Monthly Archives: November 2013

Preview: City Council meeting (Nov 26)

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.

Preview: City Council meeting (Nov 19)

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.”

Preview: City Council meeting (Nov 12)

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.

Preview: City Council – Rules & Legislative Affairs Meeting (Nov 13)

5pm, City Hall, Wednesday. Agenda.

There are a couple items here that have grabbed

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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.

Worcester School meetings this week

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.