The state transportation board on Wednesday voted unanimously to reduce fares for The Ride from $4 to $3. The reduced fares will go into effect Jan. 6, 2014 and will collectively save riders $6 million a year.
“For two years now we have come before you. First we came to warn you of the consequences we would suffer if you approved such an extreme fare hike,” said Ann Stewart, the former president of Massachusetts Senior Action Council.
She said, “Let’s not stop here.” In 2012, when the MBTA raised fares an average of 23 percent to help close a budget deficit, fares for seniors went up disproportionately higher, and fares for the Ride were doubled to $4 with a new $5 charge for late-scheduled trips or visits to a "premium service area."
MBTA and state transportation officials are mulling fare increases that would go into effect next summer, as well.
- A. Metzger/SHNS
It’s time to break out the nasty, old Christmas sweaters and socialize with all your fellow badly-dressed Bostonians.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, there will be ample opportunities to get use out of your atrocious festive attire. Here’s a list of the top parties in Boston to wear your beloved Ugly Sweater.
Holiday Ugly Sweater 2013- Cosby Strikes Again
December 11, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Daddy Jones Bar, Somerville
This event encourages participants to uglify themselves and meet others dressed in their best holiday sweaters. The night includes photo opportunities, appetizers, prizes, gift cards, games, hot cocoa, and a variety of cocktails made with local spirits. Proceeds for this event go towards the Mass Eye and Ear Team that will be running in the 2014 Boston Marathon. To purchase tickets, visit their event page.
American Marketing Association Boston Ugly Sweater Party
December 11, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Boston
Not only are ugly sweaters encouraged at this annual marketing professional network event, but prizes will be awarded to the tackiest attendees. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit their event page.
A Rockin’ Ugly Sweater Party at the Lansdowne Pub
December 12, 9 p.m. to December 13, 1 a.m.
Lansdowne Pub, Boston
The powers of The Lansdowne Pub, Uber, and Sam Adams combine on Thursday night for a festival celebration of hideous sweaters. Join other holiday cheermeisters in singing with Jukebox Heroes at Live Karaoke Band and hope to win Sam Adams ugly sweaters, brewery tours, and other prizes. Enter promo code: BosUglySweater13 to receive a free ride (up to $25) from Uber. 21+, no cover.
Ugly Sweater Midday Cruise
December 12, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Spirit of Boston
Santa’s transportation of choice may be a sleigh, but everyone knows a cruise ship is the way to go. Join the Spirit of Boston on a holiday cruise with dancing, lunch, and an ugly sweater competition. 21+. To purchase tickets, visit the event’s website.
Crawling with Mrs. Claus
December 14, 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Stadium, 148 State Street, Boston
While not strictly adhering to an ugly sweater dress code, this event promises plenty of ridiculous holiday outfits. Break out the sweater yet again to enjoy an afternoon of tasting specialty drinks at Faneuil Hall bars among other naughty or nice pub crawlers. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the event’s website.
Ugly Sweater Party to Benefit the Paraclete Academy
December 14, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Bee’s Knees Supply Company, Boston
Wearing a terribly bad holiday sweater can do some good at this event. Donations will be accepted at the door to benefit the Paraclete Academy, an after school enrichment program for disadvantaged, urban youth. Attendees can also purchase raffle tickets or donate gently used children's clothing, books, or holiday toys to the Paraclete Academy to win awesome prizes. To reserve a space, visit the event’s information page.
7th Annual Ugly Sweater Party Hosted by the b Positive Project
December 14, 8 p.m. to December 15, 2 a.m.
Hard Rock Café, Boston
Break out that ugly sweater for the mother of all ugly sweater parties. The b Positive Project boasts the largest and longest running ugly sweater party, offering music by Classic Yellow, drink specials, and pictures with Santa. All proceeds benefit the Resolution Run 2 Kick Cancer. To purchase tickets, visit the event website.
Ugly Sweater Party at Whole Foods
December 18, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Whole Foods Market Charles River Plaza, Boston
Get your ugly grocery shopping on at Whole Foods’ ugly sweater party. They invite participants to taste yummy treats as they get into the holiday spirit. To reserve a spot, visit their event website.
