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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.


Seaport Chapel Headed For Higher Ground

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
November 24, 2014

Seaport ChapelOur Lady of Good Voyage, a Roman Catholic chapel founded to serve dockworkers and sailors visiting Boston, is embarking on its maiden journey.

The relic of the waterfront’s nautical heritage will be rebuilt on a new site at the corner of Seaport Boulevard and Sleeper Street.

The chapel opened on Northern Avenue in 1952 to serve cargo ship workers and sailors, as part of a group of chapels serving various vocations built in the Boston archdiocese under Cardinal Richard Cushing.

Since then, the congregation has expanded to include a mix of working-class families and young professionals, Mayor Martin Walsh said.

“There is no more special groundbreaking for all of us in political life to see what this parish means to the South Boston community,” Walsh said at a groundbreaking Friday. “It’s a symbol of new merging with the old, and this historic chapel carries the spirit that led to the foundation and creation of this community.”

Boston Global Investors and Morgan Stanley acquired the Northern Avenue chapel property in 2006 amid plans for the 23-acre Seaport Square development, which will include 6.3 million square feet of offices, retail space, a theater complex and residences.

A 5,000-square-foot chapel will be rebuilt at the new site and donated to the archdiocese, with a projected December 2015 opening. Cardinal Sean O’Malley was a strong supporter of the church’s continuing presence in the Seaport District, Boston Global Investors CEO John Hynes said.

“I admire the Cardinal’s foresight about how valuable this venture could be for the archdiocese … and for his commitment that the church continue to be a meaningful part of the community,” Hynes said.

The new church reflects the spirit of Pope Francis’ call for a “culture of encounter” to combat isolation, O’Malley said.

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How a Temporary Olympic Stadium Could Help Boston’s 2024 Bid

Boston.com | By Adam Vaccaro
November 24, 2014

OlympicsWhen the Boston 2024 committee, which is behind the Hub Olympics proposal, unveiled its plans for what the Games could look like last month, one feature stood out particularly. A temporary Olympic Stadium would be put up at Widett Circle in South Boston, and then dismantled once the Olympics had ended. That idea might wind up well-aligned with the priorities of the International Olympic Committee in ultimately awarding the Games.

On Tuesday, the IOC released 40 recommendations for the future of the Olympics, including the bidding process for potential host cities. A few of the recommendations are clearly aimed at quelling at least some of the discontent with the cost of hosting the Olympics, which tend to go over-budget and bring little in the way of economic benefits.

That reputation has scared off a number of potential bidders for the 2022 Winter Games. The Olympic planning process has also been criticized for creating so-called White Elephants, or venues that are constructed for the Games and then wind up sitting around collecting dust once the Olympics wind down.

The drafted IOC recommendations, which will be discussed in December at the 127th IOC Session, suggest that the use of temporary stadiums and other venues, as well as the use of existing venues, be considered “as positive aspects” for a bid.

The recommendations additionally suggest that the IOC “actively promote the maximum use of existing facilities and the use of temporary and demountable venues” for bidding cities. Temporary Olympic Stadiums, hosting opening and closing ceremonies have been employed previously by two French cites for Winter Olympic bids, and one is planned for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. (Temporary non-stadium venues, such as beach volleyball grounds, are more common in Olympics history.)

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Artists for Humanity eyes $30M expansion in South Boston

Boston Business Journal | By Mary Moore
November 25, 2014

Artists for humanityThe nonprofit Artists for Humanity revealed plans Monday that would add 63,500 square feet of space on nine floors to its existing structure in South Boston, building out a parcel of land that Procter & Gamble donated to the organization last year.

Susan Rodgerson, executive director of Artists for Humanity, told me that the $30 million construction project on the former P&G parking lot will create a taller new addition that will literally bolt onto Artist for Humanity’s current three-and-a-half-story EpiCenter.

Artists for Humanity partners teenagers with professional artists to design, create and sell art products to clients that include companies and firms in Boston. The nonprofit’s EpiCenter is located on A Street in South Boston.

