House session, COVID-19 updates and more
— The Massachusetts House plans to meet in a formal session, with representatives encouraged to participate by phone rather than in-person, to consider a more than $1 billion bond bill calling for long-term investments in information technology spending, 11 a.m.
— Election Modernization Coalition holds a press conference over Zoom to promote voting by mail in the state, 11 a.m.
— Nurses of Cambridge Health Alliance hold press conference to discuss what they say is a lack of personal protective equipment and ‘dangerous conditions that threaten the safety of CHA patients,’ 2 p.m.
— MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board Vice Chair Monica Tibbits-Nutt will join the Environmental League of Massachusetts for a webinar discussion about how the COVID-19 pandemic could change commuting patterns, traffic congestion, housing density, environmental justice and planning, 12 p.m.
— Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and MITX co-host an event to discuss with college presidents the outlook for Boston’s higher education community during COVID-19 and beyond, with the panel including the presidents of Boston University, Bunker Hill Community College and the University of Massachusetts and with Emerson College president Lee Pelton moderating, 1 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.
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: 76 new deaths, 5,938 total deaths, 873 new cases
WCVB has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
Double Flip: Dems sweep pandemic-tinged special elections
The GOP’s already small minority in the Massachusetts Senate just got smaller. Democrats won both of Tuesday’s coronavirus-delayed special state Senate elections, reclaiming GOP seats on the Cape and in the Springfield area. Susan Moran of Falmouth claimed 55 percent of the vote in the Plymouth and Barnstable district, enough to defeat James “Jay” McMahon III, of Bourne, Geoff Spillane reports in the Cape Cod Times.
In the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire district, state Rep. John Velis is moving on up to the Senate after handily defeating John F. Cain of Southwick, Jeannette DeForge at MassLive reports. Matt Szafranski at the Western Mass Politics & Insight blog reports Velis’ victory came amid a surprisingly normal election–at least in terms of turnout.
Walsh and Pressley on reopening: Not so fast
As many businesses put pressure on Gov. Charlie Baker to quicken the reopening pace, Mayor Marty Walsh said yesterday’s he’s uncomfortable with the governor’s plan to partially reopen offices buildings in Boston on June 1, saying it may be too much too soon, even if buildings are only at 25 percent capacity, reports SHNS (pay wall) and Universal Hub.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley says any reopening is too much too soon at this point, saying flatly that the city “isn’t ready,” reports the Globe’s Danny McDonald and the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky.
Restaurants: Frustrated, desperate and going broke
As Marty Walsh and Ayanna Pressley push back against Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plans, restaurateurs are pushing in the opposite direction. Some sample headlines – From the Globe: “Frustrated North End restaurateurs, still waiting to reopen, consider their options.” … From MassLive: “’Ultimate slap in the face’: Restaurant owners in disbelief as Massachusetts avoids providing details for industry to reopen amid coronavirus pandemic.’” …From the Herald: “Retailers, restaurants ‘frustrated’ with Phase 1 of Massachusetts reopening.” … From the Telegram: “Thinking outside the restaurant: Worcester council backs plan for reopening options.”
And, finally, Boston.com has the growing list of restaurants that just couldn’t hang on any longer, i.e. they’ve permanently closed.
Then there’s this pressure: Boston Fed chief warns of double-digit unemployment through 2020
More bad news on the economic front (and more indirect pressure on Gov. Baker to reopen the economy): Eric Rosengren, head of the Reserve Bank of Boston, is warning of double-digit unemployment through 2020 across New England, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports.
Flex-off: Oxford says it will seek injunction to close phase-jumping gym
He’s standing firm and so is the town. Oxford officials say they’ve issued both verbal and written warnings to the owner of a local gym who threw open his doors Monday, at least six weeks ahead of Gov. Baker’s schedule. WCVB reports Dave Blondin, the owner of Prime Fitness and Nutrition, will also be fined $300 each day he remains open without authorization.
Strict yet lenient
They may be cracking down on the gym owner in Oxford. But the BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that the state is instructing cities and towns in general to give businesses multiple warnings before hitting them with fines and legal orders. “The approach is a departure from the first few months of the pandemic, when authorities were supposed to issue a cease-and-desist order on the first violation,” Ryan writes.
Archdiocese: Catholic churches can reopen, but they have to meet guidelines and respect local bans
Universal Hub reports that the Archdiocese of Boston is allowing Catholic churches to resume services this weekend – but they have to ask permission first and prove they’re following state social-distancing guidelines. They must also respect stricter local gathering rules/bans in places such as Boston and Somerville.
In other worship-services news from around the state, from the Patriot Ledger: “South Shore faith leaders grapple with how to reopen.” … From the Berkshire Eagle: “Berkshire church leaders pump brakes on plans for reopening.” … From the Sun Chronicle: “Attleboro area churches cautious about reopening.”
Moderna’s vaccine critics: Where’s the data?
Cambridge’s Moderna Inc. made headlines across the globe earlier this week with its announcement of promising early-stage test results of its experimental coronavirus vaccine. And Moderna made a killing on the stock markets in the process. But the Globe’s Felice Freyer and Jonathan Saltzman and Stat’s Helen Branswell report that some scientists are now questioning whether Moderna’s results might be too good to be true and they’re demanding specific data from the company.
Taking their cue from Silicon Valley, local tech firms are ‘not rushing’ to reopen
The Baker administration has announced a timetable for the partial reopening of office buildings across the state. But the BBJ’s Lucia Maffei reports that many local tech companies, following the lead of several Silicon Valley firms, are saying they’re in no rush to reopen and plan to keep remote-working policies in place for the time being.
