February City Boards and Commissions Vacancies

The next selection meeting for city boards & commissions will be Thursday, February 13 at 6:30pm at City Hall.

The list of vacancies can be found on the City website.

There are other openings for folks who’d like to volunteer on city boards.  Some highlights:

  • The Worcester Redevelopment Authority has been in the news and will continue to be in the news.  Interested in urban planning and redevelopment?  Apply for the open seat!  (There’s an opening on the Planning Board for a resident of D5 as well.)
  • There’s an opening on the Parks Commission as well.
  • If you live in D3 or D5, there are openings on the Conservation Commission.  There are two openings on the Historical Commission.  There are also two openings on the Zoning Board of Appeals for residents of D2 and D4.
  • The Cable Television Advisory Committee and the Off-Street Parking Board — which should have some interesting discussions soon — both have openings.
  • If advocacy is your thing, there are openings on the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, and Commission on Disability.
  • And there’s more on the website.

If you’d like to see how the process works, watch Worcester Boards and Commissions 101.

Please consider applying for the boards that look most interesting…and get the word out to those you know.

I encourage folks to attend meetings of the board(s) they’re applying for, and to be flexible if members of the CAC recommend that you try for a board you didn’t apply for.

Placating the plebes

I didn’t attend last night’s City Council meeting — and I haven’t even watched the video — but I was pleased to read in this morning’s Telegram [$] that “Mayor Joseph M. Petty is working with District 2 Councilor Philip P. Palmieri, chairman of the City Council Municipal Operations Committee, on scheduling a series of public hearings throughout the city to solicit input from the public on what they would like to see in the next city manager.”

The City Council has known for two months that there was a vacancy in the position of city manager.

They decided to hire a political insider with no experience in managing a municipality for a term of nine months without any public input — indeed, without that individual’s name on the agenda when it was first mentioned.

Now, as if in an epiphany, they’ve decided they require public input in hiring a city manager.

Perhaps they heard the complaints that the first round of manager “search” wasn’t transparent.

But holding a bunch of public meetings — held by the chairman of a committee who says he prefers local talent — does not a process make.  There’s still no schedule, no executive search firm, no plan.

Are we looking for a rubber stamp or are we dragging our heels (while looking busy) for as long as possible so that we can beg someone to stay at the end of his nine-month term?  Or all of the above?

CWW: Free Admission to the Carle on February 1

It’s a bit far for some, but I wanted folks to know that the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst will have free admission this Saturday.  Details from their website:           

The Carle has teamed up with friends from First Book to observe their Friendiversary, an annual celebration of friendship and reading. So bring a friend and join us as we celebrate books with Elephant, Piggie and a host of other Museum friends, plus a FREE Elephant and Piggie book to the first 500 children who attend! Free books compliments of Disney Publishing Worldwide.

10:30 am                  Frog and Toad films in the Auditorium
11:00 am                  Storytime Program in the Reading Library
11:30 am                  Knuffle Bunny films in the Auditorium
12:30 pm                  Elephant and Piggie Appearance (15 min.)
1:00 pm                    Celebrate Lunar New Year with Grace Lin
2:00 pm                    Storytime Program in the Reading Library
2:30 pm                    Elephant and Piggie Appearance (15 min.)
3:30 pm                    Max & Ruby films in the Auditorium
4:00 pm                    Storytime Program in the Reading Library

Ongoing activities include: Picture book character tattoos in the Great Hall, Every Day Art Program (Bleezer’s Ice Cream) in the Art Studio, and Elephant and Piggie: Make your own pennant in the Great Hall.

Meetings you may want to attend

Via WalkBike Worcester:

MassDOT is holding a public meeting tonight (January 29) from 6-8pm at Union Station  on two recently released transportation planning documents for public review: a Long-Range Transportation Plan, “weMove Massachusetts (WMM): Planning for Performance,” and the first draft of its five-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP) for FY2014-FY2018.

More information on that meeting (which is one of six in various parts of the Commonwealth) here.

Also, on Tuesday, February 4 at 7pm at the CMRPC offices on the second floor of Union Station, MassDOT will hold a design hearing for a resurfacing and streetscape project on Harding Street to complement the other Canal District improvements.

WalkBike Worcester will be having a social event on Monday, February 10, at 5pm at Smokestack Urban Barbecue.  I recommend attending if you’re interested in getting involved with their work.


Update, 10:01am — one more meeting:

Worcester State University Neighbor Council will meet tonight,  Wednesday, Jan. 29th, in The Foster Room, 6:30 – 8:00.

• 6:30 – 7:00: Social Talk. Light refreshments
• 7:00: Guest Speaker: Jack Foley, VP of Government and Community Relations at Clark University
• Honoring the Legacy of Cathy Walsh
• Update on Walk Bike Worcester Event
• Update on Work Behind Chandler Magnet / Mass Service Alliance Grant.

