Happening Today

Snow on the way, COVID-19 update, MWRA meeting

— A major snow storm is expected to hit the region this evening, stretching into tomorrow and bringing possibly 8 to 14 inches of snow to the area. Weather reports are available at CBS Boston and the Globe.

— U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan holds a Facebook Live discussion with Brown University’s Dr. Ashish Jha about what to expect in the coming weeks and months around COVID-19, 1:45 p.m.

— The Massachusetts School Building Authority Board meets, with Treasurer Deb Goldberg chairing, 10 a.m.

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Board of Directors holds its December meeting virtually to review a contract award for COVID-19 wastewater monitoring and to review the fiscal year 2021 financial update, 1 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: 55 new deaths, 11,190 total deaths, 3,720 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Beacon Hill lawmakers poised to reject Baker’s abortion amendments

State House leaders like to brag that, unlike in Washington, lawmakers here strive for bi-partisan consensus. But there’s no bi-partisan consensus regarding Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed changes to abortion-access provisions tucked into the recently passed state budget bill. House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka yesterday vowed to reject the changes – and they plan an overturn vote today on Beacon Hill. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski and the AP’s Steve LeBlanc at NBC Boston have more on today’s legislative showdown.

Singled out: SJC rules law banning panhandling violates First Amendment

It’s everybody’s curb. The Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that a state law banning panhandlers from flagging down motorists for cash violate the First Amendment rights of the homeless. In their ruling, the justices singled out Fall River’s efforts to reduce panhandling. The Globe’s John Ellement and the Herald-News’ Jo C. Goode have more on the SJC’s major ruling.

Baker’s plea to the public: Please don’t repeat the mistakes of Thanksgiving

Switching quickly to all-things pandemic, from GBH’s Mike Deehan: “Gov. Charlie Baker is imploring Massachusetts residents to celebrate the holidays more safely than they did for Thanksgiving — when dinners and informal visits lead to thousands of coronavirus infections and the most stress on the hospital system since the height of the initial pandemic in the spring.”

CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas reports on Baker’s “mixed messages” of late, mixed messages that can’t be avoided.


The vaccine cavalry to the rescue

The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports on the ‘elation and relief’ as more COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived yesterday at hospitals around the state. WBUR’s Martha Bebinger and Angus Chen report on health-care workers getting vaccinated. The Herald’s Alex Cohan reports that a Tufts doctor was first in line to get a shot. Now the big question, via the Globe’s Liz Goodwin: Will health-care workers who don’t volunteer for shots be required to get shots? 

Meanwhile, from the Globe’s Jonathan Saltzman: “What you need to know about Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is likely to get cleared this week.”

More good news: Economists cautiously optimistic about state’s financial outlook

SHNS’s Matt Murphy has more good news from the pandemic front: “With COVID-19 vaccines being administered for the first time in Massachusetts this week, economists on Tuesday offered a brighter outlook for the state’s finances next year, predicting the possibility of a strong recovery driven by job growth and a resurgence in retail sales, dining and travel.”

CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg has more on the state’s improving revenue outlook, especially if Congress approves another stimulus-relief bill. See post immediately below.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Baker on likely stimulus deal: ‘A giant Christmas present, Hanukkah present, Kwanzaa present,’ all in one

Here’s more good news on the revenue front. The Washington Post reports lawmakers in Washington appear to be close to reaching a deal this week on a new stimulus-relief package – and Gov. Charlie Baker couldn’t be happier, reports the Herald’s Lisa Kasinsky and Erin Tiernan.

Healey blasts Hodgson’s handling of mini-riot in jail, seeks to block immigrant detentions in Bristol County

CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt reports that Attorney General Maura Healey has issued a scathing report on the Bristol County Sheriff Office’s handling of a major jail disturbance during the early months of the pandemic, saying the civil rights of ICE detainees were violated. Here’s the brutal headline on MassLive’s report: “Sheriff’s Office illegally used dogs, excessive pepper spray against immigrant detainees who may have had COVID, Mass. AG reports.”

Separately, Betancourt reports Healey is “seeking to prohibit Sheriff Thomas Hodgson from using his facility to detain immigrants for the federal government.”


