Keller at Large

Q & A about the Kennedy/Markey debate tonight

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller explains his philosophy on moderating political debates, like tonight’s WBZ-TV showdown between U.S. Senate candidates Joe Kennedy and Ed Markey. Keller hopes the two will “mix it up” and not fall into canned answers this evening.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

New pandemic restrictions, Kennedy-Markey Senate debate

— Under updated pandemic restrictions that Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday, several changes will take effect today, including outdoor gatherings being reduced from 100 to 50 people.

— Gov. Charlie Baker later today plans to go into detail about which communities are considered to be at higher risk for COVID-19 infection, and therefore could be tasked to work with a new multi-agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team.

— U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark is on ‘Radio Boston to talk about the status of pandemic relief in Congress, WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and his primary challenger, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, square off in a WBZ-TV debate ahead of the Sept. 1 primary, with Jon Keller moderating, 7 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: 5 new deaths, 8,519 total deaths, 214 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Desperate times, desperate measures: Morse blames Neal

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who’s running a progressive insurgency campaign against U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, is arguably fighting for his political life these days, in the wake of news he had sexual relationships with college students while he was a lecturer and in the wake of a UMass investigation into the matter. Now Morse is saying Neal’s campaign is behind the relationships leak. Neal’s campaign denies it. MassLive’s Jim Kinney has more on Morse’s desperate times/desperate measures scramble.

Some sample headlines of the woes now facing Morse. From WGBH: “Two Holyoke City Councilors Call For Embattled Mayor To Resign Amid Sexual Misconduct Investigation.” From MassLive: “Massachusetts Nurses Association, which backed Alex Morse in Congressional race, will meet to reconsider support.” And one more from MassLive: “Sunrise Western Mass. coalition retracts Alex Morse endorsement.”


Finally, we have a U.S. Senate race

The Globe’s Victoria McGrane has a good update story on the U.S. Senate race, which has finally become a true heated race – and a true dead-heat race too. The two candidates, Ed Markey and Joe Kennedy, square off tonight at a WBZ-TV debate, moderated by Jon Keller, who has a podcast opinion piece above on what he hopes to see from Markey and Kennedy this evening.

Boston Globe

‘The unusual spectacle’: Globe re-interrogates Auchincloss after its controversial endorsement of him

In other election news, file this one under: ‘Posturing.’ For that’s what we all know is going on with the Boston Globe’s post-endorsement re-questioning of Jake Auchincloss, one of nine Dem candidates in the Fourth Congressional District primary race. CommonWealth’s Micael Jonas describes the virtual re-grilling as an “unusual spectacle.” Well, it’s not that unusual, considering everything else we’ve seen this crazy political year.


So why doesn’t Massachusetts have school-reopening metrics like other states?

WBUR’s Max Larkin reports that many major school districts in Massachusetts are opting for some form of remote learning this fall, such as “hybrid” models, which CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg tries to explain in a separate piece .

But some parents and others are wondering why so many districts are favoring remote learning even when coronavirus case rates are super low in many communities, as the Globe’s James Vaznis reports. We’re talking well below the World Health Organization recommended infection-rate level for resuming in-person classes. And some are wondering why the state hasn’t established specific criteria/requirements for in-person classes, as is the case in New York, Maine, and other states, Vaznis writes.

Tufts under pressure after UMass-Lowell and Holy Cross announce they’re going mostly remote

The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that Tufts University, which plans to partially reopen its Medford-Somerville campus this fall to students, is now under pressure from the mayors of the two cities to reduce the number of students on or near campus during the coming semester. The pressure comes as an increasing number of colleges opt for mostly remote learning this fall, the latest being UMass-Lowell (Herald) and Holy Cross (MassLive).

Boston Herald

Landlords actually offering tenants rental deals? In Massachusetts?

The world has definitely been turned upside down – at least in Massachusetts and a few other states – when apartment landlords are being forced to think the once unthinkable: actually offering bargains to potential tenants, from waiving fees to actually lowering rent prices. Sofia Rivera at Boston Magazine has more. It has to do, partly, to a lack of college students vying for apartments in the region. See above Tufts item.

