^ John Connolly : the day was his

—- —- —-

The Deutsches Altenheim, on Centre Street in West Roxbury, put itself center-stage in Boston’s mayor race by hosting a “stand Up for seniors’ forum. Because there are 12 candidates in the action, the sponsors divided the field into two parts. On Saturday over 100 seniors at the “old ones’ home” — which is what “Altenheim” means in German — the home was founded by Boston’s then German immigrant community — heard from Dan Conley, Felix Arroyo, Marty Walsh, Bill Walczak, David Wyatt, and Rob Consalvo. Yesterday, an even larger crowd, maybe 150, listened to — and questioned — the other six Mayor hopefuls. Between them there was much difference, both in positions advocated and in command of city governance.

The day belonged to John Connolly, who lives in West Roxbury and grew up in Roslindale, and to Charlotte Golar-Richie, who delivered her most authoritative Forum argument to date. In response to a question about quality of life in the neighborhood, she emphasized her focus on the safety of women, which also is, as she noted, an issue for seniors, most of whom are female.

She spoke with unforgettable detail about seniors who find themselves plagued with scams, because older people often save their money and credit rather than spend it : “late at night they may answer the phone and respond to a voice and give their credit card number. then  the credit card bill arrives with unwarranted charges. There should be a way to get those charges removed !”

Golar-Richie also put forth suggestions for improving women’s safety on public transportation.


^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : her most authorotative Forum performance yet

Still, as effective and on point as Golar-Richie spoke, John Connolly assumed command of the Forum. Confident in speaking on home ground, to voters who know him a well as he knows them, he first addressed a question about scams that plague elderly people more than most, that “it’s hard to block phone numbers because they can always switch to another and then another. This is a problem of outreach and awareness. Seniors are often unaware, living often in isolation. we should use the city’s elderly commission to increase outreach.” Given a question about broken sidewalks being a serious hazard for older people, he responded with impressive command of detail : “this sis partly a public utilities issue. The phone company and electric dig up the streets, their contractors do, and then they don;t pout it back the way it it was. we need to set city standards, a check list, for such digs and see that the contractors adhere to them.

Connolly had more to say on the streets and sidewalks issue (which though hardly epic, are matters that every city resident is plagued by all the time). Given a question about the difficulty that seniors have in crossing a main street before the stoplights change, Connolly said, “we need to do a thorough streets and intersections assessment, so that when we design an intersection, we take into account pedestrians as well as motorists.”

And then came a moment that candidates hope they will have. A question was asked about money to keep the West Roxbury library open on weekends : is there the money to do so, or not ? Connolly said that funding for the library was tenuous at best; that it’s always low on the list of funding priorities. Candidate Charles Clemons — often given to blanket assertions that sound good — smiled widely. “Of course the money is there.” he roared, in the loud voice of an ex-policeman (which he is) “The city just paid 13 million dollars to buy a particular building in downtown that was assessed for six million !”


^ Charles Clemons : one blanket assertion too many

It was Connolly’s chance. “It’s two different things, Charles. Libraries and the staff salaries are paid out of the city’s spending budget. Capital purchases are made from a different budget, the capital budget. You can’t use the capital budget to pay salaries or open libraries, it’s against the law.”

This is what winning candidates show that they can do. And though there was much well-informed discussion thereafter, by John Barros especially — Golar-Richie had had to leave the Forum to get to another event, and her comments were missed — of streets, snow removal, and phone call blocking, the big moment was Connolly’s, and the Altenheim voters knew it.

There was one other dramatic moment. Someone asked candidate Chares Yancey why he is running both for Mayor and for re-election to his city council seat, when all the other councillor candidates in the Mayor’s race were giving up their council seats ? It was a question many voters have wanted to ask. Why, indeed ?

Yancey — who ceaselessly repeated his mantra “My name is Charles Yancey, and i’m running for Mayor” — said, “i’m glad you asked that question.”

No one laughed, but…

He had an explanation, too ; “I am providing the voters of my district a choice. If I am re-elected councillor and am elected mayor, i will make my choice then, at that time.”

This, from the candidate who over and over again touted that “I have 30 years of experience in city budgets, more than any other candidate in the race.” Maybe experience isn’t an unmixed blessing.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON CITY COUNCIL RACE : Jack Kelly Makes Name for Himself, One Barbecue at a Time


^ Having Their Cake and eating It Too ; Allston-Brighton liaison Angela Holm enjoying cake with City Council at-large candidate Jack Kelly — outside a barbecue in North Allston this past Sunday.

—- —- —

Because the highly contested Boston Mayoral Race commands most attention, the race for Boston City Council has, for the most part, been pushed to the side stage.

Jack Kelly hopes to change that.

He graduated  from the University of Massachusetts at Boston with a degree in Political Science. Most recently, he’s been working as a Community Liaison for Massachusetts General Hospital, helping to bring awareness to the plight of Substance Abuse and HIV in various high-risk sections of the City.

In our profile of Kelly, we noted his interesting bio. As his campaign has gained serious momentum, we decided to follow up. How is he gathering the strength that has become so evident in his run ?

Thus Here and Sphere caught up with Kelly at a neighborhood barbecue in Allston. We asked him especially about the response he has received so far, from Boston voters.

HnS: How is the Campaign going so far?

Kelly: The Campaign is going very, very well. We just picked up another endorsement today from State Rep. Carlo Basile (D-East Boston) amongst many. We’re here in Allston today. It’s not only diverse economically, but culturally as well as with history.

HnS: What has been the most important thing that you have learned so far on the campaign?

