By Rosalie Tirella
Every so often, some one on the Worcester City Council actually has an idea. We like people who have ideas! That’s how things change in this perpetually emotionally constipated town – a town that seems to validate ideas only when they come from the same 20 or so people. The poo-bas. The Worcester poop-heads who are connected to each other either through bloodline, Holy Cross College and/or both. If the election of Barack Obama tells us anything, it shows us that the Worcester way of doing business is grinding to a halt. There are 170,000 plus residents in this city! All of them have ideas! Let’s open our ears and … listen.
City Councilor Mike Germain has come up with an idea: tax college dorm rooms in Worcester. Worcester needs the bucks – everyone is too cheap to pay higher property taxes. So Mike has decided to float this idea. On the surface, it looks good. The college kids have bucks – Worcester needs bucks. Wormtown’s colleges are, after all, too tight-fisted to pay PILOT the way most colleges in most New England cities and towns do. So we may as well try to get them to contribute cash to the city via dorm room taxation. This, I think, is Germain’s point. His idea.
This is – I repeat – an idea – not an act of war. We all may not agree with Germain, but we don’t have to tar and feather him just because he came up with something a tad different. We can listen to him, debate the merits of his proposal and then act. That’s what democracy is all about. That’s what free speech is all about.
Besides, I’m still a fan of City Councilor Gary Rosen’s rubber sidewalk idea. Let’s revisit that proposal – and save some trees, sidewalks and cash.
Hopefully, Worcester City councilors will do what they need to do to close a projected multi-million dollar municipal budget deficit. So what can Worcester do to save itself from itself?
* How about getting all unions to agree to have their members pony up 25% – instead of 20% – $$$ for municipal employee health insurance? If City of Worcester employees – including the school dept. side – agree to pay 25% of their insurance bills, that relatively small concession (that’s what everyone contributes in the private sector) could save Worcester hundreds of thousands of dollars.
* City of Worcester employees need to say “to hell with Blue Cross Blue Shield” (what they can get if they stick to City of Worcester health insurance plan) and join the state insurance group. It costs a lot less money – and you get a ton of health plans to choose from, many just fine.
* PILOT – Payment in Lieu of Taxes. Get the nonprofits – especially the bigger ones and the colleges – to start making monetary contributions to the City of Worcester for doing business in Worcester for gratis. That’s right – they pay no property taxes and yet get fire trucks, police protection, DPW support, etc, etc. We know their endowments have taken a hit with the market in free fall, but they can – especially Holy Cross and WPI – give us something. City policy wonks say PILOT will only net the city about $1 million. We say – GO FOR IT! It’s a beginning, which is why the collecges are so resistant. And don’t worry, they’ll still be sending us their kids, asking for internships (precious experience for the kiddies).
* Get the freaking Worcester cops off roadway details! Only one other state uses cops to direct traffic while digging, road work is going on. Let’s join the rest of the country and hire flagmen and women. With the Worcester police, you have to hire them for a minimum of four hours. Their pay rate starts at $50/hour. Flag guys and gals get around $30 per hour. That’s saving some serious dough! Also, it gets the police doing what they should be doing: preserving the peace; chasing robbers, drug dealers, etc.
This is the tip of the iceberg. Let’s all put our thinking caps on to save our city!
– Rosalie Tirella
By T. S. Williams
Spectators and participants from across the country truly make the annual Army -Navy football game “America’s Game”. Squaring off for the 109th time – and the 81st time in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia PA — central Massachusetts was once again proudly represented in the stands, in the cadet corps and on the sideline. The Army – Navy game is unlike any other in college football. It is an occasion that must be experienced first-hand to fully appreciate and understand.
By Richard Schmitt
The Peace Movement in Worcester draws its strength from many different sources. On the one side, many contributors belong to different religious communities. There is the Catholic Worker House with Claire and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy and their friends. There are the society of Friends (Quakers) who have been opponents of war and violence since the William Penn settled in what is now Pennsylvania and lived peacefully with the Native Americans. Michael True and Mary Bennett are among the indefatigable workers for peace in that community. There are committees dealing with peace and peace education in other Worcester Protestant Churches, among the Unitarians, Methodists and Congregationalists.
The Jewish community in Worcester is strong and some of its individual members energetic supporters of peace. But as a religious community it is distracted from the peace issue by staunch support for Israel and by the unwillingness of the national Jewish leadership to take any positions not approved of by the Israeli government. The Jews in Worcester supporting peace do so not as member of the Jewish religious community but as Jews who remember sorrowfully the violence done to their ancestors and to their people.
Let’s follow the path to peace and fellowship!
By Mary M. Bennett
Last May, six women from the Worcester area joined “Follow the Women,” the largest peacekeeping mission in the Middle East. Over 300 women from 28 different countries began a 320 kilometer bike ride for peace that started in beautiful war-torn Beirut Lebanon, and continued through parts of Syria and Jordan; over the Allenby Bridge to the West Bank cities of Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin.
In 2003 Detta Regan, a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee started the FTL bike ride as a way of showing solidarity with all women living in the Middle East and to bear witness to the suffering of the Palestinian people. Most importantly was the hope that this simple and provocative act of women riding bicycles through the Middle East would instigate a greater dialogue, especially between the Palestinian people and Israelis, and also enhance our understanding of their struggles.
By Steve Sandberg
The editor of this newspaper has asked me to kill a few hundred words on the topic of Three Movies Barack Obama Must See Before He Becomes President. If you remember the famous story of how PATTON allegedly inspired Richard Nixon to get off the schneid and invade Cambodia, you can appreciate the grave responsibility Rosalie has heaped on me.
Obama is probably not as callous as Nixon was, and I doubt he will end his term as Nixon did – by talking to the presidential portraits on the White House walls. Still, I’m not going to take any chances with the fate of the world. So there will be no steroid-propelled, maxi-macho Republican action fantasies in Obama’s queue. He will just have to go without that magical moment in COMMANDO when the future governor of California rams a boiler tube, I think it was, into the chest of a vanquished foe with the exhortation to “Led offff zome STEAM!” Obama is not going to find about that one from me.
By Jack Hoffman
It’s hard these days for me to say Happy Chanukah or Merry Christmas – especially when there is not much to be happy about. This year I just can’t get merry. Oh, I know: we got Obama. But that joy has faded with all the negative news that’s been flowing faster than maple syrup over apple pancakes. Now I don’t want to sound like some scrooge or anaysayer, but when you hear all the negative news about jobs lost, houses lost, stock market plunges, depression is only a few percentage points away and more, does anyone see any sign of hope? Does all this negative news sound like something we should be happy and merry about? Some even say the worst is yet to come. If the Big 3 auto companies go down, there could possibly be another 6 million jobs lost – and the countless small business that are on the hook for money owed could go down too.
That all brings me to the big three auto loans that seems to have taken a back seat to the entire mischievous goings on in the political world. So what else is new? As if the actions of some sleazy scoundrels will affect our lives during these precarious times.