By Rosalie Tirella
We say go for it, Worcester City Council! Instead of putting up with the Worcester School Department’s human resources office and its incestuous ways, move the whole shee-bang over to the city side. School HR head Stacy Luster is not running a stand up human resources department. WPS teachers are not hired for their job skills or training. They got their jobs because they had relatives or pals in the Worcester Public School system. Stacy, who is an African-American, runs a system that has a miniscule number of black teachers or principals. She should be ashamed of herself. Several years ago, InCity Times did a cover story on the lilly white WP Schools. Ten Worcester public schools – many with minority-majority student populations – had ZERO people of color in teaching or administrative positions. Talk about a lack of good role models! InCity Times and local neighborhood actvists made a stink over this. InCity Times urged Luster to go to some of the great African American colleges in the South – Spellman, Moorehouse – and do some serious recruiting. Did she listen? No. She just waved in all the friends and relatives of the politicians and big shots in town. Why? Probably not to make waves. Probably to keep the right people happy so she could keep her job! Some community leader!
Years ago, I talked with a Worcester Public School teacher who told me a teacher, especially in the ’60s, ’70s, had to be “mega-connected” to get a teaching job in the City of Worcester. Now you just have to be connected.
Please look at the uncertified teacher list! Many are special needs “teachers.” These pretenders should be shot. Working with Worcester’s most vulnerable students – and totally unqualified for their jobs! In Milford, a Special Needs teacher can’t step into a Special Needs class without the proper special needs certification. And after they get their job, they have to start working on their Master’s Degree. Not in Worcester. So, you’re certified to teach history? Well then, take over this Special Needs class filled with kids who may be on meds, emotionally troubled, struggling with school work. Special Needs classes became a dumping ground for uncertified/unqualified teachers (in other words, people’s pals).
What a mess.
But we like the idea of having the WPS HR department taken over by the City of Worcester’s HR dept. By having all teachers’ paper work and people’s resumes in City Hall – not Irving Street – we may get a hiring process that is more equitable. Yes, the School Committee needs to have their say. And no way should someone who doesn’t know the proper rules be allowed to hire teachers. Like StacyLuster has been doing for years … .
By Rosalie Tirella
Now that the Worcester Police Department is responsible for animal control, we wonder: do the cops know anything about Worcester’s feral cats/stray cats pandemic? Can they track down and shut down the pitbull fighting rings in the city (folks say there is one on Southbridge Street)? And what about being able to deal with animals that are hungry, wounded, abused? Can our cops treat these animals with dignity?
It is sad driving around Wormtown and seeing all the pitbull puppies. Some are so teeny. Others are older – six months or so – teenagers. Usually they are being walked by a thug. I saw a disheartening scene one day in our inner-city: One thug yells to another who is walking his female pitbull: “So when is she gonna have puppies? I want a girl.” Yes, of course you do, asshole. That way you can breed her and make a quick $50 or $100 off her puppies – just like the thug you’re talking to plans on doing.
I’ve seen the same young pitbull in the same Piedmont neighborhood yard for three consecutive days now – in the wind, in the rain – chewing on big, broken-down cardboard boxes. The yard is enclosed but that doesn’t make the situation OK. Who leaves a puppy out in a rainstorm? People who don’t care about animals that’s who. Most likely they treat their kids, spouses, even neighborhood with the same callousness.
So, good luck, Worcester Police Force. The Worcester Animal Rescue League had a great guy who used to investigate animal abuse. They had to let him go because of a lack of funding. He really did his job – not like the jamokes in the City’s Animal Control Dept. But now we don’t have to worry about their incompetence.
Now we will see what the WPD has to offer animals in pain. Police Chief Gemme is supposed to be a stand up guy. Here’s hoping he stands up for animals.
