Massachusetts House members released a $40.9 billion budget proposal last week with modest investments in education spending and new investments in drug treatment programs, funding for housing and homeless services and funding for re-entry programs aimed at helping ex-offenders find work.
Changes aimed at reducing jail time and recidivism
Surrounded by Democratic and Republican lawmakers, Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that rolls back mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent crimes, reforms the state’s criminal records laws making it easier for ex-offenders to seal their records and reduces fines and fees assessed on ex-prisoners.
Teachers unions steer clear of event, call for more funding
State officials and education leaders gathered at the State House last Thursday to mark the 25 years since Massachusetts passed the 1993 Education Reform Act, which codified the so-called grand bargain of increased state funding for schools coupled with mandatory standardized testing.
Housing, economic development, education discussed
The democratic contenders for Massachusetts governor said little to define their differences Monday night at a RoxVote-sponsored debate held at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square and moderated by Meghan Irons and Adrian Walker of the Boston Globe.
More radical ideas ignored as efforts to memorialize King went mainstream
While the initial reactions were violent, Martin Luther King’s death left a legacy of positive change in the United States that, while falling short of his lofty aims to build a more just and equitable society, nevertheless had profound impacts on the lives of people of color. As the gains of the civil rights movement in housing, employment and public accommodation solidified in the 1970s, King’s ideas and calls for a nation free of prejudice became more widely accepted
Roxbury, South Boston historical groups commemorate expulsion of British troops
In more recent history, the last leg of the trip — from the Roxbury headquarters of General George Washington’s Continental Army to Dorchester Heights, the highest point in president-day South Boston — has often seemed more distant. While markers commemorating Knox’s historical feat were laid throughout New York and Massachusetts in 1926, terminating at a Dorchester Heights monument to the Continental Army’s fortifications, it wasn’t until 2009 that Roxbury received a marker for the Knox Trail.
Software engineer branches out into designing accessories
Juanda Siddiqui is a software engineer who works for Waltham-based defense contractor, Raytheon. However, she channels her artistic bent into making and selling jewelry in her spare time through her business, Cultural Findings.
Former asst. U.S. attorney latest to join race to replace Dan Conley
Rachael Rollins, a former assistant U.S. attorney and chief legal counsel at MassPort has entered the race for the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, pledging to introduce reforms to the office while pursuing justice for victims of crime.
Commissioner, councilors on board with full implementation after study
Mayor Martin Walsh for the first time signaled support for funding full implementation of body-worn cameras after city councilors, community activists and Boston Police Department brass testified in support of implementing the devices during a hearing Monday.
DA departure sets off political chain reaction
With a special election looming for the 1st Suffolk Senate district seat recently vacated by Linda Dorcena Forry, Conley’s surprise move may mean a cake-walk for South Boston state Rep. Nick Collins, who now has no opposition for the senate seat on the Democratic or Republican ballots. Rep. Evandro Carvalho, a former Suffolk County prosecutor, withdrew from the 1st Suffolk race to pursue the DA seat.
Arroyo accuser drops complaint
The woman who accused former Boston Chief of Health and Human Services Felix G. Arroyo of sexual harassment has withdrawn her complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in a move that could open the door to filing a civil law suit.
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley’s announcement he will not seek office next year has changed the calculus in what is shaping up to be a busy state election year.
New approach requires community input
Days after the Question 2 ballot initiative backing charter school expansion went down by a decisive 62-38 margin in 2016, charter proponents including Gov. Charlie Baker cited the Springfield Empowerment Zone as the next new education reform.
Eleven years after original P3 designation, land remains bare
Elma Lewis Partners and the development team that will jointly own the project, Feldco Development, now say they are just months away from beginning site preparation work, but Boston Planning and Development Agency has yet to give its final approval for the project.
Small Beacon Hill community moved to south neighborhoods
Since the black community first coalesced on Beacon Hill in the late 18th century, blacks began a pattern of moving into neighborhoods abandoned by the white gentry. At the time, wealthy whites who had employed blacks as servants on Beacon Hill began moving off the Boston peninsula to outlying communities in the town of Roxbury, where they built country estates.
Parents began signing up their children for kindergarten seats in Boston’s public schools in early January. But those anticipating a quick turnaround may be sorely disappointed. School department officials say parents won’t be notified of their children’s assignments until May 31.
Three-way race for gubernatorial nod could drive higher turnout to yearly party meetings
The three Democrats vying for governor in the 2018 election have been making their rounds for months, hitting up strongholds of the party faithful to garner support for their candidacies.
Broker finds interpersonal skills, marketing keys to success
Deborah Bernat’s entrepreneurial roots go back to her childhood in Weston, when she collected rocks, painted and shellacked them and sold them to neighborhood children.
