Keller at Large
Keller: The Political Risks of A-Hole Behavior
On this week’s Keller at Large, Jon Keller dives into local politics in Framingham, Gloucester, and Everett. Keller’s take: “‘I want to be a jerk … and not care about the consequences, but I just can’t now,’ said Leonardo DiCaprio. If only Sefatia Romeo Theken and Yvonne Spicer had listened to Leo. Instead, the mayors of, respectively, Gloucester and Framingham let the heat of the job get to them, and got burned.”
Today | Candidates in the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Joe Boncore of Winthrop have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to file certified nomination signatures with Secretary of State Galvin’s office. The primaries are Dec. 14 and the special election is Jan. 11.
10 a.m. | Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on probate and family matters.
11 a.m. | Financial Services Committee holds a virtual hearing on legislation dealing with health insurance.
11 a.m. | Health Care Financing Committee convenes a virtual hearing with 15 bills on the agenda, several of which focus on patients with disabilities.
11 a.m. | .The draft Congressional and Governor’s Council maps Beacon Hill Democrats produced are the focus at a Redistricting Committee virtual public hearing.
1 p.m. | Senate meets without a calendar.
Top lawmakers say State House reopening is complex issue
When will the State House fully reopen to the public? At this point, the question has become as common during press conferences with senior elected officials as whether or not Baker will run for a third term.
This week’s foray into the status of the people’s house and when it might swinging its doors open to the public was brought to you by WBZ-TV’s David Wade and WBZ radio’s Karyn Regal, who pressed House Speaker Ronald Mariano, Senate President Karen Spilka, and Gov. Charlie Baker on the topic during a media availability Monday afternoon.
People are confused as to why schools and businesses are open, but not the State House, Regal said to Mariano. The State House is more complicated, Mariano countered, pointing to the fact that the building serves both as a tourist attraction and as an office space.
“This isn’t just a workplace for us. It is a tourist attraction. It is open to tours. It’s open to travelers walking in to just take in the grandeur of the building, so it’s not as simple as controlling the people who work here,” Mariano said.
Both branches have created working groups to formulate plans to reopen the building and instituted vaccine mandates for members and staff as a first step. While specific dates are still in the works, both the Senate and House have outlined a phased approach toward reopening.
Wade was pointed in his questioning after Spilka listed off several of the benefits afforded by legislating remotely, including what the Senate president described as increased public participation due to virtual hearing and session formats.
And the advantages of lawmakers actually working in the building?
“I think all people realize that having the give and take and discussions among members, among people and hearing from the public that wants to come in and we will certainly plan on doing that,” Spilka said. “But as the speaker said, this is a very different situation and we need to make sure and we are working on the reopening of the State House.”
Baker said he looks forward to welcoming people back to the building, but also gave credit to the Legislature for the workarounds they developed.
“It’s certainly my hope that at some point, this place will bustle again because I think it’s important that it bustle,” the governor said. “But I don’t think you should understate or underestimate the roles and responsibilities and the work that had been done by elected officials, especially legislators, during the course of this pandemic.”
Wu to be sworn in at noon on Nov. 16
The time and date are set. Mayor-elect Michelle Wu will be officially sworn in as mayor next Tuesday at noon inside Boston City Hall. Boston Globe’s Emma Platoff reports that after taking the oath of office during a brief ceremony, Wu will head to the mayor’s chamber “to get to work,” according to her team.
And what happens to Acting Mayor Kim Janey? She reflected on her time as the first person of color and first woman to lead the city during an interview with WBUR. The station’s Rupa Shenoy and Walter Wuthmann report that Janey said her time “was never about kind of going back to some normal — when that normal was hurting people, that normal was leaving people out.”
COVID leads to fewer skilled worker visa approvals in Massachusetts
Fewer foreign-born workers were approved for skilled worker visas for jobs in the state than the prior fiscal year. Chloe Liu, writing for Boston Business Journal, reports that the United States approved over 17,500 H-1B visas in FY20 for people seeking work in Massachusetts, a 12 percent decrease from FY19.