Boston Magazine

Some question Baker’s plan for roving teams of pandemic-rule enforcers

From the Herald’s Erin Tiernan: “A new state initiative that will slap people who violate coronavirus mask and gathering orders with fines of up to $500 is slated to start Tuesday but with details still scant, there is growing concern the program could do more harm than good in the hard-hit communities it’s intended to help.”

Boston Herald

Want COVID-19 information about child-care centers? Don’t ask

More evidence of the Baker administration’s occasional discomfort with full transparency. From the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert: “The Baker administration is refusing to provide data on coronavirus cases reported by the state-licensed emergency child care centers that remained open during the three-month period while the state was shut down. The Globe sought the data to obtain clearer information about the risk of coronavirus spread in group care settings for children.”

As Ebbert notes, the data might come in handy amid debate over reopening schools and related safety issues.

Boston Globe

The July revenue numbers that weren’t supposed to happen

CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl takes a look at the mystery surrounding the unexpected year-over-year rise in state tax collections in July, a phenomenon that wasn’t supposed to happen amid the pandemic-caused economic downturn. Could it be the result of the expanded federal unemployment benefits? That’s one guess.


The VP sweepstakes: Coming down to the wire

The NYT is reporting that an announcement is imminent concerning Joe Biden’s pick for his VP running mate. And the Globe’s James Pindell squeezes in one last look at the top VP candidates and their individual strengths, including Elizabeth Warren’s progressive bona fides.

Mo Cowan on being Black in America – even when you’re a U.S. senator

Mo Cowan may be a former U.S. senator and an executive at a Fortune 500 company. But he says he’s first and foremost, in the eyes of white Americans, a Black man – and he has a moving piece at Boston Magazine about how he can never escape that fact, even when boarding a senators-only tram at the U.S. Capitol.

In related news about race in America, from SHNS’s Chris Lisinski(pay wall): “Black Staffers Report Productive Talks with Legislators/Group Outlined Eight Demands in July.

Boston Magazine

A modest proposal: Amherst residents eye cannabis revenue in push for reparations

A group of activists is petitioning the Amherst Town Council to set up a committee to study ways to make reparations to residents who have been harmed by racially inequitable policies over the years — and it wants to tap into recreational marijuana revenues to make it happen, Scott Merzbach at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette

‘Electronic Shackles’: State’s use of ankle monitors skyrockets

Here’s the bottom line to Jenifer McKim’s story at WGBH: “The number of people required to wear GPS (ankle) monitors in Massachusetts has nearly tripled over the last eight years to about 4,100, including parolees, probationers and those awaiting trial, according to the state Probation Service that oversees the program.”


Coming to an empty Sears store near you: An Amazon distribution center?

Jackson Cote at MassLive reports, based on a WSJ story, that Amazon is in talks with Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest shopping mall operator with 14 centers in Massachusetts alone, to lease mall spaces left empty by closed Sears and JC Penney stores for distribution centers. It’s not clear if any of the spaces are in Massachusetts.


Not-so-hot spots: Some central Mass. neighborhoods see unemployment hit 30 percent

Some neighborhoods in Worcester and Fitchburg are experiencing unemployment rates of 30 percent or even higher and some 50,000 people in central Mass. live in areas where a quarter of their workers are unemployed, Grant Welker at the Worcester Business Journal reports. 

Worcester Business Journal

Lawsuit: Police fired 31 rounds in 3 seconds, killing man after wild chase from hospital

The Globe’s Tonya Alanez has the details on a new wrongful-death lawsuit filed over the police shooting of a man who brandished a fake gun outside a Boston hospital and then later led police on a wild car chase that ended in a blaze of gunfire. 

Boston Globe

Send help: Senators ask CDC to tackle EEE outbreak

They’re worried about a different kind of outbreak. The Bay State’s two U.S. senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, are pleading with the Centers for Disease Control to provide federal support to state officials as they prepare to deal with a potentially historic year for cases of eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, Jeremy Fox at the Globe reports.

Test pattern: Lawmakers want to pause MCAS amid virus crisis

Amid data showing students who fail to pass the MCAS on their first attempt are more likely to drop out of school entirely, state lawmakers heard testimony on a proposal to pause MCAS testing for four years, Tanner Stening of MassLive reports.

