Happening Today

Cannabis and Gaming commissions, Senate rules debate

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey joins the newly formed Massachusetts Renews Alliance coalition to promote the group’s legislative proposals to expand sustainable housing and improve food security, 10 a.m.

Cannabis Control Commission meets and is expected to work through dozens of license renewals, provisional license applications and final license awards, 10 a.m.

Mass. Gaming Commission holds a regular business meeting that may feature a report from the independent monitor keeping an eye on Wynn Resorts and an update on how the state’s gaming centers have complied with COVID-19 restrictions, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate holds a formal session to consider Senate rules, joint rules and emergency rules to govern operations during the pandemic, with most senators participating remotely, 11 a.m..

— Gov. Charlie Baker and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey are billed as special guests at the Endless Possibilities Virtual Gala and Auction, an online version of The Arc of Massachusetts’ annual fundraiser, 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.

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: 82 new deaths, 14,903 total deaths, 1,920 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Now available: Those who accompany elderly to sites can get their own shots

We suspect we’re about to see a surge in volunteerism across the state. The Baker administration yesterday announced that caregivers and other younger types who accompany people 75 and older to COVID-19 vaccination sites can get their own shots at the same time. MassLive’s Steph Solis and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) have more on the state’s effort to boost the vaccination of the elderly. Btw, the headline from Universal Hub: “How to get a Covid-19 shot earlier than you would otherwise.”

Problems persist: Long lines, angry town officials, and more National Guard assistance

SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) provides the latest data showing an overall improvement in the state’s vaccination efforts. But problems still persist, such as long lines of elderly people outside a Danvers vaccination site, as WCVB reports. Gov. Charlie Baker, reacting to reports of recent long lines in Springfield, is urging people to wait in their cars rather than stand in the freezing cold, reports MassLive’s Steph Solis. National Guard medical personnel are now helping out at three mass-vaccination sites across the state, reports CBS Boston.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld reports that frustrated local town officials are criticizing the state for lack of vaccine-rolllout communication and planning. Here’s something that could relieve the vaccination bottlenecks, via GBH’s Mike Deehan: “Natick, Dartmouth Sites Join State’s Vaccination Push.”

‘Twindemic’ averted

Health-care officials in Boston and across the country are breathing a sigh of relief that, at least so far, there’s hasn’t been a flu outbreak on top of the coronavirus outbreak, i.e. a ‘twindemic,’ as Carey Goldberg at WBUR reports.


Teacher unions’ latest move-up-the-list proposal: Vaccinate employees in low-income school districts

They really don’t like the state’s current vaccination-priorities plan. After battling with the Baker administration over when teachers would get vaccine shots, two statewide teacher unions and other labor groups are now proposing a COVID-19 vaccination plan for school employees in 10 to 20 of the state’s high-need districts with large numbers of low-income people of color, reports MassLive’s Melissa Hanson.

It’s actually a sound idea, though, obviously, it would entail bumping others down on the vaccine-priorities list. Which, obviously, would create its own problems, complaints and concerns.


Coronavirus updates: Inmates release debate, asthma sufferers, BC uptick, Peter Pan rentals

There’s a lot of news this morning on the coronavirus/vaccine front, so we’re going with quick headlines and summaries in this post, starting with CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt: “DOC accused of ‘deliberate indifference’ to prisoners.” … And here’s a federal case, via the Globe’s Tonya Alanez: “Man convicted in Boston officer’s bombing death joins surge of prisoners asking for early release.” … From the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Baker says adding asthma to Massachusetts Phase 2 vaccine list is ‘top-of-mind.” … MassLive’s Jim Kinneyreports Peter Pan is converting some of its buses into mobile test and vaccination sites for rent. … From Universal Hub: “BC has another Covid-19 uptick; warns students to knock it off with the parties.” … From MassLive: “New UMass Covid restrictions put some students with jobs in tough spot.” … From the Globe: “The Mashpee Wampanoag had long held COVID at bay. Then, tragedy struck.” … From the Herald: “Baker calls 1,200 wasted coronavirus vaccines a ‘tremendous loss.’”

Six legislative districts shift to ‘majority minority’ status in Massachusetts

The political tectonic plates are shifting in Massachusetts. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “A new analysis shows that the populations of at least five state House of Representatives districts and one Senate district have moved from mostly white to majority-minority, a demographic shift that could have implications when lawmakers draw new district boundaries later this year.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Ex-Rep. Nangle expected to plead guilty in federal fraud case

Facing all sorts of federal fraud charges, former state Rep. David Nangle of Lowell is expected to throw in the legal towel later this month, pleading guilty to charges – though what charges aren’t clear. The Globe’s Matt Stout has more on Nangle’s long list of alleged misdeeds, which include bilking a bank out of $300,000.

