Keller at Large

When crisis management is a total fail

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says we’re witnessing a total management meltdown – and thus a possible total political meltdown — on an epic scale when it comes to President Trump’s handling of COVID-19. How epic? Michael Bilandic epic. Jon explains.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Gaming and Cannabis commissions, Justice Breyer, and more

— The Gaming Commission meets for a regular business session, 10 a.m.

— The Cannabis Control Commission meets to possibly wade through dozens of applications for license renewals, provisional licenses, final licenses and more, 10 a.m.

— MassINC awards Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera the Mayor Bill Carpenter Award for Excellence in Gateway City Leadership, 10:30 a.m.

— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer participates in a moderated conversation about the high court’s constitutional responsibilities, hosted by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate and moderated by NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, 11 a.m.

Eric Rosengren, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, gives a virtual speech about ‘implications for recovery from the pandemic,’ as part of a series by the Marquette University Economics Department, 12:10 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: 19 new deaths, 9,342 total deaths, 509 new cases

The Globe has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Nearly 100,000 customers without power this morning after brutal wind storm

Nearly 250,000 customers lost power yesterday as result of the freak thunder-and-wind storm that ripped through the region. As of early this morning, nearly 100,000 customers were still without electricity, according to MEMA.

MassLive’s Jeanette DeForge and the Globe’s Martin Finucane and Christina Prignano have more on the storm’s aftermath. And from the Berkshire Eagle: “Falling tree kills renowned Great Barrington golf pro Thomas Sullivan.”

The VP debate: ‘It was civil. It was conventional. It was not especially scintillating’

In case you missed it, there was indeed a vice presidential debate last night between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala D. Harris. The Washington Post has a good overview of the ‘civil’ debate. The NYT has six takeaways. The Globe’s James Pindell is giving both candidates “C-“ grades for their performances. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld thinks Pence won, if only because he “stopped the bleeding” of the Trump-Pence campaign. 

But the real star of the show may have been an “uninvited visitor who did not adhere to recommended social distancing,” as MassLive’s Michelle Williams reports.

Czar Kerry? Bay Stater among candidates for new position in Biden White House

Do you think Democrats may be getting a little ahead of themselves with this type of talk? Former Mass. Senator and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry could be in line to add another title to his resume. Bloomberg reports Kerry is among the leading candidates to be tapped for what would be a newly created White House office on climate change in a Joe Biden administration. Kerry, the report says, has expressed openness to serving in the role.

Bloomberg News

Number of high-risk ‘red’ communities nearly doubles in Massachusetts

The Eagle Tribune’s Christian Wade and CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl report that the number of communities on the state’s high-risk coronavirus list has nearly doubled, to 40, with Middleton skyrocketing to the top of the list. Indeed, the entire state is moving closer to the high-risk designation, as Mohl notes.

The Globe has an updated map of the coronavirus risks in individual communities.

Public health threat: New England Journal of Medicine says it’s time for the orange-hair guy to go

From Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub: “The New England Journal of Medicine, based in Waltham, took the unusual step today of calling for regime change because of the death-filled chaos our national response to Covid-19 has become.” Here’s the journal’s editorial. It doesn’t mention Trump by name, but … it is a non-partisan nonprofit after all.

Universal Hub

Thinking positively: Baker announces COVID vaccine advisory group

As the number of coronavirus cases spike in communities across the state, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday was thinking ahead (hopefully/positively) to the day when there might be a vaccine to distribute, setting up a 17-member group of public health officials, community leaders and lawmakers to advise the state on vaccination-distribution protocols. 

The BBJ’s Gintautas Dumcius has the full list of the group’s members, who include Sen. Cindy Friedman, Rep. Ronald Mariano, Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera and the Rev. Liz Walker.


Let the debate begin: Taxes and spending cuts on the table as state grapples with multibillion-dollar deficits

You know we’re getting closer to having a rough idea about state finances when the old tax increases v. spending cuts debate breaks out on Beacon Hill. Some sample headlines following yesterday’s state revenue hearing, starting with the Herald: “Spending cuts, tax hikes on the table as coronavirus takes estimated $3-5 billion bite from revenues.” From CommonWealth magazine: “Lobbying begins on what to do next on budget.” From SHNS (pay wall): “Council: Tax-First Approach Would Threaten Jobs, Employers.” From the Globe’s Matt Stout: “Massachusetts could face a $5 billion budget hole; Baker administration takes tax hikes off the table for now.”

As for the actual revenue shortfalls, there’s still no definitive numbers, just ranges of numbers, on how bad it will be this and next fiscal years. But it’s becoming a little clearer. From SHNS (pay wall): “DOR: Tax Revenue Could Fall As Much As 12 Percent.”

Boston delays in-person classes due to virus spike

Mayor Marty Walsh yesterday announced a delay in implementing the next phase of the reopening of city schools, i.e. in-person classes for the majority of students, due to an overall rise in coronavirus cases in the city, reports the Globe’s Felicia Gans and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall). When the largest school district in New England delays in-person classes, the story goes national (NYT and Washington Post).

