Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
7:06: Lukes isn’t here tonight. We begin with Smith’s suspension of rules to celebrate trade schools in the city/Worcester Tech (it’s the school’s 100 year anniversary). J. O’Brien proclaims today “Worcester Technical High School Day.” Four students are here to talk about their educations and their future plans thanks to their time spent at Worcester Tech.
7:18: Clancy congratulates the school on their anniversary and move to Belmont. He says the debate about building a new school in ’98 and ’99 was “contentious,” and wasn’t even a unanimous decision on the School Committee. He says there was tremendous pressure not to vote for building “this wonderful facility” and “flagship of Worcester Public Schools.”
7:21: Toomey says she has a long history with Worcester Tech. She saw the transition to the new building from her seat on the School Committee. She says she’s “in awe” of the students she sees come out of the school. She says it an incredible message we send when we have students going into trades like computer science.
7:23: Palmieri congratulates the students (and principle/representatives here too) as well. He notes that Worcester Tech is #1 academically in the city of Worcester.
7:25: Smith says it’s fantastic that we’re celebrating 100 years, especially since things have changed in education and job training over the years. He calls it a testament to Worcester that we have a school like this here. He says the building looks like a college, rather than a high school.
7:26: Petty says Clancy is correct–it was a tough fight to get it built. His father was a grad of the old Voke school. He thanks the administrators and the students and says his vote for the school was “proudly taken.”
7:27: Rushton says “I think Councilor Clancy was around in 1908.” He says there’s a false double standard that kids who go to trade schools are pegged as kids “who don’t want to learn” and that this school proves that wrong.
7:29: Haller thanks those involved for their work in the city and will continue to be appreciative of them for years to come.
7:30: We’re still under suspension. Roberta Schaefer is here to make an announcement. She says that the Research Bureau was an early advocate of the new Worcester Tech. The Research Bureau has their own anniversary (25 years) and she’s inviting everyone to come to their series of talks. The first is Feb. 25 at Mass College of Pharmacy at 7:45 in the morning.
7:32: Germain’s order that the city gets involved with House bill #3588 which would enforce the collection of unpaid fines of landlords related to snow/ice removal and health/code violations.
7:34: M. O’Brien says that he’s worked closely with Rep. Pedone on this. He says this bill achieves the same goals the council has worked for before. He says it’s one more tool in the city’s collection of fines. Collection would be done through housing court and putting liens on the property. He says this bill will help the city recoup the fines sooner.
7:37: Haller says this is something we’ve been working for for a long time. She wants a time-table about when it will be signed by the Gov. Germain says “any day.”
7:41: The council is debating whether or not to voice support for something that hasn’t been signed by the Gov. yet. It ends up being held for vote until the next council meeting, giving the Gov. two weeks to sign the bill. Germain wants to go on record supporting the bill’s wording as it is now (they’re worried that it might change a little before the Gov. signs it). No surprise, everyone supports it.
7:44: “Request that the City Manager report to City Council concerning the ongoing efforts being made to establish a partnership between the city’s several cultural institutions to allow/encourage city employees to access their programs, and further, that he request each of our local institutions to inform the City Council of the efforts they make to help promote utilization of the resources of their institutions and/or programs.” No comment is made on this before it passes, but it might relate to Lukes’ previous motion (from a past meeting) to figure out what exactly all of Worcester’s marketing campaigns are doing.
7:45: Palmieri talks about the city’s hills, steep slope development and water run-off.
7:49: Clancy wants to look at the cost of opening up Millbury St. at Rt. 20 to two-way traffic. He says the decision to make it one-way was back in Bill Glodis days. He says that the traffic there now will be worse with the opening of WalMart. He wants a price tag from MassDOT. He says the previous “guesstimate” was $200,000.
7:53: Clancy also wants to know more about the Rt. 9 Burns bridge. He says there haven’t been details. He wants prelim. details from the state, especially cost and schedule for the project.
7:54: Clancy want M.O’Brien’s report on savings from Sec. 18 and collective bargaining sent to the finance committee. He asks M.O’Brien on the future of Sec. 19 (without mentioning it by name) because he’s already received the emails. He wants to know if the city is considering paying more for retirees’ insurance. M.O’Brien answers succinctly: “No.” The report says that we’ve saved nearly $35 mil since 2004.
7:57: Clancy takes the mayor’s chair, J.O’Brien comes to the floor. He says these savings were done through collective bargaining and partnership. He says we worked together to save jobs. He says steps taken by the city through self-insurance to save a lot of money, which have given employees a bit of a break. He wants to thank the city for the report, but also the unions for their work too.
8:12: We’re done with the agenda, we’re now in suspension. J.O’Brien takes the mayor’s chair again after Clancy stayed up there a little longer. Germain laughs “I thought we had a coup.”
8:13: Palmieri mentions a girl who was bit by a pit bull. She asked whether or not a pit bull or any other dog had maimed or bit someone if the dog’s owner would be able to get another pit bull (or any other type of dog). He wants the law department to look at this and see what recourse could be “entertained.” He says he knows we have a lot of dog lovers out there, but he wants to know what options there are if a dog bites someone and is taken away–can that owner get another?
8:16: Petty wants an update on the tobacco buffer zone report from last year. Jabian Gutierrez from the Library Board is here because they want to get involved.
8:18: Germain says he gets phone calls and emails about stickers on stop signs. He wants to know what the recourse and legal opinion on this. He says a lot of them even have phone numbers on them that we can call and say “hey, what are you doing?” It sounds like he’s more concerned with posting bills, rather than stickers.
8:21: Clancy says the cost of putting in sewers has gone up over the years–he’s referring to converting private streets to public streets. He says we’re charging much different time length and cost for sewers rather than for street conversion. He wants the City Manager to allow a 20 year payback from sewer placement at 2%. He says the reason is the cost of this infrastructure is “prohibitive.” He says it costs $1 per square ft. for sewers. He says people over 70 don’t have to pay for conversion, but only the interest. He wants clarification on the language on this. He also understands that if you own a vacant lot you only have to pay interest on conversion until something is built on the lot. He wants more info on that. He’s concerned about people on fixed incomes, that these bills can be “overwhelming,” otherwise there’s going to be a “screeching halt” on street conversion and sewer improvements in the city except for the wealthier parts of town.
8:27: He goes back to Palmieri’s sloped street issue–the city doesn’t have any protection for development/houses/damages suffering on sloped streets. He wants a better or lower rate on these improvements. He’s suggesting 20 years at 2%, and for street conversion maybe 20 years at 5%.
8:29: Rushton voices his support. He says it’s a great economic development tool too–“we’re going to make money on this” because property values will go up.
No council next week.