Burns Bridge Meeting – September 21

The latest meeting regarding the Burns Bridge will be held on Wednesday, September 21 at 7:00 at the Worcester Technical High School Conference Center.

More from the meeting announcement:

PURPOSE: The purpose of this hearing is to provide the public with the opportunity to become fully acquainted with the proposed bridge replacement alternative of Bridge No. S-14-001=W-44-018, Route 9 over Lake Quinsigamond. All views and comments made at the hearing will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible.
PROPOSAL: The proposed project consists of the replacement of the Kenneth F. Burns Memorial Bridge, Route 9 over Lake Quinsigamond. The proposed bridge structure will have three travel lanes in each direction, left and right turning lanes at each approach, bicycle-accommodating shoulders and sidewalks in each direction.

Election Commission Meeting tonight

As reported in the Telegram, there will be an Election Commission meeting tonight at 5:30pm. (Though the Telegram reports that the date of the preliminary election will be September 15, and I thought it was September 20. Clarification, please!)

I’ve read the Worcester Seven Hills Tea Party’s allegations of what happened at some polling places (and various responses) numerous times.  I’ve read this document from bottom to top quite a few times, and I still don’t have a clear sense of what happened, what needs to be done, or even what my opinion is.

I’ve tried (and failed) over the course of a few weeks to write a post about the issues that will be brought up.  What follows is a rather random collection of my thoughts.


The Worcester Seven Hills Tea Party has been training poll watchers to identify what they call voter fraud. In the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s parlance, these folks are called “observers”, and there are rules that need to be followed with observers [on pp.4-5 of the link], and there are guidelines regarding challenging someone’s vote [pp. 5-6 of the link].

What concerns me most regarding the Tea Party observers’ accounts of events [pp.22-33 of the link] in the polling locations is that there are plenty of insinuations of wrongdoing (on the part of groups like Neighbor to Neighbor or poll workers) but it doesn’t seem as if any votes were challenged.  If there was the extent of problems these folks allege, why did they not challenge a particularly problematic individual voter?

If you’re going to warn folks that there might be massive election fraud, wouldn’t it behoove you to challenge the fraudulent votes that are happening all around you?


As I mentioned previously, I have been and continue to be concerned that the right of a voter to bring someone into a polling booth is really at the heart of what’s being challenged.  It’s well within a voter’s rights to bring their grandchild, next-door neighbor, or even a campaign worker into the booth with them.

In the original challenge, there also seemed to be a lot of attention paid to whether someone was allowed to vote if they were disabled or homeless.  Challenges to someone’s right to vote for either reason should concern folks across the political spectrum.


I’m also concerned that the Tea Party folks are portraying themselves as a non-partisan group and that N2N is a political party.  The Tea Party folks appear to have been working at least in part with the campaign manager for Marty Lamb.  This is not to say that N2N isn’t actively campaigning or assisting candidates.

But for the Seven Hills Tea Party (a group with “party” right in its name) to accuse N2N of being a political party while not acknowledging its own close relationship to the Lamb campaign is a touch disingenuous.


The Worcester Tea Party [not the same as the “Seven Hills”] said that Worcester’s potential Arizona ban wasn’t the business of the Worcester City Council.  Why aren’t they out there asking why Boylston (and Southborough) residents have any business in Worcester elections?

And why didn’t the Worcester Seven Hills Tea Party step up to the plate and provide a much-needed candidate forum before this year’s preliminary election?  If they spent as much time encouraging voter engagement and education as they do prepping conservative activists to identify “voter fraud”, I would likely be more sympathetic to their cause.


I don’t think this increased attention on elections is a bad thing, and I do think the Tea Partiers had good points about the need for training, and the need to move voters to the inactive list as a result of the city census.

I hope that the increased attention also encourages folks to apply to serve on the Election Commission, which currently has two openings, one of which has already been discussed in some depth in the Telegram.

Now more than ever, we need people committed to the democratic process and fairness who are willing to serve.

Abby’s House Thrift Shop Benefit Swap Today


Who: You, your friends and family, and anyone you know!

What: Swap personal usefuls/toiletries for clothing from our Thrift Shop. (Swap bag optional)

Where: Abby’s House Thrift Shop, 52 High Street Worcester, MA 01609

When: Saturday August 27, 2011,  10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.  Be sure to read the “How” for details…

How: Arrive any time after 9:30 a.m. and drop off your bag of donated items.
(Drop off and pay entry fee to receive armband)
($5 with donation bag, $10 without donation bag)

Bring a bag of personal usefuls including 5 or more of the following:
-plastic wrap/aluminum foil
-paper towels
-toilet paper
-paper napkins
-feminine sanitary items
-lotion (face, hand, or body)
-toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss
-soap, body wash, body scrub
-hand soap, hand sanitizers

Please be sure personal items are new, unused, and have not expired! Donated swap bags will be checked and accepted at designated drop off times only. Clothing donations will NOT count towards swap. (Please NO clothing donations this day).