Kelly: Lots of things. I go to a lot of barbeques, and I want to eat, but I don’t (laughs). In fact, I think that I’ve lost about fifteen pounds, walking around, going from barbecue-to-barbecue.

HnS: Well, you do look great.

Kelly: Thanks (Laughs). I think that the issues for most Bostonians are universal. I think that sometimes people here see these issues differently because they are segregated in a sense. But if you do go into those neighborhoods, the issues are very, very similar.

HnS: Say you’re elected to the City Council, and regardless of who is elected Mayor, in four years from now, where do you see Boston?

Kelly: I think that there are several good Mayoral candidates, and whoever is elected Mayor, if I am elected to the City Council, my hope is that I can help steer the City in the right direction. I want to continue the good work that Mayor Menino has done. Boston is going to be very good. Not just because of its leadership, but because of its people.

HnS: What has been the most pressing issue in this campaign that you have heard from voters?

Kelly: I think it’s a combination of schools, public safety, and sometimes they sort of migrate into one big conglomerated issue. A lot of people are also concerned about public parking and development. It also depends on what neighborhood you’re in, as far as issues are concerned. If you wanted to pick one issue that is universally applied to all people, it would be the schools.”

The campaign continues. We expect to see Kelly often in the four weeks that remain till Primary day.

— Dave Morrison / Here and Sphere



^ Ramon Soto : from co-ordinator to candidate.

—- —- —-

We met RAMON SOTO yesterday, in the North End, as the celebration of St. Anthony’s day was winding down. Even at 5 P.M. the day was hot and sunny and the crowds lively as Soto talked to us in one of the many new bar-terrasses that offer a touch of Europe to those who live or visit Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood. Soto is making his first run for elective office, seeking one of Boston’s four city-wide Council seats. He’s had events in Jamaica Plain, South Boston, and among the city’s Latino communities, and he is pumped.

No sooner has our talk begun than he makes a headline.

“I live in Mission Hill,’ he says. “at 16 Parker Hill Avenue.”

“But that is the street that Donna Summer grew up on!” we exclaim.

To which Soto responds, “Yes ! She lived in the exact same house that I live in now ! The owner often talks to me of her. On the anniversary of her death he had the house all decked out in pink.”

“So tragic, her death vat age 63,” we say.

“Yes, and I can never forget her, can I ?”

Immediately we like Ramon Soto a lot.

Beyond being a Donna Summer fan, Soto enjoys a long resume of Boston-area political work at the center of power. “My first time (in politics), I worked for Michael Morrissey, who was running for state senator in Quincy – Braintree. In Braintree, he finished third, but in the part that I was in charge of, he was first. (He won the race and) brought me aboard.

“From there, i joined the communications staff of Mayor Menino. Job title ; “constituent service co-ordinator.” Which meant that I worked on his e-mails. There were hundreds of e-mails on every issue, so he said to me, ‘if i have to sign them, I want the answers to be what I am saying.’ And together we worked out the right answer for him, for each issue. These weren’t boiler plate answers. I rewrote them all. it taught me all about the broader issues and gave me a knowledge of the people to go to if the Mayor wanted an issue dealt with.

“That was only my day job, though,’ Soto notes. “I wasn’t making much just doing his e-mails, so at night I bartended. I learned a lot about (city) life doing that.”

Soto rose even higher in the political backstage. He took a leave to work on the 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign. As a Clinton delegate, he attended the Democratic national convention and, after Clinton released her delegates, he became known to the Obama people and was hired to work much of Eastern Massachusetts — “in reality, New Hampshire,” Soto notes — in the Fall campaign.

After Obama’s victory, Soto was back in City Hall, now as co-ordinator for resources going to the Boston School system. “Our goal was to gather all these resources into one arena, so that parents can do one-stop help at their kids’ schools.”

Yet for this tireless man being a schools co-ordinator was not enough. “I also was the City;s co-ordinator to the 2010 census process,” he says. “(My mission was) to go into the nail salons, bodegas, barber shops, and churches an d make sure the people knew that 400 million in federal dollars would come to the City if we counted everybody; those were the stakes. They got the message. We had the highest city census participation in thirty years.”

Such is the life of Ramon Soto, who can justly claim a nuts-and-bolts, working connection to every corner of Boston.

Because this bio fully answers our usual first question to candidates, “what qualities single you out as a potential Councillor,’ our interview moved directly to the other six questions. The questions and Soto’s answers follow.

Here and Sphere (HnS) : What are your two top priorities to work on if you’re elected ?

Soto : First, continue and expand the ‘circle of promise’ program. Second, youth violence. If we can get the guns off our streets — advocacy groups need to come together on this — maybe a gun buy back — we can end this scourge. Background checks for all gun sales, including between family members, which is how many youths obtain their guns.”

HnS : Casino vote — citywide or East Boston only ?

Soto : “East Boston only. It’s their neighborhood, it’s their autonomy.”

HnS : School reform — longer school day, yes or no ? Do you favor any of the other reforms in Connolly’s agenda ?

Soto : “Stronger Court Street structure. Everybody there is doing a great job, but it’s too centralized. more voices need to be heard. Bi-lingual education is a mistake — it delays a kid’s mastering English. Dual-language schools, that’s more like it, indeed vitally important.

“We need at least a five year plan to assess the state of our schools. A full scale, flexible but comprehensive analysis of where we are now. Today the assignment process puts school quality against assignment rules. We need to assure that kids have better options, closer to home. And (when we do this analysis) we need to engage the parents !

