Keller at Large

Who’s really making the reopening call?

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller thinks the governor’s new reopening advisory board has been handed an impossible task – and thus most major decisions will be have to made by one person. Hint: He’s rather tall, usually wears a business suit and you see him a lot on TV these days.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Retirement board, Black Economic Council, and more

Massachusetts State Retirement Board holds a remote meeting, chaired by Treasurer Deb Goldberg, 10 a.m.

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Amplify Latinx hosts a conversation with Rep. Jon Santiago, a Boston Medical Center emergency room doctor, on health disparities during the pandemic, 10 a.m.

Black Economic Council of Massachusetts hosts a discussion with U.S. Sen. Ed Markey on Congressional efforts to address the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and Markey’s ‘efforts to address issues of equity in these responses,’ 11 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Richard Neal visits Holyoke restaurant Nick’s Nest to highlight the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program., 1597 Northampton St., Holyoke, 12 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan holds a telephone town hall on COVID-19, with Lt. Gov. Polito, SBA New England regional administrator Wendell Davis and Lawrence General Hospital President and CEO Deborah Wilson, 3:30 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: 252 new deaths, 3,405 total deaths, 1,963 new case

MassLive has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, including the largest daily death count in the state since the COVID-19 outbreak.

MassLive

Deadly undercount II: State looking Into unreported COVID-19 deaths

A week after the Globe reported that the state may be undercounting the number of coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, the NYT confirms that, yes, the death toll here and elsewhere may be “far higher than reported,” based on CDC historical data.

All of which prompted Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday to acknowledge that he agrees that there’s probably more deaths than believed and that his administration is now looking into the matter, reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall). Meanwhile, the Globe has a piece this morning that ties death and case rates to “communities with dirty air.”

Coronavirus not cooperating with hopes to reopen the economy

Yesterday’s coronavirus case numbers – including the highest daily number of reported COVID-19 deaths yet in Massachusetts – sure indicates that the surge isn’t over. And the virus seems to be spreading to more and more communities, reports CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl, who adds: “The key metrics monitored by the Baker administration indicated the surge is refusing to crest and break.”

Btw, from the Telegram: “Wal-Mart in Worcester has Covid-19 cluster, is ordered closed.”  

CommonWealth

Let’s get our priorities straight: When are the golf courses reopening?

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports on yet another obstacle that could delay or slow down the state’s eventual economic reopening: Lawsuits. Potentially lots and lots of business-related lawsuits. Meanwhile, in an opinion piece at the Globe, Andre Perry and Nathalie Molina Niño say “planning for a post-coronavirus economy must focus on racial inequities.”

But forget about reopening lawsuits and social-justice issues. The people demand to know: When can we start golfing again? From SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall): “Baker Putts to Polito on Golf Course Reopening.” From Universal Hub: “Baker: Duffers will just have to wait.” And another thing: When can we start buying Winston bouquets of flowers for Mother’s Day? (SHNS

Expect to see a lot more of these let-us-reopen-now types of stories over coming weeks, as the governor’s reopening advisory board tackles thorny reopening issues left and right.

State’s GDP plunged 6 percent in the first quarter – and it will only get worse this quarter

Speaking of economic matters, the BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that the state’s gross domestic product declined at a 6.1 percent pace last quarter, a larger decline than the nation’s 4.8 percent GDP plunge. And Northeastern University economist Alan Clayton-Matthews, writing in a new MassBenchmarks report, thinks the state’s economy in the second quarter could decline “on the order of 25 percent to 50 percent on an annualized basis.” You read that right: 25 percent to 50 percent.

BBJ

Vituperative vitriol: GOP derails House session plan amid angry charges and countercharges

House Republicans yesterday blocked, at least for the time being, a planned remote session of the House today, saying proposed online parliamentary procedures were totally unfair. The GOP action led to a rare “vitriolic” rift between Beacon Hill Republicans and Democrats (Globe’s Matt Stout) over “vituperative charges and countercharges” of reckless behavior during the coronavirus crisis (CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg). SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk (pay wall) has more on the virtual vitriol.