Boston Globe

OUI fiasco: 27,000 drunken drivers may be eligible to contest their convictions

How many lives will this cost? Due to flawed state breathalyzer tests, the state’s Trial Court has begun notifying as many as 27,000 drunken drivers in Massachusetts that they may be eligible to contest their cases, reports the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo. In Worcester County alone, DA Joseph D. Early Jr. says more than 4,700 people are entitled to request new trials, WCVB reports.

Attention Kmart shoppers: No more Kmarts in Massachusetts

Another one bites the dust. Massachusetts will soon be Kmart-free now that the Capetown Plaza location in Hyannis is having a going-out-of-business sale, reports Denise Coffey at the Cape Cod Times.

Cape Cod Times

Councilor apologizes after live-streaming deadly shooting aftermath in Boston

She couldn’t resist the social-media impulse, and now she’s apologizing for it. The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports Boston City Councilor Julia Mejia is expressing regret for her recent live Facebook streaming of the aftermath of a shooting in which 32-year-old Brandon Williams was killed.

Boston Herald

Boston mayoral candidates’ dilemma: Defund police or accept their campaign donations?

Well, it doesn’t quite come down to that. But the Globe’s Milton Valencia reports on the balancing act Boston mayoral candidates will face at a time when police reforms are on almost everyone’s mind – and when police unions still carry a lot of political clout.  

Boston Globe

Stiffer penalties urged for public-employee timecard fraud

From Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune: “Public workers who claim hours they didn’t work could be sued in civil court under a new proposal from the state’s inspector general. A bill sent to the Legislature by Inspector General Glenn Cunha would allow state, county, city or town governments to sue employees who falsify payroll records and seek restitution for up to three times the amount of fraudulent wages.”

Eagle Tribune

The millionaires tax post-pandemic: Will it hurt more than it helps?

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports on the new Pioneer Institute study showing employers and workers leaving Massachusetts, now that remote-working has become both necessary and popular during the pandemic. And that leads to, well, do we really want a millionaire’s tax providing another reason for employers and workers to bolt Massachusetts?

Boston Globe

Private sector or public sector: What’s next for Lelling?

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced yesterday he’s officially stepping down, as expected, and he’ll apparently have a “long and distinguished list of suitors” offering him private sector jobs, report the BBJ’s Greg Ryan and Jessica Bartlett. Of course, political types want to know: What elected office might Lelling also be eyeing? He’s previously expressed interest in running for public office one day.


Lawmakers to auto insurers: Give us a break

From Christian Wade at CNHI News: “Lawmakers and consumer advocates are renewing a call to require auto insurance companies to reduce monthly premiums, arguing that the industry has reaped big profits during the pandemic and drivers can use a break on their bills.”


Making history: BC’s Rougeua named first lay and Black president of Holy Cross

The College of the Holy Cross has named Vincent D. Rougeau, dean of Boston College Law School, as its 33rd president, making him the first Black person and first lay person to lead the school in its 178-year history,  Mike Elfland at the Telegram reports. 


Flagged: AG says Danvers official broke open meetings law after Thin Blue Line dustup

The office of Attorney General Maura Healey says Danvers Select Board Member David Mills violated the state’s Open Meeting Law last fall when he emailed the other four members of the board to express support for Town Manager Steve Bartha, who was taking heat from the public after ordering the town’s fire department to remove the Thin Blue Line flags from fire engines, John Castelluccio at the Salem News reports.

Salem News

Global news, local worries: Jailed Myanmar banker has Berkshires ties

Heather Bellow at the Berkshire Eagle reports Bo Bo Nge, an official in the Central Bank of Myanmar who is among 140 people apparently jailed during a military coup, has strong ties to the town of Great Barrington and that his friends and family are desperate for news of his fate.

Berkshire Eagle

Not on call: Lowell’s response to fatal fire hampered again by out-of-service equipment

For the second time in four months, officials in Lowell say the fire engine located closest to a fatal fire was out of service when the blaze broke out. Robert Mills at the Lowell Sun reports the fire on Wednesday morning happened just hours after the city council aired a report from a similar incident in November. 

Lowell Sun

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

What Does It Mean to Be at the Table?

A discussion about systemic racism at the top.

