Happening Today

COVID-19 updates, swearing in of new lawmakers, and more

Public Health Council meets, with plan to discuss first quarter opioid overdose death data and vote on proposed emergency regulations around the use of face covering in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 9 a.m.

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, Attorney General Maura Healey, John DeVillars of BlueWave Solar and George Sakellaris of Ameresco hold a virtual press conference to discuss the COVID-19 crisis’ impacts on the clean energy industry, 11 a.m.

Governor’s Council meets via videoconference and may vote on certification of the results of two special House elections won on June 2 by Democrats Carol Doherty and Dan Sena, 11 a.m.

Health Policy Commission Board meets to review new data on the impact of COVID-19 on health care spending, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker is scheduled to swear in Representatives-elect Dan Sena of Acton and Carol Doherty of Taunton, who won special elections on June 2, Grand Staircase, 12 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

The Defunding Debate: It’s here

The “defunding” of police debate has definitely arrived in Massachusetts. The Globe’s Danny McDonald and Milton Valencia report on calls to reduce the Boston police budget and shift funds to job training, wellness programs, mental health treatment, etc.

Meanwhile, from MassLive’s Melissa Hanson: “Group organizing to defund Worcester police wants to see police funds diverted to public schools, health and other city resources.” And it’s not just defunding some are pushing. From MassLive’s Peter Goonan: “Springfield City Councilor Orlando Ramos calls for ban on police chokeholds, other steps after George Floyd death in Minneapolis.”

There is opposition to the defunding calls. From the Herald’s Andrew Matinez: “Minority police advocates call for end of BPD tests, not ‘defunding.’”

So what does ‘defunding’ actually mean?

The Globe’s Adrian Walker has perhaps the best explanation yet about what the “defunding” movement is about – and not about. He writes: “Perhaps we should start with this: Virtually no one wants to get rid of the Boston Police Department, even if that were possible.” And he quotes City Councilor Julia Mejia as saying “defunding” is actually the wrong terminology to be using, preferring instead “re-allocating,” and the BPD reallocation numbers she cites are really not that large.

But here’s the problem: Other than Walker and Mejia etc., backers of the “defunding” movement have done a lousy job defining “defunding” and they better get their rhetorical act together, because many people, somewhat understandably, are having a hard time distinguishing between “defunding” and “reallocating” and “abolishing” and “dismantling” etc. And it’s leaving the Dems’ political flanks wide open to attacks, such as Howie Carr’s column this morning in the Herald headlined: “Democrats in a game of ‘Can you top this?’” And, yes, he brings up Tom Wolfe’s classic book “Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.”

Btw, the Globe’s Gal Tziperman Lotan has a good story that also tries to explain what “defunding” actually means: “A movement to reallocate some of the millions spent on policing begins with a notion that police themselves have long championed: Police can’t do it all.”

Fortress Boston: Are National Guard troops really necessary at this point?

The Globe’s Zoe Greenberg reports that some activists, elected officials and scholars say the “continued military presence in Boston may have a chilling effect on free speech and assembly” and wonder why National Guard troops are still deployed in Boston. Our question is: What purpose are they serving at this point? Are there threats of resumed violence that public officials aren’t telling us about? Details, please.

Boston Globe

Lynch and Pressley: Call off the drones!

As some question the continued deployment of National Guard troops on city streets, others are looking up into the skies, so to speak. From the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo: “U. S. Reps. Stephen F. Lynch and Ayanna Pressley, along with a group of other House Democrats, have launched an investigation into the Trump administration’s surveillance of people protesting last month’s killing of an African-American man by a white Minneapolis police officer.”

Boston Herald

Here’s one city that disbanded its police department: Camden, N.J.

Not that we’re advocating it (and we’re not), but here’s an interesting CNN article on how one city, Camden, N.J., actually “dissolved” and then rebuilt its police department from scratch – and it seems to have worked. The motivation behind the Camden move was different from today’s calls to defund/dismantle police departments, but there are definitely parallels.

CNN

‘It’s TV’s best new comedy’

Switching gears to the U.S. Senate race: As U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy prepares to launch a new TV blitz focusing on racial inequity (SHNS – pay wall), the Globe’s Scot Lehigh has been binge watching (sort of) Kennedy’s most recent appearances on TV, via three televised debates, and he still doesn’t understand why Kennedy is running for U.S. Senate.

The coronavirus numbers: 55 new deaths, 7,408 total deaths, 263 new cases

Now onto the pandemic news: WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

As state’s economy tanks, will the new school-funding law tank with it?

SHNS’s Colin Young(pay wall) reports on the latest grim news on the economic front, to wit: Economists now say the state is in the midst of the worst economic quarter on record. As a result of the economic carnage, the state has subsequently seen tax collections plunge – and now some are openly wondering if the state can afford the landmark school-funding law passed only last year, reports Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune.

The coming eviction and foreclosure crisis?

A new survey by MassINC Polling Group shows that a large number of Massachusetts residents have fallen behind on their rent and mortgage payments as a result of coronavirus emergency and subsequent economic carnage, reports Steve Koczela at CommonWealth magazine and Tim Logan at the Globe.

For now, they’re safe, due to the recently passed anti-eviction-and-foreclose law in Massachusetts. But when that law expires later this year, a new housing crisis could develop, officials fear.

BU eyes housing students in hotels this fall

Speaking of housing in the coronavirus era, BU’s Daily Free Press is reporting that Boston University is eying possibly housing some students in local hotels as a way to free up social-distancing space on campus amid the pandemic. Via Universal Hub.

