Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
Something notable on the agenda tonight is Councilor Konnie Lukes requested a report on drug overdose and arrest statistics for the city over the past ten years. I hoped to find agenda items that fell into the categories of “sex” and “rock and roll” to create a theme for the evening, but numerous lists of petitions for the abatement of street betterment and sidewalk repairs doesn’t really conjure up images of Woodstock.
All jokes aside, I find this notable because a quick search through past City Council liveblogs shows the only city official to speak on the city’s drug problems has been Police Chief Gemme and an unnamed speaker to the council in November of 2008.
Update: Further scouring of past City Council agendas shows that the last person to request information on drug numbers in Worcester was Haller, who had a strikingly similar request to Lukes on June 3, 2008.
Here’s a run-down before we start:
-Lots of Public Works and Traffic & Parking stuff. Seriously, we’re talking agenda items 12a through 12bb, 13a through 13bb, 14a through 14cc, 15a through 15x and 16a through 16q.
-The city council will bring up Montvale for what should really be the last time. Really.
-Palmieri wants to schedule a second transportation summit, due to the developments at Boston’s South Station
7:08 We’re off. Mike O’Brien celebrates the career of Leonard Morse, who is retiring from his position as Commissioner of Public Health.
7:17: Smith, Rushton, Germain, Lukes and Toomey all speak and praise Dr. Morse. Germain notes that this is the third time he’s retired, so maybe he’ll be back.
7:20: Clancy thanks Morse being a strong advocate for putting flouride in the city’s water years back. It was voted down.
7:21: Palmieri says he’s not leaving until September. Palmieri also notes that Dr. Morse knows nutrition because he’s so “slim and trim.” Clearly, he’s in good health.
7:23: Haller and Eddy speak to Dr. Morse as well.
7:26: Mayor O’Brien calls Dr. Morse up to speak. He says he’s “very moved by your kind words.” He says he received a call yesterday offering him a new job. He says in 1963 with the development with a Polio vaccine there were three immunization days in Worcester because there were three strains of the virus. Vaccines cost 25 cents per dose. The excess money went to a scholarship fund that has grown to “many hundreds of dollars” and last year 12 medical scholars received scholarships from that same fund. 23,000 seasonal H1N1 vaccines were given out by ten public health workers. He says “social justice based on science, that’s what public health is.”
7:32: Here comes Montvale Rd. Palmieri says “last week there was some hope there would be a compromise,” (since last week’s meeting) but apparently there was another “road block.” He essentially says that the involvement of attorney’s “muddied the waters.” Jim Crowley is here, Adi Tibrewal, Liz Todd and Burton Chandler (their lawyer) are not. He says it’s well past it’s time to vote on this.
7:36: Smith says that he and his collegues have “bent over backwards” to resolve this. He says it’s time to “put this issue behind us.”
7:37: Clancy and Eddy vote no. All others vote yes. Montvale expands. The tennis court is part of the historic district.
7:38: Some confusion over voting and reconsideration. Let’s do that again. It makes no difference, no change on the vote.
7:40: Haller rises and asks if the Clerk can start reading out the outcome of votes.
7:41: Clancy talks about Sec. 18. He says every union is on board except for the police officials union. He’d now like a report on how much money it’s saved, especially as the new budget session is coming up. He doesn’t buy that there’s been a lot of money saved. He doesn’t “see those projected saving that people claim.” The council agrees.
7:43: Petty (with Rushton and Haller added on) brings up South Station’s failed bid to buy up more property which would help get more trains running between Worcester and Boston.
7:46: Palmieri has the story in the Boston Globe about this. He says without this expansion there won’t be more trains–no more room. He says even Mayor Menino wants this to happen. He says the importance of another transportation summit is to “move the players forward.”
7:52 Rushton says that Providence’s Mayor Cicillini got seven towns around Providence to create joint efforts to improve their services. He says egos will have to be checked at the door. He wants to look at having cities and towns around Worcester combine forces in Worcester.
7:54: Toomey wants to look at other areas failed bids to do the same thing so that we don’t make the same mistake.
7:55: Clancy doesn’t want to regionalize Police and Fire. Rushton says he understands, but calls this a “game-changer.” He compares this to when educational districts were combined (like Wachusett). He says it should be looked at.
