Tuesday, December 31, 2013

First Night is Last Day

Turns out the Mayans were off by a year and ten days.

"Stressing safety for First Night" by Eric Moskowitz |  Globe Staff,  December 30, 2013

More police officers and firefighters will be on the streets Tuesday night as part of an expanded public safety plan for First Night, city officials said, as they prepare to host up to 1 million or more people for the first New Year’s Eve since the Boston Marathon bombings.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other officials announced the enhanced safety plan Monday but largely avoided details, instead stressing a standard annual appeal to revelers to celebrate safely and ride public transportation.

Let's hope there isn't a tube attack.

But Acting Boston Police Commissioner William Evans acknowledged even greater vigilance on the part of safety agencies in the aftermath of the April 15 attack, speaking on a day in which officials would unveil the first-ever Boston Marathon-themed ice sculpture, near the race’s finish in Copley Square.

“We’re always alert since what happened in April,” said Evans, who ran the Marathon that day, then helped command the scene as a Boston Police superintendent. “We don’t want to talk about specifics, but obviously since April 15 we’ve stepped up all our security.”

See: Tsarnaev and Friends

Speaking alongside the mayor at City Hall, Evans said more officers will be in place, particularly along the First Night parade route and on nearby streets, and that “plenty of bomb assets” will be on hand as a precaution.

A false flag for First Night?

He likened the preparation and day-of deployment to other events — July 4 on the Esplanade and the Red Sox World Series championship parade — that drew similar-sized crowds and that went smoothly and safely in the months after the Marathon.

Evans asked people to alert police if they see anything suspicious on New Year’s Eve....

At Copley Square on Tuesday evening, the noted ice sculptor Don Chapelle and the executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, Thomas Grilk, unveiled a 7-foot-high ice carving of the iconic unicorn logo of the association and the Boston Marathon. Chapelle, who has run the Marathon multiple times, once froze a pair of his running shoes into a First Night depiction of spring, but the piece he worked on Monday was the first Marathon-specific sculpture ever commissioned.

Grilk, who said the idea came from Menino’s office, called it a “celebration of the resilience of the citizens of Boston” while looking forward to April, “when the Marathon will be back better than ever.”

I'm tired of the endless mind manipulation and reinforcement of a staged and scripted crisis drill followed by a false flag down the block.

“The Marathon is kind of a harbinger of spring rather than a winter event, but this year we’ll remember that spirit of strength all year long,” said Grilk, standing before the ice sculpture by the bronze Boston Marathon marker inlaid into the bricks at Copley Square, not far from the finish line.

Earlier at City Hall, Menino gathered Evans and other officials to discuss safety while promoting the 21st First Night of his tenure, and the 38th since Boston gave birth to the modern arts-and-culture-based, family-friendly celebration as a way to end the 1976 bicentennial, an idea that soon spread.

The Boston celebration was nearly scuttled this year with the folding of First Night’s longtime nonprofit organizer. But Menino, in a final gesture, assembled a collection of foundation and corporate sponsors to reinvigorate First Night.

“We’re going to have a wonderful night, a night to celebrate the culture of Boston,” Menino said. “Public safety is a top priority. I ask everyone to enjoy the night but also be smart. . . . Take public transportation. No drinking — no public drinking — will be allowed during the celebration. The police are going to be out in force.”

Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas J. Tinlin reminded the public that parts of Boylston, Charles, and Dartmouth streets, as well as Atlantic Avenue, will be closed to vehicle traffic around the time of the parade and fireworks displays, and that an array of Back Bay and downtown streets will be marked as not allowing parking, at the risk of a $75 ticket and $90 towing expense.

“So you can come in, park your car, and run the risk of $165, or [ride the T and] use that money to buy the kids the glow sticks and the horns and all of that stuff, and maybe even have dinner,” Tinlin said. “We encourage you to do that and stimulate the economy, as opposed to ringing in the new year in the City of Boston tow lot.”

Think I will stay home.

The MBTA will be free after 8 p.m. and will run with extended hours and “rush hour-plus” service, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott said.

“We will be out there pumpin’ on the T,” she said. Rapid transit will run until 2 a.m. — though last-train riders should head to stations around 1:30 a.m. — while commuter rail and ferry customers should consult special line-specific schedules at MBTA.com.

Noting that it might be his last City Hall press conference, Menino was by turns nostalgic, self-deprecating, and grateful, holding court before about 30 reporters and photographers.

Related: Menino Moving On

Heading afterward for a groundbreaking for affordable housing on Archdiocese property in Dorchester, Menino joked that he was “looking for the blessings of the cardinal as I leave office.” And in an aside he whispered that all the tributes and handshakes he has received have made the last few weeks “the longest wake I’ve ever attended.”

See: Sunday Globe Special: $tuffed BRA 

I'm not laughing.

Speaking off the cuff, Menino declared his love for Boston, extolled the local media for its spirit and diligence compared with that of other cites — “I’m gonna miss all you folks” — and expressed mixed feelings about the possibility of one last nor’easter at the end of the week.

“I think the snow gods are trying to give me a going-away present,” he said. Next week, “I’ll be someplace else, and the phone won’t ring,” he said. “It’s time to move on.”


Little cold to be heading down to the Common, isn't it?

"A standing invitation to keep First Night going" by Shirley Leung |  Globe Staff, December 26, 2013

When the nonprofit that organized First Night for nearly four decades was abruptly shuttered in June, Tom Menino declared the city would continue the New Year’s Eve tradition.

Everyone envisioned a stripped-down celebration: a little music, a few ice sculptures, and we’ll call it a night.

That’s not how this mayor rolls.

First Night, he made clear to his staff and anyone else who would listen, would be bigger than ever. Never mind he didn’t have a dime committed. Never mind he had only six months to pull off something that takes a year to plan. Never mind it would happen during his last week in office, when lame ducks are supposed to be packing up....

If you have never been or haven’t been in a while, this is the year to go, but Menino hasn’t saved First Night; he’s just done his part. The rest is up to us. Buy a button (only $10), show up, and support the festival as we never have done before. Afterward, if you want the celebration to happen again, someone out there needs to step up and carry on the tradition.

Agenda-pu$hing cheerleader!

That someone could be you.

Now a guilt trip.

First Night was born out of Clara Wainwright’s dread of making New Year’s Eve plans. It’s a night on which everyone feels compelled to be somewhere with somebody, doing something.

Speak for yourself!

She wanted to re-create the feeling of a magical Dec. 31 when she was 16, skating on a frozen lake at midnight with a boy she had a crush on.

So this whole thing is based on some disturbed woman's memories of what might have been?

New Year’s Eve celebrations could never measure up to that evening — until 1976, when Wainwright was turning 40. A group of fellow artists (and a psychiatrist) gathered around her dinner table in Arlington to cook up an idea for a party that wasn’t centered around alcohol or waiting for the stroke of midnight. The event would start earlier in the day, involve families, and engage artists to help us reflect on the end of one year and the beginning of another.

That is NOT supporting the Boston economy!

With a budget of nearly $35,000, the inaugural First Night, held in churches, halls, and subway stations around Boston Common, drew about 65,000 revelers, despite the subzero temperatures and an inch of snow on the ground.

First Night became a phenomenon. A million people come into Boston on New Year’s Eve, pumping millions of dollars into the economy. As with so many things we do here, other places followed our lead. Today, the First Night name is licensed to about 35 cities.

Ours requires a small full-time staff working year round, and a budget, at its height, of well over a $1 million. There were good and bad years, and the weather had a lot to do with it. The festival relies on sponsorships, but also generates revenue from button sales.

