Happening Today

Polito on reopening, Governor’s Council, and more

— Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce hosts Sen. Ed Markey for a discussion on the impacts of the coronavirus crisis on local business and federal relief for small business owners, 10:30 a.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito discusses the state’s reopening plan, its response to fighting COVID-19 and other topics with Boston Magazine editor Chris Vogel, as part of the magazine’s ‘Power Talks’ virtual event series, 12 p.m.

Governor’s Council meets in a virtual assembly to certify the results from the two recent Senate special elections, 1:30 p.m.

Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure convenes a virtual hearing to receive testimony on legislation that would pressure travel firms to provide a full refund for a school-related trip canceled as a result of the state of emergency, 11 a.m.

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Board of Directors meets virtually to discuss a draft fiscal year 2021 capital investment plan, among other things, 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.

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: 57 new deaths, 6,473 total deaths, 422 new cases

WCVB has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Riley’s goal: Schools ‘up and running’ in fall

He’s not guaranteeing it. But state education commissioner Jeff Riley did say it: “I want to be clear, we are working to have schools up and running in the fall, with appropriate safety protocols.” The big caveat: Education officials are awaiting guidance from the Baker administration.

SHNS’s Katie Lannan has more on the news that 99.999 percent of all parents are closely following. But the Globe’s Malcolm Gay reports the reopening of public schools faces daunting challenges. Btw, in other education news, also from SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall): “Plan: Sophomores Would Take MCAS Tests as Juniors.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The ‘T’ word rears its head: Taxes

We were wondering when this subject would surface. The Herald’s Erin Tiernan and SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) report that a group of economists are calling on Gov. Charlie Baker and Beacon Hill leaders to raise taxes in order to avoid deep budget cuts amid plunging state tax revenues. The economists’ letter to state leaders was released yesterday by the liberal Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. And so the debate has begun. You knew it was going to happen.

Btw, the state shouldn’t be looking for improved lottery sales to help offset its pandemic-caused revenue shortfall. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall): “Director: Mass. Lottery at Risk of Becoming Obsolete/Agency Out of Sync With Shift to Cashless Sales.”

What if you reopen an economy and no one shows up?

This doesn’t bode well for President Trump’s prediction of a V-shaped recovery. From a four-reporter team at the Globe: “Many office buildings across Massachusetts were officially allowed to reopen their doors Tuesday, but few workers hurried back to their cubicles, and most employers didn’t ask them to.” The article describes the reopening yesterday as a largely “muted affair” across the suburbs.

In Boston’s Back Bay, the Globe’s Shirley Leung yesterday found a ghost town. At City Hall, Mayor Marty Walsh is only now putting together a 27-person reopening advisory panel, reports the Globe’s Jon Chesto. More bad news for those hoping for a somewhat fast recovery, via MassLive: “TJX, after suffering hundreds of millions in lost revenue, hopes to reopen its stores by end of June.”

But, wait, there was some economic activity yesterday: Gov. Charlie Baker got a haircut. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) has all the gubernatorial coronavirus-era haircutting details.

Boston Globe

Way down: Ferry data shows stilted start to summer on islands

More evidence of a slow reopening: George Brennan at the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports Memorial Day weekend traffic on Steamship Authority vessels was down 65 percent compared to last year. Fewer than 18,000 made the trip to and from the island from Thursday to Monday, compared to nearly 52,000 in the same period in 2019. 

Still, the head of the Cape and Islands Association of Realtors tells Joe Mathieu of WGBH that while short-term rentals await permission to restart, well-heeled vacationers are increasingly plunking down a full seasons’ worth of rent to secure beach houses for the entire summer. 

Martha’s Vineyard Times

Could state roadways remain less crowded if workers stay home permanently? Then again …

First it was a Pioneer Institute poll (Herald). Now it’s a MassInc Polling Group survey that says many workers ordered to stay home during the first months of the pandemic want to keep working from home permanently. Meanwhile, other workers are reluctant to take public transit to work moving forward and may end up driving to work alone more often, according to the survey, as reported by SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall).

