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.

How Massachusetts General Law 93A Affects Online Businesses

Massachusetts General Law 93A, titled Regulation of Business Practices for Consumers Protection, is designed to protect those consumers who would otherwise be unaware of their legal rights. Mass. Gen. Law 93A. As it was originally drafted, 93A did not create a private right to sue, an issue which was quickly addressed by the legislature, and now both consumers and businesses can use 93A as a basis for enforcing their rights through private law suit. Unlike some other states, the Massachusetts consumer protection statute provides for an express, rather than an implied, right to sue for businesses who feel they have been victim of a deceptive or unfair act. It is often easy to spot a consumer protection issue with standard businesses, such as: bait and switch advertising, failure to disclose defects, price-fixing, faulty warranty claims and un-bargained for return/refund policies. It becomes much more difficult to determine when a consumer protection claim based upon Mass. Gen. Law 93A exists when the business involved is only involved in electronic commerce, and especially when that business is not located within the state.

When evaluating a potential consumer protection claim, it is necessary to keep in mind that the required elements are different for a business and a consumer. A consumer must follow certain procedural and substantive requirements outlined in section 9 of the act. Among other elements, section 9 requires a 30 day demand letter, a showing that they are in fact a consumer, an unfair or deceptive practice, and a showing of damages.

Businesses, especially online businesses, differ substantially in their required elements. Section 11 sets out the requirements for a business 93A claim, and requires that a business show:

  1. That they are a “business” – [involved in the conduct of any trade or commerce];
  2. That the defendant engaged in an “unfair method of competition” or the defendant’s actions were “unfair” or “deceptive;”
  3. That these actions occurred primarily and substantially within Massachusetts (the burden is on the defendant to disprove this presumption as a defense); and
  4. That these actions resulted in a loss to the business plaintiff of money or property, real or personal, for money damages to issue; or
  5. That these actions “may have the effect of causing such loss of money or property.”

Mass. Gen. Law 93A

Because of the openness of the internet, and the anonymity involved, it can be extremely difficult to demonstrate that a certain method was either unfair or deceptive. More difficult, especially in the context of an online business, is demonstrating that a certain act has the effect of causing damages or loss. Since online transactions vary in amount and since the market is continually expanding, it can be extremely difficult to demonstrate actual loss, or even potential for loss. Since each element must be present before filing a claim, the prudent advocate will research the facts of the case prior to initiating a 93A claim. Without the properly pled elements, most judges will discard with the case at the first possible opportunity.

In addition, online businesses present unique jurisdictional issues that may confuse the use of 93A for consumer protection purposes. In order for there to be any hope of applying 93A to an online business, the “unfair or deceptive act” must have primarily or substantially occurred within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. When neither the deceptive/unfair act, nor the harm takes place in MA, a consumer protection claim will be barred based upon 93A, even if the victim is a Massachusetts resident or business. In the recent Massachusetts Superior Court case of Fillmore v. Leasecomm Corp., the judge dismissed a consumer protection claim brought by a Massachusetts company against a California company because the allegedly deceptive sales tactics and the unfair contracts were all consummated in California. Fillmore v. Leasecomm Corp., 18 Mass. L. Rptr. 560, 2004 WL 3091642 (Mass. Super. Ct. Nov. 15, 2004). In Fillmore, the plaintiff’s pleadings failed the ‘center of gravity’ test applied for jurisdictional purposes, and the claim was therefore dismissed. When deciding whether or not to file a consumer protection claim in Massachusetts, it is best first to look at the act, the harm and the jurisdiction. The more that occurred within Massachusetts jurisdiction, the more likely the claim will be allowed to proceed. However, Massachusetts courts do find in favor of Massachusetts companies when all the elements, including the jurisdictional ones are met. If a contract was to be performed in Massachusetts, and the damages took place in Massachusetts, then the jurisdictional element will be met and the court will find for the claimant, as the Massachusetts appeals court did in Auto Shine Car Wash Sys. v. Nice ‘n Clean Car Wash, Inc. In Auto Shine, the parties frequently met in Massachusetts, and the misrepresentation originated in Massachusetts. The court held in favor of the plaintiff for double damages, as there was a willful and knowing violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A 58 Mass. App. Ct. 685 (Mass. Appeals Ct. 2003).

