11 a.m. | A federal grant to help the Department of Public Health monitor water quality at public beaches gets the royal treatment rollout with state and local officials. | Tenean Beach, Conley Street past basketball courts, Dorchester
4 p.m. | Boston Harbor Now hosts an afternoon of free, family-friendly activities at Carson Beach, featuring kayaking, beach games, live music and arts and crafts. | Carson Beach, 165 HarborWalk, Boston
5 p.m. | U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern attends Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Loreto Parish's Italian Festival. | 33 Massasoit Road, Worcester
Homeless advocates are accusing Gov. Maura Healey of robbing Peter to pay Paul after she cut a “critical” $2.5 million for support services in the $55.98 billion annual budget she signed earlier this week.
The shelter crisis spurred an emergency declaration this week with taxpayers currently spending more than $1 million a day — roughly $45 million per month — to house the 5,500 families in need of shelter. Covering the rising costs is coming at the expense of long-term homeless individuals who, unlike families, are not guaranteed housing in the right-to-shelter state, advocates say.
Included in the $205 million in spending vetoed by Gov. Maura Healey in the annual budget she signed earlier this week was $2.5 million earmarked for homeless relief in the “Home & Healthy for Good” line item. Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance CEO Joyce Tavon called it “significant funding” for new permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic or long-term homelessness.
“It’s just really hard when you see that we are just hemorrhaging money on this hotel-shelter response and then a cut to this little bit of money that actually builds solutions that end homelessness for really vulnerable people,” Tavon told MASSterList. “And frankly, from a cost perspective, we know this saves money because these people are high utilizers of emergency rooms and other services.”
The annual earmark provides flexible funding that homeless advocates have come to rely on as “critical gap-filler” money for everything from mental health services to housing development. It helps create the type of permanent, stable housing that officials and advocates agree is the best answer to solving long-term homelessness and ending the growing problem of encampments now found everywhere from Pittsfield to Cape Cod, Tavon said. The money provided in the FY23 budget supported the creation of 346 new supportive housing units, data show.
A Healey spokeswoman said the administration “will continue to advocate for federal assistance and move forward on our efforts to increase housing production to help address our housing crisis.”
As it stands, the budget includes a record $325 million in funding for emergency shelter and “critical” investments in permanent supportive housing including $2 million dedicated to creating supportive housing and a boost for rental vouchers, Healey’s office said.
Advocates including Tavon say they support the focus on the migrant humanitarian crisis, but that the state “cannot ignore the crisis of individuals who are living on the streets.”
Lawmakers who included the slashed funding in their budget proposal have until Nov. 15 to override any of the governor’s vetoes. Healey’s other cuts include a controversial $1 million reduction to “Hey Sam,” an anonymous mental health hotline for young people.
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Cannabis boss rolls back ‘crisis’ comments
Cannabis board head Shannon O’Brien is walking back her recent comments declaring the state’s legal adult-use cannabis rollout to be in “crisis.” The Herald’s Matthew Medsger writes that her outburst during a meeting came on the same day the commission announced the Bay State has hit a new one-month high in legal weed sales — $136 million in July. O’Brien said she was trying to tip fellow board members off to the impending departure of the agency’s long-serving executive director while still complying with open meeting law.
Grants try to chip away at maternal mortality rates that are higher among women of color
Grants totaling $75,000 are headed to three local organizations for their work addressing the maternal health crisis, reports Zeina Mohammed for The Boston Globe. The funding is part of an effort by the Boston Women’s Fund, a foundation that supports marginalized women, girls, and gender-diverse people, to shore up funding for women of color, who are often overlooked for grants. Massachusetts is seeing a rise in severe pregnancy complications.
Behind the badge: Police disciplinary records release to come next week
A trove of disciplinary records of law enforcement officers will be released by state regulators as soon as next week, reports Chris Van Buskirk for The Boston Herald. The Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission said Thursday is required by law to create an online database that details misconduct among police officers all across Massachusetts. The commission reportedly plans to release roughly 4,500 disciplinary records.
New England liberal arts college leaders unshaken by cuts, plummeting public opinion
Simmons and Lasell universities are the latest higher education institutions to cut liberal arts majors amid financial constraints — including history, modern languages, philosophy, and literature, because of low enrollment, reports The Boston Globe. The cutbacks come as some conservative politicians rail against the liberal arts and polls show plummeting public confidence in higher ed. A Globe report, however, finds half a dozen New England college presidents and provosts say the system is just in need of a public relations boost.
Justices block controversial Purdue-Sackler bankruptcy case
A controversial bankruptcy case involving Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, and its owners — the Sackler family — is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for review, reports WBUR. Justices yesterday temporarily blocked the implementation of the $6 billion deal while the appeal is heard. Arguments in the case have been scheduled for December. A federal bankruptcy court in New York first approved the complex settlement in 2021 that includes members of the Sackler family even though they’re not bankrupt.
