Happening Today

Governor’s Council, vaccine equity, and more

State Public Health Council meets remotely with an agenda that includes a presentation on preliminary findings from the COVID Community Impact Survey, 9 a.m.

Governor’s Council interviews Quincy attorney John ‘Jack’ Garland for a seat on the Boston Municipal Court bench, 10 a.m.

Environmental activists host a press conference near Gov. Charlie Baker’s Springfield office urging the administration to walk back a proposed rule change allowing biomass energy plants to qualify for clean energy subsidies, 11 a.m.

— A coalition of civil rights and immigrant justice leaders, together with elected officials and public health experts, will launch the ‘Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition,’ with Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Rep. Liz Miranda among the scheduled participants, 1:30 p.m.

— U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks with ‘Radio Boston’ about last week’s impeachment trial and issues facing Congress, WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 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: 49 new deaths, 15,257 total deaths, 967 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

It’s here: First case of South African variant confirmed in Massachusetts

Ugh. The Herald’s Rick Sobey and WCVB have the bad news that will only get worse. 

Coronavirus case and vaccine numbers: Looking better

Setting aside the latest virus-variant news, there are two types of criticisms of the state’s response to the coronavirus crisis — statistical-backed criticism and sound-and-fury-based criticism. As CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl rightly points out, the two don’t always correlate – as the statistics show a slowly improving case-count and vaccine-rollout outlook in Massachusetts while the sound-and-fury criticism increasingly seems off the mark. He takes some jabs at the Globe for engaging in the latter.

Btw, from MassLive regarding the stats: “New COVID cases at pre-Thanksgiving levels as Massachusetts reports 967 new cases, 49 deaths on Tuesday.” Not that everything is hunky-dory. Far from it. Via the Eagle Tribune: “Methuen: No vaccine a ‘slap in the face.’”


State’s congressional members to Baker: Centralize the sign-up system

This is actually a good idea. Calling the state’s current vaccine registration system “disjointed and cumbersome,” ten members of the state’s congressional delegation are calling on the Baker administration to implement a more centralized sign-up system, according to reports at CBS Boston and Boston.com. In other words: We need VaxFinder II (GBH).

But are we the only ones who think members of Congress, even if they’re right on a specific vaccine-related issue, should tread softly when criticizing others for the vaccine rollout in general, considering how they clearly benefited from a botched system they’re now criticizing? Another question: Has Baker gotten a shot yet too? Just wondering.

State launches vaccine program for 20 hard-hit communities

A day after the Globe reported on various vaccination woes in the state’s Gateway Cities, the Baker administration yesterday announced a new vaccine outreach program targeting those in 20 hard-hit communities, such as Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Brockton etc., reports NBC Boston.

NBC Boston

To the rescue: State in line to received $8.2B under Biden relief bill

This should cover a lot of bills. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has gotten hold of projected federal-relief dollars that would flow into various Massachusetts coffers under President Biden’s proposed $1.9 billion stimulus package – and it totals $8.2 billion for state and local governments. The state’s cut of that money: $4.5 billion.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Trouble ahead: Pandemic deepens deficit in unemployment fund

But here’s one area that can’t overflow enough with federal money. The state’s Unemployment Trust Fund could face a $5 billion deficit by the end of the year as systemic problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic and some combination of federal bailout funds and increased taxes on businesses will likely be needed, reports Christian Wade at the Salem News.

Salem News

Another sign of improvement (sort of): Casino revenues continue slow climb back

Slowly but surely. The state’s three casinos generated $58 million in gross gaming revenue in January, a significant improvement from the month before but still well below the $80 million brought in last year just before the pandemic hit, Peter Goonan at MassLive reports. 


And you are there: Janey prepared to make history

After weeks of transition briefings and meetings, it’s now only a matter of days before Kim Janey becomes interim mayor of Boston – and becomes the first Black and female mayor of Boston in the process. CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas has more on the coming historic moment.


