Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 222]: Shining a light on Worcester tax relief

You can say one thing, for sure, about the city’s infamous and divisive dual tax rate: It tends to encourage a lively debate.

While talk is good, action is better.

And when it comes to taking action, the City Council continues to err on the side of trying to keep the majority of their constituents happy. Of course, when tax bills rise for residents and businesses alike, it’s tough to see a winner.

Hitch flips the switch on another predictable outcome.

A Mother’s Journey: Don’t starve the artists

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

Please stop asking the creative community to work for free.

If creative work adds value to your product, gives you more exposure to your brand, and generates an impact on your bottom line, then stop asking the creatives to submit work in exchange for “exposure.”

Don’t ask photographers to volunteer for your many events at no charge, don’t ask writers – an obvious sore spot for me – to submit several “specs” of work to prove themselves before hiring them, and don’t ask designers and marketers to create your brand, or promote your brand, for free as you sit back and reap the benefits.

The whole “We’d like to give you exposure in exchange for your work” bit is overrated, misguided and usually, false. Work is work. And no work should be done for free.

Trump vows to fight ‘fake news’ by cutting funds to cities

Wondering what the future could hold for capitalism and national pride in our city? Find out with author BJ Hill in the Sun’s serial glimpse into the fantastic, fascinating (and mostly fictional) possibilities of a not-so distant tomorrow.

WORCESTER, Jan. 17, 2019 — President Donald Trump shot back this week at what he calls “fake news” by threatening to defund cities in which “subversive or treasonous” media are based. “Met with GOP lawmakers to discuss setting up a Dept. of Truth. Must weed out fake news outlets before 2020 Election – Bad for Democracy!” President Trump tweeted yesterday morning.

At a White House press conference later in the day, White House Press Secretary Troy Chamberlain justified the move and outlined how the administration could apply pressure to make the so-called “fake news outlets” unwelcome in communities.

“Nothing is more important to America than its voters making well-informed choices based on facts,” said Mr. Chamberlain. “Rogue media that chooses to ignore the facts or make up its own truth is a poison. The last administration failed to take action, so it’s time we eliminate the threat to our citizens.”

Mr. Chamberlain went on to suggest steps the White House and Congress could take to wage the battle. These included withholding payments from the Highway Trust Fund. This was the carrot Congress dangled in 1984 to get states to raise their drinking ages to 21. All but five states acceded to that request.

Mr. Chamberlain also mentioned working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to deny grants to law enforcement agencies in cities and towns that “harbor fake news outlets.”

More What if … Worcester: Nothing but net profit — St. John’s hoop star scores big-league video game endorsement

Inbox [Dec. 9-16]: News and notes from DCU’s Toys for Tots, BayPath Elder Services, Webster Five and UniBank

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to 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.

DCU branches accepting Toys for Tots donations until Dec. 15

Digital Federal Credit Union wants to make sure that every child age 13 and under has a brand-new toy to unwrap this holiday season. DCU has joined forces with the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program to achieve this mission.

Since its founding in 1947, Toys for Tots has distributed 530 million toys to 244 million less-fortunate children across the United States and its territories.

Worcester Sun contracts for Worcester-themed crossword puzzles

WORCESTER, Mass. — DEC. 5 —  Worcester Sun, a subscription news website that is launching a weekly paid print newspaper on Dec. 9, announced today its print edition will contain one-of-a-kind Worcester-themed crosswords from renowned puzzle creator Frank Virzi. Virzi, a retired chemistry and biology teacher who lives in Holden, has contributed puzzles to some of the largest newspapers in the United States and is the author of 13 puzzle books.

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.

The Quad [Dec. 3-9]: Four things to know from Clark, Holy Cross, WPI and Anna Maria

Have campus news you or your college or university organization would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to Be sure to send a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and point Sun members your way.

Sen. Warren helms Dec. 8 Business Matchmaker event at Clark

Clark University will host the fourth annual Business Matchmaker event 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8 at Tilton Hall, 950 Main St. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will speak at the event for small-business owners and entrepreneurs, which is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Participants will learn how to sell to the government, gain certifications and connect with the right people. More than 20 buyers from federal agencies and large prime contractors will be on hand for one-on-one meetings.

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 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.

Nurse staffing levels likely to have major impact on 2018 health policy debate

BOSTON — The threat of ballot questions led the Legislature and Govs. Charlie Baker and Deval Patrick to pass healthcare laws in each of the past two legislative sessions, and the stars are aligning for a possible repeat scenario in 2018.

A spokeswoman for the coalition behind an initiative petition setting strict nurse staffing ratios in hospitals told State House News Service that organizers have collected more than the nearly 65,000 signatures needed to satisfy the largest signature requirement on the path to the 2018 ballot.

“We collected well over the required amount of required signatures, and ahead of the deadline, all were delivered to the cities and towns for certification,” said Kate Norton, spokeswoman for The Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care. “In fact, we have already received many certified signatures back from the municipalities.” The committee plans to turn its certified signatures in to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

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.