SPECIAL REPORT: At ‘sober homes,’ issues of safety inside, safeguards outside

Pat Tarantino and Stephen Kurkjian, Special to the Reporter
Nov. 4, 2010

Second of two parts.
Three years ago, a series of newspaper articles raised serious questions of safety and supervision in the operation of so-called “sober homes” throughout the city of Boston, prompting city and state political leaders to call for desperately needed reforms to assure that recovering substance abusers who lived in these homes had a chance for recovery.

The articles in the Boston Herald and the Bay State Banner found poor living conditions in many sober homes, including the fact that two men had fatally overdosed in one Roxbury sober-living complex, spurring local and state officials and leaders in the fight against substance abuse to call for controls on the homes to make certain that residents received the help they needed to stay clean while ensuring the homes did not pose a safety threat to neighbors.

“We don’t fund them, but we need to have oversight over them,” Senator Steven A. Tolman (D-Brighton) said in a 2007 interview with the Herald. “The neighborhoods have to have recourse if they are run inappropriately.’’

Three years later, little has changed. None of the proposed rules and standards meant to ensure safe living conditions inside the homes have been enacted, nor have any safeguards been put in place for neighbors concerned about the operation of these homes. In fact, an investigation by the Dorchester Reporter has found, no one inside Boston City Hall or the State House can state with accuracy how many sober homes exist in the city or how many people live in them.  Read more

Voting tips from elections department

Boston's Elections Department just sent out an email with some tips on voting. There will be 1,700 poll workers tomorrow in Boston's 254 precincts and 157 polling locations, with over 400 workers fluent in a second language. Full email below:  Read more

Daytime supervision at some group homes stirs anxiety

Stephen Kurkjian and Pat Tarantino, Special to The Reporter
Oct. 28, 2010

Aaron Larget-Caplan: Group home next door was source of frustration in Uphams Corner.Aaron Larget-Caplan: Group home next door was source of frustration in Uphams Corner.First of two parts.

Charles Hollins is accustomed to dealing with skeptics as he goes about his business of persuading residents that there will be no problems when his company, Bay Cove Human Services, locates a group home for either the developmentally disabled or those in need of psychiatric services in their neighborhood.

And he’s good at his job as director of advocacy; Bay Cove, one of the largest social services providers in Massachusetts, operates 19 such homes in Dorchester and 31 more throughout the city, according to an independent human services accreditation firm.

But the response that Hollins received at the Cedar Grove Civic Association several years ago still leaves him shaking. The outcry from residents over Bay Cove’s plans to locate a residential facility for six developmentally-disabled people in a nearby home was intense, reaching its peak when one father held his toddler over his head and asked if the child would be safe living in the neighborhood.  Read more

All rise please! Paul Murphy’s Court is now adjourned

James W. Dolan, Special to the Reporter
Oct. 28, 2010

Hon. Paul MurphyHon. Paul MurphyDorchester buried one of its favorite sons this week when Judge Paul Murphy was laid to rest. A graduate of St. Mark’s School, BC High, Boston College, and Harvard Law School and a Korean war veteran, Judge Murphy had a long and distinguished career; first as a state representative and then as First Justice of the West Roxbury District Court.

Essentially shy and reserved, he nonetheless was an effective politician who won the respect and admiration of his colleagues as much for his humility as for his brilliant mind.

He became the House majority leader recognized widely for his loyalty, good advice, and sound judgment. Even after he became a judge, legislative leaders would call upon him for advice and counsel.

