In-person classes, 55-plus eligible, new commuter rail schedule
— Today marks the deadline for most of the state’s elementary schools to return to full-time in-person learning.
— The last two categories of people in Phase 2 of the vaccine prioritization become eligible for COVID-19 inoculation, including all people between the ages of 55 and 59.
— A new schedule for the MBTA’s commuter rail system takes effect with the start of service on Monday, with less service during the morning and evening peaks and more service at other times of day.
— The Supreme Judicial court meets with five cases on its docket, including Shaw’s Supermarket, Inc. v. Melendez, a personal injury action that involves questions around how the court’s COVID-19 orders affected statutes of limitations, 9 a.m.
— Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets holds a hearing to consider the $400 million proposal to construct a new Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, 11 a.m.
— Special Joint Oversight Committee on the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke COVID-19 Outbreak holds a hearing with medical experts to examine best practices for the operation of 24/7 health care facilities, 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.
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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.
Twofer Day: Majority of schools reopen and 55-plus are eligible for vaccines – both starting today
It’s a big day on the pandemic front in Massachusetts. First, the majority of school districts in the state return to in-person classes, as required and pushed by the state, reports Jake Levin at NBC Boston. Meanwhile, the Baker administration has announced that people 55 and older, as well as those with certain preconditions, can now register to get vaccinated in Massachusetts, starting today, reports Simón Ríos at WBUR.
The Globe’s Shannon Larson and Laura Crimaldi wrap both developments into one story this morning.
Massachusetts leads U.S. in Brazilian variant cases
As they say, it’s a race against time when it comes to getting people vaccinated before new COVID-19 variants spread – and the race is getting disturbingly tight in Massachusetts. Cynthia McCormick at the Cape Cod Times reports the state is now closely monitoring an outbreak of thenasty P.1 virus variant, which originated in Brazil, on the Cape. And the Globe’s Caroline Enos reports that Massachusetts now has the highest number of P.1 cases in the country.
Lynch: Baker reopened the state too soon
From the Herad’s Erin Tiernan: “U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch called Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to forge ahead with reopening Massachusetts businesses this month against the guidance of the CDC ‘a bit premature’ but said he trusts the Republican governor to slow down ;if things get out of hand.’”
There’s more on Lynch’s comments at WBZ’s Keller at Large.
Political interference? Health director says Gloucester mayor meddling with vaccinations
Gloucester Public Health Director Karin Carroll is accusing Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and her staff of overstepping their authority and interfering with her efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, by disseminating misleading information and arranging for vaccines for those not yet eligible under state guidelines, Taylor Ann Bradford at the Gloucester Times reports.
Snuffed out: State revokes air permit for controversial Springfield biomass plant
Considering the Baker administration has pushed biomass-energy in the past, this is a surprise move, to wit: the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has revoked a key air permit for a controversial proposed biomass facility in Springfield, reports Mariam Wasser at WBUR.
The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham admits she was all set to get on her high horse regarding the wood-burning plant and then … the state did the right thing. And hopefully it sticks with its decision, she writes.
Chiofaro’s proposed harbor tower rejected in a ruling with possible wide ramifications
Here’s another surprise ruling, this time via the courts. The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock reports that a local judge has “handed a big win to the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, as well as residents of the Harbor Towers condominiums, by essentially invalidating the city of Boston’s downtown municipal harbor plan.”
The Globe’s Tim Logan reports the ruling by Superior Court Judge Brian Davis could have ramifications for coastal development in Massachusetts in general.
William ‘Billy’ Evans, RIP: Remembering slain Capitol police officer and North Adams native
As Rachel Treisman reports at WBUR, tributes flooded in over the weekend for William “Billy” Evans, the 18-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police who was killed in Friday’s attack outside the U.S. Capitol. And they’re mourning and remembering Evans, the father of two, in the Berkshires, where he was raised and attended schools, reports Ted Wayman at WCVB and Ray Kelly at MassLIve. William Evans, RIP.
The Healey Watch: AG’s campaign fundraising picks up steam
The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports that Attorney General Maura Healey, besides recently barnstorming around the state on ostensibly Covid-related matters, also saw a major spike in her March fundraising — to a level not seen since she was running for re-election in 2018. Yet another sign she she’s gearing up for a gubernatorial bid?
