Happening Today

COVID-19 oversight hearing, Senate session, SHNS candidates’ forum

Joseph Aiello, chairman of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board, provides Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation members with fiscal, governance and service updates on the T, 10 a.m.

Mass. Gaming Commission meets and is expected to hear a quarterly update on MGM Springfield and may vote on distribution of horse-racing funds, 10 a.m.

— Lawmakers host the first in a series of oversight hearings to examine the Baker administration’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, with Gov. Charlie Baker and others expected to attend, 11 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate meets and may pass legislation that would allow the city of Boston to forgo a special election to replace outgoing Mayor Marty Walsh, 11 a.m.

State House News Service holds a virtual candidate forum for the 19th Suffolk House race, with News Service reporters Katie Lannan and Matt Murphy moderating a discussion about issues with candidates Paul Caruccio, Richard Fucillo, Alicia DelVento, Tino Capobianco, Jeff Turco and Juan Jaramillo, 6 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: 60 new deaths, 15,624 total deaths, 1,788 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

A day before oversight hearing, Baker unveils: New regional and hospital vaccine sites, equity program, website redesign, 50,000 additional shots etc.

Just a coincidence? Gov. Charlie Baker, who appears today at a legislative COVID-19 oversight hearing, just so happened to announce yesterday a slew of new vaccine-rollout initiatives. We’ll let the headlines do the talking, starting with the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “State reverses, allows some Massachusetts hospitals to schedule coronavirus vaccine appointments again.” From MassLive’s Tanner Steining: “Baker details changes to COVID vaccine appointment website, including a new queue system.” From Marc Fortier at NBC Boston: “50K New Vaccination Appointments Available Thursday.” From the Globe’s Amanda Kaufman: “Baker details $4.7m vaccine equity initiative.” From the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro: “Baker administration’s new thrust: regional sites to boost vaccination effort.”

And our favorite, from SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “Baker: Vaccine News Points to Possible ‘Really Big Moment.’”

Baker versus lawmakers: Showdown or back down?

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld doesn’t think Gov. Charlie Baker’s curiously timed vaccine announcements yesterday are going to appease lawmakers at today’s legislative oversight hearing. The Herald’s Erin Tiernan and Lisa Kashinsky report that the CEO of the company that developed the state’s vaccine website will also be on the hot seat today.

But not everything is negative news for the governor at the Herald. Political columnist Peter Lucas says Baker, despite recent vaccine stumbles, is still the one to beat in 2022, if he decides to run for a third term.

Two hard-hit cities, two vaccine responses

Maybe Gov. Charlie Baker will be asked about this at today’s oversight hearing. The AP’s Philip Marcelo at WBUR reports how two cities hit hard by the coronavirus, Rhode Island’s Central Falls and Massachusetts’ Chelsea, have gotten different levels of attention when it comes to vaccinations. We’ll let you guess which one has inoculated all its residents.


The Great 3-feet Distancing Debate

As the Baker administration pushes to resume in-person classes by April, a major issue is whether the state’s 3-foot distancing recommendation between students, rather than 6 feet as recommended by the CDC, is adequate. Dozens of physicians have written to the state saying the 3-foot requirement is OK, reports the Globe’s Felicia Gans.

Meanwhile, CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas also looks at the “elephant in the classroom” issue – social distancing between students at reopened schools.

New ad campaign to knock MBTA service cuts

From SHNS’s Michael Norton: “As the Baker administration continues its push to scale back MBTA services in the face of significantly reduced ridership, a union-backed coalition is launching an ad blitz to highlight the negative impact of the strategy on low-income residents and communities of color.” We’re talking 60-second ads on CNN, MSNBC and CNBC, etc.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Ambitious transportation plan: Gas tax hike, free bus and subway rides, transit upgrades

Speaking of transportation issues, Sen. Joseph Boncore, co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, has unveiled an ambitious overhaul of the state’s transportation system, contained in a 49-page bill that probably won’t go far on Beacon Hill, but, at the least, should re-ignite debate over transportation matters. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) has more.

Mariano favors temporary, and eventually permanent, extension of mail-in voting

House Speaker Ron Mariano yesterday announced the House will seek a pandemic-era extension of mail-in voting until June 30, thus covering a number of local elections between now and then. And he also favors eventually making mail-in voting a permanent feature of state elections, as SHNS’s Michael Norton and the Globe’s Matt Stout report.

House defeats full-transparency rule amendment

House Democrats yesterday were put in the politically awkward position of beating back, after an hour-long debate, an amendment that would have required more open transparency concerning joint-committee votes, meeting notifications and public testimony on bills, SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk and Sam Doran report (pay wall). The House ultimately passed a package that differs from a Senate version.

Even faculty members at Smith College are sick of out-of-control cancel culture

The latest controversy at Smith College, the one involving an employee accusing the school of a ‘racially hostile environment’ towards whites (Globe)? The NYT’s Michael Powell reports it ultimately “arose from the events of July 31, 2018,” when another racially-charged incident occurred on campus – and now many at Smith College wonder if PC/cancel-culture/whatever has spiraled out of control at Smith. It’s a tough piece that doesn’t fit the usual NYT narrative on such issues.

Btw, similar racially-charged controversies are breaking out elsewhere across Massachusetts. From Jenna Fisher at the Patch: “’All Lives Matter’ Note Sent To Newton Teacher Prompts Alarm.” From Emily Thurlow at MassLive: “Northampton students denounce racism after Facebook page targets principal’s Confederate flag lesson.”


What do Lowell and Tufts have in common? Anti-Semitism controversies

Lowell School Committee member Robert Hoey Jr. is under pressure to resign after using an anti-Semitic slur on live cable TV yesterday morning, reports Steven Rosenberg at the Jewish Journal and Jeremy Foxat the Globe.

