Happening Today

House leadership assignments, Covid recovery

House Democrats meet in a virtual caucus to ratify House leadership and committee assignments, 2 p.m.

— Massachusetts High Technology Council holds virtual roundtable discussion ‘COVID-19 Recovery & Return to the Workplace,’ with speakers including Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics, and Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 4 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch goes on ‘Bloomberg Baystate Business’ to talk about Mayor Walsh’s nomination for labor secretary, impeachment, stimulus, and his own Covid-19 diagnosis, Bloomberg 106.1 FM, 4:35 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: 61 new deaths, 14,964 total deaths, 2,213 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

‘Disturbing’: Companion scammers take out ads offering to escort elderly to vaccine sites

They didn’t see this coming? Apparently not. Gov. Charlie Baker is warning of “pretty disturbing” reports of people taking out Craigslist ads offering to pay elderly people to accompany them to vaccination sites, where the hired companions are now entitled to get vaccine shots themselves. WCVB and the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky and Erin Tiernan have more on the first day of the administration’s new “buddy system.”

Lawmakers are not happy with the new buddy-system policy and want the Baker administration to end it, reports Steph Solis at MassLive and a three-reporter team CommonWealth magazine. Btw, headline of the day goes to Universal Hub: “Thanks, Charlie: Black market in 75+ seniors springs up for Covid-19 shots.”

The hunt for those elusive leftovers …

Besides companion scammers, there’s another desperate-to-get-a-shot species out there: Those lurking outside vaccination sites hoping there might be vaccine leftovers at the end of the day for non-eligible types. The Globe’s Kay Lazar has more on the “extra” hunters.

Boston Globe

Hospitals fume over shift of vaccines to community sites

WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports that hospitals are upset about a new Baker administration strategy to shift distribution of vaccine dosages away from hospitals and to community public health and mass-vaccination sites around the state. 

Keep in mind: Community public-health departments were previously fuming they weren’t getting enough vaccines. So … it all comes down to the shortage of vaccines and the huge supply-and-demand imbalance out there.


And they’re fuming on the Cape too …

Cape Cod Times’ Cynthia McCormick and SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) report that Cape officials are frustrated and “pretty enraged” with the lack of testing and vaccination sites on Cape Cod.

They’d undoubtedly agree with the ‘F’ grade a Harvard professor is giving the state’s vaccination rollout performance, as the Herald’s Alexi Cohan reports. But many are giving high marks elsewhere, via the Sun Chronicle: “At Gillette in Foxboro, vaccination experience has plenty of fans.”

The vaccine count: Approaching one million shots, roughly 250K of them over the past week alone

Despite all the sound and fury surrounding the vaccination rollout in Massachusetts, the state is indeed making progress. The Boston Globe has a good who-and-how-many shots summary this morning, while MassLive reports that 250,000 vaccines were administered in the last week alone in Massachusetts.

More good news: The number of community hotspots continue to decrease in Massachusetts, reports NBC Boston.

Baker: People who have had COVID-19 should get vaccinated

Just get ‘em. If you can. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski has more.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Judicial restaurant rent relief

It’s too late to help Harvard Square’s Border Cafe, which has officially closed for good, the latest restaurant to bite the dust during the pandemic, as the Herald’s Rick Sobey reports.

Still, a Suffolk County judge has ruled that a Back Bay landlord can’t collect rent that went unpaid during last year’s state-ordered pandemic shutdowns, as the Globe’s Tim Logan and Janelle Nanos report. It’s a “small win” indeed for beleaguered eateries, but it’s still a win.

Boston Globe

RFK Jr. barred from Instagram over false coronavirus claims

His own family has disavowed his anti-vaccination views. Now Instagram is too. The NYT has the details on the social-media giant’s removal of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from its digital-soapbox platform.


Team of firsts: Mariano names his leadership team

House Speaker Ron Mariano may be an old-school male pol, but he’s surrounded himself with two non-old-school female leaders in the House. SHNS’s Matt Murphy and the Globe’s Matt Stout report on the appointment of Rep. Claire Cronin as Mariano’s successor as majority leader, the No. 2 post in the House and the first female to hold the spot. Meanwhile, Rep. Kate Hogan has been named speaker pro tempore, the No. 3 post. Hogan is the first LGBTQ person to hold the position, as Stout notes.

