Tag Archives: city councilor

Worcester City Councilor District 4 Sarai Rivera’s time has come …

By Rosalie Tirella

… to be mayor of Worcester, to lead our city, to reflect our city to the world, to advocate for its people – many struggling under the sledge hammer of racism and poverty. The languages, the music, the goals of our people – a new Worcester blooming every day – Rivera can understand them in ways that our Irish pols – the guys (and gals) who’ve lead our city for decades – can’t – no matter how empathetic and smart they are.

District 4 Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera should be Worcester’s next mayor.

It only makes sense.

It’s her time – it’s ours.

Providence, Lowell, San Francisco, Los Angeles – all these 21st century cities have mayors who reflect their hubs’ panache … souls. They fit each other…like a glove. The people look to their mayors for leadership because they are TRUE REPRESENTATIVES of their metropolises!

Rivera is where the city of Worcester is going. Is at! All the multi-colored, multi-ethnic, multi-tongued folks, many immigrants new to rough and tumble America, lots poor, lots at the mercy of drugs and guns and our mean streets, lots entrepreneurs looking to make it happen for them and their families in America. Filled with hope!

Our people, their complex dreams, our complex neighborhoods evolving in ways that Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney denigrates, exploits … for fear and racist votes. Ultimately, Gaffney doesn’t understand the city. He’s from Webster – don’t be too hard on the arrogant rube. Mike Gaffney is a nowhere pol. He is a throw back for all those voters in Worcester who want white, Catholic, Irish – a rap on the head with a wooden ruler for the kids in our public schools who disobey their teachers. A 1950 world where a Mareen Binenda, 65 and Irish, would make the perfect Worcester school superintendent. But old prejudices die hard!  Our Worcester School Committee members – terrified of district representation, terrified of losing their votes and POWER – have given almost ready for retirement Maureen the job! How incredulous!  How old Worcester!

The powerful will fight to hold onto their entrenched power until their intestines leak out.

Power: read: influence, great jobs, money, nice neighborhoods … THE WORKS. And the quiet forgotten Worcester middle class who pay the city’s bills will vote a Gaffney out of their prejudiced resentment at a city they can no longer understand and accept. …But they too cannot escape the real Worcester. Their xenophobic eyes can only be closed for so long! They can only rant and rave on Aidan Kearney’s racist blog for so long!  Former Woo School Committee woman Mary Mullaney’s son Aidan can carry on her prejudiced past for only so long!!

The numbers are against Kearney and Gaffney.

The numbers are for Rivera.

Our public schools are already majority minority.

Walk down our streets – mostly you’ll see people of color making their way down them.

When you cross Park Ave, our city neighborhoods – from Green Island to Piedmont to Vernon Hill to South Worcester to Webster Square to Downtown to Main South – are majority minority. Our old Catholic churches are dying, crumbling down …

It’s a new Woo – and I don’t mean the artisan bread eating boutique shopping white kids who,  if they left Worcester, would be replaced by white kids that GET THE REALITY OF OUR CITY. And would work to include people of color and the poor in their farmers markets, etc. And they would buy houses here. And their white little kids would go to school with Black and brown  little kids – and it would be a good fit. We don’t need to beg and crawl to the phonies. The right cool progressive Millenials will find us. The wrong ones will buy real estate in  the suburbs and move away and send their kids to the suburban schools! It’s always been this way in Gateway Cities. It’s self-correcting city living. The beat goes on!

I’ve watched the beautiful Worcester District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera for several years now. Our relationship has not always been placid and warm. But over the past few years when our paths have crossed – at city meetings, at festivals – she’s been smart, sweet, tough, funny, warm, determined … and open. She has, through her several years on our Worcester city council, STOOD FOR RIGHT. A HUMANE WAY of solving Worcester’s new city problems. People first. Integrity first. Compassion first. Whether it be the  long suffering elephants and lions in the circuses who come to town, the small biz guy or gal, the inner city resident dealing with drug dealers, the drug addict overdosing, the young kids of color looking for a voice in city government Rivera has lead with grace, intelligence and not a little style (she wears the coolest, sexiest, prettiest, most colorful clothes!)! She is a great listener and makes her decisions, casts her votes intelligently. I’ve always been proud of her votes for people … and animals! I am proud to call her my district city councilor!

Rivera, in her early 40s, is happily married with a gaggle of boys. She has a few college degrees under her belt. Runs her own church, sings her own song! Loud and strong and proud!


We’ve been writing about politicians for …

By Rosalie Tirella

… almost 13 years, here at InCity Times. But no one, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE, draws the kind of animosity State Rep. Mary Keefe does. From voters, from people in her neck of the Woo (Piedmont neighborhood), from nuns!, from local small biz folks, from people who’ve tried to work with her, from people who’ve tried to FIND her.

