7:11 p.m.: We’re all here, now let’s get started.
7:13: Mayor Lukes awards soccer players of Worcester’s World Cup with plaques and invites each to shake the hands of each council member. This meeting is starting off pleasant with plenty of smiles, camera flashes, and seemingly proud players.
7:17: Mayor Lukes proclaims this upcoming weekend as the official Columbus Day weekend celebration with bocce ball, a parade, and Italian food. She jokes she didn’t realize the promoting she was doing for the event.
7:28: Kate Toomey recognizes the large amount of requests for handicap accessibility, and asks if a link can be put on the front page of the city’s Website for those who have further requests that can click and be brought directly to the Office of Disabilities.
7:29: City Manager O’Brien sounds hopeful, and will look into making it happen.
7:34: A member of the public asks to have a non-binding question on the November 3rd election ballot about the city’s Charter.
7:36: Bill Eddy expresses his sentiment, but clarifies that due to a 35 day minimum to add questions to an election ballot, this question, or any other could not be added with only 28 days left.
7:38: Mike Germain agrees the city’s Charter is not perfect, and although we can’t add the question to this upcoming ballot, he says we should look into not throwing it out the window, and finding an appropriate time and place to ask the citizens of Worcester their feelings on the current workings.
7:50: As Lukes moves the topic of adding a question to a future ballot aside, Ruston questions his authority over other councilors as Madam Chair seems to dismiss him. She continues to press they’re “moving on [with the meeting]”.
7:57: The issue of senior citizens who have had problems with Blue Cross and Blue Shield is a concern to councilors. They are stressing that it’s the city’s duty to notify retirees when they’re health insurance is going to change, not Blue Cross. “Regardless of city budget issues, we need to pay better attention to public service” says Rosen expressing his concern with the way 140 Worcester citizens were told of their health insurance increase by their provider, rather than their own city leaders. Is it ironic the youngest council person, Joff Smith, eats Oreos and drinks coffee during this discussion?
8:12: Palmieri says the Gateway Cities Initiative would be the best next step for Worcester’s economic development. He asks that the legislation make a move to bring this initiative to the city.
8:15: He suggests a summit meeting about the initiative be held at the Centrum to bring the importance of this project to the eyes of the Worcester’s voters.
8:17: Joff Smith agrees the Gateway Cities Initiative would benefit Worcester as he believes it would expand our tax base and bring new businesses in.
8:22: Clancy recognizes that Worcester has not given outside businesses many incentives for them to come into the city. He says the Gateway Cities Initiative is “such a significant piece of legislation for our urban areas”.
8:25: Haller asks that the council goes on record as supporting the Gateway Cities Initiative. Everyone votes…. yes. Yes!
8:31: Joff Smith speaks to the motion to accept National Grid’s $50,000 donation to replant trees in the city. He says he’s pleased with plans to replant trees this fall, next spring, and every spring and fall in the future.
8:36: It’s said people will see trees beginning to be planted in the next two weeks.
8:43: During a discussion on transmitting informational communication relative to the Worcester’s Police Department’s maintenance garage, Mayor Lukes almost moves on before calling on Vice-Chair Rushton who showed interest to speak. “I’m starting to feel like Palmieri” says Ruston. “You’ll never feel like me”, responds Palmieri.
8:47: Ruston echos Eddy’s support of Worcester Police Chief’s recent actions with the report made concerning work done in the department’s maintenance garage.
8:50: Haller stands with councilors who have spoken before her tonight that our Chief is doing the best we can, with what we now have after drastic cuts to the Police Department.
8:54: Councilors accept donations in the amount of $2,125 from the Verizon Foundation, and $3,900 from an anonymous source to be given to the Worcester Public Library.
9:00: Clancy congratulates Haller and City Manager O’Brien with their success in bringing new services to homeless individuals in the city of Worcester. “This is huge, this is a tremendous accomplishment for all parties involved”, says Clancy. He recognizes the effort and coordination put forth to create these services and wonderful end result. He ends with, “kudos to all, you’ve done tremendous work”.
9:05: Palmieri also sends his congratulations and thanks Haller and individuals involved in the work to help homelessness for not giving up on such a huge, difficult task.
9:20: Lots of talk on the order for Worcester’s City Council to accept and adopt Section 19 of the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 32B, allowing for coalition bargaining for health benefits in the City of Worcester.
9:22: Rosen asks that we remove this order, and do what they’re [the council] elected to do on Tuesday nights. “Show some courage and make decisions on these issues” referencing the issue being brought up last October.
9:35: City Manager O’Brien sticks to his guns and says he will not endorse Section 19.
9:43: Mayor Lukes says she’ll support Petty’s motion, but will not support Section 19 “if we don’t know the consequences financially”.
10:03: Member of the Coalition of Worcester Retirees “appreciates Joe Petty’s motion, but it means nothing”. The citizen says coalition bargaining is the right answer for everyone. “Coalition bargaining is a win win”. She claims that members of the council do not understand Section 19 and ask that those who don’t understand, “get yourselves to city unions to have it explained”.