Boston

Making Green Energy The Norm

By Kara Miller   |   Friday, October 7, 2011
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Episode 1, Part 1

Wind turbines are seen near the Columbia River in Washington State. (Shutterbug Fotos/Flickr)

America has talked for a long time about embracing green energy.

President Obama discussed the idea last year, saying, "Building a robust clean-energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future, jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. But it’s also how we will reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, a dependence that endangers our economy and how security. And it is also how we will leave our children a safer planet than the one we inherited."

So, what new technologies are available that allow households and businesses to rely on green, clean energy? And how do we scale them? A panel of experts joins us to look at the green revolution and how that revolution might remake America.

Guests:

Local Innovation: A Tool To Find Green-Energy Incentives

(realmofreals via Flickr)

Many homeowners and business owners are interested in building green buildings, retrofitting existing ones, or buying green appliances — but, initially, such projects can appear to be more expensive than taking less green routes. Jeremy Doochin and Jonathan Doochin, two brothers with combined experience in the Department of Energy, the private sector, and the non-profit sector, know that there's a web of state, local and private incentives available to make such projects cheaper, but it can be difficult to navigate them. They have founded U.S. Green Data, a website that puts information about available incentives in one place to help customers understand how they can save money on green projects, and offers consulting, analysis and ROI reports.

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'Occupy Boston' Protestors Gather In The Hub

By Toni Waterman   |   Tuesday, October 4, 2011
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Oct. 5, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 3 on WGBH's Greater Boston.


BOSTON — With a blue and white megaphone, a member of the Occupy Boston camp asks fellow demonstrators how they should welcome the homeless into their movement.

In near unison, the group responded, "we welcome everybody."

This is the population of Occupy Boston: a mishmash of young, old, unemployed, employed, all outraged over what they see as an untenable economic divide.

"I think something that everyone here is thinking about is the fact that one percent of Americans control 50 percent of the wealth in this country," said Occupy Boston media volunteer Jason Potteiger. "A lot of people feel like their voices are being undermined by the fact that there's so much money in special interest — corporate interest in Washington — that their voices are not being heard," Potteiger said.

So since Friday night, Occupy Boston has brought their message to the Financial District's Dewey Square, transforming it into a makeshift tent city. Potteiger, who's an unemployed college grad, says he's concerned about his job prospects.

"Forty-five percent of people 16 to 29 are unemployed and 85 percent of people who graduated in 2011 moved back in with their parents. This is the issue facing my generation," Potteiger said.

Occupy Boston is an unaffiliated spin-off of New York's Occupy Wall Street, a group in its third week of protests. Over the weekend, 700 protesters were arrested for blocking the Brooklyn Bridge. And similar protests have cropped up across the country, including Vermont and Los Angeles. "Stop the corruption on Wall Street," yelled one L.A. protestor.

Here in Boston, the message is the same. A demonstrator who would only give his name as Patrick says he quit his job so he could join the protest.

"My benefits for one person were almost $300 a month," he said, a red bandana hiding most of his face. "That's half my rent right there. So I had to choose between living somewhere or having health insurance."

Fellow protestor David Trauterman, barefoot and holding a sign, said he's looking to end all injustice. "I'm here for a larger movement than just Occupy Boston. I'm here for a revolution of humanity. We need to stop working against each other and come together as one."

But for the most part, the group's intentions are elusive. There are no clear objectives and protestors are making no demands. But demonstrator Nadeem Mazen said knowing what they want so early would be premature.

"I think it's unusual to want to have clear objectives this early. We're saying that we represent the 99 percent and that many of those in the 1 percent use that wealth in order to undermine the democratic process. It's flatly wrong. And it's not democracy," Mazen said.

Boston Court Ruling Affirms Citizens' Right To Record Officials

By Toni Waterman   |   Friday, September 23, 2011
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Sept. 23, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on September 22 on WGBH's Greater Boston


BOSTON — Simon Glik, a lawyer, was walking through Boston Common on the night of October 1, 2007, when he stumbled upon what he described as an unbelievable situation: Three Boston police officers forcefully wrangling, punching and trying to hold down a young man.

