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Business Manager’s Blog

John P. Dumas

John P. Dumas, the Business Manager of Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, represents more than 7,000 electrical and telecommunication members in the Greater Boston area.

A 37 year member of Local 103, Dumas is a seasoned and experienced leader. Along with serving as 103’s president for the past 18 years, Dumas served the union in a number of leadership roles, including business agent, member of the union’s executive board and trustee of the health, ANNUITY, pension, LMCT and JATC funds. He also has served as a member of numerous contract negotiation teams, playing a pivotal role in several major contracts governing members’ benefits.

Throughout his career he has shown a keen interest in nurturing younger union officers in preparation for leadership roles in the future, and his leadership style has always been one of inclusion and accessibility to all members.


Deal Pending for Roxbury Church ‘Ready for Redevelopment’

Curbed Boston | By Tom Acitelli
January 23, 2015

St. James African OrthodoxThere are plenty of churches in Boston that have been converted to apartments or condos. The old St. James African Orthodox Church at 50 Cedar Street in Roxbury’s Fort Hill area might be the very next one: There’s a deal pending for the 8,040-square-foot structure, and it’s zoned for residential.

The Boardwalk Properties listing, in fact, touts the 105-year-old former sanctuary as “ready for redevelopment” and classifies it as multifamily. At the same time, the listing points out the church’s understandable capaciousness: The top floor “holds up 250 +/- congregants with a large priest and a choir room. Beautiful stained glass throughout the entire building. Downstairs has a large open hall and could possibly seat another 100-150 +/- more congregants.”

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UMass Building Authority explores “public-private” bid to build first-ever Dorchester dorm

Dorchester Reporter | By Bill Forry
January 22, 2015

UMass Boston PlanThe University of Massachusetts is moving forward with plans to build its first-ever student dormitory on the Dorchester campus of UMass Boston. A request for proposals will be issued this spring seeking proposals from private developers who would lease land from the university to build a 1,000 bed residential facility with a dining hall.

“We’re doing a preliminary review of whether we can do public-private partnerships to build the 1,000 bed residence hall at UMass Boston that would serve freshman or first year students,” said Patricia Fillipone, the executive director of the UMass Building Authority. “We’re looking to partner with a developer to build that residence hall.”

On Dec. 8, the UMass Building Authority issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), a document that serves to gaugue the interest of developers in the plan. According to Fillipone, there were eight respondents to the RFQ. The Building Authority is currently reviewing those responses, she said, and will then formulate a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit more formal bids from the development community.

“We would expect that it would happen sometime in the spring of 2015,” said Fillipone.

The budget for the new facility— which could be sited on one of two preferred locations on the UMass Boston campus— is estimated at $113 million.

“We envision that we would lease the land to the developer and they would build and operate the building,” said Fillipone, who said this “public-private” model for building a dorm is a “first of its kind” on any UMass campus.

In 2009, UMass Boston published a 25 year Master Plan that outlined its intent to build-out the Dorchester campus, including new academic buildings and the first-ever on-campus student housing. Although hundreds of UMass students presently live close to campus in privately-owned residential properties on the Columbia Point peninsula— like Peninsula Apartments and Harbor Point— there have never been any on-campus dorms built.

The Master Plan document pin-pointed two locations on UMass controlled land where a dorm facility could be built. The first is located adjacent to the Peninsula Apartment complex. A second is situated near the existing Calf Pasture Pump Station, a building that UMass Boston now owns that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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More doubt is cast on Cape Wind plan

Developer drops 2 land contracts

The Boston Globe | By David Abel
January 24, 2015

Wind Turbines NetherlandsThe developer of Cape Wind has terminated contracts to buy land and facilities in Falmouth and Rhode Island, the latest sign that the $2.5 billion effort to become the nation’s first offshore wind farm may never produce a kilowatt of energy.

The developer, which for more than a decade has sought to launch a project to build more than 100 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, was also suspended on Tuesday from participating in New England’s wholesale electricity markets by ISO New England, an independent company in
Holyoke that operates the region’s power grid.

The failure to make payments to preserve those contracts and to maintain its position with ISO New England comes 2 1/2 weeks after the disclosure that National Grid and Northeast Utilities had terminated their contracts to buy power from Cape Wind, deals deemed critical to the project’s financial viability.

In the latest ominous sign for the project, officials at Cape Wind on Thursday acknowledged they stopped making payments on an agreement last July with the Rhode Island-based Quonset Development Corporation to lease 14 acres of land in North Kingstown, R.I., which was slated to become a staging and assembly area for the project.

“I can’t say why,” said Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind.

After two utilities terminated their contracts to buy power from the project, it was unclear whether it would move forward.