Coronavirus updates: Two inmates die, SJC pushes prisoner releases, Agawam mayor’s ‘false positive’

Speaking of inmates and the coronavirus, WBUR’s Deborah Becker reports that two prisoners held in separate state facilities have died of COVID-19 this week. … Meanwhile, Becker reports separately that the Supreme Judicial Court is nudging judges to consider coronavirus risks and releasing more prisoners. In other general coronavirus news, Michael Ballway at MassLive reports that Agawam Mayor William Sapelli’s recent announcement that he had contracted COVID-19 has turned out to be a false alarm. Turns out he got a ‘false positive.’ … Cambridge Day’s Sue Reinert reports that Cambridge City Manager Louis DePasquale is getting grilled over his decision not to join a seven-city coalition imposing stricter coronavirus rules during the second surge.

Twofer: Teachers’ unions vote no confidence in education commissioner Riley

First it was the BPS’s Brenda Cassellius. Now it’s state education commissioner Jeffrey Riley’s turn. The Herald’s Alexi Cohan has the details on the latest no-confidence vote by teachers’ unions upset with education leaders’ handling of school policies during the pandemic, i.e. remote-vs-in-person learning.

Boston Herald

Report: TCI agreement near on carbon emissions and pricing

This is going to spark a lot of debate if and when it happens. From David Abel at the Globe: “After years of negotiations, Massachusetts and other states on the East Coast are poised to sign a landmark agreement that would constitute one of the nation’s most ambitious efforts to fight climate change. By the end of the month, a group of 12 states and Washington, D.C., are expected to announce details of the controversial cap-and-invest pact.”

Boston Globe

Kennedy laughs off talk of gubernatorial bid

U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, who will be leaving Congress next month, acknowledges he’s had talks about possible positions in the incoming Biden administration. But he doesn’t sound like he’s in a hurry to land a new job – and he literally laughed off the idea of possibly running for governor one day soon, reports the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky.

Boston Herald

Worrisome trend: Fewer teens preparing for college

In other education news, SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports state higher education leaders are getting nervous over enrollment-trend data that indicates fewer youths, particularly those in minority communities, are planning to go to college. The partial reason: The pandemic.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

MassBio’s Coughlin joining JLL and old life-sciences pal

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that Bob Coughlin, the former state representative who announced earlier this week he was stepping down as head of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, is taking a position at the Boston office of commercial real estate giant JLL, where he’ll be teaming up with an old industry colleague: Travis McCreedy, former head of the state’s Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Boston Globe

Combo platter: Two sets of charges, one trial for Correia

Two alleged schemes, one trial. Federal prosecutors say they will try former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia on two different sets of charges when his long-delayed corruption case finally goes to trial in February, Jo C. Goode at the Herald-News reports. 

Herald News

AT&T executive and gambling commissioner to join Cannabis Control Board

The BBJ’s Gintautas Dumcius reports that Bruce Stebbins, a member of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and Nurys Z. Camargo, an executive at AT&T and a former advisor for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, will be filling the two open slots on the Cannabis Control Commission.


Another election? Lawrence weighs options to replace Rivera

They’re looking for wiggle room. With Lawrence Mayor Daniel RIvera set to resign Jan. 6 to take a role in the Baker administration, the city council is debating whether to call a special election — as required by the city’s charter — or ask the state legislature for a home rule petition to install a temporary mayor and bypass voters until November, Allison Corneau at the Eagle-Tribune reports. 

Eagle Tribune

Divestiture request

Yet another end-of-the-session push on Beacon Hill. From SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) “More than 80 local officials representing 34 cities and towns are asking Beacon Hill leaders to bring a bill to a vote in the next three weeks that would allow city and county retirement systems to divest from coal, oil and gas investments.”

Rock bottom? MGM Springfield posts worst month as casinos struggle with restrictions

They’ve got the early-closing pandemic blues. All three of the state’s casinos reported falling revenues in November — and MGM Springfield posted its weakest full month of results since it opened. Jim Kinney at MassLive has the details. 


