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By Steven R. Maher

The question of civil service protection for local police departments has emerged as a sleeper issue in the state senate race between Douglas A. Belanger and Michael O. Moore. Belanger in 2004 proposed removing civil service protection for the Leicester police chief. Moore is a steadfast supporter of civil service.

Removing civil protection requires a charter change, or home rule petition to the state legislature. Generally, the legislature does not approve home rule petitions if they are opposed by the local state representative or state senator. If elected, Belanger or Moore would be in a position to kill any proposal to remove civil service in their districts by home rule petition.

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Hiring episodes shows civil service works for Worcester

By Steven R. Maher

Civil service laws govern the Worcester police and fire departments when it comes to the hiring and firing of personnel. Recently the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission ruled in Worcester’s favor in two cases that show how well the system works.

Civil service requires police and firefighter applicants to take a competitive written exam. The state then supplies the city a list of aspirants ranked by score results, with favorable preferences for veterans. The city conducts background checks of solicitants before deciding whether to hire the high scoring achievers on the list. Factors other than test results can be taken into consideration.

If a qualified candidate believes he has been passed over in favor of a less eligible hireling, the aggrieved party can appeal the hiring decision to the Civil Service Commission. If the commission believes unfair practices were used, it can take action ensuring the more qualified supplicant eventually gets a job. The system creates a level playing field for all, ranking job seekers using a standardized test. For that reason it is detested by politicians, because it inhibits venal practices like nepotism and patronage.

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Civil service for city employees

By Steven R. Maher

The proposal to remove Civil Service protection from the police chief, fire chief, and their deputy chiefs was hailed by the mainstream media as a progressive advance. But in reality, it’s a textbook example of a power grab.

Civil Service originated in the late 19th century, when corrupt political machines packed city governments with unqualified cronies. Civil Service evolved to ensure that public office holders were appointed based on qualifications, not political connections.

The Massachusetts Civil Service System is overseen by a five member Civil Service Commission. Generally, when Worcester fills the police or fire chief positions, a “departmental promotional exam” is held in which candidates from within the department test for the position. A list of the top three scorers is then forwarded to the City Manager for a choice.

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The Sheriff’s Mom remembers “The Village”!

Quinsigamond Village: a stroll down memory lane

By Pat Glodis

As I stroll through the many streets and pathways that I once skipped, ran and walked through so many years ago, I feel joy and love for the place I called my neighborhood and home. I look back and know I was one of the fortunate ones, a child from a modest Irish family, one of six children raised in this unique place. My mother was also a native of this special place called Quinsigamond Village. She was born in 1906 and lived all her 98 years in the village. The oldest of four children, she attended Quinsigamond School and later was one of the original members of theMother’s Club that would meet once a month. Most of the other mothers were from the Swedish population. I remember, while in school, when the moms would meet and we students could smell the aroma of fresh perked coffee and homemade pastries.

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The 1968 Democratic Convention

Forty years ago, it rocked Chicago, the nation and the world

By Jack Hoffman

There has never been a year like 1968, and it’s highly unlikely there ever will be one again. It was a year that has had more books written, music composed, scenes from movies, parts of plays all portraying a piece of that tumultuous time than any other year in American history. Even today historians, academics and students are still analyzing, dissecting and debating over why and what happened during the most disturbing and pivotal year in American history. It all seemed so incongruous to my feelings about Chicago, where I once attended college nearby, a city I always loved, to see America undressed and exposing its ugly side along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan and once tranquil Grant and Lincoln Park.

Now forty years later and to the week and day watching The National Democratic Convention of today I can hear the strains of Crosby Stills and Nash singing a welcoming song to Chicago 68, one of several metaphors of the sixties, In To begin to try and understand what led to Chicago we need a chronological encapsulated picture of that momentous year.

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Worcester Magazine’s Allen Fletcher finds a new toy!

By Rosalie Tirella

Allen Fletcher has quit Worcester Magazine – sold it to some out of towners. He says he wants to move on to the next “phase” of his life. He’s had enough of newspaper-ing. He’s had enough of … . What exactly? The stress of writing all night? The stress of wondering where he was going to get the money to pay the bills? The stress of wanting a Paris vacation with only a Lake Quinsigamond vacation fund? The stress of starting a business from scratch and trying to grow it when the revenue isn’t yet flowing?

Truth be told, Allen Fletcher hasn’t experienced any of the stresses of owning a small business. His extreme wealth has insulated him from all the pain and woe – from every kind of financial disaster you can imagine – while he was at the helm of Worcester Magazine. That’s why he managed to own it for 15 years! The lucky (and pathetic) bastard! You can do anything with millions of dollars at the ready – play with any kind of toy you want! Own a newspaper, for instance. Save face, especially!

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Burton Berg’s Worcester

Burton Berg has been collecting vintage postcards of Worcester for decades. He’s got thousands of them – photos of all the noble institutions and the engaged Worcesterites who made this town swing! Have a look and enjoy!

By Rosalie Tirella

They take you back to a time when Worcester was a little greener and a lot busier; days when everyone seemed to know everyone else, when church affiliation was important, when families sat down to dinner without the light of a TV screen or computer monitor shining down on them. Horses pulled buggies back then and left big wheel tracks in our downtown thoroughfares! Harrington Corner was buzzing and the grand opening of a Main Street “five and ten” guaranteed throngs of (usually) lady shoppers.

What a Worcester! What a lively, urban, ethnic stew of people with big noses and dirty hands! Bowlers straddled the heads of businessmen; caps sat jauntily on the crowns of young factory hands. A truck would go down in a snow storm and a gaggle of people would be gawking over the flattened tires. People were always out and about back then – walking down streets, running after trolleys, going to work at the factory, eating at the diners, shopping at the bakeries or neighborhood grocery stores. Everyone one seemed more connected to one another. And Worcester really worked back then, too! The factories, hardware stores, offices, butcher stores, bakeries – everyone one of these enterprises locally owned and providing jobs to Worcesterites of all stripes.

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A letter to Barack Obama

By Jack Hoffman

Dear Mr. Obama:

Not long after the 2004 presidential election, I met a woman who claimed she was an independent voter who voted for George W. Bush. I asked her the reason why, and was there a Democrat she would have voted for? Her response was simple: Howard Dean because he stood for something.

That message has been seared in my memory ever since. And when you addressed the message of change and rallied the young voters in Iowa and around the nation to a cause I felt at long last the Democrats had themselves a candidate who could win.

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Golden Oldies

By Rosalie Tirella

Yea, we went to the ZZ Top concert and it was great!” I told one of my gal pals last summer. “I love ZZ Top!” “ZZ Top?” my gal pal asked, giggling. Where the hell were my ZZ Top records, she wanted to know? Which of their songs could I sing?

Actually, none before I met my boyfriend “Joe.” Lucinda Williams, Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello – these are – or were – the artists I listened to on my “hi-fi” stereo. All literate and sometimes snarky singer songwriter types who rocked my world. And they COULD rock out! Warren Zevon is still a personal hero. But ZZ Top? And their delicate, exquisitely sensitive songs such as, “Cheap Sun Glasses” or “She’s Got Legs” – you know, those lovely ballads that reduce all women to hookers? Well, let’s just say they weren’t my thing.

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Captured by lies and freed by the truth

By Jack Hoffman

“Cautiva” (captured) is a compelling Argentinean movie that explores a part of the sordid past history of a brutal military government that ruled Argentina from the late ‘70s to early ‘80s. The merciless gangsters of Argentina, like so many brutal dictatorships, were commonplace in Latin America and had what I consider to be a most insidious way of placating supporters of the military and police who wanted a child, but were unable to conceive one. – Want a baby? No problem – we will just go out and kidnap a pregnant woman, steal her newborn, and away you go!

Christina, the heroine of the story, is now 19 years old and learns by scientific proof that her adopted parents had lied to her about her original adoption and that her real parents disappeared, victims of this incomprehensible crime.

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