Keller at Large

D.C. to Massachusetts: Drop dead

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says House Speaker Robert DeLeo is right to be nervous about the gridlock in Washington, D.C. over new coronavirus aid for states, thanks to Senate Republicans.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Higher Education Committee, hunger during the pandemic, and more

Hunger to Health Collaboratory hosts two panels as part of its second annual summit, ‘Hunger to Health in COVID and Beyond: Food Policy as Health Policy,’ with U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and state Rep. Hannah Kane on the first panel, 9 a.m. 

— U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark announces a new piece of legislation, dubbed the SAVE Federally Assisted Housing Act, which aims to address a national shortage of affordable housing, with Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Cambridge Housing Authority executive director Michael Johnston and other local officials attending, 10 a.m.

Joint Committee on Higher Education holds a virtual hearing at which lawmakers will take solicited testimony on higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic, 11 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is the keynote speaker at a virtual forum on the state of hunger in Boston since the COVID-19 pandemic began, hosted by The Boston Foundation, Project Bread and Children’s HealthWatch, 2:30 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: 20 new deaths, 9,315 total deaths, 465 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

U.S. Senate debate: A third candidate shows up

As a report at GBH notes, Ed Markey and Kevin O’Connor did spar over a number of key issues during last night’s U.S. Senate debate, from how to pay for another COVID-19 stimulus package to the future of Roe v. Wade. 

But hovering over the debate, hosted by GBH, was none other than Donald Trump. A sampling of headlines, starting with Paul Singer at GBH: “Trump Takes Center Stage In Markey, O’Connor Senate Debate.” From CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: “O’Connor tries to pull off highwire act/Calls himself a Baker and a Trump Republican.” From Benjamin Kail at MassLive: “Trump administration COVID response, mask mandate, stimulus checks.” Take your pick.  

‘Lock up the White House Super-spreaders and free the Sudbury Three’

We have another early contender for best local headline of the week, this one via the Globe’s Kevin Cullen, who, besides unofficially nominating the Trump administration for a Darwin Award, thinks the White House folks are the ones who should be charged with hosting an improper gathering during a pandemic, not the “Sudbury Three.”

The Globe’s James Pindell thinks the Rose Garden ceremony Cullen refers to may end up defining the rest of the presidential campaign. And one more from the Globe: “He listened to Trump and didn’t wear a mask. He died just days before the president announced his COVID-19 diagnosis.”

Note: Our other headline-of-the-week contender can be found at South Coast Today.

Boston Globe

Galvin: 1.6 million people have requested mail-in ballots

GBH’s Mike Deehan reports that 1.6 million people in Massachusetts have requested mail-in ballots for the November election and that Secretary of State Bill Galvin hopes many ballots will arrive at people’s homes this week. As for total voter turnout, Galvin is looking at a potential record of 3.3 million people casting ballots in the November election, pandemic be damned.

Speaking of the November election, here’s a nice story, via SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall): “Mass. Poll Workers to Mask Up With Donated Face Coverings/Furniture Maker AIS Expects to Deliver 22,000 Masks.”


Delivery of MBTA’s new Orange and Red line cars delayed by at least a year

File under ‘Murphy’s law.’ From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan: “A contractor will miss its deadlines for delivering new Red and Orange line cars to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority by a year or more, an agency official said Monday, keeping outdated cars in service well into 2024.”

As Ryan notes, the pandemic is only part of the reason for the delivery delays. And as CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl reports, the Chinese manufacturer CRRC Corp. Ltd. faces some hefty fines for not meeting delivery deadlines.


Meanwhile, T inches closer to major ferry, bus and commuter rail service cuts

With ridership still down 75 percent from pre-pandemic levels (CBS Boston), the MBTA’s governing board yesterday got a preliminary look at likely major cuts to ferry, commuter rail and bus services. No final decisions have been reached yet, but it looks ugly. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohlhave have more.

State budget numbers: Still worrisome, still dumbfounding

SHNS’s Colin Young reports that state tax collections were down last month by 1.4 percent, compared to a year ago. Yet, quarterly tax receipts are still running one percent ahead of last year’s pace. And it all adds up to … uncertainty.

In a separate SHNS story (pay wall), Michael Norton notes that House Speaker Robert DeLeo over the weekend was sticking to state budget deficit projections ranging from $4 billion to $6 billion. And from yet another SHNS story (pay wall): “State Holding Firm on Paid Leave Tax, Benefit Levels.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Five charts that sort of tell the story of COVID-19 in Mass.

The Globe has an impressive array of charts that do show a gradual increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts since early summer. The question is: Is the data worrisome or not? Some think so. But, curiously, the UMass weekly ensemble model has a somewhat optimistic view of the numbers.

Boston Globe

The latest from Essex County: 137 prisoners test positive for COVID-19

Conditions at the Middleton Jail and House of Corrections are far more serious than previously indicated. Deborah Becker at WBUR reports that updated weekend data confirms that 137 out of 889 prisoners have now tested positive for the coronavirus.

