The Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation announced Tuesday the appointment of Katherine Tallman as its new executive director after she served several months in the post on an interim basis.
Tallman, a longtime member of the foundation’s board of directors, has been leading the preparation for a planning study to expand the Theatre for the past four months.
The Theatre is considering the addition of a 180-seat auditorium as well as increasing the size of the lobby and a new concessions area.
In a release Tuesday announcing the appointment, Michael Maynard, the chair of the Theatre’s board of directors, said Tallman will play a key role.
“We are developing some very exciting plans for the future of the Coolidge,” Maynard said. “Kathy brings her energy and intellect to the leadership of the Theatre as well as a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to internal and community team building.”
Tallman has been associated with the non-profit theatre for a decade, serving as the vice chair of the board of directors, a clerk and member of its executive committee and other roles.
She stepped in as the interim executive director over the summer when Denise Kasell resigned after five years in the post.
In a statement Tuesday, Tallman called it a privilege to serve as the executive director.
“Over the last several decades this organization has evolved dramatically to build a rich legacy as a nationally recognized art house cinema, an innovative cultural arts center, and an important economic engine for our surrounding community,” Tallman said. “There’s a deep collaborative spirit at the Coolidge and I look forward to working with the Board of Directors and exceptional staff to further strengthen that legacy.”
Officials at the private Park School in Brookline are notifying parents about a teacher who was arrested on multiple counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 over the weekend.
Gregory Grote, 65, of Roslindale, pleaded not guilty in Brookline District Court Monday to three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 and one count of assault and battery. He has been released on $1,000 bail and records of the case have been impounded by court order.
Brookline Police Lt. Philip Harrington said Grote was arrested Saturday on the charges, but declined to release any further information because the court has sealed the criminal complaint.
A docket listing of Grote's case at Brookline District Court listed Dec. 20, 2012 as the date of offense and indicate Grote is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on March 5.
In a letter to parents dated Monday, Michael E. Robinson, the Head of School at the Park School, described Grote as an upper division Latin teacher who had taught at the school for 26 years. He said Grote has been placed on indefinite unpaid leave from the school. The school has about 560 students from pre-kindergarten through the 9th grade, according to its website, and sits on a 34-acre campus in Brookline near Jamaica Pond.
Robinson told parents in the letter that the school performs criminal and sex offender background checks on faculty and staff and Grote’s background check as of the spring of 2013 had no indication of criminal conduct.
Robinson also asked parents to notify him immediately if they observed anything about Grote’s tenure at the school that concerned them. He said the school would also be contacting alumni of the school.
“We know that this news is shocking and distressing,” Robinson wrote to parents.
Robinson could not be reached immediately for further comment Tuesday.
Grote's arrest comes a week after Carlos Morales, a Brookline Town Meeting member and former para-professional at two Brookline Public Schools, was arrested on a charge of aggravated statutory rape of a child.
Court records have also been sealed in Morales's case. He is being held pending the results of a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
Longtime City Councilor Ken Reeves says goodbye to the Cambridge City Council Monday. Photo by Brock Parker.
With a few sniffles and words of advice, longtime Cambridge City Councilor Ken Reeves said goodbye to the council Monday as his 24 years as a member comes to a close.
“The trick here is to find God in the person sitting in front of you,” Reeves said. “I didn’t always find it quickly.”
Reeves was one of four councilors honored for their service Monday during the council’s meeting at City Hall.
Defeated in the city’s municipal election in November, Reeves and one-term City Councilor Minka vanBeuzekom were honored in what was their last regular meeting on the council. Mayor and longtime City Councilor Henrietta Davis, who did not seek re-election, was also honored, as well as City Councilor Marjorie Decker, who was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2012 and is also not returning to the council next year.
Reeves has served on the council since the beginning of 1990 and in that time served as the city’s mayor, which is chosen by the council, for three terms. He was the first openly gay mayor in Massachusetts, and the state’s first African-American mayor.
He said one big memory was the day in City Hall when Cambridge began issuing marriage application documents known as the Notice of Intention of Marriage, to gay couples. In 2004, Massachusetts was the first state in the country to allow gay marriage, and Cambridge City Hall opened its doors at midnight on the first day applications were to be accepted to become the first city in the state to do so.
“I won’t ever forget that,” Reeves said.
Reeves thanked the citizens for the opportunity to serve on the council and thanked city employees and fellow councilors.
