Saturday, March 17, 2018

In Like a Lion.....

After the parade, it is time to have breakfast:

"Governor Charlie Baker’s office said he is attending, as will a familiar lineup, including US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, Congressman Michael Capuano, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Attorney General Maura Healey. Two of Baker’s potential challengers, Setti Warren and Bob Massie, say they also plan to be there. Jay Gonzalez, a third Democratic hopeful, is not going and instead will attend the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day parade, according to a spokeswoman....."

I wonder if DeLeo will be the butt of the jokes.

"DeLeo calls use of nondisclosure agreements ‘part of doing business’" by Matt Stout Globe Correspondent  March 16, 2018

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo defended the chamber’s use of nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements in the face of blistering criticism from some fellow legislators, saying Friday the agreements are “just part of doing business.”


DeLeo, speaking a day after two lawmakers accused him of cloaking years of impropriety with the carefully worded agreements, doubled down on his office’s assertion that none were used to settle sexual harassment complaints, but pressed Friday on why there have been so many, DeLeo said he doesn’t view their use as “being extensive” and told reporters there’s been “about 18 of them, really, that could be looked at.”

His office did not explain the discrepancy in the figures, despite repeated requests from the Globe on Friday.

“I think my role as speaker and Jim Kennedy’s role as House counsel is to make sure we do the best we can in terms of representing the House,” DeLeo said told reporters after speaking at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce event. “Other people have other counsel. I think it’s just part of doing business.”

On the number of agreements, DeLeo said: “I think if you take a look at a place the size of the Massachusetts House of Representatives over the years, I’m not sure there’s that many.”

DeLeo was put on the defensive after a remarkable display of defiance by two lawmakers Thursday, when Representative Diana DiZoglio charged from the House floor that DeLeo’s claim that no agreements have been tied to sexual harassment claims is “clearly not true.”

DiZoglio derided the agreements as “silencing tactics,” adding, “They cover up misdeeds by politicians and others, and . . . they empower perpetrators to move from one victim to the next.”

Representative Angelo M. Scaccia also openly wondered how much public money has been spent “to silence 33 people” and invited Attorney General Maura Healey to investigate.

DeLeo challenged the comments. The display was rare in the House, where DeLeo has presided as speaker since January 2009 with a tight grip on the chamber and its priorities.

It came amid a debate about overhauling the House’s human resources policies, including creating a new office to handle sexual harassment complaints. The House ultimately passed a package of new rules, including an amendment that featured language filed by DeLeo that waived any previous nondisclosure agreements but kept open the possibility of others in the future under certain conditions.

Meaning they passed a law that did nothing, but at least they are doing something!

Nondisclosure provisions — especially those focused on sexual harassment claims — have been a target for state lawmakers across the country in recent months.

DeLeo, on Friday, He touted the rules package the House passed as one of the best for any legislature.

“I’m hoping that people will remember that [Thursday] we passed unanimously a bill which is probably the strongest in the country,” he said.....

Yeah, you are a real trooper.

--more-- "

Time for him to be ridden out of town:

"Whoops — the MBTA forgot to file reports on spending" by Adam Vaccaro Globe Staff  March 16, 2018

It looks like the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority forgot to do some of its homework.

When lawmakers approved $127 million last year to help the MBTA cover its costs, they asked for something in return: The MBTA would file quarterly reports to certain lawmakers and other state officials showing how the money was being spent.

Problem is, the MBTA apparently lost track of the deadlines, failing to file the first two required updates in September and December. It wasn’t until the Globe made inquiries that the agency took action; the first report was sent to officials Thursday.

The two-page report said the MBTA has so far used $15.7 million of the $63.5 million it received in the first six months of the fiscal year to cover operating expenses. The rest will pay for repair and maintenance work, the report said.

The report also stated that a $127 million annual subsidy will be enough to keep the agency properly funded for the next three fiscal years.

The Legislature has helped cover the MBTA’s operating expenses each of the past several years, but last year was the first time the agency was required to provide updates on the money’s use.

The funding is meant to help bridge the gap between the agency’s operating costs and its various revenue sources, which include a portion of the state sales tax, money from cities and towns, fares and parking fees, and the sale of real estate and advertising. 

So we are ALL PAYING for that pos!

In recent years, the MBTA has worked to limit the amount of money required to plug this hole, freeing up more money for repair and maintenance costs. This year’s gap, once projected at $335 million, was whittled to about $30 million, allowing for more than $90 million to eventually pay for repairs.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the agency did not file the reports earlier because officials were “unaware of this specific provision.”

