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A Human Centipede of blame
A week of drama, another chapter in a long story
Hello everyone! What a week huh? This post is a doozy, but there’s so, so much that needs to be documented. Please consider a paid subscription so I can continue doing such documenting!
Three quick things before we get to the main subject matter.
First thing: I highly suggest reading Neal McNamara’s recent piece on the latest of our local Catholic bishop’s “anti-woke” antics. The headline reads “New Worcester Diocese Schools Policy Prohibits Gender Expression.” In it, Bishop Robert McManus says the following (emphasis added):
"We do not serve anyone’s greater good by falsifying the truth, for it is only the truth that frees us for the full life that God offers to each of us," he wrote in a preamble explaining the new policies. "Thus, when a person experiences same-sex attraction or some form of gender dysphoria, such struggles do not change the biological fact of how God created that person, and it would be untruthful for the Catholic Church or our Catholic schools to pretend otherwise."
The new policy is understandable, I think—Catholic priests need to know which ones are the little boys. Famously. Perhaps more than anyone in history. (Sorry for recycling a joke I made on Twitter but is it a joke? Is it really?) Shame on McManus and everyone else involved in this. If all goes according to plan your inboxes will receive an in depth look at this whole mess in a few days. For now, though, let me direct you to this online petition in need of signatures: “Oppose Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester Anti-LGBTQ+ Policies.”
Second thing: I want to give a signal boost to a petition filed by a bunch of great local organizations for the City Council meeting next Tuesday. The petition reads: “Em Quiles, on behalf of Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center, Socialist Alternative, Worcester Community Fridges, F.A.M. Jam ! Event Group, Mass Group and Pa'Lante Worcester request City Council 1) formally recognize the housing crisis in the city; and 2) declare a Local State of Emergency concerning said housing crisis.”
In a statement announcing the petition, the coalition said, “The housing crisis in Worcester has placed families, individuals, and vulnerable members of the community in dire circumstances, grappling with the challenges of unaffordable housing and an increasing incidence of homelessness.”
Something has desperately got to give. And that starts with a City Council which does not take it seriously. Looking forward to seeing where this goes on Tuesday.
Third thing: The Main Street community fridge hosted by Worcester Community Fridges (@woofridge) has been removed for spurious reasons. I could dedicate a whole post to this, but for now the organization does a great job of explaining the situation in a two-part Instagram post (part one/part two). Basically, someone (???) removed the fridge due to trash concerns that the organization has tried to work with the city to address for years. The city has done nothing. Nothing about the request for a trash can and nothing about the removal of the fridge. Consider that one of several overall themes for today’s post. On the last slide of the second post, you can find out how to get involved.
Now to the main topic: a quick recap of a shitstorm for the city’s crank community I think I can take some personal credit in creating, and then a great piece of historical journalism from regular contributor Cara Berg Powers which seeks to answer a pressing question: why won’t these people just go away?
Think of it like this—I’m telling the history of a week, and then Cara’s telling the history of a decade. But we’re both telling the same history. First, “A Human Centipede of blame” by yours truly, then “Time for a 21st Century Municipal Government” by Cara.
A Human Centipede of blame
Wouldn’t you know it... ever since former City Councilor Wayne Griffin did defamation on a child and Police Union President Anthony Petrone doxxed her, they and the rest of the cranks have had a tough week. It’s been positively cannibalistic! Griffin and Petrone did awful things (if you’re not familiar, peep my post from last Friday) and that shouldn’t be glossed over, but I have to say it’s been quite nice to see them eat shit for it. Of course, the shit eating hasn’t been nearly sufficient. Griffin deserves to get sued for defamation and Petrone deserves to lose his job. Neither will happen. This is Worcester. But just as we documented the defaming and doxxing, we have to document the subsequent groveling and half apologizing. And also the noted cowardice of the city manager!
So let’s catch up on the past week’s events.
Monday: District 5 candidate Jose Rivera publishes his official statement on what Griffin and Petrone did on his behalf. It basically amounts to “not on my behalf.” Ridiculous given Griffin mentioned him by name in the post and very specifically said to donate to his campaign.This is Rivera throwing Griffin under the bus, but subtly. Without naming names. Here’s how it read:
Interestingly, he posted his statement on NextDoor. I avoid that app at all costs but it should be acknowledged that it’s an online space by the Townies for the Townies. It should be infiltrated and disrupted, lest they get too comfortable there.
