7:24: Off and away on the eve of what’s been one of the busiest political days in recent state history.
7:25: Councilor Eddy says 5 pools & 5 spray parks over the long term is probably “the most realistic” plan.
“For those who say ‘it’s different pots of money’…it simply isn’t.”
“We have to make choices and priorities with limited resources.”
7:29: The conversation is over a new pools plan brought by Councilor Rick Rushton. The plan would use the budgeted $2.5 million to build up to 3 neighborhood sized pools and have the locations determined through community hearings.
7:31: Councilor Kate Toomey asks why the council doesn’t ask for a concrete number of pools—she also questions the longt erm fiscal sense of adding big ticket items that will require maintenance, without establishing a fund to maintain them. (Additionally, she doesn’t want to commit to building more pools after next year without knowing what money will be available).
“We’re supposed to be fiscally responsible.”
She says building one pool at Crompton Park “doesn’t really help” many parts of the city. She wants 2 “good sized” pools.
7:35: City Manager Michael O’Brien, under questioning from Kate Toomey, says next year will be “the most difficult” fiscal year.
Toomey estimates the potential deficit at $35 million; O’Brien won’t confirm or deny.
7:38: We’re now debating….3 or 4 plans for the pools. The Rushton Plan, the Eddy Plan, the Toomey Plan, the City Plan….ugh.
7:39: “I’m hearing a lot of speaking out of both sides of the mouth,” says Rushton.
“The reality is what has been shortchanged is democracy.”
(Loud applause from the gathered pool activists…big crowd. Lukes asks for applause to be held until the end).
7:41: Rushton wants as many pools as possible for the $2.5 million…he says that’s 3 pools for next year.
He questions his colleagues’ lack of “willpower.”
7:47: Rushton also questions locating a pool in the one pools plan at Crompton Park, as it’s only a mile from the pool on Vernon Hill. He wants more conversation on location
Rushton has 8 votes lined up for Eddy’s plan in his figurin’
7:50: Palmieri: “I’m pleased a decision is going to be made after 20 months.” (Although he points out it hasn’t been 20 months on the council floor)
7:52: Palmieri “reminds” his colleagues that they once voted to make Holmes Field the first pool. “Maybe the council has Alzheimers.”
7:54: Here’s a shocker…Palmieri is saying he agrees most with Toomey’s plan.
He also says one size pool doesn’t fit all—that not every pool should be identical.
8:05: They’re still raging on this one. Clancy now, calling for the “big pool” model.
The thing is, they all know there are eight votes for Eddy’s plan…but they keep on debating.
8:16: Now Bill Eddy, whose will carry the day…
It’s essentially in support of the administration plan…
“Making the best judgement we can.”
8:19: Pools activists are in the hallway going over talking points for their speech…they don’t want a vote to go down tonight; if one does, they want Rushton’s plan to carry the day.
8:20: Toomey puts it simply—either build 1 pool near another pool, or build 2 that will serve more people.
“We can help more people in different areas of the city with maybe one small pool and one medium.”
She takes umbrage with the “7 years” component of the plan.
“We have before us $2.5 million…how we deal with that is what’s important.”
8:24: Joff Smith says he doesn’t love the plan, but that it’s the best option.
“This wasn’t the perfect plan, but we have to move forward.”
8:29: Rick Rushton, sound and fury. Questions the framing of the argument.
8:30: Activist Kevin Ksen says he won’t talk about the plan…but will talk about democracy.
He adresses the audience and Eddy directly…”Show respect….Lukes asks him to show respect.”
Ksen bangs the lectern….asks why no one has seen Eddy’s item….why did Eddy question openness last week, but was ok with it this week
Gets applause….asks for item to be tabled….gets applause.
Lukes asks him to stop…he keeps going, finishes to another round of applause.
8:31: Kevin Beam…of All Saints Church.
“If this council tonight doesn’t table the motion presented by Councilor Eddy and goes ahead with this vote…Kevin Ksen has spoken against….”
He’s speaking in favor of RUSHTON’S item, saying it is acceptable to all of the activists in the room.
“This motion…expresses the best stewardship of the money we DO have in hand.”
“If you’re going to vote on anything tonight, please vote Rushton’s proposal. (applause).
8:34: Lukes: Says if no decision is made tonight, a pool won’t be built at all for next year…”we’re paralyzed.”
“Frankly, I’ve been somewhat disappointed at the [process] of the decision making…on both sides.”
She says it’s become all political strategy…and that there have been many pols who have changed their minds.
And says the worst is yet to come in the budget session…says the council and city are in deep deep trouble. “God bless this city….”
“We’re getting to the name-calling stage. Is that appropriate…I think not.”
Says she was prepared to say no pools at all…
The history of the city is its inability to maintain what it owns, she says—GAR Hall, The Aud, the pools, parks, etc.
8:38: Item passes
Lukes: “I expect to have the audience respect the motions of this body.”
“How can we if you won’t respect us.”
CHANTS OF “WE TABLE THIS ITEM! WE TABLE THIS ITEM!” go up.
It should be noted there is no longer a detail officer on duty.
The Eddy/city plan passes.
Activist Cha-Cha Connor: “They turned their backs on us, let’s turn our backs on them.”
Another crowd member “No taxation without representation! I’m fuckin outta here.”
8:42: A mini gathering in the hallway. Connor: “This isn’t over”
Cops have showed up. Three. They are standing calmly with the group right now.
8:44: Grace Ross questions the democracy, the legal method how it was passed, and why spray parks were on the agenda.
“It’s a travesty.”
8:45: Rushton addresses the group briefly.
8:46: Connor “These nine pools will be demolished over my dead body.”
8:52: Some Worcester Common Ground stuff.
8:53: Sounds like the protestors aren’t done…what sounds like the giant ship bell down on the ground floor was just rung.
8:55: Meeting adjourned.