If you see an abandoned animal or one in trouble, call WARL. They can point you in the right direction. Their phone #: 508.853.0030
The Worcester Police Department complaint/biz line (for what it’s worth): 508.799.8606
By Rosalie Tirella
Worcester City Clerk David Rushford loses three clerks and he’s throwing a royal hissy fit! Yep! Rushford, who also runs the Worcester Election Commissions Office, wants to close his City Clerk office – the taxpayers’ office – at 2:30 p.m. instead of at the usual 5 p.m. (and collect the same humungus salary, we suspect). You know, so Rushford’s palsy walsy with Nick K. at the T & G, but that doesn’t mean the old T & G reporter needs to become Rushford’s personal stenographer. Nick shouldn’t jump every time some city haller loses his job or a few staffers and then threatens all hell will break loose now that they aren’t part of the scenery. (Nick, these people are using you!)
A quick recap: Rushford is threatening the city: if you don’t give me back my three clerks, I close down this office at 2:30 p.m. – not at 5 p.m. I will not do the city’s business – important business like marriage and death certificates, voter registration, dog licences, etc. It’s funny: Rushford gladly volunteered to take over the Election Commission Office a few years ago – the extra chores were no problemo, he said (and of course he got a pay raise). But now that he’s lost three people – he’s got a gaggle of clerks helping him on Main Street – he’s lost it! He threatens the Worcester taxpayer – just like he did earlier, when he said automated telephones/receptionists would replace the live bodies who now answer the phones in his office. Remember, David, you run an office that could be run by a new City Clerk, if you’re ever disgusted enough to leave town. But you won’t! (Why would you?!)
Love him or hate him, DPW and Parks head honcho Robert Moylan has been doing his job with a hell of a lot fewer people for years. Molylan, up until this latest budget crisis, hasn’t pulled crap like this (except for the closing of the city pools). He’s never said to the City: Well, that’s it, we don’t have the people. The doors at the DPW office will close in the middle of the afternoon. Good fuckin’ luck, Worcester!
Rushford needs to get a grip and do the best he can with what he’s got, instead of issuing ultimatums through the press. Remember, there’s always someone willing to do your job (probably just as well or almost as well) – and keep your shop open til 5 p.m.
By Rosalie Tirella
There is a God!
Finally, the State of Massachusetts is pulling the plug on the Quinn Bill – the millions and millions of dollars that may as well have been flushed down the crapper but instead were given as bon bons to Worcester (and all the other municipal) cops who took high-school-part-2 classes at Anna Maria College. Why? So that this city can pretend we have an educated police force. Why again? So that police officers who already make a load of dough can make a shit load of dough, if they snooze through the Quinn Bill classes. The classes don’t do anything to make them more enlightened cops. A good brain, a heart and an in-shape body, along with knowledge and love of your community, make you a great cop. And a Catholic liberal arts school like Anna Maria needs to get out of the cop-training business. It’s just a way for them to make a ton of money easily.
Now the City of Worcester will have to pay Anna Maria millions of dollars, if we want our police officers to go through the Quinn program. We know that won’t happen. Hooray!
You want “educated” cops? How about a residency requirement for all Worcester cops? How about a few internships with the Rape Crisis Center or Friendly House or some other great social service agency in town? How about a mini-course in customer service? There are so many dismissive, rude, red-faced, apopleptic, stressed-out, sloppy, slap-happy cops out there. How about giving them a Miss Manners handbook, to go along with their guns and night sticks?
Located in Main South, REC, the biggest little organization in Worcester, has been fighting for clean air, water and land for our community since 1971!
By Josie Shagwert, REC Director of Development
With the exception of our exciting new administration in Washington, the news these days is a downer to say the least. People are losing jobs and homes, hunger and homelessness are on the rise, and we are hearing that there won’t be any overnight solutions. The economic forecast for the country is grim and the weather in New England is still cold and icy. Seems like a good time to go back to basics. I find it comforting to ask, what is it that makes our communities healthy, safe, vibrant, and pleasant places to live? Continue reading Get to know the Regional Environmental Council!
Doctors and medical staff at Plumley Village Health Services in Worcester are sending their youngest patients home with free books and important advice for their parents – “Read to your children every day.” Today, State Representative Vincent Pedone (D-Worcester) visited the practice and read to a group of young children, emphasizing the importance of reading aloud.