Speaking of legislative power moves on Beacon Hill, via SHNS’s Colin Young: “Senate Creating Committee to Weigh Post-Pandemic Future.” 

Embattled Ismay resigns after ‘break their will’ brouhaha

Gov. Charlie Baker’s climate change undersecretary, David Ismay, resigned yesterday after a week-long controversy over his ‘break their will’ remarks about changing the fossil-fuel consumption habits of consumers. The Herald’s Joe Dwinell and Erin Tiernan and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) have more.

Baker’s reaction to Ismay’s departure? Nothing here to see. Move along. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl has more.  

Pressley to ‘wear a weave’ tweeter: ‘Nope!’

From the Hill: “Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) shut down a Twitter user earlier this week after they suggested the congresswoman, who opened up last year about her experience with alopecia, a condition that can cause hair loss, “wear a weave.” Pressley’s one-word Twitter response: “Nope!”

The Hill

Cameo appearance: House Dems use Baker video and quotes at Trump’s impeachment trial

Charlie Baker made an unexpected cameo appearance at yesterday’s U.S. Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, via a Jan. 7 video in which the Republican governor harshly criticized the storming of the U.S. Capitol the day before – and blamed Trump’s months-long antics for the assault, reports WCVB.


Rollins cleared of road rage by AG, but …

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has concluded that Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins didn’t commit any civil crime during an apparent road-rage confrontation with another motorist at the South Bay Mall in December. But the case has been referred to the state Ethics Commission, Boston 25 News reports. 

Boston 25 News

Report: Baker to file $400 million bond bill for new Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

After agreeing to add more beds to a proposed new Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, the Baker administration is now poised to file a $400 million bond bill to pay for the massive project, reports MassLive’s Stephanie Barry.


Hurry up: Haverhill councilors press mayor on ride-along counselors for police

Feet dragging or financial prudence? Mike LaBella at the Eagle-Tribune reports members of the Haverhill City Council are growing impatient with Mayor James Fiorentini’s refusal to immediately hire a civilian counselor to accompany cops on certain calls, a move the mayor says he supports but needs to wait until the city’s financial picture is more clear. 

Eagle Tribune

Racist Zoom ‘bomb’ instigated by two students of color, official says

A racist tinged “Zoom bombing” of a recent Mount Greylock Regional School District classroom session, it turns out, was the handiwork of two students of color, Scott Stafford at the Berkshire Eagle reports. The district’s superintendent says the revelation doesn’t alleviate the pain felt by victims of the incident, nor does it relieve the district of the need to address racism. 

Berkshire Eagle

Brockton ordinance seeks to expand retail marijuana licenses by 75 percent amid dispute

Not enough? Just make more. Facing lawsuits from a would-be cannabis entrepreneur, the Brockton City Council is weighing a plan to boost how many retail marijuana licenses it can issue. Cody Shepard at the Enterprise reports the council could lift the city’s cap from eight licenses to 14 — the exact number of host community agreements that have been signed with two different mayors. 


Sunday public affairs TV: Ron Mariano, Tim Ritchie, Eddie Glaude Jr.

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: House Speaker Ron Mariano, who talks with host Jon Keller about the troubled vaccination rollout and disputes over return to in-school education.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Museum of Science president Tim Ritchie discusses the reopening of his institution and the safety precautions being take; Bob Luz, CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, discusses the future of the industry; and Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal reviews the top local business stories of the week.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: House Speaker Ron Mariano. who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a political discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: A conversation with Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.

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


Northeastern planning outdoor commencement this spring – Universal Hub

Saugus students to return to in-person learning – Lynn Item


MGM Springfield Casino Resorts reopens hotel and TAP Sports Bar after nearly year-long closure – MassLive

State commission will explore ways to support local journalism – Daily Hampshire Gazette

North Attleboro police chief to retire in June after 33-year career in law enforcement – Sun Chronicle


Managers seek to make GOP think twice about Trump acquittal – The Hill

These people rushed to buy homes during Covid, now they regret it – Wall Street Journal

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