Tag Archives: working class

This is the way Massachusetts makes “welfare queens”!

By Rosalie Tirella

Mary Rondeau lives at 48 Ward St., Worcester. She has her section 8 housing voucher which means free rent for the rest of her life. She has the rest of the Massachusetts package: food stamps, fuel assistance, free health insurance, free electricity. Mary goes to food pantries to supplement her free food stamp food. You would think with all the heavy lifting done for Mary by the state and federal governments, by society, that Mary Rondeau would be grateful, humble even – or at least have more than enough time on her hands to have been able to raise an outstanding son. Or at least a non-criminal one. Nope. The elderly landlord has told me Mary’s son has been in prison. So Mary’s progeny, courtesy of the American taxpayer, has been taken care of, too: fed, clothed, sheltered, healed when sick. For Free, on the taxpayers’ dime.

Here is Mary Rondeau’s car, underwritten by the American taxpayer! Mary usually parks over the yellow line into the other parking space because she feels the tenant on the other side “can’t drive” and she doesn’t want her car nicked, even though the other tenant can barely get into his/her car with Mary’s car parked two inches away from the driver’s car door. It is Mary’s societal FREE RIDE that has enabled her to feel entitled to break this rule and flout dozens of other rules society has set up so we can all live under the same sky without slitting each other’s gizzards.

Having her entire life underwritten by the American taxpayer has ENABLED Mary to develop ZERO SOCIAL SKILLS FOR LIVING IN A CIVILIZED SOCIETY. Mary cheating the government big time gives her the feeling that she is ENTITLED TO CHEAT IN OTHER WAYS, BREAK OTHER RULES. It’s the mental health version of THE BROKEN WINDOW THEORY. All niceties thrown out the window – the broken window!

But I’m getting ahead of myself!

Mary Rondeau gets a Free Ride through life, while the rest of us bust our humps to pay our bills, our mortgages, etc, because she has asthma…is disabled. This enables her to get her package plus a monthly disability check from the government.

But if Mary Rondeau has asthma, then why does Mary Rondeau, $$ courtesy of the Worcester/Massachusetts/American taxpayer, buy and smoke weed incessantly? LIKE ALL THE TIME. I mean the entire three decker front hall and other apartments reek of marijuana. How can some one with debilitating asthma, asthma which she lists as the reason for her inability to work/pay her bills, the reason she gets her life paid for by the government, smoke so much freaking pot? Even during my hippy UMass undergrad days the proud Mary didn’t keep rolling the way it rolls at Mary Rondeau’s! Mary’s pot bought and paid for by the American taxpayer!!

Mary vacations three weeks each winter in warm, sunny Florida, courtesy of the taxpayer. I guess it’s possible to skip Worcester’s brutal winters if you’re not tied to a job, have all your bills paid by someone else (us!!) AND if you have a boarder who pays you rent under the table, which Mary does. The boarder furnishes Mary with fun money! The boarder does this by working her 2 or 3 low-paying jobs ALL THE TIME TO PAY MARY RENT. The boarder works hard to also pay for her cute little car, clothing and her little cat, which she adores and is proud to say she has paid $159 in veterinarian bills to get healthy (the kitten was a rescue). This is what my late mom and all working poor folks do: WORK THEIR TAILS OFF JUST TO HAVE THE BASICS and a teeny bit extra. I give props to this lady because, outside of being a hallway smoker, which Mary demands, she does everything that every able-bodied welfare cheat should do but refuses to do: WORK HER ASS OFF, BUY CLOTHING, BUY GROCERIES, OWN A CAR, PAY RENT, contribute to society … keep it all going and best of all, BE PROUD TO BE ABLE TO KEEP IT ALL GOING. Just like my late mom was … to FEEL ENGAGED because to feel engaged IN LIFE is to feel FREE.

Back to Mary: This exemplary boarder enables Mary to be a bigger welfare cheat: Run and profit from a side business, the boarding house biz, courtesy of the American taxpayer.

