Monthly Archives: June 2010

Vespa Violence: Olympian Attacked In Brookline

Published June 30, 2010

Jenny Thompson in better times (AP)

Jenny Thompson in better times (AP)

BROOKLINE (not BROOKLYN), Mass. — Olympic swimmer and Dover, N.H.’s own Jenny Thompson, winner of multiple gold medals, was attacked on her Vespa on Monday night. Police say the thugs tried to steal her bike!

According to a police report, “two [men] got out of the car and Thompson said to them ‘Did you know your headlights are out?'”

One of the men then said to her “your lights are out” and punched her in the face. (WBZ)

A Brookline resident and proud scooter rider myself, I have never been so afraid to ride anywhere as in the Boston area. (And I have done so in both Southern California and Naples, Italy.) In other places, people smile at you. Here, they try to kill you.

The WBUR newsroom is right on the Brookline border, and my green Buddy is parked out front. I hope.

Debating Smoke-Filled Rooms In Smoke-Filled Rooms

Published June 30, 2010

I smell compromise in the air. Or maybe it’s smoke.

Senate President Therese Murray said the Groundhog Day-style debate (my analogy) on casino gaming will extend into the Fourth of July weekend if lawmakers can’t agree. They’ve used parliamentary procedures to delay debate five times this week. Now, surely no one wants to be cooped up in the State House this Saturday.

They ban it in Atlantic City. (AP)

They ban it in Atlantic City. (AP)

It’s fortuitous timing that House Speaker Robert DeLeo — who first introduced the expanded gambling bill — is our guest today on Radio Boston. He’ll be taking your calls and comments live in the studio at 3.

One of the sticking points is a proposed ban on smoking inside casinos. Some Democrats had tried to overturn the ban; Sen. Steven Panagiotakos said it would cost the state $94 million in lost revenue. Sen. Susan Fargo, a casino critic, saw his $94 million in lost revenue and raised $6 billion in lost productivity from smoking illness, according to a recent state report.

I have no opinion, because I’m a journalist and journalists are robots without feelings (like Supreme Court justice nominees). But doesn’t it seem to make sense to allow one vice if you’re going to allow another? I don’t smoke, and I don’t really gamble, either, and I don’t think either is “good for you.” Anyway, what do you think? I know, a lot of you don’t support casinos, period. But it appears all but certain that casinos in Mass. are a reality.

Brown Unveils A Different Jobs Bill

Published June 30, 2010

Sen. Scott Brown may be popular, but he’s under fire for trying to block a jobs bill that could help thousands of families in Massachusetts. Just look at some of the comments from Hubbubers:

Scott Brown’s vote against unemployment benefit extension and medicaid has shown his true colors. He sides with the big guys and doesn’t care about those little guys suffering from the down turn. His latest vote was a disgrace!

Scott Brown has surprised me a couple of times with breaking with his party, but only on much less meaningful measures – and he’ll tout those as proving his independence from the GOP.

That’s got to be hitting the junior senator where it hurts. He prides himself on political independence.

Now the newsroom gets word on a new jobs bill — a Brown jobs bill — that would tap $37 billion in unspent stimulus cash to fund summer jobs programs, unemployment insurance and state aid.

From Brown’s statement today:

“I have been in Washington for five months now, and if you’ve followed my voting record you know that I have crossed party lines to support good ideas when I see them. But, as you know, bi-partisanship is a two-way street. I hope that my Democratic colleagues will support this common sense legislation because it is not only good for Massachusetts, but the entire nation.”

See? He’s still independent. Here is Brown’s press release from the future.

Update: Felix Browne, a spokesman for Sen. Brown, called to say I mistakenly wrote $37 million. That’s not very much money these days. Not that it’s any excuse, but I composed this post on my iPad, which has caused me to commit much worse errors. Anyway, the correct number is $37 bajillion.

Update: The correct number is $37 billion.

An Improbable Memoir

Published June 30, 2010

Gov. Deval Patrick’s new memoir is available for preorder on Amazon — and it doesn’t come out till April 2011.

Um, why is a sitting governor writing his memoir? Do Charlie Baker’s political gains have Patrick pondering the end of his career?

Update: OK, I don’t think anyone actually believes Patrick is writing a memoir because he fears for his job. The book has been some time in the making. The real question is, Where does he find the time? Patrick is at every ribbon-cutting and televised event in Massachusetts, as he should be, not to mention running the state.

Spies In Harvard Square

Published June 29, 2010

Lots of interesting, mysterious and weird people in Harvard Square. But Russian spies?!

The Cambridge couple, who go by the names of Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley and identified themselves as Canadians when they arrived in the United States in 1999, were arrested Sunday night by the FBI at their home on Trowbridge Street. (Globe, AP)

The alleged secret agents used coded messages and disappearing ink to avoid detection. (They are charged with money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents, not espionage, though.)

