New England in brief

Vote may let colleges be called universities

July 9, 2010

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The Massachusetts House voted 124 to 21 yesterday to allow state colleges to call themselves universities. Proponents say the change will make the schools more competitive, but critics argue the change is purely cosmetic and could spur staff to demand higher wages. Representative Ellen Story, Democrat of Amherst, suggested the name change policy is a haphazard way of dealing with a system in need of more significant changes. Representative Peter J. Koutoujian, Democrat of Waltham, countered that the move could energize fund-raising. (State House News Service)

Three charged in illegal immigrant case
Three people are facing charges in connection with an alleged plot to help illegal immigrants avoid detection by mutilating their fingerprints, the US attorney’s office said. Ricky Dario Baez-Cruz, 29, and Jose Elias Zaiter-Pou, 61, both of the Dominican Republic, and Luz Martinez-Lebron, 41, of Lynn have been charged with conspiracy to conceal and shield illegal immigrants from detection, the office of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said. All three pleaded not guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston, a spokeswoman for Ortiz said, and they have a detention hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Authorities allege that Zaiter-Pou, a physician in Santo Domingo, traveled to the United States to surgically remove the fingerprints of illegal immigrants for a $4,500 fee. The defendants face a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted.

EPA bans Chatham Harbor boat sewage
Boats sailing through Pleasant Bay and Chatham Harbor are now banned from discharging sewage. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved a request from the state to designate the waters a no-discharge area. Ian Bowles, state environmental secretary, said the designation adds to the administration’s goal of barring the discharge of boat sewage in all of the state’s coastal waters. The EPA is considering a similar ban from Gloucester to Salisbury. (AP)

House seeks to repeal gift reporting law
The Massachusetts House hopes to repeal a state law requiring drug companies report gifts to doctors. The repeal was included in an economic development bill approved by the House Wednesday. House leaders defended the vote to repeal the ban, approved just two years ago, saying it has made it harder to attract companies to Massachusetts. The Senate version of the bill did not include the repeal. The bill now heads to a committee to work out a compromise. (AP)

Blood donors needed during hot spell
The American Red Cross is reminding people to donate blood during the current hot spell. It says that the need for blood does not decline with the rise in heat and that donors are needed at a time that traditionally sees a drop in donations. As an extra incentive, the Red Cross is offering donors a coupon for a free carton of Friendly’s ice cream during July. (AP)

Woman on scooter killed in crash with car
A woman riding a motorized scooter was killed yesterday in a collision with a car on a residential street in Newton, authorities said. The crash occurred at 2:15 p.m. on Ward Street near Grant Avenue in Newton Centre, police and fire officials said. A spokeswoman for the Middlesex district attorney’s office confirmed that the victim was an adult female riding a Vespa, but provided no further details. The woman’s name was not released, pending notification of next of kin.

Frank calls for replacing NOAA chief
US Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Newton, is calling for replacement of Jane Lubchenco as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Frank contends that Lubchenco has failed the region’s struggling fishermen. In an interview yesterday on WBSM-AM, Frank said she bore some responsibility for problems at NOAA’s fishery enforcement division, which is wracked by charges of mismanagement. He said he intends to bring his request to the White House. (AP)

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