Happening Today

DOT-MBTA meeting, Neal on relief plan, Board of Education

Mass Cultural Council hold first of five public listening sessions with new Executive Director Michael Bobbitt, with sessions focused on specific regions, 9:30 a.m. 

— Attorney General Maura Healey visits a vaccination site run by East Boston Neighborhood Health Center at La Colaborativa in Chelsea to highlight the need for local community sites and the importance of prioritizing racial equity in the vaccine distribution process, 9:30 a.m.

Department of Transportation Board and MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meet individually and in a joint session, with expected discussion on the South Coast Rail and Green Line Extension projects, MBTA bonds, and T ridership trends and projections, 12 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, will hold a press conference to highlight parts of President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, 1 p.m.

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets remotely ahead of its monthly meeting Tuesday to review and discuss potential changes to the career/vocational technical education admissions regulation and waitlist data for vocational-technical schools, 5 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: 46 additional deaths, 15,508 total deaths, 1,316 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Coming soon: VaxFinder II

The big question: Will the new site keep the octopus image if it crashes again? In any event, a three-reporter team at the Globe reports that the state is working on the latest new-and-approved vaccine website, a sort of VaxFinder II, if you will. It doesn’t sound like a more centralized system that some are demanding, but we’ll see.

Btw: Can octopuses point? There sure seems to be a lot of finger-pointing going in the wake of last week’s epic vaccine-website crash, as the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky and Sean Philip Cotter report. Btw II, via the Eagle Tribune: “State data error threatens Methuen clinic.”

Boston Globe

No delays after all: State gets 135,000 doses despite weather disruptions

And they didn’t even need the National Guard. From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “Concerns that the state’s latest shipment of vaccine would be delayed due to harsh weather in the southern U.S. have been put to rest. On Friday, the state announced that enough vaccine doses have arrived so as to avoid disruption in (this) week’s scheduled appointments.”

SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) has more on the surprise development.


‘Assembly-line style’ vaccinations: Are they really the way to go?

Two more mass-vaccination sites will open this week in Massachusetts – in Natick and in Dartmouth, WCVB and the Globe report. But the question remains: Is the Baker administration over-relying on mass vaccination sites, at the expense of more community-based vaccination sites? The Globe has two stories on the ongoing debate, here and then here. Meanwhile, a Boston mayoral candidate is criticizing Baker’s prioritizing of mass vaccination sites, reports WCVB.

Here’s an interesting development: Attorney General Maura Healey is wading into the big-vs-small vaccination fray, with plans to visit this morning a vaccine site run by the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center in Chelsea. See our Happening Today calendar item above.

Newton mayor: More state oversight of Boston College is needed

Another college-town leader is upset. From WCVB: “The mayor of Newton is urging the state to strengthen its oversight of Boston College as the school has experienced a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.”

In Amherst, however, it appears UMass thinks it’s gotten its recent campus outbreak under control, enough to resume in-person classes this week, NBC Boston reports. No word on what local officials think.


‘Vaccine redlining’: Markey and Pressley push for more equitable rollout

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey over the weekend said that lawmakers are seeking $25.2 billion to address vaccination disparities among ethnic groups, reports the Globe’s John Hilliard. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley was holding no punches at the same virtual event, saying more state data on vaccinations is desperately needed to guard against what she’s calling “vaccine redlining,” reports Quincy Waltes at WBUR.

Financial jolts: Unpaid utility bills mount during pandemic

Let’s hope they’re not reaching Texas electric-bill levels. Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune reports unpaid utility bills are indeed piling up for customers during the pandemic — with hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses in Massachusetts racking up record levels of debt.

Eagle Tribune

Baker to attend legislative oversight hearing

He’d get beaten up worse if he refused to attend, so he might as well attend. The Globe’s Emma Platoff and the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky report that, yes, Gov. Charlie Baker will be attending a legislative hearing this week on the state’s rocky vaccine rollout. … To be a fly on the wall at pre-hearing strategizing sessions held by Dems and the governor’s staff.

Baker in 2022: Will he or won’t he?

All the grief Gov. Charlie Baker has recently received/earned over the state’s vaccine rollout has produced a small cottage industry of “will he or won’t he” speculation about his political future. Glen Johnson at Axios marshals all the tea-leaf evidence indicating Baker won’t run for re-election in 2022. SHNS’s Colin Youngreports on a tired-sounding Baker talking about his “longest year” in office, due to the pandemic, and 2022 comes up. And Peter Kadzis at GBH discusses how Baker’s political standing is, for now, in the hands of a techie who needs to fix the state’s vaccine-registration site – and how Dems smell political blood in the water.

Of course, Baker can always take comfort in the fact he’s not A.) Andrew Cuomo (Axios) B.) Greg Abbott (Washington Post) or C.) Ted Cruz (Post).

Operation WAKANDA II: Rallying voters around one Black mayoral candidate

It’s a politically smart idea on paper. But will it work in reality? The Globe’s Meghan Irons reports on an effort by a group of Black leaders, led by ex-Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, to coalesce behind a single Black candidate for mayor of Boston in a crowded primary field. They failed to coalesce in 2013. Will they repeat in 2021? Btw: Irons explains the ‘WAKANDA II’ reference.