Comfortable yet not entirely at home in the world of politics, the five-term state representative from Wards 16 and 17, was appointed to the bench by Gov. Frank Sargent. For this compassionate man, the move provided the opportunity to more directly affect the lives of the many unfortunate souls that appeared before him daily.  Read more

Scouting alive and well in Dorchester

Oct. 26, 2010

Scouts honor: C-11 police host Dot packs: Pictured top row: Mike Simmons, Pack 28 Committee Chairman, John Anderson Assistant Cub Scout leader, Chris Gross Assistant Boy Scout leader, Scout David Pelczar, Scout Brendan Brock, Scout Cameron Gross, Scout Robert Carney, Scout Alex Sorel, ScouScouts honor: C-11 police host Dot packs: Pictured are on top row: Mike Simmons, Pack 28 Committee Chairman, John Anderson Assistant Cub Scout leader, Chris Gross Assistant Boy Scout leader, Scout David Pelczar, Scout Brendan Brock, Scout Cameron Gross, Scout Robert Carney, Scout Alex Sorel, Scout Martin Chomicki, Scoutmaster Bill Sorel, BPD Captain Richard Sexton C-11,
front row: Scout Tiwan Bonner, Cub Scout Sean Simmons, Cub Scout Mike Roache, Cub Scout Robbie Reeves, Cub Scout Andrew Murphy, Founding Scoutmaster (over 50 years) and Troop 28 Committee Chairman Mr. Joe Barry

The Cub Scouts & Boy Scouts of Pack & Troop 28 of the James Rice Post participated in a service project at Boston Police District 11 on Gibson Street in Dorchester recently. The project consisted of cleaning the green area in front of the station and preparing the ground for installation of some anti weed block fabric in 50' rolls.  Read more

BPL president Ryan: If funding comes, "strongly supports" keeping branches open

Reporter Staff
Oct. 25, 2010

Boston Public Library president Amy Ryan has just told an overflow crowd at Lower Mills library that she will "strongly support" keeping BPL branches open if sufficient funding is supplied to do so. More than 100 people are packed into the Lower Mills branch on Richmond Street to hear on update on the BPL's plans. The library was supposed to close this fall, but was granted a reprieve by Mayor Tom Menino last summer.

Ryan has told the assembly that she will recommend that the board of trustees vote to keep the branches open. Such a move would mark a dramatic reversal of the BPL's prior positions on branch libraries.

Developing story...  Read more

Former state rep, judge Paul Murphy has passed away

Reporter Staff
Oct. 22, 2010

Former Dorchester state representative and judge Paul J. Murphy died on Thursday, according to his alma mater, Boston College High School. Murphy, a native and longtime resident of St. Mark's parish, was a five-term state representative for Dorchester's Wards 16 and 17. He retired as Chief Justice of West Roxbury District Court.  Read more

Almont Park to get $3.6 million overhaul

Alex Owens, Special to the Reporter
Oct. 22, 2010

Almont Park in Mattapan will see significant renovations beginning next year, residents were told in the a public meeting held on Wednesday evening at the Mattahunt School.  Read more

Editorial: Reverse the vote to close the Lower Mills library

A meeting at the Lower Mills library on Monday evening could well decide the fate of that branch and, ultimately, branches throughout Dorchester and across the city at large. It is now time for all people who feel — as we do — that libraries are a critical civic asset to show up and make their voices heard.

Library officials have scheduled two sets of meetings, starting this weekend. One set of seven meetings — dubbed “strategic planning” sessions by the BPL brass — starts on Saturday with a kick-off event at the Copley Square central library. Then, on Monday, a second-tier set of four meetings— all to take place at branches that are scheduled to close — begins with a gathering at the Lower Mills branch at 6:30 p.m.  Read more

Meeting on Nov. 1 will give Fields Corner community a look at Lucky Strike site plan

Mike Deehan, Special to the Reporter
Oct. 20, 2010

Residents of Fields Corner will get their first look at a revamped proposal to develop the former site of the Lucky Strike bowling alley at Park and Adams streets on Mon., Nov. 1, when the project developers host a meeting for community members and abutters.

Former Fields Corner Civic Association president Hiep Chu will find himself on the other side of the issue at the meeting, having recently left his position with the association and joined the Lucky Strike development team as a paid consultant.  Read more