Keller at Large

Time to roll the dice on Mass. casino reopenings?

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller believes the state’s three casinos are in very serious trouble and they shouldn’t expect Gov. Charlie Baker to roll the reopening dice on their behalf.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Board of Education, Lottery Commission and more

— The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets remotely, with plans to discuss COVID-19 action following Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent decision to keep schools closed for the rest of the school year, 9 a.m.

— Senate President Karen Spilka addresses an online gathering of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on current Senate policy efforts, including the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, 10 a.m.

State Lottery Commission plans to meet remotely, with Treasurer Deb Goldberg as chair, 10:30 a.m.

Senate Democrats caucus with participants working remotely, 11:30 a.m., while House Democrats hold a teleconference caucus to discuss temporary emergency rules aimed at facilitating a remote formal session later this week, 12 p.m.

— The Alliance for Business Leadership is hosting a virtual Zoom policy briefing on COVID-19 with U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, 2 p.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

Reminder to readers: SHNS Coronavirus Tracker available for free

A reminder to our readers as the coronavirus crisis unfolds: The paywalled State House News Service, which produces MASSterList, is making its full Coronavirus Tracker available to the community for free on a daily basis each morning via ML. SHNS Coronavirus Tracker.

The numbers: 104 new deaths, 3,003 total deaths, 1,524 new cases

MassLive has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, with total reported deaths yesterday surpassing the 3,000 mark.

Baker: COVID-19 numbers may be plateauing

This is encouraging news. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “At the start of an eighth week living under a state of emergency, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday the data might be starting to show that the coronavirus’s spread has ‘plateaued.’” Meaning the surge may be peaking.

But plateauing is not the same as subsiding, so the governor is signaling he’s in no hurry to reopen the economy next Monday, when his stay-at-home order is due to expire. And researchers say the governor has good reason to be cautious. From the Globe’s Jeremy Fox: “MGH coronavirus simulator suggests Mass. fatalities would spike if restrictions lift suddenly.” Then there’s this, via STAT’s Sharon Begley at the Globe: “States have a long way to go on testing, review shows.”

Our hunch: The lockdown gets extended, though for how long is anyone’s guess.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Reopening point-counterpoint: Walsh, no; R.I., yes

As the governor prepares to make a big decision on the coronavirus lockdown, WBUR’s Derek Anderson reports that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is adamant about not reopening the city next Monday, when the state’s current emergency stay-at-home order is set to expire. “There is no question that May 4 is too early,” Walsh said.

But in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo is making plans for a possible phased-in reopening of the Ocean State, starting May 9, reports the Globe’s Edward Fitzpatrick. Rhode Island even has a reopening website, though Raimondo cautions the exact timing of a partial reopening all depends on the coronavirus-case stats.

Somerville and Cambridge now requiring people to wear masks in public … or else

Damn it. Cambridge isn’t going to allow Somerville, that upstart progressive wannabe and former All-American City, to outdo it on the coronavirus front. Hours after Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone announced that everybody will have to wear protective masks in public or face a fine of up to $300, Cambridge last night followed suit with its own mandatory-mask order, starting tomorrow, reports Universal Hub and the Herald’s Rick Sobey and Andrew Martinez. Peabody is also reportedly joining the mandatory-mask movement first pioneered by towns such as Brookline.

Btw: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is, so far, resisting a similar mandatory-mask order. But Boston already has a 311-complaint snitch network up and running, reports Universal Hub, which has modeled (so to speak) 311 complaints and finds a direct correlation between nice days and snitching.

Secret Boston-led group of scientists and billionaires pushing Trump on vaccine solution

This is interesting. The Wall Street Journal reports that a group of scientists and billionaires, led by physician-turned-financier Tom Cahill of Boston, has quietly opened back channels to the Trump administration as part of an all-out effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and treatments. The group – which includes Bain Capital chief and Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca and Raptor Group head Jim Palotta – have already compiled a 17-page report for the administration in what’s being called a “lock-down era Manhattan project.”

Fyi: They may want to take a gander at a very promising Oxford-led research project in Britain, where scientists appear to be way ahead of others in developing a potential vaccine that may (repeat: may) be ready by this fall, as the NYT reports.

WSJ (pay wall)

Federal loan program: ‘Round 1 was awful. Round 2 was atrocious’

File under: ‘Sigh.’ From Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “Banks around Greater Boston faced difficulties Monday pushing through loan applications in the Paycheck Protection Program’s first day back online, with executives expressing the same types of frustrations that marked the program’s initial rollout in early April.”


It was the Lord’s will, not Charlie’s will: Church defends reopening

New Boston Post’s Tom Joyce reports on a Worcester church’s defiance this past Sunday of the governor’s lockdown order. And the pastor of the church is defending his decision, reports Bill Doyle at the Telegram.

Baker to Steamship Authority: Drop dead

Take it up with the feds. That’s the message from Gov. Baker to the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority, which has asked for help filling a massive budget gap created by the pandemic. But Ethan Genter at the Cape Cod Times reports Cape legislators and the authority itself say the agency falls under both state and federal oversight. 

Cape Cod Times

Harvard University to open in fall (sort of)

Back to the reopening issue, Harvard University was one of the first major colleges to shut its campus at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak – and now it’s one of the first major colleges to announce it will open this fall. Except … it may not really reopen per se. They’re playing it by remote-vs-on-campus ear. The BBJ’s Hilary Burns (pay wall) and the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes have more.

SJC: Courts to stay shut until at least June 1

Here’s one government entity that’s putting its stay-at-home foot down. From Stephanie Berry at MassLive: “The state’s courthouses will remain closed to the public until at least June 1, according to an order by the Supreme Judicial Court issued Monday. That mandate extends a previous order that courts be closed to the public through May 4, aligning with Gov. Charlie Baker’s executive order.”


