Monthly Archives: June 2017

Preview: City Council agenda (June 27)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here.

This week: a pretty light agenda. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Clean Up the Library: “Keith Scott request[s] City Manager provide information concerning how to clean up the entranceway and equipment of the Worcester Public Library, as some patrons leave the areas in an unsanitary condition.”
  • Tax Breaks for Small Businesses: The Economic Development Committee asks if we could give tax breaks to small businesses for development, similar to the tax breaks we sometimes negotiate with large developments.
  • Smoking Various Things: The Public Safety Committee has one measure asking how people can report illegal smoking in public. Other items on the agenda ask about the health effects of marijuana and continue the Council’s exploration of how the city can regulate it.
  • Pawnbrokers, Rare Metal Dealers, and Yard Sales: The Council will likely approve a measure to cap the # of pawnshops in the city at the current number. There is also a proposal to regulate rare metal dealers like we do pawnshops. There is a third proposal asking if we should do more to regulate yard sales.
  • Cars and Pedestrians: The Public Safety Committee recommends the Council ask for a report on the penalties for jaywalking. Additionally, they would like to lower “Worcester’s speed limit to 25 MPH in thickly settled areas and 20 MPH in unusual circumstances.” Another proposal would have the police do more to crackdown on speeding on Lake Ave.
  • Firefighter Union Deal: The Manager will ask the Council to approve a 3-year contract with our firefighters that would give them 2% raises each year.
  • Paul Clancy Way: The Council will likely approve a measure to rename Dryden Access Road to Paul Clancy Way, after the longtime city councilor.
  • Private and Public Streets: The Public Works Committee recommends that the Council not approve either the private Esper Avenue or the private Midgley Avenue becoming public streets.

Preview: City Council agenda (June 13)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: More budget, and some interesting Gary Rosen items. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Executive Session: The meeting will start with an executive (private) meeting between the Council and the City Manager “to discuss litigation strategy with respect to the case of Fargo Management LLC vs. City of Worcester, Massachusetts . . . and further, to discuss matters of collective bargaining.”
  • Rezoning 9 Mountain St: Tran Diep would like this parcel made Business Limited-1.0. Currenly part is BL-1.0 and part is zoned residential. (See map below.)
  • A Bunch of Finance Items: The Council will have the opportunity to vote on the Manager’s proposed budget this week. Various councilors have various inquiries involving the city’s finances. Councilor Russell continues the “Fight for 15” debate by asking the School Superintendant how many school employees earn less than $15/hr. Councilor Gaffney asks the Superintendant how much money is being saved this summer due to changes in bus scheduling, has questions about our health insurance trust fund, if we could save money by hiring more outside lawyers and using the city law department less, and if we can revert increases in property tax assessments that we don’t have good data for. Councilor Lukes would like to see the next DCU Center management services contract before the city signs it, would like to know the impacts of cutting the health insurance fund, would like a list of proposed budget items that are one-time costs, and wants to know all outside lawyers paid by our Human Resources department. Councilor Toomey would like a report on our long-term plan for new school buildings. The Mayor would like to know if cutting our health insurance trust fund would even be legal. Councilor Economou would like to know how much the average taxpayer would save if we cut local taxes.
  • So Much Rosen: Councilor Rosen has long been known for putting slightly more creative or unexpected items on the agenda than other councilors. This week he would like the city to work with Becker College’s School of Animal Studies to revamp our geese control program; get a comment from the Manager on the cruddiness of the current city trash bags; create a committee to find waste and recommend innovations in local government; and crack down harder on illegal dumping, make trash disposal cheaper, and use sheriff’s inmates to do trash pickups.
  • Private and Public Streets: The Planning Board approves of the idea of making the private Ellie Way a public street. Now it is up to the Council.
  • More Video Surveillance: Councilor Bergman would like the city to buy and install a bunch of video cameras around the DCU Center.
  • Police Sub-stations: Councilor King would like a report on the possibility of creating neighborhood police substations.
  • Board and Commissions: Councilor Lukes would like the Council to discuss how the Citizen’s Advisory Board narrowly voted against Margaret Melican being on the Zoning Board, in part because of her connection to local right-wing media outlets.
  • Stop Nailing Your Signs to Trees: Councilor Gaffney would like to know if the city is cracking down on Powers Painting for nailing ads to city trees.

