Monthly Archives: July 2008

Internally Yours

Internal Policy.

Remember that phrase, dissect it, analyze it, and understand it.

As we said yesterday, that’s the phrase of the week.

Essentially, Police Chief Gary Gemme is insisting that his new policy forbidding one unit details (and requiring anyone who hires one cop to hire two instead) is internal policy.  A couple councilors – most publicly, Michael Germain, is claiming that since the order effects businesses, it is something that should be discussed by city council in some form.  And Germain and Gemme’s email war has now become very public, putting “internal policies” at the forefront of the city debate.  This might even take more time than street vendors.

Why does it matter?  Let’s break it down.

1. Limits of Internal Policy: This is a big one.  If Gemme’s logic train is followed, what are the limits of “internal policy?”  There are a number of duties consolidated under his authority as chief including taxi licensing, bar licensing, event details, gun permitting.  If everything that involves cops and staffing is an internal policy, what is an external policy?

2. Is Germain wrong for questioning?: Gemme (and others) have accused Germain of overstepping his bounds in responding directly to the chief; in today’s Telegram, the chief said that Germain had “no right to e-mail him directly or comment on police internal staffing, and that he should have gone through the city manager.”  But if it’s not an internal decision, and is in fact deemed something that effects city business, it may have been Gemme who overstepped his bounds by not raising it to the council beforehand.  And if it is an “external issue,” it’s perfectly within the rights of Germain, as a councilor, to bring it up on the floor.

There’s a side issue: Councilor Germain has also grumbled that the item should be referred to his Economic Development committee, not just Public Safety.

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We didn’t get it in time for our print edition, but here is the original memo from Assistant City Manager to the City Council detailing Police Chief Gary Gemme’s new “internal policy” requiring businesses to hire two detail officers instead of one.  Keep your eye on that phrase internal policy—the hot debate over the coming few weeks will be what constitutes an internal policy, and what the city council must or may not be involved in.

—–Original Message—–
From: Jacobson, Julie A.
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2008 05:57 PM Eastern Standard Time
Subject: Worcester Police Department Internal Policy

Madame Mayor and Members of the City Council:

Based on separate incidents at two locations over the past couple of weeks in which two Worcester police officers were assaulted and injured, and due to the escalation of incidences occurring at establishments serving alcohol, Police Chief Gary Gemme has enacted an internal policy effective this past Wednesday requiring liquor establishments that utilize off-duty police officers on a voluntary basis to utilize two officers for each period hired, and those officers will be required to work together at the establishment, not be placed at separate entrances/exits. Single officers will no longer be allowed to serve paid detail at such establishments. This policy has been put into place to protect the safety of police officers as well as to ensure the safety of patrons. Establishments which are not required to have police details as a condition of their liquor license may opt not to hire any police details, but if they do elect to hire police details, they must hire two officers.

The Worcester Police Department has verbally notified all establishments that regularly utilize off duty police officers of this policy and will be mailing a formal notification to all establishments which have a liquor license early next week.

Sincerely,

Julie A. Jacobson

Acting City Manager

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Germain and Gemme’s flame war

Telegram columnist Dianne Williamson is ready to drop a big one tomorrow, including details from an email flame war between Police Chief Gary Gemme and City Councilor Michael Germain. The firey exchange allegedly took place after Germain responded to news about Gemme’s order that all details be doubled with a quickly written rebuke sent to his fellow councilors. That led to a response from Gemme, and so on.

Germain is on WCRN right now, talking about emails between the chief and the councilor; and his feelings on the details. Essentially, Germain says that the council was left out of the loop inappropriately, and that the issue needs to be discussed. Further he says, a uniform law will inappropriately put some businesses out of business; clubs need to be looked at on a one-by-one basis, he says.

So what’s the real reason for Gemme’s order that any club that has one detail cop hire two instead? Sources whom have seen Assistant City Manager Julie Jacobson’s memo to council say that it is about keeping officers safe, especially in light of a few recent incidents at specific “problem” bars. Essentially, the ruling would mean any time the License Commission orders a bar to have a detail, they’d be forced to hire two. But the ruling reportedly isn’t a done deal, as there is talk that the council will in fact take up the issue at a future meeting, possibly on August 12th.

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WHERE THE HELL HAVE WE BEEN????

Well, we’ve been dealing with naked guys on airplanes, nerd-core level stuff at San Diego Comic Con, and other vagrancies of a so-called vacation.

But we’re back.  With a vengeance.

And starting tomorrow, you can expect all the regular blogging you’ve come to love.  There’s sure a lot to talk about, including double-dipping cops, secretive cops, and  doubling up of detail cops; lobsters being spilled, soiled, spoiled, and sold; motions being denied…well, you get the point.

Anyway, we’re back.  So come by tomorrow for a preview of Thursday’s Worcesteria and other news/analysis you won’t find anywhere else.

We missed you too.

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Interview with the vendor

Another guest post from Mike Benedetti.

Much has been written in the papers and on the internet about some City Councilors’ efforts to place new restrictions on Worcester’s street vendors.

Little has been heard from the vendors themselves, which is why Worcester Indymedia has produced an interview with 9 of them:

(Disclosure: I did the opening narration for this, and generally love the heck out of street vendors.)

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Art under attack

There’s been a public art exhibit in Elm Park for the past few weeks. According to the Telegram & Gazette, one of the metal statues, Fern Cunningham’s “Massai Warrior Adorned,” was stolen.

Massai Warrior Adorned by Fern Cunningham
Photo courtesy WCCA TV13

The authorities think that “It was swiped from its pedestal sometime Saturday night or early Sunday morning,” but it was missing when I (guest blogger Mike Benedetti) walked through the park on Saturday.

IMG_0147
Mike Benedetti photo

Another piece of art, described to me as “bikes in a net hanging from a tree,” was cut down and almost stolen before the thief was confronted:

“I came by, and there was someone who had taken it down and was dismantling it for parts,” Ms. Hall said. “I was, like, ‘Don’t you know better? What kind of example are you setting for these kids?'”

I love that this guy didn’t realize this was an art project.

One of my favorite pieces is a collection of curved boards designed to rest in the pond. “Recks Read” tells the tale of confronting someone trying to steal it:

I’m not sure why, but I immediately started taking pictures of him, I asked him if it was his work, if he was the artist, If was repairing the piece, he said no and proceeded to dismantled it.

ELM PARK 4
Photo courtesy WCCA/Flickr

I’m not sure why someone would steal this, unless he had an appropriate pond to display it in. It’s not like warped wood has a lot of resale value.

The scrap metal business, on the other hand, is booming. Did the artist take precautions?

The warrior statue’s creator, sculptor Fern Cunningham of Hanson, said the piece was securely attached to the base with epoxy and a bolt. The work, valued at $6,000, has made it through other outdoor shows without incident. “It was just in Sioux City for a year, and nothing happened to it,” she said. Ms. Cunningham said she was very distressed by the theft. “It was one of my favorite pieces,” she said.

Looks like, in 2008, epoxy and a bolt isn’t going to stop someone from cashing in.

A few weeks back, I interviewed Jacob Berendes about this art show, and he confessed that he and Nik Perry snuck an artificial Christmas tree into Elm Park and added it to the collection. That only survived two days.

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A temporary change

I (Zoback) am on vacation for a week (look for me at the nerd-paradise known as Comic Con!) so Daily Wuss will be a bit different next week.  You can look forward to some guest bloggers giving their take on what’s up in Worcester.  I’m sure it’ll be a welcome break from my usual load.

And if you’re in town tonight, make sure to hit Green Street/The Canal District for Turtle Boy Thursdays: 15+ bands, musicians and DJ’s rocking 12+ bars and clubs.  No cover charge, music, horse drawn carts, street vendors, the Governor of Massachusetts…what more could you want????

See you guys when I’m back.  I’ll miss you.

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