Happening Today

Major Storm Watch, Fenway vaccination site, SJC hearings

— The National Weather Service is forecasting a major snow storm starting midday and threatening to bring more than a foot of snow through Tuesday; the Globe has a  preliminary list of storm-related closures and delays.

Fenway Park opens its mass COVID-19 vaccination site today, though the exact time of its opening has changed due to the coming snow storm (see first post below).

Supreme Judicial Court meets to hear virtual oral arguments in five cases, including Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone’s lawsuit against Kirk Minihane alleging that Minihane posed as Globe writer Kevin Cullen and fraudulently obtained Curtatone’s consent to record an interview, 9 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and who says she’s asymptomatic, virtually speaks to the New England Council, 9 a.m.

— The Legislature’s Health Equity Task Force holds a virtual hearing to receive public feedback about health disparities for underserved and underrepresented populations during the COVID-19 pandemic and long-term, 1 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker talks privately with legislative leaders, including Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano, 2 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.

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.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The coronavirus numbers: 46 new deaths, 14,577 total deaths, 2,546 new cases

The Boston Herald has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Storm disrupts vaccination and school re-opening plans

The major snow storm hasn’t even hit the region yet and it’s already wreaking havoc with the schedules for mass vaccination sites in Massachusetts, according to reports at CBS Boston and NBC Boston. Meanwhile, WCVB reports on school and other closings due the coming storm.

Feeling left out: Health centers, primary docs and small pharmacies say they can do more – if the state lets them

With the state struggling with its vaccination-registration rollout, a number of frustrated health-care players are wondering why they’re not being asked to do more on the inoculation front. WBUR’s Martha Bebinger has the community health center angle. At CommonWealth magazine, Todd Brown, director of the Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association, says small pharmacy owners are standing at the ready. And the Globe’s Felice Fryer reports primary care doctors are feeling left out as well.

State’s new vaccine hotline: A ‘call-back system’?

That new vaccination-registration hotline the state plans to roll out soon? The Globe’s Matt Stout and Andy Rosen report it’s likely going to be a “call-back” system, not a direct line to someone who can help right away.

Boston Globe

So which vaccine should you get?

With the welcome news that Johnson & Johnson and Beth Israel Deaconess have developed a third apparently successful coronavirus vaccine (GBH), the question is: Which shot should people get? Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, for instance, isn’t as statistically effective as vaccines being produced by Moderna and Pfizer.

According to an excellent piece at the New York Times: Just get a shot. At minimum, all three of the vaccines will likely reduce, and dramatically so, your chances of coming down with a severe case of COVID-19.


Despite getting two shots, Lynch becomes second delegation member to test positive for virus

First U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan. Now U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, who has tested positive for COVID-19, despite having received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, reports Paul Singer and Amanda Beland. How is this possible? It’s all about the timing and strength of dosages. And no guarantees that they’ll work on everyone. 

Fortunately, Lynch, like Trahan, is apparently asymptomatic, probably/undoubtedly thanks to those previous shots (see NYT piece immediately above).


Front (of the) line: Haverhill weighs opening classrooms full time for children of essential workers

Special roles, special treatment. The Haverhill school board is weighing a plan to allow the children of frontline workers — think police, fire, etc. — to do their remote-learning days in classrooms, a scheme meant to alleviate the pressures of finding child care for students learning at home, reports Mike LaBella at he Eagle-Tribune.

Eagle Tribune

Coronavirus update: Self-testing, child illnesses, UMass Memorial’s front-line battle

Due to the number of coronavirus stories out there, we’re going with quick headlines and summaries in this post, starting with Christian Wade’s piece at the Salem News: “State remains a hotspot for COVID-linked child illness.” … From the Herald’s Alexi Cohan: “On the front lines at UMass Memorial Medical Center: Vaccines offer hope, workers battle fatigue.” … From the Globe’s Laura Krantz: “Frustrated with the government’s virus response, citizens are building their own testing programs. And it’s working.” … From SHNS’s Michael Norton(pay wall): “Diehl: Small biz dictates from government ‘untenable.’” … From WBUR: “’I Was Afraid Every Day’: Mass. Residents Reflect On A Year Of COVID-19.” … And from the Globe’s Dasia Moore: “Historically, crises have lasted longer in Black communities. Bostonians worry that COVID-19 will be no different.”

