Happening Today

Capacity limits, MBTA meeting, and more

— Under new pandemic orders issued by Gov. Charlie Baker, business capacity limits will increase today.

— The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board holds a virtual public meeting to hear updates on capital investment plans, safety measures, the agency’s budget outlook and a long-term fare transformation project, 12 p.m.

Health Equity Task Force holds a virtual hearing to receive testimony on public findings that address health disparities for underserved or underrepresented populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker talks privately with Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Ron Mariano and other State House leaders, 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.

The coronavirus numbers: 76 new deaths, 14,698 total death, 3,004 new cases

Mass Live has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Return to sender: Baker proposes amendments to climate bill

As expected, Gov. Charlie Baker has returned the recently passed climate-change bill to lawmakers, with suggested amendments tied to overall emission reductions and municipal emission powers, among other changes. But the governor sounded more conciliatory and flexible in his note to lawmakers and even retreated on an offshore wind proposal, according to reports by SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall), the Herald’s Erin Tiernan and and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl.

Revealing gaffe: Baker climate official says emission policies must ‘break’ the will of consumers

Speaking of climate change, is this a classic example of the Michael Kinsley definition of a political gaffe or not? Gov. Charlie Baker late last week was distancing himself from a video of his undersecretary of climate change saying the administration needs to “break” the will of motorists and homeowners in order to achieve substantial carbon emission reductions in the future. The video was released by the conservative Mass Fiscal Alliance, report the Boston Herald and SHNS and CommonWealth magazine.

While Baker says Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides will have a stern talk with David Ismay, the question is: Was he merely muttering a truth that politicians don’t want to admit, i.e. it was a classic Kinsley gaffe? After all, the entire concept behind carbon pricing and price-per-miles-driven and congestion pricing etc. is, well, about applying pricing pressures to change the behavior of consumers. Right? 

Treasurer Goldberg quarantining after positive COVID test

Two members of the state’s congressional delegation have tested positive for COVID-19. Now Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has tested positive and is currently quarantining, according to reports at WCVB and SHNS (pay wall). The treasurer is monitoring her condition and plans to work remotely from home, her office says.

UMass Amherst on high coronavirus alert

UMass-Amherst is now in lockdown mode as a result of a major spike in coronavirus cases on campus, reports NBC Boston.

NBC Boston

Businesses band together to push for childcare and early-ed solutions

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports a new coalition of businesses – including Eastern Bank, MassMutual and the Boston Globe – is planning to pressure government officials to step up efforts to reopen childcare and early-education programs that are critical to employees – and thus critical to their businesses and the economy.


Step aside, Charlie: Arlington mom thinks she can build a better vaccine website

The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky and Sean Philip Cotter report that lawmakers aren’t exactly impressed with the Baker administration’s rolling out of a new call-center to handle the flood of frustrated seniors looking to get vaccine appointments.

An Arlington mom and software engineer thinks she has a better idea: Build a completely new and less confusing website to help people register for shots. And that’s exactly what she’s doing, reports Kaitlin McKinley Becker and Abbey Niezgoda at NBC Boston. And she’s already raised big bucks for the effort, reports the Herald’s Erin Tiernan.

As the office market goes, so goes the city of Boston’s finances

The post-pandemic office outlook isn’t just about how much building owners might lose if tenants don’t return to offices in droves. It’s also about how much the city of Boston might lose in property taxes if office valuations tumble, report the BBJ’s Greg Ryan and Gintautas Dumcius.


Stimulus relief update: Neal and other Dems propose $3,000-per-child benefit

Forget the $1,400 or whatever stimulus checks they’ve been bandying about in Washington. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and other Dems are now proposing to send American families at least $3,000-per-child a year, in monthly installments, as part of an overall effort to stimulate the economy, reports MassLive’s Benjamin Kail.


Former Sen. Downing launches bid for governor

And they’re off. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan and Matt Murphy: “Democrat Ben Downing, a former state senator who went on to work in solar energy, is announcing Monday that he’ll run for governor in 2022, mounting a campaign he said will aim to infuse state government with a sense of urgency.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Meanwhile, is Diehl recruiting himself to run for governor?

