Happening Today

Senate budget debate, Flag Garden, Blinken commencement address

— The Massachusetts Senate continues into its annual budget debate, 10 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, families of fallen service members and organizers from the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund and Home Base participate gather to recognize the 12th annual Memorial Day flag garden of more than 37,000 flags on Boston Common honoring each fallen Massachusetts service member since the Revolutionary War, 10:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Colonel David Halasi-Kun, and Major General George Keefe attend event at Barnes Air National Guard Base marking the groundbreaking on improvements to Taxiway Sierra, 2:30 p.m.

— U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and Bedford Town Manager Sarah Stanton virtually discuss federal transportation policy and its impact on Massachusetts, with Transportation for Massachusetts director Chris Dempsey moderating, 3 p.m.

— The six Boston mayoral candidates gather for a virtual forum focused on education and hosted by the Boston Teachers Union and Boston Education Justice Alliance, 6 p.m.

— U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken gives the commencement speech at Bunker Hill Community College‘s virtual graduation ceremony, 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: 7 new deaths, 17,482 total deaths, 382 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

After refusing to block White’s firing, judge blocks White’s firing

The judicial rulings have been made and … we have just entered the legal and political Twilight Zone. NBC Boston’s Asher Klein and CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas report that Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger, who earlier this week refused to block the firing of suspended BPD commissioner Dennis White, yesterday blocked his firing long enough to let him appeal her first ruling.

In other Dennis White news, from the Globe’s Andrew Ryan: “A hasty police commissioner appointment, followed by more mayoral missteps, now threatens to taint Marty Walsh’s legacy.”

Take that, Granite State: Biden administration sides with Mass. in tax dispute

This is a little unexpected. From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan: “The Biden administration argued to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday that it should not hear New Hampshire’s challenge to a Massachusetts rule that out-of-state residents working remotely for a Massachusetts business during the pandemic must pay Massachusetts income taxes.” In effect, the Biden administration is siding with Massachusetts. 


Cleared for takeoffs and reopenings: JetBlue and casinos

Businesses across the state are busy preparing for full re-opening this holiday weekend in Massachusetts – including the state’s casinos, which got the official go-ahead yesterday from regulators to reopen to full capacity, reports Jim Kinney at MassLive. Meanwhile, Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram reports that JetBlue is resuming flights at Worcester Regional Airport, though flights won’t begin till August.

Senate budget updates: Film tax credit showdown, Baker drug-pricing plan, cocktails-to-go still alive

A lot is happening at the State House (in-person and virtually) as the Senate debates its proposed state budget this week, so we’ll just go with headlines and quick summaries in this post, starting with SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Film tax credit headed for conference showdown.” … Also from SHNS’s Lisinski: “Baker Drug Pricing Plan Shot Down in Senate.” … From the Herald’s Joe Dwinell: “Massachusetts Senate targets hefty quasi-state agency pay following Herald report.”

And, finally, SHNS’s Katie Lannan reports that Senate President Karen Spilka has deemed that the state budget is not the vehicle for amendments that seek to continue various pandemic-era emergency measures. Meaning: the cocktails-to-go provision is still alive, folks.

Where’s the old new Ron Mariano?

The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham likes the Ron Mariano who, as speaker of the House, diversified leadership and supported progressive causes on Beacon Hill. Then there’s the old “throwback” Ron Mariano “playing depressingly close to type,” via his recent comments about stolen cars and Charlie Baker, etc. She wants the old new Ron back.

Boston Globe

Ambassador Cronin? It could happen

The State House was abuzz yesterday with a report, via Irish Central, that House Majority Leader Claire Cronin may be in line to be the next U.S. ambassador to Ireland. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has more on the possible appointment, including one source saying the Biden administration has been busy making vetting calls about Cronin.

DOJ: Saudi feud over luxury Boston condos could have national-security implications (really)

File under: ‘Huh?’ From Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin: “The Department of Justice is asking a federal judge in Boston to delay any action in a suit by a company owned by the Saudi government to take control of eight Boston condos purchased by a Saudi who used to run one of his government’s anti-terrorism efforts but who backed the wrong prince in a Riyadh power struggle.”

Universal Hub

Pandemic? What pandemic? Pension fund hits all-time high after stellar year

Who would have thought? From SHNS’s Colin Young: “The Massachusetts state pension fund hit another all-time high when the most recent quarter ended March 31, capping a one-year period that saw a return of 30 percent and an investment gain of $21 billion with $90.1 billion in assets now under management.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Outed and ousted: School teacher and writer exposed as secret neo-Nazi – and gets fired

Christopher Mathias at the HuffPost reports on the apparent side hobby of an area private school teacher, PhD history candidate and writer for well-known medi outfits like the Atlantic and Vice, to wit: he’s been “using multiple pen names to secretly author fascist screeds online, in some cases advocating violence to establish a whites-only ethnostate.” And he got fired by his school before the HuffPost piece came out. Via UH.


