SALEM, Mass. (AP) — A Gloucester woman has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to being drunk and causing a fatal accident.
Rebecca Jacques (jakes) pleaded guilty on Monday to a variety of charges stemming from the crash last December in Gloucester that took the life of Mary Lipman of Ipswich, a front-seat passenger in another vehicle.
The Salem News reports that the driver and another passenger survived.
Prosecutors say the 53-year-old Jacques’ blood-alcohol level was 0.22 on the night of the crash, nearly three times the legal limit. Experts also found morphine and other narcotics in her blood and she was driving on a suspended license.
Jacques’ lawyer says her client was going through a difficult time, dealing with the recent death of her sister, at the time.
Information from: The Salem (Mass.) News, http://www.salemnews.com
Former state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei of Wakefield may make another run at being elected to Congress.
Tisei was Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s running mate in their losing effort in 2010 and in 2012 nearly unseated Congressman John Tierney, pulling in 47.1 percent of the vote to 48.3 percent for Tierney.
On Monday morning, Tisei announced he’s creating a committee to more actively explore another run and plans to make a formal announcement later this fall about his plans.
In a statement, Tisei said, “Like most Americans, I have been deeply disturbed by the dysfunction we are witnessing in Washington. The critical challenges facing our country have not diminished since 2012. Rather, they seem to be getting worse. The hyper-partisanship exhibited by both parties on a daily basis has created a stranglehold on our government and is preventing us from moving forward. We are a great country, but we clearly have reached a point where we need new leadership and a fresh start. We need more responsible Republicans and fewer divisive Democrats in Washington who are willing to stop the name calling, put party aside, and begin to seriously work together to do what is right for America.”
Tierney edged Tisei by 4,330 votes and Tisei won in 29 of the 39 communities in the Sixth Congressional District. Tisei, who served 26 years in the House and Senate on Beacon Hill, runs a real estate firm with his partner Bernie Starr.
- M. Norton/SHNS
Worried about new federal flood insurance rules sparking another foreclosure crisis in Massachusetts, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Attorney General Martha Coakley on Wednesday partnered to file legislation limiting the amount of insurance homeowners in the flood zone must purchase.
Though the Winthrop Democrat said the state-level action could blunt the impact of new federal flood insurance regulations, DeLeo said Congress must still act to further protect the expanded group of coastal residents and businesses and those living near lakes and rivers who are now required to purchase more comprehensive and costly insurance.
“People aren’t going to be able to pay their insurance, and as a result of that they’re going to lose their home unless we can convince our friends in Washington, which right now I guess they’re a little bit involved with a couple other issues, but they’re really going to have to get on the ball and address this,” DeLeo told reporters after meeting with House Democrats.
The bill filed by DeLeo and Coakley would limit the amount of flood coverage a homeowner or business must purchase to the value of the mortgage on the property, instead of the replacement value of the home. Creditors would also be prohibited from requiring coverage for contents of the home, or including a deductible less than $5,000.
Taking one of the only steps a state can to limit the amount of coverage required under federal guidelines, the Beacon Hill leaders hope to lower premiums for impacted homeowners, while retaining the option for consumers to purchase more coverage if they desire.
“These new flood insurance changes are going to devastate many families and businesses in our coastal communities,” Coakley said in a statement. “We continue to urge the federal government to delay implementing these changes until they’ve followed all the steps required by law.”
Coakley said she did not expect insurers to have a “huge complaint” with the legislation.
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 required the Federal Emergency Management Agency to redraw national flood maps, and eliminated various subsidies in the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure sustainability.
Critics, however, say the new maps have captured large swaths of real estate at little to no risk of flooding, forcing larger numbers of property owners to purchase insurance. New rules governing the required height of buildings and other structural requirements for properties in the flood zone have also driven up the price tags on policies.
Rep. James Cantwell, a Marshfield Democrat, recently provided the News Service with a copy of an insurance bill for a Scituate homeowner that spiked up to $68,000 under the new program. He called the new FEMA flood maps “ridiculous.”
The homeowner, Peg Sullivan, told the News Service that she previously paid a $1,300 premium for the same coverage.
