Body Camera items on tonight’s City Council agenda

There are many items on tonight’s City Council agenda regarding body cameras in particular and the Worcester Police Department in general.

From the public:

8f. Eliana Stanislawski et al. request the City Council to acknowledge that despite rapid implementation across the country, police body cameras have been documented to have had no consistent or significant effect on police officer behavior.

8g. Eliana Stanislawski et al. request City Council to commit to obtaining any funding for a police body camera program from within the Worcester Police Department budget, rather than taking it from other departments.

8h. Nathan Cummings request the City Council take no binding votes regarding the implementation of a new police body camera program until the Worcester Police Department provides its full report on the body camera pilot program, which ended in October of 2019, and time is allowed for robust public debate on the merits of the new program.

8i. Nathan Cummings request the most recent report(s) summarizing performance measures and statistics for the Worcester Police Department (WPD), and those same reports for the preceding five (5) years, be made prominently available on the WPD page of the website of the City of Worcester.

From the WPD:

9.10.A Transmitting informational communication relative to a report regarding information on the Body-Worn Camera Pilot Program.

From various councilors:

11l. Request City Manager initiate a permanent body camera program for the Worcester Police Department to be put in place by January 1, 2021. Funding for said program should be prioritized and consider all funding mechanisms, including new growth monies. (Sean Rose)

11u. Request City Manager fund and pilot public safety and public health enhancement initiatives in FY21, including but not limited to Alternative Deployment Policy Development/Negotiations, full funding and implementation of the use of body cameras for the Worcester Police Department and a City of Worcester Transparency Improvement Plan. (Khrystian King)

11v. Request City Manager negotiate a Worcester Police Department Body Camera memorandum of understanding (MOU) and immediately resume the Body Camera pilot program with leeway for incremental expansion. Said MOU would terminate upon successful negotiation and permanent implementation of the Police Body Camera Program. (Khrystian King)

How did we get here?

(links to Worcester Telegram articles can be accessed via your library card/password)

By 2011, numerous local communities (though not necessarily Worcester) began looking at both body cameras and cruiser cameras to collect evidence and potentially avoid lawsuits. (Article: Nowhere to hide – Police cameras everywhere becoming standard – August 1, 2011)

After police killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, in 2014, the Worcester police began a study of body cameras. (Editorial: Don’t blink quite yet – Body cameras being studied for Worcester PD – September 3, 2014)

In December 2014, the city used some of the CSX mitigation money for two surveillance cameras; some prominent citizens said they would have preferred the money go to body cameras. Police chief Gary Gemme said that the WPD was “following a process of reviewing potential policies that would be needed to implement this equipment [body cameras and a vehicle-mounted camera system], along with conducting field tests with the devices to ensure that we have a successful program in place before adopting this technology” (Article: Surveillance cams get OK for two Worcester neighborhoods – December 4, 2014; editorial: Light and dark – Surveillance and body cameras not cure-alls – December 7, 2014; article: Police test waters of transparency – December 18, 2014)

By May 2015, the city was moving forward with equipping arrest wagons and all booking cells with cameras. Chris Robarge, then of the ACLU, continued to push for body cameras, while noting that they were not foolproof; he referred to two prominent cases of police brutality involved officers who knew they were on camera. City Manager Augustus felt that the cost was a challenge: “There’s a phenomenal amount of storage required. It’s for (about) 500 officers working 40 hours a week or more. … We’re trying to figure that whole piece out.” (article: Worcester PD zooms in on more cameras – May 30, 2015)

The following week, the WPD accepted a gift of $25,000 from the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and used it to buy plate readers. It was noted that the grant money could have been used for body cameras. (article: Some fear invasion of privacy – Police get funds for license readers – June 6, 2015; editorial: The future is knocking – June 10, 2015)

On August 18, 2015, State Police and Worcester Police SWAT delivered a no-knock warrant to an apartment on Hillside Street, injuring two people and frightening another three. The person for whom the warrant was issued was living near Canterbury Street and was regularly reporting to pretrial probation three times a week. The then-new State Police Colonel, Richard D. McKeon, a Worcester native, ‘made a point of discussing goals for greater transparency, including consideration of body cameras and “dash cams” for state police cruisers and improved response times for public records requests.’ I mention this because it was a horrible, preventable incident that could have had much clarity from camera footage. (editorial: Three months later – December 3, 2015)

In January 2016, 15 months after the WPD began their study of body cameras and dashboard cruiser cameras, City Manager Augustus said he was going to present recommendations to the council that spring. Storage cost for three years’ worth of video seemed to be a sticking point; at the time the “estimated cost for 578 terabytes of storage [was] about $440,000 for a single site storage and $881,000 for replicated storage.” (article: Worcester Council wants report – Police cam use gets a closer look – January 14, 2016)

My perusal of Telegram records doesn’t show that the city manager made that proposal by spring 2016. In May 2016, Steven Sargent was promoted to police chief. The Telegram reported: “Asked about body cameras for police and additional surveillance cameras for headquarters, the city manager said he is committed to working with Deputy Chief Sargent on implementing that technology. He said Deputy Chief Sargent has been involved in talks about placing devices around the building to record all times when a prisoner is in custody.” (article: Worcester Police Department – Sargent promoted to chief – May 6, 2016)

In May 2017, a year after taking the position of police chief (and also a year after Ed Augustus was supposed to report on body cameras to the city council), Steven Sargent was interviewed by the Telegram on a wide range of items, including body cameras:

A pilot program involving body cameras worn by officers is coming, but it is turning out to be more complicated than originally anticipated, Chief Sargent said. Police are working with the city Law Department and police unions on the program. He cautioned that there is a lot of constitutional law involved, and said some communities have had issues.