"I saw him just being in a choke hold, being punched and looking like he was in tremendous agony. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew if I were to tell that to someone, no one would believe me," Glik said.

So Glik whipped out his cell phone and started recording what to him appeared to be police using excessive force. And that's where his troubles began.

"They arrested him and they looked at me and said, 'Well, you've had enough.' By that time I think I had stopped taking any video," said Glik.

But it was his next sentence that got him arrested.

"I said, 'I saw you guys punch him.' Once they heard that, they got immediately very angry and sort of got in a huddle for a couple of seconds and then they informed me that I was under arrest. I said, 'What for?' And they said, "Wiretapping," Glik said.

The cops claimed Glik violated the state's wiretapping law, which prohibits secret audio recordings. But the ACLU's Carol Rose says, there was nothing secret about what Glik was doing.

"In Massachusetts if you want to audio record a conversation with another person you can't do it in secret, you have to do it publicly and openly. But clearly in this case Simon Glik did it publicly and openly. He held up his camera. He said I'm recording," Rose said.

A frame from Simon Glik's cell phone recording of the Boston police in 2007. (via Greater Boston)

Along with illegal wiretapping, Glik was charged with disturbing the peace and aiding the escape of a prisoner. But the charges didn't hold up in court. In January 2008, Judge Mark Summerville threw out the charges, saying photography is a form of free expression and is protected by the First Amendment.

But last year, Glik filed a civil rights lawsuit against the three police officers and the City of Boston, insisting his right to free speech had been violated and that he was arrested without probable cause.

The police argued immunity, claiming they were working in their official capacity and that they had been poorly trained on the law. But the court didn't buy it. Last month, in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston ruled:

"A citizen's right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment."

Glik said the ruling is a step in the right direction.

"One of the major goals has been accomplished by this monumental decision of the First Circuit. And it's not that I just have a right, it's everybody now who has a right and that right has been prescribed on such a level that it's impossible for the police to misinterpret," Glik said.

The First Circuit's ruling means Glik's suit against the officers can now move forward and they could be on the hook for Glik's legal costs, among other damages.

The ruling could also have some profound effects nationwide for other cases like Glik's.

Mass. May Legalize Ticket Scalping

By Adam Reilly   |   Wednesday, September 21, 2011
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Sept. 21, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Sept. 20 on 'GBH's Greater Boston.


BOSTON — In theory at least, ticket scalping is illegal here in Massachusetts. But in reality it's widely accepted. From the guys who peddle Sox tickets outside Fenway, to outfits like Stub Hub and Ace Ticket that routinely sell thousands of seats at a hefty markup. Now a proposed law would give scalpers free rein; letting anyone who buys a ticket resell it at any price. Proponents say it's a simple issue of economic freedom, but the truth may be a bit more complicated.

StubHub tickets (via Greater Boston)

Take a stroll down Brookline Avenue before any Red Sox game and you'll see how easy it is to flout state law. You're supposed to have a license to resell tickets — and you're not supposed to jack the price up more than $2 plus expenses. Yet Fenway's unlicensed scalpers operate right on the street. And if you buy from a licensed reseller like Stub Hub or Ace Ticket, you'll pay a heck of a lot more than two bucks extra. For some folks I talked to, the experience is a mixed bag. One woman paid $90 for a ticket with a $30 face value.

Now Brighton State Representative Mike Moran wants to scrap the state's feeble anti-scalping law altogether — letting anyone who buys a ticket resell it at any price. That could benefit ordinary fans looking to unload tickets at the last minute, but only if they can overcome the public's intense aversion to buying on the street.