Outdoor events are free, but people need to buy buttons for admission to indoor programming (such as concerts). Many people decide whether to go at the last minute, depending on the forecast. Freezing temps, snow (think wintry mix), or even a prediction of bad weather can chill sales. You’ve got to feel for a business model subject to New England weather.

The finances began to unravel when you factored in weather, the Great Recession, and changes in giving. Corporate and nonprofit sponsorships began to dry up as organizations shifted their focus to supporting social justice and educational causes. The fete became more dependent on button sales, forcing organizers to raise prices to $18. Annual sales bounced between about $325,000 to $538,000. At its peak in 2007, First Night sold about 38,000 buttons and hit a low of under 15,000 in 2010. Last year, just 22,000 were sold.

As it struggled to break even, First Night cut its budget to $800,000, pared programming, and looked for new ways to make money.

Why even bother commenting anymore?

Not knowing what each year would bring, the nonprofit began shopping for a partner or someone to outright take over First Night, said Laura Roberts, chair of the organization’s board.

“Nobody expressed an interest in taking the festival on,” said Roberts, and “we didn’t think we could survive as a stand-alone.”

On June 11, after two hours of intense debate, nine board members voted unanimously to close the First Night office and leave the responsibility of the party to someone else. They didn’t know whether there would be a First Night this year or ever again.


But Menino called in all his chits so he would have a fitting last hurrah for him and Boston. He raised nearly $500,000 in sponsorships from corporations and foundations, more than double the previous year’s.

The first to say yes was the Highland Street Foundation....

You’ll see the foundation’s name on the buttons, so what is it? It’s based in Newton and was set up by David’s late father, David J. McGrath Jr., founder and owner of TAD Resources International, a temp agency. He was one of Menino’s earliest supporters.

Getting that first pledge made it easier to unlock contributions — $50,000 each — from Bank of America, State Street, Liberty Mutual, and others.

But the administration had another goal: Sharpen First Night operations so they’re sustainable. Among the changes: cutting button prices nearly in half, making it easier to buy them through a partnership with CVS, and centralizing festivities around Copley Square.

Mayor-elect Marty Walsh hasn’t decided what role his administration will play, but a co-chair of his transition team is Joyce Linehan, the longtime spokeswoman for First Night. You can be certain she’s going to give him plenty of advice. “I know he is committed to this,” Linehan said. “He is motivated to make it work.”

Roberts, chair of the First Night board, told me it is prepared to hand over the trademark to the right person or group. And the founder, Wainwright, who at 77 is still going to the celebration, said she’ll open up her kitchen once again.

“I would be happy to invite anyone who has ideas and sit around my supper table,” she said. “They can bring whoever they want and drum up something new. I just hope it continues.”

Will this First Night be our last? It’s up to you.


I've decided to decline the invitation.

Also see: 

First Night Given Second Chance
For young and old, satisfaction that First Night lives on
First Night smartphone app to help revelers navigate attractions
Whitman residents will wait for cookie to drop on New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Day and the history of time
The futility of predictions

Tell the fart-misting global warmers about it because it is freezing out there! Time to get inside.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring on this blog, readers, but I once again apologize if I didn't get to your issue, region, interest, or concern. I'm sorry this is such a shit blog, although you would seem to differ considering the zooming hits lately (WTF?). 

Happy New Year, readers!

The Boston Globe's Auld Lang Syne

"SJC decision could change handling of juvenile offenders" by Milton J. Valencia and John R. Ellement |  Globe Staff, December 27, 2013

This week’s Supreme Judicial Court decision opening the door to parole for teenagers convicted of murder will force a major examination of the way the state tries, sentences, and attempts to rehabilitate them, according to legal analysts....

Related: Globe Xmas Gift: Singing Christmas Carols

Possible changes could include steering young killers into prison educational and self-improvement programs so they can recognize the seriousness of their crimes and seek to rehabilitate themselves. The state parole board will also have to establish new ways to consider requests by prisoners who were convicted as juveniles but are living in an adult prison system...


"SJC rules judges can dismiss juvenile charges" by John R. Ellement |  Globe Staff, November 27, 2013

Juvenile court judges can throw out criminal charges against teens before their arraignments, ensuring that the alleged crimes are never entered on their records and have no impact on their futures, a divided Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday.

In a 4 to 2 ruling, the state’s highest court concluded that the judges must have the power to act in what they consider to be the “best interests of the child” because Massachusetts law treats juvenile offenders not as criminals, but as children in need of direction.

“Protecting a child from the stigma of being perceived to be a criminal and from the collateral consequences of a delinquency charge is important even where the complaint is supported by the evidence,” Justice Ralph Gants wrote for the majority. “It is even more important where the charge is not supported by probable cause.”


The case grew out of an incident involving a Boston public high school student who was given the pseudonym Humberto H. by the court. In 2001, Humberto, who reeked of marijuana, was stopped as he walked into school by the school’s dean and a school police officer. The teen was searched. He was wearing shorts under his pants and inside the pocket of those shorts, authorities found five bags of marijuana. He was charged with marjuana distribution.

When he appeared in Juvenile Court, the judge wanted to toss the case before he was arraigned because he considered the charge unwarranted and feared the teen, who had no prior record, would have an entry on his criminal record viewable by authorities in the future.

Emily A. Cardy, an attorney for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, who represented Humberto, praised the majority’s conclusion.

Cardy said the principle endorsed would be a boon to teens. “This is a wonderful and important result for our clients,” she said. The majority of the court found there was not enough evidence to charge Humberto with trying to sell the marijuana, citing the fact that the teen did not have a cellphone, cash, a scale, pager, or empty plastic bags, which are usually found on drug dealers.

But Justice Francis X. Spina wrote, in a section of the dissent that expressed his views alone, wrote that the majority might have created a loophole that teen drug dealers can use to escape criminal prosecution....

RelatedSlow Saturday Special: Dookhan a Democrat 

Another loophole!


Should Globe acquaintance be forgot, and never bought on line? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?

Boston Globe Ball Drop

I will be going up as it is coming down.

"Marijuana: Experimenting in Uruguay, December 20, 2013

Uruguay recently became the first country to make recreational marijuana use legal for adults, putting in place a system to regulate sales, production, and consumption. Whatever one thinks of legalization of marijuana, this could be a useful experiment for US leaders and law enforcement officials to watch.

A number of states have adopted measures to relax their blanket bans on marijuana. Massachusetts voters, among others, have decriminalized the drug and allowed consumption for medical purposes; Colorado and Washington state have voted to legalize it outright. Yet because these measures exist alongside a strong federal prohibition, their effects on abuse patterns and public safety are difficult to assess.

Adults living in Uruguay will be able to purchase up to 40 grams per month at their local pharmacy or grow up to six plants for personal consumption. President Jose Mujica, who championed the controversial bill, insists that making marijuana legal will take profits away from drug cartels. Critics counter that the new law will inevitably lead to higher use of marijuana, and perhaps of more addictive drugs.

Banks will still benefit, and now corporations can get in on the goodies. That leaves drug-running government agencies out of the circle though.

For American policy makers, the details of how Uruguay sets up its marijuana trade should be informative. How will sales be taxed? Where will additional revenues be employed? Will law enforcement save money? Until now, the relative lack of variation in marijuana laws from jurisdiction to jurisdiction has hampered informed debate on the subject. Uruguay will help fill in that gap.


RelatedUruguay OK’s marijuana bill

Next stop Massachusetts?

"Mass. activists push to fully legalize marijuana" by Steve LeBlanc |  Associated Press, November 29, 2013

Pro-marijuana activists in Massachusetts have already succeeded in paving the way for dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of the drug.

Now, many of those same activists have set their sights on the full legalization of marijuana for adults, effectively putting the drug on a par with alcohol and cigarettes.

And those activists — as they have in the past — are again hoping to make their case directly to voters on the state’s 2016 ballot.