Just so you all don’t scream racism: MARY IS WHITE, THE COLOR OF MOST FOLKS receiving government assistance. Not all of these folks are blatant cheaters, robbers really, like Mary Rondeau. Lots are tiny, frail, malnourished kids … and the kids break my heart because they are usually saddled with loser parents like Mary!

Then what?

The cycle perpetuates itself, America’s under class grows bigger by the minute! Ignorance supplants education, fear trumps hope, a life lived fully becomes mere existence – sitting in front of the TV set smoking weed .., AND THINKING THAT IS OK, NORMAL, ACCEPTED BY SOCIETY.

Because it is.

Mary “lets” – and I put the word “lets” in quotation marks because Mary feels she is entitled to entitle someone else – her boyfriend park his car on the sidewalk by 48 Ward Street – two wheels on the sidewalk EVERY DAY!!! Two wheels on the sidewalk, practically up against the bushes when everyone else in the neighborhood parks in parking lots or on the street – all four wheels of their vehicles touching Ward Street. Here’s a picture of his car:


Now why do all of us here on Ward Street, old and young, black and white, handicapped and able bodied, sober and buzzed, smart and befuddled, cocky and meek, follow the parking laws and rules of Worcester? Why do all of us park in designated parking lots/spots or on the street, all 4 wheels on Ward Street?

Because we don’t feel we have the privilege, are entitled, to park whichever damn way pleases us.

This would mean chaos in a Worcester inner-city neighborhood that has experienced guns, shootings and more this summer. Maybe Mary feels THE HOOD IS GOING TO HELL IN A BREADBASKET anyways so WHO gives a shit ABOUT THE PARKING?!

WE DO,Mary!

Parking in designated parking zones/spaces is part of living in a city, in a city governed by laws and rules created to ensure that every citizen can lead his/her daily life. If people see you flout the laws, they’ll jump in, too. It’s human nature. Cops call it the BROKEN WINDOW THEORY, that, theoretically, if a broken window in the ‘hood is allowed to go un-repaired, then people think its ok to break another window. After that happens, it feels normal to dump garbage on the street under the broken window, or speed down the street with the garbage and busted panes because … look at the god forsaken street! …who really cares about this dumpy Worcester neighborhood, anyways?!

BUT IF YOU ARE LIKE MARY RONDEAU – NOT A FUNCTIONING ADULT, NOT A CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF SOCIETY – your values are skewed. You do whatever the fuck you want to do – and your friends do, too! Then others follow your twisted lead and our urban core grows meaner.

Questions: Why does someone who snoops into the hood’s business – we’re talking Mary Rondeau here – SHUT HER MOUTH AND NOT DIAL 911 WHEN SHE SEES SEVERAL KIDS NEXT DOOR WITH GUNS?

Because Mary is a coward.

How does her boarder, a smoker who smokes in the community hallway because Mary is ok with her place smelling like marijuana but not ok with her place reeking of cigarette smoke, see a gun lying on the front stair to the building and not dial 911? Just walk over it and go to Mary’s apartment to … smoke OUTSIDE the apartment?

Because she has given up on the neighborhood.

Which is a tragedy because she is doing everything (except for the hallway smoking) right! Society should feel safe for a woman who has fulfilled her side of the social compact!

But the rules don’t apply to Mary and she’s made money, her living!, by flouting the rules! And she’s proud of the fact, proud that her tiny – actually pretty pathetic – life, can purr on – that she, unlike the rest of us, is immune to job loss, higher rents, the rising cost of food or natural gas, inflation, deflation … the everyday worries and bumps and bruises of every day life.

Mary Rondeau is a queen.

An American welfare queen.


At the check-out line at the Dollar Store

Writing the above reminds me of the below!!:

I was at the check-out line of a local Dollar Store waiting to pay for a bunch of doggy toys for Lilac (my new 6 month old hound mix). The salesman at PetCo said: Why buy our pricier plush doggy toys for your Lilac when she rips them up in 20 minutes? Go to the Dollar Store and buy them there! Just remove plastic eyes and other small parts before letting your dog play with them.

So there I was, in the Dollar Store buying toys for Lilac, while Jett, my husky mix, and she waited in my car.

