boston Mayor Marty Walsh seems to be engaging in shuttle diplomacy between the Baker administration and MBTA unions, trying to find common ground on privatization. (CommonWealth)

Gov. Charlie Baker says higher education and the courts won’t see their budgets cut as he tries to close a shortfall in this year’s state budget. (State House News)

Three Democratic lawmakers speak out against the MBTA’s decision to waive half of the $1.7 million in fines levied against commuter rail operator Keolis for service problems during the record-breaking snow drifts of 2015. (Boston Globe)

Baker lays the groundwork for regulation of self-driving cars in Massachusetts. (Masslive)

Five women, four of them state lawmakers and one a Worcester official, talk about sexism in politics and whether it’s OK to wear hoop earrings. (Telegram & Gazette)


A badly deteriorated roof at the cold storage facility on the state pier in Gloucester is replaced withthe help of MassDevelopment. (Gloucester Times) The Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns the pier, is under fire for its operation of the Gloucester facility and three others in New Bedford, Fall River, and Plymouth. (CommonWealth)

A vote to approve General Electric‘s redevelopment plans for its new Seaport headquarters was postponed when it became clear there had not been proper public notice given and the session would violate the state’s Open Meeting Law, hardly the first time Boston City Hall has been caught ignoring the statute. (Boston Globe)

Gov. Charlie Baker likes the idea of a Major League Soccer stadium in Dorchester. (Boston Globe)


The British government will posthumously pardon thousands of gay men who had been convicted of engaging in homosexual sex under the country’s since-removed anti-gay laws. (New York Times)

The New Republic has a lengthy interview with Bernie Sanders, whom it dubs a “Marxist-Calvinist,” a man whose agenda, writer Eric Bates says, are “a cross between Das Kapital and Deuteronomy.”


Donald Trump will accept the election results after all — if he wins. (U.S. News & World Report) His threat to not accept the election outcome would undermine a Hillary Clinton victory “out of the gate.” (Boston Herald) Polls suggest Clinton won the debates by a historic margin and Trump is running out of time to stage a comeback. (CommonWealth)

How to bow out: Cameron Kerry, brother and top adviser to John Kerry in his 2004 presidential run, recounts the wee hours deliberations leading to Kerry’s concession when it was clear he had lost Ohio. (Boston Herald)

A Catholic fundraising gala in New York that is a traditional stop for presidential contenders to make fun of themselves and each other turned into an awkward extension of the caustic campaign between Trump and Hillary Clinton. (New York Times)

Trump supporters say Clinton violated security protocol when she detailed the lag time between the order to launch nuclear weapons and the actual launch itself even though that information has been published in academic reports. (Fox News)

The Boston Herald pulls a Charlie Baker and offers a “none of the above” endorsement for president.

Curt Schilling is talking a lot about challenging Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but his actions are not those of a serious candidate. (CommonWealth)

Minority parents in Boston are speaking out against well-off suburbanites who they say are cutting them off from good school options by opposing the ballot question to expand charter schools. (Boston Herald)

More signs of a 2-1 breakdown among Beacon Hill’s Big Three. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg comes out against the charter school ballot question, while House Speaker Robert DeLeo joins Baker in supporting it. The breakdown is similar on marijuana legalization. Baker and DeLeo are in the opposition camp, while Senate President Stanley Rosenberg says he favors the question. (Associated Press) Meanwhile, the alcohol industry is pouring money into the campaign opposing legalizing marijuana. (Salem News)

Not everyone on the Massachusetts High Technology Council is on board with the group’s plan to fight the so-called millionaires’ tax ballot question. (Boston Globe)

The challenger to Barnstable County Sheriff James Cummings has filed a complaint charging Cummings used a federally funded radiation-detecting boat to ferry fellow sheriffs to a retirement party for one of their own on Martha’s Vineyard. Cummings responded by demanding his challenger, Randy Azzato, release his personnel records with the Department of Correction, hinting he has seen the private records and there is information that could be pertinent to voters.(Cape Cod Times)

A Marshfield attorney and inactive Navy reserve lieutenant, who is running as an independent write-in for the Senate, was shackled at his home and taken into custody by the US Marshals and flown to Virginia on a warrant after he refused to give testimony in the case of a Guantanamo prisoner. (Patriot Ledger) 


Once vacant, the South Worcester Industrial Park is now sold out. (Masslive)


The $1 billion expansion of Boston Children’s Hospital wins state approval. (State House News)

Cases of sexually transmitted diseases reach a record high in the United States. (Time)

Grosvenor Park Health Center of Salem is fined $102,623 by the federal government. (Salem News)


The New Bedford-to-Nantucket ferry, which was revived this summer, surpassed passenger projections by more than 20 percent, giving operators confidence to launch service to other destinations from the Whaling City. (Standard-Times)


Sen. Elizabeth Warren and US Reps. Niki Tsongas and Katherine Clark have signed a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker opposing a planned nine-mile power transmission line from Sudbury to Hudson that would require clear-cutting wide swaths of trees along the route. (MetroWest Daily News)

A toxic algae bloom that has shut down shellfish beds in Nantucket Sound has now spread to the Sakonnet River near Providence, forcing officials there to ban shellfish harvesting in that area. (Associated Press)


Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants is launching a study of racial and ethnic disparities in incarceration rates, which are even greater in Massachusetts than in the nation as a whole. (CommonWealth)

The city of Gloucester’s investigation of police chief Leonard Campanello and Det. Sgt. Sean Conners is turned over to US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Attorney General Maura Healey. (Gloucester Times)

The mother of a 2-year-old shot on Saturday on Roxbury speaks for the first time. (Boston Globe)

State Police raided two clubs in Gloucester and seized electronic gaming machines. (Gloucester Times)

Jurors see surveillance video of Justo Garcia pocketing cash from the city garage in Lawrence. Garcia also served as former mayor William Lantigua’s campaign photographer. (Eagle-Tribune)