Happening Today

Electoral College, T service cuts, and more

— Massachusetts’ presidential electors convene with Secretary Bill Galvin presiding to cast the state’s electoral votes for President-elect Biden, with presidential electors across the nation holding similar meetings to confirm Biden’s election.

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Stephen Lynch join elected officials and labor leaders at a press conference opposing MBTA service cuts several hours before the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board votes on the package, 10 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark participates in a virtual version of the New England Council’s ‘Capitol Hill Report’ series, 10 a.m.

MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meets, where it is expected to vote on a wide-ranging package of service cuts that will reshape the T to cope with a massive financial deficit inflicted by significantly lower pandemic-era ridership, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito are scheduled to join legislative leaders for a conference call, 2 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: 41 new deaths, 11,098 total deaths, 4,677 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Vaccines: They’re almost here. But how many will voluntarily get shots?

Under pressure from the White House, the FDA late Friday approved Pfizer’s new coronavirus vaccine and nationwide shipments of the much-anticipated doses began over the weekend. The Globe’s John Hilliard reports the vaccines could arrive today in Massachusetts. The Herald’s Rick Sobey is reporting a Tuesday arrival date.

Whatever the date, the big question is: How many will voluntarily get vaccinated? A new Suffolk/Globe poll shows a large chunk of the population is still hesitant about getting shots, as the Globe’s Victoria McGrane and Stephanie Ebbert report. That reluctance explains this, via the Herald: “Officials plan broad based vaccine education effort as ‘skepticism’ remains in low-income, minority communities.”

Theoretically speaking, more restrictions will be, or should be, on the way

Back to the pandemic: As the state this week imposes new coronavirus restrictions (MassLive), the Globe’s Shirley Leung sifts through the pandemic data and states: “Add all that up, and it almost certainly means one thing: More drastic restrictions, if not a shutdown, are coming, or should be, by the end of December, according to hospital leaders and epidemiologists.” The key words are “should be,” for Gov. Charlie Baker will have ultimate say. 

Count Somerville Joe Curtatone among those thinking “should be” ought to be “must be” (WBZ-TV).

Boston Globe

Report: Hundreds of businesses have routinely violated COVID-19 rules

Speaking of pandemic restrictions, a four-reporter team at WBUR reports on the more than 1,000 complaints filed against state businesses for not following pandemic regulations – and oftentimes putting their workers at risk.

Meanwhile, Boston magazine’s Spencer Buell writes about how so much of our coronavirus battle rests with the old-fashioned honor system. Based on the WBUR report, it appears the honor system doesn’t always work.


Confirmed: Baker’s high poll numbers are subject to gravity

Back to that new Suffolk-Globe poll, the survey also asked respondents how they feel about Gov. Charlie Baker’s handling the pandemic – and his numbers have dipped by 10 points of late, as the Globe and MassLive report. But we’re talking about falling from Mount Olympus-like levels to still-extremely-high earthly levels.

‘Recruit Geoff Diehl for Governor 2022’

Speaking of the governor, Politico’s Stephanie Murray tweets that Republican Geoff Diehl, the former state lawmaker who ran for U.S. Senate two years ago and got clobbered by Elizabeth Warren, is angling for a possible run for governor in 2022, setting up a ‘‘Recruit Geoff Diehl for Governor 2022” site on Facebook etc. His prospects all depend on whether Charlie Baker seeks a third term, of course.

Boston Teachers Union votes no confidence in superintendent

Back to the pandemic, this is all tied to the seemingly never-ending remote-vs-in-person debate. From the Globe’s James Vaznis: “The Boston Teachers Union took a vote of no confidence Sunday night in Superintendent Brenda Cassellius’ efforts to reopen school buildings, just hours before the city prepares to open more than two dozen additional schools.”

Coronavirus updates: Children’s Museum closure, MGM Brigham losses, auto insurance relief and parental sports dilemma

Once again, there’s a lot happening on the coronavirus front, so we’ll go with quick summaries and headlines in this post, starting with Universal Hub: “Children’s Museum to close though January 7.” … … From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “Mass General Brigham reports $351M loss, its largest ever.” … From SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall): “Lawmakers: Mass. Drivers Deserve New Round of Auto Insure Relief.” … From the Globe’s Tim Logan and Zoe Greenberg: “Evictions are hitting hard in parts of Mass. where people are most vulnerable.” … From the Berkshire Eagle: “Covid, US police sentiment leave some Berkshire PDs feeling handcuffed in recruitment.”

