State Unemployment Rates Drop In Four Areas

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reports seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates went down in four areas during the month of July, increased in 14 areas and remained the same in six areas in the state.

According to data from U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the four areas where unadjusted unemployment rates dropped in July were Barnstable, Nantucket, Great Barrington and Vineyard Haven.

Three of the 15 areas for which job estimates are published recorded seasonal job gains in July, with gains in the Barnstable, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, and Pittsfield areas. Seasonal losses occurred in the remaining twelve areas.

Compared to July 2014, unemployment rates are down in all labor markets measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed a 7,200 job gain in July and an over the year gain of 69,300 jobs.

In order to compare the statewide rate to local unemployment rates, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the statewide unadjusted unemployment rate for July remained at 4.9 percent.

Last week, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.7 percent for the month of July.  The unemployment rate is down 1.0 percent over the year.

The unadjusted unemployment rates and job estimates for the labor market areas reflect seasonal fluctuations and therefore may show different levels and trends than the statewide seasonally adjusted estimates.

The labor force, unemployment rates and jobs estimates for Massachusetts is based on different statistical methodology specified by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Koch Reassigns Harrington Within Planning Department

By SCOTT JACKSON

Mayor Thomas Koch has reassigned longtime Planning Director Dennis Harrington to a different position within the Planning Department and appointed James Fatseas, the mayor’s chief of staff, to lead the department on an interim basis.

Harrington, however, said he remains planning director because the mayor lacks the authority to remove him from the post without approval from the City Council.

Koch, in a letter dated Tuesday, said he was reassigning Harrington to the position of director of transportation planning, a post that has remained vacant since Kristina Johnson left the department in January. Koch cited Harrington’s request to work on a reduced, 15 hours per week scheduled in a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) request as the basis for the reassignment. The mayor said Harrington’s compensation and benefits would not be affected by the decision, nor would the terms of the FMLA request.

“In consideration of the time demands and the important role of the director of the Planning Department, the volume and complexity of the projects coming before the city for the foreseeable future will require energy and attention, which I understand you will be unable to devote to the work,” Koch said in the letter. “An interim director is the best solution in this circumstance.”

Fatseas, Koch’s selection as the interim director, has served as the mayor’s chief of staff since the Koch came into office in 2008. In April, Koch told The Sun Fatseas would serve as the administration’s point person for downtown redevelopment.

Harrington, who was appointed planning director in 2004 by then-Mayor William Phelan, responded to the decision on Wednesday in a letter to Koch. In it, he cited the 1973 state law that established the Quincy Planning Department. The law says the mayor is responsible for appointing a planning director and that director “may be removed by the mayor with the approval of the city council.”

“Your notice to me…is clearly not within your right as mayor as it controverts Massachusetts (state) law and the terms of my 2004 appointment. I will not accept any such unlawful reassignment,” Harrington wrote. “I intend to remain director of planning and community development until I vacate my position or I am removed with the approval of the Quincy City Council.”

Harrington added that he would continue to work with Fatseas in his position as Koch’s chief of staff and that he has “not missed one email, phone call or scheduled meeting” since his FMLA request was approved two months ago.

Harrington was not available for comment Thursday. A call to mayoral spokesman Chris Walker Thursday morning was not returned.

Council President Joseph Finn said he was concerned about protecting Harrington’s rights and making sure the council’s authority is protected.

“What I’m mostly concerned about is that Dennis Harrington’s rights are protected and the authority of the City Council is protected,” Finn said when reached by phone Thursday. “You can be sure that as the council president I will be giving it my utmost attention.”

Ward 6 Councillor Brian McNamee said the council needs to ensure the correct procedure was followed.

“We’re missing some process here. The City Council has to ensure the process is being observed,” he said.

McNamee suggested the matter should be placed on the agenda for the City Council once the body returns from its summer recess next month. The council should also hear from Harrington on the issue, McNamee added.

Councillor Doug Gutro, chairman of the council’s downtown committee and one of three candidates challenging Koch in next month’s mayoral preliminary election, refered to the reassignment as a “power grab.”

“I was stunned. It seemed like a pretty audacious power grab,” Gutro said, adding Koch’s action appears retaliatory for comments Harrington has made in the past about the mayor’s plans for the downtown.

“Dennis has an extraordinary and accomplished background as a city councillor, attorney and department head. He’s a spectacularly accomplished person who has relationships with the business community and federal and state government.”

Mayoral candidate William Phelan, who appointed Harrington planning director when he was mayor, said he was “disheartened to see our city’s leadership engaging in a feud of this nature.”

