Guide to Haunted Lighthouses – Massachusetts

Massachusetts, well known for Plymouth Rock, where the first pilgrims landed, and the Salem witch trials, is also home to five of America’s most haunted lighthouses.

The Haunted Bell

Baker’s Island Light

Baker’s Island Light, just six miles off the coast of Salem, home of the infamous witch trials, is reputedly haunted by a phantom foghorn bell.

This mechanized bell sounded a warning to sailors of impending danger, and rang just once, before being struck by lightning that destroyed it. The lighthouse keeper had to go out in the storm and manually strike a hammer against the bell at precise intervals to keep mariners safe. The bell was replaced, but the new bell repeatedly failed and the frustrated keeper left his post.

Seventeen years later while visiting the lighthouse by steamer, the keeper and his fellow passengers heard the bell. After dropping a few passengers off at a nearby harbor, a waterspout suddenly rose from the sea, capsizing the boat and drowning all but a few passengers. The former keeper, who survived, believed the bell was sounding a warning.

According to legend, this bell, also destroyed by lightning, can be heard sounding the alarm even when there is no apparent danger.

The Ghost Walk

Boston Harbor Light

Boston Harbor Light on Little Brewster Island was the first lighthouse built in the pre-revolutionary war colonies. The original structure, cone shaped and first lit by candles, and later oil lamps, was destroyed by the British Army garrisoned in Boston, after colonial militiamen twice attacked it.

When the war was over, a new tower was erected, that stood 75 feet above the sea, and prevailed against hurricanes, gale force winds and high seas for more than 200 years. A new Fresnel lens was installed in 1859, making Boston light visible for sixteen miles.

Little Brewster had its share of shipwrecks, though not as many as other lighthouses. Sailors still speak of a “ghost walk” several miles from the island, where the lighthouse signal cannot be heard. New Englanders and others believe this area is haunted.

The Pirate Keeper

Bird Island Lighthouse

The first keeper of Bird Island Lighthouse was alleged pirate, William Moore. Moore, who fought against the English in the War of 1812, owed the government enough money to justify their banishing him to the lonely life of a lighthouse keeper.

He was assigned to Bird Island Light in 1819, taking his wife who apparently married him when he was financially prosperous. Mrs. Moore, suffering from tuberculosis and addicted to tobacco, was forbidden to leave the island, as her husband feared that once gone, she would never return.

The dampness of the lighthouse aggravated her condition, and her desperation for tobacco so distressed her that people on the mainland could hear her cries. The local doctor implored Moore to allow her tobacco, but he staunchly refused. The townspeople, disturbed by her wailing took pity on her and smuggled tobacco to her, despite fearing her husband.

When she finally died, Moore raised the distress flag, and a minister went to the island, performed the funeral rites and laid her to rest. The angry townspeople blamed Moore for her death, and he in turn blamed them for not respecting his wishes. Rumors flew that Moore murdered her and covered up the true cause of her death.

According to legend, several of Moore’s successors reported seeing an old woman’s ghost, hunched over, knocking at the door late at night.

The Long Goodbye

Gurnet (Plymouth) Light

Gurnet, or Plymouth Light, America’s oldest wooden lighthouse dating back to the Revolutionary War, is also one of its most haunted.

Today, the Coast Guard operates Plymouth Light, yet many believe the spirit of a former keeper’s wife haunts its rooms, waiting for her husband’s return.

Hannah stayed behind to tend the light while her husband went off to fight for America’s Independence from Great Britain. Her neighbors noticed her standing vigil at her window each evening, waiting for her husband, who unfortunately was killed in action.

Some say Hannah still keeps her faithful vigil, briefly appearing at the window, and then quickly vanishing from sight.

Warning Cries-Nightly Shadows

Minot’s Ledge Light

Minot’s Ledge Light is no more than a tower that sits on a reef jutting out to sea off the coast of Scituate. The first tower lasted less than a year before an angry sea claimed it.

Isaac Dunham, the first keeper at Minot’s Ledge urgently warned his superiors about the lighthouse’s instability to no avail, and he retired after fourteen frustrating months.

One day, Dunham’s successor, John Bennett flew a flag from the lighthouse indicating he needed a ride to shore. He left his two assistants, Joe Wilson and Joe Antoine in charge, when suddenly a savage nor’ easter packing one hundred mile an hour winds attacked them. Bennett watched helplessly from shore as the storm destroyed the lighthouse, killing his two assistants.

Several fishermen reported seeing Antoine swinging from a ladder, yelling, and “Stay away!” in his native Portuguese. Subsequent keepers reported seeing shadows in the lantern room, hearing ghostly whispers at night, and hearing or feeling soft taps upon their shoulders. The two Joes used these taps to signal the end of a shift. One keeper, hearing the taps committed suicide, and another went insane and was taken to shore in a straight jacket.

