City Budget Hearings

Friendly reminder that the city budget hearings begin this afternoon.

Tracy posted a full schedule on her blog.

The FY14 annual budget has been posted to the city website.

I have not read the entire budget, but there are parts of the Worcester Public Library budget that are…puzzling:

The City Manager believes that the community can strengthen student outcomes with an unprecedented partnership and collaboration between the Library and the Schools. How can Worcester leverage public & private resources to achieve equitable access to literature, information, and technology for students, teachers, families, and neighbors? The solution is to have a Worcester Public Library Children’s Branch Library in every Worcester elementary public school.

Four pilot sites will be identified, which will bring the partnership between public library and public schools to the next level. Both Schools and Public Library are partners for success. When school principals/teachers and public librarians join forces, kids win and communities thrive!
[from budget pp. 37-38, pdf pp. 84-85]

A new One Library branch was added to the organization chart adding 8 new positions with salaries totaling $292,260 to provide services to the Worcester Public Schools.

Pilot funding has been increased to fully support the One Library staff positions for services to
the Worcester Public Schools.
[from budget p. 39, pdf p. 86]

While I’m grateful that the City Manager is so fond of library services that he wants to share them with schools, why can’t we just fund school libraries appropriately?

This will be discussed at the budget hearing on June 4.  I’m going to compile some questions, and I hope you share yours.  Because even the last head librarian’s report didn’t mention this.

Some of my questions:

1) Which schools are part of the pilot program?  Do they have space to accommodate this?

2) Who will pay for the non-staff costs (lighting, heat, books and other materials, shelving, cataloging, etc.) associated with the “children’s branch library” at the schools?

3) Can we ever get an accurate, transparent accounting of PILOT funding?  That is, who is paying it, and where is it being spent?

4) Will this money be counted as WPL funding in our reporting to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners?  If we are not funding a public library, it should not.

5) Have the schools been informed that there will be non-WPS employees working in the schools?  What are the implications of that?

There is also mention in the budget about moving the library facilities staff under the city.  (“The Library facilities management is being transferred to the new Division of Energy and Asset Management”, p. 85/38 of the budget)

I have not been able to attend as many library board meetings as I would like because of my obligations on the cemetery commission.  I don’t know when the One City, One Library was discussed in detail, but I know it was not discussed at any school committee meetings.

I’ll post more as I hear it, but I welcome readers’ thoughts on this.

Cemetery Barn – May Update

At the last meeting of the Hope Cemetery Commission, we walked through the barn with the Friends of Hope to review the condition.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, I thought we would receive an engineering report and some options and associated costs.  We still have not received a report in writing.

I’d also mentioned that the Friends had commissioned an extensive study in 2007.  I’ve posted it to Google Docs, and though I have not read it all, I will before the next meeting.  The report in six years old, but it is a good look at the issues and conditions of all aspects of the barn.

The next meeting of the Hope Cemetery Commission is June 25th at 4:00pm.  We are expecting to see a full report as well as some options and prices for what needs to happen with the barn.  If this is something you care about, please attend or let me know your concerns.

A few other items of general interest:

The BBC’ World Service’s late, great One Planet program had had an excellent episode discussing green burial.

I am a big fan of BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed, which discusses sociological research.   (I often listen to it while getting ready in the morning, and can frequently be heard shouting “Give ’em hell, Laurie!” from the shower.)  They have an archive of programs about sex and death.  Enjoy!

Because the city doesn’t read this blog

About two years ago I reported that there were some signs on Rte. 12 that were obscured by Norway Maple saplings.  Here’s the photo I posted at the time:

Here’s what the same spot looks like today:


The “Do Not Pass” sign is even more obscured by trees, and is no longer accompanied by a Rte. 12 sign.  I decided to do some investigation, and found the missing sign on the ground next to a nearby driveway:


Was it knocked down by a car?  No, there’s no damage to the nearby Norway Maples.  A closer look provides an answer:


The maples have grown too close, and are trapping moisture against the steel posts, causing them to rust.  One has rusted through & broken, the other is close behind.

I’ll check back there in a couple of years and post some updated photos of the neglected signage.


Nomination Papers

As readers may know, I offer my services to help ANY candidate for City Council get on the ballot.

This year, I’ve helped Bill Coleman (who will appear on the ballot in the fall), and I’m still gathering signatures for:

If you are interested in signing, please let me know!

As of this afternoon, ten at-large candidates are certified to appear on the ballot; if two more candidates submit papers by Tuesday, May 21 at 5:00pm, there will be a preliminary election in September for at-large city council seats:

Mesfin Beshir
Konnie Lukes
Joe Petty
Michael Gaffney
William Feegbeh
Kate Toomey
Rick Rushton
Mo Bergman
Mike Germain
Bill Coleman
The following school committee candidates are certified to appear on the ballot:
Donna Colorio
Tracy O’Connell Novick
John Monfredo
Jack Foley
Brian O’Connell
Douglas Arbetter
The following district city council candidates are certified to appear on the ballot:
District 1:
Tony Economou
Chris Rich
District 2:
Phil Palmieri
Jennithan Cortes
District 3:
George Russell
District 4:
Sarai Rivera
District 5:
Bill Eddy
The following candidates have pulled papers but not yet submitted enough to appear on the ballot:
Peter Kush (at-large)
Todd Williams (at-large)
George A. Fox III (at-large)
Carmen Carmona (at-large)
Miguel Cadiz (at-large)
Christopher Cherry (at-large)
Elizabeth St. John (at-large)
Joseph O’Brien (at-large and school committee)
Stephen Kerlin (at-large and District 5)
Michael Harper (District 5)
Dianna Biancheria (school committee)
Hilda Ramirez (school committee)
Robert Cohane (school committee)

CWW: Many Events on Saturday

1.  The Worcester Historical Museum will be hosting a Civil War Book Discussion Group every other Saturday beginning this Saturday, May 18.  Free loaned copies of the readings will be available, but pre-registration is required.  More details on their website.

2.  Habitat ReStore – Spring Fling Part 2, 11 Distributor Road (at Gold Star Boulevard), 10am-4pm.  Music, great deals, food, and other vendors.  More details here.

3.  REC Spring Garden Festival & Plant Sale, 63 Oread Street, 10am-4pm.   Music, Zumba, kids’ activities, gardening workshops (including a workshop on urban beekeeping!), and more.

4.  DPW Household Hazardous Waste DaySaturday, May 18, 2013 & Saturday, June 22, 2013 – 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM – By Appointment Only – Proof of Residency Required – Call (508) 929-1300 for an appointment.

Not dirt cheap, but also quite good: Star Wars Day at Higgins Armory.

The movie of my life, Silkwood, will be playing at the Worcester Public Library main branch from 2-4pm.

And to put on your calendar:

TouchTomorrow at WPI – June 8

Free Fun Fridays 2013

And you can always get a more complete view of the free & cheap events of Worcester on this Google Calendar.