Btw, the Herald’s Peter Lucas writes (before yesterday’s fight) that the Legislature isn’t performing as poorly as it may look. 

Feds investigating sex-for-rent-deferral harassment

A sick #MeToo moment for our coronavirus times. From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “Federal prosecutors are investigating reports of housing-related sexual harassment, with the U.S. Attorney in Boston citing reports of landlords who have responded to requests to defer rent payments ‘with demands for sexual favors and other acts of unwelcome sexual conduct.’”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

How’s that remote learning going? BU investigating whether students cheated on online exams

Yet another new-normal concern during these coronavirus times. From the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes: “Boston University is investigating whether some students in classes including chemistry and physics have cheated on quizzes and exams now that they are taking them online, far from campus and the watchful gaze of professors and teaching assistants.”

Boston Globe

X-rated: City Council hearing gets zoombombed by porn pop-up

We missed this one from the other day: A Cambridge city council meeting got zoombombed earlier this week by porn hackers during a public-comments period of the hearing, prompting a 16-minute recess, reports Marc Levy at Cambridge Day.

Cambridge Day

The never-ending prisoner-release debate: The counteroffensive

We ran an entire “prison updates” post yesterday, largely focused on legal action and concerns by advocates over the coronavirus-tied safety of inmates within state jails and prisons. Today, the Herald is pulling a Herald, launching an anti-release front-page package (“Spring time!”) with horror stories – yes, the horror! – of recent prisoner releases and prisoner-release wannabes. Fyi: U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling sure appears to be stirring things up a bit. 

Meanwhile, from Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine (not to be confused with the Herald): “Mici: No need to release inmates due to COVID-19/Says prisoners need to do their part in avoiding infection.

Boston Herald

Government updates: Stimulus checks for immigrants, plunging Lottery sales, sanctuary-cities threat, Plymouth’s $90M haul

We’re going with quick summaries and headlines on this post. … SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) reports on proposed legislation that calls for sending state stimulus checks to immigrants, as long as they have tax ID numbers. … MassLive’s Stoph Solis reports Gov. Charlie Baker is at odds, once again, with President Trump, who recently suggested withholding federal aid to sanctuary cities. … Meanwhile, from CBS Boston: “Walsh: President Trump Using ‘Fear Tactic’ By Threatening To Withhold Coronavirus Aid.” … From MassLive: “Town of Amherst says the Mass. Department of Public Health misreported the number of coronavirus cases.” … From SHNS (pay wall): “April Numbers Show Continued Decline in Lottery Sales.” … From the Berkshire Eagle: “Great Barrington furloughs 14 employees amid economic fallout from pandemic.”  

And, finally, the Globe’s Andrea Estes has a follow-up story on how the heck Plymouth County ended up with $90 million in federal relief funds.


Puzzling: How the coronavirus has actually saved some businesses

What do a direct-to-consumer grain grower, jigsaw-puzzle maker and an old-fashioned photo-processing lab have in common? The coronavirus outbreak has actually helped their businesses – and just in time for some of them. Edgar Herwick has more at WGBH’s always interesting ‘Curiosity Desk.’

WGBH

Revolving door: Pot commissioner is leaving to join maker of cannabis drug

It turns out Kay Doyle is leaving the state Cannabis Control Commission to take a job as US director of public policy for Greenwich Biosciences, manufacturer of an FDA-approved cannabis drug, Shira Schoenberg reports at CommonWealth magazine. Doyle, an attorney who previously advised the state Department of Public Heath on setting up the state’s medical marijuana program, says it’s about “focusing on patients, which is where my heart is.” We have a suspicion it’s about other matters too.

CommonWealth

Markey’s campaign workers unionize, a first for a state race

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign staff voted to unionize. Now U.S. Sen. Ed Markey’s re-election staff has decided to form a union, becoming the first such union in a state race (with Warren’s being national race). MassLive’s Benjamin Kail has the details.

