Not for the Birds, I Hope: a Thanksgiving-Themed Blogster's Miscellany

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


I’m Thankful I Don’t Have to Drive. More Americans are travelling on Thanksgiving than any other holiday, and man is it ever dangerous out there.  Last year at this time, six persons were killed in road accidents in Massachusetts.  Hundreds of persons were likely hurt in crashes that extra-long weekend, some no doubt seriously and/or permanently.  According to figures cited yesterday by the office of our governor, roadway fatalities rose overall in 2016 by 12.8 percent, to 389 from 345 in 2015. Alcohol-related driving deaths increased by 9.2 percent, to 119 from 109 in 2015.  Wow: We had an average of slightly more than one death every day in traffic accidents in 2016. 

I'm also Thankful that...

Co-Workers Play it Safe. I’m thankful that no one I currently work with in the Boston office of Preti bicycles to work or uses one of those easy-rental bikes that we see all over to get from one in-city meeting to the next.  A lot has been done to make Boston and the metropolitan area more bike-friendly and more bike-safe. But when I’m walking the sidewalks of our congested capital’s streets, filled as they are with cars, tall trucks, long trucks, construction vehicles, tour buses and duck boats, I cringe each time I see someone in a business suit pedal blithely by, like a junior high football player who has blundered, McGoo-like,  into an NFL game.  The latest bicyclist fatality data I could find was for 2015, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  It showed that there were nine bicyclists killed on Massachusetts roads that year, including three in Boston. I agree with a gentleman from Walpole, Stephen R. Tarbell, who wrote as follows in a letter to the editor  of The Boston Globe on October 13, 2016: “I don’t want to die…and I certainly don’t want to kill anyone.  That’s why I don’t play on railroad tracks, or play chicken with oncoming traffic.  It’s why I always wear a seat belt and look both ways before crossing the street.  It’s why I would never point a gun at anyone else or play Russian roulette.  It’s also why I would never consider riding a bike in Boston and think people who do are crazy.”

Shrinks Will Flout the ‘Goldwater Rule.’  Speaking of accidents, our Electorally-gifted President continues to be dogged by Ed Markey, our state’s junior U.S. senator, and many other Democrats in the Congress who want to legally limit Donald Trump’s ability to launch a nuclear attack on North Korea.  Last month, they introduced “The No Unconditional Strike Against North Korea Act,” which would prohibit the spending needed to fund such a strike.  “As long as President Trump has a Twitter account,” says Markey, “we must ensure that he cannot start a war or launch a nuclear first strike without the explicit authorization of Congress.  It is time for the legislative body to act and reassert its constitutional role as the branch of government with the sole power to decide when the United States goes on the offensive.”  It’s not just Dems in D.C. who are worried about Trump having the man with the football at his beck and call.  This is giving some mental health professionals, gasp, nightmares.  The other day in Salon, I read a description by a psychologist of Trump as a “malignant narcissist.”  There has never been a malignant narcissist who got to be in charge of a country who did not start a war, this psychologist warned.

Our Governor Is Kindly and Fair.  After the North End Columbus Day Celebration Committee bestowed its public service award last month on former North End legislator and House Speaker Sal DiMasi, Governor Charlie Baker was asked by a reporter if it was appropriate for the group to honor DiMasi in light of his 2011 conviction on federal fraud and conspiracy charges, and his subsequent multi-year imprisonment.  Baker cited DiMasi’s work in helping to pass the state’s universal health coverage law in 2006 as one valid reason for anyone to pay homage to Sal.  Here’s the operative Baker quote from the State House News Service: “First of all, the Massachusetts health care law, which has been a big success here in the Commonwealth, is something that the former speaker had a lot to do with.”  Amen.  Baker also noted that “Who people choose to give awards to, that’s kind of up to them.”  As of today, November 22, DiMasi has been out of prison for one year.  He was released on this date in 2016 on compassionate grounds because of poor health, and now resides with his devoted wife, Debbie, in an apartment in Melrose.  I live in Melrose but haven’t yet encountered DiMasi.  If I do, I’ll shake his hand and wish him well.  He made a big mistake, paid a big price, and deserves forgiveness.  There has to be mercy/forgiveness in this world.  Some who have seen him on the sidewalks and in the stores and restaurants tell me he’s gained weight and strength, and is in good spirits, an extrovert as always.  Sal DiMasi is now 72 years old.  

