More preliminaries, Rhode Island boat trip, ARPA hearing, and more
Today | Eleven cities hold preliminary elections including Newburyport, Holyoke, North Adams, Lawrence, Attleboro, Beverly, Fall River, Everett, and Lowell.
9:30 a.m. | Public health experts, municipal officials, legislators and community leaders make the case at a State House rally for investing $251 million from American Rescue Plan Act to “transform Massachusetts’ inefficient and inequitable local health system” by investing in workforce development, infrastructure improvements and the development of integrated data collection and reporting systems.
9:30 a.m. | House Speaker Ronald Mariano, Reps. Jeffrey Roy, Carolyn Dykema and Sean Garballey (and perhaps others), and the Environmental League of Massachusetts take a boat trip to tour the offshore wind farm off Block Island. Growing the offshore wind industry in Massachusetts has been one of Mariano’s stated priorities as speaker.
11 a.m. | Future of Work Commission convenes for its third meeting. The commission plans to hear a presentation from the MIT Task Force on the Future of Work as well as presentations from Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal and the Mass. Business Alliance for Education.
11 a.m. | With a tentative goal to agree on some spending decisions this fall, lawmakers convene the latest in a series of public hearings to hear input on how to spend the roughly $4.8 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds state government has remaining.
A proposal to reopen the State House emerges
A working group in the Massachusetts House is recommending the State House open in four phases, starting with legislators and essential staff who would have to be vaccinated by Nov. 1 to vote or work from the capitol building.
The sketch of a plan was released Monday afternoon as Gov. Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, and House Speaker Ronald Mariano were holding their weekly leadership meeting.
State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that under the plan, state representatives and House employees would have to prove they are vaccinated by Nov. 1 to work in the building. The proposal also calls for lawmakers to continue livestreaming all public hearings — a move that has allowed people from any part of the state to tune into the legislative process.
Mariano just last week publicly expressed frustration with representatives who oppose the idea of a vaccination requirement among members — something he says hampers the process of bringing more people into the building.
The plan — which did not include start dates or triggers for phases two through four — says the working group will continue to monitor Department of Public Health reports, state and federal guidance, and reports from public health experts, “in order to determine the optimal start dates for each phase of the reopening.”
The building has been closed to the public for over 550 days and since then lawmakers in both branches have operated primarily in remote fashion — most senators and representatives participate in legislative sessions from outside of the building and public hearings are largely held over programs like Microsoft Teams.
The once bustling halls under the Golden Dome have sat mostly empty save for a crew of core staffers, employees, and lawmakers who have been deemed critical to keeping state government running.
But with a light faintly visible at the end of the tunnel, expect questions from lawmakers and others about how each phase will be implemented and when legislative leaders might be ready to commit to a date to reopen the building to everyone.
The proposal reminds us at MassterList of Gov. Charlie Baker’s original plan to reopen Massachusetts in the early days of the pandemic.
The release of the recommendations also comes one day after House officials reported that an employee of the branch who was in the building last Thursday tested positive for COVID-19.
Correia acquitted on eight counts of wire, tax fraud
It wasn’t the outcome most people were expecting. Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II showed up to federal court Monday expecting to be sentenced to prison only to witness Judge Douglas Woodlock grant acquittals on eight of the wire and tax fraud counts, reports The Herald News’ Dan Medeiros, Linda Murphy, Jo C. Goode, and Lynne Sullivan.
But don’t expect a pass on the extortion counts stemming back to Correia “shaking down marijuana vendors looking to do business in the city,” writes the team of reporters. The judge also said he would look into the issue of granting a new trial.
Staircase where BU professor fell to death removed over weekend
Transportation officials removed a rusted stairwell near the JFK/UMass MBTA station where Boston University professor David Jones, reports Dorchester Reporter’s Gintautas Dumcius. The stairs had been closed for 20 months after they were deemed unsafe for use. Department of Transportation officials told the Reporter that work to demolish the staircase started Saturday night and ended Sunday morning.
