Tag Archives: Allen Fletcher

The Wyman-Gordon site is a sight!

By Rosalie Tirella

The old Wyman Gordon factory site. Once a testament to Worcester’s industrial muscle. Now a shadow of it and its city’s former, greater!, working-class self! Now it is ugly, dirty, closed off from the neighborhood – no longer economic life blood for the residents of the hood. It sits at the edge of the Canal District under-used, under-loved. You drive past it down Lamartine Street and your heart grows heavy …

Through the years, there have been plans and dreams for this Woo inner-city eyesore – some more mundane than others. Like the Wal-Mart that was maybe gonna go in (nope, said the company, not enough potential customers), a Price Chopper (ditto for the supermarket chain), etc.

The summer before last it really looked like a slots casino, hotel, spa, pub-style restaurant were all heading for the Wyman Gordon site. But then-City Manager Mike O’Brien and pals pushed for the hotel to be built downtown,  restaurant types felt uneasy about the casino’s pub taking business away, other folks wanted MILLIONS AND MILILIONS of dollars in mitigation funds – bribes, don’t you know. So Worcester, as usual, shot itself in the groin.

I myself was against the whole thing! But I reconsidered once neighborhood folks told me LOUD AND CLEAR that THEY REALLY WANTED – NEEDED! – ALL THE JOBS that the casino was going to create.

In hindsight, the classy, fun playground, with a concert venue!, that the casino guys proposed might have been a good thing. I know this for sure: All the jobs for the semi-skilled in the neighborhood and city would have been a GREAT THING!

Just getting some trees planted along Lamartine Street – this gal’s modest proposal for the WG site two summers ago! – proved to be too controversial!

So now we’ve got shit! The Wyman Gordon site is one big shit sandwich on Kelley Square, leading to the Historic Canal District.

Maybe it’s all the Halloween candy I wolfed down doing the talkin’ … but the Wyman Gordon site looks especially foreboding this time of year!

But today I have a new, INEXPENSIVE, INCLUSIVE, DOABLE, TEMPORARY SOLUTION to the problem:  an inner-city mini-park, with or without a dog park.

Let’s all work together to get some soil trucked into this now fairly cleaned up and detoxified brownfield! Let’s put in trees, bushes, flower gardens, benches, picnic tables, some art …

If the liability issue can get worked out, let’s fence in some greenery, bolt in some fuckin’ benches, install doggy poop bags dispensing machines and get a little urban dog park going! It may work! It would be away from tons of homes with homeowners who don’t want to live by a dog park. Away from all the anal naysayers who will NEVER allow a dog park to be constructed in Green Hill Park. (Let’s not kid ourselves!)

If Allen Fletcher can have his fake canal, the Canal District should – through volunteerism? and donations? – create a fake city park that can be disassembled once the Wyman Gordon folks sell the property, which will never happen because the owners  are demanding WAY TOO MUCH $$$$.

We’ve got stabbings, prostitution, murders, garbage dumping in/near the historic Canal District.  Maybe if the hood’s RESIDENTS get something they can truly feel part of, make their own, there would be more pride in the neighborhood coming from people who live here 24/7.

The real neighborhood.

The real neighborhood people who need a CVS, bank, supermarket, maybe even a health center or public library branch, in their neighborhood. The very  stuff the neighborhood’ s movers and shakers all have and take for granted.

Now that would be historic!

On the corner of Lafayette and Grosvernor streets in Green Island …








By Rosalie Tirella

… sits this big apartment building. A dirty drug house until the (now defunct) Green Island CDC bought it and saved it (years ago). They got it looking like this. One of the nicer looking buildings in my old neighborhood!

