Monthly Archives: June 2014

Preview: City Council agenda (June 17)

The City Council meets Tuesday, June 17 at 7 pm. The agenda is here. Here are some other items that jumped out at me.

  • Library Board: Candidates for an open spot on the Library Board will be speaking before the Council. A new member will be voted in next week.
  • Obama: Bill Coleman wants the City (item 9j) to put up a plaque at Tech High to commemorate Obama’s commencement speech.
  • Bus changes: Beloved gadfly Jo Hart has an item (9l) requesting the city take out a front-page ad in the T&G any day there are bus changes. I’m skeptical about this idea as compared to, say, text alerts.
  • Board of Health: There are more items regarding the City Manager’s efforts to make our Board of Health a regulatory, rather than advisory, board. These items are scheduled to go to committee, which is the best place for you to comment if you care about this issue. T&G article.
  • DCU: There’s at least one $2.2 million finance item regarding rehabbing the DCU Center. The City Manager would like to borrow millions more for this and related projects. T&G article.
  • Meeting rules changes: The Council is expected to approve some changes in the ways meetings happen. The changes include:
    • “That when scheduling Standing Committee Meetings, that they be
      conducted after regular working hours, as often as possible, for the
      convenience of the public”.
    • That if you come to a meeting wanting to speak, you should speak at the beginning of the meeting, even if you’re addressing an item to be discussed much later in the meeting.
  • Maps: Councilor Toomey has an item requesting that the city talk “with the various online mapping and directional agencies” to make sure that changes to our streets are reflected in the digital world.
  • More Obama: Councilor Lukes wants the School Department to pay for part of the police costs associated with Obama giving the commencement speech at Worcester Tech High School.
  • Crystal Pond cleanup: Councilor Rivera wants there to be a “cleanup of the pond in University Park (formerly known as Crystal Park).”
  • No dogs in the parks: Councilor Rivera additionally wants there to be “No Dogs Allowed” and “No Littering” signs in our parks.
  • NDAA: The City Council is expected (item 13a) to ditch (“file”) a citizen request that it speak out against certain parts of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains troubling attacks on our civil liberties. The Council is very capable of taking stands on non-municipal issues like this when it wants to.

Preview: City Council agenda (June 3)

The City Council meets Tuesday, June 3 at 7 pm. The agenda is here. The City Council should be finishing up with the municipal budget at this meeting. Here are some other items that jumped out at me.

  • Universal symbols: I think it’s great that City Hall Plaza gets so much use and people are so excited about it that citizens are filing items about it. I don’t know what the “universal symbol” here is about, but the general item is about the Americans with Disabilities Act, and a request that a couple of the Plaza umbrellas be opened by city employees so that people who have trouble operating the mechanism can still hang out in the shade. “8bb. Scott Ricker request the umbrellas on two (2) tables in City Hall Plaza and the deck behind City Hall be opened by 8:00 A.M. and have a universal symbol visible when opened.”
  • Finance: Councilors Russell and Lukes are asking for a report on all city government’s vehicles and whether they can be shared between departments.
  • Apps: Councilor Toomey wants the city to create “a phone app for permitting.”
  • Police lawsuits: At least one “executive session” at this council meeting? “9h. FROM THE COMMITTEE ON FINANCE – Request City Council schedule an executive session for the purpose of discussing all court judgments that includes especially the recently decided case involving a police officer. (Lukes)”
  • Water and sewer bills: It drives me crazy that the city can’t automatically bill your credit card for water and sewer bills. There is no good reason for this. Councilor Bergman has an item about paying these bills “on account,” which I don’t think addresses the autobill issue, but I include this here for our readers who are passionate about water and sewer billing. Councilor Bergman may be the man to talk to. “9l. Request City Manager consider promoting to residents the option to pay water and sewer bills on account. (Bergman)”
  • Parking: Before the election Councilor Bergman said he had lots of ideas relating to both zoning and parking, and he continues to push forward with them. “9o. Request the Commissioner of Public Works & Parks report why there are so many downtown thirty-minute or less parking meters and why they cannot be made to have two hour limits. (Bergman)”
  • Publicly-funded cable channels: Councilor Gaffney has another item this week relating to publicly-funded TV. There are no notes accompanying the item to say exactly what he’s getting at here, but I speculate it might relate to the non-governmental Research Bureau using the government TV channel. “9u. Request City Manager forward to City Council the policy that Cable Services uses regarding filming events. (Gaffney)”
  • Lodging laws: No, the City Council is not going to consider reforming the restrictions against more than three unrelated people living together. But they have several items relating to the city’s continued dislike of lots of unrelated people in the same apartment, with a special focus on the Clark and Holy Cross neighborhoods. 9w, 9x, 9y, 9z. For example: “Request City Manager request Police Chief provide an opinion to City Council concerning whether or not he expects there to be an increase in disorderly conduct should there be four or more non-related persons allowed to reside in a living unit.”
  • Erroneous votes: I don’t know what prompted this but it’s interesting. “Request City Manager request City Solicitor draft an amendment to the Rules of the City Council to set forth a procedure whereby a vote of a Councilor “made in error” and not reconsidered can be recorded as such. (Bergman)”
  • “Cool Roofs”: Posted without comment. “10j. Request City Manager consider an initiative that would convert all municipally-owned buildings to “cool roofs” similar to those created in a New York City program, and further, request the Superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools for parallel implementation at buildings under their purview. Additionally, request City Manager request the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce encourage downtown property owners participate in a “cool roof” program. (Rushton)”
  • Panhandling: It’s been more than a year since the city’s latest crackdown on panhandlers. There are no longer kids fundraising on streetcorners, but there are still plenty of disheveled adults holding cardboard signs around town. Councilor Rivera was one of a handful of councilors voting against the crackdown. Awhile back she asked for an update. I don’t believe the update arrived, so here’s another request, relating to the outreach worker who’s touching base with people asking for money. “10q.Request City Manager report to City Council as to the effectiveness of the current panhandler outreach efforts. (Rivera)”

Thanks as always for reading this. As we draft it we keep in mind all the great people at the T&G going through a round of layoffs today. Their work is invaluable. If you haven’t seen it, you might want to check out their update on the dispute between the EPA and city government on how much Worcester is allowed to pollute the Blackstone and who should be paying for a solution to the problem.