City Council Live Blog 12/15/09

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

7:06: A delegation from Worcester’s Russian sister city, Pushkin, is here to “see how efficiently our city government works,” as mayor Lukes says. She acknowledges someone’s chuckle in the audience.

7:07: Big news right away: Joe Casello was on the agenda to speak this week to the council, but he’s been put off until next. More on this in Thursday’s paper.

7:11: Eddy speaks about his charter change (look under the heading “He Doesn’t Know“). He defends his argument that a special election is the way to go when a vacancy appears in a district council seat. “It’s about what voters want–going to the polls and electing who they want.” He’s charged out of the gate–very impassioned, like he’s ready for a debate on this (stay tuned for next week’s council meeting). He’s recommending the charter change to the council.

7:16: Germain recommends to hold the charter change under priviledge. It’ll be brought up next week.

7:17: Rushton wants more information from the Police about citations against the Livery companies in the city.

7:19: Clancy is stunned by the “disregard for the law” by the Livery companies. He wants to explore the heaviest amount of money that can be fined against these companies.

7:20: The council votes to allow the city manager to designate areas within the city for stimulus Recovery Zone Facility bonds (again, look for more info on this in Thursday’s paper).

7:25: Discussing the Canal District stimulus money. Commissioner Moylan says the deadlines are very tight, and that the state has decided to fund the streetscaping with their own enhancement funds to help the city stay on these very tight timelines. The new funding “gives us a buffer” so the city has more time to get rights of way from the nearly 200 abutters of the Canal District funding. The only change now is that instead of bidding in January, the state (more specifically MassDOT) will now bid for the city in April. Moylan assures the council that the monetary amount and type of projects haven’t changed. [The meeting for this was liveblogged today by another Worcester blogger. Read it here.]

7:32: Clancy expresses dismay that sidewalks in the area of the construction that have just been laid will be tore up and replaced in order for the streets to look consistent. He says it’s too bad that money couldn’t be used in other way.

7:33: They’re talking new North High now. “I think North High is shaping up to be an excellent facility,” says Clancy. It’s looking like construction will be on time and on budget, which is something definitely worth acknowledging.

7:38: “It’s on time, but it’s 25 years late,” says Palmieri.

7:40: Eddy speaks about arming animal control officers and putting them under the WPD, saying it’s a need for fighting urban crime and drugs. He says pit bulls are being used more and more in relation to drug crime.

7:42: Mike O’Brien has been very pleased about the combination of animal control and the WPD.

7:43: Haller wants to know if the WPD’s change to the hours of its records bureau has inconvenienced the public. Chief Gemme says he hasn’t heard any negative feedback.

7:45: Petty is talking about the WPD’s redeployment plan. 11 police official posts will be reduced, 21 patrol positions will be lost and 30 recruits will be laid off. Chief Gemme compares these layoffs to the early ’90s.

7:48: “This is a really depressing report” says Haller. She does say there are positives, like the chief is working with the city manager to make the best of what they have, but she says they’re “dismantling the positive strides” in terms of community development. She says the chief doesn’t have the tools (because of the budget, not competence) about reducing traffic issues in the city, and that’s disappointing.

7:55: “This has been a thoughtful and systematic scale back of the WPD” says Mike O’Brien.

8:01: Haller wants to know if we have any grants or federal money coming to help alleviate some of the WPD’s issues. O’Brien says no, but he’s actively “scanning” for any available monies.

8:03: More discussion on the WPD’s budget. Eddy calls this report “triage.” He, like Haller, hears a lot about traffic and safety at public meetings. He says we can’t meet public safety demands based on this report, as this is the lowest number of staffed police officers since the 90s.

8:08: Eddy says we’ll be talking about the budget in the spring, and we have to get beyond using words like “distressing” or “depressing”.

8:12: Smith talks about “hate-filled graffiti” on the west side of the city. He wants the councilors to sign on to a joint statement between him and Sen. Harriette Chandler: “We do not tolerate hate, and we do not encourage those who promote it.” He wants the local pols to sign onto this to show that city officials hate hate.

8:19: Gemme says he believes they have suspects involved in the graffiting and the overturned gravestones in the Worcester Hebrew Cemetery in Auburn.

8:20: Rushton says that “wherever you’re from, you’re welcome in Worcester.” He references recently helping a Kenyan woman seek asylum in Worcester.

8:26: Worcester Public Library just got $1,000 from the Central MA Regional Wellness System!

