Saturday, July 13, 2019

Slow Saturday Special: Suspended Drivers License

 It's the top story and it's a common thing:

"RMV suspends hundreds more Mass. licenses amid internal review" by Laura Crimaldi, Matt Rocheleau and Vernal Coleman Globe Staff, July 12, 2019

Hundreds more Massachusetts drivers had their licenses suspended this week amid a growing scandal at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, officials acknowledged Friday, while revealing that the agency had also failed for years to notify other states when their drivers ran afoul of local driving laws.

The RMV’s latest disclosure exposes additional lapses in the agency’s oversight of errant drivers, as well as a virtually nonexistent system to exchange information on violators across the country.

So in addition to the "tens of thousands of paper notices from other states were apparently unopened and left to languish in mail bins at the RMV’s Quincy office," they didn't bother to send anything out to other states, thus putting their citizens at risk.

“It is hard to imagine a more egregious example of the RMV being derelict in their duty than not even being able to open the mail,” said Jason K. Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit, Washington, D.C.-based consumer safety group.

“Whether due to incompetence or malfeasance these failures have cost lives. To protect everyone on the road — and not just in Massachusetts — changes must be made,” he said.

Now I feel they are driving an agenda. In this case, something bad happened and once they started looking into it they figured they could run with it.

The review of RMV practices was spurred by a deadly New Hampshire crash last month allegedly caused by a 23-year-old Massachusetts truck driver who shouldn’t have had a commercial license because of a previous arrest in Connecticut. RMV officials later acknowledged that they had received notifications from Connecticut’s registry, but had failed to promptly review and suspend Volodymyr Zhukovskyy’s commercial license.

He was soon Public Enemy #1.

Meanwhile, the agency released new details Friday that raise safety concerns about an untold number of drivers in other states across the country.

“There is no evidence that the RMV has (at least not for many years) had a consistent practice of sending out mail or electronic notification of violations or suspension actions taken in Massachusetts to other states in ‘real time,’ ” said the memo from Marie Breen, general counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and Jamey Tesler, the acting registrar.

Instead of alerting other states when their drivers committed a traffic offense, the Massachusetts RMV entered the information into the National Driver Register, a computerized database used by states to determine whether a driver faces sanctions for traffic offenses, according to the memo.

The register is checked when a person applies for a license or renewal, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration website, meaning an operator could drive for months or years without being scrutinized by the system. 

So it's a national database meant to be used by states, but administered by the federal government -- meaning its data sharing.

For the time being, the Massachusetts RMV plans to mail alerts to other states whenever out-of-state drivers are suspended in Massachusetts, the agency’s memo said. It also plans to develop an electronic notification system using ATLAS, the software platform that the Registry began using in March 2018. In addition, the agency is stepping up its review of repeat offenders of drunken-driving laws, which means there could be more new suspensions, officials said.

Spokespeople for the registry and Governor Charlie Baker’s administration have declined to answer questions this week about RMV operations. The Department of Transportation, which oversees the RMV, sent the latest update Friday afternoon.

“This report is very troubling. These issues have serious safety repercussions,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said in a statement Friday. “The scope and depth of the troubles at the RMV warranted oversight from the Legislature, and these latest revelations further reinforce that notion.”

Where ya' been?

Information about out-of-state convictions for commercial — truck, van, or bus — drivers is shared nationwide through the electronic Commercial Driver’s License Information System. There is no equivalent system for noncommercial driver licenses.

There will be a push for it to encompass all drivers.

Massachusetts is one of five states that doesn’t participate in the Driver License Compact, an interstate agreement requiring motor vehicle agencies to alert other states about driver violations, but those four other states told the Globe that they send violation notifications in the mail, meaning Massachusetts has been the only national outlier.

There you go, last again, and the reason is no doubt the sanctuary status of the state regarding undocumented illegals.

The Registry has faced a reckoning since June 21, when Zhukovskyy allegedly plowed into a group of motorcyclists on a New Hampshire highway.

