All posts by tracy

Ballot petition time

While it may be the height of local election season for 2011, you may have been stopped by signature collectors outside of stores for initiatives for the statewide ballot in 2012. Curious about what they’re collecting for? Here’s the list:

112242: PET A: Medical Use of Marijuana (LAW)

112243: PET B: Promoting Excellence in Public Schools (LAW)

112244: PET C: Limiting Amount Water and Sewer Rates May Be Raised (LAW)

112245: PET D: Repeal Mandate Providing Access to Quality Health Care (LAW)

112246: PET E: Do Not Call List to Regulate Certain Charitable Solicitations (LAW)

112257: PET F: Provision of Health Insurance (CON AMEND) (note—it’s in for the 2014 election since it’s a constitutional amendment)

112255: PET G: Death with Dignity (LAW)

112247: PET H: Updating the Bottle Bill (LAW)

112256: PET I: Create a Citizens’ 9/11 Investigation Commission (LAW)

112248: PET L: Small Businesses in Repairing Motor Vehicles (LAW)

112249: PET O: Limited Beer & Wine Licenses for Grocery Stores and Supermarkets (LAW)

112250: PET P: Insurance Underwriting & Rating of Motor Vehicle Insurance (LAW)

112251: PET Q: Whale Safe Fishing Act (LAW)

112252: PET R: Presentation of Identification to Vote (LAW)

112253: PET S: An Act Relative to M.G.L. c. 209A (LAW)

112254: PET T: Right to Cancel an Auto Sale (LAW)

If you’re interested in figuring out what these are about (often the collectors are paid workers and are unable to answer questions), you can read the petitions (and keep up to date on them) here.

h/t to Joshua Meduna, Assistant Director of Elections for the City of Worcester

From the lions to the lake!

On Wednesday, September 28th at 5:30, you can be there for the grand opening of the East Side Trail, running “from the lions to the lake!”
As of Wednesday, you will be able to start at East Park (the lions) and hike to Lake Quinsigamond (the lake), crossing only two streets, but also going through:

  • meadows, granite quarries, and forest.
  • different types of Northern hardwood forest.
  • steep slopes,and gentle grades.

The trail walks along a City bathing beach, passes to the foot of Worcester’s historic old Coal Mine shafts (long since closed), and a spur to the Massachusetts Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.
For directions go to:
For more information call: 508-795-3838

Poets’ Corner

Inspired by Councilor Petty’s John Donne reference during his announcement of his run for mayor, the scribes of wrcstr are pleased to suggest councilor/poet match-ups for the rest of the Worcester City Council.

For Councilor Lukes, we respectfully suggest T.S. Eliot:

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think

For Mayor O’Brien, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is appropriately visionary (‘though we hasten to add that this is due to enthusiasm and lack of sleep in the Mayor’s case):

And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.

For Councilor Toomey, ee cummings gives an appropriate mix of hope and pathos:

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little lame baloonman
whistles far and wee

and eddyandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s

For Councilor Germain, Jack Kerouac:

I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.

For Councilor Rushton, William S. Burroughs:

Power Is Often Quiet Very
Power Is Very Quiet Often
Power Is Very Often Quiet
Power Is Quiet Often Very
Power Is Quiet Very Often
Power Often Very Quiet Is
Power Often Very Is Quiet

For Councilor Smith, Lord Byron (‘though it must be said that he is taking this better than Byron):

My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The worm, the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!

For Councilor Palmieri, Allen Ginsberg gives the appropriate measure of energy and challenging narrative line:

What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open
their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways!Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!

For Councilor Clancy,  the thunderous tones of John Milton:

Here all ye Angels, progeny of light,
Thrones, princedoms, dominations, virtues, powers,
Hear my decree, which unrevok’d shall stand…

For Councilor Haller, Robert (Robbie) Burns:

Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi’ tippenny, we fear nae evil;
Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil!

For Councilor Eddy, William Carlos Williams:

The tree lay down
on the garage roof
and stretched, You
have your heaven,
it said, go to it.

Literary disputation welcome in the comments.

Worcester Civics Academy

Registration is now open for the fall 2011 Worcester Civics Academy. The email from Mayor O’Brien’s office describes it as:

The purpose of the Worcester Civic Academy is to build the capacity of community leaders to more effectively engage their government institutions. The 6 session academy will provide an audience of approximately 25 civic leaders with a unique opportunity to learn about our municipal and state legislatures as well as our city departments, school and court systems. Civic leaders will have the opportunity to meet with school, court and government officials to hear their insider perspective on how these systems work and how community members can best access and utilize them. Participants will also be able to ask questions and engage these officials and representatives in discussion.

You can find the application here. There are six sessions in all, Monday nights from 5:30 to 7:30, with the first session October 3rd and the final session on November 21st, breaking for Columbus Day and Halloween.

Note from me: I was on the panel on local government, and I’d say this is a great way to get clear how things work (and how they don’t!). For anyone interested in local government (from any perspective) who has the time, I’d recommend it.

Signs, stump grinding, and water

The Worcester City Council meets tomorrow night at 7 pm. You can find the agenda here.