Lawmakers Have a Sense of Humor.  There’s some opposition to a bill pending in the legislature that would create a statewide septic license for anyone who installs and/or repairs septic systems for the disposal of human waste, House Bill 146, An Act to Create a Statewide Septic License.  During a hearing on the bill early last month, some who work in the business told the members of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure that  they are worried the bill could be applied to other septic-system-related tasks, thereby making it harder to find the workers needed to drive pumping trucks and perform other icky tasks.  “It’s just not an appetizing job,” one septic pro said.  According to a State House News Service account of the hearing, the only member of the committee who asked a question of the H.146 witnesses was Rep. Stephen Howitt, R-Seekonk.  Said he, “Does a straight flush beat a full house?”

 

 

Incoming Mayor Was in Good Position to Laugh as GOP Took Aim, and then...

Friday, November 17, 2017

PREFATORY NOTE: I have the timing of a clumsy brother disowned by a family of trapeze artists.  Not one hour after I put up this post, word came from the State House that the main character in this story had, after all, decided to resign from the House of Representatives.

Paul Heroux, the Democrat state representative in the 2nd Bristol District, was elected the next mayor of Attleboro on Tuesday, November 7, ousting a 14-year incumbent, Kevin Dumas, by a margin of 54% to 46% -- what you call a strong showing.  Ever since, Heroux’s been fending off attacks from Republicans who object to his continuing to serve in the House through 2018 while also holding down the mayor’s job, as Heroux has long said he intended to do.  The people of Attleboro knew this before the election.

“I think it’s incredibly insulting, to the voters and to the mayors and to the legislators who take their job as a full-time job seriously, that he would even consider this,” Governor Charlie Baker has said of Heroux.
House Minority Leader Brad Jones announced this past Tuesday that he and his Republican colleagues will soon file a bill that, if enacted, would force Heroux to choose between serving either as Attleboro’s state rep or its mayor.

Jones and other members of the GOP have been citing what happened in November of 2009, when Democrats filed a bill that would have prohibited anyone from serving simultaneously in the legislature and in the chief executive position of a city or town.  The bill was aimed at William Lantigua, a Democrat rep who had just been elected mayor of the City of Lawrence and was planning to hold both jobs through 2010. 

Many of Lantigua’s fellow Democrats did not like or trust him.  Due to his, uh, “controversial” ways, they felt “Willy” made the rest of them look bad. They wanted him and his sketchy reputation gone from Beacon Hill.  Lantigua ended up relinquishing his House seat before the bill against him was acted upon.  He saw the handwriting on the wall.
Republicans are also pointing to state Senator Tom McGee as someone in the same situation they feel is doing the right thing.  Right after McGee won the November 7 mayoral election in the City of Lynn, he announced his resignation from the Senate, effective January 2, 2018.

Today, New England’s largest newspaper, The Boston Globe, published an editorial urging Heroux not to hold both positions.  The editorial was headlined, “Mayor or state rep – Heroux should do one job or the other, not both.”  Just because it’s legal in Massachusetts to serve in some dual offices simultaneously, the Globe huffed, doesn’t mean someone should.
Heroux, age 41, has termed the Republican initiative to drive him from the House “laughable.”  As long as his fellow Democrats keep standing firmly behind him, which they’ve quietly been doing, he can keep laughing.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo is on record as preferring to leave the decision on holding both jobs entirely up to Heroux.  Questioned the other day by the State House News Service, DeLeo cited what happened back in 2009 with Mayor-elect Lantigua. 
“Ultimately,” said the Speaker, “it became Representative Lantigua’s decision what to do and I would say it would be the same with Representative Heroux.”

