Supplemental budget, North End dining complaints, drought management
— More than 280 nonprofit, government, and business leaders present six Nonprofit Excellence Awards at the virtual ‘Nonprofit Awareness Day: A Celebration of Nonprofit Excellence,’ with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivering a video message, 10 a.m.
— The Massachusetts House meets in a full formal session with expected action on the $1 billion supplemental budget bill, 11 a.m.
— Governor’s Council meets and may vote on Judge Edward McDonough’s transfer from the Appeals Court to the Superior Court, 1:30 p.m.
— Drought Management Task Force meets due to an increase in dry conditions, with members expected to discuss drought level recommendations and recommendations for drought level responses, 1:30 p.m.
— Boston Licensing Board holds emergency hearing to address ‘numerous complaints’ related to outdoor dining operations during the pandemic in the North End, 2 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: 16 new deaths, 7,890 total deaths, 229 new cases
CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
Poll: Mass. residents overwhelmingly support police reforms and believe racism is the state’s top problem
A new Suffolk University poll backed by major media outlets shows that the public is solidly in support of police reforms, supports Black Lives Matter protests, and believes racism is a systemic problem in Massachusetts, the latter so much so that’s it’s now considered the top problem in the state. The Globe’s Victoria McGrane and Dasia Moore, MassLive’s Benjamin Kail and SHNS’s Matt Murphy have more on the poll findings.
Poll results II: Residents remain nervous over reopening during pandemic
They may welcome the partial reopening of the state’s economy. But the same Suffolk University poll shows most Massachusetts residents “continue to harbor anxiety” over venturing out too far from their homes and work sites – which isn’t good news for restaurants, retail shops and the T, among others. The SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) and WGBH’s Adam Reilly have more on the reopening anxieties.
Meanwhile, the Globe’s Bianca Vázquez Toness reports there’s yet another racial divide when it comes to pandemic reopenings, specifically over the issue of in-person versus remote school classes this fall.
Poll results III: Not even reopening controversies and the Herald can dent his popularity
The same Suffolk University poll shows that Gov. Charlie Baker continues to receive high marks from residents for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, despite some complaints by business owners that he’s moving too slowly to reopen the economy, the Globe’s Victoria McGrane and Bianca Vazquez Toness report.
But the Herald’s Howie Carr — and the Herald in general — are doing their level best this morning to put a dent in Baker’s popularity, effectively blaming him for the state’s 16.3 percent unemployment rate, the fourth highest rate in the nation.
Veterans secretary Urena resigns ahead of release of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home report
The report must contain scathing news because Veterans’ Services Secretary Francisco Urena says he was asked by the Baker administration to resign from his post, a day ahead of the planned release of a report on the Holyoke Soldiers’ Homes tragedy, and Urena has dutifully complied. The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky and the Globe’s Jeremy Fox have more on Urena’s resignation amid an uproar over the scores of deaths at the state-run Holyoke veterans facility.
Sniper rifles and grenade launchers? Boston police loaded up on army-style weaponry in the months before recent protests
The Globe might as well have included a note at the top of the story reading: Attention Michelle Wu. Anyway, the Globe’s Laura Crimaldi and Matt Rocheleau report that the Boston Police Department spent more than $200,000 on military-style equipment in the first five months of this year. The shopping list included sniper rifles, grenade launchers, night vision scopes, firearm suppressors etc.
School funding showdown, Part II: The legal threat
You knew this was coming. Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth magazine reports that long-time backers of changing the state’s school-aid formula are now rattling the legal sword again if the state, pandemic or no pandemic, doesn’t come up with extra funds for disadvantaged school districts.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Teachers Association is keeping up the pressure on lawmakers to financially help schools, saying 2,000 educators have received layoff notices across the state due to devastated school budgets caused by the pandemic and economic downturn, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall). And from Zoe Matthews at WGBH: “Healey: Schools Need More Money So Students Can Succeed Amid Converging Crises Of Health, Economy.”
Higher-ed meltdown update: How fast will state colleges burn through cash?
Speaking of tough financial times for educational institutions, SHNS’s Katie Lannan and the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes report on new warnings that many of the state’s community colleges and universities could rapidly burn through their cash next school year and put them in terrible financial binds. Meanwhile, from the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo: “UMass president on impact of coronavirus: ‘We’re in survival mode’”
Licensing Board to hold emergency hearing on complaints North End restaurants are ignoring social-distancing rules
And, it should be noted, the same thing is happening across the state, not just in the North End. Universal Hub reports that the Boston Licensing Board has scheduled an emergency hearing for today to address ‘the numerous complaints’ about North End eateries not complying with social-distancing rules now that restaurants are allowed to serve diners again.
