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… 7 p.m., City Hall, Main Street. Click here for agenda!
And here’s Bob singing a Christmas classic! Fun and weird! It’s Dylan – what did you expect??? … – R. T.
From The Guardian. To see more pics, click here! - R. T.
By Michael Gaffney, Worcester City Councilor at Large-elect
There has been continuous discussion about the lack of diversity in City employment and on the volunteer boards and commissions here in Worcester. For all the pontification and debates, the evidence is clear, the lack of diversity continues. In fact, things have gotten worse.
Let’s consider the volunteer boards and commissions as an example. Men currently make up 69% of the membership on boards and commissions while women comprise 31%. Of the men, 13% are minorities while 7% of the women are minorities. This is actually a decrease from 2012. Worcester’s minorities comprise nearly 40% of the City’s population. There is a significant issue in representation.
The process of getting onto a volunteer board or commission requires an interested person to apply through the City’s Human Resource department, then is interviewed in an open meeting by the Citizen’s Advisory Council (hereinafter “CAC”), and, if voted forward by the CAC, the applicant is further interviewed by representatives from Human Resources, the board they applied for and the City Manager’s office who ultimately decides whether the applicant is appointed to the board or commission. The City Council does vote to officially appoint them, but it is more of a formality.
In light of this, it makes one wonder, with a process that is supposed to be open and available to all who are interested, why we continue to have an issue with diversity.
One cause could be that the CAC can be bypassed. The City Manager can directly appoint a candidate to a board or commission without that person coming before the CAC and without an interview. That candidate is then voted onto the board or commission by the City Council as a formality. Unfortunately, those with connections to the City Manager’s office including some members of the City Council may use this bypass system to get their friends and supporters appointed to boards and commissions.
Candidates have also been able to slip through the backdoor process where they applied for a board or commission, were approved by the CAC for one board, did not pass the interview for that board, but the City Manager’s office appointed them to another. Again, this happens due to a request by those with connections to the City Manager’s office, including some on the City Council.
Another cause is that there is no feedback provided to the applicant or the CAC to explain why a candidate who is voted forward does not pass the interview. Both the CAC and the applicant are left in the dark. It is a perfect system for controlling the results while maintaining the farce of fair dealing by using the CAC as a straw man and scapegoat in the process. How can you blame the volunteers on the CAC when they can be circumvented and, even when they are not circumvented, the decision to appoint a person is out of their hands? Yet time and again the finger is pointed at the CAC as the root cause of the problem.
Next, you consider City employment. Where the City of Worcester has a budget of $1,091,347.00 per year for Human Resources, but can’t seem to find qualified minority candidates, it is clear that the criteria, outreach and evaluation procedure is similarly flawed. If political favoritism exists for unpaid, volunteer positions on boards and commissions, it is reasonable to assume that similarities exist in paid positions. A full audit and rewrite of the hiring practices must be undertaken.
Once I assume my seat on the City Council I will oppose any candidate for appointment on any volunteer board or commission that should have, but did not go through the CAC and will oppose any candidate that was not interviewed by the CAC for the position being appointed.
Further, I will demand the following data, on a five year look back basis, from the City Manager’s office:
- The number of candidates appointed to boards and commissions that were not voted forward by the CAC.
- The gender and race of the candidates that were directly appointed by the City Manager’s office.
- The number of candidates that were voted forward by the CAC that were appointed to a board or commission that was not the board or commission to which they were voted forward for appointment by the CAC.
- The gender and race of the candidates so appointed in #3.
- Rejections of candidates voted forward by the CAC by gender and race.
- The name of any party that requested that the City Manager appoint a person to a board or commission without said person applying through the CAC.
I firmly believe that diversity is a force multiplier because my experience in the military and in management. Further, allowing these practices to continue is fundamentally unfair and undermines the principals of our democracy. This is about a fair and open process and even one applicant is turned away or given favor during the process, it is one too many.
