Happening Today

Columbus Day and Supreme Court nomination hearing

— Today is Columbus Day, a federal and state holiday in which many federal, state, county and municipal offices will be closed, as well as many banks; most retail shops will be open; today is now known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in some local communities.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today begins confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat that opened upon the death of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 9 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: 16 new deaths, 9,388 total deaths, 570 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

‘The era of Christopher Columbus is over’

Today is Columbus Day. Or is it Indigenous People’s Day? It’s actually both, if you count recent local re-designations of the holiday. But it may not be both for long if anti-Columbus Day protestors have their way. WCVB and WBUR’s Quincy Walters report on weekend protests calling for junking Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous People’s Day.

At CommonWealth magazine, James Aloisi, a proud Italian-American, says those pushing for change need to “exercise humility in the process of enlightening and informing and opening minds” about Columbus Day. With that said, he says it’s a “good thing that the era of Columbus is over.” He explains.

‘To avoid a player revolt’: Pats game postponed for a second time due to you-know-what

Switching to the topic that’s dominated the headlines for more than seven months now, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos to postpone their scheduled game for a second time – and it’s wreaking scheduling havoc and controversy throughout the NFL, reports Chris Mason at MassLive. The Globe’s Ben Volin reports that “postponing Patriots-Broncos to next Sunday was the only decision for the NFL to make if it wanted to avoid a player revolt.”

‘A COVID autumn’

The debate rages on over whether we’re approaching a second coronavirus surge in Massachusetts. WCVB’s Karen Anderson has a good piece explaining the differences between total case counts versus positive test rates. The Baker administration believes the latter is the better guide.

Meanwhile, from Angus Chen at WBUR: “Health experts say Mass. is in ‘a COVID autumn,’ and we’re not ready for winter.” The Boston area had a special visitor late last week. From the Herald’s Alexi Cohan: “Dr. Birx visit to Boston: Early signs of silent asymptomatic COVID spread in Northeast.” And from SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall): “Baker, White House’s Birx Meet At State House/Virus Response Coordinator Here to Learn About Campus Testing.”


Local officials to state: Stop counting prison and campus outbreaks when assigning town risks

They have a point – at least when it comes to confined prison and jail clusters. The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports that some towns are upset that they’re being designated by the state as “high risk” coronavirus communities because of virus outbreaks within prisons, jails and college campuses –while the case count for the rest of the community remains low. It’s a “stigma” that does real harm, they say.

Speaking of prisons and jails, also from the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Lawsuit to release Plymouth County Correctional Facility detainees over coronavirus concerns unsuccessful: Lelling.”

Boston Herald

School reopening updates: Mansfield closure, Tyngsboro cyberattack, Boston teachers protest

Speaking of local coronavirus controversies, here’s some headline updates regarding schools, starting with Wicked Local: “Marshfield elementary school closing for two weeks after multiple positive covid cases.” … From WCVB: “Boston teachers rally against in-person learning amid coronavirus spike.” … And from NBC Boston: “Cyberattack Disrupts Classes at Tyngsboro Public Schools.”

Boston Red Stocks? Report says Red Sox owner in talks to go public

Quickly, back to sports: Boston Red Sox and Boston Globe owner John Henry is mulling a deal that would take his Fenway Sports Group public in a deal worth as much as $8 billion, Cara Lombardo and Miriam Gottfried at the Wall Street Journal report. The deal would link Fenway Sports with RedBall Acquisition Corp., which is co-chaired by Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s executive and “moneyball” godfather the Red Sox famously tried to woo to Boston. … Now back to all things politics and public policy.  

WSJ (pay wall)

New England holdouts: Baker, Sununu and Scott refuse to sign GOP governors’ letter supporting Barrett

As the U.S. Senate’s confirmation hearings get under way today for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, the signatures of New England’s three Republican governors – Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and Phil Scott of Vermont – were noticeably absent from a letter signed by other GOP governors pledging their support for Barrett, according to a report at CBS Boston.

Baker has previously criticized the rush to approve Barrett’s nomination before the November election.

CBS Boston

Eyes and ears: Mass GOP chairman echoes Trump with call for poll-watchers

Good politics or a red flag? Mass. Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons has put out a call for citizens to volunteer as poll watchers, the Associated Press reports. In an email sent Friday, Lyons echoed rhetoric from President Trump, saying “poll watchers are necessary to minimize any risk of fraud.”

