Happening Today

Soldiers’ Home hearing, transit rally, and more

— Senate President Karen Spilka holds a virtual forum in partnership with the Rennie Center for parents and educators to promote the benefits of social-emotional learning during the pandemic, 10 a.m.

— Public officials representing 15 ‘inner core’ cities and towns celebrate the five-year anniversary of their Climate Preparedness Commitment, 10:30 a.m.

Public Transit Public Good Coalition holds a virtual rally with MBTA riders, workers, and elected officials to urge Gov. Charlie Baker and the Fiscal and Management Control Board to reverse cuts at the transit agency, 11 a.m.

Special Joint Oversight Committee on Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke COVID-19 Outbreak holds a virtual hearing to receive testimony from former U.S. Attorney Mark Pearlstein, who produced a report last year that poor decisions and oversight contributed to scores of COVID-19 deaths at the facility, 1 p.m. 

— U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley speaks with former San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz in an online event that’s part of Mount Holyoke College’s ‘Our Voices, Our Platforms’ town hall series, 4:30 p.m.

— New England First Amendment Coalition and Medfield Insider host a panel discussion on local journalism and the need for transparency in Massachusetts, with panelists including Peter Caruso of Caruso & Caruso, Kay Lazar of the Boston Globe and Morgan Mullings of Bay State Banner, with Charles Sennott of the GroundTruth Project moderating, 5:30 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: 27 new deaths, 16,426 total deaths, 1,857 new cases

WCVB has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Legislature plans tax-deadline delay till May 17

The Massachusetts Senate has advanced a plan to delay the state’s tax-filing deadline this year from April 15 to May 17, mirroring a similar delay by the IRS, reports MassLive’s Steph Solis and SHNS’s Chris Lisinski.

The measure is tucked into the COVID-19 relief bill that was passed by the Senate yesterday – a bill that still needs to be worked out with the House.

Finis: Lawmakers send sweeping climate bill to ‘very pleased’ Baker

From the AP’s Steve LeBlanc at CBS Boston: “Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday again sent back to Gov. Charlie Baker a sweeping climate change bill that has bounced between the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor for the past several months.”

And it was passed in both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, so it doesn’t really matter much, from a parliamentary perspective, if the administration is “very pleased” or not with the final outcome. SHNS’s Colin Young and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan have more.

CBS Boston

As Baker eases travel rules and other restrictions …

Switching to the pandemic, the BBJ’s Greg Ryan and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan report on the further lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions in Massachusetts as the Baker administration pushes ahead with reopening the economy amid positive news on the vaccination front. But … see post below.

… public health officials urge the state to slow down reopening amid fears of new surge

They’re looking at the coronavirus-case stats and starting to get nervous again. MassLive’s Tanner Stening reports on the slight increase in the number of communities listed as coronavirus hotspots. Meanwhile, CBS Boston reports on a jump in COVID cases in schools. And experts say the state’s daily number of virus cases is plateauing at an “unacceptably high” level, reports the Globe’s Dasai Moore and Hanna Krueger.

And now a coalition of public health professionals has issued an open letter to Gov. Baker, urging him to go slower on the reopening of the economy, reports the Globe’s Travis Andersen.

Lawmakers to administration: Go local

From Jeanette DeForge at MassLive: “Saying there are multiple regional COVID-19 vaccine collaboratives ready to administer shots and thousands of residents who would prefer the ease and familiarity of being taken care of close to home, dozens of legislators Thursday sent a letter to state officials urging them to start sending doses to regional sites.”

In other vaccine-rollout news, SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports the Cape is now offering educator only vaccination days. The AP at WBUR reports on yesterday’s soft opening of the mass-vax site at the Hynes Convention Center. And Angus Chen at WBUR reports that some people are finding it hard to get second-dose appointments.

