Daily Archives: October 20, 2010

FBI Footage: Show Me The Money

Published October 20, 2010

On September 12, 2007, FBI informant Ronald Wilson was outfitted with a hidden camera and sent to bribe City Councilor Chuck Turner with $600 in cash.

Their meeting would last one minute, eight seconds, and no money would change hands. The sting failed.

At the beginning of this undercover video, released today by a judge and obtained by WBUR, Special Agent Scott Robbins set up the sting.

State your name, describe the operation, show the cash:

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Photo Of The Day: Fall Reflections

Published October 20, 2010

Fall Reflections (Paul Keleher/Flickr)

Fall Reflections (Paul Keleher/Flickr)

I just can’t get enough of the beautiful fall foliage.

Photographer Paul Keleher shot this photograph along the Charles River in Dover this morning. It’s the Hubbub Photo of the Day.

Just In: Local Investors Want To Buy The Globe

Published October 20, 2010

The Globe reports on itself:

The Boston Globe logo appears on the front of their printing plant in Billerica, Mass., Tuesday, May 5, 2009. The New York Times Co., owner of The Boston Globe, will resume negotiations with its largest union after talks to cut millions of dollars from the union's contract ended at an impasse.  The Times has threatened to close the Globe unless unions agree to $20 million in cuts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)


A group of more than a dozen investors and management experts will make an offer to buy The Boston Globe from The New York Times Co., a leader of the group said.

The newly-formed group, which calls itself The 2100 Trust, wants to purchase from the Times Co. the New England Media Group unit, which includes the Globe, Boston.com, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

“The Boston Globe has been a pillar in the city, the Commonwealth and the region for more than a century. We believe that The Boston Globe’s strongest days can be ahead,” according to a statement from the group.

The Boston Herald identifies the head of the group as Aaron Kushner, 37, of Wellesley.

Back in April 2009, WBUR first broke the story that The New York Times Co. threatened to shut down the Globe. The Times Co. backed off after a long and tense standoff that resulted in deep pay cuts and layoffs.

High-profile suitors lined up to buy the Globe. In October 2009, the Times Co. announced the Globe was no longer for sale.

The Times Co. paid $1 billion for the Globe in 1993. Based on previous reporting, the Globe was estimated to be worth between $20 million and $200 million, but those numbers are almost certainly outdated.

Update: The NYT has the group’s full statement.

Boston’s Beige Book: A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Published October 20, 2010

It’s time again to talk about the important book with the boring name — The Beige Book.

BOOM! I redesigned the Beige Book logo.

BOOM! I redesigned the Beige Book logo.

Basically, the Federal Reserve interviews a whole bunch of companies and compiles a Zagat-style guide to the economy eight times a year. The last book, released in September, was mostly optimistic about New England.

This time around, the Fed reports “more of the same” — nothing to write home about, but not bad. The report released this afternoon does say economic activity in Boston is stronger than at this time last year.

You can pluck out the key details from the opening paragraph:

  • “Retailers cite somewhat more positive results than they did six weeks ago.”
  • “Manufacturers report continued growth, although some at a slower pace recently than in the first half of the year.”
  • “Commercial real estate markets remain in the doldrums.”
  • “Sales of residential properties remain below year-earlier levels.”
  • “Hiring among retail, manufacturing, and consulting firms remains limited.”

The survey said seven of the Fed’s 12 regions reported moderate economic improvement — an improvement since last month, when Cleveland was the only other growth region, besides New England.

WBUR’s Curt Nickisch tells me that nationwide momentum could give Massachusetts a lift. Why? Boston exports a lot of goods and services to other states. We need to see strong recovery in those other states to keep the orders rolling in.

In other words, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Update: I’m so sick of the piddling little Beige Book graphic that I have designed my own logo, which is featured above.

Strip-Search Victim: Perry ‘Should Not Be In A Position Of Power’

Published October 20, 2010

I thought we already had our October surprise?

Candidate Jeff Perry (AP)

Candidate Jeff Perry (AP)

A woman illegally strip-searched in Wareham almost 20 years ago, when she was 14, says Congressional candidate Jeff Perry — then a police sergeant — did nothing to help her. The woman, identified as Lisa Allen, released a public statement condemning Perry, a Republican running in the 10th District.

“He had to hear me screaming and crying,” Allen said in the statement. “Instead of helping me, Jeff Perry denied anything happened.”

Perry was never charged or disciplined. An officer he supervised, Scott Flanagan, pleaded guilty to indecent assault.

“Jeff Perry was not an honest police sergeant; he should not be in a position of power,” she said.

Allen’s statement was released 13 days before the election. WBUR’s Lisa Tobin tracked down her attorney, Howard Friedman.

