Happening Today

Baker in Chelsea, student debt cancellation, Red Sox Opening Day

Metropolitan Area Planning Council hosts a discussion on the pandemic’s impacts on women in the workforce, with panelists including Senate President Karen Spilka, Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education’s Saskia Epstein, NAACP Boston branch president Tanisha Sullivan and Black Economic Council of Massachusetts member Leslie Forde, 11 a.m.

Environmental League of Massachusetts holds the first of four virtual panel discussions to explore the intersection of climate and health, with panelists including Rep. Jon Santiago, Kevin Bartlett of Takeda and Dr. Jonanathan Slutzman of Massachusetts General Hospital, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker plans to tour the vaccination site at the La Colaborativa headquarters in Chelsea and provide an update on COVID-19 vaccinations, 12 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Attorney General Maura Healey hold a press conference calling for President Biden to use existing authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for federal student loan borrowers, 12:15 p.m.

— The Boston Red Sox — with fans in attendance — make their return to Fenway Park with an Opening Day game against the Baltimore Orioles, the first MLB game at Fenway since Sept. 29, 2019, before the onset of the pandemic, 2;10 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: 36 new deaths, 16,844 total deaths, 2,252 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

‘Multi-system failure’: Scathing report blasts state’s handling of David Almond case

It’s devastating, scathing, damning, whatever you want to call it. But it’s above all: tragic. Jo C. Goode at the Herald News and Matt Stout at the Globe report investigators have concluded that Massachusetts, New York and even Fall River officials utterly failed the late David Almond, the 14-year-old victim of alleged savage and repeated abuse by elders — and abuse that could have and should have been stopped.

The fallout from the report has been immediate. From Saraya Wintersmith at GBH: “Mass. Child Welfare Commissioner Shakes Up Staff, Admits State Safety Net Failed David Almond.” From MassLive: “After ‘damning’ David Almond report, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says he expects DCF will implement reforms.” From SHNS: “Lawmakers Call Oversight Hearing in Wake of Almond Report.”

It’s a doozy: Biden unveils his $2 trillion infrastructure bill

President Biden yesterday finally unveiled his proposed $2 trillion infrastructure and climate bill – all $2 trillion of it, reports the Washington Post. WBUR has a good summary of what’s in the package and SHNS reports it aligns with the goals of Massachusetts, generally speaking. More specific details will be spilling out over coming days, we assume.

The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports Gov. Charlie Baker is hoping ‘significant’ climate resiliency funding is coming our way. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi wonders who will have more say in dividing up the funds – Baker or Richard Neal? At CommonWealth magazine, James Aloisi thinks Biden has hit the right ‘fix it right’ chord.

Among Baker’s post-pandemic priorities: Housing and infrastructure

He’s starting to think ahead to the day when the pandemic is over. SHNS’s Katie Lannan and GBH’s Mike Deehan report on Gov. Charlie Baker’s housing and infrastructure priorities moving forward.

Amtrak’s dream rail system: Train service from Boston to Albany and Manchester, NH

Speaking of infrastructure: Don’t get too excited. It’s only a dream plan. Still, Universal Hub reports that Amtrak has visionary plans to expand rail service in and around New England – a vision it hasn’t shared yet, it appears, with regional leaders who may or may not be psyched about the vision.

Universal Hub

Now we’re talking: Over 100K one-dose J&J vaccines arrive in Massachusetts new week

This is good news: More than 100,000 of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccines are coming the state’s way next week, a significant increase over prior shipments, a pumped up Gov. Charlie Baker announced yesterday, reports NBC Boston.

And, no, Johnson & Johnson’s recent manufacturing problems won’t effect next week’s shipment, the Globe reports. But here’s some bad news in the race-against-time drama, via MassLive: “CDC: 686 cases of COVID UK variant found in Massachusetts.”

NBC Boston

Pop-up COVID vaccine clinics: They’re a hit

Here’s one vaccination program that seems to be working: Pop-up vax clinics in hard-hit areas – and in areas where vaccine hesitancy runs strong. Liz Neisloss has more at GBH.