How weak an excuse is that?!

Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem that anybody was clamoring for them. The lawmaker who pushed for the reporting requirement, former state senator Thomas McGee, has since left Beacon Hill. Now the mayor of Lynn, McGee did not respond to requests for comment.

Meaning they passed a law that did nothing, but at least they did something! Now fuggedaboutit!

State Representative William Straus, who cochairs the Legislature’s transportation committee, did not seem overly concerned that the reports weren’t filed on time. He said that MBTA officials typically keep him apprised when he has questions and that regular meetings of the agency’s governing board make much of this budget information public.

Still, Straus said, the MBTA should have filed the reports on time to ensure that other members of the Legislature are up to date on agency funding. Plus, he added, it’s the law.

Notice the LAW is his LAST CONCERN!

“If they haven’t been making the reports, it’s going to cause — valid or not — questions in the public’s mind about whether management of the T has been meeting the mandates the Legislature and governor imposed on them,” he said.



Time to grab a strap and hold on:

"Family furious at plea deal in death of young Swampscott mother" by Evan Allen Globe Staff  March 16, 2018

SALEM — Jason Fleury, 39, admitted Friday to manslaughter in the Nov. 6, 2014, death of 25-year-old Swampscott mother Jaimee Mendez, as part of a plea deal he struck with Essex County prosecutors to avoid going to trial on a first-degree murder charge. He will serve 17 years in state prison, a sentence that horrified Mendez’s family, who had wanted to see him get life.

Fleury, who is a level 3 sex offender with a long criminal record of allegations of violence against women, was arrested in Hampton, Va., in August 2015. A Lynn native, he had been living in that area at the time of Mendez’s death.

Mendez’s disappearance triggered massive searches by police and her family. Her body finally washed ashore on King’s Beach in Swampscott during a snowstorm on Jan. 28, 2015.

Jaimee Mendez left her home the night of Nov. 6, 2014 to go to Rite Aid. But Assistant District Attorney John Brennan said she made the mistake of accepting a ride from Fleury.

Brennan said video footage captured Mendez at the Rite Aid getting into Fleury’s van, which drove out of the parking lot. A short time later, a friend of Mendez got a call from her saying she was with Fleury. Mendez then made a call to another friend saying that Fleury was acting weird.

“She was scared,” Brennan said Mendez told her friend. “The defendant seemed to be on drugs, or [in] the words that [the friend] recalled, ‘he was all coked out.’ ”

A camera in a nearby office park caught Fleury’s van on video again a short time later. In the footage, Brennan said, someone could be seen discarding something in the roadway. The next day, an office worker found Mendez’s jacket, driver’s license, and cellphone.

On Nov. 8, Mendez’s mother found her daughter’s shoes along with some carpeting and a door panel from Fleury’s van in a dumpster near his home.

When investigators tested the carpeting and door panel, they found Mendez’s blood, Brennan said. They also found her blood on the van’s ceiling, a mattress, a blanket, and a comforter.

Fleury first told investigators he had spent no time with Mendez, then said he left her at the Rite Aid — which was contradicted by the video footage of Mendez climbing into the van.

Investigators learned that Fleury was late to work the morning after Mendez disappeared.

He was driving in with another man who said Fleury had stopped en route on Sculpin Way in Swampscott near the beach.

Fleury got out of the car by himself, the man said, and stared out across the water — at King’s Beach, where Mendez’s body would wash up in less than three months.

Fleury had scratches on his face and hand, Brennan said.

Despite the evidence in the case, Brennan said, investigators were unable to determine exactly how Mendez died. There were too many questions in the case, he said, so the state made a deal.

On Friday, her family spoke movingly of the devastation her death had wrought. Jaimee Mendez was a devoted mother with an infectious giggle who worked hard to build a good life, they said.

Mendez’s family was furious at the deal, which they said deprived them of answers about how and why Mendez died, and would put a dangerous man back on the streets.

“Today, your honor, you are making a deal with the devil,” said Alyssa Mendez, Jaimee Mendez’s older sister. “Jason Fleury is a monster with a record of vicious behavior.”


Who remembers Bella Bond, 'eh?

Oh, I almost forgot.....

"Pot shops face bans in most of Mass." by Dan Adams and Margeaux Sippell Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent  March 17, 2018

Marijuana companies will be banned from a majority of cities and towns in Massachusetts when recreational sales begin this summer, a Globe review has found, the latest indication that there will be fewer pot stores in the early going than many consumers expected.

