Keller at Large

Why is Charlie Baker so popular when things are going so wrong?

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller has a couple of explanations for Gov. Charlie Baker’s high “hard-to-believe-it’s-not-a-typo” approval rating, including Baker’s lack of pandering and his body language that screams: “I don’t want to be here.”

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Prison incarcerations, coronavirus updates and more

— A coalition of more than 20 advocacy groups hosts a virtual press conference to release a 10-point emergency plan calling on the Baker administration to reduce incarceration levels in Massachusetts prisons and jails, 10 a.m. — Attorney General Healey participates in an ‘Ask the AG’ segment on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

— Employment and health care law experts discuss legal considerations that Massachusetts employers and employees must make in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with partners from Ropes & Gray, Goodwin, and Nutter participating in the virtual forum hosted by the Massachusetts High Technology Council, 1 p.m.

CMBG3 Law holds a webinar on the future of business interruption insurance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Sen. Jamie Eldridge among those participating, 1 p.m.

— Sen. Jo Comerford holds a virtual panel on food security in Hampshire, Franklin, and Worcester counties, 4:30 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: 129 new deaths, 5,108 total deaths, 669 new cases

MassLive has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, including a significant one-day drop in new cases.

Buying time? Baker unveils vague four-phase plan for reopening

Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday announced a four-phase reopening plan for Massachusetts – a plan with only vague goals and few specifics about when and what type of businesses can reopen, as the Globe’s Jaclyn Reiss and MassLive’s Steph Solis report. And those vague goals and few specifics are prompting some businesses to ask for more “clarity” from the Baker administration about what will happen next Monday, when the governor’s current lockdown order is set to expire, reports the Herald’s Erin Tiernan. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes that the governor’s plan merely amounts to a non-plan plan.

But it’s really not hard to figure out what the governor is doing. He’s being cautious and trying to buy time to further review the coronavirus trend numbers before reopening large swaths of the economy. And medical experts are backing his cautious approach to the hilt. From a Globe opinion piece at by nine local infectious-disease experts: “Don’t reopen Massachusetts too quickly/The coronavirus crisis is not over.”

Question of the day: Would you want to be making the decision now facing the governor? Think about how much is at stake.

The numbers are still trending in the ‘right direction’

As the reopening debate intensifies in Massachusetts, here’s the type of health-care headlines Gov. Charlie Baker is closely monitoring these days, in addition to the modeling data he’s privy to on a daily basis. From SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall): “ER doc sees trends going in ‘right direction.’” The ER doc in question: State Rep. and Dr. Jon Santiago, who been pretty damn good at spotting coronavirus trends so far. … From CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: “COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes top 3,000/Other indicators head in positive direction.” … And from the Globe’s Patricia Wan and Saurabh Datar: “Except for UMass Medical Center, major hospitals in state show steady decline in COVID-19 patients over the past week.”

From hospitals to Catholic churches, the economic pressures to reopen are definitely there

Setting aside the medical reasons for going slow on reopening the economy, the financial pressures to get the economy going are definitely real, starting with our health-care system. From the Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey: “For hospitals, the coronavirus crisis extends deep into their finances/Massachusetts medical centers are projected to lose $5 billion in revenues through July.” … We’re not sure if this is a reopen-now bluff, but this headline on Jim Kinney’s BBJ story definitely caught out attention: “MGM Springfield: Nearly 1,900 layoffs possible this summer.”

And it’s not just businesses that are suffering. From Marilyn Schairer at WGBH: “With COVID-19 Hurting Church Finances, Catholic Parishes In Boston May Consider Merging.” … And from the Globe’s Anissa Gardizy: “Galas postponed or going virtual, nonprofits see big drop in fund-raising.”

Massachusetts hospitals cry foul over distribution of federal relief funds

Speaking of financially struggling hospitals, yet another federal distribution controversy is rearing its head. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “As they care for thousands of COVID-19 patients in one of the states hardest hit so far by the pandemic, Massachusetts hospitals say they are getting shortchanged on federal relief funds, compared to counterparts in other states.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Is demand – not supply — drying up for federal small-business loans?

As local hospitals push for more federal relief money, the BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports on a somewhat mysterious phenomenon: Paycheck Protection Program activity has slowed significantly in the past week in Massachusetts and other parts of the country – with billions of dollars in federal loan funds still available. It could be the result of yet another federal snafu, but it also could be that many small businesses, for whatever reasons, don’t want and/or don’t need the funds, as Ryan explains.

BBJ (pay wall)

Al fresco response to COVID-19: Boston eyes expanding sidewalks onto roadways to help restaurants

Other communities have been experimenting with ways to boost business for struggling downtown restaurants and retail shops – and now Mayor Marty Walsh says Boston is “looking at expanding sidewalks out into the street, at least temporarily, to give restaurants and other businesses more room to conduct business as the weather gets nicer,” reports Universal Hub.

