Happening Today

Cape Cod summer data, Boston in-person classes, and more

Cape Cod Reopening Task Force offers a virtual summer 2020 retrospective, looking at available data on public health and economic activity for the region’s busiest season, 9 a.m.

— Mayor Marty Walsh and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius visit the Ellis Elementary School to greet students returning to school for in-person learning, 302 Walnut Ave., Roxbury, 9:15 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Jane Doe Institute for a virtual proclamation ceremony kicking off Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 10 a.m.

Boston City Council Committee on Government Operations meets to consider the creation of a special commission on ending family homelessness, 10 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker offers remarks at the Massachusetts Assisted Living Association‘s annual conference, 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.

The coronavirus numbers: 32 new deaths, 9,242 total deaths, 510 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Future presidential debates: To mute or not to mute?

A full-scale debate has broken out over the future of presidential debates following Tuesday night’s chaotic showdown between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The AP at the Globe reports that the Commission on Presidential Debates announced yesterday that it would add “additional structure” to the two remaining faceoffs between Trump and Biden. But the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld says “additional structure” actually means muzzling Trump. GBH’s Emily Rooney sounds skeptical about alterations to debate formats, noting both sides would have to agree to any changes, such as a “mic mute,” which the Trump campaign most definitely would reject.

So how about just canceling debates? Biden’s camp has already rejected the idea. But that hasn’t stopped pols and pundits from debating the merits of canning the debates outright, as GBH’s Dan Kennedy reports. The Globe’s James Pindell lists all the reason why the debate shows must go on, if only to give the two candidates a chance to “redeem themselves.”

Massachusetts ranked No. 1 on Google search for ‘how to apply for Canadian citizenship’

Speaking of Tuesday’s debate, Tom Matthews at MassLive reports that Massachusetts ranked number one on Google Trends for the search “how to apply for Canadian citizenship” following the Trump-Biden debacle. 

We’re assuming they’re mostly anti-Trump types, though the post-debate disgust and embarrassment levels seem pretty evenly spread out, as the Herald reports.


Fearsome foursome: State’s four largest cities now considered ‘high risk’ for coronavirus

Boston, Springfield and Lowell have now joined Worcester on the state’s growing list of communities considered at ‘high risk’ for the spread of COVID-19, reports MassLive’s Tanner Stening and CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl. The inclusion of the state’s four largest cities on the high-risk list is yet the latest evidence of a possibly worsening pandemic situation for Massachusetts.

Mayor Marty Walsh is delaying some of Boston’s reopening plans as a result of the recent spike in cases, as the AP at WBUR reports, though he is proceeding with some in-person learning at schools (see Happening Today above). A frustrated Walsh is blaming the “irresponsibility” of the party-hearty few for the setback in controlling the spread of the virus, reports SHNS Colin Young (pay wall). The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports officials are seeing an uptick in cases among the young and Hispanic population.

Truth or consequences: Natick schools threaten students with hefty fines for lying on health forms

Tell the truth or pay the price. The superintendent of Natick schools says students who don’t tell the truth about their coronavirus exposures and risks will be fined $300 as the district looks to crack down on student partying that recently forced schools to go entirely remote until next month, Henry Schwan at the MetroWest Daily News reports.

MetroWest Daily News

State ends last fiscal year with $700M budget hole, but Baker confident gap can be plugged

It’s official: The state ended its last fiscal year with a nearly $700 million budget deficit, thanks to the pandemic. But Gov. Charlie Baker has filed legislation to fill the hole via a number of budgetary moves, including diverting capital-gains tax revenues that would normally be funneled into the state’s rainy-day fund. Bottom line: No borrowing, dipping into reserve funds or raising taxes. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg have more.

Now comes the hard part: Getting a handle on the current and future state budgets and their estimated multibillion-dollar shortfalls.

Meanwhile, Lottery sales rebound after initial pandemic plunge

Here’s some good financial news for the state (and local governments): Lottery sales appear to be getting back to normal. In fact, the agency is running more than $36 million ahead of last year’s profit pace, reports SHNS’s Colin Young.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Honing in: Tribal casino in crosshairs as investigators seek more documents from Mashpee Wampanoags

A federal grand jury has made a third request since June for documents from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, this time asking for records tied to the tribal authority set up to build and run the First Light casino in East Taunton, Tanner Stening at MassLive reports.

