Happening Today

State budget hearing, Vice presidential debate, and more

Supreme Judicial Court hears oral videoconference arguments in three cases, 9 a.m.

— Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan, Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues and House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz are hosting the virtual hearing to discuss the state’s fiscal condition amid the pandemic, 10 a.m.

Governor’s Council holds two meetings today, the first to interview Appeals Court nominee Marguerite Grant of Westwood and the second to interview New Bedford attorney Kimberly Moses Smith, a nominee to the Probate and Family Court bench, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.

Eric Rosengren, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, participates in the virtual kickoff event for a series that will examine ‘the implications of structural racism in America’s economy and advancing actions to improve economic outcomes for all,’ 1 p.m. 

— Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Kamala Harris are scheduled to meet for the lone vice presidential debate of the 2020 campaign, 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: 8 new deaths, 9,323 total deaths, 454 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

After Trump ends stimulus-relief talks, it’s Plan B for state budget writers

Lawmakers now know one thing about the state budget: They won’t be receiving any additional federal funds and guidance until after the November election, after President Trump yesterday put an end to stimulus-relief negotiations with Democrats, as the Washington Post reports. To no one’s surprise, Mass. Democrats are furious at the president, as MassLive’s Ray Kelly reports. From the Berkshire Eagle: “Rep. Neal calls Trump halt to relief talks ‘dangerous.’”

The president’s abrupt action comes as state budget writers hold a hearing today to try to get a handle on the state’s finances amid projections of multibillion-dollar deficits, as SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports. Meanwhile, from Tori Bedford at WGBH: “With No Stimulus Check Until After Election, Experts Say Massachusetts’ Economy Will ‘Get Worse Before It Gets Better.’”

Baker calls Trump’s recent COVID actions ‘incredibly irresponsible’ – and a lot of people seem to agree

Gov. Charlie Baker certainly wasn’t biting his tongue yesterday, calling President Trump’s recent COVID-19 actions “incredibly irresponsible,” according to a report at WCVB. 

A lot of people appear to agree with the governor’s assessment. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld reports that a new Franklin Pierce/Herald survey shows Trump’s poll numbers plunging nationwide since he announced last week that he had contracted COVID-19.


Trick-or-treating better than indoor Halloween alternatives, Baker says

SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and MassLive’s Steph Solis report that Gov. Charlie Baker is leaving it up to individual cities and towns to decide whether to allow trick-or-treating this Halloween. The governor is giving one early tip: Outdoor trick-or-treating is lot safer than indoor Halloween parties and gatherings.

State requires nursing-home staff to get flu shots – or lose their jobs

They mean business. From Steph Solis at MassLive: “The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced a pair of executive orders requiring employees of long-term care facilities to get a flu shot this year if they want to keep their jobs. The orders announced Tuesday come as hospitals are bracing for a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and flu season.”


Baker says state ready for any new surge; Globe wants to know what constitutes a surge

GBH’s Mike Deehan reports that Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday expressed confidence that the state’s health-care system is prepared for any second surge in coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, if or when a second surge arrives.

But the latest Globe story in the paper’s ongoing crunch-the-numbers coverage of the pandemic suggests that the state is not “defining how bad is too bad” when it comes to what constitutes a surge. The Globe’s Dasia Moore has the data and the charts.


‘Fall River palm reader not optimistic about a pandemic quick cure’

Forget the Boston Globe’s rollout of coronavirus charts and data galore to gauge where we stand in the pandemic. The Herald News’ Charles Winokoor went right to the ultimate source for answers – and she’s not optimistic.

Herald News

‘Astronomical’: The high cost of reopening campuses could spell doom for some colleges

There’s a cost of not reopening campuses. And yet there’s a cost of reopening campuses. And college officials told state lawmakers yesterday they don’t know how much longer some higher-education institutions can survive without financial help. CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg and SHNS’s Katie Lannan have more on the dire financial situation facing many schools.

Btw: This type of behavior isn’t exactly helping matters on college campuses, via the Globe: “Large number of UMass Amherst students disciplined for violating COVID-19 protocols.”

State’s cigarette-tax revenue plunges after ban on menthol smokes

No one should be surprised by this. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Cigarette sales in Massachusetts were down by 24 percent in August, according to convenience store owners, and the state has seen a nearly $32 million drop in tobacco excise taxes in the three months since its first-in-the-nation ban on menthol cigarettes took effect.”

