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The Download: Brown tome wrecker

Posted in: Current Affairs   Media   Municipal government   State of the States
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The Boston Globe, in its review of US Sen. Scott Brown’s new book, Against All Odds, described it as “an incredible life story, told in the safest and most surface-level terms possible.” Reviewer Craig Fehrman said the book recounts the many commendable choices Brown made during his life, but never connects them or tries to make sense of them. “Brown’s only insight seems to be: work harder.”

Now comes Eileen McNamara, who expresses the same frustration with the senator’s lack of introspection but takes her concerns to a whole new level. Writing in the latest issue of Boston magazine, McNamara expresses compassion for the trials Brown went through as a child (abandoned by his father, beaten by stepdads, molested by a camp counselor), yet questions why he fails in the book to use the life-lessons he picked up along the way to help others.

“If he is going to exploit a painful past in the run-up to his reelection campaign, shouldn’t we expect more than the ‘shocking details’ he delivers in his quickie Book of Revelation?” McNamara asks. “We did not spend the past 20 years dragging sexual abuse and domestic violence out of the shadows only to be told that victims just need to suck it up.”

McNamara, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Boston Globe who is now a journalism professor at Brandeis University, is particularly disdainful of Brown’s claim that he wrote the book to reassure people facing similar challenges that they are capable of overcoming them. In fact, he says he wouldn’t change anything about his life. Says a skeptical McNamara: “It is the story of a very special man, unique among the sexual assault survivors I have met during a long reporting career in not devoutly wishing that the abuse had never happened.”

                                                                                                                                                                        --BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Norfolk's Bay State Correctional Center appears to be one of the two state prisons on the budgetary chopping block

In-person visits pay off. Secretary of Public Safety Mary Beth Heffernan and her predecessor, Kevin Burke, made their case earlier this week to the Salem News for merging parole and probation in the executive branch and today were rewarded with an editorial backing their approach.

CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl suggests the cult of Ronald Corbett may be snuffing out the push for reforms at the state’s Probation Department.

Rep. Bill Straus, a Democrat from Mattapoisett, and Rep. Steven Levy, a Republican from Marlborough, talk with Jim Braude about tax breaks.

State Treasurer Steve Grossman sits down with Emily Rooney to talk about his  low-profile since assuming office and some of the changes he’s making.

MUNICIPAL

Who knew? Recreation departments in Danvers and Peabody are offering Red Sox tickets to residents virtually at cost. According to a story in the Salem News, the towns don’t get any special deal on tickets; they hunt for them like anyone else and then make them available – with transportation – to town residents. Salem is skipping Fenway all together this year, organizing a two-night trip to Toronto for $255, with a Jays-Sox game included.

Middleborough voters will consider a warrant at Town Meeting to exempt National Guard soldiers serving overseas from paying property taxes while on active duty.

Stockbridge chalks up its population decline, the second highest in the state, to the closure of a private school and a yoga center.

EDUCATION

A 16-year-old North Andover High School student is arrested for harassing another student on Facebook, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The KIPP charter school in Lynn suspends three students who brought rum to school and the 10 they shared it with, the Item reports.

The issue of expired foods in school district cafeteria systems turns out to be much broader than just Boston, with the Globe reporting that districts throughout the state are now acknowledging the same problems.

PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS

New Hampshire ’s Republican-controlled House passes a budget that cuts spending and strips public sector unions of some of their bargaining power, the Lowell Sun reports.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says it’s a mistake to balance the budget by cutting education and health care and going after public sector unions, according to a story by Bloomberg News.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, goes on WBUR’s Radio Boston to discuss teacher unions and charter schools.

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Some Cohasset residents and a nursing home have filed suit to block a planned wind turbine on nearby conservation property because of concerns over noise, destruction of woodlands, risk of collapse, and “flickering shadows.”

The town of Shelburne received a $10,000 state grant to strengthen a composting program by local food-related businesses that officials are eyeing as a model for other cities and towns.

