Preview: City Council agenda (January 12)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: new Council rules, new police, and drought.

  • Council Rules Changes: The rules proposed last month are up for a vote. Here’s a summary from the City Solicitor: “Added a statement of rights of councilors to the rule on the duties of councilors; a specific Order of Business for each type of council meeting (Council, Manager, & Joint); allows Councilors to recuse themselves without a vote of the Council; allows chair to determine the extent of debate when a councilor exercises their right under the city charter unilaterally to hold an item; addresses items brought under suspension and city manager supplementals such that the mayor must declare that the item was not reasonably anticipated at the time for posting and by requiring that these items appear on the next agenda. Also it allows Committees to place reports to be taken up at the next council meeting regardless of whether it is a council or a manager meeting; revises Citizen Participation Rules to reflect the new rules allowing citizens two minutes to speak on agenda items and three minutes to speak on their petitions; includes a new rule providing the procedures under state law to address and possibly remove individuals who disrupt a meeting; allows the Council to Discharge an item from a committee and bring it back for consideration of the entire City Council; provides for the disposition of stale items pending in committee at the end of each two year council term.”
  • Removing Streets: There are several items asking for street changes. To be removed: Parts of Pitt Street and Hemans Court. (Would that the street had been named He-Man’s Court.)
  • More Anti-Panhandling?: Michael Grandone has a citizen petition asking for Worcester to formulate yet another anti-panhandling plan. I’m skeptical; we had an anti-panhandling ordinance and we enforced it, and it didn’t seem to make a difference. (Leaving aside that it didn’t survive a challenge in court and might cost the city $1 million in legal fees.) Maybe another ordinance is not what we need.
  • Appointments: Michael Dugan, David Hoffman and Francis Trapasso to Constable; Richard Pinkes to the Elder Affairs Commission.
  • Drought: The City Manager is announcing that we are officially at the first stage of being in a drought. Usually the reservoirs are at 88% in January; they’re currently at 55%. Being in this stage of a drought means the city will not use water for non-essential purposes. Non-residential water users will be required to inspect and repair water lines. There will be reductions in car and truck washing, and washing paved areas is prohibited.
  • 36 Police Recruits: As of this week we have 36 recruits in various types of police training.
  • Homicide: The police chief has a report on homicide and gun violence. 2015 sure seemed like a crazy year in Worcester but statistically it doesn’t look too extreme. We had 8 murders in 2015 (5 by gun), 7 in 2014, and 9 in 2013. We had 31 incidents of gun violence in 2015, and 38 in 2014.
  • Six-Figure Finance Items: $420,000.00 for construction costs associated with retail space at the DCU Center; $154,000.00 to allow for payment of current and future obligations of citywide school energy improvements; $2,000,000.00 grant requested from the US Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.
  • City Manager Contract: The Municipal Operations Committee recommends the Council extend the Manager’s contract through October 2020.
  • Gary Rosen: Councilor Rosen is on fire this week. He has items complaining about people parking in their front yards; asking if we have a plan for police body cams; asking for a list of who occupies all city-owned buildings; and asking about efforts to get the PawSox to relocate to Worcester.
  • Sewer Fees: Councilor Russell has several items asking for detailed reports on who pays city sewer fees, for what, and how much.
  • Tobacco: Councilor Rivera has an item asking if it would be a good idea for Worcester to require people to be 21 to buy tobacco.
  • Rules Committee Complaint: Councilor Lukes has an item asking if the suggested rules changes (above) can be sent back to the Rules Committee, since only 1 of the 3 members were present at the meeting where the changes were discussed.
  • No New Taxes: Councilor Gaffney has an item asking the Manager to not increase property taxes in the next budget, or to only use those increases to fund pensions and new police and firemen.

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