Keller at Large
The Me Generation’s big mistakes
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says it’s time for Baby Boomers to take stock of all the negative things happening these days in America and just admit it: This is the mess they’re bequeathing to future generations.
Women’s Political Caucus, facial recognition technology, televised 2020 commencement
— Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus holds its second annual legislative breakfast via webinar, with Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad as honorary co-chairs, 9:30 a.m.
— Boston City Council Committee on Ways & Means holds a meeting on the fiscal 2021 budget 10 a.m.
— Ahead of a planned hearing, the ACLU of Massachusetts and Boston City Councilors Michelle Wu and Ricardo Arroyo hold a press briefing on a proposed ordinance banning facial recognition technology in Boston, followed by the Boston City Council Committee on Government Operations public hearing, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.
— Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges hosts the first in weekly discussion series with community college presidents, about rebuilding the state’s economy, with the panel including Roxbury Community College President Valerie Roberson, Jim Brett of the New England Council and Prabal Chakrabarti of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 1 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker gives the commencement address on the ‘Massachusetts Commencement 2020’ program celebrating graduating seniors from public and private schools across the state, with celebrities and professional athletes also offering remarks, WGBH-TV Ch. 2, simulcast on Channels 4, 5, 7, 10, 25, 57, NECN, Telemundo and social media, 7:30 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.
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 coronavirus numbers: 36 new deaths, 7,353 total deaths, 193 confirmed cases
NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
State recommends smaller classes this fall even as some towns face teacher layoffs
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has issued preliminary guidelines for the reopening of schools this fall in Massachusetts – and they include the wearing of face masks, cleaning protocols and various social-distancing rules. But it also suggests smaller class sizes, with perhaps as few as 10 students per class, as CBS Boston, MassLive’s Scott Croteau and CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt report.
But that begs the question: How? Even during normal times, it’s difficult, if not impossible for some districts, to reach such low teacher-to-student ratios. And the Globe’s Meghan Irons reports that many school districts across the state are bracing for potential teacher layoffs amid widespread budget problems caused by the coronavirus-tied economic downturn.
Btw: The Herald’s Andrew Martinez reports that parents and teachers are not happy with the idea of every kid having to come to school with their own masks. Btw II, and speaking of reopenings, via MassLIve: “UMass Amherst releases report outlining plans to combat coronavirus ahead of campus reopening.”
Outdoor dining returns to some restaurants
Forget about fall reopenings. Spring finally arrived yesterday for some restaurants, though not all, as the Phase Two reopening of eateries commenced across the state, although it applied to only outdoor dining. People seemed happy for any type of change, as CBS Boston and the Boston Globe and the Patriot Ledger and Telegram and Berkshire Eagle report, among others.
What?! Bars quietly moved to last phase of reopening
One of the reopenings we were dearly anticipating and now this. SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk reports that the planned reopening of bars has been, quietly, pushed back from Phase Three to Phase Four of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening schedule. “It is unclear when the change was made,” SHNS Chris Van Buskirk reports.
Wasn’t state testing supposed to increase, not decrease, with the reopening?
The Globe’s Kay Lazar and Andrew Ryan report the Baker administration may have vowed to increase state testing for COVID-19 as the state slowly reopens the economy, but testing has actually decreased a bit of late. One possible explanation (and fear): People aren’t taking the coronavirus as seriously today as they were just a few weeks ago.
It’s official: Nation and state have entered a recession – and perilous budget times
The Cambridge-based National Bureau of Economic Research reported yesterday that the nation (and state) officially entered a recession in February, as if we already didn’t know, as the NYT reports. Besides widespread unemployment and business failures, the recession has brought with it severe budget problems for the state and local governments alike. Take a gander at this BBJ headline on one state fund alone: “State projects $6B hole in unemployment fund by end of 2021.”
Meanwhile, Tufts University’s new Center for State Policy Analysis, whose mission is to serve as a sort of CBO-like watchdog for the state, reports the commonwealth is going to have to be very creative in order to navigate the choppy budget times ahead, reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall). One other budget-related item, also from SHNS: “Local Road $$$ and Future T Oversight Tackled in New Senate Bill.”
The debate: Kennedy and Markey go at it over law enforcement (and 1970s busing)
In their second U.S. Senate debate in as many weeks, Democrats Ed Markey and Joseph Kennedy engaged in a spirited debate last night that ultimately came down to two things: A.) Who is more progressive B.) Who is a bigger champion of law-enforcement reforms amid today’s racial strife. CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas, the Globe’s Victoria McGrane and the Herald’s Hillary Chabot have more, including Kennedy’s “wayback machine” reference to Markey’s stand on school busing in the 1970s (before Kennedy was even born, it should be noted).
Walsh under pressure to produce on police reforms
The Globe’s Milton Valencia and Danny McDonald report the Mayor Marty Walsh is facing increasing pressure from city councilors and activists to come up with specific police-reform proposals. But the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports the mayor is largely mum about what he hopes, or plans, to do, other than saying he will look at reallocating funds in the city’s police budget.
Walsh is not the only mayor facing pressures these days. From Peter Goonan at MassLive: “Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno calls for review of police use-of-force policies in response to George Floyd killing.”
