Senator Linda Dorcena Forry’s groundbreaking debut as the first woman, first Haitian-American and first Dorchester resident to host the storied St. Patrick’s Day breakfast on Sunday is apparently drawing some international attention. Forry announced today that Enda Kenny, Ireland’s prime minister, or taoiseach, has agreed to attend the ribald political roast in South Boston. The visit by a sitting head of state is a coup for Dorcena Forry, who has promised to raise the profile of a breakfast that in recent years seemed to have lost some of its star power.FULL ENTRY
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo today proposed incrementally raising the state’s minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10.50 an hour by the middle of 2016, brightening prospects for a wage hike to become law this year. At a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce event, the powerful Winthrop Democrat outlined his chamber’s plan for incrementally boosting the state’s hourly wage floor: $9 at the beginning of July this year, $10 in 2015, and $10.50 in 2016. DeLeo also proposed raising the minimum wage for tipped workers from its current level of $2.63 an hour to $3.75 by 2016. The push comes as President Obama has pressed for a federal minimum wage hike and called on local officials to boost state minimum wages.FULL ENTRY
Joined by family members who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Representative Stephen F. Lynch renewed his push Wednesday to make public part of a 9/11 congressional investigation. The South Boston Democrat and Representative Walter B. Jones, a Republican of North Carolina, said releasing 28 pages from the investigation would expose new details on the terrorism plot that killed nearly 3,000 people. The two representatives introduced a resolution in December calling for President Obama to declassify the information.FULL ENTRY
Treasurer Steven Grossman today pressed fellow gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Martha Coakley to support Massachusetts granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, a policy she has opposed.
“I would think that as one of the top officials in the state charged with protecting safety and defending against discrimination of people because of their origins you would share my views,” Grossman wrote in a public letter to his rival for the Democratic nomination for governor.FULL ENTRY
A super PAC that is raising money in hopes of encouraging Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016 is planning to hold a fund-raiser in Boston later this month.Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm is set to headline the cocktail reception for the Ready for Hillary PAC at The Union Club on Beacon Hill on March 24, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by the Globe. Politico first reported the fund-raiser.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON — Senator Edward J. Markey said in a statement Monday that he was acting as a consumer advocate when he wrote letters to federal regulators urging a fraud investigation of Herbalife and did not know an investor stood to make a profit of his actions.FULL ENTRY
Last week, Martin J. Walsh stood on the tarmac of Logan International Airport to greet President Obama as he swept into Massachusetts on a political fund-raising trip.
This week, Walsh is making the trek to Washington, D.C. to shake a different type of money tree: lining up federal dollars for Boston.
On a two-day journey to Washington, Walsh said he will meet with top cabinet officials to both press for funding and deepen connections between their agencies and the city.FULL ENTRY
Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s approach to St. Patrick’s Day parade controversy could indicate leadership style
Efforts by Mayor Martin J. Walsh to broker a deal between organizers of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade and gay-rights activists have led to weeks of incremental progress, media-conducted back-and-forths, and, as of now, loggerheads.
The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which sponsors the parade, and MassEquality, the prominent gay-rights group, have been at odds over whether activists could march openly, a battle the veterans group has been fighting with various gay-rights activists for two decades.
The case went to the Supreme Court, where organizers won. Over the past month, they have approached and then backed away from what would be a historic accord.FULL ENTRY
Would-be candidate Scott Brown would trail New Hampshire US Senator Jeanne Shaheen by double-digits, according to a new poll released today.
The former Massachusetts senator who moved his primary residence to New Hampshire late last year lags the Democratic incumbent by 13 points in a hypothetical November matchup, a Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll found.
Shaheen takes 52 percent to Brown’s 39 percent among the 800 likely New Hampshire voters polled from Feb. 27 thorugh March 5.FULL ENTRY
Fueled by public outcry, a bill to outlaw what’s known as “upskirting,’’ the practice of secretly snapping certain sexual photos, rocketed through the Massachusetts Legislature Thursday in an extraordinary show of legislative will.
