Library Board, June 8

(sorry, I’m late)

Denise Faucher is talking about the interview process

City has outlined process for interview.  Prepare set of questions that everyone will be asked.

They are able to see the information from the applicant, review information, send any questions to Kevin so that they can be included.

When person answers, can ask a follow-up question on what the person just said.

Ed Trachtenberg: can the person interviewed have one mic, and a roving mic for the interviewers?

Faucher, on room arrangement: Horseshoe shaped room, all sitting around , with person interviewed at the head

Trachtenberg: felt like the two candidates last time were both matched, but that everyone voted one way when they saw the first voters going one way.  Perhaps a first ballot (written, not secret). 

5:40: Gutierrez would prefer discussion before voting, as happened last time.

Trachtenberg felt that discussion from last time had highlighted good points in both candidates, but that the voting didn’t reflect that.  Why not draw straws for the order people vote in?

5:42: Datta: no problem with drawing straws, but discussion helps her clarify her own thinking.

(Also — there are three candidates this time; simple majority decides on the hiring)

5:43: Trachtenberg: can the board members pick/indicate the question they will ask? 

5:45: Coleman asks if we’ll be sending questions to the candidates. 

Dowd: likely not, they didn’t do it last time. 

Consensus (barring Coleman) is that it’s useful to ask questions to see how someone responds on their feet.

5:47: Coleman moves to have questions sent to candidates, no second.

Further discussion of seating arrangements (members take their own seats, discussion before voting, etc.)

Coleman moves to conduct final interviews so that people choose their own seats, ask questions as it makes sense, and to allow for discussion before vote.  Seconded by McGrath.

No one opposed.  Passes.

Date and time for final interviews: June 28th (Monday) in the Saxe Room.  First person at 4:15, with a break for dinner.  Even though the library will be closed, people will be able to go to Saxe Room.  No discussion of candidate over dinner.

5:56: (Another aside: they did some of the preliminary interviews via Skype)

(Long discussion of whether the interview should be set at 45 minutes or an hour.  Be glad you’re elsewhere at this point.)

6:02: They’re going to save discussions on candidates for the end.

One hour will be allotted, but they’re not expecting the whole hour will be used for every candidate.

So, 4:00 to meet, 4:15 will be the time for first interview.

(There was an announcement over the loudspeaker.  Trachtenberg wanted to know if there are automatic announcements when libraries aren’t open — on Mondays.  “No,” someone responded, “unless you want me to make one!”)

6:06: Penny Johnson discusses budget.  City Manager O’Brien: FY2011 budget recommendation includes $250k in PILOT from WPI and MCPHS to maintain current hours at library.  If we reduced hours (i.e., didn’t have PILOT), could lose state funding.  If we did not have the PILOT funding, could lose $100k-ish in state funds.  (Sorry — she’s going fast.)  City continues to solicit PILOT funds from non-profits to fund library.  (Ugh — the answers will be at the Council tonight.  You can hear it then.)

6:11: Coleman: are you getting any sense at all about whether funding would be restored, etc?

Johnson: Not getting the sense that any money is coming back to the library from the airport.

(She’s going through the head librarian’s report.  If anyone’s interested, I’ll post this later.)

6:17: The big news in the librarian’s report (for me, at least) is that they’re finally going to be replacing the service desk at FPBL by late summer.

6:19: A volunteer had misshelved books and staff spent nine hours re-shelving the books.  (Johnson notes that this is a caution to those who think librarians can be run by volunteers alone.)

6:24: June 19 at 2:00pm: they’re going to have a public unveiling of the plaque at Stanley Kunitz’ childhood home.

Board won’t be meeting in July and August.  (Assumption is that decision on head librarian will happen the night of the interviews.) 

Kevin reiterates that the advice column that discussed the librarian who read aloud the books a man was taking out was NOT HERE.

6:31: Friends report: Booksale raised over $1800.  As of April, the bookstore had made $2200.  The Friends will be getting a museum pass for the Museum of Russian Icons.  The Friends Executive Board may take a trip to see GBV. 

(Also, Jim, the assistant to the head librarian, has left the employ of the library.)

6:34: To t-traveler: the Perkins Branch thing a few weeks ago may have had something to do with the Foundation.

6:36: Tom Perotta (!!!), Bill Littlefield, and Paul Harding (2010 Pulitzer winner for Tinkers) will come for the Foundation event this fall.  (Can you tell that I love Tom Perotta?)

6:37: Gutierrez: tobacco ordinance is coming before Public Health Committee next week — currently 25 feet, will ask for 50 feet. 

