Category Archives: InCity Feature

Worcester not only city without air service

By Steven R. Maher

Worcester critics often point to a lack of airline service at Worcester Airport as unique to the city. Yet it’s a problem other municipalities are facing as well.

“Financially strapped airlines are cutting service, and nearly 30 cities across the United States have seen their scheduled service disappear in the last year,” the New York Times reported in a May 21, 2008 article entitled ‘Airline’s Cuts Making Cities No-Fly Zones’. “And the service cuts are far from over, as jet fuel prices rise, airlines shut down and companies consider mergers, like the Delta-Northwest deal.”

Continue reading Worcester not only city without air service

Jesse Pack: a boy finds himself (Part 1)

By Rosalie Tirella

In honor of Worcester’s annual Get Your Pride on Celebration, InCity Times interviews Jeese Pack of AIDS Project Worcester. Jesse made the courageous (he’d say natural) decision to “transition” from a young woman to a young man at the age of 19. Here’s his story.

Rose: Let’s talk about the event [the Get Your Pride On celebration – see our “ad”] on Water Street, Worcester Pride and the role your group is going to play.

Jesse: First, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I encourage anyone who’s going to be in Worcester to come to it. … There is going to be a pretty strong transgendered presence there. … Gunner Scott, who is the current director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, is going to speak during the political rally. There’s going to be a Mass Trans Political Coalition booth and table at the event, and they’re going to be passing out information about legal rights and needs of trans people. AIDS Project Worcester, as usual, is going to be a very strong presence there, with outreach workers. We’re gonna have our own table.…

Continue reading Jesse Pack: a boy finds himself (Part 1)

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading Hiring episodes shows civil service works for Worcester

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.

Continue reading Civil service for city employees

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.

Continue reading The Sheriff’s Mom remembers “The Village”!

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.

Continue reading Burton Berg’s Worcester

Worcester’s senior citizen gardeners

Some serious gardening is going on in our city!

By Josie Shagwert

Are you a community gardening enthusiast? Do you wax poetic about how, way back in the day, New England’s urban centers grew much of their own fresh food in Victory Gardens? Or do you just really dig how a tomato from your backyard tastes better than your supermarket-variety tomato (and it didn’t have to get trucked in from god-knows-where!)? Well, you’ve met your match in Worcester’s senior gardeners. It is possible that their unbridled enthusiasm for urban gardening is matched only by that of another group of gardeners; the teen participants in REC’s YouthGROW program.

Continue reading Worcester’s senior citizen gardeners

Our fathers, ourselves

Billy’s girls

By Rosalie Tirella

Billy Fredette calls his two daughters “my girls” with the accent on “my.” They are the loves of his life. They ARE his life. So much so that he’ll get choked up just telling you!

In their Lafayette Street apartment he has shoe boxes filled with their awards – certificates for perfect attendance at Chandler Street Elementary School. Letters and cards created by them. He has been on the cover of the MSPCC newsletter, a Dad worthy of cover photos and laudatory articles.When money was tight several years ago, the teachers at Millbury Street Head Start loved his little family so much they pooled their resources and gave Billy’s girls a sleigh-load of Christmas gifts.

Continue reading Our fathers, ourselves

City company offers commuters way to cut gas costs

By Steven R. Maher

[Editor’s Note: This story was submitted in May 2008 and not published for space reasons.]

Fuel costs are skyrocketing. Motorists are paying $40 to $50 to fill up their cars at the gas pump. Worcester Airport Limousines is offering some travelers a more affordable and convenient alternative mode of transportation. Whether you’re going to Logan Airport or a Red Sox game, there is money to be saved.

Hates Boston traffic
This writer was asked to go on a business trip to Bangor Maine. The plan was to fly out of Logan Airport at 10:15 AM, visit a company facility, and then fly home from Bangor on the 5:00 PM flight.

This writer truly dislikes navigating the Boston traffic. Equally detested was leaving the car in airport parking garages, where bad things sometimes happen. A co-worker had mentioned catching a shuttle on a business trip. So your humble writer decided to see if there was much of a cost difference between taking a shuttle and driving oneself.

Continue reading City company offers commuters way to cut gas costs