Keller at Large

Keller’s Dirty Little Secret

In his latest Keller at Large, Jon Keller shares a secret … he loves political polls. His take: “Poll-bashing is fashionable, and has been ever since ‘DEWEY BEATS TRUMAN.’ Too many critics don’t know how to read them. And anyone who relies too heavily on them deserves what they get. But those who write polls off as meaningless are missing the point.”


Happening Today

Early education and care meeting, Wu announces endorsement, and more

Today | Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, the world’s largest annual campaign “to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.”

10:30 a.m. | Board of Early Education and Care meets to consider request by Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy to implement an indoor masking requirement for all staff and students 5 and older at EEC licensed providers and to modify educator qualifications and professional development requirements to address workforce shortages.

11:15 a.m. | Massachusetts State Lottery Commission meets with several items requiring votes including $400,000 on contracts to purchase bettering slips and authorizing the executive director to promulgate or amend regulations around operations of courier services that offer lottery products.

12 p.m. | Boston mayoral candidate Michelle Wu announces endorsement from an elected official.

12 p.m. | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health holds a live online Q-and-A session with epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch on the Delta variant and children’s health

Today’s Stories

What does the future of Massachusetts look like?

State and local officials are reaching into their playbooks from the early days of the pandemic as they seek to implement mask mandates in various sectors and spaces.

Masks have long been hailed as an effective way of stopping the spread of COVID-19 and were a mainstay when the virus first started infecting large swaths of people. Recently repealed after the end of the state of emergency, the Baker administration has started to ramp up mandates once again.

Education Commissioner Jeff Riley recently rolled out a mandate for staff and students at K-12 public schools and Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy is looking to implement a similar policy for state-licensed early education programs, State House News Service’s Matt Murphy reports.

Couple the mask requirements with new proof of vaccination mandates for most state employees and you start to glean an overall strategy for combatting the Delta variant _ a more infectious version of COVID-19 that has dominated headlines in recent months.

As the state and nation move well past the year and a half mark of living with COVID, a question comes to mind: Will COVID become endemic, how do we live with it, and were the dreams of an end to all of this just a fairytale?

It’s depressing to think about, but it’s important to contemplate. Much of our lives for the past year-plus have been governed by social distancing, staying at home, and forgoing many important life events. But what does the future hold for all of us in Massachusetts?

There was a street festival this weekend in the North End where hundreds of people were milling through the tight corridors that make up the neighborhood.

On the one hand, it was refreshing to watch such a normal occurrence, and yet, on the other, it was hard not to think about potentially catching the virus in such a crowded situation – the idea in the back of our heads that no matter how far out we get from the pandemic we might always be at risk of catching COVID.

State House News Service

Baker offers assistance to family of fallen Marine

Gov. Charlie Baker is offering a helping hand to the family of Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario, a Lawrence native who was killed in Kabul during a suicide bombing last week, reports Boston Globe’s Travis Anderson.

“I’ve spoken with the mayor in Lawrence, … and I made clear to him that if there’s anything we can do to assist the family or the community with respect to the arrangements and the process going forward, we would do whatever we could to be helpful,” Baker said on Monday. “I guess all I can say is that we’ll do whatever we can to help her family going foward.”

Boston Globe

Baker looking to increase school-based vaccinations

State officials are working with over 100 school districts to provide vaccine clinics around the start of the new school year, reports GBH News’ Mike Deehan. On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration is focusing on those types of clinics “so that everyone can have a school year that’s a lot different than the one they had last year.”

GBH News

Boston’s rush for rentals

Finding an apartment sucks. Moving is even worse. And as Sept. 1 is tomorrow, the fall rush to find a new living situation is as competitive as ever, reports Boston Globe’s Andy Rosen. College kids are back, the rental market has more or less rebounded from 2020 when demand plummeted, and now vacancy and rental prices are stabilizing.

More from Rose: “Median rents in Boston are at $2,030 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,163 for a two-bedroom, according to data collected by the online marketplace Apartment List. That’s 8.4 percent higher than at the same time last year — and about where rents were before the pandemic.”

Boston Globe

COVID Numbers: 4,081 new cases

Massachusetts state health officials reported 4,081 new cases, 10 deaths, and a 2.51 percent positivity test rate.

How do today’s numbers stack up against neighboring states?

