Keller at Large

Some Christmas gifts from Santa at Large

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Santa at Large, aka Jon Keller, dishes out suggested gifts for those who made a difference during a difficult 2020, including two weeks on a sun-splashed beach with no cell service for Charlie Baker. He also has gift ideas for Gus Bickford, Jim Lyons, Karen Spilka, Robert DeLeo and others. … Note: Text of Jon’s commentary accompanies his podcast. Check it out!

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Christmas Eve and stimulus checks

Today is Christmas Eve, a traditionally slow business day leading into tomorrow’s official Christmas holiday. The Massachusetts House and Senate are adjourned until Monday. The only calendar item for today:

— U.S. Rep. Richard Neal makes an announcement regarding the need for increased direct stimulus payments to Americans, U.S. Courthouse, 300 State Street, Springfield, 9:15 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: 81 new deaths, 11,630 total deaths, 4,509 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Believe it or not: Mass. delegation sides with Trump over $2,000 checks

Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation are actually siding with Republican President Trump on an issue, specifically his demand that $2,000 checks for most Americans be included in a new stimulus-relief package. We’re talking Pressley, Clark, Trahan, Markey, McGovern, all Democrats etc.

NBC Boston’s Mary Markos and the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky have more on the politics-makes-strange-bedfellows development. The Washington Post has the national angle, including how the odd Pelosi-Trump alliance is putting pressure on Republican Mitch McDonnell to boost payments, even if the demand puts the relief package in presidential veto jeopardy.

Baker unveils $668M relief plan for small businesses

Switching to Beacon Hill relief efforts, Gov. Charlie Baker, a day after slapping new coronavirus restrictions on most businesses across the state, announced yesterday a new $668 million relief fund designed to help struggling small businesses during the pandemic. The program includes grants of up to $75,000 or three-months of operating expenses to help pay for salaries, utilities, rent, debt or other expenses, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan and SHNS’s Matt Murphy.

Fyi: The program is using already allocated federal relief funds and state money, as CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl reports.

Ganging up: New Hampshire gains allies in fight against Mass. telecommuter tax

They’re looking for clarity. Mark Hayward at the Union Leader reports Connecticut and 13 other states are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up New Hampshire’s challenge to Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent order requiring people who normally work in the Bay State but who are telecommuting from elsewhere during the pandemic to continue paying the  Massachusetts income tax.

Union Leader

‘You’ll never guess what a Massachusetts Republican honcho came down with after attending a Chanukah party at the White House’

It’s almost impossible to outdo a Universal Hub headline once Adam Gaffin is on a roll, so why even try? Anyway, Universal Hub, via the Jewish Journal, reports that state GOP vice chairman Tom Mountain has been released from the hospital after being treated for COVID-19 that even he presumes he caught while attending a largely maskless Chanukah celebration at the White House.

Universal Hub

Second in line: Brigham and Women’s doctor finally gets his shot – after members of Congress

We can’t tell if the Globe is taking a shot or not at Dr. Jeremy Faust for getting a shot a day after he blasted members of Congress for cutting in line to get shots. But we’re siding with the Brigham and Women’s emergency medical physician on this one. He had every right to be upset with the flimsy excuses used by members of Congress to get their vaccinations before others, such as, oh, the homeless of Boston (WBUR’s Lynn Jolicoeur).

Boston Globe

Well, thank goodness: Baker assures kids Santa has proper ‘travel form’

We were wondering about this, i.e. whether the state’s quarantine rules apply to you-know-who. From Gov. Baker: “My understanding is that Santa has a travel form that is good in every community, every state, every county, and every country in America and the world.”

CBS Boston

Coronavirus updates: Cambridge’s new restrictions, Worcester cancels winter sports, commuter rail extends half schedule

Here’s some quick headlines from the busy coronavirus front, starting with the Telegram: “No winter sports for Worcester public schools due to pandemic.” … Speaking of hard-hit Worcester, from MassLive: “City Hall, municipal buildings closed to public from Christmas Eve through Jan. 11 as COVID cases continue to increase.” … From CBS Boston: “Cambridge Rolls Back To ‘Modified’ Phase II.” … From WCVB: “Flu vaccine requirement for Massachusetts school students extended.” … From CommonWealth magazine: “Reduced commuter rail schedule extended until Jan. 8.”

Fast action: Lawmakers quickly pass health-care bill with telehealth provision in it

Unveiled one day, passed the next. From CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg: “The Massachusetts Legislature on Wednesday sent Gov. Charlie Baker a bill that could permanently change how health care providers use telehealth, a consequence of the rapid shift that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Baker poised to sign modified police-reform legislation

In other legislative action, the amended police-reform bill officially landed on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk yesterday after the House and Senate gave the package their final procedural approvals. And Baker, who demanded and got changes to the bill, is now poised to sign the legislation, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton.

