Happening Today

Asian American complaints, Gaming Commission, Census count

Note: Many events previously scheduled for today have been postponed, cancelled or switched to live streaming as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The below events were set to proceed as of this morning.

— Members of the Asian American Commission hold a press conference with other state and local officials to condemn racism towards the Asian American community due to the coronavirus outbreak, State House Steps, 10 a.m.

Mass. Gaming Commission meets, but the commission said that all external participants — including representatives of the state’s casinos — will take part in the meeting via call-in and the commission advised people to tune into livestreaming rather than attend the meeting in person, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy attends a meeting of the MassDevelopment board of directors, 99 High St., 11th Floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Secretary of the State Galvin, the designated Massachusetts 2020 Census Liaison, will hold a press availability on the first day that residents can begin responding online to the 2020 U.S. Census, with Galvin planning to speak about the efforts to get an accurate count amid the coronavirus and other challenges, Room 116, 11 a.m.

For the most comprehensive listing of calendar items, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances(pay wall – free trial subscriptions available), as well as MassterList’s Beacon Hill Town Square below.

Today’s Stories

Coronavirus updates: Quarantine numbers up, school closings, state funding on the way

As the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a global pandemic and as President Trump ordered new travel restrictions from Europe (Washington Post), the coronavirus crisis continues to dominate the news. Here are some of the local headlines of note. From SHNS: “State quarantine numbers are up, most have completed monitoring.” … From WCVB: “Three new coronavirus cases in Massachusetts; total up to 95 in state.” … From SHNS: “Coronavirus Aid Package Moving Toward Vote.” 

MassLive has a list of school closures across the state, including in Framingham and some in Boston. …    From CBS Boston: “NBA Suspends Season After Player Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Celtics In Self-Quarantine.” … From WGBH: “Rep. Lynch: Testing For Coronavirus Is ‘Pretty Dire Right Now.’” … From WBUR: “How Massachusetts Is Planning To Help People Most Vulnerable To Coronavirus.” 

And, finally, here are four items that caught our attention and make mincemeat of our warnings yesterday about “near hysteria” breaking out: 1.) A NYT piece on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s brutally blunt warning to her nation. 2.) A new coronavirus global tracker brought to our attention yesterday. 3.) A Globe opinion piece by Marc Lipsitch about the need to “flatten the curve” on the coronavirus outbreak (and we might as well throw in Michael Jonas’ flatten-the-curve story as well). 4). A Jeff Rogan interview with an infectious disease expert (YouTube).

Local colleges: More cancellations, more questions, more confusion

More local colleges and universities yesterday announced they’re cancelling campus classes and switching to online classes. The Globe has a pretty comprehensive list of what area colleges are doing in  the face of the coronavirus crisis. 

But, obviously, announcing cancellations is only part of the story. What about refunds, students who can’t travel and other issues? From the BBJ’s Hilary Burns: “More questions than answers from Mass. colleges sending students home.” From the NYT: “‘An Eviction Notice’: Chaos After Colleges Tell Students to Stay Away.” At least some colleges have answers, via MassLive: “Smith College, Amherst College plan to reimburse fees.”

‘A sudden, real-life test for remote work’

As stock trading entered bear-market territory yesterday (Washington Post) and as more local companies urge employees to work from home (Boston Herald), the Globe’s Katie Jonston has a good story this morning on the “sudden, real-life test for remote work” as the coronavirus crisis grips the region.

Meanwhile, the BBJ, in an editorial, is calling for a balanced public-policy approach towards the coronavirus outbreak, one that stresses public health and yet one that doesn’t further add to economic woes.

As the economy goes, so goes the state budget

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that state budget writers on Beacon Hill are having to rethink the budget outlook for Massachusetts as a result of the recent economic shocks delivered by the coronavirus crisis – and the outlook doesn’t look rosy.