Worcester school meetings this week

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

The Governance and Employee Issues subcommittee meets on Wednesday at 5:30. Of note at this meeting: they’re reviewing the student handbook–which suggests no substantive changes–and section I of the district policy manual (that’s Instruction)–which I also don’t see anything to raise eyebrows on–with one exception: they’re about to let vocational students out of the two years of foreign language requirement (‘though that’s only in the handbook, not in the policy manual…and the two should agree). They’re also hearing about collaboration around the Byrne Criminal Justice grant and discussion of municipal governance and registering students to vote.

On Wednesday night, the final CPPAC meeting of the year is 7 pm at the Worcester Art Museum, and the guest speakers are Superintendent Binienda and City Manager Augustus to talk about the budget. A good time to ask questions…

The School Committee picks up budget again at 4pm on Thursday. The sequence of accounts is here, and they left off with security guards. There’s a lot left to get through. If past experience is a guide, they’ll go as far as they can til 6, recess to executive session, come back at 7 for the regular meeting, and pick up budget again once they’ve completed the regular meeting.

The regular meeting has a LOT of recognitions.
The report of the superintendent is on the ALICE security protocol, which includes training students and staff to fight intruders, rather than lockdown. The presentation is here. It appears, from the presentation, that the administration adopted this protocol without a school committee vote or any public notice.

There are also responses to motions made during and surrounding the budget deliberation two weeks ago: the motion on non-fulfillment of transportation, on leasing buses, on the wall by Tatnuck Magnet School, on Seven Hills charter school and WRTA grant-funded transportation, on McKinney-Vento transportation reimbursment (36% last year), on the Foley Stadium revolving fund, on graduation expenses, on what the crew team needs, on the repair of athletic equipment, and on athletic supplies purchased.

Mr. O’Connell is proposing having public meetings and hearings as part of the development of the new South High School.

He also wants to discuss departmental consolidation with the city.

He also is suggesting two meetings a month in summer (continuing the regular year schedule) and an additional meeting in months that have a fifth Thursday.

Miss McCullough is asking for a report on itinerant special education staff caseloads, specifically referencing Boston, and also a report on “what, if any, orientation, training or ongoing professional development is provided by special education department leadership to principals, as it relates to itinerant special education staff.”

The committee is being asked to accept a donation of $19.10 for classroom books, of $1000 for SAT for seniors, of $1000 for a scholarship (due to Mr. Allen’s award), of $676 for special education transitions, of $250 for the alternative program (from an award they won!), of $660 from Intel, and of $13,000 from the Quinsigamond Village Improvement Council for equipment. They’re also being asked to vote a prior year invoice of $585 and invoices of $7695.

Mr. Foley is suggesting the following:

To ask the Mayor and the Superintendent to develop a new approach to the School Committee agenda that will make the meetings more effective, productive, and deliberative. Suggestions would include the establishment of a consent agenda for items such as routine approvals of donations and recognitions, the development of criteria for recognitions, designated meetings for honoring recipients of recognitions, and the presence on the agenda at each meeting or every other meeting an important educational policy issue facing Worcester Public Schools that school committee members would learn about (through materials distributed prior to the meeting) and discuss with administrators at the meeting.

There is an executive session scheduled for 6 pm on a grievance, contract negotiations with the teachers’ union and with non-represented personnel (both non-administrative and administrative), and:

To authorize the Superintendent to negotiate an employment contract for Susan O’Neil, Ph.D. as the Deputy Superintendent, effective July 1, 2017.

…which I assume means that the committee voted in favor of the hire?

Preview: City Council agenda (June 6)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here.

This week: Hashing out the budget, and a couple other things. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Budget: There’s a nice T&G article summarizing the likely discussion around the City Manager’s $632 million budget and potential cuts the Council will make. It sounds like if all the cuts are made (unlikely) this would cut the budget by 0.75%. (0.55% of this would be cuts to our health insurance trust fund; the Manager has a report to the Council this week arguing this would be financially reckless.)
  • Boards and Commissions: Derek A. Evers will be appointed a constable; Oriola Koci will be reappointed to the Worcester Airport Commission; Kevin Durkan and Robert Hennigan will be reappointed to the Off-Street Parking Board. The Council will vote on whether or not to reappoint Paula Stuart to the Community Development Advisory Committee.

Correcting the record on a recreational marijuana item

In last week’s Council roundup, I wrote that, with no advance notice, the Council voted to ask the City Manager for “a draft ordinance regarding putting a temporary ban on the use of recreational marijuana.”

This wording was incorrect–they actually asked for “a draft ordinance regarding putting a temporary ban on the sale of recreational marijuana.”

This was a mistake in the initial copy of the meeting minutes; after review, it was corrected in the final, official version.

Two city officials reached out to me on this, so I thought this correction was important enough to deserve its own item.