Leave the Thrift Shop with a trash bag (that we supply) with any (boutique and regular!) dresses, suits, skirts, blazers, jackets, sweaters, tops, slacks, shorts, jeans, scrubs, pajamas, bathing suits, active wear, shoes, purses, bags and luggage. *Additional trash bags may be purchased for $5.00 each.

With your donation you will receive a trash bag sized bag, provided by Abby’s House Thrift Shop, and you will be able to fill it with clothing and accessories, including dresses, suits, skirts, blazers, jackets, sweaters, tops, slacks, shorts, jeans, scrubs, pajamas, bathing suits, active wear, shoes, purses, bags, and luggage. *Additional trash bags may be purchased for $5.00 each.

There will be a line to get in beginning at 9:30 a.m.  Doors open at 10 a.m.!
Drop off and admission will continue until 1:30 p.m.  First come, first served!
Rain, shine or hurricane we will be in the Thrift Shop to serve you!

Library Meeting Room Guidelines Mtg 1 Summary

Steve Foskett has an article about yesterday’s Materials Subcommittee meeting in the T&G today.

I know that some folks find the liveblog format to be difficult to follow, and there were a lot of distractions from the task at hand.

Unfortunately, the meeting wasn’t always on track — there were times when folks on both sides moved away from the task at hand (that is, should we change the meeting room guidelines) and instead focused on deposition-like descriptions of events that occurred a couple of months ago.

Here’s what I think the next meeting (which should be sometime in early September) should focus on:

What (if any) are the problems with the existing guidelines?  I don’t have a problem with the guidelines as they stand.  I think adopting something similar Wakefield’s guidelines are an acceptable compromise if the alternative is no public forum at all (though — as I’ll note later — I’d like to see a legal opinion on whether this, too, would pose an unfair burden on someone’s first amendment rights).  I’d obviously prefer a public forum.

I would welcome a more philosophical discussion on whether the WPL considers meetings rooms to be part of its mission, because I think that would help guide the discussion.

How much should public input weigh in on meeting room guidelines or decisions?  I don’t mean this in a glib way.  Many libraries provide access to materials that some (or many) members of the public might find offensive.  Members of the public don’t weigh in on materials management decisions.

Ron Madnick brought up a concern about labeling a group as disruptive (or potentially disruptive).   This could provide a pre-emptive heckler’s veto; if you’re interested in reading more about the legal issues surrounding heckler’s veto and especially issues with charging speakers the cost of police protection that might result from their presence, read this.   (It seems to call into question whether we could even request that a group meet after library hours.)

I won’t pretend to have all the answers about this, but I think it is worth thinking about the tension between the library being a publicly-funded and supported institution that also sometimes (because of its mission) provides a venue (through materials or meetings) for unpopular ideas.

Does the rule prohibiting booking recurring meetings need clarification?  There was a question at the meeting about whether organizational meetings could be held at the library, and the answer is in the affirmative as long as they’re open to the public.  But I think there should be a note — whether on the application or in the guidelines — that library-sponsored (or Friends-sponsored, or Literacy Volunteers) events can be set up on a recurring basis, but that all other groups can only book one meeting at a time.

Can government do a better job of informing residents about the topics to be discussed in a meeting?  This is, perhaps, a question for both the library board and city government as a whole.

If you click on an item in the city government calendar, there’s no easy link to the agenda for that meeting.  I’ve been told that it’s not possible to put links into that format, though one wonders if one could at least paste a non-linked URL into the “More Information” column.

I think there would be ways to link to an agenda URL in the library’s own calendar system, so I’ll suggest that at the next library board meeting.

In the meantime, library board (and committee) meeting agendas are posted in the Boards and Commission section of the Agendas & Minutes page on the city website.  You can also find some agendas & minutes for a lot of groups that don’t fit into an easy mold under the Committees and Groups section.

CWW: Holden Library Book Sale

Of all the book sales in Central Mass., the one to beat is the Friends of the Gale Free Library sale in August.  Their book sales are always excellent — the prices are slightly higher than some of the cheaper sales, but are always extremely well-organized and sorted, and have the best selection.

And if you’re a slightly bibliomaniacal book buyer, there are often teenaged volunteers who are more than willing to carry your books to your car for you.

Just sayin’.

Dates for the book sale:

Thursday, August 25 from 10am – 2pm

Holden Days, Saturday, August 27 from 9am – 3pm (warning: parking is nearly impossible during Holden Days)

$5 Bag Sale – Thursday, September 8 from 4pm – 7pm

$5 Bag Sale – Saturday, September 10th from 10am – 2pm

$5 Bag Sale – Thursday, September 13 from 4pm – pm

TEACHER’S SALE – Thursday, September 15th from 3pm – 5pm