Editorial: Common-sense reforms for ‘Sober Homes’; Chuck Turner's fall

A Reporter story published last month after a multi-week probe into the operation of so-called sober homes in the city raises important policy questions that demand answers from the industry and from our city and state governments. The report— done in partnership with Northeastern University’s Initiative For Investigative Reporting — found that local authorities have virtually no regulatory controls over these homes. Alarmingly, neither city nor state government officials could tell us with any level of certainty just how many such homes exist in our neighborhoods.  Read more

Walsh to take key union post; plans to keep House seat

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Dec. 1, 2010

State Rep. Marty WalshState Rep. Marty WalshStarting in January, state Rep. Marty Walsh will be taking on a new job as high-profile official at a regional union umbrella group. He was elected to the post – secretary-treasurer and general agent of the Boston Building Trades Council – this fall.

The Dorchester legislator intends to keep his House seat after he assumes his new responsibilities.

Walsh has held down a lower-profile union job while a state representative for the last 12 years, serving as president of Local 223, a construction and general laborers’ union, a position he also intends to keep. He receives an annual $1,500 salary and runs a meeting of the local once a month.

The Dorchester Democrat and union officials said the new job has been vetted for potential conflicts of interest with his position as a state representative. He is awaiting a final response from the state Ethics Commission, which has given an initial okay, he said. He has retained an attorney from Boston law firm Mintz Levin to help with the vetting.  Read more

Local contractor's testimony, Wilkerson granddaughter could factor into former senator's Dec. 22 sentencing

Former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, a Roxbury Democrat who pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal extortion charges, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 22.

The sentencing session, set for three days before Christmas, is expected to start at 9 a.m. and last for much of the day. Prosecutors have asked for Judge Douglas Woodlock to sentence her to four years in jail, while her defense attorneys say given her history of helping the needy, she should receive considerably less.

But before she is sentenced that day, prosecutors and Wilkerson's defense attorneys will spar over whether Azid Mohammed, a local contractor who allegedly gave money to Wilkerson, should be factored into the federal judge's sentencing. Wilkerson's attorneys say he volunteered to provide the money as a gift, while prosecutors say the money was solicited and illegally provided.  Read more

(UPDATED) City Council president recommends Turner expulsion, effective Dec. 3

City Council President Michael Ross on Monday filed a motion recommending that Councillor Chuck Turner be removed from the 13-member body, effective Dec. 3, as Turner vowed to fight to keep his office.

Turner was convicted last month of accepting a $1,000 bribe and lying to FBI agents about it. He has maintained his innocence and asked for the council to postpone any decisions until after his January sentencing date.  Read more

Probation report stirs concern in Dot precincts

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Nov. 24, 2010

The release of an independent report ordered up by the Supreme Judicial Court alleging corruption and widespread mismanagement within the state Probation Department has evoked cautious expressions of concern among local lawmakers and incoming state legislators.

“I think we will take action in the new year,” said state Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Dorchester). “It’s something you can’t jump at. You have to put the right solutions in place.”

The report concluded that the hiring and promotions processes are filled with “systemic abuse and corruption.” The Boston Globe’s investigative Spotlight team sparked the independent investigation with a series of articles earlier this year.  Read more

Melville-Park group pushes to shift polling place

A correction has been attached to this article.

The Melville Park Neighborhood Association is petitioning the city’s elections department to change their present polling location at Oliver Wendell Holmes School, citing little available parking and low turnout.  Read more

A tale of two Dianne Wilkersons

To her supporters and defense attorneys, former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson was a voice for some of the state's neediest and most powerless people, as well as a "flawed being, who made terrible mistakes." According to federal prosecutors, the Roxbury Democrat was a politician who felt and acted like she was above the law, learned nothing from her past conviction, and was breaking laws from the outset of her political career.

A U.S. District Court judge will have to decide which version of Wilkerson is closest to the truth as he weighs what punishment is appropriate. Prosecutors are pushing for four years in jail -- two months more than the sentencing guidelines established in law -- saying it's necessary to "reflect the defendant's crime and to promote respect for the law." Wilkerson pleaded guilty to corruption and bribery charges earlier this year.  Read more

Report: Finneran refused to testify in Probation Dept. investigation

Former House Speaker Thomas Finneran refused to testify in an independent investigation into alleged corruption within the state Probation Department, according to an independent report released Thursday. The report, ordered by the state's highest court, concludes the hiring and promotions process is filled with "systemic abuse and corruption."  Read more

Hearing eyes resources for families hit by violence

Pat Tarantino, Special to the Reporter
Nov. 18, 2010

More than 60 Boston officials, victims advocates and family members touched by street crime met at Boston City Hall to discuss resources available for families struggling in the wake of violent crime.

City councillor Charles Yancey and Councillor At-Large Ayanna Pressley heard testimony from almost 20 community service providers as well as representatives from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Boston Police Department who outlined their long-term commitment to families who have lost loved ones in the streets of Boston.  Read more

Merchants, residents cheers new Main Streets for Mattapan Square

Alex Owens, Special to the Reporter
Nov. 18, 2010

Mattapan Square has finally been designated for a branch of Boston’s Main Streets program, which has helped revitalize several other neighborhood business districts over the last 15 years. As the twentieth  Main Streets district, Mattapan Square’s application was accepted in August of this year and formally designated in early November by Mayor Tom Menino.  Read more