City councilor wants new tax on packie alcohol sales to fund substance-abuse programs

City Council President Bill Linehan (South Boston, South End, Chinatown) wants the legislature let Boston add a 6.25% tax on liquor sales at local packies to help pay for treatment programs for alcoholics and drug addicts.

The council is scheduled today to consider his request for a formal hearing on his proposal.

In his request for a hearing, Linehan says Boston neighborhoods are "experiencing the adverse effects of substance abuse and addictions which lead to an increase in crime" and that the new tax "shall be used to fund prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse in the City of Boston."



Free tagging: 


Another Tax?

Is this really necessary? I see and I have witnessed the horrors of drug and alcohol abuse. I doubt another tax on people is going to solve this. It eventually ends up funding another government bureaucracy. C'mon Bill.


Voters repealed a sales tax in 2010

The Commonwealth tried that twee stunt in 2008, when they slapped a 6.25% sales tax on alcohol on top of a high alcohol excise tax. Voters saw through that as the state double-dipping at the expense of purchasers, and repealed that tax on a 2010 referendum ballot.

It won't be any different - not a single red cent will go where it's supposed to (helping addicts), and be seen as another way to pick someone's pockets because local government can't balance their own budgets.


Yes to Education

The alcohol industry poured millions into a campaign to deceive voters on this tax. The same money that they said they would be losing as a result of the tax. As recovery programs do not have millions of dollars to pour into an education campaign, the voters only received information from the alcohol industry. Yes to the Tax. Yes to Recovery.

Absolutely Not!!

Please- Enough with the new taxes.. People in this city are 'taxed enough already'. If such a tax were to be levied in Boston, I and others would make it a point to travel outside of Boston to buy booze. It would be just another penalty that local Boston business would be victimized by. Again - Enough - Please!! The rest of us should not have to pay more taxes because some others have made bad decisions in their lives.


Is that it Swirly?

Geez Swirly, Is that all you could find to complain about on this post? Sounds like you just have to comment even when you have nothing of any relevance to say. But that's ok. Whatever keeps you amused.


Think about it for a minute.

Think about it for a minute. The latter.

Otherwise, they'd have to include in the law, and every press release, the nonstandard descriptions of every type of store, shop, retailer, supermarket, packie, dépanneur, winery, bodega, brewery, and spa that had an off-premises liquor sales license.

What do you mean?

I sold my house down on A street
rented to college kids down on B street
Southie is my hometown.

There's something about it
yuppies yeah shout it
Southie is my hometown

Condo conversion for my 3 family
moved out to Duxbury
Southie is my hometown

There's something about it
yuppies yeah shout it
Southie is my hometown

My skin is too thin
better have some more gin
Southie is my hometown



Wicked awesome!

(Note that using that expression automatically makes me
a "True Bostonian".)

I'm very much looking forward to the music video. Can we have
Mumbles make a guest appearance?

I tried substituting "Charlestown" and "Bay Village" for "Southie"
in the lyrics but it's just not the same.

This will go in the general fund

The city doesn't have provisions for earmarking these things - as the poster said above - it will just go to fund other things - then they'll continue to claim they are broke and come up with a tax on something else. What was the 0.75% restaurant tax supposed to fund a couple years ago? Probably something that is now long forgotten. These people are incorrigible. They run a budget that is per capita far and away one of the highest in the state and still can't balance a budget.

How much is enough and what are you going to do with that?

Answers - there's never enough and we'll find more stuff. Amazing - we've laid off hundreds of city workers - increased the budget at far greater than the rate of inflation - and yet there's still not enough.


This. Our department used to

This. Our department used to collect filing fees. Did our department SEE any of those fees? Nope. In the General Fund. Meanwhile, we had to beg, borrow, and steal to get extra paper some months.

ETA: I also don't think the tax will actually fund the thing it's supposed to fund. The cigarette tax was supposed to fund stop-smoking programs, but most of the revenue from that tax goes into the general fund, leaving the smoking cessation programs underfunded.

