Happening Today

10 a.m. | Tax Expenditure Review Commission meets via video conference.

10 a.m. | U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren joins a Poor People’s Campaign press conference to discuss the need to pass the Build Back Better Act, protect voting rights and support workers and families, according to her office.

10 a.m. | Boston Public Schools students plan to walk out of class and then participate in online events to call on BPS and state officials to take more steps to stop COVID spread in schools and communities, including a two-week period of remote learning.

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Today’s Stories

2021 PAC report cards

Look at that, it’s finally Friday,

We hope this week wasn’t too harsh and that you’ll have time to rest over the long weekend.

As you know, it’s an election year. And that means there will be lots of money being spent on races up and down the ballot. The state’s campaign finance office released new numbers Thursday giving a snapshot of what political action committees were up to over the past year, and who’s poised to make a big impact in 2022.

Traditional PACs reported raising a total of $5.2 million in 2021 and spending $4.1 million last year –  a municipal election cycle. PACs have raised roughly the same amount in each of the last three years, down slightly from the $5.9 million raised and $4.9 million spent in 2018.

A few other topline takeaways from the Office of Campaign and Political Finance winter report:

– Heading into the 2022 election season, 1199 SEIU Massachusetts PAC leads all other PACs with $3,079,052 in the bank, followed by Massachusetts and Northern New England Laborers’ PAC with $1,818,191, Local 509 Service Employees PAC with $769,750, MA Association of Realtors PAC with $657,877, and North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters PAC with $546,687.

– 1199 SEIU Massachusetts PAC  raised the most money last year, bringing in $4,448,395 (they also spent the most: $4,043,760). The union represents more than 70,000 healthcare workers across the state and bills itself as “the most politically active union in the commonwealth.” 1199 SEIU has consistently endorsed candidates for a wide variety of offices, including backing Boston Mayor Michelle Wu in the city’s general election last fall.

– With the state elections on the horizon, 255 PACs reported a combined total of $13.2 million cash on hand as of Jan. 1, not including independent expenditure PACs. The committees can contribute up to $500 per calendar year to a candidate and take in $500 per calendar year from an individual.

Check out the full PAC spending and fundraising report here.

Did you read something interesting today? We want to hear about it! Send us a link to a noteworthy story published today or yesterday and we may include it in tomorrow’s edition. Reach out to us at editor@massterlist.com.

$41 million in student debt in Mass. to be canceled

A massive student loan servicer agreed to a $1.85 billion settlement after facing claims of unfair and predatory student loan practices. Boston Herald’s Amy Sokolow reports Navient will send Massachusetts over $6 million, including $2.2 million in restitution, for over 8,300 federal loan borrowers.

State House News Service’s Matt Murphy reports Navient denies any wrongdoing, though the company’s chief legal officer said they agreed to settle the lawsuits “to avoid the additional burden, expense, time and distraction to prevail in court.”

More than 150 people housed after Mass and Cass tent removal

The City of Boston offered 154 people who were living in the Mass and Cass area housing accommodations following tent cleanup operations that took place Wednesday morning. Boston Globe’s Sahar Fatima and Milton J. Valencia report Mayor Michelle Wu met with advisers at The Women’s Inn at Pine Street Thursday morning and said at a press conference afterward that “not a single person was forcibly removed from the encampments, no arrests were made.”

Boston Globe

State sends testing sites cease and desist letters

Three COVID testing locations in Worcester, Needham, and Dartmouth run by the Center for COVID Control were sent cease and desist letters from the state after officials found they were operating without a license. MassLive’s Michael Bonner reports the Department of Public Health reviewed the clinics after receiving complaints and found they were performing COVID tests without proper state approval.

MassLive

‘A springboard to nowhere’

Maybe MASSterList as a collective will join Boston Globe’s Yvonne Abraham in her totally real quest to become the state’s next lieutenant governor. In all seriousness though, check out this column from Abraham poking fun at the race for the state’s number two spot.

One of our favorite lines: “This absolutely spectacular job, a springboard to nowhere, is everything I have been working toward all these years. For me and the others, it has to be, because so few of the dinosaurs — distinguished veterans, I meant to say — clinging to their offices in this state will budge.”

Boston Globe

SJC appoints new head of Trial Court

The Supreme Judicial Court appointed Judge Jeffrey Locke as the new chief justice of the Trial Court effective Jan. 19. Locke will succeed Chief Justice Paula Carey, who plans to retire on Jan. 18 after serving in the position since 2013.

