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* Governor's Office News Briefs ... Governor Charlie Baker, furnishing an update on the state’s comprehensive response to the opioid crisis, reports that, in the third round of First Responder Naloxone Grant funding, his Administration has awarded a total of $940,000 to 33 local police and fire departments, for purchase of the life-saving, overdose-reversal drug, naloxone, as well as related medical supplies; and for covering the expense of overdose-response training. With the grants for such municipalities as Boston and Chelsea ranging in amount from $5,000 to $50,000, depending upon population, the Massachusetts Office of Pharmacy Services has operated a Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchasing Program to supply naloxone, at a discounted rate, to in excess of 200 police and fire departments and 45 other customers, such as elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, state police, and boards of health, since 2015. In addition, Dr. Monica Bharel, the state Public Health Commissioner, informs that more than 37,000 persons have been trained in administering naloxone. In Brockton, where the Governor announced recent state actions, first responders used naloxone 447 times in response to 759 overdose calls during 2017, 31 of those calls involving fatal overdoses. State-wide, more than 7,400 overdose rescues have been performed since 2015. The outlay for naloxone access during the 2017 fiscal-year alone was in excess of $3.87 million. Overall, state initiatives have addressed a continuing increase in nonfatal overdoses, which rose approximately 200 percent between 2011 and 2015, the state managing to reduce confirmed and estimated opioid-related deaths 6 percent from 2016 to 2017 and another 5 percent during the first three months of 2018, compared to the same period last year. Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders suggests that the state casts a wide net, too, in undertaking overdose rescues, because grants supporting opioid education and prevention emphasize treatment and recovery of those who overdose, rather than arrest and prosecution for drug possession. Going forward, yet another opioid-response initiative, the CARE Act, is before the state legislature, and the plan is to establish a state-wide standing order for naloxone, to intensify opioid-education and –prevention strategies, to increase the use of recovery coaches, and to otherwise broaden access to treatment and recovery services. Governor Baker has likewise announced that he has signed, into law, House Bill 4640, which has been called the Grand Bargain Bill because, effective January, 2019 for some provisions and August, 2019 for other provisions, it is designed to increase business sales and provide relief for consumers and others, through an increase in the state minimum wage to $15 per hour over a five-year period, through a permanent two-day-weekend sales-tax holiday each year, and through provision of employee-paid family and medical leave. Having signed the $1.8-billion Housing Bond Bill (House Bill 4536) in May, the Governor says that his Administration is following up on that plan to designate 67 Housing Choice Communities equipped with incentives to construct new and affordable housing. With respect to his Administration’s proposed housing legislation, An Act to Promote Housing Choices, Mr. Baker expresses satisfaction that the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) favors this effort to make the state the most age-friendly state in the country. After all, Massachusetts became the second state in the country to join the AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities in January, 2018, and the state AARP Chapter recognizes that the overwhelming majority of individuals 50 and older seek to remain in their homes and communities as long as practicable. Indeed, the Governor created the Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts and proposed the Housing Choice Bill to demonstrate sensitivity to the issues of healthy aging and the interest of those 60-plus, a demographic group that will represent 23 percent of the state’s population by 2035—the interest of a demographic group concerned about the availability, affordability and variety of housing alternatives. Beside previously addressing the housing needs of low- and middle-income people, the Baker-Polito Administration’s Housing Choice Initiative now envisions providing incentives and rewards for municipalities that sustain housing production, re-zone city centers to promote community participation and travel by older citizens, and increase multi-family housing production near transit facilities. Elder Affairs Secretary Alice Bonner observes that the Governor’s legislative proposal serves as a commitment to consider "aging in all policies." Given a goal of building 135,000 housing units during the next seven years, through annual incentives, grants, and technical aid of more than $10 million, Housing and Community Development Under-Secretary Janelle Chan finds, by comparison, that the current housing market fails to meet the needs of older adults wishing to downsize, younger families trying to get established and residents, generally, searching for "affordable, appropriate housing." What is more, the Governor asserts that, after dealing with projected cost over-runs and after just receiving $225 million in federal transportation aid, the $2.3-billion Green Line Extension from Somerville and from Cambridge to Downtown Boston is on track to testing in late 2020 and operation in late 2021.
* State Legislative News Briefs ... Tomorrow, the Senate is due to go into session in the Senate Chamber beginning at 11 AM, while the House of Representatives is set to hold an Informal Session at the same time in its Chamber. Then, on July 25, a Joint Session of the state legislature is scheduled on Constitutional Matters, in the House Chamber, at 1 PM.

