Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
Today’s live blog is named in honor of Wayne Griffin, who has been very busy with the public works subcommittee (see items 13c through 15a on the agenda). Update: Tracy Novick points out to this transplant that Griffin was a former D5 city councilor.
Create a brand new discussion on Cover It Live. Last meeting’s was very sartorial.
7:10: Here we go. Congratulations to Clarence Plant for winning the Caffrey Memorial Award. Mike O’Brien calls him a “true friend and one of my role models.” He receives the flag that has flown over Union Station.
Plant says “How sweet it is to serve the City of Worcester. How sweet it is.”
“I remember back years ago I could stand on a dime and tell if it was heads or tails.” But he says every citizen has a profound commitment to serve and better the community.
7:17: Jo Hart talks about having a better system for disseminating any material given to city council via the city’s website.
J.O’Brien says we do need a better search engine for the website.
7:20: Lukes says she was very concerned upon reading the city auditor’s report that we’ve “omitted financial controls.” She wants to know how serious is the city in terms of losing future grants or reimbursements.
M.O’Brien says he doesn’t believe we’re in jeopardy of losing grants, but will be putting “unnecessary systems in place to strengthen what we have.”
J.O’Brien says they have talked about doing a joint school committee/city council meeting.
7:26: J.O’Brien talks about posting any community meeting where any city employee (he names any one from the WPD in his order) will attend to be posted on the city’s website. He cites things like crime watch meetings, or if Eddy sponsors a clean up of Coes Pond.
7:31: Smith would like to see a restaurant meals tax holiday like the state has. He wants it to coincide with the state’s date. “Help stimulate restaurants and the local economy” while lowering the cost for people to go out to eat. He says he understands the city would lose tax revenue, but the “trickle down effect” would be worth it. (A little Reagan love for his 100th birthday.)
Eddy wants to know if the City Manager has the legal authority to issue a sales tax holiday. M.O’Brien says there’s a local option that was adopted, but more research would have to be done.
Eddy clarifies for him, saying that he can’t. He also wants to know how much money this brings into Worcester because he would love to declare a holiday for every tax, but “we’ve got a very interesting budget coming up.”
Lukes says she “thought the meals tax was a stupid idea to begin with.”
7:36: Toomey wants to fight bed bugs. “This is a very serious issue that is affecting cities around the world — it’s become an epidemic.” She wants to “create a bed bug strategy and education program and request grants from the Environmental Protection Agency for funding.”
7:38: Rushton wants to create a site for a video game incubator here in Worcester to lure in video game development companies. “I think our next step here is not to just be a center for students to come and learn about video games but to be a center for the video gaming industry.”
7:40: Rushton talks about luring Pfizer to Worcester as well, since the company is planning to add 350 jobs in Massachusetts. He says Worcester’s focus on bio-tech and health care would be a good draw, and this is a chance for the city to market itself. “The sexy zip codes of Boston and Cambridge are on their minds.”
7:43: Palmieri brings up the snow dragon from last week, saying a businessman had approached him about buying one, but he was worried if the city would accept it and if it would work in the city. He says one of these will help Grafton, Chandler, Lincoln streets get “the relief that’s needed” from heavy snow falls. “We won’t have to wait and watch it melt…to move traffic.”
7:46: Lukes wants to know what’s going to the city’s workforce and department staffing as budget time nears (it was announced that right now we’re $14.3 in the red). M.O’Brien calls it “an ongoing process” and a “case by case basis.”
7:51: J.O’Brien calls it the “Wayne Griffin zone.” Agreed. A fantastic display of public works tenacity.
7:52: Rushton goes back to Lukes catch of the independent auditor’s report that says the city can only take 1% of federal grants to the WPS, rather than the 3% that’s been taken. “Part of it indicates that there was a strong compliance by the city…and it also indicates how the city will rectify it…a good auditor will find deficiencies,” but it’s up to the company/city to follow up.
Lukes brings up crowdsourcing again, and ties it to Rushton’s talk about video game. She wants the city to use IBM software to bring the “fun of gaming to our city website.” She says it would be a creative and innovative way to bring ideas for improving the city.
Clancy wants a report on the progress on the $20 million school repairs. He says Worcester East Middle isn’t getting what they originally needed for roof and window repair. He wants to know if other schools are seeing the same issue. “They’ll get a roof, which is great, but they were expecting more.”
Petty also wants a time table as to when the improvements will be done added to Clancy’s request.
He also wants an update about the city’s take over of National Grid’s street lamps.
8:07: Palmieri wants a report on a part of Worcester “lore” — the Albany Street corridor. He says the school maintenance building is there, “one of the most successful buildings” that changed from city to private hands. “If there’s anything we should be looking at when it comes to development” then this area should be used as a model. “This is the area we need to see a report and we need to see action from the council and we need to see action from the administration.” He says he’s sick of hearing about the development at City Square. He calls this city owned land “prime property; the manager will have more calls on these buildings than anywhere else.”