Whitcomb: Providence as Hotel Heaven? Cape Wind Is Dead; ‘Handicapped Parking’ Crackdown

Monday, December 04, 2017
Robert Whitcomb, Columnist

Bob Whitcomb
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

-- Anne Bradstreet, (1612-1672),  who moved to the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England and became the most prominent early English poet of North America.


"Come, come thou bleak December wind,
And blow the dry leaves from the tree!
Flash, like a Love-thought, thro'me, Death
And take a Life that wearies me."

--  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, (1772-1834)


 “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.'”


-- Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York speaking of GOP tax legislation.


He knows whom he reports to!





For some reason, news  of the recent proliferation of hotel projects in Providence recalled to me the late film mogul Sir Alexander Korda’s remark that you should “always go to the best hotel…{because} sooner or later someone will appear who will give you money.’’


At last count, there were a total of eight hotels being built or planned in Providence. I have to think that this suggests that there’s more business confidence in the future of the city and Rhode Island than most citizens think. Hotels, after all, cater to businesspeople and tourists. Presumably, the hotel developers believe that there will be more economic activity in the city in the next few years. It’s hard to figure out how much of this is due to the Raimondo administration’s relentless courting of companies to get them to move to Providence, how much to firms’ interpretation of general national and regional business cycles and how much to Providence’s proximity to booming Greater Boston.


The new hotels will boost the city in some rather indirect ways. Hotels, especially their lobbies,  function rooms and restaurants, are natural meeting places for businesses. Thus they make cities more dynamic for deal-making. Airbnb and bed and breakfasts don’t quite do that.


Some old hospitals can be turned into very nice hotels, as a recent Washington Post article reported.  Many more hospitals are likely to close as outpatient institutions and home care provide services, even acute-care services, that used to be only available in hospitals, and as new pharmaceuticals and medical devices make it easier to avoid hospitalization. To read The Washington Post article, please hit this link:


As I’ve written before, Pawtucket’s Memorial Hospital’s attractive and very solid buildings could be turned into a large assisted living center, condos, apartments or even, yes, a hotel.





Cape Wind never launched
Cape Wind project, first proposed in 2001, is now dead. It faced fierce opposition mostly funded and led by Bill Koch, one of the billionaire right-wing Koch Brothers, who have big fossil-fuel investments. Mr. Koch has a big summer place in Osterville, on the south shore of Cape Cod. He didn't want to look at the wind turbines that Energy Management Inc. sought to build.


Though they have had to pull the plug on New England, the team has developed the largest and most successful biomass projects in America. 


"Gainesville Regional Utilities received $3 billion of orders for $416 million of bonds to partly finance its purchase this biomass plant. Bond proceeds will be used as partial financing to purchase a 100-megawatt wood-burning biomass plant called the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, or GREC, from a group of investors. Two private placements totaling $265 million were used to complete the purchase," reports Bond Buyer. The project was developed by Jim Gordon and Rhode Islander Dennis Duffy.


"This is a good deal for both parties, involving a state-of-the-art carbon-neutral project.   The Gainesville project is the largest renewable biomass plant in the nation and the first to receive sustainability certification by the Forest Stewardship Council.   Its construction financing was a Project Finance Magazine 'deal of the year' in 2011,"  Duffy, the Vice President EMI, told GoLocal.


"EMI has developed clean energy projects over the last 30 years and done substantial business in Rhode Island, including the development of the Tiverton Power and Pawtucket Power projects, as well as multiple solar projects," added Duffy.




There was a brief uproar last week when Donald Trump, speaking at a ceremony at the White House to honor Navajo “code talkers,’’ who were very helpful in the U.S. military in World War II, made a joke about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claim to have some  Native American ancestry. He yet again called her “Pocahontas.’’ Like most of this con man’s jokes, it was stupid and nasty.  Still,  I, too, doubt if the Massachusetts senator has any Native American blood, though she has suggested she does. How about having your DNA tested, senator? That would clear this up.


(Some of my relatives have insisted that we have Cape Cod Wampanoag blood. Another romantic family myth. Or looking for some casino money….)


More troubling was that on the wall behind Trump and the honorees was a big portrait of the horrible President Andrew Jackson, the thug who helped force thousands of Indians from their homelands in the Southeast to west of the Mississippi. Many thousands died on this “Trail of Tears.’’


Trump has frequently expressed his admiration for Jackson, and indeed had that portrait hung there.