The uncommon speed of the bill was a marked shift for the Legislature, which often moves at a deliberate and sometimes glacial pace, but lawmakers said outrage over a Supreme Judicial Court ruling the day before spurred the quick action.
“It is sexual harassment; it’s an assault on another person,” Senate President Therese Murray said of the secret photography and other acts of sexual survelliance that the bill aims to prohibit. “Women and children should be able to go to public places without feeling that they are not protected by the law.”FULL ENTRY
Charlie Baker’s campaign today released a video highlighting the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s work at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the sprawling insurance firm that struggled financially and with customer confidence before Baker played a role in righting it. Subtle, no? The five-minute spot, which will play on the Web but not on TV, according to Baker’s campaign, draws an implicit but none-too-subtle contrast between Baker’s private-sector work and one of the biggest problems bedeviling Beacon Hill currently, the bungled rollout of the state’s health care website. It’s been a favorite talking point of Baker’s on the campaign trail, as he argues that the state should receive a waiver from the federal Affordable Care Act.FULL ENTRY
President Barack Obama hobnobbed Wednesday night with big-money Democratic donors during a whirlwind visit to the Hub that added to traffic snarls during evening rush hour and drew protesters on issues foreign and domestic.
Obama first joined roughly two dozen contributors of up to $32,400, for a Democratic National Committee roundtable discussion at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, according to a committee official. The event was closed to reporters.
He then proceeded to a DNC dinner at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter in South Boston, where about 75 supporters had paid $5,000 to $20,000 per ticket, the official said.
As the president zipped across the city, portions of the Massachusetts Turnpike were briefly closed to traffic, while the Commuter Rail and MBTA bus service were halted for about 10 minutes, authorities said.FULL ENTRY
President Obama is swooping into Boston to raise money for the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday, less than a week after Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and former governor Mitt Romney held a major fund-raiser for the Republican Party in Boston. About 25 donors have shelled out as much as $32,400 to attend a small “round-table discussion” with Obama in Cambridge and another 70 donors have given $5,000 to $20,000 to attend a fund-raising dinner later in the evening at Artists for Humanity in South Boston. Earlier in the day, Obama will stop in Connecticut to push for an increase in the federal minimum wage, an issue he has made a centerpiece of his domestic agenda.FULL ENTRY
Daniel Hunt, former state parks official, wins Democratic nomination to fill Martin Walsh’s Mass. House seat
Daniel J. Hunt, a former state parks official, won the Democratic nomination in a special election Tuesday to succeed Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, according to unofficial results.
Hunt, 33, topped four other contenders for his party’s nod in the Dorchester-anchored district, the 13th Suffolk, which includes some of the most politically active sections of Boston.
There were no Republicans on the primary ballot, and Hunt will be the favorite to win the April 1 special general election.
Hunt had captured 2,249 votes in Boston, more than twice as many as the second-place finisher, John K. O’Toole, who tallied 1,052, according to unofficial results posted on the city’s Election Department website.FULL ENTRY
Voters in parts of Boston, Quincy, Revere, Saugus, Chelsea, and Westfield go to the polls today in special primary elections for four vacant seats in the state House of Representatives.
In the Dorchester-anchored 13th Suffolk District, five men are vying to succeed Martin J. Walsh, who left the seat to become Boston’s mayor.
In the Second Suffolk District, which includes Charlestown and parts of Chelsea, three Democrats are vying to succeed Eugene L. O’Flaherty, who resigned to become Boston’s corporation counsel.
As of 9 a.m., turnout was low in Boston -- only 1,000 people had voted in the city, according to numbers provided by the Boston Election Department.
There are no Republicans on the ballot in either of those races, and the winners of today’s primaries are expected to win the April 1 special elections.FULL ENTRY
The trackers are coming! The trackers are coming!
