By Rosalie Tirella
Why is it that we have a plethora of yahoos on the Worcester City Council? First there is City Councilor at Large Frederick “Ric” Rushton, whose trials and tribulations I chronicle in “Dope-o-rama” – ’cause he’s so dopey. Whether Rushton’s talking about the “vortex” in his brain or browbeating his council mates with a half-baked version of some historical event, Rushton never seems to get anything right.
Then there’s City Councilor Joff Smith, who, when recently complaining about the Asian Long-Horned Beetle in sentences cobbled together with thumb tacks and dangling participles galore, took his moron-ness to an even higher level: During a recent city council meeting Smith said that some of his conversations with officials reminded him of “episodes of Scooby Doo.” Scooby Doo?!
For the uninitiated, Scooby Doo was a 1960s Saturday morning cartoon – the star of which was a goofy Great Dane named Scooby Doo. Scooby had all these silly adventures with four 20-something kids (they’re Joff’s age) – one of whom always yelled: “Scooby Doo, where are YOU?!” Continue reading How dumb can they get?
By Rosalie Tirella
What a surprise! WPI, following the lead of the great Charles Monahan and his downtown college, has volunteered to make PILOT payments to the City of Worcester. More than $9 million over two decades! The money will be used to (re)open our flagship library on Salem Square. So now kids can go to the downtown Worcester Public Libray on Sundays or Mondays or Wednesday mornings (the times the library is now closed). InCity Times has been asking for this kind of commitment from Worcester’s private colleges for YEARS! And now, deep in the midst of a national, state and city financial meltdown, WPI has decided to do the right thing!
Thank you, WPI! Thank you, City Manager Mike O’Brien for brokering this ground-breaking agreement! Thank you (and we never thought we’d be writing this) District 2 City Councilor Phil Palmieri for hammering away at the colleges/nonprofits during city council meeting after city council meeting. City Councilor at Large Gary Rosen has also been wonderful, even suggesting that the colleges support our library system or open their libraries to Worcester families. And also thanks to District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller who was pro-PILOT (Payment in Lieu for Taxes) from the get-go – years back. Continue reading Cheers to WPI! (and don’t forget to credit Tony!)
By Rosalie Tirella
Some folks on the left are disappointed in our prez. Not I! He is cool, goodlooking, smart and progressive. How wonderful to turn on the tube and see a guy who speaks well, listens carefully, reacts intelligently, has a sense of humor (a wee bit smug, perhaps) AND is pretty much the community organizer I voted for last November.
President Barack Obama still cares about families, neighborhoods and kids. He wants a health care system that doesn’t break the bank – a system that serves the guy with cancer or the girl who just broke an ankle. Not the insurance companies or the HMOs. And no, there will not be rationing of health care. And like Obama said, if you have health insurance that you are happy with and you like all your docs – then keep them. But chances are you will be paying less money for their good services. Continue reading Trust Obama!
By Rosalie Tirella
… of himself again! Like the perfect idiot that he is! Like someone who should have been arrested (and would have been, if he were black and poor and this face-off occured in Main South’s Crystal Park).
If John Fresolo had just done what prima donna State Rep. Bob Spellane had done – thrown a hissy fit at a Worcester Little League game, attacked his ex-brother in law, come within a hair’s breath of mixing it up with his ex-wife … demanding the $19 bucks he said she owed him for a new pair of sneakers for their son (I predict four score and seven years of psychotherapy for the Spellane kiddies!) – the rotund Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson (she got that way from eating all that red meat and smoking!) would have written a delicious column on him. We would have read all the kooky details: like Spellane went ballistic over half the cost of a pair of kid sneakers! That Spellane went postal AFTER last year’s mess, the one is which he used his political position and his father in law’s good name to pay ZERO mortgage payements on a country house he bought. AFTER his wife’s family gave him (for which they are now suing him) $150,000. After Spellane had to pay the state a fine for coming within spitting distance of breaking state ethics laws. After Spellane and his wife graced the cover of a Worcester glossy magazine as one of the main characters in a cover story about Worcester’s illustrious – and happily married! – political couples. After Spellane cheated on his wife with a girl reporter from a local cable TV news station.
How big a crumb bum can this crumb bum get?
Much bigger, we suspect! During the recent (now infamous) Little League game, supposedly to cheer his son on, Spellane acted like the kind of kid coaches “bench” every game: a stupid and selfish bully. Spellane shoved his smarmy face into the face of his ex-brother-in-law. They chased each other around a picnic table, for Gawd’s sake! REAL grown ups had to pull him off the other guy.
But, hey, this is Worcester. Spellane is “connected,” and Dianne Williamson swims in the same fetid sludge in which Spellane and his political bros doggy paddle. Of course, Williamson is going to protect him!
But Worcester knows a hypocritical Telegram & Gazette columnist when she sees one. And she also knows a fool pol when she sees one – a fool pol who apparently knows no bounds when it comes to making a perfect ass of himself.
