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The Download: Aliens in our midst

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With the election in the rearview mirror, the headlights are now focusing on the hot-button issue of immigration, both legal and not.

And while Massachusetts is certainly not on the same plane as Arizona, Texas or California when it comes to illegal immigrants, Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan to offer in-state tuition and drivers’ licenses to illegal non-citizens is dominating the policy dialogue in the post-election downtime.

Some central Mass. lawmakers, both returning and incoming, panned the idea in the Milford Daily News. “This is completely ridiculous,” says Ryan Fattman, a 24-year-old Sutton Republican who ousted a longtime Democrat on Nov. 2. “We should be ending benefits to illegal immigrants, not encouraging unlawful behavior.” Sen. Richard Moore, an Uxbridge Democrat, who sponsored a bill last term to deny any state benefits to illegal immigrants, said Patrick’s proposal is a non-starter.

But the state Senate’s lone Latina told the Associated Press that opponents are twisting the facts to fit in with their ideological views. Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz disses the GOP’s House leader, Rep. Bradley Jones, by pointing to a 2006 report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation that she says shows Patrick’s proposal would actually bring money into the state coffers.

“This fiction has gone on long enough,” Chang-Diaz, a Boston Democrat, said in a statement. “Leader Jones knows – or should know, before opining publicly on an issue – that in-state tuition is a reform that would actually generate revenue for the state at a time when we desperately need it.”

But the debate is not limited to illegal immigrants, according to Wicked Local Brookline. Brookline Town Meeting yesterday approved a warrant to grant aliens with Green Cards the right to vote in town elections, joining Newton and Cambridge as the state’s only communities to extend the franchise to non-citizens. The vote still needs legislative approval.

Business and the economy

In a move that takes corporate pursuit of government aid to a new level, General Electric is asking the state for a $25 tax credit in exchange for limiting the number of layoffs at the company’s aircraft engine plant in Lynn, the Globe reports.

Boston officials have revoked building permits as part of the city’s continuing feud with owners of the region’s most famous hole in the ground in Downtown Crossing, the Globe reports.

A little piece of Harvard Square could also be in for a change. Just in time for holiday shopping, Cambridge’s Globe Corner Bookstore is for sale.

A little less holiday joy for Plymouth County inmates as Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald has decided against selling Christmas trees at the county jail’s farm this year to avoid competing with area businesses in the down economy. The tree sale usually brings about $250,000 into the inmates’ canteen fund.

Bay State foreclosure deeds and petitions declined in October, Banker & Tradesman reports. It’s the first month this year that both have fallen.

Massachusetts companies are big winners in the federal cleanup of the BP oil spill, according to a Bloomberg News story in the Telegram & Gazette.

Sen. Scott Brown helps block equal pay bill in the Senate, citing business costs.

There are some emerging investment opportunities in the Dominican Republican but not quite what you’d expect, reports the New York Times. Wall Street, fresh off ruining America’s economy, turns its sights on baseball.

Health care

In coordinated moves, the federal government clamped down on alcoholic caffeinated drinks, The Washington Post reported. The Federal Drug Administration warned that if the four major companies, including one Boston firm, that manufacture the drinks did not take action in 15 days the agency could seize the products or seek a legal remedy.

The new federal health care law will mean higher rates for many in Massachusetts, the Lowell Sun reports.

Massachusetts' junior senator is showing his bipartisan side by joining Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon in filing a bill to hasten the dismantling of the health care reform law. The measure from Wyden and Brown would push up the date states could opt out of the individual mandate for health insurance from 2017 to 2014.

A state audit finds fraud in Medicaid dental system, the Eagle-Tribune reports.


Row, row, row your boat – somewhere else. The state environmental agency turned down a permit request from Thayer Academy in Braintree to build a recreational rowing facility in Quincy on Town River. The school had reached an agreement with Quincy officials and both will be back at it with a revamped proposal.

Officials offer a grim fiscal forecast for the Boston public schools.

UMass Amherst will invest $182 million to boost the school’s Commonwealth Honors College, which aims to compete for top-flight students who might otherwise not consider the state’s flagship public campus.

With Texas Gov. Rick Perry slated to take the reins as head of the Republican Governors Association, Pioneer Institute director Jim Stergios thinks we could see some serious pushback against the move toward national K-12 education standards. And Stergios is glad.

Energy and the Environment

The Barnstable Assembly of Delegates claims that the Cape Cod Commission’s proposed standards for wind turbines are not strong enough. The Cape Cod Times reports that the assembly is now considering a year-long moratorium in place of new regulations that would have included minimum setbacks and noise rules.

Keller@Large wonders if the Chevy Volt is living up to its hype and dissects the charged political atmosphere around the battery-powered car.


Would she have been cool if she lit the joint and shared it outside the club? We’ll never know but Universal Hub reports the Boston Licensing Board will decide today what penalty to assess the House of Blues for violating the no-smoking ban – but not the possession laws – after an on-stage performer shared her alleged demon weed with audience members.

State and federal authorities are offering a $2,500 reward for anyone with information that leads to the conviction of the person who shot a juvenile bald eagle that was found in Onset, according to the Standard Times. The bird was euthanized earlier this month. It’s a federal crime to shoot the national symbol, and conviction carries a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in jail.

NECN reports that multiple public safety agencies are conducting massive raids in Plymouth and Bristol Counties related to street violence.


House Republicans have NPR’s funding in the crosshairs.

The Phoenix spotlights the two new media junkies whose public records requests recently attracted jail threats and celebrity.

“The Agenda” blog at National Review Online picks apart the media conspiracy theories that supporters of Sarah Palin are behind Bristol’s continued survival on “Dancing with the Stars” despite repeatedly receiving the lowest scores from the judges. But the author, Josh Barro, says it’s just sour grapes from the anti-Palinistas, “which makes this vote fraud claim about as meaningful as 99 percent of the vote fraud claims you see every November from the backers of losing candidates.”

Not everyone was enchanted with Miss Palin’s hoofing. A Wisconsin man locks, loads, and pans her dancing skills.

Its intelligence challenged by a New York Times Company official who thinks customers are suckers for paying $700 per year for a Times subscription, Slate publishes a crib sheet for cutting the subscription price in half.

Government debt

Wait, why do we need three competing deficit-reduction reports?

The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner says the Republican reaction to the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan does a service by revealing GOP cowardice when it comes to actual budget shaving. And this from a conservative.

The Atlantic answers the real burning question in all this deficit talk: What’s in it for me? In the case of the Rivlin-Domenici plan, the answer is, a tax cut.

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