Then there are the windows…It generally takes an entire day to clean windows soiled by overhead seagulls, yet each new keeper’s assistant reported the windows sparkling clean before ever reaching them.

Are these stories truth or legend? Visit one and find out.

Governor Foster Furcolo and His Vision on Public Higher Education in Massachusetts

More than 2,000,000 students or almost 43% of the college level student population annually would never have the opportunity to attend public higher education in Massachusetts unless the Governor Foster Furcolo’s passionate and untiring struggle to set up 15 Community Colleges within the state was not successful in 1950s. As the Republicans’ Editorial correctly expressed in September 2009, his services were long forgotten by the politicians. In appreciation of his services Massachusetts general laws were amended, only two years back, to designate the 15 Community Colleges Collectively as the “Governor Foster Fucolo’s Community Colleges.” At a time when the private higher education was dominant, and had access mostly to the students from well to do families, Governor Furcolo opened the door for public higher education to those who could not afford to attend costly private educational institutes. He wanted the colleges to locate closer to communities, provide the education at a lower cost to the individuals as well as to the state, meet the demands of the rising manufacturing and service sectors, and to raise the income of families and the revenue of the state in the long run. The benefits of his intelligent foresight could be seen clearly in the Massachusetts economy and society today.

One of his aims was to provide opportunity for higher education for members from low income families who wanted to pursue their higher education. He wanted to reach immigrants, non- working adults, working men and women and disable people who wish to enhance their skills and engage in economic activities. The composition of student population at present shows how far the Governor Furcolo’s target groups reached and benefited from his community college movement. According to a recent economic impact report, the average household income of those students attended community colleges was less than US$ 36,000 per annum, and 60% of the financial aid recipients, particularly the Pell Grant recipients, were from families who earned less than US$ 18,600 per year.

Governor Furcolo saw the growing college age population in mid fifties, and the obstacles they had to get into higher education. His solution was to have a public higher education system to help this population, providing opportunity for them to engage in skill enhancing studies, on-part time, open enrollment basis, and if required with opportunity to enroll in remedial courses. Examination of the composition of student population in Community Colleges in Massachusetts shows that the majority belong to the part-time adult student groups. More than 61% of students in Community Colleges in Massachusetts are half time or quarter time students, and were over 25 years of age, Only 39% were full-time students and in the traditional college age group. Many of them required to have remedial courses such as Math and English, Writing and Reading prior to enrolling for college work. As to a recent study, based on 2005 high school students who entered the Community Colleges in Massachusetts, 37% in average, needed at least one remedial course prior to start work at the college level(Conaway 2008).

Achievement of Fucolo’s vision to make public college education affordable to poor families is evidenced from comparing cost for community college education with other college systems, even today. The national average for college tuition cost for public universities is $4,694 for in state residents. The tuition and fees in a private college is around $ 20,000 in the nation, while in a community college the cost is averaged to $ 2,076. The same pattern is observable in Massachusetts. The nature of the student population required higher education, as Furcolo viewed it, required a dispersed pattern of education facilities. Low distance to facilities save time, and reduce movement cost, reducing the overall cost to an individual, and also minimizing the disturbance to daily routines. Furcolo envisioned that the colleges are located at a commuting distance, so those who were busy with household as well as work place chores could attend them conveniently. Hence, his Public Higher Education Act in 1958 provided laws to set up state wide system of 15 Community Colleges throughout in Massachusetts. They have become the house for 46% of the college students in Massachusetts at present, and it is more than four times of the student enrollment in Higher education in 1950s (Burns 1995).

Fucolo understood the need of the skilled labor in the growing business and the manufacturing sectors at the time, and the responsibility of the public higher education to create a skilled labor pool, if Massachusetts was to be competitive and keep pace with the other states. The community Colleges, therefore, seen as the solution to the shortage of skilled manpower problem at the time. The skilled labor training is a core function of the community colleges even today. Comprehensive Regional Community Colleges in Massachusetts today offer an array of programs leading to associate degrees, certificates and vocational programs. They provide basic, continuing, and remedial courses for college age students and adults. They affiliate with schools, industries and work places and develop programs to improve the skills and the quality of labor helping to increase efficiency and productivity. Massachusetts Community colleges have pioneered an innovative, low- cost, state wide workforce training resource for business and industry called Mass* Net, and it helps to provide workforce training in 21 technological fields. According to a Community College information source more than 5000 work force development programs are yearly offered by Massachusetts Community Colleges. By providing, skilled manpower needs of the states industry, commercial as well as other service units, they have helped to increase income of the manufacturing units, individuals, and the State.

