State law requires you to pay $50 if you scream "Yankees suck!" at a sporting event

The oddest thing in the previously secret Olympics bid chapters was not the huge deficit or the denigration of opponents, but the reference to a state law that prohibits swearing at athletes and coaches and sporting events.

Because, yes, of course, Massachusetts has a law against that: MGL Chap. 272 Sect. 36A, which states, in its entirety:

Whoever, having arrived at the age of sixteen years, directs any profane, obscene or impure language or slanderous statement at a participant or an official in a sporting event, shall be punished by a fine of not more than fifty dollars.

Chap. 272 is, of course, the collection of laws related to "crimes against chastity, morality, decency and good order," which include laws against such things as child pornography, animal cruelty and upskirt photography, but also laws you'd be amazed are still on the books in the Commonwealth, especially since some have been overturned by court decisions.

These include a law banning the sale of all contraceptives, except to married people, and only then with a doctor's prescription (which was overturned in Eisenstadt v. Baird in 1972); a ban on blasphemy - including "contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures" (one year in prison); a prohibition specifically on making loud noises in a library; and a law that defines what it means to be a tramp.

As to why Boston 2024 even brought up the no-Yankees-sucks-chanting law, it was in a section of its bid proposal that dealt with specific Massachusetts laws related to sporting events.

Police: Jackson Square fight ends with two under arrest, one with a gun, one with a knife

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 19:26

Boston Police report gang-unit officers who arrived at a large fight on Centre Street near Chestnut in Jackson Square yesterday evening couldn't help but notice the two guys screaming at each other as they dispersed the crowd: Read more.


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Judge rejects Dedham's bid to halt pipeline construction

A federal judge recently tossed Dedham's bid to block construction of a planned natural-gas pipeline, saying the town filed its suit in the wrong court.

Dedham filed a suit in US District Court in Boston seeking to have a judge order a halt in any work until at least after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules on a request from Dedham and Boston to reconsider its March approval of Algonquin Gas Transmission's West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline, which would run from Westwood to West Roxbury.

Boston, meanwhile, is fighting an Algonquin effort to have a judge order the city to let the company dig a trench down Washington Street and Grove Street for the pipeline.

In his order, Judge George O'Toole said a federal natural-gas law prohibits appeals of pipeline approvals in lower courts and that the town should have gone to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Asking him for a temporary restraining order against construction would require him to consider the merits of the commission approval, which the law prohibits, he wrote.

Boston's case is before another judge in US District Court - and was brought by Algonquin.

Initial Olympic bid identified a $471-million deficit

Fish, Romney and Pagliuca, from the Political chapter.

Boston 2024 today released the two previously withheld chapters of its initial bid documents that won us the right to compete for the 2024 Olympics (Political and Public Support; Bid and Games Budget).

Although Boston 2024 has repeatedly said - as recently as last night - that the games will be profitable - the previously secret Bid and Games Budget document said that would happen only after first plugging a sizable budget hole:

Based on the rigorous analysis conducted and continued USOC support, Boston 2024 has high confidence in our ability to achieve the revenues and manage the cost projections detailed above. Currently, Boston 2024 requires an additional $471M in revenues to support the Games. Boston
2024 continues to actively investigate ways to bridge this gap both by reducing costs and increasing revenues in areas such as sponsorship and ticketing. As Boston 2024 moves forward in the bid process, the budget team will work closely with the USOC to identify and establish plans to close this gap.

In the Political and Public Support document, Boston 2024, which now says it supports the idea of a referendum on the Olympics next year, originally pooh-poohed the idea:

The Massachusetts Constitution does provide a state-wide initiative petition process to allow citizens to propose laws for approval by the electorate. Utilization of such process by opponents to the bid is possible, but would require overcoming substantial obstacles including intense use of resources, significant financial expenditures, legal challenges and extensive lead time. Every cycle, many petitions may be filed, but very few end up on the ballot....

The initiative petition process generally takes a minimum of two years in order to satisfactorily complete the many burdensome steps. Although technically possible to have a ballot initiative in 2016, given the onerous process, any initiative petition advanced by opponents to Boston 2024 would likely not appear on the ballot before November 2018.

The document talks about how popular the Olympics would be here:

Bidding for and hosting the Games in the Boston area are generally popular ideas. Support is consistent across the Commonwealth, and over the past seven months, we have seen this support grow steadily as residents begin to learn more about a potential Olympics in the Boston area. In Boston alone, nearly 60% of residents favor the proposal to host the Olympics in the city, which represents a strong baseline of support garnered with minimal public outreach. Even before hearing details about the proposed bid, residents are receptive to the idea, and support jumps to a clear-cut majority after residents receive more information. Support is strongest among young people, African-Americans and Latinos.

Boston 2024’s formidable presence on social media illustrates this broad-based support - we currently have 4,200 followers on Twitter, our "likes" on Facebook have increased by 80% since August and after only one month on Instagram, the number of followers grew by 75%. ...

