Good Friday, Re-scheduled Sox game, COVID-19 vigil
— Today is Good Friday and is not an official federal or state holiday, but U.S. stock markets and many schools and other organizations are closed in advance of Sunday’s Easter holiday and the last day of Passover.
— Sen. Eric Lesser talks virtually with Alliance for Business Leadership President Jennifer Benson about the organization’s policy advocacy in transportation, housing, workplace opportunities, and clean energy, 12 p.m.
— Revere Board of Health hosts its first mobile vaccination clinic for essential workers employed by the many retailers at Northgate Shopping Center, 2 p.m.
— The Red Sox play their rescheduled Opening Day game this afternoon at Fenway Park after yesterday’s game was cancelled due to rain, 2:10 p.m.
— Massachusetts families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 hold a Global Pandemics Stonewalk Vigil at the State House before heading to Old South Church, 3 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: 32 new deaths, 16,876 total deaths 2,455 new cases
MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
Riley’s retreat: MCAS requirements waived for Class of 2022
It’s not like he’s retreating from Moscow. But it’s still a retreat. From the Globe’s James Vaznis: “State Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley, facing a mounting backlash over MCAS testing this spring, proposed a number of changes on Thursday, including one radical measure that would exempt this year’s 11th-graders from passing the tests in order to graduate from high school.”
GBH’s Meg Woolhouse and SHNS’s Katie Lannan have more. Meanwhile, from the Herald’s Alexi Cohen: “Massachusetts senators request MCAS testing be delayed until fall.”
Next week’s J&J shots are on the way, but after that …
Rest assured: Next week’s shipment of 100,000 Johnson & Johnson shots will be arriving next week in Massachusetts. But a major mishap at a J&J vaccine manufacturing facility may (or may not) delay future shipments of the one-shot wonders, reports the Globe’s Robert Weisdman and Travis Andersen. Bottom line when it comes to supplies, it seems: One step forward, one step back. We’ll see.
As for next week’s J&J vaccines, they’ll be distributed mostly to regional collaboratives and community health centers, MassLive’s Steph Solis reports.
Signed, sealed and almost delivered: State UI-PPP relief bill approved by Baker
Gov. Charlie Baker has finally received and signed a state pandemic relief bill that, among other things, delays unemployment-insurance rate hikes paid by employers and excludes federal PPP loans as taxable income in Massachusetts, reports MassLive’s Steph Solis.
In other tax-related news, from SHNS’s Michael Norton: “IRS: Tax Law Change Will Trigger Wave of Refunds.”
County windfalls, Part II: Non-existent Suffolk County lands $100M in federal relief funds
Speaking of pandemic relief efforts (of the federal relief kind), from the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter: “But wait, there’s more! Boston’s expecting to receive a windfall of another $100 million or more in coronavirus recovery money — on top of the $434 million it’s already getting — because the feds budgeted big bucks for the nonexistent Suffolk County government.”
This is getting absurd. If you recall, SHNS earlier this week reported that nearly $400M in relief funds are headed to Massachusetts counties – most of which exist in name only.
Struggling renters: Help is on the way – nearly $1 billion of it
And speaking of financial windfalls, SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports that tenants struggling to pay their rent during the pandemic can now “access assistance to cover up to 12 months of unpaid rent as a pair of federal stimulus bills have infused the state with hundreds of millions of dollars, allowing Gov. Charlie Baker to grow the state’s eviction diversion program almost sixfold.” We’re talking nearly $1 billion.
SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)
Thinking outside the box and state: Idaho veterans-center chief tapped to head Holyoke Soldiers’ Home
In the end, they went with a potential “transformational” out-of-stater as the new superintendent of the pandemic-ravaged Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, subject to final approval by Gov. Charlie Baker. MassLive’s Stephanie Barry has more on the appointment.
Meanwhile, SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports that Beacon Hill lawmakers are putting off a vote on rebuilding the veterans home as they extend their inquiry into the scores of COVID-19 deaths at the Holyoke facility.
Quite a turnaround: Cape now eyeing potential ‘record-breaking’ summer
A year ago they were in near panic mode as the coronavirus pandemic took hold and threatened the tourism livelihoods of thousands of businesses on Cape Cod. But now Cape officials are eyeing a potential record-breaking summer of tourism – and a potential shortage of seasonal workers too. The Herald’s Lisa Kashinshy has more.
Walk the talk: Romney pushes Biden on bipartisanship promises
Come on, man. Former Massachusetts Gov. and U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney is calling on President Biden to “live up to the bipartisanship he preached in his inaugural address” amid signs the administration is prepared to use budget reconciliation and its narrow Congressional majorities to muscle Biden’s massive infrastructure plan into law, Lexi Lonas at The Hill reports.
Will Biden bend? Warren, Pressley and Healey keep up the pressure to cancel ‘nightmare’ student loan debts
They’re still hopeful that President Biden will ultimately agree to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student-loan debts per borrower. MassLive’s Benjamin Kail reports on yesterday’s renewed calls by Attorney General Maura Healey, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to provide loan relief.
