What a difference a newspaper makes.
Having read Worcester Magazine's live blog and the T&G’s reporting of the panhandling meeting last week, we thought it would be interesting to see if there were any discrepancies between the reporting. We weren’t disappointed. Since the city hasn’t made the video public, we can't verify individual's statements verbatim. None the less this exercise turned into an eye opener.
The T&G has been accused of many things, justifiably of course and this exercise showed how the T&G reports even innocuous events. Was it a question of reporting style, brevity, or spinning quotes as they want you to see it? Those quotes from the locals became unrecognizable, some of the coherent and relevant were not reported.
So in the future, keep in mind when reading the T&G, you are not reading about an event as it actually occurred, rather as they spin it. And of course, remember, a professional journalist and impartiality are mutually exclusive.
So taking some of the quotes. It is especially shocking the quotes from members of Worcester’s business community. Jim Donoghue, owner of Tweeds and president of the North Worcester Business Association, a spokesperson from EVO, a member of the Chandler Business Association, and Bill Randell (also a member of the Chandler Business Association) CEO of Randell’s Package Store located in one of the more depressed areas of the city, who makes his living selling liquor and beer to alcoholics, the destitute and minors, some of the very people who populate the city’s street corners. They all support a strong hand in dealing with Worcester's low-life - absolute eradication. Note. As is so typical of many local business owners, they prefer to live outside Worcester. Bill Randell, for instance, lives in Holden, MA, far away from the people whose lives he destroys.
Mike Benedetti stated it's God’s plan for people to panhandle, because we as a society failed them. Pretty sure Mike Benedetti ain't reciting Christian economics dogma, since there ain't any. However his statement is indicative of a very small group of local fringe Christians who like to hear themselves talk, but are unwilling to roll up their sleeves to effect real change - too busy making videos of themselves.
Nicole Apostola on the other hand, her usual silly self, stated that most panhandlers are mentally ill. Keep in mind Ms. Apostola has no background in psychology or sociology (just an English degree), so it’s a bit of leap to take her statement as fact. Even working in a hospital's accounts receivable department doesn't give her any credibility on the issue. Pretty sure Worcester’s panhandlers would take offense at her statement. Open mouth, insert foot.
Noticeably absent were members of the health & human services non-profit community who should be at the forefront of the issue. Its apparent that they were unwilling to make the trek to city hall to enlighten the councilors on the real issues. The legal issues were presented by the ACLU and the city solicitor Moore, which will probably be the basis of any ordinance coming from the council. Um... it makes one wonder why we give the local H&HS non-profits millions of our tax dollars.
So based on what we read, we're profoundly struck by the ignorance and callousness of some of the locals, especially the business community. So now it’s the job of the city council to mold an ordinance that addresses their issues, not the social issues.
The panhandling issue is a chilling statement about Worcester as a community, about outsiders like
Bill "The Slumlord" Randell coming here to make profits and having the audacity to interfere in public policy.
Any ordinance will not stop panhandling.
Welcome to Wusta!