Troopergate gets more tangled

The mess in the State Police seems to be getting messier.

The head of the department, Col. Richard McKeon, abruptly retired last week in the face of controversy over his orders to subordinates to revise a report on the arrest of a woman who is the daughter of a district court judge. The department’s No. 2 official has followed him out the door.

But lots of questions remain about who said what to whom in the runup to the report revising, which involved removing information that the suspect’s father is Dudley District Court Judge Timothy Bibaud as well as her declaration to the arresting officer that she performs sex acts to support her heroin addiction — and that she’d do the same for him in exchange for leniency.

The Herald reports today that a source says there was communication between McKeon and someone in the Worcester County District Attorney’s office “early on” in the case following the October 16 arrest of 30-year-old Ali Bibaud. Worcester County DA Joseph Early tells the paper he’s not commenting; a spokesman for his office cites federal lawsuits filed by the two troopers who were ordered to change the arrest report and an investigation by Attorney General Maura Healey as the reason. State Police also declined to comment on any possible communication with the DA’s office.

Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld says there are big questions “swirling around” whether the case reaches into Gov. Charlie Baker’s cabinet and involves his public safety secretary, Daniel Bennett. Baker says he’s stands behind Bennett “100 percent,” but Battenfeld says a complaint filed by the State Police Association calling for an investigation says the orders to alter the arrest report came “from the top.”

The buck with all of this, of course, ultimate stops with Baker. Battenfeld calls it “one of the most serious crises Baker has faced in his first term” and says “there’s no sign that it’s close to an end.”

Baker said last week that his office’s probe of the matter is over. Yesterday he quietly swore in a new commander for the State Police, and seems eager to put the controversy behind him, though he’s said the department should review its policies governing arrest reports.

Globe columnist Joan Vennochi writes that the union representing troopers says the sudden departures of McKeon and his deputy, Francis Hughes, were intended to avoid an internal affairs investigation of the matter. “If true, that’s not right,” says Vennochi.

McKeon, in his resignation letter, defended his actions to have the report edited, saying the department’s public safety mission “doesn’t preclude us from being empathetic toward those in need.”

“Sounds good — but can every arrestee expect that level of empathy?” asks Vennochi. “How many times did McKeon demonstrate it for someone unrelated to a judge or other prominent person?” (A retired state trooper, in a letter-to-the-editor earlier this week in the Globe, said he’d never seen in 23 years on the force a trooper ordered to revise an arrest report.)  “Did he really initiate the decision to alter Bibaud’s arrest record? Or did someone else ask him to? Judge Bibaud said he played no role. But how about others with connections to the State Police or the Baker administration?”

So many questions.

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

A Herald editorial slams the iron-fisted ways of House leadership, which broomed away an amendment updating wiretapping laws to the omnibus criminal justice bill passed on Tuesday by declaring it outside the scope of the bill.

State Sen. Adam Hinds says criminal justice reform legislation can usher in a new social contract on public safety in the state. (CommonWealth)

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said the Legislature is likely not done tinkering with the legal marijuana law. (CommonWealth)

The state unveiled the next phase in the Lawrence school receivership, announcing that a state-appointed board, which will include the city’s mayor, Dan Rivera, will oversee the district starting July 1. Jeff Riley, who has served as the receiver since 2012 and is stepping down, says he’s considering applying for the state education commissioner’s post. (CommonWealth)

The Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill effectively overturning the state’s 15-year-old English immersion law that blocks bilingual education. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Former North Adams mayor John Barrett, who was sworn in this week as a freshman state rep after winning a special election, is not being given office space in City Hall office that had been used by the previous rep from the district. The decision came from the city’s current mayor, Richard Alcombright, who defeated Barrett in 2009 and again in a 2015 rematch, but is himself leaving office in January after not seeking a fifth term. Got that? (Berkshire Eagle)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Sen Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has become the first GOP senator to come out against the $1.5 trillion tax cut proposals of both the House and Senate, putting the bill on shaky ground with little wiggle room for more defections. (New York Times)

Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, who says he voted for neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton last November, spoke on Wednesday in Springfield on today’s polarized political environment. (MassLive)

The Department of Justice sent letters to more than two dozen “sanctuary cities,” including Lawrence, warning that their actions to protect illegal immigrants could jeopardize federal funds. (Boston Herald)

ELECTIONS

A transgender former Naval intelligence officer from Haverhill and a Boxboro entrepreneur have joined the increasingly crowded Democratic field running to replace retiring US Rep. Niki Tsongas in the 3rd District congressional race. (Lowell Sun)

Four more women have come forward to accuse US Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct and unwanted advances when they were in their teens and 20s and he was a much older prosecutor. Lawyers for Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, intimated that a purported handwritten note from him in a yearbook displayed by a woman who accused him of sexual assault may be a forgery. (New York Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Obama-appointed head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced his resignation, opening the way for President Trump to neuter the Wall Street watchdog despised by Republicans. (U.S. News & World Report)

The Fall River City Council approved a new property tax rate that eases the burden on businesses. (Herald News)

EDUCATION

A teacher at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester is demanding that faculty members at Worcester State University retract their study on voter participation because she says it was plagiarized from her 389-page doctoral dissertation at UMass Boston. (Telegram and Gazette)

UMass Boston leaders, meanwhile, are beginning a round of layoffs to address the financial crisis on campus. (Boston Globe)

Voters at Ashland’s Town Meeting approved a proposal for free, all-day kindergarten for all families in town, joining the vast majority of communities in the state to offer the program. (MetroWest Daily News)

The Peabody School Committee has tapped the district’s assistant superintendent, Cara Murtagh, to become the new superintendent, picking her over four out-of-town candidates. (Salem News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The number of people enrolling for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is running 45 percent ahead of last year’s pace for the same period despite efforts by the Trump administration to thwart the sign-ups. (Associated Press)

Top Steward Health Care System officials, including CEO and chairman Ralph de la Torre, are shifting their base of operation from Boston to Dallas. (CommonWealth)

TRANSPORTATION

Federal officials have raised questions about the handicap accessibility of shuttle buses the MBTA has been using as substitute service from Park Street to Kendall/MIT on the Red Line during weekend construction work on the Longfellow Bridge. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Conservationists and other environmental advocates are trying to stop a “fast track” bill to allow air gun surveys for oil and gas they disrupt the migratory path of right whales. (Cape Cod Times)

Environmental groups and commercial fishermen are battling over a decision by federal regulators to increase the catch limit for menhaden, a small fish essential for the production of fish oils for humans and meal for aquaculture but a major food source for whales, dolphins, and some large fish species. (Associated Press)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The unidentified Fall River police officer who shot and killed a 19-year-old New Bedford man who was driving away from a loud party at an industrial park has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting. (Herald News)

A transgender woman who is serving a sentence at MCI-Norfolk is suing the state Department of Correction for the right to be transferred to a women’s prison to serve her term. (Boston Globe)

A Roxbury man being detained at the Middlesex House of Correction and his lawyer have been indicted on drug smuggling charges after officials charged the attorney passed his client Suboxone during two visits. (Lowell Sun)

MEDIA

The politically active and conservative Koch brothers are behind a deal to buy Time, Inc., publisher of Time and People magazines. (New York Times)