Heroux has made no bones about wanting to stay in the House next year, in part, to give a putative Democrat replacement a better chance of winning his seat.  The thinking goes that (a) the 2d Bristol District has a lot of Republicans; (b) Republicans hold several House seats in the immediate vicinity of the 2d Bristol (Hello There, Jay Barrows, Shaun Dooley, Joe McKenna, Shauna O’Connell, Keiko Orral & Betty Poirier!); and (c) a Republican candidate would have a better chance in a special election to replace Heroux because of traditionally lower turnouts in special elections.
Why would Speaker DeLeo want to do anything to push Heroux out of the House if the resulting special election to replace him gave Republicans a leg up? 

Minority Leader Jones fully appreciates that, of course, but why would he pass up an easy opportunity to put a lit match to Democrat posteriors through the media attention he gets when promoting a bill to jam Heroux?   
I don’t buy the argument that a person cannot be simultaneously both a mayor and rep.  Yes, Massachusetts legislator is generally seen as a full-time job, and, yes, many legislators put more than full-time hours into it.  But the times when the legislature is actually in session do not come close to being full-time. 

As of this past Wednesday, November 15, for example, the legislature formally adjourned until after the new year; there will be only brief, intermittent informal sessions, attended by only a rotating handful of reps and senators, from now until then.  Likewise with legislative committee work: At any given time, there can be a lot of it, or a little, depending upon the number of committee assignments one has, how much work one wants to do, and how long one is willing and able to slog through it all. 
No one makes a legislator, except for those who serve as committee chairs, do anything.

Every state rep has at least one staff person to help with constituent services, among other tasks.  Heroux, no doubt, is thinking he’ll still be able to cover a lot of ground at the State House when he’s mayor because his staff will be on the job every day.  He’s right.
In our country, the typical citizen does not work at two different full-time jobs every day.  But plenty of citizens do.  They’re admired by the rest of us.  We call them go-getters.  We marvel at their work ethic. We maybe praise them for their big dreams of entrepreneurial success and willingness to pay the dear price of success, in toil and stress.

To say that one cannot be a good legislator and a good mayor is to sell the human spirit short.
On a less lofty level, I can argue that Heroux is doing the right thing for the treasury and taxpayers of Attleboro by not quickly resigning from the House, since it will cost the city tens of thousands of dollars to hold a special election to choose the person who will serve out the remainder of his term. 

I don’t know how much exactly a special election would cost Attleboro. Based on what I’ve seen such elections cost in other communities recently, it could easily top $40,000.  The result would be a freshman legislator who’d hold the job for less than a year and be pre-occupied with getting re-elected most of that time.
When, in the coming days, you read and hear about the pressure directed at Heroux to quit the House, I ask you to reflect upon the following observations, which were expressed so well in a State House News Service article published last Friday, November 10.  The article, a round-up of last week’s legislative actions, was written by the estimable Craig Sandler, the top guy (in more ways than one) at the SHNS. It began as follows, and all I need to quote is the first four paragraphs:

You know the old saying: “There’s no time like the last possible second!”
That’s the time-honored credo of the Massachusetts Legislature, and it was in complete effect as the last full week (Nov. 6-10) of formal legislative sessions arrived – for 2017 that is.

Why it should be necessary to wait 10 months to pass statutes for which everyone acknowledged a need in January can only be explained by the legislators themselves, and let’s face it, the explanations are never really that good. “Many stakeholders” and “input from the members” and “listening sessions” are the canards of choice under the Dome – the legislative equivalent of “giving 110 percent.”
Whatever the ultimate reason (human nature, justification for a full-time Legislature, and a lack of absolute deadlines are suspected), the House and Senate again headed into the final few days of formals for the year having put off for November what they could have accomplished in February, May or September.

 

Wouldn't It Be Great if Judicial Watchdog Lost Its Mind and Actually Said Something?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Commission on Judicial Conduct has issued a customarily cryptic press release about a misbehaving judge.