It’s definitely something we want to do, we want to get this pilot program going, to see what works and what doesn’t work,” he said.

(from the article Chief Sargent notches his first year as Worcester’s top cop –  May 21, 2017)

Over the next year, there were numerous calls from columnist Clive McFarlane and the Telegram editorial board to begin a body camera program. One of the main reasons was the case of Michael Motyka, a WPD officer who was found guilty of kicking a shackled prisoner in December 2014. (Clive McFarlane column: Double standard on law and order – May 17, 2017; editorial: The question of body cameras – October 19, 2017; editorial: The body camera question – bringing transparency to police work – October 29, 2017; Clive McFarlane column: Worcester police dragging feet on body cameras – June 6, 2018)

Finally, in June 2018, police chief Sargent said that he was finalizing the details on a pilot body camera program, more than two years after the city council was promised a proposal. (article: Plans to equip city police officers with body cameras – June 5 2018)

How did the body camera pilot program go?

There’s a report on tonight’s agenda (item 9.10 A) regarding the body camera program, which was a six-month (May 1, 2019-October 31, 2019) program with twenty officers. I’ll bullet-point what I found interesting:

  • The company Axon provided the cameras at no cost to the city.
  • 20 police officers volunteered to wear the cameras; at no point in this report does it mention the $250 incentive to wear the camera.
  • Officers only wore the cameras during their 40-hour workweek; no other assignments were recorded.
  • There were two camera failures during the program, but there were extra cameras that were swapped in. There is now a new model that should have improved performance and better audio recording capabilities.
  • Freedom of Information Act requests: the WPD estimates that for every hour of video they need to review, it would be 2-3 hours for each request.
  • District Attorney’s Office requests: the report says that if the WPD continued to use body cameras, the amount of time to process evidence requests from the DA’s Office “would not be sustainable” and they recommend that the DA’s Office have accounts that could be granted access to the data.
  • In order to fully implement the program, the WPD estimates it would take 5 additional officers and 2 officials to administer the program. ($4.06 million over 5 years)
  • It appears that the department would prefer to use the vendor Axon, and all of the pricing includes tasers. Costs for the cameras and tasers over 5 years would be between $4.4 – $5.7 million. (And, yes, it’s a little weird that we’re including the cost of tasers in this.)
  • But it’s also weird that the WPD is proposing giving every officer a department-issued mobile phone, to the tune of $750,000 over five years. This would be to review footage, and the report also says that they would likely need even more officers because of the time it would take to review/tag camera footage.
  • This is only a report of the experiences of 20 officers. There are no references to other communities who have been using cameras, or even a true comparison of different vendors.
  • I would urge you to read the end of the report (pp. 15-23) for the officers’ comments about the program and their interactions with the public.

What now?

Sean Rose‘s item on body cameras

Sean Rose had announced earlier this month that he was going to request that the body camera program be implemented January 1, 2021. At the time, nine other city councilors had signed on to his request (item 11l on the agenda).

It’s interesting that everyone but Councilor King was willing to sign on to a request without seeing a report from the WPD about the program, or even a sense of how much it would cost (including the need for additional staff).

It’s also interesting that this request was NOT brought up at budget time, during hours and hours of meetings, but now the request is that “[f]unding for said program should be prioritized and consider all funding mechanisms, including new growth monies.

Finally, having press releases that announce that a supermajority of the City Council is in support of something is a violation of the Open Meeting Law. What is the point of public discourse, or public input, if we already know that 10 city councilors’ minds are made up? (Nathan Cummings’ item brings this up – we need time for a “robust public debate.” We’ve been waiting six years for a report on this; we can certainly wait a little while longer to discuss this as a community.)

What problem are we trying to solve?

This is ultimately the question we are facing. If body cameras are the solution, or at least a solution, what is the problem? What are we expecting body cameras to do?

As the WPD body camera report says, the cameras can record someone’s worst day.

Are police the best response for all of these “worst days?”

That’s the biggest question facing us. How do we help — not handle — our fellow residents who are facing the worst day of their life? How can we best provide assistance to people around this city?

Nip Bottles on Tuesday’s Council agenda

There are, funnily enough, at least two items before the city council on Tuesday whose origins go back at least to 2014.

The first is item 9.17 B (Transmitting informational communication relative to the best practices on reducing litter created from small liquor bottle (nips) such as putting a deposit on the bottles); here’s the report.