It’s too late. They’ve already arrived in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race.
Two national political groups — one on the right, one on the left — confirmed today each has dispatched a camcorder-wielding operative to record the opposing party’s gubernatorial candidate or candidates, hoping to capture a gaffe, or a shift in position.FULL ENTRY
An advocacy group concerned with the flood of outside money in politics is warning that the creation last week of a super PAC aimed at the Massachusetts gubernatorial race presages a torrent of shadowy spending heading toward November. “I think we’re seeing just the tip of the iceberg. There are going to be more and more committees forming and the amount of outside money that’s going to be spent in the 2014 Massachusetts elections is going to dwarf what we’ve seen in the past,” said Pam Wilmot, the executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. On Feb. 24, local Democrats formed The Mass Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee, a type of organization — often shorthanded as a super PAC — that can raise unlimited amounts of money from people, corporations and labor unions and spend it freely.FULL ENTRY
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, embroiled in scandal over a punitive traffic jam, swung into Boston Thursday to raise money for Republican gubernatorial candidates, but stepped into a different type of controversy when organizers had to scramble to change venues. The last-minute shift, from a private home in Newton Corner to a Back Bay hotel, came after the event, featuring arguably the nation’s most newsworthy Republican and the party’s most recent presidential nominee, drew unwanted media attention. Christie, who chairs the Republican Governors Association and is still considered a formidible potential 2016 candidate, was in town to raise money for the RGA alongside former Governor Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, and Charlie Baker, the party’s leading candidate for governor in Massachusetts this year.FULL ENTRY
Thursday night’s Republican Governors Association fundraiser featuring New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, was initially scheduled for a private home in Newton Corner. But Christie’s status as the onetime presumptive frontrunner for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination, now ensnared in a controversy over punitive traffic re-direction complicated things. The event, intended to be a staid and intimate affair, instead rocketed into the national political limelight. The intended host, New Balance chairman Jim Davis, is a generous political benefactor, but eschews media attention, including the reporters who flocked outside his home on Thursday afternoon.FULL ENTRY
Moderate Republican governors past, present, and perhaps future are scheduled to meet in the Boston area tonight at a high-dollar fundraiser hosted by a billionaire sneaker magnate. The exclusive fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association will feature Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who is chairman of the group and has been embroiled in a scandal about his administration’s politically motivated closing of traffic lanes. Former governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is scheduled to attend the event as well, along with Charlie Baker, who is making his second bid for the governor’s office. The fund-raiser is being hosted by Jim Davis, the chairman of New Balance, who has an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion, according to Forbes magazine.FULL ENTRY
Elizabeth Warren delivers first foreign policy lecture, urges greater consideration of civilian casualties
WASHINGTON -- Senator Elizabeth Warren took steps to broaden her foreign policy profile Wednesday night, with a planned lecture warning about the importance of weighing civilian casualties in foreign military action.
