Keller at Large
UMass flunks its truth test
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller spells out all the ways UMass Amherst failed to put in place realistic plans to deal with on-campus students during the pandemic – and then not openly confirming and confronting the problems of college students behaving badly.
Soldiers’ Home hearing, Worcester’s art and cultural scene, and more
— The Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight meets virtually to receive public input on Gov. Baker’s bill authorizing up to $400 million to construct a new long-term care facility at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, 10:30 a.m.
— U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark holds a virtual press conference to introduce legislation that makes ‘critical investments’ in child care facilities and the early education workforce, 11 a.m.
— Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance holds a virtual press conference with students, parents, and school committee members from across the state to discuss school and college funding needs, reopening in-person learning this spring, and other matters, 11 a.m.
— Worcester arts and cultural leaders discuss what they envision for 2021 and the industry’s role in the city’s path to greater vitality during a Worcester Business Journal and State House News Service virtual forum, with WGBH’s Joe Mathleu moderating, 12 p.m.
— Joint Committee on Ways and Means holds its third hearing on Gov. Baker’s fiscal 2022 budget proposal, this one focused on education and local aid issues., 1 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.
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: 28 new deaths, 16,339 total deaths, 1,004 new cases
MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
Senate finally passes ambitious climate-change bill
Is fourth time the charm for the Massachusetts Senate? SHNS’s Colin Young and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl report that, yes, the Senate yesterday approved an ambitious climate-change bill, the fourth time in just over a year the chamber has passed a variation of the legislation that’s been, in order, ignored, vetoed, amended and delayed over the months. It now heads to the House for likely passage.
Next up for the Senate: A Thursday vote on the UI/PPP pandemic relief bill, reports the Herald’s Erin Tiernan.
Lynch on T cuts: ‘We’re going to have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting’
A come-to-Jesus meeting with whom? U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch isn’t saying exactly, but we suspect it eventually includes a talk with a certain tall guy who recently got a buzz cut. The Patriot Ledger’s Mary Whitfall and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan have more on Lynch’s angry reaction to the MBTA’s weekend cuts in subway and bus services, despite the huge amount of federal bucks headed the T’s way.
Baker’s tumbling poll numbers
The other polling shoe dropped yesterday, with UMass Amherst/WCVB releasing more survey data that shows Gov. Charlie Baker’s popularity plunging, due largely to his handling of the vaccine rollout, it would appear. We’re talking about a 26-point decline since August.
The silence is deafening: Legislative leaders mum on forcing Baker to delay school reopenings
With the backing of teacher unions, some lawmakers are pushing hard for emergency legislation that would force Gov. Charlie Baker to delay the planned reopening of in-person classes next month. But the Globe’s Emma Platoff reports that House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka haven’t stated their position on the bill despite inquiries from the Globe.
One of the reasons for their silence could be (repeat: could be) tied to the fact that Dems would own the vaccination/school reopening issue if they pass the bill – and then they’d have to answer to A.) parents and B.) elderly people and relatives of elderly people. See post below.
Fyi, the Globe, in an editorial, is making its position known: “No delays. It’s time to get back to school.” And Fyi II, parents apparently made this possible, via WCVB: “Winthrop school committee votes to have all students return to full in-person learning April 5.”
Aged-based vaccinations: It’s working – and dramatically so
The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that the average age of those hospitalized for COVID-19 in Massachusetts has dropped dramatically, from an average of 73 years old to 64 years old, and experts are crediting the state’s priority of vaccinating “older people who are more susceptible to severe disease and death from the virus.”
Think about this next time an occupational group, no matter how worthy and deserving they are to get vaccines, try to get bumped up on the vaccine priority list.
Declining vaccines in large numbers: State troopers and prison guards
As most everyone else in Massachusetts clamors for vaccine shots, the Globe’s Matt Stout and Dasia Moore report that nearly 850 State Police employees have not been vaccinated, due largely (apparently) to vaccine hesitancy within ranks. Meanwhile, the AP at MassLive reports that more than half of prison guards in Massachusetts have declined COVID vaccines.
