Keller at Large

When politicians play pretend

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller notes that politicians for decades have been playing “cosplay” roles, or pretending to be who they’re not. But pandemic deniers, led by our president, are contenders for cosplay Oscars for acting as if there’s no science behind COVID-19.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Health Policy Commission, marijuana delivery rules, higher-ed enrollment

Health Policy Commission holds a virtual version of its annual cost trends hearing that will last only half a day this year, not two days, as it has in the past, 9 a.m. 

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets with plans to announce the state’s 2021 teacher of the year, discuss a language interpretation services project, and other matters, 9 a.m. 

Cannabis Control Commission meets and is expected to consider feedback and hold a final policy discussion around its draft home-delivery regulations, 10 a.m. 

Board of Higher Education virtually meets with plans to hear a presentation on fall enrollment at UMass, state universities and community colleges, 10 a.m. 

— Gov. Charlie Baker participates in a ‘fireside chat’ with JPMorgan Chase President and CEO Jamie Dimon to discuss investments to expand economic opportunity for young people and to prepare them for jobs in the future, 11 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: 15 new deaths, 9,532 total deaths, 827 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts. 

As the T sees long-term ridership declines due to telecommuting …

The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl report that MBTA officials are revising downward their already grim ridership and revenue projections. The reason: They see today’s surge in telecommuting, spurred by the pandemic, becoming “standard practice for the foreseeable future” here and elsewhere. Meaning: Budget cuts.

Here’s more evidence of telecommuting’s long-term impact on transportation in general, via SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall): “Study Finds Old Rush Hour Patterns Not Returning Soon.”

… mayors and others urge T to avert service cuts

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) reports that Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone are adding their voices to those urging the MBTA to abandon tentative plans to make deep service cuts to balance its pandemic-ravaged operating budget, saying the T should seek new outside funding.  

Meanwhile, SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) reports that a coalition of 30 groups wants the T to wait until the 2020 legislative session concludes before making any cuts. 

Maybe the tsunami hits today?

Granted, it’s early. The state’s eviction moratorium only ended over the weekend. Still, the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports there was little sign of a ‘tsunami’ of eviction filings yesterday, the first work day in which landlords could make filings, or at least there were few signs of a tsunami where Tiernan looked.

We suspect filings will dribble in eventually, followed by waves, particularly if and when federal protections expire. There’s no doubt many people are behind in payments. And there’s no doubt there’s a housing problem out there. See post immediately below.

Boston Herald

As housing instability grows, Cambridge opens public showers

Have we come to this? As Martha Bebinger reports at WBUR, two trailers with showers inside officially opened yesterday in Cambridge, as city officials and others deal with growing housing instability in the region.  


Where’s mine? After court ruling, inmates in Massachusetts want their stimulus checks

Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth Magazine reports there’s now a scramble under way among the nearly 13,000 state and county inmates in Massachusetts to claim stimulus-relief checks, now that a California federal judge has ruled prisoners are entitled to the freebie money from the feds.  


Calling all hotspots …

Did you get a cell-phone alert last night from the state warning that you live in a high-risk coronavirus community? If so, you probably live in Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, Nantucket, New Bedford, Revere, Framingham, Winthrop or Worcester. The state was planning to send out mobile-device alerts last night to those in designated hotspots, as part of a stepped-up effort to make sure people are following virus-containment guidelines. The Globe’s Martin Finucane and SHNS’s Colin Young and Katie Lannan (pay wall) have more.

Right direction: Number of new UMass virus cases slow down

It’s a start. UMass Amherst is seeing the number of Covid cases being reported on and around campus decline after a spike that was tied to a mid-September off-campus party. Jacquelyn Voghel of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has the details. 

All too familiar: Celtics’ Marcus Smart details racist Boston incident in essay

Again. Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has penned a lengthy article for the Players’ Tribune that includes a gut-punch of a racial slur hurled at him outside his workplace, the TD Garden, Hayden Bird of the Globe reports. 

In the piece, Smart writes that despite a lifetime of experience dealing with racism, the incident rattled him because the slur was delivered by a mother holding the hand of her young son.“And in an instant, just like that, I was made to feel less than human.” 

Boston Globe

Strong start: 800,000 ballots cast in Mass. already

This surge isn’t bad. Tanner Stening of MassLive reports more than 800,000 ballots had been cast as of Monday afternoon in the Bay State, representing a quarter of the total vote from the 2016 presidential election. The ongoing tally includes both mail-in ballots already received and those cast at early voting locations, which opened Saturday across the state.  

