Thanks, Governor Baker! Happy July 1st to you, too!

Thank goodness you pledged not to raise taxes or fees! For a second there, I thought the price of my new monthly MBTA pass was $9.50 more than last month. I mean, that would be an increased fee, right? Or a tax hike on non-driving commuters, maybe? Either way, it is SUCH a relief to know that good ol' Honest Charlie Baker is on my side, fighting against all those Democratic hacks, and would NEVER let that happen!

So when will they change that typo on the CharlieCard page back to $75?


Citizen complaint of the day: The fundraisers blocking the sidewalks of the medical area

They're bad enough downtown, but now they've invaded the Longwood Medical Area, a concerned citizen complains:

Please do something about these "fundraisers" who harass everyone who walks by. It is obnoxious and invasive. It's particularly upsetting because many of the victims are people who are just trying to get their child to the hospital. These solicitors should not be allowed to do this. They step out in front of you and try to cut you off/body block. It makes me extremely uncomfortable. This is a near-daily occurrence.

Left joins right to try to overturn state law barring secret recording of police in public places

The ACLU of Massachusetts today filed a federal suit against Boston Police and the Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley on behalf of two activists who say a state law that bans the secret recording of oral communications even in a public place violates their First Amendment rights.

Their lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Boston, joins a similar suit against Conley filed in March by a right-wing activist who claims he wants to do a report on how landlords treat students in Boston. State Attorney General Maura Healey, representing Conley, is fighting the suit.

At issue in both suits is the state wiretapping law, which bars the recording of conversations without the consent of the people being recorded.

In the ACLU lawsuit, K. Eric Martin of Jamaica Plain and Rene Perez of Roxbury say that while Boston Police have acknowledged people can record officers publicly, there are times when secret recording is vital - and protected under the First Amendment.

It is the only way that individuals who are too afraid to openly record police officers can exercise their constitutionally protected rights, and it is a critical tool to gather accurate information about official government activity.

Neither is suing over specific incidents, but say that's only because they don't want to risk arrest and prosecution - and they say they have had bad experiences with cops in the past - and that Boston and MBTA police and the DA's office have gone after people who have recorded them.

Martin, who says he is a civil-rights activist and has been a member of Boston Cop Watch,

[H]as wanted to secretly record BPD police officers performing their duties in public about once a month, and he wants to do so in the future.

However, he has not done so, and will continue to refrain from doing so, because he is afraid that he will get arrested or prosecuted for violating Section 99 [the section of state law barring private recording of discussions].

For instance, Mr. Martin wants to secretly record BPD police officers performing their public duties when he is alone because he does not feel safe openly recording police officers in such instances.

Although he believes that open recording can be a powerful tool in a crowd, he is scared to openly record a police officer when there is no one else around due to potential retaliation.

Mr. Martin was frightened by the April 2015 video of a BPD officer waving what appeared at the time to be a real gun in the face of a civilian who was openly recording the police officer’s activities.

The complaint continues:

In December 2011, Mr. Martin was participating in and photographing the Occupy Boston political demonstrations. A BPD police officer shoved him to the ground, yelled at him to stop taking pictures and instructed Mr. Martin that he was under arrest for taking his picture. It was only after a supervisor ultimately intervened that Mr. Martin was told he was free to go.

Based on his experiences, Mr. Martin does not feel safe openly recording police officers when he is alone. But for his fear of being arrested or prosecuted for violating Section 99, he would have secretly recorded such encounters with the police in the past and would do so in the future.

Perez, also a civil-rights activist, says he grew up in Texas learning to fear the police.

Mr. PĂ©rez has wanted to secretly record BPD police officers performing their duties in public on numerous occasions, and he wants to do so in the future.

However, he has not done so, and will continue to refrain from doing so, because he is afraid that he will be arrested or prosecuted for violating Section 99.

For instance, Mr. PĂ©rez wants to secretly record BPD police officers during traffic stops when he is alone because he does not feel safe doing so openly. ...

Mr. PĂ©rez has also been pulled over several times in Boston. While these experiences have been different from those in Texas, he has still been afraid because he knows things can go badly very quickly.

Mr. PĂ©rez is afraid to openly record these interactions because has learned that openly recording a BPD police officer can trigger a hostile response that threatens his physical safety.

For example, Mr. Pérez was openly recording a protest against the Syrian invasion on the street outside of Secretary of State John Kerry’s house several years ago. The demonstration had ended, and Mr. Pérez continued to openly record a police officer’s interactions with the remaining protesters.

