Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 12:26 pm
Shoppers in Massachusetts can look forward to a sales tax holiday later this month. The Massachusetts legislature in the closing minutes of the legislative session last week set the sales tax-free shopping days for August 16 and 17.
The sales tax holiday was included in a comprehensive economic development bill that contains dozens of programs and incentives designed to create jobs. State Senator Gale Candaras of Wilbraham, who helped write the bill, acknowledges there is scant evidence the sales tax holiday does much to grow the Massachusetts economy.
The Massachusetts Inspector General issued a scathing report Thursday on a former state university president’s use of school funds for personal purposes.
Inspector General Glenn Cunha said former Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle knowingly and willingly violated school policy by spending lavishly for six years on trips and entertainment for himself, his family and friends. Cunha called Dobelle’s behavior “outrageous”
Emotions remain high over Gov. Deval Patrick’s offer to temporarily house unaccompanied immigrant children in Massachusetts. No final decision has been made about where the children would stay, if federal authorities accept the offer.
Six years after Mohegan Sun planted its flag in Palmer with the idea of building a western Massachusetts resort casino, the Connecticut-based company is leaving the rural town and giving up control of a 152-acre site.
Mohegan Sun is terminating a 99-year lease on the former casino site -– a wooded hillside just off the MassPike — and giving up pursuit of a non-casino development there. Town officials and the landowner, Northeast Reality, were notified Monday.
Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 12:46 pm
MGM is preparing to purchase two city-owned buildings in Springfield for the Las Vegas-based company’s casino project.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said MGM intends to close on the sale of the properties by the end of this month despite the statewide casino referendum in November that could kill the Springfield project.
" They have honored everything they have had to honor up to this point."
Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 12:41 pm
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s announcement Friday that Westover Air Force Reserve Base in Chicopee might be used to shelter immigrant children caught base commanders by surprise.
Base spokesman, Master Sgt Andrew Biscoe, said Westover is an active airfield with operational and security concerns that would need be addressed before it could house up to a thousand children. Also, lodging at the base is used on the weekends by thousands of reservists.
Gov. Deval Patrick says no decision has been made on a request from the Obama administration for Massachusetts to shelter some of the unaccompanied children who have been streaming across the nation’s southern border
Patrick seemed sympathetic to the request when he called the situation on the southern border a “humanitarian crisis” adding Massachusetts should do what it can to help. Republican State Rep. Nick Boldyga of Southwick said the governor should reject the federal request to temporarily house the immigrant children.
Massachusetts’ highest court ruled today that a question asking voters to repeal the state’s casino law can go on the November ballot. It sets up what promises to be a hard-fought campaign to decide the fate of the fledgling gambling industry in Massachusetts.
The Mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts has renewed a call for an end to new refugee resettlements in Springfield. Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal said the mayor has raised concerns that need to be addressed.
Mayor Domenic Sarno first called for a moratorium on refugee resettlements in Springfield 10 months ago, but then backed off amid criticism from social service providers and advocates for immigrants. Sarno said his office recently learned that up to 70 refugees will be settled in Springfield in the coming year.
An artist's rendering of the Springfield casino proposed by MGM Resorts. It was awarded the state's first casino license on June 13,2014, two-and-a-half years after Las Vegas-style gambling was legalized in Massachusetts.
Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 12:34 pm
The city of Springfield, Massachusetts has a budget in place for the fiscal year that begins July 1st. The city’s elected officials are in agreement that following years of recession-forced spending cuts, the budget for fiscal year 2015 moves the city forward.
The $581.9 million budget recommended by Mayor Domenic Sarno was adopted by the Springfield City Council Monday night by an 11-0 vote with two councilors absent. The vote wrapped up the least contentious budget season in the state’s third- largest city in recent years.
People in Springfield, Massachusetts reflected Sunday on the third anniversary of the tornado that left a major scar on the city. While officials say they are proud of the recovery process, they acknowledge more work is ahead.
New homes are under construction in the low-income Maple High-Six Corners neighborhood in keeping with a master plan painstakingly put together in the months after the June 1, 2011 tornado. A new elementary school is under construction to replace one destroyed by the storm. Thousands of new trees have been planted.
Memorial Day observances are under way in western Massachusetts,where the holiday weekend will feature parades and solemn ceremonies.
The city of Springfield commemorated Memorial Day Friday afternoon with an annual ceremony under an overcast sky. After short speeches on the steps of city hall, a group of elected officials and military veterans placed wreaths at the five war memorials across the street in Court Square. The procession was led by JROTC color guards from each of the city’s four high schools.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is scheduled to hold a final public hearing in Springfield today on the casino proposed by MGM. It is a last chance for commissioners to gauge public sentiment before completing a lengthy evaluation of the sole resort casino applicant in western Massachusetts.
Springfield Parking Authority Executive Director Mary McNally speaks in city hall after Mayor Domenic Sarno ( at right) announced her appointment. Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy stands next to the mayor.
An attorney and veteran of several municipal boards and commissions has been tapped to head the parking authority in Springfield, Massachusetts. The appointment comes as the city is on the verge of a parking space crunch.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced Friday the selection of Mary McNally as the new executive director of the Springfield Parking Authority. He called her “eminently qualified” and said the appointment is part of a new direction at the authority.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear oral arguments Monday on whether a question to repeal casino gambling should appear on the November election ballot.
The decision by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office to ban the question from the ballot is being challenged in the state’s highest court by anti-casino activists led by John Ribiero, chairman of the group Repeal the Casino Deal.
" There is no reason for us to be kept off the ballot."
Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 6:07 pm
The commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has resigned following the deaths of three children on her watch. Child welfare advocates say the focus now needs to shift to fixing problems at the state agency and preventing child abuse.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who had previously rejected DCF Commissioner Olga Roche’s resignation offers, said Tuesday he had reluctantly agreed to accept it now, believing the troubled child welfare agency can’t move forward with her at the helm.
Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 6:16 pm
The 118th Boston Marathon took place today amid heavy security a year after the bombings near the race’s finish line that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.
State and local police officers were highly visible—even positioned on the rooftops of some buildings. Bomb-sniffing dogs checked trash containers. Spectators had to pass through metal detectors to get to some areas. Authorities said the entire 26.2- mile race course was under video surveillance. Helicopters circled overhead.
Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 6:32 pm
As college student loan debt continues to climb nationally, lawmakers in Massachusetts are proposing some ways to help.
A subcommittee of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education approved a report this week that contains nine recommendations including trying to decrease the time it takes to earn a college degree, increase state aid, and require all Massachusetts high school students to take a financial literacy course.
Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 6:52 pm
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation as part of the planning for a major highway project in western Massachusetts is surveying commuters.
MassDOT wants to hear from people who travel on Interstate 91 to find out daily routes, arrival and departure times and parking locations. It is part of the planning for the 3-year $260 million reconstruction of the elevated portion of the highway through downtown Springfield. Springfield Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Cuiffreda says the online survey is a good first step toward minimizing traffic problems.
Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 6:41 pm
Thousands of Massachusetts residents are being surveyed as part of multi-year, multi-million dollar research project on the social and economic impacts of introducing casino gambling to the state.
The members of the UMass Amherst led research team say initial results will be reported to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in September. These findings will be the baseline that will be used to measure changes in problem gambling, domestic violence, housing prices and a host of other socio-economic factors as casinos open over the next one to three years.
Supporters and opponents of MGM’s $800 million casino project in Springfield had a final chance last night to sound-off in front of Massachusetts gaming industry regulators. The state gaming commission held a final public hearing in Springfield as it prepares to award the lone casino license in western Massachusetts where MGM Springfield is the only applicant.