Making Ripples

“Most of us go through life not knowing the impact you make on other people’s lives. We throw pebbles in a pond and the ripples go out and you hope they go somewhere, but you never get to see them come back.” — Cathy Walsh, from Dianne Williamson’s column “Rare breed blossoms with love”, 27 August 2006

I saw that Kevin Cullen was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award for his book on Whitey Bulger, and my immediate reaction was to send Cathy an email.  She’s a huge Kevin Cullen fan.

Grief is a funny thing.

It took months before I dropped my daily habit of checking Wormtown Taxi in the morning before heading to work, and even longer before I stopped feeling that frisson when I saw a yellow cab and wondered if Jeff was the driver.

I’m not sure when I’ll stop getting that impulse to send Cathy an email about something that might be of interest to her.

There’s a message from Cathy on my answering machine.

Who knows what it’s about; it’s probably a short message reminding me to pick her up — something I’d normally delete without listening to the end.

A few months ago, twenty or thirty seconds of someone’s voice might have merited pressing “delete” without further thought; now, it’s a message that we saved along with another precious message from ten years ago: my doctor telling me that I was pregnant with my first child.

I can’t bring myself to listen to that message.  But I know someday I will.

It always amazes me that the right book can find me at the right time.  I’m nearly done with Changes at Fairacre by Miss Read, and the narrator loses a close friend, Dolly Clare:

I seemed to spend all the evening crying, powerless to control my emotions.  I did not cry for Dolly, now freed from pain and the indignities of old age.  I cried for myself.  I should never see or talk to Dolly again, and that, truthfully, was the cause of my tears and my desolation.

Our children were upset when Cathy neared the end, and my husband told them that there are three things you can do for someone you love when they die: pray for them, miss ’em like hell, and continue the good work they do.

We are so blessed to have known Cathy, and are equally blessed that she did so much good work it’s easy to pick one or two to continue in her honor:

Flora in WinterYou’ve got one more day to enjoy the beauty and appreciate the work Team Sprout put into the bathroom floral displays!

Support (and Make) Local Art.  This year, take in a gallery show or buy a work at ArtsWorcester’s Art on the Line.  Make art for others to enjoyVolunteer at local arts festivals.

Shop Local.

Give blood.  Becker College hosts a blood drive once a year to honor Cathy’s mother Carol, who was a professor of nursing.  It’s usually held on the first Wednesday of April.  I’ll let folks know when the blood drive is scheduled.  Please give when you can — drives or no — as there’s always someone out there who needs your blood, platelets, or red cells.

Urban Gardening.  There will likely be an update on TBUG activities in a few months.  In the meantime, start thinking about what you can do to make your own corner of the city more beautiful!

Moose Hill Ski Area

Friendly reminder: there will be an Al Southwick book signing tomorrow, January 26, from 2-4pm at Annie’s Book Stop.

As some of you may know, Albert Southwick and his brother Tom ran a ski area called Moose Hill during the 1960s.

Southwick devotees may remember a column from a couple of years ago about this ski area (“It was uphill, then downhill”, Telegram and Gazette, 29 December 2011).

I’d been meaning to post about Moose Hill since the column was published, because the land was owned by Ben O’Janne, who was the uncle of one of my closest friends, Craig.  (Imagine my surprise when I started reading a Southwick column about someone I knew!)

Uncle Ben kept a folder of clippings and brochures about Moose Hill Ski Area.  We’ve posted those to the web:

The front and back of the original 1960 brochure.

The original letter offering season tickets (which were in the form of the moose pin pictured above).

The front and back of the 1961 brochure.

The front and back of the 1962 brochure.

The front and back of the 1963 brochure.

Various clippings about the ski area (1, 2, 3, 4) and a 1980 article about the Moose Hill dam.

An article about Moose Hill from the Country Courier in 1960.


Find a manager already

It’s been two months since we found out that Ed Augustus was going to be the next city manager.

At the time, I anticipated that we would have a lack of a process, a lack of progress, and that those in charge would do everything possible to ensure that there would be no nationwide search.

The local daily has posted a few columns and editorials about the search (or lack thereof) for a new city manager, from Nick Kotsopoulos, who notes that the mayor has never ruled out hiring Augustus as the permanent city manager, to Dianne Williamson, who proclaimed his permanent appointment “a done deal”, to the editorial page writers, who asked the City Council to start searching for a permanent city manager forthwith.

The editorial asked the City Council to not “let the search get bogged down before it begins. There is no need to poll the public on what they want in a manager.”

Because we already know what the public wants in a city manager: good hair.

If you are frustrated that the City Council has not begun looking for the next manager, here’s what you should do:

  • Attend the next City Council meeting and speak at the beginning of the meeting.  While citizens should stick to items on the agenda, I think it would be worth asking why the manager search is not on the agenda.
  • Call or email the chair of the Municipal Operations standing committee, Phil Palmieri.  Ask him to start the process to search for a new city manager.  (508-579-8568-Blackberry; 508-843-1662-cell)
  • Call or email the mayor and ask when he will let the residents of Worcester know about the timeline for the city manager search. (508-799-1153-office; 774-242-3520-Blackberry, 508-335-7341-cell)