Free Press

Baker seeks authority to force labs and others to hand over COVID-19 data

CommonWealth magazine’s Shira Schoenberg reports that Gov. Charlie Baker is “seeking legislative permission to fine health care providers and labs up to $2,000 a day if they do not give the state complete demographic data about COVID-19 patients.” Why? As Schoenberg explains: “Baker says his proposal, filed on Tuesday, would ‘improve the spirit of the law’ he signed on Sunday by helping DPH obtain accurate and complete information.”

Meanwhile, from MassLive: “Baker casts doubt on World Health Organization official’s suggestion that asymptomatic coronavirus transmissions are ‘very rare.’”

CommonWealth

Healey’s office fields hundreds of unemployment scam complaints

MassLive’s Steph Solis reports that Attorney General Maura Healy’s office has received nearly 300 calls from people claiming they’ve been targeted by apparent ID thieves using their names to fraudulently collect unemployment assistance during the pandemic. Meanwhile, from Universal Hub: “Wave of pandemic unemployment fraud crashes into Cambridge.

MassLive

Baker defends seemingly indefensible: The delay in reopening bars

OK, we admit it: we miss our end-of-work-week pints at our favorite local brewery. With that admission aside, the BBJ’s Greg Ryan and MassLive’s Steph Solis report that Gov. Charlie Baker is defending the administration’s decision to further delay the reopening of local bars during the pandemic, saying officials haven’t determined yet how to safely reopen watering holes without putting patrons and workers at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

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.

Senate and House seem close, very close, on voting-by-mail bill

SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk reports that a voting-by-mail bill that’s surfaced in the Senate “largely mirrors” a version the House passed last week and a vote could come as soon as next week on the legislation. Bottom line: It sure looks like expanded voting-by-mail could be passed relatively soon.

Btw, also from SHNS (pay wall): “Senate Agrees to Temporary Rules Governing Remote Sessions.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Voting in the time of Covid: Local elections seem to be going smoothly

Local election season is in full swing and across the state reports indicate that despite coronavirus precautions and safety concerns, most are going off without a hitch. Brian Lee at the Telegram reports Southbridge voters found things operating smoothly at the polls, despite the fact that at least 15 election workers stayed home due to safety concerns.  Milton election officials say they processed 10 times as many absentee ballot requests than in 2018, according to Wheeler Cooperthwaite of the Patriot Ledger. Andover officials reported “very light” turnout at the polls during the day, with as many as half of votes cast coming via early absentee ballots, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Open & shut: Some restaurants stumble over local reopening regulations

That was fast. Eager to reopen as soon as allowed, some Bay State restaurants are stumbling over local regulatory requirements and having to close their doors nearly as quickly, Alison DeAngelis and Greg Ryan of the Boston Business Journal report. 

BBJ (pay wall)

Undeterred: Despite bigger fines and jail threat, Oxford gym owner stays the course

He’s open and staying that way, even if it means going to jail.  The Oxford gym owner who has been defying Gov. Baker’s closure order for several weeks says he’ll continue to do so, despite a recent defeat in court that cleared the way for daily fines of up to $1,000 and possible jail time, Brad Petrishen of the Telegram reports. 

Telegram

Harvard professor indicted for lying about China ties

From the Globe’s Travis Andersen and Deirdre Fernandes: “A federal grand jury in Boston on Tuesday indicted a world-renowned Harvard nanoscientist on charges of lying about his ties to a university in China, prosecutors said. The indictment was handed up against Charles Lieber, 61, on two counts of making false statements to investigators, according to legal filings and US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office.”

Boston Globe

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.

MassINC and The MassINC Polling

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.

Environmental League of Massachusetts

Massachusetts 4th District Congressional Candidate Forum On Energy and the Environment

Join ELM and sponsoring partners today for Part 2 of a virtual MA 4th Congressional District Candidate Forum on Energy and the Environment. The forum will be divided into three one-hour Zoom sessions (at 12PM on June 9, 11, and 16) to allow 10 candidates to respond to crucial questions on environmental and energy policy. June 11: Becky Grossman, Julie Hall, Alan Khazei, Chris Zannetos.

Environmental League of Massachusetts

A Virtual Conversation with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, & Senator Ed Markey

Join Senator Ed Markey for a virtual conversation with Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin.

Ed Markey for Senate

Massachusetts 4th District Congressional Candidate Forum On Energy and the Environment

Join ELM and sponsoring partners today for Part 3 of a virtual MA 4th Congressional District Candidate Forum on Energy and the Environment. The forum will be divided into three one-hour Zoom sessions (at 12PM on June 9, 11, and 16) to allow 10 candidates to respond to crucial questions on environmental and energy policy. June 16: Jake Auchincloss, Dave Cavell, Natalia Linos

Environmental League of Massachusetts

Individual Homelessness in a COVID-19 World virtual event

Join the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance for a panel discussion of lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis and the urgent need for Massachusetts to transform the way we address homelessness among adults as we move forward.

Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Boston city councilors propose banning use of facial-recognition technology – Boston Herald

It’s back to work for Lynn city hall employees – Lynn Item

Massachusetts

Weymouth furloughs staff, cut employee hours due to Covid-19 – Patriot Ledger

Hadley OK with pot store at Hampshire Mall — with exit to outside – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Owners of Emerald Square in North Attleboro, Wrentham Outlets mum on reopening plans – Sun Chronicle

Nation

Coronavirus hospitalizations rise sharply in several states following Memorial Day – Washington Post

Georgia polling stations extended amid long lines, voting machine issues – The Hill

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