Keller at Large

Keller’s pandemic report card

In his latest Keller at Large on MaassterList, Jon Keller issues his one-year anniversary pandemic report card – and he’s a tough grader. And he’s particular tough on the public at large. Check it out.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Worcester’s growth, budget hearing, road and bridge funding

— Worcester leaders participate in a panel discussion, co-produced by the Worcester Business Journal and State House News Service, about the city’s growth over the past decade and how to reignite the momentum after the COVID-19 pandemic, with panelists including Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus and Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Timothy Murray, 9 a.m.

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Last Mile Vaccine Delivery, a mobile vaccination service formed by Mascon Medical, the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts and Brewster Ambulance Service, returns to Chelsea and Quincy today, 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., respectively.

Joint Committee on Ways and Means holds its second hearing on Gov. Charlie Baker’s fiscal 2022 budget proposal, this one focused on economic development, housing and labor issues, 10 a.m.

Joint Committee on Transportation holds a virtual hearing to consider Gov. Charlie Baker’s $200 million Chapter 90 bill to fund improvements for municipally-owned roads and bridges, 11 a.m.

— State Reps. Ruth Balser and Michael Day host a legislative ‘Brown Bag Budget Briefing’ to discuss Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation’s $35 million request in the fiscal 2022 budget, 12 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: 18 new deaths, 16,103 total deaths, 892 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Relief on the way: Lawmakers reach deal to avert UI rate hike and exempt PPP loans from taxes

Beacon Hill lawmakers have reached a deal to freeze employers’ unemployment insurance rates, exempt PPP loans from state taxation and increase paid-leave benefits for workers who contract the coronavirus, report the BBJ’s Grey Ryan, SHNS’s Katie Lannan and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg.

They’re cutting it close in terms of deadlines, but legislative leaders seem confident they can get the measures passed soon.

When vaccinations aren’t exactly free

The actual vaccines are free. But providing all those vaccine shots isn’t free. And it turns out the Baker administrations sweetened the financial pot for providers to administer vaccinations – with insurers picking up much of the tab. And … why do we get the awful feeling individual policyholders are going to get the short end of all this? The Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey has more.

Boston Globe

‘Egregious violations’: UMass Amherst issuing suspensions over 200-person bash

We’re not sure what “interim suspensions” mean. But they’re imposing them in Amherst, after UMass officials determined that “egregious violations” of COVID-19 restrictions were committed at a party of about 200 people that police had to break up on Saturday, reports Jim Russell at MassLive.

Speaking of young ones, it seems most coronavirus cases today involve, well, young ones – and experts say it’s largely because young ones can’t help but act like young ones. MassLive’s Melissa Hanson has more.

MassLive

Meanwhile, Harvard signals a ‘full return’ to campus in the fall

Speaking of higher education: As Harvard goes, so goes the nation? Kirk Carapezza at GBH spots distinct signs that Harvard University is poised to bring all students back to campus in the fall. And since Harvard’s moves are closely followed by others, that means … Of course, some schools have already brought back students – with mixed results. See above post.

GBH

MBTA hedges bets on future ridership, plans both worst- and better-case scenarios

The MBTA is forecasting revenue shortfalls over the next four years due to the sharp pandemic-era decline in ridership. Then again, maybe it won’t be that bad. And so, just in case, the T is planning for both service cuts and some service restorations. It all depends. The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro and SHNS’s Chris Lisinski have more.

Btw, via the Patriot Ledger: “South Shore may not see weekend commuter rail for months.”

Check’s almost in the mail: Neal confident $1.9T rescue plan will pass this week

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, head of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is confident the $1.9 trillion federal relief bill will be on President Biden’s desk by the end of this week, reports Jim Kinney at MassLive. And that means individual stimulus payments of up to $1,400 could be directly deposited in people’s bank accounts starting next week, reports CBS Boston. Those without direct deposits should start to receive checks via snail-mail later this month.

And don’t forget: The bill also includes billions of dollars flowing to state government – and Beacon Hill lawmakers are eager to have a say in how those funds are spent, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy.

Not fresh enough: Legal Sea Foods loses court fight for pandemic insurance coverage

They lost. And it appears many similar suits will likely fail moving forward too. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan has more on a federal judge’s decision to throw out a lawsuit by Legal Sea Foods that claimed its insurer should cover its business losses during the pandemic.

BBJ

Police departments see ‘pretty depressing’ decline in new recruits

MassLive’s Patrick Johnson reports that cities and towns are seeing a decline in the number of new police recruits, after recent police-misconduct incidents and last year’s Black Lives Matter protests across the nation.

MassLive

Alert: Municipalities warned of high-risk threats to email systems

These cyber threats are relentless. From SHNS’s Colin Young: “The state’s cybersecurity chief warned municipal leaders of a high-risk threat to a common email system over the weekend as federal officials urge businesses and governments to protect themselves against what the White House said is ‘a significant vulnerability that could have far-reaching impacts.’”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

‘Bill of rights’: House approves legislation updating child protection laws

SHNS’s Michael P. Norton reports (pay wall) that a “popular child protection bill that fell through the cracks last legislative session is gathering momentum in the new session,” winning House approval yesterday. The legislation – which, among other things, establishes a “bill of rights” to help recruit and retain foster parents and transparency measurers – now awaits action by the Senate.

Vineyard Wind I moves closer to reality

It’s amazing how the fate of environmental reviews, which are supposed to be based on scientific facts, can change from administration to administration, in this case the Biden administration’s completion of a review of the Vineyard Wind I project that the Trump administration dragged its feet on and that the Obama administration once touted. In any event, the offshore wind project is now one regulatory step closer to reality, reports CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl.

