Happening Today

Walsh confirmation hearing, state’s official dinosaur, and more

U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions holds a hearing on President Joe Biden’s nomination of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh as labor secretary, Washington, D.C., 10 a.m..

— Auditor Suzanne Bump will hold a virtual meet-and-greet and briefing to get newly-elected legislators up to speed on the work of the auditor’s office, 10 a.m.

— State Rep. Jack Lewis holds a livestream event with the Museum of Science to announce which dinosaur he will propose as the state’s official dinosaur, 4 p.m.

— MBTA staff host a virtual public meeting to discuss the South Coast Rail expansion project in Taunton, where the T will build a new East Taunton Station, 6 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: 53 new deaths, 14,415 total deaths, 2,186 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Bad timing: A day before Senate confirmation hearing, Walsh puts new BPD commissioner on leave over domestic-violence allegations

The timing couldn’t have been worse. A day before his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing to become President Biden’s new labor secretary, Mayor Marty Walsh yesterday was dealing with a major local controversy over past domestic-violence allegations against newly appointed Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White, who was quickly put on leave after the Boston Globe started making inquiries about White’s past. The Globe’s Andrew Ryan and Dugan Arnett have more.

Boston Globe

Council votes to nix special mayoral election – assuming Walsh leaves for D.C.

They did it. The Boston City Council yesterday voted to forgo a special city election for a new mayor after/if Marty Walsh leaves office to take a cabinet post in the Biden administration. GBH’s Adam Reilly has more. The special-election decision is expected to win home-rule passage on Beacon Hill.

In other mayoral-election news, Universal Hub reports there’s another candidate seeking office – someone you’ve probably never heard of since he’s a political newbie. From the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter: “Boston acting-mayor-in-waiting Kim Janey reports $0.00 raised in January.” And, finally, from the Globe’s Joan Vennochi: “In the race for mayor of Boston, COVID-19 may prove to be the toughest opponent.”


They’ve had enough: Lawmakers to step up pandemic oversight amid vaccine ‘shortcomings’

They’ve seen and heard enough. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Nearly a year into the public health crisis and with frustration over the Baker administration’s vaccine plan rising, legislative leaders have decided to step up their involvement in the state’s COVID-19 response.”

The involvement involves creating a trio of new standing committees that will focus on pandemic “emergency management, racial equity, and cybersecurity.” House Speaker Ron Mariano is being pretty blunt about the Baker administration’s “communications and operational shortcomings” in the early days of the vaccine rollout.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Baker on recent rollout decisions: ‘I do not apologize’

He’s frustrated with the vaccine rollout too. He understands people’s concerns. But Gov. Charlie Baker, before lawmakers announced yesterday they planned to step up their oversight of the coronavirus crisis, was defiant on the decisions he’s made: “I do not apologize.” CBS Boston has more.

CBS Boston

Meanwhile, Baker administration quickly rescinds offer of reduced prison sentences in exchange for inmates getting shots

No apologies here. Just a quick nip in the policy bud. From Steph Solis at MassLive: “Days after Massachusetts prisoners were offered the possibility of reduced prison sentences for getting vaccinated, the Baker administration has taken that proposition off the table.”

Three questions for DOC memo writer: Hello? Anyone there? Hello?


About time: State redirecting unused vaccines to older residents and high-risk communities

Stung by criticism of a slow and uneven vaccination rollout, the Baker administration is now redirecting “large quantities of unused vaccine doses” sitting in hospital freezers etc. to people who really need vaccinations, i.e. older residents and those in at-risk communities, reports the Globe’s Robert Weisman and Travis Andersen.

We’ll leave it to the Globe to explain why hundreds of thousands of doses have previously sat unused. It’s complicated – but, as we’ve said before, it’s not that complicated. Anyway, the type of places where officials hope to redirect the doses? Roxbury’s Reggie Lewis Center, where local residents will now be able to get shots on “neighborhood days,” as part of an attempt to vaccinate people in minority communities, not people coming in from non-minority communities, as CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt reports.

Boston Globe

OK, now vaccination sites are starting to roll out across the state

The Baker administration has plans for more mass-inoculation sites around the state. But municipal governments aren’t waiting. Here’s the latest sampling of what individual towns and cities are doing when it comes to getting shots in the arms of their residents, starting with WCVB: “Frustrated by state vaccination system, city opens own call center for appointment help.” … From the Herald News: “Southcoast Health to open three public vaccine sites in Fall River, New Bedford area.” … From SHNS: “Vaccines at Braintree Town Hall Offer “Freedom Again.” … From the BBJ: “Tripadvisor HQ to serve as community vaccination center.”

This wasn’t supposed to happen: State’s tax haul last month far surpassed even pre-pandemic levels

OK, we’re no longer talking about state tax collections beating lower pandemic-era revenue projections. We’re now talking about monthly tax collections far exceeding pre-pandemic levels, almost as if the pandemic never existed. SHNS’s Colin Young has the latest on the remarkable rebound – and more – in state finances.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Neal: Biden tilting toward ‘targeting’ of relief money

Though the state’s tax collections are better than expected, the  state and individual residents could definitely use more money due to recent huge losses. And U.S. Rep. Richard Neal says the Biden administration is now “more open to targeting” relief money to those most in need, reports Zoe Matthew at GBH.

Here’s something U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley want Biden to target: student loan debt. The Globe’s Victoria McGrane has more.


Moulton: So where’s the Republican Party’s patriotism now?

