Daily Archives: June 17, 2008

City Council 6/18/08

10:12: Palmieri reiterates his call – and Petty’s and Rushton’s – that the new chancellor of UMass-Med live in Worcester. He’s also saying it would be great to draw in 10% of the UMass-Med staff of 19,000 downtown.  Lukes says “there should be some sort of incentive [for employees] to live in the city.” We’ll be asking them in a few minutes if he feels the same about high-level city officials.

10:10: Under suspension: Toomey-wants a report on all area regulations on bicycles.

9:57: The recycling vendor is changing from Waste Management to Casella—and we’ll no longer have to separate out recycling. Yea!

9:34: Rushton-after a little quarrel with Lukes-”This is not a downtown ordinance, this is a city ordinance.”

9:29: Lukes takes the floor. She’s the originator of the motion that ended up with this ordinance. She says vendors and the families of vendors have all talked to her. “We don’t have the density downtown that will support that coexistence,” she says. “Maybe this is overkill, but if we don’t do this, we’ll have empty storefronts…people moving out.” “If you put canteens on Shrewsbury Street, this hall would be filled and you know it…the political pressure [would kill it].”

9:28: Just a reminder to all the councilors…street vendors mean more than just hot dog vendors. Sunglass vendors, toy vendors, peanuts, pretzels.

9:23: Palmieri, saying that hotdog stands in front of multimillion businesses will hurt them. Then a snide comment about “what [Councilor Rosen] was doing with a hotdog stand.” Rosen, incredulous, asks the Mayor to say something; she tells Rosen not to interrupt; Palmieri says Rosen “shouldn’t take it personally.” He compares hotdog vendors to people setting up chairs and tables and doing wills outside of law offices at a cut rate.

9:18: Moore says that there have been numerous complaints leading to this ordinance; additionally, he says there are issues of competitive fairness.

9:12: Under directed questioning from Rosen, Moore says the only real purpose of the ordinance is to allow the chief of police to license and charge a fee for hawkers and vendors. But Rosen raises the issue of the Elm Park hotdog vendor, who has been there forever…as a vendor on a public street, he’d probably be prohibited from selling hotdogs for more than 5 minutes. “I can’t let that awful operation [effect this one],” says Rosen, referencing a downtown vendor that’s been problematic. This is really an argument of intent vs. reality.

9:08: CM O’Brien is asking the council to take some action, just to move forward on it. Rushton is saying if we’ve waited this long, another few months won’t kill the city. It’s unfair to “drop it on us” like it’s the “end of the world.”

9:04: It’s being held, but rules are suspended to allow conversation anyway. City Solicitor Moore says the ordinance is for those selling out of vehicles only—Rushton reads the ordinance; it includes the words “on foot.” Moore says that phrase is under a different kind of license…a “transient license.” But, he allows, someone who is in one place for 12 months could still be considered transient. Rushton is still holding it–he says they needed more time than they got; they got the ordinance last night apparently.

8:56: Back to street hawkers. Rushton says the intent is good, but “it doesn’t look like it’s…for a city of 180,000…it looks like using a cannon to kill an insect.” He raises several issues, saying there are a lot holes: “if you want to sell a Christmas tree across from Haiku…you can’t.” And now, he brings up the point we brought up in print a few months ago, asking if his colleagues can imagine New York or Boston without street vendors. And (he’s on a roll) the El Delicioso, a target of the resolution, isn’t even in the covered ordinance zone. “It looks like an ordinance that’s written for a small town.” Lukes is covering her face as Rushton lists examples of when street vendors are good. “I know this bores you madam Mayor.”

8:42: Instead, Palmieri asks O’Brien to reach out to other private citizens who might be able to get in contact with Wyman bigshots more effectively.

8:39: Palmieri says “nothing will happen” if they take Wyman Gordon off the agenda. “Not a thing! Not a thing!” He says, essentially, that the City Manager will still call the company, the company will do what they’re going to do anyway….it begs the question than: What’s the purpose of putting anything on the agenda, if it makes no difference to how officials and private companies will act. The motion falls—Rosen, Toomey, and Lukes vote with Palmieri.