The press release made a news blip via the State House News Service. However, when I went looking for the release on the web yesterday, I was unable to find it.  My electronic ferreting skills are not impressive.     
Anyway, here’s a quote from a story based on the release, said story having been posted this past Thursday, Nov. 9, on the State House News Service site (open to paying subscribers only):

“The Commission on Judicial Conduct has admonished a judge for treating a party who appeared before the judge discourteously and for otherwise behaving in a manner that was unbecoming a judicial officer and that brought the judicial office into disrepute, in violation of M.G.L., c. 211C, sec. 2(5).  Through this conduct, the judge failed to be patient, dignified, and courteous to a person appearing before the judge, in violation of Canon 3B(4) of the Code of Judicial Conduct then in effect.  The judge agreed to be monitored by the commission and meet with a mentor judge for a period of one year from the effective date of the Agreed Disposition.”
The brief story contained this exchange between a State House News Service reporter and Howard V. Neff, III, executive director of the commission: 

“Asked why the commission did not disclose the name of the judge, commission executive director Howard Neff, III, told the State House News Service, ‘I’m not going to discuss that.’  Asked if there was any additional information available on the case, Mr. Neff said, ‘There is none.’ “ 
It’s better to be a judge in trouble in Massachusetts than an average citizen because your neighbors, skeptical in-laws, creditors, and high school classmates are more likely to find out about your bad moment in the sun if you’re an average citizen.

For instance, if you live in a small town and are arrested on a Saturday afternoon for, say, idle and disorderly conduct outside your local supermarket following a verbal confrontation with a crusty old gent over a parking spot, there’s an excellent chance your name will appear in the next edition of your hometown weekly, well before you would get the opportunity to clear your name in court.  Guilty or not, you’d be known forever as the old man abuser. 
The stated policy of the Commission on Judicial Conduct regarding a judge in their crosshairs is not to release the judge’s name unless and until formal charges are filed against him/her with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Back in June, I wrote about this policy in a blog post headlined, “Official Report Leaves One Eager to Know More about ‘Racially Insensitive’ Judge.”  That post was based on the case of a judge who had reportedly made “insensitive racial comments” to another judge, as described in the commission’s 2016 annual report.  The judge to whom the comments were made reported the conversation to his supervisor. The commission then began an investigation, at the end of which the judge who had allegedly been insensitive retired.  “Because of this complaint and for family health reasons,” the 2016 annual report said, “the judge retired and agreed not to seek appointment as a recall judge.” That post may be found at:
http://pretiminahan.blogspot.com/2017/06/official-report-leaves-one-eager-to.html

As I was messing around on the Internet yesterday, I happened upon a commission press release headlined, “Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct Resolves Complaint Against Retired Judge Michael C. Creedon through Agreed Disposition.”  The complete text of that release follows:

BOSTON, MA (October 17, 2016) – The Commission on Judicial Conduct has entered into an Agreed Disposition with the former First Justice of the Falmouth District Court, retired Judge Michael C. Creedon, pursuant to M.G.L. c.211C, sec. 8(1), in response to a complaint alleging that he made insensitive racial comments to another judge while in the judges’ lobby of the Falmouth District Court, in June of 2016, in violation of Rules 1, 2, 2.2, 2.3(A), 2.3(B), and 2.8(B) of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Because of this complaint and for family health reasons, Judge Creedon retired as a judge on September 19, 2016 and has agreed not to seek appointment as a recall justice.

The Commission’s statute and Rules are available on the Commonwealth’s website: www.mass.gov/cjc
I found this quite interesting because:
ONE, there is a statement, under the heading “Confidentiality,” in the commission’s 2016 annual report that goes, verbatim, like this: “The statute and rules that govern the Commission on Judicial Conduct require that the complaint and all Commission proceedings remain confidential, unless and until the Commission files Formal Charges with the Supreme Judicial Court. (There are certain limited exceptions to this requirement.) This strict confidentiality includes all communications made to and by the Commission or its staff...”
TWO, the commission included an account of the investigation of the racially insensitive remarks in its 2016 annual report, which came out on April 28, 2017.  Pointedly, that account did not provide the name of Judge Creedon, leading one to infer that the name had been omitted because formal charges were never filed against the judge with the state’s top court.  And yet, the commission had issued a press release (copy above), apparently on the date of Oct. 17, 2016, in which Judge Creedon was identified.
Was this one of those “certain limited exceptions” to the commission’s confidentiality rule? Or was something else going on? 
I will not wait by my phone for an explanatory call from the not-exactly-garrulous Mr. Neff.

