Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 121]: Maura Healey, what a doll!

Our fair Massachusetts Attorney General lady is no wallflower, that’s for sure. Assault weapons, corporate corruption, saving the environment: she continues to have her say on the big topics — and nobody even needs to ask!

She’s a firecracker, that Maura Healey. Imagine if you could package all that ambition into a gift for the holidays?

Ah, but you don’t have to — that’s what Hitch is here for. Check it out.

Stearns Tavern

Editorial: In praise of a community that came to the rescue

It’s right there at 140 Mill St., on the corner of Mill and Coes. It’s large by comparison, but does not look out of place.

It’s surrounded by fence and retains visible scars from its most recent ordeal.

In a few years time, when the Stearns Tavern is the centerpiece of a city park, we suspect and fear the details of how the historic building was saved from destruction may become just a footnote. This would be a shame.

While the continued development of downtown Worcester has garnered much well-deserved recognition this year, we believe the effort to save Stearns Tavern merits more attention, truly showcasing community at its best.

Mariano: Flag burning is a very emotional issue

Editor’s note: Please continue to enjoy this free preview of the Sun’s newest feature, and be sure to check back in coming weeks to find out how you can keep on reading Worcester’s best commentary without becoming a Sun member when the preview ends.

Ray Mariano

Ray Mariano

Growing up in the turbulent 1960s and ’70s, protests, some involving flag burning, occurred with some frequency. At that time, people felt their government leaders were lying to them. They were angry and their emotions were boiling over.

I was never comfortable with burning the American flag. Even as a young protester, burning the flag seemed the exact opposite of the point we were trying to make.

Most of us were saying that we loved our country and it was because we loved it that we expected more from our leaders. I always thought that we should have raised the flag high and let leaders know that this was OUR country.

As a young elected official, I remember being confronted with the issue. As the City Council was considering whether to pass some sort of law prohibiting flag burning, I turned to my dad for advice.

Editorial: Worcester Art Museum’s new gallery shows its mettle

Three years ago, Higgins Armory on Barber Avenue gently closed its ornate old doors. Years of financial strain had finally forced the museum to surrender.

As heartbreaking as that was — the armory was a labor of love for more than 80 years and a thoroughly Worcester original — there was a glimmer of good news.

The Worcester Art Museum agreed to take in the core Higgins collection, and promised to do all it could to properly care for and showcase the magnificent treasures. The art museum even said it would take pains in the coming years to incorporate armory items into its existing holdings, displaying pieces together in order to tell a fuller cultural story than either of the two museums could do on their own.

WAM, which is unveiling its revamped Medieval Galleries this weekend, has been as good as its word.

There’s chivalry on Salisbury Street — and swords, shields, and gleaming suits of armor. And museum officials promise more progress in their embrace of the Higgins collection in the years ahead.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 120]: Let it grow! Let it grow! Let it grow!

You don’t need Ebenezer Scrooge’s tortured soul to take an enlightening peek into Christmas future.

Just take a downtown Worcester stroll, maybe make your way down to the Canal District, where visions of sugarplumbs and pot brownies may soon be dancing in neighbors’ heads. On the bright side, your holiday shopping will for sure — maybe as soon as next winter — be much more interesting.

Meantime, Hitch pounds the pavement for this year’s perfect gift.

Editorial: The least charitable city in the country?

Only 17 days remain in Giving Season, which is critical to many nonprofit institutions.

Whether people feel more charitable during the holiday season or give as their yearly finances come into sharper focus, the final three months of the year, and more specifically the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, local institutions rely on this period of the year to fund their mission.

A 2012 GuideStar survey found that 50.5 percent of organizations reported they received the majority of their donations in the fourth quarter of the year.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, one study “found that their respondents reported giving about 24 percent of their annual total between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.”

In addition, “According to the Winter 2011 issue of the Nonprofit Fundraising Survey, over half of the nonprofit organizations queried reported that they received over a quarter of their contributions between October and December, with 16 percent of all organizations receiving over half their year’s total contributions during those same months.”

In this light, and with the city of Worcester home to so many deserving nonprofits, it came to us as a shock when a recent survey claimed Worcester was the least charitable city in the United States.

Sina-cism: DACA is no way to reform immigration

The current debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — called into existence by a whim of President Obama in 2012 — illustrates the confusion many Americans have regarding civics.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

DACA permits illegal immigrants, including many who were brought to the United States as children, to remain here, provided they pay an application fee, have completed high school, are not convicted of felonies or serious misdemeanors, and meet several other requirements.

Many of those who qualify happen to be college students. And since president-elect Donald Trump has expressed opposition to DACA, there is a growing chorus of support for the program being heard on college campuses.

Related Sina-cism: The real line on immigration, and how Obama crossed it

More than 500 college presidents nationwide — including the presidents of Clark University, WPI and the College of the Holy Cross — have signed a letter to leaders in Washington, D.C., declaring in part:

“Since the advent of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, we have seen the critical benefits of this program for our students, and the highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities. DACA beneficiaries on our campuses have been exemplary student scholars and student leaders, working across campus and in the community … To our country’s leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded. We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity …”

Editorial: CANDO spirit in Worcester

It’s Dec. 11. We’re in the thick of things now!

From giving thanks to giving presents, folks are in the middle of a month-long season that does the heart good.

Charitable giving goes into high gear over the holidays, too. Whether we drop coins in a red Salvation Army kettle or write a check to a pet cause before the tax year ends, it feels good to be kind.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center must be feeling like a million bucks. Their Winter Ball at Mechanics Hall Dec. 2 outdid itself this year, passing the $1 million mark in a night of dancing, dining and donating.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 117]: A Very Taxing Worcester Holiday

Taxes are kind of our thing here in Massachusetts. Some of us enjoy taxes so much we simply can’t stop talking about them, especially in Worcester, where the annual dual rate tug-of-war produces a litany of positions, opinions, strange ideas and hyperbole.

Come to think of it — must be Hitch’s turn!

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 116]: A Joe Petty fireside chat

Worcester is under siege. Not by violence or economic disparity, necessarily, or even pigeons or college students, but by rhetoric and hyperbole. And now, maybe more than ever, fear is spreading.

Hitch’s greatest hits: Gomez and Healey and Fresolo — oh my!

Our estimable mayor, hizzoner Mr. Petty, has been around long enough to see days like these ebb and flow — but even he’s not sitting idly by this time. He wants Worcester folks to know, he’s there for you, which is admirable.

Also: downtown gentrification? Still on! Here’s Hitch.