“Longer school day make sense. Bring the school day in line with the work day. But until we totally assess the schools we can’t decide what to do with the longer school day. (Also,) I’m a realist about the funds available. (Perhaps) we can get after-school programs (from outside the teachers’ time constraints.”

5. HnS : Charter schools — lift cap ? {Partial lift ?

Soto : “(I’m) against lifting the charter cap. If we want to get the public schools right, then we have to focus on the schools we already have.”

6. HnS : BRA — re[place reform (and, if so, in what ways) ? Should there be a separate board for planning ?

Soto : “the Council does not have the final word (here). The mayor has to sign off. But as far a i am involved, I do not want to increase the red tape. Developers fund the BRA. Just let’s have more transparency and a more comprehensive process that involves the neighborhood.

“Economic development plan ? (Maybe just) more red tape. Better to just open up more communication with the community.”

7. Hns : Marty Walsh says ‘There’s a heroin epidemic in the city now.’ Do you agree ?

Soto : “Yes there is a heroin epidemic. I had my wallet stolen the other day !

“Yes we can do something about it. talk to the kids out there — but it’s really about the family. Families in trouble tend to make bad decisions.

“Government has ways of encouraging families; there’s a billion dollars in the cit available to help families. (Much of it is) plugged into the schools. And it’s about treatment and therapy. You can’t (simply arrest your way out of it. The drug unit at the BPD does a great job, but it’s really about stopping (the drugs). (And) it’s not just Boston. it’;s everywhere.”

You can find out more about Ramon Soto and his agenda by visiting his website at

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere


photo (39)

RISE Club, of late, has booked many long-time DJs who, to our knowledge, had not dropped even one set on a Boston house music crowd. Among these was DJ MES, from Oakland, California, who, after almost two decades as a mixologist and nearly that long as a track maker, bestowed upon RISE about two hours of his more or less uniquely gamey sound.

I say “more or less uniquely” bscause there was, in his catchy, somewhat absurdist mixes and mismatches more than touch of the goofery that has made DJ Donald Glaude famous — or infamous. The difference is that Glaude’s goofing comes across consciously stupid, even cynicval, a kind of nasty Fred Flinstone of dance music. Whereas DJ MES’ sound games had wit and subtlety, surprise and, at times, progression. Though his set conveyed no deeper message, it did commit to the dependency of each sound upon its follow-ups; teamwork was thius the set’s theme, one that his quick-cuts and sound blends did not embarrass.

When I arrived at RISE, at about 3 AM, MES was already playing. He may well have played “No Jet Lag” before — it’s his signature track — before then, because it did not turn up in the two hours that I heard of him. Surely nhe would not have neglected to drop a track in which he strings “Back Back Train,” an acoustic guitar blues by Fred McDowell, onto a marching beat percussion bottom ?

That MES even knows of McDowell’s 1950-1968 era, bottleneck guitar work is impressive by itself; that he would pair it with a strut of house music shows how far he is willing to go to pair sounds unpredicted. On the other hand, that Mcdowell’s “Back Back Train’ is a dirge song, and its train a hearse, rather upends the joy in dance music; MES sure does test a fan’s tolerance. House music almost immediately, after its inception, became a dark sound in the wake of AIDS (as writer Barry Walters has pointed out); but that was long ago. It’s unlikely that fans hear “No Jet Lag” as MES’s song of joy and pain.

That said, in the two hours that I heard, “No Jet Lag” did not turn up. In fact, the sound games that MES played never wafted dark or mouthed mournful. Lots of talk he did tool in, hut standard club cant — “beats knockin.” “fuck it fuckin’ hip hop,” “go like this,” and such like. MES shifted his texture from grumble and glitch to stride and glide. He played “nu-disco,” as fans call it : the bossa nova bass line that disco overwoo’ed to death but which, in complex new contexts, is having a second club life. There were passages of Michael Jackson-ism — pop dance and melodic harmony — and a segment of sampled Diana Ross,” the “ooo ooo ooo’s” of Prelude-label, 1978 disco (Musique, anyone ?), and, constantly, he rewound some first of house music’s principles: plaintive reverbs, jazzy sentiment (“The Look of Love”), and tipsy sonic whirlpools (his own track “Hangover”).

Body pumping, head bobbing, the stocky veteran MES put sonic somersaults onto the menu of a club not quiter two-thirds full until, a few minutes after five A.M., he tooled in a vocal “you’re time’s up” and — was done for the night.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music

> the house of blue lights at  A,.M.     >

photo (28)



^ at his recent fundraiser in Hyde Park

Marty Keogh is no stranger to those who follow Boston city politics. We remember him from when he served Peggy Davis-Mullen as her City Council aide back in the 1990s. He stayed with her through 2001.

Today, the Mission Hill native — “a projects kid,” as he puts it — whose family later moved to Hyde Park — lives in West Roxbury. He’s a practicing attorney — since 1999 — and married to Pamela Corey Keogh (from Lower Mills/Dorchester), has a young son, Nolan, (and an addition on the way), and is running for one of the four city-wide council seats that Bostonians will elect when they go to the polls to choose a new Mayor.

Keogh, like all his City Council rivals, is under no illusions about Council candidates’ struggle to get some voter attention. he knows that voters will focus almost entirely on the mayor campaign — as they must. He has no choice, then, but to campaign a good seventeen hours a day, everywhere in the city that he can find a spot to meet and greet, and anywhere that he can talk to a gathering. Indeed, as we do a question and answer with him in his profile, he is on the move, driving from shaking hands in East Boston to doing the same in South Boston — and points in between.

