Early reviews are in on the SBA's latest program

The reviews are in and critics say yesterday’s launch of the SBA’s Shuttered Venue Grant Program was a flop.
 
The $16 billion fed relief program’s portal was supposed to begin taking applications Thursday at noon.
 
But the curtain never went up. Not a single application had been processed by 4 p.m. when the SBA told everyone to check back, well, they don't say when.
 
“Technical issues arose despite multiple successful tests of the application process,” the agency said.
 
The angst is understandable: These grants are first come, first serve. Operators fear being left out.
 
“It’s hard to keep hearing ‘help is on the way’ and then not be able to apply,” one theater operator told the New York Times. “I don’t think any of us thought the application process would be totally smooth, but this is life and death for our venues."
 
Of course, we’ve seen this play before: The PPP debuted with portal failures one year ago this month.
 
Then again, the PPP launched  just days after the Congress authorized its funding. The Shuttered Venue Program was authorized last December. It has yet to disburse any funds.
 
Native American group asks to move the Marathon 
 
Turns out moving the Boston Marathon isn’t as easy as picking a date when we think we’ll have reached herd immunity.
 
A Newton group representing Native Americans is asking the Boston Athletic Association to move the rescheduled race from what would be the city’s first official Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 11.
 
“Unfortunately, the Boston Athletic Association has decided that Indigenous Peoples Day is a ‘side’ holiday that can be usurped,” the Indigenous Peoples Day Newton Committee said in a Change.org petition that as of this morning had close to 2,000 signatures.
 
“By doing this, they are perpetuating the myth that Indigenous peoples are part of the past and irrelevant.”
 
However, both the BRA and Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller seem to be sticking to the plan.
 
“We will continue working with city and town officials, as well as with organizations planning events during the October 9–11 weekend,” the BRA said in a statement, according WCVB
 
And Fuller told Jenna Fisher at Patch that there's room for Newton to celebrate both the Marathon and Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 11.
 
"While the pandemic has made so many things more complicated, we are excited to celebrate both Indigenous Peoples Day and the Boston Marathon in Newton on October 11," said Fuller.
 
Fuller said the city is planning to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on a field at Newton South High School.
 
But City Councilor Emily Norton, who began championing replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in 2019, said she’s disappointed.
 
“It was insensitive at best and disrespectful at worst,” Norton said of the chosen marathon date.
 
While Newton hosts the longest stretch of the Marathon course, the race also runs through Wellesley where the Select Board just voted on Monday to honor Indigenous Peoples Day
 
Campaigns direct resources to Black-owned businesses
 
Target has announced plans to spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025 though collaboration with more Black marketing companies, introducing more Black-owned products and hiring construction companies, suppliers and other Black-owned businesses.
 
Closer to home, the City of Boston recently awarded its largest contract ever to a pair of Black owned businesses.
 
Colette Phillips Communications (lead by chamber member Colette Phillips) and Proverb, developed a $2.5 million to a marketing effort aimed at bringing visitors to Boston neighborhoods outside of tourist hotspots. 
 
 
 
Housing resolution divides Newton Council  
 
The Newton City Council voted Monday, 15-1, to support a nonbinding resolution supporting the City’s Fair Housing Committee for its work during National Fair Housing Month. 
 
Although the resolution passed it wasn’t without controversy.
 
Eight councilors (Baker, Gentile, Laredo, Lucas, Markiewicz, Norton, Oliver and Wright) exercised their right to go “outside the rail,” which essentially means they abstained or were asked to be marked absent. 
 
And two councilors exchanged unusually sharp words prior to the vote.
 
You can watch the meeting here and draw your own conclusions. 
 
 
Are we not men? We are select board
 
The word "selectmen" appears 17 times in the Massachusetts Constitution, and a proposed amendment from state Sen. Will Brownsberger would replace each of those mentions with "select board."
 
Of the 292 Massachusetts municipalities that have town forms of government, more than 100 – including Needham and Wellesley -- have adopted the name "select board."
 
Similarly, every Massachusetts city that had once had a board of aldermen – including Newton -- has renamed those bodies to city councils. (State House News).
 
 
Cannabis shop questions local ‘impact’ fees 
 
Here’s an interesting legal case that could have local implications.
 
A Haverhill marijuana shop has filed a suit challenging the city’s three percent “community impact” fee, arguing officials have failed to explain how the fees are related to any negative effects caused by the presence of pot shops.
 
If successful, the case would upend the controversial local approval process for marijuana companies statewide, the Globe’s Dan Adams writes.
 
That process, which involves the businesses making payments to cities and towns, is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation involving Newton and at least five other communities and has long been derided by the industry as little more than a legal shakedown.
 
“I don’t want a brawl with my host community, but it was time for someone to challenge this,” the Haverhill shop owner Caroline Pineau tells Adams.
 
“We already pay a huge sales tax to the city, and if they want even more, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that they obey the law and authenticate their claims.”
 
Finally today, some thoughts about this newsletter
 
I’ve been sending out these morning emails for more than a year now.
 
It’s not something I planned. It just happened organically.
 
Early in the pandemic, there seemed to be something new every day that I believed our businesses, nonprofits and interested citizens needed or might want to know about.
 
It’s certainly forced me to keep up with current events, which both reminded me about the terrible gaps we have in hyper-local news coverage but also how lucky we are to still have the journalists and news organizations whose work I link to every day. (If you’re not subscribing to the Globe, the BBJ and other news sites, plus donating to public radio, please do so. Our democracy depends on it.)
 
Anyway, it occurred to me that I’ll probably be doing this for a while longer, even if I may eventually tweak the frequency.
 
So maybe this thing I do -- this thing you read, or at least open -- should have a name.
 
Generally, folks refer to it as “Greg’s emails” or “those emails from Greg.”
 
So let’s have a contest. What should we call these updates? Winner gets some chamber swag and my appreciation.
 
Chew on that over the weekend, but order some local takeout too. Be back Tuesday.
 
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

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