Governor Deval Patrick was in Worcester today, speaking to a gathering of local business leaders to discuss his plans to close the $600 million mid-year budget gap. His idea? Governor Patrick said he is going to make $277 million in cuts across Executive Branch agencies, and is also seeking expanded 9C authority to make $75 million in cuts to non-executive branch agencies.
Governor Patrick was also keen on addressing the programs and investments that he would like to preserve and maintain, including $16 million for Universal Pre-Kindergarten and Head Start programs and $10 million for Department of Mental Health Club Houses to serve the mentally ill, just to name a few.
To view a list of the reductions follow the link below.
7:16: Mayor Lukes starts the meeting with a moment of silence to recognize City Council reporter’s Nick Kotsopoulos’s loss of his father.
7:21: Gary Rosen proposes the Philadelphia Plan. He tells the council how the city 300 miles to our south came up with this plan that worked well for them. It brought in businesses by offering a 10 year abatement. He asks the manager to look at the Philadelphia Plan and show Worcester how it can help our city as well.
7:34: Paul Clancy has Rosen’s back. He says “the Philadelphia Plan could be a good plan” to bring businesses into Worcester. He notes the plan originally was made to improve and bring in residential properties, but asks the City Manager to look into laws that would allow Worcester to implement a similar plan.
7:26: Rick Rushton says “we’ve been on a slow train to nowhere” since 1984 when Worcester went to a duel tax rate, and says looking at the Philadelphia plan is the first step towards lowering taxes to our business owners, something we’ve needed to do for a long time now. He hopes this is one of many ideas that can be talked about, and possibly used in our own city.
7:29: Kate Toomey creates a new word: “Worcesterdelphia”. Maybe there should be Worcester City Council Dictionary for times like this.
7:32: Barbara Haller says there is progress being made with College Hill, and is hopeful that students who live there in off-campus housing and other residents will live next to each other comfortably and peacefully. She notes that the students are a large part of our city, and do many wonderful things. We need to make sure we don’t forget that as we enforce policy to keep open container, and such things under control. Continue reading
Konnie Lukes has responded to the Coalition for Worcester Retirees demand that she release information about where her family has registered its cars since 1999 following a T&G column that revealed her husband, Jim, had two cars registered in Chatham. Lukes says the Coalition has launched a “smear campaign” against her family. Her response in a press release that just came in to Worcester Mag:
“My car has been registered in the city of Worcester, and I pay the excise tax on my car to the City of Worcester. The Worcester Treasurer’s office has assured me today that their records indicate I have done so since at least 1999. Whatever the members of my immediate and/or extended family do is their business, and certainly not an issue in this campaign or any other. The personal, private decisions of my immediate and extended family have no impact on how I have served or how I will serve as Mayor, and they have no impact on how other candidates might serve as Mayor.
“I am the candidate on the ballot for Mayor, not my relatives. My payments of taxes, fees, and surcharges are all up to date and complete according to the Treasurer’s office.”
“This is obviously intended as a distraction from real issues and, unfortunately, the leaders of the Coalition for Worcester Retirees are willing to sink to the lowest levels of attack, by attempting to drag my family members into their campaign against me. I led the charge for health insurance reform, saving the taxpayers millions of dollars, instead of submitting to the Coalition’s demands to increase their own benefits.”
Lukes went on to say she will provide the press with copies of the records that she received from the City Treasurer’s office confirming her vehicle registration and excise tax history.
“Unfortunately, this kind of retaliation is what you get when you stand up to special interest groups, which is why most politicians are afraid to do it.”
She described the Coalition’s move as “angry mob antics” and “thuggery.”
The release concludes:
Mayor Lukes further noted that she has, in the past, supported orders to enforce the rule that city residents register their vehicles in Worcester. She still supports this rule and has demanded that, if any member of her own family has not complied with it, they do so immediately.
