Tag Archives: Bill Randell

On today’s 4 p.m. meeting at City Hall re: Affordable housing in Worcester

By Rosalie Tirella

For far too long our CDCs have been the whipping boys of the “a new Woo on the rise” – or should we say “ruse”  – crowd. Developers with lots of dough (some good, some bad) who paint the CDCs as little more than “projects” filled with “pajama people,” people “who do not contribute,” women who are shacking up with boyfriends – all the usual racial and class stereotypes called up during discussions like the one the city will be having today at 4 p.m. at the Worcester City Hall. TODAY!

These developers claim that by putting the kibbosh on the CDCs and cutting back on the city’s affordable housing stock, Worcester will be reinvigorated with newcomers. People who will come to our city with new ideas, new … money. These developers  paint the bleakest picture of Worcester (because our people do not conform to their preconceptions) – it is a false snapshot of my city. Worcester IS a Gateway City, but it is a Gateway City that is doing a thousand times better than the state’s other Gateway Cities, such as Springfield (they almost went bankrupt a few years ago), Lawrence (poor, poor,poor) and Lowell. Worcester, with its upper-middle class neighborhoods (the kind you would see in the better parts of Brookline, for instance), its many colleges, teaching hospital and hospitals and AMAZING AMOUNT OF GREEN SPACE is miles ahead of these other Gateway Cities. But it is no tourist town either – a place where people can go to forget the world and their problems. Worcester is, in its own wide open, clean, relatively safe, tree-filled way a huge family town and a little Statue of Liberty – welcoming people from all over the world. Take a walk through Main South or Piedmont and you get the picture – the feel: Great ethnic food, clothing, languages, cultures, traditions. Again, we have a ton of middle and upper class neighborhoods in the city that are as Leave it to Beaver as you can get. Our inner city hoods are exciting, real and diverse. Let’s keep them going!!!

Years ago, Wusta’s newcomers could have found decent paying work in the scores of factories in our city. If they, like many of my Polish immigrant relatives, worked hard and saved their paychecks,  they could even become homeowners – buy a so-so three decker in neighborhoods like Green Island, South Worcester. As  homeowners in these working class hoods, my relatives stabilized parts of the city the well off didn’t want to be a part of – and they offered shelter from the storm of life to relatives and friends.

No more. Today, Worcester’s factories are dead. Our newcomers – many who struggle with English and have few skills – do not have the economic opportunities their counterparts had in the 1940s and 1950s. Video gaming and bio tech jobs will not close Worcester’s job gap. However, this doesn’t mean our new people should be shunned or shunted away from Worcester. The minimum wage needs to be raised, city leaders must – like New Bedford has – hustle to bring new, light industry to Worcester, so that today’s Wusta immigrants and under-educated folks can have decent paying jobs so they can pay the bills – have a shot at a stable, working class life.


In fact, the CDCs are saving Worcester’s butt! The economy has wreaked havoc on the housing market. Inflated prices for crap housing stock, housing stock bought by developers (some out of towners) who either flip the buildings or cut up the apartments and charge high rents. People – renters – are exploited. By building safe and affordable appartments and condos through the years, the Main South CDC has stabilized many families and rescued Main South – a total pit in the 1970s, a place where my uncle, getting out of his car to pick up a prescription at Moynihan’s in the middle of the afternoon, was pounced upon by a prostitute. A good egg, and Worcester boy, he took it in stride and went inside the pharmacy to get his prescription. Much of the grime and icky housing stock, thnaks to the Main South CDC,  has been  replaced with beautiful units or reclaimed. The housing has been rented out/sold to working folks who need safe, affordable housing and a landlord that will not jack up the rent, treat his tenants like shit, flip his property, be lax with his property, etc. The way many developers are. I am not saying all developers are low lifes – I know a few nice ones – but they are outside the norm. Most landlords want to make as much money off their tenants as possible. Their properties are a business to them – not a social contract. Often times families in Woo apartments are living in cold water flats … and struggle to pay their bills and feed their families – or save $$ for a better fuure. Off they flee, in the middle of the night sometimes, ahead of the constable. The kids suffer in school, parents are stressed … .