Boston-Suffolk County Family Resource Center, a program of The Home for Little Wanderers

Abraham Lincoln Assassination & Ford’s Theatre – Livestream Program

Our President’s Day livestream history program is on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, April 4, 1865. This program will focus on Abraham Lincoln, the assassination at Ford’s Theatre, including an overview of the site, and Lincoln’s legacy as our greatest president. This is a online/virtual version of our popular in-person tours we host at Ford’s Theatre.

Washington DC HIstory & Culture

Out Here 3: Stories of Homelessness and Transition from the Streets of Downtown Boston

Join the Black Seed Writers Group, including founder and editor John Parker, and the Boston Public Library for another online morning of poetry, protest, prayer, witness, and visionary reportage from the streets and shelter of the city. The Out Here series, created with the BPL to keep these writers in touch with their readership during the pandemic, has been an extraordinary success.

Boston Public Library

Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition

Join us for the launch of Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition, edited by Dr. Michelle Commander. The event will feature readings from the anthology that includes essays, speeches, plays, and more.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Bill Gates – How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

In this livestream event, Bill Gates sets out a wide-ranging, practical and accessible plan for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe. He will explain not only why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal.

How To Academy

Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter

Participants will discuss this book, by Kerry K. Greenridge, who is a Mellon Assistant Professor in the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora at Tufts University where she also directs the American studies program. She lives in Massachusetts.

Boston Public Library

Nate Marshall Presents FINNA

Join us as we celebrate Black History Month with a special poetry reading by Nate Marshall, author of FINNA. Marshall is a writer, rapper, and educator from the South Side of Chicago. He is the author of FINNA, winner of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s award for Poetry Book of the Year, and the Great Lakes College Association’s New Writer Award.

Cambridge Public Library

President Clinton’s Defense Secretary William Cohen: Foreign and Domestic Policy

A Republican Discusses the Future: Former Secretary of Defense Senator William Cohen talks about foreign and domestic policy in the hyper-partisan time. After 32 years of public service, Secretary Cohen leaves behind a record of unparalleled accomplishment, integrity, and respect, and takes with him unrivaled knowledge, reputation, and relationships across America and around the globe.

Jews United for Democracy and Justice and Community Advocates

NASA’s Perserverance Rover Mars Landing

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is nearing its new planetary home. The spacecraft has begun its approach to the Red Planet and on Feb. 18, 2021, Perseverance will blaze through Mars’ atmosphere at about 12,100 mph (19,500 kph), toughing down gently on the surface about seven minutes later.


Stone Social Impact Forum featuring Catherine Coleman Flowers

Acclaimed environmental activist, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, and author Catherine Coleman Flowers, founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, will headline the virtual 2021 Stone Social Impact Forum.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Webinar Series “Africa, Israel, and Their Descendants” Part 1: Zionism & The Civil Rights Movement (Joshua Washington)

]APT is proud to co-sponsor an up-coming webinar series on the closely intertwined history of blacks and Jews. Zionism & The Civil Rights Movement (Joshua Washington).

Americans for Peace and Tolerance

Webinar Series “Africa, Israel, and Their Descendants” Part 2: Ancient Friendship: Africa & Israel (Olga Meshoe-Washington)

APT is proud to co-sponsor an up-coming webinar series on the closely intertwined history of blacks and Jews. Ancient Friendship: Africa & Israel (Olga Meshoe-Washington)

Americans for Peace and Tolerance

Webinar Series “Africa, Israel, and Their Descendants” Part 3: Combatting the Anti-Zionist Blaxploitation & How We Move Forward (Dumisani Washington)

APT is proud to co-sponsor an up-coming webinar series on the closely intertwined history of blacks and Jews. Combatting the Anti-Zionist Blaxploitation & How We Move Forward (Dumisani Washington)

Americans for Peace and Tolerance

Future of Health Care

How will the events and economic impact of 2020 shape what health care looks like in the future? Hear from top industry leaders regarding the changes brought on by the pandemic and who will share their views of the road ahead. What is the prognosis for this key piece of our economy? How is the delivery of care impacted? How will the cost structure change?

Boston Business Journal

Today’s Headlines


Quincy councilors split on back-to-school plan – Patriot Ledger

Local pastors and Black police association cry foul on investigation of Boston police commissioner – Boston Globe


After series of changes, Springfield COVID vaccination site now ‘running smoothly’ after seniors left out in the cold – MassLive

Spencer fairgrounds eyed as mass vaccination site – Telegram & Gazette

Mansfield moderator stepping down after over three decades – Sun Chronicle


Georgia prosecutors open criminal investigation of Trump call – New York Times

Facebook to pilot new ways to reduce political content – Politico

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