Friday, December 31, 2010

Old Hoss Radbourn and Worcester

I just finished reading  Edward Achorn's book Fifty Nine in '84, which has plenty of references to Worcester and it's former National League team.  I recommend the book- I plowed through it in an afternoon.  While the jacket description highlights Radbourn's romance with a Carrie Stanhope, the book spends most of it's time recreating the Providence Greys' 1884 season.  In his prologue, Edward Achorn describes our fair hometown:
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The Worcesters weren't very successful, nor did they last long in Worcester (they were replaced after the 1882 season by a team from Philadelphia, now the modern day Phillies).  Worcester was the site of the first perfect game in major league history on June 12th, 1882, pitched by J. Lee Richmond (while nursing a post graduation hangover.)  There's even a monument on Sever Street near the tennis courts.
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While we're on the subject of depressing descriptions of Worcester, my personal favorite is Truman Capote's quote from In Cold Blood:
The quote is a good description of the local blogging scene lately.  There's been more grenades lobbed back and forth the past month than I've ever seen.  Perhaps the Telegram's refusal to publish anonymous comments has pushed the fighting into the blogosphere. 
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Here's a collection of references to Worcester in books and film.  It's a collection of books and films, so it omits my recent favorite song, Elvis Costello's Sulphur to Sugarcane.  (Worcester reference at 3:52 mark)

Southwick

I always look forward to Albert Southwick's column every week in the T&G.  It's one of the few pieces on the editorial page that doesn't make me cringe.  (I understand why Michael Reagan's 'magical' last name and not his talents as a writer or deep thinker give him an audience.  How does Tom Purcell cut it as a syndicated columnist?  I'm baffled.)

It's not often that I find a historical error in Albert Southwick's columns, but he had a major one in Thursday's column:
"1910 had been quite a year. In March, William Howard Taft was sworn in as the 27th president of the United States, and the Great White Fleet that President Theodore Roosevelt had sent around the world to demonstrate America’s naval power was steaming toward home. The last U.S. troops were coming home from Cuba. The war with Spain was over except for the Philippines, where the natives remained in rebellion. They apparently had thought that the overthrow of Spanish control meant freedom for them."
William Howard Taft was elected in 1908 and inaugurated in 1909, not 1910, and the Great White Fleet returned in 1909.  (Great White Fleet sounds like a description of Sean Casey, Doug Mirabelli and Kevin Millar's running abilities, not a naval excursion.  Yes, I miss baseball.  Just a month and a half until spring training!)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

For Nicole...

I've been searching in vain for a messed up Worcester street sign, and I finally found one.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Speaking of Senators...

...we have a profile in courage right here in Massachusetts.  Thanks, Senator Brown for helping to gut the most necessary reform we needed after the financial meltdown.  Just remember that those campaign contributions won't help in 2013 when you're unemployed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Go Bernie Go!!!!

Now this is a real filibuster (Part 1, Part 2), not the fake cloture tactics employed by the Republican naysayers the past two years. 
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I usually don't watch Last Word, but last night's segments (Part 1, Part 2) with Ralph Nader and Alan Grayson left me somewhat hopeful...until I realized both weren't in elective office.  Too bad we're stuck with John Kerry and Scott Brown, party hacks to the core.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shadenfrude.

Apparently our fiscally conservative former candidate for State Treasurer's campaign is in debt and needs your help this holiday season.  If you can't make the dinner, feel free to head to her campaign page, which no longer has any campaign information, just a direct link to donate.

Perhaps her friends and family could auction off their Red Sox license plates to help defray her overspending.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I haven't been quoted in the paper since I was 5!

Today's T&G featured an article about a horrible accident on Hamilton Street early Sunday morning.  I didn't witness the accident, but I was quoted at the end of the article.

- I don't have an agenda writing about this.  It happened where I work, and I hope that some good will come from this story regarding traffic on Hamilton Street.   It could have happened to any of my co-workers, and that's what makes me worry about the delay between the accident, the investigation,  the article, and the Worcester Police Department's statement. 

- Here's the timeline:
- Sunday, November 28th, 2:36 AM: accident occurs.
- Tuesday, November 30th, 9:00 AM: WPD sends Accident Reconstruction Team to investigate.
- Wednesday, December 1st, 3:00 PM: Shaun Sutner of the T&G begins interviewing people in the neighborhood regarding the accident.  
- Wednesday, December 1st,  evening: Shaun Sutner's first article appears on the T&G website, which is later edited for Thursday's print and online version.
- Thursday, December 2nd, 8:50 AM: The WPD releases a statement regarding the accident.
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- Last night's online version of the article gave Officer Duffy's home address, which was deleted from the current online version and the printed version.  An early commenter pointed out that printing Officer Duffy's address wasn't a good idea considering he was a member of the Gang Unit.

- WPD's Accident Reconstruction Team definitely began reconstructing the accident Tuesday morning, not Monday morning (my co-workers and I weren't exactly sure which morning the investigation began at the time of Shaun Sutner's interview).  They were also out in full force today (Thursday 12/02/10), measuring the distances so the investigator can reconstruct the timing and speed of the accident.

- There were no skidmarks anywhere on Hamilton Street or Puritan Avenue.  It was late, it was dark, and from the description, it was probably the worst accident in recent memory at an already dangerous intersection.  I work at the corner of Hamilton and Puritan, and we witness accidents all the time.  There's usually 5 or 6 a year where one of the drivers needs medical attention, but thankfully, no fatalities yet.  We've never had to see anyone exticated from a vehicle by the Fire Department.