Universal Hub

UMass Dartmouth biologist becomes a blogging sensation with post on coronavirus risks

The NYT’s David Leonhardt reports (scroll down to third item) on how Erin S. Bromage, an associate professor of biology at UMass-Dartmouth, has become a sort of blogging star after he wrote an “impressively clear explanation” on how the coronavirus actually spreads, mostly via large crowds in confined spaces. The title of Bromage’s post: “The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them.” It’s an impressively clear explanation indeed. Read it.


He may be riding high in polls, but Baker will have to answer for the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home disaster

WBUR’s Mariam Wasser reports that a law passed in 2016 required the state to hire a qualified medical professional to oversee its two veterans homes. The position was never filled. And the rest, as they say, is history, considering the scores of coronavirus deaths at the two group homes in Holyoke and Chelsea. But the Globe’s Joan Vennochi says the deaths can’t and shouldn’t be forgotten.

Speaking of group homes and elder care, from Gabrielle Emanuel at WBGH: “Massachusetts Lifts Cap On Rates Nursing Homes Can Pay To Fill Empty Shifts.”

The latest coronavirus casualty: The T’s commuter rail makeover?

From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack on Monday floated the idea of slowing down the planned upgrade of the state’s commuter rail system, given the steep downturn in ridership and the prospect it could go on for a long time to come.”

In other transportation news, from SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall): “Increase in Travel Tied to ‘Quarantine Fatigue.’”


Singapore sics Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog on social-distancing scofflaws

Will we soon be seeing Spot patrolling parks in Massachusetts? According to a CNN report at CBS Boston, Singapore has deployed a Boston Dynamics-made robotic dog, named Spot, to patrol a local park, alerting people about social-distancing rules and keeping a watchful camera-installed eye on potential scofflaws. 

CBS Boston

100-year-old Quincy World War II veteran beats coronavirus

We missed this story from the other day by the Patriot Ledger’s Joe DiFazio, who reports Squantum resident Arthur “Mac” McIntosh, a World War II vet, will get to celebrate his 101st birthday this week after surviving a COVID-19 infection. The Germans didn’t stop him. So why should the coronavirus? And McIntosh beat the virus by riding out the infection at home.

Patriot Ledger

Taking a pass: Koh says no to Trahan challenge

He’ll be back. Just not right now. Andover Selectman Dan Koh says the coronavirus crisis and the need to focus on removing Donald Trump from the White House informed his decision not to run for Congress this year, Genevieve DiNatale at the Eagle-Tribune reports. But Koh, who had been flirting with a challenge to U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan as she struggles to put questions about her own campaign’s finances behind her, says he’s not closing the door to future runs. 

Eagle Tribune

The election must go on: Candidates eye finish line in special Senate race

It’s all systems go. Despite pleas from some for another delay, it looks like the special election to fill the Plymouth & Barnstable state Senate seat will go off as planned next Tuesday, just as the state is tentatively and partially due to emerge from its coronavirus lockdown. 

Cape Cod Times

Rollins seeks to vacate 64 guilty pleas tied to state-lab scandals

If her exculpatory-evidence charges are true, this move is justified. From the Globe’s Travis Andersen: “Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins on Monday asked the state Supreme Judicial Court to vacate the guilty pleas of 64 people in cases indirectly linked to the scandals involving disgraced former drug chemists Annie Dookhan and Sonja Farak, whose whose misconduct has prompted the dismissal of at least 61,000 drug charges in Massachusetts.”

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) has more.

Boston Globe

Let it flow: Hydro-power transmission project gets permit in Maine

File under: ‘At last.’ From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “Environmental regulators in Maine on Monday issued a final permit for a power transmission project that’s critical to efforts in Massachusetts to bring hydropower down from Canada to meet the Bay State’s clean energy needs.” With strict environmental protections in place, the Conservation Law Foundation is backing the regulators’ move, as SHNS reports.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Saving triple-deckers from rising sea levels

Universal Hub reports that the city of Boston is looking at various proposals to save one of the region’s true architectural wonders: Old triple-decker homes. They’ve already developed some guidelines on how to retrofit buildings.

Universal Hub

Help on the way: WBUR and ProPublica launch new investigative initiative

Every little bit helps. Amid deep newsroom cuts at other media outlets across the country, WBUR says it’s teaming up with ProPublica to hire a Boston-based investigative reporter that will be funded in part by former Akamai CEO Paul Sagan, Don Seiffert at the Boston Business Journal reports. 


ROAR Web Series with Special Guest Georgianna Melendez, Ph.D.

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Georgianna Melendez, Ph.D., Assistant Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Massachusetts Boston.


