Keller at Large

Sorry, but Charlie Baker isn’t the second coming of King George III

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller takes aim at those who have legally challenged Gov. Charlie Baker’s emergency powers during the pandemic. The bottom line: Baker’s not the second coming of King George III, folks.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

The Future of Democrats, Health Policy Commission, and more

— Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered state and U.S. flags to fly at half-staff in memory of Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants, who died Monday.

Priorities for Progress hosts ‘Primary Debrief: The Future of Massachusetts Democrats,’ featuring Rep. Chynah Tyler and Democratic strategist Scott Ferson, who discuss legislative primary outcomes, voter attitudes and lessons for 2022, 12 p.m.

Rappaport Center holds a webinar examining the state’s response to COVID-19 and what Massachusetts could have done to be better prepared for the crisis, with participants including Insurance Commissioner Gary Anderson, Sen. Cindy Friedman, and Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Michael Caljouw, 12 p.m.

Health Policy Commission meets to discuss the agency’s new drug pricing review process, including the final Standard Reporting Form released in August, 12 p.m.

Commission on the Status of Women holds a virtual public hearing to hear about impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, particularly around access to education and child care, 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: 9 new deaths, 9,010 total deaths, 235 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

SJC Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, RIP

Ten days after suffering a heart attack and later undergoing surgery, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, 65, hailed as an advocate of social and racial justice and the first Jewish chief justice in the court’s 328-year history, suddenly died yesterday. The Globe’s Bryan Marquard, SHNS’s Katie Lannan, CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt and Shira Schoenberg and MassLive’s Steph Solis have more on the shocking death of Gants, described as “a thoughtful and brilliant jurist” and a “champion of equal justice,” among numerous tributes. From the Globe’s Dasia Moore: “Gants leaves behind a legacy of championing ‘the humanity of the justice system.’”

What a sad, sad development.

Here’s a way to pay tribute to Gants: Start collecting more racial criminal-justice data

In a Globe op-ed, Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins and former state representatives Bryon Rushing and Juana Matias take note of last week’s release of a Harvard Law School study on racial bias within the state’s criminal justice system, a study that was commissioned by Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants, who suddenly died yesterday. More criminal-justice data needs to be routinely collected as called for under state law, following “Justice Gants’s lead” in the process, the trio argue.

Boston Globe

It’s official: Wu is running for mayor

OK, everybody act surprised. City Councilor Michelle Wu informed the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance that she will seek the mayor’s office in 2021, Steph Solis at MassLive reports. Meanwhile, Wu has released a YouTube video announcing her candidacy, as part of her campaign-launch blitz.

Of course, Mayor Marty Walsh managed to squeeze any drama out of the news by dropping last week that Wu informed him of her plans to run for mayor, but Wu’s “change of purpose” filing and video officially confirm she’s got the mayor’s office in her sights. 

MBTA tries to soften coming ‘painful’ service cuts

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports on the “painful” service cuts the MBTA expects to implement as a result of plunging fare revenues amid the pandemic – and officials are warning the T “may never return to exactly what it was before the pandemic flipped public life on its head,” as Lisinski writes. Fare increases are also on the table.

CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl reports that T officials are prioritizing services for low-income and people of color, as they review various retrenchment plans. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports that the T plans to boost commuter rail service to Lynn and Brockton “in hopes of persuading bus riders to take less crowded trains instead.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Not ready for prime time: T’s battery-powered buses not performing as hoped

Speaking of the MBTA, CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl reports that the transit agency’s battery-powered buses aren’t performing as hoped. They take too long to charge, don’t go as far as touted once charged, etc. etc.


Partying high school students hit the national media big time

Add Dover-Sherborn Regional High School to the list of local high schools pulling back from in-person classes as a result of partying students, as Universal Hub reports.

Meanwhile, Lincoln-Sudbury and Dedham high school students, take a bow. Your partying has made the New York Times, which reports that student parties are disrupting reopening plans in school districts across the northeast.

At Boston College, it seems older college students aren’t behaving much better, though school officials continue to insist all is well at the Heights. The Globe’s Nick Stoico has more on the conflicting reports out of BC. Meanwhile, from GBH’s Tori Bedford: “’We Were Lied To’: Students Criticize Boston College Over Lack Of Transparency Around COVID-19.”

In Springfield, Pope Francis Preparatory School is switching to remote-only learning following reports of new COVID-19 cases among students. But there’s no mention of partying in Ray Kelly’s piece at MassLive.

Cracking down: Stuck-in-red Framingham tees up $500 fines for gathering violations

Essentially surrounded by communities that have postponed school openings due to large student parties, the Framingham Board of Health and police department say they’ll start issuing the maximum-allowed fines of $500 to anyone caught hosting a gathering that violates the governor’s restrictions. The MetroWest Daily News has more.

MetroWest Daily News

Teachers already at high risk of coronavirus ask: What do we do?

Speaking of schools, it’s easy to tell teachers to do their jobs and get back to the classrooms. But what if you’re a teacher with preexisting conditions that make going back to classrooms even riskier than risky during the pandemic, such as those with diabetes? The Globe’s Naomi Martin tackles yet another thorny issue facing schools these days.

In other school-teacher news, from the Herald’s Alexi Cohan: “Sharon teachers rally over unsafe buildings, district says schools will open anyway.”

Halloween trick-or-treating ban a ‘no brainer,’ says Springfield’s mayor

For kids, this is possibly the hardest blow, worse than cancelled birthday parties: No Halloween trick-or-treating – and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says it’s a ‘no brainer’ during the pandemic, reports Peter Goonan at MassLive. We’ll be hearing much more about additional trick-or-treating bans in coming weeks.