It should also be noted he does not mention Griffin or Petrone by name, nor does he describe what happened in an intellectually honest way. After failing in those two areas, he says “I want to run a clean, positive campaign based on facts.” A funny thing to say after skirting over the facts! The implication here is that it’s not factual that Jose Rivera’s campaign was involved in Griffin’s post. Nobody is saying that! But that’s what they’re implying people are saying. I guess it would make for an easier argument if people were saying that. This is the intellectual rigor we’ve come to expect from the Rivera campaign.
The statement was almost certainly written by Walter Bird, Rivera’s campaign manager. The following day, Bird himself would took to either Facebook or NextDoor, hard to tell, to shed a little more light on his real thoughts.
Tuesday: Walter Bird makes the closest thing we’ll get to a proper statement. It’s just a social media comment, but it’s much more revealing than Rivera’s “official” statement. Here’s what it looked like:
Fact check please on “he’s putting out real ideas and solutions.” But besides that, it’s an impressive feat of mental Twister to turn criticism of campaign surrogates doxxing and defaming a child into, “Meanwhile, he - and we - have been insulted, ridiculed, baited, and trolled on social media.” If people point out that your Facebook posts are homophobic and/or engage in anti-vax fearmongering, that’s being ridiculed, according to Bird. If people point out you made a mess of the Mill Street repaving thing for political purposes, that’s being insulted. If you talk about the unhoused like blight and people say that’s a shitty thing to do, that’s being baited and trolled.
When he says “our supporters need to be better than that and act better than that” it becomes very hard to see the honesty when context is considered. It would make sense to say something like that if a surrogate of the Etel Haxhiaj campaign defamed and doxxed a child! Unfortunately it was a surrogate of his campaign. There’s no Twister move that’s getting you out of that one, bud. Foolish to try.
Wednesday: After Rivera and Bird, it’s Anthony Petrone’s time to take the stage. He posts an “apology” on the Worcester IBPO Facebook page—the very same page on which he doxxed the child. Also a page he moderates! This fact is significantly downplayed in the post, which read:
Petrone at least had the courage to name Wayne Griffin, where Rivera and Bird didn’t. He does so in order to throw him under the bus, though. As we’ll see later in the week this act of offering up Griffin as the villain starts a Human Centipede-esque chain reaction of blame shifting. What Petrone does not mention is the fact he shared the girl’s address in a comment under the post. He was the one who did the doxxing. He did not apologize for that.
Also, the apology was made on a page that subsequently went private! He’s one of two moderators, so it’s safe to assume he had some say in shutting out the public. Could have been he made the page private before he posted the apology. Can’t say for certain as he blocked me. Either way, it’s cowardly. Also, there’s good reason to believe that making the page private, given it’s moderated by city employees and expressly concerning a city department, is illegal.
Thursday: Unrelated, but also very much related, the Telegram publishes a story about how Police Chief Steven Sargent is such a weird little bully he’s maybe getting sued for it—by a police officer.
A Worcester police officer is threatening to sue the city over an alleged pattern of harassment from Chief Steven M. Sargent that he says culminated in a road rage incident in April.
The officer, Robert J. Belsito of the court liaison unit, alleges that Sargent drove his department-issued vehicle “recklessly” at his cruiser April 15, and that the chief is retaliating against him despite an ongoing investigation into Sargent’s conduct.
“The overt and brazen retaliatory conduct of Chief Sargent has gone unfettered by the City’s administration,” Timothy M. Burke, Belsito’s lawyer, wrote the city law department in a July 24 letter.
A very good Parks & Rec bit. But what makes this related is the line about how Sargent’s conduct has “gone unfettered by the City’s administration.” That part is very related, as we’ll see.
Friday: The Telegram weighs in on the whole thing. A story by Marco Cartolano headlined “How a pair of Facebook posts prompted an outcry and roiled a Worcester City Council race” hits the paper’s website early Friday morning. It’s a capable recap of the doxxing and defaming and aftermath (and a rare instance of the Telegram overtly recognizing my work, thanks for that). It also advances the story in some interesting ways.
