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Patrick consolidates UMass control

Posted in: *Bruce Mohl   Current Affairs   Education
Tags: Education Election Washington

Gov. Deval Patrick consolidated his control over the 19-member University of Massachusetts board of trustees by reappointing its controversial chairman and naming six others who are political supporters and Democratic activists. The move was consistent with second-term efforts by the governor to move friends, allies, and supporters into vacant positions, a policy that was first identified last December in a CommonWealth Back Story.

Patrick reappointed James Karam to a new five-year term, despite the fact that Attorney General Martha Coakley recently found that Karam led a search for a new university president that violated state open meeting laws. He also named Jeffrey Mullan, a Milton neighbor who just stepped down as transportation secretary; Democratic National Committee member Margaret Xifaras; Democratic political consultant Larry Carpman; Boston attorney Richard Campbell; Alyce Lee, former chief of staff to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the wife of a prominent developer, and Zoila Gomez, a Lawrence attorney and former aide to former US Rep. (and current UMass Lowell chancellor) Martin Meehan.

The new appointments fill one empty seat on the board and replace five other trustees who completed their five-year terms. The five departing trustees were Stephen Tocco, Lawrence F. Boyle, Jennifer Braceras, Richard  Lawton, and Kenneth MacAfee.

Most news outlets essentially reprinted the governor’s press release, but a handful dug deeper. The Boston Globe’s Frank Phillips reports that Karam is part of a powerful political clan that wields influence in southeastern Massachusetts and has strongly supported Patrick financially. The Daily Hampshire Gazette quotes Max Page, a professor of architecture and history at UMass Amherst, as saying Karam’s reappointment is a “black eye” for the university. “This is the worst kind of signal to send, that a law-breaker can be reappointed to the board of trustees,” Page said.

Karam took over as chairman of the UMass board earlier this year following the resignation of Boston investment banker Robert Manning, who quit when Patrick blocked the appointment of Meehan as UMass president. At the time, members of the UMass board said Manning felt Patrick was interfering in oversight of the university.

Patrick, interviewed by WSHM-TV in Springfield, dismissed concerns about his appointments. “Karam was on the board before I came to office and he has served the university very, very well,” he said. “Critics should look at the depth and experience from every single one of these new trustees and they’ll see that the university will be very, very well served.”

                                                                                                                                                 --BRUCE MOHL



9/11 ANNIVERSARY

Writing on The New Republic site, Pete Hamill recalls the daze he was in on the streets of Lower Manhattan that awful morning.

Judith Miller, the former New York Times reporter with the rather controversial reporting history in the period after 9/11, writing for the City Journal site, assesses New York City’s current level of anti-terrorism preparedness.

Officials in Washington and New York scramble to find out more about a possible al-Qaeda car bomb plot to coincide with the 10th anniversary. Meanwhile, people in Afghanistan who have never heard of 9/11 want to know why the US has occupied their country.

In the sixth part of its eight-part series, the Globe considers how the art world has reckoned with 9/11.

In a New York Times video, Tom Brokaw ponders an op-ed he wrote in the days following 9/11.

Pittsfield middle school students learn about the terrorist attack.

BEACON HILL

Long-time gambling opponent Sue Tucker lambasts the casino gambling bill in an Eagle-Tribune op-ed. The former state senator says the bill fleeces Massachusetts residents at every turn, even if they never set foot in a casino.

Sal DiMasi pleads with a federal judge for leniency on the eve of his sentencing. He receives eight years.  Brian McGrory sees little reason to grant that to the “not quite sorry” former House speaker. Peter Gelzinis says US District Court Chief Justice Mark Wolf was likely to be tough.

The Berkshire Eagle argues that too many ballot questions may end up before voters next year.

State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg discloses that he will undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment for squamous cell skin cancer, but said his doctor told him his case is “highly curable.”

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The substance of the dispute is a bit fuzzy in this Eagle-Tribune story, but Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua and the city’s police union are fighting again, this time over the mayor’s attempt to rehire laid-off officers.

The Weymouth School Committee took the unusual step of voting to distance itself from comments made by one member questioning the truthfulness of the committee’s chairman at a previous meeting.

Weymouth, Quincy, and Stoughton are among the communities that beat out hundreds nationwide for federal grants to fight youth substance abuse.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

President Obama lays out an ambitious jobs plan in his speech to Congress.  Here’s a transcript of the president’s jobs speech, via WBUR. The Washington Post’s account is here. The speech found at least one business ally as Brian Gilmore of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts tells Keller@Large the address may instill some confidence in the private sector to loosen up the purse strings and make some investments. The American Spectator says it was just more socialist claptrap while the National Review’s panel of conservative experts viewed it as an extended stump speech rather than actual governing. The New York Times reports on the continuing show of partisanship.

The US Post Office can survive if it gets tech-savvy. . .fast.

The New York Times reports on a significant shift by members of Congress in approaching Medicare and Social Security: Not whether to reform, but how.

David Weigel of Slate cuts through the rhetoric to tell us what members of the super committee were really saying at their first meeting.

ELECTION 2012

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow calls Mitt Romney out on his recent claim that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are the ones most responsible for the economic meltdown. Romney “apparently doesn’t know Angelo Mozilo, the disgraced former CEO of Countrywide Financial,” McMorrow writes in the Globe.

Newt Gringrich gets this question pretty often.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Middleborough is having its own mini-job renaissance as local grocer Trucchi’s announced it will hire 150 workers when it opens a supermarket in the town, only a half-mile from where Compass Medical is set to partially open a new $10 million center on Monday that will employ 100 people.

Property insurance rates are likely to rise in the wake of Hurricane Irene, with Liberty Mutual Insurance of Boston and other companies facing rising claims, the Boston Business Journal reports.

EDUCATION

The latest MCAS results are a mixed bag, with 10th grade scores up while 3rd grade reading scores, considered a crucial benchmark for students’ long-term success, slipped.

The Ohio mother who went to jail for falsifying residency in order to sending her kids to a better school in a safer neighborhood (yes, you read that correctly) has her felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor.

HEALTH CARE

WBUR’s Radio Boston interviews Enid Kassner of AARP, which ranked Massachusetts 30th in the nation in terms of affordability and quality of long term care for the elderly.

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation Secretary Rich Davey has appointed Freetown Selectman Jean Fox the new project manager for the South Coast Rail project even though Fox admits she is no expert in transportation or infrastructure.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A utility worker doing maintenance work near Yuma, Arizona, triggers a massive blackout affecting more than 4 milion people across southern California and Mexico, the Los Angeles Times reports.

FBI agents conducted a surprise search of Solyndra, a California-based solar company that collapsed last week despite receiving a $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee, the Washington Post reports.

Salon explains where the GOP presidential candidates stand on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A 34-year-old Acton man, who built a business as “Coach Brad” teaching fitness to young children, admits to raping and molesting a 5-year-old girl, the Lowell Sun reports.

MEDIA

Renee Loth, former editorial page editor for the Globe and a longtime political reporter at the paper, has been named the new editor of ArchitectureBoston, the magazine published by the Boston Society of Architects.

A new book about Jackie Kennedy reveals that JFK and his brother Robert discussed ways to keep Lyndon Johnson from ever getting the Democratic nomination for president.

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