Owner of Boston Sports Clubs files for bankruptcy, irking members yet again

WCVB reports that the owner of Boston Sports Clubs, which tangled with its members and Attorney General Maura Healey over membership dues during the early days of the pandemic, has filed for bankruptcy protection. And protection from still angry members, who want their fees back, as the Globe’s John Ellement and Andrea Estes report.

Some COVID-19 hotlines just fade away …

Attorney General Maura Healey can pronounce “mission accomplished,” now that the Baker administration’s pandemic-complaints hotline has ramped up and Healey’s COVID-19-violations hotline can now just fade away, as it apparently has in recent days. MassLive’s Steph Solis has more.


Shocking: State Police uncovered more trooper payroll issues but never informed the feds

The Globe’s Matt Rocheleau reports that State Police may have actually found more instances of payroll abuses by troopers – including information about a now ex-union boss – and never reported the info to prosecutors. Why are we not surprised?

Boston Globe

O’Connor to Markey on debates: Chicken, coward, scaredy-cat

He came perilously close to a dreaded triple-dog-dare-you challenge, but held off. GBH’s Adam Reilly and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan report that GOP challenger Kevin O’Connor yesterday pressed U.S. Sen. Ed Markey to agree to seven debates, not one, before the November election. “Is he afraid of me?” O’Connor said.

Meanwhile, from the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld: “Ed Markey has gone back to Washington and his arrogant, incumbency, pre-Joe Kennedy ways. Don’t expect to see him and his faded, white Nike sneakers too much between now and Nov. 3.”

Explained: Question 1 (‘Right to Repair’) and Question 2 (Ranked choice)

Our two NPR stations are ahead of the news analysis curve this morning with two good reviews/summaries of the high-profile ballot initiatives that will be decided by voters in November – with WBUR’s Callum Borchers handling Question 1 (“Right to repair”) and GBH’s Adam Reilly handling Question 2 (Ranked choice).  

What can’t they do? MIT researchers help discover possible life on Venus

There had to be an MIT angle. And there was. Michael Bonner at MassLive reports that a number of researchers from the Cambridge school took part in a startling new interntional study that says scientists may have discovered possible signs of life in the clouds of Venus. MIT News has more.

The Commonwealth of Amazon: E-commerce giant hiring again

Is it possible Amazon might one day become the largest employer in Massachusetts? It’s already one of the state’s largest employers – and it plans to get bigger by hiring another 650 people in the state, reports Lucia Maffei at the BBJ. Meanwhile, Amazon is offering $1,000 signing bonuses in some cases, reports CBS Boston.


Another exit: Charlton police chief latest to step away from role

Add him to the list. Charlton Police Chief Graham Maxfield has informed the town he will retire effective early next month, joining a host of police chiefs across the state bolting their posts amid anti-police-misconduct protests. Maxfield’s departure leaves Charlton officials scrambling to find a replacement in a hurry, Debbie LaPlaca at the Telegram reports. 


Schedule slippage: Polar Park parking garage delayed

Construction of a planned $23 million, 500-car parking garage meant to support Polar Park in Worcester has been delayed and likely won’t be ready if the WooSox open their inaugural season in the stadium next spring, Grant Welker at the Worcester Business Journal reports. 


Wish granted: Watchdog will review Kodak loan after Warren request

The Inspector General of the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. says it will launch an investigation into a $765 million loan guarantee to Eastman Kodak Corp., an inquiry that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been pressing for since the coronavirus-related deal was announced, Rachael Levy of the Wall Street Journal reports.

Wall Street Journal (pay wall)

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

Virtual Open House #3: Boston Common Master Plan

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with the Friends of the Public Garden, announced a series of virtual public events to gather feedback on the proposed improvements to the Boston Common, as part of the Boston Common Master Planning Initiative.

Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of the Public Garden

Envisioning Equity Part I: Equitable Education through the Crisis

This fall, MassBudget is hosting Envisioning Equity, a series of community conversations examining how our state budget can help build economic and racial justice in Massachusetts.


Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy

Award-winning journalist Larry Tye discusses his new book Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Virtual 2020 Best Places to Work

The BBJ hopes you can join us as we celebrate the Best Place To Work!

Boston Business Journal

Faith and the National Elections: A discussion of how faith informs our voting

Join us for a discussion with faith leaders and the media to discuss: How faith shapes the issues that matter most to us; Balancing issues, political party and personal attributes when deciding how to vote; Accurate and reliable reporting in the age of social media; and The impact of a candidate’s own faith.

A Faith That Does Justice

100th Anniversary Virtual Awards Gala

We will stand together, virtually, to celebrate our 2020 Health Care Stars who, while deserving the utmost praise and recognition pre-COVID-19, have maintained their commitment to improving and protecting the lives of MA residents since the outbreak began. We are planning a showcase of celebration and resilience and ask for your sponsorship support of our 2020 honorees and of MHC’s work.

Massachusetts Health Council

Today’s Headlines


Boston city councilors join fight to save more than 100 trees from cutdown in Roxbury – Boston Herald

Boston to make new downtown bike network permanent – Boston Globe


Appeals court hears arguments in Aquinnah gaming case – Cape Cod Times

Complaints against Worcester police increased last year – Telegram & Gazette

BJ’s liquor license bid in Framingham sparks opposition – Framingham Patch

Dighton cop fined $3,300 after his unlicensed pit bull killed another dog – Taunton Gazette


Devastating fires inject climate change into presidential campaign – Washington Post

Down-ballot Dems split from Biden on door knocking – Politico

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