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.)

11 thoughts on “City Council Committee Assignments

    1. Thanks — I’ve updated the post. For some reason I was mashing up Palmieri and Lukes in my head.

      I guess it still begs the question — what does Phil Palmieri OR Konnie Lukes know about youth?

      I’ll reserve judgment on whether Lukes knows anything about chickens.

  1. a) WOMEN–i think it’s interesting that there are no women on things that involves economic development. It’s better to put a socialist like Joe O’Brien in those economic roles probably goes the leadership’s thinking. More of the same.

    b) Operations–how much effect–really–will the 3 city councilors have over Mike O’Brien and Moylan on this anyway? What influence can they have or should they have? How about just staying out of the way?

    c) Public Health–what does it mean that 2 of the 3 council virgins are on this one?

    d) Toomey–i wonder if she lobbied hard for the streets and DPW stuff. I know I would if I were in her shoes. Thoes are useful committees to be on. Seems like it would her committees can actually get stuff done for constituents (ie voters).

    e) Lukes–i disagree–almost vehemently–with the idea that Lukes doesn’t know that it likes to be young. Indeed. The committees are in general so bottled up with boredom and the same old, same old, it is as the new mayor designed it to put the rest of to sleep and ignore all of his –inevitable–future mistakes.

    f) COLLEGES–Over the holidays at my house, an out of state visitor commented on how in HIS state’s largest city there is a whole cable TV channel of the colleges and how there are contests and dramas and quiz shows. The local schools there compete for pride and the quality of some of the drama pieces is kooky and fun. Despite the income colleges and the prestige that that the area colleges bring to Worcester, that Worcester leadership basically ignores what the colleges could offer. If the city leadership looked to the colleges for mutually beneficial ways to partner, rather than for the PILOT bs, it might lead to bigger things. What we have now is the City looking for handouts from the colleges, not unlike the way that the “homeless” guys look for cash on our busiest street corners.

    1. some Worcester state students used to have some public access shows, not so fondly remembered as “guys with beards speaking loudly”

  2. Maxine, your assumption is wrong. It’s not that the city wants nothing to do with the colleges, its the colleges want nothing to do with the city. In fact you made a valid point with you visitors observation. Even where he lives, colleges have little to do with the world beyond their campus.

    1. I would disagree with both assumptions. The Colleges of Worcester Consortium sponsors a weekend shuttle bus between certain college campuses (and other places in Worcester), and there’s usually a yearly college shuffle on Shrewsbury Street, among other activities.

      Could there be more? Probably. But I’d be interested to see what the actual college kids say about their interactions with kids at different colleges and with the city as a whole. I don’t know that the need to have a 24/7 college channel is great in the age of social media.

  3. Why doesn’t elmparkblogger enlighten us as to the involvement and contributions of his college neighbors Becker and WPI.

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