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Sex offender faces probation hearing for saying hi

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A Level 3 sex offender in Andover is scheduled for a probation violation hearing after police discovered he helped a 10-year-old boy recover a lost hockey puck and said hello to another child on a public street.

Peter Placet, 57, was convicted in May 2008 of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, according to his profile on the state website that tracks Level 3 sex offenders. Placet was sentenced to what the Eagle-Tribune calls “a two-year committed term” and five years of probation.

Placet is one of two Level 3 sex offenders living in Andover. Level 3 is the designation given to those sex offenders considered most likely to reoffend.

Placet’s lawyer, John Swomley, describes Placet as “a model probationer.” While acknowledging the terms of Placet’s probation bar him from contacts with children, Swomley said “there is no allegation that Mr. Placet posed a risk to either of the children he interacted with.”

The report out of Andover comes at a time when state and local oversight of sex offenders is coming under increasing scrutiny. CommonWealth, in a story on “society’s lepers” in its recent issue, reports that many who treat sex offenders say the state’s regulatory oversight does more harm than good because it leaves the offenders jobless and homeless and more likely to reoffend.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts is challenging in court a Lynn ordinance that bars sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, park, or other private or public recreational facility. The ACLU says the ordinance is so broad that it that it basically prohibits sex offenders from living in Lynn.

“What our experience with this type of ordinance has been is that it undermines public safety,” said the ACLU’s John Reinstein. “You don’t want recidivism, that’s the entire goal, and what homelessness and pulling people out of a stable environment does is increases their risk of [reoffending].”

But others worry the state’s oversight of sex offenders is not vigilant enough. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled this week that a Level 3 sex offender named David Gangi must be released from prison and not given an indefinite civil commitment because he was held for evaluation beyond the allowed 60 days due to a legal mixup. The Eagle-Tribune, in an editorial, said Gangi’s case shows the threat of sex offenders is not being taken seriously.

                                                                                                                                                    --BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Stan McGee, the Beacon Hill aide who quit the state’s gambling commission this week, is welcome to take his old job back. The Globe reports that Gov. Deval Patrick said the controversy over McGee’s short-lived appointment created “distractions” from the work of the commission. The paper also says administration officials were furious with state Treasurer Steve Grossman over his public call for McGee to step down.

At a meeting with Palmer residents, Mohegan Sun officials decline to reveal any significant details of a plan to open the first casino in Massachusetts

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A school custodian testifies before an Essex County grand jury investigating the administration of Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Cambridge City Manager Bob Healy doesn’t retire until next year, but the Cambridge Chronicle reports that the jockeying to be his replacement has already begun. City managers in Lowell and Billerica say they’d consider the job, no doubt because the current pay for Healy is $341,000 a year. Even his deputy makes $280,000.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

While Gov. Deval Patrick said he was proud of President Obama’s open support for gay marriage, he is not in agreement with his friend’s position that it should be left to states to decide. Greater Boston ponders the political ramifications of the president’s new public stance while Dan Kennedy says of course it’s political but that doesn’t make it any less historic.

The House backs off a bid to de-fund minority voting rights enforcement, after a fiery speech from Rep. John Lewis.

Prominent executives are mobilizing to press for a deficit-cutting package that would forestall massive end-of-year tax increases.

ELECTION 2012

The Weekly Standard touts its “exclusive” interview with John Wolfe Jr, a Tennessee lawyer challenging Obama in some southern Democratic primary, who says he’s not on board with same-sex marriage. It’s the “exclusive” part that makes us chuckle, though.

The Washington Post does an exhaustive analysis of Mitt Romney’s years at a prep school in Michigan that included harassment of a student who at the time was presumed to be homosexual. The story was not placed in the print edition of the Post on the same day that President Obama came out in support of gay marriage, the Huffington Post reports. Slate asks, does it matter if Mitt Romney was a high school bully?
The Globe says Romney will face a challenge in figuring out how to much to promote his opposition to same-sex marriage, a stand that provides both politically opportunity and risk.

Elizabeth Warren goes on the defensive again after news reports reveal that she was listed as a minority in a University of Pennsylvania report.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Braintree woman who sued Bank of America over a travel company’s credit card scam destroyed her credit dropped her claim after the banking giant removed the charge and restored her credit.

JP Morgan gambles, and loses. Time reports the firm lost $2.3 billion on some sort of investment that was designed to reduce the firm’s risk. Even with the loss, which JPMorgan’s CEO called “self-inflicted,” the company is still expected to make $4 billion in after-tax profit this quarter, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Yes, more from Brian McGrory on the obscene excesses of executive indulgence at Liberty Mutual -- though he suggests this may be the final installment on the topic.  At least for now.

EMC buys an Israeli competitor for $430 million.

EDUCATION

The Lynn Item analyzes the city’s new school bus contract, which budgets nearly $562,000 for transporting students to and from school and athletic events and $3.5 million for carrying special ed students to 43 different out-of-district locations, some as far away as Rockland and Randolph.

Less than half of Massachusetts eighth graders scored proficient or above on a national science exam, but that was good enough for the state to come in second nationally, WBUR reports.

Boston officials are investigating a possible “irregularity” in MCAS testing at an Allston elementary school.

The Ford Foundation has announced a $50 million effort to institute longer school days in some of the nation’s poorer school districts.

The American Spectator has a not-so-flattering look at St. Louis’ charter school movement, claiming one-third of that city’s charter schools have failed academically and financially but says that’s the way it’s supposed to work, with bad schools closing, unlike regular public schools where they keep the doors open no matter what.

More tales are emerging from parents about questionable actions by a former Newton elementary school teacher who was arrested in January on child pornography charges.

HEALTH CARE

New Hampshire legislators are hoping to lure renowned specialty hospitals to locate near the state’s southern border as part of an effort to lure patients from Massachusetts.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoes a bill that would have created a state health insurance exchange, Governing reports.

In a historic first, the FDA recommends the approval of Truvada, a drug which  prevents AIDS.

TRANSPORTATION

House members of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee pass legislation requiring Massport to take over the MBTA’s commuter ferry service and pay the transit agency $20 million to purchase boats, piers, and parking lots, the Globe reports.CommonWealth reported on the legal issues involved with a ferry takeover by Massport last month.

New Bedford Regional Airport, among the busiest small airports in the country with 66,000 landings in 2010, was awarded a $3.65 million grant for safety improvements from the federal Department of Transportation.

Silicon Valley considers personal rapid transit, what Governing calls a Jetson-style idea that uses an elevated rail system that emulates the automobile.

Donations are pouring in for the hero dog who was hit by a train while pulling her passed-out owner from the train tracks in Shirley. Vet bills will come to about $15,000, but $40,000 has been donated so far, the Lowell Sun reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Sen. John Kerry sent a letter to the Ecuador ambassador to the United States saying he was “deeply disappointed” officials in that country did not extradite a man wanted for the killing of a woman and her child in Brockton.

A Weymouth police officer who was on probation after he admitted to sufficient facts of assaulting a State Police civilian employee has retired rather than return to active duty and face disciplinary action that could have affected his pension..

The feds dig up the yard of an alleged Connecticut gangster looking for paintings stolen from the Gardner Museum, but only find guns.

Cape Cod filmmaker Daniel Adams has been sentenced to prison for up to three years for tax fraud  and other charges after he claimed nearly $5 million in film tax credits “based on inflated expenses.”

MEDIA

Time’s new cover, which features an attractive mother breast-feeding her 3-year-old son, is causing a stir.

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