Poll: The hesitant are not so hesitant these days

The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports that a new Suffolk University/Globe poll shows an increasing number of people are warming to the idea of getting a COVID-19 shot in Massachusetts. In fact, it’s a rather significant shift in attitudes. Vaccaro has the numbers.

Btw: The same Suffolk/Globe poll shows that parents remain divided on whether in-person school classes should start with or without teachers being vaccinated. The Globe’s James Vaznis has the details.

Boston Globe

Withholding benefits: Is it a way to force first-responders to get vaccinated?

Speaking of vaccinations, GBH’s Craig LeMoult has an update on a Beacon Hill push to allow firefighters, police and EMTs to keep collecting a full paycheck while they recover, without using their sick days, if they contract COVID-19 in the line of duty.

The proposal got us to thinking: Instead of mandating that first-responders get vaccinated or lose their jobs (an idea Gov. Baker is not too keen on), why not nudge them along by withholding such benefits if they refuse to get shots? Just an idea. Then again, a good question might be: Why should only public employees get such benefits in the first place?

The 2022 gubernatorial race: Still in the maybe, perhaps, not-ruling-it-out stage

WBUR’s Callum Borcher reports that the 2022 gubernatorial race is starting to come into distant, fuzzy focus, but there are still a lot of “maybes” out there, i.e. potential candidates waiting, watching and mulling runs. He has all the names, including a few mild surprises. The ultimate ‘maybe’ candidate holding everything up: Charlie Baker.


Downing: It’s ‘cruel and abusive’ to withhold college transcripts from students who owe money

Speaking of the governor’s race, via SHNS: “Calling it ‘cruel and abusive’ to deny students access to their college transcripts due to debts owed to their schools, no matter how small, Democrat Ben Downing said Wednesday that Gov. Charlie Baker should support legislation filed by a Worcester senator that would address the problem.”

Fyi: Notice how we resisted the temptation to use the word ‘deadbeat’ in the headline.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Decent run: Hudson selectman won’t run again after 39 years on board

Thirty-nine is enough. Hudson Selectman Joseph Durant has decided not to seek re-election to what would have been his 14th consecutive term on the town’s select board, Lillian Eden at the MetroWest Daily News reports. Durant cites a host of reasons for his decision, but admits he recently missed live, in-person meetings. 

MetroWest Daily News

Almost as annoying as VaxFinder: RMV car inspection system crashes on last day of month

GBH’s Mike Deehan reports that a vendor outage halted vehicle inspections across the state yesterday, the last day of the month before stickers expired for many motorists. RMV blamed the nationwide problem on a Wisconsin tech company and hopes the system is fixed soon.


Healey and lawmakers: Enough is enough. Time to update hate crimes law

From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “The physical assault of a 65-year-old Asian American woman captured on video in Manhattan earlier this week is the latest high-profile example of rising anti-Asian violence that should prompt an overhaul of the Massachusetts hate crime statute, Attorney General Maura Healey and lawmakers said Wednesday.”

Report: AG’s office has paid $1M to defend ex-prosecutors in drug lab scandal

Maybe Netflix can add the final tally to an epilogue of its ‘How to Fix a Drug Scandal’ series. From Deborah Becker at WBUR: “The Massachusetts attorney general’s office has spent nearly $1 million in legal fees defending three former prosecutors facing potential disbarment for their roles in one of the state’s drug lab scandals.”

Returned to donor: Under fire, Worcester DA Early gives back police union donation

Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early has returned $650 in campaign donations to the New England Police Benevolent Association after the police union demanded a refund following Early’s decision not to prosecute protesters arrested in the city during a George Floyd-related protest. Brad Petrishen at the Telegram has details. 


Board: Baker administration made unlawful paycheck deductions to pay for family leave

This one should interest state workers. From, once again, the indispensable SHNS: “A union representing more than 22,000 state workers won a case this week against the Baker administration involving the paid family and medical leave law that could require the state to repay employees as much as $30 million in benefit contributions that were improperly deducted from paychecks.”

