Inbox [Aug. 9]: News and notes from Worcester jail, Greenwood Industries, Ball Consulting, Spectrum Health, WCTI, WCAC and Worcester Common Ground

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.

Worcester County House of Correction receives funding for new opioid use program

The Worcester County House of Correction is one of five in the state that will receive $100,000 to provide a wide range of pre- and post-release treatment and recovery services for incarcerated individuals with an opioid use disorder who are within two months of release.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced the Medication Assisted Treatment Re-Entry Initiative for Houses of Correction (MATRI-HOC) program on Monday.

Mandell: A San Francisco/East Bay wake-up call — will Worcester’s renaissance benefit all?

No, this is not India, but the United States. How can this injustice be sustainable? How would it be different here if we all were committed to building fair, healthy and loving places? Maybe I do need the Kleenex the homeless man tried to give me on the BART train ride. … Not only is the renaissance on the horizon, but we need to plan for the negative impacts of growth as well — that many of us will be closed out of its benefits.

On Beacon Hill: No detour for sales tax on Holiday Road

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

BOSTON — Hotel, motel, Chatham Bars Inn?

Turns out deciding where to holiday can be more complicated this time of year than choosing between the Cape, the Berkshires or Nantucket. It also means figuring out whether to go to Best Buy in Everett or Nashua, N.H.

Lawmakers slunk away from Beacon Hill without acting on bills that would have established a sales-tax-free weekend sometime this August.

No one said a word, but one might have guessed at that point that the decision had been made to forgo a sales tax holiday this summer for just the third time in the past 14 years. After a year of wringing their hands over disappointing tax collections, leaders are loath to give up a revenue source, even if it might mean cheaper school supplies for constituents and a boon for some small businesses.

Gov. Charlie Baker, however, didn’t seem to want to play that guessing game. And despite vetoing $320 million from the fiscal 2018 budget, he apparently feels a few million dollars lost in August can be overcome.

The governor filed a bill last Wednesday to make the weekend of Aug. 19-20 a sales tax holiday. Sure, he could have just issued a statement calling on the Legislature to return from its recess and pass one of the several tax holiday bills already filed this session, But he didn’t. He filed his own, and it was just about dead on arrival.

Sam Doran / State House News Service

House Speaker Robert DeLeo

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Baker’s decision to file legislation, especially in the first week of August, made “little sense,” and Rep. Jay Kaufman, a Lexington Democrat and Revenue Committee chairman who views these tax holidays as little more than gimmicks, said what DeLeo seemed unwilling to.

Baker’s bill would not get through committee.

So why did Baker file it?

Well perhaps it was just coincidence, but it also came the same day Baker decided that he would sign off on $200 million in new fees and fines on employers to help pay for MassHealth without the reforms that he, and groups like the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, had been insisting on as part of a package.

Rather than force House and Senate Democrats to override a veto and deal with the story line all summer that he and the Legislature were at odds, the governor chose to do something he’s hoping won’t become famous last words.

“The Legislature told us they would work with us on this, and we’re going to take them at their word,” he said.

The National Federation of Independent Business said it was “incredibly disappointed” in Baker, but other business groups, including Associated Industries of Massachusetts, struck a more diplomatic tone.

“While this is certainly not the outcome we hoped for, we recognize that the governor’s decision is carefully considered and designed to achieve the ultimate, long-term goal of substantive MassHealth reform,” AIM President Rick Lord said.

Even with the olive branch from Baker, the retailers seem to have just about reached a breaking point. With the deadline arriving to file language to reserve a spot on the 2018 ballot, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts filed four possible ballot questions for next fall.

The group, frustrated by an inability to get what it wants through the legislative process, proposed lowering the sales tax from 6.25 percent to either 5 percent or 4.5 percent, and reserved their right to couple either proposal with an annual two-day sales tax holiday.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Legislators return, but not for legislating
  • Fiscal 2018 tax collections hit first-month benchmark
  • McGovern on ‘a better deal,’ Warren on improving GI Bill, Markey on Trump
  • Moore-sponsored disability protection bill gets public hearing
  • Baker makes choices for marijuana advisory panel

Tips from the Pros: Top six myths about MBEs

Myths have a negative impact on MBE [minority business enterprise] success because legends can reinforce or encourage bad decisions by aspiring entrepreneurs and MBEs — decisions that can be critical and sometimes fatal to the establishment or growth of the businesses. Joset Wright-Lacy, president of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, explains.