Sudders tacked on to lawsuit against Holyoke Soldiers’ Home officials
She’s on the list. Lawyers representing veterans who died of COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home added Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders as a defendant in their lawsuit against officials at the facility, reports Boston Globe’s Andrea Estes. The lawyers allege she neglected leadership problems at the facility.
‘Immediate intervention’ needed at Worcester Fire Department
The Worcester Fire Department needs immediate and long-term changes to “stabilize” the department, a new outside review commissioned by the city said, reports Telegram & Gazette’s Steven H. Foskett Jr. The review was prompted by Lt. Jason Menard’s 2019 line-of-duty death.
More from Foskett: “The master plan and ‘Community Risk Assessment: Standards of Cover Report’ also includes a road map to implement the myriad changes — from staffing to command structure to the location of fire stations — that could make the department safer and more effective in a growing, changing city.”
A party bus and AP Language and Composition class
What an interesting method of transportation for a field trip. Students in Boston used a party bus equipped with a stripper pole and neon lights to get around on a field trip because of a national shortage of bus drivers, reports MassLive’s Douglas Hook. The teacher of the class said “there actually is a real bus shortage and it speaks to major flaws in our education system.”
Do-overs: Lynn, Boston races headed to recounts
Not over yet. Even as voters in a fresh batch of Bay State cities head to the polls, at least two races from last week’s have yet to be settled for good. In Lynn, school board member Michael Satterwhite, who finished third in last week’s open mayoral preliminary, has formally begun the process to seek a recount, Allysha Dunnigan of the Lynn Item reports. Meanwhile, in Boston, Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub reports District 7 city council hopeful Angelina Camacho filed recount paperwork after finishing third out of eight candidates.
The tale of a municipal harbor plan in Boston
Can you do that? The answer is still so vague. But if Boston officials want to remove a downtown waterfront municipal harbor plan, they’ll have to offer an alternative. That was the message from Gov. Charlie Baker at a Monday afternoon press conference with legislative leaders, reports Boston Business Journal’s Catherine Carlock (with contributions from Steph Solis).
Boston Acting Mayor Kim Janey requested the state withdraw the plan earlier this month, saying her administration would “convene stakeholders and reassess the plan.” But now the Baker administration is saying they can’t remove the plan, only submit a new one.
Community colleges in Massachusetts institute vax requirement
The community colleges are united. All 15 president of community colleges in the state announced that students, faculty, and staff will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 2022, reports MassLive’s Cassie McGrath. The president say the move is intended to increase the health and safety of learning and working spaces.
Challenged: State Police union sues Baker over vaccine mandate
As expected, the union representing Mass. State Police troopers has filed suit to stop the Baker administration from implementing its requirement that all of its 1,800 members be vaccinated against the coronavirus by the middle of next month, Ally Jarmanning of WBUR reports.
CVS to add more jobs ahead of expected flu shot, COVID test demand
Get ready for an influx of CVS employees in the New England area. Boston Business Journal’s Jessica Bartlett reports that the company is hiring thousands of people across the country — including New England — ahead of an anticipated rise in COVID testing and a high demand for flu and COVID shots. The pharmacy plans to add 25,000 clinical and retail jobs.
Headed to court: Developer appeals Holyoke’s Mount Tom Dunkin’ denial
They’re not going quietly. The developers behind a proposal to build a Dunkin Donuts franchise on the road to the top of Mount Tom are suing the Holyoke Planning Board over its denial of the plan, saying board members were not following the facts or the law when they voted against the project because of traffic concerns, Dusty Christensen of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.
Hitting home: Haverhill High pledges crackdown amid Tik Tok vandalism trend
Not a joke. The principal of Haverhill High School is warning that students caught vandalizing school property will be prosecuted and forced to pay restitution after a wave of minor damage tied to the “Devious Licks” Tik Tok challenge that has hit schools across the country. Mike LaBella of the Eagle-Tribune has the details.
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