- There isn't a stop sign on the corner of Puritan and Hamilton. There isn't one anymore because it was knocked down in an accident a few years back and never replaced. While Massachusetts state law mandates that you stop at an T-intersection, most people ignore the law completely because there isn't a stop sign.

- There's the usual pro-cop/cop bashing 'dialogue' in the comment section regarding the T&G's apparent anti-police agenda.  Many readers question whether this story needed to be written, and others claim taht there's a cover-up.  Most of them don't have any of the facts, as usual, they are shooting from the hip.

- Any delay fuels speculation and calls of a cover-up, whether or not there actually is one.  Shaun Sutner was absolutely within his rights as a reporter to write the article and ask these questions.  Without an article, would there be a WPD press release?  If there is a cover-up, then why would the WPD investigate this accident on Tuesday 11/30 and Thursday 12/2?  I've never witnessed the WPD investigating and reconstructing an accident at that corner, and I have seen many since 2002.

- I went through the WPD's Press Release Page to see if there was any precedent for reporting a non-fatal accident.  The WPD doesn't list every accident that occurs in this city, but they seem to list any fatal accident, and pedestrian injured by a motor vehicle, accidents involving the WPD, or anything else that is newsworthy.  Here's a list of the traffic accidents on the page:

- 12/02/10: Serious accident involving an off duty WPD officer, major injuries to the other driver, no arrest or citation of either driver and investigation ongoing.
 - 07/02/10: Fatal hit and run accident, driver later turned himself in and was arrested.
- 06/18/10: School bus, SUV and WRTA bus in an accident, minor injuries, driver of bus cited.
- 04/27/10: Fatal hit and run accident, vehicle found, no driver.
- 03/25/10: Pedestrian critically injured by vehicle, no arrest of driver and investigation ongoing.
- 03/08/10: Motorcycle and car accident, fatality possibly due to motorcycle operator error, no citations, investigation ongoing.
- 11/27/10: Two pedestrians hit while in crosswalk and transported to hospital, driver cited.
- 11/17/10: WPD cruiser in accident while responding to a call, minor injuries, no citation.
- 11/16/09: Three car accident after pursuit of a stolen vehicle, minor injuries, driver arrested.
- 11/09/09: Motorcycle and car accident, motorcycle driver hospitalized with extensive injuries, citations pending for motor vehicle driver.
- 11/06/09: Pedestrian hit while in crosswalk by taxi, driver left scene due to fear of crowd, driver cited.

-If anything come from this story, I hope it is this:  there needs to be a light at the intersection of Hamilton Street and either Fairmont Avenue or Ingleside Avenue.  Once eastbound drivers cross Plantation Street, the next stop sign is at Coburn Ave, and the next light at Lake Avenue.  That's a long way to go on a two lane street where people speed all the time.

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This was a tragic accident- my thoughts and prayers are with both families, and I wish the young woman a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I can't wait to read this report...

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy released a report on PILOT programs.  Here's the money quote: 
 "However, PILOTs are often haphazard, secretive, and calculated in an ad hoc manner that results in widely varying payments among similar nonprofits." 

 I wonder if there's a section on using off campus drinking to force PILOT payments?   
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Haphazard is the perfect description for Worcester, a place where the City Council requests that city colleges ban Four Loko after the state already restricted the product.  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Interesting questions...

The beauty of our democracy is out ability to question it.  I recommend Glenn Greenwald's latest piece about the recent Christmas terror plot. 

Rest in peace, Jeff Barnard.

One of Worcester's great voices passed away.  Jeff's blog introduced me to the Worcester blogging scene and enriched all our lives with his warped, wonderful view of Worcester.  He will be missed.

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep- Mary Elizabeth Frye
"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The real Marty Lamb

I just had the misfortune of watching Marty Lamb's infomercial on Channel 3.  Here's what you might have missed if you didn't realize it was a half hour long paid commercial:

-Marty's a on again, off again Tea Partier.

-Marty's a anti-bailout candidate, except whenever he needs the bailout.

-Marty believes in a balanced budget and limiting government spending to the rate of inflation, yet if he wins, he will be a freshman Republican congressman and will vote lockstep with the same Republican party that historically violates these principles.

-Marty believes in budget busting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

-Marty is running as a pro-business candidate, and accuses Jim McGovern of being anti business.  But when asked to detail how McGovern is anti-business, he can't point out any specifics.

-Marty can pack debates with some hecklers, but when faced with a debate he considers biased, he has other 'commitments'.

-Marty's biggest contributor is a Nevada based PAC, Western Representation PAC.

-Western Representation PAC is also supporting Senate candidates Joe Miller (R- AK), Sharron Angle (R- NV), and Congressional candidate Sean Bielat (R- MA).

-Western's founder is Dustin Stockton, who is also a member of the Tea Party Express, which will be coming to Worcester on November 1st, 2:30 pm (location TBD).

-Dustin Stockton's fundraising appeal had this to say about Jim McGovern:
"Barney Frank isn’t the only radical Massachusetts liberal who can be defeated. Congressman Jim McGovern wrote the bill that raised the debt ceiling, selling our children and grandchildren into debt. As chairman of the House Rules Committee, he changed the rules to allow Nancy Pelosi to push Obamacare through in the middle of the night. He is friends with many socialist third-world dictators in our own hemisphere and he has been linked to narco-terrorists in Colombia. Jim McGovern has been arrested twice while serving in Congress. We are the only national group opposing Jim McGovern and you can help us defeat him by making a contribution.  With so many races across the country, this race almost slipped through the cracks. Scott Brown overwhelmingly won this district in January and it is a great opportunity to win another seat from a radical socialist liberal."   (source: http://christiangunslinger.blogspot.com/, owned by Donald Vance.)
-Western Representation PAX boasts Rusty Humphries, conservative radio host as a speaker and contributor.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Rusty's work, here's a clip:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Privatization.

