Keller at Large
Lessons of the Trumpster fire
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller writes that Donald Trump’s highly divisive and controversial presidency finally comes to a close in a day – and maybe it’s time everyone, including those in this bluest of blue state, consider how we got here and how we can move forward together, pro-Trumpsters and anti-Trumpsters alike.
Restaurant support and police reforms
— Restaurant workers and Juliet co-owner Joshua Lewin hold pre-inauguration event to show support for the incoming Biden administration’s proposed relief package that would provide support to restaurants, end the subminimum wage and lift the minimum wage to $15 per hour, 21 Union Square, Somerville, 11 a.m.
— Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus holds its annual meeting via Zoom, with featured speaker LaTosha Brown, the cofounder of Black Voters Matter, 6 p.m.
— JP Progressives holds a virtual forum to discuss the debate around police reform efforts, with panelists including Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Fatema Ahmad of Muslim Justice League, Rahsaan Hall of the ACLU, and Carl Williams, a movement lawyer, 7 p.m.
For the most comprehensive list 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.
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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: 52 new deaths, 13,424 total deaths, 13,424 new cases
NECN has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
In case you missed us yesterday …
Check your inboxes from yesterday. MassterList did indeed publish over the holiday, covering subjects such as Gov. Charlie Baker’s vetoing key items in the transportation bill, pre-inauguration security measures at the State House, Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins on the U.S. attorney finalist list and more.
Just a precaution: National Guard troops bolster police as Biden inauguration nears
State officials stress there are no specific local threats of violence ahead of tomorrow’s presidential inauguration of Joe Biden – but, as a precaution, Mass. National Guard troops are now on standby to help the BPD and State Police if troubles arise in Boston, WCVB reports.
Biden’s choice to head SEC gets big thumbs up from Warren
Speaking of tomorrow’s presidential inauguration, the folks on Wall Street and the mutual-fund types in Boston may not be happy about this. But U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is thrilled with President-elect Joe Biden’s pick of Gary Gensler to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, CNN reports. Meanwhile, private equity folks in Boston should be nervous as well. Warren has them in her regulatory sights too, Politico’s Zachary Warmbrodt reports.
Good riddance or thank you, President Trump?
We’re still a two newspaper town in Boston, as evidenced this morning by two prominent pundits’ polar-opposite takes on the end of the Trump presidency. The Herald’s Howie Carr has a wet-kiss “Thanks for everything, Mr. President” column while the Globe’s Joan Vennochi wonders whether Joe Biden can ever “contain the flames lit by Trump.”
One of Walsh’s main challenges as labor secretary: ‘It’s not FDR time’
As Joe Biden’s future labor secretary, Marty Walsh will be facing a host of public-policy challenges, among them reversing many of the Trump administration’s pro-employer policies. But there’s also the problem of Democrats holding only a slim majority in Congress. Meaning: “It’s not FDR time.” The Globe’s Katie Johnston explains.
Teachers, Blacks and others to state: Time to rearrange vaccination priority list
Switching to the pandemic, CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt reports that K-12 educators are pushing for teachers to be moved up on the state’s vaccination priority list, arguing that vaccinating teachers will speed up a return to in-person classes. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Hanna Krueger reports that hundreds of medical professionals are urging the Baker administration to start prioritizing Blacks, immigrants and others living in officially designated community hotspots for vaccinations. And the Herald has its own higher-priority suggestion: Food-supply workers.
It’s not as if the administration hasn’t re-arranged the vaccination priority list in the past, as GBH’s Craig LeMoult reported earlier this week regarding visiting nurses.
State now tracking coronavirus among ‘commercial sex workers’
How did we ever miss this story from the other day? The Herald’s Joe Dwinell reports that the state, in its daily coronavirus testing report, is now counting COVID-19 cases among “commercial sex workers,” a potential “superspreader” category of workers.
