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Firefighters' folly

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It seemed like something from the Onion.  But stories about the antics of the Boston firefighters union often have the feeling of parody about them.

The union is heading to court this week saying “no fair” because the Boston Fire Department is playing by the rules. Specifically, the department is enforcing a requirement that all new firefighters obtain state certification as emergency medical technicians during their first year on the job. The union claims the department has never enforced the 15-year-old mandate.

Fire Commissioner Rod Fraser says it’s more important than ever to enforce the rule, as most of the calls the department responds to are medical problems, not fires. “Do you want someone to come to your house to respond if you’re having a heart attack that’s not an emergency medical technician? I don’t think so,” Fraser told the Globe.

But the union had little to say about having all firefighters trained to handle medical emergencies, focusing instead on the plight of seven first-year firefighters who resigned last week rather than face termination because they haven’t passed the EMT test. “Fraser is very mean-spirited and so is the city, so shame on them for putting these guys through this,” said Richard Paris, the president of the firefighters union.  

The department provided EMT training for the firefighters and offered a tutoring class to prepare for the exam, but none of the seven firefighters attended, said Fraser. In what he calls a further gesture of good will, Fraser gave the firefighters the option of resigning rather then being fired, which means they can reapply for positions once they’ve passed the EMT test without going through the entire civil service hiring process. 


                                                                                                                                                  --MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

The state’s regulation allowing the use of civilian flaggers hasn’t saved much money because it still favors police details, according to a story from the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. A sidebar by the Eagle-Tribune finds police monopolize details on local roads.


The Eagle-Tribune backs voter identification legislation, citing an estimate by one person involved in the effort to recall Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua that 20 percent of the city’s registered voters are not citizens.

More than 20 of the state’s daily newspapers run an editorial calling for increased transparency in state government. The editorial calls for making the governor’s office, the Legislature, and the judiciary subject to the Public Records Law and the Open Meeting Law.

Corruption and patronage, the Globe reports, quickly followed the introduction of casinos in Pennsylvania. The Boston Herald lines up behind a casino bill amendment that would subject a proposed gambling commission to the state’s Open Meeting Law, and says the bulk of gambling revenue shouldn’t carry restrictive earmarks. Senate President Therese Murray says the casino legislation is a “jobs bill.”

Three of the state’s Republican sheriffs, whose funding is controlled by the governor now, traveled to Washington to urge federal officials to train their officers in techniques to detect illegal immigrants despite Gov. Deval Patrick’s opposition to the Secure Communities program.

Rep. Dan Winslow calls public pensions “broken.”

Bucking a home rule regime that dates back to the wars between the Irish and the Brahmins, the city of Somerville wants Beacon Hill to give it an unlimited supply of liquor licenses.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Members of the New Journey Christian Church held their service in a parking lot yesterday after Weymouth officials ordered them out and changed the locks on their new home in a shuttered fire station because they had not received a zoning variance for assemblies.

Lynn’s preliminary election, which eliminated only two candidates from the November ballot, cost the city $40,000, the Item reports. Across the country, cost concerns are forcing Election Day cutbacks that could lead to long, slow voting lines, WBUR reports.

In tomorrow’s preliminary election in Boston, seven candidates face-off to narrow the field to two in the race to succeed retiring district City Councilor Maureen Feeney of Dorchester. Incumbent Bill Linehan of South Boston faces two challengers. Meanwhile, Roxbury district City Councilor Tito Jackson faces three challengers, but it seems unlikely he’ll have to break a sweat after the Globe couldn’t reach two of them, while the third hung up on a reporter.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has opened an office in downtown New Bedford so tribe members living in the area don’t have to travel to the Cape for services.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

While Republican leaders in Congress abandon a payroll tax cut to stimulate job growth, a strategy they once embraced but have suddenly gone cold on now that it’s part of President Obama’s jobs plan, Sen. Scott Brown is bucking fellow Republicans by supporting the president’s call.

Small potatoes are embarrassing: To paraphrase US Sen. Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat, the looming government shutdown hinges on disaster aid, which isn’t a real budget buster.

Frank Rich says there’s nothing wrong with extremism, arguing that bipartisanship never got anybody anywhere.

According to the Department of Justice, there is no such thing as a $16 muffin.

ELECTION 2012

The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky reports that President Obama is playing to his base with his comments that GOP plans will “cripple America” and Rick Perry’s “state is on fire.” The New York Times reports that the small donors who fueled Obama’s rise three years ago have yet to return. On the other hand, big unions are finding themselves none too disappointed in the implications of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Dr. Marc Siegel, writing in the National Review, says the Massachusetts health care reform has been disastrous for the state and worries Mitt Romney is not honest when he says he’d dismantle the national effort modeled on his plan when he was governor. Meanwhile, Romney slams Harvard, his alma mater. Joe Battenfeld says Rick Perry has knocked Romney out of complacency, and inspired the return of the forceful campaigner Romney was as governor. Also: Romney and Perry really, really don’t like each other.

The Christian Science Monitor  examines whether Herman Cain will get get big mo out of his Florida straw poll victory or will it just illuminate some of his unorthodox policy proposals even more.

Anti-Romney Republicans try, again, to get New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to jump into the White House race. And he says no, again.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

More Massachusetts workers are reluctantly settling for part-time work, according to a new analysis by Northeastern University’s Andrew Sum, a finding that suggests the employment picture is much worse than what is indicated by the state’s 7.4 percent unemployment rate.

A new Brookings Institution analysis indicates poverty rates are soaring in America’s suburbs, Time reports.

Fannie Mae discovered robo-signing in 2005, and didn’t do anything about it.

EDUCATION

The UMass Amherst chancellor search committee meets this week to consider a replacement for Robert Holub.

TRANSPORTATION

Lt. Gov Tim Murray, on Keller@Large over the weekend, said there needs to be a conversation “in the next year or two” about how to pay for crumbling infrastructure and debt-ridden public transportation.

As if to underscore the point, the T is putting up for sale the ornate H.H. Richardson-designed Newton Centre T station.

Boston’s MPO approves $500 million in bonding to support the Green Line extension.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Soil tests from the area around the New Bedford High School confirmed the presence of dioxins likely left over from an old industrial burn site.

Salem launches a small – but free – bike sharing program, the Salem News reports.

Changes in bird habitats are the first warning signals of climate change, The Berkshire Eagle argues.


CRIMINAL JUSTICE/JUDICIARY

The slow wheels of justice are turning even slower in Massachusetts courts after years of budget cuts, the Globe reports.

MEDIA

Howard Kurtz reports on Roger Ailes’s efforts to reposition America’s dominant cable-news channel.


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