Thursday, December 22, 2011
NOTE: The Download will be taking an end of the year break next week, and will return on Tuesday, January 3rd. Happy holidays!
If living well is the best revenge, Attorney General Martha Coakley
should be feeling good this holiday season.
On Wednesday, Bank of America
agreed to a $335 million settlement
, the largest residential fair-lending deal in history, with the US Justice Department
over deceptive lending practices by Countrywide Financial,
the mortgage company that the bank acquired in 2008 in probably the worst deal ever.
The case recalls Countrywide’s $22 million payout
to Massachusetts that Coakley reeled in several years ago after she abandoned a multi-billion settlement brokered by her fellow state attorneys general in search of a better outcome.
Bank of America isn’t out of the woods yet. They’ll just be able to better focus on the new battle with Coakley, who ditched her colleagues again to single-handedly take on BOA and four other major banks for their roles in the subprime mortgage catastrophe. Should she succeed, some legal experts believe that the case would be a template for other states to do the same, especially if the mega-lawsuit by other state AGs falls through
Other states are wondering why their law enforcement officials can’t be more like Martha. In Florida
, one of states hardest hit by the foreclosure debacle, Attorney General Pam Bondi has been criticized
for not coming down as hard on lenders as Coakley
and other AGs, prompting one Palm Beach Post
commenter to opine, “Go Mass.”
The largest Medicaid fraud payout by a single company in Massachusetts history? Coakley’s fingerprints are all over that, too, after she also reached a $24 million settlement
with the pharmaceutical giant Merck
Perhaps it’s time to admit that Massachusetts is better off with Coakley as AG, taking on the 1 percent and shoveling that money into the state’s coffers or residents’ pockets. With the “Party of No” running the show in Washington, a Senator Coakley would be spinning her wheels on Capitol Hill as Scott Brown
has found out much to his frustration
. Instead, she is actually getting stuff getting done.
She’ll probably never live down her ignominious defeat. (How many other state AGs get the Saturday Night Live
treatment?) But if the stars align for presumptive Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren
to take down Brown next year, the 2010 special election might just become a historical footnote. --GABRIELLE GURLEY BEACON HILL
The first criminal charges have landed in the federal probe of the state’s Probation Department. Christopher Hoffman
, who ran the probation office based in Hampshire Superior Court, was charged yesterday with witness intimidation
in connection with a conversation he had with a probation officer who had agreed to talk to FBI investigators.
One-time Worcester congressman Peter Blute
, done in from a subsequent stint as executive director at Massport by Gidget of Booze Cruise fame, is returning to the political fold
as deputy director of the state Republican Party. Massachusetts
continues to grow at a slower rate than the rest of the country
since the 2010 census
, according to figures released yesterday for the past 15 months.MUNICIPAL MATTERS
The Boston City Council completed the insider hand-off
of the $102,000 a year city clerk’s position to Maureen Feeney
, who resigned from the council a month ago to facilitate the move. The vote didn’t take place, however, until council president Steve Murphy
took the opportunity to lash out at the press for sticking its nose into the business of city government, where it apparently doesn’t belong.
Dianne Williamson, a Worcester T&G
that a city councilor’s bid to crack down on the city clerk there for performing weddings at City Hall
was motivated not by the desire to improve public policy but the result of a “personal hissy fit.”
company that caused a three-day water ban in Somerset
last May because of a potential contamination scare was fined $19,000 by the state.
Two former Department of Conservation and Recreation
employees are being charged with reckless endangerment of a child
related to last summer’s accidental drowning of a Fall River woman whose body went undetected at the bottom of a public pool for two days.Springfield
bar owners aren’t happy
about a city proposal to close them down at 1 a.m. instead of 2 a.m.
The debate over a proposed casino in Foxborough is getting ugly.
State Rep. Dan Winslow
, whose Norfolk
district abuts Foxborough, campaigns
against the casino.NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON
Eight states will raise the minimum wage
The housing market may be trending in a positive direction.
And unemployment claims
are also down to their lowest level since 2008.ELECTION 2012 National Review
editor Ramesh Ponnuru
, who’s already stated his preference for Mitt Romney
, says all things being equal, it would be preferable not to have an adulterer in the White House
but Newt Gingrich’s marriage and religious conversion should at least open up the gates of Heaven for him, which, really, is more important anyway. Meanwhile, Gingrich is willing to debate Romney in Iowa
, any time, any place.
Instead of complaining about Romney’s attack ads, Gingrich should launch his own
Bold prediction: Rick Santorum
may not win Iowa but he could surprise
to GOP field: Yawn
A ProPublica story
details how California Democrats
tried to manipulate an independent redistricting commission by enlisting and even inventing local groups to lobby on their behalf.
Joan Vennochi says Barack Obama
’s biggest problem going into the election -- apart from the economy and all that stuff -- is Barack Obama.BUSINESS/ECONOMY
The conservative Weekly Standard
says Henry F. Potter
, the antagonist in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life
, was really a misunderstood banking visionary
itself to legalize online poker
within state boundaries. TRANSPORTATION
It can’t be. The Daily Beast runs a list
of the states with the worst drivers and Massachusetts doesn’t even make the top 25.
Alec Baldwin isn’t the only flyer who is refusing to turn off electronics
during take-offs and landings.The MetroWest Daily News
reminds people not to drink and drive
in the wake of the death of a Framingham State University student.ZOMBIES
They’re everywhere. Plainville author Jeff Kinney
, whose Diary of a Wimpy Kid
series is popular among the grade school set, has filed suit in US District Court
in Boston to stop a Texas publisher from selling a knock-off
called Diary of a Zombie Kid
, which looks every bit like the original, except for the undead drawings. Via Universal Hub
A Level 3 sex offender in Lynn
had indicated he might challenge a Lynn ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, but a for-sale sign in front of his house suggests he’s going to move, the Item reports
Civil liberties activists are denouncing the conviction
of Mehanna Tarek
on charges of aiding Al Qaeda as a dangerous assault on free speech rights.
Attorney General Martha Coakley
is going after a Waltham driving school
that offered a special $400 rate for classes and then closed, allegedly stiffing patrons for a total of $175,000, NECN reports
.MEDIANew York Times CEO Janet Robinson
will receive an exit package worth $15 million -- $10.9 million in pension benefits and a $4.5 million consulting fee – when she leaves next week, Reuters reports
The Nieman Journalism Lab
asks more than a dozen really, really smart people -- including even some they found in the media -- what 2012 holds for the future of journalism
. Via Media Nation
.YES, SAUGUS, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUSKeller@Large
says sanity prevailed in the dispute over whether Santa could make his annual rounds
with firefighters to Saugus