Governor Furcolo wanted to make the Community Colleges a “preparation ground” for higher education. One of the important missions of these colleges today is to facilitate their graduates to transfer to four year colleges which is also an important component of the most community college students’ educational aspirations. At present, Community Colleges have well designed programs and provisions to facilitate student transfers through transfer agreements, and bindings with four year colleges and universities. As a member of a Public Higher Education System, Quinsigamond Community College for example,maintains ties with all the Massachusetts four year colleges and universities and facilitate student transfers through Mass Transfer program introduced in 2008.This program helps for students through reduced tuition fees, and credit transfers, and make transfer process quick, smooth and affordable..

The economic impact of the Community Colleges on individuals, families, and business is clearly seen today in Massachusetts. A recent economic impact report estimated that the incremental annual income of the Community College graduates as US$ 21400 compared to non-graduates. Education also opens to opportunity for better jobs with better benefits.It has been estimated that 90% of the Massachusetts Community College graduates working in the state after their graduation in business, industry, or other services, and the income they generate hence spent mostly within the state. This means that the state is able to generate more revenues taxing the personal income of the community college graduates working in the state. Further, the expenditure in Community Colleges has created a multiplier effects and further regional growth as to various studies. These colleges help also the local economies to sustain their economic activities through spending of students and visitors, and workers. Thus the Community Colleges in Massachusetts have become a growth engine for the state according to the same economic impact report mentioned earlier.

Governor Foster Furcolo ‘s foresight on Public Higher Education as discussed in this essay have helped many poor, and low income young as well as adult students to enter into higher education. The personal income of those who educated these colleges has increased due to their higher education, and also the income of the state through income tax revenues. Those graduates have become the greatest source of skilled man power, for industries and business to thrive in Massachusetts. Governor Furcolo should be viewed as a great serviceman who served Massachusetts, and embrace his visions in the future as The Republican Editorial remarked in September 2009.

Massachusetts Food Allergy Training Certification

Those people who do not have any food allergies are free to eat what they please and do not have to live in fear that their next meal might be their last. This however is not the case for those people who do have allergies to certain foods. People with food allergies constantly struggle with knowing whether or not the food that they are about to eat is going to make them sick or even lead to their death. This fear is made worse when they eat out at restaurants. At restaurants they have little control over the preparation of the food they are about to eat. In some cases servers are not sure how to correctly convey the allergy related preparation instructions to the person cooking the food. Also, in many instances the person cooking the food does not have the proper allergen awareness training to prepare the food in a manner that is safe for the person with the food allergy to eat. It is a very dangerous game that restaurants knowingly or unknowingly are taking part in. Granted it is the responsibility of the person with food allergies to inform the restaurant that they do indeed have a food allergy but that is in no way guaranteeing that the food they are about to eat is safe.

One state however has decided to get smart about food allergies and has passed a law aimed at keeping those people with food allergies safe when they eat out. Massachusetts recently passed M.G.L. c. 140, which requires all restaurants to have a person on staff that has been certified as a food protection manager. This regulation is aimed at educating food preparation staff of the dangers of food allergies and how to make sure that food being prepared for a person with food allergies is safe for them to eat. The law also states that the training needs to be completed by February 1, 2011. Those who do end up taking the training will be certified for five years. After the five year time period the food protection manager will have to take the course over again so that they can become re-certified.

But this raises the question of how people in the food service industry are supposed to go about getting certified as food protection managers? The state of Massachusetts has approved only three vendors to provide the food allergen awareness training. These vendors either provide the required training via a video and certification process or through a classroom training course and certification process. The courses are designed to provide food service workers with information about various food allergies and celiac disease related food intolerance. It also includes information on celiac disease, crucial food allergens, and the types of allergic reactions people can experience due to food. Lastly, the course informs food service workers on how to educate patrons about food allergies and what they should do if someone does end up having an allergic reaction while in their establishment. Overall the food allergen certification process is designed to make it much safer for those with food allergies to eat in restaurants in Massachusetts.

Out of the three vendors providing the food allergen certification training I have found that CompuWorks provides the easiest and best option for completing the training. Their training consists of a video that can be easily watched from any computer and at the successful completion of the course they provide you with the ability of instantly printing your certificate. Some of the other vendors do not provide this convenience and make you wait up to 10 days to receive your completion certificate. When it comes to proving compliance it is much better to choose the option that offers instant proof as opposed to having to wait and rely on the mail for delivery.

OUI-DUI Roadblocks in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the police are permitted to conduct OUI-DUI roadblocks in order to stop and detect impaired drivers. However, if you are stopped at a roadblock and arrested for OUI-DUI, you may be able to get the evidence the police obtained and the case dismissed by filing a motion to suppress attacking the police conduct in executing the roadblock.

