Tag Archives: voters


This election – Nov. 8 – please VOTE YES ON QUESTION 3!!!!

Really, it’s modest farm animal protection! No one is asking anyone to go vegan! We want to alleviate some of the suffering of pigs, veal calves, chickens. And make our food safer…and help our planet.

Below, we’ve made some sentences bold.

– Rosalie Tirella

But first, “Sir Paul,” for the animals:


By Citizens for Farm Animals

Residents of the Commonwealth have shown time and time again that we support commonsense protections for animals, the environment, and food safety.

November 8 Massachusetts voters will
have the opportunity to vote YES! on Question 3 to implement a modest animal protection reform.

Question 3 will prevent farm animals from being crammed into cages so small they can’t even turn around or extend their limbs, will improve food safety, and will support family farmers.

A YES! vote on Question 3 will also ensure that certain food items sold in the Commonwealth are compliant with these modest standards.

Major companies like Walmart and McDonald’s are already making similar improvements.

Question 3 Prohibits Cruel Confinement of Farm Animals

Vote YES! on Question 3 to prevent animal cruelty: Within days or even hours of birth, calves raised for
veal are often chained by their necks in crates too narrow to turn around or lie down comfortably.
The crates essentially immobilize these playful, energetic creatures, preventing them from engaging in almost any natural behaviors.

This lack of movement inhibits natural muscle development, often to such an extent that the calves are unable to walk to slaughter.

Vote YES! on Question 3 to prevent animal cruelty: Pigs are highly social and intelligent animals.

For years, female pigs used for breeding are confined in crates only two feet wide — so small the animals can’t even turn around or take more than a step forward or backward.

This extreme immobilization atrophies the pigs’muscles and bones. Since these inquisitive animals are denied mental stimulation, many become neurotic
and exhibit coping behaviors, such as repetitive biting of the bars in front of them.

Vote YES! on Question 3 to prevent animal cruelty: On many egg factory farms, hens are crammed into cages so small the birds can’t even spread their wings.

Packed five or more to a cage, each hen is forced to spend her whole life in a meager amount of space that’s smaller than an iPad. Virtually unable to move, the hens can’t engage in almost any of their natural behaviors, such as perching, nesting, foraging or even
walking more than a few steps.

In cages, chickens may suffer from bone fractures, feather-loss, and metabolic disease; some hens even become caught in the wire and die of starvation, unable to reach the food or water just inches away from them.

Question 3 Establishes Modest Standards
Vote YES! on Question 3 to ensure that substandard, inhumane, and unsafe products from these cruel confinement systems aren’t sold in our Commonwealth.

Question 3 Improves Human Health and Food Safety

Vote YES! on Question 3 to help keep our food supply safe. Industrial animal operations put our health at risk: cramming tens of thousands of animals into tiny cages promotes the spread of diseases.

The Center for Food Safety endorses this measure because numerous studies show that egg operations that confine hens in cages have higher rates of Salmonella, the leading cause of food poisoning-related death in America.

Animals kept in extreme confinement often live in their own waste and are pumped full of drugs that can
taint the food we eat.

Vote YES! on Question 3 on November 8, 2016

Protect animals and our families’ food supply!

To learn more visit: http://www.citizensforfarmanimals.com/resources!

Get involved to help farm animals!


Go, Chris, go!

What’s up with white people?!

By Chris Horton

Seeing the all-white, mostly 25-55 year old crowd lined up a few weeks ago at the DCU center to see presidential candidate Donald Trump was like being in a time-warp. I grew up “white,” in a very white part of what was the most segregated city in the world, Chicago. South Chicago was so white that I didn’t really know I was white until we moved to a mixed neighborhood when I was 9, yet I absorbed the lessons.

(How that came to be is another story!  Suffice it to say that Chicago’s “Restrictive Covenants” designating where “Negros” were not allowed to live were only struck down by the Supreme Court in 1948; the Chicago Realtor’s Board didn’t even try to hide their profit-maximizing motive for enforcing segregation; and the Police Department enforced it – all of which was invisible to me.) 

