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January 17, 2018

Local Politics

Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan hugs supporters after conceding defeat in a recall election, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014.Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan hugs supporters after conceding defeat in a recall election, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014.


  • Fall River voters go to polls in recall election

    Fall River voters go to polls in recall election

    Tuesday, December 16 2014 6:17 PM EST2014-12-16 23:17:05 GMT

    In a special election Tuesday, voters will decide whether to recall Mayor Will Flanagan and who should take his place.

    In a special election Tuesday, voters will decide whether to recall Mayor Will Flanagan and who should take his place.


  • Judge: No runoff in Fall River recall election

    Judge: No runoff in Fall River recall election

    Thursday, November 13 2014 5:51 PM EST2014-11-13 22:51:25 GMT

    Mayor Will FlanaganMayor Will Flanagan

    A Superior Court judge also rules that Mayor Will Flanagan’s name will be listed first among the candidates.

    A Superior Court judge also rules that Mayor Will Flanagan’s name will be listed first among the candidates.


  • Judge: Fall River recall petition valid; Flanagan can be on ballot

    Judge: Fall River recall petition valid; Flanagan can be on ballot

    Monday, November 3 2014 5:55 PM EST2014-11-03 22:55:26 GMT

    Mayor Will FlanaganMayor Will Flanagan

    A Bristol County judge rules the recall election against Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan can go forward.

    A Bristol County judge rules the recall election against Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan can go forward.


  • Flanagan asks court to stop recall election

    Flanagan asks court to stop recall election

    Thursday, October 16 2014 9:01 AM EDT2014-10-16 13:01:43 GMT

    Mayor Will FlanaganMayor Will Flanagan

    Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan wants a judge to review the validity of the recall.

    Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan wants a judge to review the validity of the recall.


  • Fall River mayor headed for recall election

    Fall River mayor headed for recall election

    Wednesday, October 1 2014 11:40 AM EDT2014-10-01 15:40:11 GMT

    Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan defends his reputation during a news conference at Government Center, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014.Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan defends his reputation during a news conference at Government Center, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014.

    The Fall River City Council votes unanimously to accept the recall petition that was filed against Mayor Will Flanagan and to notify the mayor.

    The Fall River City Council votes unanimously to accept the recall petition that was filed against Mayor Will Flanagan and to notify the mayor.

Voters in Fall River recalled Mayor Will Flanagan in a special election Tuesday and replaced him with Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter.

Flanagan conceded defeat within an hour of the polls closing at 8 p.m. The incumbent had two chances in the special election. One was to avoid recall. The second was being selected again to be mayor.

Flanagan’s name was listed first on a slate of eight candidates.

It was not certain Tuesday night when the handover would take place.

The Herald News reported that Sutter would take office when the election is certified. The governor would appoint Sutter’s replacement, who would serve until the next election.

Unofficial results from the city Board of Elections showed 69 percent of voters casting ballots in favor of the recall.

With all of the precincts reporting, Sutter won the office with about 37 percent of the vote. Flanagan was second with 27 percent, followed by Shawn Cadime with 19 percent.

“This is a wonderful moment for me, and let’s hope it turns out to be a wonderful moment for the city,” Sutter said.

Asked Tuesday night if he had any regrets, Flanagan told NBC 10, “Of course, but I’m proud of our administration.”

Critics of Flanagan sought his recall, claiming fiscal mismanagement, fire department layoffs and a public outcry over the city’s pay-as-you-throw trash program.

Flanagan won his third term as mayor in November 2013 with 69 percent of the vote, the same percentage that voted for his recall Tuesday.

Sutter has run unsuccessfully for Congress and considered a run for attorney general. His office is prosecuting a 2013 case in which Aaron Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder.

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Local Politics

Calif. storm causes mudslides, forcing people from homes

Last Updated Dec 12, 2014 7:04 PM EST

LOS ANGELES — A soaking storm swept into Southern California, triggering several mudslides, flooding streets and cutting power to tens of thousands Friday after lashing the rest of the state with much-needed rain.

The deluge from the storm’s intense, early-morning arrival caused part of a hillside about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles to give way.

CBS Los Angeles reporter Laurie Perez reports from Camarillo that highway barriers were brought in ahead of the storm but were unable to hold back the torrent of mud, rocks and water.

In several backyards, the muck was piled up to the roofline.

Rocks reach the roof of a home after a mudslide overtook several homes during heavy rains in Camarillo, California, Dec. 12, 2014.

Rocks reach the roof of a home after a mudslide overtook several homes during heavy rains in Camarillo, California, Dec. 12, 2014.

Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

The force was so great that two large earthmovers used to set up barriers were swept down to the street, with one nearly buried.

“Wow, are we lucky!” said Ted Elliot, whose house was barely spared.

“We’ll be the only house on the block,” his wife, Rita, added.