When Artists for Humanity built the EpiCenter a decade ago, Rodgerson and her leadership team assumed that someday they might acquire P&G’s adjacent parking lot, Rodgerson said. So they designed the EpiCenter with walls on the west side that are bolted on, not welded, in anticipation of a structure to be added down the road.

When it is built, the new $30 million addition will be an Energy Positive, or E+, facility – the first such building in Massachusetts, Rodgerson told me. She explained that Energy Plus means the new Artists for Humanity structure will generate more power than it uses, largely as a result of solar panels that will cover the roof.

The EpiCenter also features solar panels, she said, and is a platinum LEED certified building.

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Council takes Mayo Group to task for Broad Street Project: Promises not kept in Downtown Renovation

Lynn Journal
November 21, 2014

Usually when a developer invests $5 million into a dilapidated building to revive a neighborhood, local elected officials, residents and business owners are thrilled and excited.

Two years ago, when representatives of the Mayo Group appeared before the Council to request a special permit and variances to renovate the mixed-use building at 157 Broad Street, the Council was thrilled and supportive.

That support was due in large part to the Mayo Group’s “promises”, according to the Councilors, that the renovated residential units at 157 Broad Street would be marketed and rented as market-rate apartments for young professionals with easy access to public transit.

At-Large Councilor Brendan Crighton noted that he has spent much of the past two years telling prospective developers and businesses with an interest in coming to Lynn about the 157 Broad Street project and the promise of a revitalized downtown neighborhood with upscale apartments and ‘transit-oriented’ development.

However, now that the $5 million renovation is nearly complete and the residential units are ready for occupancy, the Mayo Group has agreed to a two-year lease to provide all of the 30-units to Centerboard, a Lynn-based non-profit that works with homeless families and ‘families in crisis.”

The arrangement with the Mayo Group means that the new housing units on Broad Street will now be used to house families enrolled in the Centerboard programs.

Instead of drawing new residents and families with disposable incomes that could help to grow the economy and local businesses of the downtown neighborhood, the 30-unit property will house families that need more services from the city and contribute to the impression that downtown Lynn is an economically depressed neighborhood.

Given the outcome, the City Council – led by Council President Dan Cahill, Crighton and Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano – found itself in the unenviable position Tuesday night of having to call Mayo Group representatives on the carpet for their failure to deliver on their promises.

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Mayor announces $2.1 million shopping list for Medford improvements

Wicked Local Medford | By Chris Stevens
November 19, 2014

Medford MemorialMEDFORD Mayor Michael McGlynn admits he’s never been a fan of spending the city’s reserve funds, but Monday he announced a shopping list that totals $2.1 million. “I’m here to tell you today that we’re ready to spend some of our reserves,” McGlynn said during a Nov. 17 press conference. “We can do this because there is so much development on the horizon we will be able to recoup the money.” Of the 34 items he will ask the Medford City Council and the Linkage Trustees to approve, McGlynn said $25,000 for bicycle lanes and $25,000 for a public arts program are his biggest ventures. “Bicycles are here to stay,” McGlynn said.

A recent increase in the death of cyclists in the greater Boston area, including one on Route 16 in Medford, worried him, McGlynn said. He added after working with the Bicycle Commission, the plan is to paint chevrons on some of the city’s roadways in an effort to make motorists aware. Parts of Winthrop Street, Playstead Road and Boston Avenue would be first to get the delineations. McGlynn said the commission will also develop a pilot program aimed at educating the public on the rules of the road for cyclists. As far at public art is concerned McGlynn said, “I’m a big believer in public art and I don’t do enough of it.”

The goal is to hand $25,000 to the School Department, earmarked for public arts projects that will be created by students in conjunction with both the School Department and the city. Superintendent of Schools Roy E. Belson loved the idea. He said the future belongs to creative innovators and young people who understand not only the value of the arts, but the economic value as well.