Why can’t we get a Green Island Community Development Corporation up and running again? I know the Oak Hill CDC has absorbed “The Island” to some extent, but more houses were saved and more families were helped when we Green Islanders had our own CDC and our own board of directors. It was located on the corner of Lafayette and Millbury streets and you could walk in any time and talk with the always smiling and helpful staffer Lorraine Laurie (and you also got a bunch of neighborhood gossip/dirt, courtesy of “Sweet Lorraine”!).  Andy, who rented space from the CDC to run his farmer’s market program, was often there (he passed away last year). More federal money seemed to flow into the hood then. Today, the regular folks of Green Island, the people who live on Lafayette, Lodi, Lunel, Grosvernor, Scott and Ellsworth street aren’t seeing the federal monies that Allen Fletcher and pals at the Canal District Task Force are getting for trees, benches, brick crosswalks, flowers, facade improvements. They are just two streets away, but they may as well be two galaxies away! Bobby Largesse says his biz group has no money to beautify the streets just mentioned. We hear Bobby and pals are sitting on $40 K – and have more grant money pouring in!!! None of this dough is trickling down to the kids and families of Lafayette Street and beyond …  for beautification, festivals, even COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS.  Even Harding Street, a busy biz street parallel to Millbury Street, looks no different than it did a decade ago! I mean, Harding should definitely be considered part of the Canal District!

Or is it the Cabal District, Monsieur Allen Fletcher??!(this is not a photo of Allen, but this is how Allen looks scuttling around the district in the fall and winter, beret-clad but  … not at all French!We love Paris! Allen defiles are Paris dreams!! AURGH!!!! GRRRRR!!! GAK!!!!)

But I digress!

We Green Islanders want our trees, please!

Better yet we want our own CDC! Several years ago Mac, the owner of Island Auto on Harding Street, another Harding Street small biz person and I were hoping to reboot the old Green Island CDC. Get the paper work, incorporate, etc. But I got cold feet because the guys  were hinting that I would be the organization’s secretary, and stenography ain’t my bag, brother. Plus, I think, I borrowed $800 or so from Mack and never paid him back (never lend money to friends) and he kept my ICT news boxes, took back a cool cell phone he gave me for my biz  … and it was really quite the blood bath, folks! So the CDC idea died.

Maybe new people would be willing to give it another shot – for the kids of Green Island!

“Slots” of times … times like these call for …

Bob Marley and the Wailers. Not only did Marley write some of the greatest love songs of all time (listen to one of my faves – WAITING IN VAIN – below), but he also penned incredible, spiritual protest songs!

Take this Rush Street Gaming!!!! And smoke it!!!

– R. Tirella

Driving in the old Green Island neighborhood …

By Rosalie Tirella

… a few days ago. Millbury Street, my old stomping grounds. Saw a guy being handcuffed by a cop outside the Honey Farms store. I thought to myself: Some things never change. All the canal fests in the world, all the frou frou street lamps in the universe can not wipe away poverty, desperation.

Criminals never look like the actors and actresses who portray them in movies and TV shows. In real life petty thieves look a lot like the guy I saw outside Honey Farms: underfed, skanky, poor. Like a guy who needs a good meal and some new, warm clothes.

I wonder how a slots parlor in the old hood will affect local businesses like Honey Farms. You know – the small stores on Millbury Street that cater to the residents of Lafayette, Lodi, Ellsworth , Sigel, Grosvenor and Meade streets, etc. The streets of Green Island. The streets where poor/working class folks live, usually in three deckers. More crime? More poverty?

Yesterday, still alarmed by the prospect of a slots parlor at Wyman Gordon, I went a callin’ on an old family friend on Lafayette Street. Let’s call her ‘Mary.’

I asked Mary, a smart, once fiery lady, what she thought of the slots parlor in her neighborhood. This life-long resident of Green Island knew exactly how things would play out in Wusta, land of the connected, home of the spineless politician. She said the slots were coming because none of the area’s leaders were gonna make a big effort to stop them. The deal has been made, she said. Without any in-put from Green Islanders, as usual.

Funny. She brought up Allen Fletcher. She said: Where is Fletcher on this? He has got his big school house on Ash Street. He lives near Wyman Gordon.

I told her I heard he is against the slots parlor but not really saying so, in a vociferous, public way.

Mary just smiled and shook her head and said: He knows on which side his bread is buttered.

I agreed. Allen is against slots, but why make waves and piss off the city manager and other city officials? People who have given him his frou frou street lamps on Millbury Street/Green Island. Why bite the hand that has been feeding you all sorts of goodies – of no real import to real Green Islanders – for years?

