Mass. Senate weighs bill as foreclosures jump
The Massachusetts Senate is planning to debate a bill this week that’s designed to protect renters and older homeowners as foreclosures continue to climb.
The bill would bar tenants from being evicted from foreclosed properties and would toughen consumer protections for senior citizens considering reverse mortgage agreements.
The bill would also encourage lenders to modify loans to help homeowners stay in homes, create an abandoned and foreclosed property registry and criminalize residential mortgage fraud.
The legislation comes as the number of foreclosures initiated by lenders jumped 22 percent in March compared to the prior month and 8 percent from a year earlier.
The Senate is expected to take up the bill today.
Mass. college takes aim at school bullying
Westfield State College is creating an anti-bullying program for schools following the deaths of two local students who allegedly were bullied.
The college’s teacher education center says its “Bully Proof Zones” plan will bring teachers, administrators, counselors and students together.
Westfield plans a two-day seminar followed by workshops to develop a model for schools.
Center director Patricia Gardner says college students may be able to help younger people change attitudes about bullying.
In January, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince committed suicide after allegedly facing “unrelenting” bullying at South Hadley High School. Last year, 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover took his own life after allegedly being bullied at a Springfield charter school.
Massachusetts lawmakers passed an anti-bullying bill last month.
Obama issues second disaster declaration for Massachusetts
President Barack Obama has amended his original post-flooding disaster declaration to speed aid to Massachusetts communities affected by last month’s heavy rains.
The designation means state and local governments and certain nonprofit groups can receive financial help for emergency work and the repair of damaged facilities.
Two back-to-back storms pummeled the state in late March, causing severe damage to homes, businesses and public facilities.
The request follows Obama’s initial decision on March 29 to declare seven Massachusetts counties major disaster areas including Essex, Middlesex, Worcester, Suffolk, Norfolk, Plymouth and Bristol counties. The original declaration covered the first storm.
Gov. Deval Patrick and the state’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown, requested the second disaster declaration to also cover the subsequent storm.
Patrick taps official to be Lawrence overseer
The Patrick administration has tapped the former mayor of Taunton to serve as overseer of cash-strapped Lawrence.
Robert Nunes will work with Lawrence city officials to help address the city’s deficit and create a financing plan bringing fiscal stability.
The overseer’s post was mandated in a state law allowing the former mill city to float up to $35 million in bonds to re-order its finances.
Gov. Deval Patrick calls Nunes “the right person to make Lawrence strong for today and tomorrow.”
Nunes will continue to work for the administration. He most recently has served as the local services division director within the state Department of Revenue.
Before joining the Patrick-Murray Administration, he was the longest-serving mayor of Taunton. And in that capacity, Nunes helped lead the city out of two fiscal crises in 1992 and 2004.
Mass. fishermen dredge up grenades, clams
Authorities say Massachusetts workers sorting through a catch of sea clams found more than 100 hand grenades in New Bedford, triggering an evacuation of the area and a response from U.S. Navy bomb experts.
New Bedford Police Lt. Steve Forand said on Friday that the explosives were found on Thursday. He did not have information on whether the grenades were live, how they ended up in the sea and for how long they had been submerged under water.
Police say experts from the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group had secured the scene and were in charge of the situation Friday.
A U.S. Navy regional spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment after business hours.
New Bedford, a city of around 100,000 on the Atlantic coast’s Buzzards Bay, was once one of the busiest fishing and shipping ports in the world.