CommonWealth

Digging in: Replacements on job as St. Vincent strike enters second day

As 800 striking nurses walked picket lines outside, management at  St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester said it has “qualified replacement nurses” on the job, as both sides appeared to be digging in and girding for a lengthy walkout, Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram reports.

Telegram

Fired up: Former prosecutors slam Berkshire County DA over departures

Pittsfield City Councilor Helen Moon and other former employees of the Berkshire County DA’s office say a slew of departures there since Andrea Harrington took office include politically motivated firings — and they’requestioning her use of nondisclosure agreements for those going out the door, Heather Bellow at the Berkshire Eagle reports. 

Berkshire Eagle

Cornel West is leaving Harvard — again

Harvard professor Cornell West is leaving the university for a post at Union Theological Seminary in New York, marking the second time he’s left Harvard after tangling with university administrators. This time the dispute was over the denial of his request to be considered for tenure, reports the Globe’s Laura Krantz. They NYT has more on West’s departure.

Boston Globe

Meanwhile, yet another professor ignites uproar over ‘comfort women’ claims

And yet another campus controversy at Harvard. From the AP’s Colin Binkley: “A Harvard University professor has ignited an international uproar and faces mounting scrutiny for alleging that Korean women who were kept as sex slaves in wartime Japan had actually chosen to work as prostitutes.”

AP News

Say what? Tufts student wins rare campus free-speech victory

While a Harvard professor fends off attacks on his academic work, a Tufts student who “stood up to the mob of Israel-haters” on campus scored a minor victory after critics backed off threats to have him removed from his student government post, writes Jonathan S. Tobin at the Jewish News Syndicate. The student’s transgression? Protesting anti-Semitism. 

At the Herald, Jeff Robbins is blasting the campus cultures at Tufts and elsewhere that he says allows anti-Semitism to openly flourish. 

JNS

Dynasty in reverse: Springfield City Council fills seat with departing member’s father

Like son, like father. With former Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez now working full-time as a state senator, the remaining members of the council has tapped Gomez’ father — local veteran activist Gumersindo Gomez — to serve out the rest of his term. Peter Goonan at MassLive has the details.  

WMP&I’s Matt Szafranskihas more on Springfield’s Game of Thrones.

MassLive

Boston no longer has worst traffic in America – for the time being

It took a pandemic, but let it be known: Boston no longer has the worst traffic in America. After the pandemic, well, we’ll deal with it then. The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter and Rick Sobey have more.

Boston Herald

Airing his grievances: Holyoke cop alleges corruption, retaliation in viral video

His video has gained thousands of views. The question is whether he’ll still have a job when the dust settles. Holyoke police officer Rafael Roca took to YouTube to make sweeping allegations of corruption inside the department, all the way up to the chief, and complained that his efforts to land jobs in other agencies, including the State Police, have been thwarted in retaliation for his speaking out,Stephanie Barry at MassLive reports.

Animal rights group to AG: Issue the cage-free rules, pronto

Christian Wade at CNHI News reports that a California-based animal rights group is “ratcheting up pressure on Attorney General Maura Healey to release new regulations for a voter-approved law banning sales of eggs and meat from cage-confined animals.” They say any delay jeopardizes farm animals.

CNHI News

BPS launches investigation of controversial student therapy sessions

The Boston Public Schools system has suspended its ties with a nonprofit youth group and launched an investigation into allegation that students may have been subjected to controversial counseling sessions that reportedly encouraged them to cry and let out their inner traumas, etc. The Globe’s Naomi Martin and James Vaznis have more.

Boston Globe

A Year Apart: How COVID Changed Us

GBH News will dedicate March 10, 2021 to looking back at A Year Apart: How COVID Changed Us, and to looking ahead to a post-pandemic future. Throughout the day across our airwaves, website, social media and in a special live streaming event, we will explore the myriad ways COVID has changed us: how we teach our children; how we grieve and celebrate; how the business landscape has changed; how the arts community hopes to rebound; how we remember those we have lost.

WGBH

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

Lucy Stone: Make the World a Better Place

This program explores the lifelong fight of Massachusetts’ own Lucy Stone to win equal voting rights for women and African Americans. Despite leading both the women’s rights and abolitionist movements, Stone’s name is often absent from history. Join us in examining why this historical titan’s work was so integral to the nation’s evolution.

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

I Dissent: How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Became the Notorious RBG

Award-winning journalist Irin Carmon, co-author of the runaway bestseller Notorious RPG, tells the intimate story of a remarkable Jewish woman who transcended divides and describes how to carry on her legacy.

Jewish Public Library

“The Black Lives Matter Protests: An Early History” with Chad Williams

The U.S. has been rocked by the murder of George Floyd and the widespread recognition of violence against Blacks. These events have re-awakened us to our racist legacy. Across the nation and globally, Black and white people have protested policy brutality and the continued inequalities in our society.

Cary Memorial Public Library

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

Metro

Cambridge tear gas ban could be in place within 60 days, – Cambridge Day

Boston school system launches outside investigation into allegations of student emotional manipulation, suspends relationship with nonprofit – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

UMass suspending students over ‘egregious’ violations of Covid policies – MassLive

Falmouth police recruits fired for drinking in academy, lying to investigators – Cape Cod Times

Nantucket Film Festival going hybrid with drive-in movies, small garden screenings – Inquirer & Mirror

Nation

Soaring home prices are starting to alarm policymakers – Politico

We already got rid of the filibuster once before – The Atlantic

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