Keller at Large

Jake’s Auch-ward publicity stunt

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller takes aim at U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss’s early morning publicity stunt of taking credit for House passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. A freshman member of Congress wielding such tremdous clout – or a classic front-and-center Zelig moment? Think the latter.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

House primary election, state budget hearing, and more

— Democrats in Winthrop and portions of Revere will decide their party’s nominee for the special election to fill the House seat that former Speaker Robert DeLeo gave up to take a job at Northeastern University. 

Joint Ways and Means Committee holds its first virtual hearing on Gov. Baker’s $45.6 billion fiscal 2022 budget bill, with Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan expected to testify along with Auditor Suzanne Bump and Treasurer Deb Goldberg, 10 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg hold their monthly meeting by phone, 1 p.m.

— House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, Sen. Nick Collins, and Rep. Kevin Honan virtually celebrate the enactment into law of a bill (that allows the city to adjust linkage fees — which fund affordable housing and job training programs — without the approval of the Legislature and codifies inclusionary development policy into Boston’s zoning law, 5:30 p.m.

— Senate President Karen Spilka, Sen. Rebecca Rausch and Rep. Jeffrey Roy join the Franklin School Committee for a legislative forum via Zoom, 6:30 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: 26 new deaths, 15,822 total deaths, 1,248 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Lawmakers: Let teachers get the first one-dose Johnson & Johnson shots

Dosages of the new Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine haven’t even arrived yet and 21 lawmakers are already expressing their collective opinion on how they should be distributed – to teachers. MassLive’s Steph Solis has more.

So when do the first J&J vaccines arrive? Probably next week, Gov. Charlie Baker says, cautioning their numbers will be limited and their arrival gradual over time, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski and MassLive’s Solis.

Meanwhile, the fact there will soon be three different vaccines available –via J&J, Pfizer and Moderna — raises concerns that some people might engage in “vaccine shopping,” reports the Globe’s Robert Weisman. Public health officials’ advice on ‘shopping’: Don’t. Just get a shot. Any shot.

Vaccine rollout hell: Volunteers to the rescue

The Herald’s Rick Sobey and the Globe’s Felice Freyer report on volunteer efforts to help desperate people register for vaccine appointments – and allowing them to spend less time on the state’s free-for-all registration website.

And, oh, the Herald’s Meghan Ottolini reports on a new poll showing that most voters believe Gov. Charlie Baker blundered on the vaccine rollout.

Reopening concerns: ‘Please hear me clearly’

She’s not naming any state in particular. But MGH’s very own Dr. Rochelle Walensky, now director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clearly had Massachusetts on her mind when she reiterated yesterday her concerns about states moving to reopen their economies, as the Globe’s Amanda Kaufman and SHNS’s Chris Liskinski report. 

But Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday was defending his recent decision to move to the next reopening phase in Massachusetts, saying coronavirus-case and vaccine-rollout data support “some adjustments,” as the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports.

Come on in: Hospitals start to relax visitor policies

Here’s a re-opening of a different sort. Cape Cod Healthcare has begun allowing visitors–one at a time–for non-Covid patients at its hospitals in Hyannis and Falmouth, citing lower coronavirus infection rates, Cynthia McCormick at the Cape Cod Times reports. 

There’s a similar story at Lowell General Hospital, where Robert Mills at the Lowell Sun reports one “support person” will be allowed to visit patients, the first time since the second surge started in November that non-patients will be permitted to enter the facility. 

Cape Cod Times

The Massachusetts Lottery: It’s pandemic resilient

So much for the pandemic hurting the Lottery’s revenues. MassLive’s Heather Morrison and SHNS’s Colin Young report on the Lottery’s latest positive sales numbers and the agency’s upgrade of its fiscal year 2021 profit projection.

Meanwhile, whatever happened to those financial doomsday predictions in general?

The Lottery’s finances are looking bright. The state’s finances are looking surprisingly bright too – despite the pandemic and economic downturn. And the same thing seems to be playing out across the country, as many states find their budgets aren’t in as bad a shape as once feared, the NYT reports. What happened? It seems all that past federal relief money worked — and it worked so well that some Republicans now say more relief isn’t necessary. Dems disagree.