Filing a consumer protection claim presents a substantially increased level of evidence and jurisdiction requirements when your client is a business. Beware of the consequences and potential wasted time you may use when filing a claim without having every element met. Simply because Massachusetts provides for an express right for businesses to file claims, doe not mean that judges will be willing to overlook even the smallest discrepancies in the pleading requirements.

The Devil in Massachusetts – A Modern Enquiry Into the Salem Witch Trials by Marion L Starkey

The back cover of the edition of The Devil in Massachusetts I read stated that Ms. Starkey “applies modern psychiatric knowledge to the witchcraft hysteria” which plagued Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Although Starkey’s work is obviously well-researched and is historically authentic, it is neither an enquiry nor a psychological evaluation with new insights into the mass panic caused by several seriously disturbed young girls. She poses question after question to the reader yet puts none of her own conclusions or hypotheses to any of them.

The Devil in Massachusetts is elegantly written based on Starkey’s research of actual trial transcripts, historical records and publications of the time. However her penchant for asking questions, double negatives and placing subordinate clauses at the beginning of sentences does cause the reader to double-back much of the time to re-read passages to understand her message.

The absence of any meaningful dissertation on the population may be a moot point in this post 9/11 world, whatever conclusions could be drawn in Starkey’s 1949 publication. Still it would be interesting to know what caused several young girls, ages eight to eighteen, to suddenly fall into convulsing fits and claim they were being tortured by invisible imps. They ‘cried out’ members of the community, mostly women, as their tormentors.

Arrests were issued and carried out with frequency to bring the accused before magistrates who firmly believe in the existence of witches. More disturbing than the girls made-up hysterics was the courts’ complete buy-in of the ‘spectral evidence’, unseen witches and wizards observed ONLY by the afflicted girls. And they weren’t the only ones. Families of the accused disowned their relatives at the mere thought of being related to a witch, even if the woman had never shown any behavior remotely reminiscent of witchcraft. Others stood by their loved ones, bringing countless witnesses to testify on their behalf. Cooler minds did not prevail as the shrieks and howlings of pre-teen girls gave precedence over more knowledgeable and sane people.

Other towns in the Salem area such as Andover and Ipswich encountered similar episodes but by now sanity began to take hold and these cases were dismissed as quickly as they began.

The self-important Massachusetts preacher Cotton Mathers got caught up in the hysteria as well and through his own reticence and culpability, failed to rescue a man whom he concluded to be innocent. In later years, he managed to attach his name to saving the souls of condemned pirates, a crime with more tangible and concrete evidence against the accused.

Despite the lack of any new insights on the Salem witch trials, The Devil in Massachusetts is a great glimpse into the mass confusion, terror and murder in pre-colonial New England. It does cause one to recall the old adage about history repeating itself, but if Starkey did not enlighten us onto the psychological reasoning behind the panic, are we repeating it now? The days of hunting witches to hang them or burn them at the stakes are over. But what about our current ‘witch hunts’ against persons of difference race, religion or sexual orientation?

I guess the answer to the first question is ‘yes’.

Regionalizing of Emergency Dispatch Services in Massachusetts

The regionalizing of emergency dispatch services is a hot topic in many Massachusetts counties as of late. Grants are being given, committees are being formed, and studies are being conducted. Why all the time and effort, when, if you simply look to the rest of the country, it seems like a worthwhile trend?

As a matter of fact, Massachusetts is one of the only states that has not, for the most part, regionalized its dispatch services. Granted, it takes years, investment and dedication to accomplish such an undertaking. Case in point: the State of Oregon worked for 16 years to regionalize the dispatch of its state police services, but it was worth it. Now, there are two command centers that act as primary points of contact for all state police needs across the state – instead of 26. Tax payers’ money is saved, scales of economies are realized, and updated technologies are enjoyed throughout the state.

These are the emergent themes from all around the country – taxpayer savings, efficient dispatch processes, more dependable higher-tech technologies. According to Thomas Dubas who runs a dispatch center in Lackawanna County, Pa, and was hired to advise on the regionalizing proposal, “The level of expertise, the level of training, and the level of service that a regional center can provide is just so much more responsive for the communities,” he said. Why, then, hasn’t Massachusetts followed suit?