Ordinarily, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion to seize an individual under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitutional and under Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. When the police stop an individual at a roadblock, a motorist is being seized without individualized suspicion that the person is committing a crime.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has held that a roadblock seizure to detect drunk drivers is reasonable if the police comply with the strict standards set forth in a case known as Commonwealth v. McGeoghegan. First, the selection of vehicles to stop must not be done arbitrarily. Accordingly, the police must stop cars in some sequence; usually this is done through stopping every car. Second, motorist safety and inconvenience must be secured by implementation of a plan devised by law enforcement supervisory personnel, regarding where vehicles will be stopped and where further screening will take place. Third, the area selected by law enforcement must be an area where there has been a high number of OUI-DUI arrests or accidents. Finally, though not required, the SJC has indicated that advanced public notice of the date, but not the precise location, of the roadblock will decrease its subjective impact on motorists and support the Constitutional reasonableness of the roadblock.

In attacking the validity of a roadblock, your attorney should obtain the roadblock plan through discovery that will reveal how the police intended to set up the roadblock, stop cars and the data that justified the site selection. Along with attacking the procedure for how the roadblock was conducting, an additional basis for attacking the stop is that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to order the motorist from the follow of traffic. The initial greeting officer must have reasonable suspicion to suspect a motorist is operating under the influence before the motorist can be removed from the flow of traffic.

If you are stopped at a roadblock, it is important to have an experienced attorney review the discovery to determine if the police complied with proper procedure in establishing the roadblock and if there was a basis for you to be ordered from the flow of traffic. A motion to suppress challenging these elements, if successful, should result in the dismissal of your case.

How to Get CNA Certification in Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, a nursing assistant will have to complete state-approved Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Program (NATCEP) to work in variants health care settings. The responsibility to manage and administrator NATCEP in MA is entrusted upon the American Red Cross (ARC) of Eastern Massachusetts.

ARC Nurse Aide Training Program (ARC NATP)

The American Red Cross of Eastern MA is offering ARC Nurse Assistant Home Health Aide Program since 1989. The training program is 75 hours and meets the state and federal Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987 guidelines and education standards. CNA training programs can also be completed through community colleges, adult education centers, technical institutes and voluntary schools located across the state. The sole aim of CNA training program is to prepare nursing assistants in direct patient care skills and knowledge so that they can offer quality care to residents who are unable to care for themselves. Upon successful completion and graduation of the NATP, nursing students is qualified to appear for the state competency evaluation test for CNA Certification in MA. The certified CNAs then can perform in hospice, nursing homes, adult care centers, hospitals, assisted living centers and other licensed facilities.

ARC NATP Requirements

In MA, a high school diploma or GED is not a prerequisite for taking the training program. The applicants should pass ARC assessment test in order to enroll in ARC training program, and once enrolled, a negative TB test result must be submitted on the first day of the training class.

MA CNA Certification Test

Individuals, who wish to take the Massachusetts Nurse Assistant Competency examination must complete the MA Department of Public Health Testing Eligibility Requirements, and submit the Eligibility Form to the Division of Health Care Quality Nurse Aide Registry / Training verification. Once the form is approved, the applicants can complete the ARC Testing and Registration Application.

ARC Nursing Assiatnt Certification Test consists of Knowledge Test (Written / Oral Test) and Skills Test. The applicants can also select their choice location and in-facility Red Cross site for clinical demonstration. ARC of Eastern MA testing locations are located in Fall River, Brockton, Hyannis, New Bedford, Lowell, Cambridge, Springfield, Haverhill, Pittsfield, Worcester and Peabody.

The testing mandates must pass both parts of the MA Certification Test in order to be placed on the MA Nurse Aide Registry and earn CNA Certification in MA. The Certification is also mandatory for working in varied health care settings throughout the state of Massachusetts.

How To Become A Construction Supervisor in Massachusetts

Becoming a Construction Supervisor in the state of Massachusetts can give you a lot of employment options. The construction industry is doing well and is expected to keep growing. It actually makes up more than five percent of the United States job sector. With the field of construction doing so well, holding a license in this industry can help increase the odds that even in a bad economy you should be able to find steady employment. As a licensed construction supervisor you can opt to work for a large construction firm or work independently with a company of your own. With that said you first need to pass the state exam.

Are You Eligible?

To be eligible to pass the exam, the state of Massachusetts first requires that candidates have at least three years of experience in the construction industry. If you have a Bachelor of Science in construction or engineering, or a very closely related field you will automatically be given credit for two years of experience. To accrue the third year, you will have to work for at least one year, at forty hours a week within the construction industry. The state will require proof of this employment via W2 tax forms. Additionally all candidates must be at least 18 years old.

The State Exam

If deemed qualified to take the test by the state, candidates will be tested on their knowledge of the overall general contracting procedures as well as their knowledge of building codes. The exam itself if very regulated. The state uses a company called Prometric, Inc, to administer the test. They are backed by the Department of Public Safety. The fee for the Construction Supervisor exam is one hundred dollars.

What is the license good for?

In the state of MA, the construction of any building up to 35000 cubic feet requires a construction supervisor to oversee the project. MA offers two different license classes for this for this particular license; unrestricted and restricted. The restricted license is good for one and two family residential buildings. On the other hand the unrestricted license is good on buildings up to 35000 cubic feet.

