Keller at Large

Inside a Gross political blunder

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says Boston Police Commissioner William Gross sure looks like he got suckered into a photo-op with U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who may have been grinning in the now infamous photo for more reasons than one.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Board of Higher Education, COVID-19 recovery, and more

Board of Higher Education plans to meet, with members participating remotely, 10 a.m.

— The Boston Foundation hosts a virtual event to discuss how widespread nonpayment of rent or mortgage may be amid the COVID-19 outbreak, with panelists including Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, Boston Deputy Director of Housing Stability Domonique Williams and Mass Housing Partnership Executive Director Clark Ziegler, 10 a.m.

Mass. Gaming Commission meets to finalize its minimum safety standards for the eventual reopening of Massachusetts’ casinos and slots parlor, 10 a.m.

— State Lottery Commission remotely meets with Treasurer Deb Goldberg chairing, 10:30 a.m..

— The Commonwealth Resilience and Recovery Special Committee, a new House panel formed to explore COVID-19 recovery, holds its first hearing today, with Majority Leader Ron Mariano leading the committee, 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 coronavirus numbers: 17 new deaths, 7,874 total deaths, 149 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts .

School aid showdown?

The Globe’s James Vaznis and the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky report municipal leaders representing Gateway Cities across the state have signed onto a letter asking the state to abide by the recent landmark agreement to increase school-aid funding for disadvantaged school, especially at a time when districts are getting hit hard by the current pandemic.

But SHNS’s Colin Young reports (pay wall) that the state, which is facing its own financial crisis, is already signaling cities and towns to expect flat local-aid and school-aid funding for July and August. Meaning: Implementation of the new school-funding program is now in doubt.

Btw: MassLive’s Steph Solis takes a look at all the revenue unknowns facing the state, as tax collections plunge amid the pandemic and economic downturn. It isn’t a pretty picture.

Rollins announces furloughs in Suffolk DA’s office

Speaking of government budgets, this is an ominous sign for government workers whose jobs are normally considered somewhat safe during tough economic times, to wit: Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins yesterday stunned her staff by announcing a new employee furlough plan in anticipation of tight budget times ahead. The Herald’s Joe Dwinell has the details.

Boston Herald

Baker’s pandemic spending bill: $350M for protection gear, $247M on emergency salaries, $81M for childcare etc.

CommonWealth magazine’s Shira Schoenberg reports that Beacon Hill lawmakers are finally poised to approve a $1.1 billion supplemental budget bill requested by Gov. Charlie Baker to cover recent pandemic-related costs incurred by the state – and the bill provides “perhaps the clearest picture yet of the extraordinary amount of money government is spending on the coronavirus pandemic.”


As UMass Boston goes full remote, Amherst College rents the tents

SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) reports that UMass-Boston, with its large number of commuter students, is opting to go full remote learning this fall. At Amherst College, officials still haven’t made a final reopening decision, but they’ve nevertheless ordered 20 large tents as a “contingency plan to hold fall semester classes outdoors,” reports Jim Russell at MassLive.

Restaurants resume indoor dining amid apprehensions

There are lots of stories out there this morning about yesterday’s resumption of indoor restaurant dining – as well as the reopening of nail salons. From WBUR’s Adrian Ma: “Step Inside But Bring A Mask: Indoor Dining, Nail Salons And Other Businesses Reopen.” … From the Globe’s Janelle Nanos and Anissa Gardizy: “Store owners are optimistic customers will return, despite restrictions.” … But not all restaurants are reopening. From MassLive: “‘I can’t survive on a partial dining room’: Chef Wayne says coronavirus pandemic was a major factor in decision to close Big Mamou in Springfield.” … From the Cape Cod Times: “Cape restaurants adjust yet again as indoor dining resumes.” … And from the Herald News: “’Dealing with the cards we were dealt:’ Restaurants happy to welcome diners back inside with limitations.”

The coronavirus numbers: They’re looking good but …

The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports that yesterday’s confirmed 17 new pandemic deaths in Massachusetts is the lowest reported number since April, while a report at WBUR says the state now has the lowest COVID-19 transmission rate in the country, according to a website that tracks the coronavirus. All of which is great news … but … the Globe’s Kay Lazar reports state health officials are nervously eyeing increasing coronavirus cases in southern and western parts of the country and wonder if a similar fate awaits Massachusetts as it reopens its economy.

Btw: Nantucket is reporting its first coronavirus case in over a month.

Frontline workers: Recovering, resting and regrouping for possible second surge

Carey Goldberg at WBUR reports how frontline health-care workers, now that the state’s coronavirus cases are falling here, are using their time to recover and rest from the intensity of the recent COVID-19 surge – and how they’re also regrouping for a possible second surge in Massachusetts.


SJC: Justice delayed is not justice denied for violent offenders in the coronavirus era

This is a pretty emphatic decision. From the Globe’s John Ellement: “Hundreds of pretrial detainees considered so dangerous to the public or their alleged victims that they must be jailed before trial can be held considerably longer because of court delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled Monday.”