Not that where I grew up was anyplace fancy.  We lived a few blocks from US Steel where many of my friends’ dads worked.  It was a tough, dirty, noisy town, a union town, but safe because most of the mothers were at home and watching out for all of us. It looked a lot like Green Island but flatter.  A few brown-skinned folk came into our neighborhood by day to work, but they’d all be gone by dark.  The darkest-skinned girl in my school, a Sicilian beauty named Yvonne, was my third-grade crush.  (Decades later I heard a story of how no one had dared tell her Dad he couldn’t live there!)

There were no black or brown “good guys” on TV or in the movies except for Uncle Remus and Tonto.  Virtually all our sports heroes were white, in virtually every sport.  

(When Roy Williams came over to the White Sox from the Negro League – about which I knew nothing – and we were watching from the bleachers, one of my friends said “he plays all right for a N****!”   I amazed myself by threatening if he ever used that word again I’d punch him in the nose.  He must have believed I meant it because he never did again – around me anyway.  But I’ve always wondered where that came from – I barely knew what the word meant.)  

Our textbooks had George Washington Carver, Booker T Washington and some grateful slaves receiving the gift of freedom from Abe Lincoln. Junior Scholastic magazine told stories about poor starving Africans and good English settlers slaughtered in their beds by Mau Maus. Anything that mattered in the world had been done by “whites.” 

So I didn’t think of myself as white, I was just an American like everyone else I knew.  We were Irish, Jewish, Italian, Polish, English, but we were all American. 

And Americans were White.  Palefaces, as Tonto called us in the movies.  We were the Good Guys in the white hats, who always won in the end because we were righteous – and better at fighting and killing.  I used to thank God I was an American.

I loved the kids I grew up with, still do.  We loved America, marbles, cars and baseball and hated Hitler, Nazis, facists and the Japs whose planes came screaming out of the sky to strafe us as we fought back with machine guns from the sand pits in the vacant lots and practiced dying in hails of bullets. 

Our country has gone through a lot of changes since then.  We’ve all gone through a lot of changes.  Slowly, painfully, starting with sports, we’ve learned that all the stories about what Black people can’t do are lies. Interracial couples, unthinkable where I grew up, are common now and we even have a Black President. Yet here in the DCU Center were what could have been the children and grandchildren of my friends, cheering for Donald Trump, baying for blood and chanting USA! USA!


So what’s up with white folk?  Or more specifically, what’s up with these white folk, mostly non-college white folk in their peak earning years? 

Well, it turns out they’re getting hit pretty hard by this economic depression we’re in, and taking it pretty hard, as reflected in the Feb. 3 daily headlines: “For middle-aged white Americans, death rate is on the rise! Epidemic of suicide, afflictions from substance abuse taking a toll.” 

Not that everyone else isn’t hurting – on average, given the same education level, white folk still have more income, more family wealth and are more likely to be employed, but the difference is narrowing rapidly.  We’re getting a big dose of what everyone else has been experiencing since forever in this rigged economy, and they (we) don’t like it.

Only about 69% of white folk age 20 and over are employed now according to the BLS, down from 75% in 2000, but compared to only 61% of black folk now.  But for middle-aged native-born non-Latino non-college white men, moreso than any other group, there has been no recovery since the bottom of the recession!

The percent working has barely started to recover.  Jobs have become nastier and more insecure, and we’re putting up with abuse and cuts we would have quit over 15 years ago.  The foreclosure crisis hit Black, Latino and immigrant homeowners early and hard; now it is hitting everyone. Health care costs have been savaging us all, but because white workers are more likely to have had good health coverage, we’re more likely to have lost it.  And white workers are more likely to have lost our pension – because we’re more likely to have had one!

For some white workers, the most painful thing is being driven down to the level of everyone else, losing the sense of being special.  But pretty much all of us are outraged because this isn’t how America was “supposed to be”!

In reality, white working-folk face the same crisis, the same challenges as everyone else. Politically, we’ve reached a point where “more of the same” is not an option for us, and we face a fateful choice:

– follow Trump and the illusion we can reclaim our special place in the universe by putting everyone else down,

– or join with the rest of America – and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – in building a great movement to confront the billionaire class and reclaim our democracy for everyone!


