Keller at Large

The rise of a new breed of rats

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says the pandemic has unleashed the rats of the rodent kind in Boston and elsewhere, as the little critters search for food no longer available in restaurant dumpsters. But he notes the pandemic has also unleashed a different kind of rat – of the political variety.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

UMass budget, RTAs meeting, rodent-control hearing

Massachusetts Opioid Screening and Awareness Day virtual town hall features remarks from Mayor Marty Walsh, Rep. Jon Santiago, Sen. Julian Cyr and others, 9 a.m.

University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees meets with a vote planned on the system’s fiscal 2022 state budget request, 10:45 a.m.

Boston City Council members hold a virtual hearing on rodent control amid the pandemic, 11 a.m.

Regional Transit Authority Council meets virtually with representatives from all 15 RTAs participating in a discussion about funding issues, use of CARES Act federal stimulus money, electric bus deployment and service planning, 2 p.m.

— MBTA staff and New Bedford Planning Department employees host a virtual listening session to discuss Phase 1 construction on the South Coast Rail project, 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: 7 new deaths, 9,107 total deaths, 244 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

The Ginsburg aftermath, Part II: Oh, it’s getting uglier, all right

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg continues to dominate the national and (to a lesser extent) state news as talk intensifies about scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners, court-packing etc. tactics aimed at filling, or not filling, her position before the November election. The Globe’s Jess Bidgood and Liz Goodwin try to get a handle on the raging political battle sparked by Ginsburg’s death.

Meanwhile, from the Globe’s Joan Vennochi: “AOC will fight fire with fire on Supreme Court nominee.” But from the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld: “Democrats’ desperate Supreme Court tactics could backfire on Joe Biden.”

There are local skirmish lines being formed in races across the state. From WBUR’s Anthony Brooks: “How The Battle Over Replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is Shaping Massachusetts Politics.” From Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine: “Groups urge ROE Act passage to honor Ginsburg.” GBH’s Michael Deehan has more on the ROE Act push on Beacon Hill.

Tufts center: State’s budget crisis may not be as dire as thought

No budgetgeddom? Perhaps not, or at least it may only be a mini- budgetgeddom. SHNS’s Michael Norton reports that Tufts University’s Center for State Policy Analysis is predicting a tough budget year ahead for the state, but it may not be nearly as bad as previously forecasted, based on recent encouraging tax-collection data. The Tufts report is somewhat at odds with Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Michael Rodrigues’s recent dire warnings of a multibillion-dollar budget hole (SHNS).

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

‘T targets white, wealthier riders with service cuts’

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl report that the MBTA is reluctantly, very reluctantly, sharpening the proverbial budget-cutting knife due to the loss of ridership revenues during the pandemic – and it looks as though “white, wealthier riders” will feel the hit most, as the T struggles to maintain services for low-income and minority riders, many of whom don’t have non-T transportation options.

State to low-risk virus communities: Get back to in-person classes

So why didn’t they do this sooner? WBUR’s Max Larkin and MassLive’s Michael Bonner report that the Massachusetts Department of Education is pressuring 16 communities and school districts with low coronavirus test rates to return to in-person classes. It’s definitely an escalation in the push for in-person learning, but it’s not a mandate, as far as we can tell.

Still, the push may have yielded some results. Pittsfield schools announced they would move toward bringing students back to classrooms in a hybrid model by the end of October, Amanda Burke at the Berkshire Eagle reports. 

Parents and teen charged over house party that forced Lincoln-Sudbury to go all-remote

They weren’t bluffing. NBC Boston and the Globe’s Travis Andersen report that Sudbury police have indeed filed charges against the parents and their teen kid over a recent large bash attended by scores of high-school student – a bash that forced Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High to go all-remote learning earlier this month. The names and specific charges haven’t been released yet.

Report: Sex-solicitation charges against Kraft likely to be dropped

Speaking of police charges: No video, no case. From the AP’s Terry Spencer: “Florida prosecutors said Monday that they won’t appeal a court’s decision blocking video that allegedly shows New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft paying for massage parlor sex, making it likely the charges against him will be dropped.” Kraft’s high-priced attorneys certainly earned their pay on this one.

AP News

Question 1: Who knew an auto-repair referendum was ultimately about predators and terrorists?

The Globe’s Matt Stout and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg report on the wild charges and counter-charges flying in the battle over the Question 1 “Right to Repair” auto referendum, a battle involving millions of dollars in ads and vehement disagreement on almost every point in the debate. But no mention of zombies (yet).

‘Madame Speaker’? Clark’s rapid rise has people talking

Is ‘Madame Speaker’ in her future? As U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark gathers support for her bid to become assistant speaker–the number four leadership role among House Democrats–Callum Borchers at WBUR traces her rapid rise into the leadership ranks and finds plenty of pols both in Washington and back in the Bay State who think she could be leading the delegation and wielding the speaker’s gavel before long.


