Weekend digest, Aug. 6

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

READY, GET SET, SHOP!

A sales tax holiday is on for the weekend, Aug. 11-12. Massachusetts shoppers know the drill from previous summers: they get a break on the state’s 5 percent sales tax on taxable items selling for less than $2,500, except  cars, motorboats, meals and tobacco. While state tax revenues take a temporary hit, consumers come out the winner and retailers report brisk sales during what would otherwise be considered a slow weekend.

BRIDGE INSPECTIONS

An intense review is underway of all bridges in Massachusetts similar in design to the one that collapsed in Minneapolis last Wednesday, sending dozens of cars plummeting into the Mississippi River. While the state has 32 of the so-called steel truss bridges, none are considered in danger of collapse.  All told, about 9 percent of Massachusetts’ bridges, or 506, are considered  “structurally deficient,” the same ranking as the collapsed I-35W span over the Mississippi River in Minnesota.

THE BIG WAIT

State Attorney General Martha Coakley is expected to announce any day now whether she’ll file criminal charges in connection with the July 2006 Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse that killed 39-year-old Milena Del Valle, 39, of Boston. Coakley has twice pushed back a self-imposed deadline for her decision, amid reports she is negotiating a cash settlement of up to $1 billion with Big Dig project manager Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

HOLLOWED HALLS

On Beacon Hill, the House and Senate meet today on Monday in informal session, but don’t expect fireworks. Informal sessions dealing with non-controversial bills are likely to continue until sometime after Labor Day. Big-ticket items such as property tax reform, business and telecommunications tax loopholes, and alternative energy won’t come up until the fall.

TRIAL OPENS

Opening statements are scheduled for today Monday morning in the trial of a former MIT professor charged with falsely reporting to police that he had been shot outside his Cambridge business. John J. Donovan Sr., 65, of Hamilton, allegedly told police that two men with what he described as Russian accents had shot him as he sat in the driver’s seat of his minivan. After a five-month investigation, authorities determined that Donovan’s gunshot wound was self-inflicted and that he falsely reported to police that he had been shot by two men.

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