July 2013
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Month July 2013

When Will Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan Issue Report on Ibragim Todashev Shooting Death?

We have a law here In Massachusetts that makes murder and other types of homicides unlike any other crimes. These crimes are the only ones where the district attorney is by law in charge of the investigation. In every other type of crime the police can tell the D.A. to butt out. In a homicide the D.A. directs the whole thing and everyone, including state troopers and local police assigned to homicide investigations report directly to the district attorneys office and all reports and investigation material are property of the district attorney. Capiche? So awhile ago three guys were killed in Waltham (Middlesex County). The case went cold then got a new life after the marathon bombings. The trail led to Orlando Fl where MA state troopers assigned to Marian Ryan’s office followed it with some FBI agents. While there they were joined by local police and the members from these three law enforcement agencies proceeded to secure an individual’s residence, enter it, and question him for three hours. At some point the individual being questioned was shot by at least one person, an FBI agent, and killed. The troopers working for Marian Ryan filed detailed reports with the district […]

Solar Power Economics: Should you own or lease your system?

Many people still question if solar power is a cost-effective solution for families and businesses, but in Massachusetts the question has been definitively answered with a resounding “YES!”. Consider this: A 5,000 watt system (20 panels generating 250 watts each) at $4.00 per watt* will carry a total purchase price of $20,000. All homeowners and many businesses will qualify for $2,000 in rebates from the Clean Energy Center, and some homeowners will qualify for and additional $2,000 in rebate money. If your home was hit by the tornadoes a few years back, another $5,000 of rebate money is available for you. Federal and state tax credits will reduce that cost further – on a $4,000 rebate, your final cost is $9,000**, and the final cost with a $2,000 rebate is $11,000**. Over the next 25 years (the period during which the power production warranty is in effect), this system will produce between 110,000 kWH and 140,000 kWH of power, depending on the orientation, tilt and shading characteristics of the rooftop where it’s installed. In the worst case scenario (output of 110,000 kWH at the $11,000 price tag), the cost per kWH is $0.100 – the best case (output of 140,000 […]

Women in Charge!

Bernstein captures the flavor of the MA-05 Congressional race as it heats up for the sprint to the October 15th primary with a captivating phrase, “Women in Charge.” Clark (15%) and Spilka (14%) are neck and neck with Koutoujian (12%) and Brownsberger (11%) in a close second tier match-up.  A bit surprising to those who know his enthusiasm and likeability is Sciortino’s poor showing at last place with (4%).   Spilka was last to enter the race and has forged an impressive charge at Clark who has been campaigning for months.   Sciortino was also early-in but that does not seem to be lifting his low numbers. Polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in a brief polling memo, noted that Brownsberger, Clark, Koutoujian, and Spilka had nearly identical name-identification and favorability ratings in the poll, reflecting their familiarity and support within areas they currently represent. “None of the candidates have yet established a district-wide profile,” the pollsters wrote. The undecided are of course the pot-of-gold and it will take lots of groundwork as well as fundraising to get name recognition outside of their respective districts. I am close to declaring my support for one of the leading ladies as I have leaned […]

Sales Tax on Computer Services

I post and comment here quite infrequently but do enjoy reading what others have to say. I’m driven to post today because I am so very disappointed with the Massachusetts legislature and the half-assed way in which they’ve expanded the sales tax to include “computer system design services”. I am a lawyer in the technology sector and we have spent the past week trying to figure out what that means. So far, the Department of Revenue’s “guidance” has been to rephrase the law without actually providing any meaning. I suspect there are some tech people out there who are affected by this law and don’t even know it. The most frustrating part is that the law was passed on July 24 and became effective today! So know we in the tech sector have to figure out if the law applies to our services and whether we have to collect the tax or ask our customers (in the case of multi-state clients) to apportion the use tax among the states in which the “computer system design services” will be used. I’ve written my legislators asking them to revisit this law to at least push the effective date out a few months, […]

Beer and Politics

So I casually toss out in a blog post that I’ll buy the first two rounds to talk politics.  Big mistake.  Whether lured by the prospect of free beer or costly political policy, BMGers promptly accepted my invitation.  And I’m a man of my word.  So, as promised, and with the exception noted below, I will buy the first two rounds (sorry EBIII, just two rounds) of liquid libation of your choice for any BMG poster/commenter who dares show up to disagree with me on solutions for the teen unemployment rate, the high cost of higher education, our broken bail and prison system, the K-12 education acheivement gap, infrastructure finance, campaign finance and ballot access reform, and any other topic of mutual interest.  Here’s the exception: if anyone hosts a Democratic fundraiser in the same venue at the same date, I ain’t paying for drinks; Lord knows I got into enough trouble writing the occasional check to Martha and my other unopposed Democratic friends in the past, as I was frequently reminded during my GOP primary.  When:  Wednesday, August 28, 2013, 6-7:30 p.m.  Where:  Doyle’s, JP.  I will enjoy meeting you minions of the monopoly in person.