Case in point: Within the last half year I’ve received two middle-of-the-night phone calls from ICT readers who called me to bitch about state representative Mary Keefe. Express their ire, disgust, disappointment … to fume. They told me how Keefe was Missing In Action (or should I write “Inaction”?!) at the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center, when she was executive director there. How she made nothing, positively ZIPPO, happen down there. One caller, I am not 100% sure because it was 12:30 at night when he rang me up, also had issues with Keefe’s knitting habits. Weird, but hey, it was ’round midnight.

Donna D., the NUN who runs the Mustard Seed Soup Kitchen on Piedmont Street, and has been a Piedmont icon for almost 30 years because she has dedicated her life to helping Piedmont’s downtrodden, also hates Keefe’s guts. Several years ago, when talking with me, Donna had nothing but disappointing things to say about Keefe. How, for instance, during Thanksgiving Keefe got very choosy about the poor people she was gonna give free turkeys to as head of the Pleasant Street neighborhood network center. Seemed, according to Donna, you had to be part of Keefe’s Network Center in-crowd clique to eat a meal on that holiday. Donna believed: JUST GIVE THE POOR A FREAKING TURKEY! Keefe got passive aggressive over … gobblers.

As the editor of ICT I’m always out and about in the Piedmont hood. For years whenever I went into her neighborhood center, looking to talk with Mary Keefe, she was never there, a sad fact of Piedmont life which became fodder for one of my columns: WHERE THE FUCK IS MARY?!

I got congratulatory phone calls for that one!

We’ve been told by several savvy inner-city voters that they are behind Keefe challenger and Worcester City Councilor Phil Palmieri BECAUSE THEY CAN’T STAND Mary Keefe. They will vote for Phil out of pure bile for Mary!

Seems like half the voters in her district can’t stomach Keefe and at this point would throw their support behind a sprig of parsley, if it decided to print some push cards and run against her!

She is right on the issues but so is Phil Palmieri. Plus, Phil works so much harder, is an absolute pit bull when it comes to advocating for his district and is truly open to small biz folks and truly wants to AND WILL work with everybody.

Best of all: HE’S NOT MARY KEEFE!


Councilor Bill Eddy, welcome to Barbara Haller’s world! OR: Let’s see what you’re made of, Eddy!

This in today’s T & G:

“South Middlesex Opportunity Council has put in writing that the triage center for homeless people will vacate the former Anna Maria Rest Home property no later than Nov. 15 next year.

“Officials of the Framingham-based social services non-profit made that promise at a meeting of more than 300 neighborhood residents last week, but some of them questioned SMOC’s credibility.

“City Manager Michael V. O’Brien added his own assurance to the neighbors of the property at 1398 Main St. that the triage center will be gone from the neighborhood by Nov. 15. In addition, SMOC signed a four-page Good Neighbor Agreement Nov. 22 that outlines the responsibilities of SMOC and of neighbors for maintaining the property and safety and good conduct around it.

“SMOC notes that the Good Neighbor Agreement represents the intentions of the parties but is not a legally binding document. It provides the telephone number of Jayde Campbell, the top SMOC official at the triage center, so that complaints can be conveyed to him.”

So … now Worcester City Councilor Bill Eddy has a headache on his hands. The mess is in HIS district! Eddy will now actually have to prove he’s got a brain – actually work for his $27,000 a year city councilor “stipend.”

Councilor Eddy, you think you have headaches?! D-4 Barbara Haller has had to deal with this for almost a decade! Almost a decade of PIP/SMOC/enraged residents/enraged social service advocates re: the PIP’s/SMOC’s Main South site.

Let’s see what you’re made of, Billy Boy!

New Triage Center Site Meeting tonight! Discussion during City Council meeting tomorrow night!


– Rosalie Tirella

What are Sarai Rivera’s plans for District 4? She hasn’t told a soul!

By Rosalie Tirella

It’s funny, but with all the hero-worship/cult of personality going on around soon-to-be D-4 city councilor Sarai Rivera and all the threatening phone calls Rivera’s team has made to people who worked for D-4 incumbent Barbara Haller during the recent election (irrate calls to our mayor, to Congressman Jim McGovern, to the family health center and (yesterday) to me! I knew you all would call – and whine about reverse racism. (Let’s hope the Sarai Rivera camp doesn’t play the race card every time someone disagrees with her or gives her a thumping (just like most polititicians experience in the press – I have taken city councilors Ric Rushton, Joff Smith to task for years!).

But I digress.

You would think some of the folks at Sarai Rivera’s camp would actually encourage her to behave like a public leader/new city councilor and come out with some IDEAS and PLANS for District 4.

Plans, goals, ideas – even campaign promises!

She hasn’t! Ever!

I have never ever seen or heard of any Sarai Rivera policy points, campaign issues, etc.

What are Sarai’s plans for District 4?

Pro-halfway house folks have written to me, hinting that Rivera will support them/the houses in District 4. On the other hand, Sarai met with funeral director and Main South biz owner Peter Stefan a few weeks ago and told him NO WAY was she an enabler – no way were folks going to get something without work. Peter said Sarai sounded an awful lot like … City Councilor Barbara Haller. Or at least Sarai did then, with Peter – at that moment.