Boston Globe

Grave concerns: ‘Green burial’ gains foothold from Berkshires to Cape

They’re giving new meaning to ‘going green.’ A California-based company hopes to open the state’s first large-scale green burial site on 200 acres of wooded land in the town of Florida sometime this year after it quietly earned local approval, Tony Dobrowolski at the Berkshire Eagle reports.

Meanwhile, cemetery officials in Wellfleet recently convened a meeting with neighboring communities to discuss the benefits and potential pitfalls of the practice taking hold on the Cape, Denise Coffey at the Cape Cod Times reports. 

Berkshire Eagle

‘Two Pinocchios’: Kerry’s climate change urgency draws fact-check pushback

He’s overselling and underselling all at once. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler runs a fact check on U.S. Climate envoy John Kerry’s recent claim that the world has nine years to address the climate crisis before it’s too late. Kessler concludes Kerry “somehow managed to both make the task seem less urgent and also more hyperbolic.”

Washington Post

Super Happy Fun America’s forced-fun shtick

The Globe’s Zoe Greenberg and Laura Crimaldi take a look at the Super Happy Fun America group that tries to portray itself as just a bunch of right-wingers out to have a little fun and that critics say is merely “offering people a socially acceptable entry point into extremism.” It sort of reminds us of those forced-fun events at sweatshop companies where no one is truly happy nor having fun.

Primary endorsements battle: Bernie vs Healey and Kennedy for DeLeo’s seat

Who would have thought? The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports on the big-name endorsements swirling around the race to fill ex-House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s 19th Suffolk seat. Bernie Sanders? Yep.

Boston Herald

The Zip and Franny Show, starring Zip and Franny

We’re mildly surprised the media hasn’t picked up more on the curious fact that John ‘Zip’ Connolly, the disgraced ex-FBI agent and enabler of convicted mass-murder Whitey Bulger, has been released from prison to the loving embrace of Francis ‘Franny’ Joyce, the former “lifetime” head of the state convention center authority and longtime Bulger family pal. But the Herald’s Howie Carr hasn’t missed the connection.

Not the Netflix! Lawmakers push to ban caps on how much binge-watching you can do

OK, it doesn’t mention Netflix, Prime, Hulu etc. But a pair of state lawmakers do want to prohibit Internet service providers from capping customers’ data use, under a bill that would also give the state authority to regulate the industry, reports Christian Wade at the Newburyport Daily News.      

Newburyport Daily News

Lawmakers: Decriminalize all drugs, raise soda tax

Speaking of new-session bill filings, from the Herald’s Erin Tiernan: “A bill to legalize drugs across the board and another to tax sugary drinks by up to 24 cents on a can of soda stand out among the thousands filed by lawmakers as they kick off a new session under the pandemic.” We sort of assume the decriminalized drugs would also be taxed.

Boston Herald

‘A triumph:’ Tribe cheers after Interior Department drops appeal in land case

  It’s a start. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is declaring ‘a triumph’ after the U.S. Interior Department said Friday it would drop its appeal of a ruling that gave the tribe the right to construct a casino on ancestral land in Taunton, Jessica Hill at the Cape Cod Times reports. U.S. Rep. William Keating also applauded the reversal of what he called a “heartless” decision by the department during the Trump administration. 

Cape Cod Times

Spare change: Cape Cod Healthcare receives $800K in bitcoin donations

Cash them or hold them? The Globe’s Anissa Gardizy reports on the pretty amazing donations that Cape Cod Healthcare has received of late.

Boston Globe

Salem State University receives its largest gift ever: $6 million

Speaking of donations, Kim Gassett-Schiller et husband, thank you. Tréa Lavery at the Lynn Item reports on the largest cash donation ever received by Salem State University – with most of the money aimed at helping seniors finish their education.

Lynn Item

Mother Tongue: The Philosophy of Malcolm X

Explore the influence of Malcolm X’s mother’s lessons of liberation and resistance and examine his philosophical system. Each year, the Schomburg Centers celebrates the life of Malcolm X during Black History Month, coinciding with the anniversary of his assassination on February 21, 1965.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

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

How Will Brexit Be Remembered?

Join The Spectator’s political editor James Forsyth as he speaks to Robert Tombs, historian and author of This Sovereign Isle, about the historical context that led to Brexit and how the decision to leave will be remembered.

Spectator Events

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 ramps up coronavirus restaurant enforcement, including four suspensions – Boston Herald

Brockton students return to classrooms Tuesday – Brockton Enterprise


City council adopts plan to increase affordable housing in Easthampton – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Developer ends plans to bring new building to downtown Natick – MetroWest Daily News

Sears store at Solomon Pond mall closing for good – Telegram & Gazette


We asked all 50 GOP senators whether they agree with Trump that he won the election. Only 5 responded – CBS News

U.S. Nears ‘Stunning’ Toll of 500,000 Coronavirus Deaths – Bloomberg

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