Happening Today

Housing rally, Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, and more

— The Gaming Commission is expected to meet and could take a vote on the renewal of Plainridge Park Casino’s five-year slots parlor license, 9 a.m.

— Public health, municipal, legislative, and community leaders hold a press conference to announce the launch of the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community (SAPHE 2.0) Coalition, 9 a.m.

Health Policy Commission holds a pair of virtual committee meetings — the Market Oversight and Transparency Committee and Care Delivery Transformation Committee, 9:30 a.m.

— Housing justice advocates rally outside the State House and online urging lawmakers to approve legislation that will keep a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in place, freeze rents, and create a fund to support small landlords, 11 a.m.

— The Governor’s Council interviews attorney Joanna Rodriguez, Gov. Baker’s pick for an open Juvenile Court judgeship, 12:45 p.m.

Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Board of Trustees holds a special meeting to consider the employment status of Superintendent Bennett Walsh, who a state judge recently ruled was improperly fired by the Baker administration, 5 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, 9,210 total deaths, 450 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

‘The worst general election presidential debate in American history’

Was it a presidential debate or just an extension of the Apprentice reality show? If you saw some or all of last night’s presidential debate, then you can have little doubt about the accuracy of these headlines, starting with Globe reporters Liz Goodwin and Jess Bidgood’s piece: “Heckling and interrupting Biden, Trump causes chaos in first presidential debate.” From the Washington Post: “Trump incessantly interrupts and insults Biden as they spar in acrimonious first debate.”

But we know that you want to know who the pundits think won last night. First, the Globe’s James Pindell wants to get one thing straight: “It was the worst general election presidential debate in American history.” Hmm. Why the ‘general election’ qualifier? In any event, Pindell gives Biden, who looked tired and old at times, a ‘C’ and you-know-who an ‘F.’

The Herald’s Howie Carr gives every indication that Trump didn’t perform all that well. How do we know? Howie’s complaining about the moderator. But from the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld: “Biden weathers Trump firestorm, disavows Green New Deal in first debate.” The NYT has six takeaways from the debate. The Washington Post has five takeaways.

Not fake news: Donald Trump really did call a Globe reporter to pitch laundry detergent

One of the more odd things unveiled in President Trump’s past tax returns, besides the fact he routinely doesn’t pay income taxes like normal Americans? He apparently listed on one return a long-ago phone interview with Globe reporter Mark Shanahan when Trump was pitching All Cleans & Softens laundry detergent for charities. Shanahan confirms the interview took place and has the archival proof.

In other Trump-related news, Boston Magazine’s Jonathan Soroff contemplates how he and other area snowflakes can possibly endure another Trump term. 

Boston Globe

Riley: There will be MCAS exams next year

Is this added pressure on school districts to restart in-person classes? Answer: Yes, it is. SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) and the Globe’s Naomi Martin report that Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley says there will be standardized tests next spring in Massachusetts, after a one-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

One member of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is predicting a “torrent of advocacy” to cancel next spring’s MCAS. Two words: No kidding.

Leominster mayor declares public health crisis to get students back in classrooms

This is one way to grab the attention of school-committee members (not to mention the attention of the Drudge Report). CBS Boston’s Ken MacLeod reports that Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella has taken the unusual step of declaring a public health crisis, saying the crisis is fully remote classes at a time when the city’s coronavirus rate is low. In other words: He wants to resume in-person classes.

But others elsewhere obviously don’t agree with the mayor’s viewpoint, with Hopkinton (Wicked Local) and Natick (Wicked Local) both switching to full remote learning (the latter following student parties, of course). The Baker administration is definitely trying to nudge districts towards in-person classes. From CommonWealth magazine: “New rapid tests to go to schools.”

CBS Boston

Not yet: State says Nantucket can’t resume in-class learning this week

Here’s one example of the state actually discouraging in-person classes. And it’s because of the recent spike in virus cases on Nantucket, as John Lavenburg at the Inquirer & Mirror reports.

Inquirer & Mirror

Baker Oks limited reopening of large venue events and businesses

Despite concerns about rising coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday announced that indoor and outdoor venues in low-risk communities can reopen next week at 50 percent capacity, as Steph Solis at MassLive reports. But some are concerned about the further lifting of pandemic restrictions, as the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports.

CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl reports that the Baker administration, by tying the lifting of venue restrictions to low-rate communities, has effectively gone “all-in on its community-by-community approach to COVID-19.”


