Keller at Large

Longshot run for governor? Or ‘fool’s errand’?

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller talks with Ben Downing, the former state senator and current Democratic candidate for governor, and finds the “relatively independent-minded progressive” is no fool when it comes to what it will take to win next year.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Gun manufacturing ban, MCAS vote, and more

Public Service Committee takes testimony on bills pertaining to local issues in Haverhill, Gloucester and Berlin, 9 a.m.

— State lawmakers, including Democrat Reps. Marjorie Decker of Cambridge and Frank Moran of Lawrence, join the Stop Handgun Violence group and parents of mass shooting victims to unveil new legislation that would ban the manufacture of guns that are forbidden from use in Massachusetts such as assault weapons, 10 a.m.

Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission holds its first public meeting virtually, with Education Committee co-chairs Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Alice Peisch leading the group, 11 a.m.

– Both the House and Senate hold sessions at 11 a.m.

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets with an agenda that includes a vote to modify competency determination requirements for the class of 2022, so that this year’s juniors would not be required to take and pass MCAS tests to graduate, 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.

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: 18 new deaths, 17,135 total deaths, 1,236 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Time to ditch the outdoor masks?

More than 2 million residents in Massachusetts have now been fully vaccinated and so it’s time to perhaps start thinking of ditching the outdoor mask-wearing mandate, according to experts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Universal Hub) and Brown University’s School of Public Health (Globe).

Meanwhile, from NBC Boston: “NH Has Already Done It. When Will Mass. Relax Its Mask Mandate?” We have a hunch reporters will be asking the question at Gov. Charlie Baker’s next COVID-19 briefing. Just a hunch.

Back to school: Did you get your post-spring vacation test?

The AP at the Patriot Ledger is reporting that some school districts in Massachusetts, as well as in Rhode Island, are keeping requirements for testing and quarantining of students who traveled with their families during the spring vacation week and plan to return to classes next week. Some parents are apparently not happy.

Meanwhile, from Deborah Becker at WBUR: “Many Parents Want Their Teens To Get The COVID Vaccine. Others Aren’t So Sure.”

Patriot Ledger

Next up: convincing rural Republicans to get shots

Sure, there are plenty of lefty anti-vaxers out there. But it appears righty anti-vaxers are larger in numbers these days, at least in rural towns such as Russell, MA. Paige Sutherland at WBUR reports on how combating vaccine hesitancy is the next battle for Massachusetts – and how the battle may have to focus a little more on rural, mostly Republican areas of the state.


Party of twelve: SJC green lights full jury trials starting May 1

Time to tackle the backlog. The Supreme Judicial Court has issued new rules that clear the way for some 12-person jury trials to resume in the state’s Superior Courts on May 1, starting with cases involving violent crimes and defendants who are in state custody, Jill Harmacinski at the Salem News reports. 

Salem News

Amtrak’s Downeaster set to resume pre-COVID schedule

Another sign things are slowly returning to normal. From the AP at MassLive: “The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is ready to restore the Amtrak Downeaster’s pre-COVID-19 schedule this spring. The Downeaster will add a fifth round trip starting May 3.”


Move over, Moderna: Two other area companies are working on vaccines

Cambridge’s Moderna has company. The BBJ’s Lucia Maffei reports that Waltham-based Adagio Therapeutics, a startup that’s working on coronavirus vaccines and treatments, just raised $336 million in venture funding. Meanwhile, Paul Leighton at the Eagle Tribune reports that Beverly’s Akston Biosciences has announced that the “first participants in a clinical trial have received doses of its vaccine, called AKS-452.”

Speaking of Moderna, via MassLive; “Moderna COVID vaccine could receive emergency authorization for children ages 12 to 15 within ‘weeks.’”

The U.S. Navy to the rescue

Via a reader, we don’t know how we missed this one, i.e. the U.S. Navy sending more than 200 sailors from Norfolk, Virginia to help administer vaccines at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, as David Bienick at WCVB reports. Next time you see one of the camouflage-uniformed sailors walking the streets, make sure to say thanks.