Meanwhile, the Joint Ways and Means Committee has indefinitely postponed its two remaining public budget hearing due to health concerns tied to coronavirus outbreak, as SHNS reports.

Galvin seeks emergency powers to postpone elections due to coronavirus concerns

SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) reports that Secretary of State Bill Galvin is once again seeking more power to postpone elections during emergencies, this time citing the evolving coronavirus crisis as four special House and Senate elections approach later this month. But the Globe says in an editorial: No way. “Entrusting that power to one person — no matter who it is — goes too far,” the paper writes.

Btw, here’s some other election-related headlines tied to the coronavirus. From the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Kennedy, Markey campaigns take precautions against coronavirus.” … From the Sun Chronicle: “Candidates for the 4th Congressional District Going Virtual.”

Looks like Warren won’t be throwing any lifeline to Bernie

A day after his wipeout in Michigan and other primary states, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders yesterday said he’s not throwing in the towel, at least not yet, and hopes to press Joe Biden on where he stands on progressive issues at a debate this weekend, the AP reports at WCVB.

To CBS Boston’s Jon Keller, Sanders is clearly pressing Biden for allegiance to his progressive agenda before bowing out. Meanwhile, the NYT reports that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who dropped out of the presidential race last week, is unlikely to throw an endorsement lifeline to Sanders because A.) He looks like a loser at this point and B.) Her past rifts with Bernie.


Biden spent zero money on Boston TV ads – and still won in Massachusetts

Jack Sullivan at CommonWealth magazine reports that Joe Biden’s rivals spent big bucks on TV ads in the Boston market in the run-up to the New Hampshire and Massachusetts presidential primaries – while Biden didn’t spend a dime. Yet he won in Massachusetts. Sullivan’s conclusion: “The spending data indicate the influence of TV advertising extends only so far.” And it could signal yet more financial trouble ahead for TV stations.


How big is the cigarette black market? Police no longer seizing illegal tobacco due to storage shortage

Christian Wade at the Newburyport Daily News reports State Police have seized so much illegal tobacco in Massachusetts that they’ve nearly run out of evidence storage space – and that shortage has led to a halt in seizures, according to a new report by the Multi-Agency Illegal Tobacco Task Force. 

Daily News

Brockton Police urge residents to attend funeral of WWII vet who died alone

He died alone in his home and his body discovered only after Brockton police conducted a well-being check. But the late Nathaniel Marshall, 94, a decorated veteran of World War II, won’t be alone at his funeral if Brockton police have their way. They’re inviting people to attend his funeral and burial services today. WCVB has the details.


Report: Fewer hospital stays not leading to lower costs

SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports that health policy experts have noticed an acceleration of private health-care spending in Massachusetts – and some of that increase is tied to higher hospital-stay costs even as the number of actual hospital stays declines.

Vehicle repair question proponents launch early ad blitz

And this is just the beginning. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Supporters of a proposal that would require car manufacturers to make digital vehicle information more available took their push to the airwaves Tuesday, drawing charges from opponents that their claims are ‘tired’ and ‘unfounded.’ “

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Electric vehicles getting a jump start from the state

Speaking of automobiles, WGBH’s Hannah Uebele reports on the welcome jolt the electric-vehicle industry received earlier this year after Gov. Charlie Baker revived an electric-vehicle rebate program with $27 million in new funds.


Out of reach: Some still wait for promised census help

Nonprofit groups are raising the alarms that funds set aside to help ensure an accurate count in the 2020 census are going undistributed, Matt Stout reports at the Globe. While a check was cut to a Berkshires group, some $1.2 million in grant funds designed to boost counts in hard-to-reach communities await distribution by the office of Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin. All this while most census forms are slated to start hitting Bay State mailboxes today. 

Boston Globe

Just an oversight, not a slight: MBTA forgot pay raises for top two officials

What else did they forget? Colman Herman at CommonWealth magazine reports that the T failed to give GM Steve Poftak and another top agency executive scheduled pay raises – and it took a certain reporter to point out the error to officials. The T says it was just an oversight and plans to adjust their pay.