Beyond the Elliots’ neighborhood in Camarillo, damage in Southern California mainly was minor, and there were no reported deaths tied to Friday’s storm.

california-storms-6.jpg

An RV sits underwater from the flooded Russian River Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, in Guerneville, Calif.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Los Angeles Fire Department personnel rescued two people from the storm-swollen Los Angeles River. Orange County fire officials pulled a body from a concrete flood channel, though the cause of death wasn’t clear.

While the rain was welcome, experts say California needs many more such storms to pull out of a drought lasting three years.

Of immediate concern were hillsides, stripped bare by wildfires, which loom over some neighborhoods. Though the fast-moving storm was projected to clear out east and reach Nevada and Arizona later in the day, the risk remained that sodden topsoil no longer held in place by roots could give way.

In Camarillo, where a 2013 fire blackened a hillside, mandatory evacuations were ordered for 124 homes, and some people needed help leaving because of property damage, Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. Don Aguilar said. Forty people came to an evacuation center, and two went to the hospital with minor medical issues, Red Cross spokesman Tom Horan said.

Earthen avalanches also blocked part of the Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura County. Street and freeway flooding snarled the morning commute, as did numerous accidents.

Wind-driven rain fell at the rate of 1 to 2 inches an hour, triggering some flash flooding, the National Weather Service said.

Utility crews were restoring electricity to the 50,000 customers who lost it in areas served by Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

The storm system has been blamed for two deaths in Oregon, thousands of power outages in Washington and flooded roadways in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports that more than 3 inches of rain Thursday was enough to flood freeways and turn roads into rivers. More than 500 vehicle collisions were reported.

While the sun rose Friday in a dry San Francisco sky, the storm’s effects lingered in Northern California.

In Sonoma County, the Russian River was approaching flood stage and was expected to crest several feet above it by early afternoon. Officials advised residents of about 300 homes to evacuate low-lying areas.

Authorities warned of minor flooding along the Sacramento River in Tehama County and Cache Creek in Yolo County. In a subdivision east of Red Bluff, the water from a creek spilled into a bathtub and over a bed.

As the storm crept down the coast overnight, its powerful winds caused power outages around Santa Barbara. Amtrak suspended service between Los Angeles and the central coast city of San Luis Obispo. Ski resorts in the northern Sierra Nevada were hoping for 3 feet of snow once it all settles.

Meanwhile, a debris flow was sending rocks the size of golf balls and bricks down streets in suburban Glendora east of Los Angeles, the site of the devastating Colby Fire in January, police Lt. Matt Williams said. Five people were using an evacuation center but the exact number who fled their homes isn’t yet known, he said. No injuries or damage to homes were immediately reported.

Possible slides in the neighboring city of Azusa on the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains led to some evacuations.

In Orange County, sheriff’s deputies went door to door before dawn to tell residents of fire-scarred Silverado Canyon to evacuate because of rainfall predictions.

Some rejoiced in the rain. Adriana Fletcher, 39, of Huntington Beach, said her 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds were happy to see the precipitation after learning about the drought in school.

“When it started raining, my kids were like, ‘This is so cool,'” Fletcher said.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Calif. storm causes mudslides, forcing people from homes

Secret children, living and dead, reportedly hidden by squalor for years

BLACKSTONE, Mass. — A Massachusetts town along the banks of a river was jarred by a gruesome sight this week: three dead infants in a home so squalid, police officers had to search it in hazmat suits.

Little is known about the infants found in Blackstone, including their ages, gender, as well as the causes and manners of their deaths, according to Tim Connolly of the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office.

What’s also unclear is the relationship between them and a woman arrested in connection with their deaths. Law enforcement officials believe Erika Murray may be their mother, according to WBZ in Boston.

Murray, 31, was arraigned Friday on a slew of charges, including concealing an out of wedlock fetal death, two counts of permitting substantial injury to a child, intimidation of a witness, cruelty to an animal and violating an abuse prevention order, according to Connolly.

She has not been charged in the deaths.

Her attorney, Keith Halpern, suggested to WBZ that his client may be mentally ill.

“Who could live in that house who is not seriously mentally ill?” Halpern asked.

The state’s Department of Children and Families removed four children from the home on August 28 after allegations of negligence, spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen said.

Two weeks after that, on September 11, detectives went to investigate, but they had ” to wear hazmat suits because of the deplorable conditions inside the home, which included massive insect infestation, mounds of used diapers and feces,” according to Connolly.

It was there, amid the filth and squalor, that police discovered the infants’ remains.

“It was a long and very difficult day,” said Joseph Early, the Worcester County District Attorney. “And a sad day.”

The state’s removal of the four living children at the home last month was the result of the filing of what’s called a 51A report in Massachusetts, according to Alec Loftus, a spokesman for the state’s office of Health and Human Services.

A 51A can be filed by any citizen with reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. It is not known who filed the report in this case, but Loftus told CNN that “mandatory reporters like police and doctors are required to file when they have cause.”

