10 a.m. | Massachusetts Institute of Technology holds its first Climate Grand Challenges showcase event, featuring a “fireside chat” with Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry. The former U.S. senator talks with MIT President Rafael Reif about climate issues.
11 a.m. | MassWildlife invites the public to help stock trout during school vacation week at the Hampton Ponds boat ramp in Westfield
2:30 p.m. | Congressman Jim McGovern visits Ansaar of Worcester to meet newly-arrived refugees from Afghanistan who are helping to provide charitable services to fellow refugees.
5:30 p.m. | Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins kicks off his 2022 reelection campaign at the Stockyard Restaurant in Brighton with help from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, state Sen. Lydia Edwards and Rep. Jessica Giannino
6:30 p.m. | WBUR hosts a panel discussion with Rep. Liz Miranda, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts policy lead Darien Johnson, and Vineyard Wind Massachusetts liaison Dana Rebeiro about the state’s growing offshore wind industry and its potential impacts on communities of color.
Good Thursday morning,
Add it to the pile. Gov. Charlie Baker will be at the Breakwater North Harbor apartment complex in Lynn this morning to announce new legislation that the administration said would “make significant investments in economic development, downtown revitalization and climate resiliency for the Commonwealth’s cities and towns.”
The economic development bill, which has become something Beacon Hill takes on every two years, joins a growing list of bills the outgoing Republican governor is attempting to push through the Legislature in the next three months, including health care, public safety and infrastructure bills.
The legislation is almost certain to contain a sizeable chunk of cash intended to help cities and town rethink their downtowns and adapt to changing habits of workers, residents and commuters in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a speech last month to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Baker brought up the fact that the Legislature had denied his first request to use $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the downtown initiative last year.
“We will file again shortly significant resources for placemaking, reimagination and creativity around downtowns, and I would ask this organization and every chamber and every other organization to recognize and understand that the future of downtowns is going to be different, whether we like it or not, than it was before and we need to start the process of reimagining the placemaking of downtowns so they can thrive and be successful in what will be a slightly different world in many cases — a significantly different world in some cases — than the one we all had before the pandemic,” Baker said.
The Boston Globe’s Jon Chesto reported at the time that lobbyists were already lining up with other requests, including $300 million in grants to help small businesses over three or four years and $30 million to replenish the state’s brownfields remediation fund.
HEALEY’S MASK STAYING ON
Yesterday was the first full day passengers on the MBTA were not required to wear a mask, and voluntary masking seemed to be a mixed bag. But if you bump into Attorney General Maura Healey, chances are she’ll be covered up.
A Healey spokeswoman tells MASSterList that while her office continues to monitor case rates the Democratic candidate for governor will be wearing a mask on public transit. Healey, however, sidestepped a questions about whether she supports the decision to lift the mask requirement in light of a Florida judge striking down the federal mandate, which the Justice Department intends to appeal. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul has kept masking requirements in place on the New York City subway for now.
“AG Healey believes it’s important to remain careful about COVID-19 and to be considerate of others when exercising personal discretion in mask-wearing, especially in confined public spaces,” spokeswoman Jillian Fennimore said.
Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz’s campaign for governor did not respond to a similar request for comment.
LAST CALL FOR NOMINATION PAPERS
Newly elected state Sen. Lydia Edwards, of East Boston, made some news this week when she ran the grueling Boston Marathon, the second tough race for the freshman legislator in four months since her open-seat election victory to the state Senate in January. And if history is any guide, it will be her last tough race on the horizon – unless she decides to run the marathon again.
Edwards has to run for her Senate seat again in the fall election, but her odds of losing that seat are near zero. Indeed, the odds of any incumbent state senator losing in the fall – much less having anyone run against them – are slim to none. That goes for her new State House colleagues as well.
Inter-party primaries in state Senate races are rare unless the seat is being vacated by an incumbent. The 2nd Suffolk Senate district is drawing a field of candidates only because Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz is running for governor.
The political website Ballotpedia does an annual analysis of competitiveness in state legislatures across the country and ranks them on the basis of number of open seats, incumbents in contested primaries and those with major party competition. In the 2020 analysis, Michigan was ranked first as having the most robust competition for legislative seats. Massachusetts was ranked 44th.
May 3 is the final day to submit nomination papers to local registrars for county and district candidates, while statewide office seekers have until May 10. But incumbents shouldn’t worry about waiting in line.
Crashpads a way of life for airline employees
The “crashpad” in East Boston shut down by Boston inspectors earlier this month appears not to be an isolated case. GBH’s Sarah Betancourt reports that there are dozens of not-technically-legal apartments in East Boston rented for cheap to flight attendants and airline crews as they make layovers in the city. There are even private Facebook groups to help airline crews find cheap lodging, and other more public vehicles like CrewMatesApp.com, Betancourt writes. “The cost of living in Boston is ridiculous for a flight attendant’s salary,” said Krystal Valdes, a flight attendant who lives in Texas and stays in an East Boston crashpad when she’s in town. “When you go through training, a lot of the training instructors recommend going and finding a crashpad.”