At least 189 of the state’s 351 municipalities have barred retail marijuana stores and, in most cases, cultivation facilities and other cannabis operations, too, according to local news reports, municipal records, and data collected by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey.

Fifty-nine of the local bans on marijuana businesses are indefinite. The remaining 130 are temporary moratoriums designed to buy local officials time to set up marijuana zoning rules. Many expire on July 1, and the rest are due to end later this year.

Still, for marijuana companies hoping to get in on the ground floor of the lucrative, newly legal industry, that means more than half of the state’s municipalities are off-limits as they scout for locations this spring.

For consumers, this means that only a handful of pot shops are likely to be open in July, when state officials have promised the recreational market will debut — most likely, existing medical dispensaries that win a recreational license.

Gee, I was “expecting something different.”

For the state, it could mean falling short of the $44 million to $82 million in annual revenue it expected to collect from the 17 percent tax on pot sales.

And with more municipalities considering bans and moratoriums, the marijuana industry’s fortunes may decline before they improve.

Local officials defended the restrictions, noting that most will ultimately expire. They say communities must be allowed to chart their own courses and need time to set up zoning.

Observers noted that local politics generally attract older, more conservative voters, and said some residents may have favored legalization in the abstract but feel differently about welcoming a pot shop to their community.

“There are definitely people who say, ‘Yeah, I want it legal, but I don’t want it next door,’ ” said Adam Chapdelaine, the town manager of Arlington.

It's called Not In My Back Yard!

Other communities, such as Lawrence, have implemented bans over fears that adding marijuana to the mix will exacerbate their opioid problems.

Actually, pot helps prevent opioid addiction -- therefore, they mu$t want you addicted for whatever rea$ons.

Elsewhere, local officials have cited the prospect of upticks in stoned driving and youth drug use, or simply remain opposed to legalization in the first place.

How would they know?

Prospective marijuana business owners decried the proliferation of local restrictions. Between the high rents in urban areas and the bans in many smaller communities, they fear the emerging market will favor large, well-capitalized companies that can afford to hire consultants to identify promising parcels and then pay rent or taxes on them during time-consuming approval processes.

You expected something else?

Sean Berte, a Boston entrepreneur who’s eligible for a head-start in the state licensing process because he was previously incarcerated for growing and selling marijuana, has long dreamed of opening a legal cultivation facility. But he said he was discouraged by the swath of communities with restrictions along Interstate 495, where he could afford real estate.

“I might look at cultivation more seriously if not for all the moratoriums,” he said. “These towns aren’t eliminating any problems by having bans and moratoriums, they’re just emboldening the unregulated market.”

Thus no TAX LOOT!

Instead, Berte will try to open a retail pot shop in Boston, which has no ban. But even there, proposed zoning rules mandating a large buffer between stores could make it difficult to find a site.

Chapdelaine and other local officials said they backed moratoriums because they were waiting for the state Cannabis Control Commission to finalize regulations and wanted to include residents in a conversation about where marijuana facilities belong.

Now they care what you think.

Ryan O’Malley, a city councilor in Malden, added that most Malden residents support allowing marijuana firms, and that he hopes the revenue they bring could help the city replace lead pipes and address other problems.

The cannabis commission submitted its final rules last week and on Friday issued updated guidance to cities and towns affirming their critical role in the process of licensing marijuana businesses.

“There’s a lot of local control, and that’s really going to dictate how quickly this market unfolds,” said David Torrisi, executive director of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, an industry group representing medical dispensaries.

Cities and towns that haven’t implemented formal, indefinite bans cannot use overly long moratoriums, zoning rules, bylaws, or other “unreasonably impracticable” measures to effectively prevent marijuana companies from locating within their borders, according to the commission. They also cannot demand unlimited payments from operators.

However, municipalities can require special permits and a separate, local application process. Prospective marijuana businesses must also host a community meeting to take questions from residents and negotiate a “host community agreement.”

Marijuana businesses and their attorneys said that a company confronted with unreasonable local demands is more likely to simply move on to another community than sue its future host city or town over the matter, giving municipalities an advantage in negotiations.

And proponents say they’re already hitting such speed bumps.

Kamani Jefferson, president of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, said he was optimistic that the finalization of state regulations would prompt cities and towns to replace their moratoriums with zoning. He also said he’s counting on an underwhelming recreational rollout to galvanize pro-marijuana consumers.

“I’m hoping it gets the people who want a store in their area more active in terms of asking, ‘What’s taking so long and what can we do?’ ” he said.....

Ah, forget it, just stick with the illegal supplier.