On the shelf: Governor’s Council cancels hearing on judicial nominee after assault-charge disclosure

At the very least, it’s not happening now. Erin Tiernan at the Herald reports the Governor’s Council has canceled a planned hearing today on Gov. Baker’s nomination of lawyer Robert Harnais for a district court judgeship in the wake of reports he was charged with assault and battery in 2002. He’s also regularly donated to the campaigns of Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. 

Boston Herald

Walsh keeps dropping hints he’s running again

They’re subtle, very subtle, but they’re there, or so some think: Hints from Mayor Marty Walsh he may indeed be running for a third term. WBUR’s Callum Borchers has the latest hints, dropped at a recent chamber event. Last week, Universal Hub was reporting on similar hints at a mayoral press conference. 

Of course, the Globe’s Kevin Cullen last week was flat-out stating Walsh is running for a third time – based on anonymous sources, not hints.


Ballot Question 1: All revved up over telematics data

Forget all the dire warnings about stalkers and terrorists and big guys versus little guys in the “Right to Repair” referendum fight. GBH’s Adam Reilly reports that the contentious, and very expensive, Question 1 battle is all about so-called telematics data and “which part of the automotive industry gets to control and monetize that data in the future.”


Warren says she won’t meet with ‘extremist’ Amy Coney Barrett

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, joining other Senate Dems, is refusing to meet with President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, saying it would only legitimize the GOP attempt to “steal another Supreme Court seat,” reports CBS Boston.

CBS Boston

Legislators urge Baker to appoint western Mass. judge to SJC

Speaking of high-court appointments: First it was legal-community leaders urging Gov. Charlie Baker to appoint a western Massachusetts person to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. Now it’s 18 legislators from the western part of the state urging Baker to appoint someone from the 413 zone, as the governor mulls nominees to fill two posts on the high-court bench, reports Jeanette DeFore at MassLive.


Pro-Israel group calls on Tufts to investigate dental student over anti-Jewish tweets

From Jackson Richman at Jewish News Syndicate: “StandWithUs sent a letter (last) Thursday to Tufts University’s president and the dean of its dental school expressing concern about a third-year dental student over his history of anti-Semitic tweets.” The tweets were definitely ugly.


Was mail-in voting 98 percent successful or 2 percent failure?

It all depends on how you look at it. The Globe’s Matt Stout reports that state election officials rejected nearly 18,000 ballots from this month’s state primary, thus “illustrating the pitfalls of hundreds of thousands of residents voting by mail for the first time.”

But GBH’s Edgar Herwick comes at it from a different angle, reporting 98 percent of mail-in ballots were counted and the rest rejected mostly because they arrived late or were improperly delivered by voters.

Plymouth DA won’t seek new murder trial for women after discovery of prosecutors’ racist emails

WBUR’s Deborah Becker reports that the Plymouth DA’s office won’t pursue a fourth murder trial against Frances Choy, once convicted of setting her Brockton home on fire and killing her parents in 2003. The reason: A judge vacated her conviction earlier this year — in part because of the discovery of racist emails written by the prosecutors who tried the case, as Becker writes.


Drastic measures: Springfield council sues mayor over refusal to bring back police commission

See you in court. The Springfield City Council has voted to sue Mayor Domenic Sarno in a bid to force him to revive a civilian police commission the council approved in 2016 over his veto,  Stephanie Barry at MassLive and Matt Szafranski at Western Mass. Politics & Insight report.

It’s not just police unions stalling reforms on Beacon Hill

GBH’s Mike Deehan reports that, yes, police unions are indeed putting intense pressure on Beacon Hill lawmakers to modify or drop certain proposed police reforms. But the delay in passing a reform package is also being driven by that oldest of old political reasons: Self-preservation. I.e. The November elections. Deehan explains.


The usual suspect: Andover officials say Columbia Gas caused recent gas leak

Officials in Andover say they’ve concluded that Columbia Gas was responsible for a recent gas leak in the community, fueling fears about the company’s continued presence in the area as the utility company plans to hand operations over to Eversource, Genevieve DiNatale at the Eagle-Tribune reports. 

Eagle Tribune

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


Lynn city council takes action against wage theft – Lynn Item

Developer plans to create world-class observation experience atop Pru – Boston Globe


Salem holds police use-of-force town hall – Salem News

Fairhaven health board fires health agent – Standard-Times

Fall River grapples with rising trash removal costs – Herald-News


Demographic changes since 2016 alone could be enough to defeat Trump – Cook Political Report

Why Trump resorted to torching the debate – Politico

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