Keller at Large

The Great Pandemic Unmasking

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says the pandemic is unmasking a lot of false societal and political assumptions we have about ourselves here in Massachusetts and across the country.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Gaming Commission, eviction moratorium, Senate session

Cape Cod Reopening Task Force holds a media availability to discuss the coming holiday weekend and tourism season traffic patterns, 9 a.m.

— Massachusetts Gaming Commission holds virtual hearing on two proposed regulations dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, one dealing with the commission’s authority to act in an emergency situation and the other concerning winning payouts, 9:30 a.m.

— Lawmakers hold a virtual press briefing to discuss a new bill that would extend the current moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for one year after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, Reps. Mike Connolly and Kevin Honan  and Sen. Patricia Jehlen among those participating, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate meets in a full formal session to consider a COVID-19 supplemental budget and the information technology bond bill, 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.

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: 28 new deaths, 8,081 total deaths, 261 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Schools to state on reopening rules: They’re your mandates, you pay for them

They do have a point. From the Globe’s James Vaznis: “More than 100 school committees across Massachusetts have passed resolutions in recent weeks imploring the state to cover all costs districts will incur next school year protecting students, staff, and others from the coronavirus.”

Boston Globe

But is it the end of the beginning?

After going a day earlier this week without any confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, the death count spiked back up to 28 yesterday – and that’s one of the reasons why Gov. Charlie Baker is warning against taking a “victory lap” amid the ongoing pandemic. He missed an opportunity yesterday to go Churchiliian, talking about the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end, etc. But his point is clear, as the new 28 deaths confirm.

The Herald’s Erin Tiernan and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) have more on the governor’s warning that the virus is just looking for “possibilities and opportunities” to spread.

Pandemic derails nursing-home ballot question

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports that backers of the statewide nursing-home reimbursement referendum have effectively given up on the ballot initiative, saying they just didn’t have enough time and resources to gather the required signatures amid the ongoing pandemic, which, as it so happens, has hit the nursing-home industry especially hard.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Maine won’t exempt Mass. residents from quarantines

We should never have granted Maine its independence. The former northeast extension of Massachusetts has lifted its quarantine requirements on travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – but not on those from Massachusetts, even though we’ve lifted our quarantine rules on Maine residents, WCVB reports. The ungrateful nerve of them.


Baker defends Holyoke superintendent — and his recommendation for future center leaders

Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday defended the new interim head of the troubled Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, where scores of veterans have perished due to COVID-19, and said her nursing credentials are among the reasons why he’s not embracing a key recommendation of the Pearlstein report on the qualifications of future leaders at the facility. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) have more.  

Mass. bar exam goes online. But will other states recognize results?

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that the Massachusetts bar exam will be administered online this year due to the pandemic. But the question is: Will other states recognize its results and allow those who pass the exam to practice law in their states? The short answer: No. But the Supreme Judicial Court, among others, is trying change that.


Backing down: Amid uproar, North Brookfield postpones Fourth events

In the end, they relented. Citing fears that media attention would swell the crowds at its July Fourth celebration to unsafe numbers, selectmen in North Brookfield have voted to postpone the events, Brad Petrishen at the Telegram reports. Selectmen cast blame on the town’s health board, with one official accusing the board of using ‘political operatives’ to contact the media and drum up opposition to the planned holiday celebration.


Culture wars alert: Somerville recognizes polyamorous domestic partnerships

This is getting national attention, i.e. Somerville’s approval of a new policy that recognizes polyamorous partnerships, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, reports Julia Taliesin at the Somerville Journal and Jeremy Fox at the Globe. The NYT has more, including how the ordinance was passed “at the tail end of a City Council meeting last week, so quickly and quietly that you could have easily missed it.”

