Tag Archives: Barbara Haller

District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller is the soul of MYCity!

By Elizabeth Bacon

For the past eight years, Barbara Haller and I have teamed up to create an after school program for 5th and 6th graders focused on the power of City Government called This is MYCity! Barbara’s attitude and empathy is a crucial driving force. The seriousness with which she listens to the concerns of these fortunate students convinces them that local government is where our democracy becomes real. Her respectful demeanor models a consistency of purpose that is exhilarating. It is with her that over 1000 Worcester Public School children have had their first taste of the public power of their own voices.

This is MYCity! was created to give voice to community problems identified by 5th and 6th graders. Now in its eighth year, the program seeks to guide students into a direct experience with the dramatic power of their own voices. For 16 weeks, interviews and field studies are arranged around the city so that the students can hear many different views and possible solutions. Great emphasis is placed on the importance of individual responsibility, treating all people with respect and a clear and thoughtful examination of the facts. Finally, the students come together at a Mock City Council meeting inside Council Chambers at City Hall that is led by Councilor Haller and moderated by City Clerk, David Rushford.

The program, funded by The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program of the Worcester Public Schools, serves four elementary schools each semester. During the last week, after all the interviews have been collected and analyzed, all four schools come together inside Council Chambers. They come as experts to find a solution to the problem they have chosen. Each student has been assigned a role; some are Councilors, some reporters, one the City Manager, one the Police Chief and so on. Many serve as the city’s expert Department Heads. Each one comes with a prepared speech through which they describe a solution to the problem based on the research they have done. The best solutions are debated and the Council takes a vote. Parents and community members attend. During a debate over extending the length of recess last year, FINZ, the mascot for the local ice hockey team, The Worcester Sharks, came in costume to participate. The city videographer tapes the meeting and a copy is made for each student. Many times, this is a family’s first experience with local government.

Barbara is an astute and dedicated listener. Prior to the Mock City Council, she hosts each school in Council Chambers to educate them about what will happen. The students trust her. She guides them to bring out the best in themselves and in each other. MyCity topics have been broad and diverse. They have included everything from the effects of cigarette advertising in corner stores to an exploration of the effects of play on learning. The energy, enthusiasm and commitment of these students is at its center as they come to understand that Council Chambers is the safe place where diverse, bold and courageous questions are given true traction. This safety and traction happens because of Barbara Haller’s gritty determination and her unique ability to bring people together. Barbara Haller is the soul of MYCity! It is my hope that one day each of our young students will follow in her footsteps and give to their own constituencies that irrepressible belief in their own abilities to effect change that Barbara has given to them.

Elizabeth Bacon is founding director of This is MYCity!

THANK YOU, DISTRICT 4 CITY COUNCILOR BARBARA HALLER!

By Mary K. Moule

As the outside temperature rose in late May, the temperature in several of our Senior Citizen apartment complexes in Worcester reached 90+ degrees. Yes, ninety-plus degrees! Our building is recently-built, has central air conditioning, and individual controls in each apartment. We tenants are between 62 and 90+ years of age. It was unbearably hot, and, clearly unhealthy!

When I asked “management” to turn on the central air conditioning I was told that state law “requires apartment building owners to provide heat from September 15 to June 15 of each year”.

Thus, “management” said, “when it is unusually hot during this time frame, it is beyond our control to switch from heat to air conditioning”.

Within hours of learning of our stifling situation, Councilwoman Barbara Haller brought our plight to the attention of the entire City Council at its May 31, 2011 meeting. As a result of her action, supported by the entire Council, a City Inspector promptly inspected our units, and directed that the air conditioning be turned on.

Barbara Haller is aware that the law which requires heat during certain dates also has a waiver clause, which permits apartment owners/managers to gain permission to shut the heat and turn on the air conditioning, “when it is unusually hot” before June 15th.

Thank you, Councilwoman Barbara Haller, for acting swiftly and effectively on behalf of your then-sweltering, senior constituents.

