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Manic Monday Markup 1/13/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Israel where the nation is saying good bye to its controversial former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who died over the weekend.  Not every Israeli has fond memories of “Arik,” though.  Vice-President Joe Biden represented the United States at the service and called his North Star Israel’s survival.  Biden was only one of many foreign dignitaries in attendance.  His death has also touched off reflections of his legacy that divided public opinion.  He was known most recently for his disengagement from Gaza and new released documents show his plans for peace before a stroke and cerebral hemorrhage left him comatose.  Haaretz has a nice interactive page of highlights of his life.  He was laid to rest at his family’s compound in the Negev.

The conflict in South Sudan appears to rage on even as parties attempt to negotiate in neighboring Ethiopia.

Pope Francis is looking to the Third World to fill out his ranks of cardinals.

China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, the UK and the US may be near a formal interim deal over Iran’s nuclear program.

The Feds:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continues to wallow in Bridgegate, only it is getting worse.  CNN and The New York Times says the US Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking into Christie’s spending on Stronger than the Storm ads.  Meanwhile the State Assembly will establish a special investigatory committee with special counsel and the State Senate may do the same.  More subpoenas are expected today.

The plot thickens as newly released documents show how Christie’s staff operated during the election season including canceling meetings with the Democratic Mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, after the mayor declined to endorse Christie last fall.  The apparently politically motivated closure of Fort Lee lanes onto the George Washington Bridge has been attributed to that community’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, and his decision not to endorse Christie.

The US Supreme Court appears poised to gut the President’s Recess Appointment power.

West Virginia is suffering from a huge chemical spill that led a water bans across the state affecting 300,000.  It has become one of the state’s biggest ecological disasters.  A water ban is only now getting lifted in affected areas throughout the state.

The people and the strategy behind the scene’s matter.  Read up on how Connecticut Democrats and Republicans are gearing up for this year’s election.  Daniela Altimari’s story in The Hartford Courant is part strategy story part profile of the CT Dem Comms guy James Hallinan.

The State of Things:

Democratic gubernatorial nominee and AG Martha Coakley fires an opening round at Republican Charlie Baker over raising the minimum wage.  Both she and fellow frontrunner Steve Grossman know they have to win the party’s left to win the primary and maintain enthusiasm to win the general.  Of course that battle may leave room for folks like Don Berwick and Juliette Kayyem, both of whom had campaign events this weekend.

Former Massachusetts Speaker and Attorney General Robert Quinn dies.

As reported here first, Holyoke patrolman Patrick T Leahy will run for State Senate this year as a Democrat.  Chris Hopewell is already in the race and last year’s nominee David Bartley is expected to get in too.

Holyoke getting political attention today.  The City Council and School Committee solicited names to fill a vacancy on the School Committee while State Rep. Thomas Conroy, a candidate for Treasurer paid the Paper City a visit.

Longmeadow will petition, as expected, to be deemed a community that will face an impact due to MGM Springfield’s proposal.

City Slickers:

On Friday Mayor Domenic Sarno announced an entirely internal search process to lead the Springfield Police Department, limiting himself to the department’s deputy chiefs.  The local NAACP wants a national search.  However, the implications of the move run far beyond just who has the best office at the Department’s Pearl Street headquarters.

Springfield has reached a settlement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding the June 2011 tornado.  The settlement is for $25 million, which will go toward among other things, rebuilding the South End Community Center and building a new Senior Center.  The mayor’s office confirmed with WMassP&I that this is independent of money received under the Community Development Block Grant recovery program and for repairs to schools damaged by the storm.

Downtown miscellany.  A new head of the Business Improvement District is chosen and the city makes plans to renovate and seek more use of the Old First Church, which it has owned since the congregation dissolved itself several years ago.

Twitter Chatter:

One of the good things about Twitter is its ability to bring late-breaking stuff to our attention even after we have labored to bring you the markup.  Such is the case this week with the release of new demographic data of enrollees.  The numbers are behind expectations, but are in line with Massachusetts’ experience about where they need to be after the delayed launch due to website glitches.  Today we award the tweet prize to Sam Stein at the Huffington Post for capturing one truism that cuts across support and opposition to the law.  The data here can easily become ammo for either side.  It is a critical proviso under any circumstances.