Category Archives: InCity Voices

Native American Day today … yesterday: Day of Mourning for Native Americans

By Jim Coughlin

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Jim

The statue of the Indian leader, Massaasoit for whom the State of Massachusetts is named, is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The town was the scene on Thanksgiving Day for a gathering of over 1,000 Native Americans and their supporters who held their 52nd annual “National Day of Mourning” to protest what every speaker at two rallies called “the myth of Thanksgiving.”

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Traumatic times … Native Americans relive them each thanksgiving holiday. Photos by J.C.

The copy in a flier passed out to those gathered at the demonstration held on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth read: “Many Native people do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands and the erasure of Native Cultures. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Indigenous ancestors and Native resilience.”

So, in that spirit it was entirely fitting that this year’s protest lead-off speaker was Keisha, the granddaughter of Wamsutter, the Native American local leader who organized the first Day of Mourning, back in 1970.

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Traditions are held to tightly … and passed on to the next generation.

She was introduced as a “young woman and a recent graduate of Wellesley College.” She revved up the crowd and spoke with a great deal of passion about the Native American community’s distaste for Thanksgiving that has most White European North Americans celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with joy, happiness and contentment.

She began by saying, “We carry on the tradition and mourn our ancestors and speak truth to power.”

She noted that her grandfather in 1970 ran onto the Mayflower ship that is docked in the Plymouth harbor (not very far from the Plymouth Rock) and “threw the English flag overboard into the ocean.” He later visited the Plymouth museum and took some bones of Native Americans on display there “and gave them a proper burial.”

She also said that Wansutter was warned by the local Pilgrim organizers that when celebrating Thanksgiving that they “did not want a speech that was too inflammatory,” against Thanksgiving.

She said the first gathering of the local protest only had about 200 Native Americans who attended the Day of Mourning. However, since then it has blossomed into a national event drawing for this year’s event both speakers from as far away as New Orleans, Louisiana, and attendees from the Bronx in New York City.

Among those attending the rallies was David E. Smith of Warwick, Rhode Island, who told this reporter that he is “a twelfth generation descendant of Chief Massasoit.”

On October 8, 2008, former United States President George W. Bush enacted “Native American Heritage Day,” which is a commemorative holiday honoring the heritage of our country’s Native Americans.

The legislation was sponsored by both Representative Joe Baca, (D – CA) and the late Senator John McCain, (R – Arizona) who was the Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at the time this law was enacted. The day for this holiday is “designated as the Friday after Thanksgiving to pay tribute to Native Americans for their many contributions to the United States.”

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President Joe Biden should pass an executive order: FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR ALL NATIVE AMERICANS. A helping hand into the middle class …

This reporter could not miss the opportunity to ask Massaasoit’s “many great grandson” to comment on “Native American Heritage Day.” Smith said, “The United States [government] can do whatever they want. There are two governments, the United States government and the Indian government. They are not my government.”

Also in attendance at the protests was a delegation from Worcester. I interviewed Bon Banyamyan, a leader of a ministry called, “The Rise of the Chosen” which is located near downtown Worcester. Banyamyan described his spiritual movement as “a Hebraic Bible-based Street ministry.” He said he traveled from Worcester on Thanksgiving to the National Day of Mourning “to stand in solidarity with his Native American brothers and sisters.”

Thanksgiving 2021

By Edith Morgan

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Edith

I got up this morning to a clear blue sky, a windless fall day, feeling that all was right with my world. No aches and pains, no complaints, all systems working. And for this day I am very grateful. Most of us who reach my age (I am 91 years old now) are thankful for every day.

And since Thanksgiving is almost here, it is time to take stock, particularly of all that we take for granted. We complain a lot about the small annoyances of daily life, grouse about irritations, criticize those near and dear to us, and generally dwell on the negatives in our lives. So now is the time to take stock of all we have to be thankful for.

Personally, I know I live extraordinarily well – big comfortable house, warm in winter, cool in summer – and full of all the memorabilia that I have accumulated in the past 54 years that I have lived here in Worcester – things that serve to remind me every day as I pass by them who gave them to me and why – keeping my memory sharp.

