Keller at Large
Who needs dissent? Not us
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller laments the dwindling number of people ready to stand up to our one-party and one-governing-philosophy approach to government and taxes in Massachusetts. And don’t expect Charlie Baker to stand up to those prevailing forces.
Soldiers’ Home hearing, Trump-Biden debate, and more
— The Gaming Commission holds meeting that is expected to include an update on the compliance of the three gambling facilities since reopening in July and other matters, 10 a.m.
— Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, which is reportedly working on an omnibus veterans legislation, holds a hearing on Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed commendation to honor service members who die as a result of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder, exposure to harmful agents, toxins, or herbicides, 10 a.m.
— A special legislative commission created to investigate the pandemic crisis at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home holds its second meeting at which families and health-care proxies are invited to virtually speak, 12 p.m.
— U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark speaks at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce government affairs forum, 2:00 p.m.
— President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will face off in the second and final debate of the campaign for the White House, 9 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.
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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: 22 new deaths, 9,559 total deaths, 646 new cases
CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
Too much: Boston schools going all-remote due to Covid spike
At least they tried. From GBH’s Meg Woolhouse: “Boston Public Schools will return to an all-remote learning schedule Thursday as the city’s seven-day positive test rate for the coronavirus climbs to its highest point since last May. The shift will immediately affect 2,600 high-needs students.”
The story has gone national (NYT). Needless to say, it’s a crushing blow to parents. From the Globe’s Felicia Gans: “‘Missing a year affects us a lot’: Families respond with anguish after Boston public schools cancel in-person learning.” How high has the virus case count gotten in Boston? From Universal Hub: “Oh, poop! Sewage testing showing sharp rise in Boston-area coronavirus rates.”
The news comes as Boston Public Schools deal with a number of other thorny issues, not least this, via the Globe: “Boston School Committee votes to drop admissions tests for city’s exam schools for one year.”
Salem’s Operation Scare Them Away
No more imploring people to stay away. It’s time for action. And so Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday outlined specific steps being taken – closures of streets, weekend curfews, train schedule changes etc. – in an attempt to keep people from flocking to the Witch City to celebrate Halloween during the pandemic. SHNS’s Colin Young and the Herald’s Meghan Ottolini have the scare-them-away details. Dustin Luca at the Salem News has the reaction of business owners to the Salem closures and restrictions.
Btw, file this one under ‘Aww,’ via MassLive: “Child writes to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker thanking him for not canceling Halloween, encourages giving out large candy bars.
As he urges people to stay away from Salem, governor chimes in on Thanksgiving too
The governor is already thinking ahead to another upcoming holiday: Thanksgiving. And he thinks it “might be a good year not to travel” too far for T-Day celebrations due to the pandemic, as Heather Morrison reports at MassLive . The Globe’s Beth Teitell is thinking ahead too: “Thanksgiving 2020: ‘Home Alone’ edition.”
Baker administration hopes to avert layoffs despite revenue and MassHealth budget concerns
Some tentative good news for state employees: The Baker administration hopes to avoid government layoffs this fiscal year and next year – “unless things deteriorate remarkably,” as SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports (pay wall).
But administration officials at a budget hearing yesterday were sounding the alarm over the surge in MassHealth enrollment during the pandemic – and Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders is worried about a possible ‘fiscal cliff’ ahead, as CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports. So we guess the question is: Does going over a fiscal cliff equate to things deteriorating remarkably? Btw, via SHNS (pay wall): “Baker Files Interim Budget to Cover Spending Through November.”
Massachusetts’ mini-stimulus plan
It’s a drop in the bucket of what the state needs, but at least it’s a drop in the bucket. From the Globe’s Jon Chesto: “As debate over an additional federal stimulus package drags out in Congress, Governor Charlie Baker is unveiling a plan to deploy nearly $51 million from a previous round of federal aid to small businesses reeling from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Lelling: Gun violence up at least 50 percent in some communities after spring pandemic lull
The media has anecdotally and sometimes statistically reported on increased violence in certain communities since the onset of the pandemic – and now U.S. Attorney General has some hard gun-violence numbers and opinions on what’s causing it, reports Stephanie Barry at MassLive.
Early voting: Now 1.2 million and counting. … Or is it 2 million?
The Globe’s Matt Stout and MassLive’s Steph Solis report on the continued amazing surge in early and mail-in voting in Massachusetts. The exact number depends on whether you count mail-in ballot applications etc. Whatever the number, it’s impressive. Btw: Stout reports on the stark disparity in early voting, with wealthy and mostly white suburbs fully embracing mail-in balloting.
Btw, II, via the Herald’s Joe Dwinell: “Ballot blunder as New Jersey sends mail-in voting form to Massachusetts watchdog.”
Romney: ‘I did not vote for President Trump’
Mitt Romney is pulling a Charlie Baker, saying he couldn’t and didn’t vote for Donald Trump but isn’t saying who he did vote for in the election, according to a report at CBS Boston.
Preparing for the worst: Mass. unions say they’ll participate in nationwide strike if Trump refuses to abide by election results
They’re poised to take to the streets. Larry Parnass at the Berkshire Eagle reports a coalition of 30 labor unions in the western part of the state have agreed to follow the lead of some national unions and launch a general workers strike if President Trump refuses to acknowledge legitimate election results.
