7:18: Sorry we’re a few late; some tech issues here.
The first main items deal with Haller, Petty, Toomey and Lukes’ calls for tougher civil – and potentially criminal – penalties for certain offenses of marijuana violations.
ACLU head Ronal Madnick calls for the items to be filed, saying the voters knew what they were voting for and the council shouldn’t go against them. “The citizens are not misinformed….There is no need to change the law.”
Another citizen, Mr. Purty(sp?) goes the opposite way. He wants tough laws to “protect constitutional right to not have marijuana smoke forced into the lungs…” and to protect minors.
“If a pot smoker does not keep his smoke private and contained, it does become a public offense.”
Petty says until the state steps up, the city needs to issue better definitions. He compares it to the open container law, and says the council will wait a month or a few before sending it to committee.
HEY! GO FIGURE! Rosen says he doesn’t smoke pot!!! Still, he sees the reality. “I don’t see a problem in Worcester…I don’t think [new rules] are necessary.”
Haller says her committee will hold meetings on the issue before making final recommendations.
So things you wouldn’t be able to smoke on a sidewalk without additional civil penalties, if these initial suggested rules are eventually passed: Weed.
Things you would: Cigarettes, Cigars, Pipes, Cloves, Salvia, Sage, Rosemary, Muellin, Ginger…
7:25: Toomey: “I don’t think anyone is saying they want to change what was voted.”
Germain: “I rise to support Councilor Rosen’s motion to file…We’re heading down a dangerous path.”
“The fact is, the voters have spoken…If we start trying to manipulate [the voter’s decision] we’re heading down a dangerous path.”
MOTION TO REFER FAILS, MOTION TO FILE PASSES.
7:28: There she goes again…Kate “Tech” Toomey advocating better technology use for the city. Microblogging, Twittering, etc. Good for you Toomey.
7:31: Rosen asking for the progress of Housing First as a way of reducing the PIP shelter population.
As a break in the action…another shooting outside Chandler Street’s Golden Pizza. We anticipate some sort of heavy regulations against them, as police have often referred to the spot as a frequent problem area.
7:47: Unum at CitySquare? O’Brien says he’s optimistic.
Clancy is thanking Lt. Governor Tim Murray for his help…is there any big project in Worcester Murray’s prints aren’t on?
Clancy is positively effusive right now, giving what sounds like a ribbon cutting speech.
Rushton sounds positive Unum is a go, but calls out Young Park, saying it’s time to prove himself now that the tools are there.
Palmieri: “Certainly, this is a momentous day. Though the contract is not done, this is probably the most significant piece of economic development news…in a long time.”
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Unum…”
Somehow, Palmieri just went from Unum and CitySquare to Mark Texeira and Yogi Berra. That’s a BINGO on someone’s card, somewhere.
And the lovefest goes on.
8:09: Rosen is talking about how this means the sun, moon and stars to Worcester…how it means “Worcester is the place to be.”
And Smith: “Will reshape downtown…”
Reality check: IF Unum moves, it means that Unum bosses like being here and will stay. It’s business retention, but it’s not recruitment. Big difference.
Also, the movement, while it will trigger CitySquare, still leaves a major hole a little further north on Main Street. It doesn’t improve occupancy rates, it doesn’t create new jobs or fill empty space. It triggers a major project, yes, but it doesn’t instantly accomplish anything.
8:12: “From listening to this [conversation], it’s clear this city has started believing in itself. For a long time…we practiced self-hate.”
At least Lukes realizes the city needs to find a use for Unum’s current building.
Lukes goes on a limb, claiming the Providence Place mall hasn’t had any success, and that we’re a step ahead of that city.
The City Manager says funding wishes are “a work in progress” that depend on federal and state guidelines, priorities, etc.
All the councilors love the projects that are listed.
Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see exactly how much money Worcester gets, and how much the state directs which type of projects get funding.
8:28: An item not on the agenda, dealing with potential 9c cuts at the state level. The City Manager is asking for his department heads to submitfinal plans for how to deal with a 10% cut in local aid. (Estimations are between 5%-10% of local aid to Worcester will be cut)
O’Brien was at the Statehouse today talking to political leaders about the situation; he says we have good leadership at Beacon Hill. AKA, Tim Murray.
If the 9C cuts were voted on tomorrow, O’Brien says we’re on track to at least have a plan on how to proceed.
O’Brien also says compared to other cities, we’re on stable financial ground.
8:39: Councilors are all happy to be kept up to date.
AND, it is noteworthy that other cities (including Boston) are seeing huge deficits before the 9C cuts; we’re not quite there yet.
O’Brien says the goal is to “weather the storm…in a way that…separates Worcester.”
More: There are currently 50 city positions open, funded, but unfilled. And the city workforce is down to about 1800 from about 2200 over the past five years.
Rushton is saying a lot, but the most relevant point is that the schools need to be involved as much as possible about potential cuts as they will be most effected.
8:54: The City Manager is keeping his future options open as much as possible right now, saying he’ll keep the council informed going forward, and offering up reports on many councilor questions. (Will school positions/city side positions be cut, etc).
Another key point: It’s still unknown exactly what the 9C cuts will be, and if they’ll be limited to the cityside or effect schools as well.
9:06: The underlying message in just about every response from CM O’Brien to just about every question: Before I give you more information, we need more information from the state.
9:16: Palmieri just equated PILOT with “cutting government inefficiencies” as a way of meeting budget cuts. (Yes, all you Council geeks, that’s at least 8 straight meetings Phil has slipped in a PILOT reference!)
9:18: Orders under suspension:
Haller wants to know about public safety vehicles and inspection procedures.