Once you pass the state exam you are officially classified as a construction supervisor. With your license in hand you can either seek employment with a construction company or if you are want to try out the entrepreneurial path you can start a construction company of your own.

Life in Cambridge, Massachusetts

If you’ve heard of Harvard University, M.I.T, Harvard Square, Julia Childs, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, then you’ve probably heard of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge is a geographically small place with big things going on. Here is some information about Cambridge:

Cambridge was founded in 1630 and incorporated as a city in 1846. In 1630, the settlement was called Newtowne, and the name was changed to Cambridge in 1638. A person from Cambridge is called a Cantabrigian. The oldest house in Cambridge is the Cooper-Frost-Austin house on Linnaean Street, with the wood used to construct it dating back to 1682.

Cambridge is separated from Boston by two bridges, the Longfellow Bridge and the Harvard Bridge. Cambridge is approximately 6.4 square miles in size and has a population of about 106,000 people.

There are several squares in Cambridge: Harvard Square, Kendall Square, Central Square, Porter Square, Inman Square and Union Square. Cambridge has been referred to as a “City of Squares.” Each of the squares has its own ambiance and noteworthy restaurants and entertainment venues that make it unique. Most people are partial to the one square that best suits their personality.

There is a varied architecture in Cambridge dating from the 1600s right up to the current day. You can see apartment buildings from every decade, old Victorian homes, modern condominium complexes and brick turrets on homes covered in ivy next to a modern home just completed yesterday-all within a block of each other. There are many beautiful little side streets paved in brick and lined with the most luscious gardens, and then when you walk five houses away you are on the bustling, modern and very busy Massachusetts Avenue. Massachusetts Avenue is called Mass Ave. by the locals, and it begins in the Dorchester section of Boston and extends 16 miles through many cities and towns.

It is very easy to navigate around Cambridge by public transportation, which is called the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority). The Red Line branch of the transit system has several stops in Cambridge: Kendall, Central, Harvard, Porter and Alewife. There is also a stop for the Purple Line in Porter Square, and this is a commuter rail train that goes back into Boston or out to the western suburbs of Massachusetts. Numerous buses can take you anywhere, and they are also a good alternative if you prefer to stay above ground and avoid the subway train. The area is very good for walking and bicycling, too.

M.I.T and Harvard are the two largest employers in Cambridge, as you can well imagine. The population also reflects their presence in the community. There is a large and diverse student population here, as well as a large population of professors and other college staff living throughout the city. This mix of people makes for an intellectually stimulating and young environment where there is always something exciting going on.

Cultures of all types are alive and well and living in Cambridge. There are restaurants from just about any country you can think of. There are theaters, live music venues, street performers, art galleries and many other types of artsy endeavors to suit every taste.

Cambridge is a great place to add to your vacation list, especially if you are planning a visit to Boston; it’s only a little over two miles away. Cambridge is an interesting and very convenient place to live, too. Maybe someday I will meet you in Cambridge, Massachusetts!

The Impact of the New Massachusetts Data Security Regulations

While the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed amendments to Regulation S-P await final rule status, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has enacted sweeping new data security and identity theft legislation. At present, approximately 45 states have enacted some form of data security laws, but before Massachusetts passed its new legislation, only California had a statute that required all businesses to adopt a written information security program. Unlike California’s rather vague rules, however, the Massachusetts information security mandate is quite detailed as to what is required and carries with it the promise of aggressive enforcement and attendant monetary penalties for violations.

Because the new Massachusetts rules are a good indication of the direction of privacy-related regulation on the federal level, its impact is not limited solely to those investment advisers with Massachusetts clients. The similarities between the new Massachusetts data security laws and the proposed amendments to Regulation S-P affords advisers an excellent preview of their future compliance obligations as well as useful guidance when constructing their current data security and protection programs. All investment advisers would benefit from understanding the new Massachusetts regulations and should consider using them as the basis for updating their information security policies and procedures in advance of changes to Regulation S-P. This article provides an overview of both the proposed amendments to Regulation S-P and the new Massachusetts data storage and protection law and suggests ways that investment advisers can use the new Massachusetts rules to better prepare for the realities of a more exacting Regulation S-P.

Proposed Amendments to Regulation S-P

The SEC’s proposed amendments to Regulation S-P set forth more specific requirements for safeguarding personal information against unauthorized disclosure and for responding to information security breaches. These amendments would bring Regulation S-P more in-line with the Federal Trade Commission’s Final Rule: Standards for Safeguarding Customer Information, currently applicable to state-registered advisers (the “Safeguards Rule”) and, as will be detailed below, with the new Massachusetts regulations.

