Sina-cism: Railers follow in IceCats’, Sharks’ tracks — but, how closely?

The season opener for the Worcester Railers — the city’s third minor-league hockey franchise in recent history — is being seen by some as a chance to net success where the previous two clubs, the IceCats and Sharks, failed.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

I wish the Railers good luck, but how wrongheaded to think of the IceCats and Sharks as failed teams.

The IceCats arrived here in 1994 from Springfield, played 11 American Hockey League seasons, then left for Peoria, Illinois. They are now the AHL’s Utica Comets. The Sharks, after nine years in Worcester, are now the San Jose Barracuda, sharing an arena with their parent, the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.

The list of current and former AHL teams is long. With a few exceptions — the Hershey Bears (1938), Rochester Americans (1956), and Providence Bruins (1992) — AHL teams come and go with great frequency. Many number their seasons in single digits.

Sina-cism: DACA’s demise clears way for real reform

The world in 2017 is too populous, complex and dangerous a place to simply admit anyone who claims to share our ideals. There are rules to be followed.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program is not about cruelty. It’s not about sending the “best and brightest” back to countries where they have no ties of family, culture, or language. It’s not about damaging the economy.

The end of DACA — which will be done as an orderly, six-month phase-out — is about respecting the rule of law and forcing Congress to do its job.

In 2012, President Obama, frustrated by Congress’ failure to adequately address the fate of millions of illegal aliens, issued an executive order creating DACA. The program encouraged those with no legal claim to be in the United States to come out of the shadows and apply for a work permit and a two-year (renewable) period during which they could not be deported.

Many, including myself, warned then that DACA was a bad idea. By circumventing Congress, Obama was giving hope to millions, but without conferring any of the rights citizens enjoy. By encouraging illegals to come forward, the government was gaining key information that could come back to haunt those very people should there be a change in policy.

Related Sina-cism: The real line on immigration, and how Obama crossed it

Some say that haunting has now begun.

Sina-cism: An Italian coast steeped in history

If the Amalfi Coast isn’t all that it used to be, blame John Steinbeck.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

In May 1953, Steinbeck published his essay “Positano” in Harper’s Bazaar, bringing the picturesque fishing villages of the Italian coast south of Naples to the attention of an increasingly affluent American public.

“Nearly always when you find a place as beautiful as Positano,” Steinbeck wrote, “your impulse is to conceal it. You think, ‘If I tell, it will be crowded with tourists and they will ruin it, turn it into a honky-tonk and then the local people will get touristy and there’s your lovely place gone to hell.’ There isn’t the slightest chance of this in Positano.”

Steinbeck was mistaken. Never underestimate the lure of a beautiful seaside town, or the ingenuity of Italians when it comes to packing more motor scooters, cars, tour buses and visitors than you can imagine into a town that has literally no place to grow.

More world-traveling Sina-cism: Finding a kindred spirit in Budapest

Sina-cism: Echoes of the battle of Charlottesville

It is easy to say that the violence seen in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 has no place in modern America, least of all in a liberal enclave that is home to Thomas Jefferson’s stately temple of learning, the University of Virginia.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Easy, but untrue.

For the racial epithets, bloodied faces and sickening sight of a vehicle plowing into a crowd are not only real, but they are the inevitable consequence of the historical ignorance that characterizes partisans of the right and the left in our time.

To be sure, the immediate cause of the clashes was the decision by white nationalist and white supremacist groups to protest the renaming of two parks that had long borne the names of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Had they stayed home, Aug. 12 would have been another beautiful summer Saturday in a beautiful Southern town.

Mariano: Trump must go

Sina-cism: If taxpayers don’t pay, PawSox can come

Twice in recent years I have signed postcards urging the Boston Red Sox organization to consider moving their top minor-league affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, to Worcester. But in doing so, I felt a bit like the utility relief pitcher who’s brought into the middle of a 14-3 game to soak up innings and save the arms of the real players.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

In short, I don’t think the PawSox are coming.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to see additional development, including minor-league baseball. Like thousands of others, I enjoy frequenting the Canal District, and have been impressed with the development there.

I love that the gentrifying places like Bocado Tapas Bar and BirchTree Bread Company rub elbows with the blue-collar likes of Table Talk Pies. I’m excited by Allen Fletcher’s proposal for a $20 million commercial development of the current combination mudhole and parking lot between Green and Harding streets. And the thrill-a-second intersections are priceless for entertainment.

Like many, I wonder each time I drive or walk past the vacant Wyman-Gordon property why no one has yet found the right combination of ideas and funding to take the next leap in the neighborhood’s evolution. While I had no appetite for a slots parlor on the site, baseball would suit me fine. And yes, the rumor mill has been in overdrive since late June, largely because Worcester officials and former Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, current PawSox chairman and co-owner, toured the city, including the Canal District and potential ballpark site nearby.

