Monthly Archives: May 2016

Preview: City Council agenda (May 24)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: Library board, SWIP, properties, little motorcycles. Pretty short. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Library Board: Someone will be elected to the vacant spot on the Library Board.
  • “Council In Session”: Bill Coleman has a citizen petition asking the city to install “a ‘Council In Session’ light outside of the Council Chamber that turns on for loud and exiting crowds.”
  • Boards and Commissions: George Cortes will be appointed to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
  • SWIP: The city is selling 5.22 acres of the long-vacant South Worcester Industrial Park for $417,500 to locals who plan to build industrial and commercial buildings.
  • Saving Mt Carmel: The city’s lawyers have submitted draft laws that would extend the Council’s ability to delay demolitions from 12 months to 18 months. This was request in light of the possible demolition of Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church. The City Manager notes that the proposed laws wouldn’t be retroactive, and so wouldn’t affect the Mt Carmel situation.
  • Appointing Assistant City Clerks: Who’s in charge of this? According to a report, the laws are complex, but the Manager says he’ll hire whoever the Council appoints.
  • Code Violations: There’s a report on all code violations at properties the Worcester Redevelopment Authority would like to see redeveloped. Since basically the only thing people have been emailing me about is the fate of the Midtown Mall, here are the code violations there: operating multiple churches without a certificate of occupancy (this is resolved); possible basement mold (inspected, “no cause for formal enforcement”); possible fuel oil leak behind a wall (inspected, “no cause for formal enforcement”); complaint concerning water infiltration (inspected, “no cause for formal enforcement”).
  • Non-profits with Taxable Property: Some non-profits own property on which taxes are paid, non-profit status notwithstanding. There’s a list of them in a report this week. These include the Antiquarian Society, Preservation Worcester, the bishop, Worcester Academy, and some of the colleges. The report notes that possibly taxes are being paid because these properties are being used for non-educational/charitable purposes, though it could just be a mistake.
  • New Murals: The city is granting easements for 2 new murals, one near the Hanover Theater, one on Jackson Street in Main South.
  • Six-Figure Grants and Donations: The city will apply for 14 Massachusetts Division of Career Services grants totaling $3,035,328.00; a donation from the Worcester Redevelopment Authority for the Worcester Jobs Fund totalling $100,000.00; 3 state Highway Safety Division grants totalling $106,500.00; Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education‘s Connecting Activities and Career Pathways grants totalling $317,380.00.
  • Off-Road Vehicles: Are the people riding little non-street-legal vehicles around the city irritating you? This week the Council is considering an “emergency ordinance” to crack down on them. It would increase penalties for riding them where not allowed, and assign 2 police officer teams to focus on “aggressive enforcement” for the next 4-6 weeks. This would include monitoring social media to track down riders.
  • Racial Incidents: In response to an alleged racial incident involving a city employee, the city notes that it can’t release details of such investigations, because they are personnel matters, and those are confidential by law.

Preview: City Council agenda (May 17)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: Towing, Mt Carmel, FiOS. Pretty short. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Racial Incidents: In response to an alleged racial incident involving a city employee, Gordon Davis has a citizen petition asking the City to, as a matter of policy, make public “investigations of racial incident[s] involving City employees.”
  • Street Sweeping, etc.: What is going on with the Department of Public Works these days? This winter we only had a few snows, but it seems like each one was a snow-plowing fiasco. And this week, Councilor Gaffney has an item asking about a bunch of cars in the Plantation Street area that were towed on May 9, even though street sweeping happened on May 10.
  • Low Interest Rates: Councilor Russell has a item asking how the current ridiculously low interest rates affect the city budget. Can we add more items to the capital budget “without changing repayment obligations”? And could this somehow benefit taxpayers?
  • Saving Mt Carmel: Councilor Lukes has an item asking if we can preserve Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church by making the area a historic district, and if the city’s ability to delay demolitions can be extended from 12 months to 18 months.
  • Homelessness Division: Currently, the city’s Homelessness Division is within the Department of Economic Development. Councilor Rivera asks it be moved to the Department of Public Health.
  • Better Internet Access: Verizon is bringing its high-speed FiOS network to Boston soon. The mayor asks if we can somehow get it in Worcester. (It hasn’t been possible in the past.)
  • Assistant City Clerk: Last week, Councilor Russell tabled an item from the new City Clerk about her proposed Assistant City Clerk, Stephen Andrew James Pottle. This item will be back on the agenda this week.

Preview: Worcester Education Meetings (Week of May 16)

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

There is an Accountability meeting Tuesday at 5:30 pm. On that agenda: review of the PARCC and MCAS scores for 2015; the impact of Community Eligibility on things besides feeding kids; the report from DESE visiting Elm Park Community School in December of 2014; and the review of school improvement plans and end of year reflections from UPCS (end of year),  and from Worcester Tech (end of year) (plus what looks like a response from an earlier inquiry about Wake Up Math at Forest Grove).

There is a regular committee meeting on Thursday. In addition to (lots of) recognitions, the above meeting with report out, there are a few notifications by administration of appointments.

Miss Biancheria is requesting a clarification on parking at the administration building, would like the job description of the HR director, and is requesting a report on services provided to Deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

There is a donation from Lou Anne & John Branche in the amount of $5,000 for McGrath Elementary School. There’s also $500 each coming in from EOS as a recognition of universal breakfast (hurray!) at Belmont Street Community School School, Elm Park Community School, Goddard School of Science and Technology, Lincoln Street School, Francis J. McGrath Elementary School, Quinsigamond School, Rice Square School, Union Hill School, Vernon Hill School, Wawecus Road School, and Woodland Academy.

Ms. Colorio is requesting a report on excused and unexcused absences as used in accountability, and a report on staff development, parent involvement, and MCAS scores at Vernon Hill.

Mr. Monfredo is asking that students be informed about the Latino Dollars for Scholars dinner on May 21.

Miss McCullough is asking that students be informed about the dangers of the Space Monkey Challenge (yes, I had to Google it, too).

And there is an executive session scheduled on the ongoing (more than two months) negotiations with Ms. Binienda regarding the superintendent’s contract.