Last Night’s Council Meeting

I didn’t catch all of last night’s City Council meeting, but here were the highlights, at least from my home viewing:

1) Blind item: which elected official left the meeting and returned with a cup of tea that clearly came from an establishment across the street from City Hall?  Yes, during the meeting.

2) The liveblog unfortunately did not feature the MikeGermain moment of the evening (about two hours in): “just a quick story…which I know will drive everyone nuts.”  And then Mike committed what could be political suicide in Worcester: he admitted he once lived in Auburn.  (Also, Mike, you drive some of us nuts all the time, but in a good way.)

(The story itself was about how he lived on a road right over the border from Worcester, and it was hilly and treacherous in the winter, and would see the Worcester snow plows from his house and told his then-wife that they really needed to move to Worcester.)

He then championed DPW: “with all due respect with every person who works for the city of Worcester…, if we start cutting public works…the phone will be ringing off the hook.”

3) At one point, Commissioner Moylan was discussing signage in the city.  They spend about $45,000 on all signs (not just street signs) in a year.  FYI for those interested.

4) Sean Maher of the Local 495, who is so ubiquitous I probably see him more than I see my own mother, spoke, and every time people referred to him (or he referred to himself), my husband said, “What is that guy’s last name?  Moore?  Maher?” and then proceeded to rage against the silent r.

5) At some point, Bill Eddy remembered that he was the chair of the Youth, Parks, and Recreation Standing Committee (to be fair, he might have forgotten because they haven’t met once this year) and rose to ask about the golf course.  Oh, and the ball fields.  No comment.

CWW: Boylston Book Sale

The Friends of the Boylston Public Library will be having their annual booksale on Memorial Day, May 30 from 9:00 AM-2:00 PM.

I cannot recommend this booksale enough. 

The prices are not rock-bottom, but they’re still library-book-sale prices.  However, the selection is usually excellent, and the volunteers are friendly and helpful.  Also, the Boylston Public Library is the cutest library building in Central Massachusetts.

The library booksale is part of a larger Boylston Memorial Day commemoration: there’s usually a fair on the common, an extremely cute parade down the street, bouncy castles, horse rides, etc. 

In other words, bring your mother-in-law to supervise the kids while they play and gorge themselves on cotton candy while you shop for books.

(That also means that you might have to park far away from the booksale, which discourages you from buying two boxes’ worth of books.)

Begging

On Saturday I was driving towards Brown Square (that is, I was coming up Plantation Street from Belmont) when a posse of kids in baseball uniforms approached my car. 

Or, rather, they ran into the road in such a way that it seemed as if they were trying to achieve Death by Altima rather than ask me for some change from my wallet.

I looked around to see if there was an adult supervising — because, you know, there’s supposed to be an adult when there are kids begging for money in the street.  (At this point, I was a couple of doors away from Maria’s Fine Jewelry.)

I didn’t see an adult until I was right at the intersection with Franklin Street; he was diagonally across the street from most of the kids (and not right at the intersection), and he was sitting in a lawn chair.

When I got home, I related this story to my husband, who said that he had had a similarly unsupervised experience.  He was at the intersection of Heard and Stafford Streets, and traffic was backed up.

The reason?  A panhandling kid kept hitting the Walk button so that she and her compatriots could use the 20 second delay to pony up more cash.

Again, the adult who was supposed to be supervising was sitting at a bit of a remove on a lawn chair.

I know it’s going to make me sound like an awful curmudgeon, but I really hate the municipal rite of Spring that requires every youth sport team to go to busy intersections to beg in the street.

I think panhandling is an activity that is protected by our freedoms of speech and association.  I don’t have a problem with homeless (or otherwise monetarily challenged) folks who are out there asking for money.  I have never witnessed any adult panhandler who has tied up traffic or who is anything less than courteous.

The City of Worcester previously waged a campaign against panhandlers, and the city requires that these kinds of activities require a permit.

And the reason is so that we don’t have a bunch of twelve-year-olds running in front of my car willy-nilly.

My largest problem with the city’s minor war on poverty was that the adult panhandlers were not causing an issue to motorists and were not a danger to themselves.  The child panhandlers are more often than not both, and the adults that should be supervising them are often not doing their job.

During Girl Scout cookie season, I often see girls and their mothers outside the Millbury Credit Union branch in Webster Square.  They are selling their goods, not harassing passersby, and seem to do a pretty decent business.

I’m not sure if a similar solution could work for the numerous sports teams that are on the streetcorners, but I am really not looking forward to my next Saturday’s drive.

Open Meeting law training

FYI for those of you who might be interested…I can’t attend, but I wish I were able to!  (Also, if someone’s got an in with the Citizen Advisory Council, this might be worth posting on their FB page.)