City Councilor Tim Toomey said Reeves has played key roles in improving the infrastructure around the city, from schools to the senior center, and worked to set up the city’s first office of tourism and to celebrate diversity. Toomey said the councilor’s work to improve Central Square has been significant.
“It would probably be most appropriate that we chant the name of Central Square to Ken Reeves Square,” Toomey said.
City Councilor Tim Toomey and Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis. Photo by Brock Parker.
Davis, who announced in July that she would not return to the council after 18 years, said it has been an honor to serve and asked the council to continue working on an achievement gap in the city so that all kids get the same opportunities.
Decker, who served 14 years on the council, thanked her fellow councilors and city employees for their service.
“It has been such an incredible journey,” Decker said.
VanBeuzekom said that she felt like her two years on the council paled in comparison to the years of some of her fellow councilors, but she looked forward to taking a break to regroup.
Officials in Brookline are notifying parents after a former school employee has been charged with aggravated statutory rape.
Carlos Morales, 29, of Brookline, is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing on the aggravated statutory rape charge after he pleaded not guilty in Brookline District Court Wednesday. The dangerousness hearing will be Wednesday, Dec. 18.
Brookline Police issued a short release about the charges Wednesday that said the investigation is ongoing but the victim is a juvenile and no further information will be released. By court order, Morales’s charging documents at Brookline District Court have been sealed.
Morales worked as a paraprofessional with special-needs students at Brookline’s Pierce School and at Brookline’s Devotion School several years ago, according to Superintendent of Schools Bill Lupini.
Morales no longer works for the district and the alleged incident did not occur on school property, according to a statement the school district sent out Wednesday after Morales’s arrest Tuesday night.
Lupini said there were no disciplinary problems with Morales while he was working for the school district, but school officials spent much of the day Wednesday reaching out to students and families of students who had worked with Morales.
Lupini said the school district is cooperating with the police investigation.
The arrest comes after two town employees were arrested in separate incidents this month.
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
School officials in Brookline are revising a controversial proposal and delaying a vote that would exclude some homes straddling the town line from the public school district.
Wednesday morning a policy review subcommittee of Brookline’s School Committee voted to change two parts of the proposed policy, and decided to delay voting on a full recommendation at least until its next meeting in January. Previously the subcommittee had hoped to vote on its recommendations this month.
While students already enrolled in Brookline schools would remain eligible for the school district, homeowners that could be affected by the changes have said it would cause their property values to drop significantly.
The proposal comes as school officials are grappling with surging enrollment and overcrowding in Brookline schools. The subcommittee is debating how much of a dwelling must be in Brookline for it to be considered part of the town’s public school district, and the change could affect homes at up to 32 different addresses on the town's borders.
Part of the proposed policy would exclude homes straddling the town borders with Boston and Newton from sending their children to Brookline schools unless they pay property taxes on at least 50 percent of their homes to Brookline. Homes that were built before June 2005 that pay taxes to Brookline on less than half of their property are currently grandfathered as part of the school district, but that grandfather clause would end under the proposed policy. However, Rebecca Stone, the chair of the subcommittee, said after conferring with a town attorney it does not appear that the current policy and the current proposed policy designating the cut-off at 50 percent is in compliance with state law.
To revise the policy, Stone said school officials need to determine a way to fairly determine how much of a home needs be in the town before it is considered part of the school district.
She suggested the subcommittee could recommend that property taxes must be paid to Brookline on at least 20 to 30 percent or more of a home before it could be considered part of the town’s school district.
“If two-thirds of a residence is in Boston, I have trouble saying: ‘Oh yeah, that is a Brookline residence,” Stone said.
But the members of the subcommittee could not agree Wednesday on how much of a home should be in Brookline before it is considered part of the school district. The subcommittee decided to look at what other school districts do for homes on their borders and then revisit the issue at a meeting in mid January.
The subcommittee did vote unanimously to make two changes to the proposed policy Wednesday. The subcommittee decided to eliminate a proposal that would have required that the adult living in a dwelling must be eligible to vote in Brookline based on the location of the home before children in the dwelling would be eligible to attend Brookline schools.
The subcommittee also voted to allow all children living in a dwelling on the town line at the time a new eligibility policy is adopted to attend Brookline schools if the home has been considered part of the school district under the old policy. The change will allow families living in those homes with children currently too young to enroll in school to send their kids to Brookline Schools even if the new policy no longer considers their home part of the district.
Brookline's property tax rates are going down, but most homeowners can still expect their tax bills to go up.
