Two years ago, when Jeff Riley was put in charge of Lawrence’s failing school system under a new state law, he made a surprising declaration for someone who had just been handed broad authority over virtually every aspect of the district’s operation: He was not planning to use those powers as a state-appointed “receiver” to(...)
For Susan Liss, the former top lobbyist for Massachusetts in the capital, the battle is personal
When Susan Liss became the top lobbyist for Massachusetts in Washington in 2006, she had a million things to juggle, from the rollout of the state’s new health care law to the search for federal funds. But it was a tough personal time for such a big assignment: Her husband, Jeffrey Liss, a partner with(...)
Politically, Massachusetts is now 3 regions
On a national political map, Massachusetts is reliably blue, a Democratic stronghold. The congressional delegation is all Democrat, the State House is overwhelmingly Democrat, and every constitutional officer is a Democrat. While Republicans occasionally break through (Scott Brown’s US Senate victory in 2010 or the string of Republican governors elected from 1990 through 2002), the(...)
When the Massachusetts Legislature voted last year to raise the gas tax by 3 cents to 26.5 cents per gallon and allow the tax to rise automatically in future years by the rate of inflation, the idea was to find a way to ensure enough revenue to cover the state’s transportation maintenance and infrastructure costs(...)
Do district attorneys rubber-stamp police use of deadly force?
FROM THE TINY TOWN of Colrain at the Vermont border to the siren-pierced streets of Boston, state and local police have shot and killed 73 people across Massachusetts over the last 12 years. The deadliest year was 2013, when 12 people were killed. Every completed killing investigation found the police were justified in using deadly(...)
Do Bob Master and Rushika Fernandopulle have the cure for what ails American medicine?
Through the fall, and on into winter, health care was everywhere in the news, with one story after another about problems with various aspects of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. The one that seemed to capture all the woes with fitting digital-age symbolism was the virtual meltdown of the Obamacare website, the main(...)
With a bold plan to revamp the teacher hiring process, Boston’s interim school superintendent is doing a lot more than just keeping the seat warm
John McDonough is the interim superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. He’s the anonymous guy who is supposed to keep the school bureaucracy at 26 Court Street running smoothly until Boston’s new mayor, Marty Walsh, can orchestrate the hiring of a new superintendent. McDonough looks the part. He’s got thinning white hair and is nearing(...)
The taxpayer tab for indigent defense keeps rising, but the lawyers who do the work are among the lowest paid in the country
Malden District Court is 50 shades of grim. The defendants in the packed courtroom—men and women, some young, most not—appear somber, resigned, or just plain petrified. The female judge whispers to attorneys. No one seems to know where the Spanish interpreter is, so the Portuguese interpreter does double duty. The court clerk yells out names(...)
It wasn’t easy assembling the data for this report. No one agency or office compiles a comprehensive list of instances when police use deadly force, so CommonWealth gathered the information from the state’s district attorneys, the State Police, state and federal court records, and the state Department of Public Health, which tracks all shooting injuries(...)
The Boston Redevelopment Authority has eight attorneys on staff, but apparently none of them are qualified to do eminent domain work. Records indicate the agency farms out the eminent domain work to James Masterman of the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, who bills the BRA $385 an hour. On two cases, the agency paid the(...)