Tag Archives: InCity Times

Exotic “pets”: suffering for sale

By Jennifer O’Connor

A toddler is strangled to death by her family’s pet python. A woman lies in a coma, her face and hands ripped off, after being attacked by her friend’s pet chimpanzee. A 9-year-old girl is dead after an attack by her stepfather’s pet tiger. Thousands of people all over the country—most recently in Florida, where the horrific python attack took place—have been bitten, mauled and killed by exotic pets. How have we reached the point where lions and tigers live in basements, monkeys are diapered and alligators are walked on leashes?

Every year, countless people succumb to the temptation to purchase “exotic” animals such as monkeys, macaws, lizards—even tigers, lions and bears—to keep as “pets.” Unbelievably, there is no federal law prohibiting the private ownership of wild or dangerous animals. But captivity is often a death sentence for exotics and, in too many cases, for the people who “had” to have them. Continue reading Exotic “pets”: suffering for sale

T & G’s Dianne Williamson: public relations flak/hack for candidate Joe O’Brien

By “Cheese Wiz”

I was furious when I read the piece about Joe O’Brien in the Telegram and Gazette by Dianne Williamson. But what made me even angrier was the lame system that the telegram has for “Comments.” Thankfully, I was able to recover my text below on two pieces I wrote about the apparent “coronation” of [mayoral candidate] Joe O’Brien by both Dianne Williamson and, later that afternoon, by Jordan Levy on his radio show. Is that how the system works?

1. Dianne and Jordan Levy supporting one candidate on the same day. Instant coronation, right?

Not so fast, Worcesterites! Let’s take a closer look at your shoo in and the stinky stuff underneath. Eww.

Dianne shows all the depth of Fox News covering Sarah Palin. And Levy, well, I was just grateful he had another topic this week besides Rushford’s obvious profiteering.

So, was that a real Dianne piece or was it a tryout for a P.R. job if the Telegram thing forces her into retirement? Continue reading T & G’s Dianne Williamson: public relations flak/hack for candidate Joe O’Brien

Fair housing and domestic violence

By Sarah Loy

Domestic violence affects people of all social and economic levels and includes physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse by a spouse or other intimate partner. Victims of domestic violence are most often women and children. Domestic violence can affect performance at work and at school and can disrupt a family’s home life, not only through the abuse experienced at home, but also by causing difficulty in the family’s ability to find or keep affordable housing. According to a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness in the United States (Lost Housing, Lost Safety: Survivors of Domestic Violence Experience Housing Denials and Evictions Across the Country (NLCHP, 2007).

Maintaining housing stability while you are experiencing domestic violence or even after you leave a violent relationship can be difficult. It can be made more difficult if you are evicted from the apartment you live in or are prevented from renting a new apartment because of past incidents of domestic violence where, for example, neighbors have complained about police calls, or the abuser has damaged the apartment. Continue reading Fair housing and domestic violence

The movies that made me what I am today

By Steve Sandberg

I run Cinema 320 at Clark University. This job sort of makes me one of the cultural gatekeepers of Worcester. And I guard my gate very scrupulously. Over the last 27 years, Cinema 320 has brought a galaxy of award-winning films to the city. We’ve presented a pageant of great statements on the human condition – the life work of cinematic giants like Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa. It’s been quite a record. From it, you might naturally assume that when yet another night at Cinema 320 is done, I go home and unwind with some other work of immortal cinematic art. Well, not necessarily. Actually, I like to sleep with a 50-foot woman.

But I’m not particular. If she’s got another date, I’ll make do with an amazing colossal man. Just how colossal is he? Don’t ask.

I swing all sorts of ways. You might even find me decadently commingling with many species decidedly more exotic than the human… giant tarantulas, ants the size of fire engines, killer shrews, flying brains, even a Thing or a Beast or an It! or two. These are the monster movies of my adolescence, the vivid horrors that kept me awake as a kid, shivering with delicious unease, deep into the darkness of the hottest Friday and Saturday summer nights; and now, in my middle age, they’re the old friends that lead me off into a peaceful sleep.

