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Martin Desmarais

Stories by Martin

Minimum wage backers get boost from Obama

Political support for a hike in minimum wage is high, with President Obama, Massachusetts lawmakers and political leaders across the country proffering different versions of wage hikes for the nation’s lowest-paid workers.

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Business leaders discuss opportunities, challenges in Boston

On Monday night the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center hosted a Black History Month community forum that featured an impressive panel of speakers examining how Boston can be more effective at providing economic development opportunities for businesses run by people of color. The biggest message was clear — talking about economic strategies is not enough, decisive business development action for minority-run businesses is needed.

BPS seeks edge in teacher hiring process

Officials at Boston Public Schools are looking to improve the odds in their competition with other cities and towns for the best teachers.

Boston Public School central staff jobs at risk as new budget falls short

This past week has been a difficult one for Boston Public Schools as officials proposed an initial budget that fails to keep up with rising costs and drops in state and federal funding — and also told central office staff that their jobs are not guaranteed after the end of this school year on June 30.

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SBA training gives boost to Boston business owners

The U.S. Small Business Administration is stepping up its efforts to connect with budding local Boston small business owners to help them get their young companies rolling.

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Minority hiring figures vary for Boston contractors

An examination of the numbers, shows that much of the work done in Boston still falls short of the expectations for using city residents, workers of color and women, but some recent projects have begun to set a strong example of how to find success in adhering to the city’s job policies.

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Obama puts spotlight on growing income inequality

President Obama called on the country’s leaders to make 2014 "a year of action" to address the growing wage gap in the United States during his State of the Union address last week.His call to action mirrors moves in Massachusetts and cities and states across the country to apply public policy to the deepening wage divide.

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Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget prioritizes education, human services

Gov. Deval Patrick is calling for increased support for education, human services and health care in his fiscal year 2015 budget.

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Interior designer Denise Rush follows passion into academic role at Boston Architectural College

Denise Rush, the director of undergraduate interior design at Boston Architectural College’s School of Interior Design, reflects back over 25 years in her field — an uncommon career choice for a young black girl growing up in Grand Rapids, Mich. — and says the advice she gives her students is to follow their passion.

Lawmakers shoring up voter rights laws

Civil rights advocates — including the NAACP — have been scrambling since last June when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and delivered a serious blow to protections for black voters in the United States. But they got a boost earlier this month when legislation was introduced in Congress to restore some of the protections of the Voting Rights Act.

Minorities underrepresented in Hub corporate leadership

While people of color make up more than 50 percent of Boston’s population, the city’s corporate leadership remains overwhelmingly white, according to a University of Massachusetts, Boston study.

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CDC proposes Fairmount Line housing development

Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation went public at a meeting last week with plans for a new 27-apartment development on Nott Street in Hyde Park near the MBTA’s Fairmount Station, and reaction was mixed.

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Diversity a top priority for New England carpenters union

New England Regional Council of Carpenters Executive Secretary Mark Erlich says the Massachusetts building trades’ future will reflect a workforce that is diverse and inclusive — if for no other reason — based on the need to add younger workers and the pool of talent available.

Polls: public confidence in government down

According to several recent polls, Americans’ trust in the government and belief that it can solve pressing problems — the economy, health care and the budget — is at an all-time low. But pundits suggest this is no surprise on the back of the government shutdown and caution that widespread dislike of political leaders does not equate the inability of the government to function.

Boston school department stands by teacher evaluation process

Prior to the launch of Boston Public School’s new evaluation system last school year, the city had strong support across the board, but now the Boston Teachers Union is crying foul. The union is demanding in a grievance that BPS rehire 30 teachers who were removed for poor performance and it has stated claims that the evaluation system is discriminatory.

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Year in Review: Politics of polarization dominated U.S. news

On the national stage, the politics of polarization were on display with Democrats and Republicans locking horns over the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, voting rights laws and myriad other issues.

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Boston Fair Housing Commission documents Hub housing discrimination

Boston may be a majority minority city, but when it comes to finding housing, the playing field is tilted toward white professionals, according to a housing discrimination testing program conducted by the city’s Fair Housing Commission. The test of over 20 housing listings found strong evidence of discrimination in 40 percent of cases examined.

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Recess now mandatory for Boston public schools

The city’s school department is getting serious about playing, this year requiring that all Boston schools, kindergarten through eighth grade, have recess.

Voter rights activists pin hopes on Mass. Senate

Voter rights activists are hoping the Massachusetts Senate will pass electoral reforms next year after the House approved online registration and early voting measures.

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Marty Walsh team solicits views on economic development

Discussion of jobs and wages dominated Mayor-elect Marty Walsh’s first public hearing on economic development Monday night at English High School.

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Activists continuing push for minimum wage ballot question

Despite the Mass. Senate’s vote to raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour, labor activists say they will continue to move forward on a ballot referendum to raise the minimum wage and ensure that all workers earn sick time if they or family members are ill.

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Massachusetts Building Trades face long diversity odds

Increasing the numbers of blacks, Latinos Asians and women in the construction industry and the building trades is an uphill battle, with thousands of workers entering each year and the established diversity programs helping a small number so far, but Massachusetts trades organizations say they are committed to the fight.

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Boston to hand over $1 million in budgeting to city’s youth

The city of Boston is joining forces with The Participatory Budgeting Project to launch a youth participatory budgeting process and has set aside $1 million to be allocated through the program. Youth involved in the program will identify projects to improve their communities, examine the best options and vote on how to spend the money.

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BRA on the chopping block; Walsh’s plans critical to Boston

Mayor-elect Marty Walsh says he will make sweeping changes to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, moving development planning to a separate agency and making the development process more transparent and accountable to neighborhood residents.

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Boston schools debut new assignment plan

Last weekend, parents visited public schools, talked to teachers and received information to help them decide what school is best for them as part of the Boston Public School department’s new school assignment policy.

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Dolphins debacle puts issues of harassment, racism in spotlight

The flood of news coverage surrounding the alleged harassment of Miami Dolphins player Jonathan Martin by teammate Richie Incognito has brought issues of racism and harassment into the national conversation.

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Women top vote-getters in Boston at-large city council election

When Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and City Councilor-Elect Michelle Wu topped the ballot for two of the four at large council seats in the election last week, the prevailing political wind was one of change with two women of color leading the way and drawing the most votes.

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Viet-AID honored for work improving Fields Corner

Dorchester House President and CEO Walter J. Ramos says honoring Viet-AID was an easy choice.

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Dorchester’s Quincy Street Corridor gets $100 million investment

Over a few short blocks of Quincy St. in Dorchester, beginning on Blue Hill Ave. and heading east to Columbia Rd., a push to revitalize the area is on full display with four major projects spread out on both sides of the street and close to $100 million designated for investment.

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IBA celebrates 45 years of building community

Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion celebrated 45 years last week with a gala event on Oct. 18 at its Villa Victoria Center for the Arts in the South End.

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Fairmont Line stops bring new housing, commercial growth to Boston

The opening of new commuter rail stations along the Fairmont Line, which runs through Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan and Hyde Park, is spurring a development boom along its route.

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Health advocates winning fight against teen pregnancy

While recent research has shown that the rate of teen births in the United States is down — with Massachusetts showing one of the biggest declines in the country — activists who work to combat teen pregnancy in Boston are still hard at work.

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Berklee College of Music clubhouses are music to the ears of Boston kids

Through free concerts, workshops and educational programs, Berklee College of Music students and professors regularly share the love of music and performance with the Boston community.

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Northeastern expansion plans trigger widespread concerns

This week Northeastern University goes in front of the Boston Redevelopment Authority with its new 10-year master plan for expansion and development, along with a request for a permit to start work on a new science center. Community concern has risen quickly about the amount of student housing that will be part of this plan, the lack of communication with adjacent neighbors and response to worries voiced by those neighbors.

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Lawyer Rachael Rollins forges successful career in Massachusetts transportation

Rachael Rollins, the new chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Port Authority, is used to being among the "firsts." She has blazed a successful career in the higher levels of state government, an area that has not exactly been known for supporting much diversity in the past.

