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All over Green Island yesterday, on Millbury Street, Worcester police cruisers, state-ies, drug-/criminal-sniffing German Shepherds …

Friday, April 25th, 2014

By Rosalie Tirella

… Oh, my! I said to myself as I drove through the hood yesterday afternoon, running my biz!! So pretty out! So sunny out! Perfect day for a man hunt! Or a huge huge heroin bust!

There they were, three cops, on foot patrol, being led by a single minded German Shepherd dog who was pulling them into all the doorways of all the establishments on Millbury Street. Then the Worcester police cruisers with lights flashing (sirens off), then the state police cruisers with their lights on (also silent) filled the scene.

This city girl said: COOL! I wanna tag along!

In my car, driving slowly, gunking up traffic, I thought: This must be big! Maybe I’m in the middle of a search for a killer or drug-lord or just plain ol’ drugs! I stupidly followed the cops who were working diligently, with their dog. And I caught their adrenaline rush!

Cops may not wanna admit this but they must love the high of the chase, the adrenaline rush! On the edge! You have to think FAST! Very Steve McQueen! Some of their coolness rubbed off on me cuz I got fearless and giddy and felt EXCITED. The officers – two men in their 30s and a woman in her 30s – showed not a smidgen of fear. They smiled as they walked the hood with their lanky dog, and when a car tooted at them (not me!) the gal copper yelled at him: NOW THAT HELPS! Then she looked at her colleagues and smiled. She was beautiful and full of  herself! I like to see fearlessness in women doing dangerous jobs! I hope she is or becomes a mom and raises FEARLESS DAUGHTERS!

The German Shepherd dog had a mind of its own and led the police officers, all crisp and buff, up Endicott Street. I followed along in my jalopy, trying to snap photos.

Then they made a right onto Ward Street, their dog straining, putting his nose into people’s yards and then, as if thinking NOPE!,  moving on to the next property.

I called out to them! You have a beautiful working dog! Here’s mine – Jett! Jett was bounding up and down in the back seat, eager to jump out and play with the working dog, who didn’t even know we were there. HE WAS WORKING THAT HARD. One of the cops, nice enough, but with a smug little smile on his face, said: Ma’am, the dog is working right now!

I said, I know! Then I said who I was and told them I was snapping a few photos for the website and paper.  The cops, youngish and cocky, the queenie and her kings of the hood – until some punk maybe decided to shoot at them (or me!) from a window (everyone and his/her brother seems to own a gun in Worcester!) – looked at each other and grinned. I smiled back.

Spring in the city!

Horse racing’s daily double: drugs and death

Friday, March 28th, 2014

By Kathy Guillermo

It’s time for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to step in and clean up the thoroughbred racing industry’s addiction to drugs.

As The New York Times has just reported, over a period of four months, a PETA investigator worked for well-known trainer Steve Asmussen, trainer of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, at two of the most famous racetracks in America: Churchill Downs in Kentucky and the Saratoga Race Course in New York. PETA’s investigation exposed many serious problems but none more harmful than the routine, pervasive and improper use of prescription drugs during training, a regimen that has begun the downward spiral to the slaughterhouse for thousands of horses.

Fragile young horses—raced before their bones have fully matured and unable to handle the pounding and stress—suffer routinely from injuries, lameness, exhaustion and what is euphemistically called “soreness.” Owners don’t want to waste time waiting until foals are physically capable. They want to get the cash flow started.

PETA’s investigator saw veterinarians and stable hands, apparently on Asmussen’s orders, give horses an aggressive daily regimen of pain-masking and performance-enhancing drugs and treatments. These drugs often aren’t used for genuinely therapeutic purposes. Instead, they’re used to keep horses going when their legs and lungs are screaming, “Stop!” Horses in the racing industry are so routinely doped up that they’ve been called “chemical horses,” and their feet, bones and bodies are progressively destroyed as a result.

It’s little wonder that an average of 24 horses suffer catastrophic (fatal) breakdowns every week at racetracks across America.

One of Asmussen’s drugs of choice was thyroxine. Although it’s approved only as a prescription medication for horses with hypothyroidism, the drug was being administered to every horse in his barns, apparently without testing or evidence of any thyroid condition. This drug seems to have been recklessly administered just to speed up metabolism.

Thyroxine was also detected in the systems of several horses who had mysteriously died in the barns of another major trainer, Bob Baffert. The necropsy report on Baffert’s horses stated, “The drug, thyroxine, was so routinely prescribed in the Baffert barn that it was dispensed for one of the horses a week after he had died.”

Horses in Asmussen’s Saratoga stables were also given Lasix, which dehydrates the animals and makes them lighter and faster. Lasix is legal to use in New York for the right purpose—to prevent bleeding in the lungs—but not to shave a few seconds off a horse’s running time. This controversial drug is banned on race day in Europe.

PETA’s investigator also witnessed the drugging of horses day after day with muscle relaxants, sedatives and other potent pharmaceuticals used for treating ailments such as ulcers, lameness and inflammation—seemingly without regard for the long-term effects on the horses’ welfare.

Trainers will do just about anything to gain an advantage. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens joked about jockeys who used concealed battery-powered shocking devices on horses. The prized horse Nehro, who came in second in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, was forced to race on painful, chronically damaged feet, and his hooves were in such bad shape that one of them was held together at one point with super glue. PETA’s investigator also found that many undocumented laborers were hired and forced to work long hours for little pay in difficult, dangerous jobs.

PETA has filed 10 legal complaints at both the federal and state level, and we’re working for the passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2013, a federal bill that would put the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (the same agency that investigated Lance Armstrong) in charge of drug enforcement in horse racing. Everyone reading this can also make a difference by refusing to patronize or bet on horse races.

Ron’s urban diary: Merry Christmas, Worcester Police Officer Thomas Daly!

Friday, December 27th, 2013

By Ron O’Clair

I am pleased to have spoken with you yesterday outside the “ground zero” property that I have managed for the last decade as the Building & Property Superintendent of 703-711 Main Street. I had been watching activity from the front seat of my vintage 1995 Chevrolet full size van with 56,565 original miles when you had passed by my block on your way around to end up coming down Charlton Street, where I motioned you to a stop as I was exiting my vehicle.

I thought at first glance that you were Officer Jon Kachadoorian, whom I have come to know from my route, and who is an exceptional example of Worcester’s finest. I authored him a nice letter of commendation for the assistance he provided to me when my other vehicle, the 4X4 GMC pick-up with the minute mount plow had been broken into and I caught one of the crack whores that frequent my neighborhood asleep inside what had been a locked vehicle until I caught her inside and yanked her out by her feet. The story was in one of the 4 editions of the InCity Times that I gave you to read for your enjoyment.

I was pleased that you took a couple of minutes out of your busy day to speak with me, and I truly enjoyed the experience. It is refreshing to note the recent change of attitudes displayed as regards me by the various members of the department that I have been trying to enlist as allies in my crusade to retake the streets in my area from the criminal conspiracy to traffic narcotics that has been an ongoing problem here for the entire decade of my responsibility as the building superintendent, and seven more years that I was a resident of the rooming house before that.

It was not always so, and I have the chapters to prove it.

We are all in this together, and need to work together to turn the tide for a better future for the City of Worcester, which I hope to make the first community in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to be able to succeed where so many others have failed utterly to maintain the peace, restore civility in the streets, and make the streets safe for all to use and enjoy without fear as they go on about their legal and lawful business.

It is my plan to bring the different factions that are working very hard, each in their own unique way to lead the lost sheep that despoil my neighborhood back into the fold, in a united effort to combine forces and work together towards the common goal of rehabilitation and treatment of the drug and alcohol addicted who are a continual drain on the resources of the various agencies, yet repeatedly relapse back into the same old routine after incarceration or treatment for their addictive behaviors.
The majority of these people pick up the needle or the crack pipe the very same day they are returned to the streets of our community after a period of forced withdrawal via arrest and detainment for one violation of the law or another in the long list of crimes they commit daily to support their drug habits.

The way it is now, all these factions are pulling in different directions, and it is as if we were in a round lifeboat in a sea of anarchy, with everyone pulling away from everyone else in chaos, getting the boat nowhere fast. The plain and simple truth of the matter is that the addicted take the handouts meant to help them, and find ways to use the assistance to further their addiction, rather than get clean and sober. Whatever they receive in the way of well meaning help is turned into revenue to buy more drugs.

The only way treatment will ever work, is that you have to get the addicted to want to change, and to better themselves with an invasive program of recovery aimed at enabling them to see that there is hope for a better future, and that they are all worthy of redemption.
It is a multifaceted enigma that has boggled the best minds in the business as to how to go about the task. I have spent the better part of my life studying the human condition, and have much knowledge acquired at great cost to me in personal sacrifice. Having over thirty years in the fellowship myself, I have seen and heard every excuse there is for why people continue to destroy themselves with alcohol and drug abuse.

I will safely estimate that over 85% of the crime that goes on daily in our City of Worcester can be laid squarely on the doorstep of drug and alcohol addiction, and the continual struggle to feed the habits of the drug addicted. There is a vast underground economy that revolves around stolen goods and services that are bartered for drugs.

There has emerged a counterculture that is so wrapped up in the throes of addiction since the introduction of crack cocaine to the mix of available drugs being sold on the streets of our fair city. I see them each and every day and night from my perch here with the birds eye view at ground zero. It does not take a rocket scientist to know what they are doing, and they have become so brazen that you can not only see them in the act, you can hear them making the deals out in the open with no fear of being apprehended. Click to continue »

Worcester Police Dept. needs ShotSpotter – another crime-fighting tool for our urban tool-box!

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

By Sue Moynagh

This past Election Day, I had an informative conversation with a neighbor as we did standout for our respective candidates. We have a lot in common. We are both long time residents of Worcester’s Union Hill neighborhood. We attended the same church, school, shopped in local stores and walked on the same streets. We have both seen the changes in our community, the ups and downs, and we hang in there, hoping to effect changes for the better in the future. She spoke of the high crime rate on her street; drugs, violence and shootings. We both hear the gun shots, especially at night, and we are both glad of the response we are getting from the city, especially the police department. The latest “weapon” in the battle against crime could be ShotSpotter. What is ShotSpotter? What are the pros and cons? And why do I favor its use in this community?

First, I want to give an update on this war against crime. This past July, a community engagement meeting was held at Worcester Academy announcing that a special Community Policing Precinct was being formed for the Union Hill neighborhood. This is in response to the increase in violent crimes in this area, especially those involving guns. The Precinct involves the Police Operations Division, which works in conjunction with the Vice Squad and Detective Division to focus on problem situations within the community. In the first week, there were 7 coordinated drug busts and a large number of persons with outstanding warrants were apprehended. Large numbers of illegal abandoned or unregistered vehicles were also towed. The police officers are now walking throughout the streets of Union Hill, and you can see patrol cars everywhere. There is also a greater state police presence now that they have opened a division at 81 Lafayette Street along with the Attorney General’s office. What does this mean for the neighborhood safety?

In the past week, I have seen numerous state and Worcester police cruisers on Harrison, Dorchester, Madison, and Providence Streets. Cars are being stopped. When people see such an expanded police presence, there is a perception that it is safer. As one local businessman said, “People feel more secure. They are out walking, with kids, with baby strollers. There are more kids playing in the parks.” Unfortunately, there are still problems, including gunfire. More is needed to increase public safety in Union Hill and adjacent neighborhoods. This brings me to the ShotSpotter initiative.

I first heard about ShotSpotter at a CSX Neighborhood Advisory Committee that meets once a month to discuss funding proposals for three Worcester districts most impacted by the opening of the CSX railroad freight yard on Shrewsbury and Grafton Streets. The first meeting I attended was held at North High School in March. I testified that Union Hill was impacted by the CSX freight yard, and should receive mitigation money. A number of projects were proposed including the installation of 12 surveillance cameras along Providence Street and the surrounding streets. This would cost approximately $35,000 for stationary surveillance cameras. As far as I am concerned, anything that would give police added information to apprehend criminals is worth it. At the September CSX meeting, members of the Worcester Police Department gave a presentation of the ShotSpotter technology. A follow- up presentation was made in October. Click to continue »

A sobering experience in Worcester’s innercity

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

By Ron O’Clair

Morris “Moe” Bergman, Worcester City Councilor at-Large-elect, made a campaign promise: To increase the eviction laws to help property owners speedily evict troublesome tenants who are involved in illegal or detrimental activities as indicated by the following statement that comes right off of his campaign mailer to voters. Here it is, and I quote: “Moe Bergman wants to expand existing nuisance eviction laws to help residents, police and property owners to quickly and permanently remove from neighborhoods individuals committing gun/gang/drug related crimes.”

