happening today:

10:30 | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Superintendent Mary Skipper host a media availability to share an update on the city’s preparations to welcome students back to school (first day of school for grades 1-12 is Sept. 7, and Sept. 11 for pre-K and kindergarten students). Bolling Building, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury

10:30 | Governor's Council holds hearing on the proposed pardon of convicted bank robber Kenny Jean, whose clemency petition won approval from the Parole Board and Gov. Maura Healey and now faces a final confirmation vote before the council.

11:00 | Attorney General Campbell's office plans to notify ballot petitioners of her certification decisions and then announce them via press release. Media is allowed to attend the in-person notification — 1 Ashburton Place, 20th floor. Campbell has until Wednesday to complete her review of 42 ballot questions (proposing 38 laws that could be decided at the 2024 ballot and four constitutional amendments that could be decided in the 2026 election) filed by the early August deadline.

3:00 | Sen. Feeney hosts a reception to unveil "The Arc of the Moral Universe: A Labor Day Celebration at the Massachusetts State House." The art exhibition is intended to honor Massachusetts labor unions and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "Throughout the 1960's Dr. King gave a series of lectures to the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and AFSCME among others that attempted to unite labor and civil rights in common cause," says a release from Feeney's office. The exhibition will be shown from Sept. 5 until Sept. 15 at Room 222

The tragic R.J. Oppenheimer thought he was doing something powerful and good, and so does Rep. Mike Connolly… and so did Mike Dukakis and so did Cathy Judd-Stein and — well, state government is replete with cases where leaders proposed or effected explosive change, only to have it, um, bomb. John Keller explains in his MASSterList column today.

For those whose minds are already on November 2024, today represents an important milestone in gaining a clearer picture of what the next statewide election has in store. 

Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office will announce this afternoon which of the 38 proposed ballot questions have a chance at making it before voters next fall (as well as four constitutional amendments that could be decided in 2026.)

Decisions are based on whether the proposals comply with the Constitution and are legally sound, not if the Attorney General’s office supports them.

Among some of the topics sure to stir up the most buzz is Auditor Diana DiZoglio’s bid to explicitly permit her office to probe the Legislature — the latest move in her high-profile transparency fight against Beacon Hill’s most powerful players. DiZoglio claims that the auditor already has this power, though House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka have made it clear that they don’t agree. 

Education advocates are sure to have their eye on whether Campbell’s office green lights the initiative which will divorce the state’s 10th grade standardized test from a student’s chance to receive a diploma. The Massachusetts Teachers Association has railed against the “high-stakes” exams that they say transform schools around the state “into testing warehouses.” They, and a Lexington mom, are behind the latest attempt to make adjustments to the state’s acclaimed 1993 education reform law. But even if the Attorney General says the petition passes legal muster, the teacher’s union won’t have an easy fight against an opposing group of education advocates who are gearing up to keep the testing requirement in place. 

Rep. Mike Connolly is already planning an event on the State House steps to react to Campbell’s decision on his ballot question to lift the statewide ban on rent control. He and other progressive lawmakers and mayors from around the country want to bring the question back before voters — some of whom likely voted in the 1994 election when Massachusetts residents banned the policy. If the petition navigates this first hurdle, its supporters can expect more challenges to come from opposition groups with real estate interests. 

Other measures to keep an eye out for are initiatives to decriminalize psychiatric substances such as psilocybin mushrooms and questions about the legal status of app-based drivers. 

Those who make it through this first round will have to stretch their clipboard-holding-arms and warm up their signature-writing-fingers, as next it will be a race to collect 74,574 signatures in a bit less than three months.

At the dinner table: Senate President Spilka, House Speaker Mariano dine together

House and Senate Democrats are still at odds over tax relief plans, but Senate President Karen Spilka went out of her way during a weekend televised interview to mention that she had broken bread with House Speaker Ron Mariano at the dinner table, reports Michael P. Norton for State House News Service. Spilka dropped the dinner bomb when WCVB’s Sharman Sacchetti asked about the pair’s working relationship during Sunday’s “On The Record.” The chamber leaders have also clashed on rules changes geared toward transparency and health care sector reforms as well as gun reform.

