Keller at Large

Charlie Baker: The political Houdini of our time

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says forget all the talk of Gov. Teflon finally getting dinged for his handling of the vaccine rollout. The latest sky-high polls for Charlie Baker show he’s the political Houdini of our time.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Board of Education, Boston Arts Academy, and more

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets with an agenda that includes a recap of Monday’s special meeting on vocational-technical school admissions, discussions on charter schools, and a vote on permanent regulations around remote and hybrid learning standards, 9 a.m.

— An event to mark the completion of the new $125 million Boston Arts Academy facility across from Fenway Park will be held, with Mayor Martin Walsh, city councilors and other planning to attend, 10 a.m.

Massachusetts State Lottery Commission meets, with Treasurer Deb Goldberg chairing, 10:30 a.m.

— Sens. Brendan Crighton and Adam Gomez, Reps. Christine Barber and Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and others discuss new legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses in Massachusetts, 11 a.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at the opening of a vaccination site run by Codman Square Health Center and Boston Medical Center, 11 a.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: 26 new deaths, 15,534 total deaths, 1,150 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.


A year ago, did you ever think it would come to this? WBUR and the Globe and NBC News report on the U.S. yesterday surpassing 500,000 Covid-19 deaths since the start of the outbreak. It’s not a worst-case scenario number, but, as the Globe’s Dasia Moore writes, the “scale of human loss stands as an indictment of a series of fatal policy missteps.”

Baker’s poll numbers remain sky-high despite policy nosedives

Hang it up, pundits (and newsletter writers). You don’t have nearly as much influence as you think and hope. The proof: The latest poll showing Gov. Charlie Baker still riding high with voters, despite all the vaccine rollout and website debacles and various predictions of political doom. We’re talking 74 percent approval-rating high. MassINC Polling Group Steve Koczela is almost at a loss for words trying to explain the poll numbers’ defiance of political gravity.

In our Keller at Large on MasstereList above and over at CBS Boston, Jon Keller notes how the people and the pundits seem to inhabit two different universes when it comes to Charlie Baker. But … but the Globe’s Joan Vennochi is still swinging away at the non-apologizing Baker. And others are swinging away too. See post immediately below.


Still, Healey and lawmakers sense opportunity in Baker’s stumbles

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is noticing what we’ve been noticing: Attorney General Maura Healey, considered a potential Dem gubernatorial candidate, seems to be ramping up the pressure on the vaccine-rollout front and “exploiting a key weakness that could be a centerpiece of a Democratic campaign against Baker.” Based on the above-mentioned poll numbers, it doesn’t appear to be a key weakness to voters, but, hey, it’s an issue. The Globe’s Matt Stout has more on Healey hammering away at vaccine-rollout issues.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Emma Platoff and Matt Stout report that lawmakers aren’t quite as deferential to Baker on pandemic matters these days. But they’re not nearly as feisty as lawmakers in New York, where legislators left and right have apparently grown tired of Andrew Cuomo’s “brutalist political theater,” as the NYT reports.

He’s in: Santiago latest to join mayoral race fray

Here’s some more interesting political news this morning: State Rep. and practicing physician John Santiago has ended weeks of speculation by saying he’s joining the now four-candidate race to succeed Marty Walsh as mayor of Boston, Matt Stout at the Globe  and Sean Phillip Cotter at the Herald report. The 38-year-old ER doctor and second-term lawmaker says he wants to “bring Boston back better than before” and joins what is already the most diverse field of candidates ever to seek the corner office in Boston.

Maryland firm’s bill for problem-plagued website: More than $400K (and counting)

Back to the pandemic: We suspect our unofficial IT consultant, i.e. a young-something nephew who’s not sure what he wants to do with his life, could have done just as well for a lot less. Nonetheless, the state opted for a Maryland company – and it’s so far charged the state more than $400,000 for the vaccine-registration website everyone loves to hate in Massachusetts. SHNS’s Colin Young has more.

Btw: Some frustrated residents, tired of searching and signing up for this, that and everything else on the state’s website, are now just showing up at vaccination sites with no appointments and … it’s the same bad luck. The Herald’s Alexi Cohan has more.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Parental pressure: Planned rally aimed at getting kids back in school in North Andover

They’re tired of waiting — and they’re not the only ones across the state. Genevieve DiNatale at the Eagle-Tribune reports parents in North Andover plan to stage a show of force in favor of reopening in-person classrooms when the town’s school board meets on Thursday.

