Wine bar with music stage to open near North Station in July

The Boston Licensing Board yesterday approved a liquor license for City Winery, which is building a restaurant where patrons can eat and sip wine as they listen to and watch live entertainment in the new apartment and hotel complex going up at 80 Beverly St.

City Winery, which already has outlets in New York, Chicago, Nashville and Atlanta, expects to open in June, its local attorney, Karen Simao, told the board. The chain bought a liquor license from a shuttered place at 94 Mass. Ave. in the Back Bay.

The wine bar will actually have two dining rooms - a 300-seat area that will require reservations for watching the night's performer and a 280-seat room where anybody can show up to eat, just not to see the show.

That the place is opening near North Station marks another step in the area's move away from bars and restaurants catering mainly to Bruins and Celtics fans. At a hearing Wednesday, the board heard plans to turn the sports-oriented North Star on Friend Street into a calmer, more "professional" establishment aimed at all the well off people pouring into the apartments being built around North Station.

Close shave in Roslindale Square: Fire erupts in barbershop basement

Washington Street scene. Photo by Diamond Kartel.

Around 6 p.m., at the Roslindale Barber Shop, 4256 Washington St. in Roslindale Square (next to where El Chavo used to be). BFD quickly doused the flames, but Washington Street was shut to traffic and T buses. An ISD electrical inspector was requested to check out the wiring.

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:00

Judge allows suits against state ban on recording private conversations to continue

In decisions issued last week and today, a federal judge allowed lawsuits questioning the constitutionality of a Massachusetts ban on recording "private" discussions to go forward - but said the state has a legitimate stake in protecting the privacy rights of its citizens.

US District Court Judge Patti Saris is hearing two separate but similar cases at the Moakley Courthouse, both against Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, which pit the First Amendment against privacy provisions of a state law.

In one case, which also names Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, two Boston civil-rights activists are suing to be allowed to record Boston police officers on the job.

In the other case, rightwing provocateur James O'Keefe claims he wants to do undercover recording of scummy landlords stuffing colleges students into unsafe apartments - and to investigate alleged wrongdoing among unspecified "public officials."

Federal judges have upheld the public's right to video public employees at work in public spaces, but at issue in the two case is recording not just what they do but what they say, because of a state law that prohibits such "wiretapping." O'Keefe's case also adds the issue of private citizens.

In a ruling today on O'Keefe's suit, Saris rejected a request by Conley to simply toss the suit, saying O'Keefe presented enough of a valid case that his First Amendment rights were being harmed to warrant court consideration. But she rejected O'Keefe's request to let him and his workers being surreptitious recording while the suit progresses because of privacy issues:

The Court holds that Project Veritas survives the standing challenge with respect to its claim that the state prohibition of the secret recording of private individuals violates the First Amendment. However, the Court holds that Section 99's ban on the secret recording of conversations by private individuals does not violate the First Amendment because the statute is narrowly tailored to promote the significant governmental interest of protecting the conversational privacy of Massachusetts residents.

Sarris wrote that even in public, people sometimes have a right to at least some minimal privacy:

Individuals have conversations they intend to be private, in public spaces, where they may be overheard, all the time –- they meet at restaurants and coffee shops, talk with co-workers on the walk to lunch, gossip with friends on the subway, and talk too loudly at holiday parties or in restaurant booths. These types of conversations are ones where one might expect to be overheard, but not recorded and broadcast. There is a significant privacy difference between overhearing a conversation in an area with no reasonable expectation of privacy and recording and replaying that conversation for all to hear.

Boston Latin graduate who moved to DC to return as school headmaster

School Superintendent Tommy Chang announced today he's chosen Rachel Skerritt as Boston Latin School headmaster.

Skerritt, a Dorchester native and BLS graduate, is currently deputy chief of leadership development for the District of Columbia Public Schools.

She is the first person of color to head the exam school. She is the 28th headmaster in the school's 382-year history.

Skerritt replaces Lynne Mooney Teta, another BLS alum, who resigned last June after a contentious period involving the racial climate at the school. Retired Headmaster Michael Contompasis had served as interim headmaster.

Skerritt, who earned a bachelor's degree and a masters in education at the University of Pennsylvania, has past BPS and BLS experience - she taught English between 1999 and 2006, and served on the committee that wrote what is still the school's mission statement. In 2007, she was appointed headmaster at Another Course to College; in 2009, then Superintendent Carol Johnson made Skerritt her chief of staff.

Skerritt left Boston in 2010 to become principal at Eastern Senior High School in Washington DC, which had gone through 13 principals in 12 years before her arrival, but which she helped lead out of "turnaround" status by 2015. In June 2016, she was appointed deputy chief of leadership development for DCPS, overseeing the district's professional development programs for school leaders and aspiring principals.

In a statement, Chang said:

Rachel's life and professional experiences are tailor-made to lead Boston Latin School into its next chapter of excellence and equity for all. She is a champion of providing rigor and opportunities for every single student in her care, and she is someone who will not compromise when it comes to the education of young people.

Mayor Marty Walsh added:

We would be hard pressed to find another educator better suited to lead Boston Latin School than Rachel Skerritt. Rachel's passion for her alma mater, her deep familiarity with its traditions, and her commitment to equity make her uniquely qualified for this role,. We are grateful she has chosen to return to Boston and serve the students of our city.