Thursday, August 30, 2018

Downtown Crime.. what to do?

If you have driven through down Town, now that convenience store has closed, you notice a bunch of loud, drunken, high or mentally impaired people hanging on the corner of Irving and Hollis streets. Deputy Chief Wareham put it clearly, "you can't arrest your way out of this problem". And I agree.
The One Stop Market on Irving street had 277 calls for service last year. Clearly some of these people are homeless and without jobs. Panhandling has been seen on Rte 30, Edgell Road as well as downtown. Someone suggested a space where the homeless people could go to get job training.. but where will this place be? Steph and I spoke to the Indian women on Edgell Road the other day.. and he issue is that she is without legal status and no on will hire her. SMOC seems to be left out of the overall conversation and I think they need to step up and help Framingham deal with this issue.

General Chemical.. here we go again

FRAMINGHAM — For sale: a package of properties on Leland Street, offering a mix of industrial and residential space at bargain prices.
The catch? They’re likely contaminated.
The former General Chemical Corp. facility at 133 Leland St. and five surrounding parcels were listed for sale Tuesday, alarming city officials who fear the company is attempting to skirt responsibility for the lingering pollution at its former hazardous waste storage site.
The land was used previously as a bulk fuel terminal by Gulf Oil. General Chemical then began using it in the 1960s for treatment and storage of hazardous waste and recycling of used solvents. A toxic plume of chemicals has since spread through the groundwater, contaminating the surrounding area.
General Chemical previously agreed to clean up the site, but abandoned its plans in March 2017, notifying the state it had run out of money for the work. Officials from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office have since launched an investigation into the company’s claims.
With no resolution in sight, the properties have remained dormant, though activity picked up again Wednesday after a series of real estate listings hit the market.
“My phone has not stopped ringing,” said Joe Azzolino, of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Maynard. Azzolino said he listed the properties for sale Tuesday after being authorized by representatives of General Chemical to sell the company’s remaining land in Framingham.
Azzolino said his client is seeking a buyer willing to purchase all six properties and fund necessary clean-up work.
The collection includes General Chemical’s former industrial building at 133 Leland St. — a 1-acre parcel being offered at $399,900 — and several former residential sites at 91, 119 and 125 Leland St., some of which hold condemned buildings.
Azzolino said he and the company’s representatives have been forthright about the contamination on the property, disclosing it to all potential buyers.
“They’re at rock bottom prices for that reason,” he said. “We know that it’s going to take some cash to clean it up and redevelop the site. The houses are teardowns. There’s no way you’re going to redevelop the houses.”
Facing pressure from the town, General Chemical was forced to shutter its operations in spring 2012. Testing showed chemicals had seeped into the ground underneath the facility, spreading a plume of toxins into the area, including PCE and TCE, lead and 1, 4 Dioxane.
While testing showed the chemicals don’t pose an immediate risk of harm, General Chemical agreed to participate in a five-phase cleanup mandated by the state. The company submitted a draft document to MassDEP outlining its plan to remove the contamination, pegging the cost of the cleanup at $1.8 million — an amount it was required to put in escrow. The company has since increased its estimate by more than $1 million, far exceeding the amount now available for the project.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A win for the mangemnt at FPD.. sort of

FRAMINGHAM — A police union is fighting a recent ruling in the case of a former drug detective who claims he was wrongly moved back to patrol after more than seven years with a narcotics squad.
The Framingham Police Officers Union filed an appeal in late July seeking to force the city to undergo arbitration on the issue of Framingham Police Officer Matthew Gutwill’s reassignment in the department.
A three-judge panel recently backed the city in the case, finding that acting Police Chief Steven Trask and his predecessor, Kenneth Ferguson, had the authority to rotate Gutwill out of his longtime post with a regional drug enforcement task force in 2016.
However, the union argues the transfer — which came after Gutwill lodged complaints against others in the department — was punitive, and therefore within the scope of arbitration.
The union’s lawyer, Dennis M. Coyne, filed an application July 25 seeking further appellate review of the case by the full Supreme Judicial Court.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Now the Enviromental Police are abusing the tax payers

