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 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.
In a Globe story Saturday, Peter Schworm reported that Mandela stressed the importance of education, saying he was “deeply concerned” so many students were dropping out of school.
“This is a very disturbing situation, because the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow,” he told the students. He urged students to “try as much as possible to remain in school.”
“Because education is the most powerful weapon which we can use,” he said to cheers.
Two 23-year-old friends have pleaded not guilty to twice robbing the same Dunkin Donuts storefront in Westwood - once in March and once in July, according to Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey.
Kevin W. Hanafin, age 23 of Wiggins Ave in Dedham and Frank Ingemi, 23, of Wyvern St. in Roslindale, each pled not guilty to two counts of armed robbery for the March 12 and July 7, 2013 holdups. Charges were taken by the Westwood Police Department.
"We requested $50,000 bail on each defendant," District Attorney Morrissey said after the arraignment. "Hanafin was ordered held on $15,000 and Ingemi on $30,000. Both are due back January 3, 2013 for pre-trial conference."
Each man was arrested at his respective residence by detectives executing search warrants obtained as part of an ongoing investigation into a series of armed robberies of Dunkin Donuts locations in and around Boston in recent months.
"These men are charged only with these two robberies and no others at this time," District Attorney Morrissey said. "We understand that the investigation remains active and ongoing."
As with all criminal defendants, Hanafin and Ingemi enjoy the Constitutional presumption of innocence unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This ain't your average Frosty.
Freaky the Snowman, or a guy named Brian in a snowman costume, took to the streets of our fair metropolis to film the latest installment of "The Scary Snowman" Youtube video series and terrorize the city's pedestrians.
The clip captures a lot of flustered jumping, several gaping mouths, and a few double takes, as well as some very entertained police officers. All in a day's work.
Not surprisingly, the snowman targeted ice cream franchise JP Licks' Cambridge store as one of the locations of its chilling prank.
The concept behind the Internet sensation is simple: Freaky, né Brian, stands still next to a storefront, assuming the part of large holiday decoration. With the help of the Scary Snowman crew, he targets unsuspecting passersby and moves to startle them. They react. And repeat.
It's a formula for comedic gold but not a perfect science. Jay Lichtenberger, one of the Scary Snowman guys who's not in the suit, said in a Facebook post that oftentimes the crew misses out on a great reaction because they fail to get permission or attract too much attention.
"We average about 10 to 15 great reactions an hour with a lot of not so great reactions in between," Lichtenberger wrote.
Since it launched four days ago, the Boston-based video has received more than 1.5 million views and nods from media organizations like Yahoo! News.
Note: This video features language that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott is “not opposed” to new fines for fare evasion that would double the increases enacted into law in 2012.
“I’m not opposed to it,” Scott told the News Service Tuesday morning. “I think the people need to be very clear about consequences relative to fare-evasion.”
In 2012, fines for fare evasion had been $15 for a first offense; $100 for a second offense; and $250 for a third or subsequent offense. An MBTA bailout bill bumped those fines up to $50 for a first offense; $100 for a second offense; and $300 for a third or subsequent offense.
As part of a transportation bond bill (H 3763), the Transportation Committee included language that would raise the fines still further to $100 for a first offense; $200 for a second offense; and $600 for a third or subsequent offense.
Scott said MBTA officials have also discussed undertaking a “fare evasion review.” She said, “Personally, I’m supportive of making sure that there are consequences.”
- A. Metzger/SHNS
By Taylor HartzBU News Service WASHINGTON—First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed the winners of the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program awards to the White House Friday – with the Boston Children’s Chorus among them. The chorus was one…
The Boston Red Sox will be honoring veterans and active military members with free tours of Fenway Park on Veterans Day.
The tours will depart at the top of every hour Monday beginning at 10 a.m. The last hour-long tour is at 5 p.m.
Veterans and active military members will be asked to show their military identification for free tour tickets, which will be available at the Gate D ticket booth at the corner of Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street.
The Red Sox won their third World Series championship in 10 seasons on Oct. 30 at 101-year-old Fenway, beating the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the first time the Sox had clinched the fall classic at home in 95 years.
(Image courtesy Sun Life)
Although they thought they were just spending the evening at a Boston Celtics game, two local students were surprised to find that they were the recipients of a Sun Life Rising Star scholarship.
Aylin Garcia Soto, a Roslindale resident, and Melvin Harrison, a Roxbury resident, were each presented with a $5,000 scholarship for college at Wednesday’s game.
In addition to the scholarships, which were paid for by Sun Life Financial, the business also contributed $50,000 grants to the Jamaica Plain-based non-profit Bottom Line and Dorchester-based non-profit Brookview House.
Along with the high-profile race for mayor, a number of contests for city council will be on the ballot when residents of Boston their votes Tuesday in the 2013 municipal election.
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information about where and how to vote, click here.
In addition to the two candidates vying to be Boston’s next mayor, eight are seeking to become the city’s next four at-Large City Councilors, and a number of candidates are campaigning for district City Council seats.
In the at-Large race, current sitting councilors Ayanna Pressley and Stephen Murphy will face challengers Jack F. Kelly, Martin Keogh, Annissa Essaibi George, Michael Flaherty, Michelle Wu, and Jeffery Ross. Voters can choose four candidates to fill the posts.
In District 2, which represents South Boston and Chinatown, as well as portions of the South End, Suzanne Lee, a Chinatown resident, is set to take on current sitting councilor and South Boston resident Bill Linehan. The two faced off in the 2011 municipal election, with Linehan just barely eking out a victory.
In District 4, which represents portions of Mattapan and Dorchester, current sitting councilor Charles Yancey, a Dorchester resident, will take on Terrance Williams, a Dorchester resident who works for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission.
In District 5, which represents Hyde Park as well as portions of Mattapan and Roslindale, Jean-Claude Sanon, a Mattapan resident and small business owner, will face-off against Timothy P. McCarthy, a Hyde Park resident and Boston Public Works manager.
In District 7, which represents Roxbury as well as portions of the South End and Fenway, current sitting councilor Tito Jackson will take on challengers Roy Owens, a perennial candidate and Roxbury resident, and Jamarhl Crawford, a community activist and Roxbury resident who is mounting a write-in campaign.