Open Meeting Law Training Session
June 1, 2011 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Worcester Public Library
updated: Levi Lincoln Room, Worcester City Hall

Join members of the Attorney General’s Division of Open Government Office at one of four regional sessions that will provide an update on and guidance about compliance with the recently revised Open Meeting Law. The forums are open to the public at offered free of charge. Attorney General Martha Coakley invites you to attend one of seven regional meetings on the Open Meeting Law.  These meetings will provide an update on and guidance about compliance with the recently revised Open Meeting Law.  The educational forums will be conducted by attorneys and staff from the Division of Open Government and will be a terrific opportunity for municipal officials, members of local public bodies, and members of the public to understand this important law.  The forums are open to the public and offered free of charge.

Who should attend?
Members of public bodies; municipal officials; and members of the public are all encouraged to attend.

Registration:
Please register in advance by emailing OMLTraining <at> state.ma.uswith the following information:
1) Your first and last names;
2) Your town of residence;
3) The public body/organization you represent, if appropriate; and
4) Indicate the location of the educational forum you will attend.

Can we talk about Masterpiece for a minute?

Of course we can!

Lee did a great job summarizing everything that was wrong about the new Upstairs, Downstairs, and luckily the next Masterpiece offering is not nearly so horrible.

I really enjoyed the next series, South Riding.  It tells the story of a woman who returns to Yorkshire after a long time abroad to become the headmistress of a girls’ school.  It takes place in the mid-1930s, so there is the requisite dead fiance (hers, from WWI); handsome brooding Yorkshire landowner (hint: if someone’s played Colonel Brandon, he can do handsome and brooding); hypocritical, increasingly corrupt councilman; girl from the wrong side of the tracks (that is, the side without indoor plumbing) who needs a headstrong headmistress to push her onto the higher ed path;  random lady who is somewhat supportive in a rather backhanded “don’t stick your neck out, girlie” kind of way; and Douglas Henshall.

There were, of course, a few exceptions to my rave:

1) Why is it that every time there’s a series about Yorkshire only 1/3 of the people actually speak with a Yorkshire accent?  (On a related note, I think I still have residual anger with All Creatures Great and Small because James Herriot was supposed to be from Glasgow and spoke in a rather RP way.)

2) Anna Maxwell Martin was previously in the extremely awesome but frustrating Bleak House.  If you recall, she played Esther, who had to choose between an extremely rich, extremely gorgeous Scot and some other dude.  In South Riding, the choice was between an extremely gorgeous Scot and a guy who broods way too much.

Now, maybe Anna has an order in with her agent: “Please, I will only accept roles in which I pick the other dude over the really gorgeous Scot.”

But, really, Anna, for the love of all that is good, you have now rejected two of my favorite actors.  (Seriously, watch Local Hero at your earliest possible convenience and tell me if it is not the best movie you’ve seen all month; similarly, if the first two seasons of Primeval don’t make your heart melt just a little for Douglas Henshall, you’re a cold, cold person.  Or perhaps just a heterosexual male.)

Anyway, you should totally catch up on South Riding if it isn’t already in your DVR.  Perhaps it was because Any Human Heart was unwatchable and Upstairs Downstairs was wicked bad, but I enjoyed it, gorgeous-Scot-rejection notwithstanding.

In other news, my new favorite show Hustle is going to be on WGBX (Channel 44) on Tuesdays at 9pm.  If you liked The Persuaders! (and I refuse to speak to you if you didn’t), this is the show for you.

I’ve also been gorging myself on episodes of The Irish R.M. (hint: the first season is superb; the others less so) and To The Manor Born (recommended without reserve).  Peter Bowles is the man.

Not that anyone’s surprised…

A year ago, I asked whether an ordinance restricting pit bulls would cause folks to leave more dogs at the WARL.

Well, it’s not just the WARL: other area shelters are finding an increase in pit bull relinquishment.

A couple Saturdays ago (May 14) I was driving downtown and there was a walk-for-something-0r-other going on, and one of the walkers had her pit bull on a leash.  No muzzle. 

The world didn’t end.  Heck, there were police all around and no citation in sight.

Perhaps they didn’t notice the dog.  Perhaps it wasn’t worth making a scene.  Or — perhaps — decently behaved dogs that are controlled by their owners on a leash just aren’t a problem.

In five or ten years, we’ll likely realize that this ordinance was a bad idea and we might even elect a few folks who might have the intestinal fortitude to scrap it.

But it won’t be an I told you so moment.

In the intervening time, there are and will continue to be animals who will suffer for no reason other than their appearance.  This is and will continue to be unfair, and will not get us any closer to having better owners and safer pets.