Happening Today

Unemployment data, TCI update, and more

— Labor officials release the monthly unemployment rate and jobs data for Massachusetts in November.

Fiscal Alliance Foundation and the Beacon Hill Institute hold a virtual press conference to announce the results of a recent study examining the economic impacts of COVID-19 on the Transportation and Climate Initiative, 10 a.m.

Mass Cultural Council’s governing board holds a virtual meeting to discuss the appointment of a new executive director, 10:30 a.m.

— Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock, Energy Undersecretary Judy Chang, Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone and other officials hold a virtual ceremony to celebrate the 14th annual Leading By Example Awards, 11 a.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: 44 new deaths, 11,305 total deaths, 4,985 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Mariano seems to have speakership locked up

House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s reign on Beacon Hill appears to be coming to a close, with the Globe’s Matt Stout and Andrea Estes reporting that DeLeo may file a disclosure form as early as today indicating he’s indeed in talks for a post at Northeastern University.

And it appears, according to multiple media outlets, that Majority Leader Ron Mariano, a Quincy Democrat and DeLeo’s longtime top deputy in the House, has lined up the votes to become the next speaker. If so, he’s expected to push for a quick vote before new whippersnapper lawmakers are sworn into office next month. SHNS’s Matt Murphy and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg have more on the speakership jockeying.

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld thinks progressive lawmakers may yet put up “fierce” opposition to the 74-year-old Mariano becoming speaker. But the Globe’s Rachael Cohen thinks Mariano’s assumption of power is almost a foregone conclusion: “The sheeple will once again fall into line in the Great and General Court. Long live the sheeple!” 

FDA poised to give final approval today to Moderna’s vaccine

If all goes well, the FDA today (or maybe tomorrow) is expected to give final approval to Cambridge-based Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the Washington Post reports. And it couldn’t come soon enough. There seems to be some confusion about next week’s deliveries of Pfizer’s already-approved vaccine, the Post reports separately.

Washington Post

Report: A ‘significant number’ of local health care workers may decline vaccine

As federal regulators rush to approve a second COVID-19 vaccine, the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports there isn’t exactly a rush among local health-care workers to get a shot. The reluctant are in a minority. But it’s a surprisingly large minority.

Then again, from the AP at Boston.com: “Mass General Brigham vaccine signup site crashes amid demand from health workers.”


More than half of state’s cities and town listed as hotspots

More vaccines may be on the way, but the second surge is already here. From NBC Boston’s Asher Klein and Mike Pescaro: “For the first time, more than half of Massachusetts’ communities, 187, are considered at the highest risk for transmitting the new coronavirus, according to the latest weekly community-level data on the pandemic.  The new total overtakes last week’s record of 158 towns and cities in the report’s red zone.”

Meanwhile, the number of students and school staffers coming down with the virus continues to tick upward, reports MassLive’s Melissa Hanson. And from SHNS’s Coronavirus Tracker: “78 Mass. Firefighters Positive In Past Week.”

NBC Boston

‘Different cities, different rules’: The hodgepodge approach to fighting virus just ain’t working

Speaking of local coronavirus hotspots, the Globe’s Tim Logan reports on the hodgepodge of pandemic rules and restrictions across the state that are “frustrating to business owners, confusing to residents, and might not do enough to contain a virus that’s spreading at a rapid clip.”

Boston Globe

Sen. Timilty tests positive for COVID-19

The hodgepodge approach clearly hasn’t helped one legislator. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “Sen. Walter Timilty announced Thursday that he recently tested positive for COVID-19, saying he wanted to use his experience to remind others to stay vigilant against the virus.” Luckily, his symptoms aren’t severe.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Markey: Aid to states and cities may have to wait till next year

He doesn’t like it. But U.S. Sen. Ed Markey says it now looks like there won’t be money for struggling state and local governments in the next compromise stimulus-relief package being hammered out in Washington, reports the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky. So states and cities will likely have to wait until President-elect Joe Biden takes office next year.

Boston Herald

Restaurant industry: Going from bad to worse? We’ll soon know

Industry officials estimated that about 4,000 restaurants in Massachusetts haven’t reopened since last spring’s closure. But we could have a more precise number of permanent closures early next year, when many bars and restaurants decide whether to renew state liquor licenses. And Treasurer Deb Goldberg is bracing for the worst, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) .

Meanwhile, WBUR’s Tovia Smith takes a look at one restaurant’s struggle for survival, Boston’s Cornwall’s Tavern.

Coronavirus updates: Springfield schools go remote till April, councilor’s to-hell-with-masks rant, TD Garden reopening

We’re going with quick summaries and headlines in this post, starting with Universal Hub: “Braintree councilor says screw masks and shutdowns; Covid-19 ain’t that bad.” … SHNS reports (pay wall) that the traditional farewell speeches of departing legislators on Beacon Hill have been disrupted this year by the pandemic. … The Inquirer & Mirror reports the first vaccinations were given yesterday on hard-hit Nantucket. … From MassLive: “Springfield Public Schools to remain fully remote until at least April 8.” … And from the Globe: “Mayor Marty Walsh says TD Garden might have fans back by February or March.”