Plumley Village Health Services, which is part of the UMass Memorial Health Care System, participates in Reach Out and Read (ROR), a national children’s literacy program that focuses on young children at risk of entering school unprepared to learn. At every checkup, clinicians in ROR guide and encourage parents to read aloud to their young children every day, and give each child a carefully selected new, developmentally and culturally appropriate book. By the time that child enters school, he or she will have a home library of up to 10 books. Continue reading State Rep. Vincent Pedone reads to children at Plumley Village Health Services
By Rosalie Tirella
What happens if you’re a kid in the Worcester public schools and you’re hungry, but your mom is too proud to apply for the free school lunch program? What do you do if you live in the inner-city and want to buy some bananas and oranges, but there isn’t a supermarket nearby – just a little corner store that doesn’t stock fresh produce? How can you feed a family of five, if you’re low-income? More important, can this family eat well?
As reported in this newspaper time and time again, former Worcester city councilor Dennis Irish is one of the most compassionate guys around – dedicated to eradicating some of our most pressing social ills. When local Congressman Jim McGovern declared we – all Americans – would make hunger history, he called Irish to ask him to head up the Worcester effort. While McGovern toils on the federal level, he looks to Irish and the relatively new Worcester Food Policy Council to come up with effective local programs that can be applied and/or expanded nation-wide. The state of Massachusetts is also watching what happens in Worcester. Federal and state support could translate to more funding for Worcester’s most successful anti-hunger programs. Continue reading Bringing real food to Worcester’s poor – an update
By Jack Hoffman
On Monday before 9AM seven major corporations laid off over 60000 employees, and that’s not counting the thousands of small businesses that have closed their doors. On Wednesday Starbucks announced thousands more would be add to the unemployed rolls.
In 2008, 2.5 million people lost their jobs. We know that the national unemployment rate has hit 7.2% for December- combined with the under a staggering 15%. Estimates for January could be 10%, or even higher. Exactly how many are actually seeking employment, or underemployed (being paid less than a fair wage we can only guess. California’s unemployment is now 9.3%- in some communities it’s as high as 25%. The governor has recently announced that the largest state in the union is now 65 billion in debt including state and local governments. State worker’s pay could be delayed. The governor of Massachusetts has just announced that he will have to cut 125 million from the cities and towns. Fortunately are unemployed is less than the national average (6.5%) Continue reading The economic crisis has come home
By Cha-Cha Connor
The Transfabulous Brunch and Art Auction, a benefit for the Worcester Transgender Emergency Fund held Sunday January 25, was a huge success! Organizers want to thank everyone who attended, our contributing artists, and our hosts, 86 Winter American Bistro on Water Street.
According to founder Jesse Pack, Prevention and Education Director at AIDS Project Worcester, the fund “responds to the needs of transgender people living in Massachusetts by providing immediate, short-term financial assistance to help low-income transgender people with basic human needs.” The hope is that by providing immediate assistance, the fund can help people who are transgender and homeless, while at the same time preventing some transgender people in Central Massachusetts from becoming homeless in the first place. Continue reading The Worcester Transgender Emergency Fund
By Ann Marie Chamberlain
The city of Worcester ordinances related to pet ownership, which may have seemed appropriate at the time they were adopted; need to be adjusted to reflect the current spirit of the citizens they are intended to serve. Pet limiting laws are difficult and expensive to enforce partly because they require enough manpower to check every residence in the city for compliance. This policing of residents costs taxpayers not only the enforcer’s salary but keeps animal control from investigating more significant offenses like abuse or neglect. Limiting pet numbers doesn’t make people more responsible or capable of caring for their pets. In the same neighborhood you can have one household with 8 well cared for pets which even the people next door are virtually ignorant about and one person who has 2 pets that run through the neighborhood disrupting life in general. One of the myths of pet limiting laws is that the laws prevent animal hoarding. Continue reading On limiting pets in Worcester