I firmly believe that there are members of the Worcester City Council that are not part of the establishment that are unaware of the above processes and have been frustrated by the lack of progress being made. I look forward to working with them to act rather than talk.
… for our holiday music postings! Last year I shared with you a ton of female artists/singers in full-throated bloom – and urged you to NEVER FORGET THEM. These were/are the women singer/songwriters/rock stars I have been listening to since I was a young girl. They changed my world, in the way music and books can mark you when you are 16 or 17. I urged you to buy their CDs, etc for the girls/young women in your life.
This year I want to focuse on the GREAT AMERICAN MOVIE MUSICAL! So many folks have forgotten the amazing music/dance that spelled A-M-E-R-IC-A! They think it’s all very corny. Pshawww!!!!!!!! My late mom loved musicals – like most folks of the WW II generation – and coralled me and my kids sisters to watch Cabaret or Fiddler on the Roof in our Green Island living room (heated with a little space heater!) with her. My mother’s speaking voice was deepish and kinda sexy, but her singing voice was atrocious! So she whistled instead – entire songs! My mother was the best whistler I’ve ever heard! She could have won whistling contests! She was joyful when she whistled! We girls perked up whenever we heard her “tweet” melodies! When we watched musicals together on our TV my sisters and I, along with Ma, were transported out of our hard-edged world to a magical place. It felt wonderful … it felt like Christmas!
So here we go! LIZA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Rosalie Tirella
By Edith Morgan
Are we still going “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house” – to get together with family and eat a traditional meal? This year, as so many years before, I am the “grandmother”, and we are once again coming together at my home, to feast on turkey, cranberries, squash, pies, and any other goodies brought in . There won’t be a lot of formal talk about what we are all grateful for this Thanksgiving, but I believe we are all very much aware of what we have. Just sharing a great meal, and being under the same roof for some hours, these are precious times that we treasure, as life seems so much more hurried and busy nowadays, and so many of us are scattered around the country. I have been very lucky that so many of my “extended family” are only a short drive away and keep in touch throughout the year.
Of course, in many families, including mine, there occurs the great “separation” after the meal, when men and boys (and some girls and women nowadays) end up in the living room watching “the game”, while quietly, unbidden, several mothers and wives carry everything into the kitchen, wrap leftovers, stack dishes into the dishwasher, and scour pots and pans. And so I get to sit down, visit, chat, and snack on leftover pie and whipped cream, while we all catch our breath after overloading on rich calories….
But I try to spend a lot of time considering what there is to be thankful for: those of us who usually see the glass as half full, instead of focusing on the empty half, can always find much reason for gratitude.
Let us divide the areas into categories of importance;
Globally, let us be thankful that we are pretty much disengaged from two hideous shooting wars, and that Iraqis and Afghans can begin the great task of building their own countries; that there seems to be more awareness that we have to care for this small lovely planet, and that we are, in fact, responsible for much of its degradation – and that we managed to solve a problem in Syria by negotiating rather than blowing up everyone.
I am also grateful to the people of Massachusetts, my adopted state, that they have always been leaders in education, health care, and protection of the environment..
After working at the polls all day on election day, I am grateful to all those who came out and voted (Yes, there should have been many more!!!), thoughtfully made their choices, and ended up with a blend of old and new faces – who will guide Worcester for the next two years hopefully along the paths we have begun, and inspire all of us to keep in touch with them and feed them ideas that can continue to keep Worcester going forward.
And finally, on a personal note, I have embarked on a great adventure at age 83: I got married in September, and I am so very grateful to so many friends and family ,for their good wishes and support.
But most of all I am thankful to my husband Guy, for his persistence and his love and generosity.
And so I wish for all of you who read this that you too will have much for which to be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!!
By Alisa Mullins
A New Hampshire turkey farmer was in the news recently because of his unorthodox practice of giving his turkeys beer. One might naturally wonder whether this is inhumane since it could possibly make the turkeys drunk or ill, but he assures potential customers that turkeys “don’t seem to be the brightest, so they could stumble and you wouldn’t know if they drank too much or not.”
