Happening Today

Baker family death, SJC hearings, Board of Education

— Gov. Charlie Baker is in Florida today with First Lady Lauren Baker after a death in the family, according to his office, with plans to return to Massachusetts on Monday after attending to family affairs. Details of the death were not disclosed.

Supreme Judicial Court meets with four cases on its docket, 9 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan visits the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center to tour its vaccination site and discuss President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, 11:15 a.m.

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio’ and plans to discuss the fate of COVID relief legislation and other topics, WGBH 89.7 FM, 11: 30 a.m.

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education with an agenda focused on supporting a return to in-person instruction, 2 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: 42 new deaths, 15,967 total deaths, 1,410 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Privatizing vaccinations: It’s been costly

A three-reporter team at the Globe reports that the state spent millions of dollars over nearly 20 years to develop a mass vaccination plan in the event of an emergency – like the COVID-19 emergency we’re seeing today. And what came of those plans? They’re were basically shoved to the side in favor of a more privatized approach.

Meanwhile, from the Herald’s Erin Tiernan: “For-profit companies that popped up amid the pandemic are raking in millions of dollars per week running the state’s mass vaccination sites, but lawmakers are raising questions about whether private vendors are ‘up to the job.’” The price for the Fenway and Gillette mass-fax venues alone: $1.1 million a week.

This should save some money: Fenway mass vax site moving to Hynes Center

Speaking of private venues: With the Red Sox expected to soon resume play at Fenway Park, the ballpark’s mass-vaccination operations will be moving to the state-owned Hynes Convention Center, Gov. Charlie Baker announced yesterday. SHNS and WCVB have more on the financially and geographically logical move.

In a blink of an eye, they’re gone

Well, not quite a blink of an eye. Still, NBC Boston’s Mary Markos reports how next week’s 12,000 first-dose appointments at mass-vaccination sites were quickly scooped up yesterday. Why so few? A combination of federal supply problems and the state trying to catch up on a second-dosage backlog.

NBC Boston

‘Smash room’: Go ahead. Let out your inner pandemic anger

Don’t keep your pandemic anger in. Let it out. And you can do so to your furious and destructive delight at a new Worcester “smash room,” where anti-VaxFinder sentiment can be released with a swing of a baseball bat, axe or sledgehammer, delivering righteous blows against objects that represent everything and anything that trigger you, including ex-boyfriend photos. WBUR’s Lynn Jolicoeur and Lisa Mullins have more.


Despite all the woes, more than 1.8 million doses of have been administered

Amid all the frustrations and complaints about the state’s vaccine-registration process, don’t lose track of the fact that people are indeed getting vaccinated – with 300,000 first- and second-shot dosages administered last week alone, reports Tanner Stening at Masslive. As usual, the Globe has its excellent weekly charts summary of all the vaccination data.


Hotspots no more: Brockton, Revere, Chelsea

More good news: The Enterprise’s Cody Shepard reports that Brockton, after five long months in the high-risk COVID-10 red zone, has finally been downgraded to a moderate-risk community, amid falling coronavirus cases in the City of Champions. The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports that Revere is also officially off the hotspot list, joining other former hotspot cities such as Chelsea.

But the bad news: There are still 19 high-risk communities in Massachusetts, including Fall River, New Bedford, Springfield, Chicopee, Haverhill, Lawrence and Lynn, according a story and chart at MassLive.


Combating ‘vaccine hesitancy’ with ‘trusted messengers’

GBH’s Saray Wintersmith has a good story on how some institutions and communities are deploying “trusted messengers” to get the word out, often in low-income areas, that coronavirus vaccines are indeed safe. Count state Rep. Carlos Gonzales among the “trusted messengers,” as Jim Kinney reports at MassLive.

But here’s discouraging news, via GBH’s Aidan Connelly: “Black and Brown Communities ‘Are Dying,’ Says Community Health Centers Head.”


Dual effect: Coronavirus both impedes, drives lobbying spending in 2020

The State House corridors were mostly off-limits last year due to the pandemic, but it didn’t stop lobbying spending, which mainly and surprisingly held steady in 2020, Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth Magazine reports. Not so surprisingly, half of the top 10 spenders on lobbying services were health care concerns. 


As State Police launch body-cam reform, IG criticizes agency’s past OT reform

Well, at least they’re trying. Or so it appears. MassLive’s Tanner Stening reports State Police have launched a body-worn camera system for troopers based at Logan Airport, with hopes of quickly expanding the program across the agency.

