Archive for 2012

508 #207: 508H2O

posted by Mike on November 14th, 2012

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s panel is Brendan Melican and Jen Burt.

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posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on November 14th, 2012 | Permanent Link to “508 #207: 508H2O” | 4 Comments »

Worcester’s third anti-panhandling plan: to committee

posted by Mike on November 14th, 2012

Last night, the Worcester City Council considered a third anti-panhandling plan. The first plan, from April 2005, had lots of ideas, but the only one that was implemented was a publicity campaign against giving to people on the street. After a year of complaints from civic activists and religious leaders, and a year of anti-panhandling signs being vandalized, the City stopped this campaign. As the City Manager recently wrote, “Engagement is a substantially better investment as it proves to be more successful than public education through expensive billboards which often have the appearance of targeting and marginalizing the poor and vulnerable.”

In July of 2012, the City took another shot at discouraging panhandlers by hiring a social worker to talk with them. This seems to have helped a couple of people, but the City Council doesn’t think it’s solved the panhandling problem, so plan #3 was proposed at last night’s Council meeting (after several weeks of delay).

Plan #3 attempts to ban “aggressive panhandling,” which it defines as not only begging in a rude or hostile way but asking for help in most any place where people might be walking, including near bus stops and any “place of public assembly.” In a letter to the Council, the City’s lawyer notes that kids asking motorists for money for little league or a school trip would have to be included in the ban along with everyone else. Many of the aspects of “aggressive panhandling” would seem to be covered by existing laws, and City Councilor O’Brien asked the City to determine whether much of this ordinance was just re-banning a bunch of stuff.

I had high hopes for Plan #2, the social worker—I can’t see how Plan #3 would be anything other than political theater, pretending that panhandling is a serious problem and then pretending that the City Council is taking it seriously. Either the ban is going to get the City sued on First Amendment grounds, or else things will play out like they did in Springfield, after an aggressive panhandling ban there, with a rash of arrests but no decline in the number of people begging on corners.

The Telegram’s headline from last night’s City Council meeting was “Council balks on panhandling ban.” A number of Council-watchers, including at least one former Councilor, predicted in the days leading up to the meeting that the Council would vote in favor of Plan #3, no problem. Instead, the Council voted to send it to committee, for further discussion and public input. Anybody who called a City Councilor or shared your distaste for this plan in a public forum, you probably muted their enthusiasm for the ban as-written. The next step: convince the Council that this ban is not an appropriate response to the problem and that a third failure is going to make Worcester look that much worse.

508 #206: Election Day 2012

posted by Mike on November 8th, 2012

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we geek out on the details of Worcester Election Day 2012 with Chris Robarge of the Voter Protection Network, poll warden Colin Novick, and Democratic poll observer Brendan Melican.

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508 #205: WAFT

posted by Mike on October 24th, 2012

508 is a show about Worcester. This weeks panel is Nicole Apostola, Martha Assefa, and Brendan Melican.

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posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on October 24th, 2012 | Permanent Link to “508 #205: WAFT” | 1 Comment »

508 #204: Interview with the Juggalo

posted by Mike on October 18th, 2012

508 is a show about Worcester. This weeks panel is Nicole Apostola, Jen Burt, and a bunch of Juggalos.

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508 #203: Voting Update

posted by Mike on October 11th, 2012

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s panel is Chris Robarge and Brendan Melican.

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Chris recaps the October 11 Election Commission meeting that was a follow-up on problems with the recent Worcester primary, most of them surrounding voters being put on the “inactive voter” list and Tea Party pollwatchers being kicked out of the polls. If you are a Worcester voter you can check your status here and you’ll have plenty of time to fix any problems.

Quick panhandling update. Summary: still panhandlers, still no anti-panhandling ads.

We recap what’s known about the Andrianopoulos kidnapping and expect the story will become less confusing when Christina returns to the US this weekend.

posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on October 11th, 2012 | Permanent Link to “508 #203: Voting Update” | 1 Comment »

Occupy Worcester: The Anniversary

posted by Mike on October 8th, 2012

This afternoon I stopped by Worcester Common for the one-year anniversary of Occupy Worcester. I had a cupcake and chatted with folks, but couldn’t stay until the general assembly began.

From Facebook:

It was decided at the 1 year anniversary to have a meeting on Sunday October 14 at 4:30 pm at the shop on 97d Webster st. The main topics of this meeting will be to hash out a schedule for future meetings and how we will move forward from there.

Worcester Magazine has a writeup. I’m a little surprised that the T&G, which ran so many detailed articles about OW last October & November, didn’t mention the anniversary.

There’s also some video online. And notes.

508 #202: A Look Back at Occupy Worcester

posted by Mike on October 5th, 2012

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s episode is a “clip show” about Occupy Worcester, edited for the one-year anniversary.

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See also: A Quick History of Occupy Worcester

A quick history of Occupy Worcester

posted by Mike on October 3rd, 2012

On October 2, 2011, we pretended to kick off Occupy Worcester on the 508 show by having a public “mic check” at Cooks Pond. Actual organizing meetings began happening that week.

The first real Occupy Worcester event was on October 8 on the Common. This was organized outside the meetings. The first fruit of the meetings was a General Assembly on the Common October 9, 2011. I counted 190 people gathered to talk about our challenges as a society and how to come to grips with them.
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508 #201: KSEN LEVEL YELLOW

posted by Mike on September 13th, 2012

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s panel is Kevin Ksen and Brendan Melican. We talk about winning local elections and controversies surrounding voting in Worcester.

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posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on September 13th, 2012 | Permanent Link to “508 #201: KSEN LEVEL YELLOW” | 1 Comment »