And so it goes. The grit in Green Island remains. Things will most likely get grittier as the locals make their way, WALK DOWN, to the slots parlor on Madison Street. To get lucky. But for the most part, they will leave uthe slots parlor poorer than when they entered its whirring, ringing, binging environs. More Green Islanders will struggle to pay rent and bills. A few desperate souls may rob the Honey Farms on Millbury Street. None of this will be pretty; some of it may be bloody.

We can count on ‘neighborhood leader’ Allen Fletcher to keep his rich, flaccid mouth shut. For the most part.

And do not get me started on our pointless city councilor, a pastor with a pastor husband. District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera is keeping her opinions to herself. Not coming out against gambling and its social ills, like a good pastor should. Not leading on this issue. Not advocating for her district. She has a big mouth when she wants to have one. Now, when we need it most, she has decided to shut her pie hole. Pathetic. Call her PASS-THE-BUCK RIVERA!

Allen Fletcher’s brain pan and … Of course the Worcester City Council …

By Rosalie Tirella

… last night voted for the harsh panhandler ordinance (voting against – bravo! – City Councilors Joe O’Brien and Sarai Rivera). A new low. Did burning down the Hoovervilles eradicate The Great Depression? Nope. FDR and World War II did. Sure, we will sweep these folks under the rug, but the problems will stay with us … and maybe a few extra thrown in for good measure. Like: folks getting robbed by desperate ex-panhandlers. Panhandlers who are homeless and without $$ forced to sleep in our streets or empty buildings and two or three  … die from the 2-degree cold … or cause a fire somewhere. Worcester will make the Boston papers and we will not be called a city on the move. We will be called heartless.

On an up note: You all know how I feel about Allen Fletcher and his: fake canal, phony berets, beer-soaked-college-crowd Blackstone Canal District, etc. Well, last night Fletcher said something smart. It was during a meeting re: what Worcester wants to see happen with the Worcester Public Library municipal parking lot. Fletcher  said parking (we agree), computer store (geeky), book store (we tried that with Ben Franklin and Ephraim’s), BUT he also said something totally brilliant: WHY NOT PUT A TRADER JOE’S food store in the lot?

Brilliant! I guess Allen’s brain pan isn’t as small as I once thought it was! Or maybe he just didn’t know that what he was suggesting would be a perfect fit for the area because:

1. First and foremost it would bring a nice little supermarket to the inner-city, a place where the folks of Green Island can shop and actually buy stuff like fresh oranges, apples, and other produce. A place where Green Islanders and other inner-city folks can buy organic produce, good tasty crackers, cereal, cheese, eggs, you name it! Even fresh flowers! All at low to very low prices. I shop at the Trader Joe’s in Shrewsbury and always wish for one in the city! Think of all the young families, poor, without a car, living around city hall and the beginning of Main South. Now they can go to Trader Joe’s … and the library.

2. Trader Joe’s has a ton of great stuff but it is smallish – not a huge box supermarket. Its “footprint” small, manageable. A perfect fit for the library parking lot, with plenty of room to spare.

3. College kids love Trader Joe’s because you can eat vegetarian if you buy your groceries there AND the prices are low and the place is … funky.

4. Trader’s would be a place where the middle class and the working class and the poor can mix and mingle, which means there will always be a ton of  folks around … OUR DOWNTOWN. And our city core will be lively and diverse.

In short, Trader Joe’s is the perfect people magnet!

Again, I am psyched because Green Islanders have been wanting a nice grocery store for YEARS and are stuck with a crumby Honey Farms. The walk downtown is a snap! I made it as a kid with my mom and two sisters all the time, at least once a week, when I was growing up in the hood! And the buses go there!


Perfect, Allen. Perfect.

Just wondering: Did you get a new brain pan at Trader Joe’s?



Life in Green Island: we have hope

By Maureen Schwab

Several years ago, I was asked by a Green Island business owner, “How can you stand to live here?”

The “here” in this inelegant question was the Green Island neighborhood where I live, and where he, continues to this day, to run a business and earn a living. At the time I was questioned, I simply shook my head and mumbled I don’t know, but today, if he were to ask me the same question I would answer, “because I have hope.”

Walking through Green Island on a humid Sunday morning, one can imagine what it may have felt like to walk upon the damp and steamy soil when this neighborhood was nothing more than a swamp, later drained to build the Blackstone Canal in 1828. Or perhaps later in time, what it was like to be an Irish immigrant escaping the horror of the Great Potato famine of 1845 and to settle in Worcester’s first Irish neighborhood.

