Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
Q: What has two thumbs and will be liveblogging tonight’s city council meeting?
A: This guy.
Since there are only two of these this summer, it’s going to be a long one.
6:53: Ok, so we’re running a little late tonight. The meetings start at 6:00 over the summer, just for everyone’s future reference. Looks like it’s mostly just been traffic and parking motions sent to committee.
6:55: Rule 60o of the City Council Charter comes up. Eddy says we’ve already passed this (unanimously, 3-0). The rule notes that if a councilor wishes to hold something under privilege (and thus kill debate on it that night) has to say so within their first sentence. This would cut down on councilors speaking for five or ten minutes on an item and then deciding to hold under privilege. Eddy and Clancy go back and forth, Eddy finally amends it to say it’s allowable for a councilor to hold something under privilege, then ask for a report.
7:02: Germain wants to amend this again. He says if he wanted to have debate, then hold under privilege, that should be fine because it “gets the message out.” Eddy likes that too. So the final amendment is that a councilor would tell the chair that they plan to hold, let some councilors speak, then he can motion for a hold.
7:04: Clancy holds Germain’s motion under privilege, then asks for a report asking what Robert’s Rules would say about this.
That wasn’t a joke.
7:05: Eddy talks the pit bull ordinance. “We have had problems with this breed of dog,” says Eddy. He notes that 2% of dogs are pit bulls, but 25% of bites come from them. He references similar ordinances in Boston and Lowell. He says it helps the police department. He says some of the most difficult moments of their job is going on a call where a pit bull “lunges” at them. The ordinance would make owners put up signage saying a pit bull is on the property, getting landlord’s permission to have a pit bull, and keeping it muzzled.
7:08: “Who does this harm? Does it harm the dog? Absolutely not. Does it harm the owner? Not that I can think of,” he says. It preserves public safety in the neighborhoods “and I can’t find the downside.” He wants the council to advertise it tonight, then vote on it at the August 10 meeting. (And have a 30 minute public hearing before that meeting at 6:00. Mark your calendars, pit bull owners.) We move on to the agenda without a vote, so it looks like this is the case.
7:15: Petty talks about software for planning and permitting. He wants to know when it will be up because there will certainly be some “hiccups.” M.O’Brien says they’re working that out and they’re in talks with a vendor. He’s thinking smaller departments will start in September, with the whole city on it by next June. He says it’ll help citizens and businesses communicate with City Hall better. Petty calls it “one stop shopping” for permits. M.O’Brien gives the example of architects who do their work on the computer can just submit plans electronically, which will speed up permitting and zoning processes.
7:23: The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Worcester Retirement System for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009 is sent to Municipal Operations committee.
7:24: As a result of a recent T&G article, Petty wants health inspection scores published in restaurants or up on the city’s website.
7:25: Lukes talks about transparency, and wants the time frame for vendor contracts and payments put online so taxpayers can see where their money is going. She wants a report for the next meeting. Germain wants to know if outside council counts as a vendor. If not, can they be considered? It’s added as a friendly amendment.
7:27: Rushton commends the people who brought the HUD loan for Lake Aerospace to move into the Worcester Regional Airport Industrial Park. Rushton says they asked the same questions the bank asked, and really wanted to make sure this wouldn’t be another “fly by night operation” (pun intended?) and would be gone in short amount of time. He alludes to some questions about the company’s history (I think he’s speaking about Lake Aerospace — he’s not being real clear) and says that this company will be boost to the local economy, calling it a “jobs item.” He says Worcester doesn’t have to spend a nickel until this company proves that it is profitable. He “highly recommends this item.”
7:33: Petty calls this a “good project” but adds there always risk in something like this. He says it will provide 100 to 130 jobs to build planes.
7:35: Julie Jacobson lists of people/entities that have ordered from Lake Aerospace. The list includes UN affiliated contracts and police forces.
7:37: Lukes says she was concerned about some of the discussions in the meeting, especially why a letter of confidentiality would protect a vendors list. She questions some of the vendors –especially the ten foreign governments– about “who are we getting into bed with?” But she was reassured when she heard all bids would go through various entities like the FAA, customs and the Secretary of State’s office.
7:39: The motion to accept a HUD Section 108 Loan Guarantee for Lake Aerospace, Inc. passes unanimously.
7:42: J.O’Brien wants work done to improve the handball courts at Green Hill Park.
7:45: New tobacco ordinance is ordained. the 25 ft. buffer from entrances is enacted in front of health care centers and municipal buildings.
7:47: Under suspension: Toomey talks about the rash of tagging happening across the city.
7:50: Clancy motions to adjourn! See you in August.