Keller at Large

What to keep from our year in hell

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller has compiled his list of pandemic-era emergency orders he’d like to see made permanent – and at the top of his list is the expanded ability to transact Registry of Motor Vehicles business without going to the RMV. Keeper! And cocktails to go? Need you ask?

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Board of Education, Senate budget debate, Next-Generation Leadership

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets with an agenda that includes an update on school reopenings and anticipated next steps, 9 a.m.

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— The Massachusetts Senate launches into its annual budget debate, with today’s session likely running into the evening, 10 a.m.

Municipal Finance Oversight Board meets to hear bonding requests from Brockton, Holyoke and Lawrence, with Auditor Suzanne Bump participating, 11 a.m.

— Attorney General Maura Healey appears on Boston Public Radio for ‘Ask the AG, WGBH, 89.7 FM, 11 a.m.

State House News Service holds a virtual panel discussion on the next generation of leaders on Beacon Hill, what legislative leadership looks like, how lawmakers move bills across the finish line, and transitioning campaign policy goals into day-to-day work, featuring Reps. Erika Uyterhoeven, Meghan Kilcoyne, Chynah Tyler and Andy Vargas, with SHNS’s Chris Lisinski moderating, 2 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: 2 new death, 17,825 total deaths, 188 new cases

The Boston Herald has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Report: Bump will not seek reelection

The scramble is already under way. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Auditor Suzanne Bump will not seek reelection, creating a rare opening for one of the state’s six constitutional offices.” Politico’s Lisa Kashinsky broke the story.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Legislative report: ‘Crisis of leadership’ doomed Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

Another day, another damning report about the events leading up to last year’s Holyoke Soldiers’ Home tragedy – and the finger of blame is clearly pointing at the Baker administration and the overall “crisis of leadership” that ultimately engulfed the facility, where scores of veterans perished last year due to COVID-19. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg have more.

The new legislative report shouldn’t be confused with the recent Globe Spotlight Team report on the events leading up to the Holyoke tragedy – and yesterday lawmakers were demanding that Gov. Charlie Baker answer questions about his role in the affair, reports the Globe’s Andrea Estes and Rebecca Striker. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi is ripping into the governor this morning.

Nooooo! Not VaxFinder!

The AP at WBUR reports that the state’s vaccine preregistration system, aka VaxFinder.mass.gov, is coming to an end. For all the great journalistic stories it generated during its brief digital life, we’re going to truly miss VaxFinder.

Meanwhile, in another sign of the success of the state’s overall vaccination program, via Benjamin Kail at MassLive: “Federal partnership on COVID vaccination at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center ends after 301,000 doses.”

Of free fares, discounted fares and fare fines …

Three stories this morning tied to MBTA fares. The first is from CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl, who reports the T’s board appears split on the best way to proceed with discounted fares for low-income riders. Meanwhile, SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports that board members can’t find consensus on how much they should fine riders who evade paying fares.

And Acting Mayor Kim Janey may have jumped the gun yesterday by announcing a pilot program to provide fare-free service on the Route 28 bus, reports CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas. The T says nothing has been finalized yet.

UI rate-hike payments delayed another two months

As SHNS’s Michael Norton reports, lawmakers are still working on ways to provide relief to employers hit with huge unemployment-insurance rate hikes due to the pandemic, but state officials have agreed to once again extend the due date for first quarter payments, this time till Aug. 2.

Santiago’s mayoral bid gets more Beacon Hill backing

House Speaker Ron Mariano, House Majority Leader Clair Cronin, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Aaron Michlewitz and other House lawmakers plan to hold a press conference this morning to formerly endorse one of their own for mayor of Boston: State Rep. Jon Santiago. Whether this makes any difference in the crowded mayoral race is anyone’s guess, but it can’t hurt.