Smoking cessation programs

Cessation programs might be underfunded, but the high taxes on cigarettes, now being extended to other tobacco products, has discouraged people from tobacco use. The education programs in schools have also prevented a lot of use. The ongoing efforts against casual smokers are crossing over into harrassment, so maybe it's a good thing cessation programs are underfunded.

Let's punish and tax/regulate to death

the vast majority of people who enjoy alcoholic beverages and aren't alcoholics or druggies. Yeah....that's it, that's the ticket. And with the $ we can hire more politically connected 'outreach' workers and politically connected private rehabilitation contractors! That's the ticket!

NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. And like others have pointed out, people will simply go to another city/town or even state to buy because unless you haven't noticed, doing any of these things is very easy in Boston and the metro area.

We have a problem with high maintenance alcoholics and druggies not because of lack of public or private funding, but because The System doesn't work, the laws are silly and often counter productive, waste and dare I say corruption, in both the public and private sectors. If alcoholics and druggies have a problem getting into rehab and various 'programs' it's often due to those who are 'connected' monopolizing said rehab and other various programs, not to mention the 'connected' workers of these rehabs and 'connected' private contractors. And a special shout out to the poverty pimps. Enough already.


End taxpayer funded

Pensions, and switch over to a 401K like the rest of the state. Pensions and Health Care cost consume a large portion of our budget to benefit a minority of contributors.


Is it a disease?

I understand that the medical community calls drug addiction a disease. Do they differentiate between a disease like Cancer or Progeria?

I mean, maybe I am insensitive but working downtown and seeing people in the grip of drug addiction every day has made me this way. Do they have ANY responsibility for their actions? At what point do they have to accept that THEY gave themselves this disease. They choose to steal and lie and hurt others because of this "disease".

You can call it a disease. That's fine by me but there needs to be a differentiation between a disease like Cancer and disease that could have been avoided that hurts everyone around them and that they themselves contracted through choice.


Is it a disease?

What a good question! Maybe we should ask the medical community to study this question for several decades and report their results. Or maybe we should ask a bunch of uninformed laymen which diseases are worthy of public assistance.



I have nothing at all against helping sick people. I don't believe I should be taxed something extra to help fight the heroine epidemic. I believe their health plans should help get them the addiction care they need. If they don't have health care (in MA?), then I guess they should be at the emergency room getting help.

The addicted person is responsible for their own well being. The only way to quit drugs is for that person to decide they want to stop.

Is it a disease? Maybe. I don't know. I see addicts every day who have no desire to quit. They want to steal from you and interfere in people's honest drug free lives. Do I want to pay a tax to help them? Nope. I do not. At some point every heroine addict made a decision to start doing that drug. No one in my family decided to get cancer.

The smokers all quit. The alcoholics all stopped drinking. They decided to do it. They took responsibility without making anyone else pay for it.

ps. the crack about eating a cheeseburger and drinking a non-diet coke was inferring that someone may be obese correct?
Isn't obesity a disease? I guess if the disease isn't in the family it's not a big deal then.


I see addicts every day who

I see addicts every day who have no desire to quit. They want to steal from you and interfere in people's honest drug free lives. Do I want to pay a tax to help them? Nope. I do not.

So should I take that to mean that you like having thieving junkies in your life?


ok, recovering alcoholic/junkie, here.

The disease metaphor is helpful, but it falls down right where you and others are pointing it out, it's manifestation is WAY different than cancer, progeria, etc. You're exactly right, getting up out of my bed, every morning for years to head down to the packie, get what I need, and put it in my body, definitely looks like a set of choices. And it is inexplicable that the whole way I was saying, "I shouldn't be doing this, I don't want to do this, etc etc etc" and I still did it. It's pathetic and demoralizing and ultimately heartbreaking. I can't tell you exactly when I got clear enough to both decide that I had had enough, and took some positive steps towards finding better habits, but what I can tell you is that for me, an important piece of being able to get clear headed enough was being physically removed from substances. A lot of us start because it's fun and then keep doing to avoid getting sick.

