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Yawu Miller

Stories by Yawu

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House budget includes increases for education, ex-offenders

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.

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Governor signs criminal justice reforms into law

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.

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Lawmakers fete 25 yrs of ed. reform

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.

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Dem. candidates agree on issues in gov’s race

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.

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King’s legacy has evolved in 50 years following his death

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

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Marking Roxbury’s revolutionary history

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.

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Selling an edgy aesthetic

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.

Four vying for vacant D.A. seat

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.

Walsh supportive of body cameras

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.

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2018 elections bring out expanding cast of candidates

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.

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Arroyo accuser drops complaint

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.

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District Attorney Conley’s departure sets off yet another contested race

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.

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School turnaround bill advances

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.

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Slow going on largest Rox. parcel

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.

Boston blacks made exodus to Roxbury

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.

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Parents seeking BPS k2 assignments facing long wait

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.

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Democratic caucuses kick off year of high-stakes campaigning

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.

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Making it in real estate

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.

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City, United Way expanding STEM education program

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.

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City releases body camera study

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.

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Setti Warren appeals to JP voters

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.

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City, activists seek better planning

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.

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Race, politics & protest in 2017

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.”

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Councilors vote to strengthen city’s minority contracting program

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.

U.S. still clings to ‘one-drop rule’

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.

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Dudley restaurant revival

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.

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Media, mayor put focus on race in Hub

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.

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Activists demand greater say in BPDA Dorchester plan

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.

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Equity remains challenge for Walsh administration

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.

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BPS makes changes at alternative high school

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.

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Building trades in the blood

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.

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Public defenders fight for bargaining rights

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.

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Housing planned for Dudley could boost businesses

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.

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House sets sights on criminal justice reform

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.

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Jackson’s mayoral bid raised issues of equity

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.

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District 7 candidates debate at Islamic Society Ctr.

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.

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Tight competition in at-large race

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.

Justice bill passes in Senate

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.

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Basic Black continues 50-year-old legacy at WGBH

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.

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Jackson outlines mayoral platform

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.

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Walsh’s appeal to black, progressive voters points to shifting power in Hub

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.

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Arroyo returns to Probate office

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.

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Jackson, Walsh debate live from Dudley Square

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.

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Dominica hit hard by Hurricane Maria

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

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In Arroyo firing, some see disparate treatment

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.

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Developer’s grand ambition sparks neighbors’ ire

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.

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Low turnout in municipal preliminary

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.

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Charter advocates weigh in on District 7 race

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.

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Walsh, Jackson focus on mobilizing supporters

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.

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Renovations completed on Freedom House

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.