Happening Today

President’s Day, Green Line project, police reforms

— Today is President Day, with most federal, state and local government offices and schools closed; stock markets and banks are also closed.

— The MBTA starts a year-long project to consolidate four stations on the Green Line’s B Branch into two stations — and for the next 13 months the T will replace trolley service between the Babcock Street and Kenmore stops with buses starting at 8:45 p.m. on weeknights and all day on weekends, 8:45 p.m. 

— The police reform bill Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law requires a 22-member special legislative commission on government use of facial recognition technology to start meeting not later than Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. 

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: 60 new deaths, 15,916 total deaths, 1,820 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

State unveils new and improved website: Vaxfinder.mass.gov

Gov. Charlie Baker has obviously concluded the state’s original vaccination website wasn’t as easy to use as he once touted. GBH’s Mike Deehan reports that state has rolled out a new and (hopefully) improved vaccination-search website – Vaxfinder.mass.gov.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s John Hilliard reports that the state’s COVID-19 call center has expanded to weekends.


DPH: UK virus variant spreading among locals

It’s not a big increase in the number of confirmed cases of the U.K. coronavirus variant in Massacusetts, but it’s an alarming increase, since it seems to be spreading via local transmissions, not from people who have recently traveled in Europe. WCVB has more on the 19 new U.K. cases in Massachusetts.


Mariano: ‘Move teachers to the head of the line’

House Speaker Ron Mariano is jumping into the Baker-vs-teachers-union fray, saying the state should “move teachers to the head of the line” to receive their COVID vaccine, according to a report at CBS Boston. The announcement is not too surprising, considering Mariano is a former teacher and school committee member.

Meanwhile, Mariano also says the administration’s vaccine rollout in general has been a “virtual disaster,” as a three-reporter team at the Herald report. In Everett, they’re having trouble with plans to vaccinate teachers. The problem? The Baker administration says teachers aren’t eligible yet. CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt has more.

CBS Boston

As state says no to funeral-worker vaccinations, it says yes to public medical-examiner shots

Speaking of vaccine-priority lists, file this one under: ‘Do as we say, not as we do.’ The Globe’s John Hilliard and Matt Stout report that while the Baker administration has steadfastly refused to move funeral-home workers higher up on the vaccine-priority list, the head of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has been imploring staffers to hurry up and get shots, damn it.

State has spent only half of its federal relief fund – yet wants more money

The Globe’s Emma Platoff has a good piece this morning about how the state has spent only half of the $2.7 billion it has received via last year’s federal CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. And yet the state is pushing for more money from the feds. So what’s going on? Two budget watchdog groups say it’s actually not a bad idea to go slow on the spending, rather than spending fast and unwisely.

Boston Globe

Mariano: New taxes ‘not on the table’ — for now

Speaking of state finances, House Speaker Ron Mariano says that “right now, taxes are not on the table” as state officials “sort of figure out where we are in our budget, how much we are going to be short,” reports WCVB. But that doesn’t mean other Dems aren’t looking at tax increases on the wealthy, as the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports.


Baker and Cuomo: There go their presidential hopes?

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld seems to be in a cranky anti-Dem/RINO mood this holiday morning, blasting away at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker for their handling of coronavirus matters – while taking shots for good measure at Maura Healey, Marty Walsh and Mitt Romney. No political cowardice on the right to cite? Not one example?

Boston Herald

Collins and Romney among seven lonely Republicans to vote to convict Trump

All of New England’s U.S. senators, including Republican Susan Collins of Maine, voted over the weekend to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, reports WBUR’s Lisa Creamer. And former Mass. Gov. and current U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah also voted to convict Trump, one of only seven Republicans to cast conviction votes that ultimately didn’t matter. Trump was still acquitted. 

The reaction of the state’s all-Democratic delegation to Trump’s acquittal: “Sad day” (WCVB).


Scott Brown: Trump ultimately responsible for Capitol riot

Here’s another local Republican who isn’t happy with Donald Trump. Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator and Trump-appointed ambassador to New Zealand, says he’s “disgusted” with the state of politics. But he’s taking that previously expressed disgust a step further, saying Trump was responsible for ‘what ultimately happened’ on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, reports Hannah Uebele at GBH.


Bannon to local GOP: Trump will ‘lead us in 2024’

Speaking of the former president, this is a pretty zany scenario outlined by a pretty zany strategist who nevertheless has his finger on the pulse of the MAGA movement. From the Herald’s Rick Sobey: “Former White House strategist Steve Bannon told a group of Boston Republicans that former President Donald Trump will come roaring back in 2024, suggesting he may first be elected to Congress, displace Nancy Pelosi as speaker and launch impeachment proceedings against President Biden.”

Boston Herald

Republicans on making mail-in voting permanent: Not so fast

More proof that the MAGA mindset is alive and well in some form, to wit: a small band of local Republicans, including the state GOP’s vice chairman, are opposing efforts to make mail-in voting and same-day registration permanent features of state elections, reports the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter. But a Globe editorial makes clear what the rest of Massachusetts seems to think and will likely get: “Mail-in voting a winner, let’s keep it.”