For one, it deftly captures a city administration doing its best to downplay and ignore the situation. In my post last week, I reached out for comment on Petrone’s doxxing as it relates to the city’s social media policy. A spokesman for City Manager Eric Batista told me it was fine that he did that, basically: “The employee’s comment was limited to publicly available information from a government website; based on the information available the comment does not appear to violate the City or WPD social media policies.” Nothing about how that “publicly available information” was shared in the context of alleging that a young girl was a “cop killer” who’s money was “blood money.” That was the tact the city took last Friday. They reiterated that position to the Telegram this week, but also acted on it.
The Law Department outright rejected a citizen petition filed by Doug Arbetter and Cara Berg Powers. The petition asked that the Council hold a hearing on the social media behavior of city employees and the harm it can cause. They also asked for some guidance on how the city enforces its social media policy (read: it doesn’t). The law department rejected the petition on the grounds “the City Council is restricted from participating in the appointment or removal of officers or other city employees.” That’s not what they asked for, but hey! This is Worcester. Arbetter told the law department their ruling was a “gross misrepresentation” and he’s right. It is both a misrepresentation and gross.
“Please pass along my sincere disappointment and disgust to Mr. Traynor, as he continues to be thorn in the side of progress for this City,” he wrote. Pass mine along while you’re at it.
We also get some updates on inter-crank drama out of Cartolano’s piece.
In a Thursday call, Rivera denounced Griffin's post and said his team has communicated with Griffin that they did not wish for him to attend campaign events.
Oof! Disinvited? As a former elected official? That’s gotta sting. If it’s true, that is. Not holding my breath that this is the end of Griffin’s surrogacy for the Rivera Campaign. He is a former elected official, after all. The rules don’t quite apply.
And just as Petrone threw Griffin under the bus, Griffin does the same to Margaret Melican, a local lawyer very active in the crank community.
During a Thursday communication with a reporter through Facebook Messenger, Griffin said he learned about the girl's donation and her supposed connection to Zambrano from Worcester lawyer Margaret Melican, who has also been vocally opposed to Haxhiaj, and referred the reporter to Melican.
When asked why he believed it was worth it to post the name of a person who he never claimed had been convicted of a crime over a $40 political donation, Griffin said he was doing "a favor" for Melican.
And then later in the piece, we hear from Melican.
Melican, in a phone call, said Thursday that she was too unwell to discuss the matter, but confirmed that she had done research on the donation. Melican did not explain how she came to an erroneous conclusion about the person's connection to Zambrano.
Three guesses what “unwell” means! Here’s a hint: the word is Wordle length. If you guessed “D” it would ping green in the first of the five letter slots. I’ll leave the rest to you, though. Not my business.
This story will continue to unfold at the City Council meeting next Tuesday. On the agenda are two items from District 5 Councilor Etel Haxhiaj. Item 12m reads “Request City Manager provide City Council with a report detailing the city’s current social media policy.” Item 12n Reads “Request Standing Committee on Urban Technologies, Innovation and Environment hold a public hearing relative to receiving feedback as to ways the city’s social media policy can be updated and/or more properly enforced.”
Try and wiggle your way out of that one, Traynor!
The one thing notably absent in this week of drama is an apology from Wayne Griffin, the guy at the heart of the whole mess. We’re not going to get one, I would imagine. Griffin is not like you or me. He served on the City Council for some time in the 1990s, so for the rest of his life, he’ll be a “former.” When you’re a former, you can do stuff like defame a child over a $40 campaign donation. You can do anything! Former Mayor Ray Mariano, for instance, gets to be the city’s only newspaper columnist, and he can publish whatever he wants. In Worcester, The Formers are allowed to run amok, doing as they please free of concern, with the encouragement and blessing of a political culture. In today’s main feature, Cara Berg Powers takes us on a trip down memory lane, to try and figure out why it is The Formers never seem to go away, despite being such a disruptive, negative force in the city. Griffin’s name comes up often in the piece that follows. He’s been doing stuff like this for a long, long time, and there’s no good reason to think he’ll stop.
