Keller at Large
Some blunt answers to your blunt questions
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller tries to provide blunt answers to blunt questions posed to him regarding use of the catchphrase ‘defunding,’ whether Donald Trump will be indicted after he leaves office, and whether current protests will lead to lasting changes.
Gaming Commission, Senate session, and more
— Massachusetts Health Connector board of directors meets virtually to hear updates on its customer experience project prior to implementing new enrollment, premium billing, and call center systems that are slated to go live on July 6, 9 a.m.
— Cape Cod Reopening Task Force plans to discuss Phase 2 of reopening and data from Memorial Day weekend, 9 a.m.
— Mass. Gaming Commission convenes a meeting with representatives from each of the state’s three gambling facilities to discuss the commission’s reopening protocols, 10 a.m.
— The Senate holds its first formal session under new temporary rules to debate remotely, with senators slated to consider a transportation bond bill that would also institute a new MBTA Board of Directors, 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.
Reports: Baker and DeLeo proposing first-ever certification of police
Reacting to the anti-racism rallies across the state and nation following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo are separately preparing police reform bills that would include, for the first time in Massachusetts, the certification of police officers across the state, reports the Globe’s Matt Stout.
As part of an agreement with the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, DeLeo’s “omnibus” legislation would also include a ban on police chokeholds and an “intervention obligation” requiring cops to try to halt excessive force used by law-enforcement colleagues when dealing with suspects, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (paywall).
Baker: ‘I don’t support defunding’
He may support some police reforms (see post above), but Gov. Charlie Baker doesn’t support the police “defunding” movement, as WGBH’s Michael Deehan reports. As quoted in Deehan’s piece, from Baker: “I don’t believe in slogans as a general rule, and I certainly don’t support the whole concept that we should get out of the business of providing public safety to our communities. I don’t support defunding the police.”
From invincible to vulnerable: Walsh’s fate in the balance
As Mayor Marty Walsh continues to feel pressure to cut the city’s police budget amid anti-racism protests (Globe – “Walsh says slashing police funding isn’t enough to bring change”), the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld and CommonWealth magazine’s Michael Jonas write that Walsh, who looked so invincible only a few weeks ago due to his handling of the pandemic, is suddenly vulnerable to a re-election challenge.
From Battenfeld: “How skillfully Walsh handles the near constant barrage of criticism and scrutiny will likely determine whether voters hand him a third term — if he decides to run — or go with an upstart newcomer, most likely a person of color.” The headline on Jonas’s piece: “Walsh goes from shoo-in to hot seat.”
Protesters keeping up the pressure
Think the protests, marches and rallies are largely over? Not in Boston and elsewhere. WBUR reports that “hundreds of protesters marched across Boston Wednesday, from Nubian Square to City Hall Plaza to Tremont Street Downtown Crossing, demanding the city divert police funding into social programs.” Meanwhile, from the Telegram: “Activists take message to Worcester auto repair shop after owners posts menacing worlds.”
And, finally, the tensions are spilling over into local public meetings. From Cambridge Day: “In Cambridge, motion over redirecting $4.1M in police funding causes council to explode in anger, accusations.”
Newspaper apologizes for slanted protest coverage
The editor of the Taunton Gazette says she agrees with readers who complained that a reporter’s social media musings show he had bias against the protestors he was supposed to be covering. In an apology, editor Rebecca Hyman said the reporter’s Facebook Live rants show he was “clearly, if unintentionally, biased” against the crowds of mostly young people who gathered to protest racism in policing.
Monumental changes: Columbus statue beheaded (again), Walsh open to Faneuil Hall name change, MLK memorial set for construction
File under: ‘The times they are a-changin.’ Boston Magazine’s Spencer Buell reports on the latest beheading of the Christopher Columbus statue in the North End Waterfront, as historic monuments across the nation fall amid protests over racism and police brutality. But this time Mayor Marty Walsh says it’s time to put the Columbus statue in storage … Meanwhile, Walsh, for the first time, says he’s now open to changing the name of Faneuil Hall, whose namesake long ago had strong slave-trade ties, reports Shafaq Patel at the BBJ. … And, finally, from the Globe’s Jon Chesto: “King memorial nearly ready for Boston Common as backer begins second effort to honor civil rights leader.”
Kennedy calls for Patriots to sign Colin Kaepernick
CBS Boston’s Michael Hurley reports that U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy is calling for the New England Patriots to sign controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick, known for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. Kennedy is also calling for an NFL apology to Kaepernick. From Hurley: “Frankly, neither scenario is particularly realistic.”
The final indignity: Berklee College bans cops from using campus bathrooms
First the MBTA and UMass-Boston distanced themselves from cops. Now Berklee College is banning police from using its campus bathrooms before and after protests, reports the Herald’s Joe Dwinell, who adds the college is getting slammed for the move.
