Mass. briefs: State OKs $17.2B transportation capital budget

  • Students and Sunderland residents get ready to board the Route 31 bus on Feb. 8, 2018. Due to a $3.1 million operating budget deficit, the PVTA Advisory Board has proposed decreasing how frequently the bus arrives, along with increased fares and reductions in service across western Massachusetts. Recorder file photo

Monday, May 14, 2018
State OKs $17.2B transportation capital budget

BOSTON — Transportation officials sketched out plans to spend $17.2 billion on capital projects over the next five years.

On the state Department of Transportation side, the plan anticipates spending a total of $9.2 billion, including $928 million for highway pavement, $1.4 billion for highway construction, and $180.6 million for the construction of multi-use paths.

Officials also approved a new policy to continue the old practice of paying certain Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority employees through the capital budget. The agency has 230 employees being paid out of its capital budget and state law calls for them to be moved off. The agency has been hoping lawmakers will grant a reprieve from that requirement.

Ethics complaint filed against district attorney

PITTSFIELD — A man had filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission saying the appearance of uniformed police officers at a recent campaign event for Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello was a violation of state ethics laws.

Igor Greenwald tells The Berkshire Eagle state employees are free to support any political candidate they like, but wearing a uniform crosses the line and is prohibited.

According to an advisory based on 2011 Ethics Commission rulings: “A public employee may not engage in political activity ... while in his official uniform.”

Uniformed officers from several departments attended Caccaviello’s news conference announcing his plans to seek election to the position he was appointed to in March.

Caccaviello in a statement said he regrets any issues caused and is consulting with the commission for clarification.

Officials suspend license of man who stopped school bus

BOSTON — A man who forced a school bus to stop on a busy interstate and jumped on the hood of the vehicle has lost his driver’s license.

The Boston Herald reports that the Registry of Motor Vehicles suspended 42-year-old Kevin Crowe’s license at the request of state police. Registry officials attributed the suspension to “an immediate threat/medical.”

A bus dash cam captured the episode on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton earlier this month.

The bus driver, Joe Rizoli, says Crowe asked why the bus’ windows were tinted and if any students were on board. There were none.

Rizoli eventually maneuvered around Crowe’s car and drove away.

Crowe said was worried because could not see any children and was just “being a concerned citizen.”

He has been summoned to court to face charges.

Scientists develop tool to conserve New England cottontail

DURHAM, N.H. — University of New Hampshire scientists have developed a method to estimate New England cottontail populations, whose numbers have been declining over the past 50 years.

The scientists say the region’s only native rabbit is difficult to monitor due to its rare and secretive nature. With the recently developed method, they will be able to detect trends over time to conserve the rabbits by using DNA collected from fecal pellets. They said they are implementing the tool over 30 managed sites across the species range.

Since 1960, New England cottontail has lost more than 80 percent of its habitat to make way for housing developments and farmland. The species is endangered in New Hampshire, and in 2016, state authorities released captive bunnies into the wild to increase the state’s populations.

DA: Bus shelter shooting victim identified

SPRINGFIELD — A man who was fatally shot at a bus shelter in western Massachusetts has been identified.

Prosecutors say 36-year-old Angel Calo of Springfield died from several gunshot wounds Sunday night at one of the city’s bus shelters.

Springfield police responded to the scene at 11:40 p.m., and continue to investigate the shooting. They’re hoping anyone with information will come forward.

Source: State House News Service, Associated Press