With $4 million grant, program aims to reach 10,000 BPS students in 5 years
Boston schools can help meet the growing need for tech sector jobs by promoting science and technology education in the Boston Public Schools, says Mayor Martin Walsh. Last week, Walsh and other city officials visited Mario Umana K-8 Academy in East Boston for a demonstration of BoSTEM, a city-wide initiative aimed at increasing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming in after-school programs for students in grades 6–8.
Mayor noncommittal about implementation
The Boston Police Department has released preliminary results of a body camera pilot project showing that the 120 officers outfitted with the devices were slightly less likely to use force and garnered fewer complaints than a similar number of officers in the study who did not wear the cameras.
Gov. candidate gears up for Dem. caucuses
Former Newton Mayor and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren thinks Massachusetts isn’t investing enough in its education system, and he’s not afraid to raise the revenue he says the state will need to fully fund its schools. Speaking at a forum organized by the group JP Progressives Sunday, the candidate slammed incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker for failing to halt the rising tide of economic inequality in the state.
BPDA to hold meeting on planning process
BPDA officials are planning a Jan. 10 community conversation on Glover’s Corner covering the planning process itself.
Mayoral race, racism in Boston dominated headlines last year
As the year 2017 dawned, much of America was focused on the incoming administration of President Donald Trump, who rode to electoral victory in the 2016 campaign with divisive campaign rhetoric and a vague pledge to “make America great again.”
Pressley, Wu author ordinance that would add transparency to the city’s contracting process
The Boston City Council passed an ordinance this month aimed at beefing up the city’s contracting with minority and woman-owned businesses, adding teeth to an existing program.
Despite growing up with a white mother and black father, Roxbury defense attorney Christian Williams sees himself as black. Coming of age in Providence in the 1970s and ’80s, it wasn’t difficult to discern what racial category society reserved for mixed-race children, especially once Williams began driving.
Local restaurateurs bringing new concepts to Dudley Square
When news that Dudley Dough was closing hit the streets in October, some in Roxbury expressed frustration at the slow pace of development in Dudley Square, which now seemed to be moving backward.
Globe series, race dialogue bring up issues of inclusion
Capping a week in which racism in Boston took center stage, with the Boston Globe’s seven-part series on the topic dominating conversations, Mayor Martin Walsh held his second annual Boston Talks About Racism event at Northeastern University.
Demonstrators interrupt planning meeting, call for 6-month moratorium
Activists from a coalition of community groups and neighborhood associations interrupted a BPDA-hosted public meeting last week, grabbing the cordless microphone and demanding a six-month moratorium on the city’s planning process.
People of color still underrepresented in City Hall
As the NAACP noted in its recent report card, people of color make up 53 percent of the city’s population, but 45 percent of the city’s workforce. And the more than 7,000 people of color working in City Hall earn substantially less on average than their white counterparts. As Mayor Martin Walsh enters his second term in office, civil rights advocates will be looking for more substantial progress on efforts to bring equity to City Hall.
Board chair says district made unilateral decisions
Nearly two months after Boston Public Schools officials canceled the enrollment of 104 students from Greater Egleston High School, many remain off the school’s rolls and the department has yet to give an explanation for the action.
Entrepreneur draws on diverse experiences to build business
Abraham Gonzalez has come a long way since he was introduced to the construction industry at age 10, fetching tools and helping hang sheetrock to assist his uncles in Miami with their carpentry business back in the 1980s, and working with his father renovating bathrooms and kitchens in Boston in the 1990s. Now, he has 40 employees, including administrative staff[SL2] working out of the busy Kemble Street headquarters of his firm, One Way Development. He works on as many as 80 jobs a year, from residential projects as small as $500 apartment turnovers to major commercial projects as large as a $1 million lighthouse reconstruction.
While legislators were debating legislative reforms aimed at making the state’s criminal justice system more fair, the public defenders, social workers, paralegals and investigators who work for the state’s Committee for Public Counsel Services were fighting for a reform they say would go a long way toward ensuring that indigent defendants get a fair trial: collective bargaining rights.
The Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building has brought to Dudley Square Boston Public Schools staff and housing food, retail and service businesses in its ground-floor retail spaces. But as daylight fades and workers depart the area, the commercial district loses its vitality. That may change, as more than 400 housing units permitted and under construction in the Dudley Square area come into being. The new housing projects, undertaken by local community development corporations and development firms, promise to bring a mixture of affordable and market-rate housing to the area, potentially increasing the number of people in the area after dark, and the number of people with sufficient disposable income to keep businesses thriving.
Black and Latino Caucus members take lead role in shaping legislation
Members of the Legislative Black and Latino Caucus are backing a House criminal justice reform bill they say would repeal some mandatory minimum sentences, give youthful offenders and others better opportunities to seal and expunge their criminal records and put limits on the use of solitary confinement in state prisons.
