Amanda Carr

Inbox [May 28]: News and notes from WICN, UMass Medical School, WPI, St. Peter-Marian, WCAC and SmartAsset

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.

WICN names new executive director

WICN-FM (90.5), a National Public Radio affiliate station, has named Amanda Carr executive director.

In addition to her music and production background, Carr brings sales and marketing knowledge to her role. She takes the reins from Tom Lucci, a former WICN board president who has been acting as interim GM.

“Our board, staff, and volunteers are all thrilled to have Amanda join the team,” Board President Jeffrey Duquette said. “We know that she will prove to be a strong and active community leader and will promote WICN in the communities we serve.”

Inbox [May 24]: News and notes from WPI, Antiquarian Society, Hanover Theatre, EcoTarium, MassDevelopment, UMass Memorial, city of Worcester, Park Spirit

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.

WPI lands grant to boosts integration of Humanities and STEM

The National Endowment for the Humanities selected Worcester Polytechnic Institute, along with 17 other U.S. schools, for a Humanities Connections Grant.

WPI will receive a $100,000 grant to establish an Urban Humanities Teaching Cluster, allowing WPI to offer an integrated set of courses that push students to think about urban challenges as more than simply technical problems. With half the world’s population now living in cities and with the population of 21 cities now exceeding 10 million, the study of cities is more important than ever.

“The engineering challenges wrought by rapid urbanization and aging urban infrastructures are obvious to our students,” said Joseph Cullon, an assistant teaching professor of history and the grant’s principal investigator, “but solving them forces us to ask questions about history, aesthetics, equity, access and cultural meaning that are less transparent but equally crucial.”

Worcester Sun, May 24: TIFs add up to developing success in Worcester, ISIS attack raises local concerns + more

Plus, top Sun stories, Hitch on First Night, a new free-to-read, nursing homes in crisis and a jam-packed Inbox. This is your Wednesday, May 24, Worcester Sun.

On Beacon Hill: Burning down the house

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

BOSTON — Whether it was being blurted out loud or held on the tip of the tongue, the “i” word floated through Beacon Hill this week like a poorly kept secret.

No, not impeachment or investigation, although those words got a fair share of airing last week, as well. But more topical here at home, the operative word was “imbalanced.” As in, how is the state going to pay for the spending that the Senate will debate this week?

As the unemployment rate ticked up again to 3.9 percent and with state revenues being watched more closely than the State House’s resident red-tailed hawk eyes the rabbits that hop blithely across the capitol grounds, Senate leadership released its budget plan for fiscal 2018.

The roughly $40.3 billion budget bill is widely understood to be a document written in erasable ink. Barring a dramatic turnaround in May and June, budget writers are preparing for the likelihood that revenues will have to be adjusted during negotiations between the branches, which will in turn require spending to be lowered to fit the new frame.

“We recognize that we may need to adjust,” Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, said early last week, as she detailed the ways in which she and her committee had invested in local aid, housing, education and economic development.

As put by another senior Senate official: “This budget has a lot of vision, and maybe a few sugarplum fairies.”

But even if the numbers won’t exactly add up by the end of this week, there’s plenty of meaningful pieces in the budget that will shape the debate moving forward.

For instance, the Senate chose to include a hotel room tax on short-term rentals, such as those offered through sites like Airbnb, that would generate an estimated $18 million next year.

The Joint Committee on Financial Services is already planning a three-stop tour around the state to get input on the idea of short-term rental taxes and regulations, and the House is waiting for that process to play out. But Spilka’s budget put a marker down on the Senate side that’s vastly different from what Gov. Charlie Baker included in his own budget.

The Ways and Means budget proposes taxing short-term rentals on day one, while Baker sought to target those unit owners renting their homes like a business for more than 150 days a year.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker

The Senate budget would give Baker the go-ahead to pursue an employer assessment to cover MassHealth, or Medicaid expenses, though senators would apply the assessment on certain companies with 25 or more employees, instead of 10 or more, as Baker recommended. Unlike the House, the Senate also gave Baker the choice of a second option — to raise the existing Employer Medical Assistance Contribution employer fee — which is favored by some small-business groups.

Even though the Democrat-controlled House and Senate are both now on record essentially putting their full faith and trust in the Republican governor to resolve the controversial issue of how much to tax businesses to pay for MassHealth, Democrat Jay Gonzalez credited the Legislature with “reining in” Baker by recommending adjustments to the governor’s employer assessment proposal and lowering the revenue target by about half.

That was not all Gonzalez — a former secretary of Administration and Finances for the state who has announced a run for governor — had to say this week, either. As the temperatures heated up, so did the gubernatorial race. [More on that below.]