Meanwhile, Spencer Buell of Boston Magazine reports on the “most Boston voter ever,” to wit: How a Brighton woman gained online fame after showing up to vote early at Fenway Park with her “Dunkie’s” in hand. 

Lawmakers and local officials: Marijuana home delivery plan goes too far

SHNS’s Colin Young and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg report that some Beacon Hill lawmakers and municipal leaders are objecting to the Cannabis Control Commission’s plan to carve out a new niche in the emerging pot industry that would allow companies to buy marijuana directly from wholesalers and deliver it to consumers’ homes. The lawmakers say the law doesn’t allow such operations. Local officials are worried about a loss of tax revenue.

We could be wrong, but we suspect bricks-and-mortar retail pot shops, which oppose the home-delivery plan, are making their presence felt at the State House and in city halls.

Out of the park: Red Sox owners eye major redevelopment around Fenway

Besides rebuilding their poorly performing baseball team, the owners of the Boston Red Sox are moving ahead with plans for a major redevelopment of the neighborhood outside Fenway Park, including possibly new office space, apartment buildings, retail, and a hotel, reports the Globe’s Michael Silverman and Tim Logan

More free media: GOP congressional candidate accused of threatening fellow Republican

She’s certainly keeping her name in the papers. A member of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee says GOP Congressional candidate Rayla Campbell threatened him with physical violence in a phone call to a third party, Tim Dunn at the Standard-Times reports. State Republican leaders want Campbell to stay away from Trump events and even to suspend all her write-in campaign activity. Last week, Campbell–who is challenging U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley–claimed to have been assaulted at a Trump rally before video emerged that suggested she was the aggressor. 


‘Terrorist and seditious threats’?

The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that two counterprotesters who clashed with police on Sunday in Copley Square are accused of punching and pushing officers, according to police. But here’s what caught our attention: A police report’s description of one of the counterprotesters making “terrorist and seditious threats of violence.” Huh? Threats of violence, true. But …

We have zero sympathy and patience for either side in these types of street skirmishes. One side (‘Super Happy Fun America’) wants to provoke. The other is more than happy to be provoked. They love this stuff, thinking it’s Berlin-1930s all over again and they’re the heroes, etc. But ‘terrorist and seditious threats’?

Boston Herald

Poisoned ponds: ‘Toxic cyanobacteria bloom’ is a growing threat across the Cape and islands

Eve Zuckoff at WCAI reports on a dangerous natural development now lurking in Cape-and-island waters – and we’re not talking about Great White sharks: Toxic cyanobacteria bloom, a species of algae that’s spreading in the more than 1,000 ponds across the Cape and Islands with only a patchwork of monitoring systems available. The algae can lead to pretty severe human illness, as Zuckoff makes clear.   


Virtual lights, camera, action: Lawmakers to review economic impact of ‘Castle Rock’ TV series shot in Massachusetts

Amidst a pandemic, presidential campaign and economic mayhem, you can be sure this will nevertheless attract a lot of attention at the State House on Wednesday, virtually speaking: A hearing on the financial impact the Hulu series “Castle Rock” has had in Massachusetts, where the series was filmed. MassLive’s Ray Kelley and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) have more on a hearing that film-production types hope will boost support for the state’s film tax credits.

Diversity concerns raised over vocational schools’ selective admissions process

From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “A coalition of groups plans on Tuesday to publicly challenge the way public vocational-technical high schools rank prospective students, saying the method results in fewer admissions of African-American, Latinx, and English learner students as well as fewer students from low-income and working-class backgrounds.” 

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

The Future of Higher Education

As schools around the country plan, react, and adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic, the presidents of Greater Washington’s top universities will gather virtually to discuss health and safety, diversity and inclusion, and budgeting and development of the future of higher education. Join the Washington Business Journal for a look behind the scenes with the decision makers.

Washington Business Journal

Today’s Headlines


Brigham and Women’s hospital completes investigation into coronavirus outbreak – Boston Globe

Reebok founder’s Brookline manor sells for $23M – Boston Business Journal


Worcester parents implore schools to start in-person classes faster – Telegram & Gazette

Former Middlesex Assistant District Attorney remembered following deadly plane crash – Lowell Sun

Gaming Commission sets hearing on Plainridge racing – Sun Chronicle


Debate commission to mute Trump, Biden microphones during parts of Thursday’s debate – Washington Post

Justice Department says Trump denial of rape accusation was an official act – New York Times

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