Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
It hasn’t been the most exciting couple of weeks at city council, and tonight’s meeting probably won’t be an exception. But we’ll still be there anyway. Hang out with us virtually on the more live-lier live blog.
A couple items that might stand out, and DPW Commissioner Robert Moylan is all over them:
-You might be one of 250 lucky households to participate in a recycling pilot program, complete with wheeled containers
–Moylan vs. EPA
-$2,000,000 will be transferred for building a regional 911 center up by the airport
–Which city departments are using social media
-The latest in the city’s quest for another animal shelter
7:14: Daniel Bondzie is reappointed to the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, John Ford appointed to the Community Development Advisory Committee, Christopher Condon to the Citizens Advisory Council, Kristen Leboeuf, Kathleen Linton and Daisy Reeves to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women and Stephen Stolberg to the Commission on Disabilities. Timothy McCann is reappointed to the Historical Commission and Robert Grogan is appointed to the G.A.R. Memorial Board of Trustees.
7:17: Charter’s conduit on Canterbury street comes up. The citizen who was concerned about it met with Charter, and now has no problems with the plan.
7:19: Center for Living and Working gets a proclamation. “Today we’ve kind of come full circle” says the speaker. He says thirty years ago they were suing the city for curb cuts, and now they’re being awarded a proclamation.
7:23: Ronal Madnick of the ACLU is here to retry his petition regarding a request “to amend the Rules of City Council to allow a petitioner to speak on the day their petition first appears on the City Council agenda and request the City Council adopt a “public access” open forum which would take place in the first 30 minutes of any City Council meeting and allow anyone to speak on any item of business on the agenda regardless of the of its position on the agenda. Further, request the City Manager request the City Solicitor amend the Rules of City Council to allow a “Public Access” open forum within the City Council agenda for a trial period of ten consecutive meetings of the City Council.”
JOB and the council say he’s already spoken about this. But they give him a courtesy minute to speak.
7:25: Madnick says the 90 days have passed, so he’s free to bring it back up and speak on it again. He says it’s worth a try, and he’s lowered some of the time requirements and trial period.
7:26: Eddy says he’s looking at this as written and wonders if the City Manager has the power to ask the City Solicitor to amend the rules of the council. David Moore says Eddy is right, only the council can change its rules. Moore says it’s not in order with the council, but he would “interpret the spirit of it” so it can still be debated. It’s going to the rules committee.
7:28: Germain is recused from this conversation about 184 Main St. Clancy wants to know if the historic tax credits have been approved yet. JOB says not yet. Rushton thanks the administration for working on the TIFs and tax credits.
7:32: Clancy says congratulations the Upper Blackstone board for appealing a decision by the EPA to a court of appeals (report here). Clancy lavishes praise on the water treatment plant, and says now we have regulators who regulate the regulators, and drive prices up. “They haven’t done the work to get the science on their side…this is what infuriates voters and residents, that regulators put no concern of cost on rate payers.”
7:38: Toomey says “not only have they (the Blackstone) been doing what they’ve been asked to do” but cites extra work like showing pollution models and sponsoring water quality efforts. “They’ve done everything they’ve been asked to do, we’re paying through the nose for this, and we’re paying an obscene amount of money to correct something I’m not sure needs to be corrected.” She says citizens of Worcester should be “outraged” at the EPA over this and the extra money we’ll be asked to pay. “I would ask the public to really take a look at this.”
7:40: “The bottom line is when people look at their bills they’re going to blame us,” says Lukes, even though the blame lies with the EPA. She wants to know how far the city intends to take this lawsuit.
7:41: Smith says it cost Worcester $2.9 million in 2004, but $16 million this year. “It comes to a point where enough is enough. We all want to see a healthy environment and clean water, but we can’t do it on the backs of rate payers…I think they (the EPA) are wrong here.”
7:46: Palmieri calls this an issue that has been ongoing for “many, many years.”
7:49: “Pursuing this through the first circuit court and further makes total sense,” says Rushton. The small amount of money” we can spend on legal fees will be worth the savings to rate payers.
7:53: Reverse 911 is used in areas where “parking compliance has been a problem” says Moylan, however as people drop landlines and use cellphones, it’s been losing contact with citizens. Haller wants to see a better success rate. JOB wants to know if maybe the city census form should start asking for optional cell phone numbers.
7:56: Haller says “I have become convinced that we try to catch the perpetrators” regarding graffiti found in Beaver Brook Park. She wants a report on how many graffitiers are arrested each year.
7:58: Regarding that incident, Petty says “it’s unfortunate.” He wants to know how much it will cost to fix the vandalism and how old were the perps. Moylan says he doesn’t have a cost. The perps were in the upper teens and lower 20s. “Seriously?” asks Petty. He wonders if they can do the clean up. Moylan says the DA will try to get them into community service as part of their sentence.
8:02: Petty lauds the new five-community communication center. He thanks the gov. and lt. gov. for help with the funding, and reminds everyone that it took a few years to get everyone on board. JOB adds that it will “save us all quite a bit of money.”
8:03: Clancy says there’s $2,000,000 not covered by the grant will be paid for by other towns. It won’t be paid for by Worcester’s tax levy.
8:08: Lukes wants to know if towns can opt-out of the communication center. MOB says opt-out clauses would still need to be written. Lukes says it took 15 years to get this, and expects “landmines” along the way. “If we can succeed here it will be a milestone.”
8:10: Rushton wants to know about pension liability with the increased staff that will come with this. MOB says not to worry. Rushton says “the beauty of this is it is not creating another layer of government…you can’t overlook that point too much. The endgame is once this $2,000,000 is paid off we’re going to be making money of it.”
8:19: Lukes wants a report regarding the sale of collectors deeds. She wants to know what the process and definition of how property becomes part of a process of a collectors deed, and what the city does with things/property that doesn’t get taken as part of that.
8:23: Lukes wants to know about changing evaluations for bond ratings. She says it could be like grade inflation where everyone’s grade goes up even though the work level remains the same. MOB says not the case. “This is very scientific.” There’s going to be new ratings from bond companies in a couple weeks.
8:26: Clancy says we’re trying to roll out a huge street/sidewalk program, but a number of city engineers are taking the early retirement incentive offered by the city.
8:28: Lukes got the report back on social media. She says we’re just on the tip of the iceberg about how social media should be used by the city. She says she plans to file more social media items. Toomey says she’s filed “various orders asking for continued usage of the internet.” She says it’s been helpful during emergencies, and having departments reach people via social media has worked too.
8:33: Germain says the Muni Operations committee met with the city auditor regarding his contract. He has an order authorizing a new contract be made for the auditor, but he wants more discussion and transparency, so he’ll hold it and bring it up again next week.
8:35: Clancy likes the MO committee, saying it’s been a lot of fun to work on.
8:38: Palmieri says he was impressed with the auditor’s resume. “He’s made an enormous difference in this council chamber” — particularly in regards to the city’s bond rating.
8:42: JOB says a lot of people in that office are eligible for early retirement. He wants to know how that’s going to work.
8:46: Palmieri would like to see non-ALB tree limbs sold back to interested citizens from the city’s forestry division.