Lyons is on a potential collision course with Attorney General Maura Healey, who has warned against voter intimidation tactics via poll watchers.   

MetroWest Daily News

ActBlue sure is getting under Mitch McConnell’s skin these days

Somerville’s ActBlue was recently in the news for its record-shattering donation haul following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (CBS News). And now the Democratic fundraising operation is causing heartburn for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who recently lamented ActBlue’s small-donation fundraising prowess, according to the NYT (scroll down for ActBlue mention).


Ranked-choice voting: The hopes, the promises, the disappointments

At the Gloucester Times, Christian Wade reports that many third-party advocates are pinning their hopes on passage of the Question 2 “ranked-choice voting” initiative to finally make them relevant in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Matt Stout reports that in Maine, where ranked-choice voting has been in place since 2016, the new voting system has lived up to some of its promises – but not all of its promises. In its latest editorial on the subject, the Globe acknowledges ranked-choice isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough.

Warren in NH: Trump will be held ‘accountable’ for coronavirus response

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren campaigned for the Biden-Harris ticket in New Hampshire over the weekend, vowing to hold President Trump “accountable” for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, reports CBS Boston.

In other campaign news, someone was most certainly held accountable for blatant overzealousness in Dalton, via WCVB: “Massachusetts man accused of burning down Biden-Harris hay bale display faces arson charge.”

CBS Boston

New ‘City Hall’ documentary: ‘The most effective campaign ad Marty Walsh didn’t have to buy’

Legendary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, a Boston native, has produced an epic 4.5-hour documentary on the city he loves, simply called “City Hall” – and who better to review it than the Globe’s City Hll reporter Danny McDonald? McDonald has five takeaways on the film.

The documentary has been getting generally positive reviews, such as from WBUR’s Sean Burns and the Globe’s Ty Burr, who rightly notes the film “might turn out to be the most effective campaign ad Marty Walsh didn’t have to buy.” Roughly along the same lines, via the NYT: “In Martin Walsh, Boston’s phlegmatic, sometimes tongue-tied mayor, Wiseman finds an unlikely and blessedly uncharismatic hero.”

Boston Globe

Making the point: Activist who left discarded syringes outside Baker’s home ordered to stay away

There are protests and then there are dangerously dumb protests. From the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter: “A Boston protester who put used syringes in front of Gov. Charlie Baker’s house on Oct. 4 has been ordered to stay away from the governor’s Swampscott home.” Domingos DaRosa, a Roxbury activist, is part of a group pushing to clean up Boston’s ‘Methadone Mile.’

Boston Herald

Of promotions and punishments: the BPD’s racial divide

The Globe’s Andrew Ryan and Evan Allen dive into the stats and find yet another racial divide within the Boston Police Department – over who gets and doesn’t get the most promotions and punishments. We’ll leave it to you to guess who does and doesn’t get what. 

Boston Globe

Somerville police union boss charged with assault for pepper spraying handcuffed man

Speaking of police, watch the video accompanying Walter Wuthmann’s story at WBUR and you’ll have little doubt that the charges against the head of Somerville’s police union certainly seem appropriate.


Another shoe: Video from 2017 raises questions about Methuen police promotions

One more police-related item: The Methuen City Council may have to re-vote on the promotion of three officers elevated at a 2017 meeting after a video surfaced showing they didn’t receive the right number of votes, Bill Kirk at the Eagle-Tribune reports. At least one of those promotions–a superior officer with close ties to the chief, who the council recently voted no-confidence in–is now in doubt. 

Eagle Tribune

Is Halloween canceled in your community? A town-by-town guide to trick-or-treating

The guide isn’t complete yet, as communities continue to debate how to handle trick-or-treating this Halloween. Still, Mary Marko at NBC Boston has at least a partial list.

NBC Boston

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


Harvard professor Charles Lieber, charged federally for ties to China, wants school to pay his legal bills – Boston Globe

Housing Advocates Rally To Support Eviction Moratorium Extension – WGBH


Chicopee city council votes to support Holyoke Soldiers’ Home renovations – MassLive

Proposed Cape Cod machine-gun range under fire from residents – Cape Cod Times

Public weighing in on Attleboro mayor’s green new deal – Sun Chronicle


Anti-Trump, but not fully for Biden: Will Gen Z vote? – Politico

Trump campaign twists Fauci comment to suggest praise of president – Washington Post

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