The activists have some reason to be hopeful. Not only have Massachusetts voters twice supported past efforts to ease restrictions on marijuana, but other states and cities have also recently moved toward lifting prohibitions on the drug.

Last year, voters made Washington and Colorado the first states to legalize the sale of taxed marijuana to adults over 21 at state-licensed stores.


"Colorado marijuana stores open Jan. 1 as retailers usher in the nation’s first legal recreational pot industry. Sales in Washington, which also legalized recreational marijuana, are expected to start later in the year. The laws still fly in the face of federal drug rules, but the federal government has said it’s not going to fight to shut down pot shops for now." 

For now?

This month, voters in Portland, Maine, overwhelmingly passed a question making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to 2½ ounces of pot but not purchase, sell, or use it in public.


"A law legalizing recreational marijuana went into effect in early December in Portland, Maine, but it’s largely symbolic because the state has said it will continue to enforce its own ban."

In 2008, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question decriminalizing possession of up to an ounce of pot, making it instead a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine. Some Massachusetts towns have given up trying to enforce the law, however, saying it has too many loopholes.

Not everyone thinks legalizing marijuana is a good idea.

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said marijuana use can lead young people to harder drugs and other harmful behaviors.

Once again the shameless authorities wave kids at us.

‘‘I’m not saying everyone who tries marijuana becomes a heroin addict, but the medical information is irrefutable that kids who start smoking marijuana are more likely to have substance abuse problems as adults,’’ said Blodgett, who also serves as president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.

RelatedHeroin is Here

But it is pot that is the gateway? Maybe they should stop shoving prescription pharmaceuticals down kids' throats!

Blodgett said one consequence of the decriminalization law in Massachusetts is that it’s harder to get young people into treatment and diversion programs because they can’t be arrested for possession of the drug. He said many private health insurance plans don’t cover drug treatment.

Obummercare took care of that!

‘‘Unless and until we have treatment on demand, we shouldn’t be talking about legalizing marijuana or any other drugs,’’ Blodgett said.

Downing rejected the notion that marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs and said the ballot question would restrict the sale of marijuana to adults.

‘‘This isn’t about getting pot for kids,’’ he said. ‘‘No one on my side says we are getting marijuana for kids.’’

No, but the other side and its a$$holes always try to imply that!

When asked recently about the push to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick declined to offer an opinion.

There are potential legal troubles that come when states legalize marijuana, including the fact that state legalization doesn’t remove risk from an industry that still violates federal drug law.

Last year, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question allowing for up to 35 medical marijuana dispensaries around the state. State health officials last week released a list of the 100 applicants that are seeking dispensary licenses. They said they hope to award the licenses early next year.

Yeah, what's taking them so long?

Backers of that question benefited from the deep pockets of Ohio billionaire Peter Lewis, who has underwritten marijuana initiatives in states around the country and served as chairman of the board of the auto insurer Progressive Corp. Lewis, who almost entirely bankrolled the Massachusetts medical marijuana question, died Saturday at 80.

Because it will make rates rise?



"Illinois becomes the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana in a pilot project with some of the strictest standards in the nation. However, it may take more than a year to actually buy marijuana as separate state agencies draft rules that must be approved by a legislative committee. In Wisconsin, towns and cities may legalize pedal pubs, multiple-person bicycles that ferry riders to and from taverns. A driver steers while multiple riders sit at a bar mounted behind him, each with his or her own pedal-and-chain assembly."

And look who will be making some good $moke:

"Marijuana bidders getting help from politically savvy" by Frank Phillips and Joshua Miller |  Globe Staff, November 26, 2013

Several former elected officials and politically connected figures have joined the sweepstakes to be part of the state’s potentially lucrative medical marijuana industry, partnering with applicants who need help navigating the regulatory process.

Why am I not $urpri$ed? It's only being legalized so they can make a buck!

Former US representative William D. Delahunt, now a lobbyist, is the president of a nonprofit corporation that has applied for three marijuana dispensary licenses in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Former House speaker Thomas M. Finneran, as well as at least three former state senators, a former sheriff, and two former top aides to powerful officeholders are also associated with dispensary applicants, as investors or advisers, as they lobby for state and local support of their proposals.

I'm already thinking this thing $tinks!


Since the ballot initiative passed, applicants have been hurrying to set up not-for-profit corporations that will be the backbone of the marijuana distribution system. Despite the name, nonprofits can be highly lucrative for those involved.

Related"nonprofits provide new ways for corporations and individuals to influence

And here they are pa$$ing around a joint!

“It’s an absolute gold rush,’’ said John Scheft, the attorney who represented the opponents to the 2012 voter-approved law that created the system. “You are an idiot if you are running a dispensary and you can’t make a couple of million dollars in profit.”

The nonprofit model also means they can AVOID TAXES!

Interviews with several of the participants and a Globe review of preliminary applications indicate some of the political figures who have joined the Massachusetts marijuana market are investors in the firms while others say they are simply consultants.

Delahunt, who represented Cape Cod and much of the South Shore for 14 years, is part of Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, a group that has applied for facilities in Plymouth, Taunton, and Mashpee.

Two weeks ago, Delahunt, a former Norfolk district attorney, appeared before the Plymouth board of selectmen along with several competitors to plead the case for his group.

The board initially hedged on taking action. But a week later, it endorsed Delahunt’s project.

Working with Delahunt is a political figure with connections in both the State House and the town — Kevin O’Reilly, who once served as a top aide to Senate president Therese Murray, a longtime Plymouth lawmaker, and has been her closest political adviser. He serves on the board of the Plymouth chamber of commerce. Former Barnstable county commissioner Mary J. LeClair, a veteran political figure on Cape Cod, is also working with Delahunt.

The initial financial backing for the group is coming from Jeffrey L. Feinberg, a California-based hedge fund manager, who, along with his wife, Stacey, has pledged $1.3 million as part of the firm’s demonstration of financial viability to state public health regulators.

Do I even need to say it? And the fees, overhead, and other costs will deter an individual entrepreneur from getting a small business going.

Delahunt, who said he has never met Feinberg, repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether he was looking to financially gain from his involvement with the project.

“That’s yet to be determined,’’ he said last week.

Analysts say medical marijuana dispensaries tend to be lucrative endeavors.

Luigi Zamarra, a certified public accountant who has overseen the books for medical marijuana businesses in a half-dozen states, said the mark-up in dispensaries is usually about 100 percent.

“If you buy a pound for $2,500, you can retail that, when you break it all down, for $5,000,” he said, explaining that the average-size dispensary brings in $4 million to $5 million in gross revenues per year.

In Massachusetts, Zamarra said, the relatively limited number of dispensaries in the state indicates the potential for “strong profitability, depending on the size of the population of patients.”

But some proponents say the regulations and contours of the law will ensure that clinics will focus on patients not profits.

Oh, yeah, the PATIENTS got LOST in the HAZE of SMOKE!

Valerio Romano, a lawyer who represents seven organizations applying for marijuana dispensary licenses in Massachusetts, scoffed at the idea that the facilities would be cash-cows, saying his clients are involved to help patients.

“I think that that’s a contradiction on its face,” he said of the charges. “In the highly scrutinized medical marijuana industry, it would be unwise to try to extract profits from a nonprofit.”

And weed is notorious for its low margin. That's why government agencies like to traffic in powder.

Delahunt said his hope is that the dispensaries will ease the rising scourge of Oxycontin abuse and offer patients a chance to use high quality medical marijuana instead of buying from unregulated sources....

Yes, it turns out the pre$cription pharmaceuticals are the worst drugs of all.