Actually, if you leave out the immigrant-bashing, Mexican-bashing, Moslem bashing and China-bashing, the bragging, threatening and borderline lynch-mob talk – which is asking a lot – what’s left still makes a certain kind of emotional sense.  One Trump-supporter put his reasons like this: 

  – Trump can’t be bought;

  – The system has failed and we need to do something different;

  – Trump says what he really thinks;

These are all things that can be said far better for Bernie!

Yes, Trump’s so rich that he can’t be bought for a few thousand dollars, but his life has been about hustling for wealth and power for himself.  Can we expect that to stop suddenly when we elect him?  Will he suddenly be doing this for us?

Yes, the system has failed, because the top-level politicians mostly are taking the billionaires’ dollars and dancing to their tune.  Trump brags that he’s the one that used to buy them.  Is that less corrupt, or more?

Yes, Trump says what he thinks at the moment, but is it the same as last week?  This week it’s Moslems. Last week it was Mexicans.  Who knows what next week will bring?

None of these arguments will shake a Trump-supporter loose if their real reason is about “being white”, and the pain of losing the special place we once had just by being American in a world where (to us) that meant being white.  Trump is leading us down the road to Hell, to a state where we’re too busy fighting with each other to fight back against the “billionaire class” – his class.  If you doubt this could happen, if you want to know what that might look like, take a look at Iraq, Syria or Libya!  

Hopefully, enough of us still know better and we’ll snap out of it before Election Day!

In Green Island, reprecincting was good news for some …

By Maureen Schwab

At the end of January, post cards were sent out to all registered voters of Worcester who were reassigned to new voting precincts. The changes, mandated by law, occur every 10 years after the release of the U.S. Census results.

The reprecincting/redistricting process is necessary to insure fair and equitable distribution of voters throughout Worcester’s 10 wards and fifty precincts. However, what is fair and equitable may not make sense to some voters who must now travel to polling places in a different part of the city when in some cases they live across the street from their former polling places.

In Green Island, the reprecincting was good news for the people who live on 5 streets south of Crompton Park. They are back in Ward 8, precinct 1 and no longer have to travel to the South Worcester Neighborhood Center on Camp Street, they will once again be voting at the Code Dept. on Meade St. Those who live on the eight streets either across or a block or two away from the polling place at the Code Dept.on Meade St are now assigned to Ward 10 precinct 5 and will be voting at the Murray Ave. Apts., 50 Murray Ave. Perhaps at this point you are wondering … WHY?

Worcester City Clerk David Rushford and his staff had to comply with a strict set of rules and census information to keep Worcester in compliance with the law. The 2010 census had determined that the city population was 181,045. The population was divided between the 10 wards; 18, 104 people per ward. Each ward was then divided into five precincts; approximately 3,621 people per precinct. The population numbers used to redistrict/repricinct also included everyone under the age of 18 who are not eligible to vote in all elections during the 10 years (2010-2020) before the next U.S. Census is taken. People under the age 18 represent approximately 40,000 people or 22% of the population in Worcester. What the census and redistricting will do is divide a city into equal numbers of people per precinct; but what it does not do is divide the population into equal number of qualified voters per precinct.

If you have been reprecincted to a less convenient polling location, I hope you will continue to exercise your right to vote. If you qualify, you may be able to vote by absentee ballot. Either way, the first step is to register to vote, you cannot simply show up at a polling place and expect to be given a ballot. You must be registered to be given a ballot. Call the Election Commission at 508-799-1134, or go to City Hall in person for help and information. The deadline for the Presidential Primary on March 6 has passed, but you still have time( deadline is August 17) to be included in the State primary ( September 6 ) and the all important State and National election on November 6 at which time we elect a new U.S. Senator and The President of the United States. When you register, you can declare that you are a member of the Green- Rainbow, Republican or Democratic Party, or choose to be listed as unenrolled. Unenrolled voters ( the majority in Worcester) can vote in either party’s primary and in all elections. One need not be a member of any political party to exercise their right to vote, please register ( if you haven’t) and PLEASE VOTE.