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito last month once again raised more funds than Gov. Charlie Baker, sparking yet more speculation about 2022, Kashinsky reports.
The Polito Watch: Is she angling for a run against Keating?
There’s more than a few “some believe” qualifiers in this Herald column by Peter Lucas. But Lt. Gov. Karyn Politio’s recent purchase of a $1.8 million home in Dartmouth does make you wonder what she’s up to regarding 2022, no matter what Gov. Charlie Baker decides.
Question of the day: How did budget-writers get COVID state revenues so wrong?
The state today releases the latest monthly tax-collection numbers for Massachusetts – and, if recent trends hold true, they’ll once again defy dire predictions of fiscal doom at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Evan Howowitz, executive director at Tufts University’s Center for State Policy Analysis, explains how and why budget experts got it wrong.
Hampden County retirement chair resigns amid furor over scathing audit
He’s gone. Grag Saulmon at MassLive reports on the resignation of Hampden County Regional Retirement Board chair Richard M. Theroux, who’s leaving one step ahead of a self-appointed posse of outraged selectmen and citizens upset with findings in a sharply critical audit of the board and its management.
‘Dream, dream, dream’: Biden’s $80B Amtrak plans
As gently as possible, the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro tries to bring train enthusiasts back to earth about what is and isn’t likely to happen if (repeat: if) President Biden’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure bill is passed – and along with it $80 billion in new funds for Amtrak passenger rail service. There would be major improvements and even service expansions but … don’t get your hopes up too high. In other words, cue the Everly Brothers.
Side hustle: Correia worked as marijuana consultant while still mayor
He was a busy, busy man. Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, who faces federal bribery charges tied to pot licenses issued in his city while he was mayor, briefly worked as a pot industry consultant for a company that is now suing the Cannabis Control Commission for holding up its licenses, Jo C. Goode at the Herald-News reports, citing court filings.
Bunker Hill Community College is getting out of the transcripts-for-ransom racket
Jon Marcus at WBUR has an update on how thousands of ex-students who owe public universities and colleges money are having their grades and transcripts withheld until they pay up – and how some institutions are sheepishly retreating from the policy now that the transcripts-for-ransom racket has been exposed.
Fire away: National Guard gives machine-gun range green light
A controversial proposed machine-gun range at Joint Base Cape Cod will move forward with final permitting after the National Guard Bureau found it will have no significant negative impact on the environment, Beth Treffeisen at the Cape Cod Times reports.
Just a little fuzzy: Marty Walsh endorses Santiago for mayor – but not that Marty Walsh
State Sen. Jon Santiago has picked up a high-profile endorsement in his bid for mayor of Boston – high-profile because it involves a guy named Marty Walsh, who’s the cousin of the former mayor with the same name and a cousin now running the same union the former mayor with the same name once ran. “The news release is a liiiittle fuzzy about clearly differentiating that these are two different, if related, Marty Walshes,” tweets the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl has more.
Read it and weep: Autographed Tom Brady rookie card sells for $2.25M
Admit it: You’re thinking “if only” too. Yes, an autographed Tom Brady rookie playing card has sold at auction for an astounding $2,252,854, the highest price ever paid for a football card, according to a report at WCVB.
The Fattman case: A little more ‘fairness’ and the ‘clarity’ is required
Paul D. Craney’s Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance knows all about butting heads with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance and its longtime head William Sullivan — and he basically says in a CommonWealth opinion piece that, take it from him, OCPF is probably/likely barking up the wrong tree again in the Sen. Ryan Fattman case.
Kenmore Square: In need of yet another renaissance?
There used to be a running joke among some business-journalism types about the number of renaissances Kenmore Square, Central Square, Revere Beach etc. had to go through before one of them actually experienced a renaissance. Well, Kenmore Square did finally achieve renaissance status – and now it’s starting all over again (sort of) with the recent closure of Eastern Standard’s outdoor patio and other setbacks. The Globe’s Tim Logan and Janelle Nanos have more.
Malicious activity:’ Suspicious outage hits Lawrence computer network
Unreachable. The website for the city of Lawrence went dark over the weekend and the city’s mayor said the outage appears to be the result of ‘malicious activity,’ Madeline Hughes at the Eagle-Tribune reports. The site remained unreachable Monday morning and Mayor Kendrys Vasquez said the city is working with law enforcement on the problem.
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.
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.
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