SEPTEMBER 15, 2009
RUSHTON CALLS TO FOCUS DEBATE ON SETTING BOLD AGENDA FOR WORCESTER
Lukes views herself as a “transition” mayor; a bridge between the old Irish-Italian male dominated world of the mayor’s seat to a more welcoming place for women, minorities and immigrants.
Worcester Magazine 9/10/09
“A real debate would get emotional and someone would step over the politically correct line,” she said. “That candidate would be ostracized. Imagine a woman losing her temper in public. Or a male candidate going after a woman. You can’t do it. Whoever sponsors it would lose control of it.”
Worcester Telegram 9/15/09
Such statements are divisive, and feed off mistrust. This City is a great city built upon the human capital of men and women who have traveled from all corners of the globe. Moving this City forward will be accomplished by capitalizing on the unique and individual strengths of each person who call Worcester home. Suggesting men and women from one part of the globe have less of a capacity to welcome women, minorities, or immigrants than another ethnicity, race, or gender serves no purpose other than to spread hate. Furthermore, perpetuating stereotypes of how men or women will react when facing each in a debate takes Worcester a giant step backwards. The fact the Mayor’s idea of a “transition” mayor has lingered in the public domain for almost a week without repudiation by her is a disservice to all of us. Allowing such remarks to marinate in the public discourse only bolsters people who seek to divide our city, and worse to explain away our challenges.
My hope is our community, and in particular the candidates for City Council, School Committee, and Mayor will refrain from dialogue which on its face stereotypes our fellow citizens by race, color, gender, or sexual orientation. Instead we focus the debate on setting a bold agenda to reduce property taxes, improve public education for our children, keep our streets safe, and build upon our culture, and our diversity.
11:30 Denver time
First, I am in the hotel lobby typing away in a blog duel against Blue Mass Group. I am less than 3 keystrokes away from them with a clear shot. Pressure is mounting but they don’t realize they are no match. I have deep contacts in entertainment, law, social work, and in the lawn and garden department at Home Depot. Actually, I from Worcester and that is all that matters, because all roads lead to Worcester. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Last night America got a chance to hear Ted Kennedy remind us why our hopes and dreams are worth fighting for, AND achievable. In person, Caroline’s introduction, Ken Burn’s video tribute, and Ted’s words left most us with tears in our eyes. CNN brought home the emotion in the building by zeroing in for almost 5 seconds on Worcester’s John Brissette tearing up. Seconds after John’s 5 seconds of fame my blackberry lit up with messages from al corners of America…”John Brissette is on CNN”. To think America almost didn’t have John Brissette to kick around the television. The lines to get into the Pepsi Center were long and slow. John is heading the Massachusetts delegation, so he is responsible to make sure the after party runs smoothly. The length of the line threatened to have us looking at the back of the head of huge guy from Ohio instead of Ted Kennedy’s silver-white main. John almost left. We reminded him he has been in longer lines ar Gillette in much colder weather, so he stuck it out. Now he is fending off offers to star in Andrea Ajemian’s remake of “Tears of Endearment”, I mean “Terms of Endearment”. When I picked up the Denver Post this morning I realized besides the long lines at the Pepsi Center everything was going smoothly. The evidence stared right at me in black and white. An article titled “311 line logs steady volume of calls” spoke of the amount of calls, and “We’ve had very few calls in which people are disenchanted or upset”. In my best Bob Lobel voice, I said to no one in particular, “Why can’t we get a 311 system?”
The convention hall is a tough place to navigate, and incredibly crowded. Ted’s presence at the convention drew the media to our section cutting down on the number of available seats. WhiIe seeing the lovely Emily Rooney was nice, the Fox channel guys leaning over into us wasn’t fun. I ended up 2 rows in front of the elusive Tom Menino in the New York delegation. I sit down after one of the breaks and I turn to speak to this woman from Rockland County. She asks, “Where are you from?”. I say Worcester. She responds “I have been to Worcester many times.” Turns out her Aunt’s art had been donated and many pieces still sit in Clark University’s Holocaust center. Part of the attraction of a convention is you can leave your pressing issues behind. But Worcester is everywhere. Part of the difficulty with navigating the convention hall is it doesn’t lend itself to leaving and getting food. After Michelle Obama spoke and rocked the house I would have eaten a wild ostrich. My luck would have it the hotel provided us with free copies of a glossy magazine called DENVER magazine, and inside the magazine ironically was an article titled “Cart Wheels”. Cart Wheels? You got it. Denver has those menacing street vendors/carts. Some of the lines from the story included “Downtown Denver has no shortage of fine restaurants, but for as long as bikers…BBQ junkies and Philadelphia transplants have been descending upon the Mile High City they’ve been bringing hot dogs and pastries, cheesesteaks right along with them- and parading foodstuffs in carts.” “Street food is quick, convenient and cheaper than the nearest fast food chain, with fringe benefit of localflavor- both in the food itself and from the vibrant personalities who peddle it.” Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs on 16th hit the spot. Sounds like we need a rapid influx of people from Philly.
