Happening Today

MBTA service cuts, and more

— Ahead of a planned MBTA meeting, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joins community and labor leaders at a press conference outlining opposition to proposed service cuts at the T, City Hall Plaza, 9:30 a.m.

MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meets and is expected to vote on a wide-ranging package of service cuts to cope with low ridership and fare revenue during the pandemic, 11 a.m.

— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairs a meeting of the Economic Empowerment Trust Fund board, 1 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka, and other legislative leaders are scheduled to hold a leadership conference call, 2 p.m.

— Mayors Martin Walsh of Boston, Dan Rivera of Lawrence, Yvonne Spicer of Framingham, Joe Curtatone of Somerville and Nicole LaChapelle of Easthampton hold a livestreamed discussion about municipal government as part of Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins’ ‘Directions for Corrections’ forum series, 6 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: 48 new deaths, 10,763 total deaths, 4,747 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Biden taps MGH’s Rochelle Walensky to head CDC

President-elect Joe Biden has selected Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to head the embattled Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Globe’s Felice Freyer and John Hiliard and Politico’s Tyler Pager report. The Globe notes that she’ll be tasked with “rebuilding a troubled federal agency that has been widely regarded as ineffectual in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and President Trump’s efforts to downplay it.”

‘Tis the winter of their discontent: Infectious disease experts wonder if their efforts are even worth it

Speaking of infectious-disease experts, it seems many of them are just flat-out discouraged and demoralized by the national response, or lack thereof, to the pandemic, prompting one scientist to say of their efforts to stem the coronavirus tide: “Makes you ask why the hell we even bother.” The Globe’s Hanna Krueger has more.

Well, we have to say, the CDC hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory during the pandemic either, but we understand their points.

Boston Globe

Pressure grows on Baker to impose new restrictions

Gov. Charlie Baker, appearing on WCVB’s On the Record over the weekend, explained why he’s not rolling back reopening measures at this time amid a second surge of the coronavirus. But Lisa Kashinsky at the Herald and a three-reporter team at the Globe report there’s a growing clamor for more restrictions – and much of the clamor appears to be coming from Providence, R.I., via a Brown University doctor who’s “aghast” at Baker’s reluctance to impose new restrictions.

2022 gubernatorial election alert: Is Somerville’s mayor challenging Baker in more ways than one?

Speaking of gubernatorial critics, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld reports Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone’s strong criticism of Gov. Charlie Baker’s pandemic response could be a sign the Democrat has designs on running for governor in 2022. Citing sources, Battenfeld writes that Curatone is “clearly now thinking” of a bid.

Boston Herald

Is a hospital ‘capacity disaster’ looming?

The Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey reports that hospitals are indeed filling up amid the second coronavirus surge – but they still have space to spare. But the questions is: For how long? The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports that MGH has had several “capacity disaster” alerts in recent months, requiring bed re-allocation adjustments.

Meanwhile, the headlines from around the state don’t exactly look good. From Craig LeMoult at GBH: “Massachusetts Hospitals Begin Scaling Back Elective Procedures As COVID Strains Capacity.” From MassLive: “Western Mass. COVID-19 hospitalizations surge, 135 patients admitted at Baystate Health facilities.” From Universal Hub on Saturday: “Massachusetts exceeds 5,000 Covid-19 cases for third day in a row; hospitalizations increase.” And from WCVB: “COVID-19 field hospital at DCU Center in Worcester taking patients.”

DOC will revise how it counts COVID-19 deaths on its watch

WBUR’s Deborah Becker reports that the Department of Correction, which has been accused of granting last-minute medical paroles to inmates in order to keep its COVID-related death counts low, is revising its pandemic death-toll reporting. Speaking of prisons, CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt reports on another death of an inmate at a state facility, bringing the total of in-custody prisoners who have died of COVID-19 to nine.


Report: MBTA service cuts could wipe out 800 jobs

The MBTA’s governing board meets today to possibly vote on proposed deep service cuts amid falling ridership and revenues – and now a new report says the cuts could add up to more than 800 job losses. SHNS’s Michael Nortion has more.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

State has now recovered $242M in fraudulent jobless claims

More from the ‘bot-based fraud’ front, via the Globe’s Sean Murphy: “The Baker administration said Friday that it has recovered more than $242 million in fraudulently issued unemployment benefits, in part the result of crime schemes first revealed last May. The figures released in a statement are the latest tally of how many phony claims were filed and how much money the state has recovered.”

