Tag Archives: Worcester

The house on Vernon Hill: poet Stanley Kunitz’s childhood home and Greg Stockmal’s beloved sanctuary

By Carle Johnson

Stanley Kunitz dedicated his poem “My Mother’s Pears” to Greg and Carol Stockmal of Worcester.

One stanza of the poem is this grateful thank you to them:

“Those strangers are my friends
whose kindness blesses the house
my mother built at the edge of town…”

From the hallway to the kitchen of his Worcester home, Greg Stockmal noticed people peering in from the windows on the front porch. Nosey neighbors? Prowlers? Call the police?

Are the paintings on the wall worth a daylight break-in attempt?

When Greg stepped out on to the porch, the man began talking before Greg could ask a question. “We’re sorry. We didn’t think anyone was at home. We are on our way to Vermont and had heard about your home. We just wanted to take a peek inside on our way.” Continue reading The house on Vernon Hill: poet Stanley Kunitz’s childhood home and Greg Stockmal’s beloved sanctuary

WPD’s “communications guy” Sgt. Kerry Hazel Hurst: too stupid to have written that press release!

By Rosalie Tirella

I have a newspaper. I write stories. Sometimes, like all reporters, I have to call the Worcester Police Department for comments re: stories we’re working on. Invariably, I get shunted to police dept. “spokesperson” Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst. This guy cannot write – he can only answer the phone and get back to you with half-baked answers and then YOU, the writer, are supposed to record the golden goose’s verbal eggs (usually scrambled). This guy doesn’t/can’t write shit. He didn’t write the WPD press release that’s sailing around the blogosphere. Continue reading WPD’s “communications guy” Sgt. Kerry Hazel Hurst: too stupid to have written that press release!

Worcester’s cops need to wake up … and smell the Quinn Bill

By Rosalie Tirella

Wow! The Quinn Bill classes! A total farce! A complete waste of time! A black hole for our tax dollars! A football field of quick-sand! We always felt these classes were jr. high part II and did nothing to make cops more sensitive to their communities or give them better communication skills. Just look at some of our cops and the way they “finesse” all kinds of volatile/deadly situations – specifically Mark Rojas.

But now the City of Worcester knows for sure. Quinn Bill diploma mills (Anna Maria, QCC) tell police officers: give us the money – and we give you a piece of paper that gets you other pieces of paper – the green kind with our founding fathers printed on one side and “In God We Trust” on the other. Police Chief Gemme got himself an extra $40,000 (per year) because he took these classes. And other cops have reaped the benefits – $5 million in total. $5 million per year the City of Worcester must pay (it’s in the police contract) all the Quinn Bill “Scholars” at the Worcester Police Department. Continue reading Worcester’s cops need to wake up … and smell the Quinn Bill

Mayoral candidate Joe O’Brien: lackluster, aloof and … a bit of a snooze

By Rosalie Tirella

Worcester – I caught some of the mayoral debates that are taking place all over our fair city, all the time, it seems. What struck me was how lackluster “the new, fresh” candidate Joe O’Brien seemed. Candidate Kate Toomey didn’t count. Doesn’t count. So I’ll skip her and focus on Mayor Konnie Lukes’ main opponent: O’Brien – the guy who is being touted as the Second Coming.

Unfortunately – or fortunately for Konnie Lukes – this guy isn’t the Second Coming. If you watch the debates, he isn’t even interesting. What’s more, during these mayoral debates and forums, O’Brien comes off as … kind of bored … a bore – an aloof, passionless guy who isn’t enjoying any of this. Watch him and you see a candidate who seems to be doing this from rote, the kind of candidate who sees running for Worcester Mayor as a task, a (thankless?) job. Maybe that’s because O’Brien sees being Worcester Mayor as a stepping stone to bigger and better … offices (state rep, state senator, etc). With his eyes ultimately on a bigger prize, it’s no wonder this ride is a bit of a snooze for Joe O.

If he wins this mayoral race, most likely he will dump Worcester by the next election cycle. He will then be an official politician and can begin his political career in earnest.

At least that’s what people in the know are saying.

State Rep. Joe O’Brien? He lost to Vinny Pedone years ago. Why do it again?

This is O’Brien’s last, best chance of jumping into ELECTIVE politics. He is in his 40s; time is running out. He has to jump at an open seat – a seat with more pizzazz/prestige than regular ol’ City Councilor.

So here we go, Worcester! Let’s all be subjected to O’Brien’s political ambitions.


Factory farming: animals are treated like machines

By Dan Paden

When people find out that I’m an animal rights activist and a vegan, they invariably have questions. “Are your shoes leather?” they often ask. (Answer: “No.”) “Do you miss meat?” (“Not a bit.”) And, usually, “What’s wrong with eating dairy foods? Cows aren’t killed to make milk.”

I hope that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) new undercover investigation will put this last question to rest once and for all. Milk and cheese might seem harmless, but the dairy industry is responsible for often shocking cruelty to animals.