What does Sarai Rivera stand for? Really?

Worcesterites need to know.

One thing’s for sure: The anti-Haller brigade got behind Rivera, just like they got behind past Haller challengers Grace Ross, Lynn Simonds. They have always failed because most people in D-4 liked the way Haller was caring for the district. This time around the Haller-haters (Kevin Ksen, etc) were sharp enough to keep the pro-PIP/half way house/social liberal/Bill Randell-real estate developers-who-hate-the-Main-South-CDC-and have always come out against Haller AND combine this brigade with a new group of people: Latinos, Latino church folks.

This turned out to be the killer combo – their usual anti-Haller brigade and the new Latino/Latino church contingent.

But the question still is: What will Sarai do for District 4?

Residents need to know.

Does D-4 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.

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.

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.


City Councilor Barbara Haller wants you to join her …

editor’s note: District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller has been on inner-city folks’ side for a long time, advocating for all sorts of improvements to our meaner streets. One of her many goals: CLEARLY DEFINED AND FRESHLY PAINTED CROSSWALKS. And (probably more importantly): FINES ($200) for drivers who don’t stop for pedestrians using the crosswalks.

Let’s support her this spring! Here is a press release from Barb and her InCity Times story on pedestrian safety:

From District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller:

Date: Monday, April 5
Time: 1:30 pm
Place: Front entrance to Clark University, 950 Main Street

After years of concern about the dangers of crossing Main Street, residents of Webster Square Towers (1050 and 1060 Main Street), Marble Street Apartments (11 Marble Street), and Clark University (950 Main Street) are taking positive action to improve pedestrian and scooter safety at crosswalks.

District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller explains the March 29th event: “Building on the success of the March 17th event at Marble and Main streets, the Crosswalk-Safety Task Force will give an update on its activities. This will be immediately followed by an en mass crossing of Main Street at the front entrance gate to Clark University as a continuing demonstration of its commitment to changing the long-standing culture of ignoring crosswalk regulations.” Continue reading City Councilor Barbara Haller wants you to join her …

Remembering the late, great Worcester city councilor, Janice Nadeau

By Distrcit 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller

A day rarely goes by without my thinking and remembering Janice Nadeau. Her legacy of public service inspires me to keep plugging to find those windows of opportunity to “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative” in our City, and especially Worcester’s District 4.

Janice was an activist long before she was District 4’s first councilor. She knew first hand of the frustration that always seems come with working with elected officials and government administrations. She also knew first hand about financial struggles and the never-ending challenges to raising a family. She knew about blight, job loss, and cars that won’t start. And boy, did she know how to inspire hope and bring people together.

Through her excellent activist work with Fair Share she came to realize, like Tip O’Neil, that all politics is local. For Janice this didn’t mean that hopes for a political career depended on fixing people’s pot holes and sidewalks or getting someone’s kid into a particular school (although she understood this for sure). For Janice this meant that for her agenda of neighborhood respect and protection she (or someone close to her) needed to be elected to government power. Janice realized that access to elected officials and having one or two that would roll up their sleeves and actually work with you – at least on some issues – was critical to real progress. Continue reading Remembering the late, great Worcester city councilor, Janice Nadeau

FYI: 2009 municipal election results (Worcester)

City of Worcester – final election results – November 2009

Total registered voters – 90,729
Total ballots cast – 20,904


Joseph O’Brien – 10,210
Konstantina Lukes – 5,662
Kate Toomey – 3,721
E. Tsitsilianos – 595

City Councilors at Large:

Joseph O’Brien – 12,200
Kate Toomey – 10,359
Joseph Petty – 9,187
Frederick (“Ric”) Rushton – 8,065
Konstantina Lukes – 7,326 Continue reading FYI: 2009 municipal election results (Worcester)

The WPD sticks it to Haller; The police union and Joe O’Brien: a match made in hell

By Rosalie Tirella

I got my hands on some police union minutes – juicy stuff, when it comes to pols and which political candidates the police unions are backing.  The minutes of a recent meeting of IBPO Local 504 have the cops deciding to hell with District 4 City Counilor Barabara Haller who has worked with them to make Main South and the rest of the inner-city safer – to hell with her and onwards and upwards for Grace Ross, Haller’s opponent. becaise Ross will fund the Quinn Bill and more. The minutes (which are several pages long) state: “Grace Ross is running in District 4. She is totally pro-labor … .” Barbara Haller, according to the police union minutes, “filed an order requesting that the City Manager provide the [City] Council report explaining the steps necessary for the City Council to revise its 1987 vote [editor’s note, more like 2006!] relative to the Quinn Bill. President Cummings said that this means only one thing – that Barbara Haller has taken a posititon in direct opposition to our best interests. We need to work in the upcoming election to see that she is defeated.” Continue reading The WPD sticks it to Haller; The police union and Joe O’Brien: a match made in hell