Keller at Large

The pols who make tough decisions vs. the ones who don’t

In this latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller has read one too many Wall Street Journal opinion pieces and has come to a conclusion about politicians during the coronavirus crisis: There are pols who make tough decisions and those who don’t. He names names.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Gaming Commission, MBTA Board, DeLeo addresses chamber

Pension Reserves Investment Management Board meets, with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairing, 9:30 a.m.

— The Gaming Commission will meet to get a status update on the renewal of Plainridge Park Casino’s slots parlor license, among other items that will be reviewed, 10 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meets to possibly approve a new fiscal 2021 budget, 12 p.m.

— House Speaker Robert DeLeo will address the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce virtually, 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: 128 new deaths, 6,066 total deaths, 1,045 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, including the total number of deaths surpassing the 6,000 mark.

Baker: Businesses don’t have to reopen if they don’t want to

Gov. Charlie Baker issued a clarification yesterday on his Phase One reopening plans, which we assume will apply to Phases Two, Three and Four, to wit: Businesses don’t have to reopen if they feel uncomfortable doing so for safety reasons. He also says local governments are free to put additional restrictions on how fast offices reopen (i.e. that means you, Marty Walsh). SHNS’s Matt Murphy has more.

At the Dorchester Reporter, Katie Trojano writes that Boston City Hall is sending roughly the same “take your time” signal to businesses.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

So what if there’s another surge? Hospitals say they’re ready

Amid warnings that a second coronavirus surge may be on the way (CommonWealth), some hospitals executives, who are currently switching operations back to non-emergency care at their facilities, say they can quickly ramp up their COVID-19 services if needed, perhaps in a matter of hours.

Melissa Hanson at MassLive reports on the ramp-up plans at UMass Memorial Health Care and Baystate Health, while Esteban Bustillos at WGBH reports on the re-start ideas at the now closed DCU field hospital in Worcester.

Another sign of hope from a Massachusetts laboratory: Beth Israel Deaconess’s promising immunity studies

The Globe’s Jonathan Saltzman and the NYT report on yet another promising coronavirus vaccine development coming out of a Massachusetts lab, this time via antibodies immunity research on monkeys at Beth Israel Deaconess.

In a separate story, the NYT reports that scientists are growing increasingly optimistic that a vaccine is coming, perhaps relatively soon, considering the unprecedented all-out research efforts around the globe.

Campus re-openings: They’re going to give it the old college try

The Globe’s Laura Krantz and Deirdre Fernandes and CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas report that the presidents of BU, Northeastern, UMass, Emerson and Bunker Hill Community College all said yesterday that they’re hoping to hold some courses on campuses this fall. The reaction of medical experts: Good luck. They’re going to need it.

Fyi, while on the subject of campus closures/reopenings: “Harvard faces $5M class-action suit after coronavirus campus shutdown” (Herald).

Meanwhile, Meehan proposes tuition freeze at UMass

As college presidents talk of trying to reopen campuses this fall, UMass president Marty Meehan is proposing a freeze on tuition in 2020-2021, saying it’s important to keep college costs affordable for students during these tough economic times, Tanner Stening reports at MassLive.

Left unsaid: It’s also important for colleges to entice as many hesitant students (and parents) as possible to sign-up for the fall semester amid predictions of possible enrollment declines.


But Roxbury Community College is actually preparing for a possible enrollment surge this fall

Dr. Valerie Roberson, president of Roxbury Community College, is preparing for all types of coronavirus-related challenges next school year – and, perhaps, a coronavirus-related positive next year as well: A surge in enrollments due to attractive tuition prices at community colleges. Roberson was interviewed the other day on WBUR’s Morning Edition.


No sweat: Gym owner stands his reopening ground, urges others to follow his lead

Everything’s fine. The Oxford gym owner gaining national notoriety for defying state orders to remain closed says clients are lining up to pay the $300 per day fines local officials are threatening to levy on him and is urging other small businesses to join his revolt, Jackson Cote at MassLive reports.

Mangled message: Police chief denies he was threatening health inspectors in email

Yet another self-proclaimed constitutional scholar: Longtime West Boylston Police Chief Dennis Minnich is on the hot seat after writing an email that at least one local member of the board of health felt contained a threat to health inspectors. Brad Petrishen at the Telegram reports Minnich wrote that he would not enforce Gov. Baker-ordered restrictions on businesses because he feels they are unconstitutional and would advise business owners of their anti-trespassing rights.


Battered in the Berkshires: Friday numbers may show 30 percent unemployment

It’s bad. The only question is how bad. A think tank is warning that Friday’s state unemployment numbers could show as many as 30 percent of Berkshire County residents out of work in one of the state’s earliest coronavirus hot spots. Tony Doborowski at the Berkshire Eagle has details on what the Pioneer Institute expects going forward. 

