Tuesday, December 3, 2013, 7:00 P.M., Worcester City Hall. Agenda.
- Library Board: The Council will be electing two new people to the library board.
- Skateboarding: Resident petition from Tina Paquette requesting “installation of ‘No Skateboarding’ signage in the vicinity of the parking lot entrance at North High School.”
- City Manager: Last week, the Council began discussing hiring a new City Manager. The Mayor had an item on the agenda asking about the city’s last nationwide search for a Manager, so some were taken aback when it seemed a new Manager would be hired on the spot: a couple councilors suggested that they should hire Ed Augustus, former state senator and Democratic insider, right away. Many Councilors were happy with the idea; Councilor Lukes, for one, was not. She has several items this week about resumes, qualifications, salaries, etc. Assuming the Council votes for Augustus, there would be a Municipal Operations Committee meeting Friday to hammer out a contract. Worcester Magazine has more.
- Salisbury Pond: “Request City Manager request the Commissioner of Public Works & Parks convene a meeting of various community groups to discuss the concerns and plans for funding of the dredging and related water quality improvements at Salisbury Pond at Institute Park.”
- Surveillance: I am going to highlight anything surveillance-related from now on, because it seems like these things can slip by otherwise. “12a. Request City Manager consider the installation of cameras on Townsend St and Merrick St to counteract the problem of longstanding illegal dumping. (Rivera)”.
- SWIP: The decades’-long saga of trying to get something built at the South Worcester Industrial Park continues. “12b. Request City Manager develop a plan for the future funding mechanisms available for marketing efforts, specifically for South Worcester Industrial Park. (Rivera)”.
- Dover Amendment: The Dover Amendment is a state law that makes it hard for the city to block nonprofit educational facilities, sometimes including things like addiction treatment facilities, from opening where they like. Councilor Economou has an item about this but I don’t see any details in the notes: “Request City Manager convene our local state delegation within the next 30 days to discuss and strategize amendments to the Dover Amendment.”
- Parking: Parking is another topic I am going to highlight in the coming weeks, as this or the next Council may take the opportunity to make some forward-looking changes. From Councilor Russell: “Request City Manager consider identifying potential parking lots to create more off-street metered parking in neighborhoods similar to and including Quinsigamond Village and Grafton St. to encourage small business development.”
- Theater District Master Plan: The Council will have the opportunity to approve the master plan for the Theatre [sic] District, that is, the 30 acres around the Hanover Theater downtown. If you are interested in the next decade of downtown development, you might want to take a look at the plan, which is a beautiful document. It mentions that the Midtown Mall does not fit into their vision, and should probably be turned into an arts incubator, but I don’t see any mention of the city seizing it by eminent domain, as some Councilors have suggested. Previous plans had suggested that the library parking lot should be turned into a hockey facility, thus making people park farther away from the #1 downtown attraction. This plan mentions a hockey facility could happen but is noncommittal. One of the maps shows where there could be food trucks.
- Marijuana: The council will amend the zoning ordinance to allow Registered Marijuana Dispensaries.
School Committee Member Tracy Novick has a preview here.
7pm, Worcester City Hall. Agenda.
- Peter Stefan: Considering the controversy surrounding Peter Stefan volunteering to be Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s undertaker, it’s pretty gutsy this is on the agenda. “PRESENTATION – Recognizing Peter Stefan for his compassionate efforts in the aftermath of Boston Marathon Bombing.”
- Hiring: William Belcher is petitioning that there be a national search for “the next city manager, and the same for the next police chief.” The City Manager is resigning; I have no idea why the chief’s name is on this.
- Marijuana: “Bruce Berger, CEO of LB Compassion Center, Inc. transmitting notice of their intent to submit a Phase 2 application and to operate a Registered Marijuana Dispensary and if approved that it will be sited in the city of Worcester.”
- City Manager: The Council will be accepting his resignation, then proceeding “to discussion concerning an interim and permanent replacement City Manager, and further, request the City Clerk provide the City Council with details regarding the process and timeline followed during the 1993 City Manager search and appointment process.”
- Foreclosure mediation: They should finally be voting up or down on City ordinances that would push more potential foreclosures to a mediation process.
- Zoning amendments: The administration is encouraging the Council to pass a “Zoning Ordinance Amendment Related to Encouraging Compact, Mixed-Use, Pedestrian-Friendly Development.” Among other things, this would lower the requirements for how much parking businesses and residences must have. Not surprisingly, there is opposition. I cannot sigh loud enough.
- CitySquare: The Council will be considering a revision of the plans for the next stage of this massive downtown development process, for which the developers want tax deals before proceeding. I feel like I should have strong, clear opinions on TIF deals, but I do not.
- NDAA: Some residents asked the Council to vote opposing certain provisions of the latest National Defense Authorization Act, and to make “detention” or “disposition” under “the law of war,” as well as targeted killing, illegal in the City. The City Law Department has sent a memo to the Council considering the Constitutional issues, as well as opining it “does not deal with matters relating to city government and should be filed,” that is, discarded.
7pm, Worcester City Hall. Agenda. This week: not too much.
- Residency: the City Council committee on Rules & Legislative Affairs had an interesting meeting last week about what they could do to require even more city employees be city residents. My takeaway: not much. As 9a-b at this meeting, they are asking “City Manager transmit monthly to the City Council a chart listing the new municipal hires including the following data: Department Name, Position Title, Yearly Salary, Community of Residence of the New Employee, Civil versus Non-Civil Service Classification and the number of applicants who first applied for to be hired for the opening” and that the Manager “provide the City Council with a description of the outreach conducted by Human Resources to attract applicants for municipal employment excluding notification to neighborhood centers and CDCs.”