‘Labor intensive:’ Clerks on Cape cast wary eye toward expanded voting options

They’re wary of expanded voting for different reasons. City and town clerks on Cape Cod say they’re going to need extra resources if legislation proposed by Secretary of State William Galvin to expand early in-person and mail-in voting measures is passed, Beth Treffeisen at the Cape Cod Times reports.

Cape Cod Times

Boston’s Anti-Defamation League joins the manhunt for local Capitol rioters

Using its own extensive database of known extremists, the Anti-Defamation League of Boston is conducting a review of photos from last month’s assault on the U.S. Capitol to help the feds ID and apprehend those with a ‘growing propensity for violence,’ reports MassLive’s Heather Morrison.


Ex-FBI agent and Whitey pal Connolly seeks early release

The AP at WBUR and the Herald’s Joe Dwinell report that ex-FBI agent John “Zip” Connolly, the disgraced former handler/enabler of gangster Whitey Bulger, is said to be dying and wants a medical release from prison so he can die at home. A hearing on the medical request is set for Wednesday.

Developers float idea of floating waterfront homes

We already have a new nickname for the neighborhood if it ever becomes reality: Venice. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports on developers’ proposal to replace a decaying pier at the Charlestown Navy Yard with, among other things, a series of floating homes. The design sketch accompanying the UH post looks pretty cool.

Universal Hub

Census delay throws off timing of state’s redistricting efforts

SHNS’s Michael Norton reports that the U.S. Census Bureau’s decision last week not to deliver critical population data to states until Sept. 30 has thrown a “major wrench into efforts by state legislatures to redraw Congressional and legislative districts this year as is required every 10 years.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

State’s payroll diversity numbers look positive except … in the governor’s office and Legislature

Here’s some good news: State government’s hiring of minorities is strong and more than matches the state’s demographic make-up. But the governor’s office and the Legislature have some work to do when it comes to diversifying their own work-force ranks, reports CommonWealth’s Colman Herman. 


Confirmed: Walsh’s botched BPD appointment was seriously botched

A three-reporter team at the Globe reviewed the process by which Mayor Marty Walsh selected Dennis White at the new BPD commissioner – and found it wasn’t much of a process. And … you know what happened next.

Boston Globe

Walking the beat: Worcester makes 1,800 Covid inspections, issues only 20 tickets

Busy, busy, busy. The city of Worcester’s Covid restrictions enforcement team has made some 1,800 inspection visits since September and issued just 20 fines for noncompliance — almost half of them to a single business, Michael Bonner at MassLive reports. 


Cliff hanger: After strike vote, Worcester nurses bide their time

Not yet. Days after they voted to authorize a strike, nurses at St. Vincent Hospital have yet to walk off the job and Isabel Sami at the Telegram reports the union is both making plans to launch the action and holding out hope for renewed negotiations. 


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

GBH News Forum: The Color of Public Money — A Public Discussion (Virtual)

Join us for the next GBH News Forum. This time, we’re looking at inequities in government contracting and public spending revealed by the work of the GBH News Center for Investigative Reporting in its ongoing series, “The Color of Public Money.”


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

Lunch Hour Live — Codeswitching: Race And Identity In The Suburban Schoolhouse (Virtual)

In an increasingly interconnected and hyper-competitive world, how will future students continue to navigate such intense social contracts while remaining connected to their authentic selves? On this week’s Lunch Hour Live, Sue O’Connell sits down with “Codeswitching” director Jonathan Schwartz and producer Mike Mascoll to better understand the challenges of the METCO system and its impact on students of color.


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.


Poet of the People: The Greatness of Langston Hughes

Join Brent Hayes Edwards, Director of the Schomburg Center’s Scholars-in-Residence Program and Rafia Zafar, Professor of African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, for a conversation about Hughes’s greatness and about his centrality for American literature and the culture of the global African Diaspora. Featuring readings by poets Kevin Young and Tuehimba Jess.

Library of America

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

Virtual Author Talk with Anna Malaika Tubbs

Virtual author talk with Anna Malaika Tubbs, in conversation with L’Merchie Frazier, on Tubbs’s new book, The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

The Boston Public Library, the Museum of African American History, American Ancestors/New England Historic Genealogical Society, and the State Library of Massachusetts

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


Everett plan to vaccinate teachers goes awry – CommonWealth Magazine

With a ‘great hall’ for the Seaport, developer aims to create a truly public destination – Boston Globe


Westborough pair to camp in streets to bring home homeless issue – MetroWest Daily News

Lawrence schools say goodbye to Columbus Day – Eagle-Tribune

Destruction of Silver City Galleria has begun – Taunton Gazette


Trump’s acquittal further polarizes factions within the GOP – Washington Post

Niki Haley’s choice – Politico

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