MassLive

2022 gubernatorial-race update: Healey continues to stalk Baker on coronavirus issues

Attorney General Maura Healey was out and about again yesterday, touring Brockton-area businesses and talking vaccination policies. And she was critical yesterday of the Baker administration’s various vaccine-rollout course corrections. And did we mention she’s considered a top Dem contender for governor in 2022? The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky has more.

Boston Herald

They’ve had it: Nearly a fifth of state’s mayors calling it quits after a COVID-year from hell

CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl reports that eight Massachusetts mayors, nearly a fifth of all mayors in the state, are stepping down this year. And most of them are bluntly saying they’re exhausted and want their lives back after a non-stop year of dealing with the pandemic.

CommonWealth

Federal relief money: Some cities benefit from an acient formula, others don’t

When it comes to divvying up federal COVID-19 relief funds among communities, it’s sort of back-to-the-future time – with a decades-old formula for distributing federal funds leaving hard-hit cities like Chelsea with considerably less money than more affluent towns like Arlington. WBUR’s Simón Ríos and Tibisay Zea were on the issue last week – and the Globe’s Emma Platoff is on the issue this morning.

Has Keolis found Jesus? Commuter rail company holds off on train-conductor furloughs

Keolis, the company that runs the commuter rail for the MBTA, has had a change of heart about furloughing dozens of rail conductors, according to U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, reports WBUR. We suspect the change of heart came after a ‘come-to-Jesus meeting’ with Lynch, but we could be wrong.

WBUR

Tense times: Salem State faculty warn of job-action over furloughs

Speaking of furloughs, union faculty members at Salem State University say they’ll start a work-to-rule job action, i.e. doing only what their contracts require, when they return to campus next week in protest of planned rolling furloughs despite what union leaders say is a budget surplus. Dustin Luca at the Salem News has the details. 

Salem News

Hate crimes bill gains momentum after Atlanta slayings

The Atlanta shootings are reverberating far and wide. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “The Atlanta-area shooting this week that left eight people dead and stoked a wave of outrage and fear over anti-Asian violence should be called out as a hate crime, according to Attorney General Maura Healey, who has teamed up with a pair of lawmakers to seek reforms to the hate crime statutes in Massachusetts.”

And from the Globe’s Shirley Leung: “After Atlanta slayings, this time needs to be different for Asian Americans.”

The last pitch: Curt Schilling decries Boston experience, announces he’s leaving for Tennessee

He hated it so much he stayed here 17 years. And now Curt Schilling, the former Red Sox star and outspoken conservative, is leaving our bluest of blue environments, saying that “outside of our circle of friends, it hasn’t been a real pleasant experience in Boston.” The Globe’s Christopher Price has more.

Boston Globe

Vocational schools: Tiime for an admissions lottery to combat discrimination?

There’s a lot of unhappiness out there over the admission policies at suddenly popular vocational schools in Massachusetts – and civil rights groups say it’s time for a change. Here’s one idea being floated: A lottery to get into schools. GBH’s Craig LeMoult and MassLive’s Melissa Hanson have more on the hotly debated admissions issue.

Just to be safe: Business leaders spreading the money around among mayoral candidates

The Boston business community hasn’t coalesced yet around one candidate for mayor of Boston. But some individual business leaders have made their choice and are throwing their support behind various candidates. The Globe’s Shirley Leung has the rundown.

Boston Globe

Pittsfield, we have a spacecraft-facility grant for you

File this under ‘cool.’ Thanks to a new state grant, the Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield will “soon host the only commercial facility in the world capable of replicating the space environment on Earth to test materials and equipment for future missions,” reports SHNS’s Colin Young.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

‘Better off’: Chicopee City Councilor makes waves with comments about hitting kids

He’s back. Chicopee City Councilor Lucjan Galecki is again facing a swift backlash after he took to social media to suggest that children are “better off” in the long run if they get used to “getting hit extremely hard by an adult.” As Jackson Cote at MassLive points out, Galecki sparked outrage back last year with posts that seemed to blame sexual assaults on the victims of sexual assault.

MassLive

Can’t we please save the thoroughbred horse industry in Massachusetts?

