Worcester nixes sanctioned homeless camp

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. on Monday ruled out any type of sanctioned camp for homeless people in the city, saying the issue “does not lend itself to one-size-fits-all solutions.”

The issue of a sanctioned homeless camp first surfaced last week at a city council committee hearing, where Dr. Matilde Castiel, Worcester’s health and human services commissioner, said she had been studying the concept. She said Worcester has about 80 identified homeless people who are scattered at more than 70 sites around the city. By congregating homeless individuals at one sanctioned camp, she said, it would be possible to make them more comfortable (showers and toilets could be offered, for example) and provide them with services more efficiently. She also said police could monitor the sanctioned site.

When Castiel’s comments were reported on Monday, Augustus quickly put an end to the discussion. He issued a statement saying chronic homelessness is a serious issue in Worcester and most major American cities. “It requires sustained attention, creative thinking, and frank discussion,” he said. “In having that discussion recently, the issue of a ‘sanctioned homeless camp’ was brought up. To be clear, the city of Worcester does not plan to establish any kind of homeless camp. We are not considering it, and I would not be in support of it.”

Sanctioned homeless camps have sprung up on the West Coast with mixed success. They are a recognition that the problem of homelessness is not going away, and needs to be addressed in a more comprehensive manner. In Massachusetts, a right-to-shelter state, the idea generally has less appeal.

Worcester isn’t the only Massachusetts city struggling with how to address homelessness. In Boston, the administration of Mayor Marty Walsh has been very aggressive in trying to get people off the streets and into shelters or permanent housing. But the strategy hasn’t always worked. Over the summer, an encampment sprouted on Boston Common near the Park Street T station. City officials poured resources into the area to help people find shelter, but the encampment continued to grow and attracted a criminal element. Boston police eventually moved the people out and they haven’t returned..

BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

The Baker administration will announce a major reform today in the way the state criminal justice system handles mentally ill patients at Bridgewater State Hospital, moving the system away from a corrections model and toward a mental health care one. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Brockton city councilors, wary of being labeled a “sanctuary city,” voted to table a proposed ordinance that would assure undocumented immigrants detained by police they would not be turned over to federal immigration officials without a warrant. (The Enterprise)

Questions are being raised about whether the Boston Redevelopment Authority got the highest price it could have when it awarded the derelict Winthrop Square Garage to Millennium Partners for a bid of $151 million. (Boston Globe)

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson condemns the incivility that followed a black high school football player’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. The player, Michael Oppong, has not been disciplined by school officials.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The NCAA pulls seven championship events from North Carolina, citing the state’s anti-transgender law. (NPR)

ELECTIONS

Democratic and Republican strategists say Hillary Clinton, already suffering from a trust deficit with voters, blundered badly in holding back news that she was suffering from pneumonia. (Boston Herald) Joe Battenfeld says she joins a long list of politicians who have downplayed ailments or covered them up entirely from the public. (Boston Herald)

Voters by a 48-41 margin oppose the charter school ballot question, while the measure legalizing marijuana is backed by a narrow 50-45 margin, according to a WBUR poll conducted by the MassINC Polling Group. (WBUR)

The state Democratic Party bypassed the primary runner-up and tapped Paul Gannon, a former state representative from South Boston and currently a Hingham selectman, to run against Republican Sen. Patrick O’Connor of Weymouth. Gannon, who did not run in the primary, was chosen after the winner declined the nomination and opted to run for a vacant House seat. (Patriot Ledger)

A Boston Herald editorial addressing criticism of state education board chairman Paul Sagan for donating $100,000 to the pro-charter side in the November ballot campaign says the same questions could be raised about state ed board member Ed Doherty, who works for the American Federation of Teachers, which has donated $700,000 to the anti-charter side. Gov. Charlie Baker calls the dust-up over Sagan’s donation a “nothing burger.” (Boston Herald)

Sagan is not the only business bigwig to pony up for the charter campaign, as a bevy of deep pocketed executives have also donated to the cause, including Fidelity Investments chief executive Abby Johnson. (Boston Globe)

Haverhill officials tell a homeowner with a lot of Trump signs in his yard that he is in violation of a city ordinance barring signs greater than 32 square feet. (Eagle-Tribune)

