Monthly Archives: January 2018

Preview: City Council agenda (January 30)

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

This week: Such a tiny agenda.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Automatic Council Pay Raises: Currently, the Council gets automatic pay raises based on increases in the cost of living. Councilor Lukes would like the Council to have to debate and vote on each pay raise. Note that this is like .004% of the city’s budget. (Though most of the budget is not discretionary, so this is a larger chunk framed that way.) If you assume being a Councilor is a full-time job and discussion on such matters should be proportional to budgetary impact, each Councilor should spend 4.8 minutes a year on this issue.
  • Flavored Tobacco Crackdown: Councilor Toomey would like a report from the city’s lawyers on what the Council can do to ban flavored tobacco.

Worcester School Committee meets Thursday

Yes, I’m sorry, I missed the first one of the year…too much to keep track of this January! 

I’m flagging this one in particular because it’s FIRST LOOK AT THE FY19 BUDGET!
That’s the report of the superintendent this week. The quick glance I gave Worcester’s numbers earlier this week had the foundation budget up by $3.7M; to that, add some from the $15M intended as a grant for the students evacuated from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands…I’m guessing another $2.4M or so?
That won’t, of course, be enough, as it doesn’t even cover real inflationary costs.

There are some appointments and congratulations.

The administration is reporting on the $5000 received under McKinney-Vento for homeless students, rather, reporting that it did receive it. I wonder what it will be used for?

There’s also a report on the process of making referrals to DCF.

There are two donations:
$250 from Walmart to Woodland Academy
$286.80 from Box Tops for Education to Tatnuck Magnet School
…as well as a $20,000 grant from UNUM for the “Strong Schools” grant to purchase books and curriculum…that report is very vague….

Miss McCullough is asking for a report on indoor recess policy.

And BOTH Miss McCullough and Mr. Foley are asking what the difference between an excused and an unexcused absence is (I have no idea). Miss McCullough also calls out the scary letter they send if your child gets a certain number of absences (I’ve gotten it; it’s frightening).

The annual audit is coming (it’s not here; it’ll be referred to F&O).
And the annual handbook review is coming (it’ll be referred to Governance).

The administration is looking to amend the innovation plan of Worcester East Middle to drop the sixth grade to have a new “Citywide Health and Science Gifted Academy” starting next year.

At the request of Miss Biancheria, the administration is reporting out on the use of the returned health insurance funds; the recommendation looks like this:

There is approval of the allocation farther down the agenda.

Miss Biancheria is asking if students could do community service at the senior center.

Mayor Petty, following up on his inaugural address, is asking for a review and update on the health curriculum. It’s worth noting that the state is about to start a comprehensive review of the state standards for health.

The administration is referring two sets of curriculum to the school committee for approval: grade 8 and AP science texts and elementary reading curriculum.

There is an executive session to discuss contracts for the IAs and Plumbers and Pipefitters, and also to discuss litigation.

My hope is to be there for the budget presentation. 

Preview: City Council agenda (January 23)

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

This week: The littlest agenda. There’s a million dollar DCU item, and a two million dollar health insurance item, and everything else seems routine.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Constables: Jeffrey Cammuso has been appointed a Constable.
  • Boards and Commissions: The Council will vote on appointing Nicole Dicello to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
  • Downtown Gentrification: Tabled from the last meeting. Councilors Rivera and Mero-Carlson would like to know what the city can do for people at risk of being displaced as downtown becomes more expensive.
  • Mobile City Hall: In response to Councilor Rosen’s suggestion that there should be a van driving around the city for people who need to do municipal paperwork, Councilor Toomey last week proposed (and the Council approved) an item asking the Manager if it would work to use our existing bookmobile for that sort of thing.