‘Shrouded in secrecy’: At least a dozen quasi-state agencies refuse to release their payrolls

The Herald has posted the payrolls of 16 quasi-state agencies and … Massport, take a bow. More than 600 of its employees earned $100,000 or more last year, records show. But the Herald’s Joe Dwinell is also going after all the other quasi-state agencies that are refusing, for whatever reasons, to release their payroll data. The Pioneer Institute’s Greg Sullivan says the “Legislature should come down very hard and require some level of transparency.” But that leads to … see the post immediately below.

Boston Herald

‘Shrouded in secrecy,’ Part II: Time for a constitutional amendment

Re secrecy in state government in general: the Globe’s editorial board has had it and is now calling for a constitutional amendment to make state government more transparent. From the editorial: “Massachusetts has the dubious distinction of being the only state in the country where the governor’s office, the legislature, and the judiciary all claim they are exempt from public records law.”

Boston Globe

The economics of cancel culture

The NYT’s Ezra Klein has an interesting piece this morning on how cancel culture economically works via social media giants whipping up the masses and corporations firing employees for speech infractions that threaten to harm their reputations and profits. It’s sort of the worst of capitalism and socialism combined.  


So what’s Kamala Harris up to in New Hampshire?

The Herald’s Erin Tiernan has pulled out her political binoculars and spotted Vice President Kamala Harris making preparations to visit sites north of the border this week, thus “fueling speculation about her presidential ambitions come 2024.”

Boston Herald

Pledge of progressiveness: Pressley wants candidates, lawmakers to show support for agenda

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley tells CNN’s Annie Grayer she will roll out the Pressley Policy Pledge, an effort to get Democratic candidates and lawmakers to state their positions on key policy issues, a move she says will highlight how deep support is for some progressive ideas and help build momentum to get them through Congress. File under: ‘purity test.’


Thanks, Globe: Taunton says it lost $700K in printing-press tax fight

The Boston Globe has apparently won a fight over the property-tax assessment of its printing plant in Taunton – and that means Taunton lost. Specifically, the city says the new assessment sought and won by the Globe has cost the city $700,000, reports Susannah Sudborough at the Taunton Daily Gazette. 

Taunton Gazette

Red hot anger: Liverpool fans direct anger over Super League at Fenway Sports Group’s John Henry

Speaking of the Globe – or, rather, its owner – fans of the Liverpool soccer club in the U.K. are ‘incandescent with rage’ at Fenway Sports Group and lead owner John Henry for their role in the formation of a new European ‘Super League,’ Michael Silverman at the Globe reports. Many fans see unadulterated greed behind the move and are making it clear they feel the club belongs to them–not some billionaire from Boston. 

Boston Globe

The war against invasive plants: The Charles River front

From Universal Hub: “DCR is aiming for a fall start of a pilot program to test various methods for restoring the banks of the Charles River Basin and reducing the amount of invasive trees and other plants along the banks that it says crowd out native species and reduce the vistas of the scenic waterway.”

Universal Hub

The Littlest Election, the Longest Vote Count: An update

The Globe’s Matt Stout has an update on one of the most inconsequential elections in the state – and how the vote count for an election with no one on the ballot for GOP state committeewoman in Boston’s Second Suffolk district has now dragged on for a year. File under: Sayre’s law, re the inverse relationship between the intensity and importance of some political debates.

Boston Globe

Picket price tag: Union says St. Vincent out $40M as strike hits seventh week

Has it really been seven weeks? Anyway, the Massachusetts Nurses Association estimates the parent company of St. Vincent Hospital has spent $40 million on replacement nurses, police details and other costs associated with the lingering job action. Michael Bonner at MassLive has the details. 


They really don’t want a new women’s prison

The Globe’s Zoe Greenberg reports on the ongoing debate and legal skirmishing over the state’s plan to build a new women’s prison in Norfolk, replacing the crumbling MCI-Framingham, and how a group of activists and lawmakers are fighting the proposal every step of the way. 

Harvard Seminar in Environmental Economics and Policy: Kelsey Jack, University of California, Santa Barbara

Kelsey Jack, University of California, Santa Barbara, “Harvesting the Rain: The Adoption of Environmental Technologies in the Sahel”. Seminar held via Zoom and is open to the public.

