Monthly Archives: August 2009

Election, Primary, Special Election

Worcesterites will have another busy election season starting this November.  Voters will hit the polls in November for city elections, on December 8th for the special election primary for Sen. Ted Kennedy’s former seat, and again on January 19th for the actual special election.

Just imagine if Worcester had needed a primary in September.

The special election dates were announced by Governor Deval Patrick today.  The governor said he would not be a candidate for the Senate seat, and continued to voice his support for a change in law allowing him to appoint an interim Senator before the election.

A legislative committee will meet on that change in law sometime next week; even if it passes all the necessary hurdles, any appointee may have just 100 days in office.

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McGovern coming home for Kennedy funeral

Despite being at the tail end of a week-long congressional trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, Congressman Jim McGovern is making special travel plans to be home by Friday afternoon, in time for Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral.  McGovern’s aides arranged a 26-hour cross-globe trip to get the Congressman home in time, the Boston Globe reports.

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Turtle Boy Music Awards

With over 20 bands already committed, the 2009 Turtle Boy Music Awards throughout the Canal District is lining up to be the most intense single night of music in Worcester’s history.

Confirmed acts include:

Hey Now Morris Fader, Jason James and the Bay State House Rockers, Dan Burke, The Jesse Fontaine Trio, Dental Plan, Delta Generators, New Pilot, Grand Evolution, Miars, Sift, Castine, Baige O’Bannon, Jubilee Gardens…and more.

Stay tuned to turtleboymusic.wordpress.com for the most up to date info!

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Super 88 Chain sold

Asian supermarket chain Super 88, whose plans to move into downtown Worcester dried up amid tough competition in the Boston area, has been sold to Hong Kong supermarkets, another similar chain of stores.

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Next in line for Lion’s seat

Who will succeed Kennedy?

The two most prominent Central Massachusetts names mentioned are Congressman Jim McGovern and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, though the chances of either running is slim, especially if state law doesn’t change to allow the governor to appoint an interim successor. McGovern has more sway in House than he would as a rookie Senator; Murray, despite his huge campaign war chest, is dead set on running for reelection, say his people. Aside from the two potential Kennedys – Ted’s wife Vicky and nephew Joe are most frequently mentioned; either would have the clear emotional edge over challengers – the most likely candidates on the Democratic side include Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Congressmen Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch, and former Congressman Marty Meehan.

But that doesn’t mean Kennedy’s death won’t have an impact on Worcester politics. Word Wednesday morning was that Governor Deval Patrick may support a change in state law allowing him to appoint an interim Senator to fill in during the several months before an election, and there is potential support from State Senate President Therese Murray for the change. Speculation is that Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray could be considered by Patrick for the seat, should he want it. Such a move would take Murray out of politics after that short term ends, however.

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The Lion’s Legacy

Even knowing this day was coming; even knowing it was coming soon, the loss of Senator Ted Kennedy took the air out of the room Wednesday morning. He was the Last Lion, the last of a dynasty, the institution and rock of Massachusetts politics.

Any longtime Massachusetts resident, anyone with the smallest tangential tie to politics had a Kennedy story – how he had shook their hand, helped them get money for a key project, helped them when they were down on their luck.

To his family, he was “Uncle Teddy,” but he served a similar role for many in the state while operating as the last true patriarch of Massachusetts politics.

Congressman Jim McGovern, on a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, released a statement calling the Senator “my inspiration, my mentor, my colleague and my friend. Slán go foil, Senator.”

Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative head Kevin O’Sullivan, a former State Representative, says, “I don’t know how many people were really close to Kennedy…he was like royalty.”

“There was a zone around him…an aura that is hard to describe.”

“He would step into a room and had that ‘it,’ whatever that was.”

As a politician and business activist, O’Sullivan says he found the Senator very helpful. “The guy could deliver. I found his office to be very receptive. I thought his staff people were people that got out and about.

“Kennedy had an incredible knack for feeling the pulse.”

“He was an icon.”

But probably no one in Worcester was closer to the Senator than former Worcester City Councilor and former Worcester Regional Retirement Board head Mike Donoghue.

“He is going to be missed…he will go down as probably the greatest US Senator ever to serve,” says Donoghue, who recollects Kennedy “coming by the house, getting out of the car, playing basketball in the driveway with the kids…helping the kids with their homework, sitting down to dinner with the family.”

“It’s hard to explain. Here you are with one of the most prominent people in the country, and here he is in the yard playing basketball…having dinner with us.”

Donoghue says that in private conversations, Kennedy “talked about caring for people, about not doing enough.”

“He was an individual that really cared…that always took the high road. Even knowing the positions he took would be controversial and many would not agree with…he was not afraid to take a position and debate the issue.”

“In Worcester, he made a difference,” says Donoghue. Particularly in the areas of education, elderly housing, biotech, many say key projects wouldn’t have passed without direct or indirect influence from the Senator. Indeed, little of importance in the state seemed to ever pass without his tacit or explicit approval…or at least input.

“Massachusetts lost a great Senator, the country lost a great senator, the world lost a statesman whose entire political life he fought for those that didn’t have a voice. And personally for my wife Maureen and I, we lost a senator, but we also lost a very good friend. I was fortunate to call him a US Senator and my friend in the same breath.”

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Hazy Future

Spiritual Haze has always been something of a media favorite, if not a hospitality industry curiosity-cum-pioneer in Worcester. The hookah lounge was the first true hookah-focused business in town, an act quickly followed by several other spots around the city. And the business’s story – proprietor Victoria Mariano started it as an outgrowth of coursework while still an undergraduate at Clark University – was unique. Mariano focused on attracting an 18+ crowd who wanted nightlife, but couldn’t go to 21+ bars or didn’t want alcohol-focused crowds. The business and Mariano have been written up several times, including in <I>Worcester Mag<P> and the <I>Telegram<P>.

Now, ongoing complaints from neighbors have led to a status hearing for the lounge, and for Mariano to consider moving the business to a new location, potentially cutting its geographic ties to the Clark campus that birthed it and supplies many of its patrons.

In this week’s Worcester Mag, we look at the situation facing Mariano, who will attend the status hearing in front of the License Commission this Thursday.

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