Tom Finneran: President Obama’s New Year
Friday, January 03, 2014
We should know by now that elections have consequences. If the electorate is less than judicious about vetting candidates or even about the act of voting itself, then we get what we deserve. Good and hard, right between the eyes, like a pole axe punch.
The President could use some help these days and I remain in a generous and festive holiday mood. Thus I come to the President’s table bearing gifts in the form of advice.
In a nutshell Mr. President you have to dump some of the idiots around you. Who are these people and what have they ever done? And, if you cannot answer the question convincingly Mr. President, more and more Americans will start asking the same question about you—what have you ever done? In the sixth year of your administration, the notion of community organizing has become a punchline for late night comics, bound to generate both laughter and regret. That’s not a good place to be Mr. President, particularly for a fellow who has bathed for years in a warm bubble bath of sycophantic press.
Ditch the sycophants
I’m here to help so let’s start with your presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett. If the quotes attributed to her regarding your abilities are accurate, then you have already done her a massive five-year favor of carrying her on a public payroll. Let her go, anywhere, but she must go. The quote I have in mind carries no possibility of creating a sense of modesty or humility in you, attributes which would well serve any President. Ms. Jarrett apparently believes that you are “the black Jesus”, so much more gifted and wiser than everyone else that “you are bored” by the surrounding mediocrity of Congress and Governors and other public and private leaders. Pardon my insolence Mr. President but could you briefly set aside your boredom and pay attention to the human horror of sixty months of an official unemployment rate in excess of seven percent. I suspect that the real number is much higher, masked only by the fact that many Americans have become so discouraged or so “disabled” as to no longer participate in the workforce. And I know, factually, that the black unemployment rate is sky-high, effectively destroying the hopes of many families. Please tell Ms. Jarrett in her exit interview that your “boredom” is not a reassuring strategy. Nor is it particularly soothing to the thoughts of Americans who sense a national decline underway, past, present, and future. Don’t take this personally Mr. President but the best advisers any leader can have are those who will close the door and tell you that you are not as wise as either you or Ms. Jarrett appear to think. Choose someone who will ask you point-blank “are you out of your mind” and who will pointedly challenge all of your assumptions.
Ms. Jarrett is not alone in her silly worship of your perceived greatness. The historian Michael Beschloss stands in a uniquely embarrassing position. Mr. Beschloss is a noted historian and the author of several books on American Presidents. I’m no historian and I accept Mr. Beschloss’ academic and literary credentials as well established. How then to explain his statements that “his (Obama’s) IQ is off the charts” and that you are “the smartest man to ever assume the office of the presidency”. Is he off his rocker? I can name no less than eleven Presidents who are likely considerably smarter and I have no pretensions to being an avid student of the presidency. There are probably several more, but here is my list: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. Please note by the way that the mere presence of ample grey matter is no guarantee of success in the office—witness Wilson and Carter in meeting the challenges of their years.
Adopt a more modest tone
I realize that Mr. Beschloss is not part of your administration but the silliness of his comments affects you. Perhaps it’s too late to suggest that a correction be forthcoming from Mr. Beschloss. That would not be terribly practical five years into the Obama era and it would probably bring unwanted public attention to his most unfortunate utterances. However Mr. President, it is not too late to adopt a more modest mien, the sort of humility that truly wise men and women demonstrate when they surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are and who are encouraged to challenge your thinking. You do not need, nor do you benefit from, an unlimited supply of yes-men. In short Mr. President, if you think, as has been alleged, that you are always the “smartest guy in the room”, then you should leave the room. The current occupants are serving neither you nor the nation well.
A closing thought Mr. President—forget for a while the “rise of the oceans” as an object of your vaunted prowess. Concentrate a little more on the rise of America from its multi-year slump. And get some wiser folks in the room with you. Happy New Year.
Related Slideshow: 14 To Watch in Central Mass in 2014
EcoTarium's Cox, who took the helm in 2012, is one to certainly watch in 2014. If you don't know Joe, he helped raise over $26.5 million at his previous post at the Galisano Children's Museum in Florida – and broke attendance projections in the process. If a track record of success is any indicator of a future one, expect to see amazing things at the Ecotarium.
Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, EcoTarium will soon house one of the most unique exhibits in the country. A team of researchers led by Robert L. Ryan, professor of landscape architecture and regional planning at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, along with Worcester's Clark University and Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, will integrate the science of urban systems into a new "City Science" exhibit.
Next City Manager
With Michael O'Brien's departure from the City Manager post he'd held since 2004 for the private sector, Ed Augustus got tapped from his Director of Communications post at Holy Cross to fill O'Brien's shoes – but for an interim basis only. The former McGovern staffer and State Senator will take the helm for nine months only, leaving the big question in 2014 as to who will be the next City Manager.
The next City Manager will have a myriad of issues to deal with, from economic development, to crime – a top issue as far as residents are concerned. Will the next City Manager address the fact that while more than 40 percent of Worcester's population is a minority, the City has more than 1,600 full- and part-time city employees and well over 80 percent of them are white. Will city government ever reflect the population of Worcester?
The Hamilton native, who did a stint at Syracuse before declaring for the NBA draft this year, is already making an impact as a pro.
