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When will it end in Lawrence?

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Lawrence may be the longest-running soap opera in Massachusetts politics.

The plot line is pretty depressing. The city’s schools have been taken over by the state. The former school superintendent was recently convicted of embezzlement and sent to jail. And the city’s finances, while improving, remain in tough shape.

The latest plot twist was the news this week that Mayor William Lantigua had appointed his receptionist as the park foreman at the Department of Public Works. The new job, which gives Jorge Jaime responsibility for 100 city parks and ball fields, comes with a $20,000 pay raise. In an editorial, the Eagle-Tribune, no friend of Lantigua, called Jaime’s hiring preposterous.

Meanwhile, another of Lantigua’s patronage hires, Patrick Blanchette, the city’s director of economic development, showed up on Thursday to testify before an Essex County grand jury investigating the Lantigua administration. Blanchette’s lawyer is married to his brother, who is Lawrence’s Inspectional Services director. Small world, huh?

The grand jury probe never seems to end, perhaps because there are so many leads to pursue. There’s the patronage. Then there are the employees who remained on the city payroll even after being convicted of crimes. And then there’s the allegation that Lantigua improperly solicited money from tow truck companies and bar owners. The list of alleged wrongdoing goes on and on.

All those probes are separate from an investigation of Lantigua’s campaign finance reports, which don’t report all his donors, some of whom hosted fundraisers for him.

Through it all, Lantigua has maintained his innocence, and he retains surprisingly strong support in the city. But even he is amazed at the drumbeat of charges against him. “If it’s not one thing, it’s another and another and another,” Lantigua told the Globe in March.

                                                                                                                                                --BRUCE MOHL



BEACON HILL

Gaming opponents continue to question the wisdom of the selection of Stan McGee as the interim executive director of the state gaming commission after child abuse allegations resurface. Meanwhile, in a development that would surely have Captain Renault shocked, the national casino industry’s chief lobbyist, the keynote speaker at the state gambling commission’s inaugural information forum, cautioned the panel against overtaxing or over-regulating the industry here.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Mansfield’s municipal government is reeling from staff defections, and selectmen are talking about changing the town’s governance.

ELECTION 2012

Keller@Large takes a look at Gov. Mitt Romney’s first 100 days in office in 2003 to see what it would portend for the first 100 days of a Romney presidency. The Wall Street Journal looks at Romney’s unfriendly Electoral College math. Boston magazine dusts off an autobiographical essay Eric Fehrnstrom wrote in 1999.

Robert Jubinville of Milton, who lost twice to the late Kelley Timilty for the Governor’s Council, has announced he will run again for the seat which opened when Timilty died in January.

Joe Battenfeld takes on Elizabeth Warren’s rotten week, complete with hair-tearing blind quotes from nameless local Dems. Such as: “There’s nobody watching this that doesn’t think she’s in big trouble,” and, “The fact they weren’t prepared for this is a little surprising.”

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Quincy city clerk wants the local iParty store to remove the display of phallic-shaped bachelorette party favors even though they are in a section out of public view and away from the Dora the Explorer balloons.

State labor officials are asking why a New Bedford parachute company gave no warning as required by law when it laid off half its workforce after an expected government order for parachutes did not come through.

New round Saltine crackers are coming under scrutiny in Northampton. The new cracker will be test marketed throughout New England over the next four months.

Jack Welch speaks, angers a roomful of female executives.

Goldman Sachs launches a charm offensive.

EDUCATION

The Globe gives front-page treatment to the rising star power of UMass Medical School in Worcester.  CommonWealth was on to the story in our spring issue, which features this Conversation interview with UMass Medical’s Nobel laureate Craig Mello.

Some parents of fourth graders in Stoughton are upset that their children were subjected to searches after a teacher said some money was missing from her purse, though the search turned up nothing.

That’s Dr. O’Neal to you. Shaquille O’Neal explains why he decided to pursue a doctoral degree. He receives his degree in education from Barry University tomorrow.

HEALTH CARE

Mitt Romney’s Medicaid plan might undercut the state-based plan that was his signature policy achievement as Massachusetts governor, the Globe reports.

Steward Health Care, the fast-growing Boston-based hospital chain, responds to financial “red flags” raised as part of a regulatory review in Rhode Island, CommonWealth reports.

The Weekly Standard examines the unregulated pet health insurance market it says is a good template for the way human health insurance should work.

In the wake of Junior Seau’s suicide, WBUR’s Bill Littlefield says it has become apparent that numbers of ex-pro football players have been and are at risk.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Department of Energy successfully extracted natural gas from Alaskan ice, suggesting a vast reservoir of the gas could be tapped, reports McClatchy Newspapers (via Governing).

State officials are preparing to ban large institutions from discarding food waste into the trash, a move they want to extend eventually to residential waste as well.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A conservative Republican Texas lawmaker urges liberal Massachusetts do-gooders to take a page from the Lone Star State when it comes to criminal justice corrections policy, CommonWealth reports.

The cost of publicly torching up a spliff in Fall River could go up as the city council considers a measure to fine those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana $300 on top of the $100 civil infraction levied by the state. They should add $20 just to make it $420.

TRANSPORTATION

Eighteen months following the announcement of federal funds for South Station expansion, the project remains plagued by delays, this time at the state level, reports Paul McMorrow in this week's Back Story.

TEXTING

While most everyone knows the dangers of texting while driving, texting while walking can bear some ill consequences as well. Via Not Running a Hospital blog.

MEDIA

The Berkshire Film and Media Commission persuaded the director of a low-budget thriller to film in the west and hopes to target more small productions.

The Christian Science Monitor speculates about the fate of Rupert Murdoch and his US media empire after British parliamentary committee called him “not fit” to lead a major international company.

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