[pullquote align=”right” author=”Lisa Allen”]”He had to hear me screaming and crying. Instead of helping me, Jeff Perry denied anything happened.”[/pullquote]

“I don’t think it’s that she has political leanings and that she has any affection, necessarily, for the other candidate,” Friedman said. “I think she simply, well, she says in her statement, she doesn’t believe that Jeff Perry was good cop.

“The incident upset her when it took place, and it continues to upset her. She’s particularly upset that Jeff Perry can run for Congress after what he did to her.”

WBUR’s Democratic political analyst, Dan Payne, calls this “without a doubt the biggest political story since Brown’s winning Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.”

Perry has not yet returned our phone call.

Here is Allen’s statement on Scribd:


Did You Miss It? Hennigan, O’Malley Advance In 6th

Published October 20, 2010

Did you miss it? Boston’s 6th City Council district — which covers Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury — held a little-publicized special primary election for the seat left vacant by John Tobin, who resigned this summer to take a job at Northeastern University.

Candidates Matt O'Malley, left, and Jim Hennigan, pictured here floating in space, are vying for Boston's sixth City Council district. (Photos courtesy of the campaigns)

Candidates Matt O'Malley, left, and Jim Hennigan, pictured here floating in space, are vying for Boston's sixth City Council district. (courtesy photos)

From a pool of five candidates, Matt O’Malley captured 53 percent of the vote, a majority, and Jim Hennigan came in second, at 31 percent. The remaining candidates received votes in the hundreds. Turnout was 15 percent — which the Globe described as “surprisingly high.”

The two top candidates will advance to another special election, on Nov. 16 — not Nov. 2, when everyone else in Massachusetts will be voting in statewide and national races.

Sound like a big waste of taxpayer money? Maybe not. In August, when the special election dates were decided, Council President Mike Ross said holding the special election on the same day as the statewide election would not result in meaningful cost-savings for the city.

“During my conversations with the Boston Elections Commissioner, the Secretary of State’s office and MassVOTE, it became clear that it would not be possible to hold the election on Nov. 2, given the current election laws and short amount of time between Councilor Tobin’s resignation and November,” Ross told the West Roxbury Transcript.

West Roxbury Patch reports on Hennigan’s uphill battle as he tries to overcome a 20-percent gap with O’Malley — who won the endorsement of Tobin and the Boston Globe.

Virginia Thomas Cancels ‘On Point’ Appearance

Published October 20, 2010

Ginni Thomas canceled her appearance on NPR’s and WBUR’s On Point — scheduled a week in advance — at the last minute. The interview would have lasted 20 minutes and aired nationally. Thomas’ publicist said she had a “scheduling conflict.”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with his wife, Virginia Thomas, in November 2007 (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with his wife, Virginia Thomas, in November 2007 (Charles Dharapak/AP)

“I’m horribly, horribly sorry,” the publicist said in an e-mail.

The producers “worked tirelessly” to book Thomas for a conversation about her very public involvement in the Tea Party, said John Wihbey, a producer.

But yesterday we learned that Thomas left a voice-mail message last week for Anita Hill, the Brandeis University professor, asking Hill to apologize to her husband for accusing him of sexual harassment almost 20 years ago. Hill, thinking it was a prank, forwarded the message to campus security, which turned it over to the FBI. Thomas confirmed to NPR that she left that message.

Here is a transcript of the message, first provided by ABC News, left 7:31 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9:

Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.

It’s a head-scratcher.

Hill declined WBUR’s request for an interview but provided a brief statement:

I certainly thought the call was inappropriate. I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony.

Economist Robert Reich pinch hits in On Point’s first hour today.

Wednesday Morning: Wilburn Will Testify; Hill Won’t Call Back

Published October 20, 2010

What’s news on a cold, cloudy Wednesday in Boston:

Ronald Wilburn will testify after all, WBUR reports. Wilburn was the FBI informant paid to bribe Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner. Since then, he turned against the government and publicly criticized prosecutors’ handling of the case. (WBUR)

Anita Hill got a strange voicemail message this weekend. Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, asked the Brandeis professor to apologize for accusing then-nominee Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991. The message was forwarded to the FBI. (NPR)

  • Update: Virginia Thomas abruptly cancelled a planned appearance on WBUR’s On Point.

Groups are challenging an obscenity law meant to protect minors. “Free-speech advocates said they are concerned that the new law will have a chilling effect” on speech intended for adults. (AP)

Fenway Park is getting a face-lift. The estimated cost of renovations over the past 10 years? $285 million. (WBUR)

Two pounds of crappy marijuana turned up in the Shawsheen River in Lawrence. A volunteer found it in a trash bag. (Lawrence Eagle-Tribune)