This was not the first time a 51A had been filed when it came to that home, according to Isaksen. She said such a report was previously received in 2007, but that “it was unsupported and therefore no case was opened.”

For now, Isaksen said DCF has the four children in its care. It is focused on “ensuring (their) safety and well-being and providing them with the proper medical care, support, and services they need,” she said. Connolly said that the family caring for them has no public statement to make at this time.

Murray’s case was adjourned to October 14. Investigators, meanwhile, remain at the scene digging through the squalor.

“Our investigation will continue for quite some time,” Early said.

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Secret children, living and dead, reportedly hidden by squalor for years

Mass. dams ripe for removal, to benefit of fisheries

An intensified focus by the state to remove aging and useless dams, a new law aimed at making it easier to do so, and apparently willing municipal partners have converged to build momentum, said Tim Purinton.

The director of the Division of Ecological Restoration in the state Department of Fish & Game was speaking after the recent removal of the hazardous 84-foot Bartlett Pond Dam in Lancaster.

Mr. Purinton said “we get excited” when public safety challenges are met and nature benefits through a dam removal, which was the case here.

The Lancaster dam, which had been in disrepair, was the first in the state to be completed using funds from a dam and seawall law that Gov. Deval Patrick signed in January 2013. A year later he announced a $116,000 loan for Lancaster, a $240,000 grant for Worcester’s Poor Farm Dam and a $173,199 loan and $6,750 grant for Brookfield’s Saw Mill Pond Dam.

It began with $17 million paid years ago to the state treasury by about eight cities and towns that repaid drinking water project loans.

The fund addresses the growing need to repair dams, coastal flood control structures and inland flood control structures that pose a risk to public health, public safety and key economic centers.

Then-Lancaster administrator Orlando Pacheco said removing the dam saved Lancaster more than $600,000 over the cost of replacing the dam.

Already the Lancaster project has yielded ecological results, Mr. Purinton said.

“Our sister agency, Mass. Wildlife, did some sampling in Lancaster and found that eastern native brook trout were using the restored area of the stream almost immediately after dam removal,” Mr. Purinton said in a recent interview.

Tom Philbin, a legislative analyst for the Massachusetts Municipal Association, which was part of a coalition to help get the bill funded, said: If the goal of the state Department of Environmental Protection “is to increase the amount of fluvial fish in a river or stream, we think the best way to get there and to reduce pollutants in rivers and increase the health of rivers is remove dams.”

Mr. Purinton said many dams are owned by municipalities, which are increasingly looking at dam removal as a preferred long-term option to a repair.

The state already has joined about two dozen communities for removals and has 20 to 30 projects underway that are going forward in the next few years, Mr. Purinton said.

The state, he said, had accomplished “a fair amount of projects” on the coast because they tend to have multiple species that benefit from dam removal that require access to the ocean. This rises those projects to the top of ecological priority lists, he said.

But with 3,000 old mill dams no longer serving a useful purpose and that are a potential liability, their removal would have a tremendous benefit for river healthacross the commonwealth, Mr. Purinton said.

Central Massachusetts, he continued, has good cold-water streams that are holding on, but dam density per river mile is one of the highest in the nation.

The Blackstone River was largely an industrial river that was rigorously dammed, and so many dams in the region no longer serve a beneficial purpose and are good candidates for removal, the state official said.

In North Worcester County, at the Athol-Phillipston line, the state completed two dam removal projects in the headwaters of Thousand Acre Brook in January 2013.

The project removed about 300 feet of the primary dam spillway, completely removed a smaller upstream dam, restored five miles of river habitat to native fish and wildlife and relieved Athol of ongoing maintenance costs, officials said.

Douglas A. Walsh, superintendent of public works in Athol, said it was a great project because after the town stopped using it as a water source, the dam was at full storage year-round, and the town could no longer maintain the 130-year-old dam, which was classified a hazard.

Now “it’s a beautiful wetlands in a wildlife area,” Mr. Walsh said.

Mr. Philbin, the MMA analyst, said a dam is one of the biggest impediments to fish reproducing and then flourishing.

Dams raise the water temperature, resulting in pollutants from stormwater runoff being contained in the water body, and reduced amounts of oxygen in the river, which doesn’t allow the river to clean itself.

Mr. Philbin commended the division of ecological restoration because, when breaching is necessary, the agency has learned that this has to be done slowly, resulting in lesser amounts of sediment or pollutants being released. The pollutants can wash down and lead to large fish kills.

Through the efforts of MMA, Mr. Philbin said, the state also banned phosphorous in fertilizer, which he called a top pollutant that can get into rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. This causes enormous growth of algae and plant life, which, when they die, robs oxygen from the water body, also contributing to large fish kills.

Contact Brian Lee at brian.lee@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BleeTG

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Mass. dams ripe for removal, to benefit of fisheries