Monthly Archives: December 2011

City Council Committee Assignments

Jeff had done a great roundup of City Council Committee assignments a couple years back, and in his honor, we figured we’d do another (based on Telegram reporting).  Commentary follows after the list.

Economic Development:
2012 (C) Rushton, O’Brien, Russell
2010 (C) Rushton, Petty, Smith [met 18 times in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Palmieri, Clancy, Haller [met 22 times in 2008/2009]

Education, Arts and Culture:
2012 (C) O’Brien, Economou, Rivera
2010 (C) Toomey, Eddy, Rushton [met twice in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Toomey, Eddy, Smith [met 8 times in 2008/2009]

Municipal Operations:
2012 (C) Germain, Eddy, Lukes
2010 (C) Germain, Clancy, Palmieri [met 6 times in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Rushton, Germain, Clancy [met 19 times in 2008/2009]

Public Health and Human Services:
2012 (C) Lukes, Economou, Ms. Rivera
2010 (C) Palmieri, Haller, Lukes [met 11 times in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Rosen, Haller, Rushton [met 28 times in 2008/2009]

Public Safety:
2012 (C) Eddy, Germain, Palmieri
2010 (C) Haller, Toomey, Germain [met 2 times in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Haller, Petty, Palmieri [met 16 times in 2008/2009]

Public Service and Transportation:
2012 (C) Palmieri, Rushton, Toomey
2010 (C) Petty, Palmieri, Haller [met 5 times in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Petty, Eddy, Rosen [met 10 times in 2008/2009]

Public Works:
2012 (C) Toomey, Germain, Russell
2010 (C) Clancy, Toomey, Petty [met 33 times in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Clancy, Germain, Palmieri [met 23 times in 2008/2009]

Rules and Legislative Affairs:
2012 (C) Russell, Eddy, O’Brien
2010 (C) Lukes, Germain, Eddy [met 3 times in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Eddy, Petty, Toomey [met 4 times in 2008/2009]

Traffic and Parking:
2012 (C) Economou, Rushton, Toomey
2010 (C) Smith, Lukes, Rushton [met 21 times in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Smith, Rushton, Toomey [met 20 times in 2008/2009]

Veterans’ & Military Affairs (new in 2010/2011):
2012 (C) Lukes, Germain, Rivera
2010 (C) Petty, Germain, Lukes [met once in 2011]

Youth, Parks and Recreation:
2012 (C) Rivera, Lukes, Palmieri
2010 (C) Eddy, Smith, Clancy [met twice in 2010/2011]
2008 (C) Germain, Rosen, Smith [met 15 times in 2008/2009]

Regarding Existing Committees (and ones that should exist):

I listed the number of times each committee met because there are some committees that meet a lot (e.g., Economic Development, Public Works, Traffic & Parking) and some that meet an average of once a year (e.g., Education, Public Safety, Youth/Parks).

Much of what makes a committee a powerful committee is the chair.  Public Works was such a powerhouse because Paul Clancy made it relevant — and part of its relevance was in meeting often and in focusing efforts.

Is Public Safety or Youth, Parks, and Recreation any less important than Public Works?  No.  But — for whatever reason — the chairs of those committees decided not to meet more than once a year.

At their best, City Council committees have the ability to facilitate a public discussion about important issues.  We’ve had a couple of years in which the focused discussions that can and should have happened in committee have been redirected to the Council as a whole (as in the case of pitbulls) or in a combination of ineffective public meetings with equally ineffective Council meetings (as in the case of the homeless triage center).

If we have committees that aren’t meeting, then perhaps we need to overhaul the commitees that do exist.  We just added Veterans Affairs last year — and they’ve met once.  Rules and Legislative Affairs could be hugely important, but they only meet twice a year.

Perhaps committees that meet just once or twice a year could be evaluated for relevance, and either discontinued or included in other committees.

That would make space for new committees.  Think about some of the topics that keep coming up: the tax rate, property assessments, and technology.  Why not have a standing budget committee?  Or a taxation committee?  Maybe a technology committee?

My personal disappointment at certain appointments:

First, it is unclear who thought Bill Eddy as chair of Public Safety makes any sense.  Councilor Eddy had no committee meetings regarding the pit bull ordinance in the committee to which it should have been assigned, and I despair that he is the person we need to look into some of the concerns many of us have about transparency in a certain department.

