Keller at Large

Charlie Baker’s Cheshire Cat choice on police reform

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterLIsts, Jon Keller says Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision on whether to sign or veto the recently passed police reform bill is a classic fork-in-the-road moment right out of Alice in Wonderland. Which road does he choose? … Note: Text of Jon’s commentary accompanies his podcast. Check it out!

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Telehealth, Gaming Commission and more

Massachusetts Health Policy Forum hosts ‘Telehealth in a Post Pandemic World,’ a virtual event sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Baystate Health and featuring opening remarks from Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, starting at 8:30 a.m.


Mass. Gaming Commission meets and is expected to receive quarterly reports from MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino, review a draft of its annual report and will get a first-quarter budget update, 10 a.m.

— By the close of business, the Department of Revenue will likely report on key state tax revenues for November. 

— Santa Claus plans to join Boston Mayor Martin Walsh for a virtual countdown to the 79th Annual Tree Lighting on Boston Common, WCVB Ch. 5, 7 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: 46 new deaths, 10,588 total deaths, 4,613 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Amid spiking virus cases and deaths, state’s contact-tracing program is overwhelmed

As coronavirus cases hit a new single-day record in Massachusetts (Herald) and as the nation’s death toll hits a new daily high as well (NYT), the Globe’s Kay Lazar reports that’s the state’s contact-tracing program has been effectively overwhelmed, unable to get timely test results and unable keep up with testing demand. We’ll resist using the word “collapse” to describe the situation, but …

Btw, this is interesting, via WCVB, and it doesn’t appear to be a rumor coming from a friend of a friend’s sister who heard it from an acquaintance: “’Consider rolling back a step’ White House Coronavirus Task Force tells Massachusetts.”  

Tentative vaccine arrival date: Dec. 15

Gov. Charlie Baker has already said to possibly expect the arrival of a new COVID-19 vaccine later this month. But we now have a specific tentative date: Demember 15, assuming the feds approve the vaccine next week. The Herald’s Alexi Cohan and Lisa Kashinsy have more.

In other vaccine news, MassLive’s Peter Goonan reports Springfield city councilors are calling on the governor to distribute vaccines evenly across the state, saying they’re “deeply concerned” about geographic disparities. From CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas: “Vaccination catch-22 in black community/Hard hit by COVID, but mistrustful of medicine.” And from the Globe’s Brittany Bowker: “Former presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton volunteer to get COVID-19 vaccine publicly to prove it’s safe.”

Boston Herald

Feeling the squeeze: School superintendents are caught in tough remote-vs-in-person middle

One of the hardest jobs these days? There are a lot of them, but being a school superintendent has to rank up there as one of the toughest pandemic-era jobs, as the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert and Naomi Martin report. Think: Parents, teacher unions, small-town politics, state edicts, conflicting public-safety advice and data, etc.

As if on cue, from the Herald’s Alexi Cohan: “Boston families call for school reopening, citing harm to students learning remotely.” And, of course, there’s declining enrollment in some schools – and rising enrollment in others. From Common Wealth’s Shira Schoenberg: “As students leave district schools, charters and vocational schools see growth.”

Boston Globe

Actually, commercial real estate’s problems are your problems too

WBUR’s Adrian Ma has a good story on the plight of commercial real estate in the Boston area amid the pandemic. The stats on vacancy rates and sublease space on the market are alarming – and they could get worse. And that could put the financial squeeze on banks, which could put the financial squeeze on landlords, which could then put the financial squeeze on business tenants and … you get the falling-dominoes picture.


Dentists sure needed a lot of PPP funding

Speaking of the pandemic-era economy, the Boston Business Journal finally got its hands on more details about the federal government’s PPP loan program and has a slide-show on the 10 state industries that received the most funding. Some sectors on the list are not surprising, such as restaurants. But other sectors are a little surprising, such as dentists, whose jobs are among the most hazardous around these days.


Coronavirus updates: New MIT model, virtual court dispute, X-Mas tree boom

We’re going with quick summaries and headlines in this post, starting with this interesting item via NBC Boston: “New MIT COVID Model Shows How Long People May Really Be Safe Indoors.” …. CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt reports on a defendant demanding an in-person, not a virtual, day in court. … From the Enterprise: “35 Covid cases tied to East Bridgewater club.” … From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “Early Edu Wants In on Rapid Testing Program.” … From the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo: “Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, business booms at Christmas tree farms.” … From SHNS’s Katie Lannan again (pay wall): “Insurers Launch Major Study of Telehealth Inequities.” … From the Inquirer and Mirror: “46 new coronavirus cases reported on Nantucket.”

Commission: Black trooper in Patrick’s gubernatorial security detail was victim of discrimination

This is a highly touchy issue. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has ruled that a Black trooper working on then Gov. Deval Patrick’s security detail was discriminated against when he got the boot from the squad. And, well, Patrick, who is Black, isn’t happy about the charges and has even fired off an unusual letter to Gov. Charlie Baker denying the discrimination claims against the State Police. The Globe’s Andrea Estes has more.

