Gaming Commission, Women’s Equality Day, and more
10 a.m. | Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to hold a meeting with an agenda that will likely be limited to a discussion of the commission’s own return-to-work and vaccination policies.
12 p.m. | Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, whose board of trustees has endorsed a statement calling for mandatory vaccination for all hospital and health system employees, holds webinar to discuss considerations for healthcare employers around mandatory COVID-19 vaccination exemption processes.
12 p.m. | Mass. Caucus of Women Legislators co-chairs Rep. Patricia Haddad and Sen. Joan Lovely join Suffrage100MA and other voting and women’s rights advocates to commemorate Women’s Equality Day.
12 p.m. Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey is the featured speaker at a media availability for the Boston Uncornered Photo Project Exhibit: The Mayoral Edition. Mayoral candidate John Barros also participates.
1 p.m. | Sen. Ed Markey holds a discussion on “the need for urgency climate action, including passing the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package in Congress,” according to his office. Vikki Spruill, CEO of the New England Aquarium, will participate.
For the most comprehensive list of calendar items, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall – free trial subscriptions available).
‘Shine a light in the dark areas of our government’
Last week, MassterList talked to state auditor candidate Chris Dempsey about his campaign. This week, we caught up with auditor candidate Sen. Diana DiZoglio to learn more about her bid for the position and what Massachusetts resident should expect if she wins next year’s election. This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Tell us why you decided to jump into the race and what you can bring to the state auditor role?
I’ve been working in the Legislature and fighting for working families in my community for nearly the last 10 years. And when I first ran for office, I had run after what was a very tumultuous circumstance. I was sexually harassed in the House of Representatives, was subsequently dismissed, and given a nondisclosure agreement that was taxpayer-funded from the former speaker of the House.
But I didn’t let them get rid of me. I didn’t let them keep me quiet. And I did not leave state government like I was told to do. I instead decided to run for state representative myself. And a little over a year later made my way back into that same chamber as the youngest woman serving in the House of Representatives at the time.
I’ve been fighting for [constituents] every day since I took office to hold the powerful accountable to make sure people at home are getting a government that works for them and not just for the politically powerful.
As state auditor. I won’t need to keep simply calling for audits and investigations. I will be able to take my nearly 10 years of fighting for equity, accountability, and transparency in the Legislature and I will investigate and I will audit these matters and more to hold the administration accountable and shine a light in the dark areas of our government.
Are there any agencies or departments you want to look into first?
During the pandemic, I … stood up multiple times to the Baker administration demanding equitable access to the vaccine, but also demanding greater transparency and accountability around the contracts that were being awarded during that time to companies in the private sector with no [request for proposals].
Contracts were and continue to be awarded, and no one knows how or why they’re being awarded.
One of the first agencies that I would audit would be the Department of Public Health regarding pandemic-related contracts that were awarded during the time that the vaccine distribution process, in particular, was occurring. We know we had a failed website. We know that vaccines were funneled to mass vaccination sites instead of going into our underserved communities.
As you said earlier, you have done a lot of work around nondisclosure agreements. How do you plan to continue that work as state auditor?
As state auditor, I will have the authority to be able to audit and investigate state agencies and this administration regarding how many nondisclosure agreements have been given out to employees across the commonwealth and how much in taxpayer dollars has been spent to cover up abuse by silencing public employees. And I will audit and I will investigate the abuse of taxpayer-funded nondisclosure agreements.
Last week, Chris Dempsey said he is “the only candidate with experience in the executive branch of state government” and the private sector when contrasting himself to you. How would you respond to that?
If Chris Dempsey wants to compare his record at Bain Capital Corporation with my record in the Senate of taking on the Beacon Hill establishment, fighting for transparency, accountability, and workers’ rights, I look forward to it. During the last year and a half alone, I have gone toe to toe with Gov. Charlie Baker to fight for our community’s most vulnerable families to get equitable access to the vaccine, housing, health care, pandemic brings relief.
Time for public school students, staff to mask up
It’s official. Public school students and staff will need to mask up when inside school buildings. Education Commissioner Jeff Riley issued the mandate Wednesday after the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted Tuesday to give him the authority to do so, reports Boston Globe’s Felicia Gans.
Riley’s mandate runs through Oct. 1, after which schools with at least 80 percent of students and staff fully vaccinated can get rid of the mandate for vaccinated people. Unvaccinated individuals will still need to wear masks.
In other mask news, the Archdiocese of Boston is mandating masks for students and staff in the 69 Catholic schools it controls, reports MassLive’s Heather Morrison. It’s a shift in strategy — in May, the archdiocese said they would not mandate masks while leaving a few choices up to individual schools.
SJC rules on Domestic Violence and Abuse Leave act
The Supreme Judicial Court took their first stab at reviewing a 2014 law aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence or abuse from an acquaintance who are about to start a job. Boston Globe’s John R. Ellement reports that the SJC ruled the law protects people in that position and prevents employers from sanctioning employees who need to take time off to deal with courts and police.
