Happening Today

House speaker election, Senate session

— After House Democrats meet privately in a virtual caucus, where they’re expected to nominate Rep. Ron Mariano as the next House speaker, the House convenes in full session with the first order of business being to elect a new speaker, 1 p.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate meets in a full formal session without a calendar, 1 p.m.

— Dr. Amar Dhand of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital gives a talk titled ‘Insights from the Frontlines of COVID-19 and How Network Science Can Help’ as part of the Lyceum Live public conversation series, 8 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: 58 new deaths, 11,958 total deaths, 3,659 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Mariano vows openness and diversity as he takes over House

State Rep. Ron Mariano of Quincy is expected to be elected today as the next speaker of the Massachusetts House, following yesterday’s official resignation of Robert DeLeo. And Mariano is pledging to run a more open House – with a more diverse House leadership team. SHNS’s Matt Murphy, the Globe’s Andrea Estes and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg have more on Mariano’s expected rise to the speakership today.

Meanwhile, an emotional DeLeo bids adieu

SHNS’s Colin Young and Matt Murphy (pay wall), MassLive’s Steph Solis and CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas all have good pieces this morning on Robert Deleo’s farewell address yesterday to House members, a largely virtual address that included DeLeo reflecting back on his 12 years as speaker. Meanwhile, Arun Rath talks to Mike Deehan at GBH about DeLeo’s departure and why lawmakers are moving so swiftly to replace him with Ron Mariano.

One thing everyone can agree on about Robert DeLeo: He’s no ‘Iron Duke’

Say what you will about the Herald’s Howie Carr, he’s often a font of political trivia and history, including the legal history of Massachusetts House speakers stretching all the way back to John Forbes “Iron Duke” Thompson in the 1960s. Never heard of the Iron Duke from Ludlow? Now you have. Howie drops lots of other seemingly forgotten names as well.

Boston Herald

The ROE Act is now the law of the land

MassLive’s Steph Solis and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) report that the Senate yesterday officially voted to override Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of the abortion-access bill known as the ROE Act. And, because of the House’s prior override vote, the ROE Act is now the law of the land in Massachusetts.

From warp speed to snail’s pace: Slow vaccine rollout criticized

Criticism is mounting, nationally and locally, over what appears to be a sluggish rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. The Globe’s Dasai Moore and Robert Weisman have the national angle, including President-elect Joe Biden yesterday blasting the Trump administration’s handling of the rollout campaign. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, is “incredibly frustrated” with slow vaccine deliveries. And from SHNS’s Coronavirus Tracker: “Mass. Firefighters Warn Of ‘No Viable Plan’ For Vaccinations.”

Trump fumes at Republican leadership, Elizabeth Warren and just about everything else

Senate Republicans yesterday blocked a vote on President Trump’s demand that $2,000 checks for Americans be included in a defense bill, reports the AP at the Globe. And a frustrated Trump is now lashing out at GOP Senate leaders – and Democrat Elizabeth Warren – over the defense bill, as Benjamin Kail reports at MassLive.

Business groups to lawmakers: Please, please, please pass Baker’s unemployment-insurance payment bill

Speaking of financial relief, Massachusetts companies are practically begging Massachusetts lawmakers to go along with Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to avert hefty increases in unemployment-insurance premium payments next year, reports Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth magazine.

Meanwhile, theBBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports on yet more discouraging news when it comes to Black-owned businesses securing federal PPP relief loans, despite efforts to make the program more inclusive.


As Boston hits ‘grim milestone,’ Walsh extends evictions moratorium for public housing residents

Asher Klein at NBC Boston reports that more than 1,000 people have now died of COVID-19 in Boston, a figure Mayor Marty Walsh is describing as a “grim milestone.” In separate Boston pandemic news, from WCVB: “City of Boston extends eviction moratorium for public housing through Feb. 2021.”   

NBC Boston

Coronavirus updates: UMass model sees declining cases, Everett mails masks to residents, First Night fireworks canceled

We’re going with quick summaries and headlines on this coronavirus post, starting with potentially good news, via the Globe’s Martin Finucane: “UMass model sees possibility of declining cases ahead in Mass.” … From CBS Boston: “First Residents At Holyoke, Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes Receive COVID Vaccine.” …. From Carrie Saldo at GBH: “COVID-19 Cases Spike At Gardner Medium Security Prison.” … From the Herald: “Everett mails masks to residents.” … And from the Globe: “First Night Boston cancels New Year’s Eve Fireworks.”

Outgoing cannabis commissioner slams Beacon Hill’s ‘suck up’ culture

Her tenure made waves, so why not her departure? In a Q-and-A with the Globe’s Dan Adams, outgoing Cannabis Control Commission member Shaleen Title took some not-so-veiled shots at the way Beacon Hill operates. Among other things, TItle complained “you have to go in and suck up to the speaker or the big committee chair for like two years” to get legislation passed. 

Boston Globe

Gov. Karyn Politico? History suggests otherwise

Unless Gov. Charlie Baker steps down early and lets Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito take over as acting governor, Peter Lucas at the Herald thinks Polito’s prospects of one day becoming governor don’t look good, based on the political history of sitting lieutenant governors in Massachusetts. Think Frank Bellotti and Kerry Healey. And don’t forget Evelyn Murphy, we’d add.

Boston Herald

Boston finally removes controversial statue of Lincoln

It’s gone. Taken away on a flatbed truck. The Herald’s Rick Sobey and the New York Times report on yesterday’s removal of Boston’s controversial statue of President Abraham Lincoln standing with his hand over a kneeling slave. But the original Thomas Ball statue still stands in Washington D.C. (for now), the Washington Post reports.

