Category Archives: Green Island Grrrl

Cheers to WPI!

By Rosalie Tirella

What a surprise! WPI, following the lead of the great Charles Monahan and his downtown college, has volunteered to make PILOT payments to the City of Worcester. $9.1 million! The money will be used to (re)open our flagship library on Salem Square. So now kids can go to their libray on Sundays or Mondays or Wednesday mornings (the times the library is now closed). InCity Times has been asking for this kind of commitment from Worcester’s private colleges for YEARS! And now, deep in the midst of a national, state and city financial meltdown, WPI has decided to do the right thing!

Thank you, WPI! Thank you, City Manager Mike O’Brien for brokering this ground breaking agreement! Thank you (and we never thought we’d be writing this) District City Councilor Phil Palmieri for hammering away at the colleges/nonprofits council meeting after council meeting. City Councilor at Large Gary Rosen has also been wonderful, even suggesting that the colleges support our library system. And also thanks to District Four City Councilor Barbara Haller who was pro-PILOT (Payment in Lieu for Taxes) from the get-go, years back.

But I also want to take time out to give special thanks to two people who pretty much got passed over last night when the Worcester City Council gave itself MOST of the credit. Special thanks to InCity Times supporter and hero Anthony Hmura of Leader Signs on Canterbury Street. I remember when I started my newspaper almost 8 years ago – and got a call from a ballsy ol’ man named Tony, who saw the first copy of ICT and wanted to be part of the mayhem!

“Let’s get the college’s to pay us money – the leeches!” he screamed. It was a bit over the top, but after listening to Tony, I was on his side. The private colleges in Worcester are truly multi-million dollar corporations and it was wrong for them not to pay the City of Worcester any taxes. Yes, they were tax exempt because they expanded people’s minds, trained them for careers and all that good stuff … but really! Pay something for all the city services you use: fire trucks, police, clean water, snow plowing, street cleaning/sweeping, etc.  What’s more Tony, a sign maker for more than 50 years, brought a class-consciousness to  the table; the college kids came to Worcester from places like suburban New Jersey and Connecticut and took one look at Worcester and decided to make her their personal garbage can/urinal!

So the anti-college/pro-PILOT Tony Hmura ads ran in InCity Times – many of them a tad … primative. Like the time we got a clip art photo of a fat cat smoking a cigar and wrote HOLY CROSS COLLEGE over it. Or the time we told Father McFarland, president of Holy Cross, to put up or shut the hell up! We told him to do the Christian thing and help the poor people in the South Worcester neighborhood that Holy Cross was nestled in. We ran photos of crushed beer cans, stories of South Worcester folks who shared apartment buildings with Holy Cross students who fornicated in the hall ways! And we got a reaction from folks! Thay were pissed off too!

Then the other papers followed Tony Hmura’s lead with shall we say more measured pieces. And so the rumblings for PILOT grew and grew and grew. Soon East Side activist Gary Vecchio jumped into the fray and demanded the colleges pay PILOT. Gary was relentless! He was all over the airwaves, TV, newspapers!

And finally, after all the work and fulminating …. WPI gives us $9.1 million! Hurrah!

Thanks to all!

He was the pits!

By Rosalie Tirella

Last night the boyfriend and I watched Farenheit 9/11, the award-winning documentary by wild-guy film maker Michael Moore (Roger and Me, Sicko, Bowling for Columbine). I had seen the movie when it first came out – “Mario” did not. Some of my thoughts: it’s not as good as I thought it was. 1. That is, it’s not a well made film – despite winning awards at Cannes and other prestigious places. 2. But it is great because it was showing what nobody in TV land news (broadcast or cable) was showing: George W. Bush was/is a complete moron and war is hell.

You have to give Moore credit. He was saying what nobody dared say in 2003 or 2004 – especially the mainstream media (watch Katie Couric tell America that a division in the Army “rocks”!) – back in 2004 or 2005. Moore told us/showed us how chaotic and brutal the Iraq War (like any  war) is: dead children carried by relatives who are having nervous breakdowns as they race through their lunar landscape-looking city streets. Their kids wet their pants – they peed themselves as they died, no doubt. Babies with huge, red, blistery holes in their arms or  their faces half blown off. Our young soldiers without legs or hands – being so brave and stoic (because they are so young and naive) at Walter Reed Hospital talking about the hands that they still feel, even though they are now gone.  ABC, NBC, CNN and all the rest of the network and cable news shows refused to show any of this – reality – to Americans because 1. the US military wouldn’t let them get up close and personal and 2. they wanted to be “patriotic,” to buttress Bush and Cheney’s point of view/stave off the critics. How many American mothers and grandmothers would have sat by quietly and tolerated the Iraq War after seeing some of the news footage (probably used with permission from BBC and Arabic news station Al Jeerza) shown in Moore’s film? Not mine, that’s for sure.

