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FinCom calls for Swan Boats audit

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The Boston Finance Commission is calling for an audit of Swan Boats Inc., the family-run ferry service in the Public Garden that says it earned $1.4 million between 2008 and 2010 and paid the city rent of just $62,000.

The Boston Herald reports that FinCom Executive Director Matthew Cahill sent a report to Mayor Thomas Menino criticizing the city’s Parks Department for letting Swan Boats owner Lyn Paget fail to document receipts and expenses or provide a full audit of the business. “I just want to make sure the taxpayers are being fairly compensated,” Cahill said.

Cahill is following up on a story in CommonWealth magazine last summer. The report detailed the Swan Boats’ shaky financial reporting and noted that customer payments for tickets and souvenirs were being tossed in a drawer. The CommonWealth story quoted Cahill as saying: ”How much are they making off of those swan boats is the question and how much is the city losing?”

The Swan Boats are a Boston institution, dating back 135 years. Cahill says it’s time the city received fair compensation for the monopoly it grants the Swan Boats. Either that, he says, or the city should consider building its own Swan Boats and running the business itself.

                                                                                                                                    --BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick laughs off more suggestions that he’s running for president, but sounds more open to the idea of a Washington appointment.

The Massachusetts Senate approves a bill allowing doctors to test patients for HIV if oral consent is provided. Currently, written consent is required, the Lowell Sun reports.

The Salem News, in an editorial, calls on the Legislature to legalize the sale and use of fireworks.

A judge rules that an arbitrator must review the promotion of 11 probation employees, including a relative of former state Rep. Marie Parente, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

An aide to Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan says the mayor fired him because of his decision to run for state rep against a friend of hers, the Lynn Item reports.

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua says none of the cops hired over the last three years with state and federal grants will lose their jobs when the grants run out, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The home rule petition passed by Freetown voters to try to keep Meditech from abandoning the planned headquarters apparently is more restrictive than state law concerning Massachusetts Historical Commission oversight, according to company spokesmen.

The Brockton 21st Century Economic Development Corp., which runs the city’s baseball stadium, voted to enter the financially struggling Brockton Rox into an amateur collegiate league and hold more concerts at the stadium to pay off the $8 million bond.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is following through on his campaign promise to make sure absentee landlords maintain their properties to the maximum standards.

Somerville keeps up its fight to revoke John Buonomo’s pension.

Department of Conservation and Recreation officials are silent as the Wollaston Yacht Club misses its deadline to pay six years of rent. CommonWealth reported on the yacht club’s lease in the Winter issue.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The Senate rejects Roy Blunt’s contraception amendment.

ELECTION 2012

Elizabeth Warren has lots of union support, but it could be somewhat of double-edged sword in her bid to knock off Scott Brown, the Globe’s Noah Bierman writes.

President Obama was in New Hampshire yesterday, where he defended his administration’s energy policies to promote clean energy and end subsidies for oil and gas companies. Meanwhile, the Republicans may face tough going if they try to link rising gas prices to the president.

The Michigan Republican Party “reinterpreted” the rules and awarded the state’s two at-large delegates to Mitt Romney rather than splitting them with Rick Santorum,  giving the former Massachusetts governor a 16-14 win. Romney goes back to the well to deal with Santorum’s stubborn rise, and by the well, we mean several million dollars in negative attacks.

Maine Senator Olympa Snowe explains why she is leaving the Senate.

A Christian Science  Monitor report examines why supporting the  Blunt amendment may backfire for GOP candidates such as Scott Brown. Michael Tomasky, writing for The Daily Beast, says Mitt Romney missed his moment on contraception during a television interview in Ohio.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Braintree woman is suing Bank of America to get her credit score back after she was one of 300 people defrauded by a sham bargain vacation company that issued $10,000-limit credit cards to buy their services then delivered nothing.

Workers’ comp rates in Massachusetts could be heading up -- sharply.

MassChallenge, the non-profit that offers money to promising start-ups, launched its third annual competition with more than $1 million in prize money..