Of course the market always works, and benefits everyone, while the government is evil and must be stopped.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

School reading

Here's an interesting NY Times piece on Brockton High that challenges some of the trends in education reform and Race to the Top.

What an odd idea- actually letting the faculty of a high school control their own jobs.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Where in Worcester?

This picture was taken Wednesday afternoon, right around rush hour, facing west.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Operation Enduring Craters.

Nicole wanted a recent picture of the Newton Square Project.  Here it is!
Here's the inside of the bunker.  I posted about this on August 27th, and 18 days later, the bunker and crater are still there.  Anyone want to make a prediction when this gets filled in?  The over/under is before/after the first snowfall.  I'll take after.

Employee #337


I was voter #337 at roughly 5:30 this afternoon at Temple Emanuel.  That's not a bad turnout seeing the evening rush hadn't begun, but with the large number of unregistered or apathetic citizens outnumbering the voting public, it's pretty depressing.




Friday, September 3, 2010

13th District Debate.

According to the T&G article, Gina DiBaro didn't say anything in this debate.  Either she is a mime, completely unmemorable, or the author of the article doesn't care to mention her candidacy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What I read today.

I just finished two very different, and very long, pieces on some major personalities in American politics.

Michael Joseph Gross of Vanity Fair's piece on Sarah Palin, while probably satisfying for most people who dislike her politics, lacks real sources.  It feels like a confidential kitchen rant over coffee, rather than a portrait of a national figure. 

On the other hand, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker nailed the subject of the Koch Brothers and the astro-turfing of the political landscape.  Even Clive McFarlane referenced her piece today!  (I expect a rebuttal from Robert Z. Nemeth sometime in January of 2012.)  ThinkProgress.org had two fun pieces on the Kochs combining their love of astroturf organizing and hypocrisy
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This piece made me see red.  By all means, former Senator Simpson- cut off funding for veteran's health care to balance the budget, and eliminate Social Security.  I wish you were still retired, along with your co-worker, David Cote.
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I will be attempting this recipe, this recipe or this recipe this weekend....but adding candied bacon and caramel.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glenn Beck is a Socialist and a Communist!

Glenn Beck apparently wants to be the next Martin Luther King Jr.  Apparently Glenn Beck doesn't know anything about MLK's beliefs.  Here's a handy primer for anyone who might be suckered into thinking there are similarities.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sign Spotting.

I wonder if Mike will do another post on Worcester's political signs.  If he does, I'm curious to see what he will say about Paul Franco's sign:
Does he not want to be seen at night?  Is he playing off the Army's black and gold color scheme?  This picture was taken at high noon, with a few afternoon shadows creeping towards the sign.  I wonder how it will look at night.
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Sadly, my favorite mixed message picture is no more.  
Apparently someone has bought this abandoned house and doing some improvements, which is great.  Boarded up houses are never fun, even when they have political signs on the front lawn.

Next Week's Traffic Report.

In honor of Jeff Barnard's annual school's about to start post, here's a few images of Newton Square:


 I don't envy anyone who has to navigate Newton Square next week.  It would have been nice to see all this done before the yellow school buses started rolling, and I thought they would get it done.  Now I'm not so sure.

I'll try to get some pictures of the inevitable traffic jam next week.  Hopefully it won't be as bad as this.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What about the 3rd Congressional Distict?

This Far Left Side comic strip is the best summation of last night's Shrewsbury League of Women Voters' debate between the Robert Delle, Michael Stopa, Marty Lamb and Brian Herr.  (Robert Chipman wasn't in attendance.)  I've yet to hear them discuss local issues, only jump on the latest Republican/Tea Party meme.  Here are a few howlers from their websites:
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From Michael Stopa's Core Belief: I Believe in American Exceptionalism:
"For that reason, in the dungeons around the globe the sound of our name has often been the sound of hope."
Or would that be the sound of waterboarding and 'enhanced interrogation techniques?  Michael Stopa is also a fan of Atlas Shrugged:
"Another great article, this one about why "Atlas Shrugged" is more meaningful today than ever before. Businesses cannot and will not grow and thrive until government gets out of their way. And that won't happen unless we defeat liberals like McGovern!"

Bonus points for Mr. Stopa: he has a blog with actual updates, unlike Robert Delle's blog.
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From Marty Lamb's Issues page on Illegal Immigration:
"2. Authorizing the deployment of the United States military along the border and building a permanent border. 
We have a permanent border, affirmed by treaties with Mexico and Canada, Marty.  Perhaps you mean fence, not border?  And have you ever heard of the Posse Comitatus Act, or the 14th Ammendment?  I do appreciate his efforts to use his name throughout the website, referring to himself in the third person as "The Lamb Chop" and his signs as "Lambscaping."
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Brian Herr can only talk in bullet points.  Check out his sparse Talking Points Cribbed From Watching Fox News Page Issues page:
 What would those common sense reforms be?  Perhaps he doesn't know, because later he says:
He used the future tense, so I guess after he is elected, he ask us what the common sense reforms are?
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Robert Delle's casual knowledge of grammar and spelling hasn't changed since I first reviewed his website.  Nor has he expanded his list of links, which consists of one: Newsmax.com.  Newsmax happens to be the favorite of another spelling challenged talking point candidate, Ms. Sarah Palin:
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 Bob Chipman is also a fan of bullet points, and his first Issue is the following:
That's called an election, Mr. Chipman.  The Pelosi/Reid Junta didn't invade Washington D.C. and stage a coup of the Republican Congress (despite what Glenn Beck told you).  I find it funny that he thinks all non-Democrats are 'independent and moderate.'  Like Robert Z. Nemeth, he seems to confuse independent with Republican.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nativism is alive and well.

