Bordeline apologizes for incorrect assumption

Borderline made a mistake last week and would like to set the record straight as much as possible based on second and third-hand information.

The mistake concerns the following statement from my post of Jan 21, which read:
[Authorities] have your number. They know you sent the message from somewhere in Newton. They'll find out which computer it came from, and tie it to you.
While investigators know it came from Newton, there wasn't any uncertainty over where it came from, as this News Tribune article by Jennifer Roy suggested. Within three hours, they had traced it to a computer in the Newton Free Library, according to this follow-up article by Galen Moore.

Borderline still stands by the assertion that the authorities needed a warrant in the absense of an imminent threat to peoples' lives (or permission from the library). An FBI spokeswoman cited in the Moore follow-up article claims that a warrant was not required in this situation, but decided not to unilaterally seize the computer in order to "be cooperative and not inconvenience the library."


Terrorist hoax sent from library; feds, cops, librarians overreact

Here's an update on the terrorist hoaxer who caused a scramble in Waltham: The hoax email was sent from a public Internet terminal at the Newton Free library.

The feds and cops went rushing to the library to seize the computer, but were refused by city officials and librarians, who told them they needed a warrant. From the News Tribune article:
While one law enforcement official said he was "totally disgusted" with the city’s attempt to hold up a time-sensitive investigation of a potential terrorist threat, Cohen is defending the library’s actions, calling it one of Newton’s "finest hours."
Disgusted? Finest hours? Please. The Newton cops and feds overreacted on this one. As did the mayor and city librarians.

However, the librarians are right -- A warrant is required to conduct this type of search, and by not getting one, the feds and cops would have risked the evidence getting thrown out in court, when the case eventually goes to trial. Law enforcement officials are supposed to live by the rule of law, not break the law. A warrant is required unless someone's life is in danger. That's clearly not the case at the library -- the threat was a hoax, and the hoaxer is obviously not hanging around the library, waiting for the cops to show up.

Grow up, everybody. Be nice to each other. Help each other where you can, but do things by the book. Get the bad guy, and put him behind bars.


Newton terrorist hoaxer: The jig is up

Someone in Newton will shortly have a nasty experience, courtesy of local, state and federal law enforcement.

It will probably go down something like this: At about 4 or 5 am on a weekday morning, a bunch of heavily armed men wearing bulletproof vests and helmets will break down your door, race to your bedroom, and shout loudly into your face not to fucking move while pointing automatic weapons at your pajama-clad body.

Or, if the powers that be decide that method is too dangerous to themselves or other residents of your home, they will wait until you are driving to work or the local donut shop, and box your car in with an assortment of unmarked Ford LTDs and black SUVs. Then men with big guns will jump out and tell you not to fucking reach down or drive away, just put your hands on the dashboard or get out of the car with your hands up.

You see, the jig is up. What you thought was an email prank on Wednesday -- threatening Anthrax or whatever at Brandeis -- is not really a prank at all. It's a terrorist threat. You scared the wits out of a lot of people, including several hundred kids at a nearby elementary school, and their teachers, not to mention local Waltham residents, the students and staff at Brandeis, cops, firemen, and the FBI.

But they have your number. They know you sent the message from somewhere in Newton. They'll find out which computer it came from, and tie it to you.

So here's what Borderline advises. First find a really good lawyer, and then turn yourself in as soon as possible. It's the right thing to do. By showing contrition and helping investigators tie things up, you may be able to shave some time off of that 20 year sentence the cops are threatening.

And you'll be able to avoid your own terror experience, courtesy of locked and loaded law enforcement personnel.

Best newspaper in Newton or Waltham?

I have a contender for the best newspaper produced in Newton or Waltham.

No, it's not the News-Tribune. Nor is it the Newton Tab.

It's the Justice, the student-run newspaper of Brandeis University.

I picked up the Tuesday, January 17 edition in Tara Restaurant on Moody Street, while waiting for my pizza (the best in Waltham I've tried, BTW), and was really impressed with the quality of the writing. These are college students, and for the most part they are writing at a level comparable to what you see in "real" newspapers.

The layout was also super, particularly the 2005 year in review spread. In general, it's clean and easy to read. It also doesn't have many advertisements to clutter up the pages, which might be a curse from a financial point of view, but is a blessing from the readership point of view.