In Western Massachusetts, former state senator Brian P. Lees, the former Senate GOP minority leader, is an officer in a nonprofit hoping to operate a dispensary in Holyoke. He said he has no interest profiting from the enterprise, adding that the revenues will be put back into the community.

Former state senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, also a Western Massachusetts politico, is an investor in Kind Medical, which wants to open a clinic in Easthampton. A Democrat, he served as a senator from Pittsfield through 2006, when he was elected to one term as register of deeds for Berkshire County’s middle division. He has committed more than $400,000 in financial backing, according to the group’s preliminary application.

Guy Glodis, who is also a former Worcester County sheriff, is offering his law enforcement background as part of an outfit — Boston Wellness Association — that has its eye on opening a dispensary in Revere. He declined to comment.

David A. Passafaro, former chief of staff to Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, who serves on the board of Boston Medical Center, is part of a group — Prime Wellness of MA — that applied to open dispensaries in Framingham, Roxbury, and Worcester. He is currently a vice president of Suffolk Construction.

He said he will not receive any of the revenues, but will advise the group on how to use the profits for community programs. Henri S. Rauschenbach, a former Republican state senator from Cape Cod and now a State House lobbyist, is helping an outfit called the Kingsbury Group — founded by two Cape area businessmen — that is looking to convert a go-kart site in Bourne for a medical marijuana dispensary.

The group also hopes to open marijuana facilities in Provincetown and on Martha’s Vineyard. He said he is merely serving as an adviser, but did not discount that in the future, he could reap some of the profits.


Hey, if you can't get it in state then go on line:

"Medical marijuana Web services raising concerns; State medical leaders concerned about untrained entrepreneurs" by Kay Lazar |  Globe Staff, September 30, 2013

Massachusetts’ nascent medical marijuana law has sparked a recent flurry of new Internet companies promising to match patients with doctors who will certify they need the weed for health reasons, a phenomenon that has dismayed the state’s medical society and raised concerns with the board that regulates physicians.

A number of the companies are run by entrepreneurs with no medical background, which the Massachusetts Medical Society said raises questions about the quality and safety of the care.

Some of the sites, the society said, appear to be tiptoeing just inside state rules, which require a “bona fide physician-patient relationship” be in place before marijuana can be prescribed.

“The fact that you have people with no medical pedigree [launching these companies] is testament that this is purely a money-making operation,” said Dr. Ronald Dunlap, a cardiologist and president of the medical society. “These people are working around the edges.”

Now, all of a sudden, making money is bad! It's okay for the pharmaceuticals, the banks, and the war profiteers, the more the better, but now that someone might make a buck of weed.... horror!

Voters last November approved a ballot referendum that legalized marijuana for medical use, but left it to the health department to issue regulations that would implement the law.

With those rules released in May, the department is whittling a list of 158 applications for registered marijuana dispensaries to 35, the maximum number of facilities allowed in the first year under the ballot initiative.

In the interim, patients are allowed to legally grow a small amount of marijuana for their own use, as long as a Massachusetts physician certifies they have a medical need.

That's good! Then they won't NEEDLESSLY SUFFER as the state drags its heels.

Once the dispensaries open, which is expected in the spring, the state will begin tracking patients and doctors in a computerized system. A doctor’s certification will still be required then.

Almost makes you wish it were still illegal.

Among the newly launched Massachusetts doctor-finder websites is Commonwealth M.D., founded by Jai Chawla, a 28-year-old Cornell University graduate with a degree in history who founded an Internet security company, which he still runs.

Chawla, who is temporarily running his new business from a friend’s basement in Cambridge, said he charges $250 to cover the patient referral and the physician consultation.

“I understand that’s a large fee for a patient to be paying out of pocket,” said Chawla in a phone interview, noting that patients’ health insurance probably will not cover the service because marijuana is not federally sanctioned.

Most of the fee goes directly to the physicians so his company can remain “competitive” in attracting physicians, Chawla said. He said he has “fewer than five” physicians in his referral service, which opened a few weeks ago.

Matt Allen, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, which lobbied for the medical marijuana law, said the fees charged by the companies will probably be too high for many patients with chronic medical conditions who are on fixed incomes.

“We do hope some of these places will offer discounts for these patients,” Allen said.

But he also said the companies offer a needed service to some patients, such as veterans, who may be unable to get a certification where they typically receive medical care, through the Department of Veterans Affairs, because of federal rules prohibiting marijuana use.

Massachusetts would not be the first state to encounter growing pains with its medical marijuana law. A June report by Colorado’s state auditor found that 13 years after voters there approved the use of medical marijuana, a number of physicians appeared to be flouting the state’s bona fide patient-physician relationship requirement. It concluded that half of the 108,000 patients who had obtained state cards to possess medical marijuana received their certification from one of just 12 physicians.

Yeah, we shouldn't have voted for this.

One of those physicians had certified more than 8,400 patients, it said.

Massachusetts Public Health Department spokesman Dave Kibbe said in a brief statement that state rules require physicians to have a “bona fide relationship” with patients they certify for medical marijuana. He declined to comment further on the services....


Also see:

Worcester has most medical marijuana dispensaries applicants

100 applicants seek marijuana-dispensary licenses in final round

It's all good, folks, but you can't smoke it in the park tonight and you are advised to get a CAT scan as soon as possible.

Related: Slow Saturday Special: Meth House Cleanup Makes Me Mad

Because the state is all bunged up about medical marijuana as the coke, meth, and heroin flow.

No Kiss From Miley Cyrus

I don't have one for the Globe.

"Miley Cyrus at the Jingle Ball: Snow job by Kiss 108?" December 21, 2013

Bostonians are accustomed to snow cancellations and travel delays, but are less understanding about being misled.

Who is understanding about that?

So it is with a group of ticketholders to Kiss 108 Jingle Ball, who are demanding refunds after headliner Miley Cyrus didn’t show up to the Dec. 14 concert — and event organizers took a long time to fess up. As snow was falling in Boston that night, the pop superstar wound up stuck at an airport in New York. But even as Cyrus was tweeting about her travel woes, and posting pictures of herself having drinks, Kiss 108 was announcing, on the air, that she was in her dressing room and preparing to go onstage. Finally, the station interviewed Cyrus by phone and made a last-minute announcement inside the TD Garden. Now, nearly 200 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding restitution.

Their frustration is understandable, especially given the Jingle Ball’s $200-plus ticket price. For parents who bought tickets for their teens as a Christmas gift, Cyrus’s cancellation was a special disappointment. As an act of goodwill, Kiss 108 should find some way to make it up to them, whether through future tickets, backstage passes, or memorabilia. Snow happens, it’s true, but true fans are worthy of respect.


She can jingle my balls any time.

Sunday Globe Special: $tuffed BRA

"BRA cuts deals at expense of affordable housing" by Sean P. Murphy |  Globe Staff, December 22, 2013

Boston Redevelopment Authority board members “didn’t have a clue” that they were giving a secret benefit to a friend of Mayor Thomas M. Menino when they approved construction of luxury housing near Boston Common, admits board member Paul Foster.

Foster and his colleagues, who oversee the most powerful government agency in the city, simply did what they almost always do: They unanimously approved the BRA staff recommendation. Their 2011 vote for the upscale residences at Millennium Place was one in a string of 1,492 consecutive board votes unanimously supporting whatever the staff said — almost always with no discussion or questions.

In the three minutes they took to approve Millennium Place, board members didn’t discover that the staff had quietly tucked a potential $5.9 million discount on development fees into the deal with Anthony Pangaro, the longtime Menino campaign contributor who represented Millennium. The fees are earmarked to help build affordable housing in a city that sorely needs it.

“It was not shown to anyone on the board to my knowledge,” Foster said after a reporter pointed out to him the fine print in BRA documents outlining the break for Millennium. “I never got a briefing.”

