All posts by Nicole Apostola

Preview: City Council agenda (November 10)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. There is so much stuff.

  • Election: One non-agenda item to start. The upshot of last week’s Council election was that Palmieri and Rushton chose not to run for re-election, and were replaced by Candy Mero-Carlson (D2) and Khrystian King (At-Large). King barely inched out Juan Gomez for the final Council seat. Gomez will be officially asking for a re-count (and alleging some election irregularities). The last time there was a citywide recount, the 2011 School Committee race, candidate vote totals changed as much as 171 votes. Note that Moe Bergman, #5 in the Council race, only barely beat King. So it’s equally plausible that Gomez, King, or Bergman will be the one out.
  • Panhandling: Another non-agenda item. Today a US District Court judge found Worcester’s 2013 anti-panhandling laws unconstitutional.
  • Percent: This week only, I want to note the % of ballots each Councilor got last week.
  • Expansion of the Green Hill Park Golf Course: People who are opposed to this expansion are organizing a presence at this meeting. This doesn’t much change how many acres are under a conservation restriction, just which acres those are. Councilor Economou (55% in his district) has an item asking if this expansion makes financial sense.
  • Signs and Cameras: Councilor Rivera (61% in her district) has items asking for “Neighborhood Crime Watch signs in the area of Hollis and Gardner Sts.,” surveillance cameras in the Winslow Street Park, and signs noting the presence of those cameras.
  • Parking Payment: Casey McHugh has a petition asking for better payment options (smartphone, etc) for the Shrewsbury St. parking lot for Union Station.
  • Public Street: Mahmoud Soheili Arshadi requests that Soheili Circle be made a public street.
  • The Mill Street Dig: Councilor Rosen (71% in his district) is asking that Mill Street, which is all dug up, be restored by Spring 2016.
  • Proportional Representation: Bill Coleman (24%) has an item asking if we can have proportional voting in Worcester, like they do in Cambridge. Bill also has an item asking the City Manager to make his 2016 State of the City address a big, public event.
  • Andrew Haswell Green: Rev. John Griffin has an item asking for us to have an annual October 6 remembrance of Andrew Haswell Green, the Worcester native who was “the Father of Greater New York.”
  • Boards and Commissions: Sean Lauziere has been appointed to the Human Rights Commission; the Council will vote on the appointment of Henry Fields to the Conservation Commission; the Council will vote on the appointments of Maureen Carlos, Patrick Hare, Greta Kenney, Aivi Nguyen, Kathleen Rentsch, Lily Vandyk, and Florette Willis to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
  • Transportation Improvement Projects: The Council will be receiving reports on planned road and sidewalk contruction along and near Lincoln St, Main Street, and Shore Drive.
  • Trash and Recycling for Condos: The Commissioner of Public Works has a report on the Council’s suggestion that the City not only do trash and recycling pickup for people in houses and small apartment buildings, but also for the big ones we don’t currently support. He notes that the cost of Worcester “yellow bags” only funds half the cost of pickup, and that adding these complexes would cost the City $125/unit.
  • More Nicotine Regulation: The City Law Department is ok with Worcester expanding cigarette ordinances to include e-cigarettes, and to generally expand no-smoking zones.
  • Opiate Epidemic: There will be a presentation on Worcester’s response so far.
  • Refugee Resettlement Process: You will remember a couple weeks back that Councilor Lukes (40%) asked questions about the process of resettling refugees in Worcester. This week, the City reports that there are quarterly meetings between the local refugee resettlement agencies, City officials, community group leaders, and people from the colleges. There aren’t details of which community groups are involved, or how you could sit in on these meetings.
  • Taxes: The value of taxable Worcester property is up 0.58% over last year. Next year’s tax rates will be set at a Nov 24 meeting.
  • WSU Parking Plan: Councilor Rosen asks for a comprehensive data-driven traffic and parking study for the Worcester State University and Chandler Magnet School neighborhood.”
  • Getting Plowed In: Councilor Bergman (36%) has an item asking if we can somehow communicate “the timing of snowplowing routes to avoid getting ‘plowed in’.”
  • Rules Geekery: Councilor Bergman requests “a legal opinion as to authority for any councilor(s) to request items held in committee to be brought forward and whether or not (Worcester Home Rule Charter: Section 2-6 (c)(ii) (Exercise of Powers; Quorum) is/are applicable.”
  • Six-Digit Finance Items: $504,522.00 transferred from Police Capital Equipment to Police Equipment; $146,728.09 transferred from Technical Service Capital Equipment to DPSD Capital Equipment; $2,250,000.00 transferred from Building Rehabilitation City & Schools to Citywide/Schools Energy Improvements; $200,000.00 from Dam Rehabilitation to Dam Safety; $300,000.00 from Sewer/Interceptor to Sewers/Interceptor Inspection; $150,000.00 from Traffic Signal Equipment to Traffic Signals; $213,820.00 from the Sewer Capital Equipment loan account to Sewer Capital Equipment; $112,999.65 from Parks Capital Equipment to Parks Equipment, “to allow for the purchase and future payment of approved FY16 Capital Equipment.”

