Keller at Large
Keller at Large: Union Folly On Vaccine Mandates
On this week’s Keller at Large, Jon Keller dives into unions and Boston’s vaccine mandate for city workers. Keller’s take: “A basic grasp of the science would fuel the understanding that a vulnerable citizen calling for help from the cops or firefighters would prefer not to be deathly afraid of catching COVID-19 from them.”
9:30 a.m. | Before testifying on legislation that would allow every student who wants or needs a school breakfast or lunch to receive the meals at no cost to their family, Project Bread and the Feed Kids Coalition hold a press conference with advocates.
9:30 a.m. | Law Enforcement Body Camera Task Force plans to meet, according to a meeting schedule posted Dec. 7.
10 a.m. | Joint Committee on Revenue, co-chaired by Rep. Cusack and Sen. Hinds, holds virtual public hearing on tax policy proposals related COVID-19 bills (10 a.m.) and student loans (1 p.m.).
11 a.m. | Education Committee holds a virtual hearing on bills related to health and miscellaneous topics.
1 p.m. | Joint Committee on The Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture holds virtual public hearing on bills dealing with fishing, hunting, trapping, including many bills that address the use of shotguns and crossbows in hunting.
With students returning to classrooms, worries persist over omicron and testing
It was back to the classrooms on Monday for most students and teachers in the state and the looming threat of the omicron virus wasn’t too far away.
Boston Globe’s John R. Ellement, Danny McDonald, and Maria Elena Little Endara report as schools return to teaching, health officials are warning of emergency rooms “overwhelmed” by the virus with people coming back from winter holidays. With cases continuing to surge, parents and staff are starting to wonder if schools can stay open in the coming weeks.
The Globe’s Bianca Vázquez Toness and Naomi Martin report most school districts are reporting a manageable increase in COVID cases, but are worried about whether that will last as time goes on. And amidst all this, testing lines are still long at sites across the state.
Boston Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that residents are waiting hours to get tested for this virus as omicron fuels another a surge. But there’s an unpleasant catch now, people are waiting in line as frigid temperatures become the norm.
Speaking of testing, the state only managed to hand out half of the 200,000 at-home rapid test kits to school districts. MassLive’s Heather Morrison reports that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said in an email at the end of last week that “we now will only be able to allocate one test per person” instead of the two person per person as originally planned.
Sen. Eric Lesser joins lieutenant governor’s race
He’s in. Longmeadow Democrat Sen. Eric Lesser officially announced his campaign for lieutenant governor Tuesday morning. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports that the senator’s statement confirming his bid put to rest months of speculation over whether he planned to seek higher office. Two fellow legislative colleagues are also in the race for the second highest office in the state — Sen. Adam Hinds and Rep. Tami Gouveia. Babson College’s Bret Bero is also running for LG.
Armed for battle: Healey outraises declared candidates, sits on massive war chest
Who needs announcements? Attorney General Maura Healey had one of her best political fundraising months ever in December, raising $400,000 and feathering her war chest to a cool $3.6 million, Alison Kuznitz of MassLive reports.
Matt Murphy of State House News Service reports Healey outraised two Democrats who have already said they would run for governor in 2022, with state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz reporting having raised $102,000 and Harvard professor Danielle Allen saying her campaign brought in $83,000.
New Boston City Councilors sworn-in amid vax mandate protest
it was a raucous affair. Protestors crowded outside Boston City Hall Monday as Mayor Michelle Wu swore-in city councilors. GBH News’ Adam Reilley reports that the cohort of councilors includes Ruthzee Louijeune, the group’s first Hatian American member, and Tania Fernandes Anderson, the first Muslim and first African immigrant to serve on city council.
St. Vincent nurses overwhelmingly approve contract
As expected, registered nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester voted to ratify a new contract, ending one of the longest strikes in the state’s history after nearly 10 months and a final push for resolution from U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. Nick Stoico of the Boston Globe and the Telegram & Gazette’s Cyrus Moulton have all the details.
More than 31,000 cases reported after holiday weekend
COVID cases are surging after the winter holiday. Boston Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that state health officials reported more than 31,000 new cases over the weekend. More than 2,000 patients are also hospitalized with virus-related issues.
Where’s the money at?
He wants to know more. House Speaker Ronald Mariano said legislators are seeking more information from the Baker administration about how they have used money intended to deal with another COVID surge. State House News Service’s Matt Murphy reports that Mariano pointed to $200 million in ARPA dollars the Legislature left Baker to help mitigate another spike in cases.
Free for all? Lawmakers eye universal free school meals
With data showing a spike in the number of children going hungry amid the pandemic, Mass. lawmakers are mulling a $100 million plan to provide universal free meals to all Bay State students, Meghan Ottolini of the Boston Herald reports. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education will hear testimony on the proposal on Tuesday.
Mayor Tyer delivers State of the City address in Pittsfield
What does the future hold for Pittsfield? Mayor Linda Tyer laid out her vision during a State of the City address Monday morning at Berkshire Community College’s Boland Theater. Berkshire Eagle’s Meg Britton-Mehlisch reports that Tyer touched on economic and infrastructure projects that have been in the works like a $10 million Holiday Inn on South Street.
Problem solved: New Holyoke councilor quits school job to end standoff over law
Newly elected Holyoke City Councilor Israel Rivera quit his job with the city’s schools, ending what threatened to be a tense standoff over a controversial local law that bars municipal employees from serving on the council. Dusty Christensen of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports some existing members of the council were prepared to protest Rivera’s swearing-in before he announced he had tendered his resignation.
‘Senseless death of an innocent girl’
This was a tragic and terrible way to start 2022. Boston Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that a 16-year-old girl in Dorchester was killed in a triple shooting, according to police. Police officers responded to a 911 call and found three victims.
Gas prices falling in Worcester
What are normal gas prices these days? In Worcester, prices fell 1.3 cents in the past week averaging out to $3.37 per gallon. Telegram & Gazette’s Nicole Shih reports that the cheapest gas in the city was $3.03.
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