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Murray's mystery ride

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The Boston Herald's Howie Carr asks the question everyone has been wondering this week: What was Lt. Gov. Tim Murray really doing in the predawn hours on Wednesday when he totaled his state-issued car?

Murray says he was out surveying storm damage and looking for coffee and a Herald. He says he drove 23 miles from his home in Worcester up Interstate 190 to Route 2 before turning around and heading back. About halfway home, in Sterling, he says he skidded on some black ice and lost control of the car, which veered off the road and ended smashed against a rock ledge. The lucky-to-be-alive Murray escaped with minor cuts.

Murray says no one was with him and he wasn't speeding. He also took a Breathalyzer to prove he wasn't drinking. The State Police back him up.

Carr hints that someone is lying, but he's got no proof and it doesn’t appear there is any. What’s puzzling is why Murray would get up at around 4 a.m. to go looking for a coffee ("have you ever heard of these new drip-coffee makers?" Carr asks) and a Herald (“after midnight, you can read tomorrow's edition online. You didn't need to take your life into your hands.")

The Lynn Item (via State House News) asked the lieutenant governor what kind of storm damage he expected to see at 5 a.m., when it was still pitch dark outside.

“I was driving up in the area seeing what was going on, on 190,” he said. “Turned around. Came back. I drive around routinely. I think people in the city, people around Central Mass., get constituent work from me at a lot of different times.”


The Herald, in its news story, says Murray called himself “an early riser.” The lieutenant governor added: “It’s not uncommon sometimes for me to wake up early ... to maybe go out and grab a coffee, return some emails, make a phone call or two, pick up the Boston Herald, which does not deliver to Worcester as far as I know.”

According to the Herald, Murray has five prior incidents on his RMV driving record — from speeding in 2006 to improper equipment in 1987.

                                                                                                                                                    --BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Former House speaker Sal DiMasi, who had requested that he serve his eight-year prison sentence for federal corruption charges at Fort Devens, may end up incarcerated instead in a federal prison in Lexington, Kentucky, the Globe reports.

The MetroWest Daily News admires some aspects of the new state redistricting maps but notes that the big federal test is yet to come.

October tax collections beat last year’s pace but still come in under benchmarks.

The attorney general’s office rules that the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School’s board of trustees violated the state’s open meeting law last November, the Gloucester Times reports.

The Lowell Sun reports on bills that would allow landlords to start charging late fees for rent payments sooner than the 30 days currently allowed.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Federal investigators swooped down on Chelsea’s housing authority yesterday seeking information about whether any records have been shredded in the wake of Sunday’s Globe report on the $360,000 salary authority director Michael McLaughlin was pulling down.  State Inspector General Greg Sullivan wants McLaughlin’s pension slashed by more than half because he allegedly concealed his true salary from state officials. A Globe editorial says City Manager Jay Ash and other Chelsea leaders need to account for how McLaughlin’s “outrageous salary” went unnoticed.  

West Bridgewater -- which outlawed the sale of some controversial energy drinks -- has banned the sale of cigar blunt wrappers in town and attempted to stop the sale of cigarette rolling papers as well until told by the attorney general’s office state law prevents communities from adopting such bylaws.

A Quincy woman’s complaint to police about vandalism and trespassing after being “flocked” -- a popular fundraising trend where students plant a flock of pink flamingos on an unsuspecting victim’s lawn then remove them for a small donation -- has spurred widespread support for and interest in the Quincy High School “Senior Night Out” that is the purpose of the fundraiser.

David Bernstein looks at the home stretch of Boston’s at-large City Council race.

A Latino church, claiming its civil rights are being violated, sues the city of Lynn in a zoning dispute over parking, the Item reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Paul Krugman looks at income inequality through the lens of “the obfuscators,” who are fighting back against reports of widening inequality, even as, Krugman argues, the “concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only.”

A New York public sector union reverses course and accepts wage and benefit reductions, forestallng the layoff of 3,496 members, the New York Times reports.

The Census Bureau will release an alternate measure of poverty on Monday.

Sen. Jim DeMint strikes again.

ELECTION 2012

A heckler at an Elizabeth Warren campaign event in Brockton calls the candidate a "socialist whore," the Huffington Post reports (video included).

Mitt Romney explains how he will fix the economy in this USA Today opinion piece and goes on the offensive in New Hampshire.

Slate’s David Weigel sees the Tea Party’s decline in the increasingly sunny fortunes of Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Rick Perry absolutely cannot get enough private jet travel, especially when the jets belong to rich folks who have a stake in regulations coming out of Austin.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Globe reports that new federal court documents show failed Columbus Center developer Arthur Winn, who has agreed to plead guilty to campaign finance violations in connection with illegal contributions to Massachusetts officials, also made more than $40,000 in illegal donations in 2006 to the then-state treasurer in California, who oversaw a massive state pension fund that was weighing investing in the Columbus Center project.  

Greater Boston looks at the job-hunting challenges facing veterans returning from war.

AIG leaps back into the shadow banking business.

Freddie Mac needs another $6 billion from the Treasury.

Former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine once hoped he’d succeed Tim Geithner as Treasury secretary. True story! But not anymore, thanks to headlines like this. This doesn’t help, either.

EDUCATION

Arlington schools see a $1.3 million surplus largely due to a likely one-time dip in special education spending.

HEALTH CARE

WBUR reports that insurance penalties for smokers are drawing wide support.

State officials have warned Fall River area residents about high mercury levels in fish from Sawdy Pond and Copicut Reservoir.

TRANSPORTATION

A MassPIRG report calls for cheaper and more reliable and convenient transportation options in the South Coast region for seniors and area college students.

The MBTA has reached a settlement in its $91.5 million suit against the manufacturer of defective concrete railroad ties but the deal is not yet final.

After last winter’s disastrous performance, the MBTA says it will cancel close to one-quarter of all commuter rail trains in advance of bad weather this winter as part of an effort to allow workers to keep tracks clear and trains moving on time.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Norwell officials are asking the state to cut back on the use of road salt on Route 3 and Route 53 near the town’s drinking wells after tests found some residents’ water contained as much as five times the recommended sodium levels.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A friend of Tarek Mehanna’s testified yesterday at his federal trial on terrorism charges that the 29-year-old Sudbury resident regarded Osama bin Laden as a father, claimed the 9/11 attacks were justified, and spoke of his support for Al Qaeda and wish to join jihad.  

Federal prosecutors allege a North Andover attorney misappropriated  more than $400,000 that was supposed to be used to pay off mortgage payments at real estate closings, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

RELIGION

Cardinal Sean O’Malley will skip Bernard Law’s 80th birthday bash.

MEDIA

In a discussion with a local author, Radio Boston explores the different attitudes about teenage sex among US and Holland parents.

We’re not above self-promotion: The Patriot Ledger has a profile of comedian Steve Sweeney and his role in next Thursday’s MassINC fundraiser “Serious Fun.”

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