The Ryan reverberations

Wednesday was just another day in the nation’s capital. Which is to say that the president seemed increasingly unhinged and the chaos and fear that he has unleashed within his own party prompted the most powerful member of the House to announce he’s throwing in the towel and going home.

Paul Ryan says his decision to give up the Speaker’s post was prompted by a wish to spend more time with his family in Wisconsin. It seems more driven by his wish to escape the dysfunctional family that his party now resembles and the increasing chances that its erratic leader in the White House may cause the House to flip to Democratic control.

Of the going-home-to-be-with-my-family line, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes, “if you believe that, we have some moldy cheese from Wisconsin to sell you.”

For Massachusetts members of Congress, the convulsions on Capitol Hill are anything but upsetting. As CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl writes, a Democratic takeover of the House following this fall’s midterm elections would catapult lots of the state’s all-Democratic delegation from the wilderness to key positions of power. “From a Democratic perspective, it’s all good,” Rep. Michael Capuano tells him.

Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield would be poised to become chairman of the budget-writing Ways & Means Committee. Rep. Jim McGovern of Worcester would be in line to helm the powerful Rules Committee. Capuano, a 10-term veteran from Somerville, and Rep. Steve Lynch of South Boston would likely snag key subcommittee chairmanships.

Capuano may be right that the news is all good for Democrats in the bigger scheme of things. But his side’s rise in polls seems to have as much to do with how unpopular Trump as it does with a fervent embrace of the Democratic Party, which is struggling to figure out its message going forward and to find leaders who will be effective in carrying it.

In that way, the Ryan news could elevate intraparty tensions on both sides of the aisle. The debate over whether Nancy Pelosi is the best flag-bearer for House Democrats is one thing when it’s a fight over who stands as the House minority leader that Republicans regularly steamroll. Ryan’s announcement — and the prospect of a Democratic House takeover that helped prompt it — lends more urgency to the question of Democratic leadership and who would be best to take the gavel as Speaker.

With some Republicans running and fundraising on an “anti-Pelosi message,” there may be fresh calls within the Democratic caucus to replace her now, writes the Herald’s Kimberly Atkins. But some Democratic wise-guys tell Atkins that Rep. Seth Moulton and others who have been itching to ditch the 78-year-old Pelosi would do well to hold pat and let the focus be on Republican infighting.

“The Democrats would be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” Democratic strategist Jim Manley says of any move against Pelosi before the November election.

The arguments that the party needs fresh, younger leadership are also butting up against a wave of interest in women candidates — and respect for those like Pelosi who have blazed a trail for them.

Should Pelosi go?, Jim Braude asked Jesse Mermell, former communications director for Gov. Deval Patrick, last night on WGBH’s Greater Boston. “I’m quite genuinely undecided,” said Mermell, who has championed both women and younger people stepping up in politics.



Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez unveiled the House’s budget proposal, which calls for more State Police oversight and rebuffs Gov. Charlie Baker’s Medicaid plan. (Boston Globe) Ballot questions on the November ballot, primarily the millionaire tax and a proposed reduction in the sales tax, could complicate the budget math. (MassLive) Sanchez rejected an MBTA proposal to let some 200 workers continue being paid with capital funds, which added an extra $27 million to the T’s delicately balanced fiscal 2019 budget. But the House leader solved the problem, at least temporarily, by giving the T an extra  $27 million in its legislative appropriation. (CommonWealth) The House budget ups spending on inmate re-entry programs. (CommonWealth)

The Senate passed a law regulating student loan servicers that could run afoul of federal law. (MassLive)

A Lowell Sun editorial urged the Legislature to remove its statutory exemption from the state’s Public Records Law.