The key to Baker’s popularity? Moderation and moderates
The Globe’s Kevin Cullen has a good column this morning explaining the somewhat simple political dynamics driving Gov. Charlie Baker’s popularity in Massachusetts: He’s neither a progressive nor a conservative ideologue. And people seem to like it.
St. Vincent CEO says nurse strike part of push for statewide staffing standards
She’s not holding back. St. Vincent Hospital CEO Carolyn Jackson is once again saying the nurses striking at her hospital for nearly a month are being used as “pawns” by the Mass. Nurses Association as part of a strategy to prod state lawmakers to require new staffing ratios at all Bay State hospitals, reports the Telegram’s Cyrus Moulton.
Meanwhile, tensions from the Worcester strike are spreading to Framingham Union Hospital, where nurses claim management threatened to fire anyone who joined the St. Vincent picket line, Henry Schwanat the MetroWest Daily News reports.
Almost as annoying as VaxFinder, Part II: Vehicle inspections won’t resume till next week
That malware problem that effectively crashed the vehicle inspection systems in Massachusetts and elsewhere across the country? It won’t be fixed, it appears, until early next week, as an RMV vendor works on the problem today and over the weekend, reports the Globe’s Travis Andersen and Brittany Bowker.
‘Aspirational:’ Northampton backs decriminalizing psychedelic plants
They’re not tripping. The Northampton City Council has voted to support a resolution calling for the decriminalization of psychedelic plants, a position that puts the progressive city at the forefront of a growing national movement on the issue, Will Katcher at MassLive reports.
Healey: Alternative electric retailers have overcharged customers by $426 million
The tally over the past five years is now up to nearly a half billion dollars – and Attorney General Maura Healey isn’t letting up in her campaign against non-utility “competitive suppliers” overcharging mostly unsuspecting electric customers in Massachusetts, according to reports at SHNS and the Globe.
Mayoral candidate’s brother charged with raping 9th woman
Accused serial rapist Alvin Campbell, 39, of Rhode Island, has been hit with yet another rape charge, bringing the total number of rape cases against him to nine, Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins announced yesterday, according to reports at WCVB and by the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo.
And, yes, he’s the brother of Boston city councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell. And, no, she’s not her brother’s keeper, but the connection can’t simply be ignored. The media seems to be handling the connection in a rather sensitive manner – and Campbell herself is expressing shock at the new charges and says she’s praying for the victims.
Baker and Healey appoint 9 members to new police-certifying commission
A retired judge, the Pittsfield police chief and a Boston chaplain are among nine people appointed yesterday by Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey to serve on a new commission tasked with certifying and holding police officers accountable. SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk and MassLive’s Steph Solis have more on the appointments.
Sunday public affairs TV: Stephen Lynch, Bill Keating and Lisette Le
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, who talks with host Jon Keller about President Biden infrastructure bill, his clash with the MBTA over cutbacks, and the Boston mayoral race.
This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Doug Banks of the Boston Business Journal Editor and Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe discuss what the ‘new normal’ might look like for local industries; building the office of the future with Elizabeth Lowery of Elkus Manfredi Architects and Jim Tierney of JLL; and Aubuchon Hardware CEO Will Aubuchon on how the pandemic has fueled the hardware and home projects industry.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, 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 main topic: Amplifying AAPI Voices, with guests including Lisette Le, executive director of VietAid, a non-profit organization to assist the Vietnamese American community in the Fields Corner section of Boston, and Carolyn Chou, director at the Asian American Resources Workshop.
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.
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?
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.
Guns, Safety and the Edge of Adulthood
The event highlights the report by the Center for Court Innovation which interviewed over 300 young people who have either carried a gun or have shot or been shot at, followed by a panel of youth workers reflecting on the implications that these research findings can have on Massachusetts productive approaches to youth whose lives are complicated by the intersection of guns, violence and trauma.
Citizens for Juvenile Justice and MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
Your Rights in Recovery: A Toolkit
RIZE Massachusetts is launching a “Your Rights in Recovery” toolkit designed for people who may not have access to the right supports – often through no fault of their own – to manage their opioid use disorder and begin to recover on their own terms.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Kim Janey cautions against coronavirus spread over Easter weekend in Boston – Boston Herald
Boston’s Positivity Rate Jumps Again, But This Time With Less Alarm – WGBH
Tempers flare as Worcester DA’s assistant alleges due process violation in ethics probe – Telegram & Gazette
Over 250 Pittsfield students bow out of full-time classroom learning – Berkshire Eagle
Worcester County trailing state, nation in vaccination rates – Worcester Business Journal
Google speeds partial office reopening and puts limits on remote work – CNBC
Inside the ‘Lord of the Flies’ factionalism now plaguing Trumpland – Politico
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