He declined to comment further or answer other questions about the future of Cape Wind.

Ted Kresse, a spokesman for Quonset Development, said Cape Wind paid a $10,000 deposit for the land and a total of $19,200 in monthly payments since September to maintain the agreement, which was terminated last week. Cape Wind never took custody of the land.

“I don’t want to speculate as to why the lease was terminated,” Kresse said.

An official at East Marine in Falmouth confirmed that Cape Wind also let expire a 2012 purchase-and-sale agreement for a 3-acre marina that would have been used to shuttle staff to and from the turbines.

“It’s not clear why,” said the official, who declined to be identified because of a nondisclosure agreement.

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Massachusetts’ problem with transparency

What’s your government up to? It’s harder than you might think to find out

The Boston Globe | By David Scharfenberg
January 23, 2015

State House CloudyIf you want to see your government in action, just take a seat in the gallery high above the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

But don’t take a picture, unless you want a visit from the security guard. Don’t shoot any video. And that spirited debate you hear below on multi-million-dollar cuts to the state’s most vulnerable citizens? Well, it doesn’t really amount to much. All the important stuff was worked out ahead of time, behind closed doors. Massachusetts’ democracy may be one of the oldest in the country. But it is also, in many respects, one of the most opaque.

Government websites are difficult to navigate. There are no clear penalties for state agencies that improperly deny public records requests. And the Legislature has exempted itself from the state’s public records and open meetings laws.

Legislative leaders have long argued that private meetings allow for more candid — and more productive — conversations between lawmakers.

“The discussion becomes a lot more open and, in that fashion, moves the process along a whole lot faster,’’ House Speaker Robert DeLeo once told the Globe, amid concern about a closed-door budget process.

But many states conduct their business in public; nearby New Hampshire is one of six states that has written a right to open government into its constitution.

And all the secrecy in Massachusetts, good-government advocates say, has consequences: making it more difficult for citizens to participate, tougher for the media to hold government to account, and easier for public officials to slip into corruption.

There is a fog over Massachusetts state government. Below, a guide to the mists — and the latest ideas for lifting them.

Not-so-public records

For the enterprising reporter or citizen activist, there is nothing quite like documents — evidence, in black-and-white, of a misguided policy or an act of corruption.
But good luck getting your hands on them.

“Massachusetts has one of the worst public records laws in the country,” says Robert Bertsche, a media lawyer and partner at Prince Lobel Tye in Boston.

He’s a blunt fellow. But many share his assessment.
Local transparency advocates have long kvetched about the law. And three years ago, a national consortium of good-government and media groups known as the State Integrity Investigation gave Massachusetts an “F” for “public access to information.”

The flaws, critics say, are many. Chief among them: the exemptions.

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Braintree’s senior center about to be enlarged

Patriot Ledger | By Lane Lambert
January 23,  2015

BRAINTREE – The town’s senior center will get a long-overdue expansion later this year.

Elder Affairs Director Sharmila Biswas and Mayor Joseph Sullivan said a planned $850,000 expansion will make the Cleveland Avenue facility one-third larger, providing more space for exercise classes and other activities.

“We’ve been feeling the need for more space for years,” Biswas said. “Even the big room is not sufficient anymore for the exercise groups.”

Sullivan said, “It’s a very vibrant place, so this is needed.”

Biswas said 2,000 women and men participate in the center’s activities in the course of a year. That’s almost one-third of the town’s over-65 population of about 6,300.

The existing center is 7,000 square feet. The expansion will add 2,650 square feet. Sullivan said work might begin by late spring, and will simply extend the rear of the building.

“It’s basic construction, so it shouldn’t take too long,” he said.
The project is part of the town’s 2015 capital plan, so it is already funded.

The senior center’s activities range from exercise sessions, a book study group and movie night to an Alzheimer’s disease support group and monthly visits by state Sen. John Keenan, D-Quincy.

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Massachusetts has best year for job growth since 2000

Patriot Ledger | By Andy Metzger
January 22, 2015

BOSTON — Massachusetts hit an almost 15-year high for annual job growth in 2014 and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent as the state added 10,900 jobs in December, according to data released Thursday.

Last year was the strongest year of job growth since 2000 when 95,500 jobs were added, according to the state Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

In 2014, Massachusetts added 60,900 jobs, according to preliminary numbers. The state labor office reported 55,200 jobs were added in 2013 and in 2012 Massachusetts added 53,100 jobs.

The drop in the unemployment rate – it was 5.8 percent in November – brings the Bay State back below the national rate of 5.6 percent. The state’s rate dipped to 5.5 percent last June, but has been well above that in the months and years since the 2008 market collapse.