Selectmen Tuesday voted in favor of setting the residential tax rate at $11.39 for Fiscal Year 2014, down from a rate of $11.65 per thousand dollars of value in Fiscal Year 2013. The commercial tax will also decrease from $18.97 to $18.50.
But because property values have been appreciating in Brookline, most residents can still expect their taxes to increase.
The median single family home in Brookline is now valued at $1,114,000, which is up from $1,071,750 last year. Almost 90 percent of single family homeowners qualify for a residential exemption, but they can still expect their tax bills to increase by about $163, according to the town’s Assessors Department.
Taxes on the median condo valued at $447,000 will increase by about $138 for owners that do not qualify for a residential exemption.
Property taxes on the median commercial property valued at about $1,171,800 would increase by about $1,084.
Brookline Police say they arrested a town employee during an undercover sting Friday after he allegedly arranged to exchange marijuana for sex.
Marc Besio, 45, of West Roxbury, has been charged with possession of a class D substance with the intent to distribute and possession of a controlled substance in a school zone.
He pleaded not guilty in Brookline District Court Monday and was released on personal recognizance.
Reached by telephone Tuesday, Besio said he has hired an attorney, whom he declined to name, and he did not wish to comment other than to say that he was "busted with a quarter-ounce of marijuana and they want me to go to jail for two years for that.”
Besio was the second employee of Brookline’s engineering division to be arrested last week. On Monday, Dec. 2, Brookline Police arrested Joshua Layne, an administrative assistant in the engineering division, on a charge of larceny by embezzlement. Police said Layne, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, is believed to have stolen more than $2,000 from a cash box in the department in the last 18 months.
Layne has been placed on paid leave, but Brookline Town Counsel Joslin Ham Murphy declined to comment on Besio’s case Tuesday other than to say he was arrested while off duty.
Brookline Police arrested Besio Friday night while conducting an undercover sting operation to catch people soliciting prostitution or drug dealers, according to a police report. Police posted an ad on Craigslist under the Casual Encounters section representing themselves as a woman looking for a man, according to a police report.
Besio responded that he was looking for a nice woman for a fun date, and undercover officers responded by asking what kind of sexual activity he was interested in. After multiple messages, police said Besio then arranged a sexual conduct-for-marijuana transaction and a meet-up was set for 7 p.m. at an undisclosed location.
At about 7 p.m. Friday, Besio showed up at the location, and police confronted him in front of a building and asked him what he was doing there. Besio said nothing, but police then confiscated a bag from him containing a substance believed to be marijuana, according to a police report, and placed him under arrest.
A second man, Emilio Straubel, 21, of Salisbury, Ma., was also arrested in the sting operation Saturday on multiple drug charges, solicitation for prostitution and carrying a dangerous weapon (a knife), according to a police report. Straubel pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Brookline District Court and was released on personal recognizance.
--Brock Parker can be reached at email@example.com
Al Niles is an accidental icon.
He didn’t set out to be known citywide for his unique subs or quirky sandwich shop. He was just trying to make a decent living.
Yet the owner of WAN Convenience/Al’s Deli has caught national attention for his sandwich-making success. He was recently visited by the Travel Channel’s Adam Richman to be featured in a new show on the network -- yet to be named – that will kick off in March or April. The Travel Channel was turned onto Al’s by his 69 Yelp reviews, most of which praise the shop and owner for his tasty sandwiches and unique personality.
Niles, 48, never planned on running a sandwich shop. The West Indies native opened WAN Convenience [the initials of his full name, Winston Albert Niles] on Tremont Street in Mission Hill in 2004 – just a typical corner convenience store. But when Niles saw his business start to slip after Stop & Shop opened in Brigham Circle about two years later, he knew he needed to adapt.
“I used to sit over there and watch the guy next-door always packing a crowd,” Niles recalled of a neighboring sub and pizza shop. “I said, ‘I can do that, too – that [doesn’t] seem to be that hard.’”
With that, Niles went back to school to improve his culinary skills, got the necessary certifications, and built a kitchen in his store. He started without a menu, using his mainly college-aged customers as taste-testers and creative assistants. Customers would tell him what they liked, didn’t like and everything in between, and his menu of eclectically named sandwiches, including the “Deathwich,” “Richard Prior” and “The Orgasm,” grew organically from there.
“The driving force of this business is...the college students that come through that door – they’re part of this legacy. They’re who really made this beautiful,” said Niles, who lives in Cambridge. “I say, ‘this is your store. I’m only the caretaker.’”