Coleman: discusses infant mortality task force that met this month.  Will send a letter of thanks to the staff who were very accomodating.  Also, every year he makes a film called “…Reads the Declaration of Independence”  — this year is Massachusetts.  If any board members are interested, let him know.

6:42: There had been a concern from a patron about cameras in the library, and she wanted to review footage to see if she could find someone who took her flash drive.  They will be putting up new signs to remind people to keep personal belongings on them, etc.

CMMPO seeking feedback on traffic congestion

The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission is looking for feedback on traffic congestion and other driving issues. From the meeting announcement:

CMRPC is seeking feedback on traffic congestion and other driving issues. They are also interested in the availability and adequacy of public transportation. CMRPC is requesting suggestions for improvements to roadways, intersections, bus service, train service, sidewalks, bike networks, or any other part of the transportation network in the 40 south central Massachusetts communities the commission represents, including how these modes connect and relate to each other.

Planners, and commuters, have long known that a region’s highway and mass transit network, as well as its system of sidewalks and bike facilities have a huge impact on quality of life. CMRPC continues to work toward helping to create more livable communities in the central Massachusetts region that have efficient transportation links to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and increase safety.

The meetings can help CMRPC’s planners immensely in developing a wide-ranging, action-oriented transportation plan that will help make their goal attainable. The long-range plan being developed also will serve as a basis for allocating limited federal money aimed at roadways, bridges, and public transportation facilities.

 The meetings should prove very useful to a region that has seen more than a 20 percent increase in population since 1980, accompanied by a 35 percent increase in commuting time.

 We urge residents to attend the meetings to offer their suggestions for regional transportation strategies, both short and long range. 

The Worcester discussion will be on Wednesday, June 23 at 6:30 pm, on the second floor of Union Station.  (Since that is just the boring kind of public meeting I love to attend, you can expect that I’ll go.  If you’d like me to bring anything up, leave a comment or send me a note.) (via the Worcester Business Journal)

Blog Project: I Just Can’t Decide

There’s part of me that wants to work on some sort of campaign towards charter change (to a strong mayor form of government); there’s another part of me that wants to be slightly less political and would make more of an environmental impact (bike lanes, which could then segue to other pedestrian issues). 

There are two ways to go about charter change:

1) Home Rule Charter Change (requiring signatures from 15% of registered voters, which is A LOT) triggers the question via the state.  Then it goes to a ballot, and the next local election determines the outcome.

2) Amendment (of existing charter) can be “suggested” by 200 citizens. It’s just that — a suggestion.  Then 2/3 of councilors would need to vote to “recommend” the amendment to the state.  Then the Attorney General may approve it, and if so, it *may* appear on the next city election ballot.

If we went down this route, #2 would be easier; I think this route was taken in the early 1990s and was not satisfying (i.e., the amendment wasn’t ultimately to create a strong mayor form of government, and the measure did not pass).  Number 1 would force the issue more, but would also require quite a few signatures.  Which would mean work.

I’m also tempted by the bike lane proposal (to focus on creating bike lanes on certain streets).  Unfortunately, I don’t really ride bikes (as I never learned to ride until I was 18, and I’m not confident enough to ride on a street with any sort of traffic), but I would love to help in this kind of project.

So — use the comments to sway me to one side or another.  Tell me what you know about the last time a group was working towards charter change (which, as I recall, was during Tim Murray’s tenure).  Better yet, tell me how passionate you are about bike lanes and what kind of support you’d need from me.

I am completely indecisive.

What ICT’s Worth

I’ve previously expressed the awesomeness that is What It’s Worth on WCCA.

So this was more than a little disappointing.

Before we get to the episode in question, let’s talk about two frequently asked questions about my new favorite stalkee, Tommy Colletta:

Q) A friend of the blog — who shall remain anonymous — said, “Crazy as always. Who’s the guy interviewing her? I dare say he’s almost as crazy.”
A) If you take a look at the 22.36 mark of the episode, you will clearly see that Colletta has teleporting powers.  In other words, don’t screw with him — the Force is strong in this one.  He is crazy in the same way that Obi-Wan Kenobi is crazy.  That is, like a fox.  A fox with excellent taste in ties.

Q) As another friend of the blog asked, “Is this guy a used car salesman?”
A) No.  He works for the WHA.