This Month in Corruption: Short Rebates, Costly Supplies, Pricey Medicaid Services, etc.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Medicaid Shortchanged on Epi-Pen Rebates. Attorney General Maura Healey announced on Oct. 3 that Mylan, the pharmaceutical company, will pay $20.3 million to the Massachusetts Medicaid program (MassHealth) to resolve allegations that it knowingly underpaid rebates owed to the program for EpiPens dispensed to program members/recipients.  The payment is part of a “global settlement” with all of the 49 other states, the federal government, and the District of Columbia.  “Mylan knowingly misrepresented this drug to MassHealth in order to underpay on rebates and make a profit at the expense of our state,” said Healey.  “This settlement brings critical funds back to our MassHealth program.  Companies that receive payments from taxpayer-funded programs must be held accountable when they abuse this system.”

Massport Overcharged for Supplies.  Interline Brands, a New Jersey company, will pay a settlement of nearly $2 million to resolve allegations it overcharged the Massachusetts Port Authority hundreds of thousands of dollars for cleaning supplies, Attorney General Maura Healey announced on Oct. 10.  The investigation into Interline’s pricing methods began with a complaint from someone who walked into the office of the state’s Inspector General Glenn Cunha one day.  Under the terms of the settlement, Massport will receive $958,000 in damages, and other entities that were over-billed will receive more than $22,000.  Cunha’s office will receive $60,000 to defray the costs of the investigation, and the balance – roughly $960,000 – will go to the state’s general fund.
Arrest Made in Medicaid Overbilling. The owner of a home health agency, Hellen Kiago, 47, of Sturbridge, was arrested on the morning of Oct. 11 by Massachusetts State Police officers assigned to the office of Attorney General Maura Healey for allegedly stealing approximately $2.7 million from the state’s Medicaid program (MassHealth) by routinely overbilling and falsely billing for services that were not authorized, according to Healey’s office.  Kiago was identified by the authorities as the sole owner of Lifestream Healthcare Alliance, which has offices in Worcester and Dracut.  Kiago pleaded innocent at her subsequent arraignment.  Healey’s office began an investigation into Lifestream after receiving complaints from several former employees “alleging misconduct and fraudulent billing practices.”

Police Officer Indicted on Larceny, Money Laundering Charges. On Oct. 12, a Suffolk County grand jury indicted Joseph Nee, 44, a Boston police officer assigned to the department’s Evidence Management Unit in Hyde Park, on charges of larceny over $250 and money laundering (one count each).  Nee is accused of stealing money from the evidence room and attempting to launder it at the Plainridge Park Casino.  Authorities allege that Nee stole approximately $2,000 from the file of a closed bank robbery case.  The stolen money was identified by the traces of red dye left from an anti-theft dye pack that discharged during the robber, according to the Office of Attorney General Maura Healey.
Sheriff Employee Snared in Cash Smuggling Case. Jamie Melo, 45, of North Dartmouth, a captain with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, was indicted on Oct. 25 by a federal grand jury for allegedly helping Carlos Rafael, the owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the U.S., smuggle the profits from an illegal overfishing scheme to Portugal.  Melo was charged with one count each of bulk cash smuggling, structuring, and conspiracy, according to the Office of Acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts William D. Weinreb.    