Four local activists formed a group in opposition to our bid, and while we respect their differing views and their right to promote them, our polling data shows that they do not represent the majority of public opinion. No elected official has publicly endorsed the group, they have not received significant financial backing and their efforts have been limited to social media.

However, the document includes a summary of polling results in which "significant" opposition to the idea of games here was found among older and well educated residents.

H/t Adam Castiglioni.

Boston moves to tie up West Roxbury pipeline in court

City lawyers this week moved to delay construction of a proposed high-pressure natural-gas pipeline down Washington and Grove streets by arguing the gas company can't simply start digging a trench without city approval.

The filings, by the city's outside counsel in US District Court, come as West Roxbury and Dedham opponents of the proposed pipeline gear up for a two-community protest this Sunday that will end with people holding hands at the town line on Washington Street.

Algonquin Gas Transmission recently asked a federal judge to let it begin construction of the pipeline on the grounds a federal natural-gas law overrides any local concerns once federal regulators have approved a pipeline, which they have in this case and that it was exercising its right under the eminent-domain part of the law to block the city from blocking it.

But in a filing with the judge, Boston attorneys argue the city Public Improvement Commission never got the chance to negotiate permission for the pipeline with Algonquin, because the company was acting in bad faith and sued even as it was refusing to give a city engineer detailed plans for the pipe, which would run from Westwood to a new facility at Grove and Centre, where the gas would be pumped into National Grid's system.

The city says the commission was willing to exercise its normal procedures for granting permission for the pipeline - which would require a public hearing - says that's vital given the location of existing water, sewer and gas pipes and electric lines under the roads, that a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year held that the federal Natural Gas Act does not give gas companies the right to do whatever the hell they want and that, in any case, the company is seeking easements, which is different from the permissions the commission grants for under-road pipelines.

But Algonquin, the city charges, sent a letter to the city on June 23 demanding it provide the easements the company needed immediately:

Algonquin's "negotiating" strategy was: accept our offer within a week or be sued. And it made good on its threat. That is not good faith negotiaton.

Feds: Boston just making stuff up in casino allegations

The convoluted legal maneuverings around the proposed Wynn casino in Everett got more interesting this week when the US Attorney's office denied the city's claims that two former state troopers, working on the side as private eyes for Wynn, got a look at what were supposed to be private documents related to Wynn's purchase of the land from three men now under federal indictment for the way they allegedly tried to hide that one of them was a convicted felon.

The filing by the US Attorney's office came yesterday in the criminal case against the three men, not in the civil lawsuit by the city against Wynn - in response to a demand by the three to cough up information related to the private eyes' work - which they say Wynn used to force them to lower their asking price by $40 million.

Balderdash, the US Attorney's office replied:

Without a shred of evidence, and despite having been warned that the "alleged incident" never happened, the defendants seized on a rumor spewed and spun by the City of Boston in a vicious civil lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (the MGC) and filed a Brady motion questioning the integrity of this criminal prosecution. Had the defendants simply asked Joseph F. Flaherty and Stephen G. Matthews about the rumors, they would have learned that Flaherty and Matthews did not review any files at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (the AGO) in 2013. In fact, they reviewed documents at the AGO in March 2014 in a matter completely unrelated to this case, and they never had access to investigative files or any other materials at the AGO related to this case.

Because there was no unauthorized access to files concerning the state or federal investigation of the defendants, the Court should deny the Motion. The government further notes that the only real effect of the defendants’ frivolous Motion was to publically disclose grand jury transcripts produced pursuant to the Protective Order, which materials made their way to the City of Boston and the media within hours of the filing of the Motion.

Developer proposes sharp decrease in parking spaces for Brighton building

Architect's rendering, Telford Street.

The new owner of a Brighton parcel that already has approval for a condo building is asking the BRA to let it cut the number of parking spaces in half and add five additional units.

The Davis Companies of Boston need BRA approval for its revised plans for a parcel at Telford Street and Western Avenue on which it is proposing a six-story, 85-unit building with 72 parking spaces. The BRA had previously approved a proposal by the developer of the new Charlesview Residences complex to put up a seven-story, 80-unit building with 150 parking spaces.

Six of the condos will be marketed as affordable. Three vacant buildings on the site would be torn down to make way for the new building.

Telford Street notice of project change (2.6M PDF).

Local man files the lawsuit we all wish we could

A local man who got three junk calls on his cell phone is suing the company he says made them.

In a lawsuit filed this week in US District Court in Boston, Keith Matthews says the three calls he got in March and April from 180 Fusion LLC of Pleasant Grove, Utah, violate the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, because he never gave the company his number and had no relationship with it.

Matthews is seeking to become lead plaintiff in a class action against the company, which he alleges used a "predictive dialer" to reach out and annoy him.

When the calls were picked up by the Plaintiff a large silence preceded contact with the Defendant indicating that those calls were placed by an “autodialer” or predictive dialer.