It was a warm day and the air conditioning was not on in my car now that I was out of it, in a store.

I found myself, at the check out line, behind two people, a middle-aged man and a middle-aged woman. They had about a billion autumn doo-dads, knick knacks, paper plates, wall hangings, you name it. They had just paid for, with their EBT/welfare card, some Dollar Store food. Now, with cash, they were paying for all that crap.

I thought: Here I am buying five $1 dog toys with cash I earned cuz that’s all I can afford. Here are these two, with their welfare card, buying crap food and with cash, $32 worth of paper frou frou goods! 32 dollars worth of plastic gourds and orange napkins and paper maple leaves … while I – and other blue collar working folks – would NOT – could not! – SQUANDER 32 bucks on crap.

Before they were about to be rung out I hinted that I had two dogs in the car, it was warm and I just wanted to get a few things. I’d be out of their way in two seconds.

Not happening. The lady, heavy, the fat falling over her pants waist band said: Dogs? Well, I got my dog waiting! She said this while winking at the guy, her husband. He smiled back stupidly. She was saying: WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOUR DOGS? I’LL JUST TAKE MY SWEET TIME … And she proceeded to give every teeny doodad, every paper good to the cashier who looked closely at each paper product, as if inspecting it, and smiled before she rang up each one …

Angry at myself and them, fretting about my dogs in the car, I blurted out: Well, at least one of my dogs is smarter than your dog!!!! (I meant Lilac, of course)

The woman dropped her jaw.

Her husband looked at me and said ONLY IN AMERICA.

Then I said, to the woman, who was white: ONLY IN AMERICA WOULD I SEE TWO ABLE BODIED ADULTS in the middle of the day not working, ON FOOD STAMPS but buying, and I bit my tongue, but still said: ALL THIS crap!

That’s right! she said. On welfare for 38 years!!!

We were mixin’ it up at the Dollar Store!

She had said 38 years so defiantly that it felt like being hit in the head with a hammer.

She looked to be in her early 50s.

I said: My late mom worked her whole life for minimum wage. For decades!! Something is wrong in America! The system is broken!!!!

Then the woman behind me in the check outline chimed in! She said: I worked my whole life, too! I’m 54. I worked 20 years in one job. Then five years in another. I was always glad to have a job. Now I’m retired. I’m glad I’m retired.

She had about four items she was checking out at the Dollar Store.

I looked at her: she was wearing the tiredest clothes. Her face was all red and mottled and rough, half her teeth were gone, one of her eyes was red and swollen shut,the other eye half open. She was smiling, like some Dollar Store Quasimodo.

Here was my ally! Here was a fellow worker bee! Another American who believed in the good old American work ethic! We were a team!

YES! I said, looking at her, smiling as warmly as I could. Yes! I wanted to grab her hand and squeeze it tightly.

The woman looked so beat up…the way my late mom did (without the eye problems) at the end of her working life!

It is wrong that a person who worked hard in America should look this way, courtesy of the American economy … end up so broken down for contributing to society, working a job.

It is wrong that Dollar Store patron #1 has sucked off the Massachusetts welfare state for years, just like Mary Rondeau, and has no desire to achieve self-sufficiency. EVER.

Why should she?

She was able to buy way more stuff at the Dollar Store than me and D.S. patron #2!!

Cockeyed American economy!!!!

InCity Voices: Raise the minimum wage to help 1 in 5 low-wage workers in our state

By Lewis Finfer

This summer, 800 residents, including delegations from EPOCA and SEIU members in Worcester,  packed a State House hearing room to ask for a hike in the state’s minimum wage which was last raised January 1, 2008. The proposed legislation (H. 1701, sponsored by Rep. Antonio Cabral; S. 878, sponsored by Sen. Marc Pacheco and 58 other legislators) would raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 per hour within three years.

Estimates suggest this increase would impact 580,000 low wage earners, a disproportionate of whom live in the state’s Gateway Cities like Worcester. Higher wages would provide an injection of $720 million in to the local economies of our cities if the minimum wage were raised to $10 an hour.

According to a 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, every dollar added to the hourly minimum wage resulted in $2,800 in yearly additional consumer spending by that worker’s household. Gateway Cities would see great benefits without much risk to their economies.

While opponents argue minimum wage increases lead to layoffs, economic research suggests communities that have raised their minimum wages have not experienced greater employment loss than comparable areas.

Contact your state legislators and ask them to work actively for passage of this bill.

While we need a comprehensive strategy to support the growth and renewal of our Gateway Cities like Worcester, a long overdue minimum wage increase is one effective response we should put in place without delay.

Lewis Finfer is the director of Massachusetts Communities Action Network

TO LEARN MORE, PLEASE VISIT: www.mcan-oltc.org

The Worcester County Food Bank – helping local families make ends meet in a tough economy

By Jean McMurray

A recent visitor to the Worcester County Food Bank exclaimed, “I had no idea how big of an operation this was and everything that goes on inside to help people with food.” Two other recent visitors, a mother and her young son, also did not know what to expect when they came to the Food Bank. The stress was visible in her face and in her voice as she spoke. We offered them a seat in the office while a co-worker went to get a box of food containing cereal, peanut butter, rice, pasta, and a variety of canned goods. We also included some fresh fruits and vegetables. We spent some time talking about the food pantry in her neighborhood that could help her in the future as well as where she could go for help in applying for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. She thanked us and seemed relieved. As my co-worker went to place the food in her car, the little boy took his took his mother’s hand and said with a smile, “Look Mommy we’re rich again.”

All of the donations entrusted to the Food Bank during the course of a year have an immediate impact as the need for our services continues to be a reality for too many people in Worcester County. With unemployment at 8 percent in Worcester County, food is a fundamental need that people are struggling to meet. With the recession and the slow economic recovery, the Food Bank is distributing more food than ever before to its network of partner agencies including food pantries, community meals sites, and shelters.

In fiscal year 2011, the Food Bank and its network helped over 83,000 people, including 32,000 children under the age of 18. Every day, we speak with individuals and families experiencing economic and emotional hardship. People like the man who has been unemployed for a long time, his savings are gone and he’s eaten very little in the past three days and the husband and wife who work and care for elderly parents and their young children. Every day, we also appreciate hearing from thoughtful people who offer meaningful gifts in the form of food, funds, and volunteer time.
Although these economic times remain uncertain and difficult, the community’s support of the Food Bank has been steadfast and heartwarming. The Food Bank is only able to provide help because of the tremendous support we receive from many individuals, businesses, foundations, and organizations as well as the state and federal government.

This past year, over 335 volunteers provided nearly 5,000 hours of volunteer service in the Food Bank’s warehouse sorting through food donations, while checking for food safety. Hundreds of food donors contributed a total of 5.8 million pounds of food, which is enough food for approximately 86,000 meals a week. Of the food distributed by the Food Bank, the two highest categories were fresh fruits and vegetables and protein in the form of meat, fish, and poultry.
The community’s support sustains our efforts to be a reliable source of good food to our network of partner agencies and the people they assist at Thanksgiving and throughout the year. Help and hope are precious gifts at any time of year for a parent trying to provide for their family or a senior citizen trying to meet their basic needs.
As an organization, the Food Bank is an efficient network of agencies and a resourceful public-private partnership. However, over the last three years, we have been challenged by unprecedented demand and uncertainty over available food resources. Throughout the region, we have seen a 12 percent increase in the number of people helped since 2008.

As the U.S. Congress makes difficult decisions this year about our national priorities, it is imperative that they do not take food away from Americans in need. We must remember the families in Worcester County who are facing hunger and the important role that nutrition programs play in their health and well-being, especially for vulnerable children and seniors. Any loss in federal support for federal nutrition programs, like SNAP, due to budget cuts or as part of the deficit reduction plan would make it harder for families to recover from the recession and would result in a gap for food that will be difficult for the Food Bank to fill.

With unemployment still high, investing in anti-hunger programs is not only the right thing to do but also makes fiscal sense, as these programs allow us to care for our neighbors, build our communities and lead to savings in healthcare and education down the road.

