Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
We’re transitioning in the Cover It Live coverage a little differently today. An open thread is here for those of you looking to comment on the meeting as it happens, and I’ll be live blogging the old-fashioned way, right in this post. (I may jump into the Cover It Live fray from time to time.)
7:00: People are just starting to trickle in. It’s going to be a late start.
7:07: Off we go. Two proclamations tonight: 1) Males Advocating Change, a group dedicated to stopping violence against woman and leaders of the White Ribbon Campaign. District Attorney Joe Early Jr. is here for this one. Dr. Evan Graber of You Inc. and the chair of Males Advocating Change says that this is in response to a man who murdered several female students at a college in Montreal in 1991. The campaign is now in 55 countries around the world, and today is White Ribbon Day in Mass.
7:15: Proclamation #2: Worcester Local First’s upcoming food drive for the Worcester County Food Bank. A rep. from Fallon is here to speak here as a member of the steering committee of Worcester Local First. “Think Local Thank Local” is the name of the food drive to run through March and into April. There are 90 food drop off locations throughout the city. A list of sites are at http://www.worcesterlocalfirst.org.
7:20: We’re talking the “Green Ticket” legislation. Germain says most of the collected unpaid fines will come from absentee landlords. He says it’s a good way to monitor what’s going on in the city. J.O’Brien thanks Germain for his patience on this since it was first brought up a couple weeks ago, but the council decided to wait until the Gov. signed it before voicing support.
7:23: Lukes’ order about taking CitySquare by eminent domain comes up. She refers it to the City Manager, but there’s no more discussion on it. She wants a response because the project should have been done by now according to a press release in June 2004.
7:24: Bill Coleman is here to talk about 8d: “William S. Coleman III request City Council honor Robert J. O’Keefe who served as the eighth Clerk of the City for forty-five years with a plaque or naming a room in the City Clerk’s Office after him.” The council suspends the rules to let him speak.
7:25: He says the city went through a lot of changes while O’Keefe was the Clerk, and that he contributed positively to it.
7:28: Smith speaks on S&K’s bid to have valet meters in front of Il Forno, Citizen and Cigar Masters, saying it’s a local business helping local business. Clancy wants a report to see if there’s anything in the ordinances that would not allow valet parking there. Rushton wants him to look at other city’s valet parking ordinances, like Moore did researching the bag ban.
7:30: George Maple, Daniel McAuliffe and Reynaldo Rodriguez named to the G.A.R. Memorial Hall Board of Commissioners.
7:31: John Donahue, Jr. and Samuel Macintire reappointed to the Worcester Redevelopment Authority. This one requires votes. It’s unanimous. Appointments of Richard Perry and William Wallace to the Hope Cemetery Board of Commissioners. It’s unanimous too. J.O’Brien jokes “if we could all be so lucky” about how all of these are unanimous.
7:33: Clancy talks about M.O’Brien’s report on employee health benefits. Clancy says the subcommittee would like to review not only sec. 19, but also the city’s inclusion in the Group Insurance Commission. He’d like more info on the GIC to see if there are real cost savings there. “We haven’t had that discussion fully.” He commends M.O’Brien for all the information, calling it a “great snapshot of budget situations over the years and how they’ve been handled.”
7:36: Lukes says that in an attempt to get transparency there “ought to be an exchange of agenda between city council and school committee”. She wants hard copies to go back and forth. She makes the motion that agenda hardcopies are exchanged. “Just going on the net is not enough. I don’t think we’re user-friendly with our attachments.”
7:37: M.O’Brien’s report goes to Municipal and Finance committee.
7:38: Toomey takes exception to Lukes’ motion. She’s “thinking about the volumes of paper” the school committee gets per week. She says the information is available and there, and says the two clerks can work this out. She calls this a “waste of time, effort and money.”
7:40: Kate says it should be amended that the agendas are exchanged electronically, and the councilors can print it out as they wish.
7:42: Troop members from St. George’s church are here to earn their Government Merit badges.
7:42: Don Cummings, president of Worcester Police Officials is here wondering about missing insurance claim refunds from last year. M.O’Brien says he’ll get on it.
7:47: Smith and Moylan are going back and forth over the tree plantings (the Public Shade Tree Reforestation Program for for 2010 and 2011). Smith wants to know why contractors not using city personnel can’t plant more of their share of the trees. Moylan says the city is being as aggressive as it can.
7:49: Eddy applauds the report and the “thought process of looking at each individual area” in regards to power lines, for example. He says government is often thought of being robotic or uncreative, and these solutions are neither. He does want to know about the west side of the city and replacing the trees downed from the beetle and future west side reforestation. Moylan says there is a “thought process” for that.
7:51: Moylan sits down before Toomey asks a question. He’s referred to as “the agile silver fox.” She wants to know about a specific street where trees have been planted on one side, but not the other. Moylan says the other side can be planted this year, rather than next.
7:53: Palmieri’s talking Asian Longhorned Beetle. He was at a presentation at 55 Pearl on the ALB by WPI students (and takes a shot at the council, saying he was the only one there). He says the presentation was the most informative he’d seen, and says the rest of the council should see it. He wants them to come before the council to give the presentation, as it will help encourage the federal gov. to provide more money for beetle eradication. He says this is moving “at a glacial pace even though we think it’s moving fast.”
7:56: Haller asks that we coordinate with WPI to have that presentation here. She agrees with Palmieri. It gets referred to Youth, Parks and Rec. Clancy sends it over to Eddy.
7:57: Haller wants a report on the inoculations going on through the city this past year. She knows University Park was one of the testing sites. (We’re still talking beetles.) This one goes to Public Health.
7:58: Recommend City Council Adoption of a Resolution to File and Accept a US Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice FY 2010 Solving Cold Cases with DNA Grant. Recommend City Council Adoption of a Resolution to File and Accept a MA Executive Office of Public Safety and Security – Highway Safety Division – FFY 2010 Underage Alcohol Enforcement Grant.
7:59: Bag ban! It was about to be sent to Public Works, but it’s overruled. Sent to Rules. The council jokes that Clancy doesn’t want any of this.
8:01: Budget talk is skipped too.
8:01: James A. DelSignore, City Auditor, transmitting Worcester’s DCU Center Funds Arena Component and Convention Center Component reports including the financial statements with supplemental schedules for the years ended June 30, 2009 and 2008 plus the independent auditors’ report.
8:02: The agenda is over, but Lukes has more to add. She says last night’s zoning board meeting was tense, and that the chair has asked for a moratorium on signs while the sign ordinance is being rewritten and implemented. She requests a report from the city solicitor (Moore) that looks at sign sizes. She says “the appearance and identity of the city is going to be impacted by these signs.” She thinks the moratorium is something we should do since the board is requesting it, and it’s backlogging them in conducting their business. The council agrees.
8:06: Palmieri wants a street light on Winkle Road fixed. It’s agreed. Rushton goes back to Lukes’ item on signs. He says “we don’t want to make this Las Vegas.” But “businesses still have to advertise.” He says there will be a full review of the new ordinance if it comes to the council in March. He also makes a nod to the high school basketball tournament. He wishes the mayor a safe trip to Ethiopia.
8:09: Haller motions to adjourn. The shortest meeting I’ve ever been to.