Boston Globe

Rollins opens criminal probe of T police officer accused of using excessive force against black man

As anti-racism and anti-police-brutality protests continue across the state and country, Universal Hub reports that Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins has launched an investigation into “now former Transit Police officer for possibly lying about an April 28 incident in a Forest Hills busway in which he may have shoved the man into the pavement and then kept him there with his knee on his back for 20 seconds.”

Rollins says video of the incident simply doesn’t support the officer’s description of what happened. 

Universal Hub

Protesters reject Baker’s police bonus plan, saying it merely pays cops ‘not to be racist’

WGBH’s Tori Bedford reports that several hundred protesters yesterday marched from Roxbury to the State House, where some criticized Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to give police trainees up to $5,000 in bonuses for taking advanced classes in racial sensitivity. “Nobody should have to pay you to not be racist, that’s not an incentive,” activist Monica Cannon-Grant said.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky has City Hall covered: “Boston councilors mull rejecting Walsh’s budget over differences on police cuts.”


Defunding defeats: Voters reject efforts to cut police budgets

When it came time to vote, they backed the blue. Town meeting voters in Great Barrington defeated calls to divert some funding from the police department to social services organizations, Heather Bellow at the Berkshire Eagle reports.

A similar story unfolded at another socially distanced town meeting in Falmouth, where voters funded a diversity coordinator position, but not by taking funds away from the police budget as one resident proposed, Jessica Hillat the Cape Cod Times reports. 

Berkshire Eagle

The photo of Barr says it all

The Globe’s Joan Vennochi reviews the Walsh-Gross dustup over U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s surprise visit to Boston last week. One thing is clear: Barr got what he wanted, i.e. a photo-op with a black police commissioner, with both of them smiling for the camera, Vennochi writes.

Boston Globe

And the latest I-90 Allston plan is …

The state is still trying to figure out how to proceed with the largest highway project pending in Boston – the I-90 Allston reconfiguration plan. The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl have the details on the latest potential redesign which, as far as we can tell, looks an awful lot like what we have now at the end of the Pike.

Transit group to MBTA: Go electric

Speaking of transportation issues, the Herald’s Andrew Martinez reports on a new $2.6 billion proposal by Transit Matters that would transform the state’s commuter rail system into a fleet of electrified, zero-emission and regional trains. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) reports the group is also tying its proposal to the issues of equity and jobs.

Boston Herald

Whoa Nelly: State needs to reject effort to defund thoroughbred horse industry

We missed this piece from last week, i.e. Winifred “Phreddie” Sienkewicz, owner of Land’s End Farm in Assonet, arguing at CommonWealth magazine that state regulators need to reject an effort to steer limited horse-racing funds to the standardbred industry at the expense of the thoroughbred industry. She explains the differences between the two.


Winding down: Brockton councilor acknowledges campaign finance violations, plans to sell home

He’s stepping away–eventually. Longtime Brockton City Councilor Dennis Eaniri says he won’t seek re-election and plans to put his city home on the market after the Office of Campaign and Political Finance found he improperly used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, Marc Larocque at the Enterprise reports. Eaniri is currently paying back for the expenses.


The key to fierce loyalty: An amazing customer experience.

Set your small business apart by creating amazing customer experiences. Shep Hyken will break down his six “Convenience Principles” to improve your customer satisfaction and create fierce loyalty.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

JALSA Schmoozefest

This week we are excited to welcome our special guests: Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem and Representative Liz Miranda, co-sponsors of the MA bill to establish new standards for police conduct; Italo Fini from the MA AFL-CIO, speaking about what the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding DACA means to him; Music with Jewish Rock Radio “Jewish Star,” Lucy Greenbaum.


A Virtual Conversation with Sally Field and Senator Ed Markey

A Virtual Conversation with Sally Field and Senator Ed Markey will be held on a video conferencing platform for everyone to enjoy safely from their homes.

Senator Ed Markey

Free Webinar: Digital Schooling During COVID-19 & Beyond

We are pleased to offer a free webinar featuring Julie Young, founder of the highly successful Florida Virtual School (the country’s largest statewide Internet-based public high school) and current Vice President of Education Outreach at ASU and Managing Director of ASU Prep Digital.

Pioneer Institute featuring Julie Young

Today’s Headlines


UMass Boston Staying Remote For Fall Semester – WBUR

MBTA transit officer resigned while under investigation for excessive force on Black man; Suffolk DA’s office opens criminal probe – Boston Globe


Dudley town meeting voters balk at zoning changes for mill conversions – Telegram & Gazette

Springfield won’t open cooling centers due to coronavirus – MassLive

Path cleared for Peru official to put in for top cop – Berkshire Eagle


Facebook ad boycott gains steam – Politico

Trump defends China deal after adviser says it’s ‘over’ – New York Times

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