For close to 200 years, Green Island has been home to a diverse blend of people who inhabited the three deckers that lined, and still stand proudly on the streets of Green Island. Many of these beautiful homes have fallen victim to the wrecking ball and only some have outlived the original purpose of providing “walk to work” housing for families that usually had several members working in the factories that surrounded the neighborhood.

As a child, I would fall asleep to the lulling sounds of the giant steel press at the Wyman Gordon plant, the gas tanks that sat at the corner of Quinsigamond Ave and Lafayette since 1852 served as a landmark where I would meet friends for an afternoon of exploring and adventure. Today, the sounds of the press have disappeared, as have the huge silos that held gas and the factories that men and women walked to, to earn a decent wage that would pay the mortgage on a home of their own.

Green Island has never been home to a prosperous class of people, and the real estate has been and still is consider some of the least desirable in the city. If you live here, you can be labeled as anything from modest to lowly to just plain poor. The factory jobs are gone, and if you work, you probably drive yourself to and from your job. Millbury Street once considered Worcester’s second Main Street is struggling with closed and empty properties. Any resemblance to the thriving commercial street I remember as a child growing up in the 50’s and 60’s is long gone. But I still have hope!

Our current President, Barack Obama, defines hope as “nothing more than every individual reaching and striving to achieve his or her goals, and a society reaching and striving to be just and fair so that all may have the opportunity to do so”. Green Island has suffered over the past 40 years from a lack of leadership that ignored opportunities that could have led to neighborhood growth and development instead of a neighborhood wasting away.

Families moved out, Lamartine Street school closed, a strip club was allowed to open and operate at the corner of Lafayette and Southbridge, and businesses closed one right after another including a bank that many of our elderly residents relied on for check cashing and banking services. Real estate was sold by families to absentee landlords who could care less about the condition of property and behavior of tenants as long as the rent checks came in.

At the bottom of this mess, we have the collapse and closure of the Green Island CDC (Community Development Corporation). Without a CDC, deals are made, and plans such as the WRTA bus maintenance facility and the Dept. of Transportation garage are allowed to move forward and on to Quinsigamong Ave without the input from the neighborhood residents.

This type of exclusive community development loosely parallels trickle down economics which gives those in control the power to start and expand businesses and services which may or may not benefit a neighborhood.

In contrast we have bottom up economics; everyone is encouraged to work hard, educate themselves and to be their most productive, to be given the opportunity to participate; in the words of our President, ordinary people allowed to do extraordinary things when given the chance.

The Blackstone Canal Feasibility Study was presented to the public in a series of public meetings in 2003. At that time, the information contained in the plan was overwhelming and confusing to me. Eight years later, I see that parts of the plan are exactly what the Green Island neighborhood needs to transform itself into a valuable historic and residential section of the city; a walkable neighborhood with open space, a link to the Blackstone River Bikeway, a dog park, a replica of the Mill Brook which once surrounded the Green Island neighborhood and beautifully restored three deckers.

A study of prosperous economies produced the following conclusion, it was found that colonies that were settled by people who stayed raised families and made homes in these areas were far more prosperous than colonies that were simply used for trading and never settled as homes. We can say the same for our neighborhoods, while some absentee landlords do a good job and have responsible tenants, the majority do not and only add to the “ no body in this neighborhood cares” attitude.

Green Island is a treasure in the heart of the city. It is our responsibility as citizens to take care of our environment , and our neighborhood, and to be thankful for the good things to be found here, and more importantly to work hard for more. We have a wonderful new swimming pool at Crompton Park, world famous Diners, Pernet Family Services which provides help to residents, summer programs for children and ice skating in the winter. Food and clothing for those in need are available at the Green Island Community Center on Canton St. We have a monthly crime watch, and community Police Officer to help with neighborhood crime issues.

