By Steven R. Maher
Civil service laws govern the Worcester police and fire departments when it comes to the hiring and firing of personnel. Recently the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission ruled in Worcester’s favor in two cases that show how well the system works.
Civil service requires police and firefighter applicants to take a competitive written exam. The state then supplies the city a list of aspirants ranked by score results, with favorable preferences for veterans. The city conducts background checks of solicitants before deciding whether to hire the high scoring achievers on the list. Factors other than test results can be taken into consideration.
If a qualified candidate believes he has been passed over in favor of a less eligible hireling, the aggrieved party can appeal the hiring decision to the Civil Service Commission. If the commission believes unfair practices were used, it can take action ensuring the more qualified supplicant eventually gets a job. The system creates a level playing field for all, ranking job seekers using a standardized test. For that reason it is detested by politicians, because it inhibits venal practices like nepotism and patronage.
Continue reading Hiring episodes shows civil service works for Worcester
By Steven R. Maher
The proposal to remove Civil Service protection from the police chief, fire chief, and their deputy chiefs was hailed by the mainstream media as a progressive advance. But in reality, it’s a textbook example of a power grab.
Civil Service originated in the late 19th century, when corrupt political machines packed city governments with unqualified cronies. Civil Service evolved to ensure that public office holders were appointed based on qualifications, not political connections.
The Massachusetts Civil Service System is overseen by a five member Civil Service Commission. Generally, when Worcester fills the police or fire chief positions, a “departmental promotional exam” is held in which candidates from within the department test for the position. A list of the top three scorers is then forwarded to the City Manager for a choice.
Continue reading Civil service for city employees
Quinsigamond Village: a stroll down memory lane
By Pat Glodis
As I stroll through the many streets and pathways that I once skipped, ran and walked through so many years ago, I feel joy and love for the place I called my neighborhood and home. I look back and know I was one of the fortunate ones, a child from a modest Irish family, one of six children raised in this unique place. My mother was also a native of this special place called Quinsigamond Village. She was born in 1906 and lived all her 98 years in the village. The oldest of four children, she attended Quinsigamond School and later was one of the original members of theMother’s Club that would meet once a month. Most of the other mothers were from the Swedish population. I remember, while in school, when the moms would meet and we students could smell the aroma of fresh perked coffee and homemade pastries.
Continue reading The Sheriff’s Mom remembers “The Village”!
Burton Berg has been collecting vintage postcards of Worcester for decades. He’s got thousands of them – photos of all the noble institutions and the engaged Worcesterites who made this town swing! Have a look and enjoy!
By Rosalie Tirella
They take you back to a time when Worcester was a little greener and a lot busier; days when everyone seemed to know everyone else, when church affiliation was important, when families sat down to dinner without the light of a TV screen or computer monitor shining down on them. Horses pulled buggies back then and left big wheel tracks in our downtown thoroughfares! Harrington Corner was buzzing and the grand opening of a Main Street “five and ten” guaranteed throngs of (usually) lady shoppers.
What a Worcester! What a lively, urban, ethnic stew of people with big noses and dirty hands! Bowlers straddled the heads of businessmen; caps sat jauntily on the crowns of young factory hands. A truck would go down in a snow storm and a gaggle of people would be gawking over the flattened tires. People were always out and about back then – walking down streets, running after trolleys, going to work at the factory, eating at the diners, shopping at the bakeries or neighborhood grocery stores. Everyone one seemed more connected to one another. And Worcester really worked back then, too! The factories, hardware stores, offices, butcher stores, bakeries – everyone one of these enterprises locally owned and providing jobs to Worcesterites of all stripes.
Continue reading Burton Berg’s Worcester
By Jack Hoffman
“Cautiva” (captured) is a compelling Argentinean movie that explores a part of the sordid past history of a brutal military government that ruled Argentina from the late ‘70s to early ‘80s. The merciless gangsters of Argentina, like so many brutal dictatorships, were commonplace in Latin America and had what I consider to be a most insidious way of placating supporters of the military and police who wanted a child, but were unable to conceive one. – Want a baby? No problem – we will just go out and kidnap a pregnant woman, steal her newborn, and away you go!
Christina, the heroine of the story, is now 19 years old and learns by scientific proof that her adopted parents had lied to her about her original adoption and that her real parents disappeared, victims of this incomprehensible crime.
Continue reading Captured by lies and freed by the truth
By Jack Hoffman
Five years ago today I was invited to speak at an anniversary party for ICT. Rose Tirella, the publisher, editor, delivery girl, and chief bottle washer of the paper asked me to write something- just anything will do. Being an author, network investigative producer and part time speechwriter writing a column seemed challenging.
Since that first meeting there certainly has been lots of pot- holes on this journalistic road. But thanks to Rose and her tutelage, the freedom without censorship to express my opinions that she gave me I stayed with her mostly out of respect and admiration for her work and belief in an alternative news source.
To the many that have given their time without financial compensation only love of the paper and its philosophy a special thank you. The paper could never have worked if it wasn’t for the loyalty of the advertises. Throughout the years when myself or other writers challenged the boundaries of the other mundane print media leaving Rose in a state of nervousness you folks still remained. And even when I or some other writer dared challenge the mundane boundaries set by the other local print media that certainly touched some nerves- you remained.
Continue reading The Ghost of Enron
By Rosalie Tirella
Billy Fredette calls his two daughters “my girls” with the accent on “my.” They are the loves of his life. They ARE his life. So much so that he’ll get choked up just telling you!
In their Lafayette Street apartment he has shoe boxes filled with their awards – certificates for perfect attendance at Chandler Street Elementary School. Letters and cards created by them. He has been on the cover of the MSPCC newsletter, a Dad worthy of cover photos and laudatory articles.When money was tight several years ago, the teachers at Millbury Street Head Start loved his little family so much they pooled their resources and gave Billy’s girls a sleigh-load of Christmas gifts.
Continue reading Our fathers, ourselves
By Steven R. Maher
[Editor’s Note: This story was submitted in May 2008 and not published for space reasons.]
Fuel costs are skyrocketing. Motorists are paying $40 to $50 to fill up their cars at the gas pump. Worcester Airport Limousines is offering some travelers a more affordable and convenient alternative mode of transportation. Whether you’re going to Logan Airport or a Red Sox game, there is money to be saved.
Hates Boston traffic
This writer was asked to go on a business trip to Bangor Maine. The plan was to fly out of Logan Airport at 10:15 AM, visit a company facility, and then fly home from Bangor on the 5:00 PM flight.
This writer truly dislikes navigating the Boston traffic. Equally detested was leaving the car in airport parking garages, where bad things sometimes happen. A co-worker had mentioned catching a shuttle on a business trip. So your humble writer decided to see if there was much of a cost difference between taking a shuttle and driving oneself.
Continue reading City company offers commuters way to cut gas costs