The jobs news arrived as economists and state officials were set to gather at the State House to discuss expected revenues in the next fiscal year and during a period when Gov. Charlie Baker said a $765 million budget hole must be plugged.

December’s numbers also add a book-end to the tenure of Gov. Deval Patrick, who took office in January 2007 when the Massachusetts unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. He left office on Jan. 8.

“Gov. Baker must take note of the proven results implemented under Democratic leadership and replicate the types of investments we need to continue this positive trend,” said Massachusetts Democratic Party Executive Director Matthew Fenlon in a statement.

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Wynn releases renderings of redesigned Everett casino tower

The Boston Globe | By Mark Arsenault
January 22, 2015

Wynn Resorts - NewWynn Resorts Thursday morning released the first renderings of its redesigned Everett casino resort, which show a radically different hotel tower, replacing a tower plan that state officials said lacked the imagination of the company’s best work.

The new tower is curved bronze glass, in keeping with the design of Wynn’s flagship casinos on the Las Vegas strip, the Wynn and Encore resorts.

Wynn officials presented the new design to state gambling regulators this morning.

Stephen Crosby, chairman of the state gambling commission, called the new design a “vast improvement” over the earlier proposal.

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Benchmark senior complexes sold for $360 million

The Boston Globe | By Casey Ross
January 22, 2015

Health Care REIT has purchased a group of assisted living facilities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut for $360 million.

The company, which owns senior housing complex across the country, purchased nine Benchmark Senior Living complexes containing 691 residences. The seller was Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. of Boston.

The sale marks the largest single transaction in Intercontinental’s history. The firm purchased the Benchmark portfolio in July 2005 for about $152 million, and spent more than $20 million on renovations.

“We are more than pleased with this sale, a record setter for assisted living,” said Intercontinental chief executive Peter Palandjian. “This exit represents an awesome financial outcome for the many public pension and union retirement funds invested with Intercontinental. Benchmark has been a tremendous partner. We appreciate that these nine senior living facilities will remain under stable ownership.”

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Boston launches public website to track development on city-owned parcels

The Boston Globe | By Casey Ross
January 22, 2015

If you have ever wanted to bend the city’s ear about its property management skills, here is your chance.

Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development has launched an online map that allows residents to post comments and track the progress of building projects on its 1,300 parcels across the city.

The map, created in partnership with the high tech startup coUrbanize, is part of a broader push by Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration to redevelop city-owned land and involve the public in conversations about building plans.

“This allows us to be more efficient and to hear from neighborhoods about what they like and what they may not like about these projects,” said Sheila Dillon, the mayor’s housing chief.

Dillon is also spearheading plans to build housing for middle-income residents on 250 properties owned by her department. She said those sites will accommodate about 400 new ownership units in outlying neighborhoods such as Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, and Hyde Park.

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New Pier 4 Site Owner Will Break Ground This Year

Banker & Tradesman
January 21, 2015

A New York real estate developer plans to break ground late this year on a 13-story office tower, 100-unit condo building and underground parking garage on the former site of Anthony’s Pier 4 restaurant in South Boston.

Tishman Speyer paid $71 million to acquire the two parcels from Newton-based New England Development on Dec. 23, according to Suffolk County Registry of Deeds records.

The popular gathering spot and tourist attraction closed in July 2013 after 50 years in business. Plans call for a 370,000-square-foot office building, a nine-story condo building and a three-level underground garage. Both buildings will include ground-floor space dedicated for retail or restaurant uses. A one-acre public park will be built on the waterfront site.

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Kensington Adds Electric Car Charging Station

Banker & Tradesman
January 21, 2015

EVThe Kensington luxury apartment complex in Boston has added an electric car charging station as a free amenity to residents.

The 27-story tower at 665 Washington St. in the Theater District opened in October 2013 and contains 381 units. The station manufactured by ChargePoint is located in the resident parking garage and features universal charging capabilities for all electric car models. The garage has been pre-wired to accommodate additional charging stations.

“As the popularity of electric vehicles increases, our community is committed to installing additional stations for our eco-conscious residents,” Drew Boujoulian, the Kensington’s resident services manager, said in a statement.

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Mohegan suit seen as long shot

Gaming law expert says delay unlikely

Boston Herald | By Marie Szaniszlo, Owen Boss
January 22, 2015

A lawsuit the city of Revere, Mohegan Sun and a local electrical workers union filed yesterday against the state Gaming Commission, claiming members “ignored the law and manipulated the application process” when they gave Wynn Resorts the Boston region’s sole gaming license, will be extremely difficult to win, according to a leading expert on gaming law.