Also on the list
In other requests, McGlynn will ask the Linkage Trustees to approve transferring over $400,000 fund the lease on four trucks for Water/Sewer, stump removal and sidewalk repairs caused by flooding and mitigation for a variety of flooding issues in the city. He is also seeking funding for the Highway Division to cover lease payments and new signage throughout the city. McGlynn said the balance in both the Water/Sewer and Roads Linkage funds are adequate to cover the costs.

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Belmont officials cast wary eye on Cushing Village design changes

Wicked Local Belmont | By Lindsey O’Donnell
November 19, 2014

Cushing Village developmentBELMONT Planning Board officials are pondering several design changes to the Cushing Village development, tucked between Trapelo Road and Common Street. The plans are part of the special permit for the design of the 186,000-square-foot, three-building development, which will collectively feature a mixture of commercial tenants and 115 residential units.

Residents expressed concerns about how the myriad of proposed changes for the original design would affect the development’s overall aesthetic features, during a Nov. 6 Planning Board Meeting. The development will include three main buildings, the Winslow Building, the Hyland Building, and the Pomona Building. Officials proposed design updates to change the Hyland building’s exterior, adding venting units along the side of the three buildings, and expanding a portion of the roof on the Winslow building.

The updates to the Hyland building will move the building’s entrance location and expand the size of the roof’s deck features. A proposed alteration to the Winslow building would also enlarge its roof penthouse to provide more community space for residents. These changes were recommended to give the building a more “suburban” appearance, according to Peter Quinn of Somerville-based Peter Quinn Architects LLC.

Another change would add venting appliances through the exterior walls of all three buildings, which would cost less money that installing the appliances on the rooftop, said Quinn. In addition, developers proposed relocating the municipal parking garage’s pedestrian entrance from the corner of Trapelo and Common streets to the west corner of the Pomona building. The change would bring pedestrians trying to get into the building’s lot closer to the retail portion of the site, said Quinn.

Planning Board members and residents questioned the proposed wall vents and changes to the Hyland building’s roof as impediments to the development’s overall aesthetics. “[In previous discussions] it was very important to the board to soften the top floor of the building by… pushing the bulky things inward so they’re not visible from the street level,” said Planning Board Chairman Michael Battista. “This may have reversed what we achieved during those conversations,” he added.

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Towns working to ease electric bills

The Boston Globe | By John Laidler
November 23, 2014

With residents and small businesses in Massachusetts bracing for sharp increases in their electric bills this winter, several area communities are joining a regional effort to help bring them rate relief starting next year.

Norton and Freetown are among six cities and towns that have agreed so far to take part in the initiative organized by the Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District. The others are Acushnet, Dighton, Fall River, and Rehoboth. At least eight other communities, including Rochester, are considering joining.

Provided it receives approval from the state Department of Public Utilities, the plan will take effect next spring. Under it, participating communities will together choose a common supplier to provide power to their residents at specified bid prices — prices that should represent a savings for them.

The prices will vary from community to community based on the duration of their contracts with the supplier – from one to three years — and how much of the power they want to come in the form of green energy. Unless they opt out, residents and small businesses will all be charged at the contracted prices for their community.

Cities and towns can enter into such municipal electric aggregation agreements with investor-owned utilities through a provision in the 1997 Massachusetts law that deregulated the state’s energy market.

“Aggregation offers a chance to go out and combine all local residents to get a better price, saving them some money,” said Ross Perry, director of municipal partnerships for SERPED, the regional planning agency. “And there is definitely an opportunity to lock in longer-term rates, so it’s much easier to budget.

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Group plans robot playground

Boston Herald | By Marie Szaniszlo
November 24, 2014

Robot PlaygroundA new nonprofit is aiming to keep local robotics companies in Massachusetts and attract others by establishing a wide-open robo-testing ground outside Boston.

The Devens Interoperability Playground is the brainchild of members of the New England chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, who watched wistfully as Boston Dynamics in Waltham was bought by Google and Kiva Systems in North Reading was acquired by Amazon.

“We were looking at companies that got their start in the Boston area get snapped up by companies on the West Coast,” said Richard Kelley, DIP’s executive vice president. “We were saying, ‘What would it take to keep those jobs and encourage economic development here?’”

