Driscoll diverges from her predecessors

Driscoll diverges from her predecessors

IN THE HOT SEAT ON HOUSING — Gov. Maura Healey isn’t just being a team player by making Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll the face of her administration’s housing efforts. She’s entrusting her No. 2 with one of her top priorities.


Lieutenant governors have long carved out roles beyond chairing Governor’s Council meetings. Former Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito’s claim to LG fame was traveling to all 351 cities and towns as the face of her administration’s Community Compact program. Former Lt. Gov. Tim Murray took the lead for the Patrick administration on everything from municipal affairs to domestic violence issues. And so on.

But Driscoll’s early portfolio is remarkable because she’s running point on such a prominent issue. Healey identified housing as the top concern she heard on the campaign trail, and it’s a key component of her pledge to make Massachusetts more affordable. Now Driscoll is leading the group tasked with building Healey’s housing secretariat, which awaits legislative sign-off. And she’s championing the administration’s housing agenda on the road and in interviews with major news outlets from WBUR to WBZ.

It’s a logical extension of her work as Salem mayor: Driscoll fought alongside Gov. Charlie Baker to pass his Housing Choice initiative and then leveraged it to get in-law apartments approved in Salem. And her relationships with municipal leaders will be key as Healey tries to get cities and towns to comply with new multifamily zoning regulations for communities served by the MBTA.

“Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll and I take a team approach to all of the most pressing issues facing Massachusetts residents,” Healey said in a statement to Playbook. “Her municipal experience is invaluable when it comes to addressing our housing crisis, as it’s going to take close collaboration with our cities and towns to increase production and make housing more affordable.”

The unusually high-profile role for the lieutenant governor could carry political risks. Housing debates are notoriously delicate, and municipalities often bristle at too much interference from the state. The new administration is getting pushback from some municipalities over the MBTA communities law. And while Driscoll’s behind-the-scenes efforts concerning a controversial apartment complex in Braintree could push the project forward, they could also backfire in the court of public opinion.

Driscoll was emphatic on WBZ’s “Keller @ Large” over the weekend that the Democrats in charge “want to work with cities and towns” on housing issues. But she also left the door open to more local zoning overrides, if necessary. “We [don’t] want to come in and bigfoot,” Driscoll said. But “if everybody’s saying no to housing, we’re never going to meet our demands, so we have to be open to ideas.”

She also parroted Healey on rent control: “It’s hard to say 100 percent that we’re going to be all-in on something” that hasn’t emerged from the Legislature yet, if at all. “But we do want to support communities.”

GOOD MONDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. The state’s top pols are racing to assess the damage from Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse — and bracing for more fallout.

Massachusetts has the second-most SVB branches behind California, according to Axios, after it acquired Boston Private Financial Holdings in 2021. The bank reportedly had more than $5 billion in deposits here as of last year.

While the feds say depositors will have access to all their money today, Healey and her team are exploring how to help “fill gaps where necessary” for those affected by the bank’s abrupt closure. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said she’s working with the state to ensure businesses in the city can meet payroll. Rep. Jake Auchincloss is asking for a Massachusetts-specific FDIC briefing. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is calling for a congressional hearing. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren is out this morning with a New York Times’ op-ed on how to prevent more bank failures. Keep with POLITICO today for more coverage.

TODAY — Healey and Driscoll meet with Black and Latino Legislative Caucus members at 12:30 p.m. at the State House and attend the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts’ annual legislators night at 7 p.m. at Florian Hall. Wu holds a media availability at 2:30 p.m. at BPD headquarters. Senate President Karen Spilka is in Palmer at 10:30 a.m. Rep. Lori Trahan hosts a pandemic preparedness roundtable at 10 a.m. in Lowell and announces federal funding at noon in Lawrence.

Tips? Scoops? Thoughts on “Everything Everywhere All at Once” winning Best Picture at the Oscars? Email me: [email protected].

— 2024 WATCH: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will headline a major New Hampshire GOP fundraising dinner as he makes his long-awaited appearance in the first-in-the-nation primary state, according to a person familiar with the planning.

DeSantis is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Amos Tuck Dinner on April 14 at the Doubletree Hotel in Manchester. New Hampshire Republicans have been eager for DeSantis to visit — so much so that the GOP governor, Chris Sununu, who’s mulling his own presidential run, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” recently that if the state held its primary today, DeSantis would win.

“As Trump embarks on 2024 journey, some longtime allies go their own way,” by Alayna Treene, CNN: “[Corey] Lewandowski has privately started pitching potential 2024 GOP hopefuls and surveying their campaign operations, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, multiple sources familiar with the talks told CNN. Lewandowski denies taking such steps, telling CNN he hasn’t ‘courted any other GOP candidates for president.’”

“Jan. 6 Convict Plans Another Run for Congress,” by Damien Fisher, NH Journal.

“Hao dives from private sector into state government,” by Sam Mintz, CommonWealth Magazine: “Straight from private equity, she’s Maura Healey’s new right hand on housing and economic development, the first person of color to ever hold the job, and also one of the first to ever go directly into the cabinet-level position with no previous government experience.”

“Some Attleboro area lawmakers say they welcome audit of Legislature, or at least don’t mind it,” by George W. Rhodes, The Sun Chronicle.

“Mass. lawmakers to wade into fierce debate over court-mandated mental health care,” by Deborah Becker, WBUR.