Following up on yesterday's post is an Op-ed from the New York Times' Ross Douthat.  Douthat makes the argument that mainstream pressure on immigrants to assimilate is in the best interest of our society.  He makes the argument in the context of the 'Ground-Zero Mosque,' but references the Nativist and  Know-Nothings of 19th century America and says that:
"Nativist concerns about Catholicism’s illiberal tendencies inspired American Catholics to prod their church toward a recognition of the virtues of democracy, making it possible for generations of immigrants to feel unambiguously Catholic and American."
How he can make the argument that violence, murder, intimidation and discrimination is the best path to promote assimilation escapes me.  Salon.com's Joan Walsh has an excellent rebuttal.
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While we are on the subject of the 'Ground Zero Mosque,' here's a blog post from the Village Voice's Foster Kamer putting the location of the Park 51 Community Center in perspective.

And The Daily Show nails it as usual:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mosque-Erade
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tea Partiers, pay attention!

It's never been easy in America as an immigrant.  It doesn't matter what year, or even what century we live in.  It seems to be an American tradition to hate newcomers.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ward 9 and Paxton Sign Spotting

I headed north in Ward 9 and beyond into Paxton, and here's a sign update: (I only count individual properties with signs, not number of signs per property.)  I've noticed at least 4 different houses which sport both a Perotto and a Smith sign.  I wonder if they inspire some divided loyalties over the dinner table?

State Representative, 13th Worcester:
Joff Smith: 27
Mike Perotto: 18
Gina Dibaro: 17
John Mahoney: 9
Don Sharry: 8
Margot Barnet: 6
Paul Franco: 1

Worcester County Sheriff:
Scott Bove: 8
Tom Foley: 2

Massachusetts 3rd:
Patrick Barron: 1
Marty Lamb: 1
Jim McGovern: 1
Michael Stopa: 1

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ward 9 Sign Spotting

I headed east in Ward 9 today, and here's a sign update: (I only count individual properties with signs, not number of signs per property.)

State Representative, 13th Worcester:
Gina Dibaro: 11
Joff Smith: 5
Mike Perotto: 4
Don Sharry: 2
John Mahoney: 2
Margot Barnet: 1

Worcester County Sheriff:
Scott Bove: 2

Massachusetts 3rd:
Jim McGovern: 1

Undisclosed:
For Sale: 3
For Rent: 2

Monday, August 9, 2010

Great picture, but not a great image.

I saw this campaign sign on June Street tonight.  It's in a prime location on a busy street in a section of Worcester that has a lot of registered voters.  Unfortunately, the sign is in front of a boarded up house that has been abandoned for over a year.

I'm not sure that's the image the Smith campaign wishes to convey.
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If lawn signs are an indicator of electoral success, Gina Dibaro is doing very well in my neighborhood.  She has roughly 10 signs in a few block radius, followed by Joff Smith, Margot Barnet, and Mike Perotto with one apiece.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Traded again!

Tim Collins was traded again this weekend in another 5 player deal. He was also promoted to AAA Omaha.

While some people might think that playing for the Kansas City Royals organization is a bad thing, it means Tim Collins is one step closer to the majors, and will definitely have a shot at a September call up.

Preconstruction Junction

While biking home from work, I was run off the road and onto the sidewalk by an idiot Wormtown driver in a cell phone in a large truck who apparently needed all two lanes of Franklin Street for her commute.  Luckily, I avoided becoming roadkill, and I happened to notice these new additions to the empty parking lot at the corner of Franklin and Foster Street.

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Browsing through the Consigli website didn't reveal any projects that I could find, but I did turn up a brief mention in a Worcester Business Journal article from last June.

Could it be?  Could we finally be preparing to tear down the mall?  Tear down the mall!  Tear down the mall!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where's Maine?

Oh, it's somewhere north of Massachusetts.  Keep driving and you'll be sure to find it.  New Hampshire?  Vermont?  Never heard of them!
Congratulations for making us dumber, CNN.  Apparently Fox doesn't have that monopoly anymore.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Great Question!

“We may look at [a certain] street and figure out how to make it more user-friendly,”  -Robert Moylan, Department of Public Works Commissioner
Are you sure about that Commissioner?

 “There’s usually little additional cost associated with accommodating bicycles and pedestrians,” he says. “Sometimes as little as changing the striping on the road.  Are we just building more of the same or are we building the 21st century transportation system we want and need?”  -David Watson, Executive Director of MassBike

Just think- that giant stretch of black asphalt could have been a bike lane, or three!  And while I am on the subject of bike lanes, why didn't they include one during the recent resurfacing of Chandler Street?  Maybe it's because the surface isn't finished yet?  Biking to work last week down Chandler Street was a major inconvenience due to the half assed finishing job on the street surface.  The road surface wasn't even finished and flush with the curbs and driveways, making my minuscule bike space a rutted, uneven, debris filled obstacle course.  Kudos to Worcester Magazine's Jeremy Shulkin for another great article!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Too Much Information

The Washington Post's Dana Priest and William Arkin wrote an excellent expose on data mining and our intelligence community's inability to deal with the sheer volume of gathered intelligence.  Glenn Greenwald also touches on the subject, and the sheer volume of links in his piece provide a deeper picture of the intelligence abyss. 

PBS had an excellent Frontline piece called The Man Who Knew that pointed out the flaws in our intelligence community pre-9/11.  PBS argued that the problem wasn't a lack of intelligence, rather it was the inability of the intelligence community to listen and cooperate with each other.  We still haven't heeded that warning, proving politicians prefer immediate resolutions rather than true problem solving.

