RoRobert Williams tabbed to head Springfield police
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin says he is nominating Assistant Police Chief Robert Williams to succeed Ralph Caldwell as chief of the Springfield Police Department
Davlin says he chose the Springfield native for the post Thursday, but is not sure exactly when the appointment will be presented to the city council for approval.
If he is approved for the post, Williams will face a severe budget crisis, possible layoffs, and the ever-present problem of diversifying the police force.
Williams, who is black, has said diversifying would be one of his personal missions.
Caldwell, who has been chief since 2007, is leaving in mid-December to become director of the Metropolitan Computer-Aided Dispatch service, which provides police, fire and emergency service dispatching for most of Champaign County.
Gov. wishes Mass. had health care public option
CAMBRIDGE — Gov. Deval Patrick says he wishes Massachusetts, home of the nation’s most ambitious health care law, had one more tool in its kit — a public option.
Patrick, speaking Thursday at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, said a government run insurance program would bring down health costs by creating more competition for private plans.
Massachusetts has the nation’s lowest rate of uninsured with more than 97 percent of residents enrolled in health plans. The state offers subsidized health plans to lower income residents, but doesn’t have a separate state-run plan.
Congress is debating whether to include a public option in any health care overhaul it sends to President Barack Obama.
Patrick said he’s not pushing to change the Massachusetts law. He said the state on its own is too small to support a public option.
Mass. hospitals limit visits amid swine flu fears
WORCESTER — Several Massachusetts hospitals are barring or limiting visits by children in response to swine flu fears.
Children, 13 or younger, will not be allowed to visit patients at the UMass Memorial Medical Center hospital’s three Worcester campuses. The policy applies to all young children healthy or not, but anyone showing possible flu symptoms will be prevented from visiting patients.
Southcoast Hospitals Group is barring anyone under the age of 18 from visiting patients in the pediatric and maternity wards at its hospitals in New Bedford, Fall River and Wareham.
Hospital officials say the policies are aimed at protecting patients and staff. They say children who have been exposed to H1N1 are often contagious before showing symptoms.
BOSTON — The chief justice of the state’s highest court says “justice is in jeopardy in Massachusetts.”
In her annual address Wednesday to the Massachusetts Bar Association, Margaret Marshall said the court system has been disproportionately impacted by state budget cuts and warned that further reductions would make it difficult for the judiciary to operate effectively at all.
The budget for the court system was cut about $50 million, or nearly 10 percent, in the fiscal year that started July 1.
Gov. Deval Patrick has warned of further cuts in the overall state budget as tax revenues continue to come in below projections.
Marshall said staff reductions could lead to long delays in court proceedings, making it difficult to deliver “prompt, effective justice.”