Sunday, June 30, 2019

Those convicted State Cops should loose their pensions

Retirement board suspends pension for former Massachusetts State Police Trooper Paul Cesan
Posted Jun 27, 2019
Gallery: Massachusetts State Police overtime scandal

The state’s Retirement Board has voted to suspend the pension of one former Massachusetts State Police trooper who has been sentenced in connection with the overtime pay scandal.

During the executive session at Thursday’s meeting, the board voted to suspend pension pay for Paul Cesan starting July 1, according to officials from the office of the state treasurer.

Cesan was receiving a monthly pension payment of $6,639.43

Cesan, 51, appeared in Boston federal court on Monday, where he was sentenced to one day in prison, deemed already served, with one year of supervised release. Additionally, he was ordered to pay back $29,287 for hours he did not work in 2016.

The Southwick resident pleaded guilty in November to a charge of embezzling from an agency receiving federal funds.

Cesan retired in March 2018 from his role with Troop E, which patrolled the Massachusetts Turnpike. He earned $172,797 in 2017, including $35,271 in overtime pay. In 2016, he earned $163,533, including $50,866 in overtime.

Mass. State Police OT scandal: These are the troopers charged and the sentences they received; Some getting one day in prison

The 10 troopers charged in the case were accused of skipping shifts, writing phony traffic citations or, in some cases, never showing up for the overtime shifts at all.
Last week, former trooper Gary Herman was also sentenced for his role in the overtime abuse scandal. He was sentenced to one day in prison, which was deemed already served, and one year of supervised released.

Herman, who was suspended in March 2018, pleaded guilty to embezzling funds from an agency receiving federal funds in a Boston federal court in October.

Herman, 45 of Chester, to pay back $12,468 of the more than $28,000 he stole from the state police.

Herman has not submitted an application to retire and is not receiving a benefit at this time, officials said.

Pension matters concerning Cesan and Herman will be referred to a hearing officer. That officer will hold a hearing, investigate and submit findings and recommendations to the board, according to officials in the state treasurer’s office.

Then, the board will make a determination about pension forfeiture.

Cesan and Herman were among the dozens of troopers investigated in connection with the agency’s widespread overtime abuse scandal. The troopers were accused of skipping shifts, writing phony traffic citations or, in some cases, never showing up for the overtime shifts at all.

Mass. State Police OT fallout: Former trooper Gary Herman sentenced to 1 day in prison

Herman, who had worked for the state police for almost 20 years before he was suspended in March 2018, was sentenced for embezzling funds from an agency receiving federal funds in a Boston federal court on Thursday.

RMV's Deveney falls on the sword for Baker and Pollack

Interstate finger-pointing after deadly crash 

Friday, June 28, 2019

It seems well established that Volodymyr Zhukovskyy drove the truck that killed seven motorcyclists in the White Mountains last weekend, but it is less clear why he still had a license to drive it.

The deadly crash has opened up a rift between state transportation officials in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and also spurred a review of the systems used by the Bay State's Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Zhukovskyy is 23 but he has already lived many hard years, struggling with alcohol, heroin, and cocaine abuse, according to the Boston Globe, which interviewed the former director of a rehab center in Pennsylvania where Zhukovskyy stayed for three months.

A native of Ukraine, Zhukovskyy faces seven charges of negligent homicide. While he sits in jail in New Hampshire and faces possible deportation, reporters have scoured his cross-country criminal record. Among the findings, an arrest video from Texas where police found a crack pipe on a hepped-up Zhukovskyy. He was busted in Ohio for driving on a suspended license, and knocked for a lane violation in Iowa. Then on May 11, in East Windsor, Connecticut, the West Springfield resident was arrested and charged with intoxicated driving.

Connecticut relayed information about that arrest to Massachusetts officials, but it didn't get through to keep Zhukovskyy off the road.

Erin Deveney, who had served in the Patrick administration and was Gov. Charlie Baker's registrar of motor vehicles, resigned her post in the wake of Saturday's crash, but Massachusetts officials also claimed Connecticut had erred in the lead-up to the tragedy.

"Because the information came in a manner that was not consistent with the guidelines, the automatic suspension did not get triggered, and the information needed to be processed manually, which had not been done at the time of this accident," said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Wednesday, vowing to get to the bottom of what went wrong procedurally. "There are seven beautiful lives lost in a very very tragic accident. We take our responsibilities very seriously, and we put in place a process to undertake a very deep review and make sure we're doing our jobs for the people of this Commonwealth." 

The story is at once painfully violent - cutting short the lives of bikers in the Jarheads MC club in a fiery wreck - and mind-numbingly bureaucratic. It is also a scandal unfolding while Baker is overseas in England. Addressing reporters after a meeting of the Governor's Council on Wednesday, Polito demonstrated a command of the facts, at least as Massachusetts officials see them.

