Worcester City Council Liveblog 12/2/08

7:14: “An absolute bag job by the Telegram.” That’s what Rick Rushton calls the T&G article on Direct Air’s delay over the weekend.

7:15: CitySquare update, kind of. “In spite of economic [factors]…Mr. Park continues to work in earnest,” says City Manager Michael O’Brien, especially in regard in Unum’s potential move to CitySquare. Negotiations continue. “I expect action…shortly.”

7:17: As for city negotiations with MassPort for a takeover of the airport? “Open, engaged…discussions with MassPort,” says O’Brien. They involve the city, state officials, and MassPort. “Negotiations are ongoing. I look forward to a successful conclusion.”

7:19: And, under continuing questioning from Councilor Gary Rosen, O’Brien says conversations are ongoing with other potential carriers. “Overall, there’s active interest,” he says, while allowing there’s not a second carrier ready to go.

7:21: The Union Station garage retail space? It’s still empty. “We have had some interest,” says Jacobson. Another RFP is going out in a few weeks. While the original plan was for a single lessee to sublease the space, the city is going to “go at it from a different angle.”

7:30: Councilor Palmieri: “I’ll ask the traditional question: Is there anything going on with Wyman-Gordon.” Julie Jacobson responds. We’ll distill it down for you: “No.”

7:31: Let’s sum up so far. CitySquare? Nothing new or official to announce from the past month. Airline recruitment? No. Wyman Gordon? No. Union Station garage? No.

7:33: Councilor Palmieri wants the city to do a better job identifying the new small businesses that open in the city.

7:34: Kate Toomey, always looking on the bright side. She’s highlighting the 130+ building permits in the city and points out a little something we missed in this month’s update—the Hadley Burwick project is anticipating a temporary certificate of occupancy by the end of 2008.

7:48: Little conversation on the city’s Health Insurance Dependent Verification process. The city is endorsing an in-house audit; Councilor Germain is claiming that the planned process is flawed and not complete enough. While money will be saved, it won’t be near the full potential. “Are they [city HR department] going to check everybody’s marriage certificate?…Adoption certificate?…Divorce settlements?”
Germain says one company (who he admits he is friendly with), promises a 4 to 1 return on investment; “Has Group Benefit Strategies[the city’s insurance adviser] and the city [agreed to meet that.”

O’Brien says that everything Germain questioned will be looked at. Additionally, he says, there are checks and balances in place now that weren’t five years ago.

7:55: Councilor Rushton is asking whether or not we should be going with a sure thing(a company that has done this before), or an unknown with Group Benefit Strategies and the HR office.

This is going to end up in committee for vetting.

8:02: Councilor Haller points out the number of people interested in this around the city. For the past two months, council meetings have had full houses in the audience with members often holding signs questioning – as they do tonight – “Councilors: Where is the Audit???”

8:05: Clancy points out that the fact that committee members (Germain and Rushton) and O’Brien shouldn’t have met with a potential vendor behind closed doors; legally, that should have been done in the subcommittee.

8:08: Eddy on the city’s “comprehensive marketing program.” The city gets $100,000 MOTT grant, and a $50,000 grant from the state. (That was allocated $100,000, but cut in Deval Patrick’s 9c cuts). There’s a great little marketing packet now being used by the Economic Development office that the councilors have all gotten. (Seriously, it looks nice, but we can’t show you one). Additionally, there’s more of a focus on trade shows, outreach, and the new website which is “a work in progress,” according to Jacobson. She also touts the new video we pointed out here a few weeks ago, the one that seems awfully similar but not as cool as the Consortium effort last year.

For once, it looks like efforts are actually unified in this arena: Choose Worcester is using these materials for their marketing efforts as well; Destination Worcester is tied in as well. Could this be the real beginning of an integrated effort that doesn’t involve 500 groups duplicating efforts?

8:36: Winter Parking Ban Public Outreach. Councilor Eddy asks DPW Commissioner Bob Moylan about the new text message/email system the city is going to implement within the next month. Sounds almost identical to the ParkingBan system implemented by WPI students in 2005.

8:45: A great distinction, for those who care: Winter Parking Bans on streets are handled by the Traffic and Parking Committee; sidewalk issues fall under the Public Works committee.

8:52: A great shout out for our good friend Colin Novick for his efforts on conservation efforts on Crow Hill and Moreland Woods.

8:56: There is a meeting tomorrow night to discuss the Master Plan for the DCU Center. Councilor Clancy says that he’s unclear who is in charge of the meeting, as there are other city functions at the same time. Commissioner Moylan says that the meeting falls under the parks division and civic center commission.

“I think this is a very important topic,” says Clancy. “Could we have another meeting on this?” Moylan agrees for January or February.

9:00: A big change to the city ordinances with no substantive change to any rules. Essentially, when the street vendor and scrap metal regulations were changed, the ordinance was not numbered correctly; the change tonight adjusts it, and makes everything read correctly.

9:02: The new, new knife ordinance. There will be a Public Safety committee meeting on JUST the ordinance on December 18th at 6:30.

9:16: WE’RE OUT!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Worcester City Council Liveblog 12/2/08

  1. esoom

    I bet there are a lot of people out there that wish the city would do a better job of identifying the OLD small businesses still open in the city..

  2. Dan

    Thanks for the WPI shout-out at 8:36. We students over here don’t get a lot of credit for the good we do around Worcester, but we’ve certainly got the government beat by 3 years or so on this one.

  3. Thanks for the mention of ParkingBan. It’s still around, but a little less active. If anyone is interested in developing, please get in touch. Also now on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ParkingBan

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