Tag Archives: streets

City Councilor Mike Gaffney Plays Roulette with Public Safety

By Gordon Davis

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is an engineering college here in Worcester. It is known worldwide for its engineering programs and graduates.

WPI has an urban campus (Institute Road) with public streets. Like many cities in the USA, the drivers in Worcester drive aggressively and arrogantly. Some drivers just go too fast for our streets.

In Worcester there is about one incident a week where a motorist strikes a pedestrian. Half of the incidents are hit and runs. Some result in the pedestrian’s death.

Last week a driver struck an older person on Shrewsbury Street. A long-time resident of Worcester said in a letter to the local newspaper that she was afraid to cross the streets of Worcester as some drivers go “50, 60 or 70” miles per hour.

My wife and I were almost struck by a speeding car as we entered the cross walk at the Marine Corp. League.

crosswalk signal
Crosswalk signal. photo: Gordon Davis

The cross walk signal was blinking bright yellow. It seemed that the motorist sped up!

It is my opinion that when a motorist strikes a pedestrian, he should receive an automatic $500 fine – regardless of fault. This would help remind motorists they MUST, in all cases, yield to pedestrians – or stop for pedestrians in some situations.

This issue of pedestrians and public safety is a serious one. People are dying. It should not be a political football. The crosswalk signals being requested by WPI should be built. These are public streets for which the City and the Worcester City Council are responsible.

Is money a higher priority than public safety and our lives?  

Worcester City Councilor Michael T. Gaffney, like many others, seems to think so. We have a situation where Councilor Gaffney will delay or not expedite a public safety issue that has come before the Worcester City Council because he wants WPI to pay for all the crosswalk signals.

Some people seem to believe that pedestrians have no rights – except to get out of the way of a speeding vehicle!
I was told that a few folks were angry that I criticized the Majority Leader of the Massachusetts State Senate, Harriet Chandler, for her proposed bill to fine pedestrians who jaywalked. They were especially irked by my suggestion that motorists be automatically fined for striking pedestrians.

A pedestrian, when struck by a car, does not harm the motorist. The pedestrian never gets up and runs away from the scene of the accident.

Councilor Gaffney has previously made statements contrary to public safety. At a mayoral debate he stated that when a motorist strikes a pedestrian, the motorist suffers emotional anguish. He said nothing about the pedestrian’s pain and suffering!

So, as stated above, we have a situation where Councilor Gaffney will delay or not expedite a public safety issue because he wants WPI to pay for it. WPI already makes payment to the City of Worcester in lieu of taxes (PILOT). If Gaffney believes that WPI should pay more in PILOT to the City of Worcester then that can be negotiated. However, to hold as hostage or leverage an issue of public safety such as cross walk signals makes no sense and is playing roulette with our lives.  

A reasonable person could conclude that Gaffney is using this issue to further his rumored career move to the State Senate. If so, shame on him for endangering the lives of Worcester residents and the public.

A reasonable person would install the cross walk signals now and negotiate a possible increase of WPI’s payment in lieu of taxes later.

Unfortunately, I do not know of many people who think Councilor Gaffney is a reasonable person.

Surrealistic Worcester

By Rosalie Tirella

I haven’t listened to Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow” since my college days at UMass/Amherst. Took a listen to the CD yesterday while driving around Worcester, working on InCity Times. A pal let me borrow the CD and I thought: what the heck.

Then their song, “Today,” came on and I was … SLAYED.  Absolutely fucking slayed! It is that gorgeous! “A love song” doesn’t begin to describe it. (click on the link below pics to have a listen)

Why didn’t I devour this song in college, the way I did yesterday, driving around downtown Wusta in my jalopy? Probably too hooked on their “Somebody to Love” tune (click on the second link below). “Somebody to Love” is made for youngness!


But “Today” hit my middle-aged soul so hard! Sent me reeling! Made me SEE my city differently! Made me see – and this sounds weird – Wusta’s panhandler problem from a totally different angle. The human angle. The LOVE angle.


While driving around downtown listening to “Today” for the 40th time, I drove by a homeless kid and that young man became wrapped in the melody and lyrics of “Today” and the kid was so beautiful looking, so pure looking … . He reminded me of my youth, of Amherst … I began to cry, “tears running down my dress.”

The way he looked. The way he protected his lanky body from the cold – he was only wearing a sweatshirt over his tee shirt. I swooned to the way he felt … The way he most likely felt alone. He was alone against this Jefferson Airplane song about all-consuming, life-transforming LOVE. A single soul … one of Worcester’s panhandlers …  hiding in an alley way, sitting on his lean haunches, against a wall, carving out a nook for himself – against bricks and cement.


I was not on drugs. I was not even caffeine-ated, but I was totally high on this Jefferson Airplane song and this kid. This beautiful kid’s aloneness – where would he sleep tonight? I asked myself. so cold. he is only wearing a sweat shirt over his tee shirt. tall and … scrawny. yet the curly long black hair framed his face and he looked like an angel … .

The music of the sixties and seventies was made for me.

I drove home and ran to the computer and ditched the column I wrote for this issue of InCity Times (which comes out tomorrow) and tried to write about “Today,”  the homeless kid, my youth, love, love, love … hoping that the City of Worcester would get the message.

I failed.

(This post is another crack at it.)

What am I trying to say here? That this kid was beautiful but utterly adrift and vulnerable. A soul. A soul alone in Wusta’s universe. Panhandling for money won’t begin to undo the degradation that he has most likely already experienced and will continue to experience. So many runaway kids have been molested by relatives at home. That is why they run away… . So many of these youngsters find themselves on the streets looking for a place to stay warm and paying for it with their bodies.

It is the holidays. So (of course!) the City of Worcester has to roll out a punitive affordable housing policy and a brutal panhandling policy. City Manager Mike O’Brien and some city councilors need to listen to “TODAY.”



Somebody to Love:


The quest/remembering Grace

By Rosalie Tirella

So sad. So heartbreaking. My quest for a new best friend (dog) has been a real heartbreaker.

The last few times I adopted a pooch I seemed to find my canine soulmate within a week or two. I adopted both my fabulous dogs from the Worcester Animal Rescue League: “Bailey,” a big-boned Nova Scotia Retriever, 5 years ago, and “Grace,” a Lab/Beagle/Australian Cattle Dog mix (a classic “Heinz 57,” as my vet put it), 15 years ago.

Both were fantastic finds.

Grace was sweet and quiet and loved to ride shot-gun in the jalopy I happened to be driving at the moment. As I’d drive, Grace would have her front paws firmly planted on the two bucket seats in front and her rear legs a hold of the back seat. She could handle anything the road through at us! Curves, pot holes – my quick braking. She once fell head over paws into the front seat as the dope infront of me stopped short and damn near killed me and Gracie. Once, on Route 20, I almost drove headlong into a speeding 18 wheeler (don’t ask). After that two-second brush with death, Grace and I turned and looked at each other – at the same time. Yes, she had been scared shitless, too. Continue reading The quest/remembering Grace