MassLive

‘Shady crap:’ Methuen councilors pile on as whistleblower rules approved

Tell us how you really feel. The Methuen City Council recently passed a local whistleblower-protection ordinance and the comments from councilors are too good to ignore. Bill Kirk at the Eagle-Tribune reports one member of the council said the measure was needed because “there’s been a lot of shady crap going on in Methuen for years,” while another suggested workers need protections from the city’s “political machine.”

Eagle Tribune

Green wash? AG sues developer of Williamsburg solar project for polluting river

This story broke our irony meter. The office of Attorney General Maura Healey is suing the developer of a Williamsburg solar array for polluting a river and otherwise damaging the natural environment as it installed its clean-energy power plant, reports Scott Merzbach at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. 

Gazette

Make it rain, Rufus: Biden taps Gifford as deputy campaign manager

He’s going to be charged with bringing in the cash. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has tapped former ambassador and onetime Bay State Congressional candidate Rufus Gifford to be his new deputy campaign manager. Benjamin Kail at MassLive reports Gifford will be charged with helping Biden erase the massive fundraising head start enjoyed by President Trump. 

MassLive

Challenge accepted: Former Tsongas aide tees up bid against

Nangle  Vanna Howard, a Cambodian immigrant and former aide to Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, says she’ll challenge fellow Democrat and indicted state Rep. David Nangle for the 17th Middlesex District seat, reports Elizabeth Dobbins of the Lowell Sun.

Lowell Sun

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

Employment Law & COVID-19 for Small Business

Learn what small businesses need to know about employment law and workplace policy in times of COVID-19, hosted jointly with Rocket Lawyer.

Staples Spotlight

ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Bob Rivers

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Bob Rivers, Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Bank: Join us as we discuss the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.

RIYHT Media

Civil Rights Working Sessions Hearing Notice

The City of Boston’s Committee on Housing and Community Development will hold a virtual working session on a hearing to discuss ways to support tenants facing eviction and displacement and a hearing regarding the creation of temporary rental assistance to support residents impacted by COVID-19.

City of Boston’s Committee on Housing and Community Development

ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Kamil Ali-Jackson

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Kamil Ali-Jackson, Co-Founder, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and Corporate Secretary of Aclaris Therapeutics Inc. Join industry Leaders as we discuss innovation and leadership, definition of success and the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.

RIYHT Media

Re-Booting the Economy – Major Employer Issues: Part 1 “Bringing Employees Back to the Workplace”

Re-opening the Economy is such a big topic right now. We want to position the North Shore Chamber and our members as leaders, as plans become unveiled by Governor Baker on reopening the economy. The May 6th Seminar will focus on an internal perspective – “Bringing Employees Back to the Workplace.”

North Shore Chamber of Commerce

ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Jane Steinmetz

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Jane Steinmetz, Boston Office Managing Principal, Ernst & Young. Join industry Leaders as we discuss innovation and leadership, definition of success and the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.

RIYHT Media

Leadercast 2020—Positive Disruption

Join Business Journal partner, Leadercast, digitally for Leadercast 2020 Positive Disruption the world’s largest annual one-day leadership event broadcasting on May 7, 2020.

Boston Business Journal & Leadercast

ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Phyllis Barajas

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Phyllis Barajas, CEO, Conexión. Join industry Leaders as we discuss innovation and leadership, definition of success and the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.

RIYHT Media

Virtual event in support of Senator Ed Markey with Carole King

Please Join Us For a Virtual event in support of Senator Ed Markey with Carole King. This performance will be held on a video conferencing platform for everyone to enjoy safely from their homes. The link for the event will be available upon RSVP.

ActBlue / Senator Ed Markey

Today’s Headlines

Metro

iRobot lays off 70, halts lawn mower development – Boston Globe

General Electric Cashes In This Quarter, But Not Enough For Investors – WBUR

Massachusetts

Falmouth officials weigh financial lifeline for businesses – Cape Cod Times

Moulton, Healey chat about coronavirus scams – Salem News

Southborough again postpones town meeting – MetroWest Daily News

Nation

Polls Had Trump Stewing, and Lashing Out at His Own Campaign – New York Times

Lawmakers made hundreds of stock transactions during pandemic, watchdog finds – Politico

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