The BBJ’s Gintautus Dumcius (pay wall) has more on the MassInc poll and, in his lead, suggests that more drivers could end up on the roads as the result of new pandemic habits. We’ll see. This much is certain: Commuter attitudes are definitely changing.

Suspended director: Emails prove top Baker aides knew of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home outbreak

Via his attorney, Bennett Walsh, the suspended superintendent of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, released emails yesterday that he says proves he repeatedly warned top Baker administration officials about the COVID-19 tragedy unfolding at the veterans long-term care facility – a week before Gov. Charlie Baker said he first learned of multiple deaths at the center. CommonWealth Shira Schoenberg and MassLive’s Jeanette DeForge have the details.

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is ripping into the Baker administration, saying veterans’ families deserve answers, not more delays.

Meanwhile, the administration hopes to allow visits again at battered nursing homes

With Gov. Charlie Baker saying the surge is now “behind us” (MassLive), state officials are working on plans to “allow people to once again visit their loved ones in long-term care settings,” reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall).

But Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine reports that state officials are still trying to assess what the heck happened at nursing home facilities in the early months of the pandemic that led to the deaths of thousands of residents, far more than the industry’s worst-case scenario.

Joining the craze: Foxboro theater to turn parking lot into drive-in

Back to reopening issues: Drive-ins are hot these days and at least one indoor movie house wants in on the trend. Showcase Cinemas says it will turn the parking lot of its Patriot Place location into a ‘pop-up drive-in theater’ this coming weekend, Tom Reilly reports at the Sun Chronicle. The theater, which says it will donate proceeds from charity, says the parking lot showings will be a bridge to a return to regular operations. 

Sun Chronicle

Polito defends attending brother’s graduation bash at family lakefront compound

Turtle Boy Sports strikes again, this time blasting a photo on its blog of more than a few cars parked outside the Polito family compound (for lack of other words) in Shrewsbury over the weekend and throwing Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on the social-distancing defensive yesterday. She said the graduation party was at her brother’s lakefront home, not her lakefront home, and, yes, she kept her social-distance at the gathering, reports Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine.

The Herald’s Hillary Chabot isn’t buying Polito’s blame-the-brother explanation, saying she set a bad social-distancing example, period.


So what went wrong with Massachusetts’ COVID-19 response?

Now that Gov. Charlie Baker has declared the spring surge over, WGBH’s Adam Reilly has been examining what the state did right and what it did wrong since the outbreak of the pandemic. Yesterday’s first installment dealt with what the state did right. Today’s installment covers the missed opportunities, including Baker’s delay in ordering people to wear masks in public.


Boston field hospital to stop accepting COVID-19 patients

It’s done its duty. Now it’s time to go. Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday announced that the emergency field hospital at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center will no longer accept COVID-19 patients and will soon close. But it will remain on stand-by this summer in case of another surge, SHNS’s Colin Young reports.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

SJC: Courthouses to remain closed till July 1

The SJC has extended yet again its courthouse closure order, this time to July 1. Joe DiFazio has the details at Wicked Local.

Meanwhile, from the Herald News: “RMV extends deadlines again for license, registration renewals.”

Wicked Local

Amid coronavirus, former SJC chief joins push for Baker’s first commutation

Speaking of the SJC, former Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert Cordy is among those urging Gov. Charlie Baker to use his power to grant clemency for the first time to release a murderer convicted under a now-changed state law. Deborah Becker of WBUR has the details.


Time for Lyons to dump pro-Trump strategy?

After two stinging legislative election defeats last week, the Boston Herald’s editorial board is now urging GOP chair Jim Lyons to shift his pro-Trump strategy in Massachusetts, saying it’s clearly not working. The paper doesn’t offer up a path forward for the GOP, noting that riding moderate Republican Charlie Baker’s coattails hasn’t work either.

But Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine reports that Lyons is showing no sign of rethinking his pro-Trump strategy. Still, Lyon is warning that the state GOP is in “dire straights” – and he’s taking shots at both U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Gov. Charlie Baker’s cautious reopening plans.

