Good as Gold Coffee has an air of staying power

Cream, sugar … computer? Worcester’s Good as Good Coffee has a high-tech new take on making coffee precisely the way customers like and expect it. The company’s new Airis brand and heated air-driven process are all about replicating the roast — and keeping one of the city’s longstanding success stories steaming toward the future.

On Beacon Hill: Sins of the husband [+video]

Recap and analysis of the week in local, state and federal government from State House News Service and Sun research.

BOSTON — The national sexual harassment scandal got a face in Massachusetts last week – the visage of Senate President Stanley Rosenberg’s husband.

All other dealings on Beacon Hill were blocked out like an eclipse by the bombshell report in The Boston Globe that Rosenberg’s husband of one year, Bryon Hefner, had allegedly sexually assaulted at least four men.

Three of the men, who all work in the political arena and shared their stories anonymously, claim that Hefner grabbed their genitals in social settings, sometimes with the Senate president mere feet away. Another alleged that Hefner forcibly kissed him as he bragged about the clout he wielded over a legislative body for which he didn’t work and never served.

Gov. Charlie Baker, who has worked closely with Rosenberg for years, was the first to call for a full investigation hours after the story broke, but he was followed by others, including Rosenberg himself, who gave his blessing for Senate Majority Leader Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester, and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, to spearhead a full probe that Rosenberg, who intends to retain his title for now, will recuse himself from.

An Amherst-based Democrat, Rosenberg seemed to be clinging to the edge of a cliff Friday as staff, Chandler and Tarr huddled in the office next to the president’s hashing out a plan to bring on a special investigator to look into the allegations against Hefner, including impacts on Senate operations.

Watch: Rosenberg addresses Hefner accusations

Visibly shaken by the allegations against his husband, Rosenberg faced the cameras roughly 24 hours after Hefner’s alleged transgression were put on public display in what Rosenberg called the “most difficult time” in his political and personal life.

Rosenberg announced in a prepared statement that Hefner would be seeking in-patient treatment for alcohol dependence, and he encouraged anyone with a story to tell to come forward without fear of retribution. The Globe reported the four men were still not ready to take that step, but the door has been opened.

Rosenberg also said he was confident the investigation would show that Hefner had no influence over Senate business. “If Bryon claimed to have influence over my decisions or over the Senate, he should not have said that. It is simply not true,” Rosenberg said.

The only two men to call outright for Rosenberg to resign or step aside as Senate president were Republican candidates for office. U.S. Senate candidate John Kingston and state Senate candidate Dean Tran spoke out on Thursday, while the Democrats running for governor remained silent.

MassGOP followed up Friday with blast emails to local media posing a series of questions that it said Democratic senators should answer, the first being, “Do you still have confidence in him and his leadership of the chamber?” The party also suggested that Rosenberg’s claims of being unaware of his husband’s alleged behavior were “dubious.”

“Democrat Senators have questions to answer about the Senate President’s leadership — given that they have the ability to determine his future. The MassGOP is committed to holding these Democrats accountable on behalf of voters, who deserve answers,” said MassGOP spokesman Terry MacCormack.

The State House may have been lousy with rumors of succession planning and senators angling to fill the void if and when Rosenberg were to step aside, but those senators were adamantly denying the water-cooler talk … for now. Succession talk is not a topic lawmakers usually like to go public with — loyalty playing the role that it does in politics — but there’s a time and a place for everything, and senators appeared to be struggling with that question.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • More on the Hefner harassment accusations
  • Markey on World AIDS Day, McGovern on Russia probe
  • Legislature OKs $2.7 million for pot panel operations
  • Watch: Tarr on Hefner, Rosenberg and what’s next
  • State DAs poised to reverse thousands of tainted convictions

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 220]: Dreaming of a green Christmas

No matter whom you direct your prayers to, the holiday season is a time of giving and sharing, and doing one’s level best to find and spread a little more joy — especially in these divisive times.

And as the state continues to go to pot, marijuana advocates and entrepreneurs are poised to spread their particular brand of contentment as far and wide as cities and towns are willing to accept.

Worcester leaders have an idea of their limits, and Hitch, for one, has certainly reached his.

