Sunday, March 28, 2010

More campaign propaganda.

Robert Z. Nemeth is back with a glowing endorsement of Lew Evangelidis for Worcester County Sheriff.  In a stunning surprise, Lew is a registered Republican, much like Mr. Nemeth's previous glowing endorsements of Karyn Polito and Scott Brown

I don't have a problem with Mr. Nemeth's endorsement of Republicans, nor do I have a problem with his constant repetition of Republican talking points.  After all, his weekly article is found on the Opinion page (and I know the difference between an Opinion piece and a news piece.)  I don't like Mr. Nemeth's use of independent as a synonym for Republican.  To my surprise, Mr. Nemeth didn't use the word independent at all in today's article.  I wish the T&G had a counterpoint to Mr. Nemeth, but every year their Sunday Opinion page gets smaller and smaller.
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"He (Mr. Evangelidis) advocated charging inmates fees to defray the cost of their incarceration — a policy he wants to enforce at the county jail."
Mr. Nemeth did miss on this point.  In 2004 the Superior Court of Massachusetts struck down Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson's attempt to charge fees for inmates (details here and a counterpoint here).  Whether or not you agree with the daily fee, sheriffs don't have the ability to levy these fees under state law, so if Mr. Evangelidis becomes sheriff, he'll have to lobby the State Legislature (where he used to serve) to change the law.

Mr. Evangelidis also promises the following:
"Inmates on occasion can earn small amounts of money for labor performed while they are incarcerated.  I will make sure that every penny earned by inmates goes towards paying any monetary responsibilities that are not up to date.  These will include child support payments, restitution payments and legal fees."
It's an admirable goal, but on top of a daily fee plus fees for medical visits, dental visits, and haircuts where will this money come from?  Either inmates will be forced to beg for money from their families, or the fees won't be collected at all and become an added burden when an inmate is released.  (Unless they have a good work release job like Joseph Duggan.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Health care hypocrisy.

There's nothing better than watching Mitt Romney flop and struggle during his never-ending quest for the presidency, especially when his own deeds come back to haunt him.

While we're on the subject, kudos to Andrea Mitchell and Cambell Brown for catching Senator Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) and Senator Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) hypocrisy regarding the constitutionality of the health care mandate.

My personal thought?  A health care mandate doesn't work unless there is a competing public option and governmental regulation of private health care costs.  Otherwise we're all just trapped consumers.

Everyone Counts.

Today was a beautiful day, despite an almost November-ish chill in the air.  I was walking through the Common, which was full of bicyclists, pedestrians, and a few pigeons.  I haven't been writing much lately due to a busy schedule, and I wanted to grab a few papers and a sandwich and come up with a few ideas.

The only thing the Common was lacking were people sitting at the tables located in the skating rink.  Surely Gabe's post from last summer (6/28/09) wouldn't still be relevant, would it?
Sadly, it is.
The chairs are chained to the tables.  Here's a closeup:
I wanted to buy a sandwich, read a newspaper, and perhaps enjoy the view.  I guess not.
Apparently Worcester residents can't be trusted to use tables and chairs on our Common, despite the cheery sentiment displayed for all to see:
In the past decade, the City has replaced an empty concrete reflecting pool with a lawn so people could have a nice green space downtown.  Then they decided to replace the lawn with an ice skating rink that doesn't have ice or ice skaters.  Then they bought chairs and tables to place in the ice skating rink during the nice weather so people could enjoy the Common.  Why would anyone buy chairs and tables that can't be used on a weekend afternoon?  If the fear was vandalism or theft, why not buy picnic tables that have attached benches?

At least our Common futility gave me something to write about, and something to forward on to our City Council.  Maybe someone will answer me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thank you Captain Obvious!

Really? The city needed to hire Sullivan, Rogers & Co. LLC of Burlington to tell us that we needed a City Treasurer/Tax Collector?

(On a side note, the search engine on the T&G is absolutely terrible.  I tried searching for the story about the last city employee to steal from the city and couldn't turn up any relevant links.  I did get some nice links to area sports results.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

266 Chandler St.

The rumor I heard tonight is that the lot is being used as a staging area for the work on Pleasant Street.

Just say no to green plastic hats and The Unicorn Song!

First, A Guide for Surviving St. Patrick's Day.

A song from the Dropkick Murphys about those who make it to last call on St. Patrick's Day:


Come Out Ye Black and Tans was the first Irish song I remember hearing Butch Moore and Maeve Mulvaney perform live at the Irish Festival at Holy Cross in 1980.  (This version is by the Wolfe Tones.)


