Happening Today

Facebook vs Healey, mask mandates, and more

John McDonough, a former state representative and professor of public health practice at the Harvard T.H. Chan school of Public Health, and Forbes policy editor Avik Roy discuss what the results of the 2020 presidential election might mean for health care policy, with GBH host Jim Braude moderating, 9 a.m.

Supreme Judicial Court meets via videoconference to hear oral arguments in four cases, including Facebook’s challenge to Attorney General Maura Healey’s demand for documents in an ongoing case, 9 a.m.

MBTA Advisory Board meets virtually to discuss the transit agency’s plans to implement service cuts, 10 a.m.

— U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut hold a virtual press conference alongside Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson to promote legislation requiring states to implement mask mandates, 11:30 p.m.

— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh participates in an ‘Ask the Mayor’ segment on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89., 12 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: 49 new deaths, 10,637 total deaths, 6,477 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, including another record-high number of daily cases even after statistical adjustments.

Mission accomplished: Lawmakers finally reach $46.2B budget accord that includes controversial abortion-access measure

We’re bumping this item up this morning. SHNS’s Matt Murphy, the Globe’s Matt Stout and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg report that Beacon Hill lawmakers, after months of negotiations and stopgap spending measures, yesterday finally reached a $46.2 billion state budget agreement that increases spending by 6.5 percent, avoids major tax increases, dips deeply into reserves funds, and includes a previously passed abortion-access amendment. The package is expected to be voted on today and land on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. … And now on to all things pandemic (mostly).

Walsh’s warning: ‘The next step is shutting everything down’

As daily coronavirus cases hit an alarming new high yesterday in Massachusetts (NBC Boston), Boston Mayor Marty was talking about another lockdown if the city’s numbers don’t change soon, adding the city has tried just about everything else stem to coronavirus tide. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall), GBH’s Saraya Wintersmith and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan have more on Walsh’s case-count frustrations, which the mayor is partly blaming on recent Thanksgiving traveling by people .

In California, officials are now imposing the state’s strongest virus measures since last spring, reports the NYT. But Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday reiterated he’s not convinced the second virus surge is severe enough to roll back the state’s reopening plan, GBH’s Mike Deehan reports.

Hmmm. We vaguely recall the governor previously denying/downplaying lockdown restrictions and shelter-in-place speculation. When was that? That’s right, it was last March, just prior to his imposing various lockdown and shelter-in-place restrictions.

Latest count: 97 communities now listed as hotspots as long testing lines persist

MassLive’s Tanner Stening reports that 97 communities in Massachusetts are now considerd “high risk” for COVID-19, up from 81 communities last week.

Meanwhile, from Carey Goldberg at WBUR: “Long Lines, High Demand For Mass. Coronavirus Testing Persist After Thanksgiving.”


Baker: Vaccines for 150,000 people expected this month

They can’t arrive soon enough. From CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: “Gov. Charlie Baker said he expects the state to receive 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the month, enough to treat 150,000 people since the initial treatments require two doses per person Baker declined to say who will receive priority for the initial doses.”

Despite the arrival of a vaccine version of the cavalry, Baker is expecting a “lumpy” rollout of vaccinations, the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Bill Galvin is calling for a ‘National Vaccination Day’ after front-line workers and the neediest are served, MassLive’s Steph Solis reports.


Another field hospital is going up in Lowell – and maybe soon in Boston

After touring the new emergency COVID-19 field hospital in Worcester, Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday a second field hospital will be going up in Lowell to handle the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases – and the state is eyeing new field hospitals elsewhere too. SHNS’s Colin Young has more.

Meanwhile, Mayor Marty Walsh is now talking about a field hospital in Boston, as MassLive’s Tanner Stening reports

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

More questions about effectiveness of state’s contact-tracing program

First, it was the Globe’s Kay Lazar. Now it’s GBH’s Gabrielle Emanuel reporting on the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of the state’s ambitious contact-tracing program, with one Harvard expert bluntly saying amid a second surge: “The proof is right in front of us. It clearly didn’t work.”


Coronavirus updates: Hospitals workers’ safety, State House cleansing, emergency homeless beds

Obviously, there’s a lot happening on the coronavirus front, so here are some quick headlines, starting with the Globe: “Hospitals work to reduce risk of COVID spread among employees.” … From MassLive: “Worcester officials advise residents to avoid in-person shopping, dining as new COVID cases surge to new highs.” … Also from MassLive: “State House rooms to undergo deep cleaning after person tests positive for COVID, Senate says.” … From the BBJ: “Coronavirus cases rise at Tewksbury and other state-run hospitals.” … From WBUR: “Mass. Adding 1,300 Emergency Homeless Shelter Beds For Winter.” … From MetroWest Daily News: “Framingham schools pivot to 100 percent remote model.”

Denied: State says no to Holyoke’s plan to pay families directly with Covid funds

Not eligible. State officials say Holyoke can’t go forward with a plan to use federal coronavirus relief funds to make direct payments to families to help them cope with at-home learning and other changes driven by the pandemic because it doesn’t target recipients based on need, Dusty Christensen at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Advisory board: The MBTA is overstating severity of budget woes ahead of service cuts

They make it sound like a classic turn-off-the-Zakim-lights move by the T. From the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro: “The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is overstating its coronavirus budget problems and may not have to impose major reductions in service planned for next spring and summer, an independent transit panel reported. The MBTA Advisory Board, which represents the cities and towns served by the T, said Thursday that there was ‘no budgetary justification” for a host of proposed changes.”

