(Pat Greenhouse / Globe Staff Photo)
Even as she insisted that she was not trying to undermine Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign announcement today, Sarah Palin sharply criticized Romney’s universal health care law while touring historic sites on Romney’s home turf in Massachusetts.
“In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing,” Palin told reporters during a visit to the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. The law will be one of the reasons that it “will be a big challenge” for Romney to appeal to Tea Party supporters.
“It’s tough for a lot of us independent Americans to accept [the mandate] because we have great faith in the private sector and our own families and our own business men and women making decisions for ourselves, not any level of government telling us what to do,’’ said Palin, who is a potential challenger to Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.
Palin appeared to be headed to New Hampshire just after noon. Romney announced his candidacy in Stratham this afternoon.
“Coincidental that we’re in the same territory at the same time,’’ said Palin. “But more power to Mitt … and best of luck to him.’’FULL ENTRY
Robert J. Haynes, the president of the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts, will not seek reelection when his term expires in October, following a historic setback for organized labor on Beacon Hill.
Haynes, who has been president of the state’s main labor group since 1998, recently failed to persuade state lawmakers to drop their bid to cut the collective bargaining rights of municipal employees, in an effort to save money for cash-strapped cities and towns.
He alienated some Democratic allies in the Legislature with his tough talk and his vow to oust lawmakers who voted for the bill.
But Kevin Cotter, a member of the AFL-CIO board, said that labor’s defeat on the issue was not the reason for Haynes’s departure.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he wants to spend some personal time with his family and do something else for a while,” said Cotter, who is business manager of the Plumbers Union Local 12 in Boston. “He’s done a great job for the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.”FULL ENTRY
The Massachusetts Senate this afternoon rejected a Republican amendment to reduce the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent over the next 14 months.
The amendment – which gained 10 votes of support and 28 opposed -- would have taken the tax down to 5.6 percent on July 1, and then down to 5 percent in July 2012.
The sales tax had been at 5 percent until 2009, when the Legislature raised it to generate money for transportation and other state programs. Governor Deval Patrick signed the increase.
Today's brief debate, part of three days of deliberations over the Senate’s annual spending plan, featured the fundamental arguments between liberals and conservatives.
Mark Wilson for The Boston Globe
Governor Deval Patrick and state environmental officials today banded bald eagle chicks at the Quabbin Reservoir, perpetuating the state's bald eagle restoration program.
The Quabbin is one of 34 bald eagle breeding sites across Massachusetts.
"It’s great to see the bald eagle making such a strong, steady resurgence here," Patrick said in a statement.FULL ENTRY
The Obama administration today said it will spend $22 million to push forward the renovation of the Old Colony housing development in South Boston, which is already undergoing the first phase of a multi-million dollar makeover.
At a ceremony held in the schoolyard of the Michael J. Perkins Elementary School, federal lawmakers, Mayor Thomas Menino and the regional leader of the US Housing and Urban Development announced the awarding of the grant to Boston and a similar award to Taunton.
Joining the dignitaries were students from the Perkins, which is surrounded by the housing development and whose students have built a strong bond between the workers and companies involved in the renovation, which is expected to cost a total of about $80 million, officials said.
“Each part of the process has been a learning experience for our students,’’ said Perkins principal Barney Brawer.FULL ENTRY
Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe
The salesman who sold the state two separate multimillion-dollar software contracts at the center of Salvatore F. DiMasi's corruption trial testified today that DiMasi had seemed intent on using the powerful position of state House speaker to reap financial gains.
Joseph P. Lally Jr., a former co-defendant in the case who has agreed to testify against DiMasi and his associates in exchange for leniency from prosecutors, recalled a 2006 golf game with DiMasi and a lobbyist, when the three discussed pushing the contracts with Burlington-based Cognos.
“I’m only going to be speaker for so long so it’s important we make as much hay as possible,” Lally quoted DiMasi as saying.
In his highly anticipated testimony, Lally also told jurors in US District Court in Boston about conversations he had with DiMasi's longtime friend and financial adviser, Richard Vitale, about payments in exchange for securing the second of the Cognos contracts, worth $13 million.FULL ENTRY
At least once a week, Governor Deval Patrick is asked whether he will run for Senate against Scott Brown, and he always answers some version of the same word: no.
Even if President Obama asked him, Patrick declared on national television, he would decline.
But his denials haven’t convinced everyone, including people raising money on his behalf.
An e-mail appeal sent for a fund-raising event with the governor to be held at a private home in Sharon this Friday teased the prospect of a Senate run in a quest to draw donations of $250 to $500.
“While this is not an election year, Gov. Patrick needs funds to support a couple of key races in 2012, and also he may make a run for Scott Brown's Senate seat,” the letter stated.
The Massachusetts House unanimously passed a bill this afternoon intended to repair the battered image of the state Probation Department and keep it under the judiciary.
The move puts the House at odds with Governor Deval Patrick, who has pushed to gain authority over Probation.
The state Senate has yet to act, but Senate President Therese Murray said earlier this year that she is likely to support the House plan. "There probably won't be much pushback," she said at the time.
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo's bill requires that all recommendations for state government jobs be put in writing and made public for successful candidates. It also mandates that those letters only be considered after candidates are vetted and reach the final stage in the hiring process. And it creates a professional layer of management under the Supreme Judicial Court that will oversee all business functions of the court.
“This major reform legislation will improve upon an already strong court system by facilitating a more efficient and cost-effective infrastructure for the disposition of justice,” DeLeo said. “Not only does this bill create a civilian administrator to oversee the business aspects of the Trial Court, but it also adds needed transparency to the hiring and promotion practices at the Department of Probation."
After a brief debate, the House voted 152 to 0 to approve the measure.
The state Senate has yet to act and the governor has said he prefers a measure that would give him authority over the Probation Department.FULL ENTRY
A key witness in the federal corruption trial of former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi took the stand today with a blunt confession: “I don’t want to be here.”
Steven J. Topazio, a private attorney who shared office space and expenses with DiMasi, made the comment as he began undergoing questioning by the prosecution.
Court records say that at DiMasi’s urging, Topazio was paid $5,000 a month to be a local counsel for Cognos, a Burlington software company seeking state contracts, even though he did not perform any work. Topazio allegedly paid DiMasi $4,000 from each check.
"'It's about time we started getting business like this,'" Topazio testified DiMasi told him. "He was excited by it, and I was excited by it."
Yet he added: "I was concerned, because Cognos hadn't sent me any work to do."
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more