Happening Today

Connecticut River paddle, East-West rail, and more

— In an event organized by state Sen. Jo Comerford and All Out Adventures, state officials and environmental, cultural and indigenous leaders will join a day-long paddle down the Connecticut River, intended to raise public awareness about the significance of the river, scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. at Northampton Community Rowing.

MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board and Department of Transportation Board of Directors meet in a joint session, with members expected to review the East-West Rail study, a status and scheduling update on the Allston Multimodal megaproject, workforce diversity initiatives, and economic scenario planning, 12 p.m.

Boston City Council Committee on Small Business and Workforce Development hold a hearing to examine strategies for addressing student loan debt burdens in Boston, 5 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: 14 new deaths, 9.517 total deaths, 744 new cases

The state’s DPH has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Legislative inaction on major bills: ‘We should be embarrassed’

From the pandemic to the presidential race to BLM protests, every day there seems to be no shortage of major news. Except for legislative news coming out of the State House. The Globe’s Matt Stout reviews all the major pieces of legislation stalled on Beacon Hill — and it sure looks like lawmakers are waiting until after the November election to act boldly and decisively.

Btw, from SHNS (pay wall): “Baker Nudges Lawmakers on State’s Economic Stimulus Bill.”

Boston Globe

Baker’s budget: The fine print

Speaking of Beacon Hill matters, CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg and SHNS’s Chris Lisinski were quick last week to read the fine print of Gov. Charlie Baker’s revised state budget, discovering what was and what wasn’t included in the plan. Not all the proposals were what you would expect to see in a budget.

Now along comes the Globe’s Matt Stout, who reports the governor’s no-new-taxes budget does in fact include a tax increase. Granted, it’s a small one, having do with a levy on opioid manufacturers, but it’s a tax increase nevertheless. Meanwhile, from MassBudget’s Monique Ching at CommonWealth magazine: “Baker’s ‘miracle budget’ doesn’t rise to the occasion.”

Sununu plans to sue Massachusetts over taxing remote workers

Up north, they’re treating it like an existential threat. The Union Leader’s Michael Cousineau reports that New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Friday he plans to sue Massachusetts after state officials here said they would continue to tax residents remotely working from Granite homes who normally worked in Massachusetts before the pandemic.

The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky has more on the DOR rule that was announced on Friday (of course).

Union Leader

Scary reality: Salem mayor implores visitors to cancel Halloween plans

Halloween festivities are usually Salem’s biggest tourism draw. But not this year, or so officials hope. From Dustin Luca at the Salem News: “If you’re planning a trip to Salem this October and even have plans in place, officials say put them on hold. In a press conference Friday morning, Mayor Kim Driscoll urged those planning to visit Salem in the next two weeks to cancel their plans.”

On Sunday’s Keller at Large on WBZ-TV, Driscoll had the same message: Stay away on or near Halloween. Just stay away.

Salem News

Delays, delays: Boston schools delay in-person learning, courts delay resumption of jury trials

Boston Public Schools superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced on Friday that the district will delay the start of Phase 3 of in-person learning for students in prekindergarten through grade three by one week, reports WCVB. You know the reason why.

Meanwhile, Dave Canton at MassLive reports that “jury trials in Massachusetts courts will not start at least until November 9, two weeks after the State Supreme Judicial Court had originally authorized the resumption of in-person trials.”

Are statewide lockdowns a thing of the past in Massachusetts?

As coronavirus cases continue to rise again across the state, there are calls for Gov. Charlie Baker to slow down the reopening process and calls for other emergency pandemic steps. But there’s one thing missing amid the clamor: No one is calling for another statewide lockdown. Why? Because it may not be needed if the state handles isolated outbreaks well. The Globe’s Dasia Moore has on more on what appears to be a growing consensus against another statewide lockdown.

But maybe regional lockdowns? The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports on calls for the state to take a more regional approach towards combating the virus, rather than a town-by-town approach. No matter what approach is taken, hospitals are definitely stocking up on protective gear in preparation of a winter surge in cases, reports the Globe’s Felice Freyer.

Is it too early to start thinking how coronavirus vaccines might be distributed in Massachusetts?

No it’s not too early. In fact, the state has already submitted an interim plan to the feds that calls for following the CDC’s suggested vaccination guidelines. And the first vaccinations, assuming effective vaccinations one day arrive, would go to health care workers treating COVID-19 patients, as WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports.


Dozens of State Police troopers remain on the force despite past illegal conduct such as … it’s a long list

Here’s yet another story that would generate more attention (and outrage) if these were normal times. But they aren’t normal times. Anyway, the Globe’s Matt Rocheleau reports how dozens of State Police are still on the payroll and patrol despite committing crimes or other serious misconduct. We’re talking charges of assault and battery, OUIs, false arrest reports, lying to internal investigators and judges, illegal searches, and the list goes on.

