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Braintree man accused of torching cars, vandalizing candy machine

January 30, 2014 11:42 AM

Braintree man arrested after crime spree
A Braintree man was arrested early Thursday morning for allegedly breaking into four cars, torching two of them, and vandalizing a candy machine.

Police said they saw the suspect walking away from a car fire in the area of Pearl Street and Randall Avenue.

A witness to the fire later gave officers a description of the person he saw in the area of the crime, which matched the suspect.

Police said they additionally found evidence of the suspect at the scene of one of four cars that were broken into. The same suspect was also identified in the alleged vandalism of a candy machine at Shaw’s on Pearl Street the same evening.

“It appeared that he was attempting to break into the coin box,” police said in a release.

The officer investigating the vandalism applied for a warrant to arrest the suspect. The suspect was later arrested for the alleged car breaks.

While at the station, police said, the suspect threatened several officers.

Christian R. Moran, 41, of Braintree was charged with four counts of breaking and entering, four counts of threats to commit a crime, two counts of arson, and one count of resisting arrest.

Moran was held overnight pending his arraignment in Quincy District Court.

Police make four DUI arrests in six hours
Police said they arrested four people in unrelated drunk-driving incidents in Braintree from 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday through 1 a.m. Thursday morning.

Police found the first suspect shortly after 7:30 a.m. after a motorist reported that he was following a box truck on Common Street that was being operated erratically. The witness said the suspect almost hit a car head on and almost struck a telephone pole.

Officers located the vehicle on Granite Street and pulled the car over. Police said they found a small bag containing a white substance in the car, which later tested positive for cocaine.

James M. Horrigan, 37, of Stoneham was arrested and charged with operating under the influence (fourth offense) and possession of Class B substance.

Arrests continued shortly before 11 p.m., when officers saw a vehicle in the area of John Mahar Highway and Peal Street with no headlights on.

Officers attempted to pull the car over, but the driver continued until ultimately stopping on Plain Street.

Police spoke with the suspect and then placed him under arrest.

Matthew A. Darois, 32, from Weymouth was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for a police officer, and failure to display headlights.

An hour later, officers responded to a condo complex at 800 West St. to investigate a report of a man standing outside a Mercedes screaming in the parking lot.

Officers arrived and attempted to approach the vehicle, but the operator drove at the officer. Police said the car eventually stopped.

Police believe the suspect was under the influence of a narcotic.

Dimitrios Chatziliadis, 36, of Braintree was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of drugs and assault with a dangerous weapon.

The final arrest occurred at 1:30 a.m., when police stopped another man suspected of intoxicated driving. Officers said they saw the car driving on Liberty Street with two flat tires.

Police pulled the car over and then placed the driver under arrest.

Kenneth J. Bibo, 54, of Braintree was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol.

Opening of Trotter Road in Southfield

January 13, 2014 02:30 PM

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Farmelant
January 13, 2013
Mills Public Relations
(617) 350-6200

Trotter Road Entrance Opens, Giving SouthField Residents Easy Access to South Weymouth, Rockland and Abington

Much anticipated entrance serves hundreds of residents at SouthField Highlands


(Weymouth, MA) –The Commons at SouthField Highlands today reacted to recent the opening of Trotter Road entrance to Route 18 in South Weymouth. The apartment community, currently the largest project at the SouthField mixed-use real estate development, lauded the development as a win for residents who now have easy access to nearby businesses and services in Abington, Rockland and South Weymouth.
"This vital roadway improvement connects residents at The Commons at SouthField with a short ride to Route 18 in South Weymouth, Abington and Rockland,” said Richard J. High, president of John M. Corcoran & Co. LLC. “As the region’s premier transit-oriented community, SouthField provides residents with easy access to everything the South Shore has to offer, so investments like these really make a positive impact.” The Bill Delahunt Parkway, which connects Weymouth Street in Rockland to Shea Memorial Drive, opened in August. Both the parkway and the Trotter Road extension were funded through state and federal grants. Previously, SouthField Highlands' residents were limited to accessing the community via the Shea Memorial Drive entrance on Route 18.

Earlier this year, SouthField celebrated the opening of a “Kiss & Ride” drop-off/pick-up space at the South Weymouth Commuter Rail Station, which added a much-needed access point for people who travel on MBTA Kingston/Plymouth Line to and from Boston. In October, John M. Corcoran & Co. broke ground on construction of the $18.2 million apartment building at the 1,400-acre SouthField development in Weymouth. Construction of 72 new apartment homes, which represents the second phase of The Commons at SouthField Highlands, is expected to be complete during the summer of 2014. Upon completion of the 72-unit residential community, Corcoran’s investment at SouthField is expected to be over $60 million.

About John M. Corcoran and Company
John M. Corcoran and Company specializes in the development and management of apartment communities and commercial properties delivering superior customer service and maintaining exceptional quality standards. Corcoran-managed properties are characterized by thoughtful planning, welcoming interiors and luxuriant landscaping.

About The Commons at SouthField Highlands
The Commons at SouthField Highlands offers luxury eco-living in 226 beautifully designed apartment homes in Weymouth, MA at the vibrant 1,400-acre SouthField community located just 25 minutes south of Boston. Residents enjoy convenient commutes just minutes from Route 3 and walking distance to the MBTA Commuter Rail while taking advantage of SouthField’s array of open green spaces.

Lahey's acquisition of Winchester Hospital, other moves to be reviewed

December 19, 2013 04:39 PM

Nearing the end of its first full-scale review of a proposed hospital merger, the Health Policy Commission on Wednesday approved two more full cost and market impact reviews of proposed hospital acquisitions in Winchester, Melrose and Medford.

The commission on Wednesday approved a preliminary report recommending a referral to Attorney General Martha Coakley and deeming Partners HealthCare System’s planned acquisition of South Shore Hospital and Harbor Medical Associates would increase costs without a substantial increase in health care system benefits and savings.

The commission then turned its attention to the suburbs north of Boston, approving a review of Partners’ proposed acquisition of Hallmark Health System and a review of Lahey Health System’s proposed acquisition of Winchester Hospital.

Hallmark operates Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital in Melrose. Commission staff noted Partners’ plan calls for “significant restructuring of services at North Shore Medical Center” and said it “raises significant competitive concerns, including the potential of the resulting system to negotiate higher prices through increased bargaining leverage.”

HPC staff said Lahey became “more concentrated” when it merged with Northeast Health System and said an additional acquisition would raise similar “competitive concerns.”

- A. Metzger/SHNS

Audit of Quincy dentist uncovers more than $150K in unallowable billing

December 11, 2013 12:09 PM

The following is a press release from the office of auditor Suzanne Bump:

State Auditor Suzanne Bump today referred an audit report of a Quincy dentist to the Massachusetts Attorney General for further investigation into possible Medicaid fraud. The audit uncovered signs of pervasive fraud by the MassHealth dental provider, Dr. Shahrzad Haghayegh-Askarian, including $154,019 in unallowable and sometimes medically excessive procedures.

“It is clear to me that Dr. Haghayegh systematically bilked the MassHealth dental program,” said Auditor Bump. “Her operation was an affront to the taxpayers and her clients. I hope the Attorney General can use this audit as a tool to uncover the extent of her wrongdoing and obtain justice for the Commonwealth.”

A review of MassHealth payment information and the files of just 40 of the 357 MassHealth members seen by Dr. Haghayegh between 2008 and 2011 found repeat patterns of the dentist obtaining payment for dental procedures contrary to MassHealth regulations.

Findings included:

· 1,429 unallowable detailed oral screenings, intended for patients receiving radiation therapy, chemotherapy or organ transplants. The dental patients for which Dr. Haghayegh submitted claims were not undergoing any of these procedures;

· 865 claims for dental services including X-rays, fillings, and denture repairs that were not documented in member files;

· 259 oral evaluations in excess of MassHealth limits;

· 176 claims for “dental enhancement fees,” payments meant for more general health centers to improve their dental services;

· 13 cases of Dr. Haghayegh circumventing MassHealth limits on denture replacements by instead replacing every tooth in the denture individually;

· 98 tooth restorations in excess of state limits.

In addition, the audit identified 95 claims for medically excessive fluoride treatments. In one specific example, Dr. Haghayegh billed 53 fluoride treatments in a 12-month period for a single child-aged member. According to guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a dentist should provide no more than four fluoride treatments in a year.

During the four year audit period MassHealth paid Dr. Haghayegh $912,167 for more than 10,000 claims of service.

In addition to the report, Auditor Bump’s Bureau of Special Investigations has conducted an investigation into other potential fraudulent activity and has forwarded its findings to the Attorney General as well.

Unrelated to the audit, and acting on patient complaints about her dental treatments, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry suspended Dr. Haghayegh’s license to practice for one year, effective May 31, 2013. MassHealth has terminated her participation as a MassHealth provider based on its own review of Dr. Haghayegh’s billing.

“Given the egregious findings of our audit and investigative work I believe the Board of Registration should review its current suspension and consider a further disciplinary action,” said Auditor Bump.

Today’s report comes after Dr. Haghayegh denied state auditors access to her records for nearly a year. Dr. Haghayegh was the first MassHealth provider to challenge the State Auditor’s authority to obtain such records. Auditors were only able to begin the review after a May 2012 decision by Suffolk Superior Court required Dr. Haghayegh to allow access.

“We appreciate the Auditor’s partnership with MassHealth in working to hold this individual accountable,” said MassHealth Director Kristin Thorn. “MassHealth initiated an internal audit that identified program violations with this provider, we ordered her to repay inappropriately billed funds to the Commonwealth, and terminated her participation in MassHealth.”

As highlighted in earlier audits released by the Office of the State Auditor over the past four years, MassHealth’s dental claims processing system, which is administered through the subcontractor DentaQuest, has not contained adequate controls to identify and reject unallowable claims for certain dental services. Since 2010, the Office of the State Auditor has identified $7,678,115 in total questionable Medicaid dental claims. In response to audit work, MassHealth has implemented many changes to its claims system to better prevent similar unallowable billings in the future.

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.

Weymouth brothers charged with heroin possession in Braintree

December 10, 2013 04:44 PM

Two Weymouth brothers were arrested Tuesday after allegedly dealing drugs in North Braintree Square.

According to police, a detective was watching the parking lots in North Braintree Square when he saw a man pull into the lot and sit in his vehicle. A short time later, a second vehicle pulled up alongside the first, police said.

In a release, police said the two male drivers exchanged something and then drove off in separate directions.

The detective called for assistance from Weymouth detectives, and police stopped both vehicles.

According to police, the first suspect stopped without incident and was found in possession of a small amount of heroin. The second suspect, who had two women in the car with him, failed to stop when signaled to do so. He led detectives on a brief chase before coming to a stop.

Police said the second suspect also had a small amount of heroin.

Edward D. Chamberlain, 51, and Ted K. Chamberlain, 46, both of Weymouth, were arrested and charged with possession of heroin and conspiracy to violate the Controlled Substances Act.

Edward Chamberlain was additionally charged with failure to stop for a police officer and operating to endanger.

Tattoo, body piercing shops would get statewide health regulations under Quincy Rep's bill

December 3, 2013 05:22 PM

Body piercing and tattoo shops would need a state license and be subject to statewide health regulations, under legislation being considered by lawmakers in an attempt to prevent the contraction of blood-borne diseases.

Currently, body piercing and tattooing is an unlicensed profession and there are no statewide regulations imposed on businesses, according to Rep. Bruce Ayers, a Quincy Democrat who filed the legislation (H 1889).

All body art, including piercing and tattoos, is regulated at the local level, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health. Some communities have passed local ordinances regulating body piercing and tattoos, while others have not.

“We are not trying to prohibit or prevent anyone from getting their body pierced,” Ayers said during a committee hearing Tuesday.

He said his legislation would make sure the procedures are done in a clean, safe place to protect people. Without regulations, people who get their body pierced are at risk for blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV, tuberculosis, mouth and gum diseases, or allergic reactions, Ayers said.

In 2000, a state court deemed body art to be constitutionally protected freedom of expression, overturning a 38-year-old state ban.

After the ruling, DPH crafted model regulations for tattoos and body piercing that local boards of health could adopt, but without a state law municipalities were not bound to pass any regulations, or could adopt rules that differ from neighboring communities.

Many local officials do not think about the need for regulation until a shop opens in their town, according Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy), co-chair of the Public Health Committee.

Asked if he knew of any problems, Keenan said he sees the potential for a problem. He said most piercing businesses would not object to regulations.

“Most people who do it and do it the right way are generally not concerned about regulations,” Keenan said after the hearing.

Shops that do not follow proper health standards give others a bad reputation and reason for concern, Keenan said.

Ayers said he became aware of a lack of regulations several years ago when a business opened in North Quincy, and the Quincy City Council received calls from concerned parents. Ayers’ legislation uses the ordinance crafted by Quincy officials as a model for statewide regulations.

Ayers said he has heard “terrible” stories about young people getting infections from piercings, and not telling their parents because they did not ask for their permission. Anyone under 18 years old must have parental consent for piercing – something that is not always enforced, according to Ayers. The legislation would enforce parental consent and a client’s release form acknowledgement.

Also under the legislation, tattoo artists and body piercing professionals would be required to undergo education and training, as well as mandatory apprenticeship programs.

Those who would be exempt from the legislation include physicians who perform body art as part of patient treatment in a medically accepted manner, and individuals who pierce an earlobe with a pre-sterilizing, single-use stud and clasp ear piercing system without the use of a piercing gun.

Lawmakers on the Public Health Committee recommended similar legislation in last session and it failed to advance in the House and Senate.

Governor Patrick plots major public transportation projects in Chelsea, Medford and south of Boston

November 18, 2013 11:35 AM

In his seven years, Gov. Deval Patrick has steered the state toward major public transportation expansions into Chelsea, Medford and toward the South Coast, and in 13 months responsibility for the completion of those plans will fall to his successor, to varying degrees.

Patrick, who has railed against the enduring, burdensome debt of the Big Dig project burying Interstate 93 beneath downtown Boston, campaigned in 2006 in part on his support for the Green Line Extension and the South Coast Rail. Critics have said those projects would add to the state’s indebtedness and the cost of running an MBTA system already struggling with an antiquated fleet and infrastructure.

While funding is being lined up for the Green Line trolley to Somerville and beyond and the project appears inevitable to transportation experts, other projects such as extending the Silver Line bus to Chelsea, expanding South Station and stretching the commuter rail to Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford, face challenges in funding, logistics, politics and labor relations.

“Everything we’ve announced will be on track, and we’ll have some progress against before I leave, and I think whoever the next governor is, their understanding of the value of investing of in education, innovation and infrastructure will be key to the future growth of the Commonwealth, so it would be hard for me to imagine that the next governor would turn away from these investments or the people that they benefit,” Patrick told the News Service earlier this month. He said, “The responsibility to see that the next governor is held accountable for delivering on these belongs to the voters.”

The governor’s transportation priorities, along with earmarks for scores of smaller projects around the state, could emerge for consideration in the House this week as part of a $12.1 billion transportation bond bill, although House leaders were unable to say Monday if the bill would come up for debate.

Fred Salvucci, a lecturer at MIT who was Gov. Michael Dukakis’s transportation secretary, said the South Station expansion would require moving the United States Post Office facility next door, which employs many people, and running the Silver Line to Chelsea faces logistical hurdles in the buses, which currently switch between gas and electrical power.

None of the major projects in the pipeline faces as steep a climb as the South Coast Rail, which faces some opposition from environmentalists for its routing through the Hockomock Swamp, carries a $1.8 billion price tag for construction that would be borne entirely by the state, and an additional federal requirement to electrify the trains rather than use diesel.

“If the next governor doesn’t see any priority, that’s one it’s pretty easy to not implement,” Salvucci told the News Service. He said, “It’s got the longest way to go, plus I believe some opposition, so that’s the toughest.”

Asked which projects would be past the “point of no return,” Patrick said, “My hope is that they will all be 14 months from now.”

That sentiment was troublesome to Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, a Gloucester Republican, who has warned of the state’s high level of indebtedness.

“One of the guiding principles of our state government has always been not binding future legislatures to future expenses, and certainly not binding future administrations to certain courses of action, and to depart from that now I think is an indication that we may be seeing some effort in building a legacy,” Tarr told the News Service. “The question is at what expense is that legacy going to come for the folks that have to follow and pay for these things and deal with their consequences.”

By sinking enough money into a project, an administration can virtually ensure its eventual completion.

Sen. Robert Hedlund, a Weymouth Republican and longtime member of the Transportation Committee, said the state “can afford” to extend the Green Line, but had greater doubts about South Coast Rail, saying he believes the administration’s estimate of a $40 million operating subsidy once the project is completed is low.

Hedlund said past administrations have nudged projects past the “point of no return” by getting construction started, but said the Patrick and prior administrations have played a different game with the South Coast Rail, funding environmental studies and permitting as a means to push off the actual construction.

When Gov. Mitt Romney took office, he froze capital spending, and scored transportation projects on their necessity, finding the ongoing Greenbush commuter rail line into Hedlund’s South Shore district was “dead last.” Despite the finding, Romney was unable to halt the project, Hedlund said, because so much of the work had already been completed.

The advent of a new administration can bring new hopes and worries for those whose pet projects have not yet crept past the point of no return.

“It’s kind of a barbaric system in some respects,” House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, a Quincy Democrat, told the News Service. “When the new administration comes in it’s a fight to make sure they look at your project favorably.”

Transportation Secretary Richard Davey told the News Service that the merits of projects undertaken by the Patrick administration should power them onto the next governor’s priority list.

“I think the bottom line is, it’s less about having the ink dry on a contract by January ’15, although that will happen in many instances, but it’s choosing the right projects that anyone in their right mind will continue,” Davey said.

“For any person who’s elected governor, they would have to think twice about rolling back anything we put in place because we’re not choosing these projects will nilly,” Davey added. He said, “We’re still working on our final permits for South Coast Rail. South Station’s a little more complicated; there’s a lot more moving pieces to that proposal.”

GREEN LINE EXTENSION

The Green Line Extension, which is mandated by a court settlement between the state and the Conservation Law Foundation, is far along the track to completion.

On Oct. 21, MassDOT officials signed a $393 million contract extension to rebuild the current terminus Lechmere Station in East Cambridge and construct brand new stations in Somerville’s Brickbottom and Union Square neighborhoods.

Those three stations comprise the first leg of the first phase of the project, which would continue on to stops in Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square and College Avenue in Medford. CLF contends the state must bring the trolley line out to Route 16, near the Arlington border, and notes that the further extension was included in the Boston Region Transportation Improvement Program with funding programmed for fiscal year 2016.

Though Republicans have warned of the financial implications expanding the system would have on an agency that already runs deficits and features major maintenance backlogs, Hedlund said the project is worthwhile and affordable.

“I think that we can afford to do the Green Line Extension. I just think it should have come a long time ago,” the Weymouth Republican told the News Service.

The Green Line’s completion, which had been recently considered unlikely by several Somerville pols, is now nearly set in stone, according to Salvucci.

“It seems to me that a new governor would be very unlikely to stop the Green Line. It’s a good project; some people might have different priorities, but it’s a good project,” Salvucci said. “I don’t think anyone’s against it, per se, and it’s so far along it seems unlikely anyone could stop it.”

The state recently submitted an application for federal New Starts funding, which officials hope would provide nearly half the $1.3 billion cost of bringing the trolley out to College Avenue. A federal award would add to the inevitability of the project.

SILVER LINE TO CHELSEA

Having secured a bus-only route into Chelsea from East Boston, Patrick recently announced plans to extend the Silver Line into the mostly water-bound city, creating a terminus that would include a new commuter rail station near the Everett line.

The most significant remaining hurdle is the buses themselves, according to Salvucci and Chelsea Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty.

The Silver Line buses ferry passengers on overhead electric power in underground tunnels through the South Boston Seaport before shifting to gas to make the trek through tunnels to Logan International Airport.

The line is in need of new buses, the manufacturer is now out of business, and the electrified catenary wires cannot be strung through the Ted Williams Tunnel, and gas engines cannot be-used in the subways beneath the Seaport, Salvucci said.

“They’ve got to solve the equipment problem,” the former transportation chief told the News Service.

Salvucci said hybrid gas-electric vehicles might be a solution, or the route could bypass the South Boston leg driving through the tunnels directly to East Boston, where it could continue on to Chelsea.

“Chelsea really wants it,” Salvucci said. “I think the Chelsea priority is likely to have legs with any governor if they can solve the vehicle problem.”

SOUTH STATION EXPANSION

The expansion of South Station faces mightier hurdles, as the new platforms could go right where a major U.S. Postal Service station is currently located.

“The post office has a lot of jobs,” Salvucci noted. Noting some opposition from advocates of linking North and South station by rail, Salvucci said said an agreement with the Postal Service to acquire the land would head the project on a trajectory toward completion.

“South Station is quite full, and there’s lots of people who want more commuter rail service, and who want more inter-city Amtrak service,” Salvucci said. He said, “It’s got a lot further to go, and the biggest significant hurdle, I think, is working out a deal with the Post Office. If that happens it still will not be at the same status as the Green Line, but it will be in stronger shape.”

RAIL TO THE SOUTH COAST

For lawmakers in the coastal regions off Buzzards and Mount Hope bays, the announcement this fall that the state had secured approval from the Army Corps of Engineers for construction of a rail link through Taunton to Fall River and New Bedford may have triggered déjà vu.

When Patrick came into office, he inherited state permits for the long-awaited return of rail service to the South Coast from the Romney administration, though Gov. Mitt Romney had not yet secured approval of the Army Corps before passing the reins of government to Patrick.

“When Patrick-Murray came in, they said, ‘Well, in order to really make sure that it’s going to be done right, we want to do all this stuff all over again, because it’s under our jurisdiction now. We want to make sure all the T’s are crossed, all the I’s are dotted, and so on and so forth,’” said Sen. Marc Pacheo, a Taunton Democrat. “I think in part it was done for that reason; I think in part it was done because nobody had the money.”

Pacheco was one of a few Democratic lawmakers from the region who voted against the July tax bill because he believed it was insufficient to fund the project.

The transportation bond bill that passed the Transportation Committee last week fully funded the rail line at $2.2 billion, an increase from original estimates of $1.8 billion earlier this year. House Transportation Chairman William Straus, a Mattapoisett Democrat who represents part of New Bedford, said the administration said the $12.1 billion 5-year-bond bill could be supported with the roughly $340 million in new taxes.

While skepticism has taken hold among some lawmakers in the region, several noted the efforts undertaken by the Patrick administration, which have extended beyond environmental studies and permitting to include upgrading bridges along the corridor and rehabbing of the tracks, which are in use by freight companies.

“I would encourage Gov. Patrick to undertake those projects that have independent value immediately,” said Straus, noting there is a bridge along the rail route, which would need to be upgraded for the train and also occasionally jams up trucks.

Sen. Mark Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat who describes himself as a “cautious pessimist” about the project’s completion, said tens of millions have been put into bridgework and track upgrades.

Pacheco, Straus and Montigny all said the Patrick administration has demonstrated its commitment to the project.

That “money in the ground” could inch the project toward the point of no return, but it is unlikely to reach inevitable status during Patrick’s tenure, said Salvucci.

Pacheco noted the rail had already passed through the swamp when it was in service about a half century ago.

“Electrification on commuter rail is a huge deal. I mean, in some cities commuter rail is electrified, and in Boston none of our system is electrified. It would be nice to have it be electrified, but that’s a lot of money and a lot of engineering and a lot of time,” Salvucci said.

Added to South Coast Rail’s challenges is the requirement to expand South Station to accommodate the increased rail service, and the $40 million operating subsidy to run the service once it is built.

“You’re going to get to the point where you’ve got to make a decision,” said Hedlund. “You can’t just build something and not know how you’re going to pay to run it once it’s built.”

Hedlund said administrations dating back to Gov. Paul Cellucci in the 1990s have appeased South Coast officials and business leaders by funding studies for the rail line, without actually funding the much heftier cost of construction.

“They announce they’re releasing some money for environmental work or what have you. There’s all these little milestones, but it’s all small amount of dollars that get released, and get sunk into the project. It’s nowhere near comparable to what had happened with Greenbush, where they were actually undertaking land takings and actual digging and ground work,” Hedlund said.

THE GREENBUSH EXAMPLE

While Hedlund holds up the Greenbush rail line to the South Shore as an example of a project handcuffing an incoming administration, the halting of the Inner Belt highway project in the 1970s has been held up as a triumph of one administration squashing the plans of its predecessors.

Salvucci, who was transportation advisor to former Boston Mayor Kevin White and worked to stop the highway, said it took courage for Gov. Frank Sargent to scrap the proposed highway through Somerville, Cambridge and Boston neighborhoods, but it was not as far along as it seemed and had substantial opposition from the people whose homes would be demolished to make room for the highway.

“The Inner Belt had not gone through its environmental impact statement, for instance, which was a brand new requirement. The law requiring environmental impact statements came in in 1970,” said Salvucci. He said, “It seemed imminent because everyone was talking about it. It actually had a fairly long way to go in procedural terms . . . There was federal funding available, which made it pretty courageous, very courageous, I’d say, for Sargent to stop it.”

Hedlund said Gov. Mitt Romney found the Greenbush line scored “dead last” of all the ongoing transportation projects, but it was so far along that he allowed the construction to continue.

“The problem was that the Cellucci administration had gone ahead using some nefarious language that was put in a transportation bond bill, giving the MBTA authority to do a design-build on one quote-unquote ‘pilot project’ and they chose Greenbush to do that, which was not the legislative intent. So what the Romney administration found that was there was too much money sunk in the ground already to kill the project, and they weren’t even at full-design phase. They were only at 30 percent design, but they were using that design-build language that was given to them in a bond bill,” Hedlund said. He said, “The intent was it was going to be for a minor project, not anything controversial. That way they could kind of try it out, and of course they picked extremely controversial, expensive project to do it on, so I felt that was a deliberate strategy to get money sunk in the ground before a new administration came in and had a chance to really look at that, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Pacheco said when Romney froze capital spending upon taking office it put plans for a judicial complex in Taunton on ice for the remainder of Romney’s term in office.

“He pulled it from the list, so we had to wait until Deval Patrick came into office,” Pacheco said.

Wellesley dentist sends over 7,300 pounds of candy to soldiers, troops overseas

November 11, 2013 02:15 PM

wellesleydentalsoldiers.jpg

Wellesley Dental Group

Two soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard stand in front of the mountain of candy collected at the Wellesley Dental Group last week.

If anyone has ever wondered what 7,000 pounds of candy looks like, just ask Dr. Femina Ali.

Ali collected more than 7,340 pounds of leftover Halloween candy last week at her Wellesley dental office, shipping dozens of bins filled to the brim with treats to American soldiers overseas.

Ali and husband Ejaz Ali, who together run the Wellesley Dental Group, have been collecting leftover Halloween sweets for the past half-dozen years, at first bribing her youngest clients to hand it over in the name of cavity prevention, Ali said.

wellesleycandysidebar.jpg
Wellesley Dental Group
Over 7,000 pounds of candy
Last year, the group saw 6,000 pounds of candy, storing it in the dental office's finished basement before hauling it off to ship overseas. But this year, there was so much that candy filled the basement, lined the walls of the upstairs office, and eventually spilled outside, Ali said.

"We had so much candy, we couldn't even contain it indoors," she said. "We used shovels to pack the candy and put it in the U-Haul."

The pictures don't even do the amount collected justice: much of the candy was also stored in the U-Haul truck overnight, as it was picked up from local schools that hosted individual in-building candy drives in hopes of racking up the most candy donated.

"There would have been too much, so we kept some of it in the truck," Ali said.

And even after the dental group had their hauling-off ceremony, where trucks took the candy to Weymouth-based nonprofit CarePacks to ship in care packages to soldiers, the in-pouring of candy has continued.

"I have at least 300 pounds sitting in our office, and I think there could be another hundred or two still trickling in," Ali said. "It's still coming in and we're not saying no."

At the Nov. 8 shipping-off ceremony, Ali said there was a patriotic spirit in the air, as military officials joined with town and public safety departments to send the candy off.

"It's truly touching how much our community loves and supports our troops," Ali said. "To see the national guards, police, fire department, veterans, schools and the community come together was truly amazing."

Ali previously told Boston.com that she originally set up the candy collection program 8 years ago to discourage tooth decay, at first even offering kids $1 per pound of candy.

"I had to bribe them to give me the candy," Ali said, laughing. "The first year I got 60 or 70 pounds of candy, so I spent about $60 or $70 but I felt good to get the candy off of the kids' hands."

But after the initiative grew exponentially in popularity, Ali decided to begin donating the candy to US troops overseas, after finding out that local food pantries would not accept the sweets.

"The troops need to know they are remembered back home," she said. "It's not just the candy that kids bring, but also the little notes and handmade cards and letters. It's so touching to read their notes saying 'Thank you, I want to share my Halloween candy with you.' You almost cry."

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

South Shore trains and ferries ramp up for Red Sox parade

November 1, 2013 12:15 PM

As revelers get ready to gather in Boston to celebrate the Boston's World Series win, South Shore MBTA routes are preparing to amp up service.

Service on the Red, Orange, Blue and Green lines will operate with rush hour levels of service beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Previously scheduled diversions between Kendall/MIT and Park Street Stations on the Red line have been canceled for Nov. 2 and 3. The commuter boat out of Hingham will also be running at maximum capacity.

“Please be advised that each boat trip has a maximum capacity of 149 passengers. Parade-goers may start purchasing the $16 round trip tickets this afternoon at the Hingham Shipyard ticket window,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pestaturo on Friday.

Customers are also encouraged to buy round trip or return tickets prior to their inbound trips to avoid long lines on their way home.

Commuter line trains will not be running out of Greenbush, Kingston, or Stoughton. However, patrons can catch commuter trains out of Worcester, Franklin/Forge Park, Providence, Middleboro/Lakeville, and a number of North Shore trains.

“Commuter Rail's Saturday schedule has been modified to provide special, pre-parade service with extra inbound trains in the morning,” MBTA officials said on their website. “In addition, capacity is being significantly increased along each line. Please expect variations in scheduled times due to increased ridership and allow extra time for your trip. The MBTA strongly urges parade-goers to take advantage of the earliest trains to avoid very heavy volume on subsequent trains.”

Each of those lines will return to their regular Saturday schedules at approximately 4 p.m.

Commuter Rail tickets can be purchase electronically via the mTicket mobile ticketing app at www.mbta.com/mticket beginning Friday, November 1 at 1:00 p.m.

For more information or train and boat schedules, click here.

The Red Sox parade will start at 10 a.m. at Fenway Park.

For more information on the parade, click here.

Regional and vocational technical schools would get more money under bill

October 24, 2013 04:39 PM

Regional and vocational technical high schools would be eligible for additional state funding for capital projects, under legislation filed by Sen. Kenneth Donnelly, an Arlington Democrat.

Advocates for the bill (S 228) told lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Education Thursday that regional and vocational technical high schools desperately need the state’s help to fund renovation and improvement projects because it is nearly impossible to get several different towns all to agree to take on the debt.

James Laverty, superintendent at Franklin County Technical School, said his school has done as many renovations as they can over the years without asking the towns for money.

“We will have to go to 19 towns at town meeting with our hat in our hands,” he said.

The odds are stacked against them to get all the towns to approve a large renovation project, Laverty said.

The town of Heath, in Franklin County, has only two students who attend the school out of 500 students. If 70 people in Heath show up at town meeting, and 36 vote no, “the whole project is dead in the water,” Laverty said.

Under the legislation, regional and vocational technical high schools would be eligible for additional reimbursement, which is calculated by the Massachusetts School Building Authority based on a four-part formula. A school district can receive up to 80 percent of the cost of a capital improvement project, and must pay for any remaining share of the cost.

The formula awards percentage points of reimbursement in three mandatory income-based metrics. Regional school districts often have unequal shares for each city or town when improvement costs are allocated, according to Donnelly’s office. The legislation would increase the percentage points awarded in the grant process for regional schools by 10 points, and vocational schools would receive 20 additional points. The goal is lower the costs for cities and towns, according to Donnelly’s office.

If the Legislature offers a “little more” and regional school capital projects can get closer to 80 percent reimbursement from the MSBA, “it would make it a little easier,” Laverty said.

Alice DeLuca, the Stow representative to the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Lexington, said vocational and technical high school students are at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts at traditional high schools because their schools cannot renovate and bring in the latest technologies.

State lawmakers need to back up with money the support they voice for vocational and technical schools, she said.

“These schools provide the middle skills that everybody says they want,” DeLuca said.

“The kids who go to vocational schools do not have a nice, new renovated building and they are never going to unless something is done,” she added.

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