“It’s hurting our Massachusetts builders. It’s hurting our Massachusetts realtors. Right now, all up and down the coast, we have essentially people are being frozen out. They can’t sell their homes, and people aren’t buying because there’s so much uncertainty about what their rates are going to be for their flood insurance. The speaker taking swift action right now is so warranted and so helpful and I’m thrilled to be joining with him,” Cantwell said.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and the state’s entire Congressional delegation recently sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging a delay in the Biggert-Waters reforms.
Cantwell said budget cuts limited FEMA's ability to review its surveys, and the government shutdown, which began Oct. 1, has placed on furlough the governmental affairs person at FEMA whom he speaks to about constituents' concerns. Scituate and Marshfield hired their own consultant to contest the FEMA maps.
Cantwell, whose bill (H 865) had a hearing last month calling on the Division of Insurance to regularly investigate the National Flood Insurance Program, said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that DeLeo’s bill can be heard and brought forward for a vote before the end of the year.
Though he made clear the “ultimate answer” must still come from Washington, DeLeo said he hopes that by tying the insurance requirements in Massachusetts to the value of a mortgage, property owners will fare “significantly better” than they would under the federal guidelines.
“We’re truly going to see people losing their homes, not from floods, but from flood insurance,” DeLeo said.
Targeted almost daily by national Republicans, U.S. Rep. John Tierney raised $251,216 in the third quarter of 2013 as he gears up for a re-election contest in a little less than a year, but was outpaced by his Democratic challenger Seth Moulton of Salem.
Moulton raised $355,548 from July through August, and had $301,735 in cash on hand, according to his campaign. Tierney’s quarterly report filed with the Federal Elections Commission showed the Salem Democrat raising a quarter of a million dollars, and finishing the third quarter with $561,155 in cash on hand.
Moulton, an Iraq war veteran and vice chairman on the board of directors of Eastern Healthcare Partners, launched his primary challenge to Tierney earlier this year after the incumbent staved off a strong Republican challenge from former state Sen. Richard Tisei in 2012 following a controversy over his wife’s involvement in her brother’s illegal offshore gambling operations.
Tierney will be running for a 10th term representing the 6th Congressional district in 2014. - M. Murphy/SHNS
The following is a press release from the office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump:
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today issued an audit of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School (GCACS) which found that a series of management deficiencies rendered the school insolvent and led to its abrupt closure earlier this year.
GCACS, in its three-year existence, had repeated lower-than-expected enrollment, with the number of students averaging 65% of the school’s pre-enrollment figures. With lower enrollment, the school’s tuition revenues were over estimated by as much as $571,000 at the start of the 2012-2013 school year, but today’s audit found GCACS failed to adequately adjust its staffing and budgeting to reflect the revenue shortfall. Despite extreme cash-flow control measures including delayed payments, pay cuts, and staff reductions, GCACS closed with a deficit.
The audit also found GCACS spent more to rent its facilities than was planned for in its approved charter proposal and also indebted the school for lease payment 10 years beyond the term of its charter. The Lease, a result of a no bid contract, increased GCACS’s actual annual occupancy costs more than 23% above planned amounts, resulting in additional stress on the budget beyond that created by the revenue shortfall.
In addition, the audit found GCACS did not effectively manage its administrative staffing costs. In Fiscal Year 2013, management costs amounted to more than 19% of its tuition revenue, exceeding the 11.5% written into in its charter and a 10.8% statewide average for charter schools.
Prior to its closure, GCACS received critical reviews from several external bodies including the Inspector General, the Attorney General, the Department of Early and Secondary Education, a private CPA firm, and a private charter-school management consultant. Each report highlighted deficiencies related to procurement, accounting, record keeping, education performance, or compliance with the state’s Open Meeting Law. Today’s audit found that the GCACS Board of Trustees or administration never adequately addressed the numerous findings in these reviews.
“The ripple effects of this school’s closing were widely felt by its students, their families, their teachers, and administrators, as well as the students, teachers, and administrators of the schools that had to absorb the displaced students mid-year.” Auditor Bump said. “What makes this especially troubling is that it was preventable. I hope the lessons learned here will be appropriately incorporated into management and oversight practices to ensure a solid foundation for learning and to make this the last mid-year closing of a charter school.”
