Happening Today

Cannabis Control, ’29 Who Shine,’ and more

— The Cannabis Control Commission meets virtually, 10 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker virtually attends the 10th annual ‘29 Who Shine’ Ceremony to celebrate public college and university graduates who helped COVID-19 relief efforts in their communities while pursuing a degree, 2 p.m.

Council for a Strong America holds a virtual roundtable to mark the release of its new research report, ‘Massachusetts’ Working Families Need Early Care and Education,’ with panelists Sen. Jason Lewis, Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early, Darlene Belliveau of the YWCA of Central Massachusetts and Brigadier General (Ret.) Jack Hammond, 11 a.m.

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Brazilian Workers Center and SEIU 32BJ host Boston mayoral candidates for a virtual forum about immigration issues, one in a series of hosted by community and labor groups each Thursday through June 10, 6 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: 13 new deaths, 17,357 total deaths, 626 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

As teens get ready to roll up their sleeves for shots …

After the CDC yesterday approved Pfizer’s vaccine for kids 12 to 15, CVS promptly announced it is now offering vaccine appointments for adolescents at its 154 stores across Massachusetts, reports Melissa Hanson at MassLive. And it looks like the state isn’t too far behind in allowing younger ones to get shots at state mass-vaccination centers and other sites across the state, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski and WBUR’s Angus Chen.

… Massachusetts to launch employer vaccination program starting Monday

In other vaccination news, the BBJ’s Rowan Walrath reports the state plans to launch a new employer vaccination program that will allow businesses to request mobile-vax clinics and book time slots for workers at mass-vaccination sites. MassLive’s Benjamin Kail has more.

BBJ

Too generous? Baker under pressure to change pandemic jobless benefits and rules

He won’t do it. Citing the high cost of living in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday said he won’t be following the example of other Republican governors who are slashing the $300 weekly boost in unemployment benefits in order to get people back to work, reports WCVB and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan.

But Christian Wade at CNHI News reports that business groups are “urging the state to restore a work-search requirement for people collecting unemployment benefits, arguing that stricter rules are needed to get more workers back on the job.”

Church sues New Bedford mayor and governor over capacity limits

From Anastasia Lennon at New Bedford’s Standard Times: “A city church filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday against Mayor Jon Mitchell, the city’s health director and Gov. Charlie Baker alleging they violated First Amendment rights by implementing ‘discriminatory’ capacity restrictions on places of worship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Standard Times

So soon? Moderna CEO says booster shots could be coming in fall

Before breaking out in VaxFinder cold sweats at the mere thought of having to get yet another virus shot, take deep breaths. You’re apparently safe through the summer, after which Moderna will likely have booster shots available for those who got their original inoculations in December or January, as CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl reports.

CommonWealth

Local public health departments: Overextended and exhausted during the pandemic

At WBUR, a three-reporter team from the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism report how local public health officials last year believed they were ready to perform public-health duties during the pandemic. What they weren’t ready for was assuming the effective role of OSHA in keeping tabs on work-place compliance of pandemic safety rules.

WBUR

Overdose deaths rose by 5 percent last year in Mass.

Don’t forget there’s an ongoing opioid epidemic in addition to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. From Marth Bebinger at WBUR: “Opioid overdose deaths have hit a new peak in Massachusetts. Preliminary data from the state Department of Public Health (DPH) shows a 5% increase in 2020. That’s 102 more fatalities than in 2019 and just above the previous high in 2016.”

But the fatality increases weren’t evenly spread out, demographically or geographically. From MassLive: “Opioid overdose deaths among Black men in Massachusetts spike 69% during COVID pandemic.” From the Eagle Tribune: “As state opioid overdose deaths hit high, Lawrence has ‘notable decrease.” But from the Berkshire Eagle: “Fatal opioid overdoses soar to record high in Berkshires.”

Education accountability and standards: Temporarily headed in different directions

Two interesting education accountability and standards stories this morning. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has the pandemic-related piece: “State pressing pause on school accountability/Determinations expected to resume with 2021-2022 school year.” And the Globe’s James Vaznis has the post-pandemic-related piece: “Boston School Committee raises graduation standards and hears proposal for nine major school construction projects.”

GOP civil war update: Baker sides with Cheney

Saying he remains a “big believer in what the party fundamentally stands for,” Gov. Charlie Baker made clear yesterday he supports the Liz Cheney version of Republicans, not the Donald Trump version of Republicans, and … does this make him a rebel Republican or status-quo Republican? It’s clearly the former in today’s GOP, though a decade or so ago the roles were reversed. MassLive’s Benjamin Kail has  more.

MassLive

The Curse of the AGs: Can Maura Healey overcome it?

We’ve called it the Curse of the AGs. The Herald’s Peter Lucas calls it the Jinx of the Job. But it’s the same thing, to wit: The terrible record of AGs running for governor in Massachusetts – with eight of ‘em trying and failing since 1948, as Lucas writes. Will Maura Healey be the ninth or will she be the next Paul A. Dever?

In other 2022 gubernatorial-election news, from the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld: “Biden unwittingly undercuts Democratic hopes of winning back governor’s office.”