And, finally, GBH’s Adam Reilly reports how school districts and parents, like himself, face painful choices about whether to allow kids to play winter sports.

Baker signs budget bill, but sends back abortion-access provision

Gov. Charlie Baker late last week signed off on most of the new $46 billion state budget sent to him by lawmakers, but he did reject a provision that would lower the age of parental consent for an abortion from 18 to 16 and ‘tweaked other language narrowing when late-term abortions would be allowed,’ as CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports.

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) has more on the governor’s budget-bill actions, including his veto of $156 million in spending items. 


As Pressley and Rollins blast Baker over police-reform amendments, others say it’s not worth the fight

SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) reports U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins are among those harshly criticizing Gov. Charlie Baker for trying to block certain provisions within the recently passed police-reform package. But the Globe’s Adrian Walker, the Globe’s editorial board and the Herald’s editorial board all seem to agree (as the Globe puts it): “It’s not worth it now for the Legislature to pick a fight over those amendments.”

If she’s wants to move up the political ladder, Pressley may have to ditch the ‘Squad’

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes that U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is showing distinct signs of eyeing higher offices in Massachusetts – possibly including the governor’s office. But she may have to distance herself from fellow lefty ‘squad’ members in D.C. in order to bolster her statewide appeal, he says. For some reason, we don’t see that happening.

Boston Herald

Two ex-State Police supervisors ensnared in OT-abuse scandal

Back to police-related matters, this is technically a separate case from the ongoing OT-abuse controversy at State Police. But there is an OT-abuse angle, of course. Deborah Becker at WBUR reports on the arrests last week of two former Massachusetts State Police supervisors accused of fraud and theft tied to overtime pay at the department.


Curious timing: State GOP leader Lyons calls for fed probe of party finances amid contentious re-election battle

He’s had a few years to pore over the books. And only now, as he faces re-election next month after a disastrous political year for Massachusetts Republicans, is state GOP leader Jim Lyons calling for federal probes of alleged misuse of party funds by his predecessors, i.e. the forces now angling to oust him. The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky and the Globe’s Andrea Estes have more.

Sen. Pacheco files bill he hopes will break the climate-policy logjam on Beacon Hill

Lawmakers have gotten the police-reform and budget bills to Gov. Charlie Baker, but they have yet to take action on other thorny legislation, such as dealing with climate change. Now Sen. Marc Pacheco has filed a new climate-policy bill that he hopes will break the negotiating logjam at the State House, reports SHNS’s Colin Young.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The Weymouth compressor station battle: ‘A brute lesson in power politics’

Mike Stanton, a Globe Spotlight fellow, reports that the “political deck has long been stacked” against opponents of the new natural-gas compressor station in Weymouth, at both the federal and state levels, and critics never really had a chance of stopping the controversial project. Ultimately, it’s all about how federal laws are written – and those laws most definitely have given the edge to pipeline proponents. 

Boston Globe

Demanding details: DA threatens to sue feds over Springfield cops report

Hampden County District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni says he’s prepared to sue the U.S. Justice Department and US Attorney Andrew Lelling to get more details on the findings of the department’s scathing report on the Springfield police department, Stephanie Barry at MassLive reports. Gulluni wants the feds to turn over the source materials — including the names of those who said they witnessed police misdeeds — used to craft the report. 


Recount redux: Salem councilor pursuing court case against 2019 election

He’s not letting it go. Former Salem city council candidate Jerry Ryan, whose single-vote loss in the city’s 2019 municipal election was later confirmed by recount and upheld by a district court, says he wants to pursue an appeal of the rulings, mainly to ensure the city corrects issues that arose in his case, Dustin Luca at the Salem News reports. 

Salem News

Ready to roll: State’s first cannabis delivery firm revs up in Taunton

They’re ready to make history. Susannah Sudborough at the Taunton Gazette catches up with the couple behind the Freshly Baked Company–the Taunton-based cannabis startup that is poised to be the first in the state with permission to do home-delivery of recreational marijuana once the calendar turns to 2021. 

Taunton Gazette

Roxbury Prep charter school signals retreat from Roslindale plan

From CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas: “Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, whose three-year odyssey to win approval to build a high school in Roslindale has turned into a toxic battle touching on issues of race, class, and the place of charter schools in Boston, is pivoting away from the contested site — at least for now — in order to explore other possible locations for a new school.”