Editorial: Investments big and small

For those who follow the news, that Worcester is in the midst of a mind-boggling run of private investment in the city is not a shock. The grand announcements, ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings have lately come at a breakneck pace. In the wake of these types of mega deals we’re left with large-scale projects we refer to with one- or two-word names:

  • Grid District
  • Harding Green
  • Former courthouse
  • Central Building
  • Homewood Suites
  • A.C. Marriott
  • 145 Front

…and the list goes on.

The large-scale developments in the city have benefits that far outweigh even the most lofty price tags. Investments in Worcester affirm the value we place in the city in which we live, work and play. It is a sign that people outside Worcester see what we see: a city that inspires and aspires.

Alas, a majority of the plans you read or hear about are downtown. It’s understandable, of course. The push to remake downtown as an 18-hour destination is in its second decade and each success along the way fosters the belief in what can be achieved in the long run.

However, a vibrant and growing city is more than just major downtown developments. It’s also property owners throughout the city building or rebuilding properties out of the limelight and without fanfare.

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.”

Meat and greet: Fairway Beef’s Sigel, customers share unbreakable bond

Survivor Series is an occasional series highlighting Worcester businesses that have stood the test of time. Do you know of a long-running business with a unique story that fits the bill? Contact us at info@worcester.ma.

It’s got character — and characters — charisma and class.

It’s also a microcosm of the American Dream. A 7-year-old Russian immigrant comes to the United States, eventually lands in Worcester, and grows up to own his own business. And leaves a legacy of success to his four sons.

Seventy-one years later, Fairway Beef stands in the same place as a testament to hard work, community, endurance and pride — a success story built on hard work, integrity and low prices for consumers.

If one visits the establishment and concludes, “They certainly don’t make ‘em like that anymore,” that’s the best compliment anyone can offer, according to George Sigel, one of the four sons of Manny Sigel, that 7-year-old who arrived at Ellis Island.

Art Simas / For Worcester Sun

This big bovine will steer you in the right direction — if your’e looking for Fairway Beef.

Now 82, George is the front man. With the straw hat and big smile, you can’t miss him if you tried. His youngest brother, Jack, 66, also works at Fairway.

A Mother’s Journey: The inner-city detour

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

The gap between rich and the poor affects all aspects of American life. While it should never impact a child’s chance to receive a good education, there remains an obvious schism at the center of many a school-related controversy.

A pronounced funding rift is often cited as the main reason behind failing or underperforming schools, and more and more seems to be among the top determinants — along with parent engagement, which also lags in lower-income areas — of whether a child will excel in school or fall into the cracks of the nation’s achievement gap.

Founding The Learning Hub was an attempt to break through the barriers of financial disadvantages and shine a light on a group of students in inner cities that otherwise lack key supportive academic services.

From personal experience, I learned higher-income cities and towns equal more academic support services and better schools, while low-income towns and cities like Worcester consistently lack similar supports and struggling students are shuffled up through the ranks of what I see as a failing school system.

Last August, The Atlantic published, “Good School, Rich School; Bad School, Poor School,” and it remains one of my consistent motivators since launching The Hub. The article looks at the state of Connecticut and breaks down the school system based on location. It ultimately leads to an unsurprising finding: schools in better neighborhoods receive better access to wraparound services while schools in poor neighborhoods are left wanting.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The look of leadership, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

Inbox [July 23-29]: News and notes from Ascentria, Veterans Inc., Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, South Bay Community Services and Signature Chefs Auction

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.

Ascentria Care Alliance acquires skilled care facility

Worcester-based Ascentria Care Alliance, one of the largest human-services organizations in New England, has acquired the Laurel Ridge Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center in Jamaica Plain.

Ascentria administers a broad range of residential and community-based programs to meet the spectrum of needs of older adults and their families. Laurel Ridge complements those offerings as a 120-bed rehabilitation and skilled care center.