Here’s a rather astounding tidbit, if true: The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Gaming Authority allegedly may owe as much as a half-billion dollars to overseas investors who bankrolled the stalled casino project.


East-West rail’s multibillion-dollar options and steep hurdles

From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall): “A passenger rail connection to western Massachusetts would cost between $2.4 billion and $4.6 billion while attracting between 278,000 and 469,000 annual rides, according to new state projections unveiled Wednesday.

In the end, neither option may matter. From the Berkshire Eagle’s Larry Parnass: “Long-shot rail? DOT study gives passenger service scant chance of winning U.S. dollars.”

Salem’s Satanic Temple sues Louisiana billboard company for not running ads

From NBC Boston: “A lawsuit filed by the Satanic Temple alleges that an advertising company unfairly refused to display some billboards promoting a ritual offered by the group to help people bypass abortion rules in some states. The group, based in Salem, Massachusetts, announced Wednesday that it has sued Lamar Advertising in Arkansas state court.” File under: ‘Giving the devil his due.’

NBC Boston

‘In the dark’: Suffolk DA Rollins threatens to subpoena BPD for more info on wayward cops

Less than a week after releasing a ‘watch list’ of city and state police officers facing legal charges or administrative complaints, Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins is now threatening to subpoena the Boston Police Department to get more information on internal-affairs investigations of cops, a three-reporter Globe team reports.

Boston Globe

After 140 years, Holyoke’s Hampden Papers to close, citing pandemic and lagging sales

Hampden Papers, one of the last remaining paper companies in Holyoke, is shutting down and selling its assets to a Kentucky firm, citing lagging sales and the economic impact of COVID-19. The 100-employee firm was founded in 1880. MassLive’s Dennis Hohenberger and WWLP’s Brendan Irwin have the details.

Bright spot: Acushnet Company hires hundreds as demand for golf products surges

Here’s a firm benefiting from the pandemic. People are hitting the links in greater numbers these days and that’s good news for New Bedford’s Acushnet Company,  which says it will boost its payroll by 200 workers by the end of the month to meet growing demand for its Titleist products, Kiernan Dunlop of the Standard-Times reports. 

SouthCoast Today

State Police examining anonymous allegations against judicial nominee

The Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports that State Police are vetting judicial nominee Robert Harnais after officials received anonymous allegations via a letter concerning the former Norfolk County Special Sheriff and general counsel. Governor’s Council members say they won’t proceed with the appointment until they receive word back from State Police.

It should be noted, via Tiernan: “Harnais disclosed to the Judicial Nominating Commission his assault and battery charge from April 2002, noting he was found not guilty in Quincy District Court in November 2002.”

Boston Herald

‘Unplanned’: Weymouth compressor station hit with another emergency shutdown

One more and we have an official trend. From Miriam Wasser at WBUR: “For the second time this month, something triggered the Weymouth Natural Gas Compressor Station’s emergency shutdown system and caused an ‘unplanned release; of at least 10,000 standard cubic feet (scf) of natural gas into the nearby area.”

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch is calling for the feds to yank the station’s recently issued license to operate, reports the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo.


Renewed push to bolster and expand public-health services

MassLive’s Steph Solis reports that a coalition of lawmakers, advocates and others are making another push to improve and expand public-health services across the state, after the pandemic exposed serious problems within the decentralized system.


Front and center: Stalled police reform bill issue in state Senate race

Democratic state Senate hopeful Meg Wheeler is looking to make the push for police reform an issue in her bid to unseat GOP state Sen. Patrick O’Connor, Jessica Trufant at the Patriot Ledger reports. Wheeler blasted O’Connor for voting ‘present’ when a reform bill came before the Senate over the summer. The senator says his neutral vote reflects his belief the bill wasn’t ready for prime time. 

Patriot Ledger

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


Tension at Trump, Black Lives Matter rallies in West Roxbury – Boston Herald

Airbnb finally ready to fly in Lynn – Lynn Item


Swansea moves all voting to Venus de Milo – Herald-News

Great Barrington to let market regulate number of retail pot shops – Berkshire Eagle

Joint meeting set on proposed machine gun range – Cape Cod Times


Study finds Trump is ‘single largest driver’ of virus misinformation – New York Times

Biden prepares ad onslaught to overwhelm Trump – The Hill

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