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High-Fives and Dope Slaps: Movies make Mass. lots of money, but there's not enough for homeless housing

Posted by Alex Pearlman  November 29, 2011 06:01 PM

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massachusetts state house.jpgBy Jeff Fish

Thanksgiving was clearly on my mind when choosing news to feature this week, as two of the stories -- one about honoring a fallen local hero, and one about the perennial issue of homelessness -- fit the sentiment of the holiday.

But first, we need to talk about some fun stuff -- like movies, motorcycles, and Occupy Boston!

High-Five: Massachusetts’ film industry rebound in 2011 will boost state revenue. There has been some debate in recent years as to whether or not the state's tax cuts to filmmakers are appropriate. I say yes: Since the cuts took effect in 2006, the movie industry has, for the most part, boomed. The economy and Governor Patrick's proposal to cap the credits at $50 million may have caused some filmmakers to shy away in 2010, making it a bit of an off year, but the cap didn’t happen, and Hollywood seems to be past its slump, as eight movies filmed in Massachusetts this year.

The friendly environment could even result in more permanent fixtures -- for example, a successful television series, which would provide years of work for a cast and crew -- if only there was studio spacePlymouth Rock Studios was supposed to open in 2010. Building it and other studios would even create much-needed construction jobs. See? Tax cuts can be good for the economy, depending on what they’re for. It's a good thing Gov. Patrick didn't get his way.

Dope Slap: Possible changes to motorcycle laws will be dangerous for riders. Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a number of measures to change the state's motorcycle laws -- one bill wants to ban children under five years old from riding on a bike going over 30 miles per hour (which seems like a no-brainer to me), while another would prohibit the sale of exhaust pipes designed to make motorcycles louder (a silly issue to take up, in my opinion, but benign nonetheless).

But my real issues are with the proposals concerning helmet laws, which aim to get rid of the current requirements for riders over 21 and those whose states don’t require helmets. Because motorcycles aren’t dangerous enough? The state pours money into the “Click It or Ticket” campaign but is considering letting the death traps that are motorcycles become potentially more dangerous? And why 21? So motorcyclists can drink and drive without a helmet now? Yup, that makes a lot of sense.

High-Five: The Boston Occupier launches. Occupy Boston now has its very own newspaper. That the publication is funded entirely by donations just signifies the amount of support the Occupy movement has, despite much of the media coverage it's received. It also gives Occupy Boston an outlet to have its voice heard -- something that, again, has been lost in the media coverage.

I’m really glad those working on the paper decided not to name the publication the Occupy Boston Globe; it honestly didn’t make that much sense. The Occupied Wall Street Journal is clever, but the Globe is very different from the Journal: The latter actually reports on Wall Street and is seen as a conservative, pro-business publication. If Occupy Boston’s publication played off the Globe, people probably wouldn’t take it as seriously. Still, The Occupier is a step in the right direction for a movement that’s trying to expand and spread its message.

Dope Slap: Lack of funding for state program leaves families in dangerous living conditions. Funding has run out for HomeBASE, a state-run program that works to find housing for homeless pregnant women and families with children. According to an article on MassLive, a Quality Inn in West Springfield -- once a stopover for tourists passing through, but now in an area plagued by gang violence -- serves as a de facto shelter for those who haven’t received the money promised by the program.

The article highlights these families' plights and the fact that something needs to be done, but it's also a good example of how poor some Massachusetts communities really are; most media coverage focuses on Greater Boston, largely ignoring the whole state west of here. Homelessness and its associated problems happen everywhere, and something needs to be done to help these families get back on their feet.

High-Five: Woburn Post Office to be renamed after slain police officer. On the day after Christmas last year, Officer John “Jack” Maguire -- by all accounts, a devoted husband and father, as well as a 34-year police force veteran -- was killed in the line of duty during an attempted armed robbery at a Kohl’s in Woburn, just days after announcing his plans to retire in October. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Malden) introduced the legislation to the House of Representatives, while Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Scott Brown introduced it to the Senate, and President Obama signed the bill into law on Wednesday.

I know it's corny, but stories like these last two leave me feeling extremely grateful: Maguire’s story makes me thankful for the people in my life, while the story about HomeBASE gets me thinking about how lucky I am to have a roof over my head and to have grown up in a stable environment. The holiday season can be a difficult time for those suffering from poverty, lost loved ones, or both, and it never hurts to sit back every now and then and evaluate what we’ve gotten out of life.

‘High-Fives and Dope Slaps’ is TNGG Boston’s weekly Tuesday politics column, written by Jeff Fish.

Photo by andytomasello (Flickr)

About Jeff -- I'm a senior at Suffolk University, majoring in journalism and political science. I'm the editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, The Suffolk Journal, and I did a six-month co-op at The Boston Globe. I love politics, reading, movies, TV, and anything pop culture. My mind is a font of useless knowledge.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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