More from Liu: “The sponsors with the largest number of approved employees were in health care, including Boston Children’s Hospital Meanwhile, IT consulting firms had the largest number of denials. The agency also processed fewer applications in fiscal 2020 than it did a year earlier, meaning fewer applicants had their applications reach the final stage of reviews by U.S. immigration officials.”
Bring ‘em back: Prosecutors seek to restore 10 tossed Correia convictions
Federal prosecutors are asking an appeals court to restore the 10 fraud convictions returned by a jury against former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia but later tossed by the trial judge, Dan Medeiros of the Herald-News reports. Correia, who has launched his own appeal of the 11 convictions he faces, is due to report to federal prison in December.
What’s next for the St. Vincent nurses’ strike?
Where does the St. Vincent Hospital nurses strike stand and what’s next? Telegram & Gazette’s Cyrus Moulton breaks down the situation and reports that after declaring an impasse, the hospital meant no further negotiations and said they could implement their last, best, and final offer. The Massachusetts Nurses Association, however, said the impasse was illegal and meant nothing.
More from Moulton: “Meanwhile, area experts described the recent declaration of impasse in the St. Vincent Hospital nurses strike as retaliatory, meant to break the union and a public relations move.”
Kennedy v Warren? Publishers sues Senator, citing pressure to block book
A publishing company has sued U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, claiming a letter she wrote to Amazon urging it to block sales of a book critical of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic amounted to illegal censorship, Paul Bond of Newsweek reports. Among those signing onto the complaint against Warren: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a longtime vaccine denier who penned a foreword for the digital book in question.
Head hunting: Danvers residents want action after hockey team hazing
Someone has to pay. That was the overarching message from Danvers residents who packed a school board meeting Monday to react to a Globe story from the weekend detailing hazing and other misconduct by the high school hockey team. Paul Leighton of the Salem News reports amid calls for board members themselves to resign, the school committee briefly considered placing the district’s superintendent on leave but eventually tabled that discussion to a future meeting.
National Guard completes school bus driving mission
Driving days are over. State House News Service’s Michael P. Norton reports that 13 school districts secured enough civilian drivers to end the National Guard’s mission of driving school buses. Administration officials said 200 National Guard drivers drove about 333,000 miles and made roughly 15,000 student pickups and drop-offs.
Legislators focus on Pioneer Valley’s pandemic recovery funds
These state lawmakers want to make sure cities in the Pioneer Valley get their full allocation of federal aid dollars. MassLive’s Peter Goonan reports that a handful of lawmakers traveled to three cities as part of the Legislature’s Gateway Cities Caucus tour Monday.
More from Goonan: “Legislators said it is critical that the increased funding from the state and federal government in response to the coronavirus pandemic reach the gateway cities in equitable fashion. State Rep. Bud L. Williams, D- Springfield, said that it is important anytime you can highlight and address the needs of the gateway cities.”
Congressional district map has ‘profound effect’ on federal resources
The Legislature’s draft Congressional district map has drawn criticism for splitting several South Shore Communities including Fall River and New Bedford. Over the weekend, WBSM 1420’s Marcus Ferro spoke with U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, who has publicly critiqued the proposed map.
More from Ferro: “Rep. Keating argues that during a time when generational investments are being made the SouthCoast via major projects like rail and offshore wind, SouthCoast community ties need to be strengthened, not severed. ‘This has profound effect potentially on the federal government resources in our region,’ stressed Keating. ‘There’s really so much happening in the right direction, and if you have the two cities as an anchor, you’re going to have the resources needed to grow.
‘Pull the plug:’ Has big-time football run its course at UMass Amherst?
He’s seen enough. Globe columnist Kevin Cullen is saying what many are thinking: That the time has come for UMass Amherst to end its dreams of being a big-time football school. UMass has won just 20 games since moving into the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2012 compared to 89 losses, has yet to record a winning season and this week fired coach Walt Bell after he managed just two victories in three seasons.
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