But while State Police embark on one reform long called for by activists, the Globe’s Shelley Murphyreports that the state inspector general’s office has found that a “highly touted reform aimed at uncovering overtime abuse within the ranks of the Massachusetts State Police in the wake of a widespread scandal is flawed and should be revised.”

Senate pauses mail-in voting push to get public input

Beacon Hill Republicans are proclaiming “mission accomplished,” now that Senate Democrats have decided to slow down the push to extend mail-in voting through the spring in order to get more public input. If you recall, Republicans had asked for a slowdown – and they actually got one. SHNS’s Sam Doran has more.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The Amazon Blob: It’s coming for Widett Circle

They once talked of constructing an Olympic stadium or a glorious mini-city in Boston’s Widett Circle. But now they’re talking about … an Amazon distribution center for Widett Circle? The Globe’s Tim Logan and Jon Chesto report that property owners and the relentlessly expanding Amazon are in “serious talks” about building a giant shipping hub at Widett. File under: The Blob. Remember: ‘Nothing can stop it.’

Boston Globe

Debate over contract workers: Odd battle lines, odd allies

The battle lines are being drawn on Beacon Hill over how Uber, Lyft and other gig-economy employees should be classified in Massachusetts – and there are some odd alliances forming. SHNS’s Chris Lisinskiand the Globe’s Andy Rosen have more on the app-based workers debate.

Shh! Don’t tell anyone. But they’re quietly talking about not rebuilding along storm-ravaged Cape shorelines

Eva Zuckoff at GBH reports that regional planners on the Cape are quietly, very quietly, starting to ask the once unthinkable question: Has the time come to retreat from the shoreline amid all the flooding and erosion problems associated with climate change? It’s sort of a third-rail issue on the Cape.


Judge rules photos of slaves belong to Harvard

A Middlesex County Superior Court judge has tossed out a lawsuit from a Connecticut woman who sought to force Harvard University to turn over 1850-era photos of her ancestors taken when they were slaves in South Carolina, the Associated Press reports via WBUR.  


Booming: Smith & Wesson says sales doubled in third quarter

Thanks, Joe Biden. Springfield-based gun maker Smith & Wesson said its second-quarter revenue more than doubled from a year ago as the arrival of a Democratic presidential administration helped bolster sales already rising during the pandemic, Jim Kinney at MassLive reports.


Insurrection inspiration: National strife sparks Northampton social worker to seek mayor’s office

Northampton officially has a mayoral race on its hands. Shanna T. Fishel, a social worker and former school teacher, has declared she’s running for the City Hall top spot, citing the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection as one of the sparks behind the bid, Greta Jochem at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. Current City Council President Gina-Louise Sciarra is already in the race. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette

‘Dagger through the heart:’ Boston Marathon’s plan to hand out 70K medals roils runners

Organizers of the Boston Marathon plan to award finishing medals to the first 70,000 people who sign up for a virtual event next month, a move that is dividing the normally staid world of long-distance running, William Kole at the Associated Press reports. One hardcore marathoner called the first-come, first-awarded approach “a dagger through the heart” of those who actually run the grueling course.

AP News

Student member of Boston School Committee can’t take it anymore

Khymani James, a student member of the Boston School Committee, has pulled a Johnny Paycheck, quitting over all the “adultish rhetoric” and the committee’s “ineffective + harmful” structure. And then there’s this: “From lies to excuses to emotional manipulation, it’s all been deplorable and distasteful.” Universal Hub reports members of the Student Advisory Committee have also quit.

Universal Hub

Sunday public affairs TV: Karen Spilka, Andrew Card, Byron Rushing

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s host: Senate President Karen Spilka, who talks with host Jon Keller about vaccination issues, the economy and budget, and progress of police reform.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Boston Celtics president Rich Gotham discusses bringing back fans to TD Garden and the team’s Vistaprint partnership; PerkinElmer CEO Prahlad Singh talks about the future of COVID testing; and BBJ editor Doug Banks reviews the top local business stories of the week.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Andrew Card, the former chief of staff for President George W. Bush, who talks with host Janet Wu and WCVB political reporter Sharman Sacchetti, followed by a political discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: Revisiting history, with guests including historian and former state Rep. Byron Rushing.

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


Barros: I’ve got the experience to lead Boston – Dorchester Reporter

Quincy mayor proposes $400 million bond to fund pensions – Patriot Ledger


DCU Center field hospital to close – Worcester Business Journal

Agawam considers fee for charging electric vehicles – MassLive

In Salem, Wards 4 and 5 up for grabs as resident eyes mayoral run – Salem News


Americans are getting fewer coronavirus tests. Here’s why that’s bad – Washington Post

The rise of the Biden Republicans – Politico

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.