(I’ll talk about the second items, 11l/11u/11v, about body cameras, in my next post.)

Longtime residents of Massachusetts may recall that, six years ago, the voters of the Commonwealth were given the option to expand the bottle bill. Our current bottle deposits are for beverages that are artificially carbonated (so, sodas and beer, but not naturally carbonated water, wine, hard liquor, or — most importantly — non-carbonated water).

Longtime residents of Worcester may remember that Bob Moylan, the former DPW chief, was the paid spokesperson for the bottling industry, which vehemently opposed any efforts to take responsibility for the waste their products cause to many Massachusetts cities and towns.

Because of extensive lobbying by the bottling industry — assisted in large part by Bob Moylan, who should have known better — the initiative for an expanded bottle bill failed in 2014.

However, the bottles that litter our streets have not gone away, and numerous efforts have been led by municipalities to ban, restrict the sale of, or put a deposit on nip bottles. The report has a good outline of these efforts, and I won’t repeat them here; it’s a quick read.

One of the recommendations of the report would be for the City Council to issue a proclamation supporting House Bill 2881, which would expand the bottle bill, and to encourage our legislative delegation to support the bill.

Currently, the only two Worcester state representatives who support the expanded bottle bill are Mary Keefe and David LeBoeuf (who I am proud to say is MY representative!). There are no other state reps from Worcester who have signed on as co-sponsor. This means that Dan Donahue, John Mahoney, and Jim O’Day all are due an email or phone call.

This expanded bottle bill, H. 2881, only expands the bottle bill to include nip bottles.

As many of us who pick up trash on a frequent basis know all too well, nip bottles are part of the problem. The other part (and, from my experience, the larger part) is bottled water.

The American people have been convinced, by the machinations of large multi-national and small corporations combined, that bottled water is somehow better for you than the municipal water that comprises most of its source.

One of the major reasons the bottle bill failed in 2014, and why the emphasis of the current bill is on nip bottles, and not on water bottles, is surely the powerful influence of Polar Beverages within the city and across the state.

(links below require your library card and password)

Efforts to expand the bottle bill go back to at least the 1990s.

In 2003, efforts to expand to nearly all types of beverages brought opposition from the local juice industry (Veryfine, Ocean Spray, and Welch’s) as well as from Ralph Crowley of Polar. Indeed, the opposition was so strong that my representative in the General Court, John Binienda, actually wanted to rescind the bottle bill for all containers and focus on home recycling.

Proposals for a similar expanded bottle bill in 2011 brought Polar’s efforts to fight it back into the news. As the bottle bill continued to be promoted, so did Polar’s efforts to discredit the efforts of people who don’t like bottles all over the place; there was even a lobbying group that was incentivizing pay-as-you-throw as an alternative to the bottle bill, while Polar executives argued (as always) that an expanded bottle bill would drive up consumer costs (as if it’s a bad thing to have unnecessary items that litter our streets cost a bit more).

In 2014, the last year the voters saw an expanded bottle bill, the No-on-Question-2 folks spent nearly $8 million dollars (as opposed to less than $1 on the “Yes” side) on advertisements, some of which prominently featured paid spokesperson Bob Moylan, to kill the bottle bill. Funnily enough, my state senator, Michael Moore, and Paul Frost of Auburn, both of whom have Polar-influenced districts, also opposed the expanded bottle bill in 2014.

It’s always going to be an uphill battle for ANY expansion of the bottle bill in Worcester. H. 2881 is a good first step. Please contact your city councilors to support it, and please contact state reps Donahue, Mahoney, and O’Day, to sign on as co-sponsors.

Clark University – Arrest Report

The independent Bowditch report to Clark University about the arrests of June 1/2 has been published on the Clark website.

Among other things, the report misspells ‘cannister’ and ‘Louden Street’ – but perhaps I’m more nitpicky than attorneys that get hundreds of dollars an hour.

That said, there are some interesting items:

1 – ‘[The WPD Tactical Unit] periodically deployed pepper spray cannisters and other non-lethal crowd-control devices such as stinger grenades and sponge rounds. No “tear gas” was used.’

This seems to be splitting hairs to me, but it’s a nice admission of what the WPD was using. I’ll refer readers to factcheck.org for whether pepper spray is ‘tear gas’ and to their own consciences about whether it was warranted in this instance.

2 – The WPD originally called the Clark University PD for assistance with directing traffic. When David Russo was profiled outside of his home and treated poorly by another university’s cops, there were questions (which remain unanswered) about under what circumstances the city will cals campus police for assistance, and what our rights are as citizens when one of these police officers responds to a call. I think these are questions that our elected officials should be asking and demanding answers.

3 – It’s clear that the WPD pushed the protesters in the direction of Clark (“The Tactical Unit deployed pepper spray, stinger grenades and sponge rounds and the crowd began moving south on Main Street towards where CUPD cruisers were positioned.”)