"I'll use pills until this big work conference that I'm planning is over next week, then I'll take 3 days to get well"
"I need a drink this morning because I can't be shaking during this meeting with the important boss"

I had a thousand excuses. Ultimately, I had wrecked my life so bad that I gave up and went to treatment. It was expensive, my medical insurance only paid for about 75%, and I was lucky enough that I hadn't lost my job YET, due to the effects of my using/drinking. The treatment gave me 30 days away from the substances to get physically better, and helped me develop the tools and understanding I need to to live without drugs (it's embarrassing, yes, most of the things that I 'learned' are things most people pick up on in elementary school or earlier).

I think the trade-off for society of this tax is a clear benefit. Obviously the state paid for some of my treatment, be it through grants to the specific place I was, subsidies for health care, etc. However, since I got clean almost 5 years ago, I haven't stolen a laptop, I haven't committed credit card fraud AND I am more effective at my job so I'm making more money and paying more taxes.

I'm grateful for the people at the treatment center for giving me my life back, and society should be happy to have one less scumbag menace in our midst.

Also, apparently a significant amount of alcohol is purchased by a very small number of drinkers, so a lot of us alcoholics would be making small deposits a few times a day towards our future treatment. And, thank you! to those responsible drinkers who are helping contribute to our return to health.


Cancer is oftentimes

Cancer is oftentimes avoidable as well, it's just that people are reluctant to make the connection between cancer and their own actions and behaviors. Your work environment, the foods you eat, the cigarettes you smoke, the exercise you don't get, etc. can all contribute to cancer. This doesn't make it any less of a disease. It's easy to look down on people from an ivory tower but you didn't go through what they did. I agree that there are many addicts who are only in their position because they are lazy and/or made poor life decisions but there are others who are victims of abuse or were introduced to heroin or alcohol at a young age by their own parents. You never know the full story and passing judgement on every single person who struggles with addiction is not only unfair but unnecessary.

I personally don't like calling it a disease because how would it manifest if drugs didn't exist? I feel like calling it a disease allows some addicts to justify their behavior as well which is unhealthy and detrimental to their recovery.

recovery from what then?

If addiction is not a disease (or more nit-pickishly a primary manifestation of an underlying disease/disfunction), then what exactly, would addicts be recovering from?

It's very common for people with all sorts of physical and mental disfunction to resist/reject behaviour changes which would mitigate or even reverse their suffering. Just because a sick person uses excuses (including "leave me alone, I'm sick") to avoid dealing with the root causes or repurcusions of their disease doesn't make it any less a disease.

Eg, an obese couch-potato with type 2 diabetes may refuse to change their dietary or excersize habits because they're "too sick to care" or "it's too hard" or "it's too late" (all e.g. my grandpa, rip), but that doesn't change the fact that they have a disease. Ditto addicts who try to use the fact of their addiction as a excuse to avoid the hard work of recovery.

Addiction is a disease which

Addiction is a disease which causes people to make poor choices. Disease changes how an organism behaves, and addiction and other mental illnesses in particular change how a person thinks and acts. Addiction doesn't so overwhelmingly take over how a person acts to the extent that they can't try to change their ways, but that can only go so far: it's all just different parts of the brain fighting against each other.


But at least the brown baggers will drink at home instead of turning city streets into a giant trash can/toilet.

Officially the stupidest (expletive) in Boston

Somebody in here beat me to it, but yeah, Bill, you've ever heard of geography? Boston is not Jacksonville, Florida. I can be in four different alcohol-selling municipalities (Cambridge, Watertown, Brookline, Newton) in 10 minutes. So why would I pay a tax in Boston? You gonna collect use tax from me for buying something in my own (expletive) state? Somebody actually pays you 75 grand a year to say this nonsense publicly?



just upset you don't get your fee fees hurt that someone out there made a mess of their lives.