Preview: City Council Meeting (Jan 14)

The City Council meets Tuesday, January 14 at 7 pm. The agenda is here

Under Public Petitions, Jo Hart, Council gadfly, calls out the Council’s longstanding practice of using supplemental agenda items and of bringing up practically anything under suspension at the end of their meetings: 

7f.  Jo Hart request Mayor and City Manager, in fairness to the public and in support of the Open Meeting Law, immediately cease the current practice of bringing up items not on the current agenda at City Council meetings, including items under suspension of rules and supplemental items.

Councilor Lukes (8c) is asking about the properties owned and run by the Worcester Redevelopment Authority (WRA) and how much it’s costing the city. 

The city administration requested a 30-year lease of the ground-floor space of the Union Station Garage for the WRA (9b/10a). The WRA would then sublet the space for commercial use. The administration says that the RFP process has been a hindrance in finding a tenant for the space, and that the WRA can negotiate with tenants in a way the city cannot. Some city councilors expressed concerns about the length of the lease (30 years) to the WRA. This was held (by Councilor Lukes) from last week’s meeting; expect another lively discussion.

Councilor Economou (8j) is pushing for better public notification about postponed meetings (due to lack of quorum) and postponed items.

And Lukes is calling for an immediate process on getting a new permanent city manager (8l).

For those interested in smart meters, the Zoning Board of Appeals meets tonight at 5:30 in the Levi Lincoln chamber at City Hall regarding National Grid’s proposed project.

The WRTA Transit Advisory Board meets Thursday at 8:30 am at 60 Foster Street.

At the last City Council Rules Committee, City Clerk Rushford agreed to start posting what is called the “Pending List” for all the City Council Committees. The pending list is the list of items referred to the Committee which are waiting to be discussed.  You can now find the pending list for each committee next to that committee’s archived agendas.


Preview: City Council Meeting (Jan 7)

Augustus Sworn In
Ed Augustus, who officially became Worcester City Manager at midnight Sunday, will be publicly sworn in at 6 pm before the City Council meeting.

New Councilors Beginning their first terms on Council at Tuesday’s meeting are

  • Gary Rosen, District 5
  • Moe Bergman, At Large
  • Michael Gaffney, At Large

The first meeting of the year for the Worcester City Council is tomorrow night. As it is a new term, the Councilors will start the meeting by drawing for their seats, approving their rules, and voting to publish their rules.

On the agenda:

  • a request from a member of the public that commercial property owners get a tax deduction if they clear their own snow.
  • $1.4 million coming in from the EPA for brownfield clean ups
  • changes to CitySquare, including use of Parcel F for public open space (until it is built) and a change in the fee structure for the third permit fee of $1 million
  • as already mentioned by Nicole, the DPW is suggesting a dog park for Green Hill Park. If this is something you’re interested in, you’ll want to come and testify or get in touch with your councilors.
  •  new councilors filing orders: Rosen brings up PILOT again; all three new councilors on Tatnuck Square; Gaffney on other post employment benefits (OPEB); Bergman looking for more credit card parking meters, market rate housing downtown, and he joins Palmieri and Rivera on items on graffiti
  • Lukes is asking for clarification on the Open Meeting Law specifically on councilors communicating with each other and councilors spending time together socially.
  • Rivera and Palmieri also have the first of the annual shoveling items.

Nominations for Preservation Worcester’s Most Endangered Structures List

Preservation Worcester is seeking nominations for its 2013 Most Endangered Structures list.  You can visit their website for more information about the project & to download the nomination form.  Nominations are due by January 11.

Related: One of the items on the 2008 Most Endangered Structure List was the historical roadway marker at the corner of Belmont and Shrewsbury Streets.