4 – Honestly, from reading this, I think Clark was absolutely right in their statement about the WPD. The WPD called their officers and it’s unclear what they were doing while CUPD cops in two cruisers were being attacked by a crowd (?!?) — “The Tactical Unit deployed pepper spray, stinger grenades and sponge rounds and the crowd began moving south on Main Street towards where CUPD cruisers were positioned. The combination of protesters and backed-up traffic blocked these cruisers from moving. A large group surrounded the cruisers and began throwing rocks and bottles at them, with the officers seated inside. Objects were thrown directly at the
windshields, doors and windows of both cruisers. The side panels of one of the cruisers were repeatedly kicked and each of the cruisers was extensively damaged. Side, back and front windows were shattered, and
the body of each vehicle was dented and scraped. The CUPD officers were eventually able to maneuver their vehicles around the blockade and to return to campus.”

At the point described in that statement, there were approximately 20-40 people in the crowd and 35-40 (not sure why there aren’t exact numbers!) WPD Tactical Unit members. If indeed the maximum protester to police ratio was 1:1, why were two CUPD vehicles damaged in the way they were?

5 – The last two conclusions are interesting!

  1. None of the four Clark students whom we interviewed acted violently or destructively. While two of them clearly were aware of the orders to disperse, the other two may not have been and apparently did nothing else to warrant their arrests.
  2. Arrests are not polite events, but they should involve only those actions which are required to accomplish them. Even in the situation described in this report, that standard applies. Actions taken during the arrests of the Clark students did not meet that standard.

I’m interested to hear what others get out of this report.

Board of Health – June 25

There was a Board of Health special meeting last night and you can read about it in the Telegram and on the social media. I’ve been listening to the recording, which is not the best (various bleep-bloops every time someone enters or exits the meeting). Below is a transcription (not yet complete) of David Fort’s presentation and remarks. I’ll be working through this today and tomorrow and record any other relevant remarks. My transcription isn’t neat (there may be slight misquotations and I’m not using all the capital letters I normally would) but should give you a sense of things. I welcome any suggested improvements!

Slidedeck is here

David Fort is introduced about 8.30 mark to present recommendations related to racism and discrimination.

I appreciate everyone being here tonight for this emergency meeting.  I really appreciate it.
I just want to start out by saying to anyone who is on the phone or who may be listening at some point, especially the people who have been protesting and a lot of people in the community, that I apologize for not just me but for many of us on the board, apologize for the delay in having this meeting.  I have mentioned this to at least one or two of the board members, that there was a lot of community concern about this topic and if the board of health was going to do about it.
So I just want to apologize for the delay, but I’m glad that we are here as a group, and that you’re here as well, those who are watching and listening.  
Tonight, before I get to the recommendations, we’re going to go through some context, talk about a few things, and then I will get into the recommendations at the end.

9.56[Nicole skipped a few more introductory remarks]