Bridgewater State professor arrested again on new sex charges

From Cody Shepard at the Enterprise: “A Bridgewater State University professor charged last week with raping a female student is now accused of sex trafficking and criminal harassment after several additional women reported encounters with the man to police. Nicholas R. Pirelli, 36, of 46 Cliffside Drive, Plymouth, was arrested again Tuesday night.”


One for the ages: Taunton weighs detail shifts for older retired cops

How old is too old? The Taunton city council appears ready to try to answer that question as it takes up a proposal to allow retired police officers to work details until age 75 — five years longer than current rules allow, Charles Winokoor reports in the Taunton Gazette. 

Taunton Gazette

Starr Forum: Russia’s Putin: From Silent Coup to Legal Dictatorship

With speaker Yevgenia M Albats, a Russian investigative journalist, political scientist, author and radio host. A session of the Focus on Russia Lecture Series co-chaired by Carol Saivetz and Elizabeth Wood.

MIT Center for International Studies (CIS)

A Conversation on Female Agency

Writers Marjan Kamali and Katrin Schumann present “A Conversation on Agency: Displacement and Power During Political Turmoil.”

Boston Athenaeum

Sanguinary Theatre: Evening with Dr. Joseph Warren & his Massacre Oration

With an exciting blend of modern context and costumed interpretation, join us to relive Joseph Warren’s fiery oration 245 years later.

Revolutionary Spaces

Boston Speaker Series: Susan Rice

Rice served as National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017. She also served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. Under President Clinton, Rice worked for the National Security Council and was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Lesley University

Predicting the Democratic Nominee

Welcome to the Democracy Studio! Join us as we combine politically-inspired images and words to provoke a deeper understanding of the state of our democracy.

Tom Manning, Harvard ALI Senior Fellow 2020

Boston Speaker Series: Susan Rice

Rice served as National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017. She also served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. Under President Clinton, Rice worked for the National Security Council and was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Lesley University

Screening; Seven Communities, Seven families, One story: The Opioid Crisis

This compelling film, created through the generosity and civic-mindedness of Wareham Community Television, and produced by Queen Banda and Andrea Pergament, shares first hand accounts from seven parents who’ve endured the unimaginable heartbreak and trauma of losing a child to the Opioid Crisis now raging across the United States. In Massachusetts, the system is failing.

Queen Banda and Andrea Pergament (producers)

Jane Swift: The History of Women in Politics

Jane Swift was the youngest woman ever elected to the Massachusetts State Senate and the First Woman Governor of Massachusetts.

Aliali Belkus, Dean of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

An Evening With Paul Tremblay

Celebrated horror author Paul Tremblay comes to Millbury to read from his work, talk about writing, answer some questions, and sign books.

Jeff Raymond

The Centenary of the 19th Amendment: New Reflections

Join legal and political science scholars to discuss lessons learned from the centenary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Boston University School of Law

Election 2020: The Crucial Questions – Conversations on the Edge

A discussion on the crucial questions of the 2020 Election with seasoned political pros.

Cambridge Center for Adult Education

Ex-Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) – On how we can bring more democracy & transparency to the Massachusetts Legislature

Ex-Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) – On how we can bring more democracy & transparency to the Massachusetts Legislature, and so improve the systems that help deter corruption in state government.

Indivisible Williamsburg and Indivisible Northampton

Today’s Headlines


In battling eviction, a matriarch reveals cruelty of housing in Mass. – Dig Boston

On Broadway: Dismay, disappointment, relief – Dorchester Reporter


High-end luxury apartments could replace Braemoor nursing home in Brockton – Brockton Enterprise

Nangle supporters hold street corner rally for indicted representative – Lowell Sun


Florida poised to stamp out Sanders campaign – Politico

Senate rejects DeVos rule restricting debt relief for bilked students – New York Times

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