Howl at the Moon Ugly Sweater
December 20, 4 p.m. to December 21, 2 a.m.
Howl at the Moon, Boston
Listen to dueling pianos and enjoy drink specials while dressed in your holiday worst. Attendees will receive free admission if they arrive before 9 p.m. decked out in an ugly sweater. For more information, visit Howl at the Moon’s website.
Officials plan to break ground this week on a $150 million mixed-used development in Allston.
The 350,000 square-foot project calls for 325 apartments, up to 45,000 square feet of retail space, a parking garage with space for up to 225 cars, residential amenities, and outdoor space to be built at the intersection of Western Avenue and North Harvard Street.
Parts of the development will stand between six and nine stories tall. The company leading the project, Samuels and Associates, expects to finish construction by fall 2015.
A groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon will bring together development and leaders from the city of Boston and Harvard University, which owns the property abutting its business school campus and is planning a series of projects for the neighborhood over the next 10 years.
The development, Barry’s Corner Retail and Residential Commons, has been named after the intersection where it will be built.
Meanwhile, a group of residents recently launched a public campaign to have the intersection’s name changed from Barry’s Corner to “Allston Square.”
Through an online neighborhood discussion forum, leaders of a group, called the Allston Square Association, sent messages recently proposing the name change and announced they are trying to gather signatures on a petition supporting their effort.
“We would very much like to have you sign the petition to name this new retail and residential commons Allston Square after the great painter Washington Allston, who gave our community its name instead of ‘Barry’s Corner’ named after no one,” the group said in an online message.
“However, to honor the good folks who lost their homes 45 years ago when the BRA and the City bulldozed their little community and built the Charlesview Apartments, we would like to name the Grove, which stands on the very spot where their homes once stood, Barry’s Corner Memorial Grove, in their memory,” the message added.
It's unclear what level of support the proposal has, but so far several residents have replied to the online messages to say they oppose a name change. Barry's Corner has been used by residents, city leaders and Harvard officials for years to describe the intersection.
More than 300 residents sign petition urging state to revise plan to rebuild Cambridge Street overpass in Allston
Sixteen organization and 332 residents have signed a petition calling for state transportation department officials to make a series of changes to its plan to rebuild the Cambridge Street overpass in Allston.
The letter says the state should install crosswalks and pedestrian signals to make the street safer to cross on foot, and it says the state should cancel its plan to install a fence on the median of Cambridge Street.
The petition, similar to an earlier letter, also asks the state to lower the speed limit along Cambridge Street, to install physical barriers between bicycle and vehicle lanes and to change the design of plans at other key intersections the project would affect.
State officials for months told residents they could not install a pedestrian crossing on Cambridge Street, which runs over the Massachusetts Turnpike. But last month the state transportation department announced it is considering the idea and conducting an analysis to see if a crossing would be feasible.
With his remaining time at city hall now numbered in days not months, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino on Tuesday morning reflected on his time in office, while outlining challenges ahead for the city he has led for two decades.
Menino said the “dramatic decline” in federal support for Boston will test not just city, but its non-profit and research industries. Menino also said he worried about the increase in income inequality and the rising cost of higher education, which has put a college education further out of reach for many students.
“The climate in Washington is poison and the problem-solving is rare,” Menino said.
Menino, who in January will give up the office he has held for the past 20 years, spoke to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce for the last time as mayor before a packed, reverential audience at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in the Seaport District that Menino has prided himself of reinventing.
In the shadow of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the ever-feisty mayor chided critics who once told him the facility would be a “white elephant” for the city, the same warning issued when he brought the Democratic National Convention to Boston. “They were wrong,” he said.
Challenging the business community to think about how it can combat income inequality in the city, Menino said, “If you aren’t talking about this in your boardrooms, you should be. If you aren’t worrying about what it means for your workforce and your customers, you are missing the boat.”
The mayor also made a final pitch, which had been anticipated by Boston Chamber of Commerce President Paul Guzzi. After Menino concluded his remarks by urging, “Please hire a summer jobs kid,” Guzzi presented Menino with a “significant check” worth $10,000 for the program next summer.