The Office of the State Auditor conducts technical and performance assessments of state government’s programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency.
Patrick Administration visits Bradley Palmer and Hailbut Point state parks to discuss accelerated energy room
The following was submitted by Colette Phillips Communications:
Building on the Patrick Administration’s nation-leading clean energy accomplishments, Commissioner of Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Carole Cornelison, Commissioner of Department of Conservation and Recreation Jack Murray, and Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources Mark Sylvia today toured Bradley Palmer State Park and Halibut Point State Park, two of 700 Accelerated Energy Program (AEP) program sites.
Launched in January 2012, AEP aims to reduce energy consumption by 20-25 percent over 700 state sites, creating about 4,000 clean energy jobs and saving the Commonwealth an estimated $43 million annually.
“The Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) is proud to partner with the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Department of Energy Resources to help lead the Patrick Administration’s commitment to improve the efficiency of our state facilities,” said Commissioner Carole Cornelison. “In meeting our obligation to improve our state buildings, we will continue to provide innovative energy modifications to our facilities that will significantly reduce the Commonwealth’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.”
“As the steward of more than 450,000 acres of land across the Commonwealth, our facilities have a variety of energy needs,” said DCR Commissioner Jack Murray. “These investments are a great example of collaboration between multiple state agencies toward improving energy use, which will enhance the recreational experience at DCR parks.”
“State agencies are working together and leading by example to capture energy savings and leave a cleaner Commonwealth for generations to come.” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “Every project we do in state buildings supports Massachusetts’ national leadership in energy efficiency, climate goals, and clean energy jobs growth and contributes to a better environment for businesses and residents.”
Through AEP, Bradley Palmer State Park is receiving new energy efficient lighting, lighting controls, programmable thermostats, appliance replacements, water fixture upgrades in the bathrooms and kitchen and other upgrades, including weather-stripping, and insulation throughout the site. Once complete these upgrades will generate an estimated annual savings of over $9,000.
Through AEP, Halibut Point State Park is receiving new energy efficient lighting, programmable thermostats throughout the visitor center and outreach posts, pipe insulation, weather-stripping and new insulation, which will improve heating costs. Once complete these upgrades will generate an estimated annual savings of $2,200.
State government is the largest energy user in the Commonwealth, consuming over 1 billion kWh of electricity and emitting over 1 million metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. Annually, agencies and campuses spend over $250 million on energy. The AEP program will be funded through the state’s Clean Energy Investment Program, general obligation bonds, and Mass Save® incentives. The Clean Energy Investment Program uses savings from energy and water projects to repay the bonds used to finance the projects.
AEP will significantly reduce the current annual consumption of more than 800 million kilowatt hours of electricity, 12 million gallons of heating oil, 55 million therms of natural gas, and emissions of more than 800,000 tons of greenhouse gases, which represent more than 4,000 buildings and 58 million square feet. The program will save an estimated 135,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, the equivalent of removing 26,000 vehicles from the road per year.
AEP supports the goals of Governor Patrick’s Leading by Example (LBE) Program. LBE was established in 2007 by Executive Order No. 484, which set aggressive energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals and renewable energy goals for state government operations:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2012 and 40 percent by 2020;
- Reduce energy consumption 20 percent by 2012 and 35 percent by 2020; and
- Obtain 15 percent of total electricity from renewable sources by 2012 and 30 percent by 2020.
The Patrick Administration’s aggressive clean energy initiatives have made Massachusetts a leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and emissions reductions. The Commonwealth’s utilities recently announced the largest ever procurement of renewable energy in New England – 565 megawatts of wind power – that will reduce Massachusetts’ reliance on dirty fossil fuels and provide cost-effective clean energy to the Commonwealth’s residents and businesses. This year, Governor Patrick set a new solar goal, after reaching the previous goal of 250 megawatts four years early. The Commonwealth now aims to install 1,600 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020. The clean energy revolution is yielding economic benefits as well, with 11.8 percent job growth in the last year and 24 percent growth in the last two years, nearly 80,000 people are employed in the clean tech industry in Massachusetts.
