The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here.
This week: Not too much on the agenda. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.
- War Memorials: Over the next month, the downtown Vietnam Veterans and EX-POW memorials, currently adjacent to Notre Dame church, will be renovated and moved to the Franklin Street side of the Common.
- Crosswalk Crackdown: Councilor Toomey has an item asking whether we can raise the fines “for violating pedestrian right of way in crosswalks.” At the moment I would guess maybe 10% of Worcester drivers are good about stopping for someone to use a crosswalk.
- Home Businesses: Councilor Lukes has an item asking for a list “of all home businesses in the city” and various questions about what we require of them. What percentage of home businesses in Worcester do you think are actually registered with the city? This item reminds me of the recent debates about Airbnb in Worcester.
- New Main Street Mural?: The people who own the parking lot across from the Palladium want to put up murals on retaining walls abutting the lot. The Council needs to approve an easement. Councilor Lukes has concerns and has tabled this item “under privilege” until this week.
- A Tangent: Since Worcester has had various debates about new services like Uber and Airbnb in recent years, a recent US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision may interest those who read these Council notes. The Court ruled that Chicago is allowed to have different regulations for Uber vs. taxis, and could refrain from regulating Uber at all. The decision is by the legendary Judge Richard Posner and worth reading if you care about this stuff. I liked this paragraph, in which he makes an argument I wish the Worcester City Council would take more seriously: “‘Property’ does not include a right to be free from competition. A license to operate a coffee shop doesn’t authorize the licensee to enjoin a tea shop from opening. When property consists of a license to operate in a market in a particular way, it does not carry with it a right to be free from competition in that market. A patent confers an exclusive right to make and sell the patented product, but no right to prevent a competitor from inventing a noninfringing substitute product that erodes the patentee’s profits. Indeed when new technologies, or new business methods, appear, a common result is the decline or even disappearance of the old. Were the old deemed to have a constitutional right to preclude the entry of the new into the markets of the old, economic progress might grind to a halt. Instead of taxis we might have horse and buggies; instead of the telephone, the telegraph; instead of computers, slide rules. Obsolescence would equal entitlement.”