Keller at Large

Keller: The Lessons You Won’t Read in Baker’s Book

On this week’s Keller at Large, Jon Keller dives into what Gov. Charlie Baker probably left out of his forthcoming book “Results: Getting Beyond Politics to Get Important Work Done.” Keller’s take: “We’re guessing we won’t read much about politics in ‘Results,’ or hear much when Baker records the audiobook version, an eagerly-awaited cure for insomnia. But we can imagine some useful political lessons the lame duck governor could share if it didn’t make him spit up in his mouth a little just thinking about it.”

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Happening Today

Today | Mass. Gaming Commission is due to report on January gaming revenue at the state’s three gambling centers and its implications for state tax revenue.

10 a.m. | Ways and Means Committee remotely convenes its second hearing on Gov. Baker’s fiscal year 2023 state budget proposal to hear testimony from health and human services agencies.

11 a.m. | Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on Gov. Baker’s final attempt to convince the Legislature to update the wiretapping law for the first time since 1968 to allow police to use wiretaps in certain cases that are not connected to organized crime.

11 a.m. | House meets in an informal session.

Today’s Stories

Good morning. After 700-plus days of mostly desolate hallways and lack of access for the general public, the Massachusetts State House finally has a reopening date. Democratic legislative leaders want you to mark Tuesday, Feb. 22 as the official day the building will reopen to the public.

So with that in mind, here’s MASSterList’s Declassified State House Survival Guide, a really brief rundown of what you need to know before coming back to the People’s House.

– You’re going to need a mask if you want to get into the building. So stuff one in your back pocket or backpack before you meander over to 24 Beacon St. In announcing their decision to open the building, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano said all people who enter the building will need to be masked up.

– Make sure you’re shots are up to date, no boosters necessary. Not vaccinated? A negative COVID-19 test result from the past 24 hours will do, and at-home rapid tests count.

– A lot of patience. Many of the specifics of reopening weren’t exactly clear when Spilka and Mariano talked to reporters Monday afternoon. There were a lot of long pauses after questions, glances between the two legislators, and it appeared the details weren’t all there, such as who will enforce the rules and are children under 5 allowed. (Mariano says kids can come.) We’re sure more information will come out this week on reopening rules but until then, get ready for an “on the fly” experience.

Just “B Together” in Boston…..

In non-State House news, everyone over 12 years old in Boston will need to show proof of vaccination to enter certain indoor establishments starting today. It’s the next step in Mayor Michelle Wu’s “B Together” COVID-19 vaccine policy.

The vaccine mandate was announced in December and full implementation is scheduled for May, when all people over 5-years-old will need to show proof of vaccination at indoor venues like indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment spots. But that timeline could change depending on several COVID-19 metrics the city is following.

For the vaccine mandate to be lifted, the city needs to see a positivity rate below 5 percent, less than 200 COVID hospitalizations a day, and less than 95 percent of ICU beds occupied. The most recent report from the Boston COVID-19 Dashboard shows a 5.4 percent positivity rate, 292 daily hospitalizations, and 90.9 percent of ICU beds occupied.

Speaking on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio” Monday morning, Wu said mask mandates will be lifted after the vaccine mandate but metrics will dictate the timeline.

“Things are changing,” she said. “In terms of the mask mandate, we want to see those similar thresholds but additionally, with some continued downward trends, just to be sure that we are continuing to head in the right direction.”

Most requests for executive branch vaccine mandate waiver denied

Eighty-nine percent of requests the state has received for exemptions to the executive branch vaccine mandate have been denied. WBUR’s Ally Jarmanning and Todd Wallack report state officials have approved 256 of the more than 2,300 requests for medical or religious waivers (the figures do not include cases where workers withdrew their requests).

More from the WBUR pair: “It’s not clear why the state approved hundreds of the waivers, while denying the rest. The state refused to provide copies of the actual applications or the reasons they contained, citing a law to protect workers’ privacy, even after WBUR suggested deleting the employee names and other personal information from the documents. WBUR has appealed the denial to the Secretary of State’s office.”