For additional information on new and ongoing DCAMM/AEP energy initiatives visit www.mass.gov/dcam/aep, DOER’s website www.mass.gov/doer and the Leading by Example Program website www.mass.gov/eea/grants-and-tech-assistance/guidance-technical-assistance/leading-by-example
After months of deliberation between promoters, government officials and concerned residents, bicyclists from around the world are gearing up for the 15th annual Gran Prix of Gloucester.
The race will take place Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29. Approximately 1,500 racers are expected to convene at Gloucester’s Stage Fort Park to participate in the nationally ranked event.
It’s all for a sport known as ‘cyclocross.’ Racer Terry Cowman, 60, who will be competing again this weekend, describes cyclocross as, “a style of riding that’s somewhere between mountain and road biking. It takes place on all kinds of terrain—dirt, grass, sand, a little pavement—and includes both man made and natural barriers that make it so you have to run with your bike. It’s a ton of fun.
(Photo by Natalia Boltukhova)
But an event that features many cyclists racing across the grass of a park can do real damage to the landscape. So said the group of local residents who complained to Gloucester City Council about the condition in which Stage Fort Park was left after the event was complete.
“Back in May [when the complaint was made], I left a meeting thinking the event wasn’t going to happen in Gloucester this year,” says the Gran Prix’s Executive and Technical Director Paul Boudreau, 47. “For a couple of months, our focus was only on the venue.”
Their focus paid off. On August 27, it was confirmed that the event would continue at Gloucester’s Stage Fort Park but on the condition that the promoters take responsibility for adhering to a list of conditions drawn by the city’s Planning and Development Committee and fulfilling a secure bond. These negotiations were well received by many individuals and groups, like the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, that wanted to see the event stay local.
“We were strong supporters of having the Gran Prix of Gloucester stay in Gloucester,” says Chamber’s Senior Vice President Peter Webber. “Our CEO even wrote a letter to Gloucester City Council in public support of the event.”
The Chamber had a stake in the City Council’s decision because of the event’s substantial contribution to tourism in Cape Ann. Thousands of visitors come to Gloucester and, as the letter states, “patronize local hotels and restaurants […] nearly all of whom are Gloucester-based.”
Having participated in eight of the Gran Prix’s, Cowman believes he understands why the event draws such a crowd.
“It’s a social event and a fun time as much as it is a competition. Almost every [cyclocross] venue will have a beer tent, food vendors, bike vendors—all kinds of stuff. It’s very spectator friendly,” he said.
In addition to the increase of racers, the number of spectators has also increased dramatically since the Gran Prix’s inception.
“We started in 1999, there were only about 150 of us, and we were just a standalone event with no spectators,” says Boudreau, who has been involved with the event since its beginnings. Now, fifteen years later, the Gran Prix’s racers and spectators fill the park to capacity and attract riders from across the United States and even parts of Europe.
“In the cycling world, if you say Gloucester, people know it,” says Boudreau. “And not because it’s a town on the North Shore off of 128. They know it because of this event.”
This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Gordon College News Service.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency to delay implementation of a federal flood insurance reform so that FEMA, Congress and local officials can restructure the program he warns will have a detrimental impact on coastal residents and businesses.
DeLeo issued a press release on Friday morning explaining that he has reached out to FEMA Administrator William Fugate and the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to work together to reform the program, which includes changes to insurance rates based on new flood risk calculations.
Rep. James Cantwell, a Marshfield Democrat, testified at a state legislative hearing this week that the new flood zone maps were “radically” increasing insurance rates and driving property values down in communities based on new maps that account for the rare possibilities of extreme storms.
DeLeo said the federal act, signed in 2012 and scheduled to be implemented over five years, will require more property owners to buy flood insurance.
“As a representative from a coastal community, I strongly believe that the sweeping changes enacted by FEMA will negatively impact property owners across Massachusetts,” DeLeo said in a statement. “While fortifying the nation’s emergency flood insurance program is an essential endeavor, I believe that we must approach these reforms in a targeted and equitable manner.”