“These (lawsuits) are almost always unsuccessful,” said I. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif. “I don’t think it’s going to mean much. I’m not even sure it’s going to delay the plan (to build a Wynn resort casino in Everett).”

A Wynn spokesman pointed¬ to part of the state gaming law that says applicants “have no legal right or privilege to a gaming license and shall not be entitled to any further review if denied by the commission.”

Rose said he doesn’t know if a provision limiting challenges of the gaming panel’s decision would hold up in court, “but even without it, courts generally defer to the decisions of regulators. I’ve never seen one of these challenges succeed on the grounds of bias. The only way they can succeed is if the regulators didn’t follow the statute or their own written procedures.”

Mohegan Sun, which lost its bid to build a casino in Revere, claims to have been “substantially harmed” by the commission’s “numerous violations of its statutory obligations” and members’ “arbitrary and capricious actions” prior to granting the license to Wynn in September, according to the complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court.

The suit blasts “the Commission’s exhibition of extreme favoritism” toward Wynn Resorts and accuses members of “applying a different set of rules to Wynn than (they) did for all other applicants for a gaming license.”

“We’re not suing to get the license,” Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, told the Herald. “We’re asking that the license be revoked and a fair and impartial process be run.”

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Backers of Boston’s Olympic bid present details of plan

The Boston Globe | By Mark Arsenault
January 21, 2015

Boston 2024In its current state, it is a homely industrial district tucked up against the Southeast Expressway, perhaps best known — if it is known at all — as home to the city tow lot.

But in documents filed by the local Olympic organizing committee, this unsightly swath of Boston is rechristened as Midtown, potential location of a temporary Olympic stadium, and one-day site of a new neighborhood to connect South Boston and the South End.

The remaking of the area, known as Widett Circle, is part of the vision described in Olympic bid documents released Wednesday in a kickoff of a public relations campaign by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and local Olympic planners to build enthusiasm for Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Games. About 600 people showed up to a community meeting Wednesday to hear details of the bid, including the potential of 70,000 temporary jobs.

The US Olympic Committee two weeks ago chose Boston to represent the United States in a worldwide contest to host the Games. Boston’s competition could include Rome, Paris, and Berlin — each a former Olympic city. The International Olympic Committee will choose the victor in 2017.

Boston 2024 organizers on Wednesday sought to stem criticism that they have been too tight-lipped about their plans: They repeated for the public the presentation organizers made to the USOC at a private meeting in California in December, as part of their effort to become the US bid city. Organizers on Wednesday also released bid documents and budget plans, though they said they withheld details on potential land and venue costs to protect their negotiating position if Boston wins the Olympics.

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Former Spaulding Hospital turned MGH office space slated for May opening

The Boston Globe | By Jessica Bartlett
January 21, 2015

The old Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital will reopen with new purpose in the coming months, as renovations wrap up in turning the facility into a space for administrative offices and analytical research.

Dr. Jean Elrick, senior vice president of administration for Massachusetts General Hospital, said approximately 900 employees will move into the 198,000 square-foot facility at 125 Nashua Street, which will open at the earliest in May.

“When Spaulding moved, we thought about what use we could put in that property that made sense for us,” Elrick said. “What we are using it for is to consolidate only administrative functions, and to move out of a significant amount of leased space where we aren’t the landlord. It’s easier to control your occupancy costs in a building you own.”

Though theoretically any institution belonging to parent organization Partners HealthCare could have taken over the space, Elrick said it made the most sense for MGH to use the building, mainly because of the proximity of the location to the existing MGH campus.
MGH also could make a case for needed the space.

Approximately 121,000 square feet of the building is in the midst of renovations, including the original building, constructed in 1970, and the addition added in 1990.

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Boston Teachers Union plans to replace Dorchester headquarters

Boston Business Journal | By Catherine Carlock
January 21, 2015

Boston Teachers UnionA development team has filed plans with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to replace the Boston Teachers Union building at 188 Mount Vernon St. in Dorchester.

The plan proposes replacing the BTU’s existing 32,500-square-foot building with a 52,469-square-foot building which would be used by the BTU, its health and welfare fund offices, an optical shop, a credit union, meeting spaces, conference rooms and function halls. The project would also include building a two-story, 308-space parking garage.

The existing headquarters is located just west of the Old Harbor and south of Joe Moakley Park in Dorchester. The BTU’s represents 5,500 teachers and professionals, close to 500 substitute teachers and 1,000 paraprofessionals.

The building replacement project plan was presented to the BRA by B.T.U.H.W.F. Building Corp., an entity managed by the Boston Teachers Union, as well as civil engineer Tetra Tech Inc., architect Perkins + Will and attorney Posternak, Blankenstein & Lund LLP.

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