District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller will get my very first vote

By Dean Jacob Williamson

When I found out that I would need a community representative for my Eagle project, my father knew exactly who to call. He knew a city councilwoman who not only knew a lot about city government, but also cared about each and every one of her constituents. That councilwoman was Barbara Haller. She is known throughout the community not for being another politician who cared more about herself than anyone else, but for being a veritable person concerned for her fellow Worcesterites. Barbara Haller was a great help to me before, during, and after my Eagle project.

I contacted Barbara Haller early this spring about my Eagle project, and she was quick to respond. I have always had problems trying to get in touch with those in the government but not with Barbara Haller. She emailed me back with a few questions about my project and took the time to meet with me over lunch. I was impressed by how well she knew the city and those in the community. I needed to contact people about grants and permission to start my project, and she knew who to call. She helped jumpstart my project right then and there.

My project was to restore the planters of Pleasant Street. Many of the planters were not taken care of and filled with water and trash. My project was to raise support and volunteers to rid the pots of the trash and water and fill them with dirt and flowers. This required some money. Barbara Haller knew some people involved with the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and helped me write a grant application. Unfortunately, the grant did not go through, but Barbara Haller gave me the idea to go door to door down Pleasant Street raising support. The community was willing to help and we raised all the money needed.

While all of the planning and fundraising was going on, Barbara Haller kept in touch with me and offered me plenty of advice and help. I did not have to keep sending emails to her to get her to respond; she sent emails to me to see how things were progressing. This kept me focused and on task. I do not know how I would have completed my project if it was not for her. I do not believe that any other city councilperson would have helped me the way Barbara Haller did.

The most kind and humble thing Barbara Haller did for my Eagle project was to get her hands dirty and help. It rained the day of my project and the dirt turned to mud, yet Barbara Haller did not think it was beneath her to plant flowers in the rain. Barbara Haller used her hands as well as her brains and connections to help me with my project.

Barbara Haller was there every step of the way for my project. She did not just benefit me with her help; she benefited the entire community. If you want someone who cares deeply about the community and those who make it up, then vote for Barbara Haller. The Pleasant Street community would be sorely lacking without Barbara Haller representing it. I believe I will turn 18 just before elections this year; Barbara Haller will get my very first vote.

Does District 4 City Council candidate Sarai Rivera “stretch the truth”? …

By Rosalie Tirella

… Or fib? Or bull-shit? Or pad her resume?

District 4 voters need to know.

Incumbent District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller has so much integrity. She works tirelessly – at everything. Her relationship with the Main South CDC goes back years. She and director Steve Teasdale are friends who have worked on countless projects together through the years.

So why did her challenger, Sarai Rivera, attach a doctored Main South CDC logo to her campaign literature? Why did she bull shit the community and make it seem like the Main CDC was endorsing her candidacy, when, according to Teasdale, it was most clearly NOT. The CDC was shocked that Rivera would do such a thing.

Sarai gave a weak excuse.

This kind of bull shit must stop.

Another example of Sarai Rivera’s “stretching the truth”: during the recent debate between the two District 4 candidates a few nights ago, the daily reported that Sarai said something like to the crowd: I am already doing all the work of a city councilor and I will continue to … .

No, Sarai, you are not doing ALL the work – especially all the work that City Councilor Barbara Haller does for her district. Pretty much from the morning to night – all the time. For years …

Let’s stop stretching the truth, Sarai Rivera. Voters don’t want to elect liars.

Of course, creepy rabble rouser Keven Ksen is running Rivera’s campaign. The 40-soemthing Ksen does not even have a job – living off his parents bucks/trust fund, no doubt. And – of course – he is not getting paid by Sarai. More “volunteer” work for Kev! Keven was pretty much fired by the City of Worcester from his Common Ground CDC job after an incident with the Worcester police over his camera. Ksen, whose short fuse makes him scary-mean, saw the funds for his job at Common Ground magically disappear after that incident – years ago. He hasn’t made traction since – but he always makes it a point every election cycle to try to destroy Barbara Haller. Every election cycle Ksen throws his weight behind Haller’s challengers – any challenger really. Which is what a few biz owners/property developers on Chandler Street do, too. Cynical moves, really.