Cantwell has filed a bill (H 865) that would direct the commissioner of insurance to regularly investigate how the National Flood Insurance Program rates are set and "make suggestions for changes to ensure the rates are not excessive."
Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Michael Costello, who lives in Newburyport, this week said flood insurance was not under the purview of the committee, and recommended lobbying Gov. Deval Patrick for assistance.
- M. Murphy/SHNS
The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck in Gloucester is bringing together artists from the North Shore and Boston for a special exhibition depicting the reinvention of landscape art.
The "SouthEnd by NorthEast" exhibition will consist of five artists from Boston’s South End studios and four artists from the North Shore. The exhibition runs from Aug. 29 through Sept. 22. The Cultural Center will be open for showings from Thursday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The reception at the Cultural Center to meet the artists will be Sept. 8 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Curated by Adriana “Gigi” Mederos, the Rocky Neck Art Colony’s first and only Latin artistic director, the exhibition will feature a wide range of mediums, including encaustic, acrylics, oils, inks and watercolors; on paper, canvas, board and vellums. Included in the show is work by artists Adam Batliner, Cathy Bennigson, Susan Blatt, Linda Cordner, Kay Ives, Elynn Kroger, Ben MacAdam, Mary Bucci McCoy and Martha Wakefield.
The diverse group of work aims to challenge the audience’s notion of the landscape in art. In their work, each artist reinterprets both what constitutes a landscape painting and what served as their “jumping off point” for their investigation into the landscape or natural forms, according to a statement from the cultural center.
The show was created to enlarge the conversation around landscape painting to include a wider variety of contemporary mediums and styles of expression, and to serve as a conduit for engagement for the two separate art communities.
The Rocky Neck Art Colony aims to nurture excellence in the visual arts and to celebrate the artistic culture of Rocky Neck and the entire cultural district.
The historic art hub has flourished since the Massachusetts Cultural Council designated Rocky Neck a Massachusetts Cultural District last year.
Fifteen state and municipal wildland firefighters from Massachusetts are on their way to help battle forest fires in northern Quebec that have burned for more than one month, scorching more than 1 million acres.
The local firefighters were scheduled to join with six firefighters from Maine on Wednesday and then fly together to the Canadian province morning, according to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
In Quebec, the 21 firefighters will form a specialized “Type 2 initial attack hand crew” and will be assigned to help contain and extinguish one of several large fires, officials said.
The group is expected to work there for about two weeks, directly trying to suppress flames, building fire breaks, securing fire perimeters and protecting structures.
Each of the firefighters traveling to Quebec have passed a required 40-four federal wildland firefighting class and physical fitness test, officials said.
The deployment came in response to a request for help from the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission, which is a 64-year-old compact between the six New England states, New York and four eastern Canadian provinces, including Quebec, to provide mutual aid in responding to widland fires.
The compact dictates that the state or province that requests aid will pay all expenses of visiting crews, including salary, transportation, lodging and food, officials said.
“We are extremely proud of the DCR and municipal firefighters who have been called upon to help our friends and partners in Quebec,” said a statement from Jack Murray, commissioner of the conservation and recreation department. “These are extremely well-trained and dedicated firefighters whose skills are much needed, and whose help, we know, is enormously appreciated.”
The fires in remote areas of northern Quebec began on June 9 and have caused at least one community to evacuate, disrupted some food shipments to the region and led to major power outages, according to the Associated Press.
Firefighters from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation include:
Shawn Bush of Oakham
Aaron Whiddon of Plymouth
Jonathan Hallinan of Peabody
Jesse Hanecak of Whately
Benjamin Jennell of West Newbury
Brian Mayer of Groton
Joshua Nigro of Hanson
Millard Ring of Rockport
Eric Rogers of Holyoke
Gregory Whittier of Springfield
Municipal firefighters include:
John Branscombe of North Brookfield
Bruce Forgea of Windsor
Seth McMahon of Greenfield
George Nolette IV of North Brookfield
Michael Grimley of Townsend