State House News Service

MBTA fires 8 or 10 employees found sleeping, inattentive on the job

An investigation by the Boston Herald reveals eight of the 10 MBTA employees suspended for sleeping or failing to pay proper attention during work hours over the past year and a half were ultimately fired by the beleaguered transit agency. Reporter Gayla Cawley says the T fired five bus drivers, a train operator, a bus inspector and an electrical worker.v Two bus drivers were allowed to return to work, with additional safety training, after serving either a three- or 10-day suspension. An 11th employee, also listed as a bus driver, was issued an infraction notice, but was not suspended, records show.

Boston Herald

Psychedelics advocates seeking decriminalization in Massachusetts

As medical practitioners and scientists around the country are publicly expressing hope that psychedelic drugs – whether synthetic or natural – can help patients suffering from a range of ailments, Massachusetts advocates are promoting measures at the State House and in cities and towns seeking to eliminate criminal penalties for using the substances.

State House News Service

Socialist challenging Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate seat

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has drawn a challenger from an unusual direction – her left. Brandon Griffin, a member of the Whitman Planning Board and a socialist, announced on his Facebook page that the Workers Party of Massachusetts is putting him forward as a candidate in the fall 2014 general election. As for funding his campaign, Griffin states on his website: “I do not accept contributions from Landlords, Corporations or Law Enforcement.”

New Boston Post

Companies helping employees’ kids with college applications

More companies that serve financial mortals are beginning to offer a perk usually associated with the ultra-highly paid: helping employees’ children get into the colleges of their choice. Obtained privately, such coaching can cost around $140 per hour.


White nationalist signs placed near Black-owned businesses in Oak Bluffs 

Police in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard are asking for leads about who may have posted white supremacist posters around the community over the holiday weekend, though it’s not clear there was any criminal wrongdoing. 

Vineyard Gazette

Lexington schools diversity curriculum latest LGBTQ battleground

Lexington schools have found themselves as the latest frontier in the fight over classes about gender and sexual orientation, reports Sean Cotter and Daniel Kool for the Globe. An online petition has circulated that pushes back on the district’s long-running diversity and inclusion curriculum as the district looks to roll it out more broadly but parents and educators mostly voiced support for the curriculum at a recent School Committee meeting.

Boston Globe 

Massachusetts family says ‘One Chip Challenge’ led to teen’s death 

A chip made from real Carolina Reaper peppers  has fueled the latest social media craze known as the “One Chip Challenge.” But the family of a Worcester teenager who recently died says it may have contributed to the child’s death, reports Ryan Mancini for MassLive. Pending an autopsy, a connection between his illness and subsequent death after participating in the “One Chip Challenge” has yet to be made.


Ex-Everett superintendent turned registered sex offender loses state pension

No more taxpayer dollars will go to former Everett Public Schools Superintendent Frederick F. Foresteire after his six-figure pension was revoked following his guilty plead in February to two sexual assault allegations after he was convicted of a third allegation by a Malden District Court jury, the Boston Globe’s John Hilliard reported. Foresteire was convicted of touching a former schools payroll clerk on the buttocks while she worked for him in 2017 and 2018. He then pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting two other women in 2015 while both worked for Everett Public Schools, prosecutors said at the time.

Boston Globe

Call back: Candidate denied school board over residency in 2021 sues Lowell for damages

Dominik Lay, who Lowell city officials determined was not eligible to take a seat on the school board because he was not a resident, plans to sue the city to recover $100,000 in damages he said he suffered from the 2021 dispute. Melanie Gilbert of the Sun reports Lay eventually won a court ruling finding local election officials did not follow proper procedure.

Lowell Sun

Housing market crunch makes students victims, villains

Hundreds of thousands of college and university students are headed to Boston, poised to start classes at the region’s some 150 higher education institutions. But without enough dorms to house them all, many are facing the first gauntlet of a true Massachusetts resident: the housing market, reports CommonWealth Magazine’s Jennifer Smith. Some say the student population is partially to blame for sky-high housing costs, but others say they too are victims of the affordable housing shortage in the state.


More Headlines

What the heck is going on at the Cannabis Control Commission?

Revere election could be an opportunity to bring more diversity to city council

Springfield announces early dismissal for students on Wednesday, Thursday due to weather

Guns, Drugs, And Prostitutes: Police Investigating Yacht In Nantucket Harbor

Pittsfield’s mayoral candidates offer their view of the city’s safety and plans for the future in televised debate

Attleboro City Council does away with winter parking ban

A parent complained about story used in a Westport High class. Why others are speaking out

Multiple downtown Worcester businesses displaced by flooding

Former Biden White House aide wins crowded primary for safe Dem seat in Rhode Island

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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.

Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList