Editorial: Trump’s anti-transgender maneuver

After six months of skirmishes with the press, political foes, facts and protocol, President Trump sent out tweets last week that stood out from the pack.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” the president wrote Wednesday morning. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”


This surprise attack on transgender people serving in the military was disruptive, puzzling, petty and ill-informed — even by America’s new lowered standards for presidential forthrightness and clarity. The move also reversed a campaign promise to serve as a friend to the LGBTQ community.

Editorial: On immigration, Republicans become party of big government

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Monday that police officers do not have the authority to detain immigrants solely at the request of federal immigration officials.

“In the case of Commonwealth v. Sreynuon Lunn, the court concluded that ‘nothing in the statutes or common law of Massachusetts authorizes court officers to make a civil arrest in these circumstances,’ ” State House News Service reported.

The facts are straightforward: “After the sole pending criminal charge against him was dismissed, the petitioner, Sreynuon Lunn, was held by Massachusetts court officers in a holding cell at the Boston Municipal Court at the request of a Federal immigration officer, pursuant to a Federal civil immigration detainer,” the SJC decision states.

“Immigration detainers like the one used in this case, for the purpose of that process, are therefore strictly civil in nature,” the opinion continues. “The removal process is not a criminal prosecution. The detainers are not criminal detainers or criminal arrest warrants. They do not charge anyone with a crime, indicate that anyone has been charged with a crime, or ask that anyone be detained in order that he or she can be prosecuted for a crime.”

Editorial: Safer, saner streets in Worcester

Streets that are as safe as they can be for drivers and pedestrians is an obvious and important goal for any community.

Not so obvious is how best to achieve this.

Reducing the citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour — a measure the City Council mulled last week — is one way to proceed. But we question whether that would be a truly effective route toward better safety.

The idea is allowable under the broad Municipal Modernization Act, enacted last year. The legislation allows cities and towns in Massachusetts to establish a 25 mph speed limit on roads that are not state highways and that lie within thickly settled or business districts.

Municipalities may also, if they choose, designate “safety zones” on such roads, with a posted speed limit of 20 miles per hour.

At the suggestion of Councilor-at-large Kathleen M. Toomey, chairperson of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, the council at its July 18 meeting asked the city administration to study lowering the citywide speed limit. The idea has already been adopted by Boston and several other municipalities. Springfield jumped on the 25-mph bandwagon last week.

Editorial: The war against mom-and-pop package stores

There’s certainly a lot to like in the message: “standing up for consumers.”

Then there’s the group’s name, Mass. Consumers First, which is echoed in the banner at the top of the page that screams “CONSUMERS FIRST.”

It’s all part of an effort to “modernize” state laws governing the sale of beer, wine and spirits.

The creator of this initiative is Total Wine & More, the Maryland-based retail giant with stores in Shrewsbury, Danvers, Natick and Everett. It has 159 locations in 20 states.

“Total Wine & More has a long track record as a proven consumer ally, and this new Consumers First campaign will promote sensible and much-needed updates to Massachusetts’ alcohol sale laws,” Ed Cooper, Total Wine’s VP of public affairs and community relations, said in a company press release.

Its website states: “Did you know that retailers in Massachusetts, by law, cannot pass along the savings they receive from wholesalers for bulk purchases to consumers? Are you aware that Massachusetts is one of the few states where liquor stores cannot offer loyalty rewards to their customers? Have you ever wondered why stores’ hours of operation are curtailed on Sundays? These issues and more are rooted [in] Prohibition-era fearmongering about alcohol consumption, or were sought by incumbent retailers hoping to keep out the competition.

“We think it’s time for a change.”

But, as the adage goes, if something looks too good to be true …

Paris Cinema

Editorial: Take us to the movies, developers

We’ll always have Paris? Not in Worcester, we won’t.

The old Paris Cinema saw the end credits roll 11 years ago, and now the building itself has bowed out of downtown. Demolition crews arrived on Franklin Street last week to make way for a beer garden on that spot.

One thing that hasn’t changed: There’s still no full-time movie theater downtown.

The Brew Garden will be a huge plus, bringing diners and other diversion-seekers to an airy, attractive space. But the Paris Cinema — and Showcase Cinemas (which closed 19 years ago), the Bijou Cinema (13 years gone), and predecessors — had the right idea in their heydays.

Editorial: More training programs needed to meet demand for skilled workers

More than 3.5 million Massachusetts residents are employed.

That’s a problem.

It’s not a problem that it’s the highest number ever for the state. Nor is it a problem because the unemployment rate of 4.2 percent outpaces the national average of 4.4 percent.

It’s a problem because that number could be and should be higher, much higher. And not addressing the root cause of that problem has wide-ranging effects on both the population and the economy.

Businesses are increasingly finding it hard to find employees. This inability can mean businesses hiring to grow, or simply to keep up with current demand, cannot do so.

Editorial: Ensuring safe play should be priority for Worcester leaders

We’re used to the thump-thump of basketballs in summer. If there’s a hoop to aim at, kids all over the city will shoot layups and jump shots to sharpen skills and kill some free time.

No one would have expected — and no one should accept — the sound heard by a Worcester teenager at Holland Rink Playground on June 30.

Kadisha Evans had been practicing free throws at the little-known city park on Lincoln Street when the backboard and its heavy steel support structure crashed to the pavement.

“It was so scary,” she told the Telegram & Gazette. “What if it fell on me? It was really, really loud, to the point I didn’t even know what was going on.”

The city should count its lucky stars the structure didn’t fall on her — and should react as decisively as if it had.

Editorial: Lack of budgets bad sign for Mass., other states

When Massachusetts legislators failed to produce a budget for the fiscal year that began on Saturday, there was little-to-no uproar.

After all, Gov. Charlie Baker and lawmakers had previously agreed on a $5.5 billion interim budget to carry the commonwealth through July.

As legislators hammer out their differences in a budget likely to exceed $40 billion, they do so against a backdrop of lower-than-expected revenue in an economy that keeps creating jobs.

Lest you think this problem is specific to Massachusetts, news since Saturday shows it is more widespread than you would think. And this is not good.

Editorial: A week’s worth of fireworks in Worcester

Worcester just enjoyed a week of dazzlers — and that’s not even counting Friday’s Independence Day fireworks display.

The succession of positive news flashes runs the gamut, and in some cases calls for patience or for optimism tempered by caution. But in the glow of a holiday stretch and with summer just getting started, we might as well sit back and enjoy it.

In terms of practicality and overall impact, the Central Building at 332 Main St. may be the biggest cause for celebration in Worcester’s good-news week.

Until a couple of years ago, the former office building had been on the demolition list. On Wednesday, the state announced that it will help redevelop it for housing. Of 55 apartments planned, 14 will be “workforce housing,” meaning they will go to people who have jobs but still can’t afford market-rate rents.

Editorial: Another year shortchanging our students

With the school year over and the end of the state’s fiscal year just days away it seems an appropriate time to lament another missed opportunity to address the inadequate funding of the commonwealth’s public schools.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal included an increase of $91.4 million over fiscal 2017, to a total of $4.72 billion. The House ($15 million) and Senate ($40 million) each appropriated more in their budgets, which are now being reconciled before being sent to Baker.

While the increases are certainly a welcome development, they do little to address what many consider a long-term funding deficit and miscalculation of how those funds are distributed to municipalities. This is despite the fact that local education aid, known as Chapter 70, has increased an average of $126 million per year from 2011, according to a State House News Service article.

The state’s education funding formula, little changed since education reform was passed in 1993, has been shown to shortchange districts by $1 billion to $2 billion per year, according to the 2015 report of the Foundation Budget Review Commission.