Janey invokes slavery, birtherism in rejecting vax mandates
RULES RELATED TO the ever-changing pandemic, where the light at the end of the tunnel seemed to quickly shift to a picture of dark days ahead, can be hard to agree on.
In rejecting the idea of requiring proof of vaccination to enter restaurants or other gathering spots, Boston Acting Mayor Kim Janey took the debate a few steps further, invoking the specter of slavery and birtherism in waving off the kind of measures New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday.
Janey, whose every move is scrutinized as she simultaneously oversees city government while campaigning to be elected in the open mayor’s race, seemed to be looking for a forceful way to make clear her reluctance to impose such requirements. But her effort to tie the issue to the racist legacy of the country’s history of slavery as well as the more recent race-based charges by Donald Trump questioning Barack Obama’s legitimacy as president seemed to go overboard, awkwardly trying to connect difficult public health questions to the current focus on issues of racism and racial justice.
The Boston Herald first reported on Janey’s comments made at a lunch event connected to the Boston Police Department’s National Night Out public safety effort.
Janey emphasized the need to focus on promoting vaccination and not doing anything to put barriers up or “disproportionately impact BIPOC communities,” invoking the shorthand reference for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
Her mayoral rivals immediately pounced. Andrea Campbell called the comments dangerous rhetoric. “Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism,” she said. Michelle Wu said, “Anyone in a position of leadership should be using that position to build trust in vaccines.” A spokeswoman for Annissa Essaibi George said, “We need to stop making this a politically charged issue.”
Some restaurants and other businesses are beginning to ask for proof of vaccination, and President Biden voiced support for such rules. “You have to give proof that you’ve been vaccinated or you can’t come in,” he said in summarizing his view.
But city-imposed requirements would present huge hurdles. “The logistics of monitoring the city’s 25,000 restaurants and bars could be challenging — and contentious,” the New York Times reports about the effort there. One New York city councilor says he’s considering filing suit to try to block the plan.
“We know that those types of things are difficult to enforce,” Janey said.
Janey’s reluctance to have the city jump in with such regulations right now may be reasonable and understandable. But drawing analogies between complicated current public health issues and horrible chapters of the past to make a point is always a fraught affair.
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FROM AROUND THE WEB
Gov. Charlie Baker doubled down on his stand against a statewide mask mandate for K-12 this fall, saying it’s a decision that should be made at the local district level. (Boston Globe)
Boston 25 News reports that a top official at the medical examiner’s office, Lisa Riccobene, lost her job after the station finds she did luxury personal shopping during company time – giving most of the items to a younger male coworker.
A nonprofit in Worcester opens a house to act as a emergency shelter for survivors of the sex trade, aiming to bring joy and various assistance services into the lives of people who worked as prostitutes. (MassLive)
Harvard epidemiologist William Hanage says everyone in the US will eventually be either vaccinated or infected with the new Delta variant of coronavirus. (Boston Herald)
Most of the 45 COVID-19 cases linked to a July 10 event in New Bedford are among unvaccinated individuals. (South Coast)
Provincetown’s COVID-19 outbreak is easing as more people recover and few new cases are added each day. The town’s positivity rate is down to 4 percent from 15 percent two weeks ago. (WBUR)
Talks again fall apart between St. Vincent Hospital and the union representing nurses, as both sides blame the other for the negotiations’ failure and the months-long strike continues. (Telegram & Gazette)
New state data shows there have been 7,737 breakthrough cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated people in Massachusetts, or 0.18 percent of the vaccinated population. (MassLive)
President Biden ordered a two-month extension of the federal eviction moratorium that expired over the weekend. It covers all counties with elevated COVID-19 levels, which includes all of Massachusetts except Franklin and Hampshire counties. (Boston Globe)
An independent investigation concluded that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women and violated state and federal law, a searing report that prompted fellow Democrats, starting with President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call for his resignation. (New York Times)
Former president Barack Obama, facing mounting criticism over plans to host a huge 60th birthday bash for himself this weekend on Martha’s Vineyard with hundreds of guests, now says the party will just include close family and friends in light of the resurgence of COVID-19. (Boston Globe)
Former Boston mayor Marty Walsh says he won’t endorse anyone in the race to succeed him, but Walsh’s former chief of economic development, John Barros, says he thinks he’s getting his vote. (GBH)
Dianna Ploss, a strong Trump supporter who organized protests near the Swampscott home of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, files paperwork to launch a run for governor. The paperwork lists no party affiliation. (Daily Item)
Owners of office space in Boston are getting creative in attempts to lure back workers. Indoor gardens, kitchens, and dog sitting services are just a few of the amenities it now takes to fill once prime real estate. (WBUR)
Wormtown Brewery is taking steps to address allegations of misogyny and harassment. (Telegram & Gazette)
Gordon College enlists a conservative advocacy group to bring an appeal to the US Supreme Court. The college lost a case at the SJC on whether the Christian school is subject to nondiscrimination laws in hiring a social work professor. (Salem News)
Springfield becomes the latest city to announce it will require mask wearing among all students and staff in schools this fall. (MassLive)
The MBTA’s $130,000-a-year director of transit-oriented development came and went without ever leaving Colorado. John Hersey started the job remotely from the Rockies last July and quit a year later, last month, without ever relocating to Massachusetts. (Boston Herald)
Tailwind Air launches seaplane flights between Manhattan and Boston Harbor. (Associated Press)
Emperor penguins, the world’s largest penguin species, will be pushed to the brink of extinction by 2100 if climate change continues at its present pace, according to a new study led by a seabird ecologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (Washington Post)
A 20-year-old murder suspect from Haverhill dies while in custody. He had been held at the Middlesex County Jail. (Eagle-Tribune)
Worcester’s former top housing official is found guilty of conspiring to steal federal funds. (Telegram & Gazette)
The first black US marshal for Massachusetts, John Gibbons of Agawam, is retiring. The US marshal oversees court security, criminal investigations, and fugitive apprehensions. Gibbons held the job during the high-profile trials of Whitey Bulger and the Boston Marathon bomber. (MassLive)MEDIA
Hearst pooled the resources of its eight daily and 14 weekly newspapers in Connecticut to form a digital statewide news site that appears to be catching on. (Poynter)