Court says Mass. police can be forced to take lie detector tests
The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that police officers can be forced to take lie detector tests as part of internal department investigations.
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled against a Plymouth police officer who was accused of sexually abusing two children. Officer Kevin Furtado was never charged criminally, and the mother of the children said the allegation was not true.
During an internal police investigation, Furtado refused to take a lie detector test, citing a state law that prohibits employers from pressuring employees to take the test.
But the SJC said last week that the law allows lie detector tests to be conducted by law enforcement doing criminal investigations. The court said that applies even when no criminal case is immediately likely.
The spike in home foreclosures in Massachusetts shows no sign of easing, after a near tripling of foreclosure deeds filed in April.
The Warren Group said last Thursday that foreclosure deeds rose from 464 in April 2007 to 1,334 in April. That’s the state’s biggest monthly total since the Boston-based publisher of real estate data began tracking deeds in 2005.
Deeds are the final step in foreclosure, in which the owner loses the home.
Foreclosure petitions also rose last month, but not as sharply. The Warren Group counted more than 3,300 petitions, a 66 percent increase from the same month a year ago.
Petitions are a first step that can lead to owners losing their homes, although many avoid foreclosure by selling their home or renegotiating terms with lenders.
Patrick signs $1.3 billion affordable housing bond bill
Massachusetts will borrow as much as $1.275 billion over the next five years to make housing more affordable across the state.
Gov. Deval Patrick last Thursday signed the state’s biggest-ever housing bond authorization bill in a ceremony at an affordable housing complex in Allston.
The legislation gives the state permission to borrow the money over five years.
The bonding authority includes $500 million to update state-owned public housing developments. Another $220 million will support the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The rest of the bonding authority will be spread across other housing programs.
The state’s previous housing bond authorization bill, passed in 2002, was for $508 million.
American Airlines has agreed to drop a controversial $2-per-bag fee for curbside check-in and lift a ban on tips for skycaps at Logan International Airport.
In exchange, the skycaps at Logan will drop a federal lawsuit claiming the airline banned the tips in retaliation for their recent legal victory.
In April, a federal jury in Boston awarded nine skycaps $325,000 for tips lost when the airline implemented the baggage fee at airports nationwide.
The skycaps argued their tips dropped because passengers believed the fee was their tip.
A spokesman for American, a unit of Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR Corp., said the no-tipping policy will be rescinded as of June 15, the day a new $15 fee for the first piece of checked luggage each way is implemented. The fee applies to certain domestic customers who buy tickets June 15 and later.
The Boston Globe reported that the two sides hashed out the agreement last Thursday in a corridor at the federal courthouse in Boston.
Harvard, BU, Tufts get federal health grants
Three Massachusetts universities have received grants worth a combined $161 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help improve medical research and bring treatments more quickly to patients.
The awards, to be funded over five years, are part of $533 million in grants going to 14 institutions nationwide.
Harvard University is receiving nearly $118 million; Boston University is getting $23 million; and Tufts University is getting $20 million.
The NIH says the grants will support the creation of a nationwide network of medical research institutions dedicated to reducing the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients.
The grants also support pediatric research; expand research in genetics and genomics; and increase outreach to communities.
UMass trustee committee approves fee cut for veterans
A University of Massachusetts trustee committee has given initial approval to a proposal cutting fees by $2,000 annually for veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The state already makes vets and National Guard members eligible for free tuition in the university system as a thanks for their service. But fees at the UMass system’s five campuses exceed that charge. Tuition at UMass-Lowell is $1,500 for in-state students; fees are $7,500.
The proposal approved last Wednesday by the trustees’ administration and finance committee would waive up to $2,000 in fees for up to four years. It is slated for a vote June 12 by the full board of trustees.
University officials say more than 26,000 Massachusetts residents have served in Iraq or Afghanistan and could qualify for the benefit.