Worcester Weekly: Canal District Wagon Tours, Bravehearts + more, July 9-15

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

Sunday, July 9 — Meet the Authors: “Massachusetts Calling” anthology, 1-3 p.m., Annie’s Book Stop, 65 James St.  The Sutton Writing Group is no joke. Many of its members are published authors, including coordinator Lisa Shea, who has published more than 300 novels, novellas, short stories and other works. Shea was the editor of “Massachusetts Calling,” which brings together 15 local writers to share their unique and varied perspectives through poetry, essays, histories, even recipes.

At Annie’s, Shea is expected to be joined by S.M. Nevermore (author of “A Demon’s Game”), Kevin Saleeba (a former Milford Daily News reporter) and Christine Beauchaine (“Lost and Found at the Bowl-O-Drome”). Free and open to the public. All proceeds from sales of “Massachusetts Calling” benefit local shelters and food pantries.

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.

On Beacon Hill: A watched pot never boils

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

BOSTON — The Fourth of July holiday, with any luck, may be just the dash of salt legislative negotiators need to bring to a simmer deals over a new annual budget and marijuana legalization legislation that proved elusive as the hours peeled away on fiscal 2017.

Shuffling off into the weekend, tails tucked between their legs, important decisions hanging over their heads, not even the enticement of fireworks, parades and an unencumbered four-day break could pull a compromise out of the back rooms of the State House, where frustration between the branches was mounting.

Two issues were in play this week, both with looming — if inconsequential — deadlines. Anticipation, unrequited, was high.

The new fiscal year began Saturday, but with an interim budget in place to pay $5.5 billion worth of bills in July, state lawmakers had the luxury of not trying to rush a deal if there was no deal to be made. Not only are lawmakers trying to decide what to do with Gov. Charlie Baker’s comprehensive Medicaid reform plan dropped on the conference committee last week, but unreliable tax projections have complicated the math.

As for the overhaul of the voter-approved marijuana legalization law, the House and Senate have been at odds over taxes, local control of the siting of retail shops, and the makeup of a regulatory panel known as the Cannabis Control Commission.

Leadership of the House and Senate set an artificial deadline of June 30 to complete their work, but nothing happens if talks spill over into next week, or the week after that.

The tax rate, according to some close to the negotiations, remained at least one of the sticking points, with the House entering talks at 28 percent and the Senate asking for an unchanged 12 percent tax rate, as prescribed in the ballot law.

Asked if a deal over marijuana was imminent late Friday afternoon, Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, shrugged. “How should I know?” said one of the few people actually in a position to be able to answer that question with any authority.

As Beacon Hill waited, last week provided enough actual news to fill what Gov. Baker described in an interview with State House News Service as the “black hole” that is the conference process.

President Donald Trump left mouths, including Baker’s, slack-jawed by the cruelty of his Twitter fusillade against MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski last week; Eversource and National Grid shelved plans to bring a $3.2 billion natural gas pipeline into New England; state Revenue Commissioner Michael Heffernan revoked a directive that would have required many online retailers to begin collecting sales taxes on July 1; and long-serving Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester passed away after a battle with cancer.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Senate again passes bill to ban device use while driving
  • Warren tweaks CEOs on health care, Polito lauds Worcester investment
  • Eldridge teams up with Republican to close healthcare loophole
  • State rebuffs White House election panel’s request for voter information

Mariano: In praise of our teachers

“When I was a student, teachers were generally treated with respect. Over the last several years, we have seen and heard about many of our teachers who were knocked to the ground, some literally knocked unconscious, by disruptive students.”

Inbox [June 4]: News and notes from city of Worcester, EPA, Bravehearts and Worcester State, WPI and Holy Cross

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.

Augustus, Petty vow to continue battling climate change

Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty and City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. reaffirmed Worcester’s commitment to battle climate change locally, continue investing in green technology and maintain the city’s place as a leader in clean energy.

Topix.com

Mayor Petty

In the wake of the announcement that the federal government would back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Petty will join more than 80 mayors across the country in signing onto a U.S. Climate Mayors statement, pledging to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.”

The full statement can be found here.

“As our federal government retreats from its responsibility as steward of our environment, it is vitally important for state and municipal governments to uphold our commitment to the future of our planet,” Petty said. “If the president doesn’t want to do it, we will.”

Sina-cism: Expressway to the future, maybe

The interstates — built for speed on relatively uncongested land — bypassed downtowns throughout America. Many withered. Some died.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

As a child, I wondered why construction zones existed along finished highways. Surely so imposing a structure in concrete, steel and macadam could not be moved by even the hyperborean blasts of New England!

Clearly the serpentine bulk of Interstate 290 that bisected Worcester had not always existed, but I assumed it had materialized in the 1950s, when post-World War II affluence and American confidence — less encumbered by environmental and human considerations than today — had given our nation a modern transportation network.

But I-290 was not as old as I imagined.

Its first mile, from Harrison Street to Belmont Street, opened on Sept. 30, 1960, just two days after Ted Williams’ last game for the Red Sox — in which he famously homered in the final at-bat of his Hall-of-Fame career.

That Friday evening, TV viewers could view the first episode of “The Flintstones,” set in a fanciful Stone Age where cars were made of stone and wood, powered by human feet, and had nothing so grand to run upon as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

Last week’s Sina-cism: All we have to fear is … well, you know …

Not until the June 1970 opening of the Quinsigamond Bridge could motorists take I-290 to Marlborough. They might have gone farther. Plans called for I-290 to bend southeast through Northborough and Westborough centers to rejoin the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Evan Corrigan: Diary of a visit to Worcester … England, that is

“I got to see their Worcester’s downtown, which is completely geared toward foot traffic. In this we could learn a thing or two from our sister city. Later my host went back home to drop off her granddaughter, and she met up with us at an old church building that was tastefully converted into a restaurant.” A 20-year-old Burncoat grad crosses the pond to reinvigorate a twinning spirit between the two Worcesters.