Monthly Archives: January 2011

You, yes, YOU should run for city office

Chances are good if you’re reading this, you’re one of those people.

You have some idea of what’s going on in municipal government. You watch City Council meetings (heck, you might even watch School Committee meetings!). You have spent time, whether you wish it or not, thinking about sidewalk shoveling, pit bulls, out of state travel, and the cleanliness of the water the city puts in the Blackstone River.

You probably also have an opinion on all of these things.

Moreover, if you’ve spent this kind of time on it, there have been nights when you’ve asked yourself (or the nearest bystander), “Why didn’t somebody ask [fill in the blank here]?” You’ve told someone that if YOU had been on the Council (or Committee), why then you would have said [again, fill in the blank here].

Well, folks, here’s your shot.

In a matter of weeks, the City Council will vote on an election calendar for the city. They will set the date of the municipal elections–a primary for September and a final election for November–which will determine the rest of the dates in the calendar. Sometime this spring, anyone can go to the Election Commission at City Hall (2nd floor) and take out papers to collect signatures for nominating someone to office. It takes the signatures of 100 district votes (certified) to get someone on the ballot for a district office, and it takes the signatures of 300 city voters (certified) to get someone on the ballot for an at-large office (including School Committee).

That’s it, by the way. You don’t pay the city any money; there aren’t other barriers.

If you even have the slightest interest in doing this yourself, or of drafting a friend, then I would highly recommend the excellent workshop run by the League of Women Voters.

Wednesday March 23, 2011
6:00 PM  –  8:00 PM  How to Run for Public Office in Worcester
Contact: Debra Starr   508-770-0912
Workshop for potential Worcester City Council and School Committee candidates

Think about it.

Life Magazine Images of Higgins Armory

I’d pointed folks to some Life Magazine photos of Worcester State Hospital, and I’d now like to point out some photos of Higgins Armory.

You can find a bunch at the top of this page and at the bottom of this page (where you can also see plenty of pictures from a sculpture exhibit at WAM).

Of especial interest are pictures like this and this, which will leave you reaching for your white gloves and wanting to give the folks a good talking-to about how their hands have oil and salts that can permanently damage the armor.

(You may also enjoy this Higgins photo from — of all places — the Weekly World News, and this Rotarian article from 1956.)

(Image: Armored Dog, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 image from Adam Rose’s photostream.)

Main South Promise Neighborhood Launch and Lunch

Via Facebook:

On Saturday, February 5th from 9:30-2pm, Main South Promise Neighborhood Partnership will be hosting our Promise Neighborhood Community Launch and Luncheon Event at Clark University Tilton Hall. We plan to engage over 200 community residents, organizations and local businesses to learn about the Partnership and how we all can play a role in delivering the promise that all children have access to education, strong systems of family and community support that guarantees high quality standards and positive results from cradle to career.

They will also be holding their second Breakfast Discussion on Thursday, February 24th, 2011 from 8:30-10:00 AM at the Mosakowski Institute:

For our second meeting, we’ll be reading The Teaching Gap, by Stigler and Hiebert, a book that promotes “Lesson Study” as a mechanism for improving classroom instruction on a large scale. The book is based on the TIMSS video study of classroom instruction and compares national patterns in teaching in the US, Germany, and Japan. The book is highly relevant to on-going discussions about the value of lesson study in Worcester and the new Common Core Standards.

Call to artists for Mardi Gras Masks

Via the Worcester Arts Council on Facebook:


Worcester Educational Development Foundation, Inc. (WEDF) is proud to present “A Prelude to Mardi Gras.” Worcester Public Schools’ Art Teachers and Artists from the greater Worcester area are collaborating to produce Mardi Gras masks to be sold at silent auction at the Worcester Center for Crafts, 25 Sagamore Road, from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, February 4, 2011. Tickets are $10.00 at the door and include a cocktail reception with complimentary hors d’ oeuvres, and the music of local music teacher and blues artist, Jon Short, as well as the opportunity to buy your Mardi Gras mask for WEDF’s “Mardi Gras.”

We invite local artists who would like to participate by creating a handheld or wearable Mardi Gras style masks to contact Kathy Ivanowski, Worcester Public Schools Visual Arts Liaison at (508) 799-3083 or

Our friends at Free Art Worcester are going to be contributing a mask and making an appearance — don’t miss it!

(Image: B&W Mardi Gras Mask, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 image from IePhotography’s photostream.)

PharmaSphere update: bad sidewalks, bad liquidity

4rilla notes that the snowy sidewalks around the city-owned South Worcester Industrial Park are unshoveled. For 3 years now, Worcester’s been trying to give part of this site to PharmaSphere, who thus far hasn’t gotten their act together.

Worcester, MA Shovelgate Redux
Worcester, MA Shovelgate Redux, by 4rilla on Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike license.

Bill Randell, who’s been bird-dogging this thing like nobody else, notes that PharmaSphere’s parent company, Converted Organics, has a poor liquidity ratio compared to others in the “Fertilizers & Agricultural Chemicals” industry.

Converted Organics (COIN) ranks lowest with Current Ratio of 0.53; Potash (POT) ranks next with Current Ratio of 0.90; and Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG) ranks next lowest with Current Ratio of 1.43.

Mike Piper’s Accounting Made Simple explains that “a company’s current ratio serves to provide an assessment of the company’s ability to pay off its current liabilities (liabilities due within a year or less) using its current assets (cash and assets likely to be converted to cash within a year or less).”

So COIN owes twice as much in the coming year as they have in assets.

If I understood any of this stuff I would try to figure out whether the owners of Converted Organics have made a profit or loss off of this thing in the last 3 years.

T&G outsources more circulation work


The Telegram & Gazette will outsource all of its home delivery distribution in April, and will lay off about 35 full- and part-time employees in its circulation department, according to an announcement to the staff this morning by publisher Bruce Gaultney.

In recent years I’ve come to see that the core business of a newspaper is printing and distribution. Thinking about what it means for a company to outsource core stuff.

Update: Here’s a longer version of the story that suggests getting rid of union employees might have been a factor.

The cuts of 17 full-time and 18 part-time employees represent 7.7 percent of the company’s work force, said Kathlene Donahue, director of marketing for the T&G. Ten circulation employees will remain after the transition, she said.

Worcester police add computer specialist to financial crimes unit

Telegram & Gazette: “Police add cybercrime investigator”

Police declined to name the investigator because he is being immersed in undercover online work. Officials said they did not want to jeopardize investigations.

Capt. Saucier said the investigator has a degree in hardware engineering and has taken more than 10 courses about cyberbullying, online fraud and other topics.

Posted mostly because of the word “cybercrime.”