8 a.m. | Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Doughty is scheduled for an interview on Merrimack Valley radio station WCAP-AM 980
10 a.m | UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy will be joined by faculty and staff to announce plans to “transition the entire flagship campus to renewable energy,” according to the school.
3:30 a.m. | Climate activists with Extinction Rebellion Boston and other groups plan a march from Copley Square to the Prudential Center and then the State House to demand state and federal government officials commit to a faster transition to renewable energy and call for corporate divestment from fossil fuels.
Good Friday morning,
Is not often we’re talking about a politician spending political capital at the end of his or her tenure. That’s usually reserved for right after an electoral victory. But it could be argued that Gov. Charlie Baker still has a few chips to push in.
A UMass Lowell poll of likely Democratic primary voters found the Republican governor to be extremely popular with that voting bloc, on par with President Joe Biden. His 70 percent favorability rating among Democratic voters was just a few notches below U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (74 percent), and 78 percent said they strongly or somewhat approve of the job he’s doing.
That may help explain why Baker has been publicly promoting his legislative agenda as aggressively, if not more so, than at any other point in his governorship. The governor on Thursday proposed a $3.5 billion economic development bill that would commit the remainder of the state’s $2.3 billion American Rescue Plan Act funds and borrow the rest to invest in downtown redevelopment, climate infrastructure, housing and unemployment supports.
This week alone he has also held events with business groups to push for his tax cuts and survivors of abuse to make the case for expanding the court’s ability to detain people accused of violent crimes. A separate MassINC Polling Group survey released this week found health care, education and jobs and the economy to be the issues residents think should be of the highest priority to state government.
If this were Washington, D.C., Democrats might be standing up to take notice of a message and agenda that seems to be resonating. But on Beacon Hill, the fear of electoral repercussions for not following a popular governor’s lead is miniscule. The governor has a hand to play, but maybe not pocket aces.
DIEHL WILL DEBATE (ON HIS OWN TURF)
After calling out (wrongly) his Republican rival this week for not paying the MassGOP convention fee, Geoff Diehl said Thursday he would debate “any other Republican gubernatorial candidate” twice before the Sept. 6 primary provided they jump through all the hurdles to qualify for the ballot.
Of course, the only other candidate who would fit that description is Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty. Diehl said his campaign already has commitments form 15 percent of convention delegates and has turned in the required 10,000 certified signatures needed to run for governor.
Assuming Doughty meets those marks as well, Diehl said he’ll debate, but on what could be friendly turf. The former state lawmaker said conservative radio talk show hosts Howie Carr and Jeff Kuhner have both offered to host a debate on their shows in July or August. Diehl has been a frequent guest on both shows over the years, and such a format would limit exposure to more moderate independent voters and Baker Republicans likely to vote in the primary.
That fact was not lost on the Doughty campaign.
“Our opponent has let every delegate and voter know that he is not serious about defeating Maura Healey today. Agreeing to debates where the moderator is in your back pocket shows a complete lack of courage. With this latest stunt, he has reinforced our message that we need a Republican nominee who can win in November and that he is not that person,” said Holly Robichaud, Doughty strategist.
The private child care industry getting overlooked
For all the talk about making child care more affordable, CommonWealth Magazine’s Shira Schoenberg writes that the dollars the state is looking to commit to improve salaries and lower costs for families aren’t reaching a large portion of the early education providers – those paid for privately by parents. While lawmakers are looking to increase supports for child care centers that receive public subsidies, private daycare operators say not all their clients are wealth. “We had to introduce ourselves to stakeholders and legislators. They didn’t know we existed,” said Alyssa Kelley, a Plymouth childcare provider. “We’re trying to help them understand we’re all following the same regulations, doing the same things. We shouldn’t keep being divided.”
Could more mice be the key to slowing Lyme disease?
Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists are looking to release thousands of genetically-modified field mice into the grasses and dunes of Nantucket in an attempt to slow the spread of Lyme disease to humans. The experiment, which is not without its risks, is based on the hope that Lyme-resistant mice would pass the disease on to fewer ticks, which in turn would pose less of a threat to human. The Boston Globe’s David Able goes deeper into the weeds on this one.
To mask, or not to mask
Some are ready to lose the masks. Others, not so much. As the MBTA transitions to personal preference on mask wearing, riders of public transit are not always sure what to do. A team of Globe reporters spoke to straphangers and found even those continuing to mask up are unsure it will make a difference. “I really think it’s too son. I’m wearing mine,” said Margaret Parks, a Maine resident headed to New Jersey on Amtrak. New Jersey has also dropped its transit mask mandate, while New York has not. And for what it’s worth, the Boston Public Health Commission released new guidance as case rate rise recommending continued masking in crowded indoor public spaces.