We asked Marty to answer the seven questions that we pose to all the at-large City Council candidates. What follows is, in effect, a conversation.

Here ad Sphere (HnS) : What in your loife makes you iunqiuely or especia;y qualified to be an effective councillor ?

Keogh : “Public service has been a part of my family’s history for well over fifty years, and I was taught that helping even one person in need was for the greater good of all… I got my first taste of helping people while working for the Boston City Council, serving as the Chief of Staff to (Peggy Davis-Mullen).

“I was in charge of constituent services, researching, writing and filing legislation that originated out of the concerns of these constituents, and implementing, delegating and overseeing the everyday duties that are required to run an effective city council office… actively coordinated and participated in neighborhood meetings throughout the city and served as the direct liaison between (her) and the community on many important quality of life issues.

“I then went to law school and for the last 14 years I have fought to help hundreds of juveniles and kids who had legal problems, elderly residents who have been victimized by scam artists and homeowners who were in danger of losing their homes. I often made little or nothing for my services, but the public servant in me found it difficult to turn a person in need away.

“I will always have the experience, energy and compassion to help people in need, and I hope to carry on this passion if elected…”

2. HnS : What are your two top priorities to work on if you’re elected ?

Keogh : “…I want safer neighborhoods and excellent schools in every neighborhood.
“Part of the reason people settle in a particular neighborhood is because it is safe, and it has excellent schools for their children that they can walk to.

“To the contrary, without safe neighborhoods or neighborhood schools, parents will leave that neighborhood just as quickly. It really is all about our kids, their education and their safety.

“As part my safer neighborhoods effort, I would like to see the Boston Police add 300 more “walking” police officers on the streets, fund the police budget to bring modern crime fighting technology to every officer, and place surveillance cameras in high crime areas in an effort to deter or catch criminals.

“I also want to start the process of building new schools in every neighborhood of the city where they are needed. Right now, there are still kids who don’t have books and cannot get the school in their neighborhood. I want to make sure that we have enough funding to buy new books and supplies, and to put arts, music, sports and special-ed programs back into every school.

“…also want to create a trade shop in every high school, because I know that not every kid wants to go to college, and that some kids want to enter the work force. My goal is to keep kids in school, and keep families in the city. Safe neighborhoods and neighborhood schools will help to accomplish this vision.”

3. HnS : casino vote : citywide or East Boston only ?

Keogh : “I am in favor of a Casino in East Boston, and an “East Boston only” Casino vote, because I recognize that this proposal will create jobs, revenue and capture Massachusetts money that will otherwise be lost to Connecticut. My decision shall rest upon the vote, intent and wishes of the East Boston residents.”

4. HnS : school reform : longer school day — yes or no ? Do you favor any of the other reforms in (John) Connolly’s agenda ?

Keogh : “I am in favor of longer school days, but only if teachers are fairly compensated for their time.

“It would be unfair to force teachers to work a longer school day without being properly compensated. As it stands now, a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the final bell rings. Teachers often work late and/or at home to prepare curriculum, tests and correct papers long after the school day ends, so as to be ready for the children the following day.”

“While I think that all of the Mayoral candidates have excellent ideas for the schools, the bottom line is that I believe in the Boston Public schools, and I believe in neighborhood schools.

“If the next Mayor wants to build more neighborhood schools, help decrease the dropout rate, make students proficient in all areas of education and bring sports, arts, music, trade schools and special-ed programs into every school, then you can be certain that they will have (in me) at least one friend on the city council.”

5. HnS : Charter schools : lift (the) cap ? partial cap (lift) ?

Keogh : “I am not in favor of lifting the cap on Charter Schools… I share the concern of most Boston parents that some Charter Schools are not inclusive enough because they do not accept special-ed kids or kids that can’t meet their educational criteria.

“I think that the Charter Schools we have now are doing well and that parents are satisfied with the education that Charter Schools provide their children, but I am also cognizant…that the Charter Schools are depleting much needed funds and resources from the Boston Public schools budget.

“I am one of only two city council candidates who actually attended the Boston Public schools and I believe we can make our public schools better.”

6. HnS : BRA : replace (it) ? Reform (and if so, in what ways) ? Should there be a separate board for planning (as some Mayor candidates have proposed) ?

Keogh : “The BRA has done a tremendous job transforming our economy, neighborhoods and skyline since the 1960’s, but the BRA needs to be more accountable and more transparent to the public it serves.

“Does that mean the BRA should be abolished? The answer is no.

“But the BRA needs to involve the public, and conduct all meetings, even if on the internet, that are open to the public.

“I don’t buy the baloney that we can’t get rid of the BRA because it is an agency mandated through the state legislature. We can, but when has the City Council actually ever tried to get rid of the BRA?

“The new City Council, if we work together, can make changes or recommendations which would, at a minimum, expose any conflict even if we have no power to stop the conflict. Through Home Rule Petition, the City Council could also recommend changes that would abolish the BRA or create a planning board separate from the BRA, as was the case prior to 1960.

“Or we could draft legislation that requires approval of any BRA project be brought before the City Council for complete review or ratification.

“But before we condemn or condone the actions of the BRA, we need to compare the pros and cons of having an independent redevelopment agency versus not having one at all. The entire reason the BRA was created was to end stagnant growth, urban blight and decay, which, for decades, was caused by the politics and inaction of the city’s leaders of the 30’, 40’s and 50’s.

“One area I would like to see the BRA focus on would be on inner city development as opposed to development among our city’s waterfronts. I love the way the city’s skyline looks, but I would love to see our inner city neighborhoods given as much attention as the Seaport District.”