Good health is such a great blessing, though we so often take it for granted. Time to be thankful for that and to cherish it. Without it, not much is possible.

For me, this year, I am particularly grateful for:

My health, my great neighbors whom I have gotten to know and who in so many ways make my life more pleasant and safe. Besides adding to the cultural richness of this area … I am also grateful to those in the greater Worcester community who serve us quietly and efficiently every day: they pick up our trash and our recyclables, sweep our streets twice a year, come and attend to our street trees when they need trimming and maintain our 60 city parks. And nearby my home here, ever watchful, our fire department stands ready to help.

I am also thankful that I live so close to every possble amenity I could think of, within walking distance. I have always told people that I have birth-to-death facilities here in my Lincoln Street neighborhood: Hahnemann Hospital, Nordgren Funeral parlor, and all the businesses needed for daily life. I am two houses down from Green Hill Park, Worcester’s greatest park – and we have the Joy of Music and The Sprinkler Factory. I could go on and on naming all that we have here, but you get the idea.

I am also grateful that I live and vote in a state which seems by and large to be filled with responsible citizens and provides for its neediest, supports its public education facilities, and welcomes those who are strangers or need asylum. I will always be grateful to the United States of America, which took my Jewish family in when we escaped Europe as the Nazis killed millions in our homeland … We were not able to find refuge anywhere else. I’m thankful for the Quakers who took us to Iowa, taught my parents English and American history and prepared us to become citizens.

New Eyes for the Worcester Public Schools?

By Edith Morgan

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Edith✏️📖🎒📚🇺🇸

The search for a new school superintendent for our Worcester Public Schools is on, and we are told that we need “new eyes“ for the leardership of our city’s school system.

I never saw any kind of definition as to what that really meant. Is that some kind of code for whatever change someone wants, or are we finally talking about some real change in the heart of our school system, namely our curriculum?

I have railed for so long about our truly deplorable curriculum, which contains so much that is of little or no use to young people entering this world as it is now and which is designed primarily to enable them to answer questions that can be machine-corrected for the most part, with a few actual thoughtful essays thrown in? For alleged budgetary reasons, we have gradually eliminated every kind of learning that makes for a thoughtful, engaged, life-long learner. Above all, a critical thinker able to take part in one of the few democratic nations left on the planet.

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The WORCESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS is a majority-minority school system. Our city leaders are hoping to hire a new WPS school superintendent who will be sensitive to our city schools’ diverse student body through hiring more minority teachers, updating curriculum, being sensitive to all students and their families’ backgrounds … This November two minority Worcester School Committee candidates were voted into office. The new WSC will convene in January 2022.

Will the Worcester School Committee be finding a new school superintendent (the commitee voted not to renew WPS Superintendent Maureen Binenda’s contract, even for one more year) who can have the training, vision and backing to make such major changes? Will we fund these changes? Or will we put all our attention on new buildings, minutiae in the existing curriculum, trying to pacify the loudest and most aggressive groups with various sops?

We are constantly spending all kinds of time on “sex education,” as though it were a major part of the curriculum. Now we are so concerned about how and what we teach about our American history: does it start in 1776, 1692, 1619 – or even before?

This continent was fully inhabited before we Europeans got here. And now we are unearthing remains of even older inhabitants, Vikings, others, maybe. What is the job of our schools to be inclusive of all that information?

And will our new WPS school superintendent be able to change the chronological age-based system to better reflect the vast differences in the mental and physical development of children so we stop producing “disabled” children who are merely wrongly placed or whose learning styles differ?

These are a few of the questions that should occupy the Worcester School Committee, City Council, and other city politicians who should be the leaders in these areas.

I am still waiting …

Remembering Lincoln Street Neighborhood Activist Nancy Johnson

By Edith Morgan

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Edith!

On Wednesday, November 10, 2021, a group of her long-time neighbors assembled at the World War II Memorial at the intersection of Lincoln and Burncoat streets to pay a final homage to Dr. Nancy Johnson, for whom the street between the memorial and a funeral home was named a few years back.
Nancy was truly a model for us all: as a passionate educator who influenced so many college students as a professor at Worcester State University, as a neighbor who was always out there in our Lincoln Street neighborhood helping in so many ways; as a home owner who always maintained her property attractively; and as a watchdog over neighborhood properties she felt did not meet her rigorous standards for what a neighborhood should look like.

