Bloody night in Greater Boston

Gun violence has become the Muzak soundtrack to life in urban America: It’s always there, it’s bothersome, and it’s barely noticed after a while. At least by those outside its usual perimeter.

The three things that seem to change that reality are numbers, fatalities, and geography. Lots of victims all at once, lots of fatalities rather than just everyday woundings, and shootings taking place where they’re not supposed to happen can all deliver a jolt to a complacent community. The Boston area got a triple whammy overnight. The toll by this morning: five dead in four different shootings, including one victim gunned down near Kendall Square in Cambridge, where billions in biotech investment, not bullets over Broadway, are what’s supposed to distinguish the area.

With the trifecta established, news organizations were splashing the news prominently on the front pages of their websites this morning.

According to WBUR, two people were shot dead outside Egleston Square in Roxbury. Three people were shot, one fatally, in Mattapan. A man was shot to death near Kendall Square in Cambridge, and a woman was killed early this morning in an Everett parking lot.

Boston police were quick to point out in a post on the department’s website that the two Roxbury fatalities bring the citywide homicide count to 20, compared with the 35 homicides that occurred by this date in 2014. (It wasn’t clear whether last night’s Mattapan killing was included in the 2015 count.)  Though homicides are down, overall gun shootings in Boston are up, with 151 recorded incidents as of last Sunday, compared with 121 at the same point last year.

Mayor Marty Walsh was not trying to minimize the situation, however.

“I am extremely saddened and disturbed by the violence that took place overnight in our community; this has to stop,” he said in a statement released this morning. “It is my utmost priority to ensure the safety of our residents and it is important that we continue to work together with families and youth throughout our neighborhoods, to get them on alternative pathways to success.”

There are no easy solutions to the plague of gun violence in American cities. But keeping the issue at the top of a city’s agenda can ensure that lots of attention is being paid to exploring every potential avenue to quell the gunfire.

In the new issue of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg looks at the mind-numbing toll of gun violence in New Orleans. The 150 murders there last year were actually the lowest number recorded in four decades, but still gave the city one of the highest per capita murder rates in the country.

The city’s mayor, Mitch Landrieu, has become fixated on addressing the problem. His passionate take on the situation could be used to frame the approach in Boston, where the problem is thankfully not nearly as severe, and every American city.

“I didn’t grab this. This problem grabbed me,” he told Goldberg. “I guess you could say I’m obsessed with it. I don’t understand why it’s okay in America – a country that’s supposed to be the greatest country in the world, a place with more wealth than anywhere else – for us to leave so many of our citizens basically dead. Why do we allow our citizens to kill each other as if it’s the cost of doing business? We have basically given up on our African American boys. I’d be a cold son of a bitch if I ignored it, if I just focused on the other side of town, or focused just on tourism.”

“I’m absolutely certain we have the money and the capacity to solve this problem, but we do not have the will. This problem doesn’t touch enough Americans to rise to the level of a national crisis. But these are all our children. I’m embarrassed by it. How could this be normal?”

MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker, in a meeting with the Patriot Ledger editorial board, says he plans to hire someone whose sole responsibility will be to oversee efforts to stem the opioid addiction and drug abuse crisis in the state.

Rep. David Linsky leads a successful override of a Baker veto to steer $50,000 to Millis for athletic fields. (Metrowest Daily News)

Former governor Michael Dukakis weighs in on the Olympics, Donald Trump, and the state of his beloved T. (Greater Boston)

A Lowell Sun editorial lambasts Rep. Byron Rushing’s bill making Massachusetts more welcoming to illegal immigrants, claiming the measure would create “a sanctuary state of mindlessness.”

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera, an opponent of City Council-approved legislation limiting police cooperation with federal immigration authorities, says he will let the measure become law. (Eagle-Tribune) Rivera issues a statement explaining his views. (CommonWealth)

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone says he wants to see his city’s police force equipped with body-worn cameras. (Boston Herald) Senate President Stan Rosenberg says he wants to find the funds to help communities do just that. (Boston Globe)

Salem launches a program where the city supplies the bricks and neighborhood associations and residents use them to fix up crumbling sidewalks. (Salem News) Quite a contrast from Billerica, where a selectman painted crosswalks and nearly faced prosecution.

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson tries to psychoanalyze the Worcester City Council.

