Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 210]: Quite a fright for WRTA and its riders

It’s not easy being in the bus business these days.

Everybody wants faster, cleaner, quieter — but nobody wants to pay for it. In Worcester, it seems, riders have been spooked.

The trick RTA administrators pulled earlier this year, hiking fares while trimming stops, has treated the organization’s coffers about how one might expect.

Hitch digs deep into his bag of goodies for this one.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 209]: A mixed bag of reactions to Holy Cross mascot-change crusade

The College of the Holy Cross is not only an imposing and influential institution in Worcester, but it has been known as a sort of bellwether for liberalism in the Catholic Church for decades, dating at least back to a 1974 Time article that called HC “the cradle of the Catholic left.”

And now the school’s Crusader mascot — potentially offensive to Muslims and Jews — is increasingly in the crosshairs, with a campus task force charged with making a recommendation to trustees by next year.

Hitch did his own research and found a few extra concerns.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 208]: Worcester and the Railers, love at first ice

Worcester is a town that likes to get its buzz on.

Whether it’s the Amazon and PawSox bids, City Square, the Canal District, airport and rail innovation, solar farms or yellow bicycles, as long as the Woo’s trending, the powers-that-be are happy.

Cliff Rucker and Worcester Railers HC have quickly become a driving force of buzz-worthiness, and the team’s debut to more than 12,000 raucous fans at the DCU Center pulsed even more electricity through downtown.

Hitch, for one, is charged up.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 207]: Gaffney makes offer Worcester can’t refuse

Michael Gaffney, one-time (self-proclaimed) People’s Councilor®, is getting out of Worcester politics — and nobody seems to be lining up to pull him back in.

The at-large right-wing rabble-rouser, who gave Mayor Joe Petty a legit run for his money in the 2015 election, suddenly and cryptically announced on his blog that he and his wife are abandoning their bids for City Council seats.

With Gaffney it always seemed to get personal, but now it appears city leaders might just return to strictly business.

Hitch checks in with the guy who’s really pulling the strings for a definitive answer.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 206]: Pot restrictions high on City Council wish list

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now have laws on the books legalizing marijuana to some extent.

And with California’s massive medical marijuana infrastructure expected to buoy a potential $7 billion recreational marketplace, experts see no end in sight to the pot shop proliferation.

In Worcester, up to 15 licenses could be awarded once state regulators open the floodgates next July. And city councilors want their say on where these retail outlets will put down roots.Hitch is hungry for answers.

Hitch is hungry for answers.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 205]: Last stop, Union Station

Whether it’s failed nightclubs or high-speed trains, improved commuter rail service to Boston or deficit spending, Union Station has a way of staying in the news — and in the hearts of so many residents and decision makers in our city.

It’s a monument not only to history but to the possibilities of tomorrow. But much like the covert entrance to its parking garage, there is another side rarely seen.

For far too many of our friends, coworkers, uncles and sisters it’s become the final destination of a life overtaken by opioid addiction. Hitch has thoughts.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 204]: Amazon-to-Worcester talk? It’s a jungle out there

Much like the top Red Sox affiliate moving to the Canal District, the prospect of online retail behemoth Amazon choosing Worcester for the site of its economy-changing HQ2 is a dream almost too sweet to wake up from.

And with visions of so many dollars and jobs and tax breaks dancing in their heads, chins have been wagging about the possibilities from Airport Hill to the Burns Bridge.

Of course, there are drawbacks, too, and plenty of warning signs back in Seattle. Pros and cons? Yeah, Hitch has some thoughts.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 203]: Warren and Markey, first responders

There are about 3.4 million people — Americans — living in Puerto Rico.

Nearly two weeks ago Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Yesterday, half of those Americans were still without drinking water and some two-thirds remained without electricity, including a few hospitals.

President Trump, as has become American custom, has been widely criticized for his callous, less-than-urgent response.

Never fear, though, Hitch says, because Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey are on the case.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 202]: In anticipation of Petty vs. Lukes

It’s been more than 20 years since the City Council gathered for its biannual group photo without Joe Petty and Konnie Lukes in the picture.

They’ve combined for eight years in the mayor’s office, too, Petty — less polarizing than Mariano or Levy and less ambitious than Murray — finishing his third term as entrenched as any mayor in the city’s recent history.

Lukes, of course, has never been known to shy away from a challenge.

With all that history together, Hitch sizes up the upcoming campaign.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 201]: Trump bashing? There’s a remote chance you’ll miss it

Even the best of our presidents had their flaws.

Transformational JFK was a legendary lecher (and not the only one). Washington and Jefferson were among those to infamously own slaves. The list goes on. But President Trump raises the ire of his opponents like few elected leaders in history.

His recent irresponsibly pandering speech and attack on the First Amendment rights of NFL players is merely the latest salvo from the Troll-in-Chief.

Hitch, for one, thinks it’s high time to change the channel.