In the old days, we’d say House Speaker Robert DeLeo reacted to news about sexual harassment at the State House before the ink was even dry on Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham’s disturbing account of the sordid state of things under the Golden Dome. In this case, the ink actually hadn’t even start flowing. DeLeo stepped out with a statement within hours of her column being posted Friday on the Globe website; the piece didn’t hit the print edition of the paper until Saturday, a day after the Speaker declared there was no place for such activity in the State House.
Abraham described conversations with a dozen women who have worked “in and around the State House” over the last two decades. Their accounts include a male lawmaker who told a young female lobbyist “you know how to get my vote” on a housing bill she was advocating for. She talked to women who told of men, including lawmakers, who “pressed up against them, touched their legs, massaged their shoulders, tried to kiss them, grabbed their behinds, chased them around offices, or demanded sex.”
She also describes a scene of House members gathered around one state rep’s cellphone viewing porn during a formal session.
DeLeo, who quickly got House approval Friday for a comprehensive review of sexual harassment policies in the House, said in a statement that he was “infuriated and deeply disturbed to hear that a dozen women who are professionally associated with the State House have described being sexually harassed while here.” He said the House “has a zero tolerance policy for harassment of any form and has, and will continue to, thoroughly investigate any reported incident of harassment and take decisive and appropriate action to discipline offenders and protect victims.”
The House counsel, under the order approved by lawmakers, has until March 1 of next year to report on policies and recommend any updates, according to the State House News Service.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg, in a statement, said the Senate provides anti-harassment training to all employees — senators and staff members — at the start of each legislative session.
As welcome as DeLeo’s response may be, the speaker’s reaction had more than a whiff of the oft-invoked Casablanca moment of being “shocked, shocked” at something that, sad to say, is not all that hard to imagine going on. That was the message of a tough Hillary Chabot column in Saturday’s Herald in which she rips DeLeo for years of brushing off calls to address the issue.
She says DeLeo rebuffed Republican lawmakers’ attempt to make sexual harassment a “disciplinary offense” as part of a 2011 ethics reform measure. And she says serious allegations about improper behavior by then-state Rep. John Fresolo, which prompted an Ethics Committee investigation, “were broomed” as soon as he resigned.
DeLeo “had plenty of chances to safeguard women working under the Golden Dome before Hollywood exec Harvey Weinstein’s disgusting behavior triggered fresh scrutiny,” writes Chabot.
“Politics is like Hollywood in some ways,” writes Abraham. “It is run largely by men, who exert great, and barely checked, power. It is stacked with young women who rely on these men, and the connections they provide, to advance their careers.”
While Abraham’s column did not name any names, that could change in future Globe reporting. The web version of the column included a link asking readers to fill out an online form providing more information on any experiences they have had with sexual harassment on the job, at schools, or in other settings.
A Lowell Sun editorial criticizes the Senate for passing a criminal justice reform in one day and giving final approval in the early morning to avoid public scrutiny. The editorial calls the bill “long on left-wing ideology and short on practicality.”
Several top Beacon Hill lobbyists pulled in fees last year under multiple lobbying firms, and some had client lists that raised questions about potential conflicts of interest. (Boston Herald)
A Herald editorial pans a proposal by Sen. Thomas McGee to expand tolling to more highways in the Boston area.
