Forecast: July 2010

The month in preview.

| Boston Magazine |

RENOVATIONS
7/13 EXTREMELY (UNLIKELY) MAKEOVER

The Christian Science Church’s plans to spruce up its Back Bay plaza – more greenery, smaller reflecting pool – could hit a roadblock today, as the Boston Landmarks Commission holds a public forum on designating the 14.5-acre campus a historical site. The more preservationist voices make themselves heard, the more likely the indomitable spirit of Mary Baker Eddy will have to contend with the whims of city architects.

7/2 The National Organization for Women’s conference kicks off at the Park Plaza, featuring speeches from Representative Niki Tsongas and Wellesley College prez Kim Bottomly. now.org.

7/3 Tonight’s dress rehearsal for the Boston Pops’ annual Fourth of July spectacular promises the same music, but a more laid-back atmosphere (and a little more breathing room!) than tomorrow’s blowout. july4th.org.

POLITICS
7/1 GREEN HOUSE EFFECT

The "stretch code" becomes mandatory today for Cambridge and Newton. The new building code, which other cities and towns can voluntarily adopt, requires all new construction to conform to stricter energy-efficiency standards, and promises up to a 20 percent increase in efficiency in new commercial buildings and up to a 35 percent increase in residential ones.
Of course, the task of making a structure energy efficient doesn’t come cheap. The state estimates it will cost $8,100 to bring a single-family home into compliance. Not surprisingly, sellers argue that they’ll need to pass the extra expense on to buyers, which could make the region’s already pricey real estate even more costly. The Home Builders Association of Massachusetts, which is taking a stand against the rules, went as far as publishing a list of talking points to help allies foment rebellion at various town hall meetings.
So why are places from Northampton to Worcester still signing on to follow the lead of Cambridge and Newton? Credit a different kind of green. Thanks to Governor Deval Patrick’s "Green Communities" plan, towns are eligible for a chunk of $10 million in state funds if they adopt a series of "green" zoning, permitting, and energy-usage policies, including implementing the stretch code.

MONEY
7/2 WHAT CREDIT CRUNCH?

Applications are due today for tax incentives from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the quasi-public agency that last year doled out $24.5 million to local biotech companies. This year promises to be even more lucrative for the local healthcare/life sciences startups, which collected $430 million worth of research funding (and that was just through April). Which raises the question: Why, exactly, do they still need tax incentives?

EXPERT KNOWLEDGE: AN ETHICAL QUANDARY

FOOTBALL

7/3 LADY PATRIOT GAMES
The medal rounds of the women’s full-tackle football league world championships kick off in Stockholm, Sweden, today. Three Bay Staters have earned their place on the first-ever U.S. national team’s roster: running back Mia Brickhouse of Revere, linebacker Molly Goodwin of Brookline, and offensive tackle Kelly Barker of Dorchester. They’re all teammates on the local pro squad, the Boston Militia.

7/5 Chowderfest, the annual soup competition that’s part of Boston Harbor-fest, crowns its 29th champion. bostonharborfest.com.

7/8 Harvard Stadium hosts the Major League Lacrosse All-Star Game. Look for Boston Cannons standout and reigning league MVP Paul Rabil to star on his home field. ticketmaster.com.

CONTROVERSIES
7/4 SUNDAY BLOODY (MARY) SUNDAY

Anyone who’s ever turned to the Phantom Gourmet while riding out a Sunday-morning hangover might today be able to thank show creator Dave Andelman for making more readily available the traditional cure: hair of the dog.
Andelman has been the force behind the Restaurant Rejuvenation Act, which would allow the state’s bars and restaurants to start serving alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays (rather than at noon, the time dictated by current law). There would be no better testament to our freedom, Andelman has said, than the right to enjoy "mimosas with our omelets before noon."
For more than 15 years, legislators have been steadily chipping away at the state’s puritanical Sunday-specific laws. In 1994 a regulation that kept businesses of any kind from opening until noon on Sundays was repealed, while the law banning alcohol sales on Sundays was relaxed in 2004. The odds that Andelman will be successful look good: The act already passed the House with unanimous support in May, after its bipartisan supporters argued it would help restaurants suffering through some dark financial times.

CELEBRATIONS
7/4 AFTER-GLOOM DELIGHT

During the Great Recession, Indepdence Day fireworks displays served as the ultimate economic barometer of Massachusetts cities and towns. Several communities canceled their shows, either because they couldn’t afford the bill, or to avoid the appearance of throwing what little money they had left at a needless bit of luxury. So look skyward tonight to see whether the economy has truly recovered.

MUSIC: JAM SESSION

EDUCATION
7/9 FAILING SCHOOLS GET SHOT AT $1 MILLION MAKEOVER

State public schools that have consistently failed to show improvement – the so-called Level 4 schools – must submit a redesign plan by today for a chance to receive $1 million in federal grant money. But this is no HGTV special, and these changes will need to go deeper than just cosmetic fixes. Under the plan, schools have limited options, including firing the principal and instituting teacher incentives, or firing the principal and half of the staff. Either way, it doesn’t look good for the principal.

7/24 A reminder of the value of investigative journalism: Today’s the 90th anniversary of the opening salvo in a Boston Post series that unraveled a fraudulent financial scheme run by a local businessman whose name might ring a bell – Charles Ponzi.

7/31 Today marks the end of this year’s state legislative session. If all goes according to plan, our fine representatives will have approved casino gambling in the Bay State.

TENNIS
7/19 FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
In a match for the World Team Tennis league, racket legend Martina Hingis and her New York Buzz take on the Boston Lobsters at Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton on 7/11. If Hingis’s dour mien isn’t your thing, just wait eight days for Anna Kournikova: She’s coming to town to play with the St. Louis Aces. bostonlobsters.net.
VERDICTS
7/26 FINAL VINDICATION, WITH INTEREST

Three years ago today, a U.S. District Court judge handed down $101.7 million in damages to four men the FBI scapegoated for a 1965 murder in a Chelsea alley. It was the largest award ever granted in a wrongful-conviction case.
The murder of Edward "Teddy" Deegan, a small-time crook and ex-boxer, took place in the middle of Boston’s Irish mob war, in which dozens of people were killed in the ’60s. The four falsely accused men were fingered for Deegan’s shooting by Joe "The Animal" Barboza, a ruthless mob hitman who was covering up for an associate. Barboza was a useful guy, so his FBI handlers knowingly – and cold-bloodedly – decided they would accept his lies. Two of the men died in prison, but Joseph Salvati and Peter Limone survived long enough to see their names cleared – and now their payback has come due.
This spring, in one of then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s last moves before becoming a headline, she declined to appeal the Massachusetts verdict rather than pass the case to the Supreme Court. As a result, the feds are on the hook for the full $101.7 million – plus several million more in interest that has accrued since the original decision.
As much as the government would like to close the book on the whole ordeal, its embarrassment isn’t over yet. Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks studios bought the rights to film Salvati’s life story seven years ago – "something as special as this, you don’t rush it," a DreamWorks producer noted – which means the Boston FBI still has a fresh round of outrage to face in its future.

 

CONFLICTS: THE TROUBLES WE’VE SEEN

EVENTS
7/29 FROM PAPER TO SCREEN

For those who missed Globe writer Geoff Edgers’s new film, Do It Again, at the Independent Film Festival Boston in April, here’s your chance to finally see it. The movie, about Edgers’s ill-fated attempt to reunite British rock band the Kinks, is part of the Roxbury International Film Festival, which opens today. roxburyfilmfestival.org.

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