Moody: River of debt could make us downgrade T bonds

The Boston Business Journal reports the bond-rating agency is reviewing MBTA finances, with a possible eye toward reducing its bond rating, which could lead to still higher costs for the T if it tries to borrow money. The T's reliance on state sales-tax revenue and pass bond-financing schemes are of particular concern, the Journal reports.

If you were in Natick with a stolen credit card, where would you go?

The Natick Mall, right? Apparently some MetroWest thieves don't have quite such lofty aspirations: Natick Police report they are looking for a woman who used a credit card stolen out of a car in West Natick to buy some crap at a local 7-Eleven and then have some pizza delivered to an apartment building just over the line in Framingham.

What was he thinking? When it comes to judges, court rules, don't ask

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today a commission investigating possible anti-police bias by a Boston judge cannot take a look at any memos or documents that might point to his thinking on his rulings and verdicts.

The commission had issued a subpoena to Boston Municipal Court Judge Raymond Dougan for "any notes, notebooks, bench books, diaries, memoranda, recordation or other written recollections," related to cases specifically mentioned in a complaint by Suffolk County DA Dan Conley and a lengthy Globe article.

But the state's highest court said the finality of verdicts is a cornerstone of American justice that could be undermined by using a judge's own writings to potentially impeach what he decided:

The judiciary's independence from the other branches of government and from outside influences and extraneous concerns has been one of the cornerstones of our constitutional democracy, intended to ensure that judges will be free to decide cases on the law and the facts as their best judgment dictates, without fear or favor.

The writings of John Adams preceding the drafting and adoption of the Massachusetts Constitution developed and articulated the essential linkage between judicial independence and impartial decision-making:

"[Judges'] minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man, or body of men. To these ends, they should hold estates for life in their offices; or, in other words, their commissions should be during good behavior, and their salaries ascertained and established by law."

The decision, which never actually mentions Dougan by name, says the Commission on Judicial Conduct had other avenues for investigating Conley's and the Globe's claims without starting a process that could lead to widespread verdict second guessing:

Judicial misconduct investigations have been pursued successfully, not by examining the judge's thought processes, but rather by identifying the judge's outward expressions of partiality or by examining the judge's conduct over time through which that partiality or other abuse has become apparent. ... There are multiple sources of primary information, available to the public and the commission, on the basis of which judicial conduct and outward expressions of potential partiality can be assessed. Accessing these sources does not require intrusions into the deliberative processes of judges.

The court added:

In addition, the merits of decisions and other actions of judges are fully reviewable in the appellate process for consistency with the law. It can hardly be contested that the repeated and intentional failure to follow the plain requirements of the rules and regulations of the Commonwealth, or the rulings of this court, is a proper subject of judicial investigation and discipline.

Lynn, Lynn, city of ... a national ad campaign

The Lynn Daily Item reports the city is spending $20,000 for an ad - narrated by Terry Bradshaw - to extol its virtues on cable networks. The Globe elaborates and says the campaign is meant in part to get people to stop thinking of that darned poem. Yes, that one:

Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin
You never come out the way you came in

You ask for water, but they give you gin
The girls say no, yet they always give in

If you're not bad, they won't let you in
It's the damndest city I've ever lived in

Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin
You never come out the way you came in.

T bus driver trying to evade ticket in Kenmore Square plows into BTD supervisor, cars

Crash aftermath. Photo by Susan Zalkind.Crash aftermath. Note cluster of meter maids on right. Photo by Susan Zalkind.

A city transportation worker is in the hospital this morning following a confrontation with an MBTA bus driver in Kenmore Square that ended with the driver plowing into the worker - and several parked cars - WBZ reports.

The collisions, which happened around 8:30 a.m., started as an incident in which a BTD supervisor told the driver - eating breakfast - to move her bus out of a left-turn lane and the driver refused, WBZ says.

Kenmore Square quickly became a giant parking lot as emergency vehicles and police flooded the area.

Nancy Chen at WHDH reports the driver was noshing on a bagel and drinking coffee when she was asked to move.

Another photo of the scene.

And here's why the fire department says grills don't belong on decks

Toasted grill. Photo by BFD.Toasted grill. Photo by BFD.

A small propane grill on a deck sparked a one-alarm fire at 32 Fawndale Rd. in Roslindale that displaced 18 people, sent one firefighter to the hospital and made a mess of traffic on the neighborhood's busiest street.

The Boston Fire Department reports the fire, which began shortly before 6 p.m., started on a third-floor deck and quickly spread to the second floor. The department estimates damage at $175,000. A firefighter suffered a leg injury battling the blaze; the Red Cross and the Mayor's Office were called in to help residents find alternate housing.

Because of the proximity to Washington Street, that thoroughfare quickly became a traffic nightmare south of Forest Hills, with MBTA buses backed up along either side of the fire.

This was the second Boston triple decker to catch on fire today.

Wed, 08/08/2012 - 17:50

South End trattoria a few weeks from opening; Todd English seeks chef

BosGuy reports that Trattoria Cinquecento, the Aquitaine Group's first effort at cucina italiana, should be opening soon in the South End space once occupied by Rocca.

Meanwhile, Grub Street Boston alerts us that celibrichef Todd English has posted a Craigslist ad looking for a chef to work for him on "a profitable restaurant" in the Boston area.