* Mayor's Office News Briefs ... Mayor Martin J. Walsh characterizes the City Council’s approval of his 2019 fiscal-year budget as a "commitment to progress, opportunity, and innovation." The product of 28 City Council hearings, the budget, the Mayor says, is "balanced, sustainable and proactive," for detecting extra cost savings and earmarking the $3.29 billion in spending to City residents’ concrete needs. Representing a 4.4-percent increase from the 2018 fiscal-year budget, the new budget increases funds for streets, parks, public health, and public safety by $43 million; and funds for the Boston Public Schools District, by $51 million, funding for the Boston Public Schools being a major budget category, at $1.112 billion. Specifically, the budget raises funding to $500,000 for the esteem-building Youth Development Grant Program, with its emphasis upon conflict-resolution skills, musical training, and athletic programs. The Mayor credits debt-service savings and state-level, robust advocacy of charter-school reimbursement with furnishing the City with extra funds to invest, some areas of investment being hiring of new fire fighters, police and cadets, and purchase of fire engines, fire houses and ambulances. To minimize coastal storm damage, the City budget likewise allots funds for purchase of a deployable floodwall in the East Boston Greenway area. At the same time, the budget furnishes new seed money, $1 million in fact, to permit middle-class families to benefit from the zero-interest, down-payment assistance program of the Department of Neighborhood Development. Then, too, the budget bears the imprint of some 15,000 residents, who contributed ideas to the Imagine Boston 2030 plan to direct the City’s growth, enhancement and preservation. With the 37TH Harborfest in progress through July 7 and celebrating Boston’s colonial and maritime heritage, the Mayor has also marked Historic Boston Inc.’s $3.7-million renovation project for Mattapan’s historic Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, and the North Bennet Street School, the plan being to restore an urban farm and develop a new state-of-the-art farmer-training center.

* City Council News Briefs … The Council’s Committee on Government Operations solicits public testimony in connection with its scheduled hearing of July 10 at 3 PM, in the Fifth Floor, Christopher A. Iannella Chamber, at 1 City Hall Square. Next, on July 11, at 9 AM, the City Zoning Commission itself is set to conduct a hearing in City Hall. Then, at 12 Noon, that same day, the City Council plans to hold a regular meeting in the Iannella Chamber.

* School District News Briefs ... The Boston Public Schools District announces that the first day of school in the upcoming 2018-2019 school-year will be August 23 for Up Academies in Boston, Dorchester and Holland. Following Labor Day, teachers and paraprofessionals will report during September 4-5; all students in grades 1-12 report on September 6; and kindergarten students report on September 10. Meantime, the next meeting of the Boston School Committee is set for July 2, with the public session opening at 5:30 PM. Due to convene at the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building (Second Floor, School Committee Chamber, 2300 Washington Street), two main items of business will be discussion of an offer of employment to Laura Perille to serve as Interim Superintendent, succeeding Superintendent Tommy Chang, and action on the proposal to offer employment to Laura Perille in the capacity of Interim Superintendent.

* Weather ... The National Weather Service reports that there are partly-cloudy skies, as of 11:54 PM, at Boston Logan International Airport, with a temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit. The winds are out of the east at 7 miles per hour, the relative humidity stands at 84 percent, the dewpoint is 66 degrees, the barometric pressure reads 30.08 inches, and the visibility is 7 miles. The over-night forecast calls for patchy fog after 5 AM; otherwise, partly-cloudy conditions, a low temperature of about 70 degrees, and east wind of 3 to 5 miles per hour are anticipated. Monday is expected to be sunny, with a daily high temperature of about 89 degrees and southeast wind of 5 to 8 miles per hour.

* Sports ... The Yankees (54-27) lead the Red Sox (56-29) only by 8 percentage points in the American League East after their weekend series ended today, but the Sox suffered an 11-1 pounding in the series finale. Now, the Yankees host the Atlanta Braves, and Bosox heads to Washington to play the Nationals in a 7:05 PM game tomorrow.

The News of Our Time—in Rhyme                                                                                                                                                                                                           [The poet expresses personal views/opinions on a variety of subjects.]
By John "Sloop" Biederman

New "life faking" sites/apps are sating
Folks’ urge for image masquerading!
World-wide selfies, action bound!
Why the whoop? Stuff’s been ‘round
long time—thing called "online dating"!

Got spam, which said was from "News Outlet"?
Understatement to say I doubt! Yet...
"From" likes "Doctor Fungus,"
spam clever laugh’s brung!... Must
say I’m disappointed about that!

Folks on Facebook thanking God... Wait! In this
world of woe’d take time to be slatin’ THIS?
Though, sure, omnipresent,
that’s one place, I’m guessin’,
God’d NOT be... But I’ve no doubt Satan is!


VOLUME V            NUMBER 1          JULY 1, 2018

Boston News Edition