Meanwhile, Tufts University has its own controversy, with a student calling on the university to intervene over what his lawyer is calling “incessant anti-Semitic harassment” and use of “anti-Semitic tropes about money and power,” report Meira Svirsky and Sean Savage at the Jewish News Syndicate.

Fanne Foxe, stripper of Combat Zone-Wilbur Woods fame, RIP

Fanne Foxe, 84, the center of one of the most salacious political scandals of the 1970s, has passed away, the NYT and the Washington Post report. A stripper known as ‘the Argentine Firecracker,’ Foxe won national fame, so to speak, for her late-night plunge into Washington D.C.’s Tidal Basin, followed by a Combat Zone media circus in Boston, all with an inebriated and obviously infatuated U.S. Rep. Wilbur Mills of Arkansas in tow. 

A Globe wire and staff story has more on the Pilgrim Theater angle involving Foxe, whose non-stage name was Annabel Battistella.

Bank on it: ‘Codfather’ family is new owner of New Bedford bank building

He’s not done yet. Anastasia E. Lennon at the Standard-Times reports the firm that bought the historic Merchants National Bank property in downtown New Bedford at auction last month has ties to the family of Carlos ‘The Codfather’ Rafael, who has been linked to several land-based business moves since the feds forced him to sell off his fishing fleet. 

Standard Times

Dual role: Warren could be Biden’s biggest backer — and loudest critic

Key support and potential headaches, all from the same senator. Anthony Brooks of WBUR digs into the role U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will play in a Biden administration and suggests she could be both a key ally and a potential thorn in his side–especially if she uses her new perch on the Senate Finance Committee to advance her wealth-tax proposals.


Fitchburg shelter director accused of sexually assaulting homeless residents

Carrie Saldo at GBH reports that the director of a Fitchburg homeless shelter is being accused of sexually and physically assaulting people who go to the center for help. The allegations against Kevin MacLean were publicly revealed at a recent Fitchburg Human Rights Commission meeting.


Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse candidate for town manager of Provincetown

It’s not Congress. But it’s a job. Maybe. Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Richard Neal in last year’s Dem primary, is a finalist to become town manager in Provincetown, reports Jeanette DeForge at MassLive.


Commission: Candidates should be allowed to use campaign funds on child-care

We missed this one from the other day, i.e. a legislative commission’s recommendation that political candidates be allowed to use campaign funds for child-care services, as the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert reports.

Boston Globe

Idea man: Resident has big vision for long-languishing Berkshire Mall

All he needs now is a hundred million dollars or so. A local man is pitching an ambitious plan to redevelop the long-shuttered Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough into a mixed use lifestyle village, though he admits he has neither the development experience nor the capital to make the dream a reality, Dick Lindsay at the Berkshire Eagle reports.

Berkshire Eagle

Pay to play: Trahan bill would clear way for college athletes to get compensation

U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan is co-sponsoring legislation that would prohibit colleges from yanking scholarships from student athletes who earn money off their names and images, or even hire an agent, Christian Wade at the Eagle-Tribune reports. 

Eagle Tribune

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

8th International Data Science Summit

The 8th International Data Science Summit, organized by the DSF International supported by NASSCOM and in partnership with European Industry University Research Association and Guinness Enterprise Centre is coordinated from Dublin & Kolata in virtual mode.

Data Science Foundation International

An Evening with Kazuo Ishiguro

In his first global in-conversation event, Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro will talk about his much anticipated new novel, Klara and the Sun.

The Guardian Live

The Woman’s Era Club: A Story of Black Women’s Activism

In 1893, a group of Boston women founded the Woman’s Era Club, one of the first women’s clubs in the country led by African American women. In this talk, Student Conservation Association Public History Intern Katie Woods will explore the stories of several women behind this little-known yet influential club and publication.

Boston Public Library

Housing: The Only Thing to Really End Homelessness, A Virtual Discussion with Special Guest Dr. Sam Tsemberis

Ultimately, only one thing ends homelessness . . . housing! Join MHSA and our member agencies and supporters for a lively virtual discussion with Dr. Sam Tsemberis, CEO of the Pathways Housing First Institute. The discussion will focus on national and international strategies around the implementation of housing to end homelessness.

Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance

The Mapping Inequality Project

The Mapping Inequality Project created a foundational resource for unprecedented research, education, organizing and policy advocacy on redlining and current environmental challenges. It provides publicly accessible digitized versions of redlining maps for about 200 cities.

EPA Office of Environmental Justice

MIT Sloan FinTech Conference 2021

The 7th annual FinTech Conference is a student run event that brings together over 1,000 leaders, companies, and students dedicated to transforming and innovating the FinTech space across the globe. Join us in understanding what this critical juncture means for FinTech’s trajectory over the next 10 years.

MIT FinTech Conference

The Biden-Harris Administration: International Policy

Join the McCormack Graduate School for the third of three panel discussions that explores the implications of the Biden-Harris Administration: International Policy.

UMass Boston: McCormack Graduate School

Today’s Headlines


Boston hauling in South Boston bars ahead of St. Patrick’s Day – Boston Herald

$3.5 million from CPA eyed for Dorchester, Mattapan – Dorchester Reporter


Tree House Brewing in Charlton to build distillery and sell spirits – Telegram & Gazette

Sheffield delays vote on proposed commercial pot farm amid opposition – Berkshire Eagle

Racist social media post spurs rally to support JFK Middle School principal – Daily Hampshire Gazette


GOP leaders clash over Trump’s role at CPAC – The Hill

Trump’s politics hurt his businesses. Will he sell as he looks to a potential 2024 campaign? – Washington Post

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.