George W. Bush (especially now that we can compare him to President Barack Obama) was the absolute worst president to have at this point in time. Partying with the US troops, arms around their shoulders for photos to be sent back home, Bush – the hypocritical assshole – cut veteran benefits, cut veteran health care, cut support for our veterans in ways both large and miniscule. In his own fucked-up/oblivious way, Bush waged his own economic war on the soldiers’ families back home.

And 9/11: How sad to watch the movie and see the President of the United States sit in a nursery school reading a little Golden Book about goats right AFTER being told that a jet plane had just flown into/blown up the World Trade Center tower. How pathetic that even after the second plane crashed into the second tower, Bush sat there until one of his people got him … . And then letting the Bin Laden family leave America on private jets after every other plane in America was grounded. That was obscenely stupid – even for Bush. I mean, any third-rate lawyer in Worcester would tell you there would have been nothing wrong with going to the Bin Ladens and … ASKING THEM QUESTIONS about their brother/uncle. But no! Instead, Bush and his cronies gave the Bin Laden clan a free pass, let them go. Then the Bushies set their sights on old guys in exercise  clubs or peaceniks in California – these people were arrested or “visited” by the FBI.

Barack Obama would have handled everything so differently. If only he had been “the decider” in 2001 and 2003 ….  

Thank God we have him now.

Attack of the Killer Asian Long-horned Beetles!!!!!

By Rosalie Tirella

This past Tuesday’s (March 10) Worcester City Council meeting played like something straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, say, “The Birds.” It was Worcester’s own thriller, teeming with horror: bizarre flying creatures who seemingly come out of  nowhere to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting  community; horror-stricken town (or in  this case) city inhabitants fighting for their precious way of life; mock terror-stricken, pandering politicians who try to give voice to the townspeople’s fears but end up demagogue-ing the crisis to death. And finally, a local mad-scientist type who tries to explain THE BIG PICTURE to everybody in the community – what the Attack of the Asian Long-horned Beetles is really all about. Continue reading Attack of the Killer Asian Long-horned Beetles!!!!!

Sneaking into town?

By Rosalie Tirella

Let’s hope the circus ISN’T coming to town! InCity Times has run several cover stories on Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. They come to Worcester in the fall – but also in the spring. Usually at last minute’s notice.  Usually to beat the bad press (except for the stupid Telegram and Gazette) that follows them.

We hope this grand city at some point chooses to keep all exotic animal acts out of town. Revere has banned wild/exotic animal “acts” and so have other US cities. More and more people are waking up to the fact that it is absolutley insane to cart wild tigers, lions and elephants around in un-airconditioned (in summer), un-heated (in winter) box cars, feed them the wrong stuff, and then whip them into doing things that are totally unnatural for them (except when they maul or kill a trainer). Why must we show our children animal torture? Why must they be a party to the suffering? Continue reading Sneaking into town?

Moving backwards, together

By Rosalie Tirella

So there we sat, the boyfriend and I, in Elm Park. Four years ago, on one of our first dates, we visited this grand ol’ urban oasis –  more excited about each other than the flora and fauna around us. Still, me being me, and “Mario” (he asked that I give him this silly pseudonym) being “Mario,” we began to take a GOOD LOOK at our city park. Mario lead the way, smoking his cigar, still wearing his work pants and tee-shirt. I followed, wearing pretty skirt and sun top. We found: park benches whose slats were missing or busted, huge cannon-ball-sized holes in the pond’s foot bridges (which also desperately needed to be repainted), broken bulbs atop the antiquish street lamps that circled the park’s pond. It was a sorry sight for a park with such a rich history – the oldest city park in America! Continue reading Moving backwards, together

The Worcester School Department can’t do the job

By Rosalie Tirella

We say go for it, Worcester City Council! Instead of putting up with the Worcester School Department’s human resources office and its incestuous ways, move the whole shee-bang over to the city side. School HR head Stacy Luster is not running a stand up human resources department. WPS teachers are not hired for their job skills or training. They got their jobs because they had relatives or pals in the Worcester Public School system. Stacy, who is an African-American, runs a system that has a miniscule number of black teachers or principals. She should be ashamed of herself. Several years ago, InCity Times did a cover story on the lilly white WP Schools. Ten Worcester public schools – many with minority-majority student populations – had ZERO  people of color in teaching or administrative positions. Talk about a lack of good role models! InCity Times and local neighborhood actvists made a stink over this. InCity Times urged Luster to go to some of the great African American colleges in the South – Spellman, Moorehouse – and do some serious recruiting. Did she listen? No. She just waved in all the friends and relatives of the politicians and big shots in town. Why? Probably not to make waves. Probably to keep the right people happy so she could keep her job! Some community leader!

Years ago, I talked with a Worcester Public School teacher who told me a teacher, especially in the ’60s, ’70s, had to be “mega-connected” to get a teaching job in the City of Worcester. Now you just have to be connected.

