Keller at Large

The state’s disastrous dice roll comes up snake eyes

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says the already dubious casino business model – along with its promises of riches galore for the host cities and the state of Massachusetts — has imploded as a result of the pandemic. The only question now is: How much is their real estate worth?

Keller at Large

Happening Today

SJC hears Uber case, Gaming Commission, and more

— The Supreme Judicial Court hears oral arguments in number of cases, including Kauders vs. Uber, a discrimination case challenging Uber’s enforceability of rider agreements, 9 a.m.

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Cannabis Control Commission meets for a regular business meeting, 10 a.m.

— The Gaming Commission meets and may vote to make Karen Wells the interim executive director, the permanent administrative head of the agency, 10 a.m.

–The Gold Star families of two veterans from Bedford killed in action in 2003 and 2004 offer reaction to President Trump’s comments on the military, as reported by The Atlantic, with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, Rep. Ken Gordon and Sen. Michael Barrett attending, Hart-Desiato Bridge on Route 225, spanning the Concord River, 10:30 a.m.

Department of Higher Education and the Lumina Foundation hold a webinar to announce Lumina’s investment in a new plan to achieve greater equity and racial justice in public higher education, with U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Education Secretary James Peyser, Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago and Board of Higher Education Chair Chris Gabrieli among the participants, 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.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The coronavirus numbers: 4 new cases, 8,937 total deaths, 182 cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Reopening school showdowns, Part II: Andover teachers’ no-show declared an illegal strike

Things are getting tense out there amid the pandemic. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “A state labor board ruled Tuesday night that Andover teachers had taken part in an illegal strike last week when they refused to enter school buildings and classrooms for professional development, ordering the local union to notify its members of their duty to return to school.”

Gov. Charlie Baker is backing the board’s decision. But from CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg: “Unions say ruling against Andover teachers won’t curb activities/Unions continue to pressure school districts on reopening.”

Other school reopening headlines from around the state, starting with the Globe: “Dedham schools postpone return to classroom after town designated high risk for Covid-19.” From the Lynn Item: “Spike deflates Lynnfield school plan.” From the Berkshire Eagle: “North Adams school committee, union agree on hybrid startup plans.” From MassLive: “Massachusetts issues new guidance for school nurses ahead of reopening.” And from the Herald’s Alexi Cohan: “Boston Public Schools does walk-through of facilities, teachers say they were not invited.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Baker knocks lack of fed relief, but he’ll take the $300 boost for jobless workers

He’s right to be frustrated and thankful at the same time. From Steph Solis at MassLive: “Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says the unemployment assistance program created out of an executive order from President Donald Trump isn’t a ‘sustainable solution,’ but in the short term unemployed workers will start seeing another $300 a month in their paychecks.” 

MassLive

Report: Dozens of frontline workers have died of COVID-19 in Massachusetts

The Globe’s Katie Johnston reports that at least 59 workers – the vast majority of them frontline workers in health care, grocery stores, transportation and law enforcement – have perished as a result of doing their duties during the pandemic. And some say the number of deaths is actually much higher.

Callie Crossley’s column from Monday definitely has more meaning this morning: “How Will America Honor The Lives Lost To COVID-19?”

Boston Globe

State pandemic inspectors crack down on businesses, but is it making a difference?

MassLive’s Steph Solis and WCVB report that state inspectors have cited hundreds of businesses for violating social-distancing laws, as part of the state’s efforts to reduce COVID-19 in high-risk communities. But CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl and the Eagle Tribune’s Christian Wade take a look at the data and see the situation getting worse, not better, in high-risk communities.


Have protective masks driven down health-care costs in general? A certain ex-insurance chief thinks so

It sort of makes sense, in a common-sense sort of way, i.e. Gov. Charlie Baker’s assertion yesterday that face masks, social distancing and other pandemic measures have not only reduced the number of coronavirus cases, but also reduced all sorts of illnesses – and reduced health care costs as a result. CommonWealth’s Burce Mohl has more on the former Harvard-Pilgrim CEO’s observations.

CommonWealth

The SJC’s busy COVID-19 caseload week

Yesterday, the Supreme Judicial Court heard a case regarding criminal sentencing during the pandemic, as SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) reports. And, tomorrow, it hears a case challenging Gov. Charlie Baker’s use of emergency powers during the pandemic, as Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote about earlier this week.

But it’s not all COVID-19 this week at the SJC. CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports that the high court today will hear a case questioning the enforceability of Uber rider agreements.

Conspiracy theory alert: Could COVID-19 have escaped from a lab?

Rowan Jacobsen at Boston Magazine takes a look at a theory by a Broad Institute scientist in Cambridge that the coronavirus may have been, at some point, inadvertently tampered with/altered in a laboratory to make it more deadly to humans. And Jacobsen suggests this is not your run-of-the mill conspiracy theory, but a high-grade, data-driven conspiracy theory.

Boston Magazine

Taking a lonely stand against Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats

SHNS’s Sam Doran (pay wall) and the Globe’s Anissa Gardizy report that small restaurant owners, fed up with the high fees charged by oh-so-hip food delivery companies, were pressing State House lawmakers yesterday to pass legislation cracking down on exorbitant delivery fees during the pandemic.