Clark rips Republicans for supporting crazier-than-crazy Greene

U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark is blasting Republicans for backing the rise within the House of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has created huge controversy for supporting social-media posts advocating violence against Democrats. “They are the party of Marjorie Taylor Greene, and they need to look themselves in the mirror and remember their oath of office,” Clark told WCVB over the weekend.


‘Roaring Kitty’: Meet the Massachusetts man at the center of the GameStop phenomenon

Of course there’s a Massachusetts angle. The Brockton Enterprise’s Mina Corpuz and the Globe’s Anissa Gardizy are laying local claim to Keith Gill, a 34-year-old former MassMutual employee now at the Reddit center of the crazy GameStop stock trading phenomenon.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is telling the SEC to get ‘get off their duffs’ and investigate all the craziness, reports MassLive’s Benjamin Kail. The Jewish Voice sees Warren titling in favor of hedge funds, though we’re sure Warren would beg to differ. How politically confusing is it getting regarding GameStop? From the NYT: “When Ted Cruz and A.O.C. Agree: Yes, the Politics of GameStop Are Confusing.”

Mariano’s silent war against advocacy groups that annoy him

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld says House Speaker Ron Mariano’s recent pronouncement about parliamentary reforms on Beacon Hill suggest anything but his support for reforms. He sees the speaker preparing to go after advocacy groups, such as Act on Mass, Raise Up Massachusetts and Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, that dare to question lawmakers.

Boston Herald

Talking head: Joe Kennedy accepts gig as CNN commentator

Not a bad platform to have if you’re thinking of running for office one day again. A week after launching a new PAC to help Dems register voters, former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III has signed up with CNN as a regular on-air commentator, reports the AP at MassLive the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky

Report: Federal grand jury investigating Methuen police-contract mess

We suspected this would happen sooner or later. From the Globe’s Andrea Estes: “A federal grand jury is investigating whether former Methuen city officials conspired with former police chief Joseph Solomon and one of his captains to hide the true cost of a union contract that would pay exorbitant salaries to senior officers in the department, according to a person with firsthand knowledge.”

Boston Globe

Lawsuit: State Police promotions exam was possibly rigged

TrooperGate. OT-Gate. Now CheatGate? The Globe’s Matt Rocheleau reports on a new lawsuit filed by three State Police lieutenants who allege a recent promotions exam was improperly handled. Their attorney is more blunt about matters, saying there’s “very serious evidence of potential cheating” within the top ranks of the department.

College endowment funds: The rich get richer, the poor get poorer

So how are local colleges’ endowment funds performing during the pandemic? Bottom line: The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, as smaller schools draw on reserves to get through the current difficult times, reports the BBJ’s Hilary Burns.


Scott Brown says he’s ‘disgusted with politics’

He’s not openly criticizing his former boss, ex-President Donald Trump. But former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, back from four years of relative bliss as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, says he’s “kind of disgusted with politics” these days and is calling the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol “outrageous and disgusting,” reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Homeless shelters overrun after fire in Northampton encampment

Homeless shelters in Amherst and Northampton are bursting at the seams after a fire hit a makeshift homeless encampment in Northampton over the weekend, right in time for the worst stretch of winter weather so far this season, Steve Pfarrer at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. 


Added attraction: T now using ‘sign-on bonuses’ to hire top prospects

Are you paying attention, Boston Red Sox? Colman Herman reports at CommonWealth magazine that the MBTA has begun offering “sign-on bonuses” as a way to attract top talent to the beleaguered transit agency. Herman has names and numbers.


So many choices: Lawmakers to tackle a number of mail-in voting proposals

Christian Wade at the Newburyport Daily News reports that the success of expanded mail-in voting during the pandemic is expected to produce perhaps dozens of proposals on Beacon Hill on how to make ballots-by-mail a permanent feature of elections in Massachusetts.

Newburyport Daily News

Reading over their shoulders: DOC to tighten oversight of mail delivered to prisoners

Speaking of mail, CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt reports that the DOC, concerned about illegal drug activity in state prisons, is proposing to expand oversight of incoming mail to non-maximum security correctional facilities – including the correspondence from attorneys. And one day it envisions possibly scanning in-coming letters and electronically delivering them via tablets.

Sox and developer swing for the redevelopment fence

As the lyric little bandbox known as Fenway Park is currently turned into an emergency mass vaccination site, WS Development, along with the Red Sox, are hoping to completely transform the neighborhood immediately surrounding Fenway Park, with plans for eight new buildings to replace the area’s mostly low-rise properties, reports the BBJ’s Catherine Carlock.