Grubhub et gang order up a lobbying campaign to block delivery-fee caps

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that Grubhub, DoorDash and UberEats are lobbying away on Beacon Hill to eighty-six legislation that would put a 15 percent cap on delivery-fee commissions during the pandemic, a cap restaurateurs say they desperately need.

Boston Globe

Report: Falmouth could abandon iconic coastal road within 30 years due to rising seas

And, yes, it includes large swaths of the current Falmouth Road Race course. From WCAI’s Eve Zuckoff: “A new report sets a timeline for Falmouth to make a historic retreat from its iconic Surf Drive coastal roadway in the face of sea level rise, flooding, and other impacts of climate change. Within thirty years, the picturesque road could be abandoned.” 

Double reverse: UMass announces intent to play fall football after all

They’re following the leaders in a new direction. UMass Amherst says it will stage a fall football season after all, in part because there may be no teams to play against if the season is pushed to the spring, Mike Moran at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. UMass says it has had just two positive results from more than 2,500 coronavirus tests connected to the football program.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Joe Kennedy III’s super campaign donation: Thanks, Dad

We all knew money was probably flowing from one clan account to another, but not this amount. From the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Joseph Kennedy II dumped $2 million from his old campaign coffers into the super PAC backing his son’s bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, FEC filings show, confirming the speculation that became a major point of contention in the final weeks of the primary.” The Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert has more on the family-friendly transaction first reported by Politico’s Stephanie Murray.

Boston Herald

Report: Judge rules Baker improperly fired Holyoke Soldiers’ Home director

Western Massachusetts Politics and Insight’s Matt Szafranski, citing this summary link, says a state judge has ruled that Gov. Charlie Baker improperly fired Bennett Walsh, the head of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home where scores of veterans perished during the early days of the pandemic. “He (Walsh) is, in fact, not fired…for now,” writes Szafranski. But he will be soon, as a formality.


Suffolk/Globe poll: Collins narrowly trails Gideon in Maine Senate race

The Globe’s Victoria McGrane reports on a new Suffolk/Globe poll showing Democrat Sara Gideon leading U.S. Sen. Susan Collin by five percentage points in the much-watched Senate race in Maine. But note: The poll was conducted before the death of the Supreme Court’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the current all-out political war to fill her spot on the nation’s high court. 

Boston Globe

Trump’s latest targets: Harvard and other Ivy League schools

The NYT reports that President Trump is renewing his attacks on Harvard and other elite universities across the country, even though he himself was tucked safely away at an Ivy League school during the height of the Vietnam War.


Bar oversight agency considers misconduct action against assistant AGs in Sonja Farak case

From Shira at CommonWealth magazine: “The State Board of Bar Overseers on Monday began a two-week hearing to decide whether to recommend disciplinary action against three attorneys who worked for former attorney general Martha Coakley, who are accused of withholding evidence in the case of rogue drug lab chemist Sonja Farak.”


Western Mass. legal community to Baker: How about a little geographic diversity on the SJC?

With the recent death of Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants and the pending retirement of Justice Barbara Lenk, Gov. Charlie Baker will soon have two positions to fill on the high-court bench – and a retired SJC judge and a governor’s councilor are among those urging Baker to select someone from western Massachusetts, please. Stephanie Barry at MassLive has more.


MBTA worker killed in bus yard accident was a ‘dedicated’ employee

The MBTA is mourning over the loss of one of their own, after the death yesterday of a long-time employee who died from injuries suffered in a mishap at the Charlestown Bus Yard, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski(paywall). The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports Bernadin Etienne, 62, who was struck by a vehicle in the yard, was a “dedicated and hardworking” T employee for nearly 20 years.

Tufts Floating Hospital gets a new name: Tufts Children’s Hospital

Tufts Floating Hospital, which started as a hospital ship in the late 1800s, is changing its name, considering it hasn’t actually housed patients on a ship since Calvin Coolidge was president. Its new name: Tufts Children’s Hospital, reports Universal Hub.

Universal Hub

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


As Boston rat complaints rise, city launches aggressive campaign to reduce rodent population – Boston Herald

So, Lynn, what’s your housing vision? – Lynn Item


Fall River schools report first Covid-19 case – Herald-News

Amid pandemic considerations, Greenfield to hold drive-thru Halloween event – Greenfield Recorder

Madison ‘committed’ to projects around Polar Park – Telegram & Gazette


Romney faces another crossroads on Trump’s Supreme Court push – Politico

Trump could be investigated for tax fraud, DA says for first time – New York Times

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.