Baker administration pumps another $130M into hard hit nursing homes

They need all the help they can get. From Steph Solis at MassLive: “Massachusetts nursing homes will receive another $130 million from the state for its coronavirus response, but it comes with some strings attached. Operators must spend the money on staffing, infection control and other parameters set forth by the Baker administration.” 


Six weeks into the coronavirus crisis, House finally ready to hold a remote session

It took a while, but it’s also easier said than done. The House yesterday announced it will hold its first formal legislative session, via remote voting, since the outset of the of the COVID-19 emergency. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg have more on the House’s plans for a virtual session, hopefully this Thursday, with an emergency borrowing bill at the top of the agenda.

Btw, via SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk (pay wall): “Donato Outlines What a Remote Formal Might Look Like.”

Lynn sure misses its recently closed hospital

Talk about bad timing. Late last year, Lynn’s lone hospital closed. And now the city, one of the state’s hardest hit municipalities during the COVID-19 crisis, is feeling the consequences, reports Simón Ríos and Tibisay Zea at WBUR.


Government updates: Lawsuit filed over referendum signature requirements, Baker signs notary bill, Moody’s thumbs up

No surprise here: Backers of statewide referendum initiatives have joined together to file a lawsuit over state signature-gathering requirements – and they’re asking the Supreme Judicial Court to once again rule on the issue, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall). … In other government-related news, MassLive’s Steph Solis reports that Gov. Charlie Baker has signed legislation allowing remote notarization during the pandemic. … And from SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall): “Moody’s Sees Positives in Muni Cash, Fiscal Flexibility Law.”

Non-stop work: Cemetery workers kept busy during pandemic

The Globe’s John Ellement and John Tlumacki report on yet another class of essential workers kept busy during the coronavirus outbreak: Boston Cemetery Department employees, many of whom are working non-stop to bury the city’s COVID-19 dead.

Boston Globe

Poftak: Extra federal funds won’t be enough to rescue T

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports that the MBTA, whose ridership and revenues have plunged since the onset of the coronavirus emergency, welcomes the federal government’s infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars into the system. But it won’t be enough.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Just $212M over budget: MBTA approves new fare-collection system

Speaking of the T: As some transit advocates call for elimination of fares to boost MBTA ridership, the agency’s governing board yesterday approved a nearly $1 billion contract to completely overhaul the T’s fare-collection system — a contract that’s $212 million higher than originally budgeted. CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl has more on the contract adjustment.


Getting in: Beatty is fourth candidate in 5th district

Politics marches on. Kirstin Beatty of Holyoke became the fourth candidate to declare for the 5th Hampden District House seat being vacated by Rep. Aaron Vega, Dusty Christensen at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. Beatty runs an environmental advocacy group and indicates she plans to run against the legislative status quo on Beacon Hill. 

Meanwhile, on the Cape, Brazilian community organizer Michael Mecenas says he plans to challenge GOP state Rep. William Crocker in the 2nd Barnstable District. Mecenas says he’ll run as an independent and already has enough signatures to get on the ballot, Geoff Spillane reports at the Cape Cod Times. 


Getting to the Point on the 2020 Census

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate will host state and local leaders for a discussion on the importance of completing the 2020 Census. Participants will cover many topics including the impact of the census on federal, state, and local government; and the challenges of reaching hard-to-count populations, especially during a global pandemic.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Helping your (newly) remote teams stay productive—and satisfied.

Working remotely can take some adjustment. And in our new webinar, Anita Campbell speaks with host Ramon Ray about creating a successful and satisfied remote workforce.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

JALSA Schmoozefest

Tune in for a great JALSA Schmoozefest this week! Congressman Jim McGovern, Chair of the U.S. House Rules Committee, talking about federal government approaches to COVID-19; Pablo Ruiz, SEIU State Council MA, talking about the Emergency Sick Time Proposal; Music by Joe Buchanan, joining us from Texas, bringing Jewish and Americana music together; and Political humorist, Jimmy Tingle.

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action

ELM Wednesday Webinars | Session 4: Covering Climate

The Environmental League of Massachusetts will be joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe reporter David Abel. In this discussion, David will reflect on the evolution of environmental journalism, how the human impacts of climate change create compelling stories, and the ways in which COVID-19 is shaping today’s climate coverage.

Environmental League of Massachusetts

The First Amendment in Times of Crisis

This class will serve as a First Amendment primer, highlighting examples from other times of crisis and focusing on defamation and freedom of speech. Students will learn about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the five freedoms it protects.

New England First Amendment Coalition

How Do We Get Back to the Future?

Does your organization have a plan to resume operation after the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you know how your organization will recover, restore & revitalize its core functions and profitability? Do you have a staffing plan and communications strategy for employees and clients?

Tenax Strategies

Keeping your business operating effectively in the new normal.

Let’s talk about being effective in this challenging time. Rieva Lesonsky and Ramon Ray talk about looking at your business operations now and pinpointing areas for improvement.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

Today’s Headlines


Coronavirus mask patrol: Boston vigilantes light up BOS 311 – Boston Herald

Harvard to pay $1.4 million to settle claims researchers overcharged US grants – Boston Globe


Athol marijuana facility sells for almost $27 million – Worcester Business Journal

Fall River Vietnam wall on course for Memorial Day completion – Herald-News

Federal flood insurance premiums in Marshfield to drop 15 percent – Patriot Ledger


Emergency small business loan program reopens under crush of demand – The Hill

‘Quarantine fatigue’ has more people going outside – New York Times

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