Happening Today:

10 a.m. | Greater Boston Armenian Community commemorates the 108th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Robert Avetisyan, permanent representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the United States, will deliver the keynote address. | Grand Staircase

3:30 p.m. | Environmental activists organized by Extinction Rebellion Boston gather at City Hall and then march to the State House to demand legislation to mandate no new fossil fuel infrastructure in Massachusetts. | City Hall, Boston

5 p.m. | Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll will join community advocates and local lawmakers to speak about food insecurity at a grand opening event for The Salem Pantry, an agency of Greater Boston Food Bank, celebrating its first brick-and-mortar location. | Espacio, 105 Congress St., Salem

Massachusetts ranked among the bottom five in a recent 50-state survey comparing online information accessibility in legislatures across the nation. 

The research spearheaded by lawyer and open government advocate Matthew Victor and other students at Boston College Law was “designed to assess whether a moderately interested and technologically-competent constituent could find different types of information,” according to the survey.

Across every category Massachusetts consistently ranked in the bottom or last in publishing committee votes, publishing public testimony, publishing minutes, availability of recordings, floor recordings, ability to testify remotely, and floor minutes. 

The sobering findings inspired Victor to team up with data scientist Nathan Sanders, Northeastern University’s NuLawLab, and dozens of volunteers with the nonprofit Code for Boston to create a civic tech platform to help commonwealth constituents better engage in the legislative process.

Enter the Massachusetts Platform for Legislative Engagement, or MAPLE.

It’s a totally free, third-party platform that allows organizations, lawmakers and individuals to submit, publicly post and review committee testimony on various bills all in one place.

Sanders says MAPLE “isn’t trying to displace but build on top” of the state Legislature’s own website — a clunky forum with variable usability. 

Policy advocates like Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts are welcoming the tech he says “makes information more readily available in this state where opacity dominates the process.”

MAPLE is not affiliated with the Massachusetts Legislature, but it does provide a mechanism for advocates and constituents to review and submit testimony. Eventually it will include features making bill tracking easier.

Sen. William Brownsberger has been at the forefront of technology among his fellow lawmakers. The Belmont Democrat began building his own platform to manage legislative emails and constituent correspondence in 2014. He’s made the tech open source and estimates about two-thirds of his fellow state senators interact with it on some level. 

Brownsberger said he’s “thought a lot” about how technology can aid the legislative process and said he supports automated electronic filing and making some committee testimony more available to the public. 

He said it’s a job better left to the Legislature itself, however, due to security and other concerns.

MAPLE is nowhere near the first of its kind. Search “civic tech graveyard” on Google to peruse the ghosts of projects past preserved online by researchers so people “can visit, celebrate, and pay your respects to the projects that are no longer with us.”

Cohn says MAPLE will ultimately live or die as a legislative resource based on its ability to attract “broader use — both in terms of organizational use and individual use, which it needs to fully realize its potential.”

Send tips to Erin Tiernan Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising and general inquiries, contact Dylan RossiterPublisher@MASSterList.comClick here to post a job on the MASSterList Job Board. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter. Did someone send you this edition? Subscribe here!

MBTA watch 🚇

Days since the last derailment, fire, crash, falling debris, or critical incident: 3

Days with localized speed restrictions: 42

Days without “normal” weekday subway service: 303

On Jan. 5, Gov. Healey pledged to hire a new MBTA Transportation Safety Chief within 60 days. It has now been 107 days without the position being filled.

Healey’s T: A new era in MBTA leadership

T oversight is now fully in the lap of Gov. Maura Healey, who today announced three new appointments to the MBTA Board of Directors.

Among them is former MBTA General Manager and Massport CEO Tom Glynn, who will serve as chairman. Also joining are former Lynn Mayor Thomas M. McGee, who served on the transportation committee during his time as a state senator and Eric L. Goodwine, a commercial financing banker who also serves on the board for Quinsigamond Community College.

The new appointees will serve with Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca, Chanda Smart, Robert Butler and Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, according to a statement.

The announcement comes just weeks after Healey installed her pick, Phillip Eng as the next general manager of the beleaguered transit system that’s buckling under safety concerns, crumbling infrastructure and revenue shortfalls.

Board members serve four-year terms and are not paid but they can be reimbursed for travel and other expenses up to $6,000 per year.

The seven-member oversight board was created by former Gov. Charlie Baker in 2021 to replace the Fiscal Management Control Board — another watchdog board born out of dire straits following the so-called “snowmaggedon” winter of 2015.

Healey is expected to soon deliver on her campaign promise of installing a safety chief to oversee improvements and handle ongoing issues.

Out to bid: T solicits contractors on $72 million in repair work

The T is readying to hire contractors to conduct $72 million in repair work along the struggling transit system over the next years, writes Dan Atkinson for Dig Boston. The T has been under a microscope with the feds as safety incidents continue to rack up. New general manager Phillip Eng just announced plans to shut the entire Blue Line down for several nights in April and May to speed up improvements to get the MBTA back on track.

