7:18: Off we go. Going to be an exciting night. Rick Rushton is wearing his finest faded sea-foam green sportscoat, and we’ve already been passively told off by an audience member to our backs!
Starting off with some conversation about same day voting registration, which has support from most of the council.
“People should have the chance to vote…at every election,” says Palmieri.
“If we can get more people to vote by doing this, I think it’s going to make more sense for us and for the state,” adds Smith.
7:29: Election-day registration passes unanimously.
Rushton makes fun of his jacket(with orange tie!) saying he got it from Clancy’s closet
7:30: Economic Development update time:
Rushton: It’s been 60 days since we heard it would take about 60 days for Unum and CitySquare to negotiate. Update?
O’Brien says it’s a private negotiation, but he’s very confident it’ll get done. “Good news is on the horizon.”
WTF…Rushton quoting Beyonce?????? “We’re ready to put a ring on it.”
7:41: Worcester Regional Airport: Rosen asks for an update.
O’Brien says beyond the expanded service of Direct Air to Myrtle Beach, there is nothing beyond discussions with other carriers.
O’Brien also says load factors on the flights are not public information. (Though they were shared by previous carriers)
Rosen also asks about the reconstruction of the garage, a followup to the lawsuit the city brought against the last contractor for a faulty job. O’Brien isn’t entirely sure on if there will be zero tax levy used; the contractor’s report for the re-reconstruction is still needed.
7:54: Palmieri says he wants developers to have open discussions about bringing in downtown tenants. Rushton seconds the “open discussions” concept.
“The longer the wait, the more impatient we get,” says Rushton….”It’s the inaction we feel is holding the city back.”
8:02: Haller says she doesn’t want some of the “Keep Worcester Clean” efforts hampered by budget cuts, including Canadian Geese maintenance, sidewalk weeding, etc. Her fears come from this memo, which shows what the city may be facing on this front.
8:05: Toomey on the potential elimination of graffiti removal and sidewalk cleaning. She wants to potentially look at neighbnorhood groups and businesses as ways of keeping things clear.
And, she raises, the Burncoat area still isn’t clear of brush from the December ice storm. To that point, O’Brien says negotiations with FEMA are going to allow spring cleaning by the DPW and state DCR. “We understand there is a certain need in the community. We’re going to meet that need.”
8:19: A note, set your calendars and alarm clocks: The initial official 2010 budget presentation will be next Friday.
8:22: Petty wants to consider regionalizing police dispatch; that’ll be tough, says Communications Director Dave Clemons, due to call volume and finding an appropriate partner community.
Petty encourages O’Brien to bring forward out-of-the-box ideas, even if they don’t come to fruition.
8:24: Haller commends O’Brien for his continued insistence that the goal of his budget crisis plan is to maintain Worcester as a “stable” municipality, and says she thinks this could be the city’s “time to shine.”
She immediately goes on to say she can’t see cutting any personnel from Neighborhood Services, an already understaffed office.
8:29: Councilor Smith raises the pretty undiscussed issue of streetlight acquisition, now considered a way to save $900,000 or so. O’Brien says a report will be available next week.
O’Brien says that opposed to the last time the city considered buying the lights, the price has come down due to the “negotiation prowress” of DPW Commissioner Bob Moylan, and market factors.
Maintenance will be bid out to an outside contractor.
8:43: O’Brien thanks the US legislative team for securing local money through the Economic Recovery Act.
O’Brien asks the council to accept the Byrne grant, which can be used for retaining/hiring police officers…but says there will be a tax levy component, as it only pays for entry level officers; higher level officers will require city money, if the city applies it to those higher positions.
8:54: Under suspension: Rushton says a contractor damaged Airport Road near the snow removal area. He says he won’t mention the contractor, because DPW should already know who it is, and won’t say who witnessed it, because “it’s someone we all know.”
9:01: Meeting adjourned.