“He is the right person for these times, and we are grateful that he is willing to lend his talents to this role. Judge Locke’s experience, skills and dedication to the mission of the Trial Court will allow him, working with the Court Administrator, to effectively lead the Trial Court in this challenging period,” SJC Chief Justice Kimberly Budd said in a statement.

Locke was in the news on Tuesday when he declined to block Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s vaccine mandate for city workers. More details on that from Boston Globe’s John R. Ellement and Travis Andersen.

Settled: Former head of Lawrence shelter will pay to avoid trial

The former director of a Lawrence homeless shelter reached an agreement with the office of Attorney General Maura Healey to pay $6 million in restitution and damages to settle charges he used more than $2 million in state funding to enrich himself personally. Jill Harmacinski of the Eagle-Tribune reports Manuel Duran still faces criminal charges.

Eagle-Tribune

Better late than never: USPS delivers WWII-era letter 76 years late

A family in Woburn got a letter from their late father, albeit 76 years after it was sent. John Gonsalves was serving overseas in Germany just after World War II ended when he wrote a letter to his mother in Massachusetts. It never arrived. Washington Post’s Cathy Free reports USPS finally delivered the letter to John’s wife, Angelina Gonsalves, 89, last month.

Washington Post

Romney slams Republican threat to boycott debates as “nuts”

It’s almost like he’s taking it personally. U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney is slamming a threat from the Republican National Committee to bar future nominees from taking part in any presidential debates run by the nonpartisan commission that has staged such events since the 1980s. Romney called the idea “nuts” and said the debates are an invaluable forum for candidates to “duke it out,” Bryan Metzger and Oma Seddiq of Insider report.

Busin

No ropes, big problem: Whale-friendly lobster tech divides industry

A proposal from a group of lobstermen to test ropeless trap technology meant to be safer for the region’s whale population is getting push back from inside the industry over worries the test could actually lead to more areas being closed permanently to lobster harvesting. Eve Zuckoff of WCAI has the details.

WCAI

Railroad passenger service between New York and Pittsfield to startup this summer

Amtrak is scheduled to start offering New York-to-Pittsfield passenger train service this summer after the owner of tracks on the proposed Berkshire Flyer route agreed to the move. Berkshire Eagle’s Danny Jin reports Amtrak already runs daily passenger service between Albany-Rensselaer Station and New York’s Penn Station and the Berkshire Flyer will add Friday and Saturday continuations between Albany-Rensselaer and Pittsfield’s Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center.

Berkshire Eagle

From the WBUR and GBH radiowaves

Missed today’s radio programs on WBUR and GBH? Here’s a quick look at what went down on 90.9 and 88.7 FM.

From WBUR’s “Radio Boston:” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu talks about a new proof of vaccination policy set to go into effect in the city Saturday for restaurants, fitness centers, and entertainment venues. Also: more details on Wednesday’s tent removal process at Mass and Cass.

From GBH’s “Boston Public Radio:” Andrea Cabral, a former Suffolk County sheriff and secretary of public safety in Massachusetts, discusses Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to commute the sentences of Thomas Koonce and William Allen.

Pushing back: Maskless Braintree board member explains stance

He’s “questioning the hypocrisy.” Tom Devin, one of the Braintree school board members who caused a recent meeting to be halted because he refused to wear a mask, says he did so in protest of what he sees as inconsistency in policy making, Fred Hanson of the Patriot Ledger reports.

Patriot Ledger

Sunday Public Affairs: Rachael Rollins, Ed Flynn, and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Boston City Council President Ed Flynn discussing the push to vaccinate, pedestrian safety in Boston, and the council’s role in dealing with the Wu administration.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m. Guest: U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Rachael Rollins talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu followed by a political roundtable discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.

CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5 Sunday 12 p.m., This week’s topic: Bakari Sellers shares his new children’s book “Who Are Your People”, capturing moments from the civil rights movement. King Boston Executive Director Imari Paris Jeffries gives an update on The Embrace, the monument planned for Boston Common to honor Dr. King and Coretta Scott King.

Today’s Headlines

Metro

‘So many jobs out there’: SouthCoast businesses, staffing agencies on the hunt for workers – Herald News

Rachael Rollins cites drug, human trafficking as priorities as US attorney – Boston Herald

Massachusetts

New Bedford is getting nearly $4 million in grants. Now how should the city spend it? – Standard-Times

Lynn short by $900K for net-school spending – Lynn Item

Nation

Prosecutors charge Oath Keepers leader, 10 others with seditious conspiracy – Politico

Employers face patchwork of state policies on worker vaccination after Supreme Court order – Washington Post

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