The Massachusetts State Police isn’t the only state law enforcement agency mired in a payroll morass.
Members of the Massachusetts Environmental Police regularly take overtime assignments and off-duty details in the middle of the workday, scheduling their normal state work around more profitable side gigs, according to payroll records.
Agency officials and Governor Charlie Baker vowed to crack down on the practice following media reports two years ago, but the routine continues today.
Despite earlier warnings, environmental officers also continue to stay on the clock while traveling between regular and extra shifts, records show. They also use paid time off to stretch their schedules and ensure overtime payouts, according to timesheet data.
“It’s a situation that’s ripe for corruption,” said Thomas Nolan, a criminology researcher and former Boston Police lieutenant.
Still, the ongoing situation at Environment Police has not risen to the same level as the alleged criminal overtime fraud at State Police, which erupted into a major scandal this year. Two troopers have pleaded guilty to federal embezzlement charges, four others are being prosecuted, and dozens more are under investigation.
The low-profile Environmental Police, which employs 83 officers on a $11 million annual budget, enforces fishing, hunting, boating, and recreational vehicle laws. It is led by Colonel James McGinn, a former State Police sergeant who served as Baker’s personal campaign driver before Baker appointed him to the agency’s helm in 2014.
Officials from the state’s executive environmental office told the Globe scheduling flexibility allows officers to do critical work.

Aspirin may not work in avoiding first heart attack

Like many of us older folks who have been told to take a low dose aspirin everyday, this new study is disappointing for sure.  I will ask my doctor today if I should continue or not.

From the Globe

Taking a low-dose aspirin every day has long been known to cut the chances of another heart attack, stroke, or other heart problem in people who already have had one, but the risks don’t outweigh the benefits for most other folks, major new research has found.
Although it’s been used for more than a century, aspirin’s value in many situations is still unclear. The latest studies are some of the largest and longest to test this pennies-a-day blood thinner in people who don’t yet have heart disease or a blood vessel-related problem.
One found that aspirin did not help prevent first strokes or heart attacks in people at moderate risk for one because they had several health threats such as smoking, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

Another tested aspirin in people with diabetes, who are more likely to develop or die from heart problems, and found that the modest benefit it gave was offset by a greater risk of serious bleeding.
Aspirin did not help prevent cancer, as had been hoped.
And fish oil supplements, also tested in the study of people with diabetes, failed to help.
‘‘There’s been a lot of uncertainty among doctors around the world about prescribing aspirin’’ beyond those for whom it’s now recommended, said one study leader, Dr. Jane Armitage of the University of Oxford in England. ‘‘If you’re healthy, it’s probably not worth taking it.’’
The research was discussed Sunday at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich. The aspirin studies used 100 milligrams a day, more than the 81-milligram pills sold in the United States but still considered low dose. Adult strength is 325 milligrams.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

John McCain a true American hero

Our country has lost a man who stood for something, had principals and was not afraid of anything, including dying.  He will never be replaced by anyone. May he rest in peace.

From Wikipedia

John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was an American politician and naval officer who served as a United States Senator from Arizona from 1987 until his death. He previously served two terms in the United States House of Representatives and was the Republican nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election, which he lost to Barack Obama.
McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and followed his father and grandfather—both four-star admirals—into the U.S. Navy. He became a naval aviator and flew ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. While on a bombing mission during Operation Rolling Thunder over Hanoi in October 1967, McCain was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. The wounds that he sustained during the war left him with lifelong physical disabilities. He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona, where he entered politics. In 1982, McCain was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served two terms. He entered the U.S. Senate in 1987 and easily won reelection five times, the last time in 2016.

Friday, August 24, 2018

No amount of alcohol is good for your overall health, global study says

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

From the Free Thought Project.. the DEA wants more pot gown.

