Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 188]: Beetles, barely — and other rare Worcester species

News came earlier this month that the once pervasive Asian longhorned beetle has all but disappeared from the Burncoat-area neighborhoods they once ravaged.

Some 35,000 trees in North Worcester, Boylston and West Boylston fell victim before years of vigilance quelled the scourge. That persistence is certainly missing in other corners of the city.

For Hitch, there is, indeed, a certain political animal that could use a wake-up call.

Sen. Moore: Solving the Alzheimer’s puzzle

Alzheimer’s permeates nearly every community in our country, forcing millions of families to suffer through the pain of having loved ones gradually forget the people and memories they previously cherished. The burden placed on these families can be overwhelming.

Veterans Inc.

Editorial: On Grove Street, an enduring and worthy cause

Many of us welcome any opportunity to thank our military veterans. In Worcester, through Veterans Inc., we also have an opportunity to serve them.

That opportunity will ramp up this fall. The agency expects to begin a capital campaign to renovate its Grove Street headquarters.

This is a worthy endeavor.

Veterans Inc. has proved its mettle for more than 25 years, bringing former servicemen and women back from the brink of homelessness, joblessness, addiction and loneliness.

“This place is magic,” U.S. Navy veteran James Whitley said in a recent video posted on the agency’s website. He is among many thousands of veterans from the Worcester area and throughout New England who have found camaraderie, caring, and life-changing assistance via Veterans Inc.

Sina-cism: An integrity commission that has none

I’m not nearly as much into baseball these days as I was in my youth, but I have to admit I am enjoying watching some hardball this summer — the kind going on between the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and several states.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

The commission was created May 11 by the signature of President Donald Trump, who seems as incredulous about Hillary Clinton’s 2.85-million-vote margin in the popular vote as many Americans are incredulous about his 77-vote victory in the Electoral College.

The commission’s purported mission is to ensure the fairness and integrity of the electoral process by collecting detailed electoral and demographic data.

Now, from a mathematical perspective, it is surely true not every one of the more than 130 million ballots cast last November was legitimate. Americans move a lot. Municipal voting records are not always up to date. Clerical errors are made. Even machines err.

But mathematics also assures us that however many ballots were illegitimate, it wasn’t remotely close to 2.85 million. This Washington Post piece makes the case for why the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is an absurdity. Democrats did not “steal” the popular vote — a meaningless concept — any more than Republicans stole the Electoral College.

Niki Tsongas

On Beacon Hill: Something to talk about

National Conference of State Legislatures

Sam Doran/State House News Service

The House Chamber was packed on Monday with legislative clerks from around the world who visited Boston for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Participating in a mock parliamentary session, from left, were Nigerian legislative officer Ramatu Ahmad, Ladi Hamalai of Nigeria’s Institute for Legislative Studies, and Aisha Mohammed of Nigeria’s House of Representatives.


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

The summer of 2007 in the Merrimack Valley was a time for backyard “PicNikis” and evening gatherings to get the latest “Tscoop On Tsongas” over a cone of your favorite flavor.

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas was mounting her first campaign for public office to succeed Marty Meehan — now the president of the University of Massachusetts system — in Congress, and the heat was on. Anything to get a crowd.

Fast-forward 10 years, and Tsongas found a different way to break the August monotony, announcing Wednesday that she would not be seeking a seventh full term to the U.S. House of Representatives. Just like that, Tsongas plugged the void of late summer on Beacon Hill, giving its denizens something to wag their tongues about.

Many state legislators spent the week shuttling between the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and the city’s varied landmarks, playing policy wonks by day and hosts with the most by night.

Legislative leaders wined and dined 6,000 of their colleagues from around the country at places like Fenway Park, the New England Aquarium and more as the National Conference of State Legislatures swept in and out of the city, leaving solid policy ideas, first impressions of Boston, and bar tabs in its wake.

But it was Tsongas — and more intriguingly, who might succeed her — that was the talk of the town.