U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Speaking of Warren, I wonder if the Democrats will be crazy enough to nominate her or Bernie Sanders for president in 2020. The Dems should be in a strong position to win back the White House in three years because of Trump’s corruption and incompetence and what’s likely to be a recession in the next couple of years. But the stridency of Sanders and Warren is unlikely to be a big hit in the next campaign. And they’d both be too old. By that point, I think, Americans will be looking for a calm and only slightly left-of-center leader, preferably someone who had been a successful governor.


Or it may be a name that few Americans would recognize now.




The eruption of the Mt. Agung volcano, on Bali, in Indonesia, could cool the world’s climate for a year or two by spewing out particles and gases that block some sunlight. If this happens, global-warming deniers will intensify their rejection of the scientific consensus that man’s massive burning of coal, oil and natural gas is causing potentially catastrophic global warming.


Mt. Agung’s 1963 eruption cut global temperatures from 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius for a year. Indeed, some scientists are looking into whether some effects of volcanic eruptions could/should be mimicked to slow or halt man-made global warming -- for instance by injecting sulfuric acid into the stratosphere or by cloud-seeding programs.






It’s impossible to keep up with the nonstop lie machine in the Oval Office. I just note one of the more amusing recent ones:


Trump said the other day that “Financial Institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public” because of Obama era regulations in the wake of the 2007-2009 crash caused by, among other things, weak regulation. But in fact, the big banks have repeatedly had record profits in recent years.




The Washington Post last week reported about a woman who falsely asserted that Alabama’s Roy Moore sexually assaulted her as a teenager. The woman was trying to embarrass The Post by getting it to publish a false report about Moore, the Alabama Republican who’s running for the U.S. Senate and has been accused of pedophilia. The idea was that The Post would then be blamed as engaging in “fake news’’.


The Post, however, did some research and discovered the woman was an agent for Project Veritas, a right-wing organization, led by the remarkably sleazy  Trumpist James O’Keefe, that uses deceptive tactics and secretly records conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets – such as the “Mainstream Media’’ (the generally responsible media that at least tries to adhere to rigorous reporting and editing). It didn’t work this time.


One has to wonder if Project Veritas is getting money from Trump’s pals in the Kremlin. In any case, readers would do well to frequently consult the fact-checking site snopes.com. With so many lies and misleading memes out there, especially on the Internet, services like snopes.com are essential in our besieged democracy.


To read more, please hit this link:


President Donald Trump
Trump, whose company has been the recipient of many millions of dollars from Russians close to Vladimir Putin, shares that dictator’s distaste for serious journalism. As our leader tweeted the other day:


“@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!”


Trump should be happy that Putin has just signed a law making certain American media outlets working in Russia register with the government as foreign agents. Mr. Putin’s allies have signaled that CNN International could be affected. Fox News, of course, is the Pravda of America, acting as a daily mouthpiece of the Trump administration.




Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a bill to crack down on people who misuse disability credentials to get handicapped parking spaces. Rhode Island officials would do well to order the same sort of crackdown.


We sometimes see people who seem in very good physical condition using handicapped parking placards in order to park in spaces very close to where they’re shopping, seeing physicians and so on.


The Boston Globe reported that the new law, which increases the authority of the Registry of Motor Vehicles to investigate fraudulent applications for handicapped placards, was enacted after a 2016 report from the state inspector general found that people were misusing placards in every Boston neighborhood that was watched.


MA Governor Charlie Baker
“’The use of disability parking placards should be reserved for our most vulnerable residents,’ Baker said. Obviously.


The issue reminds me that the demand for handicapped parking will presumably continue to surge with the aging of the population.  But will self-driving cars cool that demand as auto-autos pick up and drop off people exactly where they want to be?

To read The Globe’s article, please hit this link:


And then there are those “therapy animals,’’ mostly dogs, with owners with invisible health problems.




The scholars’ discussion is rather dense but this piece from Politico is very interesting. It’s headlined:


“No, Republicans Aren’t Hypocrites on Family Values: Setting Aside the Behavior of Certain GOP Politicians {Trump, etc.}, the Data Show that Red America Is Hardly the Land of Broken Families and Libertine Behavior Depicted in the Press.’’ To read it, please hit this link:




Essentia Health—a hospital system in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho—has fired 50 employees who have refused the flu vaccine this season. Good for Essentia. Someone should also fire the parents of children who don’t get vaccinations because they believe the quacks who lie about vaccinations. People who have not been vaccinated imperil others as well as, of course, themselves.