Time for a 21st Century Municipal Government
By Cara Berg Powers
Did you hear about the one about the time Moe Bergman filed a criminal complaint against former School Committee member Mary Mullaney, accusing her of falsely presenting herself as a lawyer? Then sued former City Councilor Wayne Griffin for apparently making a defaming pamphlet about his father’s property, allegedly depressing the auction price? Bergman, when asked for comment, said:
"Wayne Griffin never talked to me and just jumped into this issue without hearing both sides of the story," Bergman said. "It was a sucker punch. They got people riled up and created a very confrontational situation. There was a gang mentality of wanting to see these buildings demolished for no good reason."
If you hadn’t heard this particular piece of political intrigue, I’m not surprised. It happened about 25 years ago. Yep, the same names, the same petty squabbles, a whole different millennia. It reminds me a lot of the baseball field spat between Sargent Anthony Petrone and Former City Councilor Phil Palmieri that Bill wrote about last year. You should just go back and read. It’s utter chaos. And 15 years earlier they’d been having the same basic discussion about the league potentially being relocated for elderly housing. It was not. We see these kinds of dust ups all the time, and I’ve been told on more than one occasion by more elder onlookers that “this spat or the other” goes back decades, sometimes to literal high school feuds.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if the infighting was contained to personal lawsuits and obscure agenda items, but the ghosts of terrible ‘90s policymaking won’t just enjoy their retirements and leave the rest of us to deal with the real problems of the 21st century. There’s a diplomatic quality that the “formers” get out of their time in office, regardless of what they did with it. They find their way into running city institutions, write columns at the dying local paper, run again for their old seat, or prop up their chosen successors. We have a few folks wielding their “formers” this election. We have former Mayor Ray Mariano using his column to pine for the good old days and lob attacks at the current School Committee members, some running against his buddies, former Superintendent Maureen Binienda and former School Committee member (and former Ray Mariano staffer) Dianna Biancheria. And of course former District 5 City Councilor Wayne Griffin exorcizing his demons from his 1997 and 1999 election losses by basically working for free full time for District 5 council candidate Jose Rivera, who he’s aligned himself with… enthusiastically.
This is of course not unusual in Worcester politics. With former elected officials peppering their way into the discourse, and semi-governmental institutions like the Worcester Regional Transit Authority, Worcester Housing Authority, Worcester Chamber of Commerce, we’re used to second and third careers for our formers. Then of course there’s the local media, where Mariano is one of the last columnists left standing at the consolidated-beyond-recognition local daily, and where the local cable access channel is almost entirely shows headed by current and former elected officials and perennial candidates like retired Senator Harriette Chandler, former Mayor Konnie Lukes, former Councilor Gary Rosen, current Mayor Joe Petty, perennial candidate Bill Coleman, and of course Activate Worcester, the safe haven for the small island of vocal Worcester Republicans like Kathy Roy and Ted Kostas, who have both graced the show multiple times, though are not leading with their Republican City Committee bonafides now that they’re running for office. And that’s before we get into the deeper background, in which you see the same folks running campaigns, “finding” candidates, and writing press releases for the last three decades.
Here’s their secret: once you get a title, you get to keep it, informally. Forever. If Donald Trump goes to prison, he’s still “Mr. President” in most mixed company (despite what many might say under their breath). And unless you have 24 hour media coverage of your racketeering cases, most people just think, “oh yeah, he was Mayor. Let’s listen to him. Must be an expert.” We have short memories here in the city though, and with these long careers, it’s hard to hold current elected officials accountable to their past promises, let alone the guy elected mayor when I was in 1st grade.
So let’s take a brief walk down memory lane, shall we?
Ray Mariano was mayor most of the 1990s, and a city councilor prior to that. For the purpose of keeping this short of dissertation-length, we’re going to mostly focus on the 1990s, which, I know it pains many of us to admit, was 30 years ago. Don’t worry though, you’ll find the issues at hand very familiar.
