Daily Archives: January 21, 2011

Feds Recommend Up To 41 Months For Turner

Published January 21, 2011

Prosecutors want former City Councilor Chuck Turner to spend three-and-a-half years in prison. Not just because he was convicted of taking a $1,000 bribe, they say, but because he made a mockery of the system.

“Turner’s conduct has been the [antithesis] of acceptance of responsibility,” say the sentencing guidelines, filed Thursday in federal court.

“Turner’s calculated and persistent attacks on local and federal law enforcement agencies, designed to deflect attention from his own corrupt conduct, have been corrosive to respect for important public institutions and the rule of law.”

The recommended sentence — up to 41 months — is essentially the same as that doled out to ex-state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who pleaded guilty to taking at least $23,500 in bribes in the same case. Wilkerson got 42 months earlier this month.

Turner pleaded not guilty and fought the government, waging a public campaign he likened to the civil-rights struggle.

Prosecutors say they recommend a relatively stiff sentence because Turner perjured himself when he took the stand in his own defense.

Turner was convicted on four counts in October 2010. He faces a theoretical maximum sentence of 35 years at sentencing next week.

A Notorious Nickname Remains At Large

Published January 21, 2011

Luigi Manocchio, aka “Baby Shanks,” the reputed former crime boss of New England, was arrested Thursday by federal authorities in a major Mafia sweep. The Independent of London called him “the biggest catch.”

Luigi Manocchio (via AP)

Luigi Manocchio's mug shot (via AP)

But the federal complaint calls Manocchio “Baby Shacks,” not “Shanks,” and the press ran with it. NPR’s Two-Way blog included “Baby Shacks” in a poll of the best Mafia nicknames (which also include Vinny Carwash, Tony Bagels and Lumpy).

The print edition of Thursday’s Miami Herald declares: “Mobster ‘Baby Shanks’ arrested in South Florida” (an AP headline). But the text of that same story reads:

Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio, 83, was arrested on extortion charges.

Even the copy editors are confused.

WBUR’s David Boeri was first to tell me: It’s definitely “Baby Shanks,” a nickname that goes way back, referring to Manocchio’s short legs. Boeri ought to know. He has made a career of reporting on the mob.

So I called up the Justice Department in Rhode Island and asked.

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Amazingly, A Rainy Day On Beacon Hill

Published January 21, 2011

He saved it for a snowy, er, rainy day. Gov. Deval Patrick will call for a 7 percent cut to non-school local aid. The Globe reports:

He announced that he would propose increases in state aid for schools, special education, and road repairs, as well as a grant program to encourage regionalization. But he said he was cutting unrestricted local aid by $65 million, to $833.9 million.

Administration officials said the reduction would be offset by health plan changes to rein in the exorbitant cost of providing health care to municipal employees, retirees, and elected officials. Health care spending has become a major drag on city and town budgets.

Patrick is proposing a $120 $140 million increase to Chapter 70 education funding, to $4 billion. Chapter 70 money is earmarked for schools and can’t be used for anything else.

Cities and towns can spend non-school aid however they see fit — firefighters, cops, construction projects, etc. That funding got the whack.

But WBUR’s Steve Brown provides some good insight. While a city or town can’t reallocate state money meant for schools, it can choose to cut its own school funding to make up the difference.

Say Lawrence gets $2 million for schools. I’m making this up. Lawrence couldn’t spend a cent of that $2 million on road repairs. But it could cut $2 million from the school budget, thus recovering the cash that Patrick cut. It all comes out in the wash.

Meanwhile, the governor gets political points, because he promised to focus on education in his inaugural address and then boosted education spending.

Patrick is expected to unveil his entire state budget next week. Then he’ll wrangle with lawmakers for a final budget, hopefully in time for July 1 — the start of the 2012 fiscal year.

Update: I updated this post to reflect the fact that he proposed 7 percent cut is to non-school aid. Saying, simply: “Patrick proposes 7 percent cut to local aid” is not accurate or fair.

Snowfall Is Literally Measured With A Ruler

Published January 21, 2011

Channel 5 meteorologist Mike Wankum on WBUR’s Morning Edition:

The interesting thing about snow measuring, Bob. We have all this very sophisticated equipment that we measure the size of hail, the amount of rain that falls, all of that, down to the millimeter. And when it comes to measuring snow, we go the old fashioned-way. People take a ruler and stick it in the ground and see how much snow fell.

I didn’t know that. Doesn’t it seem rather unscientific? Much of the weather business is, I suppose.

Friday Morning: The New Snormal

Published January 21, 2011

Commuters driving eastbound on Storrow Drive at the junction of Soldiers Field Road experienced bumper-to-bumper traffic early Friday morning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Commuters driving eastbound on Storrow Drive at the junction of Soldiers Field Road experienced bumper-to-bumper traffic early Friday morning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Good morning! It’s a winter wonderland out there. Again.

The storm is intensifying. Several accidents and spin-outs are being reported. Traffic is moving slowly on many of the state highways. Plows are having trouble keeping up with the snow on the roads. You can check the commute on our traffic page.

More than 180 flights out of Logan Airport have been cancelled. Nearly 550 schools have been closed or delayed. WCVB has the full list.

There are some problems on the MBTA. Some buses are delayed because of the road conditions. Commuter trains and Red and Green Line trains are delayed 15 minutes. Visit MBTA.com or follow @mbtaGM on Twitter for the best updates.

The WBUR newsroom is following the story throughout the day. You can follow the Twitter conversation with the hash tag #BostonSnow. The Globe is also using #SnowMore.