A BPD police officer became incensed when he noticed that Mr. Pérez was recording. He got in Mr. Pérez’s face, screamed at him and grabbed his recording device. This terrified Mr. Pérez.

Large development near South Station will have to preserve a Chinatown park

The BRA has posted the design guidelines for developers who want to turn 5 1/2 acres of mostly state-owned land next to South Station into a "gateway" project - and a key part is a requirement that any development include a replacement for Reggie Wong Park, which consists mainly of basketball courts on Kneeland Street.

However, the design guidelines - which Bldup pointed us to - don't say the developer that wins the rights to the land has to keep the park there, only that if they move it, they have to set aside at least the same amount of land to recreate it somewhere on the site.

The guideline set out a complex set of ideas for how the project should look: From the south, the project will be a "gateway" to the city, and one that can include buildings up to 300 feet high, but along Kneeland, the look should feel more like part of the existing neighborhood of relatively low-slung buildings - and should somehow encourage people to feel like moving along a corridor towards South Station.

Also, no giant ziggurats:

The 5.5 acre site, though already comprised of several subparcels, should be broken into smaller parcels and streets to better relate to the adjacent neighborhoods. Careful attention should be given to the orientation of any building(s) and shadow impacts to each of these neighborhoods, while still considering the relationship of individual buildings within the site to one another.

In addition to the old Wang building, now used by MassDOT, the site also includes a Veolia steam plant, which the state says can be torn down, although a smaller replacement would have to go on the site.

CVS to pay $3.5-million settlement because its pharmacies kept filling forged Oxycodone prescriptions

CVS pharmacies in the Boston area and New Hampshire repeatedly filled Oxycodone prescriptions they should have known were forged - in one case because the chain's own computer system had a warning about the person who kept bringing them in - the US Attorney's office in Boston reports.

CVS has agreed to pay $3.5 million and sign a three-year agreement with the DEA to monitor how it fills prescriptions for the painkiller.

The forged prescriptions traced back to just a few individuals. One of the forgers, P.R., signed a dentist’s name on 56 of 59 oxycodone prescriptions that P.R. was then able to get filled at five CVS locations. CVS pharmacists filled these prescriptions even though CVS banned P.R. in 2011 and its computer system contained notes warning that P.R. had tried to fill forged prescriptions in the past. P.R. managed to circumvent the ban by opening a new patient profile using her own Arizona driver’s license number but with a different last name. The government alleged that CVS should have known that the new profile was really P.R.’s, and that the quantities and frequency of P.R.’s oxycodone prescriptions were excessive, especially coming from a dentist. Moreover, the government alleged, even if CVS had believed the prescriptions to be real, there were red flags that P.R. was “doctor shopping,” including the fact that P.R. presented oxycodone prescriptions from two different providers during a single week at one CVS store.

In another case:

Another forger, E.D., was able to fill fake prescriptions for hydrocodone and methadone over 200 times at CVS stores. CVS filled the prescriptions, on which E.D. had forged the name of an emergency room physician who according to the prescriptions worked at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, even though: (a) the physician did not work at Brigham & Women’s Hospital; (b) the prescriptions were issued more often and for larger pill quantities than is normal for prescriptions issued by an ER physician; and (c) 21 of the prescriptions, which were presented and picked up by E.D., a man, purported to be for female patients (and all were filled by the same CVS pharmacy).

Man gets 25 to 30 for attack that left woman near death in East Boston

A man already in prison for a 2012 stabbing was sentenced today to 25 to 30 years in prison for a rape and beating on Webster Street in Jeffries Point in 2011, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.

A Suffolk Superior Court judge imposed the verdict today, two days after a jury convicted Thomas Cradock, 27, of aggravated rape, assault with intent to murder, aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault and battery, the DA's office reports.

Prosecutors say Cradock was living with his parents in their Jeffries Point home in 2011 when he attacked the woman in a vacant lot on Webster Street on Sept. 21, where she might have died except for a passerby who noticed her lying there and called 911.

Addressing Cradock in a victim statement, the woman said:

My life will never be the same because of what you did to me. You almost killed me … but I am not broken. I have worked incredibly hard to get my life back, and there is more to come. I am not a victim of your attack on me. I am a survivor. You took my life away from me and I have taken it back.

DNA collected by police after the attack triggered a match with a sample Cradock was required to submit after his conviction for the 2012 stabbing in Mansfield, for which he is currently serving a five-year term. His East Boston sentence will not start until that one is finished, the DA's office reports.