An October 28, 1991 T&G article about the municipal election that year begins with, “Minority concerns, including the question of whether there is racism in Worcester, dominated a forum for at-large City Council candidates…” Wow, ok. A little on the nose. That same year, the T&G gave Ray Mariano a D grade on a report card rating councilors on “Effectiveness, Political integrity, Temperament, and Fiscal Responsibility.” In 1993, the only other year such a report card exists in the 1990s archives (I guess they just gave it up), Mariano again received a D and Wayne Griffin, to his credit, I guess, received a C+. So what were the issues in the 1990s that councilors were graded on? There’s a few that continue to reverberate in our current political climate.
For readers under 30, maybe even under 40, it’s difficult to emphasize just how critical proactive and non-judgemental interventions to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS were in the early 1990s, and just how much our overall government failed at that. It’s still shocking to consider how persistent a failure it was to get a basic needle exchange program approved in Worcester for the entirety of the 1990s. Griffin was chief among its opponents. Of an early attempt, Griffin, then District 5 councilor, remarked: "This is just another issue Boston is trying to jam down Worcester's throat. We should do something now before we find it on our doorstep and then we are unable to do anything about it.”
Of course, he didn’t mean we should do something to provide support and harm reduction to those at risk of contracting HIV. No, his assertion is that by having a safe needle exchange, we’d be promoting drug use, and inviting “those people” into our community. And he wasn’t alone. "I have strong misgivings about a program that appears to target a community and put us in isolation," Mariano said. "We would be inheriting problems of other communities."
A committed group of local activists spent the rest of the decade trying to convince the Council to adopt some form of needle exchange—to no avail. In 1999, the T&G reported, “The at-large incumbents who also voted against it and are running for re-election are Timothy P. Murray, Joseph Petty and Mayor Raymond V. Mariano. An equation with a needle exchange majority would likely necessitate the removal of one of those three.” And here’s where we see a familiar dynamic for those community members who have been frustrated in their attempts recently to get Petty as mayor to align with the side of progress. The harm reduction group said that Mariano made a deal with Petty right before the meeting, getting him to vote to kill the item, so that Mariano wouldn’t be seen as the deciding vote. If re-elected, the group thought, maybe they could get Petty to do the right thing… A tale as old as time.
Ray Mariano has blown a lot of hot air this year regarding the new Superintendent and the School Committee. And it sounds a lot like it did when he was in charge of the School Committee as mayor. Which is to say it sounds blathering and clueless. "We spend more time looking at the more progressive educational approaches and less time on the traditional models," Mariano said back in 1995, “But there is a growing sense around the country that kids would benefit from a more classical approach to teaching.” When pressed for what his proposed school would look like, “The classical program would be for grades kindergarten through eight, he said, and would include a uniform requirement, an emphasis on drilling multiplication, division, handwriting, and spelling, and a longer school day and year. ‘It may have more of a focus on character education and a discipline code,’ he said.” As a public school parent and an actual doctor of education, this is basically the exact opposite of what we know works to engage kids in meaningful learning. And it’s exactly what he’s complaining about not existing now. This June, he wrote: “Today, we have fewer students suspended, which is a good thing. But we also have buildings that are just a few degrees short of chaos. The pendulum has swung too far.” Still grinding the same axe.
Also under his watch, the schools launched a controversial truancy program, where kids from elementary to high school were picked up by the police and delivered to alternative schools, DYS, and DCF. Such a program deeply aligns him with the School Committee candidates he’s stumping for and who he goes way back with. Dianna Biancheria, former school committee member and current district school committee candidate, and now retired school safety director Rob Pezzella were staffers in Mariano’s Mayoral office. Biancheria had a position that Mariano used school funds to finance. When Tim Murray was elected mayor, he cut the position from his office and a job paying the exact same amount was found for Biancheria in the school department as a “grant writer.”
Pezzella had moved over to the schools a few years prior. His experience as a neighborhood watch leader was cited as an expertise for the job. Pezzella’s role was a huge issue for community members during Maureen Binienda’s time as Superintendent. Other issues included statewide scrutiny for misuse of emergency removals, and lawsuits for racial disparities in school discipline. Then of course, there were the buses, as Aislinn Doyle recently wrote about on here. It’s also worth mentioning the literal protests by students of Binienda’s contract being renewed, and of course the years of stalling comprehensive sex ed, including a potential compromise that Joe Petty changed his mind on at the last minute after public criticism (sounds a little like a pattern).
As someone who grew up in Main South in the 1990s, I’m not going to pretend that youth or even gang violence was not an issue in the community. However, the ways that many folks still clinging to power thought about that issue—who’s harmed, and who they are responsible to—is much the same as it is today when we hear conversations about homelessness, youth violence, addiction, or other social challenges. This is an actual line from a T&G article in 1994: “Gang graffiti, once to be seen in Boston or New York, now deface the walls of numerous buildings in Main South and other parts of Worcester.” And that kind of sensationalism is just about how folks like Mariano and Griffin approached the real challenges facing community members at the time. There were a number of proposals floated by reactionary Councilors at the time, including closing basketball courts, establishing a “crime watch cabinet,” and requesting legislation that would prosecute all juvenile crimes involving firearms as adults.
“The good people of Worcester are being held hostage in their neighborhoods and this has got to stop," Griffin said at the time, defending the extreme proposals. “The good people of Worcester” of course deserve safe communities, the benefit of the doubt, and the defense of their elected officials. Those “good people” deserve to be protected from “undesirables” (literally a word used in one of these proposals). This binary belief—that some city residents count and others don’t—drives this dangerous and deeply retrograde push to go “back.” Again, I ask, to where? A time when the City Council fought over whether people deserved to die of AIDS? Where City Councilors fought to prevent the construction of a basketball court because, as then neighbor Walter Crockett had the courage to note, "The court brings a large amount of black people into a neighborhood that is mostly white. But no one wants to come out and say it." But Wayne Griffin, a vocal opponent of the basketball court that now stands outside the Youth Center on Chandler Street, focused on brass tacks. “Removal of the court,” Griffin said, "would leave us $40,000 we can use for something else." Or how about when Griffin received a literal award from the Chief of Police for chasing a burglar who stole a CD player through several of his neighbors yards before tackling them. A story that definitely does not age well in the time of Black Lives Matter, but I guess that’s the point, right? Then, it was acceptable to call poor people “undesirables” and ignore medical facts about harm reduction, and why do they have to give that up?
In early 2015, Konnie Lukes controversially introduced a resolution that the City Council, “go on record in support of the Worcester Police Department and the department’s high level of professionalism, leadership in community relations and dedication to the citizens of Worcester.” This was in the months following the Ferguson uprisings and many community members noted that the timing felt political and, frankly, out of touch with overpoliced communities in the city. Despite this public outcry, the motion passed with current candidates Petty, Toomey, Palmieri, and Bergman all voting for it. Just a few months later the Department of Justice spent the summer in Worcester airing the grievances of community members in the city about racial disparities in a number of municipal departments. Chief among them was, of course, policing.
This was known in January, but the Council chose to ignore it, claiming what was happening in Ferguson wasn’t relevant to Worcester, nevermind happening in Worcester. It was knowable when community members had called for race dialogues all the way back in 1995. Just like it was knowable in 1993 that needle exchange programs heavily decreased transmission of HIV and increased access to recovery. Just like it was knowable in 1995 that recreation programs and youth jobs decrease youth violence. Just like it’s knowable now that safe injection sites reduce disease transmission and overdose deaths and increase access to recovery. Like it’s knowable that encampment sweeps further destabilize unhoused people—even contribute to significantly higher mortality rates. It’s knowable that traffic calming measures make streets safer, that we need more aggressive action on climate responsive building, that crisis pregnancy centers prey on vulnerable women to manipulate them. Some people just don’t want to know.
That last one has been true since at least 1986, when Problem Pregnancy of Worcester lost a lawsuit to Planned Parenthood for intentionally deceiving patients by copying Planned Parenthood’s logo on their door. I was 3. Ray Mariano was on the City Council. And now these same people who failed want us to let them keep making the calls. Almost 40 years later, Moe Bergman is concerned about a witch hunt against Problem Pregnancy. And this is where the real concern comes in. Despite all of the claims from folks like Konnie Lukes that national politics don’t impact Worcester, the nationwide attacks on democracy, on women’s rights, on our LGBTQIA community, on the civil rights of Black and Brown residents, on academic and religious freedom are going to take courageous leadership and we’re facing down a municipal government that has repeatedly shrugged and said there’s nothing they can do.
We need elected leaders that are going to look at the climate crisis, the fragility of our democracy, the housing stock, the beautiful diversity of our city and see opportunity, solutions, and collaboration. And we have seen that this cycle. We’ve seen people doorknock together, lift up one another’s ideas and messages, and publicly thank them for their work. Frankly, there are a few incumbents, and a lot of newcomers, that have demonstrated what our City Council could look like if they were collaborative and capable of handling the 21st century issues in front of them. It’s a lot like what our School Committee has looked like for a good chunk of the last year. There have been issues, and they don’t always see eye to eye, but they are collaborative, communicative, and competent. We can’t afford to go backwards there, and we can go forward on Council.
But the “good old boys club” is still gripping the levers of power. Joe Petty has been in City Hall almost 30 years now. Ray Mariano is working to try to put his cronies back on the School Committee. Wayne Griffin is still railing against the “undesirables” to anyone who will listen. Former Superintendent Maureen Binienda is still unwilling to even admit she was wrong about bringing transportation in house, let alone that there were other reasons to not renew her contract. And we continue to be lost in their time warp. Which is exactly what it feels like. You know those TV episodes where you go back in time and you see characters before they know each other and become who you recognize them as? And there’s all these inside jokes about the future you know them in? That’s what this article from election night 1999 is like. Picture it, Worcester, 1999. Wayne Griffin has just lost his second consecutive election. His opponent was recruited by Bill Eddy, who then went on to hold the District 5 seat and play a prominent role in Joe Petty’s State Senate race. Paul Giorgio, who owns “The Pulse” and was also active in Petty’s campaign last year was also quoted in the article. Kate Toomey had just lent herself $20,000 toward her School Committee victory, and Karyn Polito had just lost the State Senate seat to Guy Glodis. 24 years ago. Nothing new under the sun.
Phil Palmieri, “an East Side businessman and political activist” had some sage wisdom for us on that night: “I think the election serves notice to many people in public office that they need to produce for the sake of the community.” Indeed many people in and out of public office that have nothing new to contribute to the city’s vision should step aside. They’ve proven they simply cannot produce, certainly not for the sake of community. They need to make room for the kind of leadership these times require.
Odds and ends
Ok, Bill again. We’ve covered a lot already so I’ll keep this part short. Paid subscriptions keep this thing humming. They’re the only thing. It is very hard to get the sort of local journalism contained in these posts published without direct reader support.
Not only does the newsletter pay me to live, it allows me to pay great contributors like Cara for their work. The more paid subscribers, the greater my ability to solicit great community journalism. There’s no paywall here, there’s just me asking nicely. How about a group subscription?
Today is the Worcester Hot Dog Safari. The event of the season is upon us! Let us rejoice! Smash the following link to find out how you can participate. Of all the great events in Worcester, this is the one that really captures my love for this weird little city. It is a great time. It is an institution. It is silly for the sake of being silly. Me and Katie will be at Ralph’s Rock Diner at 5 p.m. for the announcement of the winner. Come say hey! Speaking of Katie, the GoFundMe is now over $30,000 and we initially asked for $10,000. Unreal. Thank you all so much.
Don’t forget about Rewind Video Store! We’re still shooting for a fall opening and still looking for volunteers, donations, physical media etc. I wanna talk quickly about the volunteering though. Since we made it public, the sheer volume of volunteers that have reached out to us and all the creative ways people want to get involved... it’s been so heartening and encouraging and I don’t want to let it slip by. We want as many people involved as possible! But it’s also dizzying to keep up with all the “I want to get involved” messages. If you want to get involved, messaging us is great, but I’d also ask that you sign up for the volunteer list. I’m going to use that mailing list as a way to blast out what sort of work we need and keep track of all the cool ideas coming our way! It’s the best way to stay in the loop. Expect a message soon.
Phew. I think that’s all for today. And it’s a lot. To close it out I want to leave you with one of the funniest moments of Worcester Internet I can remember.
“I guess it’s not you.” Sheeeeesh. Worcester indeed has a dome over it.
Ok bye bye