However, the biggest beneficiaries would probably be Stub Hub and Ace Ticket. Moran's bill would let them raise prices even higher, and in sports crazed New England they'd have no shortage of buyers. I asked another woman if she would mind the markup up at a Stub Hub or Ace ticket, and she replied, "Not really, provided that you get a good seat and guaranteed ticket."

This isn't the first attempt to scrap the state's anti-scalping law. In 2008 a similar bill died as controversy engulfed then House Speaker Sal DiMasi. But now DiMasi is gone – and scalping's legalized heyday may finally be at hand.

Editor Martin Baron Marks A Decade At The Boston Globe

By Emily Rooney   |   Friday, September 16, 2011
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Sept. 16, 2011

Watch the video piece that aired on Sept. 15 on 'GBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — Over the summer The Boston Globe editor Marty Baron passed his ten-year mark at the helm of the newspaper. During that decade, The Globe has won five Pulitzer Prizes including one in 2002 awarded for the paper's investigation into clergy sexual abuse. The Globe has also changed its look and size and most recently, its web presence

Not A Short-Timer

When Marty Baron took over the reigns of The Boston Globe he was largely deemed to be a short-timer. He had come from The Miami Herald and speculation was he'd soon be headed to The New York Times.

Martin Baron, editor of The Boston Globe since July 2001. (via Greater Boston)

"I remember coming back from lunch when I was meeting people and one of my colleagues in the newsroom said, 'the word on you is you're two years and out.' And I've since reminded him his sources were wrong on that subject and I told him so at the time, that I would be here for quite some time," said Baron.

Under Baron's watch The Globe has won five Pulitzer Prizes. Most noteworthy, the Prize the paper took home for its dogged work on the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal.

"When I first came, before I even came, I was reading stories in The Globe about Father Geoghan and that he was alleged to have abused 80 children," recalled Baron. "It was an extraordinary story and I thought, what could be done with that? I read a column by Eileen McNamara who was a columnist for us at the time, who had said these documents were under seal and perhaps the truth would never be known."

But Baron was determined to keep at it. "It came up at my first news meeting here. I raised the question of what we could do, what more we could, and whether we could try to open these records."

Pushing The Envelope

Baron and his investigative team consulted with their lawyers and decided to push ahead with the story. Baron says they were trying to look at the abuses— and also to get a handle on the Archdiocese's responsibility and what it was doing to protect children.

The Globe's Spotlight Team broke the story wide open. A decade later, the Boston-born story has taken an international turn.

Detail of The Boston Globe's Spotlight Team's early coverage of the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal. (via Greater Boston)

"I still remained stunned that there are these cases coming out now, there are these raging controversies in Ireland and Germany and Italy and all sorts of places in Latin America. And there are still allegations that the church itself is covering up. You can see what's happening now in Philadelphia where there are indictments. And I think it's extraordinary that this story continues a decade after our first story — a big story for quite some time to come."

Over the years, The Boston Globe has published compelling investigative reports on state agencies like the Probation Department and powerful political figures like former House Speaker Sal DiMasi. "There's no one formula," said Baron. "I think our basic principle is that powerful people and powerful institutions should be held accountable."

Baron cited The Globe's work on the probation department, the Big Dig and and the investigation of Sal DiMasi that many say contributed to his indictment on corruption charges.

Baron has also been at the editorial helm of The Boston Globe during the worst decade in history for the print news business. The industry has been hit by layoffs, buyouts, a huge decline in ad revenue, and a loss of morale.

The Boston Globe front page from May 24, 2010 showing the Probation story. (via Greater Boston)

Changing With The Times

"We're in an industry that's been disrupted primarily by what's happened on the web in the way that other industries have been disrupted by what's happened on the web," he said.

But while the web brings new challenges to The Globe's business model, Baron said it brings new opportunities as well. "Undeniably [the web] has had a dramatic impact on us. It has affected the revenues that are available to support the journalism that we do…but it's also been a moment of great gratification. The reason I say that is because we now have an opportunity to tell stories in a way we've never been able to tell them before."

