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.
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]
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]
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]
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.)