City council live blog: 9/28/10

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

What to look for tonight (kvetch/kvell about what happens here):
-Rumor has it the details of the City Manager’s contract extension will come out tonight
-Internal communication on the WRTA union shows management/union still at an impasse
-Joff Smith would still like to see a law school placed in the old courthouse

The meeting technically starts at 6:00, but they’ll be recessing into finance committee executive session right away. The regular meeting should start around 7:00. See you then.

7:33: Here we go. The council left exec. session late, and it sounds like we’ll hear about MOB’s new contract right away. Germain, as chair of Municipal Operations committee speaks, citing MOB’s “work ethic” and “sacrifice to the city.”

7:36: JOB reads off the motion to extend MOB’s contract. Roll call: 10 yeas, 1 nay (Rushton). We’ll be talking to him later. JOB reads the terms of the salary raises. (11 yeas.)

His upcoming salaries:
2012- 0% increase: $185, 711.40 (this is what he was meant to make as of July 1, 2009)
2013- 2% increase: $189,425.73
2014- 2% increase: $193,214.24

All pay increases effective March 23 of the corresponding year. The contract expires in March 23, 2015, and he’ll be made aware the previous September by the council if they plan to extend his contract again or let it expire.

7:40: MOB says “thank you for the votes of confidence.” He says we have “a bright future ahead” as well as some “great challenges.”

Back to the regular agenda.

7:45: Eddy says there’s concern about increasing construction on Pleasant St.’s west side.

7:56: Eddy goes off on a Verizon rep. as to why there’s no cell phone reception on the west side. “The running joke is you can see the cars pulled over by Assumption because they know they’re going to lose cell phone coverage.” The Verizon rep doesn’t disagree. Another rep has a coverage map. It’s mostly green, with a lot of large white holes showing where Verizon cell phones don’t work.

7:59: Smith says AT&T is just as bad. “We just want to see action taken to get cell phone coverage in that area.” He wants to know what it would take to “develop a concrete plan.”

8:08: The debate over a Verizon solution continues. It seems to be more difficult than putting a tower in. “In all due respect, councilor,” the rep says to Petty, “if it were that simple we would’ve done it by now.” Palmieri would like to see if underground conduits would work better.

8:16: The owner of 443 and 444 Lincoln street is back from last week (where she was not happy about the powerline construction outside her property). She’s handed out photos to prove it, using the sign for the Oil Doctor. She says moving that sign for Verizon/Nat’l Grid work would cost $50,000. Cost of four poles is $10,000 each. She says burying the wires costs $80,000. She says burying wires saves $10,000 and removes four ugly poles. She’s very clear about making Lincoln street look nice, saying they’re trying to “gentrify” it. She met with the state to set up a meeting with Nat’l Grid/Verizon and DPW. Palmieri says he “encourages that meeting to happen.”

8:25: Clancy brings up Holy Cross and PILOT, making sure everyone knows they have the largest endowment of all the schools in the city and use the most city resources. MOB says “we’ve had an open and honest conversation over this,” and is optimistic that “we’ll be able to find mutual goals and benefits that we have with all of our major colleges and universities.”

8:28: Clancy wants a timeline. MOB says “the council has been very supportive” of his efforts to work with colleges, and suggests that quiet support has let him do what he’s done with MCPHS, Clark and WPI. Translation: don’t rush him. Clancy says he respects the school and holds them in high regard, but they’re the “odd man out” in terms of PILOT.

8:31: He continues. He says when Holy Cross can receive taxpayer money to fix McKeon road, one wonders why the college shouldn’t have paid for something that benefits it.

8:33: Palmieri tacks on. He says he’s optimistic, but “concerned this might not get done in time to really help the city in this particular budget go-around.” He wants to know when the next meeting/discussion will be between MOB and Father McFarland. “I think this council should put all the heat they can on the College of the Holy Cross.” He says we don’t come anywhere near Boston when it comes to PILOT money.