‘Right Turn: The Mass. GOP goes all in on Trump’
Should it read ‘right turn’ or ‘suicide watch’? Or is it both? Anyway, Adam Reilly at GBH reports how the Massachusetts Republican Party, under chairman Jim Lyons, has gone all in on Donald Trump this election cycle, particularly in Congressional elections, and … maybe it’s time to start thinking about the party’s post-November-election plans? It’s never too early, as they say.
Free at last: Ex-reporter transitions to all-out partisanship – and it feels so good
Andy Metzger, a former reporter at CommonWealth magazine, writes how he’s transitioned from staying neutral in political brawls to taking side in political brawls now that he’s no longer a reporter – and it just feels good to take sides.
Judge to Shiva: No, you can’t sue Bill Galvin for $1.2B in federal court
Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin has the latest on failed Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai, who seems convinced the only thing between him and U.S. Senate glory was Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin.
Postal Inspectors probing mailbox incident involving Governor’s Council member
This is a strange one. SHNS’s Sam Doran reports that U.S. postal inspectors are investigating an incident in which a member of the Governor’s Council allegedly poked/fiddled with/peeked at a piece of mail in a neighbor’s letterbox – and the incident was captured on a security-camera video.
Lauren Baker’s privilege versus Domingos DaRosa’s protest rights?
First off, we weren’t aware that it was Lauren Baker, the governor’s wife, who was the one who went to court to keep Domingos DaRosa away from her Swampscott home after he dumped needles outside to protest out-of-control drug problems in Boston, as the Salem News reports. Second, the Globe’s Joan Vennochi appears to side with DaRosa’s right to protest, needles and all.
We respectfully disagree. There are protests – and then there are unreasonably dangerous protests.
On the hook: Ex Boston Grand Prix CEO liable for nearly $2 million
He can’t just drive away from this crash. John Casey, who sought to bring IndyCar racing to the streets of Southie with the Boston Grand Prix, is personally liable for $2 million the failed effort owes to creditors. Julie Manganis at the Salem News reports the bankruptcy court’s adverse ruling comes just weeks after Casey was arrested on federal fraud charges.
Healey touts record of 200 legal actions against Trump
We’re not sure what prompted this right now, but Attorney General Maura Healey yesterday was touting her office’s more than 200 legal actions against the Trump administration, mostly of them having to do with environmental issues. MassLive’s Melissa Hanson has more.
Utility: Maine transmission project construction could start this year
This is an ambitious goal for the New England Clean Energy Connect project, via SHNS’s Colin Young: “Utility company executives behind the project that would deliver clean power from Hydro-Québec to the Massachusetts and New England power grid said Wednesday construction should start before the end of 2020, about a year later than the company once projected.”
Still on track: South Coast Rail stations will rise in New Bedford this winter
After 20 years of waiting and promises, New Bedford residents might not believe their eyes, but construction work on new commuter rail stations in the city is expected to start soon and the entire South Coast Rail project remains on track to be completed by 2023, Kiernan Dunlop at the Standard-Times reports. Officials say the project has so far escaped impacts from the coronavirus crisis.
Told you so: Film tax credit backers cite new study as proof it’s worth keeping
As lawmakers prepare to dig into how much economic activity was generated by the local filming of Castle Rock TV show, a new study from Industrial Economics shows the state saw a nearly $5 return on every dollar of tax credit granted to the production, Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth Magazine reports. The report is the first to be granted access to production studio financials.
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.
Advocating for the Rights of People on the Move: A Conversation with the Refugee Community Leaders
Join us for a conversation with refugee community leaders on economic justice and migration. Speakers are Abid Shamdeen, co-founder of Nadia’s Initiative which brings aid to internally displaced Yazidis in Iraq, and Sharifah Shakirah, co-founder of Rohingya Women’s Development Network which believes gender equality is key to lifting the Rohingya community.
Energy Policy Seminar: John Holdren on “Thawing Permafrost: A Local and Global Disaster”
Join us for an Energy Policy Seminar featuring John Holdren, Teresa and John Heinz, Professor of Environmental Policy at HKS. Professor Holdren will speak on “Thawing Permafrost: A Local and Global Disaster”. The seminar will be hosted by HKS Professor Joe Aldy.
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.
Critical Conversations: Racial Justice and the Immigrant Rights Movement
The Binger Annual Immigration Law Forum brings together lawyers, students, advocates and community members to learn from each other and develop tools to continue the struggle to protect human rights, basic dignity, and the rule of law.
Virtual Discussion – Women Who Lead: Navigating the Challenges of 2020 and Beyond
Join us for a virtual live-streamed panel discussion with four female business leaders moderated by Carolyn Jones, publisher of the Boston Business Journal. Women have unique perspectives to offer on leading through these current turbulent times from how to build organizational resilience to how to advocate for themselves in a politically charged environment to maintaining a work/life balance.
Modern Mobility Aloft: Elevated Highways, Architecture and Urban Change in Pre-Interstate America
Join the Boston Public Library and the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library for an online talk with Amy D. Finstein, author of Modern Mobility Aloft: Elevated Highways, Architecture and Urban Change in Pre-Interstate America.
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.
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