Let me begin —
It seems as though after the murder of George Floyd, putting out statements against racism and support of Black lives is more of a marketing technique […] for many.  These are people’s lives, and Black lives should never be a thing to play with.  Practically every business institution that just months ago would have stayed silent on racism or who thought Black Lives Matter was some kind of fringe movement, have issued statements in support of the movement.  And don’t get me wrong, I am pleased to see these statements being issued, great to see, however many African Americans, including myself, are very skeptical about the authenticity of some of these statements.  The history and treatment of black and brown people in this country gives us good reason to do so.  Our lives are not marketing tools.  
While I believe most of the board of health did not want our statement issued several weeks ago regarding George Floyd and police brutality to be lumped into just a sea of statements with no follow-up actions, [that is why] I called for this emergency board of health meeting to take place.
11.08
Even though I called this board of health meeting, over the objections of the current chairperson of the board, she wanted to address these issues in a different manner or perhaps later time – I respect her position.  But we seriously differ in our approach and time, that these issues could wait to be addressed at a later time in the year or in a different manner.  We may differ on some items, but we are still colleagues and friends.   We will remain that way even after this meeting.  
The sole purpose of this meeting is to finalize the list of recommendations that will be sent over to the Worcester police department after this meeting.  We are inviting members of the WPD to attend the next board meeting, which will be in July.  This will be the last meeting until the fall.  I believe in transparency, and I did not want the community to feel that the board was not supportive of further action.
12.00
I and other board members worked on recommendations that we believe would decrease the probability of acts of police brutality among police officers in the city, increase the likelihood of weeding out officers who possess racist or bigoted viewpoints, and lastly to increase opportunities to rebuild trust between the worcester police department and the African American, Latino, LGBTQ+ and other communities, who have been disproportionately affected by racism, bigotry and police brutality.  
Let me give you some background with respect to public health and the board of health.
The board of health uses the CHIP, the Community Health Improvement Plan, to guide many of the issues that we address.  When it comes to race and discrimination, the CHIP says the following:As a priority area, racism, discrimination aim:Improve population health by systematically eliminating institutionalized racism and the pathology of oppression and discrimination by promoting equitable access to, and use of, health promoting resources in the community.Reduce structural and environmental factors that contribute to health inequities
The CHIP is [our] guiding document – the CHIP if implemented throughout the WPD could drastically help to build a bridge between the black and brown communities in the city of Worcester and the WPD and decrease the probability of instances of police brutality in this city.  So why is racism, discrimination, police brutality public health issues?
[13.30]
Anything that negatively affects the well-being, health outcomes, morbidity, and brutality rates of the community, is a public health issue.  Organizations such as the American Public Health organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Physicians, have all called these issues emergency public health issues.  Even locales such as Cleveland, Denver, Indianapolis, Boston, San Bernardino County, have all called racism and law enforcement violence that relates to racism, emergency public health issues.  
[14.07]
Locally, there has been a full week gap between Worcester police dept’s initial statement on the events in Minneapolis and their second statement issued just one day before this meeting.  Neither statement specifically addressed how they are going to address some of the potential systematic racial/public health issues that are present in its own dept.  Since racism and police brutality can lead to deaths, injuries, and a decrease in the quality of life that goes with the communities, the board of health believes it is our charge to work with the WPD to solve these serious public health issues.  Before I deliver the board’s recommendations, allow me to provide some further context as to why this emergency meeting needed to be called, and why these recommendations needed to be developed. 
[14.30]
There would be no need to have Black Lives Matter movement if black lives matter in schools, in the neighborhoods they reside, in the homes they grow up, and the workplace and social circles they socialize in; unfortunately, even the places of worship that the majority of whites worship in.  Every anti-racist, anti-bigot expert will tell you that devaluing of black and brown lives and the racist views that emanate from doing so, has been and still is firmly intertwined in every institution in America, including all police departments. 
[15.29]
However, institutions are made up of individuals and the conscious or unconscious devaluing of black and brown bodies starts in the homes, and emanates to the other areas of our lives and into the institutions that we are a part of.  By the way, as an anti-racist, anti-bigoted advocate who has intimately studied race and its impacts on American society for nearly forty years, this devaluing of black and brown bodies and the pervasiveness of white supremacists, racist, and bigoted viewpoints, are not just the purview of those who proudly wave the Confederate flag or publicly use racist language.  While these people are just the tip of the iceberg, rather a large substantial percentage of whites in America hold racist viewpoints, and the data supports it at every turn.
Like Dr Robyn DiAngelo, a nationally renowned white anti-racist professor has said while discussing in her book White Fragility why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism, the majority of white Americans hold some type of racist viewpoints, and unless white people have had years of sustained deep study of race interaction with black and brown people, they will continue to hold these racist views.  Thus, the racists or white supremacists that still exist are likely to be the grandfathers, grandmothers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, friends, coworkers, officials, politicians, and even many police officers that we see every day, than the publicly known racists that we hear about in the news.  That is the cold, hard truth, and now is the time for white Americans to take their own moral and racial inventory and make changes to better themselves, America, and the cities and towns they live in.
[17.09]
Being nice to someone, or working net to someone, does not preclude someone from having racist views.  For most white police officers, the first time they’ve had consistent interaction with black or brown people is in the line of duty during tense engagements.  Since the data proves that a substantial amount of white Americans possess some anti-black views (for example, the Associated Press had a poll that 50% of Americans had anti-black views [this may not be accurate; I couldn’t hear that very well]).  Another study reflected large numbers of white Americans possess anti-black sentiments, and since most police officers have had limited non-police engagements with black and brown people, you can clearly see how so many people like George Floyd, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, DJ Henry, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Amadou Diallo, Andres Aguado, and John T. Williams, have been killed by police officers.  
A perceived increase in danger placed on one skin color is an example of a person possessing racist viewpoints.  
[18.15]
Now, returning to the topic of the value of black and brown lives and racist viewpoints [garbled] you can see the affects all around us.  The data is unquestionable.  I have been in the field of health and public health for thirty years, and the racism disparities that they create are crystal clear for all of us to see.  In housing, educational opportunities, job opportunities, income, law enforcement, politics, business, and health, just look at the covid-19 pandemic that we’re currently in and the glaring racial disparities that exist.  Nationally, blacks make up 13% of the US population, are 3.5 times more likely to die of causes related to covid-19 vs whites.  Latinos are 16.7% of US population and are twice as likely to die of covid-19 related causes.  
Even in Worcester county, blacks make up 5% of the population but are 10% of the population in the hospitals for covid-19 related illnesses, and the number’s probably even more now.
[19.12]
Latinos make up 11% of the population in Worcester county but make up 30% of those seen in the hospitals.
With respect to police-related shootings, according to articles in the American Journal of Public Health in the USA, (Michelle, first slide please) as well as in the aggregated research called “Fatal Encounters”, black men are twice as likely to be shot and killed by a police officer in their lifetimes than whites.
Black women are 1.4 times more likely to be shot and killed by police officers than white women.  
In fact, blacks that were shot and killed by the police were twice as likely to be unarmed.  Actually, according to a USA News article, 17% of Blacks who were killed by police were unarmed.  That percentage is higher than any other racial group.  
[note that this makes up the bullet points of the first slide titled “Important Statistics”]
[20.10]

According to the aforementioned aggregate work, Fatal Encounters, police violence is the leading cause of death for black men between [age] 25 and 29. The killings are bad enough but just imagine how many more hostile engagements that black and brown people have to endure each year by police officers and the number of injuries that blacks sustain during those engagements.