Innovate for Big Impact: Rewrite the Rules for Your Small Business Now

Back by popular demand, entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz has something new to share: fresh strategies, tips and success stories to help evolve your business and innovate in a fast-changing world. Sign up to hear bright new ideas—and start reinventing what you do.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

JALSA Schmoozefest with Extra Special Guest Maura Healey

JALSA Schmoozefest with Extra Special Guest Maura Healey, Music from Charlie Kramer, Legally Blind singer, songwriter, and Jewish Rock Radio host and political humorist Jimmy Tingle!


Coronavirus: The Health, Medical, and Societal Challenges Ahead

Helen Branswell, senior writer on infectious disease at STAT, and David R. Williams, Harvard professor of public health, African and African American studies, and sociology, discuss challenges presented by Covid-19 with Rick Berke, co-founder and executive editor of STAT.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Joe Gravellese To Host Virtual Town Hall on Transportation with Jim Aloisi

Joe Gravellese, Democratic candidate for State Representative in the 16th Suffolk District (Revere, Chelsea, Saugus) will stream a “Virtual Town Hall” on Tuesday, May 12 at 6 PM with Jim Aloisi, former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation. Aloisi is currently a board member at the nonprofit TransitMatters, and a lecturer in urban studies and planning at MIT.

Joe Gravellese for State Representative

Re-Booting the Economy – Major Employer Issues – Part 2 “Welcoming Customers Back”

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 13th Seminar will provide an external perspective – “Welcoming Customers Back.” We hope this new endeavor will provide valuable information to our members.

North Shore Chamber of Commerce

ROAR Web Series with Special Guest Sandra Casey Buford, Ph.D.

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Sandra Casey Buford, Ph.D., Organizational Development and Behavior expert.


Please Join Us for a Virtual Conversation with Alyssa Milano and Senator Ed Markey

Alyssa and Senator Ed Markey will be discussing the issues that matter most to the people of Massachusetts and our country, from our nation’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, to the Green New Deal and the climate crisis, to jobs and justice, to women’s rights, and keeping the internet open and free for everyone.

Senator Ed Markey

Natural Climate Solutions: The Role of Agriculture and Carbon Capture in the Transition

U.S. forests store the equivalent of 52 years’ worth of the country’s carbon emissions, and even in today’s highly partisan political climate, conserving our forests, planting more trees, and improving agricultural practices are initiatives with bipartisan support. But how exactly can policy effectively incentivize farmers and landowners to reforest their lands and improve their management?

Climate XChange

JALSA – GBIO Virtual House Party

Are you interested in social justice in the time of the coronavirus? Would you be willing to share your stories and thoughts with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization as we develop our communal agenda? We want to hear about your experiences in this highly unusual time.


Building a New Era of Offshore Wind

A virtual panel discussion featuring industry experts at Tufts University, the Brattle Group, and the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance.

State House News Forum

ROAR Web Series with Special Guest Christina M. Greer, PhD

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Christina M. Greer, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science and American Studies at Fordham University.


Virtual Taste of Forum Meeting: Navigate the Crisis with Trusted HBS Peers

For the last eleven years HBS Association of Boston’s alumni forums have offered members that kind of safe port in a stormy world. Current forum members appreciate their monthly meetings now more than ever, and this special program invites all Boston-area alumni to a “pop-up” one-time forum meeting.

Harvard Business School Association of Boston

How Nonprofit Leaders are Weathering the COVID-19 Storm

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on nonprofits’ programs and operations–and on the communities they serve–are immense. This free webinar will feature a moderated panel discussion with Bob Gittens of Cambridge Children’s and Families Service, Priscilla Kane Hellweg of Enchanted Circle Theater, and Celina Miranda of Hyde Square Task Force on the impacts of COVID-19 on their organizations.

Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) and State House News Service

Coronavirus and the 2020 Elections

EJ Dionne, Washington Post columnist and political commentator, and Janet Hook, staff writer at The Los Angeles Times, discuss implications of the novel coronavirus for the 2020 elections.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Brands With A Purpose Series: “Redefining Success with Social Impact” – Virtual Fireside Chat with CEO, David Heath

David Heath the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bombas will discuss the evolution of product offerings and how Bombas’ mission plays into the company’s culture and social impact.

Harvard Business School Association of Boston

Today’s Headlines


City looks at how to protect triple deckers from flooding as sea levels rise – Universal Hub

Salem State Vice President to be named new interim president at NSCC – Lynn Item


Study: Fall River’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall will generate $775,000 for local economy – Herald News

Ashland consultant says Eversource pipeline project is unnecessary – MetroWest Daily News

Crane hit with $1,000 daily fine for violating mayor’s order – Berkshire Eagle


Fauci to Warn Senate of ‘Needless Suffering and Death’ – New York Times

How New Hampshire built a mammoth PPE supply chain from China – The Hill

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