Boston Globe

Charlie’s choice: Will governor sign or veto police reform bill?

Jon Keller is wondering. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi is wondering. And a lot of other people are wondering (via Herald’s Erin Tiernan): What will Gov. Charlie Baker do with the recently passed police-reform bill? Sign it, amend it or outright veto it? He does have some parliamentary leverage, considering the bill wasn’t passed with a veto-proof majority, as the Globe’s Matt Stout notes.

The clock is ticking to reach state budget agreement. Or is it?

It would seem time is running out for Beacon Hill lawmakers to make a decision on whether to approve another interim spending plan or finally approve a final state budget for fiscal 2021. But Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues says he doesn’t want to “rush” finalizing a bill and isn’t going to allow any clock to “dictate or trump” careful budget planning, reports SHNS’s Sam Doran and Michael Norton.

Meaning: There may not be a final budget agreement this week as hoped. We’ll see.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Will she stay or will she go? R.I. Gov. Raimondo reportedly eyed for Biden cabinet post

NBC Boston’s Marc Fortier reports that Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is a “leading contender” to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the new Biden administration. The Globe’s Edward Fitzpatrick has more on the “will she stay or will she go” speculation swirling around Providence. (And, needless to say, headline credit to The Clash).

NBC Boston

Pressley and fellow Squad members take exception to Obama’s criticism of ‘defund police’ slogan

Former President Barack Obama created a minor stir yesterday by criticizing progressives’ use of “snappy” slogans – such as, oh, “defund police” – that can easily backfire on proponents of causes. U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and other members of the so-called Squad, with Pressley saying she’s “out of patience with critiques of the language of activists.” The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky has more.

Boston Herald

Hands off: Poll shows strong majority oppose T service cuts

Leave it alone. A new poll finds two thirds of Bay State residents oppose planned MBTA service cuts to commuter rail, bus and ferry offerings–and an equal number want lawmakers to plug the agency’s budget gap, Tanner Stening at MassLive and Christian Wade at the Salem News report. 

Georges breezes through SJC confirmation hearing

It’s not over until the Governor’s Council actually votes on the nomination of Boston Municipal Court Judge Serge Georges Jr. to the Supreme Judicial Court. But it sure looks like his nomination has wide and enthusiastic support, based on the council’s confirmation hearing yesterday. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) and MassLive’s Steph Solis have more.

Healey alleges more housing discrimination at South Shore firm

Attorney General Maura Healey isn’t letting up on a Marshfield real estate firm she’s previously tangled with over housing discrimination claims, suing Success Real Estate and its agent for discrimination against Section 8 housing tenants, reports the BBJ’s Catherine Carlock.


Power of persuasion: Pittsfield allows indoor dining again after pressure campaign

Now taking reservations. Pittsfield restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining service after the city’s board of health reversed a Nov. 12 order banning it entirely, Amanda Burke at the Berkshire Eagle reports. Restaurant owners had stormed City Hall with a petition in hand earlier in the week, though health officials say a resumption was already in the works. 

Berkshire Eagle

Councilor Matt O’Malley won’t be running for re-election

Boston City Councilor Matt O’Marlley, the District 6 representative who’s known for his leadership on environmental issues before the council, has decided not to run for re-election, citing, among other things, his new dad responsibilities, reports Universal Hub.

Universal Hub

Wrong way: New Bedford mayor vetoes plan to cut pay of non-resident employees

Nope. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has officially vetoed a city council ordinance that would cut pay of non-resident city employees, saying the move won’t actually encourage workers to put down roots in the Whaling City. Kiernan Dunlop at the Standard-Times reports the council will take up a possible override in January. 

Standard Times

LeaderImpact Summit 2020

This annual event is geared to bring leaders together from around the world for the purposes of inspiration and encouragement, challenge, and practical action. Each speaker brings their unique perspective and will help us focus on the integration of our personal, professional, and spiritual lives.


Inno on Fire

The Inno on Fire Awards is our annual celebration of innovators, big and small, people, and organizations in Boston. What makes a company or individual on fire? We are looking at startups that have had a banner year, people and companies with hew funding, recent product launches, hot hires, innovative approaches to solving problems, and creative leaders who think out of the box.

Boston Business Journal

Author Adam Davidson with The Passion Economy The New Rules for Thriving in the Twenty-First Century

Boston Public Library and the GBH Forum Network present this virtual program in “The Arc of History: Contested Perspectives” series featuring BPL President David Leonard, who will moderate the program.

Boston Public Library

Emerging Evidence on the Socio-Economic Impacts of Covid-19 on Households

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis on households are significant, pervasive, and worsening in some cases. The design and implementation of an effective policy response required that decision makers have access to timely information about who is affected and how. Speaker: Carolina Sanchez-Paramo, Global Director, Poverty & Equity, Global Practice, World Bank.

