May 1, 2008 — Vol. 43, No. 38
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Patrick establishes statewide youth council

Gov. Deval Patrick signed an executive order at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury last Thursday to establish a statewide youth council, part of the administration’s effort to engage and involve young state residents.

“Many of the issues we are tackling today, from climate change and college costs to violence prevention and health care, will become even bigger issues tomorrow if we don’t start involving young people in these discussions now,” said Patrick.

Two young people from each of the state’s 14 counties will be appointed to represent their communities on the council, which will meet at least four times a year. Massachusetts residents between the ages of 14 and 20 can apply at

Members “will be on the front lines of policy discussions, sharing what they see in their communities and talking about how state government and communities can work together to find a solution,” according to a statement from Patrick’s office.

Seattle publisher sues Mass. prisons chief over book ban

A publisher that distributes books on the legal rights of prisoners sued the chief of the state’s prison system last Wednesday, claiming he is banning its publications in Massachusetts prisons.

Prison Legal News, a nonprofit publisher, alleges that state Department of Correction Commissioner Harold Clarke and other prison officials refuse to add it to a list of approved vendors who can send books to prisoners.

The lawsuit filed in federal court seeks unspecified damages and an order prohibiting the Department of Correction from maintaining its approved vendor policy. The lawsuit claims the policy is unconstitutional.

Prison Legal News, an independent, mail-order publisher based in Seattle, publishes a monthly journal of court decisions and other news affecting the rights of prisoners. It also distributes books on inmates’ legal rights, including “No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System” and “Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare and Try a Winning Case.”

The corporation distributed books in Massachusetts prisons until 2003, when a policy was adopted that allowed only approved vendors to send books to prisoners, said Paul Wright, the editor of Prison Legal News. Wright said he has written letters to Clarke and other prison officials asking to be put on the approved list.

“We haven’t gotten anywhere with them,” Wright said. “I think some of it is the hostility — that they don’t want prisoners to know what their legal rights are.”

Diane Wiffin, a spokeswoman for Clarke, said prison officials had not seen the lawsuit and would not comment.

(Associated Press)

Mass. home foreclosures rise again

The spike in home foreclosures in Massachusetts shows no signs of ending, after a big jump in March.

The Warren Group said last Thursday that foreclosure deeds more than doubled last month compared with the same month a year ago. The Boston-based publisher of real estate data counted nearly 1,200 foreclosure deeds, in which the owner loses the home, for a 140 percent increase statewide.

The rise in foreclosure petitions was more modest, at 33 percent, with more than 2,900 in March. Foreclosure petitions are a first step that often leads to owners losing their homes.
During the year’s first three months, the Warren Group counted more than 2,800 foreclosure deeds, 138 percent above the total in last year’s first quarter.

(Associated Press)

Worcester bidding to host Bicycling Hall of Fame

WORCESTER — Worcester is in the race to become the new home of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.

The New Jersey-based group, incorporated in 1986 by a group of bicycling enthusiasts, say they’re ready to expand and are looking for a new home. Worcester is among five top contenders.

City officials told the Telegram & Gazette newspaper of Worcester they’re excited about the possibility.

Worcester has at least one claim to fame in the bicycling world. In 1899, city native Marshall “Major” Taylor, known as the “Worcester Whirlwind,” won the 1-mile world championship.

Organizers say they are still in the early stages of the process.

(Associated Press)

Menino gets hands-on with DPW after release of damaging report

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is shaking up the city Department of Public Works (DPW) after an investigation showed workers were slacking off.

The city probe found that workers routinely arrived late and left early, and that managers didn’t ensure basic tasks were done.

Six of eight workers will face disciplinary hearings and more hearings could be ahead as the city probe continues.

Menino says all DPW vehicles will be tracked by global positioning systems to make sure they’re on the job.

The mayor has also hired a new deputy commissioner to oversee reforms.

Menino blamed poor supervision and a lack of work ethic for the problems. He said the abuse of public trust is unacceptable.

(Associated Press)

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