In fact, Baron said the web has given paper new tools to play with and has changed the way The Globe thinks of itself as a traditional newspaper.

The Boston Globe offices in Boston. (via Greater Boston)

"We're using video, we're doing updates throughout the course of a day, we're using social media tools. We are able to reach a larger, a far larger, group of people than we've ever been able to reach before. In the past we were putting out one, maybe two, newspapers in the course of a day. Now we're able to keep people up to date all the time," said Baron.

Of course, one of the toughest stories Baron had to cover over the years was the one about the paper itself, when The New York Times threatened to shut the paper down if it didn't come up with $20 million in savings.

"As far as The New York Times Company is concerned, they were dealing a very tough situation here at The Globe," said Baron. "We were losing money, we were losing lots of money. That was a situation that needed to be corrected."

"We needed to arrive a sustainable model for The Boston Globe. And I don't envy the position that they were in. It was certainly tough to be dealing in an environment where your parent company is asking major concessions of the employees who worked here, threatening a shutdown and putting you up for sale. Certainly it was a very difficult time."

While The Globe's fate was in limbo, Baron faced the daunting task of keeping the newspaper's staff focused on producing solid journalism, even while the security of their jobs was on the line. "It was very difficult and I'm not sure I kept morale up because morale took a hit for obvious reasons. Concessions were being asked of employees here and there was a threat of a shutdown and then we were up for sale, so it's very difficult in an environment like that to keep morale up."

The New York Times building in New York. (via Greater Boston)

Leadership In Hard Times

But with the threat of a shutdown looming, Baron said he tried to keep the staff focused on work at the same time understanding The Times Company had its own work to do. "What I wanted to do really was keep people focused on the work and also to understand the rationale for the kinds of concessions that were being asked and for the kind of sacrifice. And it was a real sacrifice being asked of employees here. Those were the two things to really understand what was going on."

The shutdown threat eventually passed, and Baron said today the paper is in a much better position.

"I think we've arrived at a good point," he said. "After a lot of pain, we did arrive at a good point for The Globe and we're on stable ground right now."

But the paper's financial problems revived the persistent issue of local ownership. Every few years, since the Taylor family sold the paper to The New York Times, a dream team of Bostonians' names circles as a possible local community group that will swoop in and buy the paper. But Baron said he does not give much thought to local ownership.

"I don't think about the good ole days," said Baron. "I think it's pointless to think about the good ole days. We're in a new era and our business has changed dramatically. I think people need to recognize that. [I'm] very comfortable with the kind of commitment that the New York Times company has made to this organization. Very happy with the quality of journalism that we're doing right now and I leave it up to others to decide."

'The Pursuit Of Excellence'

So does local ownership make a difference anymore? Baron said it's not as simple as yes or no.

"I've looked at this issue across the country and I see instances where local ownership is really good and I see instances where local ownership is really bad. I've seen instances — people used to talk about, is it public or private, is it good to be a public company or a private company? I've seen instances where public companies are really good for their local news organization and I've seen instances where public companies are really bad. I've seen private companies that are really good and private companies that are really bad," Baron said.

"I believe it's most important for us to be independent. That we are able to pursue whatever story we need to pursue without interference and that's certainly been the case here under New York Times company ownership."

Someone once made an observation about Marty Baron, that his motto is "the joyless pursuit of excellence." Has that changed?

"Maybe that's a motto that someone came up for me," laughed Baron. "I don't think that's…that's never been my motto. I think people should enjoy what they're doing. But certainly the pursuit of excellence. Absolutely."

After The Call, Cape Cod Fighter Pilots Patrolled The Skies

By Sean Corcoran   |   Tuesday, September 6, 2011
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About the Authors
Kara Miller Kara Miller
As a radio host, Kara Miller has interviewed thinkers from E.J. Dionne to Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra to Lani Guinier. She is a panelist on WGBH-TV's "Beat the Press," as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, The Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune.

Podcast: iTunes | XML

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Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.

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