Keller at Large

How to win tonight’s presidential debate

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says President Trump might gain some votes during tonight’s big presidential debate by at least feigning humility. Joe Biden’s main task tonight? Be seen as effectively standing up to a bully who can’t feign humility.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Board of Education, Presidential debate, and more

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets to vote on regulations tied to learning time, which address how schools should provide education during a state of emergency and when it is unsafe for students to physically go to school, 9 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Martin Walsh addresses the Boston business community during a virtual event held by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, 10 a.m. 

Mass. Lottery Commission meets to hear about the previous month’s sales performance and to make adjustments to Lottery contracts for various services, with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairing, 10:30 a.m.

Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity holds a virtual press conference to discuss its letter urging Gov. Baker to act more aggressively to combat the spread of COVID-19, 11 a.m. 

— President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will meet on the debate stage for the first time in the 2020 presidential election cycle, all major networks, 9 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: 11 new deaths, 9,202 total deaths, 367 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

The Debate: Let the spinning begin

It’s the biggest political event of the day and probably the week, barring new tax-avoidance revelations about the president, i.e. the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The nationally televised showdown begins at 9 p.m. – but the spins have already started. Actually, the spins on future spins have already started, via the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld, who’s already complaining about the media’s possible post-debate spin in favor of Biden.

The Globe’s Liz Goodwin isn’t spinning before the spin. She reports on Biden’s somewhat checkered past of clumsy and clutch debate performances – and Dems can only hope the latter emerges tonight. The Globe’s Dan McGowan gives a little historical context to the debate by citing the 1990 debate involving … Buddy Cianci? The NYT and the Washington Post report Trump’s tax-returns saga will probably emerge as a major issue tonight. And there is a local angle tonight, of course, via WBUR: “’He Wasn’t Afraid’: How Chris Wallace’s Start In Boston Foreshadowed His Future As Presidential Debate Moderator.”

Is ranked-choice voting even constitutional?

Tufts University’s Center for State Policy Analysis has a humble suggestion: Maybe someone should ask the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court whether ranked-choice voting –as proposed in the Question 2 ballot initiative – is even constitutional. It may all come down to wording in the state constitution about how a person “having the highest number of votes” wins elections in Massachusetts. The Globe’s Matt Stout has more on the thorny issue.

Frankly, the more we hear about ranked-choice voting and its algorithm way of calculating and counting votes, the more skeptical we get.

Boston Globe

Truly special elections: Three legislative races pit the same candidates who ran against each other earlier this year

Speaking of elections, CommonWealth magazine’s Shira Schoenberg reports that state Sens. Sue Moran and John Velis and state Rep. Carol Doherty, all three of them Democrats, are facing the same opponents in November who they ran against in special elections this past spring. And there are other grudge rematches that date back to 2018. Yes, it’s déjà vu all over again.


State Dems have a spelling problem

It’s not a big deal, but still humorous enough to report, to wit: Joe Biden lawn signs issued by local Dems misspell “Massachsuetts” at the smaller-print bottom, as Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine reports.

Boston Magazine

Experts nervously eye increase in virus cases in Massachusetts

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a recent uptick in the reported number of daily coronavirus cases in Massachusetts – and sometimes those numbers have hit levels not seen since last May – and that’s making some nervous about a possible second wave coming, reports the Globe’s Dasai Moore and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan.

Meanwhile, also from the Herald: “Brigham and Women’s nurses call for stronger safety measures after COVID cluster expands.” One positive public-health development, via GBH’s Marilyn Schairer: State officials are confident they have enough flu shots to go around, despite a spike in demand.

College coronavirus updates: Salem State eyes discipline, Merrimack College goes remote, UMass cluster and cuts

NBC Boston’s Mary Markos reports that dozens of Salem State University students now face disciplinary action due to their attendance at an off-campus party. Meanwhile, Merrimack College, hit hard by an outbreak, has now shifted to all-remote learning to contain the spread of the virus, according to a report at WCVB.

At UMass, they’re getting nervous. From the Daily Hampshire Gazette: “’It’s definitely unsettling’: Students, residents react to COVID-19 outbreak in Amherst.” And from Kirk Carapezza at GBH: “How Budget Cuts Are Stressing UMass Students.”

Harsh spotlight on nursing homes, Part II: Belmont Manor’s tragedy

The Globe’s Spotlight Team ends its series today on the devastating hit nursing homes have taken during the pandemic, this time looking at the deadly outbreak at Belmont Manor, a five-star nursing home where money and prestige didn’t protect elderly residents.

