City Council live blog 9/9/08

A little late due to some technical difficulties and…lateness, but here we go.

10:41: Short of 5 hours, we are adjourned.

10:37: A resolution against Question 2 may be outside the council’s purview, but Councilor Rushton wants a resolution against Question 1 to be discussed at the next meeting.

10:28: Palmieri wants to take tobacco signs now. Konnie wants to include Hookah Bars

10:15: Clancy and Palmieri wants the City Council to waive requirements for hearings and assessments for sidewalk reconstruction projects on main arterials. “The commissioner could do this,” says Clancy, “but he wants us to do this.” Moreover, says Clancy, “we don’t know how many of these paved surfaces are public or private.” Essentially, it takes a step out of the process; Lukes says she wants a legal opinion to make sure due process is maintained. Palmieri says that sidewalks that aren’t paved correctly, even if they’re surrounded by good sidewalks, can’t be selected to be resurfaced.

10:02: Rushton wants to know how many employees have 24/7 access to citywide vehicles, why, and how many are going outside the city on a daily basis.

10:00: Haller wants to look – again – at converting the police department to a precinct based system and stabilizing the staffing. Both of those are goals of the public safety committee, and Haller wants to get started on a citywide strategy.

9:56: Haller wants an ordinance against flyers that are left on private and public property. We already have one that bans putting flyers on light polls. Haller says she intends the item to include all items, including Yellow Books, etc. Rushton says he has a problem with that inclusion.

9:55: Four hours in, and we’re starting the order section of the agenda. Ugh.

9:35: Clancy raises the exterminator who has what appears to be an ALB in his collection, perhaps since the late 90s. O’Brien says that it still hasn’t been determined if the beetle is from Worcester, or was given to the family already deceased. He maintains that we’re looking at a 5-7 year timeline since the beetle got to the area.

9:32: Still, O’Brien says the city is pushing for the least destructive method possible to preserve as many trees as possible. A “war plan” is being developed as we speak, says the City Manager. The chopping starts after the frost; injections into roots would start in the spring.

9:28: What could the cost be for dealing with ALB? The more destructive method, the “Jersey” method, could cost $17-$25 million up front and $70 million over the long term. The “less” destructive method (an injection focused process in some cases) takes longer, and costs more.

9:21: Senator Kerry and Congressman McGovern have asked the federal government to pick up 100% of the Asian Longhorned Beetle eradication effort. Councilor Smith also says that he’s heard from residents who have called to report beetles, but haven’t heard back. City Manager Michael O’Brien says because of staffing, it’s a sort of triage: Houses inside the quarantine area are being dealt with systematically; other reports are being taken from the FURTHEST point outside the known area, and working in to establish a firm perimeter. You can also report ALB here.

9:16: This is hilarious. Palmieri and Clancy didn’t pay attention to what they were voting on, accidently voting in favor of funding for the airport. They insisted on doing the vote over, even though the result wouldn’t change. On the revote, Joff Smith got confused, and voted AGAINST the funding, even though he meant to vote for it.

9:05: Could the 20 year problem at 103 Holden Street really, really, really be over? The city is looking to take over the property through receivership, and has transferred money to fund that, should a judge rule in favor. “This is certainly an issue that has gone on way too long…maybe since before I was born,” says Joff Smith, who once declared the problem solved on his efforts.

8:57: We’re at one of the best, but least talked about items on the agenda: A report on the number and type of shoplifting incidents in Worcester in the past year. Police Chief Gemme reported the number, but stated in his report that listing the types would take up too much time of analysis, and detract from actual police work.

8:51: A lot of conversation about the Upper Blackstone water treatment plant, the EPA requirements, permits, etc. Here’s the one piece of important new info: the DEP has not signed the EPA permit, which Moylan says is exceptionally unusual, and may be a signal they don’t agree with it.

8:36: Councilors are asking for an ordinance to govern small home-based windmills. Two related problems: 1)They already exist, as fellow blogger Brendan Melican just pointed out to me and 2)You don’t make laws to make things easier, you make them to regulate. So are we trying to get more or fewer windmills?