The race is on for chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, with as many as a half dozen declared or potential candidates now in the mix. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The executive at the center of the Wells Fargo scandals walks away with $124.6 million. (Time)

EDUCATION

Former Suffolk University president Margaret McKenna, who has begun mediation proceedings with the board of trustees that fired her, is reportedly not interested in financial compensation but in seeing governance changes at the school. (Boston Globe)

Students at Essex Elementary School on the North Shore will no longer be assigned homework, joining a small movement that says there needs to be more time for kids to be kids. (Boston Globe)

U.S. News & World Report is out with its annual college rankings, with Harvard and MIT second and seventh, respectively, in the national universities category, while Williams College, Amherst College, and Wellesley College are the top three in the liberal arts college category.

Springfield’s Commonwealth Academy and Boston’s Commonwealth School are fighting in court again after a negotiated settlement over use of the name falls apart. (Masslive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

New documents indicate the sugar industry in the 1950s and 1960s skewed scientific research to turn attention away from the sweetener’s link to heart disease. (Time)

William Kaelin, a researcher at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, whose wife, Carolyn Kaelin, was a prominent breast cancer surgeon who died of a malignancy a year ago, has won the 2016 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award — often called the American Nobel — for his work on how cells adapt to changes in oxygen levels. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Members of the Boston Carmen’s Union protest privatization efforts at a meeting of the MBTA’s Fiscal Management and Control Board. The union members criticized Gov. Charlie Baker and his board appointees, but not the Democrat-controlled Legislature which gave them the power to privatize operations. (CommonWealth)

State transportation officials say they want to double capital spending after failing again this year to spend all the money set aside for projects. (CommonWealth)

The T ended fiscal 2016 with an $86 million deficit, down 28 percent from the previous year. (State House News)

New Bedford city councilors rejected salary and residency waivers that had been requested to fill the vacant manager position at New Bedford Regional Airport. City officials worry the empty position could harm the facility’s growth and pursuit of federal grants. (Standard-Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A hydrogen gas leak at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant is the latest in a growing number of mishaps at the Plymouth facility that has triggered an investigation by state and federal officials. (Cape Cod Times) A Globe editorial says the permanent shutdown of the plant must be put on a fast track.

State fisheries officials have closed a section of Buzzards Bay in Mattapoisett to shellfishing for the next year as the area receives more than 800 bushels of quahogs contaminated by the Bouchard oil spill. The quahogs have the ability to purge themselves of toxins. (Standard-Times)

Hudson selectmen have voted to officially oppose a proposed power line running from that town to Sudbury if the plan includes overhead wires. (MetroWest Daily News)

CASINOS

A third Massachusetts casino in the Southeast part of the state is mired in doubt and uncertainty, while projects in Everett and Springfield are moving forward. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Attorneys for Sean Ellis, the Dorchester man granted a new trial for the 1993 murder of a Boston police detective, say former police commissioners William Bratton and Paul Evans knew they had corrupt detectives investigating the crime and did nothing about it. (Greater Boston)

Boston police officers take to the streets for the first time wearing body cameras. (Boston Herald)

A Plymouth man who claims he is a volunteer for the state Department of Transportation has been charged with removing and hiding police memorial flags put up on an overpass on Route 6 on Cape Cod. (Cape Cod Times)

Heather Salines, 40, of Danvers pleads guilty to the child rape of two boys ages 14 and 15 and is sentenced to four years in prison. (Salem News)

Police are searching for a Lawrence man in connection with the death of his son’s mother, who lived in Methuen. (Eagle-Tribune)

MEDIA

A Berkshire Eagle editorial urges US District Court Patti Saris to reconsider her decision requiring Glenn Beck to disclose his sources for a story alleging a Saudi Arabian student was the money man behind the Boston Marathon bombings. Even poor journalists like Beck deserve protection, the editorial said.

The tradition of not reporting election results until after the polls close may be coming to an end. (New York Times)

PASSINGS

Paul McDevitt, husband of state Auditor Suzanne Bump and a fixture in the nonprofit and addiction recovery communities, has died. He was 74. (Patriot Ledger)