Fall 2009

Fall 2009

Lawmakers cagy on how they use expense stipends

Lawmakers cagy on how they use expense stipends

massachusetts lawmakers receive a $600 monthly stipend for expenses, even though nearly all of their needs, including office supplies, stationery, postage, and telephone service, are paid out of other legislative accounts and most use campaign funds for district expenses. The stipend adds up to $7,200 over the course of a year for each legislator, or(...)

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Greenway gets Bloomberg boost

One of the biggest financial supporters of Boston’s newest park, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, is a New Yorker. In its recently released annual report, the Greenway Conservancy, the park’s private operator, lists New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as one of eight donors who have contributed $1 million or more. Bloomberg showed up at(...)

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Foreclosure limbo continues for retiree in Dorchester

Foreclosure limbo continues for retiree in Dorchester

the good news for Helen Williams is that two years after receiving an initial foreclosure notice, she hasn’t lost her house. The bad news is that she still doesn’t know whether she will be able to keep it. The 71-year-old retiree, whose case was spotlighted earlier this year in CommonWealth (“Broken Homes,” Winter ’09), is(...)

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Carpentry apprentices help nonprofits get real-world training

Carpentry apprentices help nonprofits get real-world training

for david leonhardi, a union’s effort to increase its community service offerings has helped enhance his teaching. Leonhardi is an instructor at the New England Regional Council of Carpenters’ training center in Millbury, where apprentice carpenters spend 16 weeks — one week per quarter for four years — learning the trade. In the past, his(...)

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Towns offer space to keep popular RMV branches open

Towns offer space to keep popular RMV branches open

cities and towns across the Commonwealth are making the state an offer it can’t refuse: Free or low-cost public space for Registry of Motor Vehicles branches. To save $1.7 million annually in the midst of the worst budget crunch in recent years, the Registry announced plans this summer to close 11 of its 34 branch(...)

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Term paper trafficking

See an update to this story here. Despite laws in Massachusetts and 16 other states, lawsuits, honor codes, and even sophisticated plagiarism-detection software, college students continue to buy term papers and other academic material from individuals and companies that have built a thriving business out of cheating. Websites with names like Papergeeks.com, 15000papers.com, Schoolsucks.com, and(...)

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Missed opportunity

Ethics reform has done little to make public officials' financial data — and their possible conflicts of interest — accessible to taxpayers in Massachusetts

INTRO TEXT In the wake of the indictments of former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, a State House under siege by a fed-up public recently fashioned the first major ethics reform in 30 years. The legislation increased penalties for ethics violations and corruption, severely limited lobbyist activities, clamped down on(...)

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Correspondence

State lotteries are predatory institutions Michael Jonas’s interview of Barbara Dafoe Whitehead was first-rate. (See “Ben Franklin Was Right,” CW, Summer ’09.) Interesting, substantive, and entertaining, it put a much needed spotlight on state-sponsored predatory gambling and the “lottery class.” Promoted in the name of getting someone else to pay our taxes, predatory gambling is(...)

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State of the unions

Cash-poor state and local officials are taking aim at public sector union salaries and benefits, but organized labor isn't backing down.

”Governor Patrick, Anti-Labor.” ”Governor Patrick, Anti-Public Safety.” That was the 411 from Arlington and Medford police officers lined up more than 200 strong in front of Arlington’s Town Hall in late June. There wasn’t any chanting or marching, just plenty of signs doing the talking on a damp and chilly evening. The reason behind the(...)

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