Here’s another person keeping a close eye on tomorrow’s jobs numbers, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta, who plans to look at specific sectors to get a sense for how many jobs might not return post-pandemic, reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall).

Berkshire Eagle

As food stamp demand surges …

From Christian Wade at the Eagle-Tribune: “Applications in Massachusetts for food assistance through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program jumped to 53,622 applicants in March and 61,103 in April. That’s compared to 18,688 applicants in February, according to the state. As of April, at least 508,234 Massachusetts households were receiving food stamps.” And that’s households, not people.

Eagle Tribune

… overdue rent payments pile up for business owners

Those building rent deferrals many business owners got in April and May as a result of the coronavirus crisis? They’re adding up into big and daunting bills-owed for many. CommonWealth magazine’s Sarah Betancourt has more on the growing debt problem facing small-business owners as reopenings commence.


Vote-by-mail’s greatest enemy: Time

From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Legislation outlining vote-by-mail procedures for the September and November elections in Massachusetts ‘absolutely cannot wait another month,’ electoral reform advocates said Wednesday as they renewed their push for action on Beacon Hill.”

Bottom line: The elections are sooner than people think – and it all comes down to whether there’s enough time to implement logistical changes before September rolls around

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The motherhood card isn’t playing well for Malden city councilor who threw a big birthday bash for her daughter

From the Globe’s Travis Andersen: “More than 130 people have signed an online petition calling for the resignation of Malden City Council President Jadeane Sica, after she hosted a large family party in a parking lot last week. Critics say the event drew some 50 people, in violation of COVID-19 social distancing protocols.”

We suspect it’s not the party (with DJ and parade) per se that rankles so many. It’s her initial non-apology apology.

Boston Globe

Local results, national cause? State GOP’s bad day traces back to Trump

He’s staying the true-believer course. Mass. GOP Chairman Jim Lyons says it’s full speed ahead even after his party lost one-third of its state Senate seats in a single day’s worth of special elections. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth reports the two losing candidates Tuesday had sought to align themselves with President Trump and his voters–with disastrous results.  

Meanwhile, newly elected state Sen. John Velis is crediting door-knocking he did from January to March — before coronavirus altered the election landscape — with helping him win on Tuesday, Bera Dunau reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Joseph Kennedy III’s campaign has a mighty familiar look to it

The Globe’s Joan Vennochi says it shouldn’t come as a surprise that U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III is doing what Kennedys always do in campaigns: Running as a Kennedy and on the ‘ghosts of Camelot.’ Right down to the black-and-white film in ads.

‘Boy from Newton South High School gets $100 million Spotify deal’

He may no longer call Massachusetts home, but we’re claiming him as our own anyway. Joe Rogan, the pride of Newton South, brief UMass-Boston student and failed (sort of) Boston comedian, has turned his hugely popular podcast show into a reported $100 million-plus deal with Spotify, reports the Wall Street Journal. The NYT has more. Fyi: We got the above headline via a MassterList reader’s email to us.

WSJ (pay wall)

Promise breaker? Bloomberg staffers sue over losing campaign jobs prematurely

Sixty former staffers who worked for Mike Bloomberg’s short-lived presidential campaign have filed suit in the Bay State over what they say are broken promises to keep them employed through November, no matter what happened to the media mogul’s bid, reports Matt Stout at the Globe. The workers are being represented by labor attorney and former U.S. Senate candidate Shannon Liss-Riordan.

Boston Globe

Audit: Privatization of T warehouses didn’t live up to the promises

Proof privatization doesn’t always work as planned. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The MBTA is not getting the savings or the service it expected when it privatized warehouse operations in 2017, according to an audit conducted by a unit of Inspector General Glenn Cunha’s office.”


Mass. men busted for helping Nissan chief escape Japan

There’s always a Massachusetts angle. From WCVB: “A former U.S. Green Beret and son accused of helping aid former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan while awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges were arrested Wednesday in Massachusetts, the Justice Department said. Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas said Michael Taylor, 59, and Peter Taylor, 27, were arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service on Wednesday morning in Harvard, where they have a home.”


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.

Ed Markey for Senate

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.

Harvard Business School Association of Boston

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.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

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.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

A Virtual Conversation with Michael Douglas & Senator Ed Markey

Join Senator Ed Markey for a virtual conversation with Michael Douglas.

Senator Ed Markey

Today’s Headlines


Boston gives $4 million in cash grants to small businesses – Boston Globe

Yearlong closure of Lechmere T begins Sunday – Cambridge Day


Norfolk county sheriff credits planning for jail’s low coronavirus caseload – Patriot Ledger

Essex town meeting rescheduled again, will be held outdoors – Gloucester Times

Tribe argues land case in US district court – Cape Cod Times


Trump escalates campaign to discredit mail balloting, threatening federal funds to two battleground states – Washington Post

California education chief says schools can’t reopen without masks – Politico

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