No remorse: Saugus school committee wants member to resign after media comments

After further review, they want him out. The Saugus School Committee is formally asking member Arthur Grabowski to resign, saying he was not receptive to calls for him to apologize for comments he made about non-English speaking workers at one of the city’s schools. Elyse Carmosino reports at the Lynn Item that the board did not appreciate that Grabowski essentially doubled down on the questionable comments while speaking to local media. 

Lynn Item

Obscure GOP committee race gets weirder and weirder

The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that the vote count in a little-known GOP committee-member race in Boston has changed yet again nearly 13 months after the election – and state Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons is fuming. We’re talking 167 total votes here. That’s it. And more than a year to count them.

Boston Herald

Shark Week in March, Part II: The Globe strikes back

After days of relentless early-season Great White Shark coverage at the Herald, the Boston Globe this morning has its own early-season Great White Shark story. Granted, it’s tied to a new Atlantic White Shark Conservancy study showing that sharks spend half their time in shallow water off the Cape – and you know what that means. But, aha, the Herald had the study story earlier this week.

We can picture it now: Brian McGrory slamming his fist on his desk, knowing the down-but-not-out Herald beat ‘em to the blue-water-white-death punch.

Energy Policy Seminar: Andrew Light on “International Energy and Climate Policy Outlook”

Join us for an Energy Policy Seminar featuring Andrew Light, Acting Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, Department of Energy. Mr. Light will discuss “International Energy and Climate Policy Outlook”. The seminar will be hosted by HKS Professor Joe Aldi.

Harvard Kennedy School

Virtual Talk – The British Soldiers Who Fought the American Revolution

Join author Don N. Hagist for a different side of history on Patriot’s Day as he discusses the lives of British soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War. For centuries, these soldiers have remained hidden despite their major role in one of the greatest events in world history. There is more to these soldiers than their red uniforms. Who were they? Why did they join the army?

Cary Memorial Public Library

Regional Spotlight: The Northeast

As MassEcon focuses on marketing Massachusetts beyond its borders, we invite you to this Spotlight Series discussion. This free event is open to area business representatives and economic developers.


Biodiversity Where You Are: Boston Area City Nature Challenge

Join the City Nature Challenge, Boston Public Library and Dr. Colleen Hitchcock from Brandeis University to find out how you can get involved in citizen and community science research this spring by joining City Nature Challenge. Learn about citizen science and nature documentation in the Boston area, how science and the public can work together to document nature, and what we’ve learned so far.

Boston Public Library

Propaganda, Media Literacy, and Democracy

This talk will explore the many efforts in education and journalism to increase the media literacy skills so vital to democracy. We’ll examine the challenges of this endeavor with Amy Callahan, who has studied this issue from many angles. A former journalist, public relations professional, and media literacy education scholar, she has an extensive background in teaching and journalism.

Cary Memorial Public Library

Escaping Unfreedom: How Cuff Whittemore used his Military Service to Claim his Freedom

Cuff Whittemore of Arlington fought with his military company at Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill, then seven more years in the Continental Army. Why did this African-American man choose to join the rebellion then re-enlist over and over after it had blossomed into a war? This online program, co-presented by the National Park Service, will happen over Zoom. Registration is required.

Boston Public Library

“I am a daughter of liberty”: Women in the American Struggle for Independence

The American Revolution brought the sudden and radical entrance of women into political life. Women actively participated in, and ensured the success of the boycotts of British goods that forced the repeal of oppressive legislation. When the war began, women took over the management of farms and shops, served as spies, saboteurs, messengers, and even soldiers. Their stories are worth telling.

Cary Memorial Public Library

Today’s Headlines


Cultural, artistic center and market proposed for Roxbury’s Nubian Square – Boston Herald

Quincy Airbnb’s now subject to new laws by city – Patriot Ledger


Suspected in-school coronavirus transmission forces Tyngsborough Elementary School into remote-only learning – Boston Globe

Salem exploring new bike share – Salem News

Ecotarium to emerge from ‘hibernation’ on April 23 – Telegram & Gazette


Northeast governors need Biden to deliver on offshore wind – Politico

Supreme Court skeptical of NCAA’s case for withholding benefits from student athletes – Washington Post

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