In an interesting turn of events, The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a ruling which will greatly increase the amount of marijuana that can be grown legally for research purposes. In the same report, the DEA announced that they will be attempting to reduce the production of problematic opioid pharmaceuticals.
The amount of marijuana that can be grown previously had been roughly 1,000 pounds, but will be increasing to 5,400 pounds in 2019.
According to the filing, these numbers are quotas that “reflects the total amount of controlled substances necessary to meet the country’s medical, scientific, research, industrial, and export needs for the year and for the establishment and maintenance of reserve stocks,” DEA said.

Unfortunately, there are still many obstacles that need to be traversed before the scientific community actually has open access to these resources. There is only one farm in the whole United States that is authorized to produce cannabis for research purposes, and there are complaints from a large number of scientists that it is often difficult to receive samples from them. The farm is located at the University of Mississippi and has been operating by 1968.
Two dozen other facilities have reportedly filed proposals to become licensed manufacturers, but they have all been blocked by Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department.
NORML Political Director Justin Strekal pointed out that there is currently a monopoly on scientific research of cannabis in the US.
While the drastic increase in requested production of marijuana by the DEA is a positive sign, significant barriers still exist including but not limited to the NIDA monopoly on cultivation and undue hurdles for researchers to qualify for a permit. It’s time that Congress look at the 28,000 plus peer-reviewed studies currently hosted on the National Institute of Health’s online database and reform federal law by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act altogether,” Strekal said.
While the DEA intends to increase supply for research purposes, marijuana is still federally listed as a schedule 1 drug, which means there is a large amount of ‘red tape’ preventing researchers from running clinical trials and conducting studies to evaluate the benefits and risks of cannabis.

In a press release, DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon seemed to recognize that cannabis could be a possible solution to the growing opiate overdose crisis.

“We’ve lost too many lives to the opioid epidemic and families and communities suffer tragic consequences every day. This significant drop in prescriptions by doctors and DEA’s production quota adjustment will continue to reduce the number of drugs available for illicit diversion and abuse while ensuring that patients will continue to have access to proper medicine,” Dhillon said.
In a recently published research study in a peer-reviewed journal, Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher, and Alexander C. Wagenaar, it was shown that rates of opiate deaths dropped significantly in states that where cannabis was legalized.
“Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month…reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado,” the study reads.
With this news, some legalization advocates are hopefully predicting that this could signal a coming change in federal policy towards marijuana.

Friday, August 17, 2018

35k OUI convictions may be appealed

Note: updated at 2 p.m. Wednesday to include statement from Mass. EOPSS
SPRINGFIELD -- Breathalyzer results could be tossed out as evidence in thousands of drunken driving prosecutions as part of an agreement between all of the state's district attorneys and the defense lawyers in a long-running case challenging the reliability of the testing devices.
Each of the state's 11 district attorneys have agreed not to use breath test results in drunken driving prosecutions for arrests before Aug. 31, 2017. The only exceptions are cases involving death or serious injury, or anyone facing charges for a fifth offense or higher.
The move is part of an agreement between the DAs and lawyers Thomas Workman of Taunton and Joseph Bernard of Springfield, who are challenging the validity of breath tests as evidence in drunken driving cases.

Massachusetts 'breathalyzer' equipment deemed OK; officials say any problems due to 'operator error'
Questions about the reliability of results from any Draeger 9510 breath test machine, used by more than 400 state and local law enforcement agencies statewide, have already led to a 2017 court order excluding the results in more than 19,000 drunken driving cases between June 1, 2012 and Sept. 14, 2014.
The new agreement expands that window for excluding breath test results by nearly another three years. It was submitted to the judge in the case, Concord District Court Justice Robert Brennan, on Tuesday, and he must still decide to accept it.
Brennan ruled Feb. 17, 2017 that while the Draeger 9510 machines are reliable, the state's protocols for calibrating them were careless. He ruled test results from within that window could still be used, but only on a case-by-case basis when prosecutors could demonstrate the tests were done on a certified machine that had been properly calibrated.
The agreement results from a controversy that arose last year when it was determined the state Office of Alcohol Testing, the agency within the State Crime Lab that oversees breath testing technology, failed to submit to the court some 400 documents detailing problems with calibration of the devices. The head of the lab at that time has since been fired.
"We learned the state withheld evidence," Workman said. "That's a very bad thing to do in court."
Workman said the 2017 order covered 19,000 cases. The DAs agreeing to expand the exclusion window by nearly three years means the number of affected cases will increase to around 36,000.
And if the judge agrees to the defense attorneys' request to extend the window further, the number of cases could expand to well over 40,000, Workman said.
Through the end of 2017, the number of drunken driving cases involving a breath test totaled more than 39,000.

