Gordy parked in A.I. … but first …

Happy July 4th!

Here’s Gordon’s column:

Ray Mariano says goodbye to WHA

By Gordon Davis

Raymond Mariano has retired as Executive Director of the Worcester Housing Authority as of July 1, 2016. His retirement is well deserved, although I cannot imagine him not involving himself in some ways in Worcester politics. Are their rumors he is contemplating a run against Mayor Joe Petty?

I have mixed feelings towards Mr. Mariano. I found him to be personable. He was the only elected official who offered his condolences when my father died.

Mr. Mariano has certainly changed Great Brook Valley in many ways which are, for the most part, for the better. There is now a public library there. The façade of the apartment units no longer have the look of a ghetto.

However,  Mr. Mariano has a flaw in his personality: He does not care what others think of him or his actions. He considers constructive criticism to be personal attacks.
The former mayor sees police force as a legitimate tool to gain his goals. Mr. Mariano was never much for logic or persuasion.

While mayor of Worcester in the 1990s Mr. Mariano pushed through a City policy for the use of police officers to arrest students who were not in school. The Worcester School Department actually had Truancy Officers who were teachers or social workers do the same job.

Mr. Mariano would not listen to criticism that arresting children and detaining them in a special truancy center off of Grover Street would traumatize the children and make worse their underlying issues. Mr. Mariano did not listen to WPD Chief Gardella who said his officers did not want to arrest kids for not being in school. The police union complained to the Department of Labor Relations.

In the 2000s WHA Director Mariano imposed a 6 p.m. curfew on all residents of Great Brook Valley. A resident or a guest could be arrested after 6 p.m. Many in the community said that this curfew was unconstitutional and racist. There was a demonstration organized against Mr. Mariano’s curfew.

Before retiring Mr. Mariano has set up a program through which the State can evict people from State subsidized housing for not having a job or going to school. So even if you have an income and you can pay your rent you can be evicted. There are regulations on what “going” to school means. Like with his other actions this program is based on the threat of physical removal or arrest.

Mr. Mariano has argued that this jobs or eviction program is working. The same program in Boston has been a failure in accomplishing its goals. The program in Worcester has only been effect for six months. It will likely also be a failure, given that people in Boston and Worcester are not significantly different.

This so called legacy project might be short lived.

It is well beyond the time to end these programs which have a disparately negative impact on “minority” communities and are enforced by police arrests. It is time to end the School to Prison Pipeline and racism of some City Hall politicians and managers.
I am confident that if and when Mr. Mariano reads this column he will not let it affect him. He will see this column as a personal attack. He will not see it as constructive or a request to reflect on what could be his personality flaw.

It is unlikely Mr. Mariano will pursue his next mission a redeemed individual.