Menino used the speech to look back at accomplishments in the city, and look forward to Boston’s future with Mayor-elect Marty Walsh at the helm. Walsh did not attend the breakfast.
“Lots of things make a place a city - crowds, commerce, heights. But the thing that makes a city most is change, the fact that something new is always just around the corner,” Menino said, ticking through achievements such as guaranteed full-day kindergarten for all 5-year-olds, the construction of the Boston Convention Center, and the addition of office space and housing.
Since he won the city’s first open mayoral race in 20 years ago this November, Menino said his team has been working hand-in-hand with Walsh’s to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.
“I’ve told the mayor-elect that I’m here to help. But I won’t be hanging around to critique his work,” said Menino, who won’t fade into background after he leaves. The mayor is taking a job at Boston University leading a new institute on cities, insisting he has ideas on how to improve the city’s schools that haven’t been tried in the past.
“I’m not going to leave those kids,” he said.
From investing in green space to making Boston a welcoming city for gay couples who want to marry and immigrants looking to build a life, Menino ticked through his proudest accomplishments as mayor.
“We built as much new housing as Somerville has altogether, and added more affordable housing than Wellesley has of any type,” he said.
He also thanked the business community for their partnership over the past two decades.
“The business community is the strength of our city,” Menino said, crediting the chamber specifically for working with his administration to create youth summer jobs
Angela Menino, who attended the breakfast with her husband, received a standing ovation.
The breakfast also drew a number of politicians, including City Councilors Bill Linehan and Ayanna Pressley, City Councilors-elect Josh Zakim and Michelle Wu, state Sen. Anthony Petruccelli and Reps. Aaron Michlewitz and Nick Collins, Massport CEO Tom Glynn, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Democratic attorney general candidates Warren Tolman and Maura Healey.
“Thank you for 20 years. What a terrific run,” Guzzi said.
Robert Gallery, Massachusetts president of Bank of America, honored Menino in opening remarks for invigorating public education, renewing Boston’s neighborhoods and fostering innovative business.
“He has always been and always will be a champion for this city and is someone to whom we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitide,” Gallery said.
Starting in January, the chamber will be hosting Red Sox and Boston Globe owner John Henry, Attorney General Martha Coakley and U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy for similar speeches.
State House visitors may now send messages to the people of South Africa through a condolence book for Nelson Mandela set up outside the House chamber.
Legislative leaders and Gov. Deval Patrick, working with Rep. Byron Rushing and South Africa Partners, are hosting the book, which will be available for signing through Friday and presented at a later date to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa.
An entry signed by House Majority Whip Byron Rushing expresses gratitude to Mandela, “the African National Congress and to all the South Africans who struggled for liberation during Mandela’s lifetime.”
State House visitors from Ireland and various parts of the state have already signed the book. “Our world has been forever changed because of you, President Mandela. Our deepest condolences and greatest thanks. God bless!” says an entry signed by Rep. Alan Silvia (D-Fall River) and staff.
– M. Norton, M. Deehan/SHNS
The bar at Piattini in Back Bay
Josephine Megwa doesn’t like telling customers, “No.”
“They get mad,” she said of patrons who don’t understand why they can’t order a whiskey on the rocks or a regular gin and tonic at her Newbury Street establishment.
Megwa owns and runs Piattini, an 80-seat Italian wine café tucked beneath a tanning salon in Back Bay. Megwa, the sole proprietor, opened the place in 2001. At the time, she obtained a license from the city of Boston allowing her to put beer and wine on the menu.
Today, her bar list includes cordials, or sweetened spirits. But Megwa can’t afford a full alcohol license; she said the cheapest she can get in the Back Bay is upwards of $400,000. The limitation on her current license means she can’t serve unflavored liquors.
“When you try to explain it (to customers), they think you’re trying to pull a fast one on them,” said Megwa.
Boston’s liquor licensing system has received growing attention over the past year, with a focus on the uneven distribution of licenses throughout the city. Massachusetts legislation designates 650 full alcohol and 320 beer and wine licenses for the city of Boston – and when all those licenses are taken, businesses like Megwa’s are left waiting to try to purchase one from an establishment either going out of business or otherwise willing to sell its license at a high price.