Councilors looking to ‘do away with’ Boston gang database

More than 600 names were taken off a database of Boston gang members but some city councilors are looking for more. Boston Globe’s Danny McDonald reports that 3,340 people are still listed in the database but officials like City Councilor Julia Mejia want “to do away with the gang database completely, not dismantle it piece by piece.”

Boston Globe

Worcester highlighted in airline merger talks

Flights to and from Worcester are under consideration as talks continue on a proposed merger between Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines. Telegram & Gazette’s Cyrus Moulton reports the merger was announced last week and is expected to wrap up in the second half of 2022.

Telegram & Gazette

Baker talks license bill ahead of House debate

Ahead of a House debate this week on legislation that would allow residents without lawful proof of residency in the United States to obtain a license, Gov. Charlie Baker stopped short of threatening a veto. State House News Service’s Colin A. Young reports that Baker has previously expressed opposition to the idea, and continues to say he likes the licensing system as it is. But that’s not a no.

State House News Service

‘Outstandingly bad:’ Nantucket Planning Board unloads on plan for ‘new downtown’

They pulled no punches. The Nantucket Planning Board pushed back hard Monday against a Boston-based developer’s plan to create a second downtown on the island, a mixed-use development that board members took turn deriding as too “intense” and “extreme” for the land it would sit on, Joshua Balling of the Inquirer & Mirror reports.

Inquirer and Mirror

Outdoor cannabis farm in Windsor granted permit

A proposed outdoor cannabis farm in Windsor secured a special permit late last month and developers are now preparing to file an application with the Cannabis Control Commission. Berkshire Eagle’s Larry Parnass reports Mountaintop Cannabis Cultivators LLC is looking for up to 100,000 square feet of cultivation space — the largest allowed.

Berkshire Eagle

Fare free? What about subsidized riding?

Worcester and Boston can boast free-fare transit on some public buses but the state’s third largest city is going a different direction. MasLive’s Cassie McGrath reports that Springfield and the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority are offering subsidized riding in the form of a targeted discount program for low-income commuters.


Remember (it’s) the Titans: Algonquin unveils new nickname

Less than a year after vowing to move on from its ‘Tomahawks’ nickname and logo, the Algonquin Regional School District said students had chosen The Titans as the school’s new sports team identifier, Ethan Winter of the MetroWest Daily News reports.

MetroWest Daily News

Boston athletes on the ice for Team USA

Boston is showing up strong for Team USA’s hockey team. GBH News’ Esteban Bustillos reports several of the players come from Harvard University, Boston University, and Chestnut Hill. That’s because the National Hockey League decided it would not send its players to the Olympics and the American team had to turn to athletes in other leagues or at the collegiate level.

GBH News

New Bedford says retirement board erred in approving fired chief’s retirement

New Bedford officials want the city’s retirement board to reconsider its vote to approve the retirement of a deputy fire chief who was canned by the city after being caught lifting heavy objects while on medical leave. Linda Roy of the Standard-Times reports the city says Paul Coderre Jr. should not have been deemed eligible to retire with a pension because he has not yet reached the minimum age of 55.


Wicked smart: Survey says Mass. is most educated state in U.S

WalletHub says the Bay State is the best-educated state in the country, ranking at the top in terms of both undergraduate and graduate degrees earned. MassLive’s Cassie McGrath has the details.


Today’s Headlines


Feds charge Hanover man with taking illegal gratuity in real estate scheme – Patriot Ledger

Lynn GE workers protest in Boston – Lynn Item

First fines for noncompliance with Amherst mask rules – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Trump said Belichick ‘chickened out’ by deciding not to accept Presidential Medal of Freedom – The Hill


Local advocates meet with reps to hone their skills – Eagle-Tribune


Judge throws out Palin libel case against New York Times – Politico

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