Get your fresh fruits and vegetable right here

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports on the state’s new “MassGrown Exchange,” a new online platform designed to link together Massachusetts food producers, restaurants and shoppers. As Liisinski notes, we’re talking “pints of cherry tomatoes grown in Beverly, hundreds of pounds of salmon and haddock from a Boston pier, jars of curries and chutneys prepared by a Newton retailer” and more.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Radical new ideas, for the new normal.

Peter Shankman, best-selling author and entrepreneur, joins us to share exciting new ways to approach customer service and answer your questions in an interactive Q&A. Learn how your small business can create a customer experience that surprises, delights and rises to the challenges of today.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

Beyond Recovering: Preparing your business for new directions and growth

It’s impossible to ignore the long-lasting effects Covid-19 will have on your business. Small- to mid-sized businesses are working twice as hard to adapt for the rest of 2020 and the unforeseeable future. But you don’t have to do it alone. Understanding the difference between temporary disruptions and fundamental changes is key to planning for what’s next.

Boston Business Journal

Maximizing your chamber membership

Whether you’re a new member, new employee of a member business/nonprofit, or a prospective member wanting to learn more about us, join this information session to get to know the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber. Learn what being a member entails and how the chamber can work for your employer and for you.

Newton-Needham Regional Chamber

COVID Impact on the Massachusetts Latino Community: Developing a Path For Recovery

MassINC and the MassINC Polling Group will present the results of a survey of public opinion among Latino residents of Massachusetts. The survey covered a range of policies questions, including voting, the Census, impacts of COVID-19, remote learning experiences, and the pandemic’s impact on family financial security.


Leadership in Trying Times with Josiane Martinez, CEO & Founder at Archipelago Strategies Group (ASG)

Join industry Leaders as we discuss innovation and leadership, definition of success and the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.


Getting Back to Work: Keeping Your Staff and Customers Safe

Looking for guidance reopening your business? Join us for a program from experts at Newton-Wellesley Hospital designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses reopen their facilities in the safest way possible for employees and customers.

Newton-Needham Regional Chamber

Lawn vs. Leary: A conversation with the state rep candidates

Join us for a conversation with the two candidates competing for the Democratic nomination for the 10th Middlesex District House seat: incumbent Rep, John Lawn and challenger, Newton City Councilor Alison Leary.

Newton-Needham Regional Chamber

Is Retail Really Open for Business? What our Merchants are Telling us

Back in April, when the COVID shut down had just begun, we assembled a panel of local merchants and asked them to share their thoughts about survival and the future of retail. It’s been four months and we’ve decided to call back our panel to see how their businesses are holding up and to share current concerns and challenges.

Newton-Needham Regional Chamber

Join Senator Ed Markey for a Virtual Event with Ken Burns

Filmmaker Ken Burns and Senator Markey will be discussing some of the lessons learned from our country’s stories explored in Ken’s documentaries and how they inform our response to today’s challenges including addressing civil rights, achieving racial equality, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and combating the climate crisis with the Green New Deal.

Ed Markey for Senate

Rally: Black Ribbon Day – Rejection of Extremism, Intolerance, and Oppression

Black Ribbon Day is an international day of remembrance for victims of totalitarian regimes, specifically Stalinism, communism, Nazism and fascism. It is observed on August 23rd and symbolizes the rejection of “extremism, intolerance and oppression.”

Boston Broadside

Jewish Voices, Jewish Values: Keeping the Faith in Our Democracy

In every generation there is a moment when we are called to fight against bigotry and anti-Semitism, to fight for democracy and our social justice values. This is our moment (and our movement). Support JALSA Impact — Engaging the MA Jewish Community in the fight to Hold the House, Flip the Senate and Win the White House!


Virtual 2020 Corporate Citizenship Awards

Join the Boston Business Journal for our annual Corporate Citizenship Awards.

Boston Business Journal

Today’s Headlines


Lynn, Revere report double-digit increase in virus cases – Lynn Item

Environmental group hoists banner over iconic Citgo sign – Boston Globe


Galaxy to build $50 million project in Worcester – Telegram & Gazette

Easthampton to consider doing away with school resource officers – Daily Hampshire Gazette

No Covid-19 patients currently at Cape hospital – Cape Cod Times


Republicans retrench in fight for Senate – Politico

Disney World to cut hours after seeing fewer visitors than expected – The Hill

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