Inconvenient truth: ‘Democratic pols rake in Boston Police union donations’
They may be calling for police reforms. But state and local Dems have also been accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations over the years from police unions and committees largely opposed to reforms in the past, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld reports.
Cambridge police chief: Cops now duty-bound to intervene when a colleague uses ‘unreasonable force’
Why wasn’t this the policy before yesterday? That’s our question. From Universal Hub: “(Cambridge) Police Commissioner Branville Bard today issued an order, effective immediately, that requires ‘all sworn members of the Cambridge Police Department present at any scene where physical force is being applied, to either stop, or attempt to stop, another member of the Department when force is being unreasonably applied or is no longer required.’”
CBS Boston has more on the new policy edict, which replaces the old policy of reporting misconduct after the fact.
Healey backs bill de-certifying cops who have committed misconduct
On another police-reform front, from SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall): “Attorney General Maura Healey supports legislation that would create a standards and training system for certifying police officers and de-certifying those found to have committed misconduct or abuse, she said on social media Monday. Healey said she also supports a U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley resolution condemning police brutality.”
Keeping the peace: Webster officials defend police chief’s viral moment during a protest
Selectmen, the police union and protesters alike are all rushing to the defense of Webster Police Chief Michael Shaw, who is facing heat from some fellow law enforcement officers for his decision to lie on the ground during a weekend protest, Brad Petrishen at the Telegram reports. Shaw has been pilloried by some right-leaning media sources for the move, which he says was aimed at keeping the peace and not a comment on law enforcement writ large.
Want to guess who was bashing Mitt Romney yesterday for taking part in a weekend anti-racism march in Washington? Hint: The Washington Post’s Philip Bump, in an analysis piece, says the basher in question is very nervous about the splintering of the GOP base and his re-election prospects this fall.
Protests: Fewer but still passionate
There’s been noticeably fewer protests of late around the region. But there are still some rallies, events and campaigns of note. … From Saraya Wintersmith at WGBH: “Boston Honors Unarmed Violence Victims In Interfaith Memorial Service.” … From the Globe’s Jeremy Fox: “Public defenders hold Black Lives Matter march in Roxbury.” … From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski(pay wall): “Thousands Demand Answers in African Meeting House Case.” … And from the BBJ’s Greg Ryan, regarding an event over the weekend that got lost in the protest-coverage shuffle (and shouldn’t have): “To protest police brutality, Black professionals stand, silent, at Faneuil Hall.”
Language that we don’t need at this point …
Things seem to be settling down after more than a week of largely peaceful protests in Massachusetts and across the country. But there’s still an underlying ugliness out there, as we all know, unfortunately. Exhibit A, via NBC Boston: “Fall River Teacher Placed on Leave for Racist Social Media Comments.” Exhibit B, via TB Daily (yes, Turtle Boys): a local high school student president calling for the deaths of cops. Let’s hope such language and sentiments stay where they belong – on the fringe.
‘Terrorized:’ Fireworks complaints overload police
Police and elected officials say they are being flooded with calls across the state complaining about illegal fireworks, with Holyoke logging as many as 50 calls each night and Springfield police warning the constant explosions are interfering with the city’s ShotSpotter system designed to alert officers to gunfire, Jeannette DeForge at MassLive reports. All fireworks are illegal in the Bay State, of course, and police say they have confiscated some pyrotechnics and issued a handful of criminal summons.
Culture club: Lawmakers float bailout for arts groups
They drive the local economy and they need help. Western Mass. lawmakers are pushing for legislation that would set aside $75 million to help museums and other arts venues meet new safety guidelines as they prepare to reopen, Danny Jin at the Berkshire Eagle reports.
Bad form: Would-be candidate Diggs misses deadline for financial disclosure
Those pesky details. Hyannis Democrat Kip Diggs says he’ll run a write-in campaign against incumbent state Rep. William Crocker in November after missing a state deadline to prove he had filed a financial disclosure form, Geoff Spillane reports at the Cape Cod Times.
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.
Tune in for a great JALSA Schmoozefest this week! This week we are excited to welcome: Segun Idowu, Executive Director of the Black Economic Council of MA (BECMA), on the economic impact of COVID-19 on the Black business community; Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause, on efforts to expand voting rights; Jodi Blankstein and Adam Dehner, singing together at a “social distance.”
How do We Avoid Another Foreclosure Crisis?
Please join MassINC and The MassINC Polling Group for a virtual discussion exploring the impact of the coronavirus crisis on Massachusetts housing markets. Juana Matias will lead the conversation along with Steve Koczela and Ben Forman. We will unpack findings from a new MassINC public opinion poll and consider how state & local leaders can act to stabilize families and keep communities intact.
ELM Wednesday Webinars Session 9: Corporate Sustainability & Public Policy
Join us as we hear from three of our ELM Corporate Council members: Monica Nakielski from Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, Johanna Jobin of Biogen, and Alyssa Caddle from Bemis.
A Virtual Conversation with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, & Senator Ed Markey
Join Senator Ed Markey for a virtual conversation with Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin.
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