Moe Bergman: Ignoring nonprofit discussions and tax classification

Why would state-owned land depreciate to less than one-third its value over the last five years — shouldn’t it have been going up in value during this period of state-boosted economic development and college expansion?” One city councilor points a finger at what taxpayers should really be concerned about.

Randell: So, you think Worcester only raises taxes 2.5 percent every year? Think again.

“For the most part, the average taxpayer believes that the tax levy can only go up 2 ½ percent unless there is an override. But “new growth” caused a 4.4 percent increase for the current fiscal year and could do the same again. City businessman Bill Randell, and several savvy friends, say let’s put new growth in its place.

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!

LEEP Center staff

Inbox [Dec. 7]: Becker adds to financial leadership team, Clark’s LEEP wins national honor, Worcester State study eyes Latino men opportunity gap, UniBank announces Invest Worcester

Have a release or a photo 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.

Becker hires new executive director, leadership giving

Jane Grant of Worcester has been hired as the executive director of leadership giving, Becker College announced.

“Jane brings with her an extensive knowledge of both the Worcester community and advancement services,” said Colleen Bielitz ,Ph.D., vice president of institutional advancement and chief business development officer at Becker. “Her energy and expertise are vital to building our advancement team to meet the needs of our growing institution.”

Randell: Worcester, we have a spending problem

There is nothing to cut in the city of Worcester? How about divesting in nonessential businesses that cost us millions of dollars per year.” Oh, and businessman and former PILOT task force member Bill Randell has a few other ideas, too.

What does WAFT do, anyway? An inside look at Worcester’s anti-foreclosure warriors: Part 2 — The team rallies around an Oak Street family

Neither Donna Berrios nor her husband have been inside their home since the eviction notice was issued five days before. Their son, A.J., not similarly barred by the sometimes ambiguous foreclosure laws, carries out a large textbook. Meanwhile WAFT protesters have assembled for support as group leader Grace Ross angles to keep Berrios in her Oak Street house.

What does WAFT do, anyway? An inside look at Worcester’s anti-foreclosure warriors: Part 1 — Gaining traction and attention

Together a dedicated group of volunteers is tackling the still-daunting number of foreclosure petitions issued in the state by helping residents stay in their homes while exhausting all the archaic, complicated and red-taped remedies in the foreclosure process. “Basically it’s about enforcing the laws that are on the books,” said Grace Ross, the organization’s founder, who was recently honored by New England’s NAACP chapter with a lifetime achievement award for her advocacy work. This is the first in a two-part report chronicling several days in the lives of the Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team and the people they try to help.

There’s a Better Way to address panhandling problems

An innovative approach to combating homelessness and panhandling is about to celebrate its first anniversary. Despite promising results the program has not caught on. One of the many cities nationally to attempt punitive measures to reduce panhandling, Worcester should consider if There’s a Better Way.

What does WAFT do, anyway? An inside look at Worcester’s anti-foreclosure warriors: Part 2 — The team rallies around an Oak Street family

This is the second in a two-part report chronicling several days in the lives of the Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team, a nonprofit grassroots organization that advocates and provides support for residents facing eviction and tries to help those people stay in their homes while untangling the often complicated legality of their situations.


The team in action

It is not the “oppressive” day the morning weather report called for, but by 10:45 a.m. the mercury has risen far beyond what could be considered comfortable, as WAFT petitioners assemble in a neighboring carpark to challenge a recent eviction notice.

Parked on the curb of a short one-way street not far from downtown is a Subaru Outback, a tarp of hastily bundled goods straddling the roof, and its hatchback filled with what was once cluttering the home in question.

WAFT assembles to support Donna Berrios outside her Oak Street home.

Alex L. Khan / For Worcester Sun

WAFT assembles to support Donna Berrios outside her Oak Street home.

Neither Donna Berrios nor her husband, Rafael Mejias, have been inside the home since the eviction notice was issued five days before. Their son, A.J., not similarly barred by the sometimes ambiguous foreclosure laws, carries out a large textbook, and places it on the hood of the car.

“I’m just glad that he got my bible out,” said Berrios, a cross hanging from her neck. She is smoking — something to ease the stress, she says — while watching her son bring a fire extinguisher from the house.


Part 1 — Gaining traction and attention


Inbox [Oct. 2]: MassDiGI and Community Legal Aid net federal grants, WPD receives anti-gang funds, city seeks Youth Council applicants, Worcester Reads puts on Smile Day, WPI profs rank first nationally

Have a release or a photo 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.

McGovern trumpets $583K for MassDiGI, $327K for WPD, $300K for housing initiatives

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern’s office announced last week nearly $2.8 million in federal funding for Massachusetts, about $1.2 million earmarked for Worcester.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern

Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern

On Thursday, he announced a five-year, $583,000 University Center program grant for MassDiGI (Massachusetts Digital Games Institute) at Becker College. Those funds were awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The new federal funding will support MassDiGI’s ongoing efforts to promote entrepreneurship, academic cooperation and economic development across the state’s video and digital games ecosystem. This is the second such grant for MassDiGI from the competitive University Center program. The first was awarded in September 2011.