This farmer’s turkey husbandry may be out of the ordinary, but he’s pretty run-of-the-mill when it comes to insulting the birds’ intelligence. But are turkeys really that dumb? Not according to people who don’t have an interest in perpetuating the idea that they are little more than walking Thanksgiving centerpieces.
Ben Franklin called turkeys “a Bird of Courage.” He had tremendous respect for their resourcefulness and agility. So does retired Oregon State University poultry scientist Tom Savage, who says turkeys are “smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings.”
Perhaps no one has a deeper insight into the workings of a turkey’s mind than naturalist Joe Hutto, star of the remarkable PBS documentary My Life as a Turkey. Hutto raised a flock of turkeys from birth and learned how alert, affectionate and observant they are. Turkeys possess “an extraordinary intelligence characterized by true problem-solving reason, and a consciousness that was undeniable, at all times conspicuous, and for me, humbling,” says Hutto. The young turkeys were keen observers of their environment, always noticed if anything—a fallen branch or a patch of disturbed earth—had changed and, if so, would carefully examine it. Hutto also noted that they had an extensive vocabulary, with specific vocalizations for individual animals, and he identified more than 30 specific calls.
Turkeys also have excellent vision and are able to recognize and distinguish between different humans. “I found that the turkeys were in fact suspicious of other people even at a great distance and could … discriminate between me and anyone else from a quarter of a mile!” Hutto says.
One turkey, named Sweet Pea, loved to climb into Hutto’s lap and curl up like a contented puppy.
Lest you think Hutto’s turkeys were unique, people who get to know rescued turkeys at sanctuaries report that they are similarly curious and discriminating.
Erik Marcus, the author of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, reports that turkeys “remember your face and they will sit closer to you with each day you revisit. Come back day after day and, before long, a few birds will pick you out as their favorite and they will come running up to you whenever you arrive. It’s definitely a matter of the birds choosing you rather than of you choosing the birds.”
Yet chickens and turkeys aren’t even considered animals by the federal government. They are inexplicably excluded from the Humane Slaughter Act, the only federal law that provides any protection for animals in slaughterhouses, which means that it is perfectly legal for chickens and turkeys to have their throats slit without prior stunning and to be dunked into the scalding-hot water of defeathering tanks while still conscious.
More than 210 million turkeys are killed every year in the U.S.—46 million at Thanksgiving alone. Most of them are raised on factory farms, where they are confined by the thousands to windowless sheds. They are forced to stand in their own waste, and ammonia fumes burn their eyes and lungs. In order to prevent stress-induced fighting, their upper beaks are cut off with a red-hot blade, and to make them grow abnormally large abnormally quickly, they are genetically manipulated and fed growth-promoting drugs, which leads to painful, crippled legs and heart attacks. Turkeys are slaughtered when they are still babies, just 5 to 6 months old.
It’s bad enough that all these terrible things are done to turkeys without literally adding insult to injury by belittling and demeaning them. Maybe it makes people feel better about eating these inquisitive, sensitive birds to mock them and sneer at them, but if any of us had an ounce of decency, it should make us feel infinitely worse.
By Rosalie Tirella
… I say HOORAY! !!!!!
Now that city leaders have picked a person who’s known for being a sensitive, good man … Now that we’ve traded Mike “Bloomberg” O’Brien for Ed “de Blasio” Augustus … Now that we have a city manager who is a little more keyed into kids and poverty …. Now that we have a new guy, Ed Augustus, who served on the Worcester School Committee and worked at the Children’s Defense Fund and was instumental in having Holy Cross sponsor our public library book-mobile (books and DVD s for our inner-city kids and adults) … Now that we have a city manager who HAS A HEART and is not a dictatorial workaholic manager-bot …
Why not have him null and void all fees for poor kids and families when it comes to THE ICE OVAL?????? Or, at the very least, WORK WITH LOCAL SPORTING GOOD STORES TO HAVE THEM DONATE A TON OF NEW ICE SKATES FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES TO USE ON THE OVAL FOR FREE?