NY Post beats out Herald in urging Trump to face election reality

It took the New York Post a while, but its conservative editorial board has finally turned against Donald Trump and is urging the president to give up the fight to overturn the November presidential election results, CNN reports. Maybe the Boston Herald is next? It hasn’t had one editorial –as far as we can tell after a quick review of its editorial archives – about one of the biggest political controversies of our time. Just silence since Nov. 3

Fyi: The Herald today is trumpeting the president’s new ‘Most Admired Man’ status. No mention of the president’s absurd election-fraud claims.

Hamilton to residents: No compost bins on curbs, no trash pick up

To enforce the town’s new ordinance banning residents from putting food waste and compostable paper in their trash, the Hamilton Board of Selectmen has passed an incentives plan: No green compost bins on curbsides next to black trash bins, no trash pick-up that week. WCVB has more.


SJC: ‘Three strikes’ doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out

This is interesting. From the Globe’s Martin Finucane: “The state’s highest court says that defendants convicted under one section of the Massachusetts ‘three strikes’ law can be placed on probation by a judge, rather than face hefty sentences for their third offense. The Supreme Judicial Court, after analyzing the law’s wording and legislative history, found Tuesday that it was ambiguous.”

Boston Globe

Heart, warmed: Somerset officer buys Christmas dinner for suspects after shoplifting call

It was, after all, Christmas Eve. From the Herald-News comes the story of Somerset police officer Matt Lima, who was dispatched to a local Stop & Shop, where a family had been detained for allegedly attempting to shoplift food. Lima, who has young children of his own, promptly dug into his own pocket and bought $250 worth of grocery store gift cards for them–displaying what his chief called “great character and decision making.” 

Herald News

Deep cut: Daily Hampshire Gazette slashes editor-in-chief in latest cost cutting move

This time, they started at the top. The owners of the Daily Hampshire Gazette made another round of job cuts and this time among the first to go was editor-in-chief Brooke Hauser, Jackson Cote at MassLive reports.

In a post addressing public blowback to the Hauser move, Publisher Michael Moses said the company focused its latest cuts on positions that do not directly produce content and that cutting the editor slot saved two reporting positions.


Boston Dynamics strikes again: Dancing robots

Definitely check out Boston Dynamics’ video, available at Boston.com or Universal Hub, of robots dancing to ‘Do You Love Me’ by the Contours. It’s pretty amazing. Btw, UH’s headline on its post: “Revealed: How our new robot overlords will dance on our graves.”

Correction/Clarification: Wrong station

Even though her story on how hospitals are handling vaccination rollouts appeared at WBUR the other day, Gabrielle Emanuel first reported the story at GBH, where she works as a reporter. We misidentified her affiliation in a post yesterday. Sorry about that.

We want to know what you think…

As 2020 draws to a close, we want to know about our readers’ opinions of the news and the news media as a whole. If you can, please fill out this quick ten question survey so that we can learn more about what you (anonymously) think as we enter 2021. Thanks so much.

Google Survey

The Struggle for Freedom: Patriots of Color at Bunker Hill

The American Revolution was an era-changing historical earthquake, but little told is the role of people of color in the struggle for independence.

Boston Public Library and the National Park Service

Breathless in Boston: An Exploration of Lung Function in the Era of COVID-19 with Dr. Christopher Fanta, MD

Join the Boston Public Library in partnership with Beacon Hill Village for this online program. Dr. Fanta will take us on a tour of how our lungs work in health and disease, including strategies to keep our lungs healthy and strong throughout our lives. Dr. Fanta will discuss several issues relating to the lungs including the special effects of COVID-19 on lung function.

Boston Public Library and Beacon Hill Village

The New Administration: Opportunities and Challenges

Panelists including Lisa Lerer, reporter at the New York Times, and Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and CNN Political Analyst, discuss opportunities and challenges for the incoming administration as well as reflections on the significance of the Biden-Harris victory in 2020 elections. NBC News Correspondent Harry Smith moderates.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

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

Live Chat with Google Product Manager

Join in and get all your product questions answered during our online event with Neil Joglekar, Product Manager at Google. He is a product manager at Google where he leads teams to improve consumer experience. He is also a YC founder.

Product School

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

Malcolm Gladwell and the New Normal after COVID-19

Join Arent Fox for a one hour virtual event with Malcolm Gladwell, the celebrated journalist and best-selling author of Tipping Point, Outliers, and Talking to Strangers, who will talk about life after COVID-19. There will also be a Q&A with Arent Fox Partner Anthony V. Lupo.Malcolm Gladwell and the New Normal after COVID-19 JAN 27 2021 12:00 PM Hosted by: Arent Fox LLP Online Event www.eventbrite.com/e/malcolm-gladwell-and-the-new-normal-after-covid-19-tickets-132113604347?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch Join Arent Fox for a one hour virtual event with Malcolm Gladwell, the celebrated journalist and best-selling author of Tipping Point, Outliers, and Talking to Strangers, who will talk about life after COVID-19. There will also be a Q&A with Arent Fox Partner Anthony V. Lupo.

Arent Fox LLP

Today’s Headlines


Asian families say they feel invisible when dealing with BPS – Boston Globe

Brockton District Court closed after employee tests positive for Covid – Brockton Enterprise


Zack Ortiz Hernandez, son of Worcester city councilor, killed on Oklahoma highway – Telegram & Gazette

Framingham’s director of public health to take medical leave – MetroWest Daily News

Travel restrictions leading Canyon Ranch to close for three months – Berkshire Eagle


Louisiana congressman-elect dies of Covid – Politico

Georgia signature audit finds no fraud in presidential election – The Hill

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