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.

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

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 185]: Holden Little League and the (David) Price of fame

With summer at its apex baseball season, from the big leagues to the Futures League to Little League, is at a fever pitch.

And while the Sox battle it out with the Yankees, and the Bravehearts vie for a playoff spot, a gaggle of 11- to 13-year-old all-stars from Holden recently brought home the town’s first state title — and now have a chance at the national stage.

What kind of motivation could a certified (or is it certifiable?) ace like David Price offer such a team on the rise? Hitch was wondering the same thing.

Casey Stengel and Worcester’s Baseball Hall of Fame connections

The most enduring name connecting Worcester to the National Baseball Hall of Fame is turn-of-the-century star Jesse Burkett, a two-time .400 hitter with a .338 career batting average whose namesake Little League on the city’s West Side became a part of hardball history itself by advancing to the 2002 Little League World Series.

Burkett, who married the former Ellen G. McGrath after his first season in Worcester and settled in the city until his death in 1953 — less than two weeks before the devastating Worcester Tornado killed 94 and injured more than 1,000 — is not alone on the Worcester-to-Cooperstown ledger.

Wikimedia Commons / The Sporting News / Charles M. Conlon

Jesse Burkett was a coach for the New York Giants in the early 1920s.

Indeed, there are three other enshrined stars whose careers brought them to Worcester — more on two of them and other luminaries later — but the most endearing and unforgettable character to share the lineage is the indefatigable and incomparable Casey Stengel, manager of the Mickey Mantle-era New York Yankees.

If you didn’t remember — or ever know — that the irrepressible Stengel’s famed managerial career got its start in Worcester, and included a complicated transaction that would live in baseball lore, you can surely be forgiven.

As the Hall of Fame inducts its newest class today, it seems a fitting time to take a dusty and mostly monochromatic trip down memory lane through the early days of Burkett, Stengel and baseball in Worcester.

Sina-cism: A bevy of beach options for bibliophiles

It’s the height of summer, and before the long days, beach retreats and campground sojourns pass us completely by, I am — as I did last summer — offering nine suggestions for your vacation reading. The first eight are books I’ve read between June and September in years gone by.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

It takes optimism to push reading.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual Time Use Survey, Americans in 2016 spent an average of about 17 minutes per day reading. On the brighter side, at least we’re still buying books. Nielsen BookScan reported in January that sales of print books rose 3.3 percent in 2016 over the previous year.

Check out: Last year’s summer reading list

My purpose isn’t to induce you to read eight books. If you read just one of the following, or even enjoy and derive value from one chapter or even a single page of any of these, my goal will have been met.

Last year I avoided being too serious, but I think 2017 demands seriousness. If you’re looking for light beach reading, I cannot help. If you want books to engage your political sensibilities, improve your mental health and make you think, read on.

Worcester Weekly: #Worcester100, Lobsta Laughs + more, July 30-Aug. 5

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

Quick note: Worcester Restaurant Week — which is actually two weeks long, because, y’know, math’s not our strong suit here in the Heart of the Commonwealth — begins Monday. If you didn’t know that already, you should probably just make it official and move to Springfield.

Tuesday, Aug. 1 — Medicinal Flora of Massachusetts exhibit, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Lamar Soutter Library, UMass Medical School, 55 Lake Ave. North  Boy, those doctors and scientists and researchers sure are clever. Excellent timing, too. Just as Gov. Charlie Baker finally signed the divisive and much-anticipated legal marijuana bill late last week, the smartypants down at UMass aim to highlight lesser-known herbal remedies that can be found among the Bay State’s greenery.

Worcester Weekly: Helping refugees, Canal District veggies + more, July 23-29

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

Road trip!

Sunday, July 23 — 2017 DockDogs Day, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Klem’s, 117 W. Main St., Spencer  Tommy used to work on the docks. Guess you could say, he’s been down on his luck — especially since the union went on strike. And without Tommy — or Bon Jovi — around the docks, well, they’ve gone to the dogs. It’s tough.

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.

Baker’s budget vetoes hit Worcester hard

Worcester’s four members of the state House of Representatives last week issued a statement trumpeting a number of spending priorities they were able to include in what was to be the state’s first $40 billion budget.

“I am very pleased with the budget put forth by the House this year, which demonstrates our commitment to exercising fiscal responsibility while making meaningful investments in programs and services that our constituents rely on most,” Rep. Dan Donahue said in the July 12 press release.

By the time Gov. Charlie Baker was through cutting more than $320 million and adjusting tax revenue projections Monday, the Legislature’s proposed $40.2 billion plan had been reined in to a $39.4 billion package — and eight of the 14 “budget priorities” totaling $535,000 in funds highlighted by the city’s delegation were among the vetoes, according to Erik Mayberg, chief of staff for Rep. John Mahoney.

Among the cuts were allocations to community center programs in a trio of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, plus earmarks for UMass Memorial Medical Center and the Worcester Public Library’s bookmobile program.

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 …