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The city street sign reads: NANCY JOHNSON WAY

I remember the years that Nancy and her great German Shepherd would patrol Lincoln Street, Nancy picking up litter and pulling up weeds. They made their journey all the way from the expressway by Lincoln Square to the overpass approaching the great insurance complex!!!

Nancy maintained a special relationship with the Worcester DPW, who picked up the great number of trash bags she filled, and with the Code Department, who were kept apprised of any building code violations (usually due to absentee landlords) that needed to be reported to the City.

Nancy was for many years a faithful member of our Brittan Square Neighborhood Association, writing up histories of the numerous buildings on Lincoln Street that had played a role in America’s history. She was an indefatigable historian and served as a docent at the Worcester Art Museum, among the many other things that interested her. She volunteered at the Worcester Historical Museum, too.

Nancy was also a great friend to me personally – and I still have so many of the tasteful gifts she bestowed upon me through the years. They are always here as a reminder of her generosity – she never forgot a birthday!

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The late Nancy Johnson’s beloved Lincoln Street.

For the next few days there will be many remembrances of her various endeavors, in various places, by those whom she touched over the years – Worcester remembers … I fervently hope that her example will be remembered and continued by young and old alike!

Finally! The Worcester School Committee begins to reflect the WPS’s student body!

By Jim Coughlin

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Jim😊

There will be a more diversified Worcester School Committee in January 2022 … On November 2, the voters of Worcester finally had their say and made some very distinct choices for city council in both the race for at large and district Worcester city councillors. However, “change” was not confined to the race for city council.

The Worcester School Committee election also resulted in perhaps more “change” on a percentage basis because, out of the seven members on the Worcester School Committee come January, three will be three new members. That’s almost half of the school committee!

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New Worcester School Committee member Jemoh Kamara. Yes!!

These changes were a result of two retirements: long-time members of the school committee, John Monfredo and Jack Foley, chose not to seek re-election this year. These vacancies, combined with the crucial vote taken earlier this year by school committee woman Dianne Biancheria not to support the school superintendent’s proposed “sex education” curriculum, angered enough progressive parents throughout the city to scuttle Biancheria’s re-election.

The school committee election results were also due to a large coalition of African-American and Latino parents and yes, white voters, who have complained for quite some time about the all-white European American composition of the Worcester School Committee and that their voices “were not being heard.”

They were right to raise this issue that with about a 70% demographic population of the Worcester Public Schools consisting of students of color – between African American, Latino and Asian – it is simply not right and equitable to have no representation for those children amongst the membership of the governing and policy making board for the Worcester Public Schools: the Worcester School Committee.

According to the consent decree from the United States District Court, the demographic population of the Worcester Public Schools for the 2019/2020 school year is even more telling: 43.1% of students are Latino/, 29.1% are White European North American and 16.9% identify as Black or African American. A case can also be made for district representation for the school committee on the basis that 45% of Worcester residents are non-white.

So, parents exercised their rights under the constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, along with court decision precedence and brought this question into United States Federal Court. Their collective action resulted in a consent decree which will absolutely guarantee district elections for the Worcester School Committee in 2023. I have some experience of having worked as a paralegal in the past. Many years ago, I overheard a lawyer for the City of Worcester quietly say to someone at City Hall, “The only language that some people understand is a law suit.”

It’s just too bad that it had to take a federal law suit to bring about these changes for district representation on the school committee. But the ballot box is another means of redressing one’s individual and collective grievances. The voters of Worcester made good sense in trying to address this more than obvious wrong by choosing Jermaine Johnson, LICSW, a Social Worker and a first time African American candidate for school committee who not only was elected by wide margin, but he finished in first place.

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Jermaine Johnson and loved ones on election night. Photos submitted.