So now it’s Sarai for Kev. Or Kev for Sarai!

But not for District 4 – we hope! Because they are playing the election game a little dirty.

Another question: Sarai claims she is a pastor and then claims she is a social worker. Which is it? What does she do?

Voters need to be respected. Not finessed.

Working with Worcester District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller is a pleasure!

By Lorraine Laurie, Green Island neighborhood activist

As a Green Island Neighborhood activist since 1981, I have seen Worcester City government move from 9 At- Large Councilors to 6 At- Large and 5 District Councilors. This was definitely a change for the better, at the neighborhood level and Citywide. The first District 4 City Councilor elected was Janice Nadeau. I had gotten to know Janice through Worcester Fair Share and her efforts to improve the quality of life in her own South Worcester neighborhood.

Janice brought her dedication and no nonsense way of handling neighborhood issues to her job serving the densely populated district. I remember Janice’s many trips and letters to the License Commission when residents felt that there were just too many bars on Millbury Street.

Then there were the years and years of Rt. 146 meetings and Janice was always there advocating for the area. She wouldn’t let the officials and engineers forget that the flooding issues in Green Island and under the Cambridge Street Bridge had to be addressed. Illness, however, forced Janice Nadeau to decide to retire and not seek re-election. The District 4 seat was now up for grabs.

Barbara Haller’s name had been mentioned as a possible successor to Janice. I had first heard of Barbara in articles about the Beacon/ Brightly Initiative. I then started seeing her at meetings involving crime prevention and neighborhood services and funding. Barbara Haller’s name appeared on the ballot at the next election and she was the successful winner of the District 4 seat.

Janice Nadeau was a tough act to follow. She had been noted for her hard work and long hours, exceptional constituent services and ability to speak up for and with her “neighbors.” It would be hard to fill her shoes. Barbara Haller did not attempt to fill Janice’s shoes. She brought her own. Having been involved in Beacon/ Brightly, Barbara had seen problems faced by most inner-city neighborhoods – neglected properties, vandalism, crime, drugs, litter, lack of jobs to name a few. Barbara Haller tackled these problems as a whole and also addressed each neighborhood’s particular issues individually.

At the Green Island Residents Group, Inc. meetings, Barbara has spoken about topics such as staffing in the Police Impact program, the Property Review Team and the Asian Long-Horn beetle problem. Since Crompton Park is an integral part of the Island neighborhood, it is a priority for the neighbors and their District Councilor. There had been a pool at Crompton Park for years and years. They used to refer to it as the “mud hole.” It was a fun place to go and an important part of growing up in the Island. This pool was succeeded by a “modern” pool in the early 1960’s. This pool faithfully served the neighborhood until the City decided to close all the City pools several years ago because they were deemed unsafe and there was lack of funds to repair or replace them.

At the August 6, 2008 Annual Meeting of the Green Island Residents Group, Inc., it was voted unanimously that Crompton Park should have a pool. Councilor Haller was in attendance at this meeting and she heard the message loud and clear. The City had not made any decisions yet regarding the pools. Hearings would be held and the Residents Group requested a meeting in the Island regarding their neighborhood pool. A hearing was held and residents gave testimony. When Councilor Haller attended the August 27, 2009 Annual Meeting of the Residents Group, she told the group that the City Council would vote on September 1 regarding replacing the Crompton Park pool. She was able to carry back to the Council the unanimous support of the Green Island Residents Group, Inc. for the building of a new pool. There were no private pools close by – no colleges, no beaches, and no institutions or independently run non-profit clubs.