By Rosalie Tirella
Worcester Animal Rescue League’s Dorreen LaPorte was driving in the Webster Square area last summer when she saw something that broke her heart: a young pit bull dog – younger than 1 year – was straining to pull three gray cinder blocks in the summer heat. The cinder blocks (weighing about 45 pounds each) were attached to three heavy chains and the chains were attached to the dog’s collar. Pit bulls are – believe it or not – crazy about people! They were bred to bait bulls and later used to fight dogs. Without their desire to please their masters, they could not endure the insanity of the bloody dog-fighting pit or tortured bulls. Also, a less sociable dog woud not allow himself to be extricated (by his master) from the pit, in the middle of a fight. (Hence, the relatively light weight of the turn-of-the-20th century pit bull dogs – 45ish pounds).
Combine the pit bull’s fierce loyalty, love of their master/mistress, innate intelligence, stamina and steely will and you have the scene LaPorte witnessed: a pit bull on Webster Square, who when his owner says “mush,” mushes. In 90-degree weather. All heart . LaPorte, who has been the executive director of WARL for more than 10 years, knew what the owner was doing – training his pit bull for dog fights.
“There’s a [pit bull fighting] dog ring on Southbridge Street,” LaPorte says. She has called the Worcester Animal Control Officers – and their bosses – and they have done nothing about breaking up the ring and rescuing the dogs. LaPorte believes there are “multiple” dog fighting rings in Worcester. Continue reading Worcester’s Pit Bulls
By Rosalie Tirella
(editor’s note: This column is dedicated to the late George Carlin; he recently passed away – shortly after performing in Worcester – one of his last gigs. This column was inspired by Carlin’s comedy routine “A Place for My Stuff.”)
I never thought I cared so much about stuff until I started moving stuff, losing stuff, accounting for stuff … seeing people’s stuff! It all began four months ago, when I decided to forsake my inner-city apartment of 11 years for the Worcester ‘burbs. I was burned out from the inner-city noise, the crowdedness of my street, the pain-in-the-ass teenager who lived downstairs and played loud music at night. His music was his stuff. But his stuff was my shit!
So I decided to take all my stuff and move it to a new place in a nearby town. My boyfriend “Mario” (he asked me to give him this silly pseudonym) said, “Rose, it’ll be a brutal move – you’ve got a ton of shit!”
I said, “Mario, it’s not shit! It’s my stuff!”
Continue reading Where’s my stuff?!
Hopefully, Worcester City councilors will do what they need to do to close a projected multi-million dollar municipal budget deficit. So what can Worcester do to save itself from itself?
* How about getting all unions to agree to have their members pony up 25% – instead of 20% – $$$ for municipal employee health insurance? If City of Worcester employees – including the school dept. side – agree to pay 25% of their insurance bills, that relatively small concession (that’s what everyone contributes in the private sector) could save Worcester hundreds of thousands of dollars.
* City of Worcester employees need to say “to hell with Blue Cross Blue Shield” (what they can get if they stick to City of Worcester health insurance plan) and join the state insurance group. It costs a lot less money – and you get a ton of health plans to choose from, many just fine.
* PILOT – Payment in Lieu of Taxes. Get the nonprofits – especially the bigger ones and the colleges – to start making monetary contributions to the City of Worcester for doing business in Worcester for gratis. That’s right – they pay no property taxes and yet get fire trucks, police protection, DPW support, etc, etc. We know their endowments have taken a hit with the market in free fall, but they can – especially Holy Cross and WPI – give us something. City policy wonks say PILOT will only net the city about $1 million. We say – GO FOR IT! It’s a beginning, which is why the collecges are so resistant. And don’t worry, they’ll still be sending us their kids, asking for internships (precious experience for the kiddies).
* Get the freaking Worcester cops off roadway details! Only one other state uses cops to direct traffic while digging, road work is going on. Let’s join the rest of the country and hire flagmen and women. With the Worcester police, you have to hire them for a minimum of four hours. Their pay rate starts at $50/hour. Flag guys and gals get around $30 per hour. That’s saving some serious dough! Also, it gets the police doing what they should be doing: preserving the peace; chasing robbers, drug dealers, etc.
This is the tip of the iceberg. Let’s all put our thinking caps on to save our city!
– Rosalie Tirella
By Rosalie Tirella
It’s the end of 2008 and the apocalypse is here: U.S. banks are the bunk, folks are trading their foreclosed homes for corrugated shacks, America’s car companies are being towed to the scrap heap, the arctic ice caps are melting, everyone is poor (except for the rich), George Bush is as oblivious as ever, a New England ice storm has decimated Northern Worcester, along with the Asian longhorn beetle. And, last but not least, a recent news report states that within five years, the U.S. will most likely be the target of a nuclear or bio-terrorist attack.
So what better time to critique Worcester’s City Council? Mayor Konnie Lukes, City Councilors Gary Rosen, Bill Eddy, Joff Smith, Phil Palmieri, Barbara Haller, Ric Rushton, Paul Clancy, Mike Germain and Kate Toomey will probably be with us when the world comes to an end. My question to all Worcesterites: Are these the folks we want to have leading the city when the sky opens up and the hand-wringing, chest-beating and self-flagellation begin?
Continue reading Armageddon and the Worcester City Council