In a statement released to The Quincy Sun, Phelan said:

“The downtown redevelopment efforts have had a massive impact on our city – largely negative, to date – and the stakes are too high for Quincy’s residents and business.

“I would hope that our Mayor would abide by the protections afforded through the Family Medical Leave Act, and that our City Council would step in before allowing the appointment of an interim planning director without any clear hiring or vetting process. The easiest solution to finding out the truth amid the many sides of this story is to put sunlight on this disagreement. I will be filing a public records request for correspondence related to this matter,” Phelan said.

Posted below are the correspondence between Koch and Harrington as well as the state statue.

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Crane, Workers Move 4,500-Pound City Hall Safe

Workers using a crane lifted and moved the 4,500-pound safe from the City Clerk's office in the Monroe Building to the clerk's new office at the glass annex building of City Hall, 1305 Hancock St. The new City Clerk's office will be open as of Monday, Aug. 24. Among those looking on during the Tuesday morning move is City Clerk Joseph Shea (left).

Workers using a crane lifted and moved the 4,500-pound safe from the City Clerk’s office at 1259 Hancock St. (first floor of the Monroe Building) to the clerk’s new office on the second floor of the glass annex building of City Hall, 1305 Hancock St. The new City Clerk’s office will be open as of Monday, Aug. 24. Among those looking on during the Tuesday morning move is City Clerk Joseph Shea (left).

Using a crane, workers lift and guide the 4,500-pound City Hall safe through a second story-window of the glass annex building of City Hall, 1305 Hancock St., Tuesday morning. The safe will be located in the new office of the City Clerk that is relocating from the first floor of the Monroe Building to the second floor of the glass annex City Hall building, 1305 Hancock St. The City Clerk's office will be open at its new location on Monday. Quincy Sun Photos/Robert Bosworth

Using a crane, workers lift and guide the 4,500-pound City Hall safe through a second story-window of the glass annex building of City Hall, 1305 Hancock St., Tuesday morning. The safe will be located in the new office of the City Clerk that is relocating from the first floor of the Monroe Building to the second floor of the glass annex building. The City Clerk’s office will be open at its new location on Monday. Quincy Sun Photos/Robert Bosworth

3rd pic4th and final

 

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Unidentified Toddler Featured In PSA On Billboards

Massachusetts State Police and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office are working with MassDOT to expand outreach to the public through digital billboards seeking assistance identifying the unknown toddler whose body was found on Deer Island last month.

11403108_847752245308760_5335715559566210306_n-361x500A total of 84 MassDOT-permitted billboards in 50 locations across Massachusetts (including the one pictured here, on I-95 in Canton) will feature dedicated tip lines that may be reached by phone or text message along with a computer-generated composite image created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Tipsters are reminded not to text while driving.

Anyone with information on the girl’s identity may text the word GIRL followed by their tip to the number 67283. The text-a-tip line is completely anonymous and does not provide authorities with any information about the tipster. A phone line is also available at 617-396-5655. All tips will go directly to the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit, which is investigating the little girl’s death.

A woman walking her dog along the western shore of Deer Island found the child’s body in a trash bag on the afternoon of June 25. The girl is believed to have been about 4-years-old, had brown eyes and brown hair, weighed about 30 pounds, and stood about 3½ feet tall. She was wearing a distinctive pair of white leggings with black-and-white polka dots and was found with a zebra-print fleece blanket that investigators believe may have been special to her.

In the days and weeks that followed, investigators have acted on hundreds of leads and coordinated dozens of well-being checks on children locally, nationally, and internationally. To date, however, none have led to the child’s identification.

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Memorial Service Marks 65th Anniversary Of Korean War

The 65th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War was remembered at a ceremony at the Korean War Memorial Thursday. The names of the 38 Quincy residents who were killed during the war were read during the service. Keynote speaker was Song Jun Ohm (left), Consul General Republic of South Korea. Pausing at the memorial during the playing of "Taps" after placing a wreath at the memorial are Ambassador Ohm, Mayor Thomas Koch and state Rep. Tackey Chan. More coverage in the July 1st issue of The Quincy Sun. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

The 65th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War was remembered at a ceremony at the Korean War Memorial Thursday. The names of the 38 Quincy residents who were killed during the war were read during the service. Those names are engraved on the granite memorial located at the intersection of Hancock Street and Merrymount Parkway. Keynote speaker was Song Jun Ohm (left), Consul General Republic of South Korea. Pausing during the playing of “Taps” after placing a wreath at the memorial are Ambassador Ohm, Mayor Thomas Koch and state Rep. Tackey Chan. More coverage in the July 1st issue of The Quincy Sun. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

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