Whitcomb appears this week on GoLocal LIVE with News Editor Kate Nagle


Gary Cohn, the Wall Street shark who is Trump’s chief economic adviser, said the other week that “only morons pay the estate tax.’’ I admire his honesty in referring to the loopholes that enable many, perhaps most very rich people to avoid paying the estate tax, which applies to a miniscule percentage of American estates anyway – the top 0.2 percent. In any event, the GOP will probably succeed in ending the estate tax, in the Republicans’ endless efforts to further strengthen the wealth and power of the plutocracy and its descendants. Not great for democracy, but the Electoral College has spoken!

Pick your parents well, suckers!




Because Boston Mayor Marty Walsh resoundingly won re-election,  aided by the growing wealth of the city, some silly commentators are saying that he could have national ambitions. But no Boston mayor could go beyond being Massachusetts governor, and even that might be a stretch. Walsh is too liberal and some Americans would dislike his accent, too. Boston is a foreign city to many people west of the Hudson.




From “How a half-educated tech elite delivered us into chaos, ‘’ by John Naughton, in The Guardian:


“Put simply, what Google and Facebook have built is a pair of amazingly sophisticated, computer-driven engines for extracting users’ personal information and data trails, refining them for sale to advertisers in high-speed data-trading auctions that are entirely unregulated and opaque to everyone except the companies themselves.


“The purpose of this infrastructure was to enable companies to target people with carefully customized commercial messages and, as far as we know, they are pretty good at that…. And in doing this, [Facebook chief Mark} Zuckerberg, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and co. wrote themselves licenses to print money and build insanely profitable companies….


“It never seems to have occurred to them that their advertising engines could also be used to deliver precisely targeted ideological and political messages to voters. Hence the obvious question: how could such smart people be so stupid? ….


“My hunch is it has something to do with their educational backgrounds. …


“Now mathematics, engineering, and computer science are wonderful disciplines – intellectually demanding and fulfilling. And they are economically vital for any advanced society. But mastering them teaches students very little about society or history – or indeed about human nature. As a consequence, the new masters of our universe are people who are essentially only half-educated.’’


To read the whole piece, please hit this link:

  • United Way of Central Massachusetts

    484 Main St., Worcester

    United Way of Central Massachusetts helps many local organizations gain funding to help community efforts.

    Each year they post a wish list for their organizations that easily allows you to choose where to donate or volunteer this holiday season.

    Photo: United Way of Central Massachusetts

  • Girls inc. of Worcester

    125 Providence Street, Worcester

    For 100 years, the Girls Inc. of Worcester has aimed to dedicate themselves to empowering young women, ranging from ages 5 to 18 to achieve their goals and dreams. The organization supports these women to become healthy, educated, and independent figures. 

    Points of emphasis that are translated from Girls Inc. of Worcester faculty to its clients include, appropriate ways to confront challenges, resisting peer pressure, and viewing college as a tangible facet in their lives

  • African Community Education Program

    Denholm Building 484 Main St. #355, Worcester

    The African Community Education Program is a community-oriented educational program targeted toward African refugee and immigrant children living in Worcester, Massachusetts.

  • Veterans Inc.

    69 Grove Street, Worcester

    The mission of Veterans Inc.’s is to help veterans re-gain control of their lives in order to eliminate homelessness among veterans.

    Veterans Inc. was established in 1990.

  • Why Me Inc.

    1152 Pleasant Street, Worcester

    Founded in 1985, Why Me Inc supports families that are dealing with childhood cancer.

  • Goddard Homestead Inc.

    1199 Main Street, Worcester

    For nearly a century Goddard Homestead has served and cared for elders. Most recently, the home was converted from a boarding house to high style private residences.

  • Greater Worcester Community Foundation

    370 Main Street, Suite 650, Worcester.

    The Greater Worcester Community Foundation is a model of philanthropy which is dedicated to improving the community, now, and in the future.

  • Worcester Art Museum

    55 Salisbury Street, Worcester

    The Worcester Art Museum provides various forms of art to view as well as classes for adults, kids and people of all ages.

  • Worcester Campus Services

    333 S St, Shrewsbury

    Worcester Campus Services Inc. is a Educational Institution Supporting Organization in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

  • VNA Care Network Inc.

    120 Thomas Street, Worcester

    Founded in 1891, VNA Care Network has helped people of all ages cope with illness or injury while living at home. Our exceptional visiting nurses; physical, occupational, and speech therapists; social workers; and other professionals have helped us earn accreditation by The Joint Commission.

  • Worcester County Horicultural Society

    11 French Ave, Boylston

    The Worcester County Horicultural Society is home to Tower Hill Botanical Garden. The garden is living museum of plants, a garden paradise on 132 acres

  • Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

    335 Chandler Street, Worcester

    Since 1878, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is dedicated to leadership in protecting and promoting the rights and well-being of children and families.