Boston Herald

Essaibi George: I’m a person of color if I say I’m a person of color

Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports on Boston mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George’s thunderous pronouncement yesterday that she’s indeed a person of color, no matter how the Boston Globe may define and describe persons of color, damn it.

In other mayoral news, the Globe’s Yvonne Abraham wonders if Boston police have lost their political mojo these days.

Universal Hub

On board: Northampton council backs police alternative

They’re going for it. The Northampton City Council has thrown its support behind the recommendations of a commission reviewing policing in the city, including a proposal to create a Department of Community Care staffed by unarmed social workers tasked with responding to non-emergency calls, Jackson Cote of MassLive reports. 

MassLive

One judge promoted, one would-be judge balks

SHNS’s Michael Norton reports that President Joe Biden has chosen Superior Court Judge Angel Kelley to fill a U.S. District Court judgeship in Massachusetts.

In other judicial news, SHNS’s Sam Doran reports that Lisa Lippiello, president of the Hampshire County Bar Association, has asked Gov. Charlie Baker to pull her nomination for a district court judgeship, saying she wants to prioritize family matters over the bench.

On the brink of history: Salem’s Driscoll announces re-election bid

She’ll strive for five. Four-term Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll has ended the suspense in the Witch City by saying she’ll run for re-election, joining a crowded field that already includes seven potential challengers, Dustin Luca at the Salem News reports.   

Meanwhile, Mayor Yvonne Spicer announced she’s running for a second term in the recently minted city of Framingham, according to a report at MetroWest Daily News.

Salem News

Free isn’t really free when it comes to fare-free bus rides

We missed this one from the other day, i.e. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski’s report on how T officials say free fares on transit buses, as many have advocated, carries a price tag of hundreds of millions of dollars for the T. From a Herald editorial yesterday: “There’s no such thing as a free bus ride.”

Denied: State says Brockton has to get kids back in school

Back to pandemic-related news: A week after saying it was “simply not feasible” to bring all 4,000 students back to Brockton High School for full-time, in-person learning this year, city leaders are scrambling to figure out a way to do just that after being denied a state waiver to stay in hybrid mode Cody Shepard of the Enterprise reports. 

Enterprise

Temporary no more? St. Vincent says it will hire permanent replacement nurses as strike endures

Are they moving on or just exerting maximum pressure? St. Vincent Hospital says it has begun hiring permanent replacements for the hundreds of nurses who have been on strike for more than two months and can no longer promise nurses on the picket lines that their jobs will be available if and when the action ends, Kim Ring at the Telegram reports. 

Telegram

‘History That Must Be Known’: The forgotten residents of state’s mental institutions

SHNS Matt Murphy reports on two pieces of legislation that would create a commission to “investigate the lives lived and lost at the 27 state mental institutions that by the 1970s housed tens of thousands of residents.” We’d go further: There should be a state memorial to them. They deserved better in life and deserve to be remembered.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Endangered Animals and Border Walls

Scientists, lawyers and politicians discuss whether impenetrable, man-made border walls harm endangered species and accelerate extinction. We explore how border walls harm wildlife, particularly wildlife that is already fractured, losing habitat, trafficked, and facing extinction.

National Lawyers Guild NYC Animal Rights Committee

Engineering in the Climate Emergency

How can technology work towards a just transition? The Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Academy of Engineering will bring together expert engineers with perspectives from policy making and social sciences for a joint discussion about these topics. Chaired by Professor Sir Jim McDonald, FREng, FRSE, Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh

Innovations in Addiction Treatment and Harm Reduction

RIZE Massachusetts Foundation and The Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital host a virtual convening focused on innovations in addiction treatment and harm reduction.

RIZE Massachusetts Foundation & The Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital

Climate Emergency Preparedness: Art x Cultural Resilience

Join us for a conversation that will explore the wisdom and beauty of different cultures, cultural organizing and artistic expression in the development of resilient and sustainable communities—featuring Erin Genia, Boston Artist-in-Residence, and Meghan Venable-Thomas, Cultural Resilience Program Director for Enterprise Community Partners.

Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston

Getting to the Point with John Brennan

Join the Kennedy Institute, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John Brennan, and CNN Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem for a virtual conversation on the perspectives of the changing landscape of national security, domestic terrorism and counterterrorism.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute

The Venezuelan Enterprise: Current Situation, Challenges and Opportunities

What is the status of the Venezuelan business fabric? What are its strengths and weaknesses? And where should the emphasis be put to help the private sector jump-start an economic recovery? To answer these questions, the IDB, together with the IESA, and with the support of more than 30 business chambers in the country, carried out the Enterprise Survey with a sample of almost 300 companies.

Harvard Kennedy School

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Quincy’s Hale family donates $50 million to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Patriot Ledger

Somerville to vote on eminent domain taking of armory arts building for $5 million after owners decline deal – Boston Herald

Massachusetts

Can we keep Zoom? As boards reconsider in-person meetings, some officials want to keep virtual options – Cape Cod Times

Fourth candidate emerges in Northampton mayor’s race – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Attleboro mayor wants gunshot detection system for schools – Sun Chronicle

Nation

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine seeks to incentivize coronavirus vaccines with chance to win $1 million – Washington Post

McGahn to sit for closed-door interview with House Democrats, ending long legal battle – The Hill

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