The Gazette’s top headlines from this month in local history:
“Turner sentenced to three years in prison”
Former City Councilor Chuck Turner was sentenced on Jan. 25, 2011 to three years in prison and three years of probation following his conviction on charges of public corruption.
Turner had been indicted for accepting a $1,000 bribe from FBI informant Ron Wilburn in exchange for agreeing to help Wilburn obtain a liquor license, and for lying to federal agents about it. US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock ordered Turner to begin serving his sentence in late March of 2011, as well as return the $1,000.
Turner told the Gazette at the time that he felt his conviction was unjust, and that he thought he received a particularly harsh sentence.
“The dilemma has been that I really don’t remember the situation happening,” Turner had said, referring to his meeting with Wilburn when Wilburn gave him the money.
Turner repeatedly made claims that his indictment was a racially motivated effort to silence his radical voice.
“Council targets PILOT payments”
The Boston City Council adopted new guidelines for the controversial payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) made by universities and other nonprofits in the city, following years of complaints by Mission Hill residents and others.
Participants in the program include educational, medical, and cultural institutions that own property valued higher than $15 million. Big institutions make PILOT payments for their use of City services, such as police and fire department. The payments were widely criticized as being shockingly low, and the institutions were not obliged to release the figure to the public.
“Fifty-three percent of Boston in tax-exempt,” said Council President Michael Flaherty, who had established a special committee to review PILOT payments. “That leads to an unfair burden on the homeowners of the city.”
The new guidelines call for voluntary payments based on the institution’s property value. They also allow a deduction for any real estate taxes paid on property owned by the institution that is used for a tax-exempt purpose.
“Local store sells $150,000 ticket”
The Huntington Market an 818 Huntington Ave. sold the store’s largest winning lottery ticket at the time on Feb. 6.
Since the store that sells the winning ticket gets one percent of the prize money, Huntington Market received $1,500.
When asked what he was going to do with the extra cash, store owner Genaro Dicienzo answered, “Not enough! We’re going to wait for the big one.”
Dicienzo did not name the lucky customer, but said that he was a local resident and regular ticket buyer at the store.
“I want to congratulate the winner,” he said. “He deserves it.”
“Heliport to land at the Brigham”
Brigham and Women’s Hospital attained permitting for a controversial heliport pad in 1996.
Despite concerns about noise and safety from nearby residents, all the proper permitting had been attained and was not under the jurisdiction of the Mission Hill Planning and Zoning Advisory Committee (PZAC), although the hospital sought that committee’s approval as a courtesy.
“We have all the permits we need,” Brigham and Women’s spokesperson John McGonagle said. “The work now is around the construction of the pad.”
The hospital needed the heliport to retain certification as a level one trauma unit. Helicopters had been landing at a Wentworth Institute of Technology property, but the lease with that school expired.
McGonagle said that regular flights would begin that spring.
“I hope they use it sparingly,” said Steve Goodman, whose Fenwood Road home sat right in front of the Women and Newborns building where the helicopters would be landing. “They have special zoning. If I want a porch, I need a building permit, but they don’t need anything.”
McGonagle said that studies indicated that most of the impact of the helicopters would be on the Brigham itself. He also said that mitigation measures such as muffling the engines would be tested and that flight paths would not be over residential homes, a claim that was received critically from the community.