Monthly Archives: February 2011

Harshing the buzz

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

Clive McFarlane makes note in today’s T&G that William Breault has filed a petition with the city council that would ban smoking marijuana in public and increase the fine to $300, in addition to the state’s $100 civil ticket for possession of an ounce or less of the drug.

But from speaking with police officers, and according to reports from around the state, since the drug’s decriminalization in a 2008 referendum police departments hardly ever write the civil ticket.

One of the reasons is that there’s no law forcing people to give their real name to the officer writing the ticket — it doesn’t require proper ID or force them to pay the fines.

“They could say their name was Mickey Mouse, and we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it,” one officer said.

That means if a ticket does get written, there’s rarely any follow up.

If this new petition passes, then theoretically it would pile more fines onto an ordinance that’s already unworkable — unless the city’s law department, via a home rule petition, drafted an ordinance that both tightens up the enforcement of the state’s existing pot possession laws and adds Breault’s increases to it.

Or, with the city facing a $14 million budget deficit for next year (and the state’s between $1.8 and $2 billion), maybe it’s time for local politicians to encourage the passage of this and find some entrepreneurs to set up shop in Worcester.

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Another arbitrator rules in favor of Rawlston

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

(Background history here and here.)

Arbitrator Roberta Golick (who serves as president of the National Academy of Arbitrators) ruled Tuesday that the latest case brought forth by the city against terminated Worcester police officer David Rawlston fit the mold of previous hearings that have gone in Rawlston’s favor, ruling:

“The discharge of David Rawlston on February 18, 2010, was not for just cause. Rawlston is entitled to immediate reinstatement to the active payroll, with full back pay and benefits, including demonstrable lost overtime”.

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The battle isn’t over: Worcester vs. the Asian Longhorned Beetle

Ginny Kingsbury, Worcester resident and self proclaimed “Advocate for the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program” has been working hard at spreading the news of the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation in Worcester, and sent us this informative essay that we wanted to share…

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Want to see 400+ pages of DESE documents and emails?

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

We’ve posted about Muckrock.com before (and for those of you who don’t know what it is, read this handy Phoenix article) but this time it’s even more relevant.

We asked the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for more information from their investigations in MCAS testing at Belmont and Goddard through Muckrock in part because they deal with most of the hassles, but also because they post all the documents online in one neat, organized reader.

In all we received nearly 500 pages from the DESE, though 377 were in the form of a powerpoint called the “Data District Tool Kit.” As we’ve previously written about, not much came from the Belmont request but we managed a few more details out of Goddard.

You can see the workings of the DESE and DOE as they handled the Goddard issues internally, the conversation between the DESE and Superintendent Boone, where the test increases caught the DOE’s attention and a semi-handy time line of events.

Another great service from Muckrock is you can see the exact wording of my records request and compare what I asked for to what I received.

Check it all out here.

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No city council meeting tonight

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

As we celebrate Washington’s Birthday (that’s what the feds call it) and think of all that General/President George has given us (liberty, freedom, stigma-free wooden teeth), let us also remember what his birthday has taken away: a city council meeting.

No meeting tonight, concerned citizens. In its place I give you this clip of an actor reading the minutes from a 1996 Wasilla, Alaska town meeting.

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This club can’t even handle me right now

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

From this morning’s Telegram:

An online video allegedly showing the beating of a patron inside the locked bathroom of a Southbridge Street strip club last year has led to the arrest of a bouncer at that club.

Easton Byfield, 35, of Thayer Pond Drive, Oxford, was arrested Friday night and charged with assault and battery, kidnapping, unarmed robbery and filing a false crime report. Records show he was arrested at Platinum Premier, 241 Southbridge St. He is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in Worcester Central District Court.

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Can’t see the district for the schools

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

As we wade through the information we’ve gotten from the state regarding MCAS testing at Belmont Street Community School and the Goddard School of Science and Technology (our coverage here, here and most recently here, not to mention Gary Rosen’s fiesty columns), a quick line in a T&G editorial footnote from Wednesday caught my eye:

Some students thrive on pressure. But in a world where tests such as MCAS are viewed as make-or-break steps in one’s school career, many students would love to find a way to reduce stress and improve performance.

I don’t mean to pick on our brothers (and sisters) from another publisher, after all the writer was just looking for a lede to a short piece on boosting student performance before a big test, but it does show that after a decade people still have misconceptions about what the MCAS is.

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