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Boston News Edition
VOLUME VI NUMBER 1 JUNE 1, 2019
of Continental Newstime newsmagazine
Continental Features/Continental News Service
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* Governor's Office News Briefs ... Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant-Governor Karyn Polito, together with Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, toured Worcester recently to recognize city leaders' dedication to increasing housing production, particularly the city's programs to convert existing buildings into housing; to rehabilitate other units, so they remain in the housing inventory; to permit multi-family housing in several districts of the city; and to require affordable units in certain new developments—inclusionary zoning. For these accomplishments, the city was honored as a 2018 Housing Choice Community. At the same time, the Baker-Polito Administration sought to galvanize public opinion in favor of its Act to Promote Housing Choices, which the Governor proposed in February, 2019. But already the Governor's Administration has earmarked in excess of $1 billion in investments for affordable housing, toward construction of thousands of market-rate housing units. The Governor's plan aims to modernize zoning laws and to bring about the housing conditions workers, families and businesses depend on. There is some urgency, too, in arranging passage, he says, because state-wide construction of new housing has declined to under half 1980's levels, and the Governor's initiative has attracted the support of such influential groups as the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Realtor Association of Central Massachusetts, and UMass Memorial Health Care. Key provisions of the Governor's legislative proposal include substitution of a simple-majority requirement for the current super-majority (66 percent-plus) requirement to re-zone transit-oriented and downtown-oriented areas to permit new housing. In addition, a simple majority need only be met to permit so-called accessory dwelling units, also known as granny flats, or, alternately, in-law apartments. Besides, the reform plan envisions establishment of Smart Growth or Starter Homes districts and allowing greater population density through a special permit procedure, easing minimum-lot codes and reducing parking requirements. Even the Joint Committee on Housing has exerted influence on the Governor's Housing Choice Initiative, by specifying that only a simple majority is necessary for a local permit-granting authority to approve a special permit for mixed-use and multi-family projects, where no less than 10 percent of the units are near transit or commercial-activity centers. Housing and Economic Development Secretary Kennealy explains that the measure reflects an overall economic-development strategy, by which the Commonwealth operates to offer relief to families through lower housing costs and to retain its highly-skilled work force through housing opportunities near transit and commercial centers. The Baker-Polito Administration says its track record in this area includes preservation of in excess of 17,000 housing units, 15,000 affordable units among that number, since 2015. Next, Baker reported signing the largest housing bond bill in state history (2018), advancing development of 11,000-plus mixed-income housing units, reforming housing-development incentives, and assisting communities in pursuing smart-growth policies. However, overall, the Governor has encouraged acceptance of a challenge to create 135,000 new housing units by 2025. Also, the Governor informs that there is new leadership in the triumvirate of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, by virtue of his appointment of long-time public servant Neldy Jean-Francois as one of three Commissioners. Jean-Francois has previously served as First Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Professional Licensure, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Public Safety and Inspections, a staff attorney to the Department of Revenue's Child Support Enforcement Division, and once as a compliance officer for the Commission to which she was recently appointed. Members serve three-year terms in either of the Commission's Boston, New Bedford, or Springfield regions. Similarly, the Governor awaits legislative action on another bill he has influenced drafting, a bill to increase criminal penalties for child predators and to reform the civil-commitment process, with the case of convicted pedophile and child-murder suspect Wayne Chapman in mind. Outraged that two examiners determined that the prison inmate no longer poses a threat as a sex offender, the Governor, along with other members of his Administration, favor a mandatory minimum penalty of life without parole for both the once-convicted person who forcibly rapes a child and the sexual predator who has raped multiple children forcibly. So that there is no repeat of the Chapman case, and the Supreme Judicial Court's decision to release Chapman, the proposed legislation, once more re-submitted, provides that any disagreement between or among examiners will trigger a full court proceeding in which judge or jury rules whether a past sex offender remains a threat to society's most defenseless members. Further, with Lieutenant-Governor Polito working in the capacity of Chair in the Governor's Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, RESPECTfully, billed as the "first public-awareness campaign related to preventing sexual assault and domestic violence in Massachusetts in almost 20 years," has just launched and the $500,000 state program is due to run messages in social media, directed at youth, on healthy and unhealthy relationships, through October, 2019.