After 18 years, Somerville Mayor Curtatone won’t seek reelection. So … what’s next?

He barely got the words out of his mouth and the Herald, to its tabloid credit, was already asking about his future statewide ambitions. Yes, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone announced yesterday that he won’t seek a 10th two-year term this fall, as Julia Taliesin at the Somerville Journal and Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine report.

But the Herald’s Joe Dwinell quickly brushes past that news to report Curatone, a progressive Dem, also “refused to say if he’s ready to run for governor.” Curatone pronounced such speculation as pure “science fiction,” and then proceeded to criticize Gov. Baker’s pandemic re-opening and vaccine rollout plans, etc.

Polito or Diehl versus Healey?

Speaking of 2022, CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl reports on an interesting poll by the conservative Fiscal Alliance Foundation showing that Republicans are split on who to back for governor if Gov. Charlie Baker doesn’t run for a third term next year — Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, a moderate, or former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, a conservative.

Meanwhile, the Herald, in an editorial, sees a potential Polito vs. AG Maura Healey matchup in a general election – and “a hardcore political watcher couldn’t ask for anything more.” That assumes, of course, Baker doesn’t run again.


As unemployment filers wait and wait for benefits …

The Globe’s Katie Johnston has an update on the long waits people endure to get unemployment-insurance benefits in Massachusetts, not to be confused with the long waits people endure to sign-up for coronavirus vaccine appointments in Massachusetts.

Boston Globe

… family and medical leave recipients wait and wait for payments

Vaccine waits. Unemployment-insurance waits. And now family-and-medical-leave payment waits under the state’s new paid-leave law, as Gabrielle Emanuel reports at GBH. Are you starting to notice a pattern here? Everyone seems to be waiting in state lines these days.


‘Tough, tough weekend’: Romney slips, cracks head, gets lots of stiches and black eye while visiting Boston

Mitt Romney’s trip back to the Boston to see his grandkids didn’t go so well the other day, according to reports at Universal Hub and the Globe. “I had kind of a tough, tough weekend,” the former Massachusetts governor and current Utah senator told reporters in D.C. yesterday. He looks fine in post-fall photos, fortunately.

What impacts? Citing Northampton move, pot shops want local fees eliminated

You could see this coming. A month after Northampton said it would stop collecting the 3 percent impact fee on cannabis retailers after seeing scant impacts materialize, a push by the pot industry and some lawmakers to cancel the fees altogether is underway, Christian Wade atthe Gloucester Times reports. 

Gloucester Times

Warren: It’s time for the ‘ultra-millionaires tax’

She meant it – and means it. From Jackson Cote at MassLive: “In line with a promise she made as a former candidate on the 2020 presidential campaign trail, Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday proposed a wealth tax on “ultra-millionaires,” noting how the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the financial gap between the rich and the rest of the country.”


Galvin: Federal law needed to protect mail-in voting

File under: Be careful of what you wish for. SHNS’s Katie Lannan reports that Secretary of State William Galvin thinks Congress should pass a law guaranteeing that every voter can cast a mail-in ballot in federal elections, saying the federal government needs some “universal standards” on voting. But isn’t this also opening the door for mail-in opponents to one day tinker with states’ voting standards? Congress won’t always be controlled by Dems, after all.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

AG: Dentist kept kids in braces longer than needed to collect more from MassHealth

This is pretty low. Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is suing a Dorchester dentist for deliberately “keeping children in braces for longer than medically necessary and deceptively billing (the state) for mouth guards,” according to a report at the Dorchester Reporter.

Dorchester Reporter

Nobel Prize winners and others ride to defense of Harvard prof accused of improper China ties

For what it’s worth, we’re among those also wondering what he allegedly did wrong. Anyway, from the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes: “Seven Nobel Prize winners and dozens of other scientists are publicly questioning the federal government’s prosecution of Harvard professor Charles Lieber and criticizing the university for failing to defend him against charges that he hid his ties to a Chinese government recruitment program.”