MBTA rolls out new safety regs after third rail ‘arc flash’ hospitalizes worker
After an “arc flash” landed one T worker in the hospital last week, MBTA workers have been instructed to place protective covers on top of electrified third rails or turn the power to the rail off during nearby maintenance, reports Chris Lisinski for State House News Service. The new protocol is under review by the Department of Public Utilities. It comes as the troubled agency is under scrutiny from federal regulators over repeated safety failures.
Former Worcester Art Museum curator claims she was ‘mocked’ for ethnicity in suit
A former curator alleges she was “mocked and ridiculed because she is a brown-skinned woman of South Asian” descent in a discrimination suit against the Worcester Art Museum, reports Craig S. Semon for the Telegram & Gazette. A complaint alleges co-workers participated in ridiculing her by imitating Indian accents and subjected her to lewd behavior. It also states the curator suffered a hostile and offensive work environment and retaliation from workers including the museum director. The complaint was filed in Worcester Superior Court on July 19.
Fight’s not over: Quincy not giving up on Long Island Bridge blockade
Quincy’s mayor says his city will appeal the state’s decision to grant a license for Boston’s plan to rebuild the Long Island Bridge — a milestone the mayor of Boston hailed earlier this week as “a go” for the project that has put the two cities at odds for nearly half a decade, reports Peter Blandino for the Patriot Ledger. Quincy officials say they will fight the license decision and any other permits Boston receives for the bridge. Access to the bridge would have to go through the border city’s Squantum neighborhood.
RMV head gets 4 months for driver’s license scheme
The former manager at the Brockton RMV has been sentenced to four months in a scheme to give permits and driver’s licenses to people who did not actually pass tests, reports Abbey Niezgoda for NBC Boston. Mia Cox-Johnson, 44, of Brockton, pleaded guilty to taking money to give customers passing scores on both the passenger vehicle driver’s license and Commerical Driver’s License (CDL) tests. According to prosecutors, between December 2018 and October 2019, Cox-Johnson conspired to pass the customers in exchange for payment. The customers were told to request a paper version of the test, rather than taking it on an RMV computer.
Bottom dollar: Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline neighborhoods at the bottom of the housing market
In Boston’s red-hot housing market, the lowest-ranked ZIPs are all in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline, reports Greg Ryan for the Boston Business Journal. Over the last year, 15 zip codes in those neighborhoods saw home values decline — the most in Cambridge’s 02139 ZIP code, which includes Cambridgeport, Central Square and other neighborhoods. Home values there fell 6 percent year-over-year, to $918,528.
Energy prices falling is good news for local inflation
Lower household energy prices have helped push down Greater Boston inflation this summer, reports Colin A. Young for State House News Service. Consumer prices were up 3.2 percent nationally and 2.8 percent locally for the 12-month period ending with July.
Beth Israel doctor charged in lewd act on plane next to 14-year-old
A Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center doctor is accused of pleasuring and exposing himself while seated next to a 14-year-old girl on a flight from Hawaii to Boston last year, reports The Boston Herald. Sudipta Mohanty, 33, of Cambridge, was arrested Thursday and charged by criminal complaint with one count of lewd, indecent and obscene acts while in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States. He was released following an initial appearance in federal court in Boston.
Free pass: No challengers for all nine Beverly city council seats
A three-way race for mayor will be one of the only contested parts of the city’s upcoming election, with all nine seats on the City Council drawing just a single candidate, including eight incumbents who will skate to re-election, Paul Leighton of the Salem News reports.
Braintree Planning Board recommends against South Shore Plaza
A divided Braintree Planning Board has voted to recommend against approving a plan to build nearly 300 apartments at the South Shore Plaza. The Patriot Ledger’s Fred Hanson reports the final decision on the project, which has drawn strong opposition from residents, still rests with the City Council.
Report gives New Bedford Police good marks, lays out blueprint for reforms
A two-year study of the New Bedford police department by an outside consultant has found the agency largely following best practices but recommends several areas for improvement, including treatment of female and minority officers and the need to get body cameras in the field. Anastasia Lennon of the New Bedford Light has the details.
Martha’s Vineyard real estate cools after pandemic madness
Real estate agents on Martha’s Vineyard say the island’s housing market is in the midst of a correction, with sales dropping to their lowest levels in a decade in the first half of this year. Probably not yet time to send thoughts and prayers, since, as Halina Bennet of the MV Gazette reports, the median price of homes that sold recently was just under $1.4 million.
Weekend political talk shows
Keller@Large, with Jon Keller on CBS Boston (WBZ), 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. This week’s guest is U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren discussing tech regulation, the fed’s handling of inflation and the migrant crisis in Massachusetts.
On the Record, WCVB-TV, 11 a.m. on Sunday. The guest this week is state Sen. Susan Moran who will discuss the state of emergency over migrant shelter and climate change legislation. Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti host. Boston Globe Columnist Mary Ann Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Virginia Buckingham join the roundtable discussion.
@Issue, NBC10 Boston or NECN, starting at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. The guest this week is New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu who will discuss Massachusetts business owners, the state’s new “Millionaire’s Tax”, the Republican race for President and the future of the GOP. Hosts are Sue O’Connell and Cory Smith.