Happening Today

Today | Labor officials release Massachusetts unemployment rate, labor force, and jobs estimates for September and revised figures for August.

10 a.m. | Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee holds hearing on couple dozen bills related to utilities, including utility lines and double-poles, “pole health,” injury caused by poles and wires, transparency in private utility construction contracts, utility rate increases and regulatory proceedings.

12 p.m. | Sen. Eric Lesser holds livestream with Kimberly Robinson of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and Lyle Wray of the Capitol Region Council of Governments to discuss updated ridership estimates for East-West Rail.

8:08 p.m. | Red Sox and Astros face off at Minute Maid Park in Houston for game six of the ALCS.

Today’s Stories

Welcome to the (almost) weekend

Welcome to Friday. This long October week is finally over and you can set your sights on a nice relaxing weekend with a bit of baseball this afternoon.

From redistricting to the Boston mayoral race, this week registered as a busy one. Boston mayoral candidates Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George, who face off at the polls in less than two weeks, went head to head on the debate stage and Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reported that Wu painted Essaibi George as a status quo candidate.

On Beacon Hill, the House took one of the final steps in the decennial redistricting process and passed new proposed political boundaries for all 160 representative House seats. State House News Service’s Matt Murphy reports that the House map boosts the number of majority-minority districts from 20 to 33 — but more on that down below.

The Senate plans to take up their proposed maps for new Senate districts next week. Senate lawmakers marked Wednesday, Oct. 27 in their calendar as the date they’ll vote on the proposed boundaries. Senators have until Monday at 1 p.m. to file amendments, reports State House News Service’s Sam Doran.

So with October winding down and the leaves finally changing colors, we’re staring down several fairly important dates: more redistricting votes, a mid-session legislative recess in November, and the Boston mayoral election on Nov. 2.

Parts of Green Line extension project delayed

The Green Line is experiencing another delay. This time it’s with passenger service on the Green Line extension project. Boston Globe’s Taylor Dolven reports that MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said a new station at Somerville’s Union Square and the reopening of Lechmere Station will now occur in March 2022, three months later than originally expected.

State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that construction crews have faced “a variety of challenges,” according to Poftak, especially when working on a facility that will provide power to the system.

Sinema whisperer? Neal says senator getting on board with spending plan

Did he unstick her? U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee will help craft the revenue side of a massive Democratic spending plan, said Thursday that he got Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema to agree that failing to pass President Biden’s top domestic priority is not an option. Mike Lillis of The Hill reports Neal met with Sinema for 40 minutes and while no agreement on a tax package was reached, talks will continue among staffers.

The Hill

Correction officers unions appeals, preparing another lawsuit

The Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union appealed a federal judge’s denial of an injunction of the executive branch vaccine mandate. Boston Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports that the organization also says it’s preparing another lawsuit to challenge the mandate.

Boston Herald

A question of identity

There’s a persistent issue in the Boston mayoral race that’s flow relatively under the surface. GBH News’ Saraya Wintersmith reports that Boston mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George faces questions about her identity.

More from Wintersmith: “The Arab-Polish Boston native said she has identified as a person of color for the six years she has held public office, but she acknowledged she has not always.”

GBH News

Lifted: Hopkinton becomes first district to drop mask mandate

Take ‘em off. The Hopkinton School Committee voted Thursday night to drop an in-school mask mandate at the town’s high school starting on Nov. 1, making it the first district to do so with state approval, 7News reports. The board said it would review COVID case data after a three-week test period and left the door open to reinstating the mandate, which it was allowed to drop because more than 80 percent of eligible students are vaccinated.


House passes plan to redraw political boundaries for all 160 seats

The House passed legislation Thursday that redraws all 160 representative seats, with Democratic leaders saying the new proposed political boundaries increase representation among people of color. State House News Service’s Matt Murphy reports that the vote was 158-1 with Rep. Lenny Mirra casting the lone no vote.

State House News Service

Blocked: Celtics games won’t air in China after Kanter

They’re a bit sensitive about this topic. Raymond Zhong and Sopan Deb of the New York Times report NBA games featuring the Boston Celtics are being blocked from the Chinese state-run internet after outspoken fan favorite Enes Kanter called the country’s leader a “brutal dictator” in a video posted to social media.

New York Times

Trip away: Easthampton latest community to decriminalize psychedelic plants

Then there were four. The Easthampton City Council voted to decriminalize the use and possession of plant-based psychedelics, making it the fourth community in the Bay State to direct police to make enforcement of the federal ban on magic mushrooms and similar substances a low priority, Walter Wuthmann of WBUR reports. Cambridge, Somerville, and Northampton have all adopted similar positions.


Boxborough looks to FBI for help

Call in the feds. Boxborough’s Selected Board is looking to the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit to investigate payment inconsistencies within its police department. MassLive’s Will Katcher reports that the Select Board voted 3-2 Monday night to order the town administrator to investigate how some officers have been paid at higher rates.


State police add 168 troopers to force

New recruits and resignations. Boston Herald’s Joe Dwinell reports that three State police officers resigned rather than resist an executive branch vaccine mandate. That comes as 168 new recruits joined the force. Telegram & Gazette’s Craig S. Semon reports that graduation ceremony at Worcester’s DCU Center featured remarks from Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

No town hall in a mall for Swansea

Swansea’s town hall in a mall? Not so fast. Herald News’ Audrey Cooney reports that town officials are “indefinitely” postponing a plan to move town offices into spaces at the former Swansea Mall, citing legal issues that would make the transition impossible.

Herald News

Sunday Public Affairs: Michelle Wu, Jon Hurst, and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m. Bill Forry and Gin Dumcius from the Dorchester Reporter provide analysis of the Boston mayoral debates and the final days of the race.

This Week in Business, NECN, Sunday, 10 a.m. This week’s topic: Holiday shopping with Retailers Association of MA President Jon Hurst; inside the New Commonwealth Racial Equity & Social Justice Fund with President Makeeba McCreary; and Shirley Leung of The Boston Globe talking COVID, Mass and Cass crisis, and the Boston mayoral race.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m. Guest: Boston mayoral candidate Michelle Wu speaks to hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu followed by a roundtable discussion with political analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.

CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5 Sunday 12 p.m., This week’s topic: Across Boston and Cambridge, the A.R.T., Arts Emerson, the Huntington Theater and Broadway in Boston are welcoming back live audiences with original productions and Broadway favorites.

Today’s Headlines


Most Massachusetts Port Authority employees complied with COVID vaccine mandate deadline, CEO says – MassLive

Former Boston Grand Prix CFO pleads guilty to dozens of fraud charges – Boston Globe


2,970 Worcester public school students have opted out of new sex education curriculum – Telegram & Gazette

Mass. jobless claims continue to decline – Eagle-Tribune

Ridership picking up in Attleboro, Mansfield and throughout MBTA system – Sun Chronicle


Biden will return to Virginia campaign trail in final week – Politico

House votes to hold Bannon in contempt for refusing to comply with the Jan. 6 subpoena – Washington Post

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