- Pending items: the committee also looked into how the Council could expedite handling of petitions and other items, some of which linger for months or years without a committee dealing with them. They are asking that a list be made and maintained of pending items, posted on the web.
- Mayoral salary: outgoing councilor and ex-mayor Joe O’Brien has an item asking that the mayor’s salary be made twice a councilor’s salary. The T&G notes: “The annual salary for the mayor’s position is currently $34,000, while city councilors are paid $29,000. Under Mr. O’Brien’s proposal, the salary for the mayor would be boosted to $58,000, an increase of $24,000.”
7pm, Worcester City Hall. Agenda. This week: a little about soccer and foreclosure.
- Many resident petitions about “abatement of street betterment assessment.”
- 9.a. Surveillance: No details about what this would look like exactly. “FROM THE COMMITTEE ON TRAFFIC AND PARKING – Request City Manager request the Police Chief to install surveillance in the newly established Resident Parking Zone in Elmwood Street and further, request the Police Chief provide speeding surveillance in Acton Street in the vicinity of Banis Playground.”
- 9.d. Worcester World Cup: The Assistant Commissioner for Parks will meet with them to discuss “rectangular fields.” As mentioned in past weeks, City parks contain very few equipped soccer/etc fields.
- 10.c. Shotspotter: Audio surveillance to pinpoint gunshots after the fact. I am pretty sure the City doesn’t even have this yet, but Councilor Russell would like to see the installed area made larger. “Request City Manager recommend to City Council sufficient funding to expand the operation of the Shot Spotter program so that it’s effects may be realized citywide. (Russell)”
- 16.a. Foreclosure mediation: The City administration has been advising against additional regulations around this because Springfield’s similar program has been in legal limbo. This item was temporarily tabled. The Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team is calling for the council to vote for this, and is organizing a demonstration outside the meeting room starting at 6.15pm.
5pm, City Hall, Wednesday. Agenda.
There are a couple items here that have grabbed the attention of transparency/open government activists. In fact there’s a Facebook event promoting attendance at this meeting.
First, an item that would encourage the Council to move things forward in a timely manner:
“3a. Petition of Cecilia Mason et al request that all petitions filed before City Council and upon referral of any and all petitions to the proper committee, board, commission or any other body of the City Council shall not remain in any committee, board, commission or any other body of the City Council for more that 90 days and request all City Councilors or city employees refrain from the practice of prioritizing any and all petitions and to afford every petitioner the right to be heard fairly, impartially and in a timely manner of 60 days as stipulated in rule 51 of the Rules of City Council.”
As I read it, a second item would reduce the time residents can speak at public meetings.
Order Councilor Konstantina B. Lukes – Request City Council amend City Council’s Rule 53 to allow the petitioner the right to speak for no more than 2 minutes whether or not an item appears for the first or last time on an agenda.
Tracy Novick has a roundup of school-related stuff.
- There is a meeting of the Finance and Operations subcommittee on Tuesday at noon. You can find the agenda here. In addition to the usual quarterly transfers and finishing up FY13, we’ve got a bit about completing forms online, security cameras, and OPEB.
- We have a special meeting of the full committee on Wednesday at 5:30 for training in the new evaluation system. The agenda is here, ‘though that’s all it says. Note that it (and the meeting above) are at the administration building in the 4th floor conference room.
- Later that evening, at the usual CPPAC meeting, Maureen Kavanaugh from the our data office is presenting on the MCAS results for the district. Maureen is excellent at what she does and is taking questions, so I’d really recommend coming to this if it is of any interest.That’s at the downtown branch of the public library.
7pm, Worcester City Hall. Agenda. This week: a tremendous number of “streets and sidewalks” items, and a few others of note.
- 8c. Meeting videos archiving: Last year, as part of Sunshine Week, I asked the Council to ask the administration to do a better job with archives of city meetings. They voted in favor. I don’t think anything has happened on this, so I have the identical petition before the Council this week.
- 8g. Parking ticket procedures: “Michael Shippole request City Council review the parking ticket process policy for on-street parking in non-metered areas to establish burden of proof of violation.”
- 8n. City Hall railings: “Scott Ricker et al request City Council request the City Manager have the new railings installed on the stairs behind City Hall inspected. The new railings are in violation of Chapter 27 Sec. 27.4.3 of the 521 CMR and are dangerous to many residents including individuals who have limited vision. The railings abruptly end but there are two steps remaining before an individual gets to the bottom of the stairs.”
- 9a-g. Food trucks: Councilor Rushton continues to push for liberalized food truck regulations in Worcester.
- 9i-j Shotspotter: A couple items recommending that the city set up audio surveillance in a couple areas of the city that will detect the time and location of gunshots.
- 9m. Smart911: Another interesting public safety innovation. “Request City Manager report to City Council as to the feasibility of funding and implementing “Smart911” technology and report back in the next thirty (30) days.”
If you have an opinion about any of these items, this is the time to contact some Councilors or make plans to speak at the meeting.
5:30 p.m., Room 410, DAB. Agenda.
Curriculum renewal, admission to middle school honors, and a career/technical educator survey.
4pm, City Hall. Agenda.
They will be discussing soccer fields. We have more than 50 baseball fields, and fewer than 6 equipped soccer fields.