City Councilor Ayanna Pressley has been particularly vocal about the system, saying that businesses in less affluent neighborhoods like Dorchester and Mattapan have almost no chance of obtaining liquor licenses because establishments in wealthier places tend to snatch them up.
“The current law has artificially inflated (license) prices,” said Jessica Taubner, Pressley’s chief of staff. “Because there’s a limited amount, they become a hot commodity.”
Megwa pointed out that small businesses in affluent neighborhoods are also adversely affected by market prices. For instance, the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay has long requested that the Boston Licensing Board prohibit new licenses in the area, making licenses there especially costly.
James Hill, head of the association’s licensing and business use committee, said the group has maintained the request because of concerns that the community might get too congested with establishments that serve liquor. He pointed out that there are already 50 to 55 full alcohol licenses in the Back Bay alone, while other areas have a fraction of that number.
The existing system leaves Megwa few options except to buy a license already existing in Back Bay, instead of bringing one in from, say, East Boston, where a full alcohol license might be more affordable, she said.
The state regulates the number of licenses in cities and towns in Massachusetts, based on population. Boston’s cap of 650 full alcohol licenses has been the same for decades.
According to Nicole Murati Ferrer, chairwoman of the Boston Licensing Board, the city no longer has any full alcohol licenses available. She said all existing licenses are held by business owners, who are legally allowed to sell them at the going rate.
Pressley has been seeking to pass, through the City Council Committee on Government Operations, a home rule petition that would get rid of the state cap and give the city the power to regulate licenses. Once passed, the petition would allow only those who already own transferrable licenses to sell them on the market. Business owners who buy licenses after the date of passage can no longer sell them; they would have to return the licenses to the city.
“Cities and towns, not the state, should have the authority to grant licenses according to their own economic goals,” she wrote in a January 2013 editorial for Commonwealth Magazine.
Taubner said that if passed, the petition would give all of Boston’s neighborhoods an equitable chance of obtaining liquor licenses, allowing small businesses like Megwa’s to have a shot at competing with better-funded establishments.
Meanwhile, Megwa is working with what’s available.
She is applying for a zoning-restricted alcohol license, one of 95 that the state made available in 2006 to establishments located in so-called “main street districts,” urban renewal areas, empowerment zones and municipal harbor plan areas. Those licenses – 60 for full alcohol and 35 for beer and wine – may not be sold by business owners, but must be returned to the city.
Megwa’s frustration comes mainly from the high costs of obtaining a regular full alcohol license, and the lack of reasoning behind it.
“Everyone I have dealt with, (they) have all been very gracious in terms of the process,” she said. But she added, “they can’t tell me why it is what it is.”
She hopes to hear back about her application before the end of the year.
This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of a collaboration with The Boston Globe.
The five Democratic gubernatorial campaigns have crossed paths in recent weeks at Doyle’s Cafe, talking policy as the Jamaica Plain Progressives sipped beers and pitched questions.
Attorney General Martha Coakley, Treasurer Steven Grossman, health executive Joe Avellone, former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem and former Medicare and Medicaid chief Don Berwick have all faced questions from members of the liberal group gathered in a backroom of the storied restaurant.
While Coakley and Grossman have the best name recognition and Coakley has led in polls, it was the three lesser known candidates who took turns speaking and answering questions last Wednesday.
“The insurance system has to deliver value or else it will move toward single-payer,” said Avellone, who told the group he is “not religious about single-payer,” a system where generally one government-run entity would handle all health insurance, and said the focus should be on how medical care is delivered.
Avellone, a former Wellesley selectman who has said more spending on education can be accomplished by increasing efficiency in the health care system, also said he is “interested” in a tax on carbon emissions as long as it is “revenue neutral.”
Kayyem, who served in homeland security posts for Patrick and President Barack Obama, said “the merits are great” regarding a single-payer health system, but such a change would not be a focus if she won the Corner Office.