Lawsuit tries to stop construction of Vineyard Wind project
Don’t build it. A group of Nantucket residents is trying to block the construction of a wind farm off the coasts of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, reports Boston Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo. The suit was filed in Massachusetts District Court by Nantucket Residents Against Wind Turbines. Their main argument: the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management allegedly did not conduct an adequate environmental review of the Vineyard Wind project before federal officials approved it in May.
More from Szaniszlo: “The group also alleges that BOEM, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries failed to ensure that the project would not jeopardize the survival of federally listed species, including the critically endangered, 400 remaining North Atlantic right whales.”
COVID Numbers: 1,400 cases, 3 deaths
Massachusetts state health officials reported 1,400 new cases, 3 deaths, and a 2.69 percent positivity, according to the Department of Public Health.
How do today’s numbers stack up against neighboring states?
– Vermont reported 120 new cases and a 3.2 percent positivity, according to their state health department.
– New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services reported 329 COVID cases and a 6 percent positivity, according to its health department.
– Maine reported 193 new cases. Here’s the state’s daily dashboard.
– Connecticut logged 651 new cases and a 3.28 percent positivity, according to data from its health department.
– Rhode Island reported 327 new cases and a 3.2 percent positivity. Here’s the state’s daily dashboard.
One way or another: Cape officials pledge to replace bridges despite funding shortfalls
U.S. Rep. Bill Keating promised Wednesday that the two bridges leading to Cape Cod will be replaced within the next few years, even though the more than $2 billion in funding that will be needed has yet to fully materialize. “We will replace the bridges. It is going to happen,” Keating said, according to Jessica Hill of the Cape Cod Times.
Coming Soon: Vax guidance from Galvin
Employees of Secretary of State William Galvin will soon receive more guidance on vaccination requirements, reports State House News Service’s Katie Lannan. Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, and Auditor Suzanne Bump have already implemented vaccine policies for their offices. Gov. Charlie Baker also said executive branch employees and contractors will need to get jabbed by the middle of October.
All gone: Entire Lawrence personnel department put on leave amid investigation
They’re out of the office. Lawrence Personnel Director Frank Bonet and three staffers were escorted out of City Hall earlier this week and placed on paid administrative leave amid an unspecified investigation, Jill Harmacinski of the Eagle-Tribune reports. Bonet fired back at Mayor Kendrys Vasquez, calling him ‘corrupt’ and suggesting the moves were retaliation because Bonet has reported illegal activity in the past.
How many people moved to the Berkshires during the pandemic?
How many people moved to and from the Berkshires over the course of the pandemic? It’s tricky to answer but Berkshire Eagle’s Francesca Paris uses data from the U.S. Postal Service and the census to shed some light on the question. Two findings: a decades-long population loss is slowing down and USPS data reveals that there was an influx of new arrivals.
Whole lotta shakin’: Experts say Peabody experiencing ‘earthquake swarm’
No bigs. Geological experts told a forum organized by Peabody Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. that the town’s recent spate of reported tremors is likely an “earthquake swarm” that is unusual but not unheard of and doesn’t necessarily portend larger quakes in the future. Erin Nolan of the Salem News and Sam Minton of the Lynn Item report Bettencourt had police search the town with bomb-sniffing dogs after reports of loud booms and shaking houses flooded in but the city now believes it’s just the planet doing its thing.
There’s been a lot of rain…
We’ve seen a lot of rain. Like a ton. And many communities in the state are getting close to records for the wettest summer to date, reports MassLive’s Cassie McGrath. Boston witnessed the fifth wettest summer, Worcester had its fourth, and Westfield had its second.
More from McGrath: “These levels of record precipitation are a sign of climate change, according to [Michael Rawlins, the associate director of the Climate System Research Center]”
Too much? Moratorium on warehouse construction mulled in Northborough
Some members of the Northborough Planning Board want the town to consider temporarily pausing approval of new warehouse and distribution projects, Laura Hayes of the Community Advocate reports. The town is already home to three major warehouses, including those operated by FedEx and Amazon and complaints about large trucks taking short-cuts through residential neighborhoods are on the rise.
Pro-Wu super PAC stirs, takes to TV with ad – Dorchester Reporter
An experiment on the edge of the Seaport: City launches climate defense fund – Boston Globe
North Adams council gives ‘Smart Growth’ zoning plan initial thumbs-up – Berkshire Eagle
McGovern pursues end to hunger through local farm tours – Daily Hampshire Gazette
Some Varsity Blues parents seek day in court – CommonWealth Magazine
‘Divided the town’: Petition wants to ban LGBTQ and other flags on Dighton town property – Taunton Gazette
House panel investigating Jan. 6 attack seeks records from agencies on insurrection, Trump in first request for information – Washington Post
Man who appeared on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album as a baby sues band for child pornography – USA Today
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