The Polish community still has its heart and soul here, Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, St. Mary’s school ,the PNI club, and several European delis on Millbury Street. The Ghanaian church on Lafayette St and Haitian church on Ellsworth St are a welcome addition to Green Island. According to urban designer Kurt Culbetson, churches are major element of sustainable neighborhoods.
We can become a better neighborhood when we as individuals decide to do something. We can clean up a Brownfield and turn it into a beautiful park instead of a pollution producing parking lot. While I walked through Crompton Park on a steamy summer morning, I noticed that the one broken swing we have at the park had been repaired and was ready for use,…..I have hope .

Visiting Lowell for the Lowell Folk Festival

By Rosalie Tirella

I went to the Lowell Folk Festival this past weekend. It was everything Worcester is not (when it comes to huge summer events). Providence has Water Fire, Lowell has the Lowell Folk Festival. Worcester has … ???

What I liked about the event: It was three days long. All the concerts – hundreds of them – were free. And there were so many different stages/areas from which to listen to/dance to the music! (I remember one year at Lowell Folk listening to a young Allison Kraus – before she met Robert Plant, before she became world famous – fiddling – while standing on the bed of a pick-up truck!!) All the musical acts this year were first-rate, with many artists of national prominence. The folk festival was smack dab in the middle of what is a lovely, historic downtown. The food was fantastic – a sampling of all the ethnic cusines of Lowell, courtesy of all the local, ethnic churches/nonprofits. Chruch groups galore! Selling: their home-made Indian food, Greek food, Vietnamese food, Soul food etc. The money you spent on all the exotic goodies went to all these great urban churches/nonprofit agencies. You wanted to spend your cash to support all these great churches/groups! And finally, the Lowell Folk Festival attracted white folks, black folks, poor folks, middle-class folks, kids, teens, young adults, 20-somethings and old people.

Utterly, beautifully inclusive.

What does Worcester have that is comparable to this amazing, free, three-day-long musical extravaganza? An event that trumpets Worcester’s history? An event that impresses out-of-towners/shows off the city?

An important point: Lowell was damned lucky the urban renewal plague of the 1970s passed over it because today all its downtown’s great, old, brick buildings – repointed, power-washed, repainted, with new (smaller) businesses inside – still exist. And they look fab! They make downtown Lowell walkable, colorful, interesting, multi-cultural … . And then, right in the middle of downtown: THEIR CANAL. A REAL CANAL! The one that put Lowell on the map in the first place, the canal that made Lowell the place to work if you were an immigrant and needed a job (in the textile industry). Looking at Lowell’s canal puts you in awe of th people who built it and toiled because of it. It is heavy, big, serious, maybe dangerous … . So unlike Worcester where we have our “canal,” the fake little vinyl-lined pool that Allen Fletcher likes to paddle around in on Harding Street during Worcester’s canal fest, which is held in what is now becoming one big yuppy watering hole – “The Canal District,” complete with rowdy fights and bras left on the sidewalks infront of barroom entrances. I had the pleasure of stepping over one a few years ago.

Nope. Lowell’s celebration of its canal and the people who built it and worked it is REAL – not fake like the Fletcher bullshit. The city puts on a FIRST CLASS folk festival – not some rinky dink show, and no one is charged a penny to enjoy these world-class musicians, singers, songwriters. Years ago, at one of my first Lowell Folk Fesitvals, I remember listening to Elvis Presley’s original back-up group! If you closed your eyes, you could swear Elvis was crooning and fake humping in the foreground.

I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars this costs Lowell. Worcester should be as generous to its history/people! Invest the half-million, City Manager O’Brien! We are sick of paying our cops salaries of $125,000, our teachers salaries of $90,000! Money for the the people! Not just for the same 300 or so connected families!

But I digress. Another plus for Lowell: It has a textile museum downtown, it has a quilting museum downtown. Even its public art – a huge spool of string sculpted from granite – reflects the city’s proud history. REAL people. Working people. That is what the Lowell Folk Fesitval is celebrating, even honoring. Fletcher has sucked the gritty truth out of my old neighborhood. Of course, he has! His great grandparents and their pals owned the Worcester factories in which immigrants toiled! He and his ilk were the exploiters of my grandparents! So, of course, Fletcher’s take on Green Island (the original name of the “Canal District”) is warped and condescending. He sits around and talks about restaurants … . This man is close to 65 years old. Will he ever grow up? The world is not his oyster – even with all his millions of bucks. Stop being a fucking tourist in your own city, Allen!!!