Vandals spray-painted swastikas on vehicles and fences across Methuen. (Eagle-Tribune)
Peter Stefan of the Graham, Putney & Mahoney Funeral Home in Worcester raises the alarm — again — about addressing the problem of what to do with the bodies of people who die unclaimed and penniless. Stefan, who has been in business 50 years, says he won’t be around forever. (Telegram & Gazette)
In the wake of the horrific killing of a Lowell 7-year-old by two pit bulls, a Herald editorial says cities and towns should be allowed to ban or regulate specific breeds of dogs they deem dangerous.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and a business associate have been ordered to surrender in the first indictments by the special prosecutor looking into Russian election meddling. President Trump launches a tweetstorm trying to shift the focus to Hillary Clinton and Democrats. (New York Times) Trump now says he will release all of the JFK papers. (Time)
With congressional Democrats outnumbered, state attorneys general, including Massachusetts’ Maura Healey, have filled the breach to thwart President Trump’s agenda, filing an unprecedented two dozen lawsuits in the first nine months of his administration. (U.S. News & World Report)
Unlike the last big tax reform package in 1986, this year’s effort in Washington will be a strictly partisan affair. (Boston Globe)
US Sen. Edward Markey hosts a town hall in Pittsfield and says he wakes up every day fighting against President Trump’s efforts to undo the progress being made in Massachusetts. (Berkshire Eagle)
The governor of Puerto Rico canceled a controversial $300 million contract to restore the island’s power lines that was awarded to a small Montana company with two employees but with ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (New York Times)
The Rhode Island legislature is looking at legalizing the sale and recreational use of marijuana to recapture revenues expected to flow over the border when Massachusetts begins selling pot. (Associated Press)
Actor Kevin Spacey addresses an allegation that he made a sexual advance on a minor years ago and acknowledges he is gay. (Washington Post)
Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman Gus Bickford, in a wide-ranging look at 2018, says Gov. Charlie Baker is compromised by party affiliation with President Trump and he touted the Senate’s recently passed criminal justice reform bill. (Keller@Large)
The window is fast closing, reports the Globe’s Josh Miller, on the chance for additional Democrats to enter the race to oust Baker in next year’s election.
Brockton mayoral challenger Jimmy Pereira turned a surveillance video over to police showing one of his campaign signs being removed at a gas station and thrown into a Dumpster. (The Enterprise)
Boston City Council races in District 1 and District 2 reflect change — and tradition, say Lawrence S. DiCara and Vincenzo Malo. (CommonWealth)
A new report says the world’s aging billionaires are expected to pass on $2.4 trillion dollars to their children over the next few decades, the largest transfer of wealth in history. (CNBC)
Westport farmers are balking at a proposed animal registry drafted by the town’s Animal Action Committee in response to last year’s horrific animal abuse case. (Herald News)
Virtual reality has found a profitable new playground — pornography. (New York Times)
Boston teachers deserve to be respected, not disparaged, says Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union. (CommonWealth)
Kayla Scholl: A disability shouldn’t be a handicap. (CommonWealth)
More than 1 of every 10 Boston school busses are arriving late despite an MIT-engineered revamp of the system’s schedules and bus routes. (Boston Globe)
Lia Spiliotes: Instead of attacking Medicaid, let’s celebrate its innovations. (CommonWealth)
Telecommuting is on the rise, which could be having an impact on roadway congestion and transit systems. (Governing)
Edward N. Krapels says Massachusetts may end up paying a hefty environmental tribute to neighboring states as part of massive clean energy contract. (CommonWealth)
Researchers are alarmed at the increase in deaths of endangered leatherback turtles, more than double last year’s total so far, many from boat strikes and fishing gear entanglements. (Cape Cod Times)
Efforts by some wealthy homeowners on Nantucket to hold back the tide from claiming their beachfront manses are setting loose conflicts with other residents, fishermen, and environmentalists. (The American Prospect)
A strong storm over night with wind gusts nearing 80 mph left tens of thousands without power this morning, mostly on the South Shore and Cape Cod. (Cape Cod Times) WBUR puts the number of people without power at 200,000.
The Enterprise runs a map with names, pictures, and addresses of Level 2 and 3 sex offenders in Brockton and surrounding towns to warn parents to keep their kids away from those houses while trick-or-treating. The Eagle-Tribune ran a story on being vigilant about sex offenders on Halloween and directed readers to the sex offender registry database,
Ken Brissette, Mayor Marty Walsh’s tourism chief who is under federal indictment for extortion, has asked the judge to ban talk at his trial of a separate controversy involving allegations of union strong-arming in the filming of the TV show Top Chef. (Boston Herald)
New Bedford is one of six cities that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration will send investigators to in an effort to attack drug trafficking. (Boston Globe)
Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory, in a pep talk to the troops, sends out a Friday memo to employees praising the website’s Eppy Award as the best newspaper site, the increase in digital subscribers, and improvements in the paper’s printing woes. (Media Nation)