The Dubliners performing Dirty Old Town:


One of the best live traditional bands I've ever seen, Solas:


My favorite version of Tommy Makem's classic, Four Green Fields:


A version of There Were Roses written by Tommy Sands.  My favorite version is by Robbie O'Connell, Mick Moloney, Jimmy Keane and Liz Carroll, but I couldn't find a video version of it.


And finally, for the dearly departed:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beaver Brook Dumping

I tried SeeClickFix last week.  It didn't work quite like I thought it would.  There's still trash, and I had this posted on the issue page:

"Worcester DPW wrote 2 days ago
Thank You for contacting the DPW&P. According to our Assessing Department, and GIS maps we do not have a listing for #1 Mayfield Street. Please provide an intersecting street or a land mark. If you have any additional questions or would like to speak with a customer service representative please call us at (508)929-1300 or log onto our web site at www.worcesterma.gov
It should be understood that it is not the responsibility of the DPW& P Customer Service Center to update resolutions submitted through social networking sites such as SeeClickFix. The DPW&P Customer Service request system is the official site for reporting City issues. Please provide your personal e-mail so that we may respond directly to you with any questions and / or updates to your request."

I guess I'll have to use Parks Online Litter Complaint to report the problem.

Something doesn't add up.

I haven't made up my mind about the proposed CSX Expansion Plan.  While that area of the city is already used by CSX, and the expansion would take abandoned factory buildings and an abandoned supermarket, I'm not sure that dropping this in the middle of downtown is the best use of land.  (Plus the added traffic on Franklin Street would mess up my summer bike rides to work.) 
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When I got to work this morning, I read Nick Kotsopoulos's article in the T&G which detailed opposition to the expansion from The Grafton Hill Business Association.  The article made some good points, and then one point that baffled me.
"Ron Gestone, owner of Frank’s Flower Shop, 165 Grafton St., said he hopes the city will stand by those residents and property owners who he said will be “totally impacted” by the CSX plan. His business, which has been at that Grafton Street site for more than 40 years, is just before the I-290 eastbound on-ramp “My property will no longer be of use for me because I will have more than 500 trucks on a daily basis going by my place of business,” Mr. Gestone said. “With all those trucks, no one will be able to get in or out of my driveway.”
I go by that piece of property every day on my way to work.  There hasn't been any business in that building for the past year or so.  There used to be a flower shop there (I bought my senior prom date's flowers there in 1993, but I don't remember the name of the florist.)  Until recently, 165 Grafton Street was the sight of Upscale Consignmint II (still viewable on Google Maps.)  On my way home from work, I stopped by to see if my memory was faulty.  Maybe something had opened up while I was away on vacation.

Here's the sign for Frank's Flowers:
Here's the building:
Here's the front door, with a sign (no one answered when I knocked and called):
If Ron Gestone's business has been at Grafton Street for more than 40 years, my question is this:

Which 40 years?

Because on March 15th, 2010, there wasn't any business to be seen at 165 Grafton Street.

Will Frank's Flower Shop open up at 165 Grafton Street in the near future?

When you search for Frank's Flower Shop, 165 Grafton St, Worcester MA on Google, you end up with this link.  It's for a flower shop in Mississippi.

I'm confused.  Can someone please explain this to me?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Petty differences.

Do we really have City Councilors complaining about a raise for Brian Allen?  Didn't they give themselves an 84% pay raise for part time work a few years back when the budget was just as strained?  I also seem to remember City Manager Mike O'Brien handing out pay raises for his top assistants at City Hall during the same belt tightening periods.  Where was the outcry then?  Where were the calls for fiscal prudence?  (Maybe they should have hired Robert Z. Nemeth to write their campaign propaganda.)

I think members of the School Committee need to paint their faces blue and listen to this sound clip.  It seems as if the T&G and the City Council really have an axe to grind with money being spent on the school side of the city ledger.

Warrants? We don't need no stinking warrants!