7. HnS : Marty walsh says ‘there’s a heroin epidemic in the city now.”
Do you agree ?

Keogh : “I agree that there is a heroin, oxycontin and overall drug epidemic in the city of Boston and beyond.

“It is pretty clear that we have to offer help to drug users to get them off of drugs, but a much stronger emphasis has to be put on incarcerating the people who actually deal those drugs. I was impressed with the recent coordination of the many police agencies who tracked, found and arrested everyone connected with the Marathon bombings. It was through the concerted effort and sharing of information of all of our police that this happened in such a short period of time. It proves that good police work can yield great results and it helped put the public’s mind at ease.”

“If posible, I would like to see this effort re-created to reduce the amount of drugs, guns and violence, particularly in our inner city neighborhoods.”

HnS : thank you, Marty, for your thorough and detailed responses.


^ answering a supporter’s question, at his Hyde Park “time.”

We summarize : Keogh’s responses make clear that he is as serious as a serious candidate can be. And that he will not be easily rolled in a candidate debate, or in Council meetings if elected. Fun is fun, and nobody we have met in this campaign is more fun to be with than Marty. And when there is business to attend to, Keogh is all business. It will be interesting to watch him bring his thorough preparation and fighting intensity to a Council debate this Fall.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ animal-faced marauders in Adam Wingard’s “You’re Next.”

A bunch of well-to-do yuppies head off to a remote manse for a family reunion of sorts. Dad’s recently retired and made millions as the head of marketing for a defense contractor (isn’t the market the government?). The renovation of the aging structure is supposed to be his golden years’ project, but things in the woods aren’t so idyllic. His eldest sons, the uber-yup (Joe Swanberg, whose upcoming directorial effort, “Drinking Buddies,” is an indie must-see) and the doughy academic (AJ Bowen), continuously, and ideologically, get at each other’s throats. Along too are the younger sister and brother, and all have wives or SOs ; mostly, however, they don’t matter, as they’re all primarily fodder for a group of animal-masked marauders who mysteriously show up and pick apart the family one by one, starting with the opening salvo of crossbow bolts. Cellphones naturally don’t work (though the reason why is solid) and each swing of a creaky door yields either a booby trap, knife wielding psychopath or false alarm gasp from the audience.

As boilerplate as the plot is, the sense of dread and the motive why drive the film. The production values are low and the acting flat with the exception of Swanberg and Sharni Vinson as the prof’s demurring tag-along who grew up in a survivalist compound in Australia. She’s a can-doer and the wrench that puts a grind in the killers’ grand scheme. The script by Simon Barrett (the cult-horror collaborative “V/H/S”) offers some dark and funny barbs, both at the dinner table as siblings feud over trite matters and at the moments of macabre demise. The direction too by Adam Wingard (another “V/H/S” alum along with Swanberg) is competent and boosts some adroit twist, but as with most slasher fare, there are plenty of WTF moments.

“Next” isn’t on par with the original 1972 “The Last House on the Left,” which is still the gold standard in home-invasion thrill-kill rides. Still, it’s a cut above most. Sometimes DIY love on the low trumps a studio hack, especially when it’s a film about hacks.

—- Tom Meek / Meek at the Movies

AUTISM LETTER NOT CONSIDERED A HATE CRIME? But charges may be made against the author ???

max begley

As we posted Wednesday about the despicable letter that had circulated everywhere, and asked your opinions in the link below — we would like to follow-up, with the new developments we have uncovered — and become aware of since.

The anonymous, yet nonetheless reproachfully loathsome and detestably cowardice letter was received Friday by Brenda Millson, in Ontario Canada. Since then it has incited quite an outbreak — of both outrage and concern. At first it was the family and neighborhood that was infuriated and probing for answers. Then via media and social networking the vile and poison spewed paragraphs went viral. Reaching everywhere. Throughout Canada, the US, even around the globe.

The letter was in regards to a thirteen year old autistic boy, Max Begley from Oshawa Canada — about 50 miles from Toronto.

Arrogant and irate statements that describe Max as a “nuisance” and a “retard” are just some of the despairing and abusive names the author called this boy. The Author goes on to state things like ” That noise he makes when outside is DREADFUL!” then goes on to say “It’s (sic) scares the hell out of my normal children!!!!”  It talks of “donating his normal parts to science”– even encouraging the family to move their “wild animal kid” to a trailer in the woods and “do the right thing and euthanize him” — and — “Either way we’re all better off.”

Max Begley, diagnosed with autism at age two. Defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary —

Au-tism : a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns.

MEDICAL DEFINITION: A developmental disorder that appears by age three and that is variable in expression but is recognized and diagnosed by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns especially as exhibited by a preoccupation with repetitive activities of restricted focus rather than with flexible and imaginative ones.

Max’s grandmother Brenda Millson, who received the letter told reporters ” I was shaking reading it, it’s awful words. It’s terrible you don’t know why anyone would ever do such a thing.”

Max’s mother and father both suffer from MS ( ) also had a few things to say to the media — in hopes that it may also help draw out the culprit, if nothing else — let their voice and how it has affected them, BE HEARD.