Please look at the uncertified teacher list! Many are special needs “teachers.” These pretenders should be shot. Working with Worcester’s most vulnerable students – and totally unqualified for their jobs! In Milford, a Special Needs teacher can’t step into a Special Needs class without the proper special needs certification. And after they get their job, they have to start working on their Master’s Degree. Not in Worcester. So, you’re certified to teach history? Well then, take over this Special Needs class filled with kids who may be on meds, emotionally troubled, struggling with school work.  Special Needs classes became a dumping ground for uncertified/unqualified teachers (in other words, people’s pals).

What a mess.

But we like the idea of having the WPS HR department taken over by the City of Worcester’s HR dept. By having all teachers’ paper work and people’s resumes in City Hall – not Irving Street – we may get a hiring process that is more equitable. Yes, the School Committee needs to have their say. And no way should someone who doesn’t know the proper rules be allowed to hire teachers. Like  StacyLuster has been doing for years … .

Going to the dogs?

By Rosalie Tirella

Now that the Worcester Police Department is responsible for animal control, we wonder: do the cops know anything about Worcester’s feral cats/stray cats pandemic? Can they track down and shut down the pitbull fighting rings in the city (folks say there is one on Southbridge Street)? And what about being able to deal with animals that are hungry, wounded, abused? Can our cops treat these animals with dignity?

It is sad driving around Wormtown and seeing all the pitbull puppies. Some are so teeny. Others are older – six months or so – teenagers. Usually they are being walked by a thug.  I saw a disheartening scene one day in our inner-city: One thug yells to another who is walking his female pitbull: “So when is she gonna have puppies? I want a girl.”  Yes, of course you do, asshole. That way you can breed her and make a quick $50 or $100 off her puppies – just like the thug you’re talking to plans on doing.

I’ve seen the same young pitbull in the same Piedmont neighborhood yard for three consecutive days now – in the wind, in the rain – chewing on big, broken-down cardboard boxes. The yard is enclosed but that doesn’t make the situation OK. Who leaves a puppy out in a rainstorm? People who don’t care about animals that’s who. Most likely they treat their kids, spouses, even neighborhood with the same callousness.

So, good luck, Worcester Police Force. The Worcester Animal Rescue League had a great guy who used to investigate animal abuse. They had to let him go because of a lack of funding. He really did his job – not like the jamokes in the City’s Animal Control Dept. But  now we don’t have to worry about their incompetence.

Now we will see what the WPD has to offer animals in pain. Police Chief Gemme is supposed to be a stand up guy. Here’s hoping he stands up for animals.

If you see an abandoned animal or one in trouble, call WARL. They can point you in the right direction. Their phone #: 508.853.0030

The Worcester Police Department complaint/biz line (for what it’s worth): 508.799.8606

Disappointed in Dave …

By Rosalie Tirella

Worcester City Clerk David Rushford loses three clerks and he’s throwing a royal hissy fit! Yep! Rushford, who also runs the Worcester Election Commissions Office, wants to close his City Clerk office – the taxpayers’ office –  at 2:30 p.m. instead of at the usual 5 p.m. (and collect the same humungus salary, we suspect). You know, so Rushford’s palsy walsy with Nick K. at the T & G, but that doesn’t mean the old T & G reporter needs to become Rushford’s personal stenographer. Nick shouldn’t jump every time some city haller loses his job or a few staffers and then threatens all hell will break loose now that they aren’t part of the scenery. (Nick, these people are using you!)

A quick recap: Rushford is threatening the city: if you don’t give me back my three clerks, I close down this office at 2:30 p.m. – not at 5 p.m. I will not do the city’s business – important business like marriage and death certificates, voter registration, dog licences, etc. It’s funny: Rushford gladly volunteered to take over the Election Commission Office a few years ago – the extra chores were no problemo, he said (and of course he got a pay raise). But now that he’s lost three people – he’s got a gaggle of clerks helping him on Main Street – he’s lost it! He threatens the Worcester taxpayer – just like he did earlier, when he said automated telephones/receptionists would replace the live bodies who now answer the phones in his office. Remember, David, you run an office that could be run by a new City Clerk, if you’re ever disgusted enough to leave town. But you won’t! (Why would you?!)

Love him or hate him, DPW and Parks head honcho Robert Moylan has been doing his job with a hell of a lot fewer people for years. Molylan, up until this latest budget crisis, hasn’t pulled crap like this (except for the closing of the city pools). He’s never said to the City: Well, that’s it, we don’t have the people. The doors at the DPW office will close in the middle of the afternoon. Good fuckin’ luck, Worcester!

Rushford needs to get a grip and do the best he can with what he’s got, instead of issuing ultimatums through the press. Remember, there’s always someone willing to do your job (probably just as well or almost as well) – and keep your shop open til 5 p.m.

