Live blog: City Council 10/20/2009

With a war breaking out between the Telegram and Gazette and Worcester’s Police Department, and with only two weeks before elections, tonight should be a rip-roaring one.

Kate Toomey walks into the room wearing a matching crimson skirt and jacket. Ruston starts singing to her “laaaaady in red”. David Rusford comments “she’s ready for her inauguration”.

7:20 p.m.: Running a little late tonight, but now we’re off..

7:29: Councilor Ruston is pushing City Manager O’Brien to state a specific date and is questioning him of why he is confident the City Square Project is going to happen when it has just been pushed further and further with nothing done. He says we need to get this project done so we can move onto other areas of the city that need improvement as well. O’Brien cannot give a specific date but confirms that yes, the City Square Project will happen and be completed.

7:31: Rosen stands to say how lovely the new Worcester Economic Development booklet is. Beautiful photos, ads that helped pay for it, information even he never knew about the city, and he likes that it’s free to tax payers.

7:34: O’Brien says legislation says Worcester Airport must be transferred to Massport by next June. No matter what. O’Brien says although June is the deadline, he’s confident from all the recent meetings had between Worcester and Massport, the transfer will be made before then.

7:47: Haller rolls of her appreciation for totally renting and having a restaurant going into the Hadley Building, PharmaSphere being the first business to move into an abandoned building in the industrial park, progress at Four Corners, and all the other renewal of buildings in South Worcester.

7:51: Councilor Paul Clancy brings up Worcester Crossing, a 33 million dollar project that doesn’t pull from tax payers, and will produce 1 million dollars in property taxes. The developer would like to use green energy in the parking lots, such as small windmills on the lights. Clancy asks if the small wind power ordinance can be prioritized so the developer can put the mini-turbine-lights in while construction is still happening.

7:59: Palmieri is wondering what’s up with the new restaurant/lounge going in to Union Station.

8:02: It will be a 5900 square feet eatery and will take six to eight months to complete before opening. The owner began paying rent October 1. He also owns the Boiler Room at the corner of Winter and Harding Street in Worcester.

8:07: Palmieri asks for the Mid Town Mall to a part of the Economic Development package, and says it should be looked at as it’s adjoining City Square is in its eleventh and a half hour.

8:23: Councilor Smith wants to bring more attention to the West Boylston corridor. City Manager will have more information next Tuesday on how to move forward with this.

8:34: Talk about methane in the landfill that was closed in 1984… Haller asks to file the order. Clancy suggests motion is refered to City Manager to move forward with any project with the landfill.

8:38: Ah, the beautiful foliage. $50 fine for cars in the way of street sweeping, boo. Haller asks that notices of the sweeping times go up as close to the clean up time as possible in the inner city areas since parking is a hassle at the very least in those areas.

8:43: “That’s the best news we can all hear” says Councilor Clancy that an aggressive five week leave clean up is in order. The last thing we want is another area of the city stuck with a mix of snow and leaves for the remainder of the winter season.

8:50: Eddy says the leave clean up program is “one of the amenities you get for living in this great city.” He’s a fan.

8:52: Smith asks where the replanting of trees (due to the loss from that darn beetle) will happen. Trees will be planted on green strips, however they will not plant directly under utility lines.

9:02: Council accepts with gratitude $3,600 donated to Worcester’s Fire Department. That should be a +4 for our Index.

9:04: As Chief of Police stands to speak about the improvement of gun fire violence, there are whispers surprised he’s speaking with members of the media in the same room. Gemme notes that motor vehicle theft has increased, as well as domestic violence and knife use.  Drug activity is down, and while he’s pleased with that, says the department needs to stay focused to keep it down.

9:10: Haller asks where the city is in regard to gangs.

9:11: Gemme says many of the gang members are not from this area, and are loosely affiliated with Worcester. He says the Police Department tries to put pressure on individuals who show violence to suppress any large scale outbreaks.

9:14: Petty says we have a safe city and pauses before saying it’s because members of the police department are “well educated.” Do I sense a reference to the T&G article on the degrees held by Worcester PD officers?

9:20: Eddy congratulates the PD on doing “more with less” and move Worcester more and more safe. He makes it clear that by the end of the year being down 62 officers, we still have far less fatal shootings than Providence, and continue to bring down numbers of certain violent crimes.

But wait…. why have such a significant number of officers retired this year? Yes, lay offs, but could there be more to it?

9:28: Clancy says over and over we have a well educated, gifted Police Department. Are these references to the war with the T&G? He ends with saying we need to thank them for all the work they do “often in unsafe conditions.” Wait, isn’t everyone saying how safe this city is?

9:32: Ruston says it. He wants to know the Chief’s idea on communication. Dun dun duuun..

9:35: O’Brien says he knows the public must be informed with the safety, and what is going on with the Police Department. He cites several incidents when the Worcester PD has made arrests, and stopped anticipated crime without anything printed by the local print media.

9:36: “I need to defend the Worcester Police Department and there’s no denying I criticized recently the Telegram and Gazette.” Gemme says he will continue to communicate with all media outlets in the city to keep the Telegram and Gazette in check. He says although they want to work with the T&G, there are issues that need to be addressed. “There are certain elements within the T&G,” and uses the words: “unbalanced reporting” and “attacking members of the Worcester Police Department”. He says he’s more than willing to sit down with the City Manager and the Telegram and Gazette to talk about their differences.

9:40: Ruston wants clarification that the PD will give information to every media outlet, including the T&G

9:43: Gemme says if there is unfair reporting, he has the right to criticize the T&G.

It sounds like there will be a talk between the Worcester Police Department and the Telegram and Gazette, as well as City Manager Mike O’Brien to re-glue the bond between them ensuring no disruption with the flow of communication.

9:51: Germain thinks Gemme’s men and women will work harder, and smarter for him after he showed so much loyalty in these “past trying two days.” He notes that it may be true the Telegram and Gazette doesn’t print all they probably should be, seeing how they haven’t done anything with the most recent report put out by the Department.

9:55: Rosen says it’s wrong to belittle anyone’s degree like the Telegram and Gazette did with the article about the PD officer’s degrees from Quinsigamond, Anna Maria, etc.

9:59: Gemme says: “If we don’t have an educated Police Department, we’re going to have issues with the community” …are we not dealing with an issue.. a pretty big one at that, right now?

10:13: Palmieri jokes that “Joffy boy over there still thinks he can hit a baseball”. Seriously though, he’s asking that the City Manager does everything in his power to ensure the Worcester Tornadoes stay in Worcester. He also requests communication be had between the Garden Club and the City Manager in regards to beautifying the area in front of Hanover Theatre.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Live blog: City Council 10/20/2009

  1. Glad you’re back this week!

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