“With a divided Boston City Council, Mayor Michelle Wu often gets her way,” by Emma Platoff, Boston Globe: “Historically diverse, ostensibly progressive, and armed with more formal authority than any before it, the current City Council swept into office last year as a force to be reckoned with. Councilors are supposed to be the voices of their neighborhoods — the most direct link residents have to their government. Now, half the body was new, untethered to old political loyalties. There was a substantial liberal bloc aspiring to transform the city, and, on some issues, to prod even the progressive Wu further left. But over the last year — thanks to inexperience, internal divisions, and the mayor’s broad legal power and political savvy — Wu has continued to get her way with the council.”

“Multiple top staff have departed Suffolk DA Kevin Hayden’s office recently, sources say,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden has lost multiple top staffers over the past month, with his general counsel, first assistant and chief of staff all departing, according to sources. … [T]he shakeup involved several slow-burn issues that have generally caused strife among the upper management and the office writ large.”

“Documentation breakdown blamed in T subway slowdown,” by Bruce Mohl, CommonWealth Magazine: “MBTA Interim General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville said a failure to properly document whether or not track defects identified last month had been addressed prompted him to order a slowdown of trains across the entire system Thursday evening. … Global speed restrictions of 10 to 25 miles per hour remain in place on the Green Line and the Mattapan Line. Gonneville said track inspections should be completed by Monday.”


With speed restrictions also still in place on parts of the Red, Blue and Orange lines, the T sent out a reminder Sunday night that riders should “allow for extra time” on their commutes.

— MONEY, PLEASE: The state GOP raised more than $100,000 at its $10,000-a-head fundraiser last week as it works to rebalance its books, according to a memo Chair Amy Carnevale sent to state committee members yesterday. That’ll make a dent in the potentially more than $600,000 the committee has in unpaid invoices.

“Democratic leaders want the party to stop its Kamala Harris pile-on ahead of 2024,” by Jasmine Wright and Edward Isaac-Dovere, CNN: “Elizabeth Warren has called twice to apologize. Over a month later, Kamala Harris hasn’t called back. In a local Boston radio interview in late January, Warren was enthusiastic about President Joe Biden running for reelection but, asked if Biden should keep Harris as his running mate, she said, ‘I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team.’ The incident and its aftermath, different details of which were described to CNN by multiple people close to the Massachusetts senator and people close to the vice president, has fed an ongoing breakdown of accusations and purported misunderstandings.”

“Group behind millionaire’s tax files 2024 ballot question paperwork,” by Matthew Medsger, Boston Herald: “The new campaign, according to filings, will work toward ‘building shared prosperity in the Commonwealth through higher minimum wages and fair and adequate taxation’ and is named Raise Up Massachusetts 2024.”

Raise Up told Axios earlier this month that it wasn’t ruling out a ballot campaign to raise the minimum wage (again) if lawmakers don’t act this session on proposals to push it to $20 an hour.

“In visit to region, Healey announces creation of state’s first rural affairs director,” by Mary Byrne, Greenfield Recorder: “Rural communities throughout the state will soon have their own ombudsman, part of a pledge by the Healey administration to ensure that these cities and towns are better represented in state government. In a swing through Franklin County on Friday to discuss several developments proposed in her budget that will have an impact on this region, Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll announced the creation of a new director of rural affairs position. A first for Massachusetts, the position will cultivate rural economic development and ensure the state’s rural communities aren’t forgotten.”

“Federal lawsuit against BerkShares claims the nonprofit defrauded company that helped it go digital,” by Heather Bellow, Berkshire Eagle: “BerkShares’ founder denied all allegations that the community currency nonprofit engaged in ‘deceptive and unfair trade practices’ related to digitizing and building a mobile phone app.”

“‘This hit like a ton of bricks’: Troubles at Silicon Valley Bank ripple across Boston tech scene,” by Aaron Pressman and Jon Chesto, Boston Globe: “The abrupt failure of Silicon Valley Bank and its takeover by federal regulators Friday sent a shock wave through the Boston technology and biotech communities, with companies and depositors unable to withdraw funds and facing the prospect of not being able to pay bills or make payroll.

— More: “It’s more than a bank: Boston startup scene worried about loss of community after SVB shutdown,” by Hannah Green, BostInno.

“As food aid program winds down, another piece of the COVID-era safety net gets snipped away,” by Samantha J. Gross and Janelle Nanos, Boston Globe: “Governor Maura Healey and Legislative leaders have proposed $130 million to fund about $65 in extra SNAP a month, about 40 percent of the roughly $160 in expanded benefits Massachusetts residents have received for the last three years. Both the House and Senate passed versions of the bill, with an emergency clause that would make it go into effect with a stroke of Healey’s pen, but first they must reconcile minor differences. But, as activists point out, even that money would run out in a few months. ‘The reality is people are going to decide between putting food on the table and paying rent,’ Juan Camilo Saavedra of La Colaborativa said.”

“California sustainability group told people to stop eating lobster, so Massachusetts lobstermen file suit,” by Lance Reynolds, Boston Herald.

— FROM THE OPINION PAGES: “Chinese cargo cranes at Massport under review for potential spying concerns,” by Joe Battenfeld, Boston Herald.

TRANSITIONS — O’Neill and Associates is now lobbying for the Boston Ballet on funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and congressional earmarks, my colleagues report.

— President Joe Biden tapped International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Sean M. O’Brien to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

State Sen. Michael Moore has been named to the National Council of State Legislatures’ Cybersecurity Task Force.

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY — to Chase Delano, who celebrated Sunday, Daniel Kochavi who celebrated Saturday and Alan Trefler who celebrated Friday.


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