  • Eastern Orthodox Managment Corporation

    300 Barber Avenue, Worcester

    Holy Trinity is a non-profit facility serving individuals who require a broad range of social, nursing and rehabilitation services in an atmosphere of quality care and Christian love, without regard to a person's race, color, religion, creed, sex, age, national origin, disability or Veteran's status.

  • Worcester Center for Performance Arts Inc.

    2 Southbridge Street, Worcester

    The missions of the Worcester Center for Performance Arts is to foster a love and appreciation for the performing arts in audiences of today and tomorrow.

  • Worcester Natural History Society

    222 Harrington Way, Worcester

    We all know it as the EcoTarium and for all the fun and education.

    Founded in 1825, the Worcester Natural History Society is a great place to play outside, play on the imagination playground and learn about the natural history of Worcester.

  • Y.O.U., Inc

    81 Plantation Street, Worcester

    Y.O.U Inc. is dedicated to providing  services that help put a bright and productive future within every family’s reach.

  • Bridge of Central Massachusetts

    4 Mann Street, Worcester

    Founded in 1973, The Bridge now serves over 1,200 individuals in residential and community settings.

    Supports compassionate, evidence-based human services for those with mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, acquired brain injury and complex family problems.

  • Worcester County Mechanics Association

    321 Main Street, Worcester

    Mechanics Hall is the premier event venue and concert hall in Central Massachusetts. Renowned for its elegance and sound qualities, the Hall's cultural significance, its stunning décor and architectural detail have earned it a listing on the National Register of Historic Places

  • Worcester Historical Museum

    30 Elm Street, Worcester

    The Worcester Historical Museum is home to exhibits that display all parts of the histroy of Worcester. The museum includes an Alden Family Gallery, an artifact collection gallery and a salisbury mansion gallery.

  • Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts Inc.

    81 Gold Star Boulevard, Worcester

    The mission of the Girl Scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

  • Boys and Girls Club of Worcester

    65 Tainter Street, Worcester

    The mission of the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester is to help youth develop the qualities needed to become responsible citizens and community leaders, through caring professional staff who forge relationships with our youth members and influence their ability to succeed in life.

  • The Jimmy Fund

    10 Brookline Place West, Brookline, MA

    The Jimmy Fund is always looking for people to donate blood and platelets for those undergoing cancer treatments and trauma victims. 

    You can also become a dedicated volunteer for Jimmy Funds many councils and promote their mission by hosting fundraising events.

    Photo: The Jimmy Fund

  • Reliant Medical Group

    100 Front St., Worcester, MA

    Reliant Medical Group is an organization focused on improving the health and well-being of everyone in Central Massachusetts. 

    Donate to volunteer or participate in a 5k to help support the many other non-profits that they are engaged in.

    Photo: Reliant Medical Group

  • AIDS Project Worcester

    85 Green St, Worcester, MA

    AIDS Project Worcester provides housing for those who are HIV positive and in need of financial assistance. 

    They also provide educational services to teach the community about AIDS and STD prevention.

    Volunteer to help with their educational outreach or donate to support their cause. 

  • Broken Tail Rescue

    160 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA

    Broken Tail Rescue saves dogs and cats from euthanasia at their rescue center.

    They need volunteers to foster rescues and donations for care and goods. 

    Photo: Broken Tail Rescue

  • Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance

    6 Institute Road, Worcester, MA

    Donate gently used home goods to Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance to benefit the homeless and  at-risk.

    Photo: CMHA

  • Why Me and Sherry's House

    1152 Pleasant Street, Worcester

    Donate your car or volunteer to help support families affected by childhood cancer at Why Me and Sherry's House.

    You can even help provide a family with meals or emergency childcare during their hardship. 

    Photo: Why Me and Sherry's House

  • Ascentria Care Alliance

    14 East Worcester St., Worcester, MA

    Ascentria Care Alliance is one of the largest community service organizations in the area and allows you to reach out in many different ways. 

    Volunteer as a tutor or skills trainer to help members of your community reach their full potential.

     Photo: Ascentria Care Alliance

  • Big Brothers Big Sister of Central MA

    484 Main St., Worcester, MA

    Become a mentor for an at-risk child in your community through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts/ Metrowest. 

  • JHC Assisted Living Corp

    629 Salisbury Street, Worcester

    The Jewish HealthCare Center is one of New England’s most respected HealthCare facilities, providing innovative long-term care, short-term rehabilitation, hospice services, home care services, and Alzheimer’s care to the community since 1916.