Worcester Weekly: stART at the Station, two strolls, ‘Wonderful Life’ + more, Dec. 3-9

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Sunday, Dec. 3 — stART at the Station, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Grand Hall and Concourse, Union Station, Washington Square  This is the stop to get gift shopping stARTed and your holidays on track. Some 135 local artisans will be on hand with items that are beautiful, unusual, useful or whimsical. There will be a stART Lounge, too, with a lineup of local performers, offering a break from the crafts and/or crowds. Organizers promise wider aisles this year, but trust us, this thing is chaotic — in a merry sort of way.

Admission is free; early entry from 9 to 11 a.m. costs $10, which will support stART and could get you first dibs on some of the delights. Parking is $1 at the Union Station Garage at 225 Franklin St.

Inbox [Dec. 3-9]: News and notes from WCAC, YWCA, Worcester Center for Crafts, Straight Ahead Ministries and Worcester Public Library

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Chick-fil-A Foundation awards $50K grant to Straight Ahead Ministries

Straight Ahead Ministries, a local character-development program for juvenile offenders, has been named the recipient of a $50,000 grant through The Chick-fil-A Foundation’s fourth annual True Inspiration Awards. The awards honor organizations across the country that are working hard to make a lasting difference in the lives of children and youth in their communities.

Straight Ahead Ministries aims to provide ongoing support and resources for juvenile offenders through its faith-based programming. This intensive program includes job-readiness training, educational support and service opportunities. By connecting with youth during their sentence and continuing after their release, Straight Ahead Ministries helps adolescents become self-sufficient, productive members of their communities.

WPI professors: Data science can help us fight human trafficking

Traffickers leave a data trail, however faint or broken, despite their efforts to operate off the grid and in the shadows. There is an opportunity – albeit a challenging one – to use the bits of information we can get on the distribution of victims, traffickers, buyers and exploiters, and disrupt the supply chain wherever and however we can.

Mariano: Thanksgiving turkeys for all

“Unfortunately, in our nation’s capital and right here in Worcester, we have a number of turkeys, both large and small, that did not qualify for a presidential pardon. In fact, we have a rafter of them.”

Up Next: City poised to set tax rates

While the city is flush with free cash and increasingly quick to trumpet its enviable financial situation, Worcester residents and businesses are likely to be digging in the couch cushions for a little “free cash” of their own once the City Council determines the dual tax rates at Tuesday’s meeting.

City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. used $250,000 from free cash to reduce the city’s tax levy to about $293.5 million, some $11 million more than last year but nearly $14 million below what the city could ask from its taxpayers.

Courtesy NAMI Mass

Edward M. Augustus Jr.

But still, with the spike in property values across the city, especially residential properties, even staying at last year’s rates of $19.22 per $1,000 of assessed value for residential and $32.93 for commercial, industrial and personal property, the average bills would rise $179 and $83, respectively.

[Scroll down to page 62 of the embedded PDF document below.]

A Mother’s Journey: The tipping point

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

In his debut book “The Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell wrote: “In the late 1960s, a television producer named Joan Ganz Cooney set out to start an epidemic. Her target was three-, four-, and five-year-olds. Her agent of infection was television, and the ‘virus’ she wanted to spread was literacy. The show would last an hour and run five days a week, and the hope was that if that hour was contagious enough it could serve as an educational Tipping Point: giving children from disadvantaged homes a leg up once they began elementary school, spreading pro-learning values from watchers to non-watchers, infecting children and their parents, and lingering long enough to have an impact well after the children stopped watching the show. … She called her idea ‘Sesame Street.’ ”

Gladwell calls this the stickiness factor. In discovering that making “small but critical adjustments in how they presented ideas to preschoolers,” Malcolm wrote, “they could overcome television’s weakness as a teaching tool and make what they had to say memorable.”

In concept, I, too, look to produce such an epidemic of proportionate educational value that the children who attend The Learning Hub will generate a level of stickiness for us, so that we start to discuss more serious methods of how we teach our children in our public schools. We want them to have a leg up as they make their way through the winding paths of what is our current school system.

But as many parents like me believe, the current school system is not up to par, and with that void in the market, the Hub’s stickiness factor can be a bit more contagious.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The shape of the city, or scroll down to explore more of her story.