Keller at Large

Charlie Baker’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller notes that Gov. Charlie Baker, just like Alexander in the classic children’s book, had a ‘terrible, horrible, no good, very bad’ time last week with the vaccination-registration rollout. But don’t short this governor. Good times may lie ahead. Jon explains.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

PRIM committee, Safe Communities Act, and more

Pension Reserves Investment Management Board Investment Committee meets to vote on asset allocation recommendations, with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairing, 9:30 a.m.

— Lawmakers and others hold a press conference to announce the refiling of the so-called Safe Communities Act, which would limit local and state law enforcement participation in federal immigration enforcement, 1 p.m.

UMass Boston McCormack Graduate School Racial Equity Task Force hosts a virtual conversation with Rep. Nika Elugardo on racial justice, 3:30 p.m. 

— The Legislature’s Health Equity Task Force holds its second virtual hearing in as many days, this time focused on equity and health equity data and dashboards, 3:30 p.m.

— Lawmakers, firefighters, and health and environmental advocates host a virtual event to celebrate a new state law banning the use of certain flame retardants in common household products, 4 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.

The coronavirus numbers: 30 new deaths, 14,317 total deaths, 2,270 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, including the state surpassing 500,000 cases since the pandemic began a year ago.

Baker and Walsh: Setting aside the snow blizzard, it’s going to be a ‘good’ week

OK, we’ve survived yesterday’s storm and its disruptions of schools, businesses and the state’s emerging vaccination program. But Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh think the rest of the week should go rather well, at least when it comes to the rollout of new vaccination sites after last week’s inoculation-registration debacle. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and the Herald’s Alexi Cohan and Rick Sobey have more on the vaccination improvements Baker and Walsh see coming.

Reaching out: Cape task force will call 50K seniors ahead of vaccination briefing

They’re thinking ahead. Even though the state isn’t even close to vaccinating those 75 years and older, the Cape Cod COVID-19 Response Task Force says it will make automated phone calls to some 50,000 Cape residents over 65 ahead of a briefing meant to smooth the rollout of the next phase of vaccinations, Cynthia McCormick at the Cape Cod Times reports. 

Cape Cod Times

So what’s behind the recent decline in virus cases? No one’s quite sure

The Globe’s Dasia Moore reports on what may have caused the recent welcome decline in coronavirus cases in Massachusetts. Was it the Baker administration’s new holiday-season restrictions? The social-distancing actions by towns, cities and individual people? Yeah, sure, probably, a little of each. But keep in mind: virus cases are starting to decline across the nation, with all the varied responses, and so … just keep doing whatever you’ve been doing, folks.

Boston Globe

Trahan: ‘Zero chance’ that GOP will delay Dems on stimulus bill

Even though the Biden administration is talking with moderate Republicans about a possible compromise on another federal relief package, U.S. Reps. Lori Trahan and Katherine Clark are among Democrats who appear to be in a non-compromising mood when it comes to the stimulus bill, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) and GBH’s Joe Mathieu, respectively.

Unemployment checks: They aren’t in the mail

The Globe’s Katie Johnston has an update on the ongoing (and somewhat mysterious) problem of people not getting unemployment checks, even though Congress recently approved new UI funds for millions of Americans. But here’s some good news on the jobless claims front, via CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt: “Glitch resolved for immigrants seeking unemployment insurance.”

Is it really clear confirmation sailing for Walsh?

As the Globe’s Joan Vennochi points out, some conservative groups are gearing up to oppose the nomination of Mayor Marty Walsh as President Joe Biden’s labor secretary, citing early labor-related scandals during Walsh’s tenure as mayor. Vennochi thinks Walsh, who faces a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, is getting a bad rap on this one.

Boston Globe

New Boston police commissioner vows to complete reforms

Speaking of city government leadership changes, GBH’s Adam Reilly reports on the swearing in yesterday of Boston’s new police commissioner, Dennis White, who replaces now ex-commissioner Bill Gross. And White is vowing to implement recently recommended reforms at the BPD.


As Mass. loses rich residents to states with no income taxes …

The Herald’s Joe Dwinell and the Globe’s Jon Chesto report on a new Pioneer Institute study that says Massachusetts is losing wealthy residents to states with no incomes taxes, such as New Hampshire and Florida. And with them has gone more than $20 billion in wealth over the decades. 

… developers wonder who will occupy office buildings in the future

Sure, Amazon recently committed to hiring 3,000 additional tech workers in Boston. But other employers are busy downsizing their office requirements in the city, following the proven success of remote working during the pandemic, and now office building owners are very worried about the future of office towers here and elsewhere, reports the Globe’s Tim Logan.