Everyone can help protect the federal nutrition programs from cuts as Congress moves forward to implement the Budget Control Act of 2011. Our legislators need to know that the problem of hunger is solvable and an issue of social justice that we care about. Everyone can contribute to ending hunger by contacting their legislators about the harmful cuts to nutrition assistance programs and encouraging them to pass a budget that addresses the deficit while safeguarding safety net programs that protect our neighbors in need.

Becoming an anti-hunger advocate is easy to do by visiting Feeding America’s Hunger Action Center at www.hungeractioncenter.org or the Food Research and Action Center, www.frac.org. By signing up at one of these websites, you receive action alerts on federal issues affecting hungry Americas that can be forwarded to your members of Congress with a click of a mouse and you learn about federal programs that bring relief to the millions of America struggling with hunger, including the 33,000 households who turned to the Food Bank and its network of partner agencies in 2011 for help with feeding their families.

If you have been to the Worcester County Food Bank, then you know, like all of our visitors, that it is a unique place, a place where the community comes together to make incredible things happen – one advocate, one volunteer, one dollar, and one pound of food at a time. If you have not been to the Food Bank, we invite you to come visit us sometime soon, so you can see firsthand what we do and how the generosity of so many people is at work in the community.

Increase affordable housing! Call in to the governor!


Increase Affordable Housing  

Call-in Day to the Governor  

Wednesday, December 14th


Too many people are struggling to afford the high cost of housing in Massachusetts.  Let’s work together to advocate for more affordable housing. 

On Wednesday, December 14th, the Building Blocks Coalition is asking that you take 1 minute and make an important phone call.  Please call Governor Patrick @ 1-617-725-4005, introduce yourself, and send a simple message:


“I am calling to ask the Governor to increase funding for affordable housing in the FY2013 budget. Working families, seniors, and persons with disabilities all need affordable housing to be healthy and productive, and for children to be able to learn.  Thank you for your support.”


About Building Blocks:


The Building Blocks Coalition is a group of Massachusetts organizations that work together to advocate for funding for affordable housing and homelessness prevention, including CHAPA, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, Massachusetts NAHRO, Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, Massachusetts Association for Community Action, Inc., Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance,  One Family, the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, Homes for Families, the Boston Center for Independent Living, Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations and the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership.                 


Click HERE to learn more about Building Blocks FY2013 affordable housing and homelessness prevention priorities.   


Visiting Lowell for the Lowell Folk Festival

By Rosalie Tirella

I went to the Lowell Folk Festival this past weekend. It was everything Worcester is not (when it comes to huge summer events). Providence has Water Fire, Lowell has the Lowell Folk Festival. Worcester has … ???

What I liked about the event: It was three days long. All the concerts – hundreds of them – were free. And there were so many different stages/areas from which to listen to/dance to the music! (I remember one year at Lowell Folk listening to a young Allison Kraus – before she met Robert Plant, before she became world famous – fiddling – while standing on the bed of a pick-up truck!!) All the musical acts this year were first-rate, with many artists of national prominence. The folk festival was smack dab in the middle of what is a lovely, historic downtown. The food was fantastic – a sampling of all the ethnic cusines of Lowell, courtesy of all the local, ethnic churches/nonprofits. Chruch groups galore! Selling: their home-made Indian food, Greek food, Vietnamese food, Soul food etc. The money you spent on all the exotic goodies went to all these great urban churches/nonprofit agencies. You wanted to spend your cash to support all these great churches/groups! And finally, the Lowell Folk Festival attracted white folks, black folks, poor folks, middle-class folks, kids, teens, young adults, 20-somethings and old people.

Utterly, beautifully inclusive.

What does Worcester have that is comparable to this amazing, free, three-day-long musical extravaganza? An event that trumpets Worcester’s history? An event that impresses out-of-towners/shows off the city?