Sightings and sidenotes
Joe Kennedy, Mike Dukakis and Al Franken spoke at today’s breakfast. Joe Kennedy was awesome, Mike Dukakis was circumspect, and predictably Al Franken was dry and witty.
Yesterday was a whirl. Lots of sightings from Spike Lee, Chevy Chase, Tim Daley, and Annette Bening but none bigger than Bowser from Sha Na Na. At the after-party Vincent Pedone heard a gentleman stating he did not have credentials for tonight’s convention. Vincent offered him his since he might be coming back late from going to Pike’s Peak, and he thought he could score some others. The gentleman was touched and offered him his rental car to use for the trip. It turned out to be none other than Jon Bauman aka Bowser. As I type, Vincent is riding with the top down over Pike’s Peak in a gold lame outfit whistling ” Rock And Roll is Here to Stay” . Top that Blue Mass Group
Noontime Denver time
Is Teddy Coming? The question of the night. For some odd reason last night people seemed to think myself and several other Worcesterites had the answer to question whether Ted Kennedy would be coming to Denver. The Massachusetts and Maryland delegation are staying at the Denver Renaissance hotel, and last night John Kerry hosted the Massachusetts delegation at the hotel. At the reception, standing off to the side with several people from Worcester we had several people including former Congressman, and President of the NAACP, Kwasi Mfume bee line over to us and ask us if Ted was coming. We didn’t have an answer for them, but it provided us an answer. Senator Ted will have a huge impact on this convention. And what an impact it will be. Contrary to what the mainstream media is reporting Ted is coming. At the delegation’s morning breakfast it slipped out. Our hotel was already abuzz, because Caroline Kennedy is staying with us. She is in the words of Joe Biden “gorgeous”, and every bit as classy in person. Ted’s impending arrival took the energy to a new level. Worcester’s John Brisette, who is in charge of the Massachusetts delegation handed me a blue bracelet with “Tedstrong” imprinted on it.
The breakfast is not just a breakfast. It is an opportunity for the Massachusetts Democratic Party to get us our daily credentials, for us to mingle, and to listen to some speakers. Some of the speakers this morning included the Governor, Senate President Theresa Murray, Speaker DiMasi, and former Senator Gary Hart. Most of the speeches centered around a common theme of unity. The crowd which continue to talk and eat while the speakers came to a hush when the Governor spoke. He can be absolutely amazing when he speaks. He spoke of bringing this campaign down to a personal level. Part of the waitstaff was sitting behind me, and I couldn’t help but notice this 20’ish woman of mexican descent with a tear running down the side of her cheek listening to Deval.
Part of the fun so far has been meeting people. On the trip out here I wore my “Believe in Worcester” tshirt and had several people comment “I love Worcester” ,”Go Worcester” as I walked through the terminal, but when I arrived at the hotel the comments picked up. Turned out to be a great conversation starter. Did you know there is Worcester County in Maryland ? Of course, they pronounce it incorrectly …Worchester. We set them on the right path.
Sidenotes and sightings…..
When we popped into the hotel we just beat a tornado happening the North of Denver….Vincent Pedone suffered the worst effects of the tornado…he got delayed in JFK and didn’t make it to almost 12:30 Denver time.
Met Spike Lee and told him to “Do the Right Thing” and take off his Yankee t-shirt. He laughed, and I preceded to show him my Red Sox Nation membership card. He has very small hands.
Things do really happen in 3’s. In a matter of 10 minutes I ran into Jim Brett, Ed Doherty, and Maura Hennigan, but not Tom Menino. All three ran for Mayor of Boston, and lost to Sheriff Glodis’s good friend.
Of course in an airport with nothing to do the woman next to me wanted to chat….turns out she just reenlisted in the military with the hopes of having the military pay for her to go to law school….She is from the Lake George region of New York so we chatted about the Capital region which is where my Mom is from. She preceded to tell me she was a Yankees fan, and a Republican. She asked me what I do and where I was going when things got interesting. After listening to me she said, “America will never vote for a Black Muslim”, and promptly got up and said “I need to go check on my ticket”….Earlier she told me her flight doesn’t leave for 3 hours. Typical Yankees fan.
In the Airport in Atlanta with a 3 hour layover….there is CNN (of course) on all the screens talking about the presidential race and no one seems to be paying attention…