8:23: Is wind power a possibility in the city? Director of Planning Joel Fontaine says it’s being looked at as part of a whole citywide energy plan.

8:16: Here we go again with Wyman-Gordon? The company was expected to get in touch with the city about their plans for their 17 acre parcel by the end of the summer. We’re getting there, but Jacobson says the company is once again neglecting to return calls from the city administration.

8:13: Apparently, the floors of the new Union Station garage store space are still gravel. Palmieri says he thinks that may be a barrier to bringing in new businesses. But, says Jacobson, there are too many variables to risk building out space before knowing what businesses are moving in.

8:11: Palmieri also wants to know when the next rail summit will be scheduled. Jacobson says a report will be coming. “A report. That means we don’t have an answer,” retorts Palmieri.

8:09: Palmieri: “I want to recognize the Lt. Gov. on the airline issues…I think the reason we have the airline is the Lt. Gov. I say that with deference to all other parties.” (That’s a bit of a slight at the city administration). Palmieri, a frequent critic of the city owning the airport, says he thinks Direct Air being here may be more motivation for Massport to take ownership.

8:04: Sorry for the little delay, we’ve been busy listening to Joff repeatedly ask for a law school to be located downtown, preferably at the old courthouse, in about five different ways. Jacobson’s response? Repeatedly, “a report is coming on the best use” of that property.

7:52: The conversations with Worcester company Prematech, who are expanding and asking for a TIF or some sort of break, are only in the “preliminary” stage says Jacobson. “The city has told them and any other company that has asked that we will push for a TIF…,” Jacobson says under questioning from Rushton.

7:45: Germain on CitySquare: “When is the wrecking ball coming?” Jacobson: “We were hoping for the fall…” but Berkeley still hasn’t gotten a key tenant, so she “can’t give a date at this time.” Germain is pushing for Unum to be that key tenant.

7:44: Germain on the airport. “I have consistently been a skeptic…now is the time to be optimistic.” (

7:40: Unum’s relocation: They’re looking around. Lot of info there.

7:34: Rosen: Are we going to be offering free parking at the airport? (When Allegiant was here, the cost was $7 a day). Jacobson says “The terms of the negotiation with the airline…are still being negotiated.” The parking however, falls under the purview of the Airport Commission. Jacobson says it’s being looked at.

7:30: The new fire station will be open by October. The only potential hold up? A National Grid transformer.

7:26: On a question from Petty: Direct Air has sold 6,000 tickets, beyond expectations. (Once we hit 10,000, we’re a primary airport again! YEA TEAM!) Jacobson says that those numbers far exceed Allegiants’ numbers in the same time frame.

7:18: Kevin Ksen is looking for information on the information requested from the Police Department, but never received, by the Telegram and Gazette on citizen complaint investigation files. The council will get a report, says Assistant City Manager Julie Jacobson.

7:16: Back to the beginning of the agenda, a very good place to start, we here.

7:10: Rick Rushton is proposing a home rule petition for banning talking without an ear piece or texting on cell phones while driving. He admits – thank god, because we would have pointed it out – that he is one of the worst offenders of the would-be crime. (He also admits he has been pulled over in other states).

7:07: What you’ve (or we’ve) missed: The street vendor ordinance passed, and Councilor Eddy invoked Clause 13 (cue scary music) for the proposed Question 2…Clause 13 dismisses items not germane to the council’s purview. Councilor Haller was the lone vote against.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “City Council live blog 9/9/08

  1. “10:28: Palmieri wants to take tobacco signs now. Konnie wants to include Hookah Bars”

    In other news, our Mayor is completely ignorant.

  2. worcestermagazine

    Just to clarify, Lukes wants them included, or looked at…she’s not saying directly that Hookah signage should be banned. Just wants signage – and separately Hookah regulations – looked at.

  3. Being that of the three, one has almost no signage and one hasn’t even opened yet I’d have to think she is referring to the Hooka Hot Spot’s big neon sign.

  4. And also, I am betting you won’t hear the Owl Shop brought up once in this entire conversation.

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