The Governor’s Council unanimously approved two of Gov. Deval Patrick’s judicial nominees Wednesday, but did not address a controversial nominee for the Superior Court whose confirmation vote was suddenly postponed by the governor two weeks ago.
Thomas Kaplanes, Patrick’s pick for a judgeship in the Boston Municipal Court West Roxbury division, and Dennis Sargent, his nominee for the Clinton District Court, were confirmed to serve on the bench.
Sargent, 48, currently works as the assistant clerk magistrate in the Clinton court, a position he has held since 2008. He will succeed the late Judge Martha Brennan, who died suddenly last October. Sargent previously practiced at the Worcester law firm Fletcher, Tilton & Whipple, handling criminal and civil matters, municipal cases and divorces.
From 1996 to 2008, Sargent worked as the town solicitor in Clinton. He received his law degree from Suffolk University Law School and his bachelor's degree from Fitchburg State University.
A private attorney focusing on criminal defense and civil cases, Kaplanes previously worked as an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, prosecuting cases before the Superior Court. He was selected as a "Safe Neighborhood Initiative" prosecutor focusing on community-based crime prevention and public safety. Kaplanes earned a law degree from Suffolk University Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Providence College.
The council did not vote Wednesday on the nomination of Joseph Berman, Patrick’s pick for a seat on the Superior Court. The governor two weeks ago opted against putting Berman up for a vote in the face of opposition to his candidacy from councilors.
During his confirmation hearing, Berman was criticized for $110,000 in campaign contributions, his representation of a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, and his affiliation with the Anti-Defamation League due to some council members’ objections to the organization’s stance on the Armenian genocide.
Councilor Marilyn Devaney called the ADL hypocritical because she said it refuses to recognize the Armenian genocide by the Turks, and for decades lobbied against a Congressional resolution recognizing the atrocities that killed more than 1.5 million people from 1915 to 1918.
Some councilors said Berman should have resigned from the ADL. Berman, a Weston resident who is a partner at the Boston law firm Looney & Grossman, was questioned for more than four hours by the council.
Berman’s supporters say he led the effort of the New England chapter in demanding the national organization change its position. Berman, 49, told councilors he did not agree with the ADL’s stance and was tempted to resign, but changed his mind because the organization does great work in so many other areas. He thought one commission member resigning would not make a difference, and decided to stay and work for change from the inside.
“I asked Mr. Berman if he belonged to an organization who denied the Holocaust would he remain a member ‘because of all the other good things they do?” Devaney said during an assembly meeting following the hearing.
In 2007, ADL national director Abraham Foxman released a statement describing the actions of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as “tantamount to genocide.”
With the votes appearing to lean against Berman’s confirmation, Patrick said he would delay the vote in the hopes of securing enough votes for his confirmation.
In a letter to councilors this week, Boston Bar Association President Paul Dacier urged them to consider the qualifications of judicial nominees. While noting the association does not endorse judicial candidates, Dacier also addressed other issues he said were “pertinent to judicial nominations in general,” including their work with charitable organizations and their pro bono representation of low-income individuals.
“Any automatic imputation by association to a judicial nominee of institutional positions taken by a charitable organization which that nominee has served - and most especially such positions with which that nominee has expressly disagreed - would be unfair and inappropriate, and could damage the judicial confirmation process itself,” Dacier wrote. “Qualified candidates for the bench who participate in organizations that take positions on public issues that might be controversial to some will be inhibited from applying to become judges. Others who might want to become judges would be deterred from joining possibly controversial organizations that would benefit from their time and talents.”
Dacier further wrote, “Legal representation for all criminal defendants is one of the pillars of our justice system and of our democracy. Representing an unpopular defendant, especially on a pro bono basis, has always been an honorable thing for a lawyer to do, and should not disqualify anyone from the bench.
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
Just over a year after raising them, the MBTA is now seeking to drop fares for the RIDE paratransit service from $4 to $3, an agency financial officer told a state transportation department committee Tuesday.
MBTA Strategic Initiatives Senior Director Charles Planck told MassDOT’s Board’s Audit and Finance Committee that the T will put the fare reduction before the full MassDOT Board of Directors at its Dec. 11 meeting. The RIDE is a door-to-door service available for people with disabilities.
The announcement was greeted by scattered cheers from transit access advocates in the audience. Lower fares have been a goal of transit activists since the T raised the price of the RIDE from $2 to $4 in 2012.
About 60 percent of respondents to a state survey measuring the impact on the 2012 hikes on elders reported this year that they make fewer transit trips, while a majority of RIDE users whose income is less than $2,000 per month said they cut back on food, personal grooming and transit trips.
