By Rosalie Tirella
… a strong mayor for Worcester? Someone like Boston’s Tom Menino? Someone who could really build up a city but do it with heart? Have a kind of moral compass? Articulate a vision of the city, a vision that is inclusive, compassionate, fair-minded?
We don’t seem to get that with our City Manager Mike O’Brien. Lately, what with the CDCs, panhandlers, homeless folks, ice oval issues, it feels like we are living in some sort of mini-Russia, with O’Brien our Vladimir Putin. Only with way better hair.
I do not want to live in a city where good men like Steve Patton are demonized after years of public service and driven out of town. As if he were some kind of criminal.
I do not want to see panhandlers dragged off the streets by cops just because some upper middle class diner doesn’t like the way they looked at her.
I do not want to drive by our city hall to find NO ICE SKATERS ON THE ICE OVAL because the city manager is charging a $25 deposit to rent a pair of skates (plus admission fee!) and that the poorer folks who are usually around the common, with kids we may add, cannot afford the winter fun.
We want a strong mayor who makes policy but also speaks to our better selves, our inner angels.
I want a person who can say the things I want to hear. That Worcester cares about all its people. That the downtown common is for everyone to enjoy, and skate on. That the drug addicted and the homeless will not be packed off somewhere, such as the nearest police holding cell. That we have too many poor families and not enough safe, affordable apartments for them. That we will respect the people who live here. That we will not build walls. Only bridges.
O’Brien is a guy who cannot seem to say the grand, inspiring things that people want to, and need to, hear. Yes! Sometimes Worcesterites simply need to hear compassionate words from leaders, reassuring words. Sometimes we need to see our city leader handing out blankets to the homeless, a la Boston Mayor Tom Menino.
We need less tough talk in these difficult times, more pats on the back, a touch of the hand. Backed up, of course, by humane, inspired urban policy.