In fact, according to the Journal of Urban Health, Blacks go to the emergency department 4.9 times more than whites with law enforcement caused injuries.

[note that the two points above make up the bullet points of the second slide titled “Important Statistics”]

[20.49]

Let’s go even further. A Pew Research study showed that a majority of blacks and whites believe that Blacks are treated less fairly by police officers than whites. 84% of Blacks feel that way, and even 64% of whites do too.

More, the majority of blacks and whites believe that the US Justice system treats Blacks less fairly than whites. 87% of Blacks and 64% of whites feel the same way.

[note that the two points above make up the bullet points of the third slide titled “Important Statistics”]

Black adults are five times as likely to say they were unfairly stopped by police officers because of their race compared to whites.

[note that the point above make up the bullet point of the fourth slide titled “Important Statistics”]

Out of this study, one of the most striking findings was when black, white, and hispanic officers were asked if the fatal encounters between [police] officers and Black people were signs of an isolated incident or a broader problem between police and the Black community, 57% of Black officers, 27% of white officers, and 26% of Hispanic officers said that these encounters were signs of a broader problem and not isolated instances.

[note that the point above make up the bullet point of the fifth slide titled “Important Statistics”]

[22.40]

What about the experiences of those in Worcester?

Even in my own family, I can speak to at least three generations that have been racially profiled, assaulted, or aggressively treated by members of the WPD.

My father was racially profiled.

When I was fourteen years old, a WPD officer pulled a gun on me and slammed me against a vehicle at East Park while my three white friends watched in horror.

And more recently, about a year ago, I was headed to Webster Square. A white WPD officer began yelling at me to get the hell out of here and move on when I just complained about some guy who was driving a truck covered with Confederate flags up and down Main Street and Park Ave and was driving erratically, rear-ending multiple vehicles, including mine.

Even some of my nephews, even young […] cousins, have been racially profiled by officers of the WPD.

Some ask why don’t you report these incidents – I learned as a teenager after my brother was grabbed by the neck by a WPD officer and had his head slammed through a store window at the old Galleria mall, that even if you report something, which my father did, nothing most likely will happen.

You walk in the shoes of a Black person or Brown person, you’ll have a different perspective.

Even with all this knowledge and my experiences, I have never been anti-police. Rather, I always seek to develop relationships with police officers. Many Worcester police officers who I’ve personally known – many that I’ve known for 30-40 years, can attest to that.

[24.29]

All these facts and many others speak directly to racism, the undervaluing of Black and Brown lives and the topic of injustice. These are the other reasons why millions of Black and Brown people have been joined by millions of white allies in Worcester and around the world over the last month or so. I am pretty sure that most of these protesters and their supporters are not even close to being anti-police. Rather, these individuals are anti-racist, fighters for fairness, and champions for justice.

So, again, why did I call for an emergency Board of Health meeting, even though there was opposition to do so?

It’s simple: there are thousands of non-whites and our white allies who are tired of living under the threat of police brutality. We want constructive and immediate changes based on collaboration.

Like many others, I’m on the streets regularly talking to ordinary people in the Black and Latino communities. I hear the non-sugar-coated views of these individuals and of others in the city. If you really want to know what people are thinking in most communities, ask many of us who know what people need and want in the city. We are there. If you are not directly part of these communities, you may not be hearing the true views, frustrations, or [??] of these groups.

Some police officers may deny that racist viewpoints are not prevalent in the police departments across the country, including the WPD. However, the data, the video, and the personal stories of those who have experienced police brutality substantially proves otherwise. Recently we have heard from political leaders on the national, state, and even local levels that we need to change existing police practices and procedures. Some of these changes that have come into place are no chokeholds, no knees on the back or head of a person, and even requiring fellow officers to intervene if they see a fellow officer commit an act of police brutality. All of these changes are good, but they don’t go far enough. And why?

Well, I played football in high school at North High and at college at Colgate University. If you change the rules that are played in the game, and you still have the same set of players, many of whom should not have been on the field to begin with, because they have a propensity to break the rules, or needlessly injure their opponents, you will see the same outcomes. Your team will rack up a bunch of penalties, the ball will being pushed back and not forward, and your team and community that wants you to succeed will lose.

This is a point of the recommendations.

[27.00]

I believe the majority of the board of health wants these recommendations – not demands! – to serve as an opportunity to collaborate with the WPD, to address serious public health issues, to ensure that the best people, the best officers, are in uniform. These recommendations are presented in a public forum so that the WPD can come to our scheduled July board meeting and begin the process of developing publicly announced plans to ensure that they have in their ranks anti-racists, anti-bigots, and fighters of justice for all communities that they serve.

