Thursday, April 28, 2011

Legislature looks to sacrifice health for profit

State Rep. James Miceli, Democrat of Wilmington, came off as an idiot moments ago on the radio when he discussed the House vote, earlier this week, to repeal medical ethics law that went into effect less than two years ago. The Massachusetts Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturer Code of Conduct outlawed free meals and gifts that salesman and lobbyists for Big Pharma and medical-equipment makers were showering on doctors. Rep. Miceli voted for the law, but earlier this week he voted to repeal the law, one of the nation's toughest in this area. His rationale? The restaurant industry was hurting from the ban.

Now, the first thing that comes to mind is that this segment of the restaurant business cannot be more than tiny, and the drop-off that the industry is feeling must be do to the economic slowdown. However, even if it were true, how can we change a law designed to ensure more honest medical care for our citizens because of some rinky-dink dollars-and-sense byproduct? Rep. Miceli, speaking on WBUR's Radio Boston program, went on to explain the rationale for his original vote, but again talked about the impact on the restaurant industry.

Now maybe there are more legitimate reasons for adjusting, not repealing, the law (and some of them are listed in this article) but Rep. Miceli's comments -- in tandem with other recent actions by our state legislature -- leave me feeling like ignorant fools are running the show on Beacon Hill.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Trouble on Sumner Street

East Boston's 303 Cafe sent a long, at times confusing, email today about their difficulties with Sysco, a giant foodservice corporation. According to the email:
On April 1, 2011 ... Sysco Boston LLC legally seized our Beer and Wine/CV license. 

Owner Melinda Jones goes on to tell the story of  303's opening and the hobbling debt -- more than $30,000 -- owed to Sysco, and she asks for the community's help. She's asking for any ideas and also, our business. I know I can help with the latter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Good Times

Bravo to the East Boston Times for reconfiguring its web site so that stories from the past are accessible and comments can be left after the stories. I'm not sure when these changes were made, but I just noticed them today. I know the Times will appreciate when I take the time to comment, which I hope to do frequently.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Caesars crosses the Rubicon

Suffolk Downs is partnering with the world's largest gaming company to bring a $600 million casino to the East Boston/Revere racetrack. Suffolk lead owner Richard Fields announced today a "strategic alliance" with Caesars Entertainment, which "owns or manages casino resorts on four continents."

Of course, the state legislature has yet to legalize casinos in the Bay State, and right now a bill filed by East Boston state Sen. Anthony Petruccelli that would authorize three resort casinos is sitting idly, but speculation is that the legislature will take up the matter this summer.

Those opposed to bringing casinos to Massachusetts are looking for a comprehensive, independent study of the effects, positive and negative, that such a move will bring to our state. So far, no such study has been authorized, and some feel that this is an attempt to downplay or hide the actual consequences of expanded gaming.

Neighbors of Suffolk Downs will be hosting "A Forum on Expanded Gambling" at the Winthrop Middle School on Wednesday, May 4.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Early closing at Fast Lane screws customers

Both the state web site and the sign on the door say that the Fast Lane Service Center at 145 Havre Street in East Boston is open until 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, but I got there around 4:23 and found the door locked. At least three other people drove up and were angered by the early closing. I had driven home from work early just to go there to renew my resident status and got shut out. These are the small things that make people cynical about state government.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Unfortunate circumstances" a poor excuse

Carmen Guzman wants justice in the death of her daughter, Julissa Brisman, at the hands of Philip Markoff, the so-called "Craigslist killer." Of course, Markoff killed himself last year while awaiting trial, but Guzman believes that the gun store where Markoff purchased a 9mm pistol should be held accountable -- and she's right.

The story, in today's Globe, has a pair of quotes that leave me shaking my head. First, the owner of the State Line Gun Shop -- located about 3,000 feet over the border into New Hampshire -- said, "There really is nothing to say at all." Nothing to say about an establishment in a mostly rural state that sets up shop on the fringe of a major urban center and sells weapons to people from a neighboring state, where the gun laws are more restrictive? More than 100 guns that were purchased in New Hampshire were used to commit crimes in Massachusetts in 2009.

The next quote, even more disturbing, comes from the assistant US Attorney, who said, "It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances, but there doesn’t appear to be any intentional conduct on the part of the dealer." The "intentional conduct" of the dealer is to sell as many guns as possible and, therefore, not to worry about the details, which is this case involved a fake ID with an unconvincing photo and the name of the fake identity misspelled.

Sure, Markoff might have obtained a gun elsewhere, or he might have killed Julissa Brisman by some other means -- but wasn't her life worth just a little bit of effort on somebody's part?