From birth to death, animals on today’s factory farms are treated like nothing more than machines. Cows are no exception. Farmed cows are artificially impregnated year after year to force their bodies to produce milk. Their calves are taken from them shortly after birth—sometimes literally dragged away by a chain wrapped around one leg. The traumatized mothers bellow for hours—sometimes days—searching for their newborns.

Cows have a natural life span of about 25 years, but the disease, lameness and reproductive problems rampant in the dairy industry render cows “useless” by the time they are 4 or 5 years old. They are then turned into soup, dog food or low-grade hamburger meat. Continue reading Factory farming: animals are treated like machines

Cruelty in the classroom

By Justin Goodman

Now that kids are back in school, parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief. The frantic search for school supplies is over, and most kids are settling in to their new routines. But don’t relax just yet, Mom and Dad: You still have some homework to do. Your assignment: Find out if cruelty is on the curriculum.

If animal dissections are included in this year’s lesson plan, the answer is “Yes.”

As early as middle school, most students are forced by their teachers to cut up intact frogs, fetal pigs and other animals. Only 15 states have passed laws or resolutions that allow students to opt out of animal dissections. But even in states where such laws exist, students who choose not to dissect can be ostracized or ridiculed by their peers and teachers. A New Jersey eighth-grader who opted out of dissection had the remains of a dead frog placed in her purse by her teacher and was ordered to carry a dead animal across campus. Continue reading Cruelty in the classroom

Kill the Mass Pike tolls! (My great uncle would have wanted it that way)

By Spencer Kimball

Sometimes you don’t choose your destiny, but rather your destiny chooses you.

In 1951, there was a State Representative from Springfield who had just won his first re-election, Philip Kimball. He had spent his first two years in office on Beacon Hill commuting via Route 20 and Route 9 in Worcester, which took up to five hours. This inspired Kimball to introduce legislation for an East-West highway.

Kimball quickly gained the support from the people of Palmer and Worcester, along with the Chambers’ of Commerce. However, Massachusetts could not afford this highway, so Kimball wrote legislation that would create a road to be paid for by tolls until the $240 million dollars worth of bonds were paid off, and then the road would be “free of tolls.”

In the 1980s and late 1990s the “Big Dig” needed to be paid for, and our legislators on Beacon Hill voted to make toll drivers pay $2.3 billion worth of new bonds.

Philip Kimball is my great uncle, but more like a grandfather. Continue reading Kill the Mass Pike tolls! (My great uncle would have wanted it that way)

The Worcester Cancer Garden

By State Rep. John Fresolo

This legislative session I filed a bill, H. 2988, that would create a “Place of Peace Healing Garden” in the City of Worcester. After receiving a favorable report from the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, H. 2988 moved through the Legislative process this winter/spring and was ultimately signed into law by the Governor on August 26, 2009.

I filed this bill in the hopes that this garden will be a quiet, tranquil place where those suffering from cancer, or who have family members or loved ones who have cancer, can go to find solace through prayer or simple reflection. Sadly, we do not have such a location in the greater Worcester area. This idea came to me after speaking with many cancer survivors and sufferers in and around the Worcester Area. After consulting with my colleagues and those in the medical profession, I soon came to believe that there was more that we in the state government can do to help those both in cancer treatment and recovery. I feel this garden will offer a sanctuary for those who need to get away from their everyday struggles and perhaps meet others in similar situations. Continue reading The Worcester Cancer Garden

Dear Jack Hoffman …

Hi, Jack.

Hopefully, my e-mail will reach you. Absolutely, accidentally I read your ‘Our healthcare boondoggle’ article in the ‘InCity Times’ paper.

I am really impressed. Maybe the reason for that is that not so often I see an objective, honest and ‘cool’ analysis of the social, etc. situation in the US. We came to the US in 1999. Not from Belorussia (Belarus) but from Lithuania : I would never believe that the health insurance, working conditions, social structure, etc are in such bad condition. This country is on the bottom of the civilized countries in the world. And it is going down. Even during these 9 years – I see that. And people even don’t know how tough is life here. Continue reading Dear Jack Hoffman …

For kids’ health, ditch Ronald McDonald and Joe Camel!

By Chris Holbein

As part of an effort to snuff out youth smoking, selling candy-, fruit- and spice-flavored cigarettes is now illegal in the U.S. The ban went into effect in September. Health officials say that flavored cigarettes make smoking more palatable to kids, and studies back them up: 17-year-olds are three times more likely to use flavored cigarettes than adults are.

This is certainly a step in the right direction. But if we’re serious about wanting to improve kids’ health, how about a ban on hot dogs and Happy Meals while we’re at it? The children who eat chicken nuggets and pepperoni pizza today will likely grow up to be the obese adults and heart patients of tomorrow. Continue reading For kids’ health, ditch Ronald McDonald and Joe Camel!