Lax state protocols on breathalyzer tests imperil drunk driving cases
He and Bernard are requesting that Brennan not allow the use of breath tests as evidence until the Office of Alcohol Testing applies for and obtains a national accreditation. They say the office is the only part of the state crime lab that is not accredited.
"To correct the deficiencies that exist, the (Office of Alcohol Testing) must become accredited," Bernard said.
The agreement calls for the office to apply for accreditation by next August.
Brennan has yet to make a decision on the matter, and a hearing is scheduled next week.
The breath test controversy comes on the heels of scandals in the state crime lab involving chemists Anne Dookhan and Sonja Farak, who in unrelated cases were found to have tainted or tampered with thousands of drug samples at their respective labs. Their conduct resulted the dismissal of nearly 29,000 drug cases.
Excluding breath test results does not mean the state has to dismiss the charges in related drunken driving cases. Prosecutors can still introduce other evidence such as results of a failed field sobriety test, or the officer's observations that a driver had trouble standing, had glassy eyes or smelled of alcohol.
Bernard said problems with the testing and with the crime lab are unacceptable.
"Our justice system and public deserve more," he said, adding that defendants in drunken driving cases can go to jail, lose their jobs and lose their right to drive.
"The Office of Alcohol Testing is directly responsible for insuring that breath tests provide accurate and precise results," he said. "To be trusted by the public, the evidence used in the justice system has to be correct. If not, then the trial is not fair."
Workman said that until the office is accredited, questions will hang over all breath test results introduced at trial. Until the problems arose, any test showing a blood-alcohol reading of .08 percent -- the legal definition of intoxication in Massachusetts -- was a legal slam dunk for prosecutors.
"The public and juries wants to believe the machines," he said. "But what do you do when the machine is wrong or has not been calibrated correctly?"
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security on Wednesday issued a statement on the matter. It also sent a letter to each district attorney.
"The integrity and accuracy of breath test instruments in use across the Commonwealth at this time has never been determined to be an issue in this case and we stand behind these instruments' ability to accurately determine the breath alcohol level of drivers charged with operating under the influence, " it said.
"The Office of Alcohol Testing has been working diligently to improve transparency by increasing the availability and accuracy of documents and data in its possession."
Law Enforcement continues to use the breath tests in cases of suspected drunken driving, and the Office of Alcohol Testing continues to certify them. "We maintain full confidence in the integrity and scientific reliability of these instruments as well as the Office of Alcohol Testing's ability to certify them," the statement read.

A statement by Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello said prosecutors have agreed to allow the court to determine the period of time in which "breath test results are not automatically admissible" in OUI prosecutions.
"This is a mutual effort to resolve the litigation that has delayed the criminal trials of numerous OUI defendants throughout the commonwealth," he said.
Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni could not be reached for comment.
Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan declined comment. His office referred questions to the Suffolk District Attorney's Office, which is more involved in the case.
Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Vincent DeMore told WBUR in Boston on Tuesday that the proposed agreement requires the Office of Alcohol Testing to become accredited and should resolve concerns about the accuracy of testing equipment.
"I think far from it being a situation that should shake the confidence of the public, it should be an area where we should have greater confidence in the reliability of the instrument," he said.