Posted by “Jim Gonyea” on www.notestoleicester.blogspot.com
The Boston Globe has a snippet about a push by the Republican senators in the State Senate. It appears that the five Republican senators are pushing a bill to require schools to teach about the proper care of the United State flag. I guess this means that all of our problems in Massachusetts have been solved and we can now focus on the flag. I’m glad that the unemployment rate in Massachusetts is no longer 9.3 percent. No, wait the Massachusetts unemployment rate is 9.3 percent. Okay, well I’m glad that this means that Massachusetts doesn’t have a budget problem right now. Oh, right, the state has a $300 million budget deficit and the Governor is suggesting a need to cut 2,000 state jobs. Well, I guess trying to come up with solutions to the state budget deficit and trying to find a way to stimulate the economy and put more Massachusetts citizens to work is hard to do. I suppose turning your back on that effort to focus on forcing public schools to teach about flag etiquette makes a lot of sense. After all if you have no good ideas on how to fix the major problems it’s easier to show to the voters that you’ve made progress on something that isn’t even a problem. Is there any wonder why there are only five Republicans in the State Senate?
Posted by “Claudia Snell” on www.cmsnell.blogspot.com
Summer really is over. The baby swans in Institute park have grown up. You can barely tell they are babies anymore. Except for a few brown feathers they look just like their parents. One of them is even nasty like his dad (I’m guessing ‘he’ by his size). The dad has left the pond as he usually does. Mom and the babies will be gone soon too. The parents did a great job – of the six babies, four have made it.
The Coalition of Worcester Retirees is asking Konnie Lukes “to publicly disclose where all the vehicles owned by the Lukes family have been registered since 1999 by 5 p.m. tomorrow. If Konnie Lukes refuses to disclose the complete and accurate excise history by 5 p.m. we will be asking her directly before the City Council meeting at 7 p.m.” This, on the heels of a Clive McFarland column that Lukes’ husband, Jim, registers two cars in Yarmouth and doesn’t pay Worcester excise taxes or insurance rates. The coalition, which has sparred with Lukes over Section 19, notes that in 2007 Lukes voted for two separate orders asking the city manager to investigate why excise tax revenue had decreased significantly despite population growth.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting and reportedly at Thursday’s Citywide Crime Watch meeting at the police station, City Manager Michael O’Brien noted that the T&G failed to report on two incidents last weekend – a double stabbing and the discharging of a firearm – that he deemed newsworthy. According to Thursday’s story in the T&G about the Crime Watch meeting, the paper had requested the info on Sunday morning and didn’t receive it until Wednesday. The T&G story noted: “The chief told the resident that [information officer Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst] said the information on the incidents was released.” Sort of a vague response; no timeline given on when the information was released … or to whom. All we know is Hazelhurst e-mailed information about the incidents in two separate e-mails to Worcester Mag, WCRN, WTAG (to three different addresses), Charter and NECN Sunday night, with the Telegram conspicuously not copied on either. Shortly afterward, the WPD released its “revised media policy” that was critical of the T&G’s coverage of the police department and announced its intent to get information in a “timelier manner” to radio and TV stations. The T&G wasn’t copied on that one either.
Have we reached the point of overkill with these candidates’ forums/debates? By the time last night’s forum at Clark rolled around, the mayor candidates had done a dozen of these (they’d just been on Jordan Levy’s show earlier), and some confessed privately to being, as one candidate put it, “fried.” The Clark event had been scheduled as a standard Q&A&Rebuttal style debate, but before they went on Konnie Lukes asked if the format could be ditched in favor of a question-and-answer session with the audience members. Nobody protested, and that’s how it went off.
Several councilors at Tuesday’s meeting were critical that the T&G had not written about the Police Department’s report on crime stats, which placed Worcester as one of the state’s safest cities with populations over 100,000. We can’t pretend to read the T&G’s mind, but typically if a report is released on Friday, as this was, it often won’t be written about at the earliest until Tuesday anyway because of skeleton news crews on the weekend and inaccessibility of the police until Monday (crime stats are sort of an “evergreen” topic that can be tackled at just about any time). Of course by Monday, the WPD’s “revised media policy” became the story.