Harvard Kennedy School

Virtual Author Talk with Nicholas Basbanes

Author Talk with Nicholas Basbanes, author of Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

American Ancestors/NEHGS, the State Library of Massachusetts, and GBH Forum Network

WBJ Central MA Health Care Forum

Healthcare Post Pandemic: The Covid-19 pandemic has not only claimed over 200,000 lives in our country, but has been a disruptive force to many industries, including healthcare. Join us for this timely and informative webcast where our panel of experts will discuss what has changed since the beginning of the pandemic and what lies ahead.

Worcester Business Journal

BioPharma Manufacturing in Massachusetts: A Talent Powerhouse Continues to Fuel Growth

Massachusetts has long been the epicenter of biopharma research and development. Years of investment and collaboration between industry, education, and government has provided biopharma manufacturers a rich and deep talent landscape in Massachusetts.


Beyond 2D: The Rise of Immersive Commerce

Now more than ever, consumers miss shopping beyond the 2D limitations of technology. Cue, immersive commerce. Brands are exploring new ways of bringing consumers closer to the in-store experience, blending physical and virtual experiences. Join us as we explore how immersive commerce could change consumerism for years to come.


The State of Innovation: Electrification presented by Analog Devices

Across the network, Innos State of Innovations meetups focus on a specific industry, category, theme or individual and will feature a keynote, fireside chat, panel, pitch, demo or a combination of the five. Join us for a conversation with local innovators and experts.

The Boston Business Journals

Living Room Conversations: Coronavirus: Life in the Time of Corona

Covid-19 has touched all aspects of our personal and community life. Our health, civic, social, work, academic, and financial systems are struggling to cope with uncertainty and the need for rapid readjustment. We are physically distancing ourselves from our friends, family, co-workers, and other people to prevent being infected or spreading the infection. Registration is required.

Boston Public Library

Author Neal Gabler with Catching the wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975

Join the Boston Public Library and the GBH Forum Network for an online talk with Neal Gabler, author of Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975. BPL President David Leonard will moderate this program, which is part of the Arc of History: Contested Perspectives series.

Boston Public Library

Schism 2.0: China and America’s Trade Conflict in the Next U.S. Administration

This seminar is part of the Special Series on Japanese Economic Statecraft. Moderated by Christina Davis, Director, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations: Professor of Government; and Susan S. and Kenneth L.Wallach Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

Harvard Kennedy School of Business and Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government

2020 Women Who Mean Business

Join us as we celebrate outstanding women at our fourth Women Who Mean Business awards program. These women represent the scale of business in Greater Boston and have demonstrated significant growth in their companies.

Boston Business Journal and Webster Bank

Empowering Women in Business Conference

Join us for an inspirational virtual conference, the annual Empowering Women in Business Conference, hosted by Nichols College. We invite you for a day of inspiration and education. Be inspired by our keynote speaker Valerie Weisler the founder and CEO of The Validation Project.

Nichols College

Kay Ulanday Barrett Performing and Answering Questions at the Intersections of Disability, Trans and Racial Justice

LexPride is thrilled to welcome the one-and-only Kay Ulanday Barrett (they/them) to Lexington. Kay is a poet, performer, and educator, navigating life as a disabled pilipinx-amerikan transgender queer in the U.S. with struggle, resistance, and laughter. They are the author of When the Chant Comes and More Than Organs. Kay will perform and answer questions from the audience.

LexPride. Co-sponsored by Boston Pride, Cary Memorial Library, and the Network for Social Justice.

WBJ Webcast: Cybersecurity: Protecting Your Business from Cyber Threats

The Covid pandemic has exposed a whole new range of obstacles for businesses, including new risks with cybersecurity. With cyber crime and fraud on the rise, it is vital that businesses of all sizes take their cybersecurity seriously. Protecting systems, networks, devices and your employees and customers is critical in the fight to protect our businesses.

Worcester Business Journal

Data & Donuts (Virtual)//Melissa Jones on Data Visualization of Racial Disparities During Covid

Melissa Jones is an undergraduate at Harvard and a member of the Coronavirus Visualization Team. As this session, Melissa will present her work and lead a discussion around data visualization of socioeconomic and health disparities within marginalized communities.

Harvard Kennedy School

Smart Work-X: Japan’s Transformations in the New Normal

Speaker: Hirotaka Takeuchi, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School. Moderator: Christina Davis, Director, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations; Professor of Government; Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

Harvard Kennedy School

Coping with Covid-19: The Role of Telehealth Services

Moderated by Grant Welker, News Editor, Worcester Business Journal. Join us for this special session as we explore the role of telehealth during the Covid-19 outbreak, its astounding level of adoption and what the future of technologies like it hold for the future of healthcare delivery.

Worcester Business Journal

Today’s Headlines


The case for an elected Boston school committee – Universal Hub

Walsh aide heading to Amazon’s Boston office – Boston Herald


Gaming Commission to review report of Plainville casino – Sun Chronicle

Working to engender trust, Great Barrington Police begin re-imagining the force – Berkshire Eagle

Waltham police offer $5K reward for information that leads to arrest in unprovoked attacks – MetroWest Daily News


Republicans cheer on a Trump 2024 run – Politico

Top Democrats Back Compromise Plan to Revive Stimulus Talks – New York Times

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