Coronavirus updates: Nearly 1 million fully vaccinated, Northeastern’s Fenway graduation, Marathon caps number of runners
There’s a lot of news this morning on the coronavirus front, so we’re going with quick headlines and summaries in this post, starting with good news from WCVB: “Massachusetts gets closer to 1 million fully-vaccinated residents.” … The Herald reports that Cambridge-based Moderna is testing a new one-dose vaccine that won’t need ultra-cold storage. … From Universal Hub: “Northeastern to hold double-header graduation at Fenway Park.” … From WCVB: “COVID-19 cluster associated with Hampton wrestling tournament, health officials say.” … From the Globe: “Big money for rent relief is coming to Mass. Will it block a long-feared eviction crisis?” … From WBUR: “This Year’s Boston Marathon, Rescheduled For October, Will Be Capped At 20,000 Runners.” … From SHNS: “Bill Requires FAFSA Completion Before High School Graduation.” … And from the Globe again: “Developer teams up with manufacturer to produce millions of N95 masks.”
Out in Lynn: McGee won’t seek re-election as mayor
He’s done. Thomas McGee, who left his seat in the state Senate four years ago to be elected mayor of Lynn, says he won’t seek another term, setting the stage for a wide open race to succeed him, Allysha Dunnigan at the Lynn Item reports.
As IG slams ‘useless’ sleep apnea studies funded by MassHealth …
Christian Wade at CNHI News writes that Inspector General Glenn Cunha’s office has released a new report calling into question whether MassHealth should be spending millions of dollars on so many sleep apnea studies, suggesting providers may be fleecing taxpayers via “medically useless” or even fraudulent procedures.
Have you ever been to a sleep apnea clinic? It does make you wonder.
… activist wants MassHealth to stop funding circumcisions
Speaking of MassHealth, Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports that a Boston anti-circumcision activist will be “allowed to make his case before a jury that state-funded circumcisions are a waste of taxpayer money,” thanks to a recent Suffolk Superior Court ruling that permitted the lawsuit to move forward.
Warren’s network: It’s spreading everywhere
Politico’s Zachary Warmbrodt has the latest on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s growing clout in the Biden administration, largely through the placement of a “small army of her former aides and allies” in key government positions.
But, wait, the Warren influence is also spreading to … California? Politico reports Warren is getting involved in the Newsom recall battle in the Golden State.
Romney: The right and wrong ways to boycott the Olympics
Former Massachusetts Gov. and current Utah Sen. Mitt Romney knows a thing or two about the Olympics, having organized the 2002 Salt Lake Games, and he says current calls to boycott the 2022 Olympics in China are unfair to U.S athletes. His idea: Let the athletes participate – and boycott the games diplomatically and economically when possible. He explains at the NYT.
Spilka: If we must have sports gambling, make it a ‘national model’
Speaking of sports, Senate President Karen Spilka continues to take a cautious wait-and-see approach towards legalized sports gambling in Massachusetts. But she says if there must be legalized sports betting, it should be a ‘national model,’ reports SHNS’s Michael Norton.
MFA’s iconic JFK portrait now hanging in the White House
Here’s an interesting item. An iconic portrait of John F. Kennedy, by American artist Jamie Wyeth, is now hanging in President Biden’s private study in the White House – courtesy of a loan agreement with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, reports Andrea Shea at WBUR.
Getting results: Holyoke councilors call for police review after officer’s viral video
He definitely got their attention. The Holyoke City Council may order an outside review of the city’s police department following accusations of corruption and favoritism made in a viral online video posted by a now-suspended police officer, Greta Jochem at the Daily Hampshire Gazette returns.
Special delivery: Amazon showers cash on South Shore towns
Score. The towns of Plymouth and Kingston will receive direct payments from Amazon as the e-commerce giant prepares to open yet another distribution center on the border of the two towns, reports Kathryn Gallerani of the Patriot Ledger. Kingston will get $425,000–about half for a new fire truck–and Plymouth will get $200,000 toward a water system upgrade.
Getting testy: Nurses union denies bullying claims, hospitals slams patient safety claims
A week in, they’re only talking to swap accusations. The Mass. Nurses Association is denying claims of bullying against the 100 or so nurses who have crossed strike picket lines to work at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Michael Bonner at MassLive reports. Hospital management, meanwhile, says claims that patient safety is suffering amid the job action are false, Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram reports.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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