Cummings Properties is investing heavily in Beverly. (Salem News)

Framingham officials are mulling whether to appeal a judge’s ruling allowing a concrete batching plant to be built on Old Connecticut Path near Cochituate, a project the town has been fighting for more than a decade. (Metrowest Daily News)

Chicopee becomes the latest police force to start carrying Tasers as a way to defuse confrontations short of lethal force. (The Republican)

OLYMPICS

Los Angeles seems to be way more receptive to hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics than Boston was, with Mayor Eric Garcetti saying he’s willing to sign a taxpayer guarantee backstopping any cost overruns for the Games. (Boston Globe)

A Boston City Hall aide who had been hired at $115,000 to watchdog the Olympic bid process will now direct instead the city’s Imagine 2030 planning effort. (Boston Herald)

CASINOS

Boston officials plan to attend a state-led meeting today on casino traffic planning for Sullivan Square, despite the city’s ongoing lawsuit and beefing with gambling mogul Steve Wynn. (Boston Herald)

A federal judge hears arguments on whether an Indian tribe should be allowed to build an electronic bingo hall on Martha’s Vineyard. (State House News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Former president Jimmy Carter reveals he is about to undergo treatment for cancer. (NPR)

DNA testing has confirmed for the first time that President Warren Harding did indeed father a love child in the White House in one of the nation’s most enduring political sex scandals. (New York Times)

A retired Navy captain has launched an effort to christen a new ship the USS Quincy, a name which has been carried by three prior naval ships, to mark the 190th anniversary of the inauguration of President John Quincy Adams. (Patriot Ledger)

An explosion at a hazardous waste storage building in Tianjin, China, a massive blast that could be seen from outer space, killed at least 50 people and injured more than 500. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Voter anger is fueling the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. (Washington Post)

Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in the latest New Hampshire poll, and that may mean very little. (The New Republic) Could Clinton’s email controversy land her in the same hot water that Gen. David Petraeus found himself in? (Boston Herald)

A former campaign worker for Holyoke mayoral candidate Fran O’Connell says the politician commented on how a city worker’s large breasts distracted him. (MassLive)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Wall Street sours on TV stocks as consumers cut the cable cord. (Hollywood Reporter)

EDUCATION

Nonprofit leaders fear Hillary Clinton‘s proposal to ease the burden of paying for college tuition would come at the expense of charitable donations because of her plan to pay for it by limiting tax deductions. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

HEALTH CARE

Gloucester police chief Leonard Campanello says his program to treat rather than prosecute addicts has helped 100 people in the first 10 weeks and is expanding to other municipalities. (Gloucester Times)

New state regulations are being proposed that would require advance notification from nursing homes of any planned sale or closure of a facility. (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts gets a $3 million federal grant to treat pregnant women with opioid disorders. (State House News)

Partners HealthCare is getting in on the urgent care clinic business, following the lead of other Boston area hospitals. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

The 940-foot overpass carrying the main point of entry into North Adams, deemed the “Berkshires’ Big Dig” by locals, is “done, done, done,” in the words of the mayor — seven years after its start, four years after its projected deadline, and more than 40 percent over budget. (Berkshire Eagle)

Changes in traffic flow and access to roads are being made to accommodate growing traffic problems in Boston’s Seaport district. (Boston Globe)

Keller@Large‘s plea to bicyclists and drivers: Can’t we all just get along?

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg sends a letter to Berkshire Gas complaining about its moratorium on new hookups. The company says it cannot expand without more pipeline capacity in the region. (MassLive)

A report by an independent panel created in the wake of complaints to federal officials says moving the two elephants from the Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford would create “undue stress” for the aging animals. (Standard-Times)

Los Angeles uses shade balls to reduce evaporation from its water reservoir. (Governing)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Five people were shot, one fatally, in two separate incidents in Boston last night. (Boston Globe) A man was also shot to death in Cambridge. (Boston Globe)

Former Dartmouth selectman John George, sentenced to prison after being convicted on federal corruption charges stemming from his management of the regional transit authority, will face a hearing to seize $1.3 million in assets. (Standard-Times)

Conservative Grover Norquist, renowned for his demand that GOP candidates sign his no-new-taxes pledge, is the latest on the right to reject the “tough on crime” approach and come out in favor of criminal justice reform to lower incarceration rates. (National Review)

MEDIA
New Hampshire journalist Nancy West prepares to launch a website focused on investigative and State House reporting. (Current)