Second, Konnie Lukes as chair of Veterans Affairs (and Public Health, though I don’t necessarily have a problem with the latter) and as a member of Youth, Parks.  As a Worcester pundit said, “now she’s in charge of Worcester’s two growth industries: homelessness and hepatitis.”  For my part, I don’t know what Lukes(or Phil Palmieri, the new chair of Youth, Parks) knows about being young, and I have concerns about someone who seems to be somewhat supportive of park privatization being on that committee.

I welcome readers’ comments on committee assignments.

(Image: Worcester Academy/Danish School Relationship, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic licensed image from Worcester Academy’s photostream.)

Delle can’t sue the T&G

Robert Delle, one of the many contenders in last year’s Third Congressional race Republican primary, unsuccessfully sued the Telegram for a Clive McFarlane column describing him as a “birther” and a comment on telegram.com that referred to him as a “dope.”

From the Lawyers’ Weekly Docket blog:

Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder threw out the lawsuit, finding that any accusation of racism “centered on McFarlane’s interpretation” and was therefore protected speech.

The claim about the comment was rejected because federal law mandates that the newspaper “cannot be held liable for comments posted to its website,” said Kinder. Dalle’s allegation that a Telegram employee had posted the anonymous comment was “entirely devoid of detail or elaboration,” added Kinder.

Save the Clock Tower

As reported in the Telegram (again), the Worcester State Hospital

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Clock Tower is scheduled for demolition between Spring and Summer 2012.

From the Environmental Notification Form:

As discussed in greater detail in the Historical and Archaeological Resources section below, the Reuse Study concluded that reuse and redevelopment of the Clock Tower is not financially feasible. Therefore, DCAM and DMH propose demolishing the Clock Tower.

The project involves the demolition of the Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower, a portion of a property listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In response to a Part 1 Historic Preservation Certification Application for the Clock Tower, the National Park Service determined that the Clock Tower does not qualify as a “certified historic structure” for the purposes of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (Appendix G). Citing the demolition activities that occurred following the 1991 fire, and those associated with the development of the new hospital facility, the NPS concluded that the Clock Tower, and the Worcester State Hospital campus as listed in the National Register in 1980, no longer retains architectural integrity. Despite the NPS determination that the Clock Tower and the Worcester State Hospital no longer retain architectural integrity, they continue to be listed in the National Register.

If you’re interested in Preservation Worcester’s attempts to save the clock tower, you should follow this Facebook group.

There’s more information on the Kirkbride buildings blog (1, 2), which also points us to this excellent photoset of the 1991 fire (without which I think we’d be having a different discussion about the preservation of the clock tower).

More pictures on tumblr (1, 2) and flickr.

(Photo: Worcester State Hospital, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licensed image from Elizabeth Thomsen’s photostream.)

11-year-old mourner at Jon Davies’ funeral

Jared Flanders “got all dressed up, tied his own tie, and rode his bike to the funeral home all alone, just to show his respect.” (CBS Boston)

The Boston Herald has comments from both Jared and Jared’s father:

At first I was very startled. I am not quite sure how to deal with the situation. … I was a little surprised when I called his phone and a police officer answered it, and he happened to say how Jared rode his bike to the funeral home. We were talking about how even though what he had done was very nice, we’re trying to go back over the rules that he wasn’t supposed to leave the house. But it’s very touching that he would go and do that for someone.

Today in Tangential Worcesteriana

1.

Hot on the heels of a similar proposal by Phil Palmieri (and Konnie Lukes before him), the Globe reports that “two Boston city councilors, Michael P. Ross and Stephen J. Murphy, filed an ordinance yesterday that would prevent the clerk from pocketing fees collected for weddings during business hours at City Hall.”

2.

And I bet you $10,000 one visit to Worcester is enough to make anyone a progressive:

Worcester-Cambridge rail link on hold

State transportation officials said Thursday night that they are backing off a proposal to extend the Worcester/Framingham commuter rail line through Cambridge to North Station.

previously: Worcester-Cambridge rail link

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opposed, no one states the obvious

(Image: Commuter Rail Engine 1015, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic licensed image from Rob’s photostream.)