Tony Guerrera, deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, said his department followed the law, and "it's unfortunate what happened in Massachusetts, [but] that's on them, unfortunately, in regards to reaction time,"according to the Hartford Courant. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators seems to agree, confirming that Connecticut followed the "established process."

The RMV of today is different than it was when Baker took office. Only about a year ago, the RMV swapped out its ancient computer system for a new one capable of handling the federal government's REAL ID requirements. There was another recent change to the RMV's systems that may have some passing relevance as officials try to sort out how the recent tragedy could have been prevented. Three years ago, Baker signed a law repealing an old War on Drugs statute that automatically suspended the driver's licenses of people convicted of drug crimes that are completely unrelated to driving - such as simple possession. The repeal law was heralded as a way of removing an expensive hurdle to people suffering from addiction so they can get their lives back on track.

Taking away someone's driver's license can condemn them to joblessness and economic ruin, but giving someone a license has consequences too. Traffic fatalities nationwide numbered 40,000 for the third straight year in 2018, according to the National Safety Council.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Breathalyzers are now being used .. again.

Massachusetts is planning to resume using breathalyzer tests as evidence in drunk driving cases, after the state’s Office of Alcohol Testing received national accreditation.
The office had been banned from using breath tests as evidence due to improper procedures used by the office, which were discovered through litigation.
“This is a significant milestone for the Lab, whose work and mission are critical to identifying and reducing impaired driving,” said Secretary of Public Safety Thomas Turco in a statement. “Massachusetts is now one of a select few states that have ANAB-accredited calibration labs, reflecting our sustained commitment to technical expertise, ethics, and integrity.” ANAB is the organization that runs the national accreditation board.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Are Framingham Firefighters doing well being checks now?

I never heard of them doing such potentially dangerous checks. I wonder if this has been happening all the while or just started?

FRAMINGHAM – A Framingham woman and her daughter, as well as a teen, fought with police on Tuesday when officers went to their home for a well-being check.
Police arrested Nikisha Webb, 38, and her daughter, Tyreana Webb-Barrett, 21, along with an unidentified juvenile after an incident that began around 7:45 p.m.
When police arrived at 23 Highland St., they were greeted by an 'enraged' Webb-Barrett who was angry about a family problem, police spokeswoman Lt. Patricia Grigas said on Wednesday.
“They were calling the officers all sorts of names, calling them racist,” Grigas said.
Both became “very aggressive” toward the officers.
“Webb-Barrett became upset and fought with two officers,” Grigas said.
When backup officers arrived, firefighters at the apartment told them, “hurry up, it’s getting heated in there,” the lieutenant said. Firefighters had gone to the apartment on a well-being check.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Last night's marathon council meeting

To many highlights to mention, but the diversity officer position is still in the air, along with the clasification and salary. The council is correct in saying the Mayor had a full year to make this happen, instead, she waits until 3 weeks before the budget is to be approved.
This budget cycle, much like last years, wasn't vetted well and in fairness, the council finance sub-committee didn't have much time to deep dive into each division as Ways and Means used to.
I think we were promised that accountability by the charter supporters, but I've yet to see it.
Dennis had to pull the plug at 11 pm, so the B3 zoning is on tap for the next meeting. The diversity position and all it's supporters and detractors sucked the air out of the room.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Score one for the public and the FOIA

 This is all good news imo.

From the Globe:
The state’s high court Monday instructed state agencies to broaden their understanding of the “public interest” when deciding requests under the state’s public record law, a ruling that increases the grounds the public can invoke when fighting to get information released to them.
The unanimous ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court grew out of a lawsuit filed by the Boston Globe against the Department of Public Health for electronic copies of 4.6 million birth certificates issued between 1953 and 2011 and 2.2 million marriage licenses issued between 1983 and 2013.
The SJC unanimously ruled that the complex issue raised in the Globe litigation that balances the right of the public access to government records with the privacy rights of Massachusetts citizens must be re-examined by lower court judges based on Monday’s ruling.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

After all the fighting for hemp... CBD products from hemp are now banned

THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS Department of Agricultural Resources251 Causeway Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114617-626-1700 fax: 617-626-1850 D. BAKERGovernorKARYN E. POLITOLt. GovernorKATHLEEN A. THEOHARIDESSecretaryJOHN LEBEAUXCommissioner 