Here’s why it’s now getting attention (and seems destined for Drudge Report treatment and maybe even a tweet or two from a president desperate to rev up his base): Is it the first step towards polygamy? The two are different, as Psychology Today defines polyamorous and polygamy. But they’re also similar in that they both involve more than two partners in a relationship (or marriage) and, by the logic of one Somerville ordinance backer (“I don’t feel it’s the place of government to define a family”), you have a more than theoretical connection.

This has “culture wars” written all over it. Just pointing it out.

They give a damn: BU to consider retiring mascot’s ‘Rhett’ nickname

Due to its ties to the movie “Gone with the Wind,” Boston University’s “Rhett the BU Terrier” mascot may soon be gone due to the protest winds of the times. Universal Hub’s Adam Gavin has more.

Meanwhile, Framingham is mulling a change to one of its schools now named after Woodrow Wilson, reports Zane Razzaq at the MetroWest Daily News. 

Universal Hub

Town clerks issue warning (yet again): Vote-by-mail expansion could lead to trouble this fall

The Globe’s Matt Stout reports that town clerks are girding for a flood of vote-by-mail ballots this fall if lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker approve an expansion of mail-in voting in Massachusetts – and clerks are warning their offices are not prepared for the ballot onslaught. “How do I put this in a nice way?” asks one town clerk. “Our current system, as designed, is not set up for the volume that we’re currently dealing with.”

We happen to support the vote-by-mail concept in general. It just makes sense. But we also agree with late historian Barbara Tuchman’s definition of folly as proceeding with a policy despite explicit and multiple warnings that trouble lies ahead. See post below.

Meanwhile, hundreds of uncounted ballots found in Grafton town clerk’s vault after local election

Speaking of mail-in and early-voting matters, from the Telegram’s Lisa Redmond: “Town Clerk Kandy Lavallee announced her office will work with an independent organization to investigate and provide a report on why her office found a sealed box with 202 early-voting ballots in a vault on Tuesday, a week after the town election.” And a report at WBUR says the ballot boo-boo may throw the passage of a town override vote into question.


Markey and Kennedy in fundraising dead heat

The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) report that U.S. Senate candidates Ed Markey and Joseph Kenney were in a virtual fundraising dead heat last quarter, with each Dem raising $1.9 million for their respective campaigns. They also have, approximately, the same amount of dough in their campaign coffers with the primary election now just a few months away.

Tangled web: Pot firm involved in Correia case sues CCC over license

A medical marijuana company suing the state’s Cannabis Control Commission over its refusal to issue final recreational licenses is the same firm that federal authorities say agreed to pay a $250,000 bribe to former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia to gain his support, Jo C. Goode at the Herald-News reports. Meanwhile, the judge overseeing Correia’s delayed federal trial has granted the CCC access to investigator interviews in the case.

Herald News

‘The Squad Victory Fund’: Promoting progressive candidates while protecting themselves

WBUR’s Kimberly Atkins reports that U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and the three other Dem members of the now famous “Squad” have formed a fundraising venture, appropriately called ‘The Squad Victory Fund,’ to support progressive candidates – and bolster their own reelection campaigns.

Meanwhile, SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) reports that Pressley is also involved in a new regional coalition that’s backing more than 100 progressive candidates across New England.


Herald down to last 24 newsroom employees after latest layoffs

CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt and’s Jeenna Ciccotelli report on the latest Boston Herald layoffs, with longtime Celts writer Steve Bulpett among those let go. No other names are mentioned, but among the six who also reportedly got canned is a ‘political writer.’

The BPD’s OT problem (not to be confused with State Police’s OT problem)

The Globe’s Dugan Arnett and Maggie Mulvihill report how a 2015 audit of the Boston Police Department found all sorts of disturbing problems with its overtime policies. But guess what? Few of the audit’s recommendations were implemented.

Boston Globe

Healey to NH fireworks firm advertising in Mass.: Knock it off

It’s her contribution to the restoration of evening peace and quiet across our great land. From Universal Hub: “Massachusetts Attorney General’s office today warned Phantom Fireworks to stop sending Bay Staters ads for fireworks or risk an explosive lawsuit.” The warning includes a cease-and-desist order.