Information Security Program Requirements

Under the current rule, investment advisers are required to adopt written policies and procedures that address administrative, technical and physical safeguards to protect customer records and information. The proposed amendments take this requirement a step further by requiring advisers to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive “information security program,” including written policies and procedures that provide administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for protecting personal information, and for responding to unauthorized access to or use of personal information.

The information security program must be appropriate to the adviser’s size and complexity, the nature and scope of its activities, and the sensitivity of any personal information at issue. The information security program should be reasonably designed to: (i) ensure the security and confidentiality of personal information; (ii) protect against any anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of personal information; and (iii) protect against unauthorized access to or use of personal information that could result in substantial harm or inconvenience to any consumer, employee, investor or security holder who is a natural person. “Substantial harm or inconvenience” would include theft, fraud, harassment, impersonation, intimidation, damaged reputation, impaired eligibility for credit, or the unauthorized use of the information identified with an individual to obtain a financial product or service, or to access, log into, effect a transaction in, or otherwise use the individual’s account.

Elements of Information Security Plan

As part of their information security plan, advisers must:

o Designate in writing an employee or employees to coordinate the information security program;

o Identify in writing reasonably foreseeable security risks that could result in the unauthorized disclosure, misuse, alteration, destruction or other compromise of personal information;

o Design and document in writing and implement information safeguards to control the identified risks;

o Regularly test or otherwise monitor and document in writing the effectiveness of the safeguards’ key controls, systems, and procedures, including the effectiveness of access controls on personal information systems, controls to detect, prevent and respond to attacks, or intrusions by unauthorized persons, and employee training and supervision;

o Train staff to implement the information security program;

o Oversee service providers by taking reasonable steps to select and retain service providers capable of maintaining appropriate safeguards for the personal information at issue, and require service providers by contract to implement and maintain appropriate safeguards (and document such oversight in writing); and

o Evaluate and adjust their programs to reflect the results of the testing and monitoring, relevant technology changes, material changes to operations or business arrangements, and any other circumstances that the institution knows or reasonably believes may have a material impact on the program.

Data Security Breach Responses

An adviser’s information security program must also include procedures for responding to incidents of unauthorized access to or use of personal information. Such procedures should include notice to affected individuals if misuse of sensitive personal information has occurred or is reasonably possible. Procedures must also include notice to the SEC in circumstances in which an individual identified with the information has suffered substantial harm or inconvenience or an unauthorized person has intentionally obtained access to or used sensitive personal information.

The New Massachusetts Regulations

Effective January 1, 2010, Massachusetts will require businesses that store or use “personal information” about Massachusetts residents to implement comprehensive information security programs. Therefore, any investment adviser, whether state or federally registered and wherever located, that has just one client who is a Massachusetts resident must develop and implement information security measures. Similar to the requirements set forth in the proposed amendments to Regulation S-P, these measures must (i) be commensurate with the size and scope of their advisory business and (ii) contain administrative, technical and physical safeguards to ensure the security of such personal information.

As discussed further below, the Massachusetts regulations set forth minimum requirements for both the protection of personal information and the electronic storage or transmittal of personal information. These dual requirements recognize the challenge of conducting business in a digital world and reflect the manner in which most investment advisers presently conduct their advisory business.

Standards for Protecting Personal Information

The Massachusetts regulations are quite specific as to what measures are required when developing and implementing an information security plan. Such measures include, but are not limited to:

o Identifying and assessing internal and external risks to the security, confidentiality and/or integrity of any electronic, paper or other records containing personal information;

o Evaluating and improving, where necessary, current safeguards for minimizing risks;

o Developing security policies for employees who telecommute;

o Taking reasonable steps to verify that third-party service providers with access to personal information have the capacity to protect such information;

o Obtaining from third-party service providers a written certification that such service provider has a written, comprehensive information security program;

o Inventorying paper, electronic and other records, computing systems and storage media, including laptops and portable devices used to store personal information to identify those records containing personal information;

o Regularly monitoring and auditing employee access to personal information in order to ensure that the comprehensive information security program is operating in a manner reasonably calculated to prevent unauthorized access to or unauthorized use of personal information;

o Reviewing the scope of the security measures at least annually or whenever there is a material change in business practices that may reasonably implicate the security or integrity of records containing personal information; and

o Documenting responsive actions and mandatory post-incident review.

The requirement to first identify and assess risks should be, by now, a familiar one to all SEC-registered investment advisers. The SEC made it abundantly clear in the “Compliance Rule” release that they expect advisers to conduct a risk assessment prior to drafting their compliance manual and to implement policies and procedures to specifically address those risks. The Massachusetts regulations provide an excellent framework for both the risk assessment and risk mitigation process by alerting advisers to five key areas to be addressed: (i) ongoing employee training; (ii) monitoring employee compliance with policies and procedures; (iii) upgrading information systems; (iv) storing records and data; and (v) improving means for detecting, preventing and responding to security failures.

