Monthly Archives: April 2008

Orders under suspension

-Palmieri wants consistency in street sweeping, and wants the streets actually sweeped if tow trucks are going to come through honking their horns.  Apparently, cars are being moved, but streets aren’t getting sweeped.

-Germain is asking Lukes to talk to the School Committee about (here comes an oldie but goodie) no longer bussing students who don’t need it.

-Toomey: Reminding people that the House is dealing with amendments that would a)allow a locally set meals tax, b)limit school deductions to pay charter schools, c)close the telecom tax loophole, d)expend special education program, by reimbursing cities for transportation, among other things.

9:54

Aaaaand, we’re out.

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Should ORH stay or should it go?

If the city doesn’t apply for the $10 Million FAA grant for the improvements to the airport by May 1, we be screwed, and will be faced with the entire cost ourselves.

And how much will the airport cost us if we decide to close it?  It looks to be about $9 million, give or take.

Rushton says we shouldn’t send the message we want to shut the airport, and should vote to accept the money.

Clancy disagrees, and wants to hold or vote down the item.  He says he wishes he never voted to accept the money to build the terminal.  Clancy says he will not, and will never again support accepting money for the airport until there is a firm agreement with MassPort for them to assume control.

Palmieri is quoting unnamed “political operatives” who “moved in” and told the councilors that voting against taking the money was the wrong decision.  He, with Clancy, wants to hold the grant item again, but says that he knows that they don’t have four votes to do so.

Palmieri says no one in town he spoke to wants to save the airport, and that all airports are going “south, not north,” and that trains “are the future.  Trains are going to be what puts this city on the map, not planes.”

“I will not vote for another nickel, not another nickel, because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the city of Worcester.  Not today, not tomorrow, maybe in 20 years…”

UPDATE: Councilor Eddy: “We simply can’t afford to keep losing money at things like [the airport] and Green Hill Golf Course.”  He’s supporting it, but “not with enthusiasm.”  “If we [hold] this vote, we’re saying we want to close the airport…I don’t think we’re there right now.”

8:54

8:59 UPDATE: Councilor Germain: He hasn’t made up his mind yet if it should be held or passed.  “It’s not a viable airport.”  

“I wanted to hold this item for one more week…so I could make a more educated decision.  Then I found out if we don’t do this by [Thursday] we lose all this money.  $10 million dollars….So it forces my hand.”  I am or was the 4th vote.  So I become the vote that would shut this airport down or not….I would have liked some fairness or communication.  I would have liked some leadership, and not be given a two day window.” 

“I really wanted to hold this item,” says Germain.  He wanted some information from MassPort on their plans for the airport before deciding.

Germain’s final decision?  He voted no at 9:27pm.

9:02 UPDATE: City Manager Michael O’Brien: “The deadline is not something we typically have on transmittals to council.”  They will going forward, he says.  “We acted fast, as quick as we could.”

9:25 UPDATE: We’re still talking about the airport, almost one hour later.  Now, Lukes is listing everything it is used for: businesses, homeland security, general aviation, etc.  She acknowledges we’re not negotiating on an equal level with MassPort, but says turning down the grant money is sending the absolutely wrong message to MassPort and the community.  “Refusing…these grants only makes us look like we don’t know what we’re doing.

The “yesses” carry; Germain, Palmieri, and Clancy voted no.

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UMass Worcester Law School

Joff Smith, once again bringing up the issue of a UMass Law School.  He wants the state delegation to get involved.

But while Smith is gung-ho about the possibility, the reality is that it would be a potentially difficult project with some serious history.  In 2005, a UMass-Dartmouth Law School was shot down by the state Board of Higher Education after being approved by the UMass Board of Trustees.

Many councilors love the idea, though they are tempered by reality.

Toomey is also asking for the state to look at moving agencies into the old building.  But as a state-owned building, the city doesn’t stand to get too much spinoff unless it is a school or another big draw that moves in.

8:33

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Filed under City Council 4/29/08

Hanover’s Hood

The neighborhood around the Hanover Theatre is still a bit rough, and Germain and Rosen want something to be done.

“There are a lot of businesses that need sprucing up…maybe some new businesses,” says Rosen.  “I’m not saying we strong arm business owners…but maybe the administration should talk to the [business] owners…and try to make that stretch of stores look better and serve the theatre crowd better.”

“Can we come up with a game plan, a blue print for that [area] of the city?” asks Germain.  “A facade program, anything to make that area more appealing for theater-goers.”

While tax incentives or a facade program would be a huge help, they must have missed our news that something is going to happen down there.

8:20

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Legal Weed

Decriminalizing weed?

The legislature has to act on a proposal that would do that very thing by May 7, or it goes on the ballot as a non-binding referendum this fall.

Gary Rosen wants the city to have hearings on the issue…he obviously opposes decriminalization, but he’s speaking in vague third-person terms.

8:14

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PILOT from the military?

The council just referred an item to committee that, if passed, would ask the City Manager to go after PILOT monies from military bases and recruiting offices in town, the same as non-profits.

The item was proposed by Gordon Davis, on behalf of Worcester PeaceWorks.

7:56

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Conflict on a Conflict of Interest

Interesting dilemma: Two orders had been sent to Municipal Operations—both deal with retiree benefits.  (Also, some employees, in the case of 19B)

The only problem is that Paul Clancy and Rick Rushton – two thirds of the committee- have to recuse themselves, according to what Clancy heard from Rushton, who said he heard from City Solicitor David Moore.   (catch that?)  They both have family members who fall under the orders.  

Moore is refusing to comment, saying his discussion with Rushton was private.

Now he is saying that yes, in essence, both Rushton and Clancy have to recuse, as both have immediate family members that would be effected by the rules.  The only remaining councilor would be Mike Germain.

Step two: Gary Rosen has offered to take the item under Health Committee instead…but he’s a former employee himself.

Now the BEST vote EVER.

Germain is going to appoint two new temporary members to MO, instead of a switch to Health Committee.  So on Rosen’s order to move the items to Health Committee, the council — including Rosen himself! votes no.

End result: Clancy and Rushton sit the discussion at MO out, Germain appoints new members, and we all move on, until the next conversation about city retirees.

And if you followed all that, a gold star.

(A side note to think about: As the councilors all are technically city employees, do they ALL have to recuse themselves from matters dealing with city salaries/benefits?)

7:50

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