For women, news seems good and bad

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Overused as they are, it seems hard to avoid the sense that the famed first lines describing the runup to the French Revolution also apply this week to the state of things involving women in American society

Today’s context, of course, centers on the surge of women candidates winning office this week, locally and across the country, and what seems like the never-ending flood of reports of rampant sexual harassment — and worse — of women by powerful men. In fact, the good news-bad news themes are two sides of the same coin.

Stephanie Ebbert distills the news in today’s Globe this way: “After a year of indignities, from the stinging defeat of the nation’s first female major-party presidential nominee to devastating revelations of sexual harassment by men in power, women this week made dramatic strides in municipal elections across the country.”

The showing by women candidates was impressive, from Newton and Manchester, New Hampshire, electing their first women mayors to two women gaining seats on the Boston City Council, meaning they will hold six of 13 seats when the new term starts in January.

Ann Bookman, director of the Center for Women and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston, ties the surge of women candidates directly to last November’s loss by Hillary Clinton.

“I think that it really was kind of a wakeup call for many women,” she told Ebbert. “Many women felt that it would be very exciting to have the first woman president, and when it didn’t happen, a lot of women started saying, ‘If you look around at government, we just do not see anything close to gender parity.’ ”

As for what seems like an unending string of reports of sexual harassment and abuse of women, there is no reason to think such behavior has suddenly become more common. What has happened suddenly is the willingness more women to step forward to call it out, the necessary first steps to seeing real change in what goes on.

Of course, the two strands of women’s news come together in Donald Trump, was the cause of women’s electoral disappointment, through his defeat of Clinton, and stands today as Exhibit A in the rogues’ gallery of high-profile sexual predators.

Northeastern University political scientist William Mayer, in an op-ed in today’s Herald, thinks the Access Hollywood tape of Trump bragging of wanton sexual assault would have sunk his candidacy without the swirl of similar scandal attached to his opponent’s husband.

That’s impossible to know. What seems clear is that Trump has helped energize women’s political participation in ways that will not redound to his benefit. Meanwhile, things that could be passed off only a year ago as “locker room talk” may soon be the stuff of criminal investigations and courtroom testimony.

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Rep. Paul Heroux, who is now Attleboro’s mayor-elect, said he plans to do both jobs until his rep term runs out because he thinks it will be easier for Democrats to retain the seat in next year’s regular state election than in a special election called if he retires. (State House News)

A Boston Herald editorial slams Heroux, suggesting his planned double dip is why people hate politics.

Gov. Charlie Baker said he plans to request more money from the Legislature to help pay for the education of Puerto Rican students who have come to Massachusetts in the wake of hurricane devastation on the island. (State House News)

William Burns, the public policy director at Airbnb, says it’s time for Massachusetts to catch up with the rest of the New England states and pass a tax on home-sharing. (CommonWealth)

US Reps. Jim McGovern, Seth Moulton, and Bill Keating urged Baker to support extending temporary protected status for immigrants from Honduras, Haiti, and El Salvador. (MassLive)

The House passed no-copay birth control legislation. (MassLive)

An amendment to the Senate health care legislation would require the state to measure existing health care costs against what they would be if the state had a single payer system. (State House News)

A Lowell Sun editorial applauded the House version of criminal justice reform legislation.

Yvonne Abraham offers a how-not-act-for-dummies guide for men who have a hard time making out what ought to be fairly bright lines governing interactions with female coworkers. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The contentious recall fight against three selectmen in Stoughton took a turn for the weird when Selectman Chairman David Sousa, one of the targets of the recall campaign, printed out and silently hung pictures at a board meeting from the private social media of the teenaged sister of a recall leader. (The Enterprise)

The chairman of the three-member Barnstable County Commissioners says he’s near resigning from the regional government board because of the continuing controversy over right wing social media postings by one of the members demeaning the “#metoo” movement that is stymying the panel’s regular work. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Congressional Budget Office said the Republican tax bill would increase the federal deficit by $1.7 trillion. (Time)

