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Boston officer fired for racist e-mail on Gates

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Boston officer fired for racist e-mail on Gates

A Boston police officer suspended for using a racial slur to describe black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has been fired.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis announced Friday that Justin Barrett officially was terminated after a disciplinary hearing last month.

The 36-year-old officer was placed on paid administrative leave in July after he was accused of writing an e-mail that called Gates a “banana-eating jungle monkey.”

Barrett has filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming that his civil rights were violated.

His attorney, Peter Marano, did not immediately return a telephone message for comment Friday.

Gates was arrested in July on a charge of disorderly conduct by police investigating a report of a possible break-in at his home near Harvard University. The charge was dropped but the incident sparked a national debate over racial profiling.

State pension fund growing

The Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board announced that the PRIT Fund grew $5 billion and reported a return of nearly 18 percent for 2009.

“As fiduciaries, we need to remain focused on the long-term investment performance of the fund,” said state Treasurer Tim Cahill who chairs the Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) Board. “These results demonstrate that our disciplined approach continues to serve our beneficiaries and taxpayers well.”

 The PRIM Board manages the PRIT Fund, a pooled fund which invests the assets of the Massachusetts State Teachers’ and Employees’ Retirement Systems, and assets of 92 of the 106 county, authority, district, and municipal retirement systems in Massachusetts.

The PRIT fund has seen double-digit percentage increases in six of the past seven years. The fund has now risen from a low of $34 billion in March 2009 to $42.7 billion.

Largest state solar power contract awarded

Massachusetts has awarded its largest contract for solar power.

The $20 million in federal stimulus dollars will pay for the installation of solar panels at 12 public water and wastewater facilities throughout the state.

The panels are expected to deliver more than four megawatts of power when up and running – roughly equal to the energy needed to power 600 households per year – and should be fully installed by July 2011.

The panels will save the facilities nearly $650,000 annually in conventional energy costs.

Gov. Deval Patrick said the state’s increase in solar power has also translated into hundreds of new jobs.

The facilities are located in Ashland, Hyannis, Chelmsford, Easton, Fairhaven, Falmouth, Holden, Marlborough, Blackstone/Millbury, East Freetown, Pittsfield and Townsend.

Boston skycap suit goes national after ruling

Skycaps across the country who claim they lost tips after American Airlines imposed $2 curbside baggage fees can now join a Boston lawsuit.

U.S. District Court Judge William Young on Thursday certified a national class-action suit against the airline.

The class action lawsuit comes 18 months after a federal jury awarded nine current and former American Airlines skycaps from Massachusetts $325,000 for tips they lost as a result of the baggage fees.

The class certification means that hundreds of American Airlines skycaps at 85 airports around the country are now part of the case seeking damages.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, the Boston lawyer, told the Boston Globe that damages could amount to millions.

An American Airlines spokesman said the company “respectfully disagrees with the court’s decision.”

Latinos blast Boston schools, urge fund withheld

Latino groups are pressing U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to withhold possibly millions in funding to Boston schools until the district complies with federal and state laws for programs aimed at students with limited English skills.

Several local and national Latino groups sent a letter to Duncan this week faulting Boston for a lack of services. They want Duncan to withhold “Race to the Top” funds until the district complies.

A state review two years ago revealed that Boston was potentially running afoul of civil rights laws by failing to provide services.

The finding attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division last year.

School district spokesman Matthew Wilder told The Boston Globe that not receiving those funds puts more students at risk.

Associated Press