Keller at Large

Baker’s big dilemma

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller takes a look at the big election. Not the presidential election. Not next year’s mayoral race. But the 2022 gubernatorial election – and whether Gov. Charlie Baker will run for a third term.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

MassPort meeting, pandemic homelessness and more

— The Cape Cod Reopening Task Force holds its weekly press availability, with Cape Cod Healthcare CEO Mike Lauf and COO Lori Jewett joining, 9 a.m.

Massachusetts Port Authority Board meets with an agenda that includes budget, COVID-19, aviation, maritime and financial liquidity updates, 9 a.m.

Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance hosts a virtual panel discussion on the increase in unsheltered homelessness amid the pandemic, with panelists including Rep. Natalie Higgins, Boston Globe reporter Vernal Coleman and others, 10 a.m.)

Mass. Gaming Commission is expected to publish September revenues at Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor.

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, 9,429 totl deaths, 518 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

No bailing wire needed: Baker unveils revised $45.5B budget with less revenue, increased spending and no new taxes

Despite a $3.6 billion loss in state tax collections due to the pandemic, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday unveiled a revised state budget that nevertheless calls for an actual increase in state spending this fiscal year – with revenue gaps filled in with one-time federal relief money, rainy-day reserve funds, Medicaid transfers and … no new taxes. Those will probably come next fiscal year, though the governor isn’t saying so.

SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall), MassLive’s Steph Solis and GBH’s Mike Deehan have more on the $45.5 billion budget held together without chewing gum, bailing wire and Duck tape. But the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports that the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation is warning that next fiscal year’s budget will be considerably more challenging.

‘Red Zone’ update: Nearly two dozen additional communities added to high-risk list

Here’s the latest evidence that a second surge is headed our way, via GBH’s Mark Herz, who reports Massachusetts now has 63 cities and towns in the coronavirus “red zone,” up from 40 communities previously listed in the state’s ‘high-risk’ category.


‘Eviction machine,’ Part II: It’s not just judges being re-hired to handle cases

CommonWealth Magazine’s Sarah Betancourt confirms a Herald report that the courts are lining up more judges to handle a potential flood of eviction cases once the state’s eviction moratorium ends later this week. The courts are also assembling a small army of interpreters and preparing “special Zoom rooms where participants can use computers and phones to take part in court proceedings,” Betancourt writes.


School reopening updates: Judge rules against union over in-person learning, BC High and Marlborough go all-remote

Here are some quick summaries of school reopening developments, starting with Max Larkin’s report at WBUR that a Superior Court judge has ruled that Boston schools can continue in-person teaching despite rising rates of COVID-19 in the city. It’s a setback for the Boston Teachers Union, which had sought court action to force BPS to go all-remote. Meanwhile, from Universal Hub: “BC High moves to online classes after fifth student tests positive for Covid-19.” … And from Wicked Local: “Marlborough schools shift to remote learning for the foreseeable future due to increase in COVID-19 cases.”

Nursing home rules would limit number of patients in rooms

This is not going to help the bottom lines of struggling nursing homes across the state. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Long-term care facilities would need to phase out residential rooms that hold more than two people and meet a minimum staff care level under regulatory changes the Department of Public Health is pursuing.”

The regulations, obviously, are in reaction to the pandemic and meant to prevent infections.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Logan Airport to start COVID testing of passengers next month

This is interesting. From Heather Morrison at MassLive: “Logan International Airport in Boston will start testing passengers for COVID-19 later this year. XpresSpa Group, a health and wellness company, announced it has begun building an XpresCheck COVID-19 testing facility at the Boston airport that is expected to be fully operational by November.”

NBC Boston reports a similar testing program has been launched at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.


Not-so-great: Berkshires residents want town’s name off controversial Covid document

They’re taking it personally. A growing number of Great Barrington residents are agitating for town leaders to take action after a controversial document calling for a herd immunity approach to defeating Covid-19 bearing the town’s name began gaining international attention, Larry Parnass at the Berkshire Eagle reports. 

Meanwhile, from the Globe’s Martin Finucane: “Boston researchers join letter in The Lancet rejecting herd immunity strategy.”

Berkshire Eagle

Governor on break-in at his home: ‘Everybody’s safe, that’s the only thing that really matters’

Gov. Charlie Baker didn’t want to comment much yesterday on reports of a break-in at his Swampscott home, while his wife and daughter were inside, by a man with a criminal record. “Everybody’s safe, that’s the only thing that really matters, and that’s all I’m going to say about it,” Baker said yesterday, reports CBS Boston. 

But then there’s this, via NBC Boston: “Protesters Call for Eviction Moratorium Extension Outside Baker’s Home as Governor Responds to Break-in.” Isn’t there some way to organize a voluntary moratorium on protests outside pols’ homes, considering the tense political times we’re in these days? Just a suggestion (and a hope).

CBS Boston

Baker won’t vote for Trump (again). So does that mean he supports Biden?

It got a little confusing there for a moment. But, yes, Gov. Charlie Baker is once again refusing to vote for fellow Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race, reports SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and the Globe’s Jeremy Fox and Matt Stout.