Here we are almost nine years later, and the sheer amount of information we have collected at the expense of our Constitutional rights isn't helping.  It's time to rethink how we keep our nation safe.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Worcester Blog Post Of The Year!!!

Congratulations, Gabe!  I wish I had written that piece!

My only hope for that section of the Canal District (Green Island to all you grrrls out there) is a green space.  I nominate the whole section of property from the Smokehouse Urban Barbecue to Fiddler's Green as a future green space.  It would be a hell of a lot prettier than the bombed out parking lot view we have now.

Waah!!!! Waah!!!! Waah!!!!

The more I hear from the Tea Party, the more I feel like they are acting like spoiled children when they don't get their way.

Example?  Today's T&G has an article announcing a protest of their own darling, Senator Scott Brown.

Why?  Because he voted with Democrats on legislation that (in theory) would offer taxpayers protection against a rapacious Wall Street culture.

This is supposed to be a good thing.  Regulation keeps you from getting screwed, Tea Partiers.  The last economic meltdown occurred because of a lack of regulation....so we should protest in favor of less regulation??????  The road to irrelevancy is paved with pages from Atlas Shrugged, Tea Partiers!
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Rational T&G comment of the week belongs to Ed:
"I've only taken two basic university classes in economics. I mostly read my medical journals for work and history for recreation. I do like to follow the news daily. There are a few things that are extremely obvious even to a non-expert like me! For example, that both the Reagan and Bush era tax cuts to the wealthy led to larger deficits and long term decline in growth. And, that deregulating any industry too much can lead to disasters, since the public is left unguarded against excess. What I fail to understand is this: do these conservative Congressional Republicans really believe that tax cuts for the wealthy work? Do they believe that more and more deregulation is in the interest of the nation's safety and prosperity? That is, have they missed the obvious evidence? Or, do they merely spout propaganda to mislead people so that they get the backing of wealthy donors?"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Traded!

Worcester's Tim Collins was part of a 5 player trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves.

Tim has been dominant at Double A New Hampshire this year, and now he will probably pitch for Atlanta's Double A affiliate, the Mississippi Braves.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I like this idea.

"The city is launching a new initiative to encourage economic development with an artistic bent."
Perhaps we should begin with a public transportation system that runs past 8PM, or a cheaper cab system that offers a Passenger Bill of Rights like Toronto.

Imagine trolley cars like this running up and down Main Street, Shrewsbury Street or the Canal District every weekend night.  Imagine college students pedaling customers throughout the Canal District.  Imagine what a $5,000 micro-grant could do to help the various festivals and free concert programs in the City.

Bravo!

Public-private parternships.

That catchphrase has been tossed around more than a few times by our City Council and City Manager.  Hopefully they'll read this article and start to think a little more critically about this issue. 

After all, didn't we just extricate the City from a public-private partnership with National Grid?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Would you like some free Crestor with your lasagna?

I wrote about it last week, and it happened.  Pharmaceutical companies will soon be able to bribe provide free lunches for doctors in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and not disclose what they are doing.  I hope the reconciliation package omits the free lunch rule.

Community Development Corporations.

I love this question:
“The city is by no means abandoning the CDCs,” Ms. Vachon-Jackson said yesterday at the ceremony. “We'll be taking a look at hard data — vacancies, foreclosures, overcrowding — and form a policy based on that. Does it make sense for CDCs to build new properties, or help us with the foreclosure problem?”
 YES!!!  The City should be doing everything in its power to solve the foreclosure problem. 

Foreclosure = Urban Decay, and we have had way too much of that in Worcester in the past 30 years.  

Food and Beer.

Here's the money quote from Bill Clapper's review of the Armsby Abbey in the Telegram & Gazette:
"Armsby Abbey’s raison d’etre is beer, and the more exotic the beer, the higher Armsby rises to the challenge."
Why didn't Mr. Clapper mention the beer in his review?  (I really hope that's a real name and not a nom de guerre...it's so much fun to say!)  The Armsby is all about fantastic beer and Slow food.  Missing both in the review doesn't do justice to the owner's vision, and ensures that there will be people who go to the Armsby and miss the point.  I love the place- I've never had a bad meal, beer or experience there.  It's a shame that Mr. Clapper only handed out three stars out of four- I believe the Armsby is one of the best bars in Worcester.
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The trolls were out in full force in today's review and last Thursday's article about the negative aspects of the Summer Nationals.  There's a wide range of reviews on Yelp, (Thirty 5-star reviews, twenty three 4-star reviews, six 3-star reviews, four 2-star reviews, and two 1-star reviews.)  Even though I'm not a fan of trolls, they make for some entertaining reading!
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Speaking of beer, I found this Op-Ed interesting.  There's always been a problem with wholesalers in Massachusetts regarding craft beer, and I don't want to see it get worse!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

DBag of the Day!

Congratulations Terry Savage, you win Douchebag of the Day!

I love his logic- giving away another person's stuff for free is wrong.
Charging money for another person's stuff is fine, as long as you make more money.

This is why we have trillion dollar bailouts for large corporations, and nothing for the working poor.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Free lunches.

I understand that the food industry has been hurt by the ban on pharmaceutical free lunches for doctors.  (I make fewer lunches a week thanks to this ban, and end up working fewer hours a year.)  I do think it's a good idea, especially when reading this article, this article, and this article.

But we all know that lobbyists have influence, and all it takes is one elected official to start the repeal train.  State Representative Brian Dempsey, start that pity party!  (I hope your doctor doesn't prescribe Crestor for your LDLs.  You might end up with diabetes.)