POLICY STATEMENT REGARDING THE SALE OF HEMP-DERIVED PRODUCTS IN THE COMMONWEALTHThis document sets forth the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (“Department”) Policy Statement on the Sale of Hemp-Derived Products in the Commonwealth (“Policy”). This Policy provides notice of categories of hemp-derived products that are approved for sale in the Commonwealth and identifies products that are prohibited for sale. This Policy also provides information on how a person or entity may become licensed to sell as required by M.G.L. c. 128, Section 118. All proposed activities related to the sale of hemp-derived products must comply with this Policy in order to be considered in compliance with M.G.L. c. 128, Section 118.Please note that this Policy applies only to hemp and hemp-derived products. All activities related to marijuana or the sale of any product containing marijuana are under the jurisdiction of the Cannabis Control Commission or law enforcement. CONTROLLING LAW
The cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are regulated by both federal and state law. With the passing of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, referred to as the “2018 Farm Bill,” signed on December 20, 2018, federal law now treats hemp as an agricultural commodity. Previously, hemp was not distinguished from marijuana under federal law, except under limited circumstances. Effective with this change in law, hemp is now legally recognized as a separate crop, the cultivation of which falls under the jurisdiction of the Unites States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) and state departments of agriculture, if approved by USDA. Additionally, the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) retained its jurisdiction to address public health requirements for hemp-derived products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FFDCA”) and other related laws.The FDA has recently issued a statement that limits the types of cannabis-derived (including hemp-derived)products that may be manufactured and sold to consumers. In particular, the FDA has prohibited any food or other consumable products containing the cannabinoid known as “CBD” from interstate commerce without its approval.1Under state law, Sections 116 through 123 of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 128 assign the Department responsibility to regulate all activities related to hemp and industrial hemp within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The law directs the Department to administer a licensing and registration program for the cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp and industrial hemp in the Commonwealth. More particularly, the law assigns the Department general oversight responsibility for approving the sale of hemp-derived products for commercial purposes within the Commonwealth.

The Department’s regulation of hemp-derived products is separate and in addition to controlling federal law, including FDA directives.The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (“DPH”) is responsible for regulating food safety in the Commonwealth. DPH has recently issued policy guidance that is consistent with the FDA policy in prohibiting the manufacture or sale of any food or other consumable products containing CBD.2 Under the state health and sanitary code, local boards of health have authority to enforce public health laws and regulations within a municipality.SALE OF HEMP-DERIVED PRODUCTS Under M.G.L. c. 128, Section 118, a license is required to “sell” industrial hemp (i.e. the products made from hemp). MDAR construes the term “sell” or “sale” of hemp to include the following sale transactions: •Massachusetts Licensed Grower to Massachusetts Licensed Grower •Massachusetts Licensed Grower to Massachusetts Licensed Processor •Massachusetts Licensed Processor to Massachusetts retail facility (store)Effective immediately, a person or entity that proposes to engage in the activities listed above shall be deemed licensed under M.G.L. c. 128, Section 118, provided that the person or entity is selling the hemp-derived products that are allowed under this Policy and is otherwise licensed as a Grower or Processor and in good standing with the Department. Such products are also deemed approved commercial uses under M.G.L. c. 128, Section 117(c). No further action or approval by the Department will be needed. All persons or entities proposing to sell hemp-derived products in the Commonwealth are also responsible for complying with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations, including any regulations or guidance issued by the FDA, DPH, or local boards of health. Applicable laws and regulations are as follows:
•Products for sale must be in compliance with the FDCA, as amended, and Section 351 of the Public Health Service Act.
•Products must be in compliance with applicable DPH guidance.
•Products must be allowed for sale under this Policy and, as such, be deemed to be approved commercial uses pursuant to M.G.L. c. 128, Section 117(c).

The following hemp-derived products are approved for sale in the Commonwealth pursuant to M.G.L. c. 128, Section 117(c) and under FDA and DPH guidance:
•Hemp seed
•Hemp seed oil
•Hulled hemp
•Hemp seed powder
•Hemp protein
•Building material
•Items made from hemp fiber
•Flower/plant from a Massachusetts licensed Grower to a Massachusetts licensed Grower or Processor See: -food-manufactured-or-sold-in -massachusetts


The following products are NOT approved for sale in the Commonwealth pursuant to M.G.L. c. 128, Section 117(c) and are likewise prohibited for sale under FDA and DPH guidance:
•Any food product containing CBD;
•Any product containing CBD derived from hemp that makes therapeutic/medicinal claims;
•Any product that contains hemp as dietary supplement;
•Animal feed that contains any hemp products;
•Unprocessed or raw plant material, including the flower that is meant for end use by a consumer. The Department will provide compliance assistance to individuals licensed pursuant to M. G. L. c. 128 who are interested in engaging in the sale of any hemp-derived products. However, it is the responsibility of any person involved with the sale of hemp-derived products to review and understand M.G.L. c. 128, Sections 116 through 123 and this Policy. Failure to comply may result in enforcement action from the Department, DPH, the local board of health, or law enforcement. This may include the inability to sell any hemp-derived products in the future, the destruction or seizure of illegal products, loss of license, or further legal action to determine whether the product sold is in compliance