Speaking of schools, Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune reports that state education leaders today will once again grapple with the issue of how to get students back into classrooms.

Eagle Tribune

Spring high-school football? Strange but true

The Red Sox are returning to spring training camp. Why not other athletes? From the Herald’s Meghan Ottolini: “High school football players in Massachusetts are swapping sweatbands for earmuffs as they kick off the strangest season of their lives: a seven-game stretch from March to late spring after COVID-19 sidelined their traditional fall schedule.”

Boston Herald

Next stop: Commuter rail cuts – with a revolutionary twist

The MBTA is proceeding with planned bus and subway service cuts amid the plunge in pandemic-era ridership, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinki (pay wall). But the T has decided to revise its originally planned commuter-rail cuts via a “more revolutionary approach (that) spreads trips out across the day and does away with the traditional concept of peak travel times,” reports CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl.

And the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports the T won’t be cutting off late-night commuter rail service either.

MassHealth employee fired after comparing mask snitching to Nazi tactics

From the Herald’s Rick Sobey: “A MassHealth employee who said she was fired after she compared calling the police on neighbors for not wearing masks to Nazi Germany tells the Herald that her First Amendment rights have been ‘trampled on’ and she’s considering legal action.”

Feds report: Affordable housing in unaffordable suburbs is key to education progress

They’re not putting it this way, but we will: Separate but equal school districts is pure fantasy – and a key to improving the education of lower-income students is to get them into higher-performing suburban school districts via affordable housing. The Globe’s James Vaznis has more on the new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s New England Public Policy Center.

Boston Globe

Smith College president denies ‘racially hostile environment’ against … whites?

Smith College is embroiled in the latest racially charged controversy to hit a college campus, but this dispute has a twist: A white employee (or actually ex-employee at this point) is the one alleging racial discrimination, reports MassLive’s Jim Russel and the Globe’s Jeremy Fox.

Lesser places his bet on sports gambling

We’ve lost track of how many sports-gambling proposals are out there now. But a new legislative proposal unveiled yesterday by state Sen. Eric Lesser may be key since he’s co-chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. The BBJ’s Lucia Maffei has the details.


No, not the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shotgunning punishment!

Local comedian Julia Claire imagines Marty Walsh’s first day as U.S. labor secretary and his immediate implementation of a “depahtment-wide no-scabs policy,” violations of which could lead to very severe punishment. The Globe’s Mark Shanahan has more.

Boston Globe

Unified action: Healey and feds sue over alleged immigration bond scam

This is unusual: Attorney General Maura Healey is actually working with the feds, not against the feds, on an immigration-related matter. Healey’s office is joining other AGs and the Biden administration in a lawsuit against an alleged predatory immigrant-detainee bond company, as CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt reports.

Meanwhile, still on the subject of immigrants, this isn’t unusual, via Steph Solis at MassLive: “Lawmakers renew push to expand driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts.”


Despite objections, state approves controversial East Boston substation

Mariam Wasser at WBUR reports that the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board yesterday approved a controversial plan to build a new electrical substation in East Boston – and angry opponents say the fight is far from over.


Long tail: Housing benefits shadow former Bloomberg campaign staffers

Long after Medford’s very own Mike Bloomerg ended his campaign for the presidency, staffers who joined his bid say they’re still paying for their decision to join the $1 billion political boondoggle, this time in the form of higher income tax exposure stemming from “free” housing Bloomberg dangled to attract talent to his busted bid. Christopher Cadelago at Politico has more.


Called off: Boston Calling canceled again amid pandemic

Not this year. Amid signs that the state is crawling back toward normalcy, the organizers of the Boston Calling music festival have nevertheless canceled the 2021 edition, saying they were unable to come up with a way to safely hold the outdoor concert, Magdiela Matta at WBUR reports. 


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


Eight years after Walsh’s promises, Boston pre-K is still not universal – Boston Globe

Harvard Is the City of Cambridge’s Largest Employer — For 32nd Time in 35 Years – Harvard Crimson


Templeton planning board member pays fine, admits violating conflict of interest law – Telegram & Gazette

Provincetown charter panel finds error in town administration’s investigation – Cape Cod Times

Amherst officials hopeful local vaccination clinics will resume – MassLive


Trump’s Tax Returns Aren’t the Only Crucial Records Prosecutors Will Get – New York Times

Lawmakers vote to make Virginia first Southern state to abolish death penalty – Washington Post

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