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Yawu Miller

Stories by Yawu

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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.

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Students unenrolled from Egleston

No explanation as enrollment drops by 104

Greater Egleston High School’s student count has dropped from 185 to 79, according to a posting from an anonymous source on the Universal Hub news website. The abrupt mass un-enrollment[MD1] at the school comes just days before the district calculates official enrollment numbers — a process through which Boston Public Schools determines the per-pupil funding each school will receive.

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Re-writing Boston’s history of slavery

Efforts underway to change historic names

Dorchester activist Kevin Peterson wants Boston to remove Peter Faneuil’s name from the iconic building he built for the city in 1742. Roxbury activist Sadiki Kambon is calling for the city to strike the name “Dudley” from Roxbury’s commercial center and replace it with the name “Nubian Square.”

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Growing role for computers in Massachusetts school systems

When Boston students return to school this Thursday, most will sit in a circle or rows, facing a teacher and a blackboard. But across the country, a growing number of students are eschewing classrooms for computer screens as part of the growing field of personalized learning.

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Vegan vibe in Dorchester

Couple opens Four Corners restaurant to meet growing demand

Last week, Jahriffe MacKenzie and Nahdra Ra Kiros opened Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlor, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with stews, lentil dishes, sandwiches and wraps, smoothies, natural juices and teas.

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Cruz cuts ribbon on renovated affordable development

Cruz Companies President and CEO John Cruz joined Mayor Martin Walsh, state Housing Secretary John Ash and state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry for the ceremonial event held on the Blue Hill Avenue portion of the development outside Mattapan Square.

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Arroyo fired in midst of MCAD investigation

Mayor Martin Walsh fired Chief of Health and Human Services Felix G. Arroyo last week amid an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.

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Trial Court offers to reinstate Arroyo, seeks control over hiring

Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix D. Arroyo can return to the Registry in October, Massachusetts Trial Court officials said last week, if he agrees to let them supervise the process of hiring deputy administrators.

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45 Townsend project sparks neighborhood ire

Locals object to density, lack of parking

Members of the Kensington Investment Company’s 45 Townsend Street team displayed a 3-D rendering of their planned housing development at a meeting last week, and discussed its features: indoor and outdoor public spaces, an orchard on the premises, and the three large energy-efficient buildings they plan to construct on the site of the former Radius Hospital. Community members listening to the presentation during a Boston Planning and Development Agency meeting last week questioned the impact the 311-unit project would have on their densely-packed residential neighborhood, with its paucity of parking spaces and congested intersections.

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Mayor, elected officials denounce planned white supremacist rally

Civic leaders call for calm as supremacists plan rally

In a message aimed at white supremacist groups who are reportedly planning a rally on the Boston Common this coming Saturday, Mayor Martin Walsh pledged that city officials would “do every single thing in our power to keep hate out of our city.”

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Dominican culture and politics mingle in parade

Candidates press for community’s votes

From Hyde Square to Franklin Park, thousands of lined the parade route of the Dominican Festival parade Sunday morning as the annual event returned to Roxbury from downtown.

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Activists press Gov. Baker on cooperation with U.S. Immigration

Immigrant activists clashed with prominent Republicans last week after state lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker announced a proposal that would allow local law enforcement to detain immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities.

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Boston’s Puerto Rican festival: A 50-year tradition

Music, culture of the island celebrated at City Hall

Over the last 50 years, the festival has become a mainstay for Boston’s Puerto Rican community, and one of the largest cultural festivals in the city. Sunday, the festival featured an all-star lineup of musical acts, including salsa legend Tony Vega. Today’s Puerto Rican festival draws thousands of people from throughout Massachusetts.

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Public probes Dudley tower plan

Affordability, parking, condos discussed

Affordability, density and parking have become the three points of contention between real estate developers and residents of Boston neighborhoods. In Dudley Square, where a team of black developers is planning a 26-story office and residential tower, those factors were at the forefront of a meeting with the development’s project review committee.

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City poised to sell off Roxbury land

BPDA begins land disposition process

Local residents had a chance recently to browse maps showing eight vacant Roxbury land parcels owned by the Boston Planning and Development Authority and give feedback on possible development of the sites. The displays were set up in the community room on the top floor of the Bruce Bolling Municipal Building July 17, and Roxbury community members took a look and voiced some thoughts at a BPDA-hosted public meeting.

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Good fences, good business

Dorchester company finds success with commercial clients

Ralph McCoy founded McCoy Fence Co. in 1988, after working for another fence company. With seven employees, he tackles projects for the city, state, commercial and private clients.

ACLU criminal justice reform campaign takes aim at district attorneys

Set to launch voter education campaign

The ACLU is looking to increase voter awareness about district attorneys with a voter education project called “What a Difference a DA Makes.”

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Activists denounce ICE deportations

High-profile cases stoke immigrants’ fears

Last week, immigrant activists gathered at the Boston Irish Famine memorial on Washington Street for a rally with U.S. Sen. Ed Markey protesting anti-immigration legislation in Congress and what they described as the Trump administration’s “mass deportation strategy.”

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Mayor convenes Boston summit on surge in violent crime

Participants call for long-term violence prevention

Last week, Mayor Martin Walsh held a summit at City Hall with police and anti-violence activists to discuss strategies for combating the rise in shootings in Boston. In a press conference with reporters afterward, Walsh and others said they are looking at long-term strategies to help so-called at-risk youth.

Problems persist in Suffolk Probate Court

Employees cite ongoing discrimination, mismanagement under interim director

In the four months since Felix D. Arroyo was removed from his post as the Suffolk County Register of Probate, lines remain long, case files still go missing and staff treat people of color — including filers, attorneys and staff — with blatant disrespect, according to staff and attorneys interviewed by the Banner.

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Boston District 7 candidates face off in debate over city issues

Eleven of 13 display varying knowledge of policy

Eleven of the thirteen candidates for the District 7 City Council seat soon to be vacated by Tito Jackson turned out for a debate in Grove Hall last week.

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‘America; I too’ brings immigration issues to Roxbury Film Festival

The 20-minute short, shot over the course of three days in March, tells the story of three fictional undocumented immigrants caught up in ICE raids: a Mexican teenager, a Somali pizza deliveryman and a Chinese seamstress who is the sole caregiver for her autistic granddaughter. The film depicts their struggles as they confront scenarios drawn from real stories of former detainees who have worked with CHIRLA.

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With influx of addicts, needles proliferate in Boston parks

Statewide heroin problem has local impact

Roxbury and Dorchester residents are keeping their children out of local parks to avoid accidental contact with the hypodermic needles that are the byproduct of the state’s opiod epidemic.

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Boston school students advocate for free bus passes

Boston public school students say the two-mile walk zone within which students are not eligible for free bus passes forces many to endure 40-minute walks to school.

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Report: Boston Latinos get slim share of city jobs

The Greater Boston Latino Network released its Silent Crisis II report, detailing the lack of Latinos in high-ranking city jobs and on boards and commissions with decision-making power in the city.

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Eastern Bank growth fund targets minority-owned firms

Through Business Equity Initiative, Eastern Bank is stepping up with a $10 million growth fund aimed at providing loans to build the capacity of businesses owned by people of color.

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Boston developers build affordable homes

City gives construction firms land, subsidies

The city’s Neighborhood Homes Initiative has identified 250 parcels of city-owned land for housing construction. So far, 69 units have been built through the program.

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Historic Roxbury clock tolls again as First Church undergoes renovations

The clock atop the First Church of Roxbury, which began ticking in 1863, is now working again as part of a $3 million renovation of the 1801 Unitarian Church.

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