Hey Scratchie, if you haz a sad for the drunks and junkies, you go help them and open your own wallet. Leave the rest of us out of it. Maybe you can invite sob story guy over for dinner and help him see the error of his ways.


Solid Retort

I saw some guys at the corner of Melnea Cass and Mass Ave that look pretty sick. When are you heading down there to help them out? I bet you could even get some voluntary donations from some posters here.

Watching too much Fox News?

Or spending too much time on World Net Daily?
We get it, Stevil. You think Obama, Warren and Maddow are "idiots".
Great. You're entitled to your "opinion" whether it derives from Newsweek
or The New Republic or Red State. But do try to stay on topic. And, of course,
tell us more about the homocide at your condo.
Have you been taken in for questioning yet?

Have I offended your liberal sensitivities?

I've said it before - and I'll say it again - considering people like you accuse me of being a right wing nut job and my conservative friends call me a left wing lunatic, it's simply proof that I'm one of the few true moderates evaluating issues one by one - usually siding with Democrats on social issues and Republicans on fiscal issues.

Once again, for the record, I don't watch FoxNews or MSNBC - mostly CNBC for professional reasons and CNN for news coverage, plus occasionally network news - all fairly moderate - the business channel leaning right (with Andrew Ross Sorkin, my favorite NY Times reporter liberal who is brilliant without being an annoying (fill in your favorite pejorative) like Maddow AND O'Reilly) and the news channels leaning left.

The topic is big brother government and oppressive taxes. If you're paying attention, Obama, Warren and now Linehan all seem to support that stance. As a moderate, I believe government has a role in making the rules and enforcing the rules. The difference between me, you and your three heroes there is that you want them to play the game also and I don't. this isn't playground basketball. You can't be the referee and the point guard.

As for the homicide - the guy didn't die. Maybe I should host a Uhub mystery night and we can re-enact the scene of the non-crime and someone can explain to me how you can generate enough force to do the damage to yourself that guy did.

Just turrible

Thet thur librul dun raiseded mah taxess over what Raygun had.

Ah knos cuz Ah kin count on mah teef. When Rraygun was prezadint there wuz one more toof then taxess and with that Obummer thairz one more taxes than toofs. See, look in th mirrer there. Fifteen, sixteen, see!

It's a gol-durn conspiracy, ah tells ya.

Stevil, pass me thet meth pipe now. Its time for the Raygun prayer.


Luv ur countree bumpkin tawk and speling.

Also love how your stats are almost 5 years old and run through the last fiscal year of the G.W. Bush administration.

Get back to me when you a) update for what's coming last year and this year and b) when you take a look at what has happened to state and local taxes as well.

In case you've missed the last 30 years due to your obsession with Raygun - their spending (which I'm assuming roughly correlates with revenue since most states can't run deficits) now account for 11% of the economy when they used to be 9% - and Federal spending - which due to deficits may not correlate with taxes - is also at record highs except I believe for WW II. Our day of reckoning is coming. We can delay it and MAYBE if we act quickly and strongly enough we can prevent it. Unfortunately I'm not seeing much backbone - on either side of the aisle. While the Republicans at least talk the talk which puts them one step ahead of the Dems, I'm not seeing them walk the walk except for the Tea Partiers who like to walk off of cliffs.

Walking the walk

I'd vote for Republicans if they walked the walk. But mostly the talk isn't even too good.

Federal spending was at record highs except for WWII in… (drum roll please) as you put it, the last fiscal year of the G.W. Bush administration.

Under the Obama administration federal spending has been reduced as a percentage of GDP. The deficit was at 10.1 percent of GDP in the LFYGWBA, and it's set for 4 percent this year, on its way to 2.1 percent in 2015. It's no great mystery how one does this. Ending wars is a great step in the right direction. Ending health care reform isn't. You might not like the talk he talks, but you ought to like the walk he walks a bit better than that of Mr. Bomb Iran and Caribou Barbie.