Universal Hub

Chamber’s ‘Pacesetters’ program doesn’t keep pace with its promise to help minority contractors

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s once promising “Pacesetters” program, designed to hook up its members with minority-owned contractors, hasn’t exactly been a smashing success. Meanwhile, the BBJ, in an editorial, is pushing the city of Boston (and private sector companies) to step up efforts to boost business with minority-owned contractors.


And the winners of this year’s First Amendment Muzzle Awards are …

Milton schools and Gov. Charlie Baker, take a bow. WGBH media critic Dan Kennedy has just named you as 2020 New England Muzzle Award winners, given to those who have contributed the most to the diminishment of free speech. Fyi: Baker wins for his proposal to limit public access to death certificates, marriage notices and birth records, all of which have been freely available to people in Massachusetts since 1641.

Meanwhile, Harvey Silverglate and Monika Greco also present their 2020 Campus Muzzle Awards. Babson, Harvard and Tufts (among others), take a bow, too. 


Dropping bombs: F-word rattles Springfield City Council meeting

This Zoom bomb was an inside job. Stephanie Barry at MassLive reports on not-safe-for-work comments made by the City Clerk Tasheena Davis during a budget hearing, the dubious explanation she gave and city efforts to scrub the entire incident from the video record of the meeting.  


Moulton’s RMV-alert bill gets preliminary green light

From the Herald’s Rick Sobey: “A bill that’s intended to keep dangerous drivers off the road and prevent horrific car crashes — like the New Hampshire wreck last year in which seven people died — moved forward on Wednesday. U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s legislation for all RMVs in the country to be immediately alerted whenever a driver has an infraction was included in the Moving Forward Act, which the House of Representatives passed 233-188.”

Boston Herald

Long pause: Gardner finally elects a new mayor

Congratulations to the city of Gardner, which finally has an elected mayor again. Stephen Landry at the Gardner News reports Michael Nicholson defeated City Councilor Scott Graves in Tuesday’s oft-delayed special election. Former Mayor Mark Hawke resigned in January to take a town manager job and the election to replace him was initially delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. 


The 2020 Women’s Leadership Forum: Eyes Wide Open

Join us to see, hear, and experience a completely new digital Women’s Leadership Forum experience. This year, we’re celebrating those who see things clearly and are taking action. The shock and anger that emerged with #MeToo has evolved into a sense of purpose, determination, and renewed pride.

The Ad Club

How creative thinking can help you re-imagine your small business

Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter and author of “This Could Be Our Future”, joins us in this webinar to share how the power of creativity can transform your business.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

Virtual Amplify Conference – Nuestro Impacto: Be Counted, Be Heard (Day 1)

Join us for our Virtual Amplify Conference – Nuestro Impacto: Be Counted, Be Heard hosted by Amplify Latinx, the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and the Gastón Institute, in collaboration with our partner organizations.

Amplify Latinx

Virtual 2020 Race Ahead: Moving Forward Together

Join the Boston Business Journal for a virtual discussion on how we can affect real change in our community and move forward together.

Boston Business Journal

Virtual Amplify Conference – Nuestro Impacto: Be Counted, Be Heard (Day 2)

Join us for our Virtual Amplify Conference – Nuestro Impacto: Be Counted, Be Heard hosted by Amplify Latinx, the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and the Gastón Institute, in collaboration with our partner organizations.

Amplify Latinx

Today’s Headlines


Judge orders prosecutors and Varsity Blues defendants to prepare for the possibility of a trial – Boston Herald

Quincy Market reopens but expect a slow summer – Boston Globe


Salem State furloughs proposed – Salem News

Plainville plans next steps to deal with its financial woes – Sun Chronicle

UMass Lowell braces for deep cuts – Lowell Sun


Democratic ad makers think they’ve found Trump’s soft spot – Politico

Biden outraises Trump for second straight month – New York Times

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