Keller at Large

Time running out on the big cop-out

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says primary day and Labor Day have finally come and gone – and now it’s time to think about other matters. Such as stalled police-reform legislation on Beacon Hill and how police organizations are successfully blocking measures – at least so far.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Walsh at BPD ceremony, council police hearing, Markey-Kennedy unity event

Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Health and the Coalition for Local Public Health host a webinar to provide resources and support to local public health officials during the pandemic, 9:30 p.m.

— Mayor Marty Walsh offers remarks at the unveiling of the Boston Police Department Memorial Wall, honoring officers who died of suicide, Boston Police Headquarters, 1199 Tremont Street, Roxbury, 1 p.m.

— Mayor Marty Walsh hosts a media availability to share updates relating to COVID-19 in the city of Boston, City Hall, main entrance, 2:30 p.m.

Boston City Council holds a virtual Ways and Means hearing regarding police contracts and “police accountability and transparency and an overall shift in departmental resource allocations,” 3 p.m.

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, a week after their Dem primary showdown won by Markey, join the Massachusetts Democratic Party for a virtual Democratic unity event and to kick-off ‘MassDems Mobilize Maine,’ a series of phone banks to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, 6 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: 8 new deaths, 8,925 total deaths, 222 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Walsh: Wu is running for mayor. She told me so

Michelle Wu didn’t even wait until after the November general election to make her move. To no one’s real surprise, the popular city councilor has reportedly told Mayor Marty Walsh in a courtesy call that she indeed plans to run for mayor next year, while Walsh hasn’t made up his mind about pursuing a third term. You gotta love the spoiler ho-hum way Walsh let slip the Wu news.

The Globe’s Danny McDonald and Milton Valencia and the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter have more on Wu’s early-start strategy to better position herself no matter what Walsh decides in coming months.

Secretary Walsh? Mayor Pressley? U.S. Senator Healey?

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is looking ahead – way ahead – and ponders all the different political scenarios that could soon unfold, depending on how the November presidential race turns out. And, yes, that’s ‘Mayor Pressley’ in the headline. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky takes a look at what lies  ahead for Joseph Kennedy III, the soon-to-be ex-congressman. Gov. Kennedy? Even Sen. Kennedy, despite his primary loss last week to Ed Markey?

Boston Herald

Auchincloss: ‘I am a pragmatic progressive’

And, yes, Jake Auchincloss did indeed win last Tuesday’s crowded Dem primary field in the 4th Congressional District, narrowly beating out Jesse Mermell, his closet opponent who conceded defeat on Friday and said she won’t seek a recount. SHNS’s Matt Murphy and WBUR’s Simón Ríos have more on the tight race won by Auchincloss with only 22.4 percent of the vote that effectively sends him to Congress.

After being declared the winner, Auchincloss seemed to be channeling JFK (“I’m an idealist without illusions”) with his own pronouncement: “‘I am a pragmatic progressive.” The Globe’s Matt Stout has more.

‘Poster child’? Tight race reverberates in debate over ranked-choice voting

It’s destined to become a case study. Leaders of the campaign to enact ranked-choice voting say results in the 4th Congressional District primary race–which saw Jake Auchincloss win with only about 23 percent of the vote–make the case for the initiative petition that will go before voters in November, Lisa Kashinsky at the Herald and Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth Magazine report. Media critic Dan Kennedy at WGBH says the 4th contest – as wel as the crowded 3rd Dem primary race two years ago — cry out for ranked-choice voting in Massachusetts.

We’re somewhat torn on the issue. There is indeed something wrong with someone effectively winning a seat to Congress with only one-fifth of the vote in a primary race. But other Dem Congressional races didn’t have the same miniscule-majority-results problem last Tuesday. So are we really going to change the entire voting system – for primaries and general elections alike – all because of the occasional crowded Dem primary race tied to an open seat? Why not give individual parties the right to have ranked-choice primary elections if they so wish? Why apply it to all parties for all elections? It seems to be an overreactive solution to an isolated party problem.

Looking ahead: Morse doesn’t rule out challenging Neal again

Is it too early to speculate about 2022? Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse says he won’t rule out another Democratic primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Richard Neal in two years and all but confirms he’ll run for another term as mayor. Dusty Christensen at the Daily Hampshire Gazette has the details. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette

August surprise: State tax collections are actually ahead of last year’s pre-pandemic levels

SHNS’s Colin A. Young reports on the latest tax-collection data that shows the state is now hauling in more money than it did at this point a year ago, before the pandemic. Granted, it’s just two months of data and results are skewed due to the change in tax-filing deadlines this year. Nonetheless, the numbers are somewhat encouraging.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

But employers face ‘staggering’ tax hike to replenish state’s unemployment fund

The state’s revenue picture may look a little better these days. But its finances are still in overall rough shape, including its unemployment insurance fund. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) reports state lawmakers are considering ways to soften the blow of a potential “staggering” employer tax increase to replenish the program’s depleted coffers.

Report: Nearly one in five Massachusetts restaurants have permanently closed

It stinks indeed. The Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo reports that nearly 20 percent of the state’s restaurants have now permanently closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. And the list of closures grows by the day.

But here’s some very good news, via the BBJ’s Catherine Carlock (pay wall): “Pour House landlord plans to reopen, develop above bar.”

Rhode Island: Still alone, so alone

Is it something personal? Three more states over the weekend were added to the state’s travel-order exemption list but Rhode Island remains quarantined, the only New England state not to make the exemption cut. Scott Croteau at MassLive has more.


