Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
We’re back after a week off. Tonight will hopefully be as eventful as the agenda promises.
7:09: Here we go. Clancy and Germain aren’t here.
7:10: J. O’Brien begins by thanking people for their time and money spent at Friday’s Haiti fundraiser.
7:14: Commissioner Mikielian, the city’s Director of Inspectional Services, is leaving for Savannah, GA, and the councilors and City Manager are giving him his props. Haller says he’s done wonders for D4, Toomey says it’s important to note there are city employees–including him–who don’t work 9 to 5, and she says that his hard work carried over into nights and weekends. Eddy says that during his campaigning he had an ally in Mikielian. Smith says it seems like they’ve had a retirement like this every week. Petty says he would see him every morning while getting they got their coffee, and that Mikielian has helped address cleaning up neighborhoods during his tenure. Palmieri loved that Mikielian would answer the phone directly when called. Rushton wishes him the best, and hopes he doesn’t have to be like Dr. Morse and come back four or five times.
7:24: Mikielian comes up to address council. He says that coming back here and being commissioner for the city was “the highlight” of his life. He says it was a tough decision to leave, and credits the people working with him for all of their accomplishments.
7:25: 6a-6f goes to Public Works. The rest to traffic and parking.
7:26: Elizabeth Nguyen is appointed to the Elder Affairs Commission. Isidore Nosike and Maureen Schwab are on the Off-Street Parking Board.
7:27: Info on the old courthouse is filed by Rushton. No news probably doesn’t equal good news.
7:29: The Lead Abatement Program comes up. Rushton is wondering about finances, and whether or not the two new positions asked for is worth the money being taken out of the funding. He wants to point out that this isn’t tax payer money, but rather federal grant money. He does want to know, however, if these positions will take city taxpayer money after the three year grant ends.
7:31: Rushton continues to say that the Lead Abatement Program has done wonders for the city, and is relieved to hear that due to new future funding these salaries won’t be charged to city tax money.
7:35: Haller would like a report on the how the program is doing. One child was lead poisoned in Worcester in 2009, which apparently is huge progress.
7:37: The RKG housing strategy study comes up, and Lukes is the first to talk about it. She says it’s amazing that it’s taken 8 years for this study to become such a focus of the city. She says the study does conclude that we need more affordable housing, but really just for the elderly. She calls this report relevant, and that it deserves study from the Economic Development Committee.
7:38: Rushton says that 8 years is a while. He wants a report that shows how many single-family homes were built since 2002.
7:39: Petty would also like updated numbers. He remembers an “uproar” when this report came out. He does say that he thinks it is going down “the right road” in calling for more market-rate housing.
7:41: Toomey says that National Grid shouldn’t be cutting off power to homes at night in winter for construction. She also says that National Grid hasn’t done enough to notify everyone when their power will be out. She’d like a report that addresses how this will be fixed.
7:44: Petty also wants to know if there’s a schedule they could see for upcoming work and subsequent power outages in neighborhoods.
7:45: The city is getting money from the Dept. of Labor (items 7.7a and 7.7b). And ten sets of junior golf clubs.
7:46: The communication for implementing a Citizen Online Police Reporting System is sent to Public Safety. Lukes mentions that it’s not going so well in Boston, and would like to see some info from them before Worcester moves forward.
7:48: Haller talks about Gemme’s abbreviated crime report, saying that “Worcester continues to be a safe city in regards to violent crime.”
7:49: Petty says that the report makes some comments about the Summer Impact Division, and that the summer seems to be the most violent months. Petty’s worried that another summer of budget cuts might continue a rise in crime. Petty would like to find some more funding or grants to keep the operation going.
7:50: Before the TB clinic on Queen street moves to UMass Memorial, Palmieri would like to discuss it in the Public Health Committee.
7:52: Lukes talks about the auditorium. She says we’re just putting money into it. M. O’Brien as 7.35J asks for money to go to the new boiler for the building. M.O’Brien says they’re still looking at options for reuse. He says we still have obligations. She’d like to see a report of buildings that the city owns and the cost of maintaining them. Again, I direct her to this as a starting point.
7:58: The 2011 budget goes to the Finance Committee. No discussion on it again.
8:00: Eddy talks about Abby Kelly Foster and her upcoming 200th birthday. Apparently School Committee member Tracy Novick’s daughter, Aisling, brought it to his attention.
8:02: Petty (and Germain and Rushton) ask that the Thayer building get a new plaque recognizing the School of Nursing there between 1883-1992. He says that most people in Worcester know someone who went to/worked at the school. Haller requests that the entire city council signs on to that one.
8:04: Lukes wants to know about Choose Worcester and their budget. She wants more info on all of Worcester’s marketing facets and their goals/techniques. She wants to use Choose Worcester’s results (or lack of results) as a reference for how and what other city marketing teams, like Destination Worcester for example, are doing.
8:07: Lukes wants to know about security in city owned parking lots and garages. She says there’s been complaints about robberies and break-ins.
8:09: Lukes wants more info the Gateway Cities bill passing around the state house.
8:11: Lukes brings up the plastic bag ban. She says that this can be compared to the smoking ban–it started on the local level before it went to the state level. She says there’s no reason Worcester can’t pioneer a plastic bag ban in the state. She wants it to go to committee for discussion once the ordinance is drafted.
8:13: Toomey says there’s already been an agreement with the Dept. of Environmental Protection and the private sector that would cut down on plastic bag use and plastic bag recycling. She says that there are concerns of cross-contamination in grocery stores where there’s a bag ban in effect. It also brings up questions about using plastic bags for newspapers and dry cleaning.
8:17: Rushton says that it should be amended as not a total ban but that it should say reduce. He says people should get into the idea of reusing, even for when going to CVS or for takeout.
8:18: Lukes says she’ll accept a change that says “ban or reduce.” The council chuckles at the “good compromise,” as J. O’Brien calls it.
8:19: Worcester gets a street named “WalMart Way.”
8:21: Palmieri brings up the situation at Belmont Street Community School. Palmieri texted M. O’Brien about raising money for the school. He says the custodians have done “a remarkable job” in fixing up the school. He’d also like to raise money for the reward to whoever provides info that leads to the arrest and prosecution of those who damaged the building.
8:25: Toomey says the entire community is “shocked and appalled” both at what happened and the amount of the destruction. She says that it’s great that everyone wants to help, but the campaign needs to be coordinated. She also says that teachers spend a ton of their own money to augment schools’ resources, and that at Belmont teachers lost a lot of what they’ve purchased on their own.
8:28: Petty calls it “shameful.” He’d like a report on the damages and the cost, and when insurance kicks in.
8:32: Eddy talks about a bomb threat at Doherty, and concerns that there was a variance on the protocol. Students were outside for over an hour and a half in the winter, but the rules say that after 30 mins students should be taken to a pre-determined building site so they can be inside. He’d like to get people together to go over protocols for this kind of thing.
8:34: Haller wants the city to review its policies about graffiti on private property. She says in one case they caught a perpetrator, but the punishment didn’t involve removing the graffiti or paying for its removal. Another case was of an abandoned property that was graffiti, but whose owner didn’t hear about the fines for not removing it until he was summoned to court. In both cases she says the building owners felt re-victimized by the city for being bad citizens.
8:39: Rushton moves to adjourn. J. O’Brien says that there will be a fundraiser next Thursday (Feb. 4) at Coral Seafood put on by Vincent Pedone and Harriette Chandler.