In February, GoLocal's John Barone broke the news that Hamilton native, and Syracuse Orange guard, Michael Carter-Williams would declare for the 2013 NBA draft after his sophomore season.
Carter-Williams, a 2011 McDonald’s All-American at St. Andrews in Rhode Island, was drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. He is currently having himself quite a rookie year, with 17.6 point and 7.8 assist per game averages.
Dr. Dickson, who was named President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care this past February, will no doubt continue to have an influential role in the community.
During his tenure to date, challenges have included financial and labor issues, but also oversight of major changes as well -- Dickson appointed a new president of UMass Memorial Medical Center, Patrick Muldoon, and embarked on closer collaboration with Baystate Health to improve quality, access, and affordability of care.
Republican activist and Boylston school committee member Brad Wyatt will definitely be someone to watch in 2014, having just announced he's running for State Representative.
Wyatt is eyeing Hank Naughton's seat in the 12th Worcester District, as Naughton's now seeking the office of Attorney General. According to the Red Mass Group, the district, which includes Boylston, Clinton, Lancaster, and Berlin is the 38th most Republican leaning district in the Commonwealth. Scott Brown took the 12th in 2010 63-36, and Charlie Baker got 51% to Deval Patrick's 40%. Could Wyatt see a similar success in 2014? Stay tuned.
The Holy Cross senior is no stranger to politics – both locally, and in Washington, DC, having worked as an intern in the Office of Communications at The White House (and before that both in the office of the Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Worcester.)
As President and co-founder of the Worcester Student Government Association, Hakim told GoLocal's Susan Wagner, "Lately I have been describing myself as a pragmatist. I’m definitely a dreamer, but I believe the only way to get anything done is to make an honest assessment of where things stand and then go from there."
Who will get medical marijuana licenses in Worcester County will be watched for certain in 2014.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health in November released the names the 100 applicants for potential medicinal marijuana dispensaries who made it through to Phase 2 of the state’s licensing process. Worcester was named by 10 different applicants, more than any other city. The county itself has 14 finalists for dispensaries, more than any other county than neighboring Middlesex, which has almost twice the population.
Future of the T&G
What will become of the Telegram and Gazette will no doubt be closely watched in 2014.
GoLocal's Dean Starkman wrote in November of the scenario, "The Telegram and Gazette, a wallflower among New England newspapers that has suffered years of benign neglect by distant owners, seemed poised for a revival, after John Henry scooped it up as part of his landmark deal to buy the Boston Globe. Now a month later, he’s putting it on the block."
The potential future of the paper that has a nearly 150-year presence in the city and circulation of roughly 75,000 was broken down by Starkman. One of the major question marks is if new ownership would be local, or a return to a New York parent company.
The quintessential power player in Worcester has been a tireless advocate for the Commonwealth's tourism and visitor industry – with clear focus on developing the Canal District and the Blackstone Valley.
Giangregorio sits on the boards of Preservation Worcester and the Worcester Convention and Visitor Bureau, and also serves on the steering committee of Citizens for Business and as representative for the Canal District on the Mayor's Small Business Roundtable.
Be Like Brit
The legacy of Britney Gengel, who perished in the 2010 Haiti earthquake while on a service trip with Lynn University, continues to move forward through the Be Like Brit orphanage.
What started as a project built in her memory is now home to 35 children, and employs more than 40 full-time employees. According to the Be Like Brit website, hundreds of American and Canadian college students and other volunteers visit or volunteer at Be Like Brit each year.
He might have gotten the nod earlier this year for his cool factor, but GoLocal is putting Corazzini on our list of people to watch because of his "kid" factor.
While we feature the business and political minds needed to move Worcester – and all of Central Mass – forward, we recognize that the future of the Commonwealth depends on the education, and development, of our youth.
Waterman, the CEO of Girls, Inc., didn't always know she'd end up in the role of spearheading the 97-year-old organization in Worcester that allows girls the ability to participate in enrichment programs and get the tools, opportunities, and encouragement needed to grow.
A 20 year veteran of the mortgage banking industry, Waterman created "Divorce Mortgage Specialists" to help women in transition, before switching gears to head up Leading Women Massachusetts as President, providing cutting-edge leadership development solutions for women in organizations. Now, Waterman is setting her sights on the 100 year anniversary of Girls Inc. in 2016.
Central Rock Gym
Could 2014 be the year you start climbing to the top? If you haven't already been to a Central Rock Gym, watch out, because you could just catch the climbing bug.
Now in four locations in MA and CT, the gym offers climbing opportunities for all ages and abilities, and hosts climbing camps, regional, national – and international – competitions.
Trial attorney Paczkowski is as busy out of the courtroom as she is in – sitting on the Community Legal Aid Access to Justice Campaign Leadership Committee and co-chair of the Young Lawyers' Division of the Worcester County Bar Association, Paczkowksi is also the founding member and President of the Young Professionals Women's Association.
With goals of serving as a platform for women to share their voice on issues relating to the region's vitality, connecting with women through social and educational events, and providing opportunities for self-enrichment, the YPWA's esteemed found was recently named a 2013 Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Star.
- Tom Finneran: America’s New Grand Canyon
- Tom Finneran: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and St. Ann’s Parish
- Tom Finneran: MLK’s Haunted History
- Tom Finneran: Obama’s Dominoes
- Tom Finneran: A Good Man Earns High Office