The Virginia governor’s race showed the hazards for Republicans of “Trump-inspired appeals to white nationalism,” writes the Globe’s Astead Herndon. (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial says Tuesday’s results show the perils of Republican candidates practicing “hopeless devotion to Trump,” who is fast to turn on any of them who lose, as he did with Virginia gubernatorial loser Ed Gillespie. But anyone who thinks Trump voters are ready to turn on him after a year of unfulfilled promises to bring back coal or build a wall should read what they’re saying in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. (Politico)

ELECTIONS

While the focus in Lowell on election day was where to put the new high school, minority voters also made some big gains, with a Cambodian-American winning a spot on the City Council and a minority winning a spot on the School Committee for the first time ever. (Lowell Sun)

Worcester’s newly elected City Council is more diverse than ever, with four women and three people of color. (Telegram & Gazette)

Boston City Councilor-elect Lydia Edwards and Framingham Mayor-elect Yvonne Spicer sit down with Jim Braude to talk about the history-making results by women of color in elections around the state. (Greater Boston)

Keller@Large says term limits are the best antidote to campaign donor influence.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The movie Daddy’s Home 2, which opens Friday, injected $19 million into the Massachusetts economy and paid out $10 million in wages to 2,800 local workers, according to data released by Paramount Pictures. (Berkshire Eagle)

The incoming CEO of State Street Corp., Ronald O’Hanley 3d, says it was a “very big mistake” to have committed plagiarism while a student in the early 1980s at Vanderbilt Law School, something that prompted him to withdraw from the program and not graduate. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Berklee College of Music let several faculty members quietly leave following sexual harassment and abuse allegations and then took steps to silence their accusers from going public. (Boston Globe)

A second swastika in the last few weeks has been found at a middle school in Weston and school officials are also investigating racist social media posts directed at a 16-year-old black student. (MetroWest Daily News)

The president of Pine Manor College, Thomas O’Reilly, says it would be devastating for his school if the town of Brookline seized part of its campus by eminent domain to build a new elementary school. (Boston Globe)

The Canton High School field hockey coach was livid that two boys play on the Somerset Berkley team after his squad lost a playoff game on an overtime goal scored by one of the boys. (Herald News)

TRANSPORTATION

Las Vegas launched a self-driving shuttle bus and it crashed during its first hour of operation. (Mashable)

A man in his 60s was struck and killed by a commuter rail train in Ashland, at least the 13th person to die in the state after being hit by a train. (MetroWest Daily News)

CASINOS

Wynn Resorts is interested in buying the MBTA repair and maintenance facility located next door to its Everett hotel-casino project. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Former Channel 5 news anchor Heather Unruh, joined by famed clergy sex abuse attorney Mitchell Garabedian, accused actor Kevin Spacey of plying her 18-year-old son with alcohol at a Nantucket bar and then sexually assaulting him. (Cape Cod Times) Spacey, who is facing a slew of sexual assault allegations, is being dropped from a Ridley Scott film one month before its release; he is being replaced by Christopher Plummer. (Associated Press)

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz has reached a settlement in a suit by a former prosecutor who claimed he was fired for not making a contribution to Cruz’s political campaign. Cruz’s office declined to release the settlement even though suits against public employees are public record. (Patriot Ledger)

An FBI supervisor awoke in a North Carolina hotel room after a night of drinking with a woman he just met to find his gun, cash, and a $6,000 Rolex watch stolen. (New York Times)

MEDIA

The Justice Department said AT&T must divest itself of CNN or or its valuable DirecTV in order for the telecom giant to win approval for the planned merger with Time Warner, a threat that appears to stem from a promise by then-candidate Donald Trump to block the merger because of his dislike of the cable news network’s coverage of him. (New York Times)

Sports radio talk show host Michael Felger is taking flak after being harshly dismissive on the air of the death of former Major League Baseball pitching star Roy Halladay in a plane crash, calling Halladay a “moron.” Halladay was piloting a small plane that crashed in the Gulf of Mexico and he may have been performing stunts. (Boston Herald)