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While we're on the subject of elected officials and repeal trains, a big shout out needs to go to 'Independent' Scott Brown.  Thanks for screwing up the Massachusetts budget, Senator.  Apparently yes means no and it also means screw you, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Food Math.

There are 1,300 food establishments according to the T&G's Sunday story on food inspection in the City of Worcester.  They should be inspected twice a year, which equals 2,600 visits.  2,600 visits divided by three inspectors equals 866.67 visits per inspector per year.  866.67 visits divided by 52 weeks equals 16.67 visits per week.  16.67 visits per week divided by five work days equals 3.34 visits per day.

Are we supposed to believe that our food inspectors can't visit 4 restaurants a day over the course of a year?  Are they flooded by so much paperwork or other responsibilities that we can't have adequate bi-annual inspections?  Perhaps Part 2 of this story should involve Thomas Caywood and Andrew Veeder doing a ride along for a day with a Health Inspector.  The follow up certainly shouldn't be this fluff piece.
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In a related story, This Week's Dumbest Comment on the T&G Website ended in a tie:
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Suggested summer reading for 'T.E.A. partier' and 'Common Sense' is Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and just for fun, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.  Perhaps reading might change their viewpoint on 'big government' and laissez-faire policies.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I jinxed myself.

In a post the other day, I said I had never been solicited while downtown.

While on my way through the Common to the Irish Festival, I had a young woman ask me if I wanted methadone. (I declined. Methadone and Guiness don't mix well.)

I guess talking about my clean streak is just like talking about a perfect game as it happens.

Wheels To Water

The Worcester Wheels To Water Program will run from July 6th until August 15th.  (Apparently if you want to swim indoors before 7/6 or after 8/15, tough!)  The State beaches, pools, and City beaches will be open Monday-Friday after July 1st.

Here's when you can swim: 

MONDAY: 
10am-2pm @ Girls Inc.
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
TUESDAY:
10am-2pm @ Girls Inc. 
1pm-5pm @ WPI
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
WEDNESDAY:
10am-2pm @ Girls Inc.
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
3pm-6pm @ Central YMCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)

4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)THURSDAY:
10am-2pm @ Girls Inc. 
1pm-5pm @ WPI
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
FRIDAY:
10am-2pm @ Girls Inc.
3pm-5pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
3pm-8pm @ Central YMCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
4pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
7pm-9pm @ YWCA  (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
SATURDAY:
12:30pm-6pm Family Swim @ Central YMCA
2pm-7pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)
4pm-7pm @ YWCA (under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)
SUNDAY: 
10am-2pm Family Swim @ Central YMCA 

12pm-5pm Family Swim @ Girls Inc. (all adults must be accompanied by at least 1 child)
2pm-4pm @ Boys & Girls Club (ages 8-17)

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A big thank you should be extended to the organizations that make this program possible.  It's certainly not as good as having neighborhood pools, and I hope in future years the City Council will actually listen to the voters and start rebuilding neighborhood pools.  The City Council should set the goal of refurbishing one neighborhood pool every year.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Speaking of good eats....

I had a mushroom, goat cheese and truffle oil pizza along with an order of homemade jalapeno poppers from Flats on the corner of Mayfield and Park.  Excellent stuff!  Great flavorful crust, tasty sauce, quality local ingredients, and a great slogan: 'Support Your Local Pie Hole.'  Best of all, they are open until 2:30AM.

The Corner Grille and The Wonder Bar now have some competition for my favorite pizza in Worcester.

I've never had a problem downtown. I've even had some good meals!

I never ate at the City Park Grille.  Two weeks after they opened, I read that the executive chef quit.  That's a major red flag that something's wrong, so I stayed away.  I wasn't surprised to see the business close- I was just surprised it happened so quickly.

There have been a few general theories kicking around about City Park Grille's demise:
1.  Downtown is a graveyard/wasteland.  Nothing succeeds downtown.
2.  Worcester is hostile to new enterprises, especially high end dining.
3.  It's the City Manager's/City Council's/Dual Tax Rate's fault.
4.  There wasn't any parking.
5.  It's the Curse of the Nipmucs.

I don't agree with any of these theories, although I am keeping an open mind about the Curse of the Nipmucs.  City Park Grille failed because they were supposedly paying $15,000 a month for rent.  If any business is going to succeed with that sort of rent, they need paying customers.  The only way to draw customers is with a great idea, and great execution (like the Armsby Abbey, Bocado, and 86 Winter which are within a few blocks of City Park Grille).  From everything I've heard, City Park Grille failed on both ends, much like McFadden's did before them.  If the food isn't good, people won't pay.  Rent doesn't get paid, and businesses close.  That's the reality of the food business, especially if the owner doesn't have the cash reserves to ride out the first year and improve the business.

I don't understand how the City Manager and City Council were liable for City Park Grille's demise.  They don't write private business plans.  It's not their job.  Should the City Council bail out any failing business on Main Street?  Should they advise them on how to properly run a restaurant?  Should they eat out at that business every day of the week to keep them in business?  Should they be out with flags and cones pointing potential diners to the large parking garage a half block away from City Park Grille?
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Perhaps it's a matter of perception  (read the comments for more laughable ignorance.)  I go through downtown every day, whether I am on foot, bike or bus.  I've never witnessed a drug deal.  I've never been mugged.  I've never been solicited by a prostitute.  I've never been threatened.

I would love to see street vendors and performers downtown (how great would it be to have a Completo from Chris while sitting at a picnic table on a Saturday afternoon?).  I'd love to see businesses downtown, but I know that businesses will only go where there is profit.  As long as local people can't find good jobs for fair wages, downtown will suffer.  Until we fix Worcester's economy, schools, and housing, a better life and a better downtown will be a pipe dream away from fruition.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A seven person bike!