Many of the victims belonged to the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, which plans to hold a memorial service Saturday in a parking lot at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

Longtime Registrar Erin Deveney resigned last month, and soon after transportation officials uncovered more sweeping, systemic problems at the agency.

She was not the "longtime" registrar, she came over from the DCF in a shuffling of deck chairs, and why the Globe is trying to bundle all the negligent incompetence into her tenure makes me wonder whose tracks they are covering.

The state is in the process of running all 5.2 million Massachusetts licenses against the National Driver Register.....

So now the FBI and ICE will be able to peruse them at their plea$ure.


Continuing with the City-State that is the Bo$ton Globe:

"As threat of raids loom, immigrants in Boston brace for the worst" by Maria Cramer and Alison Kuznitz Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent, July 12, 2019

Business owners are offering rides to work for employees living in the country illegally. Neighbors are buying groceries for people too nervous to go out and shop. Mothers are gently trying to tell their children they might have to be apart for a little while.

Reports that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is planning to launch nationwide raids over this weekend and arrest thousands of undocumented immigrants have sparked alarm and uncertainty in immigrant communities in Massachusetts, causing many to retreat to the shadows in fear.

On Friday, President Trump told reporters the raids will focus on criminals but acknowledged that his administration would arrest anyone who came to the United States illegally.....


I'm told the “panic that’s out there is alarming,” and the phone has been ringing constantly with calls from frightened immigrants, including a mother of five who called in tears as the political parties play the blame game over migrant conditions at the border:

"6 months before N.H. primary, a top tier of candidates has emerged" by James Pindell Globe Staff, July 12, 2019

Six months until the 2020 New Hampshire primary, the largest field of presidential candidates in history has morphed into two camps: the vast majority of Democrats who, at this point, appear to have little chance of winning — and a smaller group, any of whom may have a shot.

Traditionally, Iowa and New Hampshire — the states that come first on the presidential nominating calendar — have winnowed the field of contenders, but the unprecedented primary field of two dozen Democrats has presented a unique situation to voters who, until recently, have been eager not to count anyone out of the race just yet.

After just two debates they have already winnowed the field.

This weekend, six candidates will fan out across New Hampshire: former vice president Joe Biden, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Kamala Harris of California, former representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, and Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. In all, there are 25 presidential campaign events in New Hampshire over three days this weekend, but interviews with two dozen Democratic activists and campaign staff on the ground this week identified a top tier of as many as six contenders who operatives say are pulling in front of the pack.

Booker has come armed and ready after spate of Boston shootings and a phone call with local media, while Buttigieg should feel right at home in New Hampshire.

Of course, the Globe is obsessed with Moulton.

Ned Helms, a Democratic activist participating in his 13th presidential primary, said this week that he’s backing Biden, but that he also considered supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Buttigieg, or Harris — and that anyone in the top tier could win the primary, which is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2020.

Insiders put that top tier somewhere between three to six candidates.

Polling, so far, has been scant in the state, but most of the operatives interviewed agreed that the top three includes Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Warren. Depending on whom you ask, that trio could expand to include Harris, who has gained ground since the last debate but has invested little on the staffing and organization in the state; Buttigieg, who is also seeking to build his campaign in the state; and Booker, a leader in the local endorsement race who is struggling in polls and fund-raising.

The fallout is in the signs and donors. Whether they let him have the nomination or not, that's a different matter.

In addition, operatives gave kudos to Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota for trying to develop a campaign in New Hampshire, as well as accolades to the O’Rourke campaign for the quality of its local organization. However, local operatives said, neither has caught on or shown any signs that they might in a significant way, and among the very top tier, everyone has an argument on why they are the best positioned to win.

Klobuchar has based her campaign on Mueller’s report and was surprised when no one brought it up, and after Beto called Netanyahu a racist he crashed to earth.

Sanders has the highest baseline of support, bolstered by his backers from his 2016 victory in the state. This week, his staff boasted their organization was the largest in New Hampshire, saying they have more campaign offices than any other candidate, but no top candidate has visited the state more frequently this year than Warren, who also has a sizable staff presence in New Hampshire and has been buoyed by a recent rise in national polls.