SJC allows beer-and-wine initiative to appear on fall ballot

The Supreme Judicial Court yesterday cleared the legal way for a statewide ballot question this fall that would allow more food stores to sell beer and wine in Massachusetts. It’s a big victory for the Cumberland Farms-backed referendum initiative – and a legal defeat for the state’s package-store industry. The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett has the details.

BBJ (pay wall)

On to November: Hall qualifies for 4th District Congressional ballot

Now she waits. Former Attleboro city councilor Julie Hall says she’s earned her way onto the 4th Congressional district ballot as the lone Republican seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, George Rhodes reports at the Sun Chronicle. Hall won’t find out until September which of the 10 Democratic hopefuls emerges from the crowded primary field. 

Sun Chronicle

Broadband stand: Cambridge council blocks tech budget over delayed cable TV study

Members of the Cambridge City Council have blocked funding for the city’s IT department in a bid to force it to produce a long-overdue study on a possible city-run high-speed Internet service, Marc Levy reports at Cambridge Day.  

Cambridge Day

ELM Wednesday Webinars | Session 8: Perspectives on Clean Energy & Climate Policy

In Session 8 of ELM’s Wednesday Webinar series, Perspectives on Clean Energy & Climate Policy, we’ll be joined by legislators representing citizens of MA at different jurisdictions. We’ll hear from U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern, MA State Representative Tom Golden, and Quincy City Councilor Nina Liang.

Environmental League of Massachusetts

State Representative Candidate Joe Gravellese to host virtual town hall on supporting small businesses with Daniel Takash of the Niskanen Center

State Representative candidate Joe Gravellese (MA 16th Suffolk District – Revere, Chelsea, Saugus) will host a Virtual Town Hall with Daniel Takash, regulatory policy fellow at the Niskanen Center, a nonpartisan Washington DC think tank. Gravellese and Takash will discuss ways to reform and modernize regulations to allow small businesses to flourish, especially in the post-COVID-19 environment.

Committee to Elect Joe Gravellese

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

Free Virtual Seminar with a Google Certified Speaker

We’re helping you amplify your business presence to Narrow the Search: Get in Front of Customers Right Now.


Reopening and Your Rights: A bilingual virtual Town Hall

Join the Massachusetts Coalition For Occupational Safety And Health (MassCOSH) for a bilingual virtual town hall on Thursday, May 28th at 5pm regarding workers’ rights as we begin to reopen Massachusetts.

Massachusetts AFL-CIO & Massachusetts Coalition For Occupational Safety And Health (MassCOSH)

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

Virtual Coffee with Governor Baker

Join ABLE’s CEO, Marian Walsh, and our Board Chairperson, Lydia Greene, as they salute Governor Charlie Baker for his leadership, voice of calm, and clear guidance throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Operation ABLE

A Virtual Conversation with Michael Douglas & Senator Ed Markey

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

Senator Ed Markey

MassHire Central Region Career Center Virtual Job Fair

It’s Central Massachusetts “Back to Work” Day! More than two dozen employers from diverse industries will participate in the Central Region Career Center’s Virtual Job Fair on June 4th from noon – 4:30PM. The Virtual Job Fair is FREE for all job seekers and employers; no pre-registration required for job seekers.

MassHire Central Region Career Center

Virtual Author Talk with Honor Moore

Virtual Author Talk with Honor Moore, Moderated by Claire Messud

American Ancestors and NEHGS together with the Boston Public Library and the State Library of Massachusetts

Today’s Headlines


Mayor Marty Walsh appoints group of advisers to help Boston reopen its economy – Boston Globe

Franklin Park and Stone zoos to partially reopen next week – Universal Hub


Field hospital at UMass Dartmouth to close; no patients ever admitted – Standard-Times

Rep. Joe Kennedy III talks pandemic response during visit at Greenfield’s Emergency Operations Center – Greenfield Recorder

Survey finds that visitors ready to return to western Mass. once coronavirus protections are in place – MassLive


Trump’s 2016 campaign brass warn he’s in trouble in 2020 – Politico

Don’t touch the cards: What a reopened Las Vegas will look like – New York Times

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