The CDCs take the anxiety out of the picture, and, contrary to what some developers in town tell you, THEY DO HAVE AND FOLLOW INCOME GUIDELINES. My friend, a wonderful single mom with kids and a full time job, could not get into CDC housing because she did not make enough money! The CDC housing stock is not filled with “pajama people.” The condos and apartments are filled with working class people – many of them immigrants or immigrants’ kids – who contribute, hold jobs and make our city vibrant.

Worcester is Worcester. We have our challenges but we are a family town with a healthy middle class. Unfortunately, many of these wealthier folks are not spending their money at sushi bars – places where many developers want to see them, kind of upper income urban hipsters. We have those folks. But many of our upper income folks are not cruising bars  … . They have kids and family responsibilities. Many are socking away their dough in college bank accounts for their kids. Some are saving for a vacation home at the Cape. It is a more conservative way to spend expendable money, but these wealthier folks create the Worcester I want to live in: family focused, strong, green and safe.

Don’t dump on CDCs, the working class or affordable housing! Worcester is a great city – and don’t you forget it!!!

Worcester’s “leaders,” great and puny in spirit

By Rosalie Tirella

Everything compassionate and great and wild (we’re speaking Worcester, here), City Manager Mike O’Brien has managed to squelch. Everyone third-rate, he’s managed to embrace.

The ragged little Occupy Worcester brigade that wanted to make its voice heard on our city hall common a few years ago? Well, City Manager O’Brien had the police out in full force, ready to take out any scrawny vegan kid who got too cocky. Sometimes I’d drive by the common and see as many cops as protesters. Of course, the city manager refused to meet with OCCUPY Worcester. Wouldn’t give the group the time of day. And why should he have? They only wanted to talk fair wages, decent, affordable housing – you know, all that rad jazz.

Who spoke to and for Occupy Worcester? Joe O’Brien, then mayor of Worcester. Joe got their idealism and the very real city/American problems these brave folks were trying to call attention to.

When the city’s community development corporations (CDCs) came under fire, unjustly I believe, Joe O’Brien stood up for all the great work they do. He didn’t want them to become the whipping boys for a bunch of business folks who, if this were the invincible Worcester of the 1940s or 1950s, and our factories were humming and their presidents and owners ran the city, you know, the men who not only employed thousands in their factories but also built things like the Higgins Armory or the Worcester Art Museum or donated land to create Elm Park, you know, real captains of industry, well, these small biz folks would have very little sway or pull. They would be treated like the small-time shit-kickers they actually are.

But hey, it’s 2013 and we’re desperate – for real solutions. Worcester, like so many American cities, is a shadow of its industrial self. So we are stuck with third rate characters like Bill Randell shitting on the CDCs and setting city policy and bringing Santa Claus to our planeless airport and being a hero for it. We are stuck with Artie and Paulie and all the ies, as if we were dealing with gigantic two year olds, calling poor people who would have had better lives if the factories were still around to employ them, NO- LOs – as in no low income. And some how Artie’s hatred and Billy’s slipperiness rule the day, here in Wusta.

Letter from a reader, re: Bill Randell

One ICT reader writes:

To Whom It May Concern,

Re: Randell article

Recently I went to Randell’s [Package Store] to pay an electric bill.

National Grid does not charge a fee for the automatic billing.

However, Randell’s charges a $1 fee. THIS IS DOUBLE DIPPING as National Grid already pays him for collecting the money.

When I questioned Mr. Randell, he said, “We charge $1. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

Many people in store. Many poor people being ripped off. He was arrogant and pompous.

In either case, he is “cheating” the poor.

I wish to be anonymous.

Thank you.

