By - 7/23/09 - 7:32 am

Scooters are cute and functional.

These little vehicles can transport people and belongings - albeit not many - great distances on very little fuel. They can navigate small areas and can be stored in a fraction of the space of a traditional car.

Best of all, they can be parked nearly anywhere so they have a positive impact on the municipal parking challenges most big cities face.

By - 7/23/09 - 7:31 am

City Councilor Michael Flaherty says he opposes Mayor Menino's plan to increase meals and hotel-room taxes in Boston, saying adding 0.75% to the meals tax and 2% to the hotel tax would unfairly burden local diners and business owners already hard hit by the recession.

Flaherty, who wants to replace Menino, says there's plenty of fat in the existing city budget that could be could to raise the $18 million Menino says the city would gain by implementing the taxes. Both proposals go before the city council on July 19; Flaherty will vote against both.

Kevin McCrea also opposes the new taxes: "The city is not in a fiscal crisis, just a crisis of management."

... If, unfortunately, the tax increase is passed remember that the Mayor promised to have it offset the residential property tax. If he doesn't include that in his legislation, you will see yet another example of him saying one thing and doing another.

Flaherty's statement:

By - 7/22/09 - 2:57 pm

The tax on meals, already set to increase to 6.25% next month, will go up to 7% Oct. 1 under a plan released today by Mayor Menino to combat a drop in state aid.

By - 7/22/09 - 11:50 am

Says the state should raise the gas tax instead (which, of course, isn't going to be happening anytime soon), Wicked Local Allston/Brighton reports:

... The proposed 19.5 percent fare increase is an unsustainable cost for many Boston residents. In addition, service cuts have been proposed on many evening and weekend routes, as well as those routes that have experienced lower ridership. However, these routes are often the only option for many residents who work evening or weekend shifts and do not have any other reliable forms of transportation. ...

By - 7/21/09 - 4:37 pm

Mayoral candidate Kevin McCrea says he would emulate a pilot state program and hire civilians to handle flagging at construction sites - but also make detail work available to police cadets who can't get on the BPD because of budget constraints:

The benefits of this are many. We allow police officers to be at their best for their important job of public safety. We help to lower the unemployment rate in Boston by hiring residents to fill these jobs. We lower taxes for Boston residents by lowering the costs of construction to our roads, bridges and buildings in the City of Boston. This can help lower the cost of building housing as well.

His complete statement:

By - 7/21/09 - 4:34 pm

Mike Ball struggles against the blandness he says makes up the platforms of most of the people running for at-large seats on the city council this year:

... Rather than nothing ventured, nothing gained, the motto for the council primary is more like the turtle who sticks his neck out gets his head cut off. ...

By - 7/20/09 - 10:12 pm

A weekend visit by out-of-town friends served as a welcomed reminder of how much fun it is to browse the Boston-Cambridge used bookstores. We didn't manage to visit all of them, but we spent quality time in four:

Brattle Book Shop on West Street is full of great finds, especially the $1-$3-$5 outdoor bargain stalls. This is my favorite used bookstore in the area.

Commonwealth Books adjoining the Old South Meeting House is a great little bookstore jam packed with books.

By - 7/17/09 - 1:00 pm

Mass. High Tech reports on Openairboston, the non-profit trying to build a citywide public WiFi network.

The effort initially focused on traditional wireless access points (like the ones you can see on lightpoles all over Brookline), but organizers realized that would prove impossibly expensive and so are now using a "mesh" approach, in which each subscriber's computer is essentially equipped to act as an access point through a cheapo router. The result: Free WiFi in parts of the Fenway.

By - 7/16/09 - 7:25 am

Hey guys, hey.

for anyone planning on coming to the Saturday Rebel Shakespeare Performance of Hamlet, Orfeo Group has asked us to switch our start time. It was 11am. It is now 4pm.

So, their 2pm performance of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" is 15 bucks, but if you say "i'm a rebel," it'll cost you 10 bucks. You don't have to go to it. You can show up just to see Hamlet at 4. Or, you can show up for Hamlet, and then attend their 6:45 performance of "Complete Works," but you won't get the discount on the ticket. That's only for show 1.