Sept. 20 please vote for Virginia Ryan, District 1 City Council candidate

InCity Times candidate endorsement – Virginia W. Ryan – District 1
By Rosalie Tirella

InCity Times asks the voters of Worcester to
make their voices heard and get out
and vote September 20! These trying
times require bright, honest and com-mitted
commuity leaders For this pre-liminary
election, voters must narrow
the City Council at Large, District 1
and District 3 fields.

We are asking that you vote for:

District 1: Virginia W. Ryan

The readers of this column know
how pointless I believe incumbant
Joffrey Smith is – from his half heart-ed
attempt at serving his constituents
to his half-assed movie career as an
extra to his half-finished house in the
West Side. Yeah, it was once cool that
he was young and running for office
several election cycles ago, but now
Smith is not so young and has proved
himself to be just like every other
entrenched incumbent: doesn’t return
phone calls, doesn’t act on constitutent
requests, has no real ideas/passions
about anything and (as proven in last
election cycle) wanted to use his city
council seat as a catapault for new,
higher office Well, Smith ran for state
rep a few years ago and lost big time
He took a drubbing – finished way way
behind the two front runners. Which
means: Smith is most likely stuck in
his Worcester City Council District 1
seat and District 1 is stuck with this
totally lackluster character who thinks
because he is cute you should give him
your vote.

Don’t! He’s a cypher!

But at least he’s not a criminal the
way Tony J Economou is – the next
person running for District 1.

Economou, a real estate agent ILLEGALLY
tried to scare poor folks
out of their homes after they had been foreclosed
upon. Why? To get them out ASAP and turn around and sell the propeerty – to make a killing in the real
estate market.

What’s especially sleazy about Economou is when the bank fore-closed
on the home, Economou took it
upon himself to make out fake legal looking
documents and taping them to the
people’s homes – giving them a few
weeks to move out or else.

This is totally illegal! People do not
have to move out immediately when
the bank forecloses! They can spend
months in their home as their case
makes its way through the legal system.

If Tony Economou had had his (illegal) way,
these folkswould be living at the PIP homeless shelter – and
he would be stuffing his pockets with cash – thousands of dollars!

When InCity Times called him on
this and published a story, Economou
bull shitted – told the public that it wasn’t him making
notices – it was Freddie
mac/Fanny Mae, to which these non-profits
said NO WAY, we neverd o
that, we never gave Tony Economou
such forms to paste on doors.

What a lying low-life, Economou is. No upstanding businessman from the community – no matter how hard he tries to pretend. This guy is simply greedy and will do anything for a buck – even if it is lying and breaking the law.

Do the people of Worcester’s District 1 really want a low-life
llike Tony Economou representing

D oes Worcester want this guy to voice the concerns of the people?


Which brings us to the person we want you to vote for: VIRGINA RYAN

Yeas ago, when I was a student at
Burncoat Senior High School, Virginia
Ryan was a biology teacher there. She
was tough and no-nonsense – and I
was a little afraid of her. The 15-year-old me was glad when I learned I got the sweet and brillliant
Mr. LaBelle as my 10th grade biology
teacher, But my good pal Paula T. had Miss Ryan
– and liked her.

The years have gone by and we (meaning I – Rosalie)
have toughened up. We have
learned to look beyound a person’s
exterior to find, in Miss Ryan’s case at
least, a very good, hardworking,
straigh-shooting person. And we like Ryan’s platform.

This is what District 1 and the Worcester
City Council needs: someone
(Virigina Ryan) who is going to fight
for home owners (Ryan’s for the lowest residential taxr ate), our schools (she was a WPSchool teacher for years and years, our students (she was committed to all her kids learning!). Plus she was a biology teacher – so she will/and has done her homework on the Asian Long-horned beetle and Worcester’s trees.

District 1, if you folks
elect Virginia Ryan, will be getting a person
with a ton of energy! I know she is
retired and I know that retirees’ contributions
and their premiums via City of Worcester was what put Ryan in the limelight, but she has many more interests/goals.

Ryan cares about being fair – and she
is not afraid to speak her mind. She has a ton of energy – has
been going door to door meeting a ton
of District 1 voters!