No government agency outside of the Menino administration has been watching the Boston Redevelopment Authority for years — not the state, not the City Council, not even the BRA’s own board — leaving agency staffers free to cut deals with certain developers while charging others extra, and to spend the fees collected from developers as they see fit.

A four-month Boston Globe investigation has found that the BRA has allowed at least four other developers breaks on affordable housing fees valued at a combined $3.4 million without disclosing them publicly — and without offering similar discounts to other developers.

Meanwhile, the BRA has diverted at least $6 million from housing fees it has already collected for unrelated purposes such as a new health clinic. The staff approved diverting another $4.5 million for a community facility and a new public street.

It's what we call a $lu$h fund.

So far, the BRA has spent just $18 million on affordable housing since Menino established the housing program in 2000, less than a quarter of the $75 million the agency should have collected if the BRA had consistently followed the rules, the Globe found. The rest either has not been collected, was diverted to other purposes, or languishes in a BRA account.

“It looks like they left a lot of money on the table,” said Ezra Glenn, an urban studies lecturer at Masschusetts Institute of Technology, after reviewing a Globe analysis of the BRA fee discounts for certain developers.

“They may want to reconsider the way they do it,” added MIT professor Albert Saiz.

BRA officials say they charged Millennium the lower fee because they were initially unsure whether the project would consist of condos or apartments, which are charged at a lower rate. But they didn’t say why the deal did not include standard language requiring Pangaro to pay more when he decided to build 265 condos averaging $1 million each — or why the staff didn’t point out the potential discount in their report to the board.

Is that affordable for you?

BRA officials also struggled to explain how they decide who gets the money from the housing fund, acknowledging that at least $6 million has gone toward BRA salaries, a conference, and purposes other than affordable housing.

“It’s not like we’re taking money and putting it in some kitty, one of our funds or something,” said Peter Meade, a Menino loyalist who came out of retirement in 2011 to run the BRA. He argued that even the money spent on BRA salaries was housing-related.

Frikkin' $hamele$$!

That’s little help to housing advocates who say they’ve struggled for years to get information out of the BRA on how to tap into the fund to build inexpensive homes.

“There is no open, public bidding process for getting that money for affordable housing projects,” said Lydia Lowe of the Chinese Progressive Association. “You have to be on the inside to even know about it.”

Meaning you have to have connections.

Menino, who declined to be interviewed for this article, apparently has had concerns about the BRA’s performance as well....

Well, he's out, Walsh in. So what took so long, Tom? You been there 20 years!

“We used every nickel and dime of that money to leverage new affordable housing units,” said Evelyn Friedman, who oversaw the Neighborhood Development housing program until last year. “The mayor was adamant that he wanted affordable housing units mixed in the downtown high-rises because he wanted diversity of income, not a downtown with only all high-income people.”

Related: Building Boston Up 

"Fort Point was once home to hundreds of artists, most of whom moved into abandoned factory buildings in the 1970s and 1980s. But over the past two decades, many artists, along with such cooperative groups as Mobius and The Revolving Museum, were forced to move to less expensive spaces in East Boston or Lowell by rising real estate prices and new developments. The sale, which hinges on some fund-raising by the residents, would mark a rare victory for Boston artists, many of whom have been displaced by climbing real estate prices and rents over the years."

I'll be tearing it down soon.


Menino in control

The physical transformation of Boston may well be the enduring legacy of Menino’s record 20-year watch, including the birth of an entirely new neighborhood in South Boston’s Seaport District, thousands of new construction jobs, and a population that has reached its highest level since the 1970s.

Related: Sunday Globe Special: Fallon's Friend 

I'll give you one gue$$ who it is.

But the BRA may be squandering the opportunity created by the historic boom to channel residential development to where it is needed most — toward middle-income Bostonians who have watched the cost of living rise twice as fast as their earnings since 2005, according to a recent Northeastern University study.

In a city where the average household income is about $49,000, almost 60 percent of the housing units approved by the BRA in 2011 were “luxury” properties far out of reach to the vast majority of residents, based on a review of BRA-approved projects....

I keep telling you and telling you that government serves money, and here it i$ again!

In November, Boston voters chose a BRA critic in Mayor-elect Martin Walsh, who during the campaign proposed overhauling the agency to make it more publicly accountable, giving the City Council oversight of its operations and finances. He has recently said serious reforms of the agency will wait to at least the second half of 2014....

Currently, the BRA is accountable to no one except the mayor....

The five BRA board members are supposed to provide a public check on the BRA, but none have professional expertise in development, and they do little more than rubber-stamp deals that were negotiated privately, records show....

I love unqualified people on an important board, don't you?

A unanimous voice

Led until recently by an 80-year-old community activist, Clarence “Jeep” Jones, board members generally meet once a month in return for a $10,000 annual stipend and a coveted City Hall parking space, swiftly approving one project after another regardless of what people say in opposition.

Pretty good work, huh!? 

SeeGlobe Costs Lisa Saunders a Parking Spot

Too bad she didn't $tuff her bra.

For instance, when Mark Kerwin of the Museum of Fine Arts came before the board in September, alarmed that an office tower proposed by nearby Wentworth Institute of Technology would seasonally cast a shadow over the museum’s main entrance, Jones cut Kerwin off after his allotted two minutes to speak were up.

“Questions?” he then asked fellow board members.

As usual, there were none. Less than a minute later, they voted unanimously to approve the 18-story tower, brushing aside Kerwin’s request for a study of whether it would diminish one of Boston’s iconic sculptures, “Appeal to the Great Spirit,” the Native American on horseback that has greeted museum visitors for generations.

BRA board members appear not to have much of a behind-the-scenes role either: Their official e-mail accounts, reviewed by the Globe, contain almost no discussion of BRA business — or anything else.

Foster, the board’s vice chairman, acknowledges that the board is passive, but he said that is because the BRA staff does its job so well, often working with developers over months or even years to resolve neighborhood concerns....

“By the time it comes to us, it’s all vetted. The community has had its say,” said Foster....

The BRA staff, led by MIT-trained planner Kairos Shen, is respected for its competence, and it follows a policy of not allowing projects to come before the board until all major issues have been addressed, including those raised at community meetings. Meade said it is not uncommon to pull projects off the board agenda at the last minute when new issues crop up.

But the staff works under exceptionally close supervision from Menino, whose aides regularly sit in on meetings with BRA staffers and who in the past has been involved in selecting architectural details such as the design for the top of a skyscraper. And there is little question where BRA staff loyalties lie: 25 of the 44 top-paid employees are Menino campaign contributors, campaign finance records show.

But he's had concerns it isn't transparent enough, right!

Menino has said criticisms about his micromanaging of development “make me crazy,” but he has poked fun at himself for his outsized role. In a memorable 2011 video spoof, Menino played the role of godfather Vito Corleone advising disappointed developer Don Chiofaro how to win approval for a waterfront office tower, something that eluded Chiofaro during years of clashes with the mayor.

“Why did you go to the BRA?” Menino asks Chiofaro, stroking a stuffed cat for effect. “Why didn’t you come to me first?”

It was funny, but it contained an essential truth developers figured out years ago, which is why senior BRA staff would sometimes learn about new projects when they were summoned to Menino’s fifth-floor office at City Hall and found the developer already sitting there. Developers even coined a verb, to be “Chiofaro-ed,” meaning to turn the mayor against your project.

Meanwhile, Menino insiders such as his close friend Henry Kara, his campaign treasurer Harry Collings, and James Greene, whose wife is a paid political consultant to the mayor, all have emerged as major figures representing developers before the BRA during the Menino years....

Maybe it is a good thing he is going.