With the Lowell Folk Festival, and its museums and its real canal and the public art, you get a great vibe: community. Lowell is celebrating its people – the working-class. The folks who toiled in Lowell, had strikes in the city, danced and sang in the city (with much of their music rooted in their homelands from across the globe), and worshipped their God in the city. The Lowell Folk Festival is a world-class event; it is a perfect melding of the people, music and history of a blue-collar city.

When will Worcester step up and have this kind of summer event? It will cost thousands and thousands of dollars, if we want to do it right and have it FREE of charge. It will mean including all voices – not just the same old same old.

But don’t you think our city is worth it?

And don’t forget …

Please join us for the
Canal District Alliance Annual Meeting
Thursday, June 2, 2011
6:00 PM
Worcester Hibernian Cultural Centre
19 Temple Street, Worcester

Featured Speaker: Jeffrey B. Mullan, Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation

editor’s note: Just wondering how many Green Islanders get this info. Certainly not moi – or anyone who disagrees with Allen Fletcher, for that matter … R.T.

Why don’t all Green Islanders receive this info?

By Rosalie Tirella

For 40 years (my old neighborhood’s) Green Island’s streets were a mess – Green Street, Water Street, the municipal parking lot on Water Street. Long swathes of concrete untouched/unpaved – decrepit. You killed yourself walking to your car if your parked it in the Water Street parking lot. In a weird way it was comforting: no matter where you came from (college, a brief stint in Boston, etc), the sidewalks of Green Island always stayed the same – sucky.

Then comes the “revival” AKA The Canal District (about several years ago) – really nothing more than a yuppie watering hole with lots of bars (and lately a place for fights to break out between drunken bar patrons). Gone was the neighborhood I adored. Here to stay was Allen Fletcher. But because Fletcher chose to plant his bony ass in Green Island and was a millionaire many times over, moneymade its way to the “Island.” The Water Street parking lot was repaved by the city and so were the streets and sidewalks of Water Street and Kelley Square. We “locals” were greatful for the smooth, concrete surfaces, even though the rest of the crap had zero effect on our lives.

Now this! I nearly fell over when I learned Flectcher and his Canal District brigade talked state and federal officials into RE-SURFACING the above streets – AGAIN! After only a year or two! After only a year or so of being completely repaired/resurfaced! Seems like these guys want everything more decorative! Red brick crosswalks and all that jazz..

Why did the City of Worcester spend millions of dollars to repave streets and parking lot only to have the entire thing done again? Why did c ity leaders agree to accept millions of state/fed dollars to do what was done only 24 months ago?

Talk about pork! Talk about squandering the taxpayers’ money – just because Fletcher and crew know how to lobby, know how to throw their weight around.

Wouldn’t it have been better for the folks of Green Island if the state/feds nixed the fancy sidewalks and instead came in and gave every household in Green Island, every family on Lafayette, Grosvenor, Lodi, Landgen, Endicot, Sigel streets – a FREE IPAD/or laptop or a FREE two-year scholarship to Quinsig Community College or another state community college? Wouldn’t this have helped the neighborhood far more? Wouldn’t the money have been better spent if poor folks in Green Island could learn new skills to get better jobs – or to jump into the job market, maybe for th e first time? This is what we Green Islanders need: jobs, job training, lap tops, IPADS – tools for success in the 21’st century.

NOT a repaving job – yet again! It seems taxpayer money gets recirculated to the same culprits: fat cat municpal unions and city movers and shakers. This trickle down economics is the pits! Give taxpayer money to the people who pay the taxes – regular folks – not Allen Fletcher and pals. Thety already get enough corporate welfare.

Below is a copy of info that Fletcher sends out to the people he wants to see at important Green Island meetings. This was probably sent out to more Green Islanders than usual – he wants to look good, he wants a crowd there. If you’re not on the bus with Fletcher, you usually never see these newsletters and you don’t get invited to their weekly Calal District pow-wows.

