Hingham drama

For a small, toney town, Hingham generates an awful lot of news. The latest comes in Sunday’s Boston Globe with the recounting of a suicide by a distraught 26-year-old man whose parents claim a show of force by police led him to shoot himself despite warnings that a confrontation would heighten, rather than resolve, the tension.

According to the story, Hingham police responded after a call the night of July 11 from Kate Harrison that her son, Austin Reeves, was in his bedroom with his gun, despondent after a call to his former girlfriend. The girlfriend had also phoned police, worried after her conversation with Reeves.

According to Harrison and her husband, Russell Reeves, the initial response of two patrol cars soon ballooned to all-out siege as police from surrounding towns and the Metro SWAT team descended on the upper-class neighborhood of million-dollar homes for what turned out to be an all-night standoff that ended with Austin Reeves shooting himself with his 9-mm handgun. Russell Reeves, who said he told police all his son needed was to be able to sleep it off, blamed the cops for his son’s death.

“It was totally preventable,” said Reeves, who was described by reporter Jenna Russell as “long an outspoken critic” of Hingham officials. “He wasn’t a criminal. He didn’t have a hostage. This was a kid distressed about a girlfriend, and they turned it into a life-and-death situation.”

The story generated hundreds of comments on the Globe website, many of them blasting police tactics in general and Hingham’s department in particular. The comments also point to a back story that adds some questions to Reeves’s willingness to speak out about his son’s death and appears to show Reeves was more than just an outspoken critic.

According to a 2011 Patriot Ledger story, Russell Reeves was accused of sending out emails in 2006 criticizing the Community Preservation Act on a fictitious account he made up under the name of a then-Hingham selectman. Police obtained a subpoena to find out who created the Yahoo account and traced it to Reeves home. He was charged with identity fraud and making false statements, but the charges were later dismissed.

In 2010, Reeves filed suit against the town and the police department, claiming he, his wife, and son were the targets of continual harassment by police since that episode. The federal suit was dismissed in 2011 and a state suit later dropped.

None of that was in the story. The article did describe Harrison, Austin Reeves’s mother, as the great-granddaughter of a small town police chief who “felt certain the police would help her son.”

“She said she has always felt safe around police,” the Globe story said. It’s a statement that seems in conflict with what is now emerging.

The tragedy is only the latest controversy involving Hingham politics and police. In November of 2015, CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl had an intriguing story about Hingham police spending $40,000 to find out who wrote an anonymous letter to selectmen criticizing two candidates at the time for police chief, including Glenn Olsson, the man who was eventually hired. The department hired a private investigator and used fingerprints on file from gun owners to determine who handled the envelope. A former Department of Public Works employee came forward to say he was the author, rather than a suspended police officer who was the target of the investigation.

That officer, Sgt. Kris Phillips, was subsequently charged with insurance fraud for claiming he was hit by a vehicle and injured during a detail. He was found guilty late last year and sentenced to two years in jail, with 18 months suspended. He had been dismissed from the police department in 2008 after another alleged incident while on detail but was reinstated when an arbiter found problems with the process. Phillips had alleged his discipline was in retaliation for blowing the whistle on backstabbing and favoritism in the department, charges that divided the town and its elected officials.

“It’s a very interesting story about life in the suburbs,” Town Administrator Ted Alexiades told Mohl about the incident with the letter. It’s an observation that could be made about a number of tales of what goes on in Hingham.

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

House Speaker Robert DeLeo taps Jamaica Plain state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez to be the new House Ways and Means Committee chairman. (Boston Globe)

Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Sen. Jim Welch, in a Globe op-ed, say Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed Medicaid reforms weren’t included in the budget because they need more review and deliberation. State leaders need to work together to reach agreement on measures to address the spiraling cost of the state’s MassHealth program, say Barbara Anthony and Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute. (CommonWealth)

Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, had some muted praise for the recently passed state budget and said the proposed increase in the marijuana tax rate which has led to an impasse will do little to fill the budget gap. (Keller@Large)

Anti-abortion activists are beginning the process of pursuing a constitutional amendment that would allow lawmakers to ban public funding of abortions in the state. (Boston Globe)

Evan Horowitz says a Congressional Budget Office-type operation at the state level would allow for nonpartisan, evidence-based information on contentious issues such as the optimal level of taxation for retail marijuana sales. (Boston Globe) Horowitz never mentions it, but just such a proposal was offered two years ago by Sen Jamie Eldridge, an idea the Pioneer Institute has also backed.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Gov. Charlie Baker signed a home rule petition into law allowing new Braintree Police Chief Paul Shastany to work full-time while also collecting his pension following his retirement as Stoughton’s chief. Without the legislation, Shastany would have been limited to working six months. (Patriot Ledger)

An area planning organization, starting with a meeting tomorrow night in Haverhill, aims to craft a regional housing plan for the Merrimack Valley. (Eagle-Tribune)

Salem has reaped $330,750 in payments from its one medical marijuana shop for its two first two years of operation. (Salem News)

A Whitman man cleaning out his parents’ garage found a “fake” bomb his grandfather had given to the family decades ago but it turned out to be quite real. He called the fire department, which brought in the State Police bomb squad to detonate the device. (The Enterprise)

Springfield animal control officers were called when residents of a multi-family home found a venomous timber rattlesnake curled up on their front doorstep. (Mass Live)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

After Sunday Globe Spotlight report on deplorable conditions at the VA Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin removed the top two officials at the hospital and ordered a full review of its operations. (Boston Globe)

Republican Senate leaders promised a vote on the GOP health care reform bill following a delay triggered by surgery for Sen. John McCain, which leaves them at least one vote shy of passage. But indications are the 80-year-old senator’s recovery could be longer than expected and critics say they will use the time to firm up opposition. (New York Times)

White House officials including Vice President Mike Pence put a full-court press on GOP governors at the annual gathering of state chief executives in Rhode Island to support the health care bill but few were moved by the lobbying. (Governing)

The National Review blasts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to allow the over-the-counter sale of hearing aids and classify “personal sound amplification products” as medical devices as a threat to public health that will lead to self-diagnosis and misdiagnosis of hearing problems.