Max’s mom who suffers from Secondary progressive MS was more than choked up, as she read excerpts of the letter to the media. Teary eyed and raspy throated she uttered quotes from the letter before explaining — that with her condition she is no longer able to run or even walk to keep pace with Max — his tendency to take off running at parks, and on outings — make it near impossible for her to bring him to these places alone. The father also having MS and working full time, means that Max is entertained and cared for by his grandmother 3 to 4 days a week. The back yard is his safe haven — it’s where he gets to be a kid and play outside, exercise — and learn.

maxes mom

His father James Begley told the media “A person that is that crazy and demented, to — you know fabricate something like that, leads me to believe — that they are very dangerous –and right now I’m scared for my sons safety.”

max and fam

Even with all the cruelty expressed in that letter Canadian authorities are still unsure on how charges can and will be brought up and filed — if they do actually find the audacious author. One would think it would be as simple as an open and shut hate-crime case — but that is actually not so feasible. “At the moment the authorities are contemplating criminal charges — “however: there are other code issues being considered.” Said police.

At present the actual letter is in the custody of Durham Authorities — who will now figure out exactly where this letter falls — under the multi-possible criminal charge categories. Many across Canada, America and beyond are labeling this a HATE-CRIME — and according to former Crown attorney David Butt — it mostly does, yet cannot be considered one.

“There is good reason why charges couldn’t be laid.” as a hate-crime says Butts.

Canada’s hate-crime legislation has three requirements — to which all three must apply to be considered and chargeable as a hate-crime. Although this vulgar letter meets 2 of the 3 requirements being:

  1. It has to be wilful promotion of hatred — “the letter is clearly that.”
  2. It has to be the promotion of hatred against an identifiable group — “the letter is also clearly that” Butts says. “Because Max the boy the letter is about has a disability — autism — which makes him part of identifiable group”

However the third is key, and the letter does not fall under this hate-crime guideline. The third requirement is that It MUST be done in a public forum — Since it went from writer to recipient it dismisses the letter as ineligible for a hate-crime label and/or charge.

As of today Max’s neighbors, community and all those his story has touched have bound together in an outpouring of love and support for the teen and his family — and are hoping to help find out the coward hiding behind the pusillanimous penmanship, and see justice served.  In the meantime Max find’s all this attention a wonderful thing, and is laughing and enjoying the good vibes and positivity surrounding him.

max and neighbors

Written by: Heather Cornell




^ the Nine : Yancey, Wyatt, walsh, Walczak, empty chair (Ross came later), Golar-Richie, Clemons, Barros, Arroyo

—- —- —-

Nine of the 12 candidates running to be Boston’s next Mayor took their seats at tonight’s Youth Group Forum held at the newly steepled parish Church on Meeting House Hill in Dorchester. About 150 residents of the neighborhood sat in the old New England pews to listen as the Mayors-to-be answered questions posed by speakers selected by the Cape Verdean Community UNIDO’s Youth Leadership Academy.

Dan Conley, John Connolly, and Rob Consalvo did not participate.

Questions to the candidates addressed dual-language education, school reform and preparation for technology jobs, and how to curb violence in the community. Mike Ross — who arrived late, but apologized — gave strong answers; even stronger, John Barros and Felix Arroyo, whose eloquence is second no nobody’s on behalf of those who live in Boston but lack access to the best. Strongest of all, surprisingly, was Marty Walsh, who had obviously prepared himself for the types of questions likely to be asked him. He spoke deliberately, in detail and with feeling, applying his work as a legislator and stating his goals for changing how the Mayor’s office confronts the problems that this Forum’s youth sponsors will be dealing with.

One issue that has turmoiled Boston voters recently, that of a longer school day, was settled. All the “major” candidates called for a longer school day, even Felix Arroyo, who has aligned himself with the Boston Teachers Union most closely of all the hopefuls. He, Walsh, and Barros gave the directest answers on what a longer school day should focus on. Barros’s call for a two-shift teaching force might roil the BTU a bit, however.


^ John Barros (Felix Arroyo on his right): “for the longer school day we should have teacher shifts, an early shift for the morning and lunch hours and a late shift for the afternoon.”

On the question of dual language schools, Both Arroyo and Barros spoke with personal experience. Said Arroyo,  “I grew up in a subsidized apartment with immigrant parents who spoke ‘espagnol.’ I know what it’s like to grow up among kids who I did not understand because they spoke English… we have only four dual language schools. Parents of all backgrounds want dual language education. Look at the Hernandez School, it works well. I look for the day when we have many different language’d dual-language schools. French, Cape Verdean Creole, even Mandarin. Why not mandarin ?”


^ Felix Arroyo (John Barros on his left) speaking to the schools issue : “every Boston school child deserves the best education because every child is a best child.”

Barros ; “I’m a son of cape Verdean immigrants. When I joined the city’s school committee, and in my work, I fought to assure that all Boston public school students learn English fully.” These sentiments were of course reiterated by other candidates at the forum, of whom Charlers Clemons nloted that he was ideally suited to understand the disconnecvgt between studenyts who come to bostyon with anoyher language and the Ejglish-language adyuklt world. “Not by language but by my heritage. My father descends from slaves brought here on slave ships; my mother from the Brewsters on the Mayflower.”

It was a memorable, if not conclusively Mayoral moment. And led almost inevitably to Walsh’s comment : “My parents didn’t face a language challenge, but they were challenged too. Both had less than a high school diploma.” Walsh, who grew up and still lives in the Dorchester section directly abutting Meeting House Hill, discussed the funding process for dual language education and his part in it as a 16-year legislator. He concluded with a challenge: “We should have two different kinds of dual-language schools. When a child’s first language is English, we should have them learn another language !”


^ Marty Walsh ; “with a longer school day we shouldn’t just have more classroom but also some programs, the arts.”

