By Rosalie Tirella
Everything compassionate and great and wild (we’re speaking Worcester, here), City Manager Mike O’Brien has managed to squelch. Everyone third-rate, he’s managed to embrace.
The ragged little Occupy Worcester brigade that wanted to make its voice heard on our city hall common a few years ago? Well, City Manager O’Brien had the police out in full force, ready to take out any scrawny vegan kid who got too cocky. Sometimes I’d drive by the common and see as many cops as protesters. Of course, the city manager refused to meet with OCCUPY Worcester. Wouldn’t give the group the time of day. And why should he have? They only wanted to talk fair wages, decent, affordable housing – you know, all that rad jazz.
Who spoke to and for Occupy Worcester? Joe O’Brien, then mayor of Worcester. Joe got their idealism and the very real city/American problems these brave folks were trying to call attention to.
When the city’s community development corporations (CDCs) came under fire, unjustly I believe, Joe O’Brien stood up for all the great work they do. He didn’t want them to become the whipping boys for a bunch of business folks who, if this were the invincible Worcester of the 1940s or 1950s, and our factories were humming and their presidents and owners ran the city, you know, the men who not only employed thousands in their factories but also built things like the Higgins Armory or the Worcester Art Museum or donated land to create Elm Park, you know, real captains of industry, well, these small biz folks would have very little sway or pull. They would be treated like the small-time shit-kickers they actually are.
But hey, it’s 2013 and we’re desperate – for real solutions. Worcester, like so many American cities, is a shadow of its industrial self. So we are stuck with third rate characters like Bill Randell shitting on the CDCs and setting city policy and bringing Santa Claus to our planeless airport and being a hero for it. We are stuck with Artie and Paulie and all the ies, as if we were dealing with gigantic two year olds, calling poor people who would have had better lives if the factories were still around to employ them, NO- LOs – as in no low income. And some how Artie’s hatred and Billy’s slipperiness rule the day, here in Wusta.