Fire fight? Union chief eyes mayor’s office in Fall River

Jason Burns, who as head of Fall River’s firefighter union has often clashed with City Hall, is stepping down from his position and strongly indicating he may seek the mayor’s office next year, Jo C. Goode of the Herald-News reports. 

Herald News

Biden’s slam-dunk Boston connection: Annie Tomasini

The Globe’s Liz Goodwin profiles Boston’s very own Annie Tomasini, the former Boston Latin and Boston University basketball star who is now one of President-elect Joe Biden’s top staffers and political confidantes, as well as former morale booster during the early bleak days of Biden’s campaign.

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

Abraham Lincoln Assassination & Ford’s Theatre – Livestream History Program

Booth on April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousins at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Shot in the head as he watched the play, Lincoln died the next day at 7:32 a.m. in the Peterson House opposite the theatre. He was the first U.S. President to be assassinated.

Washington, D.C., History & Culture

INSEAD Workshops: Venture Capital, Business Angels and Start Ups

In the workshop, we look at Venture Capital, Business Angels and Startups. The workshop is for people who are active in the domain of venture capital, business angels and startups. The workshop is free to attend.


Tech and the Environment

Join General Assembly in this discussion with top figures from some of the most innovative projects in the United States, developing technologies to tackle major challenges in agriculture, health, security, the environment, and industry.

General Assembly Boston

8th Annual Food is Medicine Symposium

The 8th Annual Food is Medicine Symposium continues with a third virtual session titled, “Supporting Innovation: The Role of Philanthropy in Advancing Food is Medicine.”

Community Servings & Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School

MBRACE and Improving Outcomes

This online conference is about improving outcomes. The MBRACE report highlighted that Black and Asian women are up to five times more likely to die in maternity care than white women. Doing nothing is not an option. There is a need to educate, learn , and develop knowledge further on this topic.

Staffordshire University

Women Speaking Truth to Power: Inspired by the movie Radium Girls

Lydia Dean Pitcher, Academy Award Nominee film producer who’s directing debut is Radium Girls, brings together fellow director and writer Ginny Mohler, actress Colby Minfie, and former EPA Official Elizabeth Southerland to discuss the making of her independent movie, a powerful feature film that is steeped in Environmental Justice, Women’s History, and Science.

Climate Reality NYC Metro Chapter

International Services: International Humanitarian Discussion Group

This monthly forum will feature discussions of the ICRC and IFRC’s response to conflicts, disasters and forced migration. Hear news from around the world on such topics as the state of Ebola, the Syrian crisis, Iran, and Venezuela, as well as our very own United States border crisis. Donna Duvin will talk about her humanitarian career and her current work with the International Rescue Committee.

American Red Cross

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

The Best of ProductCon 2020: The Product Management Conference

ProductCon is the largest product management conference series in the world. It is organized by Product School and takes place six times a year in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, London, and online. The speaker lineup features product leaders from Google, Slack, Amazon, Airbnb, Netflix, Facebook and more. This year, you will be able to join live from every corner of the earth.

Product School

Healthcare in Retirement

Healthcare concerns increase as we reach retirement age, and ensuring you have the right healthcare coverage can make a huge impact on your financial health. In this session, we will learn about Medicare and how you can put it to use to help cover rising healthcare costs during retirement. Join Dabney Baum, Baum Wealth Advisors with Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC., for this important presentation.

Boston Business Journal

A History of the Electoral College

The original concept for the electoral college; how it has gotten to be the way it is today and what possible reforms would make it seem more fair in the future.

Cary Memorial Public Library

Lexvets: Wartime Lessons that have Informed Medicine

Learn of the many lifesaving medical advances commonly used today which came about from treating battlefield casualties.

Cary Memorial Public Library

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Join Arit Anderson and guests for a free festive screening of David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. This is a crucial time for our natural world. As the first generation with a clear and understanding of our undeniable impact on nature, we must work now to restore nature: to protect our planet and our future.

Landscape Institute

Today’s Headlines


Covid-19 has changed everything, even Boston’s trash. Here’s how – Boston Globe

Man charged with assaulting an elderly woman at Swampscott Trump rally – Lynn Item


Greenfield, Montague close municipal buildings due to COVID-19 case spike – Greenfield Recorder

Report: Majority of greater Worcester PPP loans went to wealthy white neighborhoods – Worcester Business Journal

In shift, Springfield diocese will name all credibly accused priests – Berkshire Eagle


Michigan to close legislative office buildings Monday due to ‘credible threats of violence’ – The Hill

After the students came back, deaths rose in college towns – New York Times

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