By - 7/14/09 - 7:50 pm

Yelp Boston thinks Allston/Brighton, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and Roslindale are "beyond city limits!" Maybe it's time to break down and actually hire editors from the area? Nah.

Via Bostonist.

By - 7/14/09 - 4:06 pm

Today's Boston election roundup:

Chris Kulikoski, running against District 1 (North End, East Boston, Charlestown) incumbent Sal LaMattina, says the city needs to find new ways to combat rats. He said "rats as big as cats" scurry around near his Charter Street home after dark and that the city might have to take steps such as banning leaving trash on the street overnight: "Presently, trash sits out all night for next-day collection. Since rats are nocturnal, it only makes sense not to leave trash out overnight for rates to feast on. These are not the feasts the North End should be known for."

By - 7/14/09 - 10:47 am

The Globe reports on wrangling over a new city ordinance aimed to prevent motorcyclists from tearing through Boston late at night on modified bikes that sound even louder than usual and scare the livestock. Or as one Back Bay resident put it: "Acoustic terrorism."

By - 7/14/09 - 10:16 am

UPDATE: The Flaherty campaign says it does too proofread stuff; the posted copy was a proof that was corrected before it was actually handed out.

His press releases are full of errors and so are his campaign fliers (check the third blue box).

Via Jordan Newman (granted, a Yoon operative).

By - 7/13/09 - 9:18 am

To: [email protected]

To the editor:

Councilor Michael Flaherty’s idea to slash the city’s motor pool by having workers ride the T is a brilliant strategy for doubling the number of employees on the payroll. How else does he expect to maintain the same level of productivity when workers are forced to spend half the day waiting for trains and buses that run infrequently and arrive late, if at all?

Is Flaherty trying to save the city money or earn points with the unions by creating jobs for their members?

Jonathan Kamens

By - 7/13/09 - 9:13 am
Face lost

Plunged to the ground: Decorative molding at the roof line of 337 Huntington Ave. Photographed after it fell off by Robert Beene. Compare to the Google Street View below.

WBZ traffic reports that a partial building collapse at 337 Huntington Ave. in Boston has closed the road and the Green line E trains near the Northeastern T-Stop.

A map of Northeastern University lists the building as a residence hall.

Channel 5 reports roofers were working on the building when part of the front collapsed.

Another photo from the scene.

By - 7/13/09 - 8:09 am

Mayoral hopeful Sam Yoon is celebrating Tom Menino's reign by vowing to serve no more than two terms as mayor - just like Menino once did:

If eight years is long enough for the President of the United States, then it should be long enough for the Mayor of Boston. Politicians, just like everything else, have a shelf life. After two terms, staleness begins to creep into administrations. Term limits ensure fresh leadership and a healthier democracy.

By - 7/12/09 - 9:19 am

The news that AOL has shut down CompuServe (thus proving yet again that pretty much everything AOL buys fails sooner or later) gets About Black Boston to reminiscing about how local black entrepreneurs used the network back in the day:

... American Visions was the official magazine of the African American Museums Association when CompuServe partnered to launch its content online. Bill Clinton was the President of the United States as the project was unfolding. Musician Greg Osby was gigging at Wally's Cafe and signed copies of CDs distributed to online members of Go Afro. Boxer Joe Frazier, actress Pam Grier, and author Connie Briscoe ("Sisters and Lovers") were forum guests. George Curry published Emerge Magazine and appeared before the online chat audience twice. There were many other black celebrities there online. ...

Ed note: One of the first newspapers to go online, via CompuServe, was the Middlesex News in Framingham in the early 1980s. We even had a Japanese news crew spend time in the newsroom filming editors preparing stories for uploading to subscribers, who actually paid ($5 an hour) to download news stories - at 300 baud. Here is some more, along with a screenshot of Fred the Middlesex News Computer - I'm not sure my design skills have improved much since then!

By - 7/11/09 - 3:30 pm

The new recycling bins arrived at my apartment this morning in JP. I made quick video about them.

By - 7/11/09 - 12:29 pm

Interesting to see how much has changed - and hasn't - since the 1920s: