Window Into The State House

‘The worst general election presidential debate in American history’   Was it a presidential debate or just an extension of the Apprentice reality show? If you saw some or all of last night’s presidential debate, then you can have little doubt about the accuracy of these headlines, starting with Globe reporters Liz Goodwin and Jess Bidgood’s piece: “Heckling and interrupting Biden, Trump causes chaos in first presidential debate.” From the Washington Post: “Trump incessantly interrupts and insults Biden as they spar in acrimonious first debate.” But we know that you want to know who the pundits think won last night. First, the Globe’s James Pindell wants to get one thing straight: “It was the worst general election presidential debate in American history.” Hmm. Why the ‘general election’ qualifier? In any event, Pindell gives Biden, who looked tired and old at times, a ‘C’ and you-know-who an ‘F.’The Herald’s Howie Carr gives every indication that Trump didn’t perform all that well. How do we know? Howie’s complaining about the moderator. But from the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld: “Biden weathers Trump firestorm, disavows Green New Deal in first debate.” The NYT has six takeaways from the debate. The Washington Post has five takeaways.  
  Riley: There will be MCAS exams next year   Is this added pressure on school districts to restart in-person classes? Answer: Yes, it is. SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) and the Globe’s Naomi Martin report that Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley says there will be standardized tests next spring in Massachusetts, after a one-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic. One member of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is predicting a “torrent of advocacy” to cancel next spring’s MCAS. Two words: No kidding.  
  Baker Oks limited reopening of large venue events and businesses   Despite concerns about rising coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday announced that indoor and outdoor venues in low-risk communities can reopen next week at 50 percent capacity, as Steph Solis at MassLive reports. But some are concerned about the further lifting of pandemic restrictions, as the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports. CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl reports that the Baker administration, by tying the lifting of venue restrictions to low-rate communities, has effectively gone “all-in on its community-by-community approach to COVID-19.”  
  On the shelf: Governor’s Council cancels hearing on judicial nominee after assault-charge disclosure   At the very least, it’s not happening now. Erin Tiernan at the Herald reports the Governor’s Council has canceled a planned hearing today on Gov. Baker’s nomination of lawyer Robert Harnais for a district court judgeship in the wake of reports he was charged with assault and battery in 2002. He’s also regularly donated to the campaigns of Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.   
  Walsh keeps dropping hints he’s running again   They’re subtle, very subtle, but they’re there, or so some think: Hints from Mayor Marty Walsh he may indeed be running for a third term. WBUR’s Callum Borchers has the latest hints, dropped at a recent chamber event. Last week, Universal Hub was reporting on similar hints at a mayoral press conference. Of course, the Globe’s Kevin Cullen last week was flat-out stating Walsh is running for a third time – based on anonymous sources, not hints.  
  Warren says she won’t meet with ‘extremist’ Amy Coney Barrett   U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, joining other Senate Dems, is refusing to meet with President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, saying it would only legitimize the GOP attempt to “steal another Supreme Court seat,” reports CBS Boston.  
  Legislators urge Baker to appoint western Mass. judge to SJC   Speaking of high-court appointments: First it was legal-community leaders urging Gov. Charlie Baker to appoint a western Massachusetts person to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. Now it’s 18 legislators from the western part of the state urging Baker to appoint someone from the 413 zone, as the governor mulls nominees to fill two posts on the high-court bench, reports Jeanette DeFore at MassLive.  
  Pro-Israel group calls on Tufts to investigate dental student over anti-Jewish tweets   From Jackson Richman at Jewish News Syndicate: “StandWithUs sent a letter (last) Thursday to Tufts University’s president and the dean of its dental school expressing concern about a third-year dental student over his history of anti-Semitic tweets.” The tweets were definitely ugly.