Daily Archives: February 7, 2011

For Many In Mass., Economic Struggle Is Still Acute

Published February 7, 2011

It’s the “reluctant consensus” that our economy is slowly improving, but new data show those on Massachusetts’ lower end of the income spectrum are seeing few of those green shoots of recovery.

More Insurance Waivers

The number of state-approved health-insurance waivers jumped last year, from 44 percent in 2009 to 63 percent in 2010. People apply for these waivers because they can’t afford insurance, which is required by Massachusetts law. (About the same number of people applied for waivers, but state regulators were more lenient in 2010.)

To the Boston Globe, “state officials said they excused the majority of waiver applicants in large part because of the protracted sour economy, which made insurance unaffordable for more people.”

Most uninsured people don’t apply for a waiver and have to pay a tax penalty.

More On Food Stamp Rolls

The news service Stateline is out today with a report on food stamp rolls, which topped 40 million people nationally last year. Massachusetts fared slightly better than the rest of the country, but the number of state residents using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program increased 11 percent from November 2009 to November 2010.

It’s Also Budget (Cutting) Season

Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposed spending plan would cut child-services programs and raise doctor co-pays for low-income patients, among other efforts to close a looming budget gap.

Nationally, the Globe’s Adrian Walker today notes President Obama’s proposed budget would slash funding for Community Service Block Grants, which fund social-services agencies such as Action for Boston Community Development, or ABCD.

Update: The Globe reports the state’s 11 Democratic members of Congress have all signed a letter asking Mr. Obama to leave the community grants alone during the budget process.

You Kids Don’t Know How Easy You Have It

Published February 7, 2011

If you think this winter is tough, WBUR’s David Boeri says snap out of it.

Boeri dug up these old copies of the Herald and the Globe, from 1969 and 1978, when two of the worst storms in history pummeled the area. “I was living in Alaska (as a commercial fisherman),” Boeri tells me, “and my parents were thrilled to be showing me just how bad it was in Massachusetts.”

Until the Blizzard of ’78, a four-day storm in February 1969 was the worst on record. As you can see on the Globe front page below (see full size), a storm in February 1716, before modern record-keeping began, supposedly dumped 10 to 15 feet on Boston in five days.

Map: Report Boston’s Worst Potholes

Published February 7, 2011

[googlemap title=”Greater Boston Pothole Reports” height=”500″]http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=212115722427213421944.00049bb321ead8b47473b&ll=42.36514,-71.099396&spn=0.216126,0.372849&z=12[/googlemap]

Map updated 2/9/11

Boston’s 2011 Pothole Season came early this year. Neither drivers nor bicyclists nor bus riders are spared. Oftentimes you can’t see the craters until it’s too late. Ka-THUNK.

Here’s where you can help: Report the worst potholes in and around Boston, and we’ll map the data. (You might have seen our map of unshoveled sidewalks.)

Here are three ways to file a pothole report:

We’re also including data from the Mayor’s Hotline in Boston. You can call (617) 635-4500, fill out this form or download the Citizens Connect mobile app (iTunes, Android Market). This only works for the city of Boston. (Our form also covers surrounding cities and towns.)

Monday Morning: Super Brady

Published February 7, 2011

Good morning! Though he wasn’t on the field last night, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the NFL’s most valuable player again — the first time an MVP vote has been unanimous. As we mentioned here last month, the Patriots already won the Super Bowl.

The Herald compiled an index of 526 anti-bullying plans submitted by schools under the state’s new anti-bullying law. A Pittsfield private school is getting really tough, banning cell phones and installing video surveillance. Could charter schools be a solution? The Globe reports a dozen new Boston charter schools will open over the next few years.

More Bay Staters are getting waivers for mandatory health insurance, the Globe reports. Officials said they granted more exceptions this year because health care is too expensive for some people in this sour economy.

WBUR’s series on mental health care for children sparked a lot of conversation on the Web. It’s worth hearing the wrap-up and catching up on the other stories from “Are The Kids All Right?