Boston, MA

Boston grant criticized in light of fair housing suit

January 14, 2000
U.S. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo embarrassed Boston nationally last year with a scathing report accusing the Boston Housing Authority of fostering racial discrimination and ignoring the complaints of harassed tenants.
     Now, Cuomo has made the BHA the envy and the enemy of housing advocates nationwide by awarding the agency almost $300,000 in fair-housing funds.
     In a move that has incensed fair-housing organizations across the country, the BHA has won a $297,060 grant to produce brochures and conduct a door-to-door campaign to teach tenants about fair housing and their right to file discrimination complaints. The BHA had promised to start the programs as part of a $1.5 million settlement it reached in July with tenants who sued over the authority's failure to stop a pattern of racial harassment in the Old Colony and Bunker Hill developments.
     The grant appears to violate terms of the federal Fair Housing Initiatives Program, which prevents the funds from being spent to settle legal claims. Housing advocates also say it sends a dangerous message: Civil rights violations will be rewarded with federal cash. 

King a candidate for Vatican martyr

January 13, 2000
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Baptist who led the civil rights movement, is a candidate to be recognized by the Vatican as a martyr for the Christian faith. The U.S. Catholic bishops included King among Americans to be considered by the Vatican for a list of 20th century martyrs whom Pope John Paul II will honor in a May 7 ceremony, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.
     This special observance is distinct from the lengthy process by which the Vatican officially designates martyrs of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless, experts said naming non-Catholic martyrs carries great ecumenical symbolism as the Roman Catholic Church reaches out to other Christian denominations. King’s very name — Martin Luther — is that of the German whose criticism of the 16th century papacy led to
the Protestant Reformation. 

Critic takes on Catholic lawmakers over mentally ill

January 12, 2000
State programs for the mentally ill are chronically underfunded because Irish Catholic legislators have a cultural bias against mental illness, a lawmaker said. 
     State Rep. Ellen Story angered advocates when she said last month that Roman Catholics see mental illness as a lack of willpower rather than a disease and don't feel obligated to take care of people with mental illness. 
     She told a reporter today that she wasn't "anti-Catholic" and believes many "strong religions" have the bias. Story, a Democrat, said she focused on Irish Catholics because that is the "relevant" religion in Massachusetts. 

Group of insurers target inner-city development

December 27, 1999
From the entryway of her company's new headquarters, Stacey Townsend has a clear view of the future. 
     Steps away from One Arcadia Place--the new home of Townsend's P&C Initiative--Adams Street and Dorchester Avenue form the auto-clogged nexus called Fields Corner. A mishmash of fast-food joints, hair and nail salons, taverns and retailers line the main drags. 
     Like much of Dorchester, Fields Corner's recent history is tarnished by high crime rates and a crumbling commercial foothold. Even now, as parts of Dorchester begin to thrive, Fields Corner retains an aura of struggle. Townsend sees it. But more than anything, she sees the area's potential. 
     "It could be adorable," said the new director of the Property & Casualty Insurance Co. and Economic Development Initiative LLC--P&C Initiative for short--the local insurance industry's answer to the Community Reinvestment Act. 

Judge wary of country club monitor

December 11, 1999
A judge will decide whether to take the unprecedented step of installing an overseer at a country club that discriminated against women.
    Suffolk Superior Court Judge John Cratsley gave no indication of when he would decide, but seemed reluctant to take "such bold steps."
    "I'd be surprised if there was precedent for this level of intervention into (such) an area," he responded to the request from assistant attorney general Anthony Rodriguez on Friday. 

Judge may appoint monitor for discriminating golf course

December 01, 1999
Sally Brochetti likes the idea of a court-appointed monitor running the Haverhill Golf and Country Club. After all, nothing else -- not even a $1.97 million discrimination verdict -- has stopped the club from relegating women to a second-class status.
      "Anything that would make the club so that the women members are equal to the men,'' said Brochetti, a long-time "limited member'' who is not allowed to play golf at the club in the prime weekend hours. "But you never know with the people there.''
      Brochetti and eight other women won a $1.97 million verdict against the club this fall when a jury unanimously decided they were unfairly denied the sought-after "primary memberships'' that come with choice starting times and greater access to the club.

Arbitrator hits Raytheon in bias case

November 11, 1999
An arbitrator has ruled that Raytheon Co. discriminated against several women involved in a program to dismantle old nuclear bombers and cruise missiles in the former Soviet Union, refusing to promote the employees and firing some.
    Raytheon has denied the allegations in a filing it made to a local office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, where the women also filed complaints.
    But in a strongly worded finding issued last month against the Lexington-based defense contractor, an officer of the New York-based American Arbitration Association wrote that the women ''have met their burden of proof and persuasion in showing that Respondent [Raytheon], more probably than not, discriminated against them because of their sex.'' She wrote further that a challenge of the women's qualifications by Raytheon ''is mere pretext.'' 

National Federation for the blind sues AOL

November 04, 1999
The National Federation of the Blind on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the veritable Goliath of the Web, America Online, charging that its Internet service directly violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    Unlike other service providers, AOL's Internet service is incompatible with the screen access software programs that enable blind people to use the Internet, the NFB alleges. The group filed suit to get AOL to correct this. NFB asks the court to order AOL to effectively redesign its service.
    "It's the biggest company and the least accessible," says Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. 

Female golfers sue country club, receive $2 million

October 27, 1999
Nine female golfers who said they were given terrible tee times and denied other country club benefits because of their gender were awarded nearly $2 million today by a jury of seven men and seven women.
    "I think it's a case which puts country clubs and other institutions on notice that women have a right to the same opportunities as men," said assistant attorney general Anthony Rodriguez, representing the women.
    Henry Owens, the attorney for the Haverhill Country Club, said there was no discrimination at the club, called the damages excessive and promised to appeal.  

Boston teens guilty of race attacks

October 22, 1999
Two white teenagers whose families were evicted from a housing project after the men were arrested for race-related attacks have pleaded guilty to terrorizing their Hispanic neighbors.
     Michael Day, 19, was sentenced to 2½ years in jail after pleading guilty Thursday to assault and battery, civil rights violations and destruction of property in two 1997 attacks. His plea came a few hours before he was scheduled to go to trial.
     Sean Beatty, 19, pleaded guilty to assault and battery and destruction of property and was sentenced to one year in jail.

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