Warren’s national rise has been fueled by her attention to domestic issues, particularly middle class debt and the effects of the financial crisis. She has denied interest in seeking the presidency, but fans of the Massachusetts Democrat have continued to promote a potential candidacy.FULL ENTRY
Bill Galvin has a message for those wringing their hands about seemingly early start to 2016 presidential campaign jockeying: Relax, because it’s right around the corner. “It’s perfectly logical that they should be running,” the secretary of state said of the national crop of candidates currently angling for position. “Because on this date two years from now, New Hampshire will have already occurred.” “New Hampshire,” of course, is the New Hampshire primary, the nation’s first, which comes about week after Iowa’s caucuses. The Massachusetts primary, Galvin said, will take place on March 1 -- two years from Saturday.FULL ENTRY
In a sign the race for governor could finally be heating up, local Democrats have formed a political action committee aimed at getting involved in the contest to succeed Governor Deval Patrick. The Mass Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee was organized on Monday, according to a filing with state. The group can raise unlimited amounts of money — from people, labor unions, and corporations — and spend unlimited amounts of money on the 2014 race. The purpose of the new PAC is to “[c]ommunicate with voters about gubernatorial candidates prior to the November 2014 election,” according to the paperwork filed with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. It is unclear if the group is aimed primarily at boosting a Democratic candidate, or attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker.FULL ENTRY
Rand Paul places hold on surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy, but serious delay not likely under new rules
WASHINGTON -- Kentucky Senator Rand Paul placed a procedural hurdle in front of Dr. Vivek Murthy’s confirmation as surgeon general Wednesday morning, citing his political activity for the Obama administration. But a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it would not cause a meaningful delay in Murthy’s confirmation vote, which has not yet been scheduled.FULL ENTRY
A national advocacy group has launched a wave of telephone calls in Massachusetts to encourage support of a bill that would allow certain terminally ill patients in this state to obtain a prescription to end their own lives. Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit group that advocates for “aid in dying” across the country, said it has volunteers and a calling service reaching out to potential supporters in the state asking them to press their lawmakers on the issue. A spokeswoman said the group is also running targeted ads about the issue online and in print. As part of the push, about two dozen people gathered in the State House on Wednesday morning to lobby lawmakers to move the bill forward.FULL ENTRY
The five Democrats running for governor spoke in unison Tuesday about their eagerness to invest: in education, health care, infrastructure. Government, each took a turn telling a Harvard Kennedy School forum in Cambridge, could help revitalize the state’s economy and improve quality of life.
Then Harvard freshman Max Liebeskind, a New York native, noting that most of the discussion had revolved around the spending side of the ledger, asked them how they planned to pay for it.
Each spoke of restraining health care costs, which now devour about 40 percent of the state budget and are projected to grow. They spoke of the coffers-filling goodness of economic growth.
And none ruled out the prospect of tax increases.FULL ENTRY
Governor Deval Patrick fueled the Beltway buzz machine on Sunday when he declared at a meeting of the nation’s governors in Washington that he would be open to a presidential run after 2016. But for close observers of the governor’s political ambitions, his comments did not mark much of a shift. Patrick has repeatedly left open the door to a White House campaign when asked about his long-term plans.FULL ENTRY
Governor Deval Patrick cracked the door on Sunday to a potential White House run after the 2016 election, using a governors’ conference in Washington DC to stir national buzz.FULL ENTRY
Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, is making multiple fundraising stops in Boston on Wednesday, a day after visiting New Hampshire. The Wisconsin Republican was also planning to drop by the Newbury Street offices of Solamere Capital, the investment firm where Ryan’s running mate, Mitt Romney, and some of his top advisers work, said a person familiar with the plans. Ryan headlined a morning fundraiser at the Taj Boston, attended a business roundtable with Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, and was planning to attend a fundraiser hosted by Republican lobbyist and fundraiser David Tamasi.FULL ENTRY
Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker said Tuesday he would push for former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, ailing from cancer while imprisoned for corruption, to be moved to a prison facility closer to home, in accordance with a judge’s recommendation.
“I think if the judge in that case believes that it’s appropriate for him to be closer to home, then it would be proper and appropriate to follow the judge’s decision on that,” Baker said Tuesday during an appearance on NECN.
Asked by host Jim Braude if he would advocate for DiMasi’s relocation, Baker said he would.