This is a good

But why do I like Virginia Ryan? It’s the personal stuff – the small stuff. The kind feelings she has shown me through her letters and even actions these last three years. For instance, over
these past few years Ryan has sent me leeters to the
editor. They have not been about her or the retirees of the City of Worcester. They have been about kids and poor
folks. For instance, one letter she wrote
us detailed how for years and years she
took the Worcester Public Schools students
to all kinds of cities and countries
via the Burncoats/WPS field-trip system.
And I remembered Miss Ryan did do that – every
year taking a bus -oad of Burncoat students
to Washington DC to learn about our Capitol and our government. She did this every year!
Would I, as a sanity-loving adult,
want to do the same? Take a bunch of teenagers to DC? Heck no! Well, Miss Ryan beleived in kids,
in history, in our nation’s history and DID IT!
Put it all together with her yearly
field trips to Washington. She did this for
years. The letters she wrote to me
talked of keeping the field trip system
alive and well in our public schools. Ryan knew that going
to DC or Canada or maybe even France was a
cool thing for kids – was yet another way for
students to learn. Learn other stuff
than what she was teaching them in bio

Finally, one of Virginia
Ryan’s last letters to the editor to me detailed this incident: Virginia was shopping at Wal Mart in
West Boylston – it was wintertime and
she was appalled, just appalled, that the
cashiers of Wal Mart had no real barriier
between their cashier stations and the cold/cold wind
– that is the cashiers were working
right in front of the automatic exit
door. She wrote the wind was cold and was
whipping in every time a customer paid the cashier and walked out of Wal Mart. And they didn’t even
have coats on! What a crumby way to
work for five or so hours! Where,
Virginia Ryan wanted to know, was
the barrier that protected these workers
from the elements? Why didn’t
Wal Mart errect some kind of partition?
Do the right thing? I think she even
complained to Wal Mart.

This impressed me the most! This made me
think: Virgina Ryan is sensitive and moral – she cares about
folks most people don’t think twice

So, based on my adult dealings
with Virgina Ryan, I say she is a biologist,
a champion of kids and public school education. She is someone who will always do
the right thing!

She is not a politician like Smith and, God forbid, the creep-meister Tony Ecomou – kicking folks like the Wal Mart cashiers Ryan defended out of their homes!

Please! No sleaze ball Tony Economou for District 1.

Vote for Virgina Ryan – District 1 City Councilor

Voter apathy and how we can “rock” the system

By Chris Horton

Retreat of the “Obama voters”

I’ve participated in 10 election campaigns in the past seven years, including President Obama’s, and the voters – my neighbors, many of them – have taught me a lot. The regular people of our city and commonwealth, are fed up with politics. “Black” or “white,” native or immigrant, Republican, Independent or Democrat, we’re all fed up. On the bread and butter issues like Social Security, Medicare, jobs, war and peace, who should pay the taxes and not letting the banks take our homes and drive us to ruin, most of us agree. But what we want doesn’t seem to matter. So a majority of the people in Worcester have just given up on voting.

And who can blame them? We keep re-electing a great Congressman, yet things keep getting worse. We elected – and hopefully will re-elect – a young, populist mayor, yet things seem to stay the same. And we turned out in near-record numbers to elect a dynamic young President who talks like the second coming of Jesus. Yet things keep getting worse.

So why bother?

When Grace Ross campaigned for City Council a few years ago, our strategy was to find the people who don’t usually vote but who had turned out to vote for Obama. I went door to door talking to these “Obama voters,” and I caught an earful. Many agreed that we need a change in City Hall and that Grace sounded really good, but on the day of decision the Obama voters stayed home. The most common reason I heard for not voting was … Obama! I heard many versions of “We turned out and voted for Hope and Change and what did we get? Nothing!” More proof that voting doesn’t matter, that politicians are all lying to us, that once they get into office they’ll get sucked into the system and forget about us, and anyway they can’t change anything.

(The number two reason cited by people was the city pools! Over 600 people turned out for the public hearings the City Council organized. Hundreds spoke and nearly every one wanted all the old pools repaired. Yet the City Council turned around and voted for the City Manager’s one-pool plan as though the hearings had never happened! I would argue “that’s why we need Grace on the city council.” Some would nod and agree, but what they were really saying was “why bother voting?

It’s not apathy! It’s a boycott!