In related news, from the Enterprise: “Covid-19 outbreak shuts down Plymouth treatment center admissions.” 


Code crimson: Harvard dismisses three students from dorms after indoor party

The Harvard Crimson reports that Harvard has sent home three freshmen for hosting a party with at least three other guests in violation of COVID-19 guidelines. It’s the first confirmed case of the school disciplining undergrads for breaking its “residential compact.”

In other college news, from the Gazette: “UMass Covid cases rising steadily.”

Harvard Crimson

Coronavirus snitch hotline: More than 200,000 compliance complaints and counting

The Herald’s Joe Dwinell and Erin Tiernan report that more than 200,000 people have now called the state’s coronavirus snitch hotline, with compliance complaints ranging from someone spitting on the ground to a dancer at Kittens Gentlemen’s Club in Salisbury not wearing a mask.

The Herald’s Howie Carr sees KGB and Stasi-like forces at work. He’s joking. We think.

Boston Herald

Stuck in the red: Framingham tees up $500 fines for party holders

Forget Natick’s $300 fines. The neighboring city of Framingham remains stubbornly stuck in the state’s red-zone for coronavirus cases and officials now say they’ll immediately fine any party holders $500 for COVID compliance violations. City officials have also indefinitely postponed the restart of in-person school openings, Jeannette Hinkle at the MetroWest Daily News reports. 

MetroWest Daily News

‘Flu You Baker’: Hundreds protest governor’s flu vaccine mandate

He doesn’t believe in mandatory protectives masks during the pandemic. And the same organizer of yesterday’s ‘Flu You Baker’ rally in Boston also doesn’t believe in mandatory flu vaccinations – and hundreds of people were agreeing with Vincent Delaney yesterday, as Steph Solis reports at MassLive.


ICE breakers: Lynn deportation halted as community members block unmarked van

From Guthrie Scrimgeour at the Lynn Item comes the story of an attempted deportation by ICE officers that was halted when community members blocked the unmarked van from leaving until officers agreed to let the detained man go–for now. 

Lynn Item

Galvin on census count: ‘I don’t know what Wilbur Ross is smoking, but it must be good’

So the U.S. Census, ultimately overseen by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, reportedly says it has counted 99.1 percent of households in Massachusetts, a Soviet-style number that Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin isn’t buying. MassLive’s Steph Solis and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) have more on Galvin’s running battle with the U.S. Census and its preliminary numbers, or lack thereof.

Walsh spending like he’s running — or at least like he’s exploring a run

The Globe’s Danny McDonald reports a somewhat significant uptick in Mayor Marty Walsh’s campaign spending of late, leading to all sorts of speculation, including how it may signal he’s running for a third term or maybe still just exploring a run.

One thing is clear: He has 12 times more money in his campaign coffers than challengers Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell have combined, as the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports.

Spotted Lanternfly Alert: They relentlessly devour grapevines, hops and fruit trees

If you like beer, wine and sangrias, pay attention. From George Graham at MassLive: “Two dead bugs recently found in eastern Massachusetts have state agricultural officials sounding the alarm about an invasive pest with a big appetite for grapevines, hops and fruit trees. Spotted lanternfly populations have grown explosively in Pennyslvania since their discovery in the state in 2014.”


Hands off: Attleboro-area liquor stores launch campaign to save nip bottles

As the Attleboro City Council prepares to take up the package of green policies proposed by Mayor Paul Heroux, liquor stores in and around the city are lobbying hard against an ordinance that would ban the sale of nip-sized liquor bottles, George Rhodes at the Sun-Chronicle reports. Liquor stores say the single-serving bottles are a major source of their income and help some drinkers moderate their intake.

Sun Chronicle

Envisioning Equity Part II: Housing to Build a Just Recovery

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. The state budget, passed by the Legislature every year, is a statement of our Commonwealth’s values.


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

Getting to the Point with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Stephen Breyer will join the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate to participate in a moderated conversation about the increasingly vital role the Supreme Court plays as one of our three branches of government.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

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

Fighting for Survival – Small Businesses, Restaurants & Retail

While tactics to safely reopen stores and restaurants continue to evolve, discussions are turning to how to adapt to phased reopening orders while building consumer confidence and coming up with new ways to secure financial viability. With uncertainty abound, how are restaurants, small businesses and retail charting the future?

North Shore Chamber of Commerce

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


$40 million Boston road-paving accounts went unaudited for years, watchdog says – Boston Herald

Harvard University sends three freshmen home after they hosted party – MassLive


Falmouth High School goes fully remote after weekend party – Cape Cod Times

Worcester board of health votes no confidence in chairperson – Telegram & Gazette

14-year incumbent faces challenger in Plymouth County treasurer race – Patriot Ledger


Plexiglass to separate Harris and Pence at debate – Politico

‘The coal industry is back,’ Trump proclaimed. It isn’t. – New York Times

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