‘Essential workers need a bill of rights’

Over the Labor Day weekend, many unions across the region stressed the need to protect frontline workers during the pandemic, as MassLive’s Patrick Johnson reports. Meanwhile, from the AFL-CIO’s Steven Tolman at CommonWealth magazine: “‘Essential workers need a bill of rights.” And he lists some of those rights

State halts COVID testing by firm after hundreds of false positives

And ‘false positives’ is a clinical way of saying the results were flat-out wrong. From a report at WBUR: “The state has suspended Boston-based DNA testing firm Orig3n from performing coronavirus tests after it allegedly provided 383 false positives. … Massachusetts Department of Public Health spokesperson Ann Scales said the department began looking into Orig3n in early August because the company was reporting an “unusually high positivity rate.”


So long, snow days? Just one of the pandemic’s potential far-reaching effects

Alison Bosma at the MetroWest Daily News has an interesting story about how pandemic-era remote learning will probably eliminate the need for snow days this coming school year in Massachusetts – and how remote learning may well eliminate snow days in the years beyond.

MetroWest Daily News

Northeastern boots 11 first-year students from campus for partying

They’re making examples of them, that’s pretty clear. From WGBH’s Paul Singer: “Northeastern University kicked 11 first-year students out of school Friday after they were caught partying in a hotel room used as off-campus housing Wednesday night in violation of the school’s strict polices on social distancing.” 


Of politics, payouts and school principals …

Here’s an interesting combination of education stories. The Globe’s James Vaznis reports that a former Boston Public Schools principal, who a judge recently found was wrongly terminated, is now speaking out about “politically connected parents and teachers” within the city’s school system. According to Vaznis, the comments from Jenna Cramer provide a “rare peek into the life of a BPS principal and some potential insight into why so many principals” are given the heave-ho every year in Boston.

Meanwhile, from Colman Herman at CommonWealth magazine: “17 Boston school officials paid $762,000 in settlements/Cassellius calls payments part of ‘fair parting agreement.’”

Massachusetts dishes out more school disciplinary action against Black girls than even Alabama

Speaking of schools, a new report by a nonprofit group says that Black girls in Massachusetts are 3.9 times more likely to face school disciplinary action than their white counterparts. And there’s this additional fact: The Bay State reported a higher racial disparity in discipline than Alabama. MassLive’s Steph Solis has the details.


WCVB reporter stabbed in Copley Square over ‘bloody’ weekend in Boston

The Globe’s Felicia Gans reports that WCVB-TV reporter Ted Wayman was stabbed in Copley Square while reporting on a story Sunday night. He was treated at a local hospital and is reportedly recovering fine. Police did arrest a 44-year-old man for an alleged stabbing in the area of Dartmouth and Boylston streets at about 9:05 p.m., but did not say if the case involved Wayman.

The incident came over what Universal Hub, citing Live Boston, called a very “bloody” weekend in Boston, with multiple shootings and stabbings on Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Boston Globe

Free means free: Healey won’t defend part of state’s panhandling law

The office of Attorney General Maura Healey says it won’t defend a state law criminalizing panhandling in a Supreme Judicial Court proceeding, a stance that puts it at odds with Fall River officials, Nick McCool and Maggie Mulvhill at he Globe report. Healey’s office says the current law violated free speech protections because it allows organizations to solicit donations. 

Boston Globe

Clawback: Healey collects $12.3M from employers accused of wage theft

The Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo reports that Attorney General Maura Healey’s office last fiscal year slapped employers with $12.3 million in restitution claims and penalties on behalf of thousands of workers who said they were victims of wage theft.

Numbers game: Paper trail tells different story on state’s minority-business spending

The Baker administration has tweaked the way it defines compliance with mandates that government contracts have set-asides for minority- and women-owned businesses, allowing spending that is not directly related to contracts to be credited, reports Paul Singer at WGBH. The liberal definitions of what counts as minority spending has allowed Baker to claim his administration has exceeded goals for spending to minority businesses. 


JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956

Fredrik Logevall, Harvard University professor of history and international relations and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, discusses his forthcoming book JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956 with George Packer, staff writer at The Atlantic.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Virtual 2020 Corporate Citizenship Awards

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

Boston Business Journal

Virtual Author Talk with Pam Fessler

Virtual Author Talk with NPR Correspondent Pam Fessler

American Ancestors/NEHGS together with the Boston Public Library and the State Library of Massachusetts

Priorities Primary Debrief: 2022 & The Future for Massachusetts Democrats

Please join us at 12pm on September 15 for a Priorities Primary Debrief: 2022 & The Future for Massachusetts Democrats. This event will feature a legislative primary overview, a look at some polling we’ve conducted on the 2022 gubernatorial election (campaigns are likely to start as early as November!), and a discussion of voter attitudes.

Priorities for Progress

Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America

Senator Sherrod Brown discusses his new book, Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America, which explores the careers of senators who have also sat at Desk 88 on the Senate floor, including Hugo Black, George McGovern, and Robert F. Kennedy. Senator Jeanne Shaheen moderates.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Today’s Headlines


City backs down on plan to remove Melnea Cass trees – Boston Globe

‘Help!’: After Biogen event, emails show struggle to grasp Covid-19 – Boston Business Journal


Easthampton city council urges state to build new Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke – MassLive

Middlesex DA launches task force to address incidents of hate and bias – Lowell Sun

Marblehead police chief takes aim at retirement – Lynn Item


How Trump’s billion-dollar campaign lost its cash advantage – New York Times

The Q Anon problem facing local journalism this election season – Washington Post

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