A screw-up by the Department of Revenue caused letters with personal information about 6,100 individuals who owe child support to be sent to the wrong addresses. (Boston Globe)


With reelection now behind him, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh hands out fat raises to top City Hall aides. (Boston Herald)

Brockton City Councilor Winthrop Farwell says he has no problem with marijuana shops coming to the City of Champions, but says it’s important that city officials handle the issue deliberatively. (The Enterprise)

Boston approves new zoning regulations for pot shops that would allow them to open in any area of the city. (Boston Globe)

Colman M. Herman weighs in on the Yawkey Way controversy, saying even Jersey Street (the proposed rename) has negative connotations the further you go back. (CommonWealth) A city hearing that was scheduled for this morning to decide on the name change has been postponed, at the request of the Red Sox, until April 26. (Boston Herald)


Alan Dershowitz has become a favored whisperer to President Trump, thanks to his criticism of the special counsel, but he insists that the president isn’t a legal client. (Boston Globe)

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, who came into office promising to pass no restrictions on gun ownership, signed gun control legislation on the steps of the state house as gun advocates yelled traitor. (WBUR)

A Pennsylvania school district is equipping teachers with small baseball bats to use if confronted with an active shooter, prompting ridicule as well as some support. (New York Times)

Mark Zuckerberg’s apology before Congress rang hollow, says Dante Ramos. (Boston Globe)


House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to step down at the end of this term is a destabilizing blow to Republican hopes for 2018 on almost every front. (New York Times) Time calls Ryan’s departure a “dangerous moment” for the Republican Party.

At a Cape Cod debate, the three Democrats running for governor tried to distinguish themselves from one another. Jay Gonzalez stressed his experience working in the Patrick administration, Bob Massie portrayed himself as the true progressive in the race, and Setti Warren focused on his years as mayor of Newton and his concerns about income inequality. (Cape Cod Times)

Former Lowell mayor Bill Martin jumps into the already crowded race for the state Senate seat vacated by Eileen Donoghue, who took the job of Lowell city manager. (Lowell Sun)

Five candidates have signaled their intention to run against US Rep. Seth Moulton. (Salem News)


The Berkshire Museum sold its Norman Rockwell painting, “Shuffleton’s Barbershop,” to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which is under construction in Los Angeles. The Rockwell painting will reside at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge temporarily. (Berkshire Eagle)

Former House speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld join the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a major marijuana grower and dispenser. Boehner said his thinking on pot had evolved and both he and Weld said it was time for federal policy on marijuana to change. (WBUR)

Mark Erlich, the former head of the Carpenters Union, says 1099 Nation is spreading its tentacles everywhere. (CommonWealth)


Mt. Ida College turned down a deal two weeks ago that would have allowed the school to remain open by merging with nearby Lasell College. (Boston Globe)


CommonWealth interviews three young(ish) Turks at the MBTA who are part of an effort to change the “insular and slow-moving bureaucracy.”

Uber CEO Dana Khosrowshahi signals a more conciliatory attitude in dealing with cities and transit agencies at an event in Washington, DC. (Governing)

Only four people turned out for a hearing in Billerica on the Lowell Regional Transit Authority’s plan to hike fares, the first time the agency has increased them in 15 years. (Lowell Sun)

A Berkshire Eagle editorial laments the lack of state funding for the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority. The editorial said the Berkshires ships $30 to $35 million in transportation taxes to the state and gets back only about $2.5 million. Meanwhile, the Springfield City Council urges more state funds for the Pioneer Valley Regional Transit Authority. (MassLive)

Now that Sen. Eric Lesser has secured funding for a study of east-west rail, what’s next? (Western Massachusetts Political Insight)


The Cape Cod Times ran a series of editorials on litter entitled Ashtray state and the Trashing of Cape Cod.

Gov. Charlie Baker says the winner of the offshore wind procurement will probably be announced in May. (South Coast Today)


A Fitchburg couple is being held without bail in connection with the death of their 6-year-old daughter. (Boston Herald)


The Boston Herald announced a number of appointments, including Tom Shattuck as the editor of the editorial page. (CommonWealth) Just who had been writing the editorials had been something of a mystery. (CommonWealth)

Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham says fired radio host Tom Ashbrook’s mea culpa, in the form of a Globe op-ed earlier this week, was not exactly…on point, and that he needs to apologize directly to those he worked with at WBUR “rather than to the people who had no idea what was going on.”