T garage price tag tops $400M
The MBTA’s new bus-maintenance facility in Quincy is now expected to cost more than $400 million to build – half of the funds the T ha d originally set aside five years ago to replace aging garages. The price tag on the new maintenance and storage facility, which is needed if the state want to be able to service a new fleet of electric vehicles, is also far more than similar projects across the country and in Canada, the Globe’s Taylor Dolven reports. But officials said the scope of the Quincy garage and the high cost of construction in the Northeast make it incomparable.
Former Gloucester mayor lands state gig after leaving office
Ethan Forman of the Gloucester Times reports that former Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken is now serving as deputy commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, but that Theken wouldn’t answer any questions about the new gig beyond confirming she landed it. Theken and Gov. Charlie Baker had a close relationship during her time in office, hosting the governor for many events in Gloucester and earning high praise from the Republican each time she did.
Students join community in pushing back on new UMass commencement date
Some UMass Amherst students are pushing back against the school’s plan to move commencement to Memorial Day weekend in 2023, saying they may be unable to attend their own ceremony because of the timing. Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports students are aligned with Amherst town leaders, who say a holiday-weekend commencement would stress local services and drive up costs.
Wu hires team to review developer fees
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has hired California-based David Paul Rosen & Associates to study the city’s inclusionary development policy, including whether it would make sense to increase the percentage of income-restricted units in certain housing developments, the Globe’s Catherine Carlock reports. A separate firm – Karl F. Seidman Consulting Services – will help study the fees charges to commercial real estate developers that gets used for affordable housing.
Study focuses on COVID impacts to “invisible” Asian Americans
Low-income Asian Americans in Boston and in communities outside of the city were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but were often overlooked in studied that focused on the disparate impact of the pandemic on Black and brown residents, a new UMass Boston study found. The Globe’s Kay Lazar writes that Asian American “suffered a triple threat of health risks, financial stress, and racism.” “Those in Chinatown or the working communities in Malden and Quincy are often invisible,” UMass Boston political scientist Carolyn Wong told Lazar.
Bay State hemp companies survived to turn a profit
The Boston Globe’s Dan Adams looks at the bumpy road Massachusetts hemp companies took to profitability after years of being caught up in patchwork of state and federal regulations and competition for out-of-state producers who would “openly flout” Massachusetts law.
Cromwell bribery case moves to trial
The former tribal leader of the Mashpee Wampanoag went on trial Tuesday facing allegations of bribery and extortion tied to a planned casino project in Taunton that never got off the ground. Cedric Cromwell’s trial began with jury selection after months of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Sun Chronicle reports. Cromwell is accused of accepting as much as $60,000 from his co-defendant, in exchange for lucrative casino contracts.
Farmers speak up over “millionaires’ tax”
Most people have heard the concerns that a higher income tax on wealthy earners in Massachusetts will prompt them to leave the state or discourage businesses from locating here. But what if you can’t leave. The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance brought together more than half dozen local farmers on Tuesday to voice their opposition to the ballot question that would add a 4 percent surtax to income over $1 million. MassLive’s Erin Tiernan writes that while most Massachusetts family farmers don’t earn enough to push their annual household income above the $1 million threshold, they still worry about getting hit with the tax when it comes time to sell off assets, like land.
Chicopee school board considers firing superintendent
The Chicopee School Committee is looking into whether it should fire Superintendent Lynn Clark after the city’s schools chief was arrested two weeks ago for lying to federal investigators about threatening text messages she sent to Chicopee Police Capt. Richard Henry in an attempt to get him to withdraw his candidate for police chief, which he did. The Springfield Republican’s Jeanette DeForge reports that the committee went into executive session Wednesday night to discuss triggering a clause in Clark’s contract that would allow them to fire her without cause with 90-days written notice. A vote to fire Clark would have to be taken in public.
It’s time: Correia’s prison term finally set to start Friday
After 20 weeks of delays for various reasons, former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia is set to begin serving his sentence in a New Hampshire Federal prison on Friday, Jo Goode of the Herald-News reports. Correia must report to FCI Berlin by noon tomorrow after seven delays granted because of the coronavirus and other reasons.
Baker hears from more abuse victims in Salem
As Gov. Charlie Baker has made the case for making it easier to detain defendants accused of certain crimes or with a criminal record, he’s leaned on the stories of survivors to share their stories with lawmakers and the public. The administration held its fourth roundtable Tuesday in Salem with victims of violent abuse the same day the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee gave itself an extension until June 30 to decide on Baker’s bill. The Eagle Tribune’s Christian Wade details some of their stories.
Seven previous shootings by Pittsfield cops “justified”
Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington is currently investigating the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Miguel Estrella by a Pittsfield police officer, but the Berkshire Eagle’s Amanda Burke reports that in the seven police officer shootings over the past two decades all actions taken by police were deemed to be justified. Burke looks at the circumstance of each of those prior incidents.
Recommendations made to rein in “forever chemicals”
“After almost a year of studying how ‘forever chemicals’ touch nearly all aspects of life in Massachusetts, the PFAS Interagency Task Force released its final report Wednesday with recommendations that the state regulates PFAS chemicals as a class, restrict the sale of consumer products with intentionally-added PFAS, and work to raise public awareness of the ubiquity of the problem,” the News Service’s Colin A. Young writes
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