Mass. Senate backs bill to overhaul court system
The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously approved a bill to reorganize the state judicial system following revelations about hiring and promotions abuses at the court-administered Probation Department.
The bill largely echoes legislation unanimously approved by the Massachusetts House to create a new civilian court administrator responsible for the general oversight of the courts, including requesting appropriations and approving contracts and leases.
The bills also tighten hiring and promotion practices including the creation of a new written exam.
Both bills reject a proposal by Gov. Deval Patrick to merge the Probation Department with the Massachusetts Parole Board and bring both under the control of the executive branch.
The Senate also adopted several Republican-sponsored amendments last week.
Any differences between the bills must be ironed out before the legislation can head to Patrick’s desk.
Boston health center to join federal HIV program
A Boston health center has been selected as one of 24 community health centers nationally to participate in a federal initiative to develop services to care for people with HIV.
The Whittier Street Health Center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood was selected recently for the HIV in “Primary Care Learning Community” program. Under the program, the center will receive training and technical assistance over the next year to expand its capacity to provide comprehensive, quality care for Bostonians living with HIV.
Whittier President and CEO Frederica Williams said participating in this initiative will further strengthen Whittier’s HIV services to underserved populations in Boston, especially black and Latino residents.
Roxbury, where Whittier is located, has one of the highest incidence rates of new HIV cases among Boston’s 15 neighborhoods.
Ex-Mass. official testifies DiMasi pushed software
A former state official says she recalls then-House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi strongly advocating for a performance management software contract that was later awarded to Cognos.
The testimony on Monday came in the federal corruption trial of DiMasi and two associates, who are accused of scheming to funnel kickbacks to DiMasi in exchange for using the speaker’s clout to help steer two contracts worth a combined $17.5 million to the software company.
Bethann Pepoli, the former acting head of the state’s information technology office, said DiMasi pushed hard to have funding for performance management software in an emergency bond bill Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration was preparing in 2007.
Defense attorney Thomas Kiley tried to show during cross examination of Pepoli that DiMasi never advocated for Cognos by name.