So when will the State House reopen? Not anytime soon
Even as Gov. Charlie Baker cautiously starts to reopen the state’s economy, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo made clear yesterday: The State House itself will remain shuttered to the public – with no plans to reopen it soon. MassLive’s Steph Solis and SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk (pay wall) have more.
How can you reopen a modern economy without daycare?
CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports on the desperation and frustration many parents (read: moms) feel as the economy starts to reopen without a comprehensive daycare-reopening plan in place.
Brooks Brothers to layoff over 400 employees in Haverhill
From the Herald’s Andrew Martinez: “The classic clothing purveyor Brooks Brothers put the state on notice that over 400 jobs at its Southwick manufacturing plant in Haverhill are slated for layoffs.The announcement comes as the company prepares to shutter two other East Coast factories, according to reports.”
Think COVID-19 is an older person’s problem? Think again
The Globe’s Liz Kowalczyk reports on the harrowing tale of one woman’s coronavirus fight for survival – a woman 29-weeks pregnant with twins – and how pregnant women in general are particularly vulnerable once they’ve contracted COVID-19. It’s the top-read story at the Globe as of earlier this morning – and rightly so.
Pacheco: Pandemic or not, now is not the time to delay TCI
SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports that Sen. Marc Pacheco, chair of the Senate’s Global Warming and Climate Change Committee, is objecting to the decision to delay until the fall negotiations over a multistate cap-and-trade deal, known as the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), saying reducing carbon emissions is too important to delay even for a few months.
While BC intends to hold campus classes this fall, BU is talking major budget shortfall and cutbacks
The Globe’s Laura Krantz and Deirdre Fernandes report that Boston College plans to resume classes on campus this fall, thus “becoming one of the larger universities in the area to announce plans to bring students back amid the coronavirus outbreak.” But the Globe also reports that BU made a slightly different announcement yesterday, warning of a huge budget shortfall that will lead to a cut in its employee retirement contributions and possible furloughs and layoffs down the road.
Fyi: The Herald’s Rick Sobey has a good list of what other area colleges are planning (or not planning) to do this fall.
Follow the leader? Natick administrator cuts her own pay
Let’s see if anyone follows this lead. Natick Town Administrator Melissa Malone is offering to take an unspecified pay cut as the town struggles to make ends meet in next year’s budget, but says school district leaders aren’t ready to follow suit. Henry Schwan at the MetroWest Daily News has the details.
The pandemic cocktail of choice for Bay State residents? Hint: It’s an old reliable
We’ve been waiting for this news: What’s the cocktail of choice these days for those stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic? Based on Google search data, Thrillist reports that Massachusetts stay-at-homes types seem mighty interested in knowing how to make an Old Fashioned. Heather Adams at MassLive has more on New Englanders’ pandemic tastes.
MBTA Advisory Board: Give future oversight panel more independence
The watchdog MBTA Advisory Board is joining other groups in calling for a future oversight panel to run the T that operates more independently of the Department of Transportation, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) and MassLive’s Tanner Stening. The recommendation comes as the current term of the Fiscal Management Control Board is due to expire.
The Massachusetts Politician of the Decade is …
The nation’s sports pages and cable channels are chock-full of nostalgic look-back features on athletes these days, considering they don’t have anything else to cover during the pandemic. So why not a look back at the “best Massachusetts politician of the decade”? WGBH’s David Bernstein gives it a go – and he has a surprise winner of a populist Twitter vote. Political insiders have their own choices, though.
Markey rapped over rap critique as Senate race intensifies
From Hillary Chabot at the Herald: “Old footage of Sen. Ed Markey questioning a rapper in 2007 about offensive music sparked fresh campaign fodder Tuesday after a Boston anti-violence activist highlighted the exchange and criticized Markey’s work with Massachusetts’ black community.” The activist is a backer of Markey’s rival in the U.S. Senate race, i.e. U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II I.
ELM Wednesday Webinars | Session 7: The Future of Transportation Post-COVID
Join us Wednesday for The Future of Transportation Post-COVID, with Monica Tibbits-Nutt, who sits on the board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, is Vice Chair of the MBTA’s Fiscal Management Control Board, and serves as Executive Director of 128 Business Council. We’ll discuss COVID-19’s long-term impacts on traffic congestion, density, environmental justice, and transit.
ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Leona Martin & Lisa M. Hebert
The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guests: Two Powerful Career Coaches, Leona Martin and Lisa M. Hebert. This Week’s Focus is on Career and Moving Past the Pandemic. How to stand out in the new economy.
ROAR Web Series with Special Guest Jody Robie
The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Jody Robie; SVP North America, Talent Works International Ltd. Focus is on Career Advancement and Moving Past the Pandemic. How to stand out in the new economy.
A Virtual Conversation with Pierce Brosnan & Senator Ed Markey
Join Senator Ed Markey for a virtual conversation with Pierce Brosnan.
Webinar: What Harvard Taught Me But My Kids Made Me Learn with Bea Wray
With grace, insight, and humor, Bea shares of her six year “break” on Daufuskie Island raising three children – and how it taught her that parenting is a breakthrough… not a break from a career.
The Electoral College
Mary Sarah Bilder, Boston College professor of law, Edward B. Foley, Ohio State University professor of constitutional law, and Jesse Wegman, author of Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College, discuss the history of and contemporary challenges to the Electoral College.
US Foreign Policy and China
Lucy Hornby, a fellow at the Nieman Center for Journalism and former Beijing deputy bureau chief for the Financial Times, and Yasheng Huang, MIT professor of international management, discuss US foreign policy challenges and opportunities with Anthony Saich, Harvard professor of international affairs and director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
A Virtual Conversation with Michael Douglas & Senator Ed Markey
Join Senator Ed Markey for a virtual conversation with Michael Douglas.
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