Lukes: “I’m not going to be part of this nonsense”

No, she’s not resigning.

Worcester City Councilors Lukes and Palpatine were unhappy last night that the Council voted to prohibit the City Clerk and Assistant City Clerk from performing marriages (as might happen if you get married at City Hall, and for which they charge a fee), and in exchange give them pay raises.

Mrs. Lukes interrupted the roll-call vote that took the items off the table and laid into her fellow councilors, saying it reflected a lack of leadership. She got up and left the room as the council passed the two items, which prohibits Mr. Rushford and Ms. Ledoux from collecting fees for marriages they perform in City Hall or any other city property during regular business hours, but bumps

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Mr. Rushford’s pay by about $10,000 annually, and Ms. Ledoux’s by about $3,500 annually.

Mrs. Lukes refused to cast a vote; Mr. Palmieri voted against the two items. District 3 Councilor George Russell and District 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera recused themselves. [They are a JP and minister, respectively, so they perform marriages and there’s a possible conflict of interest.]

“I’m not going to be part of this nonsense,” Mrs. Lukes said. “It’s shameful. This vote is shameful, you ought to take this vote back right now.”

Womag has a detailed explanation with followup:

“They were more afraid of offending the clerk than they were of offending the taxpayers,” she said about the vote (Palmieri expressed a similar sentiment last night). “I’m still shocked by it.”

Lukes’ comments on the way the vote went down didn’t mince words either, saying that normally, even when a vote has a clear majority the council would still “go through the motions” of a public discussion.

“It showed contempt for the public and was an exercise in arrogance.”

She also predicts that the vote hasn’t ended the saga completely. While the pay raises have been finalized there are other issues looming. Both Palmieri and Lukes are expecting further reports from the city asking about implementing benchmarks so that weddings continue at City Hall at the same clip as they had prior to yesterday.

On a completely unrelated note, today, February 29, is the anniversary of Worcester’s being chartered as a city. Technically, our 40th birthday.

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