Keller@Large says the economy won’t fully rebound until we have effective leadership but wonders if there’s anyone, anywhere capable of providing it.

Tim Geithner uses the anniversary of the Bear Stearns bankruptcy to chide deregulation proponents in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

The Journal sizes up the business implications of the palace intrigue roiling Wynn Resorts.

EDUCATION

Hazing casts a cloud over Dartmouth College -- the leadership of its president, Jim Kim.

The Springfield schools, as well as ones in surrounding districts, are offering more advanced placement courses.

HEALTH CARE

The interim director of Harvard’s New England Primate Research Center, who had been appointed to deal with problems at the facility, is stepping down in the wake of reports of the death of monkey who was caged without a water bottle.


California state lawmakers consider a bill that would let nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse midwives perform routine abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy, the Los Angeles Times reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Brockton Enterprise has some more details and a link to a PDF of the police report in Florida about the fight between Christy Mihos and his wife, Andrea, who the report says is seeking a divorce, as well as a statement from Mihos asking for privacy.

A sex offender who moved to Massachusetts from Oklahoma is charged with failing to register with authorities in Lowell, the Lowell Sun reports.

More child sexual abuse charges have been handed down against a former Newton public schools second grade teacher.

MEDIA

First Rush Limbaugh calls a Georgetown University law student a “slut” for testifying before Congress about insurance coverage for contraception. Now he’s going a step further, according to MSNBC, saying that in exchange for free contraceptives the student should be required to video herself having sex and post the videos online so everyone can watch.

The Los Angeles Times isn’t setting up a paywall, it’s offering subscribers a chance at membership, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

National Review editor Jonah Goldberg sums up the life and work of  Andrew Breibart, the provocateur extraordinaire and bane of all things liberal who died yesterday at 43: “He never let the bastards get him down.” Michael Walsh says the right lost its “bravest warrior.”

2 Article Comments
Recent Comments

meterman

Says on 3/2/2012 11:28 AM
There would no news today about the Swan Boat "sweet deal" if it had not been for the report CommonWealth Magazine released many months ago. I doubt that Cahill or the Parks Dept would have paid any more attention to this than they have previously done in past contract renewals. Sure, the Swan Boats are a Boston institution but that shouldn't be a grant to enrich the Paget family. Aside from the principle involved, special deals have no place in government business.
Shirl k.

Says on 3/2/2012 9:35 PM
Thank you, CWM and Colman Herman, for exposing this Swan Boats boondoggle. The Paget family got a sweetheart deal on a phony "bid" process that was written so only they could qualify ("past experience" required!). In fact, they were getting the contract even when they failed to qualify -- they stopped using the original copper-swan boats that were specified for the contract (also to rig it for them), and replaced all but one of them with cheap fiberglass-swan boats (go look and you can see the difference); no one in the City cared, because it was all rigged. As meterman says, without you, no one would have paid the slightest attention to it; yet it is there, as plain as day, for anyone to see, millions and millions of dollars that should be going to taxpayer services, allowed to slip into the hands of a private, for-profit (and thus exempt from public record law) company -- a cash business that doesn't even use a cash register. No records, nothing to discover. Do the Pagets keep business records for reporting to the IRS and the state? But I hold the City to blame, not the company. Where are our public officials, whom we elect and hire and pay to watch out for our interests? Why didn't they even ask for records all these decades? Why, Mayor Menino, why? They are the ones I hold accountable. It wouldn't be this way if Menino and others before him didn't want it this way. Thank you for looking at this, and for your other stories on how our politicians are giving away the public treasury to private interests. Keep it up; there's more, lots more. And please, please consider doing an expose of the BRA, the biggest financial bleed of all. It's clear that this is the Boondoggle di Tutti Boondoggles. Yet no one else, evidently, will do it, although I have tried mightily for almost 20 years to get this started by sharing my information with the dailies; perhaps it's too close to the Mayor. You did a story or two on the BRA, its "money-making machine," but that's just the tip of the iceberg. I hope CWM has the courage and independence to take it on. Do us all a great service and blow it wide open. That's where the big money is.
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