Councilor Barbara Haller carried the message of the Island residents and those of neighboring lower Vernon Hill to the Council floor and Crompton Park now has a super new pool. Thank you, Councilor Haller!

Over the last five years, especially since the demise of the Canal District Community Development Corporation (formerly known as the Green Island/Vernon Hill CDC), I have worked with Councilor Haller more and more. She is a regular participant at the Green Island/ Lafayette Place Crime Watch meetings. She was in attendance at the Crompton Park Master Plan meetings and even went house to house with me on the neighboring streets to drop off flyers about the meeting.

Just a few Sundays ago, she attended a meeting in regards to the recent flooding in the Island. She is currently working with the City Manager and the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works and Parks to set up a large meeting with residents and businesses to further discuss this issue and the City’s plan of action.

On a periodic basis, Councilor Haller and I ride around the Island and lower Vernon Hill checking for vacant and foreclosed houses, trash, graffiti, overgrown lots and illegal dumping. Councilor Barbara Haller is just a phone call or e-mail away. As a long time neighborhood activist, I can truly say working with Barbara Haller is a pleasure.

District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller: working for us all

By Worcester Mayor Joseph O’Brien

Barbara Haller is a tireless advocate, fighting for the people of District 4. No one works harder, no one is more committed to lifting up the quality of life for all the people in District 4 and our City.

Her work on making our city cleaner, safer, accessible and vibrant has clearly made a strong positive difference. We are all better because of Barbara’s service to our community.
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Barbara Haller helps families

By “a resident,” District 4

During the H1N1 outbreak, parents were told to keep their children home from school if they had a fever. It quickly became apparent to our staff at the Academy School Health Center that many of our families did not own a thermometer and thus had difficulty determining whether their child had a fever.

When Barbara learned of the need (while serving on the Woodland Academy Task Force) she quickly came to the rescue by raising funds for thermometers for families. Barbara reached out to the Main South CDC and Clark University and the three of them brought funds to Family Health Center for this effort.

The thermometers were distributed via the Woodland and Claremont Academies School Based Health Center: a true partnership between a neighborhood centered elected official, neighborhood-based organizations, schools, and neighborhood based health care.

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Why I am voting for Barbara Haller (District 4 City Councilor)

By Jabián Gutiérrez

In 2004, I came to Worcester on a Peter Pan bus from New York City, thinking I was just stopping by for a four year stint. I was a typical New Yorker, a person with little patience, used to hustle and bustle, underground trains, and a bit of arrogance, especially when comparing the Big Apple to any other city. I came to Worcester expecting to leave immediately after graduation. However in May of 2008 I was celebrating my one year anniversary living on Benefit Street, in the wonderful neighborhood of Main South.

Three years later, here I am writing an article from my Benefit Street apartment, even more excited to be a District 4 resident than I was when I first moved off Mount Saint James. You may be wondering why I chose to stay in Worcester, and why Main South?

Well, the answer is simple; Worcester is the home of my mentor, my friend, my supporter, my cheerleader, my advocate, and most notably my District 4 City Councilor. Barbara G. Haller is either the person to praise or blame for why I am an active Worcesterite. I do not exaggerate when I say that Councilor Haller is the reason why I stayed in Worcester, as she is the person who took a young college kid and helped him grow up to learn what made a city move, how decisions were made, and how everyday people could and needed to be a part of the process.

I spent nearly two years working daily with Councilor Haller. Traveling around the district with her, I learned about Worcester’s inner-city neighborhoods—and found myself working with people who were experiencing the same issues that I had experienced back home. I came to understand that the people and their problems were not very different at all and slowly but surely I began to realize that Worcester was my new home.

Working with Councilor Haller, I became impressed with the extent to which I was able to combine our direct work with families with policy work that addresses inequalities in a more systematic way. Under her political tutelage, I learned how to work with constituents and with the city administration to tackle issues affecting low-income neighborhoods. I was also bit by the political campaign bug, and since her re-election campaign in 2007, I have never missed out on actively participating in any campaign, I have been active in both state and municipal elections.