A recent experience that I had with a couple that I shall refer to as “Fred & Wilma” along with numerous other incidents over the years that I have been the building and property superintendent of 703 – 711 Main Street makes that pledge stand out as particularly pertinent to the rooming house I manage as part of the property that I am the responsible party for.

When a vacancy occurs in the rooming house, it is part of my duties as the building superintendent to prepare the room for rental, accept applications from potential tenants, and interview those tenants to see if they will be an asset or a detriment to the tenants that are already housed within the building. It has been my experience over the years that drugs and alcohol usage and abuse are the primary factors that destroy the peace, serenity, and safety of the building.

With that in mind, the owner, Julio Romero and I publicly posted our intention to make the rooming house a clean & sober living environment at the height of the insanity some years back. I had several tenants at that time involved in illicit activities that made living here almost intolerable, and even though we went through the legal process of eviction of these longstanding tenants, they refused to leave causing us further anguish and expense with unpaid rents accumulating to unrealistic amounts.

This was due to the fact that if a tenant that has established a tenancy, (which takes longer than a week by the way) loses the case in Housing Court for non-payment and is ordered by the Housing Court to leave by a certain date and fails to do so, the owner has no legal recourse other than to have the Sheriffs Constables carry out the eviction by force, with a moving company being paid to store the deadbeats possessions for three months at the landlords expense.

This process is very expensive and the landlord not only loses the back rent, they are on the hook for a considerable sum of money to carry out the eviction. When he went through that in 2003 with a tenant who owed a lot of money and was running a drug store out of the rear parking lot window, it cost Julio $2,500.00 more to remove the tenant and even though the rooms are furnished when rented, the moving company took all the furnishings along with the belongings against my objection.

So Julio had the further expense of replacing the furniture.

When Senor Romero took possession of the building from Paul M. Berger in March of 2003, 7 out of the 11 rooms on one side of the rooming house had tenants that were involved in illegal drug sales activity and the place was known as a place to score the drug of choice the buyers were looking for.

There was an all night stream of deadbeats, hookers, crack heads, junkies and thieves parading in and out of the building, using the bathroom facilities reserved for tenant use only to take showers and shoot up in, making it impossible for those that paid rent to use their own bathrooms, or be secure in their possessions due to the frequency of break-ins to the individual rooms while they were out.

In addition to those who were doing and selling drugs, we had others who were severe alcoholics and would cause all sorts of problems while intoxicated beyond belief to the point of being a danger to the other tenants by attempting to cook in an inebriated condition and causing fires when they failed to attend to the task properly.

There were numerous knock down, dragged out fights caused by the drunks becoming violent or mouthy under the influence. They also endangered themselves by falling down the stairs in a drunken stupor, requiring emergency medical services to have to come take them to the hospital. The police were called frequently as a result, taking them away from more important matters.

Julio was beside himself, ruing the day he ever got involved with purchasing the building, and watched as the investment of his life savings was threatened to be taken from him by the City of Worcester like 5 Sycamore Street had been shortly before. In fact many years later, Barbara Haller, former District 4 City Councilor admitted to me that the process had begun, and this building was the next one that the City planned to take in an effort to combat lawlessness in this neighborhood that is adjacent to the then location of the PIP shelter. Click to continue »

The “nursing” home

Monday, July 16th, 2012

By Rosalie Tirella

“I think she was sick before she got here,” the nurse at the rehab/nursing home (Holy Trinity on Barber Ave.) told me.

I had just left my mom’s room and walked to the nurse’s station at the end of the corridor to voice my concerns to the gaggle of nurses in charge of the care of a couple of dozen “patients” stricken with mild to moderate demetia – including my mom who is also there for “rehab” after a fall in her studio apartment. I am alarmed because I have never seen my mom so ill, so stuck in illness, a tube carrying oxygen to her lungs stuck up her nose, her arm bruised from the poking of IV needles. There she is, in her half of her “new” room (nice roommate) sitting alone in her wheelchair, her head bent forward, snoozing quietly.

When I visit my mom (almost every day), she seems awefully sleepy. Today, when I first entered her room, she was asleep again – totally alone, her head hanging forward again – how uncomfortable! How I missed her old pale pink wingback chair that she parked her little butt in for years as she watched cable news, catholic mass and the Red Sox. You are always in a wheel chair! I told her last time I visited. She said: It’s so comfortable, it doesn’t even feel like I am in a wheel chair.