There were only a few rough spots, in my opinion: The picture on the front page of the aftermath of a South Street fire, as well as the headline for that story:

Blaze scorches South Street students' house

Besides the fact that real people never say "blaze", the editors had a golden chance to slip in a key detail, the fact that the fire was started by burning Tater Tots.

One last beef: The review of Munich, which was more a review of the critics than a discussion of the movie itself. Or maybe it wasn't supposed to be a movie review?

Boston College has a student newspaper, The Heights, which five years ago was quite strong, but I haven't read an issue since 2004.


Harrassed for parking in West Newton

I just had a confrontation with someone in the parking lot of the West Newton CVS. It was before CVS even opened, but we weren't there to pick up medicines -- I was there to mail something at the Post Office across Waltham Street.

The lot was nearly empty, so we parked in one of the spaces nearest Waltham Street. As I was taking my four year old out of the lot, this guy comes up to me. He was about 40-45, short dark hair, and was wearing a navy blue, Barracuda-style jacket.

"You can't park here to use the post office."

I looked at the empty parking lot, then at CVS, then at him.

"We do a lot of business here every year ..."

He got angry. "That has no bearing! You can't park here or you're gonna get towed!"

I got angry too. This guy was harrassing me in front of my daughter for using an empty parking lot? "It absolutely has bearing. We do a lot of business ..."

"I don't care how much business you do with CVS, it has nothing to do with me. This is private property, Mark is ..."

"If it's nothing to do with you, then don't say anything. It's none of your business."

That quieted him for about two seconds, then he reverted to his original threat. "Hey, I said you're gonna get towed if you park here."

"Then go ahead, call the tow company!"

He didn't say anything. I went right up to his face. "And thanks for doing this in front of my daughter."

My daughter was quiet as we crossed the street. I could tell she was confused, and knew something I was angry -- she usually asks a million questions about any new situation or thing, but if I am mad she stays quiet. This was the first time she had seen me yelling at a stranger, or a stranger yelling at me.

After mailing my packages and buying a book of the new 39 cent stamps, I took my daughter back to the CVS parking lot. My car was still there. He was also still standing there, but didn't look at me. I didn't say anything to him, either, but now wish I had asked him his name and if he is the building superintendent, or maybe an off-duty cop (he looks like a cop, and seemed to know all of the people pulling in and out of the police station parking lot across the street). I also wish I added a couple of other things to the argument, like why he even cared if almost no one else is using the lot, or why he didn't tow the junky white car that was taking up two spaces next to mine.

And also, I should mention that technically, he is right. Regardless if whether there are 100 empty spaces, or I buy $100 worth of medicine and other stuff at CVS every month, I shouldn't be parking in the lot for five minutes to go to the Post Office. There is a sign posted that says CVS patrons only.

But you know what? I will do it again. And I will get in that guys face if he harrasses me. Not just because no one's using the lot at that time, but because there are no alternatives. The lot behind the post office is for postal employees and trucks, and the parking spaces in the municipal lot next to it are always full, used by people who work at the police station and courthouse. There are no other legal alternatives for parking, and in fact most people running into the post office park illegally on the curb next to the blue mailboxes -- an offense which can get you ticketed or towed.


Waltham hospital, post-closing

A few years back there was a great deal of hand-wringing over the closing of Waltham Hospital, and its impact on Waltham, as well as Newton, whose main hospital (Newton Wellesley) would absorb Waltham's traffic.

Here are my thoughts on the issue, after visiting the former Waltham hospital and Newton Wellesley in recent months:

1) Yes, Newton Wellesley gets more emergency traffic, as well as critical services (maternity, etc.) that used to go to Waltham. However, it should be noted that a lot of traffic also goes to St. E's in Brighton, judging by the Waltham police chatter I listen to on my scanner.

2) A lot of non-critical care is staying in Waltham, by going to the suburban "branch" outlets that Newton Wellesley and Children's hospital have at the former Waltham site. I received treatment at the "urgent care" facility operated by NW at Waltham, which is like a high-level walk-in clinic for people that need to get same-day medical attention but are not injured or seriously sick. It was a busy, modern facility, which I estimate sees at least several hundred patients per day. The Children's brach also seemed busy, and I would imagine is taking some of the pressure off NW as well as Children's Hospital in Boston.