And she has rai$ed a lot of $oot.

In the few recent polls of the state, Biden has the lead. A CBS News/YouGov poll taken in early June, for example, showed him with 33 percent, Sanders with 20 percent, Warren with 17 percent, and Buttigeg with 10 percent, but in more recent national surveys, the gap between Biden and other contenders has shrunk since the first set of debates in late June. Biden can still count some of the state’s biggest endorsements, and those run the political gamut from moderate former governor John Lynch to progressive firebrand and former representative Carol Shea-Porter.

Oh, I remember her.

Compared to other recent primaries, this contest among Democrats feels like more of an open scrum than a race with a clear front runner, said University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala. The state’s 2016 Democratic primary, for example, appeared early on to be a lock for the establishment’s favored candidate, Hillary Clinton, but Sanders went on to win by 22 percentage points.

“Biden is not Hillary,” said Scala. “There was early speculation that [the] Hillary experience would drive older female voters in flight to safety to Biden, but so far they are giving Warren and Harris a big look.”

Indeed, many candidates are still getting a look from voters. Although a top set of contenders has emerged, even lesser-known candidates can still draw a crowd in New Hampshire.....

To use a basketball analogy, the little-used bench would include author Marianne Williamson and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, both candidates are polling around 1 percent in the state.


"Alex Acosta resigns as labor secretary amid scrutiny over Jeffrey Epstein case" by David Nakamura, John Wagner and Ashley Parker Washington Post, July 12, 2019

WASHINGTON — Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s resignation Friday amid the mushrooming Jeffrey Epstein investigation made him the latest in a growing list of President Trump’s Cabinet members to depart under a cloud of scandal, plunging an administration that has struggled with record turnover into further upheaval.

The good thing is stocks climb to records on hopes for lower interest rates.

Trump announced Acosta’s departure in a morning appearance together on the South Lawn, telling reporters that his labor secretary had chosen to step down a day after defending himself in a contentious news conference over his role as a US attorney a decade ago in a deal with Epstein that allowed the financier to plead guilty to lesser offenses in a sex-crimes case involving underage girls.

The president expressed regret over Acosta’s decision, calling him a ‘‘great labor secretary’’ and saying he had reassured the secretary that ‘‘you don’t have to do this.’’

‘‘It was him, not me,’’ Trump said, though behind the scenes he had grown uncertain about Acosta’s future, according to administration aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.

In another development Friday, prosecutors alleged that, soon after The Miami Herald began reporting on his favorable treatment by law enforcement in an early 2000s sex crimes investigation, Epstein paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to people investigators had identified as possible coconspirators.

Prosecutors alleged the payments might have been meant to influence the recipients.

The prosecutors wrote they had obtained financial records showing that in November 2018, just two days after The Herald reported on a favorable plea arrangement Epstein received, Epstein wired $100,000 to someone identified as possible coconspirator in the case. Three days after that, he wired $250,000 to another person identified as a possible coconspirator, prosecutors wrote.

And who exactly would they be?

Looks like another term for Netanyahu.

At the White House, meanwhile, Acosta, the sole Hispanic member of Trump’s Cabinet, said the intense media focus on his role in Epstein’s case had threatened to become a distraction that would undermine his work for the administration. Trump has sought to promote robust job growth and record low unemployment in his appeal to workers and organized labor as he ramps up his reelection campaign, but Trump, who as a private businessman had socialized with Epstein in the early 2000s, has come under renewed scrutiny for his ties to the disgraced financier and faced fresh questions over his decision to hire Acosta. Trump has said he had a falling-out with Epstein and cut off their relationship 15 years ago.....

Acosta’s rapid downfall closed a 2½-year tenure that began only after the food fight over Puzder, and the rest of the article runs down the list of those departed.


Have you seen Epstein's cellmate?