8:33: But then there’s Councilor Eddy, chair of the city Democratic committee, who says he doesn’t know how long the property has been on the council agenda, because he’s only been here for half a year. The City Manager is giving him a history lesson. We’ll spare you.

8:32: And Councilor Petty, the voice of reason, reminding everyone that Wyman-Gordon has still been an overall positive corporate citizen.

8:30: There are a lot of Worcester Common Outlets/Wyman-Gordon parallels. Some councilors are upset that the property looks like a hole in the ground; it looks that way because they tore down unused buildings, much like is the initial goal at CitySquare (and what we’d be left with if Berkeley backed out at the demolition phase). Rushton just took it a step further—he compared Wyman-Gordon’s silence to Cigna’s when Cigna owned the mall.

8:24: City Manager Michael O’Brien reveals that Wyman has been debating a further expansion at the site. He expected an answer by now, but says he’ll put in every effort to get an answer from Wyman-Gordon by the July 8 meeting.

8:20: Haller agrees that we should take another tactic with Wyman-Gordon. “It’s nothing short of insulting…it’s unacceptable,” she says, that the company hasn’t been more cooperative.

8:15: What’s up with Wyman-Gordon? Economic Development chief Tim McGourthy says they’ve been “incommunicado” about an internal review of their semi-empty downtown property, despite a dozen calls. They’re expected to get back to the city during the summer, and maybe put the property back on the market in the fall. Palmieri is saying we should take it off the Economic Development calendar if Wyman-Gordon is going to be so uncooperative.

8:09: There’s a “supplemental” item not appearing on the agenda that will somehow limit street hawkers and peddlers downtown—Palmieri calls them a “negative impact” on downtown restaurants. We’re trying to figure out exactly how far the new rules go. Rick Rushton wants to hold it; Konnie Lukes gives an exasperated sigh and says, “It’s taken months to get to this point.”

8:08: Just a note that next week will be the City Manager’s evaluation. Always a fun time.

7:59: Rosen calls having booze at a golf course an example of Worcester “being a little daring….it’s a sign of growing up, a sign of progress.”

7:54: As expected, this has turned into a conversation about the feasibility of alcohol and expansion at the Golf Course. Moylan says that he believes we’d be limited to “special” event-by-event licenses, unless we had a permanent vendor providing services at the course, similar to the original situation at Union Station.

7:42: DPW Commissioner Bob Moylan is calling last weekend’s golf tournament at Green Hill Golf Course a “huge success.” Profit was about $14,000—with the donated services from Gus Giordano, it was $18,000. This is sure to be what city officials point to as they move to have a semi-permanent alcohol license at the course. And sure enough, Giordano is using his soapbox to ask the council to consider allowing beer and wine at the clubhouse and on the patio.

7:35: Some major changes going through right now for taxi/livery cab rules – especially for the livery cabs. Unfortunately, the city’s document system is telling us that the maximum connections are exceeded, and we are unable to look at the full rules. We’ll give you the full list as soon as possible. But the councilors all seem pleased.

7:17: A proclamation honoring outgoing Superintendent James Caradonio is met with a standing ovation by the councilors and crowd.

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Turtle Boy Thursdays

Thursday night in the Canal District is shaping up to be a fun one.  And don’t worry about the Celtics…they’re winning tonight.

We’ve got music at the Dive from a veritable Harlem Globetrotters of Worcester music(Duncan, Scott, Troy, Mike T) all the way down to Nick’s (Travis Colby from Roomful of Blues). In between, you’ll find spicy Latin Jazz at Bocado, a rockin’ Flock night at the Dog (I hear the getups are particularly flattering this week), and some light shit, some heavy shit sprinkled throughout…a great night, in other words.

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Council Tonight!

It’ll be full of overblown rhetoric, but we’ll be out in enough time for the Celtic’s game.  We hope.

Join us at 7 for fun and profit!

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