Earlier this month, transit advocates and seniors called on lawmakers to provide relief from paratransit fare hikes, saying the increases had left people choosing between travel and other necessities. Arlington Sen. Ken Donnelly ripped the RIDE fare increases as a “targeted fare hike at a vulnerable population.”
On Tuesday, Planck said the move will have an impact on the agency’s budget as revenue will drop and demand is expected to rise as the RIDE becomes more affordable. Planck was unsure of the move’s exact impact on the T’s budget due to new service contracts with providers.
“We expect to get the best price the market can bear,” Planck said.
When asked by board chairman John Jenkins about the annualized impact of altering RIDE fares, Planck estimated $1.5 million in reduced revenue per year and a $3 million to $4 million annual revenue loss overall when including operations costs.
“We believe right now that we’ll be able to accommodate this change in the budget approved by the board,” MBTA CFO Jonathan Davis told the panel.
At the meeting, Massachusetts Senior Action Council Executive Director Carolyn Villers called the fare reduction “a big step towards more affordable and equitable” service and said her group is looking forward to working with the MBTA and on other long-term solutions.
After the meeting, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott told reporters the fare agreement was the result of the work of a task force made up of MassDOT officials, transit advocates and the business community.
Scott said she thinks there would be benefits to introducing means testing for riders to help determine discounts, but that the MBTA is not in a position to evaluate incomes. Asked if other state agencies would be in better positions to aid the MBTA at means testing, Scott said she had discussed the issue with the health and human services officials and any possible means testing scenario would have to wait.
Under a new law, the MBTA may raise its overall fares by up to 5 percent next year.
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.
The street violence that fills the evening news in Philadelphia can seem random. A personal beef here, a drug deal gone bad there. But police say gangs, and criminal street crews account for much of the violence. In South Philly, there's the 5th Street…
Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer to promote coffee line at West Roxbury, Marshfield Roche Brothers grocery stores
The following is a press release from Rockin’ & Roastin:
On November 9, Aerosmith drummer and Rockin’ & Roastin’ creator, Joey Kramer, will make appearances at Roche Bros. in Marshfield and West Roxbury. In July, Kramer announced that his Rockin’ & Roastin’ organic coffee line would grace the shelves of all Roche Bros. locations throughout Massachusetts.
To celebrate this partnership, Kramer will hit up Roche Bros. to mix and mingle with local shoppers and fans alike. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet, chat and pose for photos with Kramer, while checking out the latest offerings from Rockin’ & Roastin’. Kramer also will be personalizing Rockin’ & Roastin’ purchases with his legendary signature, making it a delicious collector’s item.
Available in whole-bean and ground versions, Kramer’s trio of brews from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Sumatra are currently on the shelves of Roche Bros. in Marshfield and West Roxbury retailing for $7.99-$8.99 per 12-ounce bag.
This event is complimentary to the public. With purchase of a Rockin’ & Roastin’ bag of coffee, Kramer will personally autograph it. For more information, please visit: www.rockinandroastin.com and www.rochebros.com.
For the latest updates about your community, follow some of our local neighborhood, city and town Twitter accounts, here.
BOSTON (AP) — Police Commissioner Ed Davis, a key figure in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing, was spending his final day on the job Friday after seven years in the post.
Davis, 57, announced plans in September to step down as his boss, longtime Mayor Thomas Menino, was preparing to retire at the end of the year.
One of Davis’ final tasks was ensuring police kept under control the fan celebrations that followed the Red Sox’s World Series victory this week at Fenway Park. About 10 people were arrested but few serious problems reported.
Superintendent-in-Chief Daniel Linskey will oversee security and crowd control during Saturday’s duck boat parade honoring the Red Sox. Davis said he was confident police would do a good job.
‘‘I know there is a great team here and they'll be just fine without me,’’ he told The Boston Globe in an interview Thursday.
Davis twice testified before congressional panels in the aftermath of the April 15 attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others at the marathon finish line.
He called for better information-sharing between federal agencies and local departments about potential terrorist threats.
Davis said he had not ruled out leading another big-city department sometime in the future.
‘‘I might have another police department in me at some point in time, but I'm really looking at the private sector right now for a couple of years,’’ he told the Boston Herald.
Davis has accepted a fellowship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
His replacement will be chosen by the city’s next mayor. City Councilor John Connolly and state Rep. Martin Walsh square off Tuesday in the mayoral election, with the winner taking office in January.