Vermont reported 71 new cases and a 2.6 percent positivity rate, according to health officials

New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services reported 213 new cases and a 5.4 percent positivity rate.

Maine reported 200 new cases, according to state officials.

Connecticut logged 1,361 new cases and a 3.1 percent positivity rate. Here’s their daily dashboard.

Rhode Island reported 185 new cases and a 3.7 percent positivity rate.

Department of Public Health

Bayou-bound: More help on the way for hurricane victims from Bay State

Help has arrived. An 15-vehicle convoy carrying 80 members of a search-and-rescue team based at the Beverly airport arrived in Louisiana on Monday to provide support to FEMA’s response to Hurricane Ida, Paul Leighton of the Salem News reports. The team includes firefighters, dog handlers, doctors and others from across New England who have received specialized disaster-response training.

Salem News

Thousands of lawsuits are filed in Worcester housing court, but some don’t make it there

Over 3,200 lawsuits have been filed in housing court against landlords by city officials in Worcester, reports MassLive’s Michael Bonner, but many more do not reach the desk of someone who can help. Complaints can lead to fines, jail time, or the property owner losing control of the space.

More from Bonner: “The city averages about 1,000 to 1,200 proactive inspections of apartments per fiscal year, [said Amanda Wilson, director of Worcester’s housing and health inspections]. But there are only so many hours in a day and days in a year to inspect every property.”


Squad to Biden on Fed chair Powell: Get him out

They want a progressive champion atop the Fed. U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley joined with fellow left-wing lawmakers to call for President Biden to replace Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell with someone who will do more to address the impact of climate change on the economy and refocus financial regulation to address economic inequity, Victoria Guida of Politico reports.


Heavy rain and potential flooding could come this week as Ida moves north

Expect rain and flooding in southern New England later this week as what’s left of Hurricane Ida makes its way up north, reports Boston Herald’s Rick Sobey. Tropical moisture associated with the hurricane are expected to arrive on Wednesday and with it, the potential for heavy rains and flooding.

Boston Herald

A $263 million high school that has the feel of a ‘world-class’ college

A “world-class” high-school that boasts a TV studio and a planetarium is set to open in Fall River in less than two weeks, reports Fall River Herald News’ Audrey Cooney. The $263 million B.M.C. Durfee High School will see the first set of students arrive on Sept. 7, though the auditorium won’t be immediately available as well as several of the construction and art classrooms.

Fall River Herald News

Not housing: Milford officials make clear living in storage units not OK after body found

File under: Desperate times. Officials in Milford are warning local storage facility operators that “under no circumstances” should people be living in their rented units after several people were found housed in them, including one who was the apparent victim of a murder. Alison Bosma of the Milford Daily News has the details.

Milford Daily News

Blame game: Finger-pointing on island after latest moped fatality

Who dropped the ball? In the wake of a fatal crash involving a moped over the weekend, local activists who have long pushed for a ban on rental of the vehicles say the island’s State House delegation failed to push through legislation, while lawmakers say it was the town of Oak Bluffs that erred by not renewing its home-rule petition after the first effort failed. George Brennan of the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports Chilmark Police Chief Timothy Rich pulled no punches in his assessment, calling the state Legislature a “joke” rife with “corruption.”

Martha’s Vineyard Times

New legislation would allow certain funds to be used for flood control

A record amount of rain fell this summer and with that comes questions around investing in infrastructure to control flooding. State House News Service’s Sam Doran reports that new legislation from Westfield’s Sen. John Velis would allow municipalities to allocate Community Preservation Act funds for rehabilitating flood control infrastructure or flood plain preservation projects that were created or acquired prior to 2000. The Senate sent the bill to committee Monday.

State House News Service

Today’s Headlines


Report alleges bullying at Mission Hill school – CommonWealth Magazine

As federal eviction ban ends, a mayoral rival urges Janey to impose one in Boston – Boston Globe


Wellfleet’s planned Labor Day weekend parade postponed to 2022 – Cape Cod Times

Lawrence campaign events canceled after news of marine’s death – Eagle-Tribune

Springfield Police Lt. Reginald Miller files discrimination complaint against city, department – MassLive


U.S. ends 20-year mission in Afghanistan – Politico

Federal judge throws out Trump administration rule allowing the draining and filling of streams, marshes and wetlands – Washington Post

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