Read on folks! This is all a done deal – and of course, it has zero real effect on real Green Islanders. But they expect us to rubberstamp their masterplan:

NEWSLETTER from Fletcher and ilk (forwarded to me):Canal District News

Please join us for the
Canal District Alliance Annual Meeting
Thursday, June 2
6:00 PM
Worcester Hibernian Cultural Centre
19 Temple Street, Worcester, MA 01604

Featured Speaker: Jeffrey B. Mullan, Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Secretary Mullan will discuss issues significant to the district and the City of Worcester at large, including the Canal District streetscape improvement project, CSX and commuter rail expansion, and the Worcester Regional Airport.

This event is FREE and open to the public. All are encouraged to attend and will be provided an opportunity to ask questions.

Jeff Mullan is the Secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) which was launched on November 1, 2009. Appointed by Governor Deval Patrick, Jeff was a key architect of the reform plan to create MassDOT, a new, unified transportation organization focused on customer service and safety. Since becoming Secretary, Jeff has brought a business-like approach to state transportation, developing its first strategic plan, reducing costs, setting measurable performance objectives, and working to improve workplace culture.

Jeff has been involved in Massachusetts transportation issues for more than 20 years. Prior to being named Secretary, he served as the Executive Director of the former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, and as Undersecretary, Chief Operating Officer, and General Counsel at the former Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works (EOT). Both of those organizations are now a part of MassDOT.

Prior to 2007, he worked for 14 years at Foley Hoag LLP, where he was a partner and the co-chair of the firm’s administrative law practice. Before joining Foley Hoag, Mullan worked at the former Massachusetts Department of Public Works as Right of Way Manager on the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. He is a Worcester native and now lives in Milton.

Today, Green Island’s Christmas Tree lights up the night! God bless us – everyone!

By Rosalie Tirella

The Kelley Square Christmas Tree Lighting celebration is happening tonight at 5:30 p.m!

God love Lorraine Laurie! God bless District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller! And let’s not forget State Rep. John Fresolo!

Before Green Island became all bullshitty with Allen Fletcher and the Canal District folks with their artsy fartsy galleries and yuppie bars where girls leave their bras out on the streets (I witnessesd this lovely sight a few years ago), the Kelley Square Christmas Tree Lighting happened year after year after year. With neighborhood folks and area pols. With good cheer, good people, good times and prizes for homemade Christmas tree ornaments. With Lorraine Laurie, our beloved Mayor of Green Island, leading the charge, we celebrated the Green Island way! Unpretentiously, hopefully – and with a bit of grit.

Kids at local elementary schools were invited to get artistic and creat ornaments for the tree at Kelley Square. There were prizes given out (donated by Green Island biz folks) for the best tree ornaments. Usually the winners all hailed (no Hail Mary pun intended!) from Saint Mary’s Elementary School on Richland Street. But all the ornaments went up on the grand ol’ tree.

The nuns at St. Mary’s used to make a very big deal re: the tree celebration. St. Mary’s students’ tree ornaments were always complex, glitter happy and usually involved a shoe box or two (for dioramas). Photos were taken of the round faced winners and long Polish names very judiciously spelled in captions to go with pics, always sent to me by Lorraine.

This year Fletcher is in and the nuns are out. What a damned shame. Like the rest of the world, Green Island changes.

For the better?

Well, the neighborhood was always tough (I grew up there in the 1960s and 1970s and remember a few murders and deaths – two kids I knew. One boy my family and I loved!) and it’s still tough. (the recent murder at Crompton Park can attest to that). To me The Canal District poobahs make a mockery of the real life that happens every day in Green Island. Lives were and still are casually tossed away. Fletcher hasn’t improved the lot of anyone in Green Island … .

And yet it is Christmas and I will rejoice! I will sing the praises (and pray for) the holy folks at St. Mary’s, the ebullient Lorraine Laurie, the steadfast Barbara Haller and dedicated State Rep Fresolo and his mother and family. I pray for all the Green Island kids who (like me years ago) don’t live in big houses with parents who will take them to Disney World for Christmas vacation. I pray for Green Island parents trying to build a life for their kids – trying to keep it all together – during this brutal economy. And I pray for more affordable housing for Green Island families, more jobs that pay a living wage (like nearby Wyman Gordan factory used to) for the neighborhood men and women and … understanding.

Peace, love and understanding – like Elvis Costello sang years ago – for me and all of the people of Green Island.

Now, what’s so funny about that?