I did some inspecting and, yes, there was lots of foam, a pillow behind her back, etc. “She’s languishing!” I screamed inside my head. I told myself: This is what people told me would happen if I stuck my mom in a nursing home.

There would be no recovery – only the slow (or speedy) descent into … death.

Where is her comfy wing back chair?!

“Ma,” do you want me to buy you a cute little easy chair for the window?” I ask her one time.

“No, no. I like this.”

“She’s always bounced back,” I tell the nursing home nurse, trying not to show my alarm. I should know! I was her primary care giver for more than four years. Every time she fell in her studio apartment, I sprang into action and rescued her! Saved my mom from the jaws of death. I was always PRESENT, following the ambulance that took her to Memorial Hospital, confering with the doctors/interns (kids) there, being nice to a passel of nurses and social workers, being nasty, threatening with a column when people seemed unresponsive – whatever it took to make my mother well again! I was the miracle lady! And my mom – 85 – always returned home! To her cat, her rosaries, her prayers, her little kitchen and coffee maker.

I don’t want to piss these nurses off, get off to a bad start with them, I tell myself. This could be a permanent thing. They take care of my mother. Her life is in their hands. I want to make them love her one one hundredth as much as I do!

Maybe then, my mom can get well! Well, enough to enjoy a few fruitful, comfortable years at this nursing home, where friends and family can visit and she can be safe. She gets three hot, square meals a day. She has all kinds of nice people taking her blood pressure, taking her temperature, combing her hair, putting her to bed. A time to be nurtured, even spoiled .. like a little baby. My old mother has come full circle.

I am now resigned to the fact that she can never return home. I have the heartbreaking task of closing up her apartment.

I smile at the nurse sitting at the nurse’s station, a lady in her sixties who does seem kind and does seem to like and care about my mom. I tell “Mary” that my mom has had pneumonia before and that several days of intravenous antibiotics usually knoocks out the infection in her lung.

“But we had to give her [oral anibiotics]… so that they would work on the infection on her leg,” Mary explained to me, looking a tad annoyed that me – a mere lay person – has the temerity to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong – in the MEDICAL PROFESSION.

Quiet please! MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS AT WORK! Mary told me she also gave her 50 milligrams of tresedone at night, to calm her down. And mymom gets some during the day. “She gets too busy,” Mary tells me. I am a little worried. My mom has never been sedated like this, and it seems nurse Mary has called the shots. The doctor of this nursing home hasn’t examined my mom. It looks like he rubberstamps what nurse Mary prescribes.

At one nursing home I worked at as an activities assistant decades ago, some nurses there were incredible – most were pretty average. There was even a dud or two – take the head nurse of the dementia unit there. She was always so solicitous of patients when their families were visiting, and then when they left, she would make fun of the patients … or sometimes take her shoes off and paint her toenails!

I can’t help it. My mom, old people have gotten under my skin. Even though I didn’t live with my mom, I took care of her – got her on the Meals on Wheels/lunch bag program, got her home health aides, personal care attendants. I was there every few days checking on her, making shopping lists, bringing in cleaning supplies or toiletries, keeping tabs on everything – the entire freakin’ operation. That’s what it became at the end – a freakin’, time-sucking operation. Exhausting!! – loving my mom! But she had loved me all these years, I told myself, and now foggy-brained and incapable of keeping up her own place, she needed her eldest daughter to swoop in an SAVE THE DAY. She has always expected it – and I have never disappointed her.

I won’t fail ya now, Ma! I tell myself as I watch her … letting go.

So, I want to tell Mary the nurse, I know a little bit about keeping my mom happy and healthy. For you to tell me “she came in sick” is BULL SHIT. Utter buck-passing. I am no fool. I tell her I want a doctor to check my mom and that i will make a special appointment with a gerontologist – a doc who specializes in old people! – to make sure she is on the right meds. Mary frowns. She says he may not even be allowed on the premises, since he is not the doctor in charge at the nursing home – Holy Trinity. I am taken aback. I tell her: I want my mom seen by this excellent gerontologist. “Mary” says he has to be cleared – to make sure he has the right credentials. I want to say: You mean like you, bitch? A nurse PLAYING doctor for my mom and all the other demential patients here? (most of whom look drugged out, as they have their chairs parked around “Mary’s” nurses station – quiet, drugged up little babies. No problem at all caring for such quiet, subdued seniors.