The potential for police brutality does not just exist in Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York City, or Chicago, or other faraway cities; the potential for it to happen here in this city exists too, and unless there’s serious attention to identify those who possess racist or bigoted views and rooting them out, then Worcester will also part of that list of places. No one wants that.

[28.00]

These recommendations to WPD are here to encourage the WPD to be the best they can be, and no organization or institution can operate at their max potential if they haven’t fully addressed issues that have the ability to form an irrevocable gulf between themselves and the people that they serve.

So here is the Board of Health’s official stated recommendations that I put together along with a colleague of mine.

On June 1, 2020, the Worcester Board of Health issued a statement condemning the violence than resulted in the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020 and previous acts of racist violence. We condemn both.

As members of the Worcester Board of Health, we consider white supremacy, racism, bigotry, and police brutality, as significant public health issues in need of ongoing attention by our city.

To that end, the Board of Health recommends that the Worcester Police Department and police officers in the city of Worcester (and members of other law enforcement agencies that operate in the city of Worcester) do the following to protect and build trust with the African-American community and other communities historically impacted by racism, bigotry, and racist violence:

[note the above is the first slide entitled “The BOH Recommends]

[29.18]

Recommendation #1: Acknowledge that racist, bigoted viewpoints and structural racism are pervasive in society and in all institutions, even among police departments (and that includes the WPD). [this is a slide except for the comment in parentheses]

Recommendation #2: Adopt the element of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus “10 Point Plan” that includes this specific item: Peace Officer Standards and Training (which is called POST): resolves to provide for a special commitment on Peace Officer Standards and Training, to study and make recommendations concerning the implementation of POST system, report favorably now with rules committee. Establish a statewide POST system to certify police officers and enable de-certification for misconduct and abuse. [He reiterates that the last sentence is very important]

[30.40]

Recommendation #3: Commit to urgently develop a comprehensive plan to identify (i.e. through previous actions, social media, background checks, etc.) those police officers that may possess racist/bigoted viewpoints.

Recommendation #4: Once officers who may possess these views are identified, commit to educate, re-train and/or if necessary, preclude (in the case of cadets) or dismiss (in the case of current officers) officers who possess these viewpoints and are inclined to impose these views to mistreat (i.e. physically, verbally, legally, etc.) black, brown and other historically discriminated racial and socioeconomic groups.

Recommendation #5: Be immediately and continuously transparent and fair in the investigation of police officers who have been accused of police misconduct and brutality.

Recommendation #6: Commit to working with a newly established, community police misconduct review board which is comprised of residents of the city of Worcester and have at least 50% of its members from the following communities:

African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans. The makeup of the Board should also include members from the following communities who have been affected by racism, bigotry and violence:
• a. LGBTQ+
• b. Mental Health
• c. Homeless
• d. Drug/Alcohol Recovery
• e. Youth
• f. Low-Income
• g. Domestic Violence Survivors

[I’m mostly using the bullets from the powerpoint but he is essentially following the slide]

Note: since the board believes collaboration is the key to best practice policing, we believe that community misconduct police board should include at least one member who is a current or former member of law enforcement, who has had years — and this is important — who has had years of sustained study of good policing practice and anti-racist, anti-bigoted paradigm. That is key. We want to make sure that whoever’s going to be [the member of law enforcement] that that person has experience not only doing good work and understanding good policing practices, but also understands the paradigms when it comes to being anti-racist and anti-bigoted.

[The above paragraph was not on the slidedeck]

[33.24]

Recommendation #7: Every police officer should be required to attend anti-racist/anti-bigoted workshops annually; and at least twice a year, require officers to read publications or view informational videos (and produce a short written report afterwards) that are geared towards improving the understanding of the various communities mentioned above.

Recommendation #8: Commit to developing healthy and nonviolent relationships with all members of the African-American community and other members of communities that have a history of suffering police brutality and misconduct.

Recommendation #9: Adopt the element of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus (and by the way the Mass Black and Latino Legislative Caucus are members who are from the federal level all the way down to the municipal level who have come together to put together a 10 point plan to try to reduce racism, discrimination, and also police brutality) “10 Point Plan” that includes this specific item: Adopt clear statutory limits on police use of force, including choke-holds and other tactics known to have deadly consequences. Require independent investigation of officer-related deaths. Require data collection and reporting on race, regarding all arrests and police use of force by every department.

[35.04]

Recommendation #10: Adopt the element of the Massachusetts Black
and Latino Legislative Caucus“ 10 Point Plan” that includes this specific item: Civil Service Exam Review and Oversight: Establishes an Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity to establish guidelines and review for diversity plans for all state agencies; Establishes a peace officer exam advisory board to review examinations for appointment and promotion of peace officers.

Recommendation #11: Commit to providing training on and implementation of internal and external deescalation resources.

Recommendation #12: Establish a consistent periodic schedule to update the members of the BOH and the Worcester Community (i.e. via the media and in-person community meetings, etc) on the progress of your efforts.