But it’s unclear whether the governor might vote for Democrat Joe Biden. He isn’t saying. So the media has a few weeks more to annoy the hell out of the governor by asking repeated questions about his voting intentions.

Biden opens big lead in N.H. but … hidden Trump voters?

Things continue to look good for Joe Biden, poll-wise, in New Hampshire, with the Democratic presidential nominee opening up a 10-point lead over President Trump in the Granite State, as the Globe’s James Pindell reports.

And the polling news looks good for Biden across the nation too. But … but the NYT’s Thomas Edsall, in a column headlined “Biden is not out of the woods,” reports that non-polling data is giving some Democratic insiders heartburn these days. The reason: A major surge in Republican voter registration in key swing states. The numbers are rather impressive (for Republicans) and shocking (for Democrats).

Boston Globe

The smoking envelopes? Mass. voter paperwork lands in New Hampshire

Speaking of the Granite State, the owner of a Derry, N.H. business that was delivered a box of 500 mail-in ballot envelopes meant for Massachusetts election officials says the incident underscores the risks of voting by mail, Genevieve DiNatale at the Eagle-Tribune reports. Secretary of State William Galvin’s office says the envelopes got waylaid on their way from a printing contractor and emphasized that no actual ballots were involved. 

Eagle Tribune

‘A story you may have missed this week that could impact politics for the next decade’

Got your attention? It’s about the Supreme Court’s emergency ruling earlier this week that allows the U.S. Census to stop counting people immediately – and it’s a ruling that could lead to undercounting the number of people in Massachusetts. The Globe’s James Pindell looks at how the decision could impact future Congressional seats, federal funding to states, and so much more for years to come.

Meanwhile, local officials aren’t happy. Not at all. From the Berkshire Eagle: “Neal troubled by Supreme Court decision to halt Census.” From the Daily Hampshire Gazette: “After Supreme Court stops Census count, local organizations react.” And from the Globe’s Zoe Greenberg: “‘So transparently deceitful.’ Ending census early will leave parts of Boston uncounted, possibly resulting in less aid.”

The gloves are off in Cape legislative race

Democratic challenger Kip Diggs is swinging away at state Rep. Will Crocker’s record on mental health and substance abuse issues, taking left and right jabs at the Republican punching bag for claiming credit for bills he didn’t sponsor on Beacon Hill, according to a score-card at Wicked Local. And did we mention Diggs is a former professional boxer?

Wicked Local

Healey and four DAs vow to not prosecute abortion cases if Roe is overturned

Attorney General Maura Healey and four of the state’s district attorneys — Berskhire’s Andrea Harrington, Suffolk’s Rachael Rollins, Middlesex’s Marian Ryan and Northwestern’s David Sullivan – have joined more than 60 prosecutors nationwide in pledging not to prosecute abortion-related cases if Roe v. Wade is overturned or eroded, according to a report at WBUR.


Fear factor: Salem will try to keep crowds away as Halloween approaches

Not scary enough. The coronavirus hasn’t kept crowds away from downtown Salem in the run-up to Halloween and Mayor Kim Driscoll is hinting that more restrictions could be in the works in the Witch City, including possibly forcing some businesses to close earlier, Dustin Luca at the Salem News reports.

Salem News

Big target: Warren slams Disney over layoffs, executive bonuses

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is hammering Walt Disney Co. over its plans to lay off some 28,000 front-line workers even as executive pay and bonuses are restored to pre-pandemic levels, Ryan Faughnder at the Los Angeles Times reports. 

LA Times

Jelani M. Favors – Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism

Join the Boston Public Library for an online author talk with the winner of the 2020 Museum of African American History (MAAH) Stone Book Award. In Shelter in the Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism, Jelani M. Favors offers a history of historically Black colleges and universities from 1837 to the present.

Boston Public Library

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

Navigating the Rapids: Swing State Secretaries and the 2020 Elections

As we approach the final weeks of the election campaign, Secretaries of State – particularly in swing states – face tremendous pressures as they fulfill their responsibilities to provide a smooth, inclusive, and safe election that delivers a trusted result.

Harvard Kennedy School

City Awake: Empowering Youth to Vote

Join City Awake, in partnership with the Kennedy Institute, for a timely discussion on the importance of civic engagement, empowerment, and how it is imperative that we all vote in the upcoming election, especially the next generation. The conversation will feature Kennedy Institute Board member, and global human rights activist, Martin Luther King, III.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Philanthropy and Inequality

Please join the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy for its signature weekly series this fall, The Fierce Urgency of Now, featuring Black, Indigenous, People of Color scholars, activists, and community leaders, and experts from the Global South.

Harvard Kennedy School

Today’s Headlines


Governor Baker intruder has lengthy record – Lynn Item

Boston one of the ‘Rattiest’ cities in America, study says – MassLive


Longmeadow bans Halloween trick or treating – MassLive

High-dose senior flu vaccines remain in short supply on Cape – Cape Cod Times

Worcester is well prepared for a new wave of virus, city manager says – Telegram & Gazette


Biden, Democrats raise record $383 million in September – Washington Post

Pelosi, Mnuchin continue Covid talks amid dwindling odds for deal – The Hill

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