But by 2011, the affordable housing program had strayed from its original intention in ways Menino himself may not have fully understood. That April, the city issued a press release boasting that the city had created thousands of affordable homes, the result of Menino making housing “a priority within all city agencies.”


But the project Menino chose to highlight — luxury apartments at 1330 Boylston — actually raises questions about the program’s integrity.

Not with me; my que$tions were an$wered long ago.

The nearly $3 million in fees paid by developer Steven Samuels, another Menino campaign supporter, didn’t go toward housing at all: In 2006, the money went into a gleaming new health center in the Fenway, where Collings once worked.

Collings, now a consultant to developers but then the BRA’s executive director/secretary, acknowledged that the affordable housing fund was specifically set up to provide housing. But he argued that Fenway residents were eager for a state-of-the-art health center.

So who is living there?

“The community brought it up,” said Collings, who prior to joining the BRA had been the long-time development and public relations director at the Fenway Community Health Center, which received the money. “It’s what they wanted.”

In fact, the Community Development Corp. in the Fenway, a group that normally backs affordable housing projects, did go along with the money going to the center, which was the subject of a city zoning commission hearing.

However, some BRA staffers say they suspected the expenditure was probably improper at the time. They surmised that the Fenway funding “came out of the McCann playbook,” a reference to former BRA official Paul McCann, who had a reputation for bending agency rules and eventually got in trouble for collecting a pension and a BRA consulting salary at the same time....

See: How Big is Your BRA, Boston?

The multimillion-dollar fee discount for Millennium Place hinged on an apparent loophole in the housing program....

It's beyond bu$ine$$ as usual


Also see: Mayor Menino’s two-woman team

His time is over. What about the new guy?

"Martin Walsh says Southie parade should be inclusive" by Wesley Lowery |  Globe Staff, December 15, 2013

Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh’s remarks also included criticism of a front-page story in the Globe on Friday, which said that the mayor-elect, during remarks to business leaders Thursday, had backtracked on a campaign promise to massively overhaul the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

“The Boston Globe didn’t get the story quite accurate,” Walsh said, prompting murmurs from the gathering. “Which leads me to, don’t believe everything that you read in the paper.”

(Blog editor smiles. I don't believe anything I read in the paper)

In an interview later in the day, a Walsh spokeswoman said the incoming mayor objected to the story’s characterization that he was “backpedaling” from a campaign proposal to launch a major overhaul of the BRA in early 2014.

Walsh had said during the Thursday luncheon that he intends to make some immediate adjustments to the BRA, but that he plans to keep the basic agency structure in place for the first six months of his term, to facilitate review of development proposals now in the pipeline.

During the campaign, Walsh was by far the most aggressive candidate in calling for major changes at the BRA, including separating its planning and development functions.

Since the election, he has been more measured in his public comments about the agency.


I'll let you read it for yourself:

"Walsh eases talk of a BRA overhaul" by Casey Ross and Taryn Luna |  Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent, December 13, 2013

Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh is backpedaling from one of his most prominent campaign promises, telling business leaders Thursday that he is in no hurry to restructure the powerful city agency that has approved a burst of development in recent years.

During his campaign for mayor, Walsh said the Boston Redevelopment Authority needed an urgent overhaul, pledging to “in early 2014” replace it with a new economic development entity that would be more transparent and responsive to residents and businesses.

But he acknowledged Thursday that the proposal rankled many developers and business leaders, and he sought to reassure them that any changes would not disrupt the building boom that is transforming much of the city’s downtown and outlying neighborhoods. 

So much for the good Democrat from labor.

“If there’s going to be changes, they are going to be well thought out, and it’s going to be a collaboration with the business community to make sure that people feel comfortable,” he said. “There’s no way that I want to discourage development.”

In other words, nothing is going to change at the BRA.

Throughout his remarks at the Boston Harbor Hotel, Walsh adopted the posture of an incoming mayor who is still trying to find his footing, instead of the confident candidate who months earlier had articulated a 14-point plan that would overhaul the BRA while spurring economic growth....

Walsh’s step back from dismantling the agency prompted relief from real estate executives....

“Why toy with the goose that appears to be laying a series of golden eggs?” said Jonathan Davis, a developer and chief executive of the Davis Cos.....

Not everyone agrees....


RelatedProject near TD Garden gets $7.8m in tax aid

Consider it a going away pre$ent.

Slow Saturday Special: Teacher Trickery Put Walsh Over Top

"Teachers union revealed as funder behind pro-Walsh PAC" by Wesley Lowery |  Globe Staff, December 28, 2013

The American Federation of Teachers confirmed Friday that it was the donor behind One Boston, a mysterious political action committee that paid for a $480,000 television commercial supporting Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh during the final days of the Boston mayoral race.

The national teachers’ union exploited discrepancies in state-by-state campaign spending disclosure laws to anonymously fund nearly a half million dollars worth of advertising on behalf of Walsh.

No information was disclosed at the time about One Boston’s ideological loyalties or donors, enraging government watchdog groups who had already been critical of the unprecedented amount of outside money that was flowing into the race, which ultimately became the state’s most expensive municipal race ever.


Several members of the federation’s national leadership were outspoken in their support of Walsh and their dislike for his opponent, Councilor at Large John R. Connolly, who had several high-profile spats with the Boston Teachers Union in his six years on the council.

“The AFT is functionally the BTU,” Connolly said, reacting to the disclosure. “As a former candidate, I’m moving past the race. As a Boston public schools parent, I’m really angry that our teacher’s union would spend $500,000 on a mayor’s race and not attach their name to the contribution.”

Though it had vowed to remain uninvolved in the mayoral final, the Boston Teachers Union, which is formally affiliated with the AFT, endorsed Walsh on election day.

The Massachusetts database of campaign donations shows the AFT never gave money directly to Walsh’s campaign, which would have been subject to state-imposed contribution limits, or to One Boston, which would have been subject to disclosure requirements.

Instead, the national teacher’s union gave $480,000 to One New Jersey, a political action committee that has vocally opposed candidates who clash with teachers unions, most notably Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.

In a complicated series of transactions, the AFT first gave the money to One New Jersey, which is not required under New Jersey campaign finance laws to disclose its donors. Then, One New Jersey gave the money to One Boston, a Massachusetts political action committee it set up for the purpose of funding an advertisement on behalf of Walsh. One Boston used the money for the pro-Walsh television commercial.

“We share the same values as Marty Walsh; that’s why we produced this positive, issues-oriented commercial,” said Joshua Henne, a spokesman for One New Jersey.

“Boston’s middle-class and working families are fortunate to have a mayor like Marty Walsh on their side,” Henne said.

The sudden appearance of One Boston-funded ads during the race’s final week without disclosure of the money’s origins outraged government watchdog groups and prompted calls from both candidates for the group to identity its donors.


The only name listed in documents associated with the group is Jocelyn Hutt, 55, a woman from Roslindale who, city records show, had not voted in three of Boston’s past four municipal elections. It remains unclear what role Hutt played in setting up One Boston or if she is linked formally to One New Jersey.

One Boston was one of three outside groups that spent heavily on behalf of Walsh, whose mayoral victory was in part buoyed by independent expenditures from labor-affiliated groups.

Working America, the political arm of the AFL-CIO, put more than $665,000 into the race on behalf of Walsh. Another group, Virginia-based American Working Families, has disclosed that the more than $1.2 million it spent on Walsh’s behalf came from labor unions....

RelatedVirginia PAC’s list is heavy with union donors

In total, $2.5 million was spent via independent expenditures on Walsh’s behalf, compared with $1.3 million spent on Connolly’s behalf, exclusively from national education reform groups.


"Outside spending on mayoral finalists hit $3.8m" by Wesley Lowery |  Globe Staff, December 17, 2013

Outside special interest groups spent $3.8 million on behalf of the two finalists in Boston’s mayoral election, pumping an unprecedented total of independent expenditures into a race that shattered local campaign spending records.

