Keller at Large
Joe Kennedy’s unfair caricature
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller deconstructs Joseph Kennedy’s “absent leadership” charge against Ed Markey the other night during the U.S. Senate debate and says it’s ultimately rooted in myth.
Gaming Commission, Cannabis Control, House session
— Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity releases criteria that they say should be met before moving to Phase Two of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, 9 a.m.
— Cape Cod Reopening Task Force plans to discuss health care capacity in the region at their weekly press availability, 9 a.m.
— The Gaming Commission plans to discuss the closure status of horse racing at Plainridge Park Racecourse and review progress towards a set of reopening guidelines specific to casinos,10 a.m.
— Cannabis Control Commission meets via video conference to discuss reopening guidelines for marijuana shops, 10 a.m.
— The Massachusetts House resumes its session which abruptly recessed Wednesday afternoon due to logistical and traffic concerns arising from a George Floyd protest on Boston Common, 11 a.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.
‘Balancing act’: Dealing with historic protests and pandemic at the same time
To say the least, it’s been quite a week, with officials dealing with both street protests (and sometimes late-night violence) and the ongoing pandemic. It’s certainly a dilemma for one state official. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall): “Thousands of people congregating night after night to protest police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis poses a risk for the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Charlie Baker acknowledged on Wednesday, but the governor said the state has no intention of trying to discourage these types of gatherings.”
Esteban Bustillos has more on the difficult ‘balancing act’ at WGBH: “Baker Praises Peaceful Protesters, Admits Crowds Come With ‘Significant Risks’ During Pandemic.” And from Tanner Stening at MassLive: “Gov. Charlie Baker responds to protests in Boston and Brockton, urges ‘balance’ during coronavirus pandemic.”
Fyi: The Globe’s Joan Vennochi is happy Baker is no longer performing a balancing act in one regard: “At last, Governor Baker takes on Trump.”
Boston, Springfield and Brockton see more peaceful protests
Thousands of people once again rallied in Boston yesterday to peacefully protest the killing of George Floyd and police brutality in general, keeping up the pressure to get criminal-justice and police reforms passed, as the Globe and the Herald both report. Meanwhile, from MassLive: “No arrests, no violence after thousands of Black Lives Matter demonstrators march through Springfield.” And in Brockton, still recovering from late-night street mayhem earlier this week, there was also a peaceful protest yesterday, the Enterprise reports.
Knock on wood, but its seems the post-protest violent antics of a few are fading away, at least for now.
They may have been looted, but some retailers still support protests
The Globe’s Janelle Nanos reports that some Boston retailers may have indeed suffered as a result of street mayhem over the weekend. But they’re not blaming peaceful protesters.
In Brockton and Worcester, recovery, assessment and lingering hard feelings
As thousands peacefully protested yesterday in various cities, officials in Brockton and Worcester, sites of late-night skirmishes earlier this week, spent most of yesterday assessing the damage and trying to make sense of what happened. Some headlines, starting with CBS Boston: “Brockton Mayor Blames Small Group For Riots After Peaceful Protest.” … From the Enterprise: “Brockton officials say riot shouldn’t overshadow peaceful rally, desire for change.” … In Worcester, there are still some hard feelings between police and Clark University, which accused cops of mishandling unrest. From the Telegram: “Police union says Clark U. actions uninformed.” … From MassLive: “Worcester Police Chief Steven Sargent disappointed by Clark University’s criticism of police response to disorder.”
Rep. Connolly: Time to ban tear gas
Speaking of recent post-protest street mayhem, from Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine: “A Massachusetts state rep is pushing to crack down on the use of the chemical agents, and sharing fears that continued use of the tactic will only make tensions worse in Boston and beyond. In a tweet on Tuesday night, which included images of authorities firing tear gas at protesters in Brockton, Rep. Mike Connolly, of Cambridge, said he is preparing a bill that would ban the substance’s use on crowds.”
BPD’s Gross defends Black Lives Matter while urging law and order
Definitely check out Boston Police Department Commissioner William Gross’s moving defense of the Black Lives Matter movement and why it came into existence in the first place (WCVB), as well as his and others’ call for law and order during these tense times (Boston Herald). … His words definitely make you think: If we only had such leadership in Washington D.C.
Meanwhile, there’s no harmony between police union and Rollins these days
In an editorial, the Herald today is clearly siding with a police union’s criticism of Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins’ recent remarks about cops in the wake of the George Floyd killing and subsequent massive street protests and post-protest violence. CommonWealth magazine’s Michael Jonas, the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter and Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin have summaries of the ongoing war of words between the union and Rollins that’s now brought state Rep. Nika Elugardo into the fray.
Markey pushes for end of police immunity in controversial cases
Another potential war of words in the making? MassLive’s Jackson Cote and the Globe’s Milton Valencia report that U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is joining others in pushing for an end to qualified immunity for police offers in controversial cases. “In our culture of systemic racism, qualified immunity is one of the foremost tools of oppression,” Markey said. “Police officers are murdering Black and brown Americans in our streets without any accountability.”
