Worcester City Council Liveblog 12/9/08

7:06: Starting tonight with a resolution thanking Bobby Genese and Robert Williams for their cross country walk raising money and awareness of Autism. The two friends’ walk wasn’t easy: they had a somewhat infamous fight in Colorado, and ended up finishing the coast to coast journey separately.

7:16: Another resolution, thanking Frank Raffa and Don Courtney for their years of union service, coming to an end in January.

7:34: The plaudits still coming in from councilors for Raffa and Courtney for their years of hard work. “Who would have thought you’d be getting a standing ovation in city hall?” jokes Joff Smith.

7:46: The always intriguing Library Board vote is going on…two new members will be elected. The first ballot results in a tie for the third spot. The councilors are very confused about procedure right now.

Bill Coleman and Susan Gaitley win the multi-year spot. Gaitley took the last slot in a run-off, unanimously, after narrowly edging Phyllis Harrington on the first ballot.

Javian Gutierrez takes the one year position.

7:58: For those watching from home, we’re having some serious microphone issues in the chamber.

8:00: City Auditor James DelSignore is talking about pension fund requirements, performance, and city contributions. Bleak. Actually, DelSignore says by one measurement, this is as bad a year as there has been since 1931.

8:03: City Manager Michael O’Brien says we need to expect a 5-10% aid cut in FY2010, and there is no guarantee cuts will be avoided in FY2009, though they will be a “last resort.”

8:05: Bill Coleman, fresh off his Library Board election, is moving on to a new challenge: getting some sort of recognition for former City Clerk Robert O’Keefe, who spent 45 years in the clerk’s office. Coleman acknowledges O’Keefe’s controversial nature (he was a proponent of marking down baby’s born out of wedlock, among other things)

8:10: Councilor Toomey wants a focus on reducing the cost of fleet and personal cars for city personnel.

8:12: Lukes makes the odd move of calling for a roll call vote from councilors on an item from Rushton asking for the feasibility of restoring nine city pools over the next ten years. It passes 10 to 1, with Lukes voting against.

8:13: Councilor Rosen is leading an item from several councilors asking the federal government to consider a more “deliberate, scientific and experimental eradication approach” to taking down trees in the Greendale area, rather than the wholesale USDA plan of taking down the 5,000 infested trees plus 15,000 more “potential” trees. Rosen is saying while 5,000 surrounding trees may need to come down for susceptibility, a full 10,000 beyond that sounds ridiculous, especially if some of those may not be in danger. “It’s called clear cutting…they don’t want it to spread.”

“We’re looking for a more scientific…deliberate approach.”

He wants the scientists to “use the scientific method we all learned in high school” to look at the “probability” of the beetle spreading after the initial bunch come down.

He wants another communities who will be dealing with this over the next few years to “learn from Worcester.”

Councilor Smith, who oversees the district that is most heavily infested, says the USDA is going against what they initially said.

“They have yet to show any scientific approach of fact why [taking down every host tree in 2 miles] is needed.”

He says we can’t deal with this the same way other communities did because of our population density.

We’ve never heard so many pols tell government scientists how to be scientific. Smith suggests doing statistical analysis, etc and “letting them know they can’t just come into Worcester and make these decisions.”

And, he says, even if it costs more money, the government should take a more measured approach. Essentially, even if the they want the feds to foot the bill, they don’t want them making the decisions on how to proceed.

8:23: Councilor Palmieri: “The critical issue for the federal government is this: Let’s eradicate it the first time…and then it won’t spread. Not only that…[they] suggest to us it would be the most reasonable way to handle it financially.”

Yet, Councilor Palmieri admits a fear that the beetles move very quickly, and might be in his district. But, he wants to wait until after the first year of eradication to see how far the beetles have spread.

His other fear? That the government take away their funding for eradication if we don’t agree to their methods.

“I hope we don’t end up looking like Arizona.”

Palmieri sets City Manager Michael O’Brien up, asking him if he knows any scientific evidence supporting the USDA.

O’Brien: “If left unchecked…it would effect the Northeast.”

While he respects the USDA, “What struck me [of their opinion]…is this infestation is unique.”

Based on the citizen find, and how long it appears to have been here, “I believe this is more likely elsewhere in New England.”

O’Brien calls for a “New England Model” of eradication, and wants the citizens to be given the facts by the USDA why they want to do what they want to do.

He says the USDA has been receptive to doing some statistical analysis and modeling.

Having talked to several scientists in the field and read some of the research reports, Daily Worcesteria sees one of the problems with the ALB being the lack of holistic research, at least to the level the politicians may be looking for.

8:35: Rushton: “This is a ten year problem. You don’t need to go to the most aggressive step up front.”

He calls for taking down the initial trees, and then seeing how far it has spread in year two.

(It was a 10 year problem in Chicago, which used a very aggressive effort.)

8:45: The new snow ordinance, heard earlier tonight at Public Works, is being brought in under suspension.

8:46: We’re done.



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2 responses to “Worcester City Council Liveblog 12/9/08

  1. Locavoire

    T&G – I commend you on your effort to investigate the Officer Rojas case. At this time I do not know the whole story however I fell proud that the T&G is standing up for justice and the little guy. This is patriotic on your part and good for our society as a whole. Please renew my subscription ….

    Great job …

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