Keller at Large
The vaccines trust issues
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller notes that most Massachusetts residents are stingy when it comes to putting their trust in others, but he’s happy that so many trust the medical experts when it comes to vaccines. … Note: Text of Jon’s commentary accompanies his podcast. Check it out!
UMass budget, East Boston substation, and more
— Cape Cod Reopening Task Force hosts its second conference call briefing this week to discuss the state of COVID-19 in the region, 9 a.m.
— UMass Board of Trustees meets remotely to received feedback from unions on budget proposals, 10 a.m.
— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, state Rep. Adrian Madaro and others hold a virtual press conference calling on the Energy Facilities Siting Board to postpone approval of a new electric substation in East Boston until after the pandemic, 11 a.m.
— Attorney General Maura Healey interviews Biogen Executive Vice President Chirfi Guindo as part of a pre-recorded event the Environmental League of Massachusetts is hosting to honor the company with a Commonwealth Environmental Leadership Award, 4 p.m.
— Boston City Council holds hearing to examine encounters between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and immigrants, data shared between ICE and Boston police, and to solicit public feedback on the creation of sanctuary safe spaces in the city, 4 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.
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: 89 new deaths, 10,922 total deaths, 5,675 new cases
CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
First in line: Baker unveils three-phase vaccination plan
It’s not going to be first-come first-serve. Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday outlined the state’s new three-phase vaccination plan, putting health-care workers, long-term care patients, first responders, and ‘congregate care’ people, including those in shelters and correctional facilities, at the front of the Phase 1 line. The first vaccinations could start as soon as next week.
SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall), the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett and Allison DeAngelis and a three-reporter team at the Globe have more on the overall vaccination plan that could stretch well into spring. The earliest expected time for the general population to get vaccinations: Around April, as MassLive’s Steph Solis reports.
Universal Hub has a good close-up shot of the state’s Phase 1, 2 and 3 vaccination-priorities chart, if you want to know which category you may fall into for getting a shot. Meanwhile, CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl writes about Rev. Liz Walker’s concerns about the reluctance of some people in communities of color to get vaccinated, due to their historical medical mistreatment in the past.
At the front of the line: Prisoners?
We’re not sure how the public will react to this. We suspect most will understand that vaccinating people in group settings, including inmates in state prisons and jails, is key to creating ‘herd immunity.’ Nevertheless, both the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld and CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt highlight the fact that prisoners will be among the first to receive the vaccine under Gov. Charlie Baker’s vaccination-priorities plan. Prisoner-rights activists are pleased but …
As Worcester’s DCU field hospital quickly fills up, state turns to nursing homes for Covid patients
They’re going to need more field hospitals around the state if this is any indication. MassLive’s Melissa Hanson reports that the emergency COVID-19 field hospital in Worcester’s DCU Center has already reached its first-week capacity.
Meanwhile, the state is pushing ahead once again with plans to use spaces at area nursing homes to care for coronavirus-positive patients as hospitalizations spike across Massachusetts, the Herald’s Rick Sobey reports. Officials are assuring family members that the COVID-19 units are isolated away from nursing-home residents.
Coronavirus updates: Worcester manager tests positive, more Soldiers’ Home cases, Rep. Fernandes’ famous cousin
One again, it’s a hectic day of pandemic news, so we’re going with quick summaries and headlines in this post, starting with the Telegram: “Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus positive for COVID-19.” … From the Patriot Ledger: “More than 40 inmates tests positive for COVID-19 in Plymouth County Jail.” … From MassLive: “11 employees test positive for COVID-19 at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.” … From WBUR: “Kennedy, Neal File Holyoke Veterans Act To Require Skilled Oversight Of Soldiers’ Homes.” … Also from WBUR: “Pfizer Is Already Producing Millions Of Doses Of Its Vaccine. A Crucial Ingredient Comes From Mass.” …
And, finally, SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk (pay wall) reports that state Rep. Dylan Fernandes’ family is celebrating a new family celebrity, 91-year-old Martin Kenyon, who’s getting his share of 15 minutes of fame as one of the first people in Britain to receive a vaccination.
Lawrence Mayor Rivera in line for top MassDevelopment post
City politics are about to get very interesting in Lawrence. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, a Democrat and ally of Gov. Charlie Baker’s, will be nominated by the governor on Thursday to become the next CEO of MassDevelopment, according to two sources familiar with the decision.” The appointment comes as Rivera enters the last year of his second term.
Question of the day: What will Willie do?
Confirmed: Massachusetts among states filing antitrust suit against Facebook
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is indeed among the more than 40 AGs around the country filing suit against Facebook over alleged anti-competitive practices. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) and the AP at MassLive have more on the momentous legal battle ahead.