On The Extended School Day

The other day, I wrote about lifting the charter school cap. Today I’d like to address the other education “reform” being pressed in the Boston mayoral race: extending the school day. It’s worth noting that after twenty years of education reform in Massachusetts, this is what passes for bold thinking from the reformers.  We’re still waiting for someone to rethink high school, and the first wave of charters have largely abandoned the innovations in curriculum and program design that were supposed to set them apart. (Remember when MATCH stood for Media And Technology Charter High School?  Now it’s just match education, though they still can’t match the BPS on percentages of special ed students or graduation rate. But I digress.) But once again, whoever sets the agenda for such things has determined that extending the school day is suddenly an Important Issue that the mayoral candidates must address. Apparently no one has noticed the irony of the fact that the same people who have insisted that public school students lose weeks of instructional time every year to standardized testing are now saying that it’s important to have more instructional time. When the MCAS began, it was administered in 4th, 8th, […]

BOEM Holds MA/RI Offshore Wind Lease Sale (Update: We Have a Winner!)

UPDATE 7:26pm: Congrats to Deepwater Wind, winner of both leases! It’s a big day for offshore wind far off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is holding offshore wind lease sales for two big areas that will ultimately provide huge amounts of clean, renewable, affordable energy for our region. The auction process will be complex, but we hope to know the winner(s) later Wednesday or sometime Thursday. When I’m not wearing my The Green Miles cape, I work for the National Wildlife Federation, where we’ll be watching the lease sales with great interest. The competitive auction marks an exciting milestone towards a new frontier of clean energy needed to confront climate change, the biggest threat to America’s wildlife and birds this century. It’s also real progress towards President Obama’s climate action plan goal of doubling electricity fueled by renewable energy by 2020 nationally, including 10 gigawatts worth of permits for renewable energy projects on public lands. Another lease sale for Virginia is set for next month. How can we keep this progress going in the months and years ahead? We need governors, state legislatures, and Congress to continue demonstrating America’s commitment to clean energy, […]

I’m sorry, but Richard Tisei is not a tea partier

If your inbox is anything like mine, you are being deluged with fundraising emails from Democrats these days.  And virtually every one of them contains the words “Karl Rove,” “Koch brothers,” or “tea party/partier.”  Apparently, that’s what fundraising consultants think brings in the bucks these days.  Maybe they’re right. But this email (just arrived; no link) from MA-6 incumbent John Tierney is just ridiculous. If Richard Tisei — John’s 2012 opponent — gets back in this race, we have to be ready. Otherwise, Massachusetts’ 6th district could be represented by a Tea Partier…. House Republicans are some of the most obstructive elected officials this country has ever seen. The last thing in the world residents of the 6th district need is a Tea Party congressman representing them in Washington. Let’s make sure we have what it takes to defeat Richard Tisei. Now, I don’t particularly like the idea of Richard Tisei winning a congressional election, for the familiar reason that, IMHO, anyone who would back the current House leadership of Boehner, Cantor & Co. is by definition bad for America.  If I recall correctly, Tisei never actually said he’d back those guys during the last election cycle, but neither did […]

True to form, half of the jobs at Obamacare call center are part-time

I can’t make this stuff up, folks.  Contra Costra County was awarded the right to open a call center to help people obtain health insurance thru Obamacare or answer question, etc.  Yes, Obama is delaying the employer mandate to provide insurance or pay a fine, but the individual mandate remains…makes total sense, right? These call centers are needed to help implement Obamacare, so there were 200 openings and 7000 resumes.  Turns out, half the jobs will be part-time with no health insurance.  Repeat, no health insurance.  I can only imagine what Ted Kennedy would be thinking.  Truly, a slap in the face to these workers, no? “One recent hire, who last week learned the job would be part-time, said the new “intermittent” employees feel like they’ve been used as a political tool, and many now regret applying for the positions. “What’s really ironic is working for a call center and trying to help people get health care, but we can’t afford it ourselves,” said the worker, who asked for anonymity out of fear of losing the job. The county says it had been telling the public and supervisors all along that some positions would be full-time and some part-time. However, […]

Jerome Hall-Brewster – Boston’s Finest

Based on the reports available, it looks like the Boston Police missed a big opportunity last year to at least arrest and question Edwin Alemany, the man in custody for the brutal kidnapping and murder of Amy Lord.  Last fall, a BPD detective failed to follow-up on a sexual assault in which the survivor passed out, but not before she grabbed the perp’s wallet. That wallet contained Edwin Alemany’s driver’s license.* Now, the detective in charge of that sexual assault case, Jerome Hall-Brewster, has been demoted to patrol officer. It was some combination of his bumbling of the sexual assault case and past transgressions, including some incident in 2011 and not reporting the use of nonlethal force in 2001. The Globe reporting fails to mention, however, that Hall-Brewster had another run-in with notoriety. He was involved in one of the more high-profile and embarrassing cases for the Boston Police Department in recent years as one of the defendants in the Glik case.  That case involved three BPD officers, including Hall-Brewster, arresting a man for wiretapping, disturbing the peace, and aiding in the escape of a prisoner because he videotaped the arrest of another man and what appeared to be the use […]