Meanwhile, there’s this from WBUR’s Anthony Brooks: “Santiago Counts On Boston’s Growing Latino Community To Elect Him Mayor. But Will It Be Enough?” In other mayoral-endorsement news, via Universal Hub: “Election roundup: Firefighters union backs Essaibi George; Markeyverse backs Wu.”

State House staffers of Beacon Hill unite: Survey shows widespread discontent over pay and work hours

CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports on a new survey, organized by Beacon B.L.O.C, a coalition of Black State House workers and allies, that show staffers are not happy campers when it comes to their pay and work hours at the Capitol. Says state Sen. Diana DiZoglio: “(It’s) sad but not surprising to hear about how demoralized many of the staffers have been feeling.”

This was obviously intended to cheer them up and deflect criticism, though how much it will cheer them up and deflect criticism is not clear, via SHNS: “Legislative Staffers Got Raises, $500 Stipends.”

CommonWealth

George Flyod’s death one year later: How much has really changed?

There’s a lot of stories out there marking the one-year anniversary of George Flyod’s death. Indeed, GBH has devoted a huge chunk of its websitefor a ‘year in review’ coverage and other related stories. Check it out. WBUR is also going big with its coverage: “What’s Changed? ‘Not Enough’: Local Protesters Reflect On The Year Since George Floyd’s Killing.”

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Dugan Arnett looks at how Floyd’s death changed, and didn’t change, the Boston Police Department. As the headline sums it up: “The jury remains out.”


Outlier? Romney first GOP senator to say he would vote for Jan. 6 commission bill

Once again, he’s a GOP outlier. U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney says he’ll vote in favor of a House bill to form a commission to study the Jan. 6 insurrection, but his support could be moot if Democrats don’t find several more GOP senators to join in, Jordain Carney at The Hill reports. 

The Hill

BPS cuts ties with program with distant, possibly metaphysical, ties to L. Ron Hubbard

The Boston Public Schools has ended its relationship with a non-profit program that was overseeing a student advisory group – a non-profit program whose founder had distant ties/beliefs in/whatever to L. Ron Hubbard’s theory of Dianetics and … we’ll say no more. The Globe’s Naomi Martin and the Herald’s Alexi Cohan have more on the BPS’s change of plans regarding the counseling program that students apparently described as “weird, uncomfortable, cult-like.”

Beautiful sight: A sea of American flags returns to Boston Common for Memorial Day

The flags are back. More than 37,000 of them. And photos of them on Boston Common look, as usual, beautiful and stirring. MassLive’s Michael Bonner has more the return of the flags after the COVID-19 crisis cancelled the event last year.

MassLive

Testing their patience: Hull teacher refuses to administer MCAS

She calls herself a ‘conscientious objector.’ Hull teacher Deb McCarthy has been placed on unpaid leave after she refused to give the MCAS test to her elementary school students this week, saying the test itself is a flawed way of measuring student achievement and that conducting the exam during the pandemic is a bridge too far, reports Wheeler Cooperthwaite at the Patriot Ledger.

Patriot Ledger

So why hasn’t the AG’s office prosecuted any campaign-finance cases?

The Globe’s Matt Stout reports that campaign finance officials over the past six years have sent 13 cases to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office regarding possible civil or criminal violations of campaign laws. Not one of the cases has been prosecuted. Why? Healey’s office responds.

Boston Globe

Back to ‘normal:’ Distracted driving returns as pandemic fades

They’re back. Traffic is returning to the state’s highways — and so are drivers looking at their phones. State transportation officials say more than 10,000 citations for distracted driving were issued in April — 68 times more than the 151 tickets in January of this year, Chris Lisinski at State House News Service reports. 

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Staying away: Attleboro says Covid fears keeping kids from school

Absenteeism at Attleboro High School has more than doubled from the last school year to more than 40 percent and officials say fears about Covid transmission are the main driver of the increase, Tom Reilly at the Sun-Chronicle reports. Meanwhile, Darvence Chery of the Enterprise reports on Brockton’s push to get kids back in school, including the hiring of additional truant officers. 