Boston Globe

The Impossible Dream? Rodrigues eyes state budget agreement by end of October

Has anyone set up a pool yet on whether a new state budget will be in place by the end of next month? SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports that Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues, among others, remains confident a budget agreement can be reached in that time frame, despite all the pandemic-era uncertainties and hurdles.

In other budget news, the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center says lawmakers should raise taxes, not borrow, to close budget gaps, as SHNS’s Colin Young reports (pay wall).

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Forget about schools. When do town halls reopen?

SHNS’s Meg McIntyre (pay wall) reports that municipalities across the state are weighing the risks and options of reopening town and city halls amid the pandemic – and some communities say they have no plans to reopen anytime soon now that they’ve come with remote ways to provide services.

Hold your fire: State agency could quash planned federal machine gun range

Water before guns. Christine Legere at the Cape Cod Times reports an agency created by state lawmakers in 2002 to protect a public drinking-water supply could block a controversial proposal to establish a machine-gun training range on Camp Edwards. Among the concerns: The type of ammunition being used and the potential environmental side-effects from firing grenade launchers on the 5,000-acre range. 

Cape Cod Times

Report: Blacks and Latinos migrating from Boston to Gateway Cities

We now have some hard stats to back up the anecdotal evidence that Blacks and Latinos are increasingly moving from Boston to Gateway Cities across the state, as they seek lower-cost housing. Among others, Brockton is a top destination for many. CommonWealth magazine’s Sarah Betancourt has the details.


Berkshire DA releases her own ‘police watch list’

First, it was Suffolk DA Racheal Rollins releasing an updated list of cops whose conduct may raise questions about their credibility in court. Now it’s Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington releasing her own police watch list. Walter Wuthmann at WBUR has more.


Social issues: Springfield cop fired over Facebook post sues city

The Springfield police detective fired over the summer for social media posts on the Black Lives Matter movement is suing the city in a bid to reclaim her job and collect compensation for her ordeal, Stephanie Barry at MassLive reports.

Meanwhile, Barry also reports that mayoral aide Darryl Moss is under investigation for his own social media posts. 


Lawmakers: Expand jobless payments for those who don’t make the $300 cut

Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune reports some lawmakers are asking the Baker administration to extend jobless benefits to people who fall just short of qualifying for the extra $300 per week in payments from the federal government.  

Eagle Tribune

Black leaders versus police unions: The battle for reforms

Speaking of police and Black Lives Matter issues, SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) reports that a group of Black community leaders are pushing for a Senate version of police reforms on Beacon Hill – and at the same time they’re pushing back against intense lobbying efforts by police unions critical of some reform proposals.  

Speaking of police unions throwing their political clout around in Massachusetts, from the Herald’s Erin Tiernan: “Chiefs of Police Association endorses Julie Hall in 4th Congressional district race.”

Harvard appointment of PLO leader sparks controversy

At first, it looked like a move that would sail through with a mere mention in the Harvard Crimson: PLO Executive Committee chairman Saeb Erekat’s appointment as a senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. But now there’s a campaign under way, as reported by Israel Hayom, to deny Erekat a visa to the U.S., citing his alleged past ties to terrorism.

Child-care for political candidates’ kids: A necessity or baby-sitting perk?

The Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert takes a look at ongoing efforts in Massachusetts to pass legislation that would allow political candidates (i.e. mostly female candidates) to use election funds to pay for child-care while they’re on the campaign trail.

Looking good: Next-generation Acela train arrives

Universal Hub has photos of one of the first of 28 Acela replacement trains that Amtrack plans to deploy over the next few years in the Northeast. The French-built train looks pretty damn sharp, we have to say.

Universal Hub

On the hook: Worcester city councilor wants to hold landlords accountable for litter

Amid a city-wide debate about the shoddy state of some city streets, one Worcester city councilor wants to double the fines landlords pay when their properties are trashed, Nick Kotsopolous at the Telegram reports. 


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

Virtual Author Talk with David Michaelis

Virtual author talk with David Michaelis, author of the new biography Eleanor

American Ancestors/NEHGS together with the State Library of Massachusetts and Porter Square Books

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


Two candidates announce for at-large seats in next year’s city election – Universal Hub

Michelle Wu’s personal path to politics – CommonWealth Magazine


Natick police continue to investigate incidents at pro-Trump rally on Saturday – MetroWest Daily News

QCC launches subscription-based learning program – Worcester Business Journal


Democrats unveil scaled-down $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package – The Hill

Economist: Biden plan creates 7 million more jobs than Trump – New York Magazine

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