8:27: City Assessor Ford and Rushton get into a conversation about analyzing/assessing properties. That’s not going to happen until the spring.

8:32: Mass College of Pharmacy and WPI offer a ton of money in the form of PILOT. Haller says there’s a correction. She says it should say MCPHS has paid around 1.25 million to the city.

8:38: Toomey says there needs to be “open communication” coming up. It’s going to be a difficult budget season coming up, she says.

8:38: Clancy says the city report was good, the School Dept.’s was “gobbly guk.”

8:39: Toomey and Clancy team up to get some answers to questions posed to the School Department.

8:40: Airport talk. Petty says Direct Air is doing a good job, and the council is hoping there will be expanded flights to other states.

8:42: Petty says a grant is available for 16 communities to track public health issues. He thinks Worcester would be a great place for that. The filing date is in mid-January, and he wants the city for file for it.

8:43: Smith wants the city to start using Zumbox. He explains: “it’s pretty simple. It functions like the USPS but without envelopes and stamps.” It’s good for bills, notices and instantly sending out information if a geographic area has a problem like a water main break. There’s no cost to the city to use this. Even if 1/3 of the people sign up for this, that means it’s 1/3 less stamps, paper, etc. used by the city. He says that some cities have saved up to six figures using it.

8:46: Mayor Lukes steps down to address the council. Rushton takes her place. She wants Worcester to “shed it’s inferiority complex” and begin to present the city better in its marketing campaigns.

8:50: Amending the Salary Ordinance of August 20, 1996 relative to Members of Local 911, NEPBA (police offices) passes. Lukes is the only “nay” vote.

8:58: We’re back to talking about Holy Cross and Father McFarland. Nothing new is being said since the discussions over the last couple weeks.

9:00: And we’ve adjourned. Council Rosen makes the motion.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “City Council Live Blog 12/15/09

  1. Whew! Thought you weren’t on this for a bit there.

  2. Mayor Lukes… “shed it’s inferiority complex” and begin to present the city better in its marketing campaigns.
    According to a scientific study by a local bio-tech company and a renown local university, Iferioritus Complexus is a gene altering microorganism discovered in the City’s drinking water. So it’s not a state of mind, it’s all in the genes.
    Who woulda thunk?

  3. Worcester’s Russian sister city, Pushkin, is here to “see how efficiently our city government works,” as mayor Lukes says. She acknowledges someone’s chuckle in the audience.

    Council session starts at 7:00 and ends at 9:00.
    A $500 million behemoth’s business is done in a two hour public session.
    Now that’s efficiency!
    Eat your heart out Pushkin, Russia.

    How dare any of you chuckle.

  4. Pingback: Canal District Streetscape Project: A Summary « Nicole, Worcester

  5. The end of the meeting last night the council brought up their concerns with Holy Cross.

    The police in Worcester have for years, done a terrible job breaking up nuisance gatherings on a city wide basis.

    Loud, obnoxious, drunk, party animal gatherings happen in many low to low middle class neighborhoods every weekend if not daily in some places such as Bell Hill or Main South.

    College hill is no different. What difference does it make that these loud, obnoxious, drunk, party animals are students of a particular college or not?

    I am aware that up on Bell Hill the same type of bums do the same thing. Maybe they work at some job locally or maybe they collect welfare. What’s next? Will the council go after employers, or the state’s welfare department in the same way they are going after Holy Cross College?

    A college can set a policy that will terminate with no refund any student enrolled who during the school year manages to get arrested. That however, should be the school’s prerogative and not a government oversight.

    From a public safety and quality of life perspective, in my opinion, the city is responsible. It has laws and ordinances that already exist to ensure such public safety and quality of life.
    The police need to enforce these laws. They should take much stronger measures to end these slothful and loud drunken/drug parties. It’s called making an arrest. Put them in jail for the night or a week. One warning, with a guaranteed punishment on that second return.

    Additionally it wouldn’t hurt if the city placed an ordinance restricting absentee landlord, however not without giving those landlords exclusive rights to discriminate who and what they allow to rent to. If such a control was given back to landlords, as they have had decades ago, then it would even be appropriate to fine landlords for being so irresponsible as to rent to drug ridden drunken loser bastards.

    But that may not ever happen. So for now, those spoiled college shits and those other low class bums who like to party with total disregard to their neighborhood, it really is up to the police to do their job and for us to tell the city council and the city administration to stop passing the buck onto Holy Cross.

  6. Pingback: Zumbox reading « Nicole, Worcester

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