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The Download: Dreams deferred

Posted in: Massachusetts Legislature   Municipal government   Ethics   Education   Health care   Energy
Tags: The Download

Last week Gov. Deval Patrick said that he wanted to facilitate undocumented immigrants’ access to college and drivers’ licenses in his overall strategy to expand opportunities for legal and illegal immigrants.

Yet new federal pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and the broader opportunities that come with them, may end up being dreams deferred, according to a Mother Jones story on the diminishing chances for the passage of the DREAM Act.

The plan would give young undocumented immigrants who came to the US before the age of 16 a route to citizenship if they have completed at least two years of college or military service.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to bring up the bill for a vote in the lame duck session. But Mother Jones reporter Suzy Khimm says Reid doesn’t have the votes. Conservative commentators like Michelle Malkin have called the proposal an “illegal alien student bailout.”

If the citizenship plan fizzles in Washington, the immigration battle will intensify in states like California, where the president of Fresno State’s student government recently admitted that he was an illegal alien after being outed by an anonymous e-mail sent to news organizations. Student groups in the University of California system, Harvard, and other universities support the bill, as do the presidents of Harvard, MIT, Tufts, the University of Massachusetts system and a number of other Bay State institutions.

Ten states, including California, allow undocumented immigrants who are state residents to pay in-state tuition rates. However, Georgia, Arizona, and South Carolina have recently passed laws prohibiting state colleges from offering in-state tuition to undocumented students.

MASS POLITICS

The first to fall: Patronage king Tom Petrolati is out as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives, the make-work slot that is part of the Legislature’s top-heavy roster of positions with extra pay, while Speaker Robert DeLeo vows to take on reform of the troubled agency.  Here is Jack Sullivan’s account on the CommonWealth website and this morning’s Globe report

Scot Lehigh thinks the Probation Department patronage scandal is proof of the need to get rid of the exemption the Legislature and Judiciary enjoy from the state’s Public Records Law.  (See this CommonWealth cover story by Colman Herman to understand just how weak the state’s Public Records Law is.)  While we’re cleaning up state government, Leigh says, let’s also make public officials disclose any patronage requests they make, get rid of the Pacheco law, and strip away municipal unions’ rights to veto changes in health insurance plans.

The resignation of Middlesex County Sheriff James DiPaola has handed Gov. Deval Patrick a powerful appointment. Natick state Rep. David Linsky confirms his interest in the job to the State House News Service.

The Salem News says incoming Treasurer Steve Grossman, by hiring defeated state Rep. Barbara L'Italien of Andover, is playing the same old game that's always been played on Beacon Hill.

NATIONAL POLITICS

The Globe’s Matt Viser thinks New Hampshire is conspicuously missing from Sarah Palin’s book promo travel schedule.

Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe accuses NOAA’s chief of "selling out US fishermen" by calling for reduced fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna, the Gloucester Times reports.

MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS

As Bridgewater changes its form of centuries-old government from Town Meeting to Town Council there’s a learning curve for the nine new council members who have no experience to lean on, reports The Enterprise. Meanwhile, Newburyport decides not to dump its mayor for a city manager.

ECONOMY AND BUSINESS

On the CommonWealth magazine site, MassINC Research Director Ben Forman says the state shouldn't give GE $25 million in tax credits and should instead focus on spurring redevelopment in blighted areas.

The good news is Fall River’s unemployment rate stayed basically steady last month. The bad news is it’s 12.9 percent, still closer to last year’s October high of 14.4 percent for the city than the current statewide average of 7.7 percent, according to the Herald News.

EDUCATION

Marty “Claude Rains” Meehan tells the Globe  he’s “shocked” by reports that he may be a finalist for the UMass presidency, and says he’s done nothing to promote himself for the job. But it seems he could get used to the idea.

HEALTH

At “Running a Hospital,” Paul Levy joins in the third annual “blog rally” to bring awareness to Engage with Grace, a movement to make sure people understand, respect and communicate end-of-life decisions. The idea is to bring attention to the questions at a time of year many people are with family and friends who should be part of an often difficult but extremely important discussion.

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar wants to cut down the offshore wind farm permitting process from seven years to two.

Attorney General Martha Coakley has appealed a rate increase granted to Boston Gas, a subsidiary of National Grid by Department of Public Utilities, finding there was no basis in for the hike.

GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GROAN

Let’s hope Fred Salvucci doesn’t get wind of this or we may be looking at a proposal for a 56-mile tunnel. The Weather Channel has ranked the Top Ten worst roads for Thanksgiving travel and, yup, the Mass Pike stretch from Newton to I-84 in Sturbridge is right up there, second only to I-95 from New York to Washington. Meanwhile, it will be hard to fathom for those caught today or Sunday in gridlock at the notorious Sturbridge interchange, but the New Republic’s Bradford Plumer says there are signs that we’re actually becoming a little less car crazed.

Slate publishes its annual crib sheet on the policy points your family will be screaming about this Thanksgiving­­.

The Download will not be published tomorrow, November 25th, or Friday, November 26th.  It will return on Monday, November 29th.  

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