Preview: City Council agenda (January 16)

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

This week: A very brief agenda.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Private and Public Streets: Nick Smith has a petition for the city to remove the private Warmland St from the Official Map, presumably because he wants to do some construction.
  • City Hall to Go: Councilor Rosen has an item asking the Manager to look into having a van drive around neighborhoods where people could do municipal paperwork if they can’t get downtown or go online, modelled after an effort in Boston.
  • Gentrification: Councilor Rivera has an item asking the Manager if the city has a person people should contact if they are at risk of being displaced by gentrification.
  • Changing the Details of Council Service: Councilor Bergman has an item asking the City Solicitor what the Council would have to do to revise things like the length of City Council Terms, meeting attendance requirements, etc.
  • Abby Kelley Foster Memorial?: Mayor Petty has an item asking the Manager to cooperate with city groups working to establish a memorial to the legendary abolitionist, feminist, and Worcesterite radical Abby Kelley Foster (1811-1887).

Preview: City Council agenda (January 9)

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

This is a meeting of the new City Council! Now with Sean Rose and Matt Wally.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Rezoning Ed Hyder’s: Ed would like part of 408 Pleasant St and an adjacent part of Winslow St rezoned from residential to commercial and added to the Commercial Corridor Overlay District. The first step in this process is a hearing before the Planning Board.
  • Boards and Commissions, Part One: The Manager is appointing or reappointing a bunch of people. Newly added as constables are Stephen Casey, Peter Derry, Scott Derry, Patrick Duggan, Krystal Gagnon, John Gaimari, Denise Marois Lecuyer, James Racicot, and Anatoly Yankovsky. Diane Long and Tomi Stefanie have been appointed and Robyn Conroy reappointed to the Historical Commission; Jacqueline Yang, Jose Medina-Santos and Luis Portillo Reyes appointed to the Human Rights Commission; Edward Wheeler to the GAR Memorial Hall Board of Trustees; Richard Shea to the Elder Affairs Commission; and Stephanie Mireku to the Worcester Arts Council.
  • Boards and Commissions, Part Two: The City Council will vote whether or not to appoint Benetta Kuffour to the Citizens Advisory Council, and John Deedy to the Hope Cemetery Board of Commissioners.
  • Hub/Cor: The city is starting a new project to improve communication between public safety and social service organizations called Hub/Cor. Worcester already does an okay job of this—we’re even occasionally cited by cities trying to do a better job. I’m curious to see how Hub/Cor operates and what results come out of it.
  • PILOT: Like Ahab chasing the white whale, the Council continues to try to find a way to tax nonprofits. This week there’s an item on the agenda pushing forward a plan for the city administration to work with our state delegation on this.
  • Changing Apartment Tax Rates: The Council will request a report as to what it would look like, financially, if we started taxing 4+ unit buildings as commercial rather than residential property. The commercial rate is almost double the residential.
  • Cracking Down on Johns: Councilor Rivera has an item asking the city police to start running stings to target customers of prostitutes. (This item confuses me, I’m sure we already do this.)
  • Eliminating Boards and Commissions: Councilor Lukes suggests that, as we have trouble filling all the city boards and commissions, we should reorganize things to require fewer members.
  • More Dog Parks: Councilor Rosen wants a plan for dog parks in districts 1, 2, and 4.
  • Please Can We Stop Recycling from Blowing Around the Streets: Councilor Rosen has like his millionth agenda item regarding people’s recycling blowing out of our open-top recycling bins.
  • Suing the State for More Education Funding: The Council will likely ask the Manager to go ahead and sue the state for “underfunded Chapter 70 funding and Charter School Funding.”
  • New School Buildings: Councilor Lukes asks if there will be any design review procedures regarding the construction of our new school buildings.
  • Alcohol and Marijuana: Councilor Lukes has a couple items asking if the city can do more to limit the number of establishments that sell marijuana or alcohol.
  • Revising Church Street: This week on the agenda is a decree to rearrange and officially “make public” Church Street, the street behind the Common. This is just legal mumbo jumbo, but also a nice milestone in the long effort to reconfigure a big chunk of downtown Worcester.