If someone around would bring us back to the fiscal conservatism of the Clinton administration, I'd be all for it. But the Repubs are badly afflicted with clown disease. Please give the rest of us someone more serious than Palin, Paul, and Ryan. I mean, that's an awesome band name, but who's even talking talk that adds up over there anymore?

I mean, I could ballpark it

Most things I buy that call for a sales tax I purchase with credit/debit cards. A glance at my statements, plus adding the finite total I pay in income tax, could give me a rough estimate of what I pay for serial breeders, sleeping cops, and addicts of substances that they knew were bad for them.

Minutes. Executive Session. Boston City Council.

Is today's Executive Session behind closed doors Wednesday 5 February 2014 during the Public Meeting of Boston City Council subject to Sunshine Open Public Meetings and Freedom of Information Public Records principles of open government?

What records of public meetings must be kept?

Public bodies are required to create and maintain accurate minutes of all meetings, including executive sessions. The minutes, which must be created and approved in a timely manner, must state the date, time and place of the meeting, a list of the members present or absent, and the decisions made and actions taken including a record of all votes. Minutes must also include the name of any member who participated in the meeting remotely and the reason under 940 CMR 29.10(5) for his or her remote participation. While the minutes must include a summary of the discussions on each subject, a transcript is not required. No vote taken by a public body, either in an open or in an executive session, shall be by secret ballot. All votes taken in executive session must be by roll call and the results recorded in the minutes. In addition, the minutes must include a list of the documents and other exhibits used at the meeting. While public bodies are required to retain these records in accordance with records retention laws, the documents and exhibits listed in the minutes need not be attached to or physically stored with the minutes.

The minutes, documents and exhibits are public records and a part of the official record of the meeting. Records may be subject to disclosure under either the Open Meeting Law or Public Records Law and must be retained in accordance with the Secretary of State's record retention schedule. The State and Municipal Record Retention Schedules are available through the Secretary of State's website at:


Executive Session Meeting Records

Public bodies are not required to disclose the minutes, notes or other materials used in an executive session where the disclosure of these records may defeat the lawful purposes of the executive session. Once disclosure would no longer defeat the purposes of the executive session, minutes and other records from that executive session must be disclosed unless they are within an exemption to the Public Records Law, G.L. c. 4, § 7, cl. 26, or the attorney-client privilege applies. The public body is also required to periodically review the executive session minutes to determine whether continued non-disclosure is warranted, and such determination must be included in the minutes of the body's next meeting. A public body must respond to a request to inspect or copy executive session minutes within 10 days of request and promptly release the records if they are subject to disclosure. If the body has not performed a review to determine whether they are subject to disclosure, it must do so prior to its next meeting or within 30 days, whichever is sooner.


Really, Linehan? I can't take you seriously because all I can think is that this is a way for you to clean up your gritty PJs in Southie. I've lived - and owned - in Southie for 13 years and honestly, the majority of the issues in this neighborhood come from the born & bred Southie folk. At the VERY least, let us buy booze at supermarkets, CVS, etc., before you throw another tax on alcohol.

I am surprised at the shortsightedness of most of the comments

The 6% tax proposed by the councilor would only offset a tiny fraction of the cost incurred by alcohol consumption –rehab, domestic violence, drunken accidents, tens of millions of lives turned into misery etc. Yet most commenters are ridiculing the initiative and appear ready to drive a one hour round trip to Dedham to save $1!

The vast majority of alcohol, soda, junk found, gambling is consumed by people who use way too much of the stuff for their own good, and expect the rest of us to pay the consequences. The only beneficiary are the businesses that profit from selling that crap.

Privatize the profit, and spread the cost; this is socialism at its worst. Unfortunately, it seems to be the way this country is going. We are getting what we ask for.


hour round trip to Dedham? Uh...I'd drive across the bridge to Chelsea and the Kappy's in Eastie would lose my business.

Privatizing profit and spreading the cost [to the public] is actually the definition of modern 'Mericun capitalism - not socialism.

