|Boston police, advocates agree on diversity effort
The Boston Police Department and a coalition of groups critical of its promotion of minorities have agreed on efforts to help increase diversity.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis and the groups said in a joint statement last Friday that they are working together to foster more diversity among higher-ranking officers and specialized units.
Davis said the department will push a mentoring program and more career paths.
Giovanna Negretti, executive director of ¿Oíste?, a statewide Latino political group, said she was encouraged by the commissioner’s new efforts.
According to various groups’ estimates, around 25 percent of high-ranking officers in the department’s specialized units are black or Latino.
Patrick: No taxes on tap for next year’s budget
Gov. Deval Patrick is shooting down talk of a new round of tax hikes in next year’s budget.
Patrick was asked last Thursday about the possibility of tax hikes next year during his monthly radio show on WTKK-FM.
“If you’re talking about new taxes, I think we’re done with that for the time being,” he said.
The budget signed by Patrick in June increased the sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent. It also lifted the sales tax exemption on alcohol sold in stores.
Activists have filed proposed ballot questions that would repeal both.
Taxes are shaping up to be a key issue in next year’s governor’s race.
Patrick said the sales tax hike wasn’t his first choice, but said it was needed to craft a balanced budget.
|Mass. approves new rules for debt collectors
Massachusetts’ highest court has approved new rules governing debt collectors following accusations from residents of aggressive and threatening tactics.
The Supreme Judicial Court’s new rules, made public last Thursday, govern debt actions in small claims sessions. They are intended to close loopholes and correct practices that have given collectors the upper hand against consumers without legal representation.
The chief of the state district courts, Lynda Connolly, appointed a committee to look at the rules following a Boston Globe series on the industry in 2006.
The new regulations take effect on Oct. 1. They require debt collectors to provide basic evidence about the money they want to collect and to prove that debtors have been properly notified of when they are to appear for court proceedings.
UMass giving students $1,100 fee rebate
The University of Massachusetts will give undergraduate students $1,100 in rebates using federal stimulus money dedicated to the school by Gov. Deval Patrick.
UMass President Jack Wilson said last Friday that in-state, undergraduate students will receive a rebate during the upcoming academic year.
The rebate will reduce an increase in student fees from $1,500 to $400 for the academic year. The rebate will likely be split into two equal parts, one per semester.
UMass increased student fees by $1,500 for 2009-2010 earlier this year to make up for $102 million in debt.
The university said many of the students who receive financial aid have already received an aid increase to offset the fee hike.
|Developer of Filene’s site asks for patience
The man behind the stalled $700 million redevelopment of the Filene’s block in downtown Boston says the venture will get back on track once the economy turns around and he can get financing.
John B. Hynes III says that friends, neighbors and business associates regularly ask him about the status of the development, which has left an ugly, gaping hole in the heart of the city’s shopping district.
Hynes told The Boston Globe he is often up before 4:30 a.m. trying to line up investors on the other side of the world.
He is asking the business community and city officials to be patient. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has asked him to cover and clean the site.
Hynes says he will cover the site for the winter if he doesn’t get financing by October.
Common downtown Fitchburg crimes target of meeting
FITCHBURG — Officials in Fitchburg are teaming up with business owners in an effort to curb drug dealing, gangs and prostitution.
Members of District Attorney Joseph Early’s office met Tuesday with Fitchburg business owners and community leaders to discuss ways to combat what they see as increased illicit behavior in the downtown area.
Rich DiCato, owner of Flesh by Design tattoo parlor, said it’s not uncommon to see drug dealers and prostitutes roaming Main Street during daylight hours.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Travers said his office has received a federal grant aimed at training law enforcement officials to create new ways to reduce crime.
Mayor Lisa Wong said she welcomed the support from Early’s office.