More than two dozen Boston landlords agree not to give tenants the boot through 2020

It’s not a comprehensive eviction moratorium, but it will cover thousands of Boston tenants over coming months, to wit: Mayor Marty Walsh’s announcement yesterday that 25 major landlords in the city have agreed not to evict anyone for the rest of 2020. The announcement comes as it appears the state’s eviction moratorium may expire on Oct. 17. The Globe’s Tim Logan and Danny McDonald have more.

Boston Globe

Baker: Snitch hotline helps ‘triage’ response of public health officials

Not every complaint called into the state’s coronavirus snitch hotline is valid. But there are enough “legimate” calls to help officials spot trends and develop strategies for dealing with the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday, according to a report by the Herald’s Erin Tiernan.

Sounds like a separating-the-wheat-from-the-chaff approach. Makes sense when you’re talking about 1,000 called-in complaints a day.

Boston Herald

SJC expands insanity defense to include chronic alcohol or substance abuse

This is a major criminal-justice ruling that could take years – and many more cases — to sort out. From the Globe John R. Ellement, Boston Globe: “The state’s high court Wednesday expanded what is commonly known as the insanity defense to include people suffering from the psychological impacts of chronic abuse of alcohol or drugs. The 5-0 ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court overturned the first-degree murder conviction of Aldo W. Dolphe who beat a fellow patient to death in the UMass Memorial Medical Center psychiatric war in Worcesrer in 2013.”

Boston Globe

Not helpful: Haverhill voters get ballots along with verifiably impossible-to-meet deadline

Oops. Scores of voters in Haverhill received mail-in ballots for the presidential election along with notes saying the ballots must be returned by Sept. 1– the date of the already-in-the-books primary election, Mike LaBella at the Eagle-Tribune reports. City Clerk Linda Koutoulas took responsibility for the mix-up. 

Eagle Tribune

City leaders condemn ICE’s ‘standard procedure’ stop of Black jogger in West Roxbury

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is confirming that, yes, it was ICE agents who jumped out of an SUV to stop and question a Black man who was jogging in West Roxbury the other day – and ICE is calling the stop “standard procedure.” Mayor Marty Walsh and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley are among those furious with ICE’s “standard procedure,” as reported by Marilyn Schairer at GBH, Shannon Dooling at WBUR and Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine.

Head of public defenders calls for more inmate tests and releases amid virus surge in prisons

GBH’s Jenifer McKim and the Herald’s Rick Sobey report that the head of the state’s Committee for Public Counsel Services and others are calling for increased testing of inmates in state prisons – and the release of more prisoners – as the number of coronavirus cases surges within jails and correctional facilities in Massachusetts.

Co-founders of local start-ups win Nobel Prize for CRISPR research

Of course there’s a local angle. The BBJ’s Allison DeAngelis reports that Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna yesterday were awarded a Nobel Prize for their work in developing the genome editing technology CRISPR. And the two, though not based here, have been heavily involved in a number of local start-up ventures and collaboration efforts in the Boston area.


‘Meanwhile, in flu world …’

Here’s some good news on a different-yet-related infectious diseases front, from Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub: “Researchers at MIT, Harvard and Mass. General report report progress in developing a ‘universal’ flu vaccine that would work by getting the body to recognize a flu protein that rarely mutates but which the human immune system normally does not recognize.”

Universal Hub goes partial subscription

It’s been free since its launch in 1998. But no longer. The editor of, one of the state’s largest online news sites, says it will now put some of its content, though not all of its content, behind a subscription firewall, starting today. It sounds like the hybrid model currently used by the Boston Business Journal, sister-publication of the Springfield Republican and MassLive.


Perfect timing: $50 million donation to Smith College called ‘transformational’

Smith College has received its largest single donation ever, a $50 million gift that will go largely to direct financial aid for students, Jacquelyn Vogel at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Anne-Gerard Flynn at MassLive report. The timing couldn’t be better as many higher-education institutions around the country face dire fiscal outlooks with bottom lines hammered by the coronavirus.  

Thanks, Turtleboy: Braintree school board member faces recall after blogger highlights post

Braintree School Committee Member Kelly Cobb-Lemire is facing a recall petition drive after Facebook comments she made about a local Trump-supporting veteran came to light. Fred Hanson at the Patriot Ledger reports the Turtleboy Sports blog helped draw attention to Cobb-Lemire’s inflammatory comments, for which she has since apologized. 

Patriot Ledger

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


BPS pauses citywide school re-opening a week as city coronavirus rate continues to rise – Universal Hub

Walsh says major landlords promise not to evict tenants when moratorium ends – Boston Globe


Election 2020: Scanlon, Simmons clash in state rep debate in North Attleboro – Sun Chronicle

Provincetown workforce housing project gets ZBA approval – Cape Cod Times

After firefighter death, Worcester fire department gets hard look at safety practices – Telegram & Gazette


Notre Dame’s president faces an angry campus after getting the coronavirus – New York Times

Supreme Court rejects GOP attempt to get rid of ranked voting in Maine – CNN

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