That section of the Massachusetts regulations requiring businesses to retain only those service providers capable of maintaining adequate data safeguards should also be familiar to SEC-registered advisers. However, the additional requirement that a business obtain written certification that the service provider has a written, comprehensive information security program would be a new and valuable addition to an adviser’s information security procedures. Since the lack of compliance documentation is a common deficiency cited during SEC examinations, obtaining written certification from the service provider is an effective method by which an adviser can at once satisfy its compliance obligations and memorialize the compliance process.

One unique aspect of the new Massachusetts regulations is the recognition that a significant number of employees now spend at least some part of their working life telecommuting. This recognition should, in turn, translate into an awareness by advisers that their information security plan may be deficient if it does not adequately address this issue. The amount of personal information that can be stored (and lost) on the many portable electronic devices available to employees – be they laptops, smart phones or the next new gadget – should be enough to keep chief compliance officers awake at night. As mandated in the Massachusetts regulations, any proper telecommuting policy must first begin with a determination of whether and how an employee that telecommutes should be allowed to keep, access and transport data comprising personal information. Once these initial determinations have been made, advisers can develop appropriate policies and implement procedures to protect client information from ending up on the family computer with an unsecure wireless connection or on the laptop computer left in the back seat of a rental car.

Computer System Security Requirements

128-bit encryption. Secure user authentication protocols. Biometrics. Unique identifications plus passwords. To some advisers these terms and concepts are as familiar as mutual funds, financial plans and assets under management. To a great many other advisers, however, they represent an unknown and unknowable universe – as alien to the conduct of their advisory business as is day-trading to the “buy and hold” practitioner. Unfortunately for the technologically challenged, it will be necessary to become somewhat conversant with these concepts once the amendments to Regulation S-P are enacted.

The new Massachusetts regulations require that an information security program include security procedures that cover a company’s computer systems. These requirements are far more detailed and restrictive than anything in Regulation S-P, either in its current iteration or as proposed to be amended. Pursuant to the new Massachusetts law, any business that uses computers to store personal information about Massachusetts residents must, at a minimum, have the following elements in its information security program:

o Secure user authentication protocols including (i) control of user IDs and other identifiers;( (ii) a reasonably secure method of assigning and selecting passwords, or use of unique identifier technologies, such as biometrics or token devices;( (iii) control of data security passwords to ensure that such passwords are kept in a location and/or format that does not compromise the security of the data they protect;( (iv) restricting access to active users and active user accounts only; and (v) blocking access to user identification after multiple unsuccessful attempts to gain access or the limitation placed on access for the particular system;

o Secure access control measures that (i) restrict access to records and files containing personal information to those who need such information to perform their job duties; and((ii) assign unique identifications plus passwords, which are not vendor supplied default passwords, to each person with computer access, that are reasonably designed to maintain the integrity of the security of the access controls;

o To the extent technically feasible, encrypt all transmitted records and files containing personal information that will travel across public networks, and encryption of all data to be transmitted wirelessly;

o Reasonably monitor systems for unauthorized use of or access to personal information;

o Encrypt all personal information stored on laptops or other portable devices;

o For files containing personal information on a system that is connected to the Internet, install reasonably up-to-date firewall protection and operating system security patches, reasonably designed to maintain the integrity of the personal information;

o Install reasonably up-to-date versions of system security agent software which must include malware protection and reasonably up-to-date patches and virus definitions, or a version of such software that can still be supported with up-to-date patches and virus definitions, and is set to receive the most current security updates on a regular basis;

o Educate and train employees on the proper use of the computer security system and the importance of personal information security; and

o Restrict physical access to computerized records containing personal information, including a written procedure that sets forth the manner in which physical access to personal information is restricted.

As can be seen from the above list, what the Massachusetts regulations have generously provided to advisers is, in effect, a “shopping list” that they can take to their nearest computer consultant. Any investment adviser that read this litany of computer system security requirements and had an immediate adverse reaction would be well-advised to turn each of the above listed elements into a computer security checklist, find a reputable computer specialist and outsource the project to those people who have the expertise to equip your computer system with the requisite security capabilities.

Best Practices

The Massachusetts regulations may be viewed as setting forth “best practices” in the area of information storage, data protection and computer security. As most advisers already know, industry “best practices” have an unpleasant habit of quickly morphing into SEC expectations. Advisers should take advantage of the unique opportunity afforded by the Massachusetts regulations, as rarely do they receive such detailed guidance as to what “best practices” are in a given area of regulation. Nor are they often provided with such a clear picture of what the regulatory landscape will look like in their profession in the very near future. Therefore, it would be advantageous for advisers to compare their existing information security programs to the standards set forth in the new Massachusetts regulations and determine where their programs might benefit from incorporating one or more of these standards. While it may not be feasible for all advisers to invest in state-of-the-art computer security, all advisers could certainly benefit from understanding what updates can be made to improve their current information security policies and procedures.