Do people care? They know a lot about what’s going on in Worcester. They’re concerned. They care enough to show their anger! And they’re clear about why they’re not voting! They, and sometimes their parents and their grandparents before them, are making a point. They’ve been boycotting the elections, for generations! They suspended their boycott to vote for Obama – and the result has confirmed their worst fears. So now they say they’re all done!

And yet, vote we must, so long as we still have that right. Not just to elect people who will truly represent us, but also for getting organized and learning how to stick up for ourselves and for each other.

Elections are times when people come together to talk about all the issues we face, to talk about programs and ideas that will bring us together, the times when we see how all of our struggles are part of a bigger picture. We need those conversations. We need to learn how to use elections to get together, to get organized, to build unity and community. But how?

Stop doing what doesn’t work!

The things people are doing to get elected these days are the very things most regular folk are sick of. If we want a different result from elections we need to admit what isn’t working and let go of it.

First, television spots, slick post cards, robo-calls, but most especially phone banking – volunteers calling computer-generated lists of most likely voters – may swing some of the usual voters, but are such a turn-off to most regular folks that they only increase the level of disgust and non-participation. Even door to door work in other people’s neighborhoods is pretty useless these days. People are only going to be moved by someone with whom they have some kind of connection.

Second, words aren’t enough. The candidate reaching us with his or her message isn’t enough. No one can top Obama for great speeches. Heck, he got a Nobel Prize for his speeches! But as my Grandma used to say, “Words butter no parsnips.” We’re so done with speeches and promises! We need campaigns that call us to action, to do something, to make a change, win or lose on election day.

Third, campaigns are not enough. Campaigns that are the personal property of the candidate, campaigns that end on election day, build nothing. Campaigns that put all the information gathered in a drawer, all the networks they built forgotten until the candidate decides to run again are a kind of theft from all the people who contribute to them, who go out organizing for them! That has to stop!

Finally, campaigns that pit the people who choose to run against each other have to go. In the City Council race of 2009, progressives Grace Ross, Kola Afolabi, Mary Keefe and Joe O’Brien ran for City Council, competing for resources and volunteers. If everyone who worked on their campaigns had worked to get all four elected, if they had coordinated, all three would have won. Instead, only O’Brien won, mostly with support from the usual voters.
O’Brien lives in District 4, and campaigned there. So the “Obama voters,” the ones who didn’t turn out for Grace, didn’t turn out for him either! Unless he can help change that, his base is shaky.
So how do we build a different kind of campaign?

First, every campaign should be real community organizing, real relationship building. Door to door canvassers should look for potential leaders on each block and get them together with the candidate; then support them in talking to their neighbors, talking over the issues, setting up events to meet the candidate and then geting each other out to the polls.

Organizers should be finding and drawing in the natural leaders in the District from every group and organization, getting conversations going in workplaces, community centers, religious and social communities, unions, finding ways to draw everyone’s interests together around the campaign.

Second, the campaign should organize people to struggle and win concrete things they need, during the campaign! Maybe including dramatic actions like stopping an eviction, a sit-in at City Hall until they vote to do something they promised, or a community takeover of an abandoned building! This makes clear what the election is about, not just issues, but power. Our power to make things happen when we stand together.

Third, campaigns should be about building grass-roots organizations that stand for something and belong to the members. Campaigns should belong to the people, and continue on from election to election and in-between. They should leave behind ward-level, precinct-level and block-level organizations, with precinct and block captains who will stay connected to their neighbors, lead them in struggles to stop an eviction or keep a food pantry open, and to hold the people we elected to account!

The walking lists, databases and notes – or copies of them – should stay with this organization and with the campaigners. When the next election comes around the office-holder should have to go back to us for support. So the officeholder would feel the need to keep coming back to the campaigners, coming to our ward and precinct and block meetings to explain themselves and take instructions from the people about how to vote!

Last, this great grass-roots organization, with block committees and precinct committees throughout the city, should decide who runs for us, and would become the ready-made kernal of thir campaign!

The way we’re doing it now is stupid and wrong. With all respect for some very good people we’ve elected that are trying to do their best, it’s not real democracy.