The coronavirus numbers: 46 new deaths, 7.454 total deaths, 267 new cases
Switching to pandemic matters, MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
Braintree mayor tests positive for COVID-19
The Patriot Ledger’s Jessica Trufant reports that Braintree Mayor Charles Kokoros is recovering at home after he recently tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement, Kokoros said he’s “continuing to work” while recuperating at home and “I look forward to returning to town hall once I have made a full recovery.”
State revises childcare guidelines but critics say it’s not enough
Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth magazine reports that the state has revised some of its controversial guidelines for the reopening of child-care centers in Massachusetts, specifically rules for “family care providers” working at individual homes. But the child-care industry as a whole wants even more dramatic changes to the rules, Schoenberg writes.
Economic updates: More health-care cuts, hotel layoffs, outdoor dining, Winthrop Tower downsizing
There’s a lot on the economic front this morning, so we’ll just go with quick summaries and headlines on this post, starting with the state Health Policy Commission’s warning yesterday that more health-care staff reductions are on the way as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly among struggling primary-care practices and other non-hospital medical groups, as Steph Solis reports at MassLive. … From WCVB: “Hundreds of Boston restaurants granted permission to open new outdoor dining.” … From the Globe’s Katie Johnston: “Boylston Street Four Seasons hotel lays off nearly half its staff.” … From the Globe’s Tim Logan: “Financing crunch forces developers to downsize plan for Winthrop Center tower.”
And, finally, from the Washington Post: “Federal Reserve predicts slow recovery with unemployment at 9.3 percent by end of 2020.”
First wave? Weymouth, Pittsfield budgets would slash scores of teaching jobs
Speaking of job losses: The only good news here is that maybe they’re temporary. Weymouth school officials say they’ll notify 112 teachers that their contracts will not be renewed as the district stares down a $2.2 million budget gap, but officials are nevertheless hoping to restore the staffers as soon as possible, the Patriot Ledger reports.
Meanwhile, officials in Pittsfield say as many as 140 teaching and administrator jobs are on the chopping block, though the true toll won’t be known until state aid figures are locked in, Amanda Burke at the Berkshire Eagle reports.
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.
Bad optics: Dem Congressional candidate was a registered Republican in 2014
You might say Jake Auchincloss, a Democratic candidate for Joe Kennedy’s congressional seat, has some explaining to do. The Globe’s Matt Stout lays the groundwork for the explaining.
On this day, Markey wasn’t absent (not that it really matters)
The Globe’s Joan Vennochi recently decided to pay a surprise visit to U.S. Sen. Ed Markey’s home in Malden and was surprised to find him actually there, despite criticism from Joseph Kennedy that he’s been an “absent” resident and leader in Massachusetts. Vennochi’s final verdict on the “absent” matter: “For voters, ‘presence’ is not just a matter of where Markey sleeps, but what they believe he delivers for Massachusetts.”
Grounded: American and JetBlue get OK to halt Worcester flights
It took longer than they wanted, but JetBlue and American Airlines now have the green light from federal officials to halt flights out of Worcester Regional Airport, Monica Busch reports at the Worcester Business Journal. That could leave the airport with just one active destination: A Delta flight to Detroit.
State admits: East-West rail ridership would be much higher than previously estimated
Give the state credit: It’s now admitting that its initial ridership estimates for the proposed East-West rail line were way low, as critics contended, and it’s now saying the rail expansion would generate as much as four to five times more ridership than previously projected, as SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) and MassLive’s Jim Kinney report.
No cause for celebration: Fireworks complaints up by 2,300 percent in Boston
Mayor Marty Walsh is the latest local pol to complain about the new statewide craze of people setting off illegal fireworks just about everywhere and at any time. The mayor says city fireworks complaints increased by 2,300 percent in May alone, reports Universal Hub. Meanwhile, also from UH: “City councilor to host forum on ‘fireworks trauma.’”
State reports nearly 6 percent decline in opioid-related deaths in first quarter
Here’s some good news during these not-so-good times: The state Department of Public Health yesterday reported that opioid-related deaths in the first quarter were significant down on Massachusetts, as Esteban Bustillos reports at WGBH.
Congresswoman Clark Hosts Roundtable on What Reopening Child Care Means for Parents and Federal Policy Next Steps
Congresswoman Katherine Clark will host a Facebook Live Virtual Roundtable with Massachusetts Early Health Education Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, public health expert Dr. Faye Holder-Niles MD, and parents to discuss the reopening of child care facilities in Massachusetts and what their new reopening guidelines will mean for families and for federal policy moving forward.
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.
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
In Cambridge, motion over redirecting $4.1M in police funding causes council to explode in anger, accusations – Cambridge Day
Lynn boards get green light to resume meetings – Lynn Item
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone joins three Framingham leaders to talk about race and policing – MetroWest Daily News
Braintree mayor tests positive for Covid-19 – Patriot Ledger
High demand: Business quickly reignites for Berkshires cannabis shops – Berkshire Eagle
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t ending, it’s surging – Washington Post
Amazon pauses police use of its facial-recognition software – New York Times
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