I am actively supporting and voting for Barbara Haller because I have had firsthand experience in witnessing all of the important day to day work that she does to ensure our district continues to progress with the rest of the city.

However, this may not be her biggest strength or asset to her neighborhoods, because in addition to all of the policy work and constituency servicing, she goes out of her way to take on interns, both college and high school students. She serves as a mentor for many young people, and I know there are many others like me who are better for their time with Barbara, and I want you to know that a vote for Barbara Haller is also a vote for the future leaders who she is positively influencing every day.

Thank you Barbara Haller for making sure I didn’t leave our great city after graduating!

-Jabián Gutiérrez

Responsible chicken ordinance perhaps coming to Worcester

By Worcester District 4 City Councilor Barbara Halller

In the interest of full disclosure, I once raised chickens. In one case it was while living at a farm-school in Pettigrew, Arkansas, and in the other it was while raising my family in the town of Holland, MA. I love chickens. My kids love chickens. And I can’t wait to raise chickens once again.

Right now it is against the law to have chickens in Worcester. This means that if you go ahead and raise some and someone complains you will be ordered to get rid of them. It also means that if some city person comes to your home or a nearby neighbor for some other reason (noisy party, barking dog, wellness check, etc.) and the chickens are seen that you will be ordered to get rid of them.

The idea of making chickens legal in Worcester has been around for a long time. But nobody got serious about it till a couple of years ago. Kristi Chadwick contacted me and asked for me to help get an ordinance effort going. We now call her the Mother Hen. Kristi did mounds of research about other communities’ ordinance successes and failures. She crafted a draft ordinance, and revised it, and revised it, over and over, as we worked to come up with the best chicken ordinance ever. We wanted a Responsible Chicken Ordinance, one that could get enacted and that protected quality of life for chickens and neighbors.

For many of us, this is not about if we get a chicken ordinance, but rather when we get one. This is happening across the country as more citizens want to participate in growing and controlling their own food, increase quality of their food, reduce transportation pollutions, and educate their children about where food comes from. On top of this, many find this kind of grassroots agriculture as fun and healthy.

Los Angeles, Rogers AK, Key West, South Portland ME, Madison, New York City, Portland OR, Seattle and Spokane WA, San Antonio, Oakland and San Diego and San Francisco CA, Austin, Memphis, Baltimore, and many, many more towns and cities now allow chickens. Providence passed her ordinance last fall.

Along the way, word got out about this effort and others joined in. My Clark intern in 2010, Lilly Denhardt, did some research. Mayor Joe O’Brien joined. Regional Environmental Council (REC) joined. Casey Starr joined. Joe Scully joined. Liz Sheehan Castro joined. Peggy Middaugh joined. By this spring, the effort definitely had momentum and it was time to move it into the Council process.

A group of us met with the Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Dale Magee, and the Director of Public Health, Derek Brindisi, and went over the proposed ordinance, section by section, and listened to concerns raised. More revisions were made; the text was put in cleaner ordinance format.

Our ordinance allows for up to 5 chicken hens. No roosters, no slaughtering, no selling. Property owner’s permission is required. Backyards only. Annual license. City-approved coop. Outside only. At least twenty feet from neighbor’s house. Fenced enclosure.

Word continued to spread. More people joined in support. On June 14, 2011 Mayor O’Brien and I filed a council order requesting that the City Manager provide council with language similar to our draft ordinance which would allow for the keeping of chicken hens in Worcester. The request was sent to the Council’s Standing Committee of Public Health and Human Services for further discussion and recommendation. Councilor Phil Palmieri chairs this committee; the other two members are Councilor Konnie Lukes and myself.