  • Children's Friend

    21 Ceder Street, Worcester

    Children's Friend benefits children and families whose lives have been affected by difficulties including abuse, neglect, family instability, death, substance abuse, and mental, emotional and physical problems

  • Worcester County Food Bank

    474 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury

    Donate food, funds or volunteer your time at the Worcester County Food Bank.

    Worcester County Food Bank (WCFB) is the region’s leading anti-hunger organization distributing over 5 million pounds of donated food and grocery product

  • Key Program Inc.

    670 Old Connecticut Path, Framingham, MA

    Key Program Inc. in Framingham seeks to assist troubled youth and their families. 

    The organization is always looking for food items, apparel, bikes, and gift certificates from donators.

    Photo: Key Program Inc. 

  • Fraxa

    10 Prince Place, Newburyport, MA

    Fraxa Research Foundation is on a mission to help to find a cure for Fragile X - a disease that affects intellectual abilities, and makes sufferes hyperactive, hypersentitive to light and noise and prone to seizures. 

    You can donate or tribute a gift in honor of someone suffering from Fragile X. 

    Photo: Fraxa Research Foundation

  • Pet Chance

    PO Box 448, Northborough, MA

    Pet Chance allows you to fund medical services for animals in shelters who need care.

    Families who cannot afford medical services for their pets can also apply for funding on the site.

    Help someone's furry friend heal this holiday.

  • Horace Mann Educational Associates

    8 Forge Pkwy, Franklin, MA

    Donate your vehicle, electronics, gift cards and more to Horace Mann Educational Associates.

    The organization is responsible for serving nearly 3,800 children and adults with developmental disabilities. 

  • Seven Hills

    415 Main St., Worcester, MA

    Seven Hills aids the disabled, impoverish, and those dealing with trauma get back on the road to wellness and recovery.

    To donate or volunteer for one of thermally training programs visit their site. 

    Photo: Seven Hills

  • Nativity School in Worcester

    67 Lincoln St, Worcester, MA

    Donate boys’ uniforms, sports equipment, and art supplies to support the academic programs of the Nativity School in Worcester.

    Photo: Nativity School in Worcester

  • Worcester Chamber Music Society

    9 Irving Street, Worcester, MA 01609

    Worcester Chamber Music brings world-class chamber music to intimate Greater Worcester venues. WCMS nurtures the community through a unique combination of affordable concerts, education and community engagement.

  • American Red Cross Central MA

    2000 Century Dr., Worcester, MA

    American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts is always looking for volunteers to donate blood, organize fundraisers, and donate non-monetary items like credit card rewards and goods. 

    The Red Cross prevents and relieves suffering to those in the community including military families in need. 

  • StandUp For Kids

    114 Main Street, Worcester, MA

    StandUp For Kids offers volunteer opportunities every second Monday of the month.

    Volunteer to help outreach efforts and help those suffering from youth homelessness in Central Massachusetts.

    Photo: StandUp for Kids

  • Operation Homefront

    21 Franklin St., Quincy, MA

    Organize a fundraiser to benefit the families of soldiers through financial relief efforts, and caregiving to wounded warriors through Operation Homefront. 

  • Center for Living and Working

    484 Main St., Worcester, MA

    The center for living and working assists the disabled with independent living, the deaf and hard of hearing and provide personal care management to over 1000 people in Central Massachusetts.

    Photo: Center for Living and Working 

  • Advocates Inc.

    One Clarks Hill, Framingham, MA 

    Advocates Inc. assists the disabled and elderly with home ownership and sustaining satisfying work and personal relationships. 

    Intern, or donate online when you do your personal shopping on Amazon, overtime you shop Advocates receives a percentage of your total purchase - making it easy to give and receive.

    Photo: Advocates, Inc. 

  • Auburn Youth and Family Services

    21 Pheasant Ct, Auburn, MA

    Tutor a student or participate in Auburn Youth and Family Services’ Holiday Giving Program. 

    Adopt a child or family to donate food, and gifts to be delivered to needy families this holiday.

  • Jeff’s Place

    34 Deloss St., Framingham, MA

    Donate a useable laptop, paper goods, and financial gifts to Jeff’s Place and help them facilitate healthy grief journeys for children and families experiencing loss.   

    Photo: Jeff's Place

  • Young Womens Christian Association of Central Mass

    One Salem Square, Worcester

    YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

  • Be Like Brit

    66 Pullman St, Worcester, MA 01606

    From a terrible tragedy emerges a massive effort to help children in Haiti. The mission is "to serve the children of Haiti by establishing a safe, nurturing and sustainable orphanage in an environment where they can grow, learn & thrive."

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