Bill Randell and City Manager Mike O’Brien’s new housing policy

Holden’s Bill Randell practically co-wrote City Manager Mike O’Brien’s new City of Worcester housing policy/strategy

By Rosalie Tirella

It’s interesting: Next week, when we hear City Manager Mike O’Brien present the city’s NEW affordable housing policy to the city council – a new way of creating affordable housing in our inner-city neighborhoods (or doing away with it when he kicks the CDCs to the curb) –  it’s important to note that the new policy was/is pretty much being driven by/almost written by Bill/William Randell (local inner-city package store owner) and his pals, who for years have been hammering away at the CDCs, calling them makers of NO/low housing … the makers of Worcester slums.

In fact, it is the other way around. For years, folks have been calling Billy Randell the slum lord. Owning more than  50 rental units in the city, Randell, who doesn’t even live in Worcester (he lives in Holden) has been at the government trough as intensely as he believes the CDCs are.

Randell gets Section 8 tenants to rent his apartments – which can earn him as much as $950 a unit. Thank you, federal government, for supporting … Bill Randell (quite handsomely, we say!). Most of these folks are poor and without jobs. They are not working class folks who,  as Billy and his people like to say,  “contribute” to the city in meaningful ways  – the people Billy and his pals claim they want to support. They say they can do this, change the face of Worcester’s inner-city, if City Manager Mike O’Brien funnels more city/tax money to them to build or rehab three deckers. So they GET federal money – your tax dollars- to build their private units – units that Randell will fill with the exact same renters he excoriates – federally subsidized Section 8 tenants. At $700 – $900 a unit/pop.

Pathetic. And underhanded.

This guy is loathed by lots of city folks.

For years, says Steve Teasdale, director of the Main South CDC, Bill Randell has been buying up property in Main South. Property that Steve would have liked to have bought (through the Main South CDC) and rehabbed for Main South families. Bill Randell bought them instead, says Steve, and is just sitting on them. Doing nothing – just so the Main South CDC couldn’t get them. Randell bought them out of spite, so to speak. Steve thinks Bill is the low life, not Billy’s tenants.

Other city neighborhood organizations haven’t wanted Randell on any of their boards – boards he wants to join. They call him sneaky.

They believe he will work against their neighborhoods and interests. They don’t like the fact that a guy who lives in Holden (Randell) wants to mess with their neighborhoods.

One day I went to several city leaders re: the CDCs. Without even my asking, they made it a point to tell me that Bill Randell misrepresents the work they do and is a sneaky worm. I didn’t even mention Billy! They just all hated him and had to vent.

So it is the height of Randell worminess when he did this: His pal, fellow developer Paul Collyer, who lives on Chandler Street in a three decker he rehabbed (quite nicely), wanted to buy the three decker directly in front of his property.

Collyer wanted to buy the property to rehab it (nicely) and to lease the units to REAL working class folks – units that are at or below market rate. For instance, the Indian family that lives directly below Paul (in his three decker) are East Indian. The dad is a manager of an Indian restaurant. They pay Collyer $650 a month rent. For 10 years!!! Why? Because Collyer wants to keep/support blue collar workers in the ‘hood. They are clean and dependable and have a work ethic, he believes.

We think this is laudable, even though we don’t think many landlords are on the Collyer page (which is why we need CDCs!).

But I digress. Paul wanted to buy the old crappy three decker, in front of his three decker – rehab it and move forward.

Guess who engaged in a bidding war with Paul?

Guess who wanted to buy the exact three decker that Paul wanted to buy?

Guess who kept bidding and bidding and upping the price, knowing that Paul, his pal, really wanted that piece of property directly in front of his property (the three decker he/Paul lives in)?

His “friend” Bill Randell.

Paul Collyer says he finally gave the owner of the property $160,000 cash just to get Billy off his butt. He won. But he wondered why Bill Randell, his “friend,”  worked against him. Just to up the price?

Paul said something like this this summer: Why would I want a Section 8 landlord (Billy) buying the house? I am going to rehab it the right way.

Paul Collyer said his and Bill Randell’s relationship has never been the same. The friendship is different – just biz.

Bill Randell: the brains behind the City of Worcester’s new housing policy.

Glad he had/has the City Manager’s ear, aren’t you?