Not in the Dewey Decimal System
Meg Woolhouse reports for GBH news that major public libraries in Boston, Worcester and other cities were unwittingly making white supremacist and neo-Nazi literature available to patrons through subscriptions to an outside company’s digital collection. While librarians can curate their physical collections, digital library access offered through private companies like Hoopla also give readers access to books and magazines that can be borrowed and downloaded onto tablets. “We’re talking about deeply damaging information that’s not factual,” said Jason Homer, executive director of the Worcester Public Library.
The vision for a Holocaust museum
Todd Ruderman and Jody Kipnis bought a three-story brick building on Tremont Street for $11.5 million through a foundation they set up to help remember the Holocaust. Now the couple hopes to turn the space on the Freedom Trail into the city’s first Holocaust museum. “If we can have one kid a day leave here and act differently and treat someone a little differently, then we’ve done our job,” Kipnis said. “We want to make it a call for action: Never again.” The Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie writes more on the couple and their plans.
Atrius sale gets go-ahead from AG
Optum has been cleared by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office to acquire Atrius Health. The purchase would put the state’s largest independent physician organization under the umbrella of a major national health care organization UnitedHealth Group, writes the Globe’s Jessica Bartlett. The Supreme Judicial Court must still review the deal, which Healey’s office said has been revised to reflect an increased purchase price of $236 million, up from $73 million. Bartlett reports the money “would be transferred to a foundation that would continue a charitable mission that closely resembled Atrius’s.”
Boston cops threaten to sue over pepper spray restriction
As if things could get any worse between Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and public safety unions, some of the city’s police are threatening to sue the city over an ordinance passed last year restricting the use of pepper spray and rubber bullets. The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that police say some out-of-town units have backed out of agreements to help police large events due to the rules.
McGovern helps elevate veterans’ VA concerns
Veterans turned out at a town hall in Northampton Wednesday night to share stories of how the VA hospital in that western Massachusetts city helped them recover from both the physical and mental trauma of military service. MassLive’s tristan Smith covered the event, which was part of a broader effort to get the Biden administration to reconsider its plans to shutter the hospital as part of a broader consolidation of services that would see veterans in the region travel to facilities as far away as Springfield or Connecticut to get care.
Chicopee superintendent formally indicted
A little over a week after being arrested at her home, Chicopee Superintendent Lynn Clark was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of lying to investigators about sending nearly 100 threatening text message to an applicant for city police chief in an attempt to get him to withdraw from consideration. The Springfield Republican’s Jeanette DeForge has more.
Second man to have sentence commuted by Baker wins parole
William Allen, the second man to have his first-degree murder sentence commuted by Gov. Charlie Baker and the Governor’s Council, could be a free man within a month after the Parole Board unanimously voted to grant him parole after nearly 28 years in prison. WBUR’s Deborah Becker explains Allen’s case and how it got to this point.
Convention center business rebounding
Included in that $3.5 billion economic development bill we mentioned off the top, Gov. Charlie Baker is again seeking authorization to sell the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay. But top convention center executives say business is booming, especially across town at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston, as in-person events get back into full swing. “Things are actually starting to pop big time,” said Convention Marketing Center Executive Director Milton Herbert Jr. during a Thursday meeting, reports the News Service’s Colin A. Young. Baker still maintains that despite returning demand for space two convention centers, especially with one as old as the Hynes, are overkill.
Comparing the Dems on climate
Attorney General Maura Healey released her gubernatorial plan to fight climate change on Wednesday to great fanfare, but her rival for the Democratic nomination Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz has also had a plan out for months. WBUR’s Miriam Wasser stacks them up side-by-side to better understand who’s proposing what. And if that’s too much detail for you, Chang-Diaz tried on Twitter to distill it herself.
Why would you want to be lieutenant governor?
WBUR’s Anthony Brooks asks this question in a year when there are more people running to be number two in state government than for the top job. Part of it, surely, has to do with ambition to climb the political ladder, while realizing you might not be in a position to compete for the top job. But former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Murphy says there’s more to it than that. There’s a freedom that comes with no job responsibilities. “What I wanted to do was create a way to use the freedom of the office to say to all the communities in the state: ‘Take a look ahead and see what you’re going to need in terms of schools, in terms of healthcare, in terms of housing, so that you’ve got a plan,” Murphy said.
Sunday Talk Shows
Talking Politics, GBH-TV, Ch. 2, 7 p.m.:
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m.: Northeastern University journalism Professor Dan Kennedy talks with Jon Keller about the squeeze on reporting resources at local Gannett weeklies, alternative local models of community journalism, and the status of the Globe and Herald.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m.: U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley sits downs with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a political roundtable discussion with Democratic analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican analyst Virginia Buckingham.
CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5, Sunday 12 p.m.: Whittier Street Neighborhood Health Center CEO Frederica Williams talks about the impact conflicting messages on mask-wearing could have on public health in communities of color; Colette Phillips, CEO of Colette Phillips Communications, gives an update on Phase 2 of the All Inclusive Boston tourism campaign that’s highlighting the city’s unique accent.
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