I want to rush into my mom’s room, grab my mom in her wheel chair and roll her out of this place – forever!

But my hands are tied. What can I do? I cannot unhook my little mother from her metal, ugly oxygen tank. I cannot drive her to the hospital and demand the docs “make things happen.” Been there – done that – four times! And Ma can’t go home because THE STATE of MASSACHUSETTS HAS CUT HER SERVICES/MEALS thanks to Elder Services of Worcester, whose nurses/social workers tell me she will be much better cared for at a nursing home. … this nursing home, Holy Trinity, where I can see her looking bloated, drugged up, attached to tubes, arms black and blue …. .

And yet Mom is quietly happy. She tells me the people at the home are so nice, everyone is so gentle with her, they take such good care of her, the food is excellent, they always bring her her coffee. She likes her roommate, too. And she he seems … happy. It’s as if the attention and all the nursing staff and activities staff coming and going is llike a tonic to her. A people person her whole life, my mother now, through her anxiety and tiredness, stresses she doesn’t want to go back to Illyrian Gardens, a place now filled with tight ass staff, a senior citizens complex now run by people who don’t even like senior citizens. I always knew this. My mom did, too, but she repressed her true feeling because she so loved living in her little studio apartment.

Now she calls a spade a spade. She says: “I wasn’t happy there [Illyrian Gardens] – the people … ” and she makes a face. “They [director and staff] were snobs!”

She used the word “snob,” but what my mom meant was that: the staff at Illyrian Garden never cared about her, never stopped by her apartment to say hello or wish her well. No smiles, no pats on the shoulders. Definitely no hugs.

Here at this new place, a nurse told me: “You mother is so nice – we all love her.”

She seemed sincere. I chose to believe her.

Still, the medical care seems substandard.

I have to leave now. I walk back to my mom’s room. “Ma,” I say to her, “I have to go.” I grab her hand off the utility table where she has a plastic cup filled with coffee waiting for her (I will bring her her super duper official huge Red Sox mug tomorrow!). My mom’s little bed side table is covered with the prayer books and photos and perfume bottle I brought for her from her apartment. I notice how warm her hand is. A fever perhaps from the infection in her lung (pneumonia) and in her leg (the bruise from her fall is not healing fast enough). I cannot believe her hand has gotten so gray, so veiny, so bony. Still, I love the warmth I am getting from her. I am loosely holding my mother’s hand in mine. I want to hold it forever.

60 Providence St. – gangs, drugs, violence, guns (for YEARS!)

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

 By “Jane Doe”

Recently, there has been quite a bit of publicity about the gang activity and increasing violence centered around 60 Providence Street. Newspaper articles claim that police have been responding to complaints for the past two years. While it is true that crime has increased during this time, complaints have actually been made about that building for over ten years.

        I remember attending the opening meeting of the Providence Street Neighborhood Watch in winter of 2001 and hearing neighbors voice concerns about that property and some of the buildings in that area. People noticed that young men were meeting in front of 60 Providence Street selling drugs. Most of these men did not live in the building, but came from neighboring streets. Steve Patton from Worcester Common Ground was invited to one of the meetings to discuss solutions to the problem. One idea was to put up security cameras in hallways and entranceways. Things quieted down a bit but did not disappear entirely.

        A few years later, we noticed that PSP (Providence Street Posse) was being spray painted on some of the buildings, vacant and occupied, around the Harrison Street and Providence Street corner. Neighbors brought this to the Worcester Police gang unit’s attention at the crime watch meeting. We were told that this was not a recognized gang, but a bunch of young kids who were trying to play at being gang members. There was nothing to worry about.

         Over the past few years things have been getting worse. Gunshots are frequent. You can see drug dealers standing on the corners or walking up and down the streets. There have been drive-by shootings, fights and attempted robberies. The Providence Street Posse, gang member wannabes, are now moving into other parts of the city as full- fledged gang members. Now that this violence has moved into downtown Worcester, city officials are sitting up and taking notice.

         Many people feel that their complaints to police were ignored, but I don’t think this is true. Laws protecting the rights of the offenders often limit what police can do. Often police make arrests, just to have these criminals released back into the neighborhoods. Police cannot make arrests solely based on complaints. They usually have to catch drug dealers in the act. It takes time to build up a case to put these people away. In the meantime, this section of the city continues to get worse as gangs get more powerful and rival gangs move into the area. It is disheartening to hear people from other neighborhoods talk about your home as being in a “war zone.”