That freaking municipal skating rink, financed by the people’s dough, taxes, sitting smack dab in the middle (well, sorta) on our city COMMON, has been stuck in my throat like a wayward turkey bone at Thanksgiving Day dinner! That skating rink should be FREE TO ALL. It’s on public land, it was built by public funds! Former City Manager hit a new nadir when he decided to lock poor Worcesterites off their property, when he turned poor Woo kids into charity cases by designating” special” days for them to skate on the Ice Oval. Like special school field trips.
I cannot wait until this city gives this city manager the heave ho. Ok, so he chose to bail on us …
Good people of Woo, O’Brien’s January departure is a good thing! This Thanksgiving Day let us be thankful for Ed Augustus!
While the ascension of Augustus was a tad … politically murky, he’s a most excellent choice! He has brains and a heart!
Here’s hoping his love of kids, especially those who may not be the richest babes in toyland, guides him to do the right thing with our Ice Oval.
All children and families should be able to skate on the Ice Oval. Any time they wanna have some winter fun!
Happy Thanksgiving to Woo!!!!!
It’s OK to hang out on street corners, Gary! (for now!) …. First Circuit Court grants partial injunction against Worcester anti-panhandling ordinanceTuesday, November 26th, 2013
First Circuit Court grants partial injunction against anti-panhandling ordinance in Worcester
Ban on begging “30 minutes before dark” would have prohibited asking for money around 4pm each day during the Christmas season.
WORCESTER — The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has granted an injunction against part of an anti-panhandling ordinance that went into effect in Worcester earlier this year. While judges review the case further, the ordinance’s ban on “soliciting any person in public after dark, which shall mean the time from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise” cannot be enforced.
“We are grateful for this first step,” said ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts cooperating attorney Kevin Martin, from the law firm Goodwin Procter LLP. “If the Court had not issued this order, people—including not only the homeless but also others such as Salvation Army volunteers—would have been barred from seeking charitable donations starting at about 4 p.m. each day during this holiday season.”
In May 2013, the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts and Goodwin Procter filed suit in federal court in Worcester on behalf of three Worcester residents to block two anti-panhandling ordinances enacted by the City of Worcester, claiming the ordinances violate the constitutional right to peacefully solicit donations in public and to engage the public in political and other speech. The federal district court denied plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction—which would have prevented the City from enforcing the ordinances while the suit proceeded—and plaintiffs appealed that denial in November 2013 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The appeal is expected to be argued in January 2014.
One of the new anti-begging ordinances prevents people from doing things such as holding a sign asking for help starting a half-hour before sunset, or performing music while having a hat or cup for donations, or soliciting donations for any cause if they are within 20 feet of the entrance to a bus stop, theater, ATM machine or any other “place of public assembly.”
The second ordinance prohibits standing on traffic islands, a location favored for years by people soliciting donations and engaging in protected speech, including Worcester-area politicians and their supporters, various churches, the Salvation Army, and firefighter organizations raising funds for charity.
For more information about the case, go to:
Teddy Bear Tea
Saturday, December 7 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Members: Adults $12.00 / Children: $10.00
Non-members: Adults $15.00 / Children $12.00
Bring the whole family for day a of holiday fun at WHM’s Teddy Bear Tea! Experience the magic as the Pumpernickel Puppets come to life, enjoy sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, and get a teddy bear checkup with Nurse Michelle from Fallon Community Health Plan in our Teddy Bear Clinic.
Registration is required, call 508.753.8278
Candlelight Tours of Salisbury Mansion
Fridays, December 6-27 from 4:30 PM-6:30 PM
Free with museum admission
Learn how the holidays have been celebrated in two different decades with decorations evocative of the 1860s and 1960s throughout the period rooms of Salisbury Mansion. Bring the whole family for an evening you won’t forget!