Ghost in the machine

We apologize for the computer problems that prevented us from live-blogging Tuesday’s City Council meeting at Daily Worcesteria. Fortunately, gavel to gavel, the entire thing lasted only about 40 minutes and was relatively uneventful, perhaps delayed compensation for last week’s three-hour love-in.
Some highlights:

AS BALTIMORE GOES …: Does the city get maximum value on properties it wants to sell? Councilor Mike Germain doesn’t think so, and proposed the city ditch the current auction system for unloading surplus properties and instead put them up for public sale and have them marketed by real estate professionals. “We’re leaving money on the table,” he said. Germain noted that both Philadelphia and Baltimore have had great success converting to public-sale strategy, and the mayor of Baltimore is coming to the Statehouse to talk about the program. Councilor Rick Rushton was largely in favor and asked the city manager for a report listing the number of properties sold over the last three years and the prices attached to them. Councilor Phil Palmieri was skeptical that the “city is built for this proposal” and Germain accused him of “walking away” from the city making money.

25-75, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: City Council did not engage the Sect. 19 issue on Tuesday, but City Manager Michael O’Brien did heed a request made last week by Councilor Joe Petty, informing the council that he would not make any changes from the 25 percent health coverage contribution for city retirees without the council’s endorsement. Virginia Ryan, co-chair of the Worcester Coalition of Retirees, contended that if Sect. 19 (coalition bargaining) had been adopted a year ago the city would have saved millions on legal fees and other costs. “City retires are being treated like trash,” she said, to scattered applause from the retirees in the audience. As an aside, Germain said he was troubled to have learned of O’Brien’s decision when listening to the manager’s appearance on WTAG rather than getting a heads-up earlier.

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