The challenge; rebuilding our democracy

Once upon a time we had parties that had a mass base. They were called Machines by the press, their leaders were called Ward Bosses, their activists were called Ward Heelers. The “reformers” – folks with money, mostly – organized to do away with them by making local elections – the heart of politics – “non-partisan.” Those “machines” were not democratic enough and were often corrupted, but they connected working people and their government every day, and turned working people out to vote.

Those “machines” elected Franklin Roosevelt four times, and helped win the New Deal. Boy, could we use some of that now!

We need something like that but controlled by the members. We could try rebuilding the Democratic Party, but the non-partisan election law may force us to build outside of it. A political movement that will give people a voice, connect us with each other and with our government, and draw all our other movements together. One that will require the politicians answer to and work with us, not just on election day but every day.
So my challenge to all the candidates for this City Council race is this: Build your campaign to last. Build it around connecting people, not just with you, but with each other, with our neighbors and all the leaders among us. Build it by design to go on fighting for our needs between elections, win or lose, with your leadership so long as you go on earning it. Fighting for things like stopping the foreclosures and saving Medicare and Social Security and saving or making jobs and making sure no one goes to bed hungry. Build it so it can resume campaigning for the candidate of its own choice in the elections next year and the year after that and the year after that.

Give it its freedom, and then go on being the leader we would choose again!

Senator Scott Brown’s invite-only “jobs tour” can’t hide his anti-jobs voting record!

By Jason A Stephany

Since he took office February 4, 2010, US Senator Scott Brown has yet to host a public town hall or open forum. His schedule has included more than 250 stops for ribbon cuttings, groundbreaking ceremonies and photo opportunities – even a slew of book signings to market his autobiography. But Brown has yet to offer a single opportunity for Massachusetts taxpayers to gather in an open, public setting and ask questions of their senator.

So when aides to Brown announced he would tour the state to share his agenda and interact with constituents on job creation and economic development issues, it made headlines. After 18 months of private, scripted events, the commonwealth’s junior senator was finally coming out of his shell to discuss important issues at the forefront of everyone’s mind – or so we thought.

What Brown’s PR team actually meant was the senator would embark on yet another string of seemingly invitation-only private events, shaking hands with wealthy supporters and posing for photographs. Local residents hoping to discuss key issues with Brown were turned away by security at his first three “jobs tour” stops, after being told the events were closed to the public. Even reporters were barred from the actual tour portion of the day Friday, with staff citing “liability concerns.” Brown’s staff has refused to reveal key details about upcoming tour stops, and his spokesmen offered no comment when asked how constituents would be informed of future visits.

As it turns out, the statewide “jobs tour” isn’t really open to Brown’s constituents at all – not without a special invitation, at least. The events have been carefully scripted to allow Scott Brown to avoid serious questions on jobs, unemployment and the economy – whether from the media or the people who elected him. But why? What is Brown hiding from?

Perhaps Brown doesn’t want his constituents to know he voted eight times to end unemployment benefits for tens of thousands of Bay State residents who lost their jobs. Maybe he’s ashamed of his vote to give tax breaks to corporations that ship American jobs overseas, or his vote to cut more than 7,000 jobs for youth across the commonwealth. He might be wary of his support for budget plans that would cost us 17,000 new jobs and slash critical job training for 27,000 additional workers. It’s entirely possible Brown doesn’t want constituents to know he tried to filibuster his own bill to help Massachusetts small businesses create jobs in our growing tech sector.

With so many regrettable votes on the table, only Brown knows why he’s avoiding a true public conversation on jobs and the economy. But one thing is certain: Scott Brown has voted against the interests of Bay State workers time and time again, and this latest publicity stunt can’t hide his lengthy anti-jobs record from the people of Massachusetts.

Worcester Mayor Joe O’Brien – Part 2

By Rosalie Tirella

After I wrote yesterday’s blog, I remembered this: You would think Mayor Joseph O’Brien has scored a few points with some of his detractors. After all, he is asking the city’s public school teachers to pay 25% of their health insurance premiums. (Good!) While a friend of labor, O’Brien knows that everyone – including our unions – needs to give a little these days, and Worcesterties will balk at paying higher taxes if they feel their money is simply going to the unions’ sky rocketing benefit packages. Going to pay 80% of our teachers’ health insurance! Worcester taxpayers are especially annoyed when folks in the private sector pay as much as 50% of their health insurance premiums – and our teachers are whining about paying only 25%. Worcester biz folks and rersidents balk at paying higher taxes when they have to listen to our teachers – most of whom make at least $70,000/year and many of whom pull down a salary of around $90,000 – think they are taking the moral high ground when they refuse to accept a 5% increase in their health insurance premiums.


