Comm. Ave. bridge at BU Bridge to be shut outbound for two weeks this summer

MassDOT today released the schedule for summer driving hell on the Comm. Ave. bridge: The outbound lanes will be shut between July 26 and Aug. 11 as part of "accelerated" replacement work scheduled for completion next year.

Detours and transit shuttles will be necessary for some station stops on the MBTA’s Green Line B Branch, MBTA Bus Routes CT2 and 47, the Worcester Commuter Rail Line, and Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited route. The impacts on all modes of transportation are a necessary part of having the MassDOT contractor work continuous shifts 24 hours a day and utilize Accelerated Bridge Construction techniques in order to reduce overall construction duration, minimize the impact on the traveling public and local community, and improve safety.

The bridge was in dire need of major work.

After 47 years, man continues to proclaim innocence in double murder at a Dorchester supermarket

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today it was not going to hear Raymond White's appeal of his conviction on two first-degree murder convictions for the 1971 deaths of two security guards at a Columbia Road supermarket - at least not yet.

The court ruled that if White does want to press his case that errors were made in his prosecution and conviction, he first needs to seek a new trial in Suffolk Superior Court.

White and another man, James Hall, were convicted in 1975 on charges they gunned down two Brinks security guards at Freedom Foods - Boston's first black-owned supermarket - at 264 Columbia Rd., where the Lila G. Frederick Pilot Middle School now stands.

The two were also convicted of stealing the nearly $30,000 in cash the two guards - Harry T. Jeffreys and Calvin Thorn - were delivering to the store. Police said they quickly tracked the two suspects, the money, the gun, the ammo and a lot of blood to White's sister's apartment down Columbia Road, where Hall lay bleeding.

Freedom Foods had opened in a former Purity Supreme in 1968. It closed at that location in 1972 due to financial problems - at least some caused by the loss of a large number of customers when the city tore down scores of nearby homes and apartments in an urban-renewal push.

White, a Roxbury resident and 22 at the time of the murders, has been appealing his conviction on and off for decades - although presumably not during a brief escape from the Walpole state prison in 1980. In 1976, when Massachusetts still had a death penalty on the books, the Supreme Judicial Court ordered his verdict changed from death to life imprisonment without parole, as part of its routine review of all first-degree murder sentences.

This came two years after the court agreed to let him file an appeal of his verdict, based on alleged errors at his trial, including the judge's refusal to question prospective jurors on their knowledge of Allah, but he didn't follow through with that - until 1994, the court rejected his request to let him file another appeal.

White appealed again in 2014 and this time - in 2016 - an SJC justice agreed to let him formally appeal to the court.

In its ruling today, however, the entire court rejected that.

The better course in these circumstances is for White to proceed in the first instance by a motion for a new trial in the trial court. This approach has several advantages over a reinstated direct appeal in the first instance. First, it will allow for a full development of the factual record as to any claims that White wishes to pursue, including his claim that the loss of his right to an appeal was due to the ineffective assistance of counsel. Second, it will permit the trial court judge to make a definitive ruling on the ineffectiveness claim. Third, it will permit the parties and the judge to hone legal issues that are now more than forty-five years old. Finally, it will permit the parties to litigate in the trial court in the first instance the questions that may arise as to what law will apply where the relevant law may have changed since the time of White's convictions.

Requiring White to proceed in this fashion, rather than simply reinstating his direct appeal, will not violate his rights or prejudice him in any way provided we impose certain protections for his benefit. First, assuming the trial court judge determines that the lost direct appeal was in fact a consequence of ineffective assistance of counsel -- and not a choice by White -- White must be permitted to raise all claims that he could have raised in a direct appeal, and the judge will be required to consider each of his claims on the substantive merits, just as we would have done in a direct appeal pursuant to G. L. c. 278, § 33E. Second, if the motion for a new trial is denied, White must have an unfettered right to appeal from that ruling ...

In Boston, 'affordable' rent for a family of three is about $1,400 a month

Ed. note: Corrected to reflect fact that a family of three would need two bedrooms, not three, and that the BPDA requires rental units be available to people making up to 70% of the area median income, which drops the monthly rent from nearly $1,900 to $1,400.

In Boston, developers putting up buildings with at least 10 units are required to set aside 13% of the units in new buildings as "affordable" (or contribute even more to a fund that acquires such units elsewhere). Typically, this means they have to be affordable to people making up to 70% of the "area median income" for apartments and 80% for condos.

The BPDA last week released its 2018 calculations for just what that means:

For an apartment, 70% of the area median income would mean an annual income of no more than $52,850 for a single person and $67,950 for a family of three - with rents ranging from $984 a month for a single person to $1,459 for that family of three.

For a condo, with a limit of 80% of the area median income, that translates to a maximum sales price of $147,100 for a studio and $217,000 for a two-bedroom unit.

Over the past year or so, the city has been making noises about increasing the amount of "workforce" housing, for people making up to 120% of the area median income. That would let single people making up to $90,550 and a family of three bringing in $116,450 enter the lottery (and most of the units have lotteries) for an apartment. For the corresponding condos, the maximum prices would range from $226,800 for a single person to $343,000 for that family.

In some neighborhoods, such as Roxbury, Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, non-profit community development corporations have won approval for projects that include some units available to people making as little as 30% of the area median income.

The area that the city uses to define median income consists of Boston, Quincy and Cambridge.

Finally, that secure feeling on UHub

Took me way too long, but I've finally managed to get SSL working on the ol' site (the problem, for people who care, will follow).

The home page now has that nice little lock that lets you know the site's secure, as do pages such as login, registration and commenting. You may still run across pages with broken-lock icons, but that's because I've been hard coding links that start with http:// since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. One good MySQL command'll fix that, but, to be honest, Sunday night isn't the best time to do that for somebody whose grasp of SQL commands is shaky, even if I did just back up the whole database.

As for why it took me so long, when I got an SSL certificate a few months back, I could never get it to work, no matter how much fiddling I did with .htaccess. Sometimes, I'd wind up with some weird "too many redirects" error. A lot of the times, nothing at all would happen.

And yet, the other sites I host on the same platform worked fine as soon as I turned on their certificates. The problem, it turned out, is that I'm using CloudFlare for image caching (and secondarily for protection against various Bad Things). The fault wasn't CloudFlare's, though - it was mine, because I never flipped the switch to let them know I now had an SSL certificate on the server. Once I did that, whammo, SSL started working within a couple hours.

Somerville catch-basin covers never die, they just quietly sit there

Somerville used to date-stamp its manhole covers, so that's how Chris Devers could tell how old this catch basin cover on Washington Street near McGrath Highway is.

Iron Covers, a Somerville resident who takes photos of such things, adds:

They started building the sewer system in somerville right after the civil war because of the population boom. The earliest dated cover I’ve found is 1874. I found one dated 1870 in Cambridge