Take a jackhammer to your insecurities

The folks at Building 19 don’t seem to like anything that reminds people that the former Spag’s building they’re in was once Spag’s.

Coloring in the recessed letters in this wall just smacks of insecurity (as did painting over the black shingles on the east slope of the Spag’s building roof that once used to spell “Spag’s” for passing aircraft).

Shrewsboro & Westbury

If you’re not from Shrewsbury or Westboro, how can you tell when you driven from one to the other?  One well-to-do eastern suburb with a congested retail strip seems a lot like another.

Signs like this were once useful, though they’ve been made largely redundant in an era when every street in a town bears that town’s choice of color and/or logo.

More questions than answers

Clive McFarlane wrote a column about the case of David Russo.  It should be noted that my familiarity with this case consists of reading stuff in the paper and Facebook.

The column compares Russo’s case with that of Trayvon Martin.  In many ways, I think it’s closer to the case of Henry Louis Gates Jr. (that is, a person spots another person who doesn’t seem to belong in a neighborhood, the cops are called, and testosterone ensues).

I don’t really have an opinion on whether profiling occurred or not, because there’s not enough evidence one way or the other.

However, there are a few issues here, and I think they’re somewhat conflated in the column:

1.  There’s an allegation that a WPD officer told a resident to keep her eyes peeled for young males who were black or Hispanic.  While that has some bearing on what happened to David Russo, it’s a separate issue.  It’s unclear whether the WPD was specifically asked about this when Chief Gemme responded “the department will not and can not comment about the specifics of this case, for all the reasons you know, but especially because it involves a juvenile.”  Either way, I think that specific allegation deserves a followup outside the context of what happened next.

2.  In the case of David Russo, a neighbor saw him entering and exiting his house but didn’t recognize that he lived there.  While I might not know all my neighbors (by name or sight), I’m not sure I’d call the cops unless someone were entering through a window and exiting with a TV.  Regardless, I think it would be pretty stressful if you live in a “very diverse neighborhood with several families of color” and still feel the need to alert your neighbors about the make and model of your Asian friend’s car.

3.  When that neighbor called the police, the WPI campus police responded.  Unless an incident takes place on campus or involves a student in the college’s immediate environs, I don’t feel comfortable with campus police doing what is the WPD’s job.

So, turning those into questions:

1.  Is the WPD going to respond to Susan Puryear’s question?  It’s unclear whether the officer said “watch out for kids who don’t seem like they belong in the neighborhood” and the neighbor took it as “non-white kids” or if the officer genuinely made a statement with profiling in mind.  While she got it secondhand, it should have been looked into while it was fresh in everyone’s minds.

There’s no reason the WPD can’t answer the original profiling question, because it has nothing to do with a juvenile and everything to do with what a police officer told a resident outside of any particular case.

2.  What is the proper forum for that kind of complaint?  Because it seems going through the Mayor and City Council is not that forum.

3.  Under what circumstances are campus police officers allowed to question and detain those not on their campus and who have no association with their school?  This for me is the biggest question of all.

Updated: on the agenda for next Tuesday’s City Council meeting:

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Upon the Order of Councilor Konstantina B. Lukes – Request Ethnic & Minority Affairs develop a City policy on racial profiling: recommend adoption of the accompanying Order to Request City Manager request the Police Chief report to City Council the city’s policy on racial profiling.

Let there be paint

Whoever’s in charge of hydrants in Worcester must be a frequent reader.  The hydrant featured on this blog yesterday has already had a makeover:

A bit of excavating, a bit of brush removal, and a liberal coat of paint, all in the space of a day.  Thanks!

Any chance I could bribe you to paint some crosswalks if I buy you a cup of coffee or a can of Tab?  That shade of yellow would look nice at some dangerous intersections.

Identifying Crosswalks in Disrepair

The Worcester PD has been highlighting cases where pedestrians have been struck by cars and have stepped up enforcement of drivers who do not stop for pedestrians in a marked crosswalk.

As many of us — pedestrians and motorists alike — know, one of the problems is that plenty of city crosswalks are in desperate need of a new paint job.

In addition to the enforcement efforts, we need to also start looking at crosswalks that are barely visible to motorists.  It’s not fair — or safe — to either pedestrians or motorists to not also concentrate on making sure all crosswalks are clearly visible.

To that end, I’ve created a Google Doc to list crosswalks that need to be repainted and when those crosswalks make it to City Council and Traffic & Parking Committee.

Over the next few months, I’d appreciate it if readers can note any crosswalks they see (as a pedestrian, as a passenger, as a motorist) that need a repainting.  Note those crosswalks in the comments, or email me to get access to update the document directly.

I’d especially like folks to note crosswalks near schools, playgrounds, or parks that need a repainting.

At regular intervals (once a month or so) I will contact district councilors to get these crosswalks on the City Council agenda and then track them through the political process to completion.


(Image: Hearts & Crosswalks, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 licensed photo from Spatch’s photostream.)

Deck-Bumper Guy

Roaming the wilds of the western suburbs is Deck-Bumper Guy:

He is what Worcester’s own Log-Bumper Guy wants to be when he grows up & gets some mad skills.  This D.I.Y. bumper features a pressure-treated 4×4 post mounted to the truck with galvanized lag bolts.  Many local cheapskate handymen would have stopped there.  Deck-bumper guy has capped the ends of the 4×4, which protects the end-grain and gives things a “finished” look.  He then installed a pressure-treated 2×6 atop the 4×4, thereby creating a larger deck on which to stand as he accesses his tools & such in the bed . . . but it also creates a protective overhang for his snazzy Patriots license plate.  To complete the look and keep things legal, he has installed lights on either side of the plate, which is something that he’ll need when it’s time for an inspection sticker.  (This slick guy is also rocking the byways with some bright yellow Monroe shocks and a kickin’ trailer hitch.)

Is a wooden bumper a good thing?  Well, assuming this one replaces a metal bumper, the wooden one is a bit of a step down in quality of collision protection.  Better than a rusty metal bumper, I guess.  It’s nevertheless light years better than the plastic & styrofoam that pass for bumpers on 90% of the passenger cars on the road today.  And if this guy does decks for a living — a distinct possibility, given all the tools in the truck bed — then this little beauty is simply good advertising for the quality of his work.