Tag Archives: accidents

Go, Gordon Davis, go!

Icy road 12-30-15
CM Ed Augustus and DPW head Paul Moosey fucked up when it came to deploying snowplows this past snowstorm. Some say Moosey’s got the personality of a wet dish rag. Or slushy street.

Snow’s Limited Judgment

By Gordon Davis

Snow, rain, freezing rain, and a flash freeze came to Worcester on December 29, 2015. As of late afternoon of December 30, 2015 many of the streets in Worcester are still ice packed and unplowed.

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr., has stated in his December 30, 2015 public letter, “Many of our streets are not in the condition our taxpayers have the right to expect.”

Augustus has admitted in his letter that the wrong decision “was made.” The use of the passive voice in the assignment of blame leaves open and unclear who is to blame for this mess. Most politicians are skilled at the use of the passive voice to shift blame.

The city manager in his letter also said the Worcester Department of Public Works (DPW) deployed salters and sanders well before the precipitation arrived. However, it did not call in the plows because the forecast was for “slush.” I suppose this makes some sense.

When it became clear to the DPW, the weather and street conditions would be more than just slush, the DPW called in the plows in the late afternoon of December 29, 2015. This does not seem to have been entirely accurate, as many of the main streets are still ice covered inn the late afternoon of December 30, 2015, especially the break down lanes.

I had not seen one plow truck on my street or anywhere in Worcester on December 30, 2015.  Perhaps the city manager can say what streets were plowed.

DPW Commissioner Paul Moosey said there was a limited response to the flash freezing of snow and rain. Unfortunately, his response not only did not excuse the error in judgment, but failed to address another important issue. 

The issue of pedestrians was not addressed. Because of the ice and snow, the sidewalks have to be shoveled and treated.

We pedestrians have gotten used to the failure of some property owners to shovel and treat their sidewalks.

Even the City of Worcester fails to do so on some of their properties.  When a sidewalk is unshoveled or untreated pedestrians usually can walk in the break down lanes in the streets.

But this storm we could not.

The breakdown lanes were not plowed and were as bad as the unshoveled sidewalks. Plowed streets being important for pedestrians did not seem to be a concern for Augustus or Moosey of the DPW. Neither of whom mentioned us in their public communiqués.

This lack of concern seems to fit the pattern of Worcester ignoring or marginalizing pedestrians.

There seems to be about one pedestrian death per week in Worcester.

There is a perception that the police looks first to see if the pedestrian was at fault and then looks for the fault of the driver in a pedestrian motorist accident.

It is time to have a default law assuming that the motorist who hits a pedestrian is always at fault for not yielding to a pedestrian.

Getting back to the snow and ice issues, the City Manager Augustus should review how decisions are made in terms of when to do more than a “limited” response to road conditions. Augustus should take full responsibility for any and all errors of judgment and stop using the passive voice in assigning blame.

It was shameful how Governor Charlie Baker shifted blame for last season’s MBTA failures. This season’s failures clearly are the responsibility of Governor Baker.

I hope Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus does not trap himself into this shameful practice of shifting blames. He should own up to this and other errors in judgments he has made.  

The meat industry endangers motorists and animals alike

By Dan Paden

Out along highways and rural roads throughout the U.S., you’ll see tractor-trailers loaded with pigs—or cattle, turkeys or chickens—taking the animals to their fate. Most of us prefer not to think of the gruesome end that these animals face. But scenes of slaughter play out along these same roads again and again as the trucks overturn. Recently, a truck loaded with cattle overturned on Interstate 74 in Illinois after the driver reportedly fell asleep at the wheel. At least two other motorists struck the terrified animals as they tried to run away.

In many of these cases, critically injured animals are left to lie on the roadside for hours without veterinary care. Try to imagine the horror of surviving a serious car crash only to be left to suffer in agony before either being loaded back onto a truck to be taken the rest of the way to the slaughterhouse or having a bolt put through your head (which may or may not kill you, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association). Shockingly, PETA has uncovered evidence that the meat industry has failed to take even basic steps to prevent these chaotic wrecks—putting both humans and animals in harm’s way.

Consider the case of Jonathan Leggett, a former truck driver for Smithfield Foods. In June 2010, Leggett crashed on a ramp leading off Interstate 95 south of Richmond, Virginia, while hauling 80 pigs for Smithfield subsidiary Murphy-Brown, LLC. Approximately 46 pigs were killed. This time, no humans were injured. According to public records, Leggett was cited for reckless driving and failure to maintain control.

Just three months before the June wreck, Leggett had rear-ended an SUV and crashed while hauling cattle in North Carolina. The SUV’s driver was taken to a hospital, and 35 cattle were killed. Leggett was cited for failure to reduce speed and for improper passing.

The previous summer, Leggett had been fined for traveling 56 mph in a 35 mph zone. A month before that, he had been fined for failing to obey a traffic signal. Earlier in 2009, he had paid $91 to clear up a tinted-windshield infraction. And so on, back to 2002, when officers found him operating an overweight vehicle in Fauquier County, Virginia.

The pork giant apparently lacked the initiative, the personnel or the 30 minutes that it took PETA to discover all this in public records. In late October, another driver, William Orville Barnett, was issued a summons for reckless driving in Suffolk, Virginia, after he overturned a trailer containing nearly 200 pigs headed for Smithfield; 47 pigs were killed. Easily found records show that Barnett allegedly violated federal transportation safety laws twice last year.

As an animal protection worker, I want the meat industry to prevent these wrecks for the sake of animals. One can’t smell the aftermath of five of these crashes, see debilitated survivors be electro-shocked and dragged by their ears and hear those who are the worst off have bolts driven into their brains without grasping the urgency with which meat-industry officials should be acting to prevent crashes.