"Former special counsel Robert Mueller and two House panels struck a deal Friday to reschedule his congressional testimony for July 24 and agreed to give lawmakers more time to question him about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. Mueller had been scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday in a much-anticipated public appearance. ‘‘This will allow the American public to gain further insight into the Special Counsel’s investigation and the evidence uncovered regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and President Trump’s possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power,’’ said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat. The former FBI director is perhaps the one person lawmakers and the nation have been wanting to hear from most. Many members of the Judiciary Committee were concerned that two hours is insufficient time to discuss even half of the 10 areas of potential obstruction of justice by Trump identified in the Mueller report. Democrats want to highlight each of those 10 episodes in their hearing, well aware that most of the public has not read the report. The time crunch, however, has made their job difficult, forcing Democrats to prioritize episodes on which they would like to focus....." 

Meaning it won't be on Kushner, and it's just as I said.

Also see: 

"Republican Paul Ryan, the former House speaker, was quoted in a new book as saying President Trump didn’t know anything about governing and that he retired to get away from him. Ryan condemns Trump in ‘‘American Carnage,’’ by Tim Alberta of Politico. Alberta wrote that the former speaker, who retired from Congress in 2018, could not stand the idea of another two years with the Republican president and saw retirement as the ‘‘escape hatch.’’

The same one that Acosta hit.

Maybe Tropical Storm Barry will help take the attention off of Epstein.

"Mnuchin urges Congress to quickly pass new debt limit" by Martin Crutsinger Associated Press, July 12, 2019

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office said that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked again by telephone on Friday and that negotiations would continue over the weekend.

Looks like Pelosi blinked.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a centrist research organization, projected this week that lower-than-expected federal revenues this year could leave the government without the cash it needs in early September.

‘‘Weaker-than-expected corporate income tax collections, in particular, seem to be related to the 2017 tax cuts,’’ the BPC said in its report Monday.

Since early March, Mnuchin has been using a variety of emergency measures that other Treasury secretaries have also employed to avoid running out of the funds needed to keep the government operating and to cover interest payments on the $22 trillion national debt.

The debt limit had been suspended for a year under a 2018 budget deal, allowing the government to borrow as much money as it needed to keep operating, but once the limit went back into effect in early March, the Treasury has had to tap government pension funds and employ other maneuvers to create room for more borrowing without hitting the $22 trillion limit.

So they stole your pension to keep the government operating. 

Remember that when they say you have to give back for the greater good.

The US government has never missed a debt payment.

It's a way of saying they are en$laved to bankers.

The House is scheduled to leave town for a six-week recess on July 26 and the Senate departs seven days later, raising concerns about whether there is enough time to reach a deal on the debt limit and the budget before then.

Separately, the Treasury Department on Friday released a list of questions for the 24 institutions that serve as primary dealers on Wall Street for the government’s bond auctions.

One series of questions seeks to determine how the bond market would prefer to handle the debt auctions that will be needed to rebuild the government’s cash balance once the borrowing limit is raised.....



Body-cam bill is bad for public transparency

Not in the city-state.

PawSox fans bitter as Worcester breaks ground on a new stadium

Folks are “disappointed over the politics, I guess.”

"Environmental group sues to force Boston school buses to quit idling" by James Vaznis Globe Staff, July 12, 2019

Idling school buses often attract the scorn of parents and students in Boston who worry about breathing in the potentially harmful fumes. Now the Conservation Law Foundation has filed a lawsuit to get bus drivers to shut off their engines.

The lawsuit, filed this week in federal district court against the school system’s transportation vendor, Transdev, targets buses the environmental group found were idling too long in three bus yards in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Charlestown in March, April, and July.

The Conservation Law Foundation observed 42 instances of parked buses with their engines running up to 49 minutes longer than allowed under state rules, which limits idling to no more than 5 minutes. The incidents occurred in the morning as the buses set off for their daily runs, as well as in the afternoon. The group did not monitor a fourth yard in Readville.