Thank you, God!

By Rosalie Tirella

There is a God!

Finally, the State of Massachusetts is pulling the plug on the Quinn Bill – the millions and millions of dollars that may as well have been flushed down the crapper but instead were given as bon bons to Worcester (and all the other municipal) cops who took high-school-part-2 classes at Anna Maria College.  Why? So that this city can pretend we have an educated police force. Why again? So that police officers who already make a load of dough can make a shit load of dough, if they snooze through the Quinn Bill classes. The classes don’t do anything to make them more enlightened cops. A good brain, a heart and an in-shape body, along with knowledge and love of your community, make you a great cop. And a Catholic liberal arts school like Anna Maria needs to get out of the cop-training business. It’s just a way for them to make a ton of money easily.

Now the City of Worcester will have to pay Anna Maria millions of dollars, if we want our police officers to go through the Quinn program. We know that won’t happen. Hooray!

You want “educated” cops? How about a residency requirement for all Worcester cops? How about a few internships with the Rape Crisis Center or Friendly House or some other great social service agency in town?  How about a mini-course in customer service? There are so many dismissive, rude, red-faced, apopleptic, stressed-out, sloppy, slap-happy cops out there. How about giving them a Miss Manners handbook, to go along with their guns and night sticks?

So there HE is …

By Rosalie Tirella

the love of my life?

That’s what I thought to myself yesterday as I watched my boyfriend pat my dog Bailey’s head. I laughed when I saw “Mario” (he asked me to give him this silly pseudonym) tap, tap, tap Bailey’s skull, which has grown more pronounced in the past few weeks as he’s lost some weight. Mario didn’t stroke or smooch my big Nova Scotia hunting dog – something I do almost on an hourly basis since Bailey was diagnosed with a malignant nasal cancer. No, Mario, said it all with a few tap, tap, taps right above Bailey’s big, watery, brown eyes. A few minutes earlier he had paid the vet/oncologist more than $500 for chemo meds and a consultation. Just last week Mario – who is incredibly frugal – dropped another $500 or so at another vet’s office for head and chest x-rays for Bailey, plus the biopsy of the tumor which Bailey “sneezed” out the night before.

I had called Mario that night when Bailey began wheezing – and the blood began streaming from his left nostril. The little nose bleeds he had been happening for a half year I pretty much ignored. Knowing something was wrong I pretended nothing was wrong. I simply wiped Bailey’s pink nose with Kleenex, as if my guy had a little cold. But that night – well, the apartment looked like a murder scene Bailey was bleeding so profusely. When I woke up at 2 a.m. to Bailey’s incredible wheezing, there was blood smeared on the lower part of the front door. A trail of blood drops in the front hall. It seemed Bailey couldn’t breathe – as if this giagantic loogie was stuck in his nose and he just couldn’t get it out. Until he did. That’s when I saw this deep red, glistening thing near the bureau. “A blood clot,” I said to myself. “Bailey sneezed out a blood clot.” But when I bent down and picked it up with a sandwich baggie, it felt hard and knotty. A closer look: tangles of flesh. “A tumor,” I said.

Then I called Mario. “I don’t want to lose Bailey!” I cried. “He can’t breathe! There’s blood everywhere!” I reached over to my dog and kissed him and put my head up against his big chest.

“Do you want me to come over?” Mario said quietly. He always talks in hushed tones. People mistake his soft voice for softness in general – weakness. They couldn’t be more wrong. Mario is the toughest man I have ever met/known. And one of the smartest. A killer combo. I call him my Injun fighter because he looks like General Custer in those old Wild West posters – hair streaming in the wind, handsome, weather-beaten face. It’s guy’s like Mario who settled the West – men with brains, guts and guns. He is an anachronism. His love for rough justice, his moral code, which is hard, attracts me. When I look at him, I am still captivated.

But I digress. When Mario called, I told Mario I was OK, that I would take the dog to the vet tomorrow. I said I could not afford to pay for what I thought would be Bailey’s fate. Mario said nothing and then: Meet you at the vet tomorrow.

And he did. And he gave the secretary his credit card after a print out of the services (bill) was presented to us. (It was 3 pages long.) Mario did all this without fanfare – just like the light tap, tap, tap on Bailey’s old head. Nothing showy. Infact, the gesture could have been interpreted as LACK of affection, if you didn’t know him.  Then: I had an epiphany: Mario was always there for me – no matter how grisly the situation. Mario loved me. Mario loved Bailey. Mario loved my mom. He even loved my crazy little newspaper! Even when he once said to me, in utter exasperation: “I’m sick of going out with Clark Kent!”

“You mean Lois Lane!” I retorted. But I knew what he meant.

Sitting in the vet’s office the other day, with my dying dog, I saw Mario for what he was: a guy in love with me.

It felt great.