The irony is that Cinema 320’s clock was set ticking decades ago not by the high culture of the Cannes Film Festival, but the lowbrow junk of Fantasmic Features and Chiller Theatre; and none of the great movies the theater has brought to Worcester would have appeared here without their influence. It was while playing around in this trash heap as a boy that I decided movies were where I wanted to live. Continue reading The movies that made me what I am today

The PIP shelter and what it means to Worcester

By District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller

The story of the PIP Shelter is long and complex. While there have been many individuals who will testify to its success as a safety net of last resort, there are many more who will testify to its internal chaos, especially before SMOC took over control in 2005. Founded over thirty years ago to provide protection to public inebriates after the decriminalization of public drunkenness, there are few who would deny that the PIP has grown to be an enabler and magnet for anti-social behavior.

Over the past twenty years my position on the PIP moved from a call for better management, to supporting an effort to relocate it to an industrial area, to a cry for closing it. I came to realize that a 150 person warehouse for individuals experiencing homelessness for a wide variety of reasons couldn’t be fixed – regardless of who ran it or where it was located. Over time the city council, the city administration, and the community have come to join in common voice to close this shelter at 701 Main Street.

During those years of pushing for the shuttering of the PIP, the question of “where will ‘they’ go?” was part of every discussion. My answer to that question was always to explain that it is not the responsibility of the struggling neighborhood around 701 to bring solution to homelessness, but rather it is the responsibility of the whole community. I served on every task force as we searched for the best answers. All of these efforts failed to close the PIP but they each served to get us closer by educating more people to the complexity of the challenge and increasing the resolve to do better. Continue reading The PIP shelter and what it means to Worcester

A tale of two PIP shelters

By William T. Breault

The former Public Inebriate Program, now the People in Peril Shelter, is the only “wet” walk-in shelter in the region for homeless individuals. People walk in, or are dropped off, or released from incarceration and given a place to stay. We now are working hard as a region to close this shelter. I have been working to do exactly this for decades. This article explains why.

There have always been two PIP Shelters at 701 Main Street.

The first PIP Shelter is the one that most people know. It is the safety net shelter for people with no options. This PIP offers people a refuge from the street, a place to sleep and get a meal, a place to see a doctor and connect with social services. This is the humane PIP – the PIP that recognizes that we are all legitimate, that we are all worthy of hope, and that we all deserve a place that will “catch you, time after time.” This is the PIP that helps us to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, a PIP that gives us a place to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to forgive the sinner.

The other PIP is the shelter that the neighborhood and social service providers for the homeless know. This is the PIP that enables self-destructive behavior on many levels, the place to go if you want to buy or sell drugs to feed addictions, to buy or sell bodies for sex, to fence stolen goods. Continue reading A tale of two PIP shelters

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The saddest show on earth

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

Elephants have the largest brains of any mammal on the face of the earth. They are creative, altruistic and kind. They use tools to sweep paths and even to draw pictures in the dirt and scratch themselves in inaccessible places, and they communicate subsonically at frequencies so low that humans cannot detect them without sophisticated equipment. Imagine, then, what it must be like for them to be told what to do, courtesy of a bullhook—a rod resembling a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on the end—at every moment of their lives. Yet this is what life is like for elephants used in circuses, who are constantly beaten and kept chained, sometimes for days at a time.

It takes a lot to get circusgoers to see beyond the headdresses and glitter to that metal-tipped bullhook sinking into an elephant’s soft flesh behind her ears and knees. But I hope that PETA’s new undercover investigation of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will help open some eyes.
PETA’s investigator caught Ringling employees digging sharp metal bullhooks into the sensitive skin behind elephants’ knees and under their trunks. Eight employees—including an animal superintendent and a head elephant trainer—used bullhooks and other objects to strike elephants on the head, ears and trunk. Employees whipped elephants and a tiger, including on or near the face. One elephant, Tonka, repeatedly exhibited signs of severe psychological stress but was nevertheless forced to perform night after night. The footage can be seen on our website. Continue reading Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The saddest show on earth

T & G’s Clive McFarlane: hypocrite extraordinaire!

By Rosalie Tirella

Well, I hope pin-head Telegram & Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane is feeling guilty. 

Several months ago, when the Worcester School Committee was voting on the new school superintendent, school committee member Dottie Hargrove put her vote behind school superintendent candidate Melinda J. Boone, who hails from Norfolk, VA. By doing so, the wonderfully sunny and INTELLIGENT Dottie Hargrove made way for the city’s first African American/female school superintendent and put an end to the serious nepotism that parades as hiring practice in the Worcester Publis Schools.