Dig Boston

Not their fight: No motivation for property-owning Mass. lawmakers to move on rent control

Rent control bills haven’t exactly received a warm reception in the Legislature and The Boston Globe’s Emma Platoff and Matt Stout report the reason could be because more lawmakers are landlords than renters. Their investigation found at least 86% of the 200-seat Legislature owns homes, compared with just 61% of people in the state. Over one in four state legislators also own multiple units or properties, they write. 

The Boston Globe

With Barbara Lynch stories, the Times proves it’s a 3-newspaper town

Two exposés published within minutes yesterday morning about troubles in the Barbara Lynch restaurant empire, one by New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Moskin and the other by the Globe’s Janelle Nanos. The theme of both —allegations of abusive behavior and questionable leadership of Lynch, the celebrated chef and owner of several highly regarded restaurants, including No. 9 Park and Menton. Lynch, at once a tough-talking native of South Boston and a multiple James Beard winner, clearly was on the radar screen of both the Globe and the Times, the latter feeling very comfortable reporting in the Globe’s backyard. Both stories are thorough and incisive and may make for journalistic classroom exercise in comparing and contrasting.

The New York Times | The Boston Globe

The news stirred outrage from restaurant workers on social media where some people expressed relief that the alleged experiences had been revealed, reports WBUR.


He’s out: Longtime City Councilor Frank Baker won’t seek re-election

Frank Baker, who’s often seen as the most conservative voice on Boston’s left-leaning city council, won’t seek re-election, reports Gayla Cawley for The Boston Herald. The decision opens up the District 3 seat he’s held for more than a decade.

The Boston Herald

Big sports gaming hauls bloated by ‘bonus bets’

A big debut for mobile sports betting that proved much more popular than in-person betting in a lucrative first month was likely bloated by ‘bonus bets’ from online retailers and app merchants trying to attract gamblers to their platforms. March wagers came in at $570 million, reports Adam Reilly for GBH. The vast majority of those — nearly $550 million — were placed online, compared to just $20 million wagered in person, according to the state Gaming Commission.


A new shot: CDC authorizes next round of COVID boosters  

Many seniors over 65 years old are now eligible to line up for another COVID-19 vaccine booster, following approvals by both the CDC and FDA. This latest round of booster shots are the same batch rolled out last year from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech that were updated to include a “bivalent” recipe for the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron, writes CBS.


Who is Brian Walshe? The Cohasset man accused of killing his wife

Now accused in the death of his wife, Brian Walshe was a conman who had friends and neighbors fooled that he was a family man, Wyndham Lewis reports for Boston Magazine. His story started to unravel as the search for his missing wife intensified in the days after her disappearance early this year.

Boston Magazine

Hard feelings persist over Worcester’s COVID money awards

Worcester City Manager Eric Batista is defending the process the city used to award $11.7 million of its ARPA windfall to local nonprofits, even as some continue to argue that too much of the money went to larger organizations with established funding sources. The Telegram’s Cyrus Moulton reports critics say Worcester missed opportunities to attack structural racism with the federal funds.

Telegram & Gazette

Worcester bus rides will be free for another year 

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority will continue to operate its bus network fare-free until at least June of 2024– extending for another year the policy enacted at the height of the pandemic. The mover came a day after a report found the WRTA is the only one of the 15 regional transit agencies in the state to see ridership levels rebound to and above pre-Covid levels.

Worcester Business Journal | GBH

Windfall: State ready to pay big for family shelter at Adams college dorm

The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts would be paid $2.6 million a year to allow the state to use an empty dormitory tower as transitional housing for families, the school says. The Berkshire Eagle’s Sten Spinella reports the college is considering an 18-month agreement to sublease the space because it could be needed to house students again if enrollment rebounds as hoped.

The Berkshire Eagle

Record-setter: $10 million gift is largest-ever to a Mass. community college 

A 1958 graduate of Holyoke Community College and her husband have pledged to donate $10 million to the school — the largest-ever gift to a community college in the state and one of the largest ever nationally to a two-year institution. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Weekend political and policy talk shows

Keller@Large | 8:30 a.m. Sunday | WBZ-TV | Political analyst Jon Keller interviews U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-2nd District) to discuss the debt ceiling battle, partisan rancor in the House and federal funding issues facing Massachusetts. 

On The Record | 11 a.m. Sunday | WCVB-TV State Representative and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Aaron Michlewitz is the guest. Topics will include the state budget which reaches the floor on Monday and tax relief legislation. Sharman Sacchetti and Ed Harding host. Democratic Political Analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Rob Gray join the roundtable discussion.

Send tips to Erin Tiernan Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising and general inquiries, contact Dylan RossiterPublisher@MASSterList.comClick here to post a job on the MASSterList Job Board. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter. Did someone send you this edition? Subscribe here!

Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList