Strategic Voting in Worcester At-Large Elections (508 #579)

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, Mike tells Brendan about some analysis Greg Opperman and he have done about strategic voting in Worcester at-large elections.

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Bobby Guthro, RIP

My dear friend Bobby Guthro died in the hospital Thursday after some months of illness. He inspired everyone he met with his sunny disposition, goofy sense of humor, and fortitude. He faced a lot of challenges but also got a lot done—of the people I’ve known, one of those who fulfilled his potential most fully. He was a Mustard Seed volunteer for 40 years—I volunteered almost 3,000 hours with him, only a drop in the bucket of his own contribution to the Seed and the city.

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Worcester Preliminary Election Lawn Signs, 2023

For past years, see the lawn sign roundups for 2007, 2009 (also 2009 websites), 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2019, and 2021.

There’s a preliminary election this week, different from a primary in that it’s just designed to winnow the not-at-large races down to two candidates. So not every Council or School Committee election needs a prelim.
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2022 Catholic Worker Gathering


  • Blessed Sacrament Church (551 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602) (Friday – Sunday)
  • Hogan Campus Center (College of the Holy Cross, 1 College St, Worcester, MA 01610) (Saturday)
  • The Mustard Seed (93 Piedmont Street, Worcester, MA 01609) (Sunday)

Friday, October 21

  • 2:30pm – 9:30pm: Registration at the Phelan Center, Blessed Sacrament Church.
  • 4:30pm – 5:30pm: Talk at Rehm Library, College of the Holy Cross. Holy Cross alums speak about the Catholic Worker movement. Facilitated by David O’Brien, Holy Cross Professor Emeritus, and Frank Kartheiser, Holy Cross alumnus and co-founder of Worcester’s Mustard Seed.
  • 6:00pm: Dinner at the Phelan Center, Blessed Sacrament Church.
  • 7:00pm – 9:00pm: Welcoming and presentation from the Mustard Seed community. The Phelan Center, Blessed Sacrament Church.

Saturday, October 22

  • Breakfast will be served at the various places people are staying.
  • Morning prayer at Blessed Sacrament Church.
  • 8:30am – noon: Registration. Hogan Center, College of the Holy Cross.
  • 9:00am – 11:30am: Welcome and morning plenary. Hogan Center. Morning plenary: “Works of Mercy, Pacifism and the Green Revolution: Reflections from Catholic Workers on the Movement’s Charisms.” Presenters include: Mike Boover, Matt Harper, Martha Hennessy, Joanne Kennedy, Theo Kayser, Rosalie Riegle, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, and Brian Terrell.
  • 11:30am: Update on the canonization process for Dorothy Day, from the Dorothy Day Guild. Hogan Center.
  • Noon: Lunch at the Hogan Center for those who have signed up.
  • 1:30pm – 3:00pm: Workshops session 1, Hogan Center. Small group workshops.
  • 3:30pm – 5:00pm: Workshops session 2, Hogan Center. Small group workshops.
  • 5:30pm: Dinner at the Hogan Center.
  • 7:00pm: Talent show in the Hogan Center ballroom.
  • 9:00pm – 11pm: Dance party in the Hogan Center ballroom with DJ with Arnie Hamm.

Sunday, October 23

  • 9:00am: Breakfast at the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker soup kitchen.
  • 11:30am: Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church.

The 2022 Catholic Worker National Gathering is October 21 – 23 in Worcester, Massachusetts. A lot of it is happening around Holy Cross and also the Mustard Seed soup kitchen, in honor of the Seed’s 50th anniversary. It’s been 12 years since this last happened in Worcester.

Here’s the latest draft of the schedule. To register, click here.

Group photo from the 2008 Catholic Worker National Gathering by Bob Fitch.

Hillmaniacs (508 #377)

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we discuss losing a judge and gaining a City Manager.

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Timothy S. Hillman is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

A Tale of Three City Manager Searches

Accusations of Sexual Coercion at St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Worcester

Presumably lots more about this story in the coming weeks.


The head of a Massachusetts parish soup kitchen was placed on administrative leave on March 11 after allegations were made to the diocese that for years he has coerced vulnerable women that use the soup kitchen’s services into sex.

The complaint was made against Billy Riley, who has been the food for the poor coordinator for St. John’s Catholic Church in the Diocese of Worcester since 2013.


Nicole Bell, the CEO of Living in Freedom Together – an organization in Worcester that supports women leaving prostitution and works to end the sex trade – made the March 11 complaint to the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator. Bell, who got out of prostitution herself eight years ago, detailed her experiences with Riley to Crux in February.

Bell said she first met Riley through the soup kitchen in 2011, at which time she was homeless. She alleges that he “took an interest in her” and offered to let her shower at his house.

“I did that because I’m experiencing homelessness. I have nothing,” Bell said. “And then that leads to some kind of exchange of sexual activity for his assistance and so eventually it felt like if I didn’t do what he was requesting of me that I wouldn’t be able to access the soup kitchen.”


Crux spoke with another woman in February – who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation from Riley – that had similar experiences with Riley from 2014 until August 2021 when she became sober.

508 #376: Endemic Life

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about the City Council live commentary, Joe Petty’s campaign video, lifting Worcester’s mask mandate, our experiences getting COVID, nuclear war, endemic life, Substack, Brent Crude Oil, Metaculus Prediction Updates, Ukraine and its consequences, and COVID brain fog.

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Lenten Gameplan, 2022

I must be in an ascetic mood, because it doesn’t feel like “giving things up” for Lent will be much of a challenge this year.

Time was, giving up Facebook, or the radio, or coffee, felt like a real sacrifice. But this time around, as I wonder “Should I give this thing up?” that thing transforms into a burden in my mind, a burden it would be slightly painful to set down but which pretty quickly I would be glad to have cast off.

So I’m going to give up a whole slew of things this year, things I do to distract myself or pass the time but which I don’t really enjoy. There are a lot of those things! To keep the Lenten gameplan simple, all I’m going to commit to do with the resulting free time is pray a bit more than usual. My guide will be Bishop Robert Barron’s 2022 book of Lenten reflections.

In this post Zvi Mowshowitz breaks down “the sabbath” in a detailed (and secular) way I find inspiring. It’s helping me clarify my thoughts as I make my list of sacrifices.

This Lent will be a stressful one. The Pope has called for Ash Wednesday to be a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine. “It is a day to be close to the suffering of the Ukrainian people, to be aware that we are all brothers and sisters, and to implore God for an end to the war.”

Update: From River Sims’s Ash Wednesday message:

Dorothy Day once said in the midst of society’s fear of atomic bombs and concern over the war in Vietnam: “Go clean the toilets, and worry about the rest later.” Focus upon the need in front of your eyes, about which you can do something.

This Lent our focus is on our “flock” on the street, and my on inward remembering that “I am dust, and to dust, I shall return.”

It was suggested to use the word “stardust”, in administering ashes, and my answer: “We are going to die, we are mortal, and stardust takes way from the reality of dying.”

This morning, as I moved up the street placing ashes upon people sleeping in the doorways I received no harsh remarks, and approximately twenty-five out of fifty, were grateful.

For the first time, I did not wear a collar, a stole, a habit, and so in approaching each one they saw me simply as “River”, not the Church, from whom many have been rejected and hurt.

This afternoon I will be on the Haight and wearing my “normal” clothes, and while very few will receive ashes, again it will be just me talking and giving them food. I have some bracelets my friend Cindy has given us, with a little cross and color beads, and each one loves them.

Image: Detail from Pieter Bruegel’s The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, 1559.