So, of course, the Worcester Public School teachers union is giving O’Brien a hard time.

Then there is O’Brien’s support of Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Melinda Boone. Worcester is a provincial place – filled with people who accept no one outside their circles of trust (family, church, political groups, ethnic enclaves). This narrowmindedness is a black mark on Worcester because civic life doesn’t run that way in places like Hartford or Springfield or Lowell. These cities’ civic lives are actually enriched by all the new and varied voices! But here, in Wormtown, newcomers like Boone, will be dragged through the mud by yappers like Gary Rosen, Worcester School Committee member Tracy Novick, etc. The Goddard School MCAS test brouhaha was reason enough for Novick – who wants all of Worcester to know she is such a good Catholic – to lead a racially tinged witch hunt.

Mayor O’Brien has backed Boone with passion and grit. Kudos to him!

And finally, Mayor O’Brien has taken a bit of a shelacking from neighborhood activist and InCity Times pal Gary Vecchio. Gary (usually a very nice guy) is not behaving too sweetly these days. He will not let O’Brien forget that during campaign season O’Brien said he was for the lowest residential tax rate – Gary’s hobby horse. This past year, however, after meeting weith biz folks and carefuly considering the city’s future, O’Brien along with a majority of the Worcester City Council, voted to raise Worcesterites’ property taxes a teeny bit. Old people are exempt, really poor people are exempt. But if you are middle class, it means an increase of about 100 bucks or so for you. Some how this has put Gary Veccio over the edge – he won’t let O’Brien forget that HE WENT BACK ON HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISE. I wish Gary, who is a great guy, would lighten up and see O’Brien’s move for what it was: a desire to keep Worcester running smoothly during a nasty recession.

So, I guess, Gary and all the blue collar home owners in Worcester are now pissed at O’Brien – or that’s what Gary wants us to think.

Why not think this: O’Brien is not, as the Sunday Telegram stated in its headline, “an enigma.” Mayor Joe O’Brien is TRYING TO LEAD our city in very shaky times. He is asking ALL of us – residents, biz folks, municipal unions – to do our part to keep Worcester great.

Let’s rise to the occasion!

Tea Party mania! What’s it all about, America?

By Chris Horton

Populism. That is the word for today. Populism used to mean “grass-roots democracy; working-class activism; egalitarianism.” One dictionary defines it as “The belief that greater popular participation in government and business is necessary to protect individuals from exploitation by inflexible bureaucracy†and financial conglomerates.”

So how did a conservative, backward-looking movement like the Tea Party, lay claim to this word? How could a movement funded by billionaires and allied with the Republican Party, promoting the gutting of the government services that regular people depend on and spreading the poison of anger at each other, blaming each other, blaming our unions, blaming our neighbors who had to cross a border without papers in search of work, lay claim to the word “populist”?

The short answer is “anger.” The part of populism which the Tea Party has appropriated is expression of the people’s anger. And the liberals, the progressives, the non-profit and Democratic and issue-group activists have allowed them to claim it by default.
. . . . .
And how did this Tea Party move so quickly from fringe to central player? How did it become a serious threat, identified with according to opinion polls by millions, able to swing or even win elections? To the political classes this seems almost incomprehensible. The anger of the people that is being channeled by this Tea Party is alien to them. Angry people scare them. But the reason they don’t “get it” is that they don’t get what’s going on with us.

The central reality that most regular people – say, the “bottom” 80% of the population – have been living with for maybe the past 20 years, and acutely for the past 2 or 3 years for the “bottom” 90%, is that for us the economy is increasingly failing, becoming a disaster. For working people, small business people and now even the lower ranks of the professions, the social safety net that was fraying is shredding. Continue reading Tea Party mania! What’s it all about, America?