Boston Public Schools hits record level for student MCAS improvement

The most recent numbers for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test show record levels for African American and Latino Boston Public Schools students — and improvement all throughout the school system.

Troubled HUB schools ‘turnaround’ in latest statewide test scores

In 2009, Boston Public Schools singled out 12 Boston schools as some of the worst in the state. Through state funding and grants the schools were able to pay for new staff and extra teaching time, helping them improve. Five schools have made some of the highest academic gains in the state.

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Roxbury Community College, UMass Boston receive $300K grant to help close achievement gap

Roxbury Community College (RCC) has been given $294,859 by the state to work with the University of Massachusetts Boston to improve student performance, increase graduation rates and continue its overall work to close the achievement gap in higher education.

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Groups seek signatures for earned sick time and higher minimum wage

More than 50 Massachusetts organizations launched a signature-raising drive last week to push the state legislature to raise the minimum wage and ensure that all workers earn sick time if they or family members are ill.

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Swinging for the fences: ‘The Base’ uses sports to push student athletes to excellence on the field and in the classroom

Robert Lewis Jr., founder of the Boston Astros baseball program, believes in the power of sports to help boys succeed not just on the field, but in life. He has recently launched The Base, a nonprofit organization that pairs baseball training with educational support.

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Boston Public Schools launch bullying prevention text hotline

BPS has had a bullying hotline for several years, but this school year it has launched a new text hotline, TipTxt, that school officials are hoping will get more kids reporting problems.

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Boston Public Schools: New technology to improve busing

On Sept. 4, Boston Public Schools (BPS) started off the school year in the passing lane with its new bus contract and an increased emphasis on technology to make its bus service better.

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Workers march on Harvard, Cambridge College for better jobs, benefits

Several hundred 32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU) New England District 615 workers and supporters marched from the steps of Cambridge City Hall to Cambridge College and then on to Harvard University on Labor Day. Organizers said the event was meant to honor workers but also to remind employers that quality jobs and benefits have a direct effect on quality of life in the Boston community.

Boston Public Schools studying black and Latino male students’ success rates

In June, BPS received a $250,000 grant from the Barr Foundation and made a commitment of $260,000 to collect data on black and Latino male students and start an advisory committee. The ultimate goal is to make black and Latino male students more successful and ensure that a BPS education has a more positive impact for these students.

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Roxbury residents: Nuestra Development’s Bartlett Yard plans still lacking

Developers of the Bartlett Yard in Roxbury are set to begin demolition as early as November on the new Bartlett Place and have a proposed plan that they feel is satisfactory to all. While some neighboring residents welcome the project, many are discouraged that the plans do not meet a number of the original stipulations outlined by the city years ago

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One Hen hatches in Boston with program at Kroc Center

A dozen eight- and nine-year olds spent most of the summer learning what it means to get into business at Dorchester’s Salvation Army Kroc Center. Last week, the budding entrepreneurs took their self-made key chains and bracelets to market as an end to their One Hen Academy summer experience. They sold over $100 worth of products and plan to donate some of the money.

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Demolition set to begin on Bartlett Yard

A former MBTA bus yard, Bartlett Yard is now owned by Nuestra Comunidad Development Corp. and that company is working with Windale Developers on a project called Bartlett Place with the ultimate aim of developing 323 units of housing and 54,000 square feet of commercial property on 8.5 acres of land. Demolition begins on the site this fall.

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New Dimock CEO Myechia Minter-Jordan driven by passion for patients

Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, the new president and CEO of The Dimock Center, is an accomplished doctor and hospital executive. To say she is passionate about providing health care to everyone is an understatement.

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Harvard Law’s Legal Service Center to help stop foreclosure crisis in Mattapan

The Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School is joining the fight against the foreclosure crisis and last week launched a new anti-foreclosure and eviction-defense program called the Mattapan Initiative. Through this initiative, the Center will provide free legal services to homeowners in Mattapan.

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New liquor store approved near Dorchester schools

Though a number of people spoke out against a new proposed liquor store on Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester — including Boston City Councillor At-Large John Connolly — the plan was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals last week. The new liquor store will be at 1445 Dorchester Ave. not far the Harbor Middle School, the Community Academy of Science and Health High School and a community center.