Reforms? How about dismantling the agency and starting from scratch? Just a thought.

Boston Globe

Ready, set, go: Early voting gets underway in Massachusetts

At one point, the line outside Fenway Park wrapped almost entirely around the lyric little bandbox, as early voting officially got underway on Saturday in Massachusetts. WBUR’s Simón Ríos has the Fenway polling-station details. Early voting was heavy in other parts of the state as well, such as on the South Shore, as the Patriot Ledger reports. The Martha’s Vineyard Times and the Brockton Enterprise have more on early voting in their areas.

Lelling to potential polling-place troublemakers: We’re watching you

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross and other law enforcement officials are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst when it comes to potential trouble at polling places, as early voting gets underway in Massachusetts, WHDH Channel 7 reports. The plan: To get involved in maintaining safety and peace at stations during these tense political times.

Here’s one example of the tense political times we’re in today, from NBC Boston: “Demonstrators Clash in Dual Protests in Copley Square.”


Kennedy’s campaign admits it inappropriately spent $1.5 million during Senate primary

How do you accidently spend $1.5 million? Anyway, from the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: ”U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III’s campaign said it inappropriately spent $1.5 million in donations meant for the general election during the final weeks of his failed primary bid against U.S. Sen. Edward Markey. …Kennedy said he takes ‘full responsibility for the error’ and personally reimbursed the campaign $1.5 million of his own money in late September.”

Boston Herald

Big name, big bucks: Neal dropped nearly $6 million to fend off Morse

Speaking of primary-election spending, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s committee-chairmanship war chest came in handy. The powerful House Ways and Means chief spent $5.89 million during the Democratic primary race, twice as much as challenger Alex Morse, Dusty Christensen at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, spent $2.11 million during the race and sought to make Neal’s deep pockets and the PACs that kept them flush with cash a factor in the race. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette

W.B. Mason City Hall? Fall River considers naming rights for city-owned buildings

They’re just like football stadiums, right? Fall River city councilors who have been kicking around the idea of selling advertising on city property are now mulling whether businesses would be willing to pay for the right to put their names on city buildings, Jo C. Goode at the Herald-News reports. The W.B. Mason City Hall does have a nice ring to it.

Herald News

The nation is watching: Chelsea to launch anti-poverty program that hands out cash to poor. That’s it

This is interesting. The Globe’s Shirley Leung reports that the city of Chelsea is about to launch the nation’s largest experiment yet to see if simply handing out no-strings-attached cash to low-income residents works better than other anti-poverty programs. The numbers aren’t large ($200 to $400 a month), but the stakes are high.

Many believe no-strings-attached cash – which is ultimately a form of guaranteed income – is the future. The concept’s supporters include none other than the Nobel Prize-winning World Food Program, as Jina Moore writes at the Globe.

Amherst tries its hand at census counting and … never mind. They’ll use the fed numbers

It’s not like they didn’t try. After an extensive outreach effort meant to boost the town’s response rate in the 2020 Census, Amherst officials say the community actually saw slippage in the percentage of residents responding voluntarily to the federal count. Jim Russell at MassLive reports Amherst’s response rate of 67 percent is below the 2010 level of 71 percent. 


More picks will put Baker’s John Hancock on state’s highest court

He’s in rare company, historically speaking. Gov. Charlie Baker is in position to have personally appointed all seven members of the state’s highest court, a distinction historians say only happened once before–under John Hancock in the 1780s. Christian Wade at the Eagle-Tribune reports Baker is poised to elevate a new chief justice for the Supreme Judicial Court and appoint two new associate justices. 

Eagle Tribune

Columbus Day has at least one supporter

It was close, but residents at a Westford town meeting narrowly rejected scrapping Columbus Day in favor Indigenous People’s Day, though the latter will get an official panel review, according to a report at Wicked Local.

Wicked Local

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

A Community Conversation: Voting Rights and the Perilous March to Freedom

The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. Since the nation’s inception, however, barriers have denied many, especially women and people of color, from exercising this right. Indeed, the history of voting rights in America has been a tug of war among those seeking to expand and others seeking to restrict access to the vote.

National Park Service, City of Boston, Friends of the Public Garden, and the Museum of African American History

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


Boston Women’s March Draws Hundreds To Protest Trump And Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett – WGBH

To keep the Winthrop Center project going, developer turned to financing from abroad – Boston Globe


‘Eyes in the sky:’ Drones a ‘force multiplier’ for Lawrence police department – Eagle-Tribune

Biden, Trump about even raising money in central Mass. – Telegram & Gazette

Amherst census response rate down from a decade ago, below state average – MassLive


Biden’s lead fuels an uncomfortable sense of deja vu – Washington Post

Amid Soaring Cases, North Dakota Ballots Include GOP Candidate Who Died of COVID – Newsweek

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