Five Go Down in False ID Scheme. Five individuals charged in connection with a scheme to produce false identification documents through the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) have agreed to plead guilty in federal court, according to an Oct. 2 announcement from Acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts William D. Weinreb.  The defendants in the case have been identified as: Evelyn Medina, 56; Annette Gracia, 37; Kimberly Jordan, 33; David Brimage, 46; and Bivian Yohanny Brea, 41.  All of the defendants reside in Boston, with the exception of Jordan, who is from Randolph.  Each has agreed to plead guilty to one count of producing without lawful authority an identification document or a false identification document, Weinreb announced.  At the time of their arrests, Medina, Gracia, Jordan and Brimage were all employed as clerks at the Haymarket RMV office in Boston.  The scheme involved the production, for cash, of Massachusetts driver’s licenses and identification cards for illegal aliens.
Falsifying Records? IRS Employee Says ‘Guilty.’ Erik Santiago-Then, 36, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston on Oct. 10 to ten counts of falsifying records in a federal investigation, the Office of Acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts William D. Weinreb reported.  Santiago-Then was working as a paid cooperator for the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) unit when the falsifications occurred.  He is due to be sentenced on Jan. 3, 2018.  Here’s how Weinreb’s office described the crime:

“As part of his work uncovering evidence against the perpetrators of a stolen identity refund fraud scheme, Santiago-Then was given IRS-CI funds and authorized to set up a controlled meeting for the purpose of purchasing fraudulently-obtained tax refund checks.  However, Santiago-Then set up a sham meeting with a cohort during which time he obtained a list of personal identifying information, rather than tax refund checks.  Following the controlled meeting, and unbeknownst to IRS-CI, Santiago-Then split the IRS-CI funds with his cohort.  Santiago-Then subsequently engineered several recorded phone calls during which his cohort posed as someone else and purportedly gave Santiago-Then the run-around concerning the purported mix-up regarding the tax refund checks.”

Probe Requested by Senator Warren Reveals Losing Move by Trump Administration

Friday, October 27, 2017

On January 26, less than a week after President Trump had been inaugurated, his administration canceled key portions of a federal outreach campaign informing the public of the open enrollment for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) then under way. 

The Trump administration stifled the outreach even though it would have ended anyway on January 31, the date the open enrollment was scheduled to close.
On January 31, two U.S. Senators, Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts and Patty Murray, D-Washington, called upon the Inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), an independent authority, to investigate the impact of stopping Obamacare outreach and give a report to the Senate on what they found.  The study was done; the report was written.

This past Wednesday, October 25, Senators Warren and Murray released the IG’s report.  Among other things, it found that:
  • The Trump administration first became aware of the outreach campaign on the evening of January 25.
  • The administration gave the order to cancel key portions of the campaign on the morning of the next day.
  • HHS staff members warned the administration that cancelling the outreach campaign when it was almost over “would have detrimental effects” on the risk pool for the individual insurance market and the administration cancelled it anyway.
  • $1.1 million in taxpayer funds was lost when payments already made for cancelled open enrollment ads could not be recouped.

“The HHS IG report shows,” said Senator Warren, “that the Trump Administration came into office with one goal: to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.”

She added, “The cancellation of these ads was malicious and destructive, and wasted over $1 million in taxpayers’ money.  This was a blatantly political decision, with no regard for its impact on American families and their access to affordable health care.”
This report and the comments on it by Senators Warren and Murray did not make even a minuscule dent for one moment this week in the consciousness of the country.  Too many outrages emanate constantly from Trump and the persons around him.

Wasting a million bucks and trying to keep citizens from obtaining one of life’s necessities, health insurance, is but a single grain in The Donald’s sandbox.

 

Boston Municipal Research Bureau 'Update' Has Me Thinking Thoughts of PILOTS

Monday, October 23, 2017

I always thought that hospitals and universities owned most of the tax-exempt land in the City of Boston.  Boy was I mistaken.