But even those who are reading this over a bacon or sausage breakfast should be concerned about the motorists who share our nation’s highways and narrow, rural roads, often in low light, with these trucks and the civic responders who wade into these dangerous scenes.

Children and animals differ in important ways, of course, but we would not stand for a school district hiring a school-bus driver who had just crashed a bus, killing a few dozen kids, and had a long record of reckless driving. At the very least, the meat industry must prohibit employing, in any fashion, drivers who have repeated driving-related offenses or are found to have been at fault, ever, in any crash.

It’s a cruel irony that the final road leading to one of Smithfield’s slaughterhouses is Virginia State Route 666. But the rest of our nation’s roads don’t have to be hell for animals and people alike.

Dan Paden is a senior research associate with PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department.

To DPW and Parks head Bob Moylan: Do not dismantle urban shrines

By Rosalie Tirella

I remember seeing the makeshift shrine on Grafton Street about a year or two ago. I was driving up Dorchester Street, going to Building 19. I came to the end of the street, the intersection of Dorcester and Grafton streets, and there it was: the wreath, the cellophane hearts and flowers. I knew instantly: Some one had died there – in that exact spot.
I had read about the tragedy in the papers.

“God,” I said to myself. “What a horrible way to die – car speeding straight into a stone wall … .”

The driver, a young guy, had been at a party and decided to drive home drunk. Zooming down Dorchester Street, a long and hilly affair that seems to go on forever, he was too drunk to see the stop sign at the end of Dorchester, too drunk to notice the street had come to an end, too drunk to slow down … . And a young life came to a violent halt that night.

I was reminded of the incident for months because I’m always driving around the Grafton Street shopping plaza – for groceries, whatever, – and always drive up Dorchester Street to get there. For months, I always saw the shrine to that young man. For months family and friends maintained it, cleaned up and updated what was now hallowed ground.
You see that a lot with urban shrines – they are kept up beautifully. At Christmas there are wreaths tacked to the spot where victims exhaled their last breaths of air. On Valentine’s Day you see the heart-shaped candy boxes and pink stuffed animals adorning pictures of the deceased. Little statues of plaster or Paris angels bought at the Dollar Store.
Color in a sometimes drab world. Life in a sometimes deadly world.

When I see an urban shrine well maintained for months – and most of them are – I think: that person is not forgotten, the community has not forgotten him/her.

So many times poor people are forgotten by society or dismissed by the people around them. People with power or money who see poor folks as too noisy, too ignorant, too unattractive … . Whatever. I have seen/experienced it. You go to places and people talk over you and past you because they know you don’t have the best car or the best clothes or you’re too old or too young. And you can’t touch them.

But the shrines do touch people – they can touch an entire neighborhood – or even city.

And often times poor folks create a kind of church service at these sacred places. Maybe they can’t afford a flower-laden casket and the pomp and ceremony that you can buy at funeral homes. Sometimes bodies are even shipped to other states, in a way disappearing forever.

But with an urban shrine, people can exert some control. Plastic flowers from the Dollar Store can cascade down walls, golden-framed photos can rest on the sidewalk – out of the way and yet not too far away. So we don’t forget. A poem written by a friend. A placard with a place to write your name and goodbye … .

About a month ago, after the murder of a young guy in Crompton Park, I was driving down Quinsigamond Ave and noticed that a little shrine had popped up near the old field house there. Several people were gathered around the shrine, talking quietly, remembering the youth who had just been murdered … .

A bit of peace. A place to reflect on life … the evil of guns … what we can all do to make Worcester a better place.

The city mourns.

Mourns in a way that is true, heart-felt. The shrines that mourners set up in playgrounds, parks, sidewalks are really churches – gatherings of people to pray, to be together to give each other strength and maybe ask for God’s help. Churches, in the truest sense.

People need churches, need to come together. It is a shame that DPW and Parks Head Robert Moylan has decided to desecrate urban shrines and the experiences they embody.

It is a shame that Moylan has decided – with the City Council’s blessing – to give inner-city folks 30 days to have their shrines up. And then: a DPW truck comes along and picks it all up – like so much refuse.

To be fair to Moylan, he said the City of Worcester would keep the personal affects, memorabilia for a bit of time.
So the mourners could pick up … pieces of their hearts at DPW headquarters – with the garbage trucks and plows and noise buzzing all around them.

This new rule is senseless and callous and needs to be repealed.

Kids and hunting

By Paula Moore

In just one week recently, a 7-year-old boy was fatally shot by his 10-year-old brother as they were hunting deer with their father in Virginia and a 14-year-old was shot and killed during a squirrel-hunting trip in Wisconsin. Another teen was flown to the hospital after he was shot in the leg while deer hunting in West Virginia. Most people wouldn’t dream of handing a child a loaded gun and hoping for the best. Yet that seems to be exactly what some parents are doing when they encourage their children to hunt.

In an effort to revive this dying blood sport, states across the country are loosening hunting restrictions and putting loaded weapons into younger and younger hands. Last year, lawmakers in Wisconsin lowered the state’s hunting age from 12 to 10. Since 2004, more than a dozen other states have also changed their laws to allow younger children to hunt. In Texas, children as young as 9 can hunt by themselves. Many states do not even have a minimum hunting age. Continue reading Kids and hunting

Turning kids into killers

By Martin Mersereau

A new Wisconsin law begs the question: How low will hunting lobbyists go?

In an effort to revive a dying sport, states across the country are loosening hunting restrictions and putting loaded weapons into younger and younger hands. The Wisconsin law, which went into effect this month, lowers the state’s hunting age from 12 to 10. Since 2004, more than a dozen other states have also changed their laws to allow younger children to hunt. According to the Associated Press, 30 states do not even have a minimum hunting age. Continue reading Turning kids into killers