The other part of the Waltham Hospital closing involved empty wards being converted to condos, or something along those lines ... anyone know the details?


Crack houses in Newton

Everyone's heard of this morning's "execution-style" killing of insurance agent Edward Schiller in a parking garage off Rte. 9. All the news reports express a sense of surprise, noting that Newton was just voted the "safest city in America."

Besides the fact that such a terrible crime occured at all, what disturbs me about news reports like this is how little the reporters that write them know about Newton. It's not just a city of contented suburbanites, yet that's what they want to see, and portray to outsiders.

As in any community, there are a lot of complex personal problems and relationships among the people that live in Newton. There are also a lot of people committing crimes, ranging from assault to drug dealing to prostitution to theft. Take a look at the Newton Tab police blotter, or turn on a police scanner to 470.8375 for a few hours, and you'll see what I mean. Over the years, there have been murders, hostage situations, terrible cases of child abuse, muggings ... A police buddy of mine recently told me there are even crack houses in Newton.

Yes, crack houses.

The statistics behind the "safest city in America" don't tell the whole story. They play down some very real social problems in Newton, mariginalize people that need help, and give a false sense of security to people who live and work here.


Questionable VIP perks: Send 'em in!

This San Francisco Chronicle article about VIP perks at San Francisco airport being handed out to pols, their relatives, famous people, and lobbyists made me think: Are there similar arrangements at Logan?

What about elsewhere in Boston, where parking is difficult, and political connections and perks seem to go hand in hand?

And are there any iffy VIP arrangements you've heard about in Newton or Waltham? Who gets them? Email borderlineblog@gmail.com with your tips!


In the beginning, there were local blogs ...

Yesterday I independently received two emails from two local bloggers, asking me to set up reciprocal links to their sites. The first was Tish Dish (Newton), the second, Swellesley (Wellesley). Like Borderline, both of these blogs are run by real local people interested in talking about their respective communities in some way.

The fact that I received two such emails on the same day tells me that this local blogging phenomenon is starting to reach a critical mass. There are more people doing it, and we're starting to connect with each other. And as this item from Watertown suggests, we're starting to make a difference, too. I have a feeling five or ten years from now, people will look at this time as a Web awakening for local communities, and a creation of a connectedness that is not present in local corporate-owned media entities.

Of course, an important part of this phenomenon is aggregator sites/forums like Universal Hub as well as better blog search engines, especially Google. I also hear similar things are happening in Washington D.C. and other metropolitan areas.


And while we're at it, let's drive a stake through "MetroWest"

The daleyblog took a shot at the article in this morning's Globe about the huge number of millionaires lurking in and around Boston:
What the Globe considers the "Boston Area," Beacon Hill, Chestnut Hill, Dover, Wellesley Hills, Weston, Lincoln, Lexington, Carlisle and Sherborn, doesn't exactly jibe with my grouping, which would also include the working class towns of Quincy, Dedham, Braintree, Weymouth, Medford, Saugus, etc. Not to mention the city neighborhoods outside the Back Bay and Beacon Hill.

I second Daley's motion, and further propose that the term "MetroWest" be expunged from journalistic circles, especially those related to the Boston Herald and other CNC titles like -- the MetroWest Daily News! The Daily News Tribune loves it, too, as in this recent example: "MetroWest saying goodbye to Filene’s, too."

This irritating term first raised its pathetic head sometime in the 1990s, and is constantly used in these publications as an artificial grouping for the cities and towns that happen to be in a kinda westerly direction, between Boston and I-495. I never hear any real person saying this term in real life. Why should they? "Western suburbs" or "towns west of Boston" or "Framingham" or "Waltham" works just fine.

I suspect that some advertising or marketing exec -- no doubt some transplant from outside the Northeast -- dreamed up this term as a better way to sell ads or other services to national corporations with no familiarity with the area, or understanding about how different all of these places really are. Then CNC (or whoever owns it now, the Herald Media Group?) dictated that reporters and editors have to use it as well, and no one protested.

Well, I'm protesting now. Not that it will do any good, but it's been bugging me for a long time now ...


A snowy New Year's Day

The great thing about a light, fluffy snow on a New Year's Day: The coverage is too light to use a snow blower, and too many people are too hungover to even stand the scrape of a snowshovel. Thus: Blessed quiet on the streets of Newton and Waltham.

Happy New Year, 2006.