I put down my regular one person bike and went for a ride on a seven person bike this morning at Elm Park with some great people.

There's an all afternoon event on Russell Street in support of Ipsaci Corp.  Their goal is to raise money to train medical personnel, teachers and social workers to help women brutalized by the war in the Congo.  I picked up The Hurdles of a Young Doctor by Pierre Syvialeghana and had a nice morning ride.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Playgrounds.

I wonder how much this new playground cost at Roosevelt School? It doesn't say on the School Improvement Plan, but here's the money quote:

"We plan to reach out to our community businesses to build partnerships which will benefit our students as well as the business. Presently, many of the businesses close to Roosevelt are taking an active role in helping to raise funds to build a community playground on school property."


I'll bet it's cheaper than the Providence Street playground.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm not surprised.

There was an interesting piece on Boston.com yesterday about the State Probation Office and patterns of nepotism and cronyism under the direction of Jack O'Brien.

Central Massachusetts made the article with a reference to former Worcester Courthouse Probation Officer Ashley Losapio and references to West Boylston's State Representative James J. O’Day, Charlton's State Representative Geraldo Alicea, and Clinton's State Representative Harold P. Naughton Jr.

Wow.

I saw this link on Facebook today.



I'm speechless.

More Crime in Tatnuck.

A dangerous criminal was on the loose on the West Side of Worcester yesterday morning.  The comment section accompanying the article was especially entertaining.  

Worcester's reaction to black bears reminds me of this MST3K short, Catching Trouble (fast forward to the 3:40 mark for the black bear):

Friday, May 14, 2010

Worcester Public Schools and the Kansas City Royals.

The Kansas City Royals fired manager Trey Hillman after a 12-23 start to the 2010 season.  For his career, he was 152-207 as a manager for the worst team in baseball.  Hillman was the 13th Royals manager since the orgainization's last postseason appearance in 1985.  During that 25 years of futility, the Royals only had 7 seasons over .500.  There is something wrong in Kansas City, and it isn't the managers.  (Side note if you're a sports fan- take the time to read through Joe Posnanski's blog.  He's one of my favorite sports writers.)  That sort of futility shows that there are problems with the organization, its ownership, and the way Major League Baseball is structured.

So why fire the manager?  I believe it's a cosmetic move to let fans know that something is being done to solve the problem.  The Royals have been rebuilding and developing minor league talent since the mid 1990's.  In 2003, Tony Pena managed the team to a winning record, surprising the baseball world.  The next year, the Royals were the same old Royals, and the following season, Tony Pena was fired.  (Where did Tony Pena end up?  As the bench coach for the Yankees.  No wonder the Yankees haven't won a World Series Championship this millenium...wait, never mind, damnit!)

The problem in Kansas City lies in its front office.  Their ownership hasn't hired a general manager that has been able to develop good major league talent and retain it.  Due to the payroll cutting tendencies of David Glass (CEO of Walmart), the Royals have struggled since 1993 to field a winning team.  Whatever talent the Royals have developed has been traded away for less value because of the Royals' cost cutting business model.  How can this organizational incompetence be Trey Hillman's fault or any of their managers' fault?

Three years from now, David Glass will probably end up firing current manager Ned Yost.  Ownership will say that this time, the 'new' manager that will bring pride, titles and fans back to Kauffman Stadium.

Why am I writing about the Kansas City Royals?  Perhaps it's because I liked their teams in the early '80's.  Perhaps it is because I enjoy watching Zack Greinke pitch.  Perhaps it's because I'm still bitter they fired Tony Pena after 2+ seasons despite Tony winning the 2003 AL Manager of the Year with a team of nobodies.  Perhaps it is because David Glass owns the team, and I dislike Walmart.
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Perhaps it is because this situation reminds me of this story.  I'm not saying the public schools are as incompetent as the Kansas City Royals.  I believe the changes at Chandler Elementary, Union Hill, and now Clark Street are cosmetic changes just like the firing of Trey Hillman and the hiring of Ned Yost in Kansas City.

Neither Mark Berthiaume or Denise Bahosh had the solutions for societal barriers to education that exist outside of Chandler Elementary or Union Hill.  I doubt that either Marie Morse or June Eressy will be able to raise test scores quicker than the previous principals within the three years they have to turn around Chandler Elementary and Union Hill.  The idea that improving education is a race and a competition ignores the reality that educating the entire populace is far more complex than new leadership or a new assessment test.  What happens in the school can be stymied by larger societal forces outside school- poverty, apathy, ignorance, unemployment, language barriers.  Education isn't a business, nor can the business model pertain to educating everyone in the public schools  (Jeff says it best here.) 

In 2013, I hope I don't have to read a story about Principals Morse and Eressy being fired or replaced because they couldn't raise test scores in underfunded inner city schools quick enough to please  politicians and bureaucrats and give voters a sense that something is being done to solve the problem.

After I'm done reading about the fate of our schools, I'll flip to the Sports section and see that the Royals have a new manager....again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to explain the new Arizona law to children.

http://twitpic.com/1n8jia/full

Sinkholes.

I came home from practice and read Dee's post regarding the Providence Street Playground.  I also read Nicole's cost estimates for Providence Street, and I have to congratulate Worcester's Department of Public Works and Parks for another job poorly done.

A few years back, the City decided to daylight Beaver Brook throughout the length of Beaver Brook Park.  As part of the park makeover, they refurbished and relocated three of the four baseball/softball fields and the football field.  It took quite a bit of pressure to get DPW and Parks to address issues with the park redesign (details here, 2nd story down.)  As a 'compromise', Parks eliminated plans for the 4th baseball/softball field located on the site of the former football field due to safety concerns and flooding concerns.