In a telephone interview with this reporter election night, after what Johnson said was “a historic win,” (and with great emotion in his voice) he said, “I am absolutely ecstatic.” And in another interview with him on the Sunday following election, he said that his phone has been ringing continuously since election night from people extending their congratulations to him upon his election to the Worcester School Committee. “I am humbled by my election,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s first place finish was a first for Worcester because Worcester has never had an African American man on the school committee before, only African American women. The tide of African American women serving on our school committee began with the late Mrs. Elizabeth L. “Betty” Price being the first woman of color to win a seat on the Worcester School Committee in 1973, and winning re-election in 1975. Since 1975, there have been three other women of color who have been elected to the Worcester School Committee: Shirley Wright, who for years worked side by side with her pastor husband leading the iconic Emanuel Baptist Church of Main South; Professor Greta O’Neil, Ph.d, a former psychology professor at the College of the Holy Cross; and Hilda Ramirez, a Latina woman who heads The Latino Institute at Worcester State University.

Also elected to the Worcester School Committee on November 2 was Jemoh Kamara, an African American woman candidate, originally from Liberia, Africa, who immigrated to Worcester with her family when she was 11 years old. She attended the Worcester Public Schools and holds a Masters Degree and currently works as a public health professional. Kamara said she has in the past worked as a professor as WPI teaching “Project-based Social Science Research.”

Kamara came in 5th place in the race for school committee garnering, 7,994 votes, or 1,090 votes ahead of incumbent school committee member Molly McCullough who finished in 6th place.

Kamara also holds the title of being the first candidate for the school committee to have immigrated from a foreign country (the previously war-torn country of Liberia), attend the Worcester Public Schools and be elected to the Worcester School Committee. She went to Canterbury Street Elementary School, Sullivan Middle School and graduated from South High in 2011.

All of Worcester should be enormously proud of both of these successful school committee candidates for their electoral accomplishments. Johnson, like Professor Kamara, is amply qualified to serve on the Worcester School Committee. He is a Social Worker, and God only knows social workers hear everything in the line of people’s personal problems. I absolutely guarantee everyone, nothing will surprise a social worker, they’ve seen so much …

When the school committee gets to discussing children and students at their meetings, Johnson can readily apply his professional education and experience as a social worker in helping him and his colleagues make official public policy for all of our school system’s more than 25,000 students in a fair and equitable way.

Johnson is also a graduate of Worcester’s South High Community School.

The third newly elected member of the Worcester School Committee is Susan Coghlin-Mailman who is white and finished in second place right behind Jermaine Johnson, receiving 8,872 votes. Mailman has a background of volunteering for years in Worcester in a variety of genres, including being the chair of the Quinsigamond Community College Board of Trustees and as the past board president of the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. She is also a strong backer of the “backbone of our country” – organized labor and the men and women of the AFL-CIO.

So, all in all, I believe the students and the parents of children attending the Worcester Public Schools will be well served for the next two years by the three new members of the Worcester School Committee.

Worcester’s 2021 Municipal Election – the Results are in!

By Jim Coughlin

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Jim. Photos submitted.

Worcester’s 2021 Municipal election for Worcester City Council and Worcester School Committee only drew 16% of the city’s eligible voters to the polls, but the biggest surprise of the evening came with surprise victory of first time candidate Thu Nguyen who captured the fourth slot for Worcester City Councillor at Large, bumping out Matt Wally, district councillor incumbent and Worcester political good old Irish boy network insider … Nguyen got 7,364 votes in a race that had 10 candidates competing for the six city councillor at large seats.

Nguyen won 10.9% of the vote.

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Thu Nguyen

Wally, the district 5 councillor who gave up his seat in the hopes of following in the footsteps of councillor at large Gary Rosen who is retiring from politics and formerly held the district 5 seat and later won an at large seat in 2011, fell short of winning an at large seat by 678 votes. He came in seventh place, with 6,658 votes.

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Gary Rosen’s retiring from political office …

But with Nyguen’s win, as the first Southeast Asian non-binary candidate, this is a major “breakthrough” in diversifying the face of the Worcester City Council. Not only is this a “political first” for Worcester, but Nyguen’s win is believed to be the first win by a Southeast Asian/non-binary city council candidate in Massachusetts and maybe all of New England as well.

I remember Thu was the very first candidate to announce their candidacy for city council back in January of this year. However, perhaps what is most striking is not only that they won and placed 4th in the 10 candidate field but that they defeated Matt Wally who, in the minds of many, and according to reliable sources, was considered as a councillor the insiders at City Hall were grooming to succeed long-time incumbent Mayor Joseph Petty. (Petty easily won re-election as both Worcester City Councillor at Large and as Worcester Mayor. He will also chair the Worcester School Committee.) …

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Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty … slated to become the longest serving mayor in Worcester’s history. Joe’s a good man. Cecelia/ICT file photo.

… But with Nyguen taking the open seat on the city council, the Wally scenario will not be happening anytime soon.

In years and decades past, the Worcester City Council was mostly comprised of nine White European North American men who were mostly either Irish … sometimes Italian. That dynamic changed in 1973 with the election of three women for the first time in the city’s history: Mary Scano, Barbara Kohin Barbara J. Sinnott.

At the time, this political sea change on the city council was called by various local pundits and observers as the “year of the women.” This did not last long because, two years later, all three women councillors were voted out by Worcester voters.

It was not until just under a decade later in November, 1981, that the previous method of councillors caucusing with each other after the election to see who amongst them would become Mayor that the Worcester City Council produced the first woman Mayor in our city’s history, Sara J. Robertson. Robertson had previously served on the Worcester School Committee and was subsequently elected to the city council in the late 1970s.

At the time, this was big news. And in later years, the councillors selected another woman, former councillor at large Konstantina “Konnie” Lukes to serve as mayor from 1982 to 1983. In 2019, Lukes decided not to seek re-election to the city council.

But the surprise victory of Thu in our election is big news for the Worcester. As a result, it puts the notion and the reality in place that our city council is open to all in the political arena, regardless of their background.

Last night, I happened to accompany another council candidate, Johanna Hampton Dance who challenged incumbent District 2 City Councillor Candice “Candy” Mero-Carlson. I sat and waited with the candidate until just about 8 p.m. when the polls had closed election night. Dance was sitting with a small group of supporters and friends at about a little past at 8 p.m. at a bar called “Electric Haze” on Millbury Street when council candidate Thu Nguyen walked in accompanied by a campaign aide. When they came in the candidate did not know what was going to happen within the next hour that would once again be a “game changer” in Worcester politics.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Thu, who was seated with a few supporters and had their eyes glued to a cell phone, heard that they had won the open city council seat. This news even surprised them! A few days ago, they wrote in a Facebook post, “I also hold that – statistically- “a person like me shouldn’t win. I am a new challenger.” Their election even surprised caused th the first-time candidate to break out into a jubilant cheer! They flashed a broad smile and their supporters cheered as the announcement was made!

In fact, I can say for the record that I was the second person to congratulate them upon the surprise victory. In congratulating them, I was the first one to call Nguyen by their newly acquired prefix for the former council candidate: “Councillor-Elect Nguyen”!

There is a lot! The notion that the Worcester City Council is a group of “Nine White Irish Catholic Guys” is for sure a chapter in our city’s ancient past. Our urban, American story has permanently changed.

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🇺🇸Worcester’s mayoral🇺🇸 forum – my viewpoint

By Jim Coughlin

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Jim

Worcester’s Mechanics Hall in downtown Worcester was the scene on October 28 of the city’s 2021 Mayoral Debate that featured incumbent Mayor Joseph Petty, At large City Councillor Donna Colorio, Bill Colemen who has been a mayoral contender in past elections and Worcester funeral director Peter Stefan.

The debate was before an audience of about 125 people in the auditorium in which President Abraham Lincoln once spoke during his presidency in the 1860s. Throughout the hour-long debate, the candidates responded to familiar issues that have been raised throughout the campaign, ranging from affordable housing in Worcester, reforming the Worcester Police Department, the search for a new superintendent for the Worcester Public Schools, Free Bus Fare on the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) and others.

My impressions … First of all, it featured four different kinds of mayoral candidates: the incumbent Mayor Joseph Petty is a Democrat with an impressive track record when it comes to our city, while his colleague on the city council, Donna Colorio, is a Republican who is also a psychologist. She’s serious and studies the issues.