Report: State and local governments face ‘grave threat’ from cyberintruders

Those recent reports of Russian cyber-spies penetrating numerous servers of the federal government and major corporations? The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is warning of ‘grave threats’ to state and local governments as well – and Massachusetts is taking the warnings quite seriously. SHNS’s Colin Young has more.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Meanwhile, Romney blasts White House silence on Russian hack

The silence is deafening. Former Mass. Gov. and U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney is once again slamming the Trump White House, this time over its silence after intelligence services said Russian hackers compromised a slew of federal computer networks, including those belonging to the nation’s nuclear defenses, reports Kaelan Deese at The Hill.

The Hill

First, Facebook. Now Google. Healey is on an antitrust roll

From CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg: “A week after she signed onto a multi-state lawsuit against Facebook, Attorney General Maura Healey now has Google in her sights. On Thursday, Healey announced that she had signed on to a lawsuit filed by a bipartisan group of 38 attorneys general against the country’s dominant search engine.”

Next up: Amazon, making it a giant tech trifecta?  


Meanwhile, Healey reaches $10M settlement with Lawrence home-health firm accused of fraud

She isn’t thinking just national. The Globe’s Jeremy Fox reports Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has reached a $10 million settlement with a Lawrence home health-care firm accused of sending false payment claims to the state’s Medicaid program.

Boston Globe

The once unthinkable may be thinkable: Another look at Weymouth compressor decision?

SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports (pay wall) that a key federal regulator is signaling an openness to taking another look at the controversial Weymouth natural gas project, amid questions about the facility’s safety. Meanwhile, the Patriot Ledger is reporting that the giant facility may not start up again soon due to questions surrounding the project.

Mashpee tribe casino bid may be buoyed by Biden’s Interior pick

Speaking of rays of hope, news that President-elect Joe Biden will nominate U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland to be the first Native American to serve as Secretary of the Interior is being cheered by Mashpee Wampanoag leaders who are trying to win tribal status to build a new casino in Taunton, reports Jessica Hill at the Cape Cod Times. 

Cape Cod Times

Not over yet: Opponents say they’ll appeal after EPA grants final permit for GE cleanup

They listened, but didn’t budge. After a lengthy public comment period that saw hundreds of residents and groups provide input, the EPA has issued a final permit for GE’s massive plan to remove PCB contaminants from the Housatonic River, Larry Parnass at the Berkshire Eagle and Jim Kinney of MassLive report. But the permit clears the way for a PCB dump in Lee — and residents of that town aren’t happy.

Rollins: What about Annie Dookhan’s lab-chemist colleague? Huh?

Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins is absolutely right to be asking questions. But this is one of those instances in which you think to yourself, ‘Oh, please, lord, don’t ask those questions.’ Because it could lead to even more tainted legal cases tied to disgraced state lab chemist Annie Dookhan. WBUR’s Deborah Becker has the details.


Scott Brown’s ‘final kickass gig’ in New Zealand

It wasn’t a farewell tour since it was only one gig. But it was a “final kickass gig” for former U.S. Sen Scott Brown, who played the electric guitar in front of a giant American flag on his last day as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, according to a report at CBS Boston.

CBS Boston

‘We have snowball!’

Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin likes his humor dry. Very dry. And he was at his dry-humor best yesterday covering the TV people covering yesterday’s snowstorm in Greater Boston. Enjoy.

Universal Hub

Sunday public affairs TV: Gus Bickford, John King, Jhilam Biswas

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: State Democratic Party Chairman Gus Bickford, who talks with host Jon Keller about Gov. Charlie Baker’s pandemic leadership and how Democrats will challenge Baker is he runs for re-election.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Jim Rooney of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on whether businesses should mandate vaccines; Mascon Medical CEO John Chen on getting PPE to those who need it most; and the BBJ’s Doug Banks on the vaccine rollout, more business regulations and shutdowns, and other business news.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 6, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: CNN anchor and Dorchester native John King, who discusses the extended-election cycle and what’s ahead in 2021 with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a roundtable political discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: Mental Health Update, featuring Jhilam Biswas, M.D. of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, among others.

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


Encore Closes Restaurant After Gathering Issue – WBUR

JetBlue launches new nonstop service to Florida – Boston.com


Springfield Public Schools to remain fully remote until at least April 8; Some students could return sooner – MassLive

Peabody woman will be Rockport’s first female police sergeant – Salem News

State calls for comment on roundabout at Northampton site where artifacts found – Daily Hampshire Gazette


Southern California Has 0% ICU Capacity as Los Angeles Reports Record New Cases – Wall Street Journal

Washington Post to add more than 150 jobs next year, bringing newsroom to record size – The Hill

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