UMass faces $335M revenue gap – and unhappy unions
SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) and the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky report that the University of Massachusetts system, despite stronger than expected enrollment and level funding from the state, still faces a huge $335 million budget gap. And it also faces unions wanting to bring back laid off and furloughed employees.
Four hundred pastors pressure Baker to veto abortion amendment
Gov. Charlie Baker has two hot-button issues to decide these days. One is the recently passed Roe Act, tucked in the state budget as an amendment by lawmakers, that would expand abortion access in Massachusetts. And now 400 pastors are urging Baker to veto, reports the Herald’s Erin Tiernan.
Meanwhile, the other thorny legislation now on Baker’s desk is the recently passed police-reforms package – and Rep. Liz Miranda and Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins write at CommonWealth magazine that Baker needs to ignore the “deafening chorus of grievances by police unions and members of law enforcement” and sign the bill.
Kennedy says farewell, but is he really going away?
NBC Boston’s Alan Fram reports on U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy’s farewell speech at the U.S. Capitol in Washington yesterday and … enough with the farewell stuff. What politically lies ahead for Kennedy here in Massachusetts? WBZ’s Jon Keller thinks he has a bright political future. The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports his future is cloudy. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi thinks the Kennedy era has probably come and gone in Massachusetts.
And Joan provides this brutal quote from Michael McCormack, the former Boston city councilor: “It was a great run for the Kennedys, Murphys, and McCormacks. But does anyone really not believe that Marty Walsh is the last white, Irish male mayor of Boston?”
Three GOP lawmakers call for review of mail-in voting in Massachusetts
Not to be confused with the five failed GOP candidates now suing to overturn the state’s Nov. 3 election results, three Republican legislators are calling for a review of the state’s recent expansion of mail-in voting, which, by pure coincidence, is a topic of chief concern to the five failed GOP candidates now suing to overturn the state’s Nov. 3 election results. The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky has more.
TCI scores really high with voters — if gas-price hikes aren’t mentioned
They really like it, but … . A new poll by environmental groups finds 72 percent of Bay State voters want the state to join the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). But as Barbara Moran at WBUR reports, there’s a rather big caveat: The poll didn’t mention that joining the TCI likely means higher gas prices at the pump.
Governor’s Council unanimously approves appointment of Serge Georges to SJC
During normal times, this would be getting more attention. But these aren’t normal times. SHNS’s Katie Lannan reports on the unanimous vote by the Governor’s Council yesterday to confirm Boston Municipal Court Judge Serge Georges Jr. as the newest member of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.
To exempt or not exempt solar projects? That’s the taxing question
CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports that confusion over whether solar projects are exempt from municipal property taxes is “throwing the state’s landscape for solar projects into disarray.”
‘Woman who threw bloody tampon into crowd of President Donald Trump supporters in Massachusetts ordered to complete community service’
The MassLive headline pretty much sums it up. But Heather Morrison has more details if you want them.
Comparing Ed King to Donald Trump? Really?
There are dots meant to be connected. Then there are dots not meant to be connected. At CommonWealth magazine, Margaret Monsell performs the latter, in our humble opinion, by comparing former Gov. Ed King to President Trump. … Btw: Were you aware of all the creepy similarities between Abraham Lincoln and JFK?
Counterclaim: Mattakeese Tribe says it – and not the Mashpee Wampanoags — controls Taunton casino site
The plot thickens, again. The Mattakeeset Tribe is challenging the Mashpee Wampanoag’s claim to land in East Taunton where the $1 billion First Light casino is frozen in mid-construction, adding further confusion to the question of whether the project will ever come to fruition, Philip Marcelo at the Associated Press reports, via the Herald-News.
Take that, Quincy: Walsh boasts of another legal victory in Long Island Bridge feud
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh isn’t doing a victory lap, but he is claiming a major legal victory in the long-running battle with Quincy over the rebuilding of the Long Island Bridge. CBS Boston has the details.
Seeking a save: Lowell scrambles to rescue baseball after Red Sox drop Spinners
They’re free agents. The Boston Red Sox say the team has cut its minor league ties with the Lowell Spinners for the 2021 season, but is leaving the door open to bringing the partnership back in the future, Matt Langone at the Lowell Sun and Christopher Smith at MassLive report. Political leaders at the local, state and federal levels are all working to ensure the Spinners continue to play in the city in some capacity.
So close to history: Mass. elector dies just days before casting Biden vote
The head of the state’s Democratic Party is among those mourning the death of longtime party leader Ronald Valerio, who died on Tuesday, just days before he was scheduled to serve as one of the state’s 11 Electoral College electors to cast a vote for Joe Biden as president, Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram reports. An alternate will be tapped to replace Valerio in the Electoral College.
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