Baker’s declaration puts him on the opposite side of Governor Deval Patrick, who has kept the DiMasi family’s relocation bids at arm’s length.FULL ENTRY
A Massachusetts native who worked in the Obama White House said Tuesday he would enter a crowded Democratic primary for an open state Senate seat in Western Massachusetts. Eric Lesser, a Longmeadow native who worked as special assistant to top Obama adviser David Axelrod, said in a press release that he wanted to build high-speed rail links to Boston and help the region’s manufacturing industry recover. And he included a note that sounded a little bit like his old boss, vowing, “We can fight back against cynicism and change our politics, too.” Lesser, a Harvard graduate who worked for US Representative Richard Neal and the late Edward M. Kennedy while in high school, started working for Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign by toting baggage. When Obama won, Lesser went to work as Axelrod’s assistant, then worked as director of strategic planning for the White House Council of Economic Advisers.FULL ENTRY
Mitt Romney on Sunday morning said former President Bill Clinton “embarrassed the nation” with personal indiscretions while in office, even as he said Republicans should not use the affair with Monica Lewinsky to combat a presidential bid by Hillary Clinton. “He embarrassed the nation,” Romney said in an appearance on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “He breached his responsibility, I think, as an adult and as a leader in his relationship, and I think that’s very unfortunate.” “But I don’t think that’s Hillary Clinton’s to explain,” Romney added. “She has her own record, her own vision on where she would take the country.”FULL ENTRY
Facing a swell of anger from state legislators, Governor Deval Patrick’s new point person in charge of fixing the state’s broken health insurance website pledged a Herculean effort, but did not offer an exact timeline or a specific plan for when and how the website would be repaired and people would be enrolled in coverage of their choice.
During a State House hearing that lasted more than three hours Wednesday, Sarah Iselin, an insurance executive who Patrick announced last week would take the lead in fixing the troubled Massachusetts Health Connector site, said she understands the gravity of the problem, is working to fully grasp its parameters, and will lead an all-out push to fix it.FULL ENTRY
In a sharp change of tone in a race that has so far been cordial, Treasurer Steven Grossman launched a broadside against Attorney General Martha Coakley, one of his rivals for the Democratic nomination for governor. Attacking her on criminal justice issues —Coakley’s area of expertise— Grossman said she had, over the years, shifted her position on the death penalty and a “three strikes” law, questioning her liberal chops. “Especially in a race as important as governor, Democratic voters should not—and need not—settle for a candidate whose stances on core progressive values and issues are as squishy as Martha Coakley’s,” said Grossman. “Again and again, as this campaign unfolds, she continues to abandon the positions she has championed for years.”FULL ENTRY
The GOP-led House could take up a bill as early as Feb. 24 to delay increases in flood insurance premiums approved under a 2012 law, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Wednesday. It is unclear how much the legislation – which is still being drafted -- would reflect a similar bill that passed in the Senate last month.FULL ENTRY
Environmental group calls for more funding for green efforts; Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls supportive
An environmental advocacy group today called on the state Legislature to boost funding for environmental protection programs, so spending on them totals 1 percent of the state’s budget.
The Environmental League of Massachusetts said 1 percent of the state’s budget was devoted to the environment in fiscal year 2001, but the percent has dropped.
“[S]tate agencies responsible for protecting the environment are still suffering from deep budget cuts,” the group’s president, former state senator George Bachrach, said in a statement.FULL ENTRY
In a widely expected move, first-term US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III today announced he is running for reelection.
“[T]here is no lack of work left to do in Washington,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Whether it’s raising the minimum wage, fixing our broken immigration system, or supporting an economic climate that gives our businesses that chance to succeed, I hope to continue to fight these important battles on behalf of my constituents.”FULL ENTRY
About 8,850 state employees earned more than $100,000 last year, a significant increase from 2012, when nearly 7,700 state workers cracked that mark, according to a Globe analysis of public payroll records.The University of Massachusetts, as in past years, dominated the list of highest paid employees, with 68 of the 69 top spots held by UMass doctors, administrators, and coaches.
The university system had 2,785 workers earning more than $100,000, more than any other state entity. The State Police was second on that list, with 1,629 troopers earning more than $100,000 last year, followed by the Trial Court, with 654, the Department of Public Health, with 378, and the Department of Transportation, with 337. The number of state employees earning six figures has been steadily increasing in recent years, climbing from 6,900 in 2011.FULL ENTRY