The lawsuit is part of a broader anti-idling campaign the environmental group started in recent months to push enforcement of laws that regulate emissions and to raise public awareness about the dangers of needlessly running vehicles, an issue of growing concern as more people sit in their idling vehicles preoccupied with their smartphones.

They are not even supposed to be looking at those, and some people are no help at all.

“We are really hoping to impact air quality for communities disproportionately impacted by asthma and upper respiratory diseases that are exasperated by poor air quality,” said Alyssa Rayman-Read, vice president and Massachusetts director for the Conservation Law Foundation. “Boston has disproportionate rates of asthma and upper respiratory problems.”


Idling school buses have long been a concern in Massachusetts — not only in front of school buildings but also in bus yards, which in urban areas are often located in densely populated, low-income neighborhoods where residents are already struggling with respiratory ailments.

I can see why. Who wants a smelly bus idling next to them?

Just last year, a Haverhill school bus company, Coppola Bus, entered into a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency for buses idling too long in its parking lot, resulting in an $18,000 fine and installation of automatic shut-off devices in its buses.

So the CLF $melt money. It's a corporate nonprofit that is pushing the agenda more than anything else. 

As for the EPA, the air, water, soil, and products are full of chemicals and poisons, they don't give a hoot about GMOs, and can't admit fracking is fouling aquifers. Makes you think they exist more to run cover for their corporate masters than protect the environment.

According to federal and state regulators, diesel emissions can aggravate a variety of health problems, such as asthma, and its fine particles are considered to be a human carcinogen, raising the risk of cancer. Close contact with emissions can cause immediate and severe reactions, including light-headedness, nausea, coughing, and sore throats.

Transdev, which operates more than 600 school buses in Boston, said it is “committed to providing safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible transportation in the city of Boston.”

“Transdev has been in active discussions with [the foundation] about these claims, and is disappointed that [the foundation] chose to file this lawsuit,” Mitun Seguin, vice president of marketing and communications for Transdev North America, said in a statement.

How were the arrival times this year because I never heard back after September?

I wonder how the strike on the Vineyard is going.

No movement on that contract offer, huh?

I suspect there are more rough waters ahead.

The Boston Public Schools, which owns the bus yards and the buses, was not named as a defendant in the case and therefore declined to comment on the lawsuit. However, the department said it has taken steps in recent years to reduce carbon emissions, replacing more than 60 percent of its diesel buses with ones fueled by propane, which is considered a cleaner fuel source.

Yeah, they don't want bankrupt the in need of repair schools.

The department also said that it continues to look into buses that run on electricity but that currently they are too expensive, costing about $350,000 each to purchase. Propane buses, by contrast, range between $85,000 and $100,000.

Not for the MBTA!

The lawsuit, if successful, could deliver steep penalties to Transdev: $99,681 in civil penalties per day for each violation.

You are being puni$hed, and maybe next time you won't bid on the contract.

Rayman-Read said her group has had productive conversations with Transdev, but said they filed the lawsuit as a precaution. She said the organization didn’t sue the school system because it was going after entities where it could have the largest impact.....

And that could pay.


Up above that was this:

State approves air-quality permit for Weymouth compressor station

Opponents were outraged and want Baker to have a backbone to stand up to large energy corporations and intervene because “permitting a dangerous and toxic facility next to neighborhoods where residents raise families, send their children to school, and build communities is deeply negligent,” and city officials were “extremely disappointed but we are not surprised given the process,” while nearly 30 state senators urged the DEP to deny the permit near a public waterway.

Now can you please stop idling the bus?

What do you mean after you check your cellphone?

"After cellphone vanishes in Kevin Spacey case, Cape DA’s office pledges better evidence documentation" by Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff, July 12, 2019

A flap over a vanished cellphone in the high-profile sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey has spurred the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office to pledge that its investigators will do a better job of documenting evidence in future cases.

Spokeswoman Tara Miltimore said that, as detectives from her office testified in court earlier this week, “it would have been better to have a receipt filled out” when they returned Spacey’s accuser’s phone to his family, “and investigators involved with our office will do that henceforth.”