By voting the way she did,  Dottie Hargrove was actually answering the prayers of most Worcesterites. She was saying: It’s not who you know in this town anymore – it’s what you know! By dumping job candidate Steven Mills, the city’s connected-guy, Dottie, along with the majority of the school committee, was saying this LOUD AND CLEAR to Mills and most important the parents and students of Worcester: a new day is dawning in Worcester.

But Mills was/is deaf. In a story about his desire to be the next Worcester school superintendent, he made it a point to flaunt the fact that he worked on Lt. Gov. Tim Murray’s political campaigns – as if that would instantly make him school superintendent of Worcester.  What a stupid – but telling – thing for Mills – the toady! – to say to a reporter!

The real questions on Worcester parents’/residents’ minds: Did Mills have enough experience? Was he smart enough to handle the work load? Could he do the job? Most people wanted answers to those questions and didn’t give a damn if Mills is palsy walsy with Murray.

And the majority of Worcester School Committee members wanted answers to those questions, too. And when they got the answers – based on a non-partisan, super-intelligent search committee who reviewed all candidate resumes, interviewed all candidates, etc and recommended Boone for the job – it was a new dawn for Worcester!

You would think Clive McFarlane, a Black of Jamaican descent, would have been celebrating with the rest of us. After all, he was on the receiving end of affirmative action policies when it came to getting his metro columnist job at the T & G.

Years ago,  Clive would most likely have not gotten his plum job because the old T & G was so clubby. Thanks to places like the MLK Center on Dewey street, whose director Robert Thomas told me several years ago that he had to “point a gun” to then T & G publisher’s Bruce Bennett’s head to get him to hire an Asian American for a job at the T & G, things have changed at the T & G (well, slightly).  Thomas told me Bennett said to him something like: you know how I feel about affirmative action, Robert. Well, dink-puss Bennett got his arm twisted by Thomas and he relented and hired the Asian American guy – who worked out wonderfully. Bennett is gone – and actually right after a reminder from InCity Times that there are NO reporters of color at the T & G, Bennett gave McFarlane the job and when he was retiring from the T & G said he was glad of his affirmative action (Clive as metro columnist) hires.

So how stupid of Clive McFarlane – a product of affirmative action, a system whose goal is to destroy the old white boys’  club –  to defend the skewed hiring practices of the Worcester Public School System – a system that most likely would have kept him out of any teaching job. 

Clive beat Dottie up in his column last winter – making her seem spacy, as if she didn’t know what she was doing and thus ruined the W.P. Schools for everyone! For two columns Clive dumped on Dottie, intimating that she was putting an end to a long, grand, proud Worcester teaching tradition.  Clive said even though the WPS system was clubby, the WPS had great teachers and our school system was excellent. So what if it was a teeny bit … corrupt? he seemed to be saying.  Clive was for the status quo – a status quo that doesn’t give two shits for him.

But I ask: How can you have an excellent school system when you have most of our schools without any black/Lationo teachers while our schools are filled with a majority of minority students?

So in has last Dottie Hargrove column ( a week or so ago)  the idiot Clive threw Dottie a bone: Yes! Dottie was passionate about inner-city kids and their education! No one was more passionate about these kids!

Unlike you, asshole!

Because if you were, Clive,  you would have known that Dottie was on the poor minority kids’ side all along! That she had a ton of love for the kids in our schools – was a reading teacher for many years in our school system, is a professor now – teaching college students how to be effective teachers.

If only you had interviewed her, Clive-o, and given her a fair shake!

And that’s no jive.

Big businesses – they ain’t so great

By Richard Schmitt

Is government the enemy? Many Americans think that. On April 15, tax day, a national organization held a series of “tea parties” all over the country to commemorate the colonists’ resistance to government and specifically to taxation. They are planning more events. At present, the Republicans in Congress are resisting the proposal to have government provide health insurance for some Americans. Anything done by the government, they believe, is worse than anything done by private business.

This is an old belief among Americans. The authors of the Constitution wrote that document after having successfully freed themselves from the British government and established their own. The political system they created is very concerned about preserving individual liberties against government attempts to limit freedom. It is, we think, a good system. Citizens have elaborate rights to protest, to tell the government what they think. The leaders of the government are elected; they hold their jobs by the will of the citizens and can be removed from office if they ignore the citizens’ wishes. Continue reading Big businesses – they ain’t so great