“I’ve got limited time and good will, if any, with Beacon Hill. So where would I expend my energies? I’m going to be honest with you, it probably would not be on pushing for single-payer,” said Kayyem, who said she did not believe such a measure would pass the Legislature, and said she would focus on preparing the state for global warming’s effects and removing burdens for veterans seeking work and health care.
“I know a lot of Democrats don’t talk about it, but we owe our veterans a lot,” said Kayyem.
Berwick, who was Obama’s choice to run Medicare and Medicaid, but did not receive congressional approval to hold the position permanently, indicated more willingness to move toward single-payer, a path taken by Vermont.
“We have built a complicated system that is just eating us,” said Berwick, a pediatrician, who said he hopes the health care reforms work, but if not “one of the biggest changes we might make is single-payer.”
State lawmakers overhauled the health care system in 2006, requiring individuals to purchase coverage while helping to enroll more low-income individuals in subsidized care, and last year enacted a series of measures designed to slow the rising cost of health care.
Berwick also fielded a question on medical marijuana, which was legalized by voters in 2012, and the legalization of marijuana for non-medical purposes, which activists hope to place on the 2016 ballot.
Berwick said marijuana can be “the only really effective treatment” in some cases and the state shouldn’t “deny people on some theoretic grounds” access to a drug that could ease their symptoms, and even indicated openness to supporting legalization of marijuana.
“I’d want to take a close look at it,” said Berwick, who also said he had seen the results of people who “have been really victims, of really severe overuse of marijuana.”
Earlier this year, Patrick unsuccessfully pushed for $1.9 billion in new tax money by raising the income tax, increasing the income tax deductibles, eliminating numerous exemptions, increasing corporate taxes and lowering the sales tax. The governor said his plan would have led to a more progressive form of taxation and provided needed funding for education and transportation investments.
“I basically supported the direction of this governor’s proposal,” said Berwick, who steered his answer toward health care, where he said there is 30 to 35 percent “waste,” and said “as governor I would focus on that.”
Avellone said he opposed the governor’s plan, but would favor a “straightforward” approach toward making the tax system more progressive, by changing the state constitution to allow for graduated rates. Avellone also said he favored increasing the gas tax, which the Legislature did this year by 3 cents a gallon, and opposed the computer services tax, which the Legislature passed and then swiftly repealed.
“You need a governor and a Democratic governor, even if it’s not me, who’s going to be asking for a billion well aware that you’re going to get half a billion, because that half-a-billion investment in infrastructure is really, really good for the state,” said Kayyem who said she was largely in favor of the governor’s proposal and pleased with what the Legislature passed.
Kayyem was receptive to a proposal to divest the state’s pension fund from fossil fuel companies, saying, “What I’ve seen is we can do it without being disruptive to the pension fund.”
“As divesting in fossil fuels as a symbolic act, I’m not sure it helps us,” said Avellone, who said he favors “creative” approaches, such as using the pension fund to invest in infrastructure.
Officials of the group said they would gauge interest among members before deciding whether to endorse a candidate, and said they were seeking liberal policy commitments and Berwick, followed by Kayyem, seemed to best meet that test.
“I may not be the most progressive candidate, but I’m the one who is going to get things done,” Avellone told the crowd.
Berwick scored a big cheer, noting that the controversial right wing personality Glenn Beck called him the “second most dangerous man in America.”
Kayyem, who oversaw the National Guard as an undersecretary to Patrick, also earned some laughs describing how she was at the top of the chain of command, which included a former Republican U.S. senator.
“I like to say, Scott Brown did report to me. Just saying,” Kayyem said.
On the Republican side, Charlie Baker enjoyed the first part of the fall with the field to himself, and picked up a challenge from Shrewsbury manufacturer Mark Fisher more recently.
Students from the Franciscan Hospital for Children's Kennedy Day School recently created a massive painting using special tools: their wheelchairs.
The students rolled over paint placed on a 6 foot canvas to create the acrylic painting. Although the students had created wheelchair paintings in the past, this was the largest canvas they have painted. Franciscan is a pediatric hospital located in Brighton.
Representatives from WinterWyman, a recruitment firm in Waltham, collaborated with the students on the painting, which was destined for WinterWyman's Waltham offices.
Maggie Quick can be reached at email@example.com