Now that we’ve addressed those concerns…let’s highlight my two favorite quotes from the interview:

Colletta: “People have to know you have roots here, because people are very provincial here.  They hate outsiders.” (4.36 mark)

RT, proving Colletta’s point: “Allen Fletcher’s come into my neighborhood — Green Island — and wanted to do something very different from what I love about Green Island.  It’s not that blue-collar neighborhood anymore.  …It’s sort of this yuppie playground as opposed to this sort of blue-collar neighborhood I remember as a kid.” (12:20ish mark)

But, really, we all just want to skip to the little quiz at the end of the show.  (26:20 mark)

Favorite all-time movie: Annie Hall (can we all collectively say — not Broadcast News? What about The Paper?!?)

Favorite actor: A young Al Pacino.

Is there anyone who appears on this show who does not say Pacino or DeNiro?  Do you have to indicate some fondness for The Godfather before an interview can proceed?  Is the show sponsored by Goodfellas Construction?

I was going to pick a few more quotes that would play for laughs, but I wanted to point out something Colletta said: that he reads the InCity Times and agrees with it 80% of the time.  Let’s hope that the 20% he doesn’t agree with includes the following:

  • Making fun of an elderly man and his mobility (or lack thereof)Making fun of Southwick?
  • Spewing misplaced vitriol at Fran Anthes, who raised her three children in one of the roughest neighborhoods in this city, and continues to devote her professional life to the least fortunate of Worcester.Insulting Anthes?
  • Making a threat (veiled or otherwise) directed at Jeremy Shulkin of Worcester Mag (“We carry guns.”)Gunning for Jeremy?
  • Various wishes of bodily harm towards Allen Fletcher, typified by this question: “Why can’t Fletcher die and decrease Worcetser’s surplus population of dunder heads?”; also, this threat: “This year I want to jump in [the canal] and drown him!”  And, in another column: “Hopefully, we will be able to wrap a wet beach towel around [Fletcher’s] skinny neck and pull … real tight.”Drowning Fletcher?Strangling Fletcher?
  • The threat of performing surgery without a license, directed at City Manager O’Brien: “If only the old Worcester State Hospital were up and running again. We’d put you in a straight jacket and stick you in a well padded booby hatch. Right after the lobotomy was performed.”Lobotomy for O'Brien?

The reason why it seems people are ganging up on Rosalie Tirella is that they are sick and tired that a great many of her rants are not directed at those who are making our lives worse but rather at those who are fighting the good fight, but against whom Tirella may have some personal grudge.  When the InCity Times began, many people felt it had the potential to be a real voice for those who aren’t often heard from and a forum for ideas on improving the inner city.  Nearly a decade out, ICT is instead a hodgepodge of free political advertisements for those currently in favor with the editor/publisher, reprints of PETA press releases, news about local non-profits, and nonsensical rants about anything (and anyone) under the sun. This paper better reflects the inner labyrinths of Tirella’s mind than the inner city neighborhoods of Worcester.

There was a possibility that ICT could truly have been an independent paper that tackled real issues, but there can’t be space for real issues when we’re devoting pages of column space to the sexual foibles of the editor/publisher.  There’s no time to research urban design or government policy when there are personal scores to settle.  There’s no space for incisive political analysis: that’s being taken up by a column or two on a politician’s pet project of the month.

ICT has passed the point of no return, and that has nothing to do with a certain columnist at the local daily.  There are not going to be any great articles about how to make the downtown pedestrian-friendly.  There are not going to be diagrams of pool designs or discussions of water quality in the Blackstone.  Reading the ICT is like rubbernecking while passing a gruesome accident, or, perhaps more likely, overhearing a woman’s discussion of her sexual exploits at the booth over from you in a diner.  You can’t stop listening, try as you may, and you’ll laugh about it with all your friends later.

But there’s no substance, nothing lasting, and you can’t help but feel worse for the experience.  That’s “what it’s worth”, Mr. Colletta.

So, yes, I’m incredibly disappointed in what was said in this interview, but I’m more disappointed in what wasn’t said.

I’m disappointed that Tommy Colletta didn’t press Tirella about why she focuses more on personal attacks and less on issues.

I’m disappointed that he didn’t identify her online rant for what it was: slander against a public official, made by someone who calls herself a journalist when taking credit for various stories but does not want to be held accountable when she publishes something (in real or virtual ink) that is grossly inaccurate.

But I’m especially disappointed that Tirella has not made a genuine public apology — with no excuses, with no comparisons to other publications and other situations, with no buts.  I’m disappointed that in all her years of imploring others to feel shame, that emotion has not once taken root in her heart.

I’m disappointed that she has once again failed to tell us what she’s going to do to ensure that another character assassination won’t be printed — online or in her paper — about another innocent person.

The readers and advertisers of InCity Times have enabled Rosalie Tirella to get away with this sort of thing for nearly a decade by not holding her accountable for the things she writes and says.

How much longer, Worcester?