Monthly Archives: January 2009

$11-$16 billion? We’ll take it!

Massachusetts could see $11-$16 billion in economic stimulus and taxpayer relief from the federal government’s stimulus package, a version of which passed the House this week, according to analysts.

$1.3 billion of that money would help reduce the state’s deficit, while the rest would be divided up between infrastructure projects, tax breaks, and other potential projects including $2 billion for a high-speed rail and increased funds for food stamps.

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Local aid cuts: The state memo

The coming local aid cuts (both for this fiscal year and FY2010) are drastic, especially for the bigger cities and towns.  Worcester stands to lose about an estimated $3,850,000 in 2010 BEYOND the 9% cuts in 2009; Shrewsbury will face a proposed $258,000 cut.  Other towns will face no better—and the state is very clear on exactly how the cuts in local budgets may be made.

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Tree rehab is for everyone

The Tim Murray/Jim McGovern led “Tree Worcester Campaign” to replace Asian Longhorned Beetle trees(RIP) has its official kickoff meeting tomorrow night.

The effort, which will plant an estimated 30,000 trees, is designed to go beyond the eventual federal government replacement plan, and take place a bit quicker.

The meetings at QCC’s Harrington Learning Center, Rooms 109A&B will take place at 4:00pm with Murray and McGovern; a similar session at 6:30 will not have the pols, but will deal with the same material.  Both sessions will unveil the initial plan, and will be open for public comment.

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Manny to the Tornadoes?

Manny Ramirez is still a free agent.  The Worcester Tornadoes want to change that.

According to a press release, the minor league CAN-AM team has offered the former Red Sox slugger a 2-year deal worth a STAGGERING $24,000, the league maximum for a veteran.

“I feel Manny would really enjoy playing in Worcester and hitting in our ballpark. Although I would be concerned about the cars traveling on I-290 during his at bats, it’s a risk worth taking,” said General Manager, Jorg Bassiacos.

THIS is the crazy Veeck stuff the Worcester Tornadoes should be doing all the time.  And Manny–the guy teammates had to convince to move to a “real” apartment–might be the only major leaguer crazy enough to go for it.

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City Council liveblog 1/27/09

7:11: To start, ACLU’s Ronal Madnick on his FOIA request for any city rules or policies regulating or restricting photography at city parks, pools, etc. Some photographers have been stoppped from shooting over the past few years.

Madnick got a response today from the City saying the concerns would be addressed in the 2009 revision to the Parks manual, and photography would be allowed.

7:14: Kate Toomey wants to color code parking zones based on time.

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Celebrity Smackdown: Lukes vs. Patrick

Mayor Konnie Lukes and former Mayor Tim Murray have always had an infamously frosty relationship; mentioning one name to the other elicits a Pavlovian reaction of disdain.

But is it possible Murray’s hatred for Lukes has rubbed off on his current boss, Governor Deval Patrick?

At Friday’s Massachusetts Municipal Association meeting, Lukes questioned Patrick’s plan to allow cities and towns to opt into telephone and meals/hotel taxes, but apparently didn’t like his answer.  Depending on the report, Lukes smirked/grimaced/puckered her face, drawing a quick retort from Patrick.  Matt Viser for The Boston Globe wrote:

Still, there was palpable tension in the Hynes Convention Center as Patrick announced his budget-cutting moves. At one point, the governor had a frosty exchange with Worcester Mayor Konstantina B. Lukes, after she appeared to smirk while the governor answered her question.

“Before you make a face, mayor, let me finish my answer, all right?” Patrick snapped.

Once he finished his response, he glanced over at her again and said, “Is that clear? OK. Now you can make your face.”

There’s been a lot of talk over the weekend from political analysts about the characterization of Patrick and Lukes: Was he just joking? Being snippy?  Was she making a face?

There’s footage of the exchange at WBZ, but Lukes’ face is not captured before Patrick’s reaction.

What do you think?  A little disagreement, or something a bit deeper?

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DiMasi steps down: Local reps react

Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi announced tonight he will step down as a representative and Speaker effective Tuesday evening, following increasing scrutiny into alleged influence-peddling by people close to him. The move fulfills State House rumors from last week that grew louder over the weekend as DiMasi started calling supporters, letting them know his decision to resign was imminent.

On Sunday, State Rep. Bob Spellane called the decision a “personal” one, and said DiMasi “will be regarded as one of if not the most successful speakers of the Massachusetts House.”

“He made a decision that was best…personally and for the institution longterm.”

Rep. Vincent Pedone echoed Spellane’s remarks. “It’s obvious that [DiMasi] and his family had enough with the media attention on the investigation. It appears he made a decision that it was hampering his ability to leave the house. I applaud him for making this decision and for stepping aside. ”

“I’ve spent 16 years in the House and I’ve always considering Sal DiMasi a friend. From a personal level, I’m sad to see him leaving.”

But, Spellane allowed, it is time for DiMasi to step down, as the ethics allegations into his friends are reflecting poorly on the legislature as a whole.

The long running jockeying to replace DiMasi between Reps. Roger DeLeo and John Rogers immediately reached fever pitch. Despite a reported 90 votes locked up for DeLeo (81 are needed to win an election), Rogers supporters attempted to tie DeLeo to DiMasi’s troubles in a public statement.

Locally, four out of the five Worcester representatives (John Binienda, Jim O’Day, Pedone, Spellane) are supporting DeLeo.

Pedone, has been a longtime DiMasi supporter, even campaigning with him in New Hampshire during the presidential race, but made news last year when he helped organize the first major gathering of DeLeo supporters at Maxwell Silverman’s.

“The group we put together last year at Maxine’s was a very strong showing and I think that it helped move the campaign forward. People understood that we’re not just talking about political chest banging, but actual numbers.”

He says the transition to DeLeo – a sure thing in his eyes – will be “seamless.”

“He brings new leadership, a new direction, a clean slate and he is a person that I’ve developed a close relationship with.”

“DeLeo and I are friends, we’ve been friends for a long time and I’m thrilled that my friend is getting elected to the highest position in the house.”

Spellane calls DeLeo “very responsive to my requests for my district and knowledgeable about what is going on in the city of Worcester.”

“He’s going to be a leader similar to DiMasi…he’s going to be engaged.”

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