Miltimore refused to say what changes, if any, would be made to meet that pledge.

State Police, which employs the two detectives who handled the case along with many others assigned to district attorney’s offices and other investigative roles across the state, did not respond to questions about whether it will address such issues.

The cellphone has become a key piece of evidence in the case.

It's almost as if they wanted to sabotage the case, either to protect the kid because he was lying about the encounter or to protect Spacey.

The accuser had used the phone to text his then-girlfriend during a July 2016 encounter with Spacey and to record footage via Snapchat of their interactions at Nantucket’s Club Car bar, where Spacey allegedly unzipped the man’s pants and fondled him, according to police.

Lawyers for Spacey, who has pleaded not guilty, last month demanded access to the phone to try to extract additional information — including messages they say would help their client — that they claim was not captured in past efforts by state investigators to extract data from the phone.

The judge in the case ordered that the phone be provided to Spacey’s lawyers, but the accuser and his family claimed they haven’t seen the phone since late 2017, when two State Police detectives assigned to the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office picked it up to extract data from it for their investigation.

The detectives insisted in court this week they returned the device to the accuser’s father at the family’s home just weeks after they obtained it, but they acknowledged they failed to document giving the device back.

“Unfortunately, I was remiss, and I didn’t have them sign for a receipt,” the case’s lead detective, State Police Trooper Gerald Donovan, said during testimony in Nantucket District Court Monday.

Spacey’s lead attorney, Alan Jackson, blasted the district attorney’s office over the lost evidence.

“The government can’t point to any documentation that follows or tracks the location of that phone and now that it’s missing, it’s on them,” Jackson said Monday. “And guess who loses because of this? That would be us because we’re entitled to the phone.”

In light of the phone’s disappearance, Judge Thomas S. Barrett mused aloud Monday that he expected the defense to ask for sanctions to be imposed on the prosecution.

Later Monday, the case was abruptly thrown into further disarray after the accuser invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, prompting calls from the defense for the case to be dismissed.

The case’s lead detective also testified Monday about other questionable steps investigators took.

Donovan said he didn’t document how the accuser’s mother, former WCVB-TV news anchor Heather Unruh, told him that she had deleted from her son’s phone material showing “frat boy activities,” nor did the detective ask why she did so.

“If she had said, ‘I deleted things related to this investigation,’ that would have been a different story,” Donovan said.

Donovan testified that he took Unruh at her word.

He also said that “past practice, common practice” was to return phones belonging to individuals if they are “a victim or a witness and they’re cooperating.”

Jackson asked: “What if that person is the central and sole witness of an event, and you’re aware that that person, or someone close to them with access to the phone, has manipulated the data? Do you think that’s smart to give that person back the phone?”

“Yes. They were cooperating,” Donovan replied. “He’s a victim. So we gave him back his phone.”


Time to turn off the phone and hit the waves:

"Marshfield surf shop’s music show takes on life of its own" by Billy Baker Globe Staff, July 12, 2019

MARSHFIELD — In 2013, Levitate, a surf and skate shop in Marshfield, threw a party for its 10th anniversary. Nothing major. BBQ, a couple local bands, beers.

“To give you an idea of what we thought it was going to be, I didn’t even wear shoes,” says Dan Hassett, the owner of the shop. “Then 2,000 people showed up, and I regretted that decision because I was running around like crazy trying to keep it from falling apart.”

Hassett was definitely wearing shoes this week as he drove a golf cart around the Marshfield Fairgrounds, checking in on a huge team of people making the final preparations for the latest incarnation of that party, now known as the Levitate Music and Arts Festival, which has grown to three days and will draw close to 50,000 people this weekend.

“It’s crazy what it has become,” Hassett says, before his face takes on the look of someone who is getting away with something. “And it’s crazy that I’m the guy in charge of all this.”