(Almost) everything must go: Coast Guard-themed bar sells memorabilia to balance books

File this under: Desperate times … Jo’s Nautical Bar, a Coast Guard-themed establishment in Hull which has been closed for business since last March, has taken to auctioning off much of its extensive collection of nautical memorabilia in a bid to tread water until better times return, Wheeler Cooperthwaite  at the Patriot Ledger reports 

Patriot Ledger

Defense Project Series: The Future of U.S. Forces in Europe

Come join us to hear LtGen (Ret) Ben Hodges discuss the benefits of U.S. Forces remaining in Europe, his insights on the NATO alliance and the value of the U.S. and allies keeping forward presence with troops in the Baltics and Black Sea region.

Harvard Kennedy School

Human Rights and the Future World Order

Speakers include Hina Jilanni, former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders; Samuel Moyn, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence, Yale Law School and Professor of History, Yale University; Zeid Ra’ad, Perry World House Professor of the Practice of Law and Human Rights, University of Pennsylvania.

Harvard Kennedy School and Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The Negro Leagues: 100 Years Later

The Negro Leagues: 100 Years Later A dialog on race and baseball in the state of Massachusetts.

Museum of African American History

Social Media for Government Agencies and the Public Sector: Everything You Need to Know but are Afraid to Ask, a Digital CP

Come learn the basics of the Social Media platforms and how you can use them effectively to achieve your goals. Whether you’re a Tik Tok influencer or just learned that the symbol # isn’t a “pound sign”. This workshop is open to all levels.

Harvard Kennedy School

McCormack Graduate School Racial Equity Task Force (MRET): Racial Justice and Defunding the Police in Massachusetts – Planning for POST: Peace, Officers, Standards for Training Bill

Join the McCormack Graduate School Racial Equity Taskforce (MRET) for a conversation with MA State Representative Nika Elugardo. Find out more about MRET here: https://mccormack.umb.edu/special-projects/mccormack-racial-equity-task-force-mret

UMass Boston: McCormack Graduate School

Safe Harbor: Boston’s Maritime Underground Railroad

During the years preceding the American Civil War, Boston served as one of the most important stops on the Underground Railroad. Did you know that many of the fugitives escaping from enslavement came to Boston by stowing away on ships from southern ports? This program explores the untold stories of men and women making daring escapes to freedom through Boston Harbor.

Boston Public Library

Virtual Author Talk: The Remarkable Rise of Vice President Kamala Harris

Virtual author talk with Dan Morain, author of the new biography: Kamala’s Way

The Friends of the Tewksbury Public Library, Libraries Working Toward Social Justice, and the State Library of Massachusetts

One of the Good Ones: An Author visit with Maika & Martha Maritza Moulite

Maika & Maritza will talk about their new book, One of the Good Ones, and will then be available to answer audience questions about writing as a team, where they find inspiration for their stories, and more.

Boston Public Library

WAPPP Seminar Series: The State of Women’s Participation and Empowerment: New Challenges to Gender Equality

Pippa Norris, Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at HKS, will speak on the overarching picture of the state of women’s participation and empowerment in public life.

Harvard Kennedy School

Cooperative Coercion: Explaining (Un)Reliability of State-Sponsored Armed Groups

This seminar examines how states control proxy non-state armed groups they sponsor in foreign civil wars. It outlines the tools available to state sponsors to shape the behavior of proxy groups, why states choose some tools over others, and why some of those tools do not work as intended. Register for the Zoom link.

Harvard Kennedy School

Janice P. Nimura – The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women – and Women to Medicine

As part of our Repairing America Series, join us in partnership with American Ancestors/New England Historic Genealogical Society (AA/NEGHS) and the GBH Forum Network for a discussion about women in medicine, revealing the remarkable lives of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in America to receive an MD in 1849, and her younger sister Emily, an even more brilliant physician.

Boston Public Library

Today’s Headlines


Boston Teachers’ Union says concerns remain ahead of Monday reopening – Boston Herald

Cloud-software firm Veeva plans to add 200 jobs in Boston over the next 18 months – Boston Globe


Should Dighton fly gay pride flag at Town Hall? Residents weigh in – Taunton Gazette

Former NFL player Omar Easy to lead Wayland Public Schools as superintendent – MetroWest Daily News

Voting groups push to expand mail-in balloting – Salem News


77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election – New York Times

Dodger Stadium’s COVID-19 vaccination site temporarily shut down after protesters gather at entrance – Los Angeles Times

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