Happening Today:

10 a.m. | To guard against crashes that could damage overpasses, Department of Conservation and Recreation officials hang a new "Cars Only" sign on David G. Mugar Way at the intersection of Mt. Vernon Street as a part of a pilot program to alert drivers of the low bridge clearances on Storrow Drive and Soldiers Field Road in Boston and Memorial Drive in Cambridge.| David G. Mugar Way and Mt. Vernon Street in Boston

11 a.m. | Legislative subcommittee of the Task Force on Hate Crimes meets virtually.....

12 p.m. | Disability Employment Subcommittee of the Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities meets virtually. The agenda includes discussions on an annual report and fiscal 2024 goals

5:30 p.m. | Mayor Wu joins Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper to host a virtual Back to School community meeting for BPS students and families ahead of the first day of the school year

It’s Back-To-School week in many Massachusetts communities, and no doubt back to the book challenges or complaints that have hit record levels, with the hyper-partisanship infecting our national conversation working its way into schools and onto bookshelves.

In 2022, Massachusetts saw 45 challenges on more than 30 books, The American Library Association said. Bay State book challenges were so rare until recently that the Massachusetts School Library Association relied on national data rather than collecting its own. Since the organization started collecting data from member libraries in the fall of 2022, there have been 22 challenges.

ALA and MSLA note that many member libraries don’t report their challenges, so the scope of the problem is likely larger than indicated by their statistics.

The Massachusetts Library Association’s own survey found 78 formal and informal challenges to books and programming last year. The surge in attempts to restrict access to library materials has alarmed free speech advocates and spurred new legislation on Beacon Hill. 

Many book challenges — in Massachusetts and otherwise — center on LGBT issues or BIPOC or other minority groups. Most of those attempts were to censor materials or library programming about race and sexuality

Sen. Julian Cyr, a gay Democrat from Truro, has found himself a leader of late on LGBTQ rights expansion in Massachusetts and leading the effort to tamp down the sudden rise in censorship attempts. Book-removal advocates generally argue their efforts are in the interests of protecting children too young to absorb information about sexuality, or are intended to block ideological indoctrination.

Cyr’s said his book ban bill, “An Act Regarding Free Expression,” “prohibits book bans here in Mass in two ways: It prevents book removals for personal or political views in both school and public libraries.”

The bill that Cyr developed in partnership with the ACLU would also put teachers and libraries “in the driver’s seat” when it comes to convent consideration, he said. The bill is currently sitting in the Joint Committee on Education awaiting a hearing.

Gun violence mars weekend festivals in two Mass. cities

Worcester police abruptly shut down that city’s Caribbean American Carnival and parade on Sunday after two people were shot during the celebration — an incident that came just a day after eight people were hurt when gunfire erupted during the annual Caribbean Carnival in Dorchester. All 10 victims of the separate incidents are expected to survive and police in both cities are asking for witnesses from the crowds to reach out to investigators. 

WBUR | Telegram

Wampanoag Tribe to pitch new development on idling casino land 

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe wants to talk with officials in Taunton about alternative development of property that it has been trying for seven years to turn into a billion-dollar resort casino. Daniel Schemer of the Taunton Gazette reports the tribe wants to revisit the agreement it has with the city, which includes a schedule of payments in lieu of taxes the tribe has not met.

Taunton Gazette

Boston city councilor says she was robbed near Mass and Cass 

Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson told police she was attacked and robbed of her cell phone during a visit to check out a tent encampment near Mass and Cass. on Saturday evening.

Boston Globe | Boston Herald

Proposal would allow recall of governor, other elected officials

Christian Wade of the Eagle-Tribune lays out the state of play around the push to use a 2024 referendum to amend the state’s constitution to allow the recall of state- and county-level officials. Attorney General Andrea Campbell is reviewing the proposal, which has its roots in an effort to recall the district attorney of Norfolk County that ran smack into the lack of a state-level process.


Pressley returns fire on Ramaswamy after KKK grand wizard remarks 

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley found herself in the middle of the GOP presidential nomination fight over the weekend after Vivek Ramaswamy suggested her earlier comments showed she was the equivalent of a “modern wizard” of the KKK — and then doubled down on those comments on the Sunday shows. Pressley got the last word, at least for now, saying the Republican hopeful is “not occupying any real estate in my mind.”

The Hill

Amid Worcester Covid surge, UMass Memorial bring back mask mandate 

Masks on, again. UMass Memorial Health is bringing back its mask mandate for employees who are interacting directly with patients amid a surge in cases in the Worcester area.

Telegram | Worcester Business Journal

Never mind: Developer drops plans for South Shore Plaza apartments

They read the tea leaves and left. A developer who hoped to build hundreds of apartments at South Shore Plaza in Braintree has withdrawn a requested zoning change after weeks of criticism from abutters and an unfavorable recommendation from the planning board. Fred Hanson of the Patriot-Ledger reports the plan, which started with about 500 units, could still return in some other form. 

Patriot Ledger

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A West Stockbridge man accused of burning a tree bearing a Trump sign has been indicted

In the campaign for Pittsfield’s mayor, John Krol and Peter Marchetti are leading in the donations race

Proposal calls for ‘equity’ in migrant relocations

Owner of G.I. Joe’s in North Attleboro charged with setting fire to business

UMass football earns first season-opener win against FBS opponent in nearly 40 years

You can see the Milky Way from Nantucket. Residents want to keep it that way

11 Fatal Minutes That Have Jacksonville Confronting Racism Yet Again

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Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList

Keith Regan is a freelance writer and local news junkie who has been on the MASSterList morning beat since the newsletter’s earliest days. A graduate of Northeastern University and Emerson College, Regan lives in Hopkinton with his wife, Lisa.