Massachusetts Solar Energy Rebate Program Hits a Wall

If you go to its website, the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, which administers the state’s solar rebate program (the Commonwealth Solar Rebate Program) simply says it has gotten enough applications to meet the state’s current goal; 27 megawatts of installed photovoltaic (PV) power by 2012.

The program, launched in January 2008, is an expression of Governor Deval Patrick’s ultimate goal; 250 megawatts of solar power by 2017. But with slightly more than seven years, and 223 megawatts still to go, it seems odd and unfortunate that the program has run out of money, leaving many unapproved applicants in the lurch and on the hook for solar systems they have installed (or for which they have pending installation contracts).

This effectively ends the state’s $68-million program for now, presumably until new funding can be arranged through the legislature. The program was originally funded through a $4-per-month fee on Massachusetts customer’s utility bills, as well as penalties paid by utility companies operating at a deficit in terms of renewable energy generation.

That the money is all gone may be reassuring news for solar manufacturing firms and solar panel installers, proving yet again that solar energy, rather than being an energy fad destined to fail, is actually moving into the mainstream of energy production nationwide. It is very negative news for those who want to participate in solar energy.

The funding failure was apparently propelled by an Oct. 6 notice saying that the state was planning to reduce rebates, which spurred an influx of so many applications in a single week that the $26 million remaining in the fund was completely depleted, according to Massachusetts energy czar Philip Giudici.

Giudici called it a “surprise”, happening as it did at a time when the state’s consumers were demanding solar energy. For homeowners and small businesses looking to get some funding toward solar energy systems – whose prices are still too high for the average American – the announcement was more like a heartbreak.

At the time the fund failed, the state’s energy executives were looking to switch incentives to renewable energy credits, or RECs. Now, with the solar energy fund $12 million over budget, and 142 new solar businesses in the state this year looking to capitalize on the state’s solar energy incentive through new customers, the collapse of the incentive spells very bleak news for many.

Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust director Carter Wall has said that some of the state’s ARRA funding may be used to bolster the solar panel incentives, in order to honor as many applicants as possible, and promised that the next round of funding approved by the legislature will more closely match needs. Since the legislature is out from Nov. 23 through the first of next year, the odds of getting anything supplemental passed in the interim is astronomical.

Homeowners and small businessmen aren’t the only ones complaining. Last week, Yarmouth Public Works Director George Allaire dispatched an angry letter to Guidici, saying that power purchase agreements – critical to keeping the town’s waste treatment facility viable – would now have to be amended or cancelled unless someone could tell the purchasers what kind of incentives to plan on in budgeting systems, costs and financial payback.

What is Retaliation Under Massachusetts Employment Law

Pursuant to Massachusetts law, the word retaliation is defined as; an employer taking and adverse action against an employee as a result of the employee conducting some form of protected activity. Retaliation is a separate claim from discrimination, it can be found in Massachusetts General Laws in chapter 151B. The word retaliation is not actually used in the law however the courts commonly use the word as shorthand for the word antidiscrimination statutes. The laws against retaliation allows for liability against individuals and not just employers.

Under Massachusetts Law 151B there are two different subsections that prohibit unlawful retaliation and they are §4(4) and §4(4A). §4(4) states; “for any person, employer labor organization, or employment agency to discharge, expel or otherwise discriminate against any person because he has opposed any practices forbidden under this chapter or because he has filed a complaint, testified, assisted in any proceeding under section five of MGL 151B §4(4).” MGL 151B §4(4A) states that; “for any person to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with another person in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by this chapter, or to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with such other person for having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of any such right.”

Under Mass Practice Section 8.30 it states that in order to establish a case of retaliation, the plaintiff must show that he/she engaged in legally protected conduct and that he/she suffered an adverse employment action, and that a causal connection existed between the legally protected conduct and the adverse employment action. In order for one to succeed in a relation claim they must show the following;

  1. The plaintiff must prove that he reasonably and in good faith believed that his employer engaged in wrongful discrimination.
  2. That he acted reasonably in response to this belief
  3. That the employer’s desire to retaliate against was his determinative factor in taking an adverse employment action.

In order for the plaintiff to prove the first prong of their retaliation case they must show that they engaged in an act protected under chapter 151B section 4(4), and those who have opposed any practice forbidden under MGL c. 151B and those who file complaints or assist in any proceedings before the MCAD (Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination) these are known as the “opposition” and “participation” clauses.

The application of the opposition clause and can prove to be tricky because the employee must allege that the retaliatory conduct was due to the employee’s opposition to practices forbidden under MGL c. 151B.

The participation clause refers to MCAD proceedings and c.151B doesn’t cover participation in internal investigations of discrimination unless the participation amounts to the protected opposition, such as aiding, or encouraging another employee in the exercise of that employee’s rights.