According to MassDOT, one of the 10 markers originally erected in the city of Worcester (the Wigwam Hill marker — which is the marker for Route 20 and Lake Avenue) has been restored by students at Worcester Technical High School.

It seems as if MassDOT is restoring each of these markers.

Worcester originally had 10 of these markers, and I believe eight remain.  You can look at this amazingly extensive list for the markers across the state; Worcester’s markers are at the end of the list.

Survey about focus of Worcester NSF award

Worcester recently received an NSF grant to fund “fund arts-based incubators for innovation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning in Worcester, San Diego, and Chicago, as well as a new arts-based STEM curriculum; experimental research to measure the impact of arts-based learning on creativity, collaboration and innovation; and public programs using the project’s activities to advance civic engagement with STEM.

As part of the activities to advance civic engagement, there’s a survey circulating about which option Worcester will use for the civic innovation challenge.

The two options are:

  • New transportation solutions to enhance Worcester’s economic productivity, connect its neighborhoods and communities, and improve the quality of life for its residents and visitors.
  • New products, processes, and services to limit the growing human and economic impact of severe storms on Worcester by enhancing the community’s ability to respond to these devastating events and adapt to their increasing frequency.

The survey takes about 2 minutes to complete, and they would like responses by December 16.  Please take a couple minutes to complete, and share with other folks you think might be interested.

This week’s Clark Police Blotter

Highlights from the Clark Scarlet:

Wednesday, October 24th:

0:49 – Unknown noise on Maywood Street.

12:22 People throwing rocks at Maywood hall.

19:42 – Report of an erratic female on Main Street.

Saturday, October 27th:

11:12 Man found possibly asleep on Florence Street.

Sunday, October 28th:

22:58 – Off-campus: Car vs. Pedestrian showdown.

Monday, October 29th:

9:01 – Tables and chairs mysteriously outside of the UC.

19:16 – Toilet in Dana Hall keeps running.

Phoenix on potential voter suppression in Worcester

From the Phlog:

Enter Bonnie Lund-Johnson – former leader of the Seven Hills Tea Party, GOP state committeewoman for the

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First Worcester District, and the Freddy Krueger in every voter advocate’s nightmares from Boston to Springfield. …

Johnson is gearing up for battle. She says that Activate Worcester will have between 60 and 80 men and women working polls, and another 10 to 30 volunteering as observers.


WPD’s motions to dismiss denied in false imprisonment case

via Courthouse News Service:

A 5-foot-9 man with no tattoos spent 9 months in jail because Worcester, Mass. police identified

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him as an armed robber, though the victim said the robber was about 4-foot-9, with tattoos, the taller man claims in Federal Court.

Full text of memorandum here.

Museums, like ice skating, should be free

Worcester Art Museum’s new(ish) director, Matthias Waschek, was featured in the Boston Globe on Sunday in an article about new directors of area museums.

He answers a few questions, including:

Q.Is there one thing you wish people could see at your institution?

A. My absolute favorite in this museum is Paul Gauguin’s “The Brooding Woman.” It’s our Mona Lisa.

Q. What’s your favorite museum in the Boston area?

A. I love the MFA. It’s a phenomenal collection, but it’s also an incredible way of reaching out to its constituencies. And they are not afraid of raising questions that others do not want to touch. To what point is a Harley Davidson art? Which is a phenomenal question to ask.


was a bit of controversy with the answer to another question:

Q.Should museums be free to the public?

A. You can only ask this from context to context. A museum that gets public money is free. The MFA doesn’t get a dime. Nor do we, of public money. So you have to look at where is the best way of getting income.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council, of course, does provide funding to WAM, and its spokesman expressed disappointment at the comments.

Waschek then clarified his comments:

I intended to put the issue in the context of museums in Europe, where recurring unrestricted public funding is counted on as part of the institutional budget each year,” he said in the statement. “Massachusetts is investing generously in WAM: in the past two years, the Massachusetts Cultural Council alone supported us with $405,900 both in restricted and unrestricted funds. On a national level, [Institute of Museums and Library Services] invested in the same time period $123,679 in restricted funds.

This is of tremendous help for an annual budget of $9,000,000, and yet… For cultural institutions like us to fulfill our potential as an economic and social force in the community, more needs to be done at the state and federal levels. Every dollar directed towards culture is an investment in our future. Free access to culture for the general public is an ideal and something for all of us to work towards with the appropriate financial support.