Alicia Hall (behind the wheel) and her North Andover Auto School instructor Kelly Lent practiced parking in October. Driving schools are allowed to book blocks of time for road tests with the Massachusetts RMV for students and those willing to pay them for an appointment. The practice has contributed to long waits for the general public trying to book an individual road test.

Driving Schools at head of long line for RMV road tests (+ documentation)

A cornerstone of Massachusetts law is equal access to public services. But the Registry of Motor Vehicles has interpreted that access in a way that favors people willing to pay extra.  A form of pay-to-play for road tests has evolved in recent years, severely limiting the average citizen's ability to secure coveted appointments in a timely manner, an examination by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

A city worker repairs a pothole in the North End — within 90 minutes, it had caved in.

Holes in the system: Boston boasts pothole fixes that don’t get made

Boston has a habit of implying potholes have been fixed when they haven’t, according to an examination by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting of the city system called Citizens Connect – an award-winning mobile app and website meant to increase transparency and accountability in government. A sampling of 78 cases found nearly half reported closed did not meet the city guidelines for fixing potholes.

A city worker repairs a pothole in the North End — within 90 minutes, it had caved in.

Holes in the system: Boston boasts pothole fixes that don’t get made (+documentation)

Boston has a habit of implying potholes have been fixed when they haven’t, according to an examination by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting of a city system called Citizens Connect — an award-winning mobile app and website meant to increase transparency and accountability in government. A sampling of 78 cases found nearly half reported closed did not meet the city guidelines for fixing potholes.

The Dartmouth town administrator thumbs through documents before auctioning off some properties with tax liens.

Proposed law aims to protect homeowners from private tax lien sales

 

Newly proposed state legislation would limit the profits that private companies make by buying tax liens from cash-strapped municipalities and foreclosing on homes if tax debts go unpaid. The bill, versions of which were filed Jan. 16 in the Massachusetts House and Senate, would restrict financial gains made by third-party investment firms who are increasingly buying municipal debts and seeking to foreclose on homeowners. Instead, any proceeds from a sale would go to the property owner and town, while third parties would be allowed smaller profits on interest and fees. The legislation, among other things, would require companies to more clearly explain to delinquent homeowners how their tax debts could lead to a property seizure; remove the penalty of arrest for tax delinquency; require companies that buy liens to be licensed by the state as debt collectors; and make it easier for towns and cities to help troubled residents – especially the elderly and disabled – pay what they owe.