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Baker warns D.C. leaders of looming healthcare boondoggle
  • Gonzalez ratchets up governor bid
  • McGovern on Rosenstein, Warren on Wall Street, Polito at WPI
  • All about the amendments during initial Senate budget debate
  • Video: Spilka, Senate leaders talk fiscal 2018 spending plan
  • Sudders sees pot industry as work in progress

Worcester Weekly: BattleCry@WPI, Ralph’s Rock Diner + more, May 21-27

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

Art exhibit

Ongoing — “John O’Reilly: A Studio Odyssey,” 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St.  Don’t call them collages — no, collages are what little girls make while they’re at summer camp. John O’Reilly, the well-regarded Worcester-based artist, creates “photomontages” of “mysterious, erudite and confounding” construction, according to a New York Times review. Shooting intricately staged scenes with a Polaroid camera, O’Reilly’s work often studies eroticism and violence.

Running through Aug. 13, this exhibit explores the influence of literature subtly noted through most of his art. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesdays-Fridays and Sundays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays; and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. the third Thursday of each month.

For more information

Robotics

Sunday, May 21 — BattleCry@WPI 18, 8:45 a.m.-6 p.m., Harrington Auditorium, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 151 Salisbury St. [parking garage]  Sundays in spring are for church, early-afternoon dinners and leisurely drives with the top down — at least, they used to be. Now, I guess, they’re for robots. They’re not only after our jobs, they want our weekends too?! Robots are greedy.

Worcester Sun, May 21-27: Mariano on missing kids, Sina-cism on McGovern’s Social Security pitch, First Night + much more

Serendipity and the Silver Ball. “Legendary Lucas.” Hitch on Taxachusetts. Another incredible installment in Augustine Kanjia’s impossible tale of survival. And, still, there’s more in your May 21-27 Worcester Sun.

Worcester legislators highlight local priorities accounted for in House budget

The Massachusetts House of Representatives advanced a $40.4 billion fiscal 2018 budget last week, saying it “represents a commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

In a joint statement released April 28, four Worcester-area legislators claimed “the budget takes comprehensive action to promote sustained economic health in Massachusetts as we face uncertainty on the national level.”

For the fourth consecutive year the House budget includes a $100 million deposit to the stabilization fund which will result in a projected balance of more than $1.4 billion and, the statement said, “help preserve the state’s AA+ bond rating, the highest in the Commonwealth’s history.”

Inbox [April 19]: News and notes from Thrillist, Rachel’s Table, Assumption, Worcester Public Schools, MassDiGI and WCAC

Worcester most underrated place in Mass.

In its ranking of the most underrated place in each state, the website Thrillist has chosen Worcester as the most underrated place in Massachusetts.

The site noted: “From the Berkshires to the Cape, Newburyport to Northampton, the Bay State has no shortage of amazing places to visit. But are any of them really considered underrated anymore? Hell, even Lowell’s had its day in the sun (until “The Fighter,” of course, undid several years of effective public relations). But the Woo… no, Worcester is the spot you’re gonna be talking about.

Worcester Weekly: WPI softball, WSU baseball, ‘Music Man’ + more, April 16-22

Road trip! | School vacation week

Sunday, April 16 — Family Farm Fest, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge  No Easter brunch reservations, no problem. Hop on down the Pike to everyone’s favorite school field trip destination. This will be the second day of a weeklong celebration of spring at OSV, featuring living history characters preparing their fields for summer crops — and did we mention baby animals?!

That’s right — newborn lambs, chicks, piglets and calves might just get your kids in the right mood to try some 1830s farm chores (at OSV, definitely not at home!) or listen to “Laura Ingalls Wilder” talk about her “Little House on the Prairie” days. Maybe, maybe not. But odds are pretty solid they’ll be up for the 2 p.m. Great Easter Egg Hunt (for children 10 and under). Additional programs, including live music on the weekends, will be featured through Sunday, April 23.

Inbox [April 16]: News and notes from WPI, Main IDEA, LIFT, YWCA, Clark and St. Peter-Marian

WPI lands $5M grant

The Baker-Polito Administration announced a $5 million matching grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to support the launch of a new landmark healthcare research and product development initiative called PracticePoint at WPI.

The award from MassTech’s Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant Program will match contributions from WPI and private sector stakeholders, including GE Healthcare Life Sciences, and fund new integrated research and development labs focused on the commercialization of secure healthcare devices and systems.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced the grant at a ceremony in Worcester, alongside WPI President Laurie Leshin and Ann R. Klee, Vice President of Boston Development and Operations at GE.

“Imagine new ways to treat inoperable tumors, new systems that allow elders to remain at home safely, or smart devices that speed rehabilitative care — these are just some of the extraordinary technologies we hope will emerge when we bring together creative engineers, scientists and clinicians to work in the novel setting that PracticePoint provides,” Leshin said.