Harvard Kennedy School

Power in Plants: A Conversation on the Environmental Impacts of Plant-Based Dietary Shifts

Please join the Center for Leadership for a discussions on the correlation between climate change solutions and sustainable food futures through plant-based meat with Rebekah Moses, Head of Impact Strategy at Impossible Foods Inc.

Harvard Kennedy School

Webinar on Climate & Economy

Join ELM on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22 from 12:00-12:45PM for a webinar on Climate & Economy moderated by Bethany Patten with Ivan Frishberg, Secretary Michael Kennealy, and Lauren Jones.

Environmental League of Massachusetts

Forum: The Decisive Decade for Climate Action

As we begin this critical decade for climate action with growing momentum for protecting and restoring our global commons, the intensity of this moment makes it a uniquely compelling and privileged time to be alive.

Harvard Kennedy School

Anthony Amore, Author of Stealing Rembrandts

Anthony Amore is currently Director of Security and Chief Investigator of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where he is charged with the ongoing efforts to recover 13 works of art stolen from the museum on March 18, 1990. He will talk about his 2011 true-crime bestseller Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists.

Cary Memorial Public Library

How are Landlords Managing the COVID-19 Rental Crisis? Evidence from a Large Cross-Site Survey

In this session, Elijah de la Campa will present preliminary findings from a recent Center-supported survey of landlords in a dozen U.S. cities. He will offer findings on the magnitude of the rent arrears crisis, the steps landlords have been taking in response to loss of income, and their willingness to participate in public and non-profit rental assistance programs.

Harvard Kennedy School

The National Antiracist Book Festival

Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research will host the 2nd annual National Antiracist Book Festival virtually. This is the first and only book festival that brings together, showcases, and celebrates the nation’s leading antiracist writers and helps to prepare the writers of tomorrow. Panelists are topically organized with two authors and a monitor.

The BU Center for Antiracist Research

The Color of Covid: Reflections on Pandemics Past and Present

Dr. Paul Farmer will share stories of the transformative effects of healthcare for people in global hot spots, and he will inspire us with his continued commitment to solving the most intractable of medical problems. A medical anthropologist and physician, Dr. Farmer has devoted his life to improving health care for the world’s poorest people.

Cary Memorial Public Library

From Citizens United to Bots United: Reinterpreting “Robot Rights” as a Corporate Power Grab

Towards Life 3.0: Ethics and Technology in the 21st Century is a talk series organized and facilitated by Mathias Risse, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs, and Philosophy. Speaker is Frank Pasquale, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

Harvard Kennedy School

Exploring Trees and Equity in Boston through Literature

In collaboration with Speak for the Trees, Boston, we will be presenting resources to help you learn about tree and nature equity, environmental justice, and the natural world that exists throughout the city of Boston. We will be highlighting literary, scientific and art collections and other resources available through the Boston Public Library that are of interest to adults teens and children.

Boston Public Library

Leadership During Crisis Featuring Carmen Yulín Cruz

Join UMass Women into Leadership for a conversation with Carmen Yulín Cruz, former mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, as she discusses her thoughts on leadership during crisis.

UMass Women into Leadership

Transportation Tech Trends: 3 Perspectives on the Future Direction of Mobility

Between now and 2030, policymakers and regulators will need to guide deployment of new technologies, including connected vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems, and micromobility, to maximize benefits while minimizing harm for all road users. This conversation will feature three fellows working at the intersection of technology and transportation policy.

Harvard Kennedy School

Monuments and Memory: A Confederate Marker in Boston

In October 2017, Massachusetts officials removed one of the only markers in the state dedicated to the Confederacy from Fort Warren on Georges Island. This program will explore the history of the marker, the organization that erected it, and the broader national dialogue abut how we remember the American Civil War.

Boston Public Library

Today’s Headlines


Kim Janey names the Rev. Mariama White-Hammond as next energy and environment chief – Boston Herald

Stalling works: Roxbury Prep gives up on Roslindale high-school proposal – Universal Hub


Probe: Tynsgboro animal control officer appeared to condone criminal conduct – Lowell Sun

State panel studies use of facial recognition technology – Salem News

WooSox likely to play as Los Wepas de Worcester in Copa games –


U.S. House of Representatives approves cannabis banking bill – Reuters

Judge jails two Proud Boys leaders pending trial tied to Jan. 6 Capitol riot – Washington Post

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