Janey already scoring from her potent perch 

For more than three years, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu — who was way out in front on the issue — has been hammering away at the idea of making the MBTA free for riders. With one week on the job, Acting Mayor Kim Janey made it happen. 

OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. What Janey did was announce a pilot program this week offering 1,000 people who work in five Boston neighborhood business districts up to $60 in credit on MBTA CharlieCards or Bluebikes passes. 

The bully pulpit that city councilors have to raise important issues is no match for the governing pulpit of the mayor to actually put things in motion. Or at least to be the one behind big announcements.

“I’m proud to launch this pilot program with the MBTA and Bluebikes to learn more about the impacts on commuter patterns when the cost of public transit is covered,” Janey said in a statement unveiling the program. “And as more workers begin in return to workplaces, making transit more accessible is critical to our equitable recovery from the pandemic.”

Never mind that the initiative was in the works for several months, predating Janey’s ascension nine days ago to the acting mayor’s post when Marty Walsh resigned to become US labor secretary. Janey, a second-term Roxbury district city councilor who took the mayoral reins by virtue of her position as City Council president, is now presiding over City Hall, and every announcement by city government will have her name on it. 

Already this week, she’s not only rolled out the transit initiative that will make 1,000 people very happy, but also promoted $50 million in rental relief that is coming from the federal government and the opening of applications by Boston teens for summer jobs — with a goal of 5,000 slots. 

Now serving as the official face of city government is an enormous advantage Janey will enjoy when (not if) she formally jumps into the mayor’s race. Janey has already been fundraising via her transition website, and Politico’s Stephanie Murray reports this morning that she’s hired a campaign manager for a mayoral run. 

Wu, an at-large city councilor, was the first candidate in the mayor’s race, announcing her run last September when it was still presumed that Walsh would be seeking a third term. (Walsh actually announced her candidacy, but that’s another story.) Fellow city councilor Andrea Campbell entered the contest later that month. Following Walsh’s nomination to President Biden’s cabinet in January, a third city councilor, Annissa Essaibi George, state Rep. Jon Santiago, and Walsh economic development chief John Barros have jumped in the race.

They all bring solid credentials and a compelling story. But they will all be vying against an acting mayor who is making news every day and will be working to impress upon voters that the big change they might want in city government — including a history-making break with an unbroken chain of white men as mayor — has already arrived. 

“We cannot go back to the way things were before — we must go better,” Janey said in a fundraising email this week.



An eight-week federal-state pilot vaccine program at the Hynes Convention Center will administer 7,000 shots a day and then next week begin diverting roughly 2,000 doses a day to mobile units that will administer shots in Boston, Chelsea, Revere, New Bedford, and Fall River. Read more.

US Rep. Stephen Lynch issues a strong warning about not buying PPE products sourced from China. “This is a gap in our national security that we can address ourselves rather than offshore the capabilities to countries that are hacking our federal government, hacking our domestic companies, and who are not acting in a friendly and supportive way,” he said. Read more.

A Superior Court judge refused to prohibit the head of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance from referring the results of his investigation of Sen. Ryan Fattman and his wife,  Stephanie Fattman, the register of probate in Worcester County, to Attorney General Maura Healey. The exact nature of OCPF director Michael Sullivan’s investigation is unclear, largely because the probe is supposed to be as secret as a grand jury proceeding. But it appears from court documents and statements by Ryan Fattman that Sullivan is focused on what appears to be a gray area of campaign finance law. Read more.

With Massachusetts expecting an influx of nearly $8 billion in federal stimulus money, many of the federal government’s guidelines for how the money can be used won’t be released until mid-May. But a top White House official told state lawmakers Tuesday that there will likely be a fair amount of flexibility in how states can utilize the federal dollars. Read more.


Art created in community in the public realm is one of the surest ways to open up Boston to a more equitable and vibrant future, says Kate Gilbert of Now + There. Read more.





Still riding high: 71 percent of state residents approve of Gov. Charlie Baker’s handling the pandemic, according to a new poll, though the approval is somewhat lower — 58 percent — for his specific management of vaccine rollout. (Boston Globe


Kim Janey, Boston’s acting mayor, keeps making news, announcing the use of $50 million in federal aid to provide rent relief to struggling tenants. (Dorchester Reporter)


Our fourth COVID-19 surge is very different from the others. (The Atlantic)

The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Board of Trustees interviews two finalists for the position of superintendent — Rick Holloway and Robert Engell, both veterans and experienced health care facility administrators. (Associated Press)


President Biden will be in Pittsburgh today to tout his new $2 trillion infrastructure plan. (Washington Post

Two Capitol police officers have filed suit against former president Donald Trump, charging that he bears responsibility for physical and emotional injuries they sustained from the January 6 riots at the Capitol. (New York Times


Jeff Turco, a Democrat who says he voted for Donald Trump in 2016, easily defeated a Republican candidate and independent hopeful in the special election for the Winthrop-based House vacated by former speaker Robert DeLeo. (Boston Herald

Boston mayoral candidates are tapping various virtual conduits to voters as they ramp up their campaigns amid the still ongoing pandemic. (Boston Globe)

The Holyoke City Council wants to avoid holding a special election to replace Mayor Alex Morse, who left to take another job. The home rule bill, which now heads to the State House, would let any city councilor serve as mayor. (MassLive)


Eight super-high-end Boston condos are now at the center of a legal showdown pitting rival factions of the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia against each other. (Boston Globe) Universal Hub first reported on the condo clash on Monday. 

Venture capital backers of a 3-D printing startup company housed above a dollar store at the Twin City Plaza on the Cambridge-Somerville line think it’s worth more than $1 billion. (Boston Globe


Boston school superintendent urged vaccination of teenagers 16 and older as a path to reopening high schools during a roundtable with US Education Secretary Miguel Cordona at  Boston school. (Boston Globe


The prevalence of live-streaming cameras – like one at a Salem intersection catching cars that run red lights – is raising new questions about privacy. (Salem News)


Despite neighborhood concerns, state officials find no link between brain cancer cases and a contaminated site in Hanover where a fireworks manufacturer dumped toxic chemicals. (Patriot Ledger)

Nearly 90 endangered North Atlantic right whales were spotted near Cape Cod on a single day, and the federal government is urging boaters to slow down in the area. (MassLive)


Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has spent nearly $1 million on legal fees defending three former prosecutors facing disbarment for their roles in one of the state’s drug lab scandals. (WBUR) Nina Morrison, an attorney at the Innocence Project, wrote about the disbarment case against the former prosecutors earlier this month in CommonWealth

A Globe editorial says a new study vindicates Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins’s policy of not prosecuting some lower-level misdemeanors. CommonWealth wrote about the first-of-its-kind study here

Worcester DA Joseph Early returns campaign donations made to him by a police union, after the union requested the money back. The union had blasted Early for dismissing charges against Black Lives Matter protesters. (Telegram & Gazette)

A 15-member Northampton commission that recommended rethinking policing and moving some police functions to an unarmed civilian commission was rife with disagreement. During its work, the commission lost five members, three of whom were women of color. (MassLive)


A look at STAT’s meteoric rise during the pandemic. (Nieman Journalism Lab)