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Donna Colorio

And there is Bill Coleman …

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Bill Coleman

… who has run for city councillor and mayor of Worcester several times and who has a long record of public policy initiatives before the city council (too numerous to mention). Rounding out the field of contenders is Peter Stefan, a first time council and mayoral candidate, who runs a funeral home in Main South and who has established a fund on his own to help struggling individuals and families pay their rents, mortgages, utility and food bills.

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The pandemic is still with us; little kids, per the CDC, are now eligible for COVID vaccinations. They’re being admistered in Worcester this autumn.

First of all, this debate in Worcester was a role model for other cities holding their city councillor forums and also for some past state-wide debates here, in Massachusetts and national debates featuring candidates for national office, up to and including the presidency in that it was a very civil exchange of ideas and most important a difference of ideas and policies. Perhaps the most touching moment between the candidates to underscore my point about the debate’s civility came when Stefan who had a hard time hearing some of the questions being asked, and it was one of his rivals for the mayoralty, Mayor Petty who bent over to him and repeated the questions for him.

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Worcester searches for a new school superintendent for our majority-minority school district.

Mayor Petty has not only been almost the longest serving mayor, he, along with City Manager Ed Augustus, has done a fine job of informing the citizens of Worcester throughout the Pandemic by holding regular news conferences to inform them about COVID, and city services available to all during this difficult time. He’s a modest man who doesn’t let his ego get in the way of making Worcester a better place. Mayor Petty has a track record of gladly working with everyone, and he advocates for all of the people and neighborhoods of Worcester. A lot has been accomplished during his tenure. Mayor Petty says he wants to continue to lead Worcester through these challenging and exciting times.

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Mayor Joseph Petty at a Main South neighborhood event, pre-pandemic.

Councillor Donna Colorio is the highest elected Republican in the city. She is a serious city councillor who studies all the issues that come before the council. In addition, her background as a professional psychologist is a helpful tool on the council for public policy issues that involve human service matters such as homelessness, housing, health matters and caring for the disabled.

And there is Bill Coleman who is not just talk talk talk … He (as the old adage goes) “walks his talk.” In other words, he acts on matters that are of concern to him both as a good person but also as a long time candidate for city council. Without any question, he cares about the city and its history. If he is elected to the council, he will not need any coaching from his soon to be council colleagues on how to carry out his job because he has already done the work of a councillor!

And, finally, there is Peter Stefan.

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Peter Stefan

Stefan is a very kind person who has been known for years as a funeral director who buries for free many of our poor, homeless, abandoned citizens. In the circles I have traveled in my life, we call people like Peter Stefan an “angel.” In 2015, when the eyes of the world were riveted on Boston in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings, it was Peter Stefan who came forward and volunteered to bury one of the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects. This too was leadership in a different way. On a personal note as a survivor of that bombing in Boston’s Copley Square, I personally salute Mr. Stefan for his more than obvious moral courage and bravery in doing this.

That is the lineup for the Worcester Mayoralty. Whoever the voters choose to be the mayor on Tuesday, November 2, our city will, without question, be in the hands of a very good leader!

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Worcester has an affordable housing/homelessness crisis. This week: a couple outside the recently opened Hotel Grace shelter located on Vernon Street; it provides lots of services to the chronically homeless and is open 24/7. Worcester’s next mayor will need to lead on this issue.

Candidates forum – for Worcester City Councillors at-Large

Text and photos by Jim Coughlin

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CECELIA political reporter Jim Coughlin

The YWCA at Salem Square was the scene of a candidates forum this past week for Worcester City Council at-Large. Our city’s Municipal election will be held on November 2. The forum was co-sponsored by the Worcester Branch of the NAACP and the YWCA. The candidates who attended were incumbent city councillors Kathleen Toomey, Mayor Joseph Petty, Krystian King and District 5 Councillor Matt Wally and challengers William S Coleman III, Thu Nguyen and Guillermo Creamer Jr. Candidate Peter Stefan was not present. He is recovering from knee surgery and was unable to participate in any of the debates. He’s also stepped away from running the Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Home in Main South.

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Candidate Creamer said he wants to be a representative of both the LGBT and Latino communities.

A noticeable public policy difference between the attending candidates came on the question of a proposed Civilian Review Board for the Worcester Police Department. On this issue among current councillors, Mayor Petty, Councillor Toomey and Wally are opposed to the Civilian Review Board.

Councillor King said he is in favor of it being established.

Among the city council hopefuls Thu Nguyen, Bill Coleman and Guillerlmo Creamer all came out in favor of establishing a Board. In answering the question about the Civilian Review Board, it was Bill Coleman who noted for the audience of about 25 that the candidates and incumbent councillors of color all support the panel being established, while all the white, European/North American councillors are opposed to the Board being established.

Coleman also took the Worcester Police Department to task for its poor record of “not hiring one police officer of color between 1954 and 1974.” (The city did eventually hire a police officer of color in 1974, Judith Smith-Levin, a former reporter for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette who also became the department’s first woman police officer.)

The forum was an opportunity for each candidate to put forth their best selling points to Worcester voters for the upcoming election.

Mayor Petty, who has also put his hat in the ring for another term as mayor, urged voters to vote for him twice, “one time for councillor and one time for mayor.” He said, “The city, within the past year, has experienced the best of times and the worst of times.” … He said he wanted to “build bridges for all the people of Worcester.”

Guillermo Creamer said he wants to be a representative of both the LGBT and Latino communities. “They deserve representation,” he said.

Councillor King, the first at-large Councillor of color since 1936 who works as a social worker for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families called himself, “an expert on youth and an expert on social work” and said he “is a key player for diversity” in the city.

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Councillor King has put the city’s minority communities front and center at City Hall and is a terrific advocate.

Thu Nguyen, a former director at the Worcester Youth Center located on Chandler Street, said they are a candidate to “work for community-led solutions at the front of City Hall and the decision-making table.”

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Thu Nguyen – the future of the city …

District 5 Councillor Wally, who has chosen not to seek re-election to his seat and instead seeks a promotion to at-large councillor, said he “is running for an at-large seat on the Worcester City Council because “I want to serve as a champion for issues which will ensure Worcester is a vibrant, safe affordable, diverse, walkable, financially stable city which offers access to opportunities for everyone who strives to live successful and productive lives.”

Coleman has been a community activist in Worcester on a wide range of community and public policy issues before the city council. He formerly worked as a legislative aide to the late Massachusetts United States Senator Edward W. Brooke in Washington, D.C. For many years he was a nutrition teacher in Worcester, working for the University of Massachusetts, once located at the former MLK JR BUSINESS EMPOWERMENT CENTER in Piedmont. Coleman said, “I want to be a voice for the voiceless and encourage people to be involved in their city government.”

Councillor Toomey, the Chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee, said she supports full staffing for the police and fire departments and said there is a “lack of affordable housing units and housing for the homeless.”

Going nuts over vegan school lunches!

By Heather Moore

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Back to school, WPS students! This Friendly House student is masked up and ready for school! Cecelia file photos.

The theme of this year’s National School Lunch Week (NSLW), October 11 to 15, is “WILD About School Lunch,” and the campaign’s promotional materials feature big cats and other jungle inhabitants. Ironically, these animals’ environments are being destroyed precisely so that the meat, egg and dairy industries can raise farmed animals for food that may end up in school lunches. Schools should seize this opportunity to impress upon students why eating vegan is the best way to spare cows, chickens, pigs and other farmed animals pain and suffering and to prevent habitat destruction and mass wildlife extinction. They should serve vegan meals.

Black Bean Veggie Burger Credit PETA
Ask your schools for VEGAN SCHOOL CAFETERIA OPTIONS like this black bean burger! Or even a nut burger!!

Earlier this year, Chatham House — an international think tank — released a report showing that animal agriculture is the number one threat to 86% of the 28,000 species at risk of extinction.

The report, backed by the United Nations Environment Programme, explains that creating pastureland and growing crops to feed farmed animals eradicates natural ecosystems, causing habitat loss and reducing biodiversity. It concludes that a shift to vegan eating is necessary to conserve land and other resources and create a more sustainable food system.

The world has lost half its natural ecosystems, and wildlife populations have shrunk by 68%, on average, since 1970.