8:41: Haller wants to know if we’ll have a potential bus strike soon (the WRTA union meets on Sunday, Oct. 3 to vote on the contract offered to them by management). MOB says plan for the worst but doesn’t expect it. She wants a contingency plan for citizens who rely on the bus to get around if a strike occurs. Everyone’s hoping that “cooler heads prevail” on Sunday, as the mayor says.

8:50: Palmieri doesn’t like the silent treatment we’re getting now from CSX. He says they’ve had their meetings, but we haven’t heard from them since. “We haven’t seen CSX stand up and move on fast forward” in regard to taking business in their expansion area, and he’s peeved that there’s still no attempt for “better and routine maintenance of properties” they own.

8:53: Palmieri wants to know when DCR is going to start a real innocculation program for ALB-infested trees. He wants this sent to the committee he chairs so he can talk to those in charge. “So we can start saving trees instead of cutting them down.” He says there isn’t a plan, “or not one that’s good for the city of Worcester.”

8:54: Smith tags in. “This was going to be a major, major part of the program,” and wants a report on how many trees have been innocculated.

8:57: Clancy wants “a plaque at the John Tivnan Field outlining the life of John Tivnan and his contributions to the City of Worcester.” He wants that extended to other parks named after Worcester folk.

9:01: Smith is happy to get an update of DCAM’s upcoming auction of the old courthouse. He’s still holding on to having a law school there, or another “productive use” for the building.

9:04: Clancy wants to know about the steps to the Salem st. side of the library. He wants to know if they’re up to code, or if they can be changed to standard 7″.

9:06: Toomey talks about the mercury spill at Grafton St. school. She commends the City Manager and his crisis team. She say she stopped by last week to see how much went into correcting the situation. She wants him to team up Superintendent Boone to figure out the overall cost of this, who’s paying for it and “lessons learned.”

9:07: Adjourned!

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “City council live blog: 9/28/10

  1. The City Dictator was on the Jim Polito show this morning, breaking the news that he would be taking a $50,000 a year pay cut, and voluntarily contributing 25% to his health coverage.

  2. I think you mean they’ll recess to executive session. Finance would be public.

  3. The actual result, as compared to the fiction represented on the Jim Polito show this morning, certainly belies the overall veracity of just about any information that might ever be broadcast on the Jim Polito show…

  4. I do think he already pays 25%, Jeff, if that’s any consolation.

  5. -Q

    what a shame – the city council and the vote to extend the CM contract almost 2 years before the original contract is set to expire is the best case to make for a charter review commission
    there are supposed to be checks and balances in our Plan-E form of government and with this CC &
    CM that is not the case and the taxpayers and residents of Worcester are ill served

  6. Does “Q” think this was this a move to prevent a change of charter?
    How would that work? Will they say it’s too costly to switch to a strong Mayor now we have over a half million dollar severance package the tax payer is obligated to? It may be, and that’s not counting for any further raise increases that they all vote for themselves. The basic idea behind the charter was not have anyone politician or party lock in city government operations, and yet it appears that is what this council did, at least until 2015. Jeff you are right and everyone knows that already about TAG only a few lunk heads bother to listen or take seriously to that channel anymore.

  7. -Q

    I stated that this contract extension by the city council makes the case FOR a charter review commission.
    Whether a strong mayor form of govt. would come out of a charter review commission remains to be seen.
    What is all too apparent under this city council & city manager is that our current Plan-E form of govt. fails to provide the checks and balances that Plan-E was supposed to provide for the taxpayers and residents of our city and that is becomming more and more untenable as time goes by

  8. -Q

    8:28pm and Clancy is still looking for information about Holy Cross contributing to a PILOT Program?????
    Councilor Clancy – had you yourself followed up on the very vote you took asking the city manager to report back to the city council on a quarterly basis as to his progress/lack thereof in approaching ALL non-profits you (last night) would not be wasting everyones time.
    You seem to have missed the boat on 3 years worth of reports that the city manager was directed by you and the other city councilors in a 11-0 vote to PROVIDE the very information you are now requesting………..
    Is there any city councilor ever going to ask the city manager to follow directions as voted on by the city council?????

  9. Pingback: McKeon Road, Holy Cross, PILOT « Nicole, Worcester

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