“All this” now includes, in addition to the festival, a store on Nantucket, a pop-up shop in the Seaport, 700 kids in its youth programs, a traveling blue grass festival that will launch this fall, a clothing line, and, at the original shop on Ocean Street in Marshfield, a major expansion that includes a coffee shop, taqueria, bar, and live music venue in the tiny backyard.

Hassett is 33 now, but looks closer to 22, the age he was in 2008 when an unfortunate series of events led to him being the owner of Levitate. He was, at the time, living in a tree house on the North Shore of Oahu, surfing all day and “trying not do to anything.” (Technically, he was going to the University of Hawaii, but he was doing it a very little bit at a time.)

“He was the sort of kid who always seemed to disappear when there was work to be done,” said his father, A.J. Hassett.

The younger Hassett grew up in Hanover and spent his summers at his grandparents’ house near the beach in Marshfield, where he became obsessed with surfing. In 2003, when a man named Bob Pollard opened Levitate, Hassett got a job at the shop.

Pollard thought of Levitate as a community hub, a way to bring people together through surfing and skating and music and art, and he became an important mentor to Hassett, as well as many other local kids, until he died suddenly in 2006 of an aortic aneurysm, leaving behind two young children. Pollard’s wife, Amelia, continued running the shop, and Hassett worked there during his college breaks, but by 2008 she was ready to close when she called Hassett and asked him if he wanted to take over.

Hassett wasn’t sure he wanted to do that. He wasn’t exactly hot on the idea of responsibility at the time, and it would mean leaving behind the greatest waves in the world, but he said he always believed in Pollard’s mission, and was honored that Amelia has asked him to continue it, so he moved back to Massachusetts and became the owner of Levitate.

He continued Pollard’s mission of using the store as a community anchor, but it wasn’t until the accidental success of the 10th anniversary party — and all the people that seemed to want to connect with the energy of that event — that he came to think of his real mission as bringing together like-minded people in the community.

And if you are not like-minded, you can get out!

Previous iterations of the event have been heavily focused on the Marshfield community — local artists, local musicians, local food. Even though the event has grown to include big-name national acts — Bob Marley’s son Damian is a headliner this year — the number of local bands in the lineup has actually grown. Organizers have even given slots to two bands made up of local high schoolers.

Levitate has become, Hassett says, a symbol for a lifestyle, and the brand has grown on top of that.

Ah, the illusion and imagery of the brand.

A rose, by any other name.....

Much of the growth of the brand’s identity is the work of his wife, Jess Hassett.

As the festival geared up this week, with things at the fairgrounds moving along somewhat smoothly, or as smoothly as things can be for an event that will feature nearly 30 musical acts, 100 art vendors, and 35 food trucks, Hassett hopped in his truck and made the mile drive back to the shop.

Levitate feels very much like a typical surf shop. Boards and bathing suits, wax and flip-flops. It’s the kind of place people just want to hang out, which is how Hassett likes it, and why he’s building a bar and restaurant out back. “People always just show up here at 5:30 anyway, hoping we’ll say, ‘Do you want a beer?’ ”

That's a little late, and it's not worth doing if you can't grab a drink (here are the rooftop bars and patios where you can beat the heat).

And, just as his mentor did, Hassett keeps hiring local kids who are stoked on surfing and skating and community, and that includes two of his newest hires, which he’s very excited about — the now-teenage children of Bob Pollard.....


There is nothing I like more than a morning cup of coffee while surfing the new$paper:

"Newspapers at Starbucks are yesterday’s news. Starbucks will quit selling The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Gannett papers like USA Today in more than 8,600 US stores in September, citing ‘‘changing customer behavior.’’ Indeed, the smells and smears of newsprint are in decline. While some papers are adding digital subscribers, newspaper weekday circulation has declined by more than half since its peak in the mid-’80s. The Times says it is ‘‘disappointed’’ and this isn’t the first time Starbucks has decided old media is too passe for its cafes. Remember CDs? Sales of those ended in 2015. No word yet if Starbucks is going to start selling records, which are trendy again. The New York Post first reported Starbucks’ decision to drop newspapers....."

They can start writing their own obituary.