That weird BPS student ‘counseling’ program? It gets weirder

A three-reporter team at the Globe takes a closer look at the ‘unorthodox’ (read: weird) “Re-Evaluation Counseling” group-therapy sessions that BPS students were subjected to and barely endured. We found this interesting: “RC has crept into progressive circles here and around the country. Its founder briefly collaborated with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s, and its core philosophy, which bears some similarities to Hubbard’s Dianetics, prescribes regularly relating painful memories.”

At this point, the only thing that could push this beyond weirder than weird is discovering a previously unknown QAnon angle.

Boston Globe

Confirmed: Mini-revolt by teachers refusing to administer MCAS tests

First the Patriot Ledger. Then CommonWealth Magazine. And now the Herald reports on teachers refusing to administer pandemic-era MCAS tests. So we have the phenomenon now confirmed by three sources, i.e. a mini-revolt by teachers over MCAS.

From Spygate to Trumpgate

Newsflash: The New England Patriots’ Spygate scandal is somehow back in the news – and it includes allegations/suggestions/whatever that a certain former president (before he became president) intervened in the affair by offering a U.S. senator some moola to make the scandal go away, according to a report at ESPN. 

We liked Michael Hurley’s initial take on the story at CBS Boston: “There are some stories you just don’t expect to wake up to in May of 2021. This right here, this is one of those stories.” Fyi: we borrowed a variation of UH’s headline.


It went beyond funding the alpaca farm

Federal prosecutors say a Beverly pizza shop owner already facing charges of defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program and using the $660,000 in federal funds to launch an alpaca farm in Vermont also defrauded a federal unemployment benefits program run by the state to the tune of $17,000. Julie Manganis at the Gloucester Times has the details. 

Gloucester Times

Pay up: Judge sides with Haverhill in dispute over cannabis impact fees

Round one goes to the city. The owner of the Stem cannabis dispensary says she will pay the $356,000 worth of local impact fees she owes Haverhill following a judge’s ruling that she was not entitled to see the city’s plans for spending the cash, Mike LaBella at the Eagle-Tribune reports. Caroline Pineau said she plans to continue her legal battle against the fees, which many in the cannabis industry say have proven to be unnecessary. 

Eagle Tribune

Romney accepts Profile in Courage Award, reminisces about Ted K

Former Massachusetts Gov. and current Utah Sen. Mitt Romney last evening officially accepted the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for his lone GOP vote to convict President Trump in the recent impeachment trial, reports Alison King at NBC Boston. The Globe’s Jeremy C. Fox reports Romney fondly reminisced about the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who Romney once tried to oust from the Senate.

UMass Memorial seeks to launch its own Medicare plan

This is interesting. From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “UMass Memorial Health, the Central Massachusetts system, has applied to the federal government to launch its own Medicare Advantage plan, one of a host of programmatic expansions underway at the Worcester health system.”


Undone: Holyoke mayor rescinds Morse order on racism and police as public health threats

He sees it differently. Holyoke Acting Mayor Terence Murphy has rescinded an order approved by his predecessor, Alex Morse, that named racism and police violence as public health concerns and that sought to create a citizen’s advisory to panel on reforms of the city police department, reports Dennis Hohenberger at MassLive.


Familiar refrain: Dershowitz files $80M suit against Netflix over Jeffrey Epstein docuseries

Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz has filed an $80 million defamation lawsuit against Netflix, saying the its “Filthy Rich” docuseries amplified “false allegations of sexual misconduct” made against him by an associate of the late Jeffrey Epstein, Stephen Rex Brown at the New York Daily News reports. 

NY Daily News

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


Pressley, Somerville officials join residents to rally for improved McGrath Highway safety – Boston Globe

Lynn Presents Resources for Downtown Covid Recovery – Lynn Item


Worcester’s Saint Vincent Hospital, union struggle to agree as strike stretches on – MassLive

Can a new bylaw help Wellfleet’s housing crisis? – Cape Cod Times

Activists, mayor at odds over Floyd mural on Northampton City Hall – Daily Hampshire Gazette


GOP frets behind the scenes over potential Trump 2024 bid – Po

Biden asks intel community to ‘redouble’ efforts probing COVID-19 origins – The Hill

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