It’s not that the ideas haven’t been presented. In the last three years, Essex, Plymouth and Worcester counties have all brought up proposals for regionalizing emergency dispatch services. And with any Massachusetts proposal, there have been dissenters. Those opposed to the combining of services, site possible layoffs, lack of presence in overnight facilities to greet visitors, and varying degrees of dispatcher familiarity with towns involved, as main reasons to veto.

It’s not that they don’t see the financial and procedural benefits of such a project, but those opposed do not want to rush into something without looking at it from every angle. The reason to regionalize emergency dispatch services should not be for finances alone. There is an obviously-human element to the work performed by dispatch personnel. A large degree of the work the dispatchers perform now is to walk-ins, as well as monitoring late-night activities. If towns combined dispatch efforts, those high-touch elements would be eliminated.

However, it is hard to overlook the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money that could be saved, especially in a time where agencies are expected to do less with more, and budget cuts are forcing every department to look more thoroughly than ever at its expenditures. And when you get right down to it, almost every other state is already combining emergency service management – and doing it successfully. If nothing else, then there are plenty of case studies to show us the way to regionalize emergency dispatch for our own success.

The Best Ways to Play The Games of The Massachusetts State Lottery

Instant Win Scratch Tickets

Have you ever been to a corner store and witnessed an unusual flood of people there, many in and out of their cars, some just sitting mesmerized in a trancelike state, and wondered, ‘what on earth is going on here’? What you have just witnessed is the result of a new release of an Instant Win Scratch Ticket from the Massachusetts State Lottery. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that it’s all about entertainment and money. There really is only one thing capable of generating that type of excitement at corner stores and ‘quick stop gas stations’ throughout the state so, there’s also no wondering why the state holds a ‘legalized monopoly’ on the industry.

You may however, have wondered, ‘how do all those people know when a new instant win game is released’? The answer is, they watch for new release announcements on the New Lottery Instant Game Tickets page of the Massachusetts State Lottery Official Web Site. In this way they are always apprised of new opportunities to hit the jackpot.

As for the sudden furor of it all, it can be explained simply with what’s well know throughout the ‘scratching community’, in an attempt to gain popularity for a game, each new instant games release is saturated with winning tickets.

So, now a week as gone by and the crowds have dissipated at the ‘scratching posts’ and you a have some former presidents burning a hole in you pocket. Short of a cold shower, you decide what to do, buy yourself some instant win lottery tickets! Now comes the dilemma, which games tickets to buy? Before extinguishing those fiery historical figures, refer to the Instant Prizes Claims page of the Massachusetts State Lottery Official Web Site. Additionally you may want to check the Instant Prizes Under 1,000,000 page.

What you are looking for is the claimed vs. total columns on the right side on both of the listing pages. By scanning those two columns you can easily see how many prizes are both available and claimed. Now at this point it becomes perfectly obvious that you only want to purchase tickets for games that have more unclaimed prizes than claimed prizes. After all, why throw away your hard earned money on a 46 claimed prizes out of 50 available prizes game ticket when you can purchase a 28 vs. 66 or 18 vs. 80 and have something on the order of 30 to 60 more chances of winning the grand prize amount! Granted though, all those winners will not be in circulation at the time of your purchase.

This begs the question of how much money to spend on your instant win ticket purchase. Most “professional ‘scratchers’” remark, you must spend at least $100 on one game at one time to have any real chance of winning a jackpot, claiming, you really need several full fresh sheets of tickets in order to better your chances of your scratching revealing that jackpot. However prudence dictates you can only buy as many scratch tickets as your budget will allow. So, if spending $100 simply is not in your budget today, perhaps over time, putting some money aside for a ‘new instant win release treat day’ would be an acceptable way to both play by the ‘rules’ and, make it relatively ‘affordable’ to do so.

Cash WinFall

A ‘one wheel’ game, Cash WinFall, being the Massachusetts State Lotteries newest game, has an interesting twist on its jackpot. The money is rolled down to lesser winners! If no grand prize has been won before the jackpot pool reaches $2 Million, that $2,000,000.00 or more then gets dissipated through to all lower level wins of that draw. Meaning, if the jackpot is $2 Million or more, and there is no jackpot winner, that $2 Million goes to all the prize winners in that drawing. Pretty neat! Now it’s quite obvious when to play Cash WinFall!