Fyi, from CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas: “With police bill, compromise was the key.” Fyi II: Legislation that would ban certain flame-retardants was also sent to the governor’s desk yesterday, reports SHNS (pay wall).

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

State suspends controversial car-tracking program after glitch found in camera system

In a way, this reminds us of the Annie Dookhan case, if it turns out a lot of legal cases are now in jeopardy as a result of this debacle. From the Globe’s Matt Rocheleau: “Massachusetts public safety officials have halted use of a controversial license plate surveillance system on roadways across the state after finding a glitch with the technology that caused it to record inaccurate data for more than five years, according to a memo obtained by the Globe.”

Here’s the key ramifications line: “The breadth of the newfound problem — and the impact it will have on an untold number of criminal cases — was not immediately clear Wednesday.” 

Boston Globe

Walsh still in contention for Biden labor post. Or is he?

Politico’s Megan Cassella and Tyler Pager report that President-elect Joe Biden “definitely wants” Mayor Marty Walsh for labor secretary, but Biden may have to bypass Walsh due concerns over diversity within his future cabinet. The Globe’s Chistina Prignano and Danny McDonald confirm Walsh remains “one of a handful of finalists” for the post.

But the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is skeptical about Walsh’s chances of landing the job, suggesting the new chatter may be designed to give Walsh a face-saving excuse for not getting the appointment. We’ll see.


Methuen police chief placed on leave after scathing IG report on handling of police contacts

As we’ve said before, we’d be surprised if other government agencies aren’t looking into this mess as well. From the Globe’s Andrea Estes: “Embattled Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon was placed on administrative leave Wednesday after the state inspector general released a scathing report concluding that the chief and other officials engaged in potential misconduct by drafting contracts that would pay him and senior officers exorbitant salaries.”

The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky has more the Methuen police-contract morass.

Boston Globe

Man imprisoned for 30 years released after Suffolk DA Rollins says he was ‘wrongly convicted’

What else could the court do? The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports a Supreme Judicial Court justice yesterday released a man imprisoned for three decades after Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins said he was wrongly convicted of second-degree murder. Next step: Deciding whether to hold another trial.

Boston Herald

So what deep dark secrets might a Globe union spill?

The BBJ’s Don Seiffert has an update on the ongoing, testy, two-year contract negotiations between Globe management and the paper’s largest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild. And the union is now threatening to go public with what management is demanding from union members. 


Think spring: Return of mail-in voting hinges on budget outcome

Lawmakers are working to keep funding for expanded mail-in voting for city and town elections on the calendar for next spring, Christian Wade reports at the Salem News. Gov. Charlie Baker wants more flexibility for municipalities and the details hang in the balance as the legislature and governor finalize budget language. 


Helping hand: Cromwell asks Tribe to cover his corruption-charges legal bills

Former Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal chairman Cedric Cromwell is asking the tribe’s new leadership to cover his legal expenses tied to the federal case against him for alleged bribery and extortion in connection with the tribe’s proposed casino in Taunton, Jessica Hill at the Cape Cod Times reports. The tribe has yet to take up the request.

Cape Cod Times

Trust or verify? Resident says Southborough hiding truth behind redactions

So much black ink. Southborough resident Jack Baron is appealing to the state to again force officials to provide more information on what led to the firing of a recreation department employee after earlier requests for records were met with heavily redacted documents, Alison Bosma at the MetroWest Daily News reports. 

MetroWest Daily News

Merry Christmas and Happy (belated) Hanukkah – and see you Monday

We’d like to wish all our MassterList readers happy holidays. We’ll be taking the Christmas holiday off tomorrow, but we’ll be back in your inbox first thing Monday morning.

Recover Boston: The Road Ahead – Economic Issues in 2021

As the country looks ahead at the days when a vaccine will be available to wider parts of the community and as a new administration gains its foothold in Washington, D.C., a distinguished panel of business leaders will discuss the issues they’re expecting in 2021. What will economic recovery look like in Greater Boston? How will businesses move forward safely?

Boston Business Journal

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.


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

2021 Economic Outlook

Join the Boston Business Journal and CIBC for an expert look at the latest information concerning global, national and regional trends impacting the economy. The 2021 Economic Outlook will offer unique access to economic insights from world-class experts and professionals to help translate economic trends into competitive intelligence to grow your business and find opportunity in the coming year.

Boston Business Journal and CIBC Commercial Banking

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


Harvard Coop closes flagship building until April – Cambridge Day

Quincy police: City Hall nativity scene vandalized – Patriot Ledger


Attleboro police chief blasts Sturdy Hospital over coronavirus testing – Sun Chronicle

Boxed out: Postal customers across Berkshire fume over delivery delays – Berkshire Eagle

American Basketball Association action coming back to Worcester – Telegram & Gazette


New signs of economic distress emerge as Trump imperils aid deal – New York Times

Trump calls for special counsel on election on Barr’s last day – Bloomberg

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