About six months ago, AUVSI was looking for a place to hold an event — “somewhere you could actually see (robots) moving around and flying and doing the things they were intended to do” — when MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development authority, suggested Devens, the former Army base, Kelley said. “We looked out there and became so enamored of the whole community and what they were doing to make it a technology hub. And its proximity to Boston and Cambridge was a huge advantage.”

DIP is now working to formalize a business plan, raise funds privately and get permits to use Devens’ woods, fields and ponds.

“This is the next cutting edge for the state — to build a robotics ecosystem like it did for biotech,” Kelley said.

MassDevelopment spokesman Mark Sternman said DIP is “an interesting business model, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this idea develops.”

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Renewable energy starting to win on price

The Boston Globe | By Diane Cardwell
November 24, 2014

Solar ConstructionNEW YORK —For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

That day appears to be dawning.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.

Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources.

In Texas, Austin Energy signed a deal this spring for 20 years of output from a solar farm at less than 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. In September, the Grand River Dam Authority in Oklahoma announced its approval of an agreement to buy power from a wind farm expected to be completed next year. Grand River estimated the deal would save its customers roughly $50 million from the project.

Also in Oklahoma, American Electric Power ended up tripling the amount of wind power it had originally sought after seeing how low the bids came in last year.

“Wind was on sale — it was a Blue Light Special,” said Jay Godfrey, managing director of renewable energy for the company. He noted that Oklahoma, unlike many other states, did not require utilities to buy power from renewable sources.

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Gov. – elect wants gaming panel to keep eye on Wynn

Boston Herald | By Jack Encarnacao
November 24, 2014

Signaling he’ll be watching casino affairs closely, Gov.-elect Charlie Baker said it’s “important for the Gaming Commission to do its job” in determining if there is anything to reports that Everett casino licensee Wynn Resorts is under federal investigation for money laundering.

“I think the issues that have been raised in news reports — and at this point they are news reports — are ones that should be taken seriously by the Gaming Commission, and the Gaming Commission should pursue them,” Baker said yesterday after serving meals at a South End homeless shelter. “Fundamentally, if this is in fact an open and ongoing investigation, I think it’s important for the Gaming Commission to do its job and review that.”

The commission has said it will closely monitor any developments after the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that federal agencies are looking into Wynn’s handling of sports betting involving “high-roller gamblers” as well as whether VIP customers laundered drug money through Wynn casinos. Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said yesterday state police investigators assigned to the commission “can make a series of inquiries and will do so.”

“Investigators will brief the commission when it is appropriate to do so,” Driscoll said.

The Wall Street Journal report cited unnamed “people familiar with the matter” as the source of information on the investigation. Wynn has repeatedly said it has not been notified it is under investigation, and that the situation will have no bearing on its effort to build a $1.6 billion gaming palace in Everett on the Mystic River.

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Gaming Board to ‘Monitor’ Reported Wynn Investigation

The Boston Globe | By Adam Vaccaro
November 21, 2014

Wynn SiteThe Massachusetts Gaming Commission says it will “monitor” a reported federal investigation of Wynn Resorts. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the IRS, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and two U.S. Attorney’s offices are looking into whether the Las Vegas-based, Everett-bound casino company violated money laundering laws.

“The Commission is aware of the recent news report,” gaming commission spokesperson Elaine Driscoll told Boston.com in an emailed statement. “As is standard procedure, our Investigations and Enforcement Bureau will review the information and continue to monitor any potential developments.”

“(O)ur Investigations and Enforcement Bureau has the information and will review it,” Driscoll separately told The Boston Herald. “They’ll make whatever inquiries they deem appropriate at this point.”

The Journal notes that the company has not at this point been accused of any wrongdoing. According to the report, investigators have sought information about Wynn’s highest-rolling gamblers and the safeguards the company puts into place against money laundering.

A Wynn spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from Boston.com before this article was published, but has told multiple media outlets that the company is “not aware of any investigation” and that “as a highly regulated business” it is in “constant dialogue with regulators and governmental agencies.”