The groups spent twice as much on behalf of Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh as they did on John R. Connolly.

Labor-affiliated political action committees lavished nearly $2.5 million on Walsh’s campaign, while local and national education groups spent roughly half that amount on Connolly’s bid, according to a report Tuesday by the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

The campaigns themselves spent a record-setting $5.6 million from their own accounts combined, shattering the campaign spending record set in 2009 when current Mayor Thomas M. Menino and challenger Michael Flaherty spent a combined $4 million, according to the report.

In all, a combined $9.4 million was spent by the two campaigns and by the outside groups on the candidates’ behalf. But it was the heavy involvement of outside independent expenditure groups, unleashed by a 2010 Supreme Court decision, that alarmed government watchdogs and political observers.

“The amount of outside spending in the Boston mayoral race was remarkable,” said Pamela Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause, a nonpartisan advocacy organization that has called for tighter controls on outside spending in elections. “It shattered the ceiling in terms of what we’ve seen before in a municipal race.”

Special interest groups such as labor unions and political action committees have two ways of spending money in elections. They can give limited donations directly to a campaign, and they can also make much larger “independent expenditures,” money spent on behalf of the candidate but not handled by the campaign. Independent expenditure groups are legally barred from coordinating with a candidate’s campaign.

Tuesday’s report sheds light on overall spending totals, but does not specify where the money spent by outside groups came from. State law allows their donors to remain confidential until January.

The state’s top campaign finance officials, news outlets, and the candidates themselves asked the groups to voluntarily release names before the election, but they declined.

Early in the general election campaign, Connolly said he and Walsh should swear off outside money, but gave up after Walsh refused and began allowing outside money to be spent on his behalf.

“We knew it was going to be a game-changer,” said the Rev. Miniard Culpepper,who campaigned for Connolly. “One million extra dollars [for Walsh] in a race won by four thousand votes — that says it all.”

Much of the outside spending came from Working America, the political arm of the AFL-CIO, which spent on behalf of Walsh, and Democrats for Education Reform, a Washington, D.C.-based group that spent on behalf of Connolly.

During the campaign, Walsh conceded that outside groups were spending heavily, but he stressed that campaign finance laws prohibited him from coordinating with those groups.

“The mayor-elect appreciates the support he received from over 6,000 volunteers and over 3,000 individual donors who supported his vision for Boston,” Kate Norton, Walsh’s spokeswoman, said in a statement to the Globe Tuesday night.

And they didn't even get invited to the party.

Steps toward equality

Not off to a very good start.

Gift limit for Martin Walsh inaugural too high, too many loopholes

Martin Walsh says Southie parade should be inclusive

They get an invite though!

Also see: 

Martin Walsh’s inaugural committee announced

Walsh announces inauguration plans

Walsh’s inaugural celebration to feature music close to home

Walsh pushes inauguration ceremony to city’s edge

Walsh personnel announcements delayed

Walsh not ruling out lawsuit to block Revere casino

Walsh’s first mission: Develop new strategies to curb violence

Martin Walsh pushes service projects

He's already off on the wrong foot. 

NEXT DAY UPDATE: Walsh’s education test

Pre$$ure is on to pass that one!

Walsh was the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of dollars from groups whose funding sources and stated goals remain cloudy. One group, American Working Families of Alexandria, Va., spent more than $1 million on Walsh’s behalf during the course of the campaign.

The only name associated with the group is Bud Jackson, a Democratic consultant who repeatedly declined to disclose donors before the election.

In early November, a newly formed political committee called One Boston spent $480,000 on a television advertising buy on behalf of Walsh.

One Boston listed no specific political goals and the only name linked to the group’s paperwork is Jocelyn Hutt, a 55-year-old woman from Roslindale who city records show had not voted in three of Boston’s past four municipal elections.

The secretive nature of a significant chunk of the money spent by outside groups in the race has led several state lawmakers to join with good government groups to explore proposals to tighten disclosure rules.

“The groups are finding lots of ways of evading even the disclosure rules that do exist,” Wilmot said. “We need to tighten all of that up to give the public the most information possible before they’re at the ballot box.”


Let's hope he doesn't piss off Partners like the state panel did.

Menino Moving On

So am I.

"Mayor Menino set to get behind the wheel again; With 2 decades of city-provided rides at an end, Menino turns his focus to 21st-century driving" by Andrew Ryan |  Globe Staff, December 17, 2013

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has spent the past 20 years steering Boston into the future. Now he is about to undergo a mission far more uncertain: steering his own car around the city’s famous streets.

Menino has his eye on a used Lexus, but it will not come with the cassette deck or high-beam pedal he had in his cars of yore. And the handle to roll down the window? That’s gone, too, replaced by a button.

“There was a button to turn on the engine!” Menino exclaimed of a car he recently drove. “A button to call somebody,” he added, working his way to a punch line. “I kept looking for the clutch!”

His favorite missing accessory will be the police officer who has driven him around, day and night, for two decades, subjected to Menino’s backseat driving.

Aides expected, even urged, the mayor to look into a car service once he left City Hall. But a few weekends ago, Menino went for an hourlong drive with his son. It felt good to be back behind the wheel, and he is not a car-service type of guy.

Last Saturday, Menino arranged to buy a Lexus sport utility vehicle. He and his wife own a Ford sedan, but Menino wanted a vehicle higher off the ground that will be easier to get in and out of. He is eager to drive to his new job at Boston University, where he will help launch an Institute on Cities.

So as Menino leaves office in three weeks at age 71, he will be serving as his own chauffeur, one of many changes as he adjusts to life after City Hall. He may have to learn again what it is like to stand in line, fight for a dinner reservation, and hunt for a parking spot.

Check that. He actually has a short-term plan for the parking. No, it does not involve a bright orange cone or other South Boston-style space saver. Menino recently purchased a year’s worth of valet parking at a charity auction, which should help him downtown....



Menino’s childhood YMCA will now bear his name
Menino’s annual Christmas Eve stroll emotional
Mayor shocked, emotional after surprise birthday party
Menino skipping Walsh’s swearing-in ceremony
After private meeting, Menino to skip Walsh swearing-in

Also seeThe city Menino built

Also moving on:

"Fraser resigning as Boston’s fire commissioner" by Meghan E. Irons |  Globe staff, December 17, 2013

Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick J. Fraser Jr., who for seven years battled union leaders and led reforms of a fractious fire force, will resign in January, leaving open the department’s top two posts as the new mayor takes over.

Fraser, 49, submitted his resignation to Mayor Thomas M. Menino Monday, saying he will depart Jan. 6, the day Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh, whose campaign was heavily supported by labor unions, assumes office.

“As I look back on my years here, I’m leaving a much better department than when I found it,” said Fraser. “And I’m proud of that. I felt it was time for me to move on and do something different.”


Also seeMenino transit aide takes state post

Leaving Logan Behind

The article will soon be submerged under the December heading for this year.

"Logan Airport leads the way on snowy owl issue; NYC airports follow example, shift from shooting to catch-and-release" by Martine Powers |  Globe Staff, December 11, 2013

Call it the year of the snowy owl.

In just the past month, the powdery white Arctic creatures have been spotted much farther afield than their usual habitats, with bird-watchers in the Northeast reporting the most snowy owl sightings in recent memory.

Because it is colder down here than it should be.

So it comes as no surprise that record numbers of the birds have arrived at Northeast airports, snowy owls’ preferred proxy for the Arctic tundra. And as aviation officials grapple with the risks posed by the owls, New York’s airports are now taking a cue from Logan International Airport and catching and releasing the birds, rather than shooting them.

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport made headlines on Sunday when it was revealed that officials had ordered staff to shoot snowy owls on sight after five of the birds flew into airplanes at New York-area airports in the past two weeks.

That's government's solution to everything: kill it!

The news was met with shock, dismay, and consternation from animal activists, especially New York’s chapters of the Audubon Society, which wrote a letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requesting a change in policy.

“While we understand that due to their large size these birds may pose a threat to air safety,” wrote the Audubon chapters of New York and New York City, “other airports including Boston’s Logan Airport have utilized non-lethal control techniques such as trapping to manage the larger than normal occurrence of snowy owls.”

The outcry seemed to do the trick. On Monday night, Port Authority officials said they had forged an agreement with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation that would allow them to catch and release the owls, rather than exterminate them.

“The Port Authority’s goal is to strike a balance in humanely controlling bird populations at and around the agency’s airports to safeguard passengers on thousands of aircrafts each day,” the agency said in a statement.

I was never a big believer of birds causing plane crashes because I always believed there would be a lot more of them. Sounding like a pre-made excuse for something bad.

Some were still miffed at the kill order — an animal-rights group called Friends of Animals said Tuesday that it planned to file a lawsuit against the Port Authority for shooting three of the birds — but in Boston, aviation officials said they were glad to see that others were following in the more compassionate and eco-friendly footsteps of Logan.

Norman Smith, director of the Mass Audubon Society Blue Hills Trailside Museum and an owl expert who captures and releases most of the owls that arrive at Logan, said he knows the significant risk presented by birds. Most famously, a US Airways airplane was forced to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River in 2009 after colliding with a flock of geese, some of which were sucked into the plane’s engines....

You believe that? If so, why not happening way more often?

Though specialists at Logan have caught and released more than 500 snowy owls since relocation efforts began decades ago, they also employ other methods to deter the birds from the airport. Sound cannons have been installed at the birds’ preferred resting spots, and staff sometimes fire pistols with blanks to shoo them away. The grassy fields are landscaped to reduce puddles that attract smaller birds and rodents, and the grass is laced with a bacteria that causes indigestion in birds.

Waging biological warfare on the birds!

The snowy owls that are trapped and released are outfitted with GPS devices that allow researchers to track their flight path, providing important details about their travel patterns and helping airport officials better anticipate where and when the birds will arrive.

It’s important work at airports, where ill-timed bird appearances can end with tragic results. In 1960, an aircraft that took off from Logan crashed into Winthrop Bay after the engines ingested a set of starlings, killing 62 people.

At Logan, shooting birds is an absolute last resort and usually that measure is reserved for geese, or other flocking birds that tend to present more of a threat than the solitary snowy owl.

In the past, the biggest snowy owl year yielded 43 captures at Logan in the winter. So far, 21 of the birds have been trapped — and snowy owl season is just beginning.

“It’s a really good year for snowy owls, probably much better than any I can remember,” said Smith, the Mass Audubon owl expert.

Scientists and owl enthusiasts aren’t quite sure why.

“We don’t know what’s going on,” said Kevin McGowan, an ornithologist who has spent 25 years at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology. “There’s no clear signal yet.”

McGowan said the increased number of sightings could be a signal of something very good — plentiful food leading to the birth of more of the birds than ever before — or something very bad, such as climate change curtailing the food supply and forcing more owls to venture south to survive.

But, he continued, one thing is certain: It’s a great time to be a snowy owl enthusiast.

“They’re like Eskimo teddy bears. And then there’s the whole Harry Potter thing, so they’re familiar to people,” McGowan said. “They’re charismatic, so when people start knocking them off at airports, we notice.”


Related: Sunday Globe Special: Lost Snowy Owl Living at Logan 

They come down every year, huh?

At least there isn't any fog.

"Logan widens its reach and its impact; A spurt of new international routes reflects changing business needs and a changing airline industry" by Katie Johnston |  Globe Staff, December 27, 2013

Logan International Airport.... gateway to the world.


Massachusetts Port Authority

In the past, overseas routes out of Logan have been leisure-oriented, concentrated in the Caribbean or Europe. But the new flights focus on the needs of businesses, from major financial institutions to small technology firms, which increasingly work with customers and suppliers around the globe. Foreign companies also are more likely invest and do business in Boston if it’s easy to get here....

The new routes should also boost the region’s tourism and higher education industries.

Education is an indu$try.

Many of the state’s colleges and universities attract international students, and the new nonstops, particularly Hainan Airlines’ flight to Beijing and Emirates’ route to Dubai, a gateway to India, should bring in even more — and encourage their families to visit more often, airport officials said....

China is one of the state’s biggest and fastest-growing markets for international tourists.... 

SeeBeijing-Logan flights are official

On airport executives’ radar: Tel Aviv, a welcome addition for the more than 200 innovation-related businesses in Massachusetts with Israeli connections.

See: Firms linked to Israel prospering in Mass.

How many tax subsidies are they receiving?

Other in-demand destinations include Shanghai, Hong Kong, Delhi, Mumbai, Milan, and South America, particularly Brazil, Boston’s biggest Latin American destination and trading partner.

All five of the new international routes are on foreign carriers — Japan Airlines, Copa Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, and Hainan Airlines — in part because US airlines tend to operate international flights from their hub cities, said Thomas Glynn, chief executive of Massport. Airlines in growing regions of the world like Asia and South America are also acquiring more aircraft and looking to expand service as their countries grow richer....

New passport-scanning kiosks will speed up the process for arriving passengers.

Related: Glass pods replace security guards at 2 airports

As you are LEAVING the AIRPORT? So who is getting those contracts for something completely useless?!

Logan is poised to set another record this year with a projected 29.6 million passengers moving through the airport, surpassing 2012’s 29.3 million.

See: Logan expects a 3d straight record in 2013

And with air travel around the world expected to rise 30 percent in the next four years, three new foreign routes opening in 2014, and more international destinations on the horizon, Logan is only going to get more crowded.


RelatedAirlines expect profits to jump to record high

Everyone is making money but you, 'murkn!

"US airman charged with making threat at Logan" by Jasper Craven |  Globe Correspondent, September 05, 2013

An airman in the US Air Force is facing charges that he made a threat, claiming to have a pressure cooker in his bag, at Logan International Airport, authorities said.


Jeremy Sawyer of Cicero, N.Y., approached Massport employee Carlos Torres Jr. at an information booth at about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday in Terminal C, a State Police report filed in East Boston District Court said.

Sawyer requested that Torres accept him into the USO military lounge in the terminal. Torres checked to see if the lounge was open. When he discovered it was not and notified Sawyer, Sawyer allegedly became “upset and irate,” according to the report.

Sawyer, 30, spoke about the Boston Marathon bombings during the confrontation and pointed to his backpack and said, “What am I supposed to do with this pressure cooker?” according to the report.

After his statement, Sawyer pounded his fists on the table and left toward Terminal E. The alleged threat was immediately broadcast to State Police stationed in the airport, and all available officers were dispatched. Two officers found Sawyer at about 12:15 p.m. in Terminal E. After confirming his identity, they arrested him for making a threat concerning the location of a dangerous device.

A pressure cooker was never found on Sawyer or in his bag, said State Police spokesman David Procopio.

Sawyer was arraigned in East Boston District Court Wednesday on a charge of making a bomb or hijack threat. A not-guilty plea was automatically entered on his behalf, the Suffolk district attorney’s office said.

Sawyer was released on his own recognizance with an order that he stay away from Logan. His next scheduled court appearance is Dec. 20, prosecutors said.

Sawyer’s attorney, Austin Freeley, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.


Globe left that item behind because I never saw it in print and never received an update.

Also see: 9/11 Memory Hole: Line at Logan

Just in case you are caught at the terminal.