* State Legislative News Briefs ... The Joint Committee on Education is scheduled to meet on June 3 beginning at 10 AM, in A-1, and one hour later the Senate is in Session in the Senate Chamber. Also at 11 AM, but over in the House Chamber, an informal House Session is planned. On June 4, at 11 AM, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government meets in A-1, and at 1 PM the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development is set to meet in B-1. The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture also gathers at 1 PM, the venue being A-2. Then, on June 6, at 10 AM, the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets reserves A-1 for a meeting.
* Mayor's Office News Briefs ... Mayor Martin J. Walsh informs that, since establishing Boston's Way Home Fund in 2018 and its goal of raising at least $10 million during a four-year period, $6 million has been collected to furnish 200 new units of supportive, sustainable, long-term housing for men and women who are chronically-homeless—homelessness for one year or longer, or repeatedly, while struggling with serious mental illness, a substance-use disorder, or physical disability. A major thrust of the City's efforts being to end chronic homelessness among veterans, the City has overhauled its approach over the last five years to emphasize housing, short of sobriety, treatment, or participation in supportive services, Commissioner of Veterans Services Robert Santiago assuring, though, that there is certainly a commitment to homeless veterans receiving any necessary mental-health services, housing supports, or job opportunities. The Mayor says that, by prioritizing the housing of homeless veterans, the City has not only achieved one of the lowest rates of unsheltered veteran homelessness nationally, but the lowest rate of unsheltered homelessness among major U.S. cities. Indeed, providing immediate shelter for homeless veterans who consent to it has put more than 1,000 homeless veterans on track to receive such aid as short-term rental assistance or vouchers from the Boston Housing Authority and the Veterans Affairs Administration for permanent housing. In fact, since 2016, the City's affordable-housing build-up has reduced veteran homelessness 36 percent and chronic homelessness 20 percent. Besides, Mayor Walsh has announced establishment of the Fund for the Boston Public Library, to carry on after the Boston Library Foundation, by leveraging initial philanthropic investments totaling $2.8 million and raised to upgrade the technology, programming, collections care, and public spaces of the Library system of 26 branches. In addition, the City of Boston has budgeted $127 million, under the Mayor's 2020-2024 Capital Plan, for such purposes as the renovation of the Central Library and its capacity to preserve historic special collections, the renovation of the Roslindale Branch, and completion of Dudley Branch renovations. The Mayor has challenged the Library's Board of Trustees to raise the additional funds necessary to ensure the Library is operated "at the highest level possible to benefit the public," including through restoration of the historic McKim Building, which houses special collections, as well. And having participated in a ribbon-cutting event with the National Park Service launching the Connect Historic Boston project, the Mayor confirms that the $15.5-million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant the City received from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2013 has funded a 2.5-mile, family-friendly bike trail linked to existing bike paths and facilitating access to Freedom Trail and Constitution Road historic treasures. The Mayor says that all improvements dovetail with the 57 projects of Go Boston 2030, which seeks to create a transportation network favoring forms of transportation that cut motor-vehicle emissions and reduce traffic congestion. Of the City's fiscal-years 2020-2024 Capital Plan provision of $2.78 billion, a total of $1.15 billion is earmarked for the Go Boston 2030 Plan.
* City Council News Briefs … The Emergency Management Working Group plans to meet on June 3 at 10 AM in the Emergency Operations Center (85 Bragdon Street). One hour later, the Trustees of Charitable Donations has scheduled a meeting in Room 608 in City Hall. Then, there is due to be an Emergency Management HazMat Working Group meeting at 1 PM in the Emergency Operations Center. The City Council Committee on Government Operations has arranged a Working Session for June 4, at 9:30 AM, in the 5th Floor Curley Room. Next, between 10 AM and 11 AM, the Quincy Police Department is poised to host a meeting of the Metro Boston Homeland Security Region Critical Infrastructure Subcommittee.