Our question: How much have the scammers gotten away with?

Charlie’s Choice, Part II: The abortion-access amendment

As expected, the House and Senate late last week approved the new $46.2 billion state budget for the rest of fiscal 2021, as CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports. Now it’s up to Gov. Charlie Baker to decide what he finds is acceptable or not acceptable in the budget, including the ‘ROE Act’ amendment that would expand abortion access in Massachusetts. Though Baker is pro-choice, the act nevertheless poses potential dilemmas for the governor, as the Globe’s Matt Stout reports.

Besides the Roe Act amendment, the governor also has to decide on thorny issues contained in the separate police-reform bill passed last week by lawmakers, as the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports.

Tucked away: Budget includes ignition-lock devices for first-time OUI offenders

There’s always something tucked into a state budget that reporters don’t initially spot until they have an actual bill in hand – and SHNS’s Michael Norton has identified a doozy: a Senate proposal to authorize ignition interlock devices for first-time drunk driving offenders. “That made it in there,” says House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Aaron Michlewitz of the add-on. “That made it in at the end of the day.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Two down, one to go: Wendlandt the latest SJC justice to be sworn by Baker

Gov. Charlie Baker early last week swore in Kimberly Budd as the new chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court – and on Friday he swore in Dalila Argaez Wendlandt as yet another SJC justice. Next up: Boston Municipal Court Judge Serge Georges Jr., who is expected to be confirmed to the SJC by the Governor’s Council later this week, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall).

He’s back: Codfather now pitching development in Dartmouth

Did you really think he’d go away quietly? Sean Horgan at the Gloucester Times reports Carlos Rafael, known as ‘the Codfather’ after federal authorities seized his fishing fleet, is ready for his next act: Building a housing development in the town of Dartmouth. The ever-defiant Rafael says he walked away from his legal woes with cash to spend and is already threatening to use the state’s affordable housing laws to force his development on the town if necessary. 

Gloucester Times

Full steam ahead: Judge advances negligence case against Steamship Authority

A federal judge on Friday ruled the state’s Steamship Authority was clearly negligent when a fast ferry full of passengers and crew crashed into a breakwater in 2017, clearing the way for a trial sometime next year, Ethan Genter at the Cape Cod Times reports. Most of those aboard have already settled with the agency, but lawyers for two employees injured say they want jury trials even if it means waiting until well into 2021 for courts to be back up to full speed. 

Cape Cod Times

The ‘Varsity Blues’ case: Going after the wrong fraud?

Writing at GBH, Harvey Silverglate and Emily Nayyer say the high-profile ‘Varsity Blues’ scandal isn’t so much about corrupt parents trying to get their kids into colleges as it is about corrupt college admissions systems and overzealous federal prosecutors.


That’s a big garage: Westover Air Reserve Base getting new $43M hangar to service giant cargo planes

MassLive’s Jeanette DeForge reports Chicopee’s Westover Air Reserve Base is getting a newer – and much bigger – hanger in which the military’s massive C-5M Super Galaxy cargo planes that can finally be serviced without their tail ends sticking out of the back of the building. 


State to Hurley building redevelopers: Keep it brutal

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that the state is proceeding with plans to privately re-develop the Charles F. Hurley Building in Boston, but there’s a catch: The “Brutalist” design has to stay.

Boston Globe

Roaring back: Kerans outraised all 4 opponents combined in return to State House

Just like riding a bike. She may have been away from the Golden Dome for two decades, but state Rep. Sally Kerans didn’t lose her fundraising touch while away from politics. Kerans, a Danvers Democrat, raised $108,000 for her campaign to reclaim the 13th Essex District seat — more than all four of her challengers combined. Erin Nolan at the Salem News has more.

Salem News

Tran’s transfers

Speaking of campaign finances, state Sen. Dean Tran has been busy of late making transfers from his campaign fund to his legal defense fund, the most recent of which occurred right after he lost his seat in the November election, reports CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl.


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


Filming for Star Wars Kenobi will be in Boston but not the one in Mass. – MassLive

Lynn public schools will not be allowed to play winter sports – Lynn Item


Marion police chief retiring in January – Standard-Times

McGovern commends Worcester’s ‘strategic economic approach’ – Telegram & Gazette

Tran’s campaign donates $5,000 to legal defense fund – CommonWealth Magazine


House passes landmark marijuana decriminalization bill – New York Times

Arizona legislature shuts down after Giuliani tests positive – The Hill

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