At any rate this proposal is retahded and presumably will go nowhere because Kappy's and all the other liquor stores and their industry will step up to tell Linehan to have airborne intercourse with a tumbling cruller. It'll be interesting to see what the Mayor has to say about the idea...

Staff. Boston City Council.

staff || office
1. Baker, Jill || Baker
2. Curley, Amanda || Baker
3. Frigulietti, Amy || Baker
4. McEachern, Joseph || Baker
5. Quinn, Allyson || Baker
6. Chin, Betty || Central Staff
7. Cobb, Ron || Central Staff
8. De La Rosa, Daisy || Central Staff
9. Jordan, Kerry || Central Staff
10. Lopez, Juan || Central Staff
11. Montrond, Cora F. || Central Staff
12. Nichols, Michael || Central Staff
13. O'Donnell, Christine || Central Staff
14. Schettino, Lorainne || Central Staff
15. Smith, Lincoln || Central Staff
16. Sullivan, Kathleen || Central Staff
17. Valdez, Yuleidy || Central Staff
18. Franks, Jacqueline || Ciommo
19. Handley, Mark || Ciommo
20. O'Leary, Deborah A. || Ciommo
21. Walsh, Joseph || Ciommo
22. Casper, Robyn || Flaherty
23. Dickerson, William || Flaherty
24. Hasib, Shaikh || Flaherty
25. Kalayjian, Tricia || Flaherty
26. Lanza, Maria || Flaherty
27. Spitz, Ryan || Flaherty
28. Sullivan, Paul || Flaherty
29. Brown, Justin || Jackson
30. Graves, Reynolds || Jackson
31. Polanco, Daniel || Jackson
32. Sadler, Nichelle || Jackson
33. Carangelo, Katherine M. || LaMattina
34. Evers, Judith E. || LaMattina
35. Hernandez, Camilo || LaMattina
36. Knott, Janet L. || LaMattina
37. McGivern, Jennifer || LaMattina
38. Sinatra, Michael || LaMattina
39. Toscano, Lori || LaMattina
40. Abbott, Kristin || Linehan
41. Chan, James W. || Linehan
42. Chase, Alexander || Linehan
43. Cloherty,Elaine M. || Linehan
44. McGonagle, Mark || Linehan
45. McMorrow, Susan || Linehan
46. Susan McMorrow || Linehan
47. Apperwhite, Walter || McCarthy
48. Blasi, Elizabeth A. || McCarthy
49. Herby, Lindor || McCarthy
50. Maguire, Stephen || McCarthy
51. Francis,Thomas B. || Murphy
52. Lally, Bernadette || Murphy
53. McDonough,Thomas M. || Murphy
54. O'Connell, Molly || Murphy
55. Colby, Timothy || O'Malley
56. MacGregor, William || O'Malley
57. Smith, Hannah || O'Malley
58. Sullivan, Elizabeth F. || O'Malley
59. Prioly, Jackney || Pressley
60. Sutherland, James || Pressley
61. Taubner, Jessica || Pressley
62. White, Eric || Pressley
63. Zimmerer, Jessika || Pressley
64. Alvarez, Ivon || Wu
65. Cohen, Henry || Wu
66. Kaufman, Samantha || Wu
67. Vittorini Jr., David F. || Wu
68. Webster, Gary || Wu
69. Frazier, Lynnette M. || Yancey
70. Idowu, Oluwasegun || Yancey
71. Purvis, Nichelle || Yancey
72. Yarbrough, Kenneth W. || Yancey
73. Fajardo, Leila || Zakim
74. Henicke, Kyndal || Zakim
75. Krupta, Carol || Zakim
76. Sibor, Daniel || Zakim
77. Baker, Frank
78. Ciommo, Mark
79. Flaherty, Michael
80. Jackson, Tito
81. Lamattina, Salvatore J.
82. Linehan, William P.
83. McCarthy, Timothy
84. Murphy,Stephen J.
85. O'Malley, Matt
86. Pressley, Ayanna
87. Wu, Michelle
88. Yancey, Charles C.
89. Zakim, Josh