Scientists project that nearly 90% of species will lose at least part of their habitat by 2050 unless we make big changes, such as ending animal agriculture.

Flaming Firehouse Chili Credit PETA
Vegan chili

Researchers at Florida International University believe that demand for meat will cause more species extinctions worldwide than any other factor, because “livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss, and both livestock and feedstock production are increasing in developing tropical countries where the majority of biological diversity resides.”

Experts at the Yale School of the Environment estimate that cattle ranching is “the largest driver of deforestation” in every Amazon country, accounting for about 80% of deforestation. Studies show that by 2050, the only way we’ll be able to feed the entire world population — without sacrificing more forests and worsening the climate crisis — is if everyone goes vegan.

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Eat less meat and save our planet!

Schools play an important part in teaching kids how they can help animals, feed the world, protect the planet and live healthfully, simply by going vegan.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth-largest school district in the nation, is offering more vegan options this year, as are other schools in Florida, California, Washington and New York. Children at Bergen Elementary School in Brooklyn even opted for an all-vegetarian menu.

Every school in America should serve vegan meals. And, considering that a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that many American schoolchildren have gained weight since the pandemic began, schools should be eager to help students get in shape by providing them with low-fat, cholesterol-free vegan food. Scholars think vegan meals will be the “default” choice in British schools by mid-century.

We already know that young people are wild about wild animals. NSLW would be a great time for schools to encourage students to go wild over healthy vegan lunches that don’t harm the planet or any of its inhabitants — wild or domesticated.

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Teens and college students, BUY THESE PRODUCTS – THEY’RE NOT TESTED ON WHITE BUNNIES!

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BILL COLEMAN RUNS FOR WORCESTER CITY COUNCILOR AND MAYOR. AGAIN.

By Rosalie Tirella

Perennial Worcester City Councilor and Mayoral candidate Bill Coleman is running for political office again. This November. … Billy wrote this cover story for us years ago:

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🙂

He was running for Worcester City Councilor and Mayor back then, too. Again. He was all over the city posting his already yellow, faded political signs in pals’ lawns. They’d seen better days even back then. But he was in his 50s years ago … youngish. And we were younger, too. Plus, we really didn’t understand the Coleman modus operandi back then, his insatiable need for attention, his habit of always finding the camera’s view finder, to be leading whatever rag tag political parade that caught his fancy that week. Or hour. Bill blew wherever the political winds blew him. But he was…loveable.

Was Bill a Republican? A progressive African American Civil Rights crusader? Was he pro-business? Anti-anything?

Over the years we saw how Bill would climb aboard – and hijack – any hot popular Worcester issue and get his photo in the papers. Just to be in the thick of the excitement? Just to satiate his bottomless ego that was bigger than the bottomless cups of coffee he swigged at his beloved Pickle Barrel in Piedmont?

Most people at Worcester City Hall believed: Yes.

So they dismissed Bill Coleman, laughed him off. Sometimes while sitting three feet away from him at a candidate forum.

We endorsed Bill. Every election cycle. Every political September or November. We endorsed this friendly, energetic African American guy who loved city politics and so wanted to be a local political mover and shaker. This being Worcester, Bill always lost. Black, not born and raised in Wormtown, Billy was rebuffed by the city’s power brokers/pols … even as they glad handed him and shouted: HEY, BILLY!

But Bill was not entirely rejected by the voters who saw him all over Worcester painting American flags on junkyard fences and more. He had a few good years – especially the one where we essentially gave him the covers of InCity Times …

Here it is 20 years later and Billy is back at it – running for Worcester city councilor and mayor. Again. He is thin. I am fat. He is … cynical for Bill Coleman. I am … hopeful for Rosalie. He is not as helpful as in the old days. I’m burned out, too. He walks with a hitch. Me too.

We talked over the phone this morning. I pulled no punches. I said: BILL, WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE?! THE VOTERS HAVE REJECTED YOU! FOR YEARS!

Bill said: Rose, didn’t you ever learn that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?

So I’m saying nothing.

I will, however, VOTE FOR BILL COLEMAN.

Again.

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Bill Coleman, years back, standing before one of his American flags.🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