When I was a kid, the open space behind the Little League's "A" field was a swamp that filled up with overflow from the brook every big rainstorm.  Then it was plowed under and became the Worcester Vikings' football field, which still flooded constantly.  During the 2005 redesign, Assistant Parks Commissioner Robert Antonelli assured the league that only 'historic rainfalls' will cause flooding of the open space once the work was completed.  Currently, that field is an open space the size of a football field and has a built in irrigation system and drainage.

Two summers ago, I witnessed a July thunderstorm that filled the entire open space and the whole right field of the "A" field with a foot of water in less than a half hour.  It's not the only time I've witnessed 'historic rainfalls.'  I can think of at least six instances in the past four years where I have personally witnessed Beaver Brook overflowing into the open space and the Little League field.

The open space gets a lot of use, and today I noticed two new additions to our practice space:

We now have sinkholes, four years after the project was completed.  Both holes, which range from six inches deep to over a foot in depth, are centered around sprinkler heads.  Both holes are expanding and very soft, so perhaps I will find this when I get down the field tomorrow:
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I don't hold out much hope for the condition of our $500,000 Providence Street playground four years from now, and it's not because of vandalism.  I wonder how I should report this on the DPW help page.  Pothole?  Water Meter/Lawn Irrigation?  Item on Public Way?  Items in Waterway/Brooks?  There doesn't seem to be a Shoddy Workmanship form.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gary and Clive vs. The Budget.

Gary Rosen and Clive McFarlane tackled the city budget this week, and both came up lacking.  Perhaps it's the limitations of print media- if they could link to the budget, perhaps they could point out specific cuts to the budget.  Very rarely do you find print media in Worcester specifically pointing out where our tax dollars are wasted.  Instead, you get generalizations like these:
"City officials need to take some creative, courageous and painful steps that surely will anger special interest groups and some employee unions. But cutting spending, eliminating more overlap and waste, streamlining city government, and finding new revenue sources are what’s best for Worcester’s future." -Gary Rosen
That's the best you can offer as a former City Councilor, WPS employee and School Committee member?  Give us concrete details.  Call out positions and people by name.  Do some legwork and get some sunlight and accountability to save our tax dollars.  Otherwise I'm going to have to question an article that regurgitates Research Bureau talking points (privatize everything, PILOTs, soak our unions, and lower taxes for businesses.)  I've always voted for Mr. Rosen- he was always accessible to his constituents, and for the most part, we've agreed on the major issues.  As a journalist, he leaves a bit to be desired, unless he starts to use his experience to better tell his readers about the issues facing the city.

Clive McFarlane went a few steps further in his piece, but still fell short.
"I did, and here is what I found: Too many departments top heavy with chiefs, assistant chiefs and assistant to the assistant chief and assistant to the assistant to the assistant to the assistant to the chief."
 Which ones????  Point it out to us.  Please use your journalist skills and list the departments and positions.  If you don't, it feels like you're just filling out another column....much like the irrelevant golf columns.
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These are two of our better journalists, and writers I respect.  I had high hopes for both columns, and came away disappointed.  I know this is a city that behaves like a small town, but good government should trump any desire to avoid calling out individuals who are getting fat at the public trough (if they exist.)
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Postscript:
Rosalie Tirella had her say about the budget, specifically the WPS side of the ledger.  Let's just be nice and say I don't agree with her take on things.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Worcesterites in spandex, sporting tails.

I'm not a fan of Walmart.  I've never bought anything there, nor will I darken the door of Worcester's new Walmart.  If we're going to be a Walmart in Worcester, the only benefit will be the first Worcesterite captured on People of Walmart.

I wonder if I will know them?

Paywalls.

I've been playing a new game with myself as I read the T&G every day.  Is this article worth my money?

Today's Dianne Williamson's column falls into the "Not worth my money!" category.  Did the editors screw up and post Laura Porter's column instead of Dianne's?  (No offense intended, Laura.  I just have higher expectations for the lead columnist on the front page of the Local section.)

Judging by the comments, I am in the minority when it comes to dislike for this column.  Perhaps it is because I own a Droid, was able to read the instruction manual that came with it, and even read the extended manual on that-there-Internets-thing-a-ma-bob.

What a surprise.

I posted about 165 Grafton Street and the CSX plans back in March.  While reading through Jeremy Shulkin's excellent notes on the Public Works and Transportation meeting regarding CSX, I caught this nugget from Phil Clancy:
"A new plan has been proposed that would limit truck traffic on Grafton St. The new plan calls for closing the tip of Coral St. (between Union Place and Grafton St.) to anything but CSX traffic (to do this Frank’s Flower Shop will be taken by the company). It’ll be easy for trucks exiting I-290 East to get off and enter the CSX site right away, as well as enter I-290 East, but I must have missed how they’ll get to I-290 West. CSX estimates this will cost $2 mil for “modification.” Councilor Paul Clancy asked about business relocation, which CSX seemed ok with. He also asked about keeping that closed portion of Coral st. open to one-way traffic."
I figured Ron Gestone (owner of 165 Grafton Street) wanted his parcel of land included in the CSX expansion.  Who wouldn't want to unload a property with an empty storefront onto our new neighbors, especially when there is a $2 million price tag associated with the redesign?  165 Grafton Street is valued at $191,800.  Anyone want to make predictions on the final sale price?

I'm curious why Councilor Clancy wants to know about business relocation.  There isn't a business at 165 Grafton Street.  It's still empty!  Perhaps the plans call for the removal of the buildings at 169 and 177 Grafton Street, which actually house active businesses.