* School District News Briefs ... Ahead of its 5 PM June 12th public meeting, the Boston School Committee announces that Minnesota's former Commissioner of Education, Dr. Brenda Cassellius, who was selected as Boston Public Schools Superintendent over the Chief Academic Officer of Florida's Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Cathedral 7-12 High School's Head of School, is set to succeed Interim Superintendent Laura Perille, based upon a three-year employment contract, with an optional two year extension. Meantime, June 4 is the last day of school for high-school seniors, June 19 being the last day of school for other students. On June 7, between 10 AM and 12 Noon, the English Language Learners Task Force Parent Engagement Subcommittee has planned to meet.
* Weather ... The National Weather Service reports that, as of 11:54 PM, current conditions at Boston Logan International Airport, are foggy, with visibility of 0.25 mile, a temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit, wind out of the northeast at 5 miles per hour, barometric pressure of 29.84 inches, humidity of 97 percent, and a dewpoint of 53 degrees. The forecast for overnight is patchy drizzle, areas of dense fog, with a low temperature of about 54 degrees, and east wind of about 6 miles per hour. On Sunday, mostly-cloudy skies, patchy drizzle and areas of dense fog are expected before 9 AM, with a slight chance of showers after 5 PM, a daily high temperature of about 70 degrees, and east wind of 5 to 9 miles per hour.
* Sports ... The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 5-3 today, the Sox otherwise matching the Bronx Bombers with 11 hits. Rick Porcello, now 4-5, took the loss. Aroldis Chapman saved the Yankees lead for Chad Green, now 1-2. Boston fell back to 9.5 games in the American League East, but, so far, the Sox are still playing .500 ball. And in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins took a 2-1 lead over the Blues today, with a 7-2 victory. Their next game is June 3 in St. Louis.
Flashback: By Francine Silverman
Terry Anderson Reflects On His Den of Lions
I caught up with ex-hostage Terry Anderson in his diminutive office building in New York. Winding down a phone interview and wearing jeans and sneakers, he seems very much the reporter. I ask if these modest questions remind him of the cells he occupied during his seven years of captivity. "I got the keys," he laughs, jiggling them like bells.
Anderson, 46, was the Associated Press Chief Middle East Correspondent before his abduction in 1985. Den of Lions (Crown, 1993), his moving memoir of that harrowing experience, has sold about 150,000 copies in the U.S. and is being translated into several languages. Throughout the book, Anderson berates himself for his characteristic arrogance and aggressiveness. "I have not become a saint," he admits. "I hope I am less irritable than I was."
When he was released, Anderson was physically weak, and he had a 6-year-old daughter he had never seen, whose mother—his beloved fiancée—had remained ever hopeful of reunion. (The couple wed April 18, 1993, a second marriage for both.) "All that took work and we had psychiatric counseling for a while," he admits. "They are not things you mind doing. I don't look at them as problems."
The book is a parallel account by the couple. Madeleine, pregnant and distraught at the separation, agonizes over Anderson's welfare, as he wonders whether she'll wait. Since reuniting, "I've been given my life back," he says.
Question Time with Public Officials
The American public expects public officials to deal with, rather than dodge, difficult public-policy problems, to be transparent in their public-policy positions, and to state their views confidently, thoughtfully and boldly. One week was allowed to finalize the response, by E-mail, of each of the Presidential candidates listed below.
The Continental News Service had announced its intention to publish results of this multi-respondent poll in its on-line newspapers over the course of time, and these newspapers include its Washington D.C. News Edition, Chicago News Edition, Honolulu News Edition, Atlanta News Edition, Anchorage News Edition, Boston News Edition, Seattle News Edition, Miami News Edition, San Diego News Edition, Rochester (N.Y.) News Edition, Minneapolis News Edition, and Houston News Edition.
Would you, Senator/Representative/Governor, support legislation, or even sponsor legislation, ending all federal government grants to Planned Parenthood if it was conducted in an even-handed and non-discriminatory manner; that is, likewise ending all federal and federally-subsidized state grants to faith-based and all other non-profit groups, whatever their specific tax-code classification?
__ Yes. Uncheck "No Comment." My reasoning is ________________________________________________________________________________.
__ No. Uncheck "No Comment." My reasoning is _________________________________________________________________________________.
X No Comment. Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative Tulsi Gabbard,
Washington Governor Jay Inslee.