MLK celebrations from around the state …
There were almost countless holiday events, speeches and words written yesterday about Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy. Here’s a sampling of MLK Day stories from around the state, starting with a WBUR: “’Stop Being Silent’: On MLK Day, Boston Rallies Call For Racial Justice And Police Accountability.” … From MassLive: “‘What are you doing for others?’: Springfield celebrates legacy of slain civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” … From the Enterprise: “Brockton-area MLK celebrations go virtual.” …From WCVB: “Hundreds of Mass. students honor MLK with service to community.” … From the Telegram: “After turbulent year, call for rest, reflection at MLK breakfast.” … From the Berkshire Eagle: “MLK Day may look different in a pandemic, but passion and service remain.”
MLK Jr.’s timeless thoughts on education
We thought our readers, many of whom work in education, would appreciate a piece in the Washington Post yesterday on Martin Luther King Jr.’s views on the importance of education in America. The first excerpt, written when King was still in college, shows his mind worked at a completely different level even when he was young. More than 70 years later, his elegant words remain applicable to our times.
The municipal tax-lien racket: Legal larceny?
The Globe’s Sean Murphy has a pretty amazing story about how Massachusetts is one of only about a dozen states that allow private companies to take over municipal tax liens and then seek foreclosure – and potentially huge profits – against those who haven’t kept up with their property-tax payments.
This sounds like something property-rights conservatives and help-the-little-guy progressives should be all over. It’s literally a public-private sectors racket. There are other (and more fair) ways for towns to collect unpaid tax bills.
State pardon board recommends a murderer’s sentence be commuted
Not one commutation recommendation in six years? Anyway, from the Globe’s Shelley Murphy: “For the first time in six years, the state Advisory Board of Pardons is urging Governor Charlie Baker to commute a convicted murderer’s life sentence after unanimously concluding that Thomas E. Koonce deserves his freedom after spending 28 years in prison for the 1987 slaying of a New Bedford man.”
Is it asking too much for a little more transparency on Beacon Hill?
A top priority for new Cannabis Commission: Press lawmakers for more diverse pot industry
Speaking of the legislature, the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports that the Cannabis Control Commission, with three new members, is gearing up for a legislative push on Beacon Hill for policies that would make it easier for minorities to get a piece of the legalized marijuana market in Massachusetts.
UMass’s exclusive million-dollar club
The Herald has already taken its whack at the state’s 2020 payroll data. This morning it’s the Globe’s highest-state-earners turn – and it never ceases to amaze how much UMass administrators are paid, with two of them now topping $1 million a year.
Dead skunk found in Weston activist’s mailbox
This clearly stinks. From Nick Soico at the Globe: “A Democratic activist from Weston says her 22-year-old daughter found a dead skunk inside their mailbox Saturday morning, and she doesn’t believe the critter climbed in on its own. Mary Ellen Sikes, a former candidate for the town’s select board and an outspoken activist, said she believes somebody placed the deceased animal inside her family’s mailbox out of political retaliation.”
TCI opponents push other states to nix Baker-backed carbon tax
Citizens for Limited Taxation is back. And the old anti-tax group founded by the late Barbara Anderson is trying to counter Gov. Charlie Baker’s embrace of the Transportation Climate Initiative by appealing to other states not to go along with the carbon-tax idea, reports the Herald’s Erin Tiernan.
Mail it in: Rausch bill would make vote-by-mail a permanent option
The numbers don’t lie. Citing the record turnout in the November election, state Sen. Becca Rausch has filed legislation to make voting by mail a permanent option in Bay State elections, George Rhodes at the Sun Chronicle reports. The state’s GOP party chair is already signaling opposition.
Scrubbed: Advocates hail police reform provision allowing record expungement
It’s a mixed bag. Justice advocates are hailing a provision of the recently passed police reform law that allows people with criminal backgrounds to have multiple charges scrubbed from their records, but say the bar to qualify for expungement remains high, Christian Wade at the Eagle-Tribune reports.
Still painful: South Shore towns keeping close eye on T cuts
Leaders of South Shore cities and towns say they are relieved the MBTA has backed off some of its most drastic service-reduction plans. But they’re not totally relieved. Joe DiFazio at the Patriot Ledger has the details.
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