7:56: Germain shares the same concerns as Clancy. He makes a motion to oppose.
7:56: He says the analogy about regionalizing schools doesn’t fly because it’s been between small towns, not Worcester.
7:57: Palmieri is in opposition too.
7:58: Lukes supports Rushton’s idea. She says it’s worth discussing, especially now that it’s time to look at savings. She wants a report on the Moore organization, saying it’s close to this idea.
8:00: Eddy doesn’t like this idea, and says there are too many union issues. A lot of talk to just to clarify that Rushton is only asking for a report, nothing more.
8:02: Petty says something like this would take years. But he’s all for taking a look at a report.
8:04: Six yeas, five nays. A report will be written.
8:09: Lukes says that she’s concerned that home businesses aren’t being followed and that there should be a sense of permanence in neighborhoods for young families. Toomey says this is similar to orders she’s filed about people using lawns as parking lots. She wants to know if there’s information on the website for new home-business to go and see how you legal start running a business out of your home.
8:12: PILOT and Worcester Academy. The council wants to know if there’s any PILOT programs coming from the school. Clancy hopes that their purchasing of these buildings can change the “eyesore” that is the Beirut building.
8:14: Palmieri says that they’re still waiting for the ball to drop with PILOT and Clark University. He hopes it happens before Clark’s president leaves.
8:15: Toomey agrees with Clancy. She wants to know if the new owners of the property on Vernon Hill have any plans to change the netting over the decrepit buildings in the area.
8:17: Lukes says in 2007 there were 637 drug-related deaths in MA and 42,000 admissions to publicly funded treatment centers. She wants better statistics to be available.
8:22: O’Brien’s city budget is sent to the finance committee.
8:23: Petty brings up the telecommunication tax loophole–underground lines weren’t taxed, but poles were. He says that the city of Boston won a lawsuit against Verizon that won them money. He wants to know about Worcester’s role in all of this, and if any money should be coming our way.
8:26: All municipal stuff listed at the beginning of the post passes (except 16g). Lots of new parking spots and parking times.
8:29: $35,712.10 might be shuffled from CDBG (Community Development Block Grants) to Gardner Kilby Hammond Neighborhood revitalization. Palmieri wants these monies to be given out more diversely through the city.
8:35: Petty in concerned we’re going to start spreading CDBG money by districts–it should be based on programs and services provided.
8:36: Toomey wants to make sure the money has been spent wisely. She thinks that this would be a good MQP project for a college like WPI.
8:37: Lukes wants to find out what areas are eligible for these grants before we give them out. Petty’s original amendment has been amended so many times that the councilors are laughing each time another one stands to talk about it. The amendment passes–the $35,000 is shuffled.
8:41: The T&G vs. Police Dept. and their records comes up. Rushton calls the judge “Rip Van Winkle” because it took so long for him to issue a ruling. (The ruling certainly doesn’t end the case: It only allows the T&G’s lawyers to look at the unredacted files on officer Mark Rojas.) This item wasn’t on the original agenda posted online.
8:43: Petty says Direct Air performs a wonderful service in the city of Worcester. He says Direct Air deserves some credit for handling the delays over the holiday season at Worcester Regional Airport. He knows it’s been frustrating for the passengers though, but Direct Air has added planes for now.
8:46: Clancy wants a list of streets and sidewalks repaired in the last two years in the Canal District. He wants the new repairs to exclude these streets and sidewalks. He understands that some of these sidewalks might need to be trimmed, but none should be taken out completely.
8:50: This has been something Palmieri’s been harping on for a while now. He wants to make sure the federal money doesn’t come with strings that would force the removal of the newer sidewalks.
8:51: Smith wants some of the parking spots in the parking lot of the public library to be used for residents in the area. He notes that residents are having trouble finding parking. Same thing with the T&G’s parking spots.
8:52: Rushton wants to celebrate two things: Today is the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Sole Proprietor. The second thing is that he got to go to the inter-high basketball classic. “The most important thing is that the students, athletes and coaches acted with the highest of class.”
8:54: A $400,000 federal earmark for Holy Cross to share with schools in the city came out today. Toomey wants that recognized, especially since she’s chair of the Education subcommittee.
8:56: And that’s it!