Boston’s top stories of 2012
Read on for a recap of the biggest stories coming out of Boston in 2012.
BU suffers through a tough year
A string of bad incidents left the Boston University community suffering tragedy after controversy after tragedy in 2012.
Two of the college’s hockey players were accused of rape and sexual assault, but the charges were later dropped. However, one of the players did plead guilty to groping a resident adviser.
In April, police responded to an Allston home and found fraternity pledges duct-taped and stripped in the basement. Some of the students later admitted to the hazing.
And in May, three students were killed in a car crash while studying abroad in New Zealand. A BU student who was driving pleaded guilty to careless driving and was banned from driving in the country.
A month before that, a graduate student was fatally shot in Allston and this fall two students were killed while riding their bicycles.
The year of the black outs
For some Bay State residents, 2012 may be recalled as the year of the black outs.
Tens of thousands of homes and businesses lost power for days from various incidents including the Back Bay transformer fire in March, downed trees from Hurricane Sandy in October and infrastructure issues in Cambridge in November.
A second brief, but widespread power outage in the Back Bay two months after the transformer fire led to the City Council holding a hearing to seek answers from utility companies about ways to improve maintenance, inspections and emergency responses.
Whitey’s gal admits guilt, sent to jail
It’s a long way from Santa Monica to Minnesota and no one knows that better than Catherine Greig.
The 61-year-old longtime girlfriend of alleged mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger pleaded guilty in March to crimes including harboring a fugitive and was sentenced to eight years in a federal prison in Minnesota.
The families of Bulger’s alleged victims were allowed to speak during Greig’s sentencing and that is the basis for her appeal. During that hearing, an angry and emotional Steven Davis, whose sister Debra was allegedly killed by Bulger, said “Catherine, you’re a dirty bitch.”
If Greig’s sentencing is any indication, Bulger’s trial that is set for June should be an emotion-filled event.
Justice sought twice
The aftershock from one of the most horrific crimes in recent Boston history did not diminish in 2012 even though it had been two years since the actual violence.
Two men charged with the killing of four people in Mattapan, including a 2-year-old boy and his mother, went on trial in February and the jury was unable to return a guilty verdict.
One man was acquitted and the jury was deadlocked on Dwayne Moore, the accused gunman, forcing a retrial that started in November.
The horrific details of the murders were recalled again during the second trial that ended in December with a Worcester County jury finding Moore guilty. He was sentenced to life in jail without parole and his lawyer said he plans to appeal.
Family members of the victims were relieved after the guilty verdict and sentence and said that the souls of the victims could finally rest.
Menino’s clucking prompts national debate
For days this summer the lines were drawn in the chicken wars and Mayor Thomas Menino was firmly on one side.
Menino’s feathers were ruffled when the president of Chick-fil-A made anti-gay comments that prompted Menino to express his anger and ask the chain not to open in a private building in Boston. From there the controversy bloomed sparking a national eat at Chick-fil-A day and a counter protest that involved a same-sex kiss in at Chick-fil-A locations.
To see where Boston residents stood, Metro conducted a nonscientific taste test and found that while eight of 13 people preferred a Chick-fil-A sandwich over another fast food chain’s chicken, some people still wouldn’t patronize the chain because of its views.
Drug lab failure causes ‘looming crisis’
It was one of the worst breaches of confidence in the law enforcement and legal system and its impact has still not been fully realized.
In August state police announced that a rogue chemist had potentially tampered with thousands of evidence samples at a state drug lab in Jamaica Plain.
The chemist, Annie Dookhan, was indicted in December on 27 charges including obstruction of justice. She pleaded not guilty.
Because the drug samples may have been tainted, prosecutors have agreed to the release of about 200 impacted inmates throughout the state, with many coming back to Boston. Police and city officials have come up with a plan to help the inmates readjust and be monitored while the drug samples are reevaluated.
WFNX goes to bed
Boston’s beloved alternative station WFNX went off the air in July to the sound of The Cure’s “Let’s Go to Bed.”
The last DJ to helm a 101.7 WFNX broadcast gave a brief goodbye as the radio station signed off after 29 years. Phoenix Media/Communications Group sold the station earlier in the year for more than $14 million to Clear Channel.
Clear Channel then turned the station into 101.7 The Harbor and in December relaunched it as 101.7 Evolution – an electronic dance music station. WFNX has continued as an online radio station.
Medical marijuana passes in Mass.
On Election Day Massachusetts voted to allow the use of medical marijuana, which has been used to treat patients suffering from cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS and glaucoma.
About 63 percent of Bay State voters approved the measure.
As a result, all New England states but New Hampshire now have legalized it in some form.
Hours before the polls closed, Bill Downing, treasurer of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, was confident the measure would push through.
“It’s going to win because people value compassion more than they value fear, especially unreasonable fear.”
Dewey Square mural sparks frenzy of bigoted comments
After a local news outlet posted a picture of the mural on its Facebook page asking what people thought the mural looked like, hundreds of people responded by saying it looked like a “Muslim terrorist.”
The ACLU responded by calling the remarks “ugly racist postings” that were “troubling.”
It’s Brazilian creators, Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, known as “Os Gemeos,” named their mural “The Giant of Boston.” It is one of two new murals that the brothers created over the summer as part of their exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art.
The mural is not permanent, however it is still on display.
Green Line trolley crash at Boylston Station the worst T accident of 2012
The driver of a Green Line trolley that slammed into the back of a stationary train at Boylston Station on Nov. 29 was found to be solely responsible for the crash, which sent 35 people to the hospital.
The driver, who admitted to having worked an overnight shift at a secret second job the night before, was fired following a 6-day investigation.
The crash cost the struggling transit agency over $500,000 in damage.
Passengers on board the trolley said it did not slow down before slamming into the rear of a stationary trolley that was picking up passengers at the station.
The collision was caught on surveillance video, and later released to the public. The footage shows a passenger being thrown onto the platform.
Harvard scandal: 125 students investigated for cheating
Harvard University announced on Aug. 30 that it was investigating about 125 undergraduates accused of cheating on a take-home final exam in the spring.
The Harvard Gazette first reported that about half the students in a class of more than 250 were suspected of either working together to come up with answers, or copying off of each other.
While the school did not name the course, The Harvard Crimson reported that the students were enrolled in “Introduction to Congress.”
In a letter to students, Jay Harris, Harvard’s dean of undergraduate education, said he wanted to alert students to “deeply disturbing allegations of academic dishonesty” and to remind them of their duty to “embrace our ideals” of academic integrity.
The school has yet to release any of the investigation’s findings.
First MBTA fare hikes in five years
In April, the MassDOT Board of Directors voted to raise the cost to take the T by an average of 23 percent, while cutting services to some buses and weekend Commuter Rail routes, a change that went into effect on July 1.
Subway fares rose from $1.70 to $2 for passengers who pay with CharlieCards, and bus fares rose by a quarter, to $1.50. The Ride, a para-transit service for the elderly and disabled, doubled to $4.
The increases were imposed to help close the system’s $160 million deficit, but that didn’t make it any easier on angry strap holders.
Following the vote in April, riders rallied, booed and chanted “shame on you,” and in the summer, there were protests and fare evasion demonstrations.