The pandemic haves and have-not of the Berkshires
As thousands of residents in the Berkshires have lost their jobs during the pandemic, a number of affluent city dwellers have swooped into the tourism-rich area to snap up vacation homes that they hope will keep them safe and sound from the coronavirus. Talk about pandemic inequities. The Globe’s Katie Johnston has more.
The latest casino reopening rule: Gamblers can’t walk around with drinks
The Mass. Gaming Commission has previously signaled that there will be no craps, poker or roulette games once the state’s three casinos reopen, probably next month. And yesterday regulators issued yet another edict: Gamblers can’t walk around casinos with drinks, though they can booze it up while gambling. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and MassLive’s Peter Goonan have the drinking-and-loitering details.
COVID-19 infection rate among protesters was ‘quite low,’ Baker says
More than 17,000 people who participated in recent Black Lives Matter protests in Massachusetts were recently tested for COVID-19 – and only 2.5 percent tested positive for the coronavirus, a ‘quite low’ figure, Gov. Charlge Baker said yesterday. MassLive’s Steph Solis and NBC Boston’s Marc Fortier have more.
Governor defends $5K cop-bonus proposal during visit to Boston State site
Gov. Charlie Baker was put on the defensive yesterday when he visited Mattapan to tout the selection of a minority-owned firm to redevelop a portion of the former Boston State Hospital site, with an unidentified protester criticizing his proposal to pay bonuses of up to $5,000 to police cadets who undergo advanced anti-racism sensitivity training. Baker proceeded to defend the idea. Abbey Niezgoda at NBC Boston has the back-and-forth details.
Meanwhile, the BBJ’s Catherine Carlock (pay wall) has more on the redevelopment project in general.
Activist launches hunger strike to change Faneuil Hall’s name
SHNS’s Michael Norton reports that New Democracy Coalition founder Kevin Peterson has started a hunger fast as part of an effort to force Mayor Marty Walsh to set dates on hearings on changing the name of Boston’s Faneuil Hall, which is named for a wealthy colonial-era merchant and slave trader.
Ethics Commission: No, state auditor workers can’t start firm to sell items back to those they’re auditing
From CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg: “The state Ethics Commission says a former employee and a former consultant of the state auditor’s office violated Massachusetts conflict of interest laws by forming a software company that attempted to sell products to a state agency to help it comply with an audit they worked on.”
Stop the seizures: Lawmakers want to put temporary hold on estate grabs
Under pressure from advocates for the elderly, lawmakers are mulling a freeze on the state’s use of a federal law that allows seizures of estates to cover unpaid medical bills, Christian Wade at the Salem News reports. Advocates say the seizures are still taking place, even as foreclosures and evictions are on hold amid the pandemic.
Decision delayed: Worcester City Council delays final vote on budget
Time is running out. The Worcester City Council has reconsidered its vote to approve a budget that included an increase in funding for the police department amid continued calls to divert some funding to social services, Michael Bonner at MassLive reports.
If the council doesn’t act by Friday, the budget will automatically take effect. The Telegram’s Brad Petrishen reports the votes came as scores of protesters gathered outside City Hall and chanted for councilors to come out and face them directly.
Judge orders Columbia Gas to pay $53 million for Merrimack Valley pipeline disaster
The Eagle Tribune’s Jill Harmacinski reports that a federal judge yesterday slapped a sentence of $53 million on Columbia Gas for its admitted criminal responsibility for the natural-gas pipeline fires and explosions that devastated the Merrimack Valley in 2018.
Off the hook: Judge clears Hodgson in phone-kickback lawsuit
Redirect your ire. That’s the message from a federal judge to plaintiffs who sued Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson for allegedly taking illegal kickbacks from a company that provides phone services to inmates in his jails, David Linton at the Sun-Chronicle reports. U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani threw out the two-year-old lawsuit, saying state lawmakers gave sheriffs the authority over such services.
State sales tax holiday set for Aug. 29-30
Mark your calendars. Gov. Charlie Baker has officially set the weekend of August 29-30 as the date for the state’s now annual ‘sales tax holiday,’ when consumers can shop to their heart’s content without having to pay the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax, reports SHNS (pay wall).
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.
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