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton is still seething over the time Republicans sent him and other Democrats American flags, in effect questioning their patriotism. Now Moulton, post-U.S. Capitol riot and rampant QAnon craziness, is asking at the Globe: Where’s the GOP’s patriotism?

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern is upset that some Republicans are resisting security checks at the U.S. Capitol, saying ‘rules apply to us, too,’ as Benjamin Kail reports at MassLive.

No thanks: Taunton City Council roundly rejects resolution condemning Capitol riot

Too divisive? The Taunton City Council easily defeated a motion to adopt a resolution condemning the Jan.6 U.S. Capitol riot, with most members saying the measure would only further inflame an already divided community. Susannah Sudborough at the Taunton Gazette has all the details. 

Taunton Gazette

Multi-family housing districts are on the way in Mass.

There’s not a lot of details, but state officials are beginning to issue broad guidelines about what communities should expect when it comes to new “multi-family housing districts” near transit stations. SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) has more on the new transit-oriented housing requirements recently passed by lawmakers.

GameStop’s ‘Roaring Kitty’ now facing steep trading losses and Bill Galvin

Our very own GameStop ringleader, Keith Gill, aka ‘Roaring Kitty,” now has two problems to contend with: 1.) a one-day $13 million loss in stock value (MassLive) and 2.) Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who’s now looking at what Gill did and when while working at MassMutual, among other things (New York Times).

Trip away: Cambridge joins Somerville in move to decriminalize ‘magic mushrooms’

Hey, wait up. A month after their counterpart in Somerville took a similar action, the Cambridge City Council on Wednesday voted 8-1 to direct police to all but ignore possession of psychedelic mushrooms and other psychoactive plants, Marc Levy at Cambridge Day reports.

Cambridge Day

Jackie Kennedy’s secret visit to White House eight years after JFK’s assassination

Want to escape to a time when political leaders and players actually went out of their way to come across as civil and gracious toward political opponents? Then read this moving piece by the Washington Post’s Michael Ruane about Jackie Kennedy’s secret visit to the White House, her two children in tow, eight years after her husband’s assassination. Her tour guides: Pat and Richard Nixon.

Reading this story, it’s impossible not to think about the true ugliness we’ve recently witnessed in D.C.

Washington Post

Fresh start: Vineyard Wind back at front of permitting line

New administration, new hope. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says it will move to promptly restart its review of the Vineyard Wind project, leaving it poised to become the first fully operational commercial offshore wind farm as soon as 2023, Colin Young at State House News Service and George Brennan at the Martha’s Vineyard Times report.

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

Sybrina Fulton – The Purpose of Power: We Are All Trayvon – Lowell Lecture

The Boston Public Library welcomes Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, for an online conversation moderated by BPL President David Leonard. This program, presented in partnership with GBH Forum Network, is part of the Lowell Lecture Series sponsored by the Lowell Institute and the BPL’s Repairing America Series.

Boston Public Library

Just Mercy: The Work of the Equal Justice Initiative

The Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, founded in 1989 by Attorney Bryan Stevenson, is committed to racial justice and works on ending mass incarceration, economic justice, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable. EJI may be best known for the book and movie, Just Mercy, and for its lynching memorial, called the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Waltham Public Library

Black History Month Celebration: Three Contemporary Black Women Inventors

Three African American women inventors, Dr. Aprille Ericsson, Dr. Ayanna Howard, Dr. Arlyne Simon, will be celebrated in this Black History Month Celebration.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The Coronavirus Exposes America’s Public Health Crisis: Racism

Corona-virus, Pandemic, Race. The Covid-19 pandemic is the most devastating health issue of this century. It has disproportionately impacted African Americans and other marginalized populations, heightening awareness of racism as the root of America’s public health crisis.

Museum of African American History

Bill Kristol: Is the Future “Grand” for the Grand Old Party? What Happened?

Join for an in-depth analysis of the future of the Republican Party by passionate Conservative, never-Trumper Republican, William Kristol. Kristol was a political analyst at Fox News but switched to the news division of ABC. Prior to his career in journalism, Kristol was a Professor of Political Philosophy at Harvard University where he received his BA, MA, and PhD.

Jews United for Democracy and Justice and Community Advocates

Economic Outlook & Recovery 2021

Keynote speaker Michelle Meyer, Head of U.S. Economics for BofA Securities, will provide her perspectives and economic outlook for 2021 along with addressing current national economic data/trends, issues related to unemployment and the impact on certain key industry sectors.

Worcester Business Journal

Virtual Film Screening & Panel Discussion | PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice invites you to a virtual film screening of the feature-length documentary, PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools.

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

19th Suffolk District Forum on Energy and the Environment

Join ELM and co-sponsoring partners for a virtual 19th Suffolk District Forum on Energy and the Environment on February 11, 5-6:30PM.

Environmental League of Massachusetts

Today’s Headlines


Somerville gets a new news outlet – Universal Hub

As Final Vote On Electrical Substation Nears, East Boston Residents Say State’s Approval Process Has Left Them Out – WBUR


Easthampton announces emergency rental assistance grants up to $3K per household – MassLive

Marketing firm to assist effort to rebrand Taconic mascot–for free – Berkshire Eagle

Lawrence: Former mayor Rivera endorses Martinez-Dominguez – Eagle-Tribune


GameStop frenzy leaves behind a mess for Wall Street regulators – Washington Post

House Republicans Choose to Keep Liz Cheney in Leadership – New York Times

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