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News Briefs

Boston Archbishop Residence Will Be Sold to Help Compensate Abuse


The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said on Wednesday that to help pay for an $85 million settlement to compensate hundreds of clergy sex abuse victims, it will sell the grand archbishop’s residence, the palatial quarters that housed Boston’s Catholic Church leaders for 75 years.

The residence, modeled after an Italian palazzo and appointed in marble and mahogany, had become a despised symbol during the sexual abuse crisis. As the home of then-Archbishop Bernard F. Law, the residence in the neighborhood of Brighton represented what many perceived as the archdiocese’s indifference to the plight of its abused and angry parishioners.

In fact, when Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley took the place this summer of Law, who resigned under pressure, he quickly decided that he would not live in the residence, and moved into a small rectory behind the city’s cathedral, a good distance from Brighton in a more urban setting.

New York City Agrees To Release 9/11 Records


In an abrupt reversal, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City announced on Wednesday that he had agreed to release records of emergency 911 calls and other materials sought by the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Bloomberg’s action comes nearly two weeks after the commission announced that it had issued a subpoena to New York City for records related to the attacks. The panel said that the city’s refusal to turn over the information had “significantly impeded” its investigation.

Initially, Bloomberg said he intended to challenge the federal subpoena, arguing that the request was “ghoulish” and that complying with it would invade the privacy of the victims’ families.

But with the deadline for complying with the subpoena looming, the Bloomberg administration reached a deal with the commission that seemed to address the privacy concerns raised by the mayor even as it gave the commission access to the materials it has been demanding. The city had until Wednesday to comply with the subpoena.

Boeing Behind Schedule, Over Cost On Spy Satellite Program


The Boeing Co. is running more than a year behind schedule and billions of dollars over cost on a highly classified program to build the next generation of reconnaissance satellites, forcing the government to shift an estimated $4 billion from other spy programs, senior government officials said on Wednesday.

The Boeing project was initially set at about $6 billion, but the National Reconnaissance Office had to add substantially to that figure to address what auditors described as large problems with the program, the officials said. Even so, the officials said, the reconnaissance office has had to scale back its expectations for the satellites’ initial performance to well below what Boeing had promised.

Boeing is now under scrutiny for improprieties related to other Pentagon deals, including a $20 billion contract to provide aerial refueling tankers to the Air Force. The problems with the satellite program are not related to that deal, but Boeing’s involvement in the spy satellite business is part of a broader effort by the company to increase its share of federal contracts, and the delays and cost overruns have become a further source of deep strain between the company and the government.

Judge Voids Colorado School Voucher Law


A Denver judge struck down Colorado’s new school voucher law on Wednesday, ruling that it violated the state constitution by stripping local school boards of their control over education.

“The goals of the voucher program are laudable,” wrote District Judge Joseph E. Meyer III. “However, even great ideas must be implemented within the framework of the Colorado Constitution.”

The Colorado voucher law, enacted in April and scheduled to take effect with the next school year, would have made vouchers available to low-income, low-achieving students in school districts with eight or more low-performing schools. Other districts would have had the choice of participating or not. But the ruling blocked implementation of the plan, known officially as the Colorado Opportunity Contract Pilot Program.

Gov. Bill Owens said he would appeal the ruling.

“Securing school choice for the children of Colorado was a long legislative struggle and there was always the likelihood the struggle would extend to the courts as well,” he said in a statement. “Children from low-income families should not be facing a dead end if they are in a school that is below par. They deserve a choice and that is why we will appeal the court’s decision.”

The lead plaintiff in the challenge to the voucher plan was the Colorado PTA, which was represented by lawyers from the Colorado Education Association and the National Education Association. Other religious and advocacy groups were also plaintiffs, along with several individuals.

Opponents of the voucher plan, which budget officials estimated would ultimately take $90 million a year out of the participating districts, argue that the loss of that money and the departure of so many students would undermine the public schools.

The Colorado Education Association, which represents 37,000 teachers in the state, hailed the ruling as an important victory for local control.