Challenge failed to beat power of incumbency
Mayor Martin Walsh’s victory in the Nov. 7 election came as no surprise to most observers. With slim odds of beating an incumbent mayor and with Walsh enjoying a $4 million war chest, Jackson, who never had more than $101,000 on hand, was outgunned. But through his challenge to the sitting mayor, Jackson has pushed tough conversations on race and economic inequality in a city of 673,000 where most residents no longer cannot afford the rising cost of housing. The conversation, held in campaign forums, the two debates between Jackson and Walsh and in the city’s news media, forced Bostonians to take a hard look at their city.
District 7 candidates debate at Islamic Society Cultural Center
In a debate last week, both candidates in the race for the District 7 City Council seat agreed to push the city to require deeper affordability on new housing developments, to update the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan and make the body that oversees it more democratic, and to push for greater transparency for development projects on public land.
Pressley running on anti-violence record
On a sunny autumn Saturday, Roxbury residents gather on the baseball diamond at Marcella Street for a ceremony dedicating the playground to Jermaine Goffigan, a nine-year-old boy killed by a stray bullet during a 1994 Holloween party at the nearby Academy Homes housing development.
The state Senate passed a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill last week that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for some drug crimes, eliminate fees charged to defendants, and redirect savings from the expected reduction in the state’s prison population toward drug treatment, job training and job creation programs aimed at rehabilitating people leaving prison.
Say Brother was first-in-the nation black-run broadcast news program
Earlier this month, “Basic Black” launched its 50th season. With divisive politics and a resurgence of white nationalism playing on the national level, and flare ups of racial tensions in Fenway Park bringing the race discussion to the fore locally, the academics, journalists and agency heads who regularly appear on the show have an abundance of material.
Highlights Boston’s growing inequality
Tito Jackson outlined his mayoral campaign platform during a forum at the Old South Church last week, telling the audience that the Walsh administration has exacerbated the growing gulf between wealthy Bostonians and the middle class and hitting the mayor for backing business interests like General Electric over the needs of the city’s families.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh made a push for progressive voters on Sunday when he appeared with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren at Doyle’s Café in Jamaica Plain for her endorsement of his reelection.
Court’s report finds employees worked to undermine his admin.
Suffolk County Register of Probate Félix D. Arroyo is back at work after an investigation found he was undermined by longtime court staff who bristled at his efforts to diversify his office and better serve its largely non-English speaking clientele.
Clash over housing policy, school funding, policing
Mayor Martin Walsh and District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson clashed over issues of police accountability, economic development and education in the first of two debates scheduled before the Nov. 7 general election.
Hours before Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as a category 4 storm, it hit the Caribbean island of Dominica with the full brunt of its category 5 strength. The 160-mile-an-hour winds ripped off roofs, flattened homes, destroyed power lines and, combined with heavy rains, washed away roads — leaving the island of 72,000 residents utterly devastated
Just weeks after a worker under his supervision alleged that Felix G. Arroyo had sexually harassed her, Mayor Martin Walsh fired Arroyo from his post as chief of Health and Human Services. Yet two city employees indicted for extortion by a federal grand jury have remained on the city’s payroll for more than a year.
Officials of the Boston Planning and Development Association and members of the Kensington Investment Company team arrived at the Trotter School last week intent on talking about the traffic impacts of the 45 Townsend Street development project, a proposed 300-unit complex Kensington aims to build on the site of the former Radius Hospital in Roxbury. But neighborhood residents steered the discussion back to the sheer density of the proposal and the impacts on parking in the residential neighborhood.
Walsh, Janey, Edwards among victors as candidate field narrows
In a preliminary election that continued a trend of low voter turnout for municipal contests, Mayor Martin Walsh garnered 63 percent of the 55,373 votes cast last Tuesday, easily beating out his three challengers. Second-place finisher District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson won 29 percent of the vote, while Robert Cappucci took 6 percent and Joseph A. Wiley received less than 1 percent.
Now, with just days to go before Boston’s Sept. 26 preliminary municipal election, some of those same wealthy donors are appearing on the campaign finance records of at least one local candidate: Deeqo Jibril, who is vying for the District 7 council seat.
Issues take a back seat to candidates’ ground game
Mayor Martin Walsh and District 7 Tito Jackson face off for the first time next Tuesday during the mayoral preliminary balloting. There have been no debates, but both candidates have staked out key positions on issues critical to voters.
Electeds, neighbors turn out to celebrate venerable agency’s new digs
Two years and $2.5 million later, the new Freedom House recently held its formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, with elected officials, community members and the students and staff who are in Freedom House on a daily basis.