The process is likely to be as follows: Councilor Palmieri schedules a hearing. Testimony is taken from the public, from city officials from Animal Control, Public Health, Planning Department (land use), and the Law Department. There may be more committee hearings scheduled, depending on the issues raised. At some point the committee will make a recommendation back to the full council: in favor, opposed, or in favor as amended by committee. Then the council will take a vote to support the committee’s recommendations or not. Six votes are needed. Members of the council could raise additional questions, could hold it for a week or forever. If we get the votes we need, the ordinance would be published for additional comments and then the final vote taken.

So, we have a way to go yet. But with strong advocacy and engagement we could have spring chicks 2012. (Rule is: Spring chicks, September eggs.) Hopefully we will soon answer the question “which came first.” For Worcester, many of us want the answer to be “the chicken.”

I believe that we have crafted a responsible and workable ordinance that will make Worcester a better place.

Some updates: Worcester City Council passes resolution in support of CAP Act and Stand for Children testifies in support of Health Benefit reform

WCCA TV 13, on behalf of EPG channels everywhere, expresses gratitude to the members of Worcester City Council for passing a resolution in support of the Community Access Preservation Act (CAP Act).

The resolution was co-sponsored by Mayor Joseph O’Brien and City Councilor Barbara Haller.

The resolution was adopted unanimously, after I spoke before the council last night, March 8, 2011, and explained, in brief, detail about the dangerous impact state issued franchise licenses have had upon PEG channels and what the CAP Act will accomplish.

The resolution illustrates to our Federal and State Legislators that the City of Worcester stands with the Public Access [PEG] Community and other community media organizations in support of changes to the Telecommunication Act to protect and guarantee assurances for the advancement of PEG.

We thank the City of Worcester for recognizing the importance and value of PEG community access and also thank the many WCCA TV members who petitioned on behalf of localism and PEG community media access everywhere.

– Mauro DePasquale, Executive Director
WCCA TV, “The People’s Channel”
Worcester

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STAND FOR CHILDREN TESTIFIES IN SUPPORT OF HEALTH BENEFIT REFORM

Framingham Teacher Speaks Out in Support of Health Benefit Reform

BOSTON: Stand for Children testified in support of Municipal Health Benefit Reform to the Joint Committee on Public Service at the State House today. As skyrocketing health care costs continue to strain municipal budgets, Stand for Children is advocating for provisions that will ameliorate the financial burden on cities and towns and ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are being invested where they can make the most difference – in the classroom.

Stand for Children’s recommendations will allow cities and towns to direct at least $136 to $151 million towards saving educators’ jobs and protecting valuable community services across the Commonwealth. Included are provisions implementing good-faith bargaining measures to negotiate health care design, moving eligible municipal employees into Medicare, and transitioning to a system of global payment. These provisions would significantly lower health care costs in municipal budgets while still providing excellent benefits to municipal workers.

“Mitigating the skyrocketing cost of insuring municipal employees is an urgent issue that directly affects teachers’ jobs,” stated Jason Williams, Executive Director of Stand for Children. “Stand for Children supports this common-sense solution and legislators need to act now to help keep teachers in the classroom because our kids can’t afford to wait.”

“As a teacher in Framingham Public Schools, I believe Stand for Children’s recommendations are amenable to both parents and teachers,” stated Rosangela Caixa, a Stand for Children member and first grade teacher at the Potter Road School. “We need to pass health benefit reform now to help protect the jobs of teachers across the Commonwealth and to ensure that education is a viable career choice for the next generation of teachers.”

“Stand for Children’s recommendations will allow a greater proportion of education funding to support teachers and the important work they do in the classroom,” stated Jim Stockless, a Stand for Children member in Framingham. “Cities and towns are spending too much money on skyrocketing health insurance costs and we need to start spending this money on protecting teachers’ jobs and investing in our children.”

“Stand for Children’s recommendations reflect a vested interest in collective bargaining and provide both management and labor with a voice at the negotiating table,” stated Juli Brazile, a Stand for Children member in Arlington. “We need to retain teachers’ jobs and critical school services, but this will be impossible if we don’t address the soaring cost of health care now.”

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?