         Unfortunately, many of us feel like we are caught in a vicious cycle. As decent people get sick of the situation, they move out to safer communities. Those of us who cannot move live in fear of what will happen next. As decent people move out, more of the troublemakers move in. Violence escalates.

          I have no solutions. I wish laws were stricter, making it easier to arrest these criminals, put them away, and keep them away. I wish we could walk and drive through this neighborhood without fear of becoming victims. I especially wish landlords could be more careful about who moves into their buildings and be more aggressive in evicting troublemakers. In the meantime, many of us wish we could just get out. Too bad. This was once a nice middle class neighborhood, where people knew each other and looked out for one another. There was almost no crime. I wish we could go back to the way it was!

Meet your neighbors! Gerard “Jerry” Michaud

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
By Ron O’Clair
 
 
Gerard “Jerry” Michaud was the caretaker of the Notre Dame Des Canadiens Church located at Salem Square for many years, and has lived in my building (700 Main St. – across the street from the former PIP shelter) for a long time, as he says 8 years. He has been unable to get a good night’s rest for so long, he has taken to wearing ear plugs in his sleep.  
 
Jerry lives in the room overlooking “the action and hearing the commotion, 24/7/365 since the WPD has failed to address repeated pleas to halt the anti-social lawless behavior keeping poor “Jerry” awake, I thought I would interview him first. My questions are often long and probing deeply into the ground zero atmosphere of rampant lawlessness, this author’s battle to take the streets back, and the indifference heretofore experienced by a certain segment of the veteran officers of Chief Gary Gemme’s troops who acted knowingly, or inadvertently to help the crime wave prosper by lax enforcement of the little laws such as littering and jaywalking.  
 The answers are all the opinions of the respondents, in their own words.
 
The interview:
Q:  What brought you to the area of my concern, the 700 block of Main Street?
A:  Upon leaving my last address I had to find a p lace closer to my work.
Q:  Did you have reservations about moving into a rooming house located in one of the highest crime areas of the city of Worcester?
A: At the time I didn’t know much about the area, or its going ons. Click to continue »

Memorial Day and EVERY day

Monday, May 30th, 2011

By Ron O’Clair

I salute all those who have served, past present, and future, to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, FORIEGN and DOMESTIC.

Let us not forget the sacrifices made in the line of duty for our stateside militia, the local and state police forces throughout our country as well. They are involved in the ongoing war on drugs here in the U.S., and it does not look to be over any time soon.

All former veterans should remind themselves that they took the oath to protect and defend the United States Constitution while serving in uniform, but once taken, we never renounced that oath.

I urge all former military to help in the battle that seems unwinnable to restore America to its rightful place as the last great beacon of hope for mankind. Click to continue »

A night in the life of the P.I.P. Shelter (after its closing)

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

By Ron O’Clair

As I write these lines, I had just hung up the telephone from calling the police department once again this night in order to have the troublesome drug dealers moved along from out front of my building. One would think that with the shelter being officially closed, there would be no legal reason whatsoever that people could use to justify their presence under the windows of my tenants, at what is now 2:46 a.m.

Prior to the first of my two calls this night, I had returned from the Webster Square area to Main and Charlton, having seen no people loitering around any closed businesses along my route anywhere else, all the way form Main and Stafford streets at Gardner Square, until coming to my block (the PIP/Charlton and Main streets), where there were, I counted, 11 people standing in the various doorways outside of closed for the night businesses in my immediate area. Nowhere else along the length of Main Street, only here did I see anyone hanging around at close to midnight.

Recently the great fire happened at the three buildings on the left side of the end of my side street, on Charlton Street. A vacant building undergoing extensive renovation with a new foundation having been poured, and an off foundation renovation of the entire three-decker structure was totally destroyed by a fire. Being as it was situated between the other two burned buildings, and given the probability that there were no sources of ignition such as electrical power or natural gas service to the building, it can be assumed that it was intentionally set on fire.

My own theory is that some person, or persons unknown, set the fire deliberately in the vacant structure to stay warm, as it was very cold that night. … I only can go by my own experience, and my own observations seeing as I came home that morning to see my road blocked off at both ends still, and that was at 8:45 A.M. or so Click to continue »