"In March 2006, ICE Acting Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. Etre requested, in a letter to City Manager Michael V. O'Brien, that a hidden video camera be installed at the city clerk's office. The camera would be controlled by Mr. Rushford, who had agreed to participate in the investigation. In a letter to ICE, City Solicitor David M. Moore wrote that using such a camera would be in violation of state law because Mr. Rushford was not a law enforcement officer. Mr. Moore asked ICE to indemnify Mr. Rushford and Mr. O'Brien from any legal action as a result of taping people applying for marriage licenses. “Until such assurances are received, neither the city of Worcester, nor Michael V. O'Brien as its city manager and David J. Rushford as its city clerk can consent to your proposal,” Mr. Moore wrote. Mr. Moore said recently he does not remember ICE ever responding to the city's letter. “We gave our, ‘Yeah, but,' and they disappeared,” he said of federal investigators. “We weren't exactly denying (their request). We were saying, ‘You need a warrant or a court order.' ” He said federal authorities never offered an explanation. “They tell you what they need to tell you, I guess,” he said"
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 I'm glad City Solicitor David Moore pays attention to the laws of the land, and not ICE agents. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Redundancy.

Yesterday I picked up the paper for the first time since I returned from vacation.  There was a Letter to the Editor that gave me the oddest feeling of déjà vu.

Is it a slow week for Letter to the Editor?  Did someone fall asleep at the copy desk?  Is this some sort of joke?  And is Mr. Francis Carbonneau/Coleman a real person?  I am completely baffled.  Even Rosalie wouldn't let this happen in the InCityTimes.

Here's the text from the March letter (I underlined the text that is identical):


Disappointed with new Sen. Brown
I am 88 years old, and I was disappointed with Sen. Scott Brown, who just paired up with a man that took our Social Security percentage, and also our $250 check away from retirees. Thanks a lot.

Mr. Brown used to call my house asking if I could vote for him. My son and I waited in the rain in line to vote for him. He rallied in Worcester and he pulled in a big vote in Webster. How quickly he forgets where a place is.

There’s one thing that my son and I should have done, and that was to vote for Attorney General Martha Coakley. But one thing is for sure, this will end my voting career. I don’t like opened doors. I hope that Mr. Brown doesn’t come up with something else that will hurt us senior citizens.
My son and I are independent voters. We voted for Mr. Brown because we thought that he would have some of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s ideas.

FRANCIS E. CARBONNEAU Sr.

Webster

Here's the text from the February letter:

Former Brown Supporter Disappointed

I am 88 years old, and very disappointed.  How come Sen. Scott Brown and President Obama were never mentioned as being 10th cousins?  Mr. Brown, you just paired up with a man who took our Social Security percentage, and also our $250 check away from retirees.   

Mr. Brown used to call my house asking if I would vote for him.  My son and I waited in the rain in line to vote for him.  He rallied in Worcester, and he pulled in a big vote in Webster.  How quickly he forgets where a place is.

There's one thing that my son and I should have done, and that was to vote for Attorney General Martha Coakley.  But one thing is for sure, this will end my voting career.  I don't like open doors.  I hope that Mr. Brown doesn't come up with something else that will hurt us senior citizens.

My son and I are independent voters.  We voted for Mr. Brown because we thought that he would have some of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's ideas.

FRANCIS COLEMAN Sr.

Webster

Good point, Kate.

From Worcester Magazine's article about blogging:
“I pay attention to the bloggers who don’t hide behind an anonymous post,” she says, “I listen to the people who put their names out there.” -Kate Toomey
I'll end my anonymity if you answer my 2 emails from December and January.

More dumping.

I noticed more illegal dumping on Mayfield Street.  I used the SeeClickFix app on my new phone to report the dumping.  Let's see how long it takes to clean up!  I submitted the report at 5:30 PM on Thursday.

266 Chandler Street and 346 Chandler Street.

I came back from vacation to find a whole bunch of equipment lined up at 266 Chandler Street.  I still don't know what's going on here.  The only information I have heard is that the property was recently purchased by some local lawyers and the sign on the property is offering it for lease or sale.





 It would be nice to know what is going in here.  After all, it's right next to Ted Williams Little League field, and no one has contacted our board to let us know anything.  Am I surprised?  We weren't contacted when the City decided to re-design the park a few years back.
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I also noticed that 346 Chandler Street is getting renovated.  That building had been fenced in and falling down for a few years now, and with the exception of an abandoned car next to it, nothing had changed.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Game 4

The Red Sox won 9 to 3 today behind John Lackey. Lackey pitched 2 efficient innings relying mostly on his fastball. Michael Bowden and Manny Delcarmen each had clean innings in the 3rd and the 4th. Delcarmen gave up three loud fly ball outs, which could be a concern. The only blemish was reliever Joe Nelson's shaky 7th inning. Junichi Tazawa pitched two strong innings to close out the game. I'm impressed with his mechanics and should develop into a major league caliber pitcher with some work in Pawtucket this season.