Meanwhile, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is separately taking shots at Markey for missing two key votes on Trump appointees.
Getting testy in the First
Things are getting rather testy in the First Congressional District primary battle between U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who’s accusing Neal of being ‘missing in action’ when it comes to the issues of race and police brutality. Neal’s campaign characterized Morse’s criticism as “political posturing” and “disgraceful and nauseating,” as MassLive’s Jim Kinney reports.
As SJC judges decry racism within the court system, Harvard professors decry Donald Trump
In an unusual move, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court has sent a letter to the legal community expressing its “sadness and anger” over recent events that have led to massive street protests and sometimes violence across the state and nataion, and it’s urging the legal community to “reexamine why, too often, our criminal justice system fails to treat African-Americans the same as white Americans, and recommit ourselves to the systemic change.” CommonWealth magazine has the full letter.
Meanwhile, 65 Harvard Law professors, in a letter to students, are condemning President Trump’s response to protests over the killing of George Floyd, reports WBUR. And, finally, the Globe reports that BU president Robert Brown seems to be having problems finding the right words when he writes letters, apologizing for his initial letter on racism and later sending out a second more heartfelt letter, reports the Globe’s Laura Krantz and Deirdre Fernandes.
The coronavirus numbers: 68 new deaths, 7,152 total deaths, 429 new cases
Switching to news about the ongoing pandemic, MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, including reports 68 new coronavirus deaths, 429 cases as COVID-19 hospitalizations declining by 50 percent in the past month.
The latest bad budget news: Tax collections down $2.25 billion
Granted, the state’s tax filing deadline was changed from April to July this year due to the pandemic. Still, the state took another major tax-collection hit in May, and the state is now looking at a $2.25 billion fiscal-year revenue shortfall that “might have to be covered with reserves or federal bailouts,” reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) and the Globe’s Matt Stout. Some fiscal watchdogs are estimating even bigger shortfalls down the road, fyi.
‘40 percent capacity’: State unveils guidelines for future reopening of retail shops
The Baker administration hasn’t set a firm date yet for the reopening of most retail shops and shopping malls in Massachusetts. But it has released general pandemic guidelines, which include “40 percent capacity or eight people (including staff) per 1,000 square feet,” reports John Karais at MassLive.
Outdoor athletic activities to restart soon, but, sorry, not rock gyms
The Baker administration is allowing most outdoor “fields, courts, pools and boating facilities” to reopen, perhaps as soon as next week. But contact sports, such as basketball, baseball and soccer, will be “limited to no-contact drills,” reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy. One other thing: “Fitness centers, yoga and spin studios, rock gyms, and other general fitness studios will remain closed in Phase Two,” SHNS reports.
Apply now: Communities scramble for federal funds as Friday deadline looms
Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune reports that many communities across Massachusetts are racing against the clock to apply for millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funds that are being distributed by the state, which has set a Friday deadline to apply for the money.
The latest COVID-19 nursing-home audits show progress but …
Maybe it’s too little too late, but it’s progress. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall): “More than four dozen nursing homes were flagged for concerning results in at least one category of a COVID-19 audit conducted in late May, the Baker administration announced Wednesday, adding that dozens more that previously received similar warnings fared well on follow-up investigations.”
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.
Better late than never? Weld’s latest primary vote tallies starting to unnerve Trump campaign
Maybe the White House is finally taking notice. More than two months after he abandoned his long-shot presidential bid for the Republican nomination, former Gov. William Weld nevertheless turned in some of his best results on Tuesday — racking up 20 percent of the GOP vote in some of the more well-heeled Maryland suburbs, for instance. Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman at the New York Times report the data points are among those that have the Trump campaign increasingly nervous about November.
Judge overturns air permit for controversial Weymouth gas project
We have no idea how this will impact the ongoing construction on the natural-gas compression station in Weymouth, but it’s an interesting development. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “A federal appeals court vacated an air permit Massachusetts regulators awarded to a controversial natural gas project, ruling Wednesday that the state did not sufficiently assess emissions-reducing technology set to be used.”
Irresistible: Former lawmaker and sheriff Bellotti eyes yet another elected post
For some, the pull of politics is just too strong. Former Norfolk County Sheriff and onetime state representative Michael Bellotti has entered the race for Norfolk County treasurer, Joe DiFazio at the Patriot Ledger reports. Bellotti says he wants to use his experience to help guide the county through the coming coronavirus financial crisis.
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.
Virtual Author Talk with Honor Moore
Virtual Author Talk with Honor Moore, Moderated by Claire Messud
Protecting Cystic Fibrosis Patients from Discrimination by ICER Through COVID-19 & Beyond
Pioneer Institute and the Boomer Esiason Foundation will host an educational webinar, Protecting Cystic Fibrosis Patients from Discrimination by ICER Through COVID-19 & Beyond, on the importance of protecting patients with cystic fibrosis and any other complex condition from the harms of ICER and other one-size-fits-all value assessment methodologies both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
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