Cut-rate castle: Framingham Sheraton sells for half of assessed value

Will the turrets remain? The iconic Framingham Sheraton Hotel was sold back to the bank that carries its mortgage in an auction on Tuesday. Jeff Malachowski at the MetroWest Daily News reports the final sale price of $15 million — less than half of the assessed value for tax purposes — reflects the havoc the pandemic has wrought on the hospitality industry.

MetroWest Daily News

Scientific Seminar: Building Resilient & Equitable Cities

Join Fuschia-Ann Hoover for a discussion on Building Resilient and Equitable Cities: Implications of decision-making processes behind urban green infrastructure. The promotion of green Infrastructure (GI) as a tool for creating resilient and sustainable communities occurs across all levels of government.

Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies

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

An Overview Experience with Astronaut Ron Garan

Join us for an Overview Experience – an experiential journey into the wonders and possibilities of the Overview Effect. Astronaut Ron Garan will talk about his own experience in space and his work with the Orbital Perspective, and how this perspective can influence and astronaut’s earthly values and actions.

Space for Humanity

Resistance: Voices of Exiled Writers Book Launch

We are thrilled to invite you to the launch of Resistance: Voices of Exiled Writers, published by Palewell Pres in honor of the 20th anniversary of Exiled Writers Ink. Writers and editors featured in the collection will present their work in celebration of the theme of Resistance and 20 years of Exiled Writers Ink advocating for human rights through literature and literary activism.

Exiled Writers Ink and Palewell press

Home with History: Stepping Stones Virtual Exploration

Explore the New York home, archives, and lives of Bill & Lois Wilson through an illustrated, live presentation with Stepping Stones historians. Get to know the memorabilia-filled residence of the Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson and Al-Anon Family Groups Cofounder Lois Wilson.

Stepping Stones-Historic Home, Bill & Lois Wilson

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal 10-Year Anniversary Celebration

Join service members, veterans, their families, and special guests from around the world to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the repeal of Don’ t Ask, Don’t Tell and to support the fight for transgender service members. Celebrate this virtual event with the White House and Congressional leaders who led the fight for repeal in 2010.

Modern Military Association of America

A League of Their Own: The Future of Network Partnerships

Verizon is unveiling the 5G network’s potential for venues with features like real-time access to video highlights, screening of multiple angles, instant updated stats and fantasy scores on players, and immersive fan experiences. Having just been named the official technology partner of the NHL, Verizon is paving the way for the future of network partnerships.


How to Pivot Your Small Business During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for small businesses in the Boston area and all over the country. Consumer habits have changed and small businesses have to be able to adapt to the new dynamic. Join Beth Ann Dahan, Project Manager for COVID Business Recovery as she shares ways that you can pivot your small business and survive during difficult times.

Virtual Minority Small Business Conference and Expo

How to Pivot Your Small Business During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for small businesses in the Boston area and all over the country. Consumer habits have changed and small businesses have to be able to adapt to the new dynamic. Join Beth Ann Dahan, Project Manager for COVID Business Recovery at CWE as she shares ways that you can pivot your small business and survive during difficult times.

Virtual Minority Small Business Conference and Expo

Making a Ruckus: Volunteer Managers as Activists for Change

Explore strategies to create a new path forward for volunteer engagement in your organization in these changing times. VolunteerNow is collaborating with TVMC to offer free professional development webinars to provide guidance, networking and practical ideas to help you move forward during these challenging times. Upon registration you will receive instructions to join the webinar via WebinarJAM.


Human Trafficking 101

The Key2Free is committed to education and increased awareness with the goal of preventing trafficking before it starts. Across all states, victims of sex trafficking are enslaved every day through force, fraud, or coercion. Together, we can call attention to and fight the shocking realities of the injustice happening right here in our communities.

The Key2Free

Today’s Headlines


Boston City Council to vote on trio of police reforms Wednesday – Boston Globe

Brockton sets target dates for students to return – Brockton Enterprise


More than $6 million sought in suit against Sandwich police, town – Cape Cod Times

Racist and anti-Semitic graffiti investigated at Amherst Regional High School – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Meals program would benefit families in need and Pittsfield restaurants – Berkshire Eagle


Biden taps Pete Buttigieg for Transportation Secretary – New York Times

McConnell, GOP let Trump down gently – Politico

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