Update: To quote’s : “The FBI affidavit on the Russian spy arrests reads like a James Bond novel. Fake names, secret handoffs, etc.” I’ve put up the complaint on Scribd.

This post will self-destruct in five seconds.

Yoon: No Work Left For Me In This Town

Published June 28, 2010

Sure, anyone can challenge Mayor Menino. Just don’t lose.

Sam Yoon did. He staked his City Council seat on it. Now he’s leaving politics — not for good, just for now — and heading to Washington to do non-profit work (running the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations). It’s back to his roots in community-based organizing.

Former City Councilor Sam Yoon is singin' the blues about Boston politics. (WBUR)

Former City Councilor Sam Yoon is singin' the blues about Boston politics. (WBUR)

For a guy with such an exciting new gig, he sure sounded sad on the phone with me today.

“It’s bittersweet leaving Boston,” he said. “My family has a lot invested in this city, but we move knowing there are opportunities to come.”

So why not look for opportunities in Boston?

“I did look for opportunities in Boston. And there was kind of a difficult political dynamic that was left in the wake of the election last year.”

Oh, yeah. That.

“Challenging a 16-year incumbent mayor as powerful as (Menino) is not without risk,” he told me. “When you do that, you have to realize there are consequences to that challenge.”

He did not get specific but said he tried to find work in Boston for six months. “The signals that I had gotten from the community here in Boston is that, to the extent that any organization is going to need to work with the city … it would be a risk to bring someone on who doesn’t have a clear ‘in’.”

[pullquote]”All politics is local, but all local politics is personal.”[/pullquote]

“I wasn’t shocked that that dynamic existed, but I wasn’t ever really sure how deep it went among the leadership in Boston.”

Yoon moved to to Boston in 1993 to attend Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He started a family in Dorchester.

He ran for mayor in 2009 and, after faltering in the primary, joined forces with Michael Flaherty to become the dynamic duo known as Floon 2009. For the first time in years, Boston began to imagine a city without Menino.

But the incumbent doesn’t lose, and Menino captured an unprecedented fifth term.

“Someone once said that all politics is local, but all local politics is personal,” Yoon told me. “I think Boston does have a reputation for taking that to a degree even beyond other cities.”

Tuesday Update: The Globe prints a story on Yoon. “Always dapper by the break of dawn during his council days, Yoon acknowledges that on occasion now he stays in pajamas through midmorning.”

Does Everyone Love Scott Brown?

Published June 28, 2010

Sen. Scott Brown

See, they love him. (AP)

You’d think Scott Brown is in the middle of a campaign these days. He’s everywhere.

In a new Boston Globe survey, Sen. Brown is the most popular politician in blue Massachusetts, out-polling even President Obama. Only 18 percent of people here don’t like the guy. I don’t think even my approval ratings would be that good.

Who are the 18 percent? Maybe labor unions, who are demonstrating outside of Brown’s Boston office in about an hour over his opposition to a jobs bill. “Brown is the Commonwealth’s only member of congress refusing to support a bill that would provide crucial funding for medical services in our state,” the unions said in a statement. (Brown said there is no funding for it.) The Boston Herald reported yesterday that Brown is feeling serious heat over this one.

[youtube width=”300″ height=”237″ align=”right”][/youtube]

That 18 percent might also be environmentalists, who are slamming the senator in TV ads about the BP oil spill. One you might have seen is furnished by Environment Massachusetts and features “real” people.

Earlier this month, the environmental group 1Sky awarded Brown the “Oily Bird Award” — a fake pelican covered in oil — for his vote to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions. (Worth clicking that link for the awkward photo alone.)

Nevertheless, the man seems unstoppable. “Few Democrats seem to have the resources or stature to challenge Brown,” the Globe reports.

And he’s starting to get comfortable in Washington. Brown recently purchased a modest, 498-square-foot, $290,000 condo on Capitol Hill. He says the parking space for his pickup is bigger.

Do you love Scott Brown? Say it in the comments.

Dancin' In The Streets

Published June 28, 2010

On Friday night, the place to be in this city was not in some swanky South End bar or downtown club. It wasn’t even in this city.

It was on Mass. Ave. in Central Square, where hundreds of people danced in the streets — from little girls and boys to senior citizens from the Cambridge Citywide Senior Center. It was the 14th annual Cambridge City Dance Party. Think of a giant dance floor with a breeze.

They danced to Michael Jackson classics and Top 40 hits, DJ’d by Worcester-based Immedia. I was there “covering” the event for you Hubbubers who couldn’t make it (and by “covering,” of course, I mean busting a move while intermittently snapping photos.) Here are some of the night’s best:

Continue reading