We’d be interested in seeing state and federal data on black-market activity since the ban took effect. People didn’t all of a sudden stop smoking menthol cigarettes en masse.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Middlesex DA and state Inspector General tangle over Sonya Farak investigation

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and state Inspector General General Glen Cunha are going at it over a letter Ryan recently wrote to state leaders calling into question the thoroughness of the investigation into disgraced lab chemist Sonya Farak. Ryan’s bottom-line assertion: A ‘cloud of doubt’ still hangs over the Farak case, Deborah Becker reports at WBUR.


Caught in the act: Videos show motorists deliberately defacing BLM road mural in Springfield

The Springfield Police Department has released video footage of three instances of motorists deliberately burning rubber on a Black Lives Matter road mural and police are calling for the public’s help in identifying the culprits, reports MassLive’s Michelle Williams.


Familiar script: Black man stopped while jogging by white guys. Out comes video recorder. Controversy ensues

Speaking of BLM-era controversies and video recordings, WBUR’s Shannon Dooling reports that two Boston city councilors want answers about an incident that may have/probably involved armed and masked ICE agents jumping out of an SUV to stop a Black man, born and bred in Boston, jogging on VFW Parkway in West Roxbury. The jogger was only allowed to leave after he began video recording the white guys.

Both WBUR and Universal Hub have photos and video of the incident.


Do we finally have an agreement on an I-90 Allston interchange plan?

Knock on wood. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl writes that state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack has embraced an “at-grade” plan for the reconfiguration of the Turnpike-Allston interchange, and the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro says BU’s offer of more land may have broken the years-long logjam over design of the mammoth project. 

We can only hope this is the end of the design debate, or at least the beginning of the end of the design debate, because we don’t know how many more iterations of the story we can take.

Worcester man gets probation for smuggling salamanders and turtles

The AP at WBUR reports that a Worcester man who pleaded guilty to illegally smuggling salamanders and turtles in and out of the U.S. has avoided prison time and instead will serve five months probation.

He said, they said: Brockton councilors accuse mayor of sexism amid curfew debate

Two members of the Brockton city council say Mayor Robert Sullivan reacted with a loud tirade when they approached him about easing the city’s 11 p.m. pandemic curfew to help local businesses — and they say his response would have been entirely different if they weren’t women, Marc Larocque at the Enterprise reports. Sullivan denied the sexism charge and says he has his own witnesses who can vouch  his response to the councilors was appropriate.


Boston’s beheaded Columbus statue headed to a new site

Boston’s beheaded Christopher Columbus statue won’t be returning to its old site in a North End park. Instead, it’s being adopted by the Knights of Columbus, which plans to display the controversial statue, with a restored head, at its headquarters near Regina Pizzeria in the neighborhood. The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter has more on the Columbus statue saga.

Boston Herald

Too much: Framingham denies BJ liquor license transfer, citing $500K price tag

In the end, their pockets may have been too deep. The Framingham Board of License Commissioners has denied a bid by BJ’s to grab control of a liquor license for its big-box store over worries about over-concentration of liquor stores in the area and concern that the $500,000 BJ’s was prepared to pay a mom-and-pop store owner for the license would set a dangerous precedent. Neal McNamara  of Framingham Patch has the details. 


Study: TCI’s health care benefits far outweigh higher pump prices

WBUR’s Barbara Moran and SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) report that a new study out of Harvard shows that the proposed multi-state Transportation & Climate Initiative meant to reduce carbon pollution would yield huge environmental and health benefits that easily outweigh probable spikes in gasoline prices tied to TCI. It’s all undoubtedly true, but tell that to motorists struggling to make ends meet right now. Just pointing out the political reality.

In the dark: Boston cops on OT still not wearing body cams

Not yet. Nearly a year after Mayor Marty Walsh said the issue was being addressed, officers in the Boston Police Department working overtime shifts are still not actively using body cameras as they do on regular shifts, reports Ally Jarmanning at WBUR. Last year, Walsh said camera battery life was an issue, but the administration now says it is in active talks with unions about extending camera use. 

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


After ‘massive spike’ in cases, Brockton may turn red again – Brockton Enterprise

Safe return for Kowloon tiki chair – Lynn Item


Swanick to retire as police chief after 30 years with Wayland police – MetroWest Daily News

Weymouth officials, residents want to see gas company’s emergency gas plan – Patriot Ledger

UMass to provide Covid tests for Amherst first responders – Daily Hampshire Gazette


Susan Collins goes for the jugular with her career on the line – Politico

House Democrats condemn big tech’s ‘monopoly power’ – New York Times

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