Arlene Brown, secretary for the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeder’s Association, bemoans the sad and quiet decline of the thoroughbred horse industry in the state. It’s more than just horse-racing tracks, she writes at the Taunton Gazette. It’s about jobs, spinoff businesses and a way of life.

Taunton Gazette

Humble beginnings: New HHS secretary got his start with Worcester agency

They remember him when. Xavier Becerra, who was confirmed yesterday by the U.S. Senate to be President Biden’s secretary for health and human services, started his career by providing legal advice to low income residents through a Worcester nonprofit, Grant Welker at the Worcester Business Journal reports.

WBJ

Reality check: Vote-by-mail debate driven largely by perception

No evidence? No problem. Anthony Brooks at WBUR dives into the push by Bay State Democrats to make vote-by-mail a permanent fixture of future elections – and he finds that despite a stark rhetoric on the issue, the data show that the option doesn’t necessarily help either party. 

WBUR

Sunday public affairs TV: Charlie Baker, Ben Downing, Kim Janey

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Gov. Charlie Baker, who talks with host Jon Keller about vaccinations, federal warnings about resurgent infection, and school re-openings. This 

Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Kevin Tabb, CEO of Beth Israel Lahey Health, talks about lessons learned from the pandemic and the vaccination rollout; Northeast Arc chief executive Jo Ann Simons on the life changing work her institution is doing for people with disabilities; and the BBJ’s Doug Banks reviews this week’s top local business stories.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Democratic candidate for governor Ben Downing, who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a political discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Virginia Buckingham.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: A conversation with Kim Janey, city council president and mayor-in-waiting of Boston.

“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

Learning from the Pandemic: Lessons from State and National Perspectives

As the pandemic endures and students continue remote learning, this panel is convened to shed light on educational excellence through remote learning, hybrid, and in-person learning. Panelists will discuss the educational impacts of COVID-19 on student learning, performance, and well-being; offering thoughts & recommendations on issues that face students and educational systems.

Worcester Regional Research Bureau

Energy Policy Seminar: Shalanda Baker on “Energy Justice”.

Join us for an Energy Policy Summit featuring Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Baker will discuss “Energy Justice”. This seminar will be hosted by Professor Joe Aldy.

Harvard Kennedy School

Defense Project Series: Ending the War in Afghanistan – a discussion with counter-terror expert David Kilcullen

David Kilcullen, strategist/scholar/author, discusses the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban and ISIS, and how the United States and its allies might help Afghanistan forge a future of hope and promise rather than a return to the dark days of the 1990s. Join Bill Rapp as he moderates this important discussion with the famed counter-terror expert.

Harvard Kennedy School

Japan’s Growth Strategy in the 2020s: Demand – and Supply -Side Dimensions

An evening webinar event with the Program on US-Japan Relations and co-sponsored by the Mossavar-Rahmai Center for Business and Government. Speaker: Motoshige Itoh, Professor, the Faculty of International Social Sciences, Gakushuin University; Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo.

Harvard Kennedy School

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

Voices for Justice:Ta-Nehisi Coates in Conversation with Callie Crossley

The Cambridge Public Library Foundation is proud to present Voices for Justice, a free, virtual event series supporting the Cambridge Public Library’s world-class Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programming and initiative. Join us for this virtual event featuring Ta-Nehisi Coates in conversation with Callie Crossley of WGBH Boston’s Under the Radar.

Cambridge Public Library

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Quincy mayor addresses nationwide anti-Asian racism – Patriot Ledger

Changing times: Hyde Park could get Starbucks – Universal Hub

Massachusetts

New mascot for Barnstable high: Red hawks – Cape Cod Times

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse to earn $185K as Provincetown town manager – MassLive

Holyoke police review panel struggles with lack of resources – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Nation

Biden will send Mexico surplus vaccine, as U.S. seeks help on immigration enforcement – Washington Post

Texas museum removes wax Trump figure after visitors kept punching it – The Hill

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