What happened to Worcester?

Adam Davidson, in a piece for this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, examines Worcester through the lens of his family history and finds a city that propelled its residents into the middle class. He hails the central Massachusetts city as “an engine for betterment until the middle of the 20th century, a magical place that transformed lost and impoverished lives.”

Now, however, Davidson sees a city where the middle class is shrinking, sandwiched between well-paid workers at Worcester’s hospitals and universities and lower-skilled employees working in minimum-wage jobs.

“Long gone are the days when Worcester’s plants offered a decent job to just about anybody willing to put in a hard day’s work,” he writes. ‘If you drive around Worcester now, it’s easy to imagine there is no rising middle class, no aspiration at all. In reality, it’s just much harder to tell Worcester’s story simply.”

Davidson’s story, under the headline “What happened to Worcester?” seems a bit of a mish-mash. Is it a family history or a socioeconomic study of Worcester? It tries to do both, and does justice to neither.

Dianne Williamson, the Telegram & Gazette columnist, takes umbrage. She calls Davidson’s article “lengthy and interesting,” but ultimately concludes he comes close to equating Worcester residents to The Walking Dead. She dials up Ray Mariano, head of the Worcester Housing Authority; City Manager Ed Augustus, and Chamber of Commerce chieftain Tim Murray to praise the direction in which the city is headed.

“We residents can criticize Worcester all we like,” Williamson writes, “but it’s unseemly when out-of-towners do it, especially a big-city newspaper with a history of wedging disparaging remarks into virtually any news story.”

–BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

The House passes a spending bill 156-0. (State House News) The budget provides a $1 million earmark for Baystate Health in Springfield, far less than the $10 million the hospital was seeking. (Masslive)

The Senate is poised to pass legislation today raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21. (Boston Globe)

Senate President Stan Rosenberg talks about his decentralized “shared leadership” style (he says it draws from both former Senate President William Bulger and former House Speaker George Keverian) — and how it contrasts with the top-down approach of today’s House. (WGBH) CommonWealth profiled House Speaker Robert DeLeo and the tight grip he maintains in the current issue.

Two of Gov. Charlie Baker’s cabinet secretaries meet with advocates and experts on the potential of self-driving cars. (Masslive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has hired the same politically-connected PR firm, Raksy Baerlein, that is fronting for the controversial IndyCar race in the Seaport to advise him on the federal probe of union strong-arming. (Boston Herald)

New Bedford, with more than $5.5 million owed in delinquent taxes, will join a growing list of communities in the state to sell off tax liens to private collection firms.(Standard-Times)

Residents of the exclusive New Seabury section of Mashpee are preparing to file suit against the property management company to thwart planned changes in the country club membership and a increase in dues. (Cape Cod Times)

A controversial Chapter 40B housing project in Falmouth on a site originally planned for a hotel has been given the green light by the state. (Cape Cod Times)

Boston is moving toward adopting a BYOB policy at restaurants that don’t have a liquor license. (Boston Herald)

CASINOS

The company seeking to build a casino in Brockton fails to wow the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. (CommonWealth)

The attorney for the owners of a piece of land in Everett says he told the real estate lawyer of Wynn Resorts about one owner with “some problems.” (CommonWealth)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Tennessee passes a law allowing therapists and counselors to turn away LGBT clients. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

Donald Trump gives his first major foreign policy speech. (New York Times) The speech is met with skepticism and criticism by some of the GOP establishment and conservatives. (National Review)

Trump’s “woman’s card” comment escalates the presidential campaign’s gender wars. (Washington Post)

Ron Kaufman, a GOP biggie from Massachusetts, likens Trump to Ronald Reagan and says he will be the party’s nominee. (Politico)

What do you do when you are soundly swept in all five presidential primaries on one day and have no mathematical possibility of winning the nomination on the first ballot? Why, you name a running mate. (U.S. News & World Report) The Globe‘s James Pindell says Ted Cruz‘s naming of Carly Fiorina makes even less sense than John McCain‘s tapping of Sarah Palin. “Cruz appears to have entered the delusional phase of this campaign,” opines the Herald. Former House speaker John Boehner calls Cruz”Lucifer in the flesh” and said he had “never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” (The Stanford Daily)

The intellectual foundation of Cruz’s constitutional conservatism was shaped in the People’s Republic of Cambridge, home to the Federalist Society at Harvard Law School. (Boston Globe)

The state association of school superintendents comes out against the likely November ballot question legalizing recreational use of marijuana. (Boston Globe)

Mayor Marty Walsh endorses a 1 percent surcharge on Boston property tax bills through the Community Preservation Act, which will appear on the November ballot. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

A Brockton High School student whose parents came here from Nigeria has been accepted at seven of the eight Ivy League schools, getting rejected only by Yale University. (The Enterprise)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Michelle Lipinski, principal of the Northshore Recovery High School in Beverly, voices opposition to legalizing marijuana. (Salem News)

TRANSPORTATION 

Uber is defending its no-tipping policy by arguing that it’s discriminatory because people tend to tip white drivers more. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Cape Wind, dealt a major setback by the Baker administration, goes to court in a bid to get back on track. (State House News)

The carcass of a young 27-foot humpback whale was found washed up on Duxbury Beach. (Patriot Ledger)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Worcester police arrest a man with 50 pounds of marijuana. (Masslive)

A state trooper accused of assaulting his girlfriend, a fellow trooper, is released on bail by a judge in Ayer despite prosecutors’ urging that he be kept behind bars. (Associated Press) Yvonne Abraham writes that the case is exposing everything that’s wrong with the way domestic violence is handled. (Boston Globe)

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert apologized for abusing some of his former wrestling students and was sentenced to 15 months in prison by a judge who described the one-time leader as a “serial child molester.” (New York Times)

MEDIA

The Secretary of State’s office has ordered the State Police to once again explain why they won’t release documents related to an accident that resulted in the death of a state representative’s son. (Patriot Ledger)

PASSINGS

The man who wrote the ultimate earworm, the piano-plinking jingle emanating from Mister Softee ice cream trucks, has died at the age of 94. (New York Times)