Meanwhile, from SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall): “Poftak: MBTA Cuts ‘Not Permanent,’ Target ‘Primarily Non-Essential Services.’”

Boston Globe

Healey concerned about no-knock and facial-recognition provisions in police reform bill

If she has concerns, you can pretty much assume Gov. Charlie Baker does too. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has more on Attorney General Maura Healey’s concerns about provisions within the recently passed police-reform bill now sitting on Baker’s desk.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Baker’s starter-home construction program a bust: Not one home built

At CommonWealth magazine, Scott Van Voorhis reports how a seemingly much-needed and good-intentioned program by the Baker administration to boost construction of affordable homes in Massachusetts has been a bust. We’re talking zero homes built. The administration is partially blaming – drumroll please – lawmakers for failing to pass his Housing Choice bill.

But Van Voorhis, in a separate piece, identifies one affordable-home program that seemingly does work.


State commission probes what sure looks like good old-fashioned patronage and nepotism gone wild in Methuen

We’re surprised other government agencies aren’t looking into this mess as well. Then again, maybe they are. Anyway, from the Globe’s Andrea Estes: “The state Civil Service Commission has launched an investigation into hiring and promotions at the Methuen Police Department under its embattled chief, Joseph Solomon, one of the highest-paid law enforcement officials in the country.”

Among other things, the commission is demanding a decade’s worth of records. 

Boston Globe

‘Robert Kraft dodged charges from prostitution sting. The Orchids of Asia employees did not’

The Washington Post headline pretty much sums it up, right? 

Washington Post

‘Even in deep blue Massachusetts’: A quarter of voters think Trump either won or lost unfairly in Bay State

Writing at CommonWealth magazine on new survey results, Richard Parr feels compelled to hammer home the main finding of a recent MassINC poll: “To repeat: even in deep blue Massachusetts, where twice as many voters voted for Joe Biden as Donald Trump, 1 out of every 4 residents thinks the election was not free and fair.” 

And more than 1 in 10 people you may bump into think Trump actually beat Biden in Massachusetts.

The Biden boom: Smith & Wesson reports spike in gun sales

It’s a good time to be in the gun business. Springfield-based Smith & Wesson says its most recent financial quarter broke a number of records, with sales doubling and investors in line to receive a new dividend payment, Aaron Smith at Forbes reports. The company says fears of gun control measures being passed in a Biden administration is a major factor.


Another sign he’s running? Walsh’s campaign spends $40G on polling

Another tea-leaf sign that ‘Walsh Will Run’? The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports Mayor Marty Walsh’s campaign shelled out $40,000 last month alone on polling, not to mention raising and spending big bucks in general. See into it what you will.

Boston Herald

State report suggests more regional school districts may be needed in rural areas

As many rural school districts face continued enrollment declines and cuts in state funding as a result, a new state report suggests that more regional school districts may be the answer for many struggling communities, reports Jim Russell at MassLive. Scroll down for the regional-district part.


Costly error: Franklin treasurer suspended, salary slashed over phishing payment

No qualified immunity here. Officials in Franklin have laid out the most detailed account yet of how the town lost $522,000 to a phishing scheme and much of the blame is falling on Collector-Treasurer Kerri Bertone. Lauren Young at the MetroWest Daily News reports Bertone, who apologized for falling victim to the scheme–in which a fraudster posed as a town contractor–will be suspended and lose part of her pay.

MetroWest Daily News

Mass Pike exit-sign renumbering begins this month

Hopefully, it won’t be too confusing. MassLive’s Jim Kinney reports that state transportation officials expect to start changing the exit numbers on Mass Pike highway signs later this month, as the state complies with federal signage standards. Kinney explains the whys and whats.

Sunday public affairs TV: Ayanna Pressley, Charlie Baker, Karen Spilka

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who talks with host Jon Keller about the police reform bill, the D.C. push for a new coronavirus aid package, and left-center friction within the Democratic Party.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Jon Hurst, head of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, talks about the challenges of this holiday shopping season; Boston While Black founder and CEO Sheena Collier discusses here organization and the needs it serves; and Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal discusses vaccines, cannabis delivery plans, and other local business stories.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Gov. Charlie Baker, who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet, followed by a political roundtable discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Virginia Buckingham.

CityLine, WCVB-TV 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s main topic: Mental health, featuring Jhilam Biswas, M.D. of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Ivy Watts of Beautifully You, Senate president Karen Spilka and state Sen. Julian Cyr.

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

Living Room Conversations: What is Essential?

Essential workers, essential services, essential travel. The global pandemic has affected all areas of our lives and has invited a shift in what we believe to be essential. What is essential to our lives, to our community and for our planet? What adjustments are we making in the short term and for the long run for our personal safety or for the welfare of others?

Boston Public Library

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

James Snyder in Conversation: Antique Inspirations, Fresh Creations

James Snyder in conversation with award-winning Palestinian-Israeli architect Senan Abdelqader on the influence of Arab culture across time on art, architecture, and design in Israel, Palestine, and the world today.

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


Bruins exploring outdoor home schedule; Fenway a possible venue – MassLive

Quincy mayor concerned about T cuts – Patriot Ledger


Cape Cod remains Covid testing ‘desert’ – Cape Cod Times

Former Berkley Planning Board member fined $2,000 by Ethics Commission – Taunton Gazette

UMass lawsuit seeks nearly $3 million over alleged construction flaws – Daily Hampshire Gazette


Wisconsin Supreme turns away Trump election lawsuit – The Hill

The New York Young Republicans club held a secret gala despite virus concerns – New York Times

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