President Trump’s approval ratings continue to plummet to historically low levels with an overall approval rating of 40 percent with 55 percent disapproving except among his die-hard supporters, where 50 percent still give the president a thumbs-up. (U.S. News & World Report)

ELECTIONS

Former Lawrence mayor William Lantigua, looking to reclaim the seat he lost four years ago to Daniel Rivera, has been evicted from his downtown campaign office for not paying rent — and the money that had been paid so far for the office space may constitute an illegal campaign donation. (Eagle-Tribune) The new summer issue of CommonWealth has a feature story on Rivera and those chasing him in this fall’s election, including Lantigua.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A nearly century-old horseshoe manufacturer in Worcester has been selected as the sole Massachusetts representative in President Trump’s “Made in America” theme at the White House this week. (Telegram & Gazette)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the National Governors Association meeting in Providence to urge governors to put the pressure on Washington to retain NAFTA. (Governing)

Massachusetts real estate agents say a dearth of inventory is one of the key factors in the increasing housing prices in the state. (MetroWest Daily News)

EDUCATION

The Legislature should pass measures providing a tax deduction for employers who help workers pay down student debt, write state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, state Rep. Paul Mark, and Julie Lammers of American Student Assistance. (CommonWealth)

A Herald editorial pans a bill sponsored by Sen. Jamie Eldridge that would provide free public higher education to students of families earning less than $200,000 a year.

Gov. Charlie Baker signs a home-rule petition paving the way for a new Lowell High School to be built on the outskirts of the city. (Boston Herald)

University of Massachusetts trustees are meeting today in Worcester to consider tuition and fee increases for the coming year. (Associated Press) Meanwhile, advocates are urging lawmakers to pass one of several bills that would make at least one year of public college education tuition-free. (State House News Service)

Lawmakers representing the town of Southbridge say they are alarmed at the continuing turnover in the state-run school district and plan to talk with the acting education commissioner about the churn that was supposed to subside once it entered into receivership. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A two-year grant that could total more than $300,000 will allow expansion of a pioneering program in Essex County in which law enforcement agencies are trained in the administration of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and in ways to help steer addicts to treatment rather than jail. (Gloucester Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Bourne residents say they are “invigorated” by a judge’s ruling to shut down two turbines in Falmouth as nuisances and say they hope the decision sets a precedent for their suit to try to turn off turbines on private property next door in Plymouth. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Saugus police officer says Gov. Charlie Baker “talks a good game,” but his administration has resisted the cop’s offer to share a training program he developed to detect illegal immigrants who have used stolen identities to obtain fraudulent driver’s licenses. (Boston Herald)

A man in his 20s was shot to death at the Lenox Street housing development in Roxbury on Saturday night. (Boston Herald)

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to shield from public disclosure the names of members of an FBI terrorism task force who were involved in the shooting of a terror suspect two years ago in a Roslindale parking lot because they fear such information would be used to inspire attacks by the Islamic State. (Boston Herald)

Police have confirmed the remains found buried in a Dartmouth backyard are those of Donald Eugene Webb, a mob-connected jewel thief wanted for the murder of a Pennsylvania police chief. Webb was one of the longest-tenured fugitives ever on the FBI’s most wanted list. (Standard-Times)

Civil rights advocates are raising questions about the increasing police habit of shaming people by posting mugshots on social media of those arrested of minor crimes and making flippant remarks about the defendants who hadn’t been convicted of anything. (Associated Press)

PASSINGS

George Romero, recognized as the father of zombie movies after his Night of the Living Dead launched the genre, died in Toronto over the weekend. We think. (New York Times)

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Why hasn’t the commentary, “Time to update state school funding formula,” by Alycia Steelman been featured in The Daily Download? It was thoughtful, informative and covered a subject CommonWealth’s editors choose to ignore: the state’s failure to meet its funding obligations to local public schools under the 1993 Education Reform Act. CommonWealth highlights just about every article and commentary appearing on its website in The Daily Download but not Ms. Steelman’s commentary. Looks like CommonWealth’s editors believe a Boston Public School teacher’s informed commentary doesn’t deserve the same amount of consideration as anything…and I do mean anything…related to charter schools.

    • Jack Sullivan

      Yes, we did overlook it because we put it up over the weekend but forgot about that when doing the Monday and Tuesday Downloads. It was an oversight on our part and will be in tomorrow’s. Thank you for the heads-up.

    • Jack Sullivan

      Yes, we did overlook it because we put it up over the weekend but forgot about that when doing the Monday and Tuesday Downloads. It was an oversight on our part and will be in tomorrow’s. Thank you for the heads-up.

      • Mhmjjj2012

        Thank you in advance for planning on correcting that oversight. Now, what about the fact that same commentary “Time to update state school funding formula” only appeared on the front page of CommonWealth for just a few hours while the Pioneer Institute’s commentary is on day three of its front page run?