An important point: Lowell was damned lucky the urban renewal plague of the 1970s passed over it because today all its downtown’s great, old, brick buildings – repointed, power-washed, repainted, with new (smaller) businesses inside – still exist. And they look fab! They make downtown Lowell walkable, colorful, interesting, multi-cultural … . And then, right in the middle of downtown: THEIR CANAL. A REAL CANAL! The one that put Lowell on the map in the first place, the canal that made Lowell the place to work if you were an immigrant and needed a job (in the textile industry). Looking at Lowell’s canal puts you in awe of th people who built it and toiled because of it. It is heavy, big, serious, maybe dangerous … . So unlike Worcester where we have our “canal,” the fake little vinyl-lined pool that Allen Fletcher likes to paddle around in on Harding Street during Worcester’s canal fest, which is held in what is now becoming one big yuppy watering hole – “The Canal District,” complete with rowdy fights and bras left on the sidewalks infront of barroom entrances. I had the pleasure of stepping over one a few years ago.

Nope. Lowell’s celebration of its canal and the people who built it and worked it is REAL – not fake like the Fletcher bullshit. The city puts on a FIRST CLASS folk festival – not some rinky dink show, and no one is charged a penny to enjoy these world-class musicians, singers, songwriters. Years ago, at one of my first Lowell Folk Fesitvals, I remember listening to Elvis Presley’s original back-up group! If you closed your eyes, you could swear Elvis was crooning and fake humping in the foreground.

I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars this costs Lowell. Worcester should be as generous to its history/people! Invest the half-million, City Manager O’Brien! We are sick of paying our cops salaries of $125,000, our teachers salaries of $90,000! Money for the the people! Not just for the same 300 or so connected families!

But I digress. Another plus for Lowell: It has a textile museum downtown, it has a quilting museum downtown. Even its public art – a huge spool of string sculpted from granite – reflects the city’s proud history. REAL people. Working people. That is what the Lowell Folk Fesitval is celebrating, even honoring. Fletcher has sucked the gritty truth out of my old neighborhood. Of course, he has! His great grandparents and their pals owned the Worcester factories in which immigrants toiled! He and his ilk were the exploiters of my grandparents! So, of course, Fletcher’s take on Green Island (the original name of the “Canal District”) is warped and condescending. He sits around and talks about restaurants … . This man is close to 65 years old. Will he ever grow up? The world is not his oyster – even with all his millions of bucks. Stop being a fucking tourist in your own city, Allen!!!

With the Lowell Folk Festival, and its museums and its real canal and the public art, you get a great vibe: community. Lowell is celebrating its people – the working-class. The folks who toiled in Lowell, had strikes in the city, danced and sang in the city (with much of their music rooted in their homelands from across the globe), and worshipped their God in the city. The Lowell Folk Festival is a world-class event; it is a perfect melding of the people, music and history of a blue-collar city.

When will Worcester step up and have this kind of summer event? It will cost thousands and thousands of dollars, if we want to do it right and have it FREE of charge. It will mean including all voices – not just the same old same old.

But don’t you think our city is worth it?

Worcester County Food Pantry: feeding Worcester since 1982

By Jean McMurray, executive director, Worcester County Food Bank, with Liz Sheehan Castro, project manager, Hunger-Free & Healthy

As the door opened into the third floor apartment, the woman’s smile along with the warmth of her kitchen greeted me. I introduced myself and handed her a carefully covered meal while wishing her a Happy Thanksgiving. Before I turned to go back down the three flights of stairs I had just climbed, she offered me a Kennedy half-dollar as a tip in gratitude for the Thanksgiving dinner I had brought her. I declined the tip and thanked her explaining that I was a volunteer delivering meals for Catholic Charities. As I started down the back stairs, I felt relief knowing that this elder woman had a warm home, food, and people that cared about her.

She was one of the dozen or so people I would meet throughout the morning as I traveled city streets and neighborhoods delivering meals. Hours later as I sat down to enjoy a Thanksgiving Day dinner with my own family, the experience came with heightened awareness and appreciation for what I had as well as for the people I met who were enjoying their dinners and for those who cooked the wonderful meals and organized the volunteers. Continue reading Worcester County Food Pantry: feeding Worcester since 1982