The total area of Boston consists of 47.84 square miles.  Of that total, 49 percent, or 23.44 square miles is tax-exempt.  And of those 23.44 tax-exempt square miles, only 4.98 square miles are owned by institutions devoted to medicine and health care, higher education, cultural pursuits and worship (churches, synagogues, mosques), etc.  The rest is mainly owned by the government.
I got this information from the latest (10-3-17) “Bureau Update” from the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, an independent organization that’s been keeping tabs on Boston’s finances since 1932.  Thank you, BMRB.

Here are some other things I gleaned:
  • The state government owns 48.5% of all the tax-exempt land in the city.
  • The city and federal governments own, respectively, 28.6%  and 1.6% of all the tax-exempt land.
  • The total assessed value of all the property in Boston is $190.3 billion.
  • Of all the property in Boston, the value of the taxable property is $138.1 billion, whereas the value of all of the tax-exempt property is $52.2 billion. (That’s a 72.6 to 27.4 percentage split.)
Many large owners of tax-exempt property in Boston make annual payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) to the city.

Every once in a while, an elected official at the local or state level will complain that PILOTS to Boston are way too small.  They will demand that the largest non-profits, for example, Massachusetts General Hospital, increase their PILOTS substantially; or, they will call upon the legislature to pass a bill stripping them of their tax-exempt status altogether. 
After a bit of media coverage, the issue dies down without anything having changed.

The City of Boston is doing very well today, so much so that its bid to be the second headquarters of Amazon is seriously considered as one of the two or three strongest in a nationwide competition.
Boston’s economy is really cranking and the city today is a far wealthier place than it was 25 (never mind 50) years ago.  To those of us who grew up in this area during the Fifties and Sixties, there is an almost OZ-like quality to Boston’s current wealth, appeal, confidence and national standing. 

I’m no economist.  But given how well Boston is doing, and given how much its hospitals, medical research centers, universities and cultural institutions contribute to the city’s success and appeal, I’d say there’s no case for increasing PILOTS or eliminating anyone’s tax-exempt status. The whole mix of property uses and tax categories in Boston, as old and idiosyncratic as it may be, seems to be working just fine.

You can find the complete update at:

http://bmrb.org/government-owns-79-of-bostons-exempt-area/
 

Let's Hope Moulton's View on Gun Slaughter Moments of Silence Is Contagious

Monday, October 2, 2017

Seth Moulton has the right idea about those weak and perfunctory and unproductive moments of silence at the Capitol after mass shootings like the one Sunday night in Las Vegas.

“As after #Orlando, I will NOT be joining my colleagues in a moment of silence on the House Floor that just becomes an excuse for inaction.  Now is not the moment for silence; it’s a time for action.” Moulton tweeted earlier today.
The action he referred to is voting on new gun control measures.  I like what Moulton’s doing but have to say good luck with that voting thing.

After more than 20 first graders were mowed down by a deranged young loner in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in 2012, many thought it would be the atrocity of atrocities that finally spurred Congress to ban the sale of assault weapons.  Of course, we all underestimated the ability of the Republicans running D.C. to take massacres in stride.
Moulton, an Iraq War hero who represents the Sixth Massachusetts District, also tweeted, “Thinking of everyone in #Las Vegas, and praying Congress will have the courage to do more than stand in silence to commemorate them.”

Amen.

Moulton has been a Congressman for only three years, but he has a smitten national following so large and a buzz about him so insistent that many Millenials (Americans born from the mid-1990s to the early-2000s) are talking seriously about him as a Democrat candidate for President of the United States.
In the Sunday New York Times yesterday, Moulton was mentioned in an article in the Opinion section headlined, “Who Can Beat Trump in 2020?”  Here’s what the Times said about him:

“Seth Moulton…is a charismatic, intelligent Iraq war veterans who isn’t afraid to call out party elders like Nancy Pelosi.  He’s only 38, and it’s almost certainly too soon for him to have much of a chance of winning the nomination, but it doesn’t hurt to put his name into the 2020 veepstakes.”
Wouldn’t it be something if this exceptional man from Salem made it to a national political ticket.

FOOTNOTE: The online satirical newspaper "The Onion" had the most apropos headline on the horror in Las Vegas: 'No way to Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.