Niki Tsongas

Niki Tsongas

Tsongas, in some ways, rode her famous last name to the halls of Capitol Hill. Her late husband, Paul Tsongas, held the same seat before being elected to the Senate and making a failed run for president in 1992.

But over the past decade, she made a name for herself. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Tsongas became a champion for veterans and, based on the accolades that poured in, a devotee to constituent services.

Given the rarity of open Congressional seats in Massachusetts, it would be political malfeasance for anyone who has ever harbored any ambition to go to Washington, D.C., to not at least think about what it would take to win the Tsongas seat next year. That’s probably why one needs more than two hands to count the number of elected, non-elected and former elected officials said to be weighing their options.

The list starts with the cast of characters who finished behind Tsongas in the 2007 special election Democratic primary. Sen. Eileen Donoghue, who finished second in that primary, and Sen. Jamie Eldridge and former Sen. Barry Finegold all said they are considering another run at the seat.

Massachusetts Sen. Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, also came in hot, quickly announcing that she was “eagerly exploring” the possibility of a campaign, and has been joined by 2014 lieutenant governor nominee Stephen Kerrigan; Meehan’s ex-wife and community hospital consultant Ellen Murphy Meehan; and City Hall “Boy Wonder” Dan Koh, chief of staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, whose well-known family hails from Andover.

The Third Congressional District, thanks in part to redistricting, will surely not be a solely Democratic affair, however. Republicans weighing a run, or looked to as possible candidates, include Mass Fiscal Alliance founder Rick Green, Sal’s Pizza founder Sal Lupoli and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke.

Central Mass. cities and towns in the Third Congressional District include  Ashburnham, Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Harvard, Lancaster, Lunenburg, Westminster and parts of Winchendon. Also, Ashby, Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Shirley, Stow and Townsend.

It’s hard to say how quickly the field might come together, given the ample time Tsongas has afforded her would-be successors, but many of the elected politicians and someone like Koh will have to weigh a shot at a Congressional seat against giving up the office or job they now hold.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Senate hosts panel to discuss health-care cost containment
  • McGovern on North Korea; Chandler honored
  • Boston-area inflation hits 2.2 percent in the past year
  • Safety, profiling concerns swirl over immigrant detainer bill

Worcester Weekly: Battle of Badges, Party for ALS + more, Aug. 13-19

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

Sunday, Aug. 13 — Civil War Movie Series: “Glory,” 4-6 p.m., Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St.  Nothing like a light-hearted, fun summer flick to help you forget August is half over already. Or you could go the other way, and immerse yourself in the harrowing, humbling experiences and selfless heroics of one of America’s most historically significant Army regiments. (Then again, watching Matthew Broderick and Cary Elwes try to act like soldiers is kind of funny.)

House leader ‘certain’ Mass. sales tax holiday will get another year off

BOSTON — Consumers will get no break on the sales tax from the state of Massachusetts this summer, as lawmakers opt for the second year in a row to forego a tax holiday weekend.

Revenue Committee Chairman Jay Kaufman confirmed that August will pass without what has been in recent years a semi-annual tradition of suspending the sales tax for one weekend.

“I would say that’s certain,” Kaufman, a Lexington Democrat, told State House News Service. “I don’t see how there could be one since there’s no possibility of us having a hearing and a session to vote for one, so there will be no sales tax holiday this year.”

Editorial: Out with the old, in with the new?

Last Wednesday, the Worcester Planning Board gave its approval to Roseland Residential Trust’s plan to build 84 units of housing on the site of Notre Dame des Canadiens Church. This brings Worcester one step closer to the demolition of the Salem Square landmark.

The previous day, Worcester Magazine reported that Mayor Joseph M. Petty will ask the City Council to “support in principle the relocation of the Red Sox Triple-A baseball team to Worcester including building a stadium to accommodate this team and further, request the City Manager do all that is reasonably in his power to facilitate this move.”

It would certainly be convenient to view these developments independently. In this way, we would not see the similarities and differences that tell a lot about the priorities of the city’s leaders and what they seem to believe residents want.

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.