Boston Globe

Lawmakers seek emergency declaration in face of Salisbury Beach erosion

With the town of Salisbury facing a “rapid erosion of sand dunes,” four North Shore lawmakers have written to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides about the “dire situation” in Salisbury and are seeking a severe weather emergency declaration for that municipality, according to SHNS (pay wall).

Wing woman? Dooner runs for Taunton council to be mayor’s ally

Kelly Dooner, a Republican and twice unsuccessful legislative candidate, has launched a campaign for a seat on the Taunton City Council, saying that Mayor Shauna O’Connell needs “allies” on the board to help advance her agenda, Susannah Sudborough at the Taunton Daily Gazette reports. Dooner previously ran for, and lost, the state representative seat that O’Connell vacated to become Taunton mayor.  

Taunton Gazette

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

Annie McKay and the Untold Story of Boston Public School Nurses

Join author Dorothy M. Keeney to hear the story of Annie McKay, Boston’s first school nurse, and the early Boston school nurses prior to their becoming the professionals that we know today. Explore how they managed the 1917-1919 Spanish flu, contagious diseases such as diphtheria, scarlet fever, and many polio epidemics that occurred during the 20th century.

Boston Public Library

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

1000 Women Leaders: A Global Movement for Peace & Equality

The Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, together with the Conrad N. Hilton and Starbucks Foundations, is launching a global campaign to support 1,000 Women Leaders working to build a brighter, more peaceful and resilient future. Join WPHF on International Women’s Day to rally support for the critical work of women leaders on the front lines.

The United Nations Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund

Dr. Esther Choo – Racism as a Public Health Crisis – Lowell Lecture

The Boston Public Library welcomes physician and popular health and science communicator Dr. Esther Choo for an online conversation moderated by BPL President David Leonard. This program, presented in partnership with GBH Forum Network, is part of both the Lowell Lecture Series sponsored by the Lowell Institute and the BPL’s Repairing America Series.

Boston Public Library

Heroes Breakfast

Honoring the Heroes Among Us. Join us and become part of this history making event. Help us honor these unsung leaders who exemplify the humanity and volunteer service of the American Red Cross. The Heroes Breakfast will be a marquee gathering in Boston for years to come. The momentous virtual launch of this event will take place on the one-year anniversary of the Coronavirus pandemic. If there were ever a time to honor heroes, this is it.

American Red Cross

Recover Boston: Workplace Reimagined

As our region continues the road to recovery, join us as we look at strategies for the return to the workplace. The Covid-19 crisis has created tremendous change in how we live, work, and do business. Hear from our panel of business leaders who will discuss both the opportunities and challenges for the transformation of the region’s workforce in the months ahead.

Boston Business Journal

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

The South End Then and Now: See your neighborhood with new eyes.

With Michael Cox, historian, artist and tour guide, we will walk the Silver Line bus route along Washington St. from Massachusetts Ave to Berkeley St., stopping at every SL bus stop to learn what was above and below ground right there when the EL carried riders to Nubian Square. We’ll check out the South End Burying Ground and many other great sites.

Boston Public Library

Hemingway the Author

The Kennedy Library and GBH partner for a preview and discussion of Hemingway, a new documentary series directed by award-winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Writers Abraham Verghese and Tobias Wolff join Burns and Novick to discuss Hemingway’s life, craft, and legacy. Kennedy Library Director Alan Price moderates.

The Kennedy Library and GBH

Be an Agent of Change: Achieve Health Justice

Join A Faith That Does Justice and Healthcare for All for a conversation about the actions you can take as an individual to work towards justice, equity, and inclusion in health care.

A Faith That Does Justice

Today’s Headlines


Walsh says outdoor dining program for restaurants will resume April 1 in Boston – Boston Globe

BU student arrested in Fenway Park break-in attempt – CBS Boston


St. Vincent nurses, management meet again over contract negotiations – Telegram & Gazette

Lawrence launches Human Rights Commission – Eagle-Tribune

Former UMass chancellor Duffey, remembered for dedication to human rights, world connections, dies at 88 – Daily Hampshire Gazette


Inside Joe Biden’s decision to dive into the Amazon union drive – Politico

Biden’s approval tops 60 percent in new poll – The Hill

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