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Sympathy for Sal

Posted in: Massachusetts Legislature   Ethics
Tags: CommonWealth magazineDownloadDiMasiSchilling



Former House speaker Sal DiMasi’s tragic story of failing to get prompt treatment from prison officials for tongue cancer is touching off a wave of sympathy, but it’s unclear whether the shift in public sentiment will get him better treatment or an earlier release.

Perhaps the most surprising change of heart came from Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr, who said it was time “to let the poor guy go.” But Gov. Deval Patrick told the Herald he wasn’t about to lobby President Obama to let the ex-speaker out. “Seriously?” Patrick asked. “It’s not my place, and I’m not going to do that.”

In court filings, DiMasi’s attorney says the former speaker was told in January that lumps on the back of his neck were potentially cancerous. But it wasn’t until April that DiMasi was finally checked out, and a lesion was discovered on his tongue. A month later tests revealed that the cancer had spread. DiMasi is now preparing to undergo radiation treatment on his tongue at the Federal Medical Center in North Carolina, followed by seven weeks of chemotherapy. DiMasi will not be able to eat and will need a feeding tube.

DiMasi’s medical plight was outlined as part of an effort to delay the appeal of his conviction for accepting cash from the software firm Cognos in connection with state contracts the company was seeking.

On Greater Boston, former federal prosecutor Steve Huggard says the court filings, if accurate, indicate the federal Bureau of Prisons dropped the ball. But Huggard says it’s unlikely DiMasi will be released or see his prison term reduced. “It’s a very high hurdle to get released,” he said.

                                                                                                                                                 --BRUCE MOHL



BEACON HILL

Daniel Webster, the Republican state representative, appears to be on a less illustrious trajectory than the famed statesman whose name he shares. The Pembroke lawmaker, whose law license was suspended in 2010, is now under investigation by state bar officials for misuse of client funds.

The state’s Seaport Advisory Council awards $3.2 million to Lynn for the final phase of a construction project that will ultimately yield a ferry to Boston, the Item reports.

The Berkshire Eagle says that it’s better that setting new standards for teacher performance be done in the Legislature rather than at the polls. The Republican makes the same argument regarding the “right-to-repair” bill.  The opposing sides on the repair issue have reached a compromise.

The Patrick administration is proposing regionalizing some functions of the state’s 242 housing authorities, but the plan would largely leave the agencies’ local autonomy in place.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A new Louisiana law requires sex offenders to state their criminal status on their social networking pages, including Facebook and MySpace, CNN reports.

States slashing spending are lagging in economic growth.

ELECTION 2012

In an speech to a national association of Latino elected and appointed public officials, Mitt Romney casts off the tough anti-immigrant rhetoric of the primary campaign season for a can’t-we-all-just-get-along message for the general election. His speech left as many questions unanswered as it addressed, though.

Brian McGrory has fun with Scott Brown’s whopper of a royalty tale. Here’s more on it from NECN, and from the Herald.

The nearly $16 million she has brought in since September makes Elizabeth Warren the leading fundraiser of any candidate running for Congress in the country, the Globe reports.

Brown and Warren both accept the debate sponsored by the Herald and UMass Lowell, slated to take place the same Sept. 27 date the doomed Kennedy Institute debate was scheduled.

CHARITY

A new study of 15,000 donors to charitable causes finds that many want to see a bang for their buck, not just a plea that they should give because the economy has taken a toll on nonprofits.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Globe reports that the state Division of Insurance has launched an “unprecedented” examination of compensation in the state’s insurance industry following the newspaper’s reports on the $50 million annual take of Liberty Mutual chief executive Edmund Kelly.

Dunkin’ Donuts is sleeping with the enemy by teaming up with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning to promote the Canton-based company.

In the friendly confines of the Dennis and Callahan Show on WEEI, Curt Schilling says he personally lost $50 million in his failed video game company, 38 Studios.

Moody’s downgrades 15 large banks, in a move that will likely increase the cost of borrowing for businesses and the public sector.

EDUCATION

The ACLU has filed a complaint with the US Department of Education charging the Fall River schools suspend a disproportionate number of minority students and students with disabilities.

The Fall River Herald News reviewed the contracts between area school committees and their lawyers and found some generous agreements for the parttime counsels that in some cases include benefits such as health care.

HEALTH CARE

A retired Holbrook high school teacher is being kept alive at Brigham and Women’s Hospital with an artificial heart as he awaits a transplant, the first such use of the device by a New England hospital.

TRANSPORTATION

Regional Transit Authorities are starting to get some respect, and some cash, CommonWealth reports. The MBTA’s budget woes become a wedge issue in an Attleboro House race.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Kevin Peterson, in a CommonWealth column, says Chuck Turner is vindicated by an SJC decision.

A prisoner advocacy group has filed a petition with the state to reduce what it calls “excessive” and “inflated” telephone rates on calls by inmates in state and county facilities.

Two young Dorchester men were found guilty yesterday of first-degree murder in the horrific 2010 killing of a 14-year-old middle school student.

MEDIA

The BBC’s Mark Thompson is under consideration for the CEO job at the New York Times, the Guardian reports. Meanwhile, two tech heavies are added to the Times board.

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