City Council Liveblog 6/16/09

7:12: Here we go. Young Park of CitySquare is in the house.

7:19: Round and round….councilors talking about the newly named John Spillane Memorial field in Tatnuck. All thanking the Spillanes.

7:28: CitySquare.

Unum and CitySquare have made significant process in their agreement, says Assistant City Manager Julie Jacobson. They’re asking to modify the DIF schedule of payment.

The main change: Targeted tax payments will start in 2012 now, to reflect Unum’s expected occupancy.

7:30 Palmieri says he doesn’t have a problem with the minor changes, but wants to know if the lease agreement signing date is coming anytime soon.

Chris Collins says that the lease signing should be signed on July 24th. He says it’s been a “complicated” and “comprehensive” process, involving a space lease, garage lease, and construction agreements.

7:35: Discussion about the new labor agreement with Firefighters Local 1009….it’s the most major union to sign on so far.

Councilor Paul Clancy: “I certainly commend the Manager and I certainly commend Mr. Armstrong.” He acknowledges hurdles and impasses, but says both sides worked through their problems.

“This is a very important…agreement.”

7:54: Under suspension already. Wow. Quick agenda.

Clancy: brings up something from a Public Works subcommittee meeting earlier tonight. $185 million in federal money has been awarded in sewer money in the state. Worcester got $0.

Clancy says Commissioner Bob Moylan said we didn’t get the money because it was awarded under a state program that we don’t participate in, as its more effective to use our own finances. If the city HAD known it was going to be the method used to determine stimulus money allocation, the commish would have submitted projects.

Clancy calls the fact that the city didn’t get a nickel “an insult.”

“We have a lot of projects we can choose from.”

7:58: “Stimulus money to Worcester is a joke,” continues Clancy. He implores the administration to ask the Governor and Lt. Governor what’s going on.

He calls what happened “unfair,” and says it needs to be “reviewed and revisited.”

8:02: Councilor Michael Germain: “Watch what happens when people realize we’re getting zero. Zero….zero….Second biggest city in Massachusetts, second biggest city in New England…We’re getting zero.”

“It’s pathetic, it’s hogwash, it’s a joke.”

“We chose not to go through the process because…we’re able to do it better. And because we did it better, we’re getting penalized?”

8:09: Councilors are vitriolic about this one…Rosen, Palmieri, Rushton….

Rushton: “The idea that…you have to invest in the company store to get your money is asinine.”

8:13: “This is not time to prance around…”

8:16: City Manager Michael O’Brien says the city is essentially in a wait & see mode for most categories of stimulus money – education, technology, etc.

8:20: We haven’t seen Clancy this apoplectic in a long time. He’s going after the DEP…anyone he can think of. Saying it’s “ridiculous” for authorities to say they are relieving rate payers in other communities while continuing to ask for city taxpayers to fund water treatment improvements to the tune of $200 million more.

Rushton agrees about the unfunded mandates, saying paying for other cities’ “optional” capital improvements while the city is “staggering under unfunded mandates” is ridiculous.

8:26: City Council candidate Frank Beshai speaks as a citizen.

“To have that money that we need so desperately to slip through our fingers…it seems to me nobody is watching.”

8:29: Rosen: Says the USDA is now saying there are numbers of trees showing signs of recent infestation.

“They ensured…it would be safe to cut down the trees during the pre emergent phase, which will go to the end of June.”

8:36: The council is supporting the eradication effort but Rushton…”The USDA doesn’t know a heck of a lot more than we do.”

“Of course we don’t know how to eradicate the beetle, but we try to apply common sense.”

Rushton says the USDA kept falling back on experience, not data. He says “we need to work with the USDA, but also question them.”

8:41: Palmieri says he won’t be as nice as his colleagues. We’re scared.

“It’s incredulous to note that we have seen this change in information [the USDA] has given us over the last six months.”

“It’s hard to embrace…as being truthful.”

The alternative, he says, is “their experts don’t know a hell of a lot.”

8:43: Palmieri says 92,000 trees were inoculated in Chicago; only one in Worcester for a photo-op. And he says the USDA blames lack of funds.

“Their mission was to clear-cut. Period.”

“We need the serum to inoculate.,.they need a truth serum.”

He says the beetle is or will be everywhere, including “GD Canada”

“There is no perimeter”

He questions why citizens couldn’t move branches within the city, but the USDA seems OK moving them to Maine. “Their credibility is [nil].”

Palmieri: “The city should have run this program.”

“…is nothing more than a high school science program to them…death sentence to [trees] in Central Mass and beyond”

8:48: Joff Smith: He’s pissed at the media for saying the council should step back and let the USDA work.

“This was never about will infested trees come down or not; we want to make sure…there’s not a danger of…beetles spreading.”

“When we do question them, some of the time we’ve been right.”

Like Palmieri, Smith says the fact 92000 trees were inoculated in Chicago (anyone know how long the infestation was there before the inoculation started?) is sign enough we should have been doing it here through the spring.

Smith says the USDA has a study group looking at if it’s safe to cut trees while beetles are emerging. “I can guess what that report will say.”

Worcester is “the guinea pig.”

“I will certainly not stop asking questions and questioning what the USDA does.”

8:55: Clancy: “This is the scorched earth approach.”

He says when he once talked to a supposed government expert about an ash tree infestation on the west coast, the expert didn’t know what he was talking about.

“The pilot program should not be in China, it should be in Worcester.”

9:00: Toomey: “It was pretty amazing they didn’t have some of the base facts.” She’s referring to last night’s beetle meeting, when she Googled an answer that an expert didn’t know about how many eggs the ALB lays.

9:04: Adjourned. Have a good night.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “City Council Liveblog 6/16/09

  1. this town’s been third rate for quite a while – one would think the councilors would at least know this by now

    Germain: “Watch what happens when people realize we’re getting zero. Zero….zero….Second biggest city in Massachusetts, second biggest city in New England…We’re getting zero.”

    ….yawn

  2. Red

    Incompetent council chooses incompetent manager. When will voters learn?

  3. Stimulas money… zero, nada, zip, squat… great job councilors!
    There you have it folks, our politically dis-connected councilors can\’t even get a dime of the money for this place.
    That otta tell you something huh?
    Why did you people vote for them?

  4. mike

    joff smith always one for the dramatic with the beetles. someone needs to tell him to just let them clear the branches or maybe after his wanted months of stonewalling he can do it himself

  5. Greg

    What would they do with stimulus money? Another skating rink?

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