Confirmed: Black and Latinx defendants screwed over by justice system

A new Harvard Law School report commissioned by Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants confirms what we’ve all sadly known or should have known: There are huge racial disparities in how people are treated by the state’s criminal justice system. Here’s a few damning examples, via SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall), who reports the study “found that Black and Latinx people, when sentenced to incarceration, receive longer sentences than their white counterparts, and that racial and ethnic disparaties in initial charging decisions are a driver of differences in sentence lengths.”

CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt has more on the Harvard Law study. Fyi: No wonder there are so many criminal-justice protests on the streets these days, the latest via the AP at WBUR: “Protesters At State House Push For Reopening Of Police Brutality Cases.”

Was Walsh’s treatment of Wu a sign of respect or classic mansplaining?

The Globe’s Shirley Leung doesn’t like the way Mayor Marty Walsh spoiled Michelle Wu’s running-for-mayor announcement, calling it a “kind of mansplaining behavior that men shouldn’t get away with anymore.” But the Globe’s Joan Vennochi isn’t taking the Damsel in Distress approach to the matter, Just the opposite. She say Walsh’s hardball tactic can be seen as a sign of respect for Wu. And she better be ready for similar rough-and-tumble signs of respect because Walsh is both a formidable leader and campaigner, Vennochi writes.


Massachusetts primary drew 1.7 million voters, breaking 1990 turnout record

The final tally is in. MassLive’s Steph Solis reports on the historic 1.7 million people who voted in last Tuesday’s primary elections in Massachusetts, thanks largely to expanded mail-in voting.

MassLive

Lower the bar: GOP’s Campbell asks court for help in Pressley challenge

She needs some help. A lot of help. Republican Rayla Campbell, who wants to challenge U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley in the state’s 7th congressional district, is asking the state’s high court to lower the bar for her to appear on the November ballot, even though she recently fell well short of the 2,000 write-in vote threshold, Lisa Kashinsky at the Herald reports.

Boston Herald

At last: The NYT can save money by firing half its op-ed columnists who sound exactly the same and instead use AI

Fyi: They’re here. Robotic opinion-piece writers. Next up: Robotic newsletter aggregators and writers? Impossible!

The Guardian

Northeastern isn’t the only school cracking down on students for partying

The Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes and Laura Krantz report that Northeastern University, which recently gave the heave to 11 students for violating the school’s social-distancing rules, isn’t the only local school cracking down on partying students. But it should be noted: They haven’t given students the boot and confiscated their tuition money – at least not yet.

Boston Globe

How bad is the Boston office market? Worse than the dot-com and post-9-11 crashes

The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock has the hard data, not just anecdotal evidence, on how bad the office market is these days in Boston. We’re talking the worst two quarters in history as far as unused space being dumped on the sublease market. Meanwhile, from the Herald’s Erin Tiernan and Marie Szaniszlo: “Office prices plummet in Boston amid coronavirus shutdowns as companies rethink traditional spaces.”

BBJ

Halted progress: Delta latest to decamp Worcester airport

It’s empty again. Delta Air Lines says it will cease operations at Worcester Regional Airport next month, a move that could leave the Massport facility without a single commercial flight on the schedule, Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram reports. Delta is following the lead of fellow carriers JetBlue and American Airlines, which have also shut down local operations amid the pandemic.

Telegram

Baker nominates three for judgeships, including lead prosecutor in Aaron Hernandez murder case

The Baker administration seems to have found time during the pandemic to start nominating judges at a faster clip. From Douglas Hook at MassLive: “Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday three new judicial nominees to Massachusetts courts, including the lead prosecutor in the 2017 Aaron Hernandez double murder trial.” The lead prosecutor, Patrick M. Haggan, has worked in the Suffolk DA’s office for 24 years.

MassLive

State pension fund and MIT launch social-investing project

This is interesting. And it may help others who want and need guidance on socially responsible investing. From SHNS’s Colin Young: “The Massachusetts state pension fund is teaming up with the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative to try to improve the data available to investors who want to make decisions based on things like the way a company treats its workers, its carbon emissions or its product safety record.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Team of rivals: WBUR and GBH to produce joint news podcast

Under the headline ‘Dogs and cats living together,’ Universal Hub reports that WBUR and the Station Formerly Known as WGBH are putting aside their competitive instincts and actually cooperating for a change, specifically on a jointly produced NPR news podcast. And they’re also saying nice things about each other. 

Universal Hub

Close to the vest: Plainridge confirms layoffs, but won’t say how many

Plainridge Park Casino, the state’s slots-only gaming parlor, has informed furloughed workers they are subject to being permanently laid off, but the casino’s parent company won’t say how many jobs are impacted, Andy Rosen at the Globe reports. Btw: See our Keller at Large on MassterList post at the top. Jon doesn’t have many nice things to say about our casinos these days.

Boston Globe

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

Metro

Office prices plummet in Boston amid coronavirus shutdowns as companies rethink traditional spaces – Boston Herald

MFA to reopen Sept. 26 – Universal Hub

Massachusetts

Framingham, still in coronavirus red zone, will get help from state community outreach teams – MetroWest Daily News

Weymouth compressor station starts testing – Patriot Ledger

15 appointed to Northampton’s new Policing Review Commission – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Nation

AP Exclusive: Pence to attend event hosted by QAnon backers – Associated Press

Database shows media layoffs caused by coronavirus – Poynter

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