Experts warn that the increasing numbers of spent fuel rods in on-site storage are more dangerous than the reactors themselves at New England's aging nuclear plants.

Milk
 on the West Coast is showing trace amounts of radiation linked to Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

WASHINGTON

At the height of the 2008 financial crisis, European banks borrowed heavily from the Federal Reserve's discount window, the Wall Street Journal reports

Tea Party protesters hate big budgets, but it appears they hate bad weather even more

ELECTION 2012

Scott Brown blasts a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee attempt to peek at his communications with the state's Group Insurance Commission

Knows too much: Michele Bachmann's former chief of staff says he won't be supporting her for president.

Mitt Romney will begin raising cash in earnest by the end of April. 

Republicans would be a whole lot more excited about the White House race if they actually had a candidate to get excited about

HEALTH CARE

Gov. Deval Patrick downplays a recent report by Inspector General Gregory Sullivan that exposed fraud and waste in free health care. 

Arizona officials want to attach a $50 obesity fee to Medicaid enrollment. 

Small business owners in central Massachusetts wonder why the state is celebrating lower base rate increases in small business health insurance costs, when most of them are seeing double-digit rate increases.

The Cape Cod Times urges Provincetown, Barnstable, and Truro voters to move their municipal retirees into Medicare.

Framingham town employees agree to a 16/84 split on health insurance costs.

TRANSPORTATION

Boston Herald editorial urges caution on mass transit expansion, citing a recent CommonWealth report on mounting MBTA deficits.

STATE OF THE STATES

Missouri puts a cap on jobless benefits, following the lead of MichiganArkansas, and Florida.

BUSINESS/DEVELOPMENT

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, in his weekly Globe column, says an effort by Boston state Rep. Marty Walz to ban any development casting a shadow over a various Boston green spaces would shred a 50-year-old planning compromise that has guided the sensible development – and renaissance – of Boston’s Back Bay.

Gov. Deval Patrick took a whack yesterday at the CEO of Evergreen Solar, the company that was once the darling of his administration’s green energy policies.

The Berkshire Eagle likes the state's new small business loan plan, but wants to see more new ideas specifically targeting northern Berkshires businesses. 

The redevelopment of the Boston Herald’s property alongside the Southeast Expressway is kicking into gear, the Globe reports.

State convention center chief executive Jim Rooney has agreed to a $26,000 pay cut, as the Patrick administration continues to apply pressure on quasi-public agencies to rein in top salaries, the Globe reports

Subprime bonds were at the root of the economy's meltdown. And now they're back

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The brother of the man alleged to have gunned down a Woburn police officer before being fatally wounded himself has been indicted in connection with the armed robbery where the shootout took place.

The Suffolk County DA released a pile of evidence in the case against the so-called “Craiglist killer,” Philip Markoff, who hung himself in jail last August before facing trial.

GAMBLING

State and local police along with authorities from the Attorney General’s office raided three Internet cafes in Fairhaven and Fall River, including one owned by a Fall River city councilor, and shut down the operations they say are thinly veiled illegal gambling rooms.

CENSUS

The Boston Redevelopment Authority is providing customized census maps for neighborhoods for anyone who emails a request even though the city’s neighborhoods have no official boundaries. Via Universal Hub.

The Dorchester Reporter, meanwhile, says the BRA has rewritten those boundaries in a way that lops off chunks of the city’s largest neighborhood and reduces Dorchester’s population in the process.

TITHING

The annual State of the Plate survey found that 43 percent of churches reported an increase in giving in 2010 after two years of steep declines, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. But more than 90 percent of those surveyed said proposed federal limits on charitable deductions will hurt those churches.

STRESS

It’s not really news but it is really funny: The Weekly Standard is selling squeezable, “mushy stress heads” of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at $9.99 each. Or buy all three for $26.99. “You can crush those half-baked liberal ideas before they do any more damage,” says the ad. Hurry, supplies are limited.

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