Sina-cism: An integrity commission that has none

I’m not nearly as much into baseball these days as I was in my youth, but I have to admit I am enjoying watching some hardball this summer — the kind going on between the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and several states.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

The commission was created May 11 by the signature of President Donald Trump, who seems as incredulous about Hillary Clinton’s 2.85-million-vote margin in the popular vote as many Americans are incredulous about his 77-vote victory in the Electoral College.

The commission’s purported mission is to ensure the fairness and integrity of the electoral process by collecting detailed electoral and demographic data.

Now, from a mathematical perspective, it is surely true not every one of the more than 130 million ballots cast last November was legitimate. Americans move a lot. Municipal voting records are not always up to date. Clerical errors are made. Even machines err.

But mathematics also assures us that however many ballots were illegitimate, it wasn’t remotely close to 2.85 million. This Washington Post piece makes the case for why the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is an absurdity. Democrats did not “steal” the popular vote — a meaningless concept — any more than Republicans stole the Electoral College.

Sina-cism: Bee regulations? How about doing nothing?

It’s the height of summer, and the honeybees of Worcester and Central Massachusetts are going about their business, safe for now from the tender ministrations of the City Council, which in late June took up a reform of agricultural rules that could impose various regulations upon the city’s 60 or so beekeepers.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

The proposed rules, which were shunted off to a subcommittee, seem innocuous enough. They include a requirement that beekeepers notify any neighbors within a 300-foot radius, limit the number of hives, restrict them to the sides or back portions of property, and keep them at least five feet from property lines. Beekeepers would be required to obtain a permit, submit a diagram of plans, and be subject to fines for violations.

Such stuff brings to mind the Monty Python skit in which John Cleese seeks a license for his pet bee, Eric.

I’m not sure whether life is imitating art or vice versa, but I am certain that anyone who grew up around or maintains beehives understands these creatures are both vital to the pollination of many of the crops we rely upon, and — when left alone — are extremely unlikely to cause any harm.

Sina-cism: A bevy of beach options for bibliophiles

It’s the height of summer, and before the long days, beach retreats and campground sojourns pass us completely by, I am — as I did last summer — offering nine suggestions for your vacation reading. The first eight are books I’ve read between June and September in years gone by.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

It takes optimism to push reading.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual Time Use Survey, Americans in 2016 spent an average of about 17 minutes per day reading. On the brighter side, at least we’re still buying books. Nielsen BookScan reported in January that sales of print books rose 3.3 percent in 2016 over the previous year.

Check out: Last year’s summer reading list

My purpose isn’t to induce you to read eight books. If you read just one of the following, or even enjoy and derive value from one chapter or even a single page of any of these, my goal will have been met.

Last year I avoided being too serious, but I think 2017 demands seriousness. If you’re looking for light beach reading, I cannot help. If you want books to engage your political sensibilities, improve your mental health and make you think, read on.

Sina-cism: Lawmakers can’t resist stirring the pot

Advocates of marijuana legalization are pleased following agreement last Monday among House and Senate negotiators on Beacon Hill on an implementation package for recreational marijuana sales.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

I understand the short-term euphoria. By July 1, 2018, you will be able to purchase marijuana legally in a state once dominated by Puritan morality and blue laws.

“While we don’t approve of every provision of this bill, we are satisfied that the outcome will serve the interests of Massachusetts residents and allow the Commonwealth to displace the unregulated marijuana market with a system of taxation and regulation,” said Matthew Schweich of the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group behind last November’s ballot initiative.

But will this legislation create a well-regulated marijuana market, suppress illicit drugs, yield reliable state tax revenue in the long term and pass constitutional muster?

More Sina-cism: Why healthcare reform will happen

Sina-cism: Why healthcare reform will happen

Any healthcare reform requires that consumers have sufficient affordable options to induce them to participate voluntarily. There are many paths to that goal, but none of them will be reached so long as crossing the political aisle means committing political suicide.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Upon passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, conventional wisdom suggested the law would extend medical coverage to many Americans without it, while failing to curb costs.

Seven years later, that prognosis appears to have been largely on target.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of Americans without healthcare insurance fell from 16 percent in 2010, to just 8.9 percent in the first half of 2016. On the other hand, many Americans were unable to retain the plans and doctors they had, and many have faced sharply higher premiums and deductibles.

And in some states and counties, insurers have withdrawn from participation in public insurance options, leaving some consumers with but a single choice.

In the wake of a Republican electoral victory last November, conventional wisdom suggested the GOP would move quickly to reform or entirely repeal Obamacare. But Republicans have struggled to do so, in part because parts of the law are popular, and in part because GOP senators remain deeply divided on what reform should look like.

But unless Americans are ready for a single-payer system, which I doubt, some kind of Obamacare reform is a near certainty.