The question on preparation for graduating to the City’s best jobs brought this comment by Arroyo : “The next mayor has to have as a priority closing the ‘achievement gap.’ And it begins very young. If a child falls behind in the third grade, even , it is already too late. We need to teach financial literacy, too, to all our children.”

Walsh ; “we don’t just need to change our city’s jobs policy for the kids, We need to rewrite it. Right now we’re being sued because our city jobs policy doesn’t meet the US Constitution !”

Many of he candidates mentioned Madison park High School — the technical high school closest to Meeting House Hill — in their answers to this question. Barros ; “We absolutely do invest in technical High schools in Boston. Now we have to make sure that Madison park has a technology center. And more ; Boston residency, for Boston jobs.”

Charles Clemons, a former Boston police officer, was skeptical ; “residency policy ? It has never been enforced. We give parking tickets and licensing fines but we don;t enforce residency. Why not ?”

The forum moved on to discussing the problem of violence in the Meeting House Hill neighborhood and others.  Many of the candidates addressed the issue well.

Mike Ross had now joined the group and, with his usual grasp of big-picture basics, said : “there’s diversity needed (on the police force). It’s not OK that there is not one police captain of color nor one who is female….the opposite of violence is opportunity (for kids at risk).”


^ Mike Ross : was at another event; apologized for coming late; and, as always, spoke well and to the point

Arroyo : “there’s a short term strategy and a long term strategy. Short term : back to community policing. Police bicycling through the community. Long term : if we are not serious about ending the cycle of poverty we’re not serious about reducing crime.”

Walsh, who has said “there’s a heroin epidemic in the City right now,” gave this pledge : “(if I’m elected,) The first meeting that i will have in my office will be on violence. we have to attack this problem one street at a time, one family at a time.”

I have highlighted the answers given by candidates Walsh, Arroyo, Barros,and Ross most of all because they addressed the questions, gave answers which signal that some thought has taken place in the brains about these issues, and demonstrated seriousness about doing the job, not just campaigning for it. The other candidates present either gave rambling, conversational responses — Charlotte Golar-Richie — or ones that seemed too narrowly focused, locally and in minutiae — Charles Clemons and Bill Walczak. Others of the nine on stage seemed to be talking more to themselves than to the voters. One wonders why they are running. At this stage, with less than five weeks till Primary day, there’s no time left for candidacies that won’t, or can;t command the issues on a large scale. Mayor of Boston is the most difficult political job, maybe, in all New England. Fumble-itis, vagueness, and circuitous thinking are NOT in the job description.



^ John Connolly : what schools flap ?  — here he is in East Boston

—- —- —-

We will admit it : we didn’t think that John Connolly would be able to surmount the huge flap over a $ 500,000 “outside” money dump that that smothered his campaign. But he has.

We thought sure that his schools agenda would look less reformist, — as a result of his being gifted by Stand for Children, an Oregon-based advocacy group debunked by some for relying hugely on corporate money of a seriously regressive sort — than insidious. For about three quarters of a day, it looked like we had it right.

But then, in less than an evening, Connolly struck back, fully. Supporters rallied to his side — publicly and unreservedly. He touted his “green-ist” credentials as the campaign voice of Boston’s “park people.” Big-name Democrats like Ian Bowles stepped up.  And he rejected the $ 500,000 for once and all, in a statement that left little doubt that he was quite angry at being ambushed by a group purporting to support his candidacy.

How effective was Connolly’s response ? Rival Dan Conley congratulated him on rejecting the money. THAT good.

Connolly also benefitted by an over-reaction by Felix G. Arroyo, who not only touted his support for Boston Teachers (and their Union, the BTU),which was OK, but then proceeded to assert that as Mayor he would work to eradicate poverty in Boston. Oh really ?

So here we are, on August 22nd, with a Mayoral Forum, taking place tonight at the newly re-steepled white church on Dorchester Center Hill, and 32 days left before Primary Day, and all is back on course. What WERE we thinking ?

Yes, a few doubts linger about Connolly’s commitment to school reform that isn’t a corporate take-over. You can see the doubts in his Twitter feed. But he is confronting the doubters, indeed, allowing their doubting tweets to stand in his Twitter list for all to read. this is a smart move.


^ Marty Walsh on L Street : pressing some Wards 6 and 7 flesh and moving on up

Meanwhile, in South Boston, Marty Walsh is taking care of some unattended business. Last night former Senator Jack hart co[-hosted a huge party for him; during the day, Walsh greeted voters along L Street. Jon Connolly has cozied big-time up to South Boston’s State Representative, Nick Collins. Bringing Jack Hart into play allowed Walsh to send Connolly a message — and one to Coll;ins as well. It has always seemed sure that the strongly labor-backed Walsh would dominate in South Boston, but lately that primacy has come into doubt. Today there seems less doubt in play.

The Walsh campaign moves ahead to another neighborhood where support from his fellow State Representative has eluded him : East Boston. In this case, the legislator (Carlo Basile) has actually endorsed a rival. So, on Monday Walsh will host a “Mondays with Marty” in East Boston. It will be interesting to see who and how many come to hear him speak.


^ Rob Consalvo : neighborhood schools. In Kenmore Square ?

The rest of the Mayor race’s bigger hopefuls seem finally to have found their stride. was it the Connolly flap that tweaked them ? It seems so. Many of his rivals suddenly became advocates for neighborhood schools (Consalvo), or opponents of charter school increases (Ross), or voices for public school teachers and the under-performing schools (Arroyo). Golar-Richie pushed a women’s safety agenda — significant certainly,l in light of the murder of Amy Lord, not to mention the killing, in nearby Waltham, allegedly by Jared Remy — Jerry Remy’s son — of his girlfriend.