Meanwhile, Black and Latino leaders file civil rights complaint over city contracting

There’s racial progress in Boston – and then there’s lack of racial progress in Boston. From the Globe’s Shirley Leung: “A group of Black and Latino organizations filed on Wednesday a federal civil rights complaint against the city of Boston alleging that its public contracting system engages in a pattern of discrimination against Black- and Latino-owned businesses.”

Boston Globe

Not making it in general in Massachusetts: Black and Latino businesses

And then there are these sobering statistics to consider during Black History Month. From Chris Burrell at GBH: “Black and Latino people now make up more than a fifth of the state’s population but own just over 3% of businesses with employees — less than half the national rate of Black and Latino business ownership.”


His next role? Cop-turned-actor launches bid to become Haverhill mayor

This could be a made-for-Hollywood mayoral race. Guy Cooper, a local police officer and part-time movie actor, says he’s running for Haverhill mayor in the November election. Mike LaBella at the Eagle-Tribune reports incumbent James Fiorentini has yet to say if he’ll run again for what would be a city record 10th straight term. 

Eagle Tribune

Lelling’s next role: Jones Day

He’s going private sector. For now. From Reuters at WestLaw Today: “Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, who oversaw the investigation into the U.S. college admissions scandal, plans to join law firm Jones Day when he leaves office later this month, a person familiar with the matter said.” Hmm. Wasn’t Jones Day in the news recently? Yes it was.

Next up on the state subsidies list: Electric trucks

The Globe’s Hiawatha Bray and SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) report that the state is setting aside $10 million in rebates to encourage the purchase of medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks, expanding its electric-vehicle rebate program beyond passenger cars.

Attention Lawrence: New law requires public notification of sewage discharges into rivers

The city of Lawrence and other municipalities will soon have to notify the public each time they dump sewage into waterways, under a new law that Gov. Charlie Baker celebrated yesterday. It’s a small common-sense victory for the environment – and for downstream communities. SHNS’s Katie Lannan has more.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Fall River councilors to school superintendent: Just go

This about as locally embattled as you can get. Members of the Fall River city council are now calling for the resignation of the city’s school superintendent, Matt Malone, who has been accused of “bullying, intimidation and harassment of staff that included foul language and name calling,” reports Jo C. Goode at the Herald News.

Herald News

Police reform law: Stumbling out of the gate

Either the law’s ambitious timetable for implementation was flawed or those charged with implementing the new law are flawed – or maybe it’s both. In any event, the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports the state’s landmark police reform law is already stumbling out of the gate, with the failure to hold the first required meeting on facial recognition technologies. 

Boston Herald

Distracted driving law’s first-year: 20,000 violations

The number would have been higher if it wasn’t for the pandemic and dramatic decline in traveling last year. The Patriot Ledger’s Shaun Robinson reports on the first year (or actually 11 months) of the state’s new distracted driving law – and the 20,000 violations of the hands-free law issued between February and December last year.

Patriot Ledger

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

One Health Approach for Infectious Disease Outbreaks

This virtual meeting from the National Academies’ Forum on Microbial Threats will examine ways to systemize and integrate the One Health Approach as part of outbreak prevention, detection, preparedness, and response efforts.

NASEM Health and Medicine

Cyber-Security and Fraud Protection with Financial Advisor Bradley Baskir

Join Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor Bradley Baskir for this online webinar. This seminar discusses how cyber-crime occurs and how you can protect yourself both online and offline. A Zoom webinar link will be emailed to registrants the morning of the event.

Boston Public Library

Eradicating Systemic Racism in the Government’s Pandemic Response

The webinar is part of the Rothenberg Health Care Law & Policy Speaker Series. The event is free, but registration is required.

Law & Health Care Program at Maryland Carey Law

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


Boston inspection officials on board with permits for residential kitchen businesses – Boston Herald

Do tax-exempt institutions contribute enough money to the city? Councilors want an in-depth review – Boston Globe


Lowell parking, meals and hotel tax revenues down due to pandemic – Lowell Sun

Worcester marijuana dispensary seeks food license – Worcester Business Journal

Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II’s trial postponed again – Herald News


NAACP sues Trump and Giulian over Capitol riots – Politico

Pizzagate’s violent legacy – Washington Post

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