Speaking of future elections, SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) reports that former state Rep. Geoff Diehl is stepping down as finance committee chair at the state Republican Party to “focus on recruiting new candidates and helping to organize fundraisers.” We assume some of the recruiting efforts will entail a good talking to himself, since Diehl is reportedly eyeing a run for governor in 2022.

Mayoral election update: Barros poised to go for it

Now it’s John Barros, Boston’s chief of economic development and former mayoral candidates, who appears set to run for mayor, reports the Globe’s Meghan Iron. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports state Rep. Jon Santiago said over the weekend that he’ll make an announcement in a couple of weeks about whether he’ll run or not.

The Globe’s Shirley Leung spots the glaringly obvious: No white males have announced they’re running, raising the probability we’ll soon have a non-white-male permanent mayor in Boston.

Black-owned businesses in Boston: The minus one percenters

Blacks make up about a quarter of the people in Boston. But black-owned businesses get less than one half of one percent of the prime contracts issued by the city of Boston, according to a new city-commissioned study, as Chris Burrell reports at GBH. Anyone care to argue there isn’t something wrong with this?


Shot down: Judge tosses most of lawsuit against Whole Foods over BLM mask

A federal judge has tossed out the majority of a discrimination lawsuit filed against Whole Foods after the grocery store sent home employees who wore Black Lives Matter face masks to work, Wheeler Cowperthwaite at the Patriot Ledger and Kevin Shalvey at Business Insider report. 

Can you believe it? Lawyer says Capitol putschist stiffed him on fees

A true outrage on top of an outrage. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports that a Pittsfield lawyer who represents a Malden man charged with storming the U.S. Capitol last month wants to “disappear” from the case because his client is a cheap bum on top of being an accused insurrectionist.

In other putschist news, also via Universal Hub: “Guy in Sox hat sought for attacking media during failed Capitol coup.”

Universal Hub

Rollins on record-keeping: Can we please join the 21st Century?

Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins has calculated all the hours spent by her office personnel transcribing info from paper to digital databases – and it’s all a “massive waste of human capital,” Rollins says. SHNS Katie Lannan has more.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

There they go: Three more homes devoured by beach erosion in Sandwich

Here’s a local problem that officials hope fed dollars can fix: Beach erosion in Sandwich, which lost another three homes as a result of last week’s nor’easter, reports Mary Blake at GBH.


One more try: Baker again seeks to limit sick pay for state workers

From Christian at the Salem News: “Gov. Charlie Baker is making another attempt to cap expanding sick time banks for state employees that have taxpayers on the hook for tens of millions of dollars. Baker’s plan, tucked into his preliminary $45.6 billion budget, would limit a vast number of state employees to accruing 1,000 hours of sick leave, or about six months’ worth.”

Eagle Tribune

Off track: Town considers buying fairgrounds after Suffolk Downs drops racing plan

Now what? The owners of Suffolk Downs have abandoned a plan to invest $20 million into the Great Barrington Fairgrounds in a bid to revive live thoroughbred racing in the state–and local officials are now considering whether the town should buy the abandoned track and surrounding property. Heather Bellow at the Berkshire Eagle has all the details. 

berkshire Eagle

On your mark: Brockton atwitter over GameStop mastermind’s indoor track pitch

They really like it. Brockton athletes, coaches and residents are hoping city native Keith Gill, who gained instant fame for his recent role leading online investors in the GameStop stock-short squeeze, makes good on his suggestion to the Wall Street Journal that he’d use some of the proceeds to build an indoor track for the high school, Mina Corpuz at the Enterprise reports. 


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

2021 Economic Outlook

Join us for this MassEcon overview of the state of the Massachusetts economy. This year’s overview and panelist discussion is more timely than ever, as it is set against the backdrop of the deep impact of the pandemic on the state, national, and global economies.


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


Walsh allocates some police OT money to help ‘first generation’ home buyers – Boston Globe

Boston City Council mulls residential kitchen permitting – Boston Herald


Hollywood films boost SouthCoast economy – Standard-Times

Third Pittsfield councilor says they won’t try for another term as prospective candidates emerge – Berkshire Eagle

Despite chief’s claims, Worcester investigated racist police incidents – Telegram & Gazette


How Democrats Found Thousands Of New Voters And Flipped Georgia’s Senate Seats – NPR

Microsoft ends donations to lawmakers who refused to certify election – Axios

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