Tug Hulett was today's offensive star with a 3 run homer in the 7th. A much slimmer David Ortiz went 0 for 3, but he is moving and running without pain which is a good sign. Luis Exposito continued to impress me behind the plate and at bat. After watching him at Portland last year, I think he should make the big leagues by 2012.

It was interesting to see the differences between the two organizations during pre-game warmups. The Twins focused on hitting fungoes for both infielders and outfielders throughout batting practice. All of their hitters worked on driving balls into the opposite field gap rather than pulling the ball. At their field all three practice fields were full of players running through defensive drills throughout the game.

The Red Sox players seemed to get most of their work done in the cages prior to the game and didn't hit fungoes to any outfielders. The practice field behind the stadium was empty during the game. Perhaps they were working out down the street at the minor league facility. Then again, it could be the difference between a mid-market team trying to develop enough talent to compete with the big market teams. Ron Gardenhire's teams always have a reputation as fundamentally sound defensive ball clubs.

That's it from Spring Training- tomorrow I head back north.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Game 3

Tough outing for Jon Lester today. A lack of command plus a very tight strike zone resulted in 4 runs in the bottom of the first.

Tim Wakefield pitched two sharp innings in relief. I imagine it's very difficult for hitters to time a knuckle ball early in the spring, and Wake had it dancing today.

Victor Martinez had a monster double in the first inning and handled the knuckler well behind the plate. Watching him work counts and foul off pitch after pitch reminds me of Boggs' approach with two strikes.

Randor Bierd had nice 1-2-3 inning against the Twins starters in the 2nd. Randor joins with Yamaico Navarro, Tug Hullett and Boof Bonser to fill out the Sox quota of funny names this spring. Boston College infielder Mickey Wiswall wins the best name contest, hands down.

Only one more game before it's time to head north. All that snow better be melted, please!

Real help.

I know I'm on vacation and should only be posting minor stuff about Spring Training games. (Long posts from my new phone are very challenging!) Reading about the Level 4 labels for Union Hill and Chandler Elementary and the new state and federal law mandated 'solutions' got me fired up.

In order to qualify for federal or state funding to fix these schools, we must now choose from the following:
-Close the school
-Transform it into an unproven charter school (and lose control)
-Fire the principals
-Extend the school day
-Force the staff to reapply for their jobs.

None of these solutions focus on the real problems faced by these schools. Classes are overcrowded. Supplies are limited or non-existent. Facilities are badly in need of upgrades. Morale is diminished.

My solution? Federal and state money should fix the real problems, not the perception of the problem. It's politically easy to fire everyone and close schools, shifting attention away from years of top down, unfunded mandates that stifle true innovation. (Think of it as Extreme Education Makeover for troubled schools!)

Education fads come and go, but the most successful educators should be free to innovate and teach in small classes. It's the only way to reach students who are limited english and lacking in home support for education. A good school and good teachers can help, as long as we reverse current trends of budget cuts.

I was encouraged by the reactions of our School Committee, especially Tracy Novick and Joe O'Brien. They seem to recognize that the current focus on test based results and punitive measures aimed at educators is not the best way forward.

Please spend money in the classrooms and our students and not on more bureaucracy!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Game 2

Tonight felt like Opening Weekend in Boston, not a Spring Training game in Florida. Beckett pitched two innings, settling down after back to back base hits in the first. He ended up getting quite a few ground ball outs which is a good sign.
Papelbon, Okajima, Bard and Ramirez worked scoreless innings out of the pen. Marco Scutaro had a great diving stop at short, and Josh Reddick took away extra bases with a fantastic running catch going deep into the gap in right center.
Tonight's hero was Pawtucket catcher Mark Wagner, who had the game winning RBI in the 8th.
The next two games are day games, and I'm looking forward to a sunny afternoon.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Live from Fort Myers!

My new favorite prospect Jose Iglesias, the 19 year old Cuban shortstop. He has hands and quickness at short that reminds me of Tony Fernandez, my favorite shortstop when I was a kid.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Princetons of video game programming.

Two Worcester colleges made the Princeton Review's top 8 for Video Game Programming. Congratulations to Becker College (4) and WPI (7).

I wonder if Holy Cross will make their top party school list. (I'm sure they would if the T&G and election year politicians had a vote.)