Mega Millions

A two wheel game, Mega Millions is the Massachusetts version of the highly popular multi state game PowerBall. Being a 2 wheel game, the odds are quite high against picking all 6 winning numbers. In fact they are quite a bit higher than PowerBall odds. One would naturally assume because the odds are higher, there would be less frequent winners with higher jackpots. That simply is not the case. PowerBall has jackpot winners, on average over the past year, approximately once every 6 weeks (8 winners) with 9 figure jackpots numbering 4. While Mega Millions has jackpot winners, on average over the past year, approximately once every 4 weeks (14 winners) with 9 figure jackpots also numbering 4. One can reasonably assert that those figures are a result of the participating states population and economic demographics.

So how do all those people win? The Official Web Site of Mega Millions states quite clearly on its Winning Picks page [http://www.megamillions.com/winningpicks/download_numbers.asp] that ‘Lottery games such as Mega Millions are random and it is impossible for anyone or any lottery analysis software to predict exactly what will be the next drawn balls. However, patterns can still be observed from the balls that are randomly drawn for different periods of time’. That being said, you can obviously have a better chance of winning through a lottery related form of Statistical Analysis. For more information on Statistical Analysis and how it applies to the Massachusetts State Lottery, visit MassLotteryResult.com. So, when should you play this game? You should really only play Mega Millions about the 4th week after every jackpot winner!

The Numbers Game

A 4 wheel game and the oldest of the Massachusetts State Lottery Games, The Numbers Game has been in operation since 1975. More than 10,000 drawings have made players the happy winners of tens, hundreds and, thousands of dollars every day. Number odds being quite reasonable, one would assume winning this game to be relatively easy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The fact is, the way you are forced to play this game aids in stacking the odds much farther against you than you may think. With it’s all 4 any 4, first 3 last 3 any or exact, 2 digit combinations, .25c, .50c, $1, $2, and $5 play options, coupled with payouts less than $10,000, playing this game is a real challenge, as too is it’s worthiness of being played. What the designers of this old lottery game seem to have overlooked is,it’s not how to play but what you win, something the newer games embrace fully. That being said, The Numbers Game does have its merits. There are lots of people out there who only want to bet .25c or .50c and, not even Keno offers that option. What this game really needs is a simple ‘any 3’ option including a ‘$5 only’ bet and a maximum $500 payout. That alone could catapult the popularity of The Numbers Game to stratospheric levels. So what’s the best way to play this game? .25c and 50c bets only, any combinations you want. The layman perspective is, pick 4 out of 40 on The Numbers Game and maybe win $10,000. Pick 5 out of 35 on MassCash and definitely win $100,000, spending $1 or more should be saved for MassCash.

MassCash

An older ‘one wheel’ game that, since its inception in 1991, has paid its $100,000 jackpot to more than 2500 winners! With its reasonable odds and reasonable payouts it’s easy to see why this older game continues to be popular. With jackpot winners nearly every drawing, and multiple winner too, you can play this game whenever it’s drawn!

MegaBucks

An older ‘one wheel’ game that, since its inception in 1982, has paid more than 1700 winners varying prize amounts totaling about $2.5 Billion. A fairly tough game to win, jackpot winners are, on average, paid out every 10 -12 drawings. So, naturally you only play this game every 10 – 12 draws after a jackpot winner.

Keno

A ‘newer one wheel’ computer driven game and a masterpiece of modern gambling Keno, is designed for people with a lot of time on their hands. After all, where else can you have a chance to win $1 Million every 5 minutes 21 hours a day, 6 days a week, and 13 hours on Sunday! When should you play this game? Whenever you’ve had just enough to drink to think you can actually pick 12 of the 20 numbers drawn from a pool of 80. Seriously, Keno is a very fun game and, when played correctly, can create hours of enjoyment for little to no money spent. In fact people have been known to play all night and leave no poorer than when they started! How is that? Keno allows you to win if you don’t pick any of the winning numbers! Amazing! Well, maybe not all that amazing as Lottery Officials have obviously figured out that it’s harder to not pick any of the winners than to pick 1, 2 ,3 or 4 winners when playing a 12, 11 or 10 spot game as you don’t win anything for picking less than 5 winning numbers. But, if you are the unluckiest person around you could win all night long! So how do you play this game? The odds are just as good winning a prize on the 7 spot wager as the 1 spot wager so play the 7 spot though the best over all odds are on the 2 spot wager. Simply show up, pick you numbers, pay for however many games your visit will cover and, cash out when you leave.

The Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offender Law

In Massachusetts, a Habitual Traffic Offender is someone who, in any rolling 5 year period, has three or more convictions for operating under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, reckless driving, or leaving the scene of an accident; or twelve or more convictions for other reportable violations such as speeding, failure to stop for a red light or stop sign, failure to stay within marked lanes, etc,

When determining whether someone qualifies as a habitual traffic offender, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles uses conviction dates and not the dates upon which the motor vehicle offenses were committed. Also, out of state convictions are counted just as if they had occurred in Massachusetts. Once someone is declared a Habitual Traffic Offender, the accumulation of any new qualifying violations will generate additional Habitual Traffic Offender license revocations unless and until the older violations drop outside of the rolling 5 year HTO look-back period.

It is possible to become a Habitual Traffic Offender overnight, in a single incident. For example, suppose a driver is convicted of operating under the influence, which is commonly referred to in Massachusetts as DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. This is a common scenario where a driver is alleged to have crashed into something and left the scene, because he or she had been drinking. In addition to the license suspensions associated with the DUI and the 60 day suspensions for leaving the scene and negligent operation, the driver will automatically be declared a face a Habitual Traffic Offender and face four (4) year revocation of his or her license or right to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts.

Someone could lose their license for four (4) years, as a Habitual Traffic Offender, by accumulating minor violations such as speeding tickets over any rolling 5 year period. It is for this reason that drivers should not only drive carefully, but they should also consider appealing traffic citations within the 20 appeal period. Once labeled as Habitual Traffic Offenders, many people regret not having appealed their tickets. Once the 4 year license revocation is triggered, it is too late to appeal.

The good news for Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offenders is that both the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance can consider you for a limited 12 hour hardship license, after you have served 1 year of the 4 year mandatory license revocation. It is important not to have any recent charges showing that you were driving on a suspended license, to receive favorable hardship consideration, which is completely discretionary. This means that there is not automatic right to a hardship license, even in the case of a 4 year HTO revocation.

Massachusetts Immediate Threat Suspensions

G.L. c. 90, Sec. 22(a) grants the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles broad power to indefinitely revoke a driver’s license for violations of the motor vehicle laws which constitute an immediate threat to the public safety. A revocation under the immediate threat law has been determined not to constitute a punishment and, therefore, a criminal prosecutions and non-punitive immediate threat suspension arising out of the same incident, such as an operating under the influence event, does not violate the double jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution or Massachusetts common, statutory, or constitutional law.

These indefinite license revocations are usually triggered by a police officer filing a report with the RMV wherein he explains why allowing the driver to remain on the road constitutes an immediate threat to public safety. Sometimes the issue is medical related such as a case where a person is operating under the influence of prescription medication. In other cases, the report is generated as a result of dangerous or reckless driving witnessed by or reported to a police officer. Immediate threat reports may involve companion criminal charges.

The legal standard for an indefinite immediate threat revocation, which the Registry had wide latitude in interpreting, is that the driver “has committed a violation of the motor vehicle laws of a nature which would give the Registrar reason to believe that continuing operation by such holder is and will be so seriously improper as to constitute an immediate threat to the public safety.”

The immediate threat statute requires that the Registrar find that a license holder poses such a significant threat to public safety, that the license should be summarily taken. Additionally, law requires that the Registrar provide the operator with a notice specifying the time and place of the violation or incident that led to the immediate threat suspension.

Anyone who is had his or her license or right to operate revoked as an immediate threat is entitled to a hearing at the Registry of Motor Vehicles within 30 days of the revocation and the driver is entitled to be represented by a lawyer. Massachusetts Immediate threat revocations are indefinite in nature, meaning that the revocation will not terminate unless and until the license holder has proven to the Registry’s satisfaction that the causes of the past or present violations or issues of concern have been brought under control such that the driver no longer poses a threat to the motoring public. A Registry of Motor Vehicles lawyer can help you make this showing and get your license reinstated. The RMV charges a $500.00 reinstatement fee for immediate threat suspensions.