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Historic Rehabilitation Completed At Boston Apartment Complex

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
November 20, 2014

WiSe Urban Development and Nuestra Comunidad Development Corp. have completed the historic rehabilitation of Washington Park, an eight-building, 96-unit apartment community in Dorchester and Roxbury.

The 130,000-square-foot rental community on Columbus and Wyoming streets received historic tax credits from the state to help fund the renovations. The complex, which contains 86 affordable units, is owned through a joint venture of Nuestra and Darryl Settles, president of WiSe Urban Development.

The work consisted of in-place rehabilitation of the properties, including renovations of kitchens, bathrooms and living areas and high-efficiency upgrades to HVAC systems. Every unit received new lighting and Energy Star appliances, and all of the buildings’ mechanical and electrical systems were upgraded.

The project employed 390 minority and 50 female workers, comprising 69 percent of the total worker hours. Minority- and women-owned businesses accounted for $7.6 million, or over 65 percent of the total construction costs.

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TD Garden unveils $4.5 million upgrade of ProShop

The Boston Globe | By Nina Joy Godlewski
November 20, 2014

TD Garden Pro ShopTD Garden and team executives cut the ribbon Thursday on the next phase of their $70 million renovation of the 20-year-old arena, a $4.5 million upgrade of the ProShop.

“It’s an exciting day for us today,” said Boston Bruins Principal Charlie Jacobs. “I couldn’t be more happy with the outcome.”

The new ProShop, at 6,000 square feet, is more than double the size of old one, and was moved from a dead-end corner of the first floor to the second level, overlooking North Station.

The shop is the eighth arena pro shop to be “powered by Reebok,” featuring gear manufactured by Reebok and its sister brand, Adidas, which are both owned by the Adidas Group. Reebok is the official outfitter of the NHL, while Adidas outfits all NBA teams.

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Sullivan Courthouse Fight: All This for 24 Apartments?

Curbed Boston | By Tom Acitelli
November 20, 2014

Sullivan CourthouseThe fight over redeveloping the old Sullivan Courthouse at 40 Thorndike Street in East Cambridge has been grinding since late 2012, when developer Leggat McCall won a state O.K. to convert the 22-story tower to office and retail space, including a health club and a small grocery store.

Community opposition to the all-commercial plan soon, however, drove the developer to add 24 apartments. Then community opposition led the developer to agree to chop two floors from its plans. It appeared things might be moving forward following those concessions. Now! Members of that same community have sued the developer, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Cambridge Planning Board to stop the significantly tweaked project cold.

The lawsuit in Mass. Land Court was brought by four property owners who abut the courthouse site. They claim, among other things, that the redevelopment would “impair the integrity of the district and the adjoining district” and “cause substantial detriment.”

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Finally, the Mass. job market looks strong

The Boston Globe | By Evan Horowitz
November 20, 2014

ConstructionThe state’s unemployment rate has been falling for months now, but each time there were caveats. Wages were flat, people were stuck in part-time work, too many workers were getting discouraged and giving up the search.

Finally, though, there seems to be some real, unvarnished good news for the Massachusetts economy. It’s not today’s jobs numbers, although they’re perfectly fine. More striking is a new analysis showing that 25-54 year olds in Massachusetts are getting back to work. They’re rejoining the labor market and finding jobs more readily than anywhere else in the northeast.

The new numbers comes from the Economic Policy Institute. And what they measure is simply how many 25-54 year olds have jobs (the virtue of focusing on 25-54 year olds is that you don’t have to worry about the effects of our aging population or retiring baby boomers.)

Before the recession, about 81 percent of 25- 54-year-olds in Massachusetts had jobs. As the economy shrank, that fell to 77.4, but in the last year it has surged back to 80.6, erasing practically all of the recession-induced losses.

This resurgence is as remarkable as it is rare. Across the US, the employment rate for 25-54 year olds is still far below the pre-recession level.

In fact, Massachusetts isn’t just outperforming the US as a whole, it’s doing far better than every other state in the northeast.

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