Starting off the meeting is a rare request for reconsideration filed by Councilor Smith. The Council voted to accept and file the petition to change Regent Street’s winter parking ban to one side of the street only. Councilor Smith asks that they reconsider the vote; one assumes he’s gotten some calls.

The city assessor is coming in (as promised last week) to show off the city’s new assessing software.

Also on the agenda: stump grinding! There’s been a backlog of stumps around the city, but I seem to recall that the Council voted money to buy new equipment, so perhaps that’s being take care of.

Also: the much-awaited sign ordinance, which one assumes now does not ban more than two political signs per lawn. The Council also has a proposal for an increase in the water rates, accompanied, as per usual, by strong words from Commissioner Moylan about state and federal mandates. It’s an average increase of about $44.64 over the year. And while we’re talking about water, there’s a proposal to increase the amount of land owned by the City surrounding Worcester’s reservoirs.

Speaking of land takings, the proposal that Clark University take Downing Street is being referred for a public hearing.

And among the money transfers is $97,098 in Worcester Public Schools projects (including that new science lab at Worcester East Middle!).

Here’s hoping both the wifi and WordPress are up and running tomorrow night!

You, yes, YOU should run for city office

Chances are good if you’re reading this, you’re one of those people.

You have some idea of what’s going on in municipal government. You watch City Council meetings (heck, you might even watch School Committee meetings!). You have spent time, whether you wish it or not, thinking about sidewalk shoveling, pit bulls, out of state travel, and the cleanliness of the water the city puts in the Blackstone River.

You probably also have an opinion on all of these things.

Moreover, if you’ve spent this kind of time on it, there have been nights when you’ve asked yourself (or the nearest bystander), “Why didn’t somebody ask [fill in the blank here]?” You’ve told someone that if YOU had been on the Council (or Committee), why then you would have said [again, fill in the blank here].

Well, folks, here’s your shot.

In a matter of weeks, the City Council will vote on an election calendar for the city. They will set the date of the municipal elections–a primary for September and a final election for November–which will determine the rest of the dates in the calendar. Sometime this spring, anyone can go to the Election Commission at City Hall (2nd floor) and take out papers to collect signatures for nominating someone to office. It takes the signatures of 100 district votes (certified) to get someone on the ballot for a district office, and it takes the signatures of 300 city voters (certified) to get someone on the ballot for an at-large office (including School Committee).

That’s it, by the way. You don’t pay the city any money; there aren’t other barriers.

If you even have the slightest interest in doing this yourself, or of drafting a friend, then I would highly recommend the excellent workshop run by the League of Women Voters.

Wednesday March 23, 2011
6:00 PM  –  8:00 PM  How to Run for Public Office in Worcester
Contact: Debra Starr   508-770-0912
Workshop for potential Worcester City Council and School Committee candidates

Think about it.

Ice skating at Crompton Park

I see the Telegram and Gazette has already gotten here today, but I thought a bit more about the skating at Crompton Park was in order (particularly since they really aren’t kidding about the ice not being all that thick on ponds yet).

Skating is on the tennis courts, which are near the corner of Canton and Quinsigamond Avenues (note, for those driving, that Canton is a one way street away from Quinsigamond). The rink is open from 10-5 pm, ‘though a gentleman I was talking to while I put on my skates said they’re planning some night skating times in February.

We were there Saturday afternoon, and I’d say there were probably fifteen or so people over the course of the hour we were there. There was a group of very driven, but very careful, hockey players in one corner, a few middle schoolers racing each other from one end to the other, and a few people of various ages learning to skate.

What struck me the most–perhaps because you won’t always find this while skating–was how accommodating everyone was. It’s hard for hockey players and “just skaters” to share a rink sometimes, but, because the hockey was mostly in one corner, and when it wasn’t, they were careful, it was fine. People who’d already seen it went out of their way to warn new skaters of the bumpy corner. One man loaned a kid his hockey stick for awhile. It’s a nice, neighborhood rink that the neighbors don’t mind sharing.

And if you have any skates you aren’t using squirreled away in attic or garage, bring them over to Pernet Family Health Services on Millbury Street, and they’ll see that a local kid gets them.

Of economic development, human rights, and appropriations

The Worcester City Council meets tomorrow night at 7 pm. You can find the agenda here.

A few items of interest:

  • it’s time once again for the quarterly economic development report. That means you can expect to hear about CitySquare, the area of the former Voke school/Gateway Park, and possibly South Worcester Industrial Park. Any guesses on if a councilor will mention stART at the Station in the discussion of Union Station?
  • As Mike has discussed, Father John Madden is (deservedly) receiving the Worcester Human Rights Commission’s Eleanor T. Hawley Award for outstanding contributions to the field of Human Rights.
  • As it is the City Manager’s week for the agenda (he and the Council alternate; have we mentioned that before?), there is a list of requests for appropriations (including three school buses)

I also have to mention the wording of the following item:

Recommend City Council Approval for Certain Actions Relative to CSX Corporation.

Details here.