Baker’s new ally on the climate-change bill: Building trade unions

This is interesting. SHNS’s Colin Young reports trade unions are nervous, as are Gov. Charlie Baker and developers, about a provision in the Legislature’s recently passed climate-change bill that would allow cities and towns to impose eventual “net-zero” building codes on future developments.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Meanwhile, it’s Baker versus big pharma over drug costs

CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports on the feud between the Baker administration and the pharmaceutical industry over the governor’s latest proposal to penalize companies that overcharge for drugs. At stake is $70 million that the penalties could generate for the state.

Speaking of drugs and the governor, from Christian Wade at the Salem News: “Baker makes another push for opioid tax.”


‘Rise of the Barstool conservatives’

Matthew Walther at The Week thinks he’s identified a new species of right-wing conservatives: “Barstool conservatives,” led and inspired by Swampscott’s very own Dave Portnoy. Think of the Howie Carr Show and the old Dennis and Callahan duo and you’ll have an approximate local idea of what Walther means by ‘Barstool conservatives.’

The Week

McConnell says ‘loony lies’ spread by Greene are a ‘cancer’ on GOP

Speaking of conservatives (though not necessarily of the right-wing Barstool variety), this is a national story, not a Massachusetts story, i.e. the crazier-than-crazy mutterings and beliefs of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. But the Georgia Republican is generating lots of criticism these days from multiple directions, including from U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark earlier this week (WCVB) and a Globe editorial this morning.

And now Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has had enough and is stating the obvious: Greene’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories” are a “cancer” on the GOP, the NYT reports.

Flashy: Feds say duo led $100 million health care scam – and one hell of a buying spree

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has charged two Bay State women with running a scheme to defraud MassHealth and Medicare of $100 million and says the feds are moving to seize a Maserati and at least five homes in the Merrimack Valley purchased by the duo, Travis Andersenof the Globe and Michael Bonner of MassLive report.  

Police behaving badly: State trooper arrested on 7 assault charges, ex-transit cop charged with using excessive force

Not a good day for police officers in Massachusetts. The Herald’s Joe Dwinell and Howie Carr report the arrest of a State Police sergeant accused of assaulting his girlfriend in New Hampshire over the weekend. Meanwhile, Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports that an ex-Transit Police officer has been indicted on charges that he used excessive force against a homeless Black man, including pinning the victim down with his knee.

The Speaker’s Team

House Speaker Ron Mariano has quietly assembled a senior office-staff team that includes his old chief of staff when he was majority leader, a holdover from former Speaker Robert DeLeo’s tenure in office, and a new press secretary making the jump from City Hall. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has the details.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Good, not great: Despite pandemic, Amherst says town finances OK

It’s not as bad as they thought. Amherst officials say halfway through the current fiscal year, the town’s tax receipts are largely keeping pace with projections, with one notable exception. Scott Merzbach at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports the town’s transportation enterprise account, which uses parking meter receipts to help fund local bus service, is in dire shape. 


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:

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

How the Turntables Have Turned! A Conversation about Hip-Hop & the Media

Hip-Hop has triumphantly emerged from the underground to take its place in the mainstream of popular culture; the influence of hip-hop extends to television, film, advertising, fashion, media, language, and more. In recent years, there has been a shift in tone in how media outlets consume and present hip-hop to their respective audiences.

Cambridge Public Library

Alone, Lonely, or Just Bored: Preventing Isolation During the Pandemic with Kathleen McInnis-Dittrich, PhD, ACSW

Join with the Boston Public Library in partnership with Beacon Hill Village for this online program. COVID-19 poses special challenges for older adults balancing their safety with the innate need to connect with other people. Dr. McInnis-Dittrich will explore the difference between being (happily) alone with the potentially dangerous state of being lonely.

Boston Public Library

Family Night with the New England Aquarium

Join marine mammal trainers for a life training session with the California sea lions and northern fur seals. Learn about training and what you can do to protect the ocean environment. This program is free and open to the public and is not recorded.

Cambridge Public Library

Today’s Headlines


Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White sworn into office; vows to reform department he now leads – Boston Globe

Marty Walsh announces launch of city of Boston voucher program – Boston Herald


Peabody city council races heating up – Lynn Item

Solar developer fined $1.14M for wetlands damage in Williamsburg – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Nearly one-third of inmates at Norfolk County jail have been vaccinated against Covid – Sun Chronicle


Poor handling of virus cost Trump his reelection, campaign autopsy finds – Washington Post

McConnell says ‘loony lies’ spread by Marjorie Taylor Greene are a ‘cancer’ on G.O.P. – New York Times

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