^ Charlotte Golar Richie in the North End,. with St. Rep. Aaron Michlewitz.

Connolly also launched his first television ads. So has Consalvo. Marty Walsh probably has them running also, though we haven’t yet seen any.

Every night now, Boston voters have a vast choice of campaign events to drop in on, or events of their own for candidates to appear at (for us at Here and Sphere too). Every day there’s a meet-and-greet — or three, or five — going on somewhere in the City. It’s all out sprint time, indeed a typhoon of sprints, as the campaign approaches the first week of September and all that that portends for political weather.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Meranwhile, top rioval marty walsdh is tak

ROAD NOISE ….. ISSUE # 4, AUGUST 19, 2013





Which four cars have been widely acknowledged as the “bestselling automobile in the world”?

Since Ford built its millionth Model T on December 10, 1915 the Model T remained the highest seller until forty five years after production ceased in 1927. On February 17, 1972 Volkswagen claimed that the Ford had been superseded by the Beetle, when the 15,007,034th was manufactured but since has reached then reaching then Beetle reaching 21 million.

A 1999 international poll for the world’s most influential cars of the 20th century named the Type 1 Volkswagen ‘Beetle’ fourth, after the Ford Model T the Mini, and the Citroen DS.


^ Type 1 Beetle .. built since 1938


The Beetle remained the bestselling vehicle until the late 1990s, when it was itself overtaken by the Toyota Corolla. But the Corolla like the Chevrolet Impala though has changed designed over their history including from rear wheel drive to front wheel drive in 1966 for the Corolla. While essentially the other three top contenders remained essentially of the same design.  So lets be fair, apples to apples as it goes we can say the VW Beatle, Model T, Mini and Citroen DS keep their titles as the top four most sold.




Units Sold



ImageFord Model T




 The first car to achieve one million, five million, ten million and fifteen million units sold. By 1914, it was estimated that nine out of every ten cars in the world were Fords.


ImageVolkswagen Beetle




The first car to achieve twenty million units sold.


Toyota Corolla


~40,000,000 to mid June 2013.


The first car to achieve thirty million units sold. The bestselling automobile in the world, with 1.36 million units sold in 2005.

 United Kingdom


Morris Mini





Citroën 2CV



Including commercial variants, the total figure is approximately nine million]



Chevrolet Impala


Over 13,000,000 to 1996.





But what does the Queen of England Drive? According to the official Royal information we are told the following …

For most of her engagements, The Queen travels to a venue in a State car. 

Used for public engagements and some ceremonial occasions, State cars must transport their passengers in a style which is safe, efficient and dignified, allowing as many people as possible to see The Queen or other members of the Royal Family. Built to unique specifications, they are also vehicles of great historical and technical interest in themselves.



 ^ the Queen’s Bentley, side and front

The Queen’s State and private motor cars are housed in the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace.

For official duties – providing transport for State and other visitors as well as The Queen herself – there are eight State limousines, consisting of two Bentleys, three Rolls-Royces and three Daimlers. Other vehicles in the Royal fleet include a number of Volkswagen ‘people carriers’.

State cars are painted in Royal Claret livery. The Bentleys and Rolls-Royces uniquely do not have registration number plates, since they are State vehicles.

The most recent State cars, used for most of The Queen’s engagements, are the two Bentleys. The first of these was presented to The Queen to mark her Golden Jubilee in 2002.

The one-off design, conceived by a Bentley-led consortium of British motor industry manufacturers and suppliers, was created with input from The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Majesty’s Head Chauffeur.

In technical terms, the special Bentley cars have a monocoque construction, enabling greater use to be made of the vehicle’s interior space. This means the transmission tunnel runs underneath the floor, without encroaching on the cabin.

Although they have a powerful engine, the Bentleys, like any other cars, are subject to normal speed restrictions. On processional occasions, they travel at around 9 miles per hour, and sometimes down to 3 miles per hour.

The rear doors are hinged at the back and are designed to allow the Queen to stand up straight before stepping down to the ground.

The rear seats are upholstered in Hield Lambswool Sateen cloth. All remaining upholstery is light grey Connolly hide. Carpets are pale blue in the rear and dark blue in the front.

Visibility is important. For many people, a glimpse of a Royal car driving slowly may be their only opportunity to see the Queen or a member of the Royal Family. The Bentleys are fitted with a removable exterior roof covering which exposes a clear inner lining, giving an all-round view of their Royal passengers. 

There are other Royal cars in addition to the Bentleys. A Rolls-Royce Phantom VI was presented to The Queen in 1978 for her Silver Jubilee by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The oldest car in the fleet is the Phantom IV, built in 1950, 5.76 liter, with a straight eight engine and a Mulliner body. It was used by Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh. Despite its age, the car is in fine condition, and is still used for such occasions as Ascot. … There is also a 1987 Phantom VI …

Some interesting historic Royal cars can be viewed at Sandringham Museum. Items include the 1900Daimler bought by Edward VII.


  …as for the Prime Minister, he is driven in a humble Jaguar.



 ^… AND OF COURSE THERE’S THE US PRESIDENTIAL STATE CAR COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS CADILLAC ONE (Features bulletproof windows, state-of-the-art communication and security systems, and a gas-proof chamber for defense against gas attacks).






 At Stoweflake Resort Field 2 miles north of Stowe village on Route 108 and Cape Cod Road.





KEEPING THE TAIL LIGHTS OF SUMMER GOING … till the next edition and enjoy your summer drive … Charles Barris