Niles guarantees that his products are fresh and makes everything to order. There are now more than 20 signature subs on his menu, most of which consist of a combination of meats, enhanced by Al’s signature blend of West Indies spices and sauces, on a bed of lettuce and tomato, served on locally-made French bread. The “Richard Prior,” for example, is a combination of roast beef, turkey, Swiss cheese, mayo and ranch dressing; “Heaven is Here” consists of buffalo chicken, roast beef, turkey, bacon, mozzarella, green peppers, pickles, onions, herbs and spices and vinaigrette.
As a way to show gratitude for his customers who helped him to build the menu, Niles disregards conventional customer-merchant practices, such as formal waiting lines, hidden kitchens and “employees-only” areas. He cooks and builds his subs on an open grill in front of his customers and invites anyone to walk behind the counter to grab a drink or just watch him do his thing.
And yes, he’s always been this chill.
“Any where he goes, he would fit in. His personality would fit in because he’s just a relaxed guy,” said Niles’ younger brother, Ben, who often hangs out in the store and helps with upkeep. “He’s just cool. He goes with the flow of anything.”
Many people say Niles’ personality is one of the main reasons he’s been so successful. Niles says he’s a big kid at heart, so he can talk the college-kid lingo.
“He always makes good conversation. He has a pretty honest opinion. He’s not shy to tell you what he feels like or why he disagrees,” said Wentworth Institute of Technology senior and Mission Hill resident Brad Simonsen, as he waited for his sub. “He’s developed himself as a character...He stands out.”
That power of personality is a plus in this restaurant-packed neighborhood, especially when you consider the bareness of Niles’ shop and its dusty convenience-store inventory. A graffiti’d wall is the only shred of decoration in the place. But what his convenience store lacks in aesthetics, Niles makes up for with a comfortable, playful environment. On any given day, you can hear him yelling, “Somebody have an Orgasm?” even if he knows who ordered the sub.
“This is not work,” he said. “During the day, this is the stage, and I’m just doing my thing. I’m just having fun.”
Part of Niles’ performance includes what he calls a creative art form in the edible sense: the “hush.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: a secret. And no two hushes are the same.
“A hush comes in when you don’t know what you really want, and you say, ‘Al, make me something,’ and then I would create something not on the board,” he explained. “It will be edible, flavorful, enjoyable.”
Niles guarantees everything he makes: “If you bite it and don’t like it, you get your money back or we make it again,” he said.
Nine years running, and no one has ever asked for a refund.
Not that Niles never fields complaints. Customers sometimes have to wait up to an hour for their subs, depending on the crowd. Niles concedes he has a hard time sticking to a schedule; he says the biggest challenge of running his store is getting there on time...at 11 a.m.
“I have a tardiness problem like you wouldn’t believe. You can’t plan nothing around me,” he said. “That’s keeping it real. No need trying to sugarcoat it, because when you ask them on the street, they’ll tell you.”
If it weren’t sandwiches, Niles said he would have started another business by now. He believes strongly in putting in your time and earning your keep. Travel Channel attention aside, he is committed to continuing to grow.
“I really can’t see the sense as such a beautiful thing as life, sitting around doing nothing with it at all. Something about it is just wrong,” he said. “The reward comes back when you sit and reflect on whoever you touched that day.”
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.
Police said they arrested a Level 3 sex offender outside Brookline’s Baker School Friday morning after he allegedly took an illegal left turn into the drop-off area in front of the school.
Brookline Police said Markie Lazell Simmons, 37, of Roxbury, was driving an adult passenger to the school Friday morning around 8 a.m. when an officer observed the black Mitsubishi Simmons he was driving take an illegal left turn into the school at 205 Beverly Road in South Brookline.
When police stopped the vehicle they discovered that Simmons had a suspended license and the registration for the vehicle he was driving had also been revoked. The vehicle belonged to Simmon’s passenger, whose license has also been revoked.
Brookline Police Lt. Philip Harrington said the adult passenger is affiliated with the Kindergarten through 8th grade Baker School, but he declined to release any further information about her. She was cited for allowing an unlicensed person operate a vehicle and for having a revoked registration, according to police.
Simmons was arrested on a charge of operating a vehicle with a suspended license, and while police were booking him Friday they discovered Simmons is also a Level 3 sex offender out of Boston.
Simmons is scheduled to be arraigned in Brookline District Court Monday, police said.