Sun Chronicle

Skip Finley – Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy

Join the Boston Public Library in partnership with the Museum of African American History (MAAH), the State Library of Massachusetts, and American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) for an online conversation with Skip Finley, author of Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy.

Boston Public Library

The Role of Industry and Business in Protecting the Environment

For business & industry: New laws overview focusing on the General Environmental Duty, risk management and how EPA is supporting you.

EPA

SSL Lunch & Learn Series — Climate Justice Partnerships: Part 4

Join us for a discussion with the team that organized the Chelsea and East Boston Heat (C-HEAT) Study, a collaborative research project led by the Boston University School of Public Health and GreenRoots, and learn how researchers can support climate justice at the local level and successfully partner with community organizers.

Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston

Battle Green Vietnam: The 1971 March on Concord, Lexington, and Boston

Join us to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic antiwar march and protest on Memorial Day Weekend 1971 and learn more about this key event in Massachusetts history at MassMoments

Boston Public Library

Words of Wisdom featuring Lovin Spoonfuls

Join us for this discussion where we’ll hear from Founder and Executive Director, Ashley Stanley, who will provide insight to the ways her organization has shifted during this pandemic and what ways we can get involved to support community members who may be suffering from food insecurity. Moderated by Afua Ankrah, Business Operations, Global Government Affairs and Policy, Bluebird Bio.

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

Theater of War Frontline: UCSF Health & Stanford Medicine

Dramatic readings of Sophocles’ Philoctetes and Women of Trachis as a catalyst for a discussion about the impact of Covid-19.

Theater of War Productions

Glory – Livestream Film History Program

For Memorial Day join us for a special film screening and discussion of “Glory,” starring Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and Mathew Broderick. Our program will feature a discussion and analysis of “Glory,” including a short overview of the of the Civil War and the United States Colored Troops for historical context, followed by a full screening of the one-hundred and twenty-two minute film.

Washington D.C. History & Culture

Navigating the Culture Wars with Douglas Murray and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Join Douglas Murray, author of The Madness of Crowds, and feminist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali as the pair discuss her new book: Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights.

Spectator Events

Multilateral Cultural Diplomacy: A Conversation with UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay

In the third installment of the Future of Cultural Diplomacy Series, UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay will offer her unique perspective on cultural diplomacy as the leader of one of the world’s largest multilateral agencies focused on education, scientific, and cultural issues.

Harvard Kennedy School

Biodiversity and Climate Crisis Summit – On the Road to COP26

UN COP 26 will take place in Glasgow in 2021, hosted by the United Nations and the UK Government. This International online event will take us closer to the UN Summit, and it’s about generating a wider dialogue on Climate Action. Net Zero by 2030? Can we make it happen?

United Nations Association Climate and Oceans

Dr. James R. Givens in conversation with Dr. Kim Parker – Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching

Join us, the State Library of Massachusetts, the Museum of African American History, and the Black Educators’ Alliance of Massachusetts (BEAM) for an online discussion with Dr. Jarvis R. Givens, author of Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching, and BEAM President Dr. Kim Parker. This conversation is part of the Boston Public Library’s Repairing America Series.

Boston Public Library

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Boston superintendent announces changes after investigation finds students pressured into unlicensed counseling – Boston Globe

The Cambridge Historical Society, begun in 1905, is now History Cambridge – your new-old friend – Cambridge Day

Massachusetts

‘Moving toward pre-pandemic’: Lifeguards, campfires at Cape Cod National Seashore, but COVID rules, too – Cape Cod Times

Hampden DA: Former priest killed boy, 13, nearly 50 years ago – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Pittsfield City Hall, municipal offices to fully reopen next week; masks optional – Berkshire Eagle

Nation

‘Time to move on’: Infrastructure talks near collapse – Politico

Texas set to allow people to carry handguns without a license – or training – The Guardian

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