The Board of Health is seeking for the WPD to issue a formal statement to the Board of Health and to the residents of Worcester by, before or soon after our next Board of Health meeting (in July), on how and when (i.e. include specific timelines) they will specifically address each individual recommendation. The Board of Health is recommending that the WPD issue an annual report on its efforts to reduce racist/anti-Black and Brown/bigoted views amongst its ranks, increase more officers who are antiracist/anti-bigoted and build stronger ties to the Black and Brown communities of Worcester and other historically affected communities.

I believe that anything short of addressing each of these recommendations, line by line, will invalidate the experiences of those who are affected by racism as it relates to the local police department, as well as the voices of all the protesters who have marched for justice over the last month or so.

[37.00]

Budget Votes, Reconsiderations, and Holds

This is for folks who are wondering about the more esoteric aspects of the vote on the annual budget.

The Lead-up

The City Council has a standing Finance Committee, made up of all city councilors, that reviews the annual budget submitted by the City Manager.  The budget was submitted on May 12 and the Finance Committee began their review on May 19.  Normally, there are a few Finance Committee meetings due to the length of the budget.

On June 2, the City Council met (in regular session, not Finance Committee) to review, discuss, and (they thought) approve the city budget.  However, many citizens called in to the city council meeting to specifically object to an increase in the budget for the WPD and about the amount for resource officers in the WPS.

The City Council met on June 9 and again on June 16 to continue budget discussions.  These discussions were met by much citizen opposition to funding the police and the school resource officers.  At the end of this time, not all citizens (who had wanted to speak) had had the opportunity to speak.

On June 16, the City Council voted 11-0 to approve the budget (item 8a).


Councilor King’s Reconsideration of the vote

Two days later, on June 18, Khrystian King asked for the City Council to reconsider the vote at its next meeting on June 23 because some people had been disconnected who had wanted to speak at the June 16 meeting.  
He specifically invoked Rule 30 of the City Council Rules:

Rule 30. Reconsideration of Items Previously Considered An item once duly considered and voted, whether adopted or not, shall not be brought back before the city council within ninety (90) days of the last action taken by the city council unless a motion to reconsider has been timely made or filed. Except as provided below, a motion to reconsider an item shall be in order: 1) at any time during the meeting when the item was first decided yea or nay; or, 2) upon the filing such a motion in writing with the city clerk any time prior to 5 p.m. on the Thursday next following the day in which the item was first decided. A motion for reconsideration shall not be debatable and shall, if accepted by a two-thirds vote of the members of the city council, rescind the previous vote on the item and place it back on the floor for further action. In computing the time for filing any motion for reconsideration, Saturdays, Sunday and legal holidays shall be excluded.   

You can refer to Tracy’s thread for a lot of information about the reconsideration he requested:

It goes on the next agenda, it generally is taken first, and it is NOT debatable. That means that the Councilors DO NOT DELIBERATE the item; it’s a straight up or down vote right off the bat.

And again, if they vote YES, that reopens (in this case) the budget for deliberation; if they vote NO, the vote on the budget stays as voted this past Tuesday.

June 23 City Council Meeting

At the City Council meeting on June 23, Councilor King then held under privilege the budget vote.  (City Council Rules – Rule 29 (c) – page 13 of the pdf).

This means that the vote is held until the next meeting.

So – when is the next meeting?

Normally, the next meeting would be on June 30 and the vote would continue.

However, this is the annual budget.

Remember that the city manager submitted the annual budget on May 12.

According to section 5-2 (b) of the City Charter (page 23 on the pdf):

If the city council fails to take action with respect to any amount recommended in the annual budget, either by approving, reducing or rejecting the same, within forty-five days after its receipt of the budget, such amount shall, without any action by the city council, become a part of the appropriations for the year, and shall be available for the purposes specified.

Forty-five days from May 12 is June 26.

Special Meetings

The natural course of action would be to call a special meeting.

You can find out about special meetings in section 2-6 (c) (ii) of the City Charter (pages 8-9 on the pdf):

The mayor or the vice-chair of the city council, or any five members thereof, may at any time call a special meeting by causing written notice, stating the time and place of such meeting and signed by the councilor(s) calling the same, to be delivered in hand to each member of the city council, or left at his/her usual dwelling place, at least twelve hours before the time of such meeting. Except in the case of an emergency, notice of such special meeting, in accordance with chapter thirty-nine, section twenty-three B of the General Laws,  shall be posted on the city bulletin board at least forty-eight hours in advance of the time set for such special meeting.

That means:

1 – The mayor can call a special meeting by delivering a notice by hand 12 hours before the meeting

2 – The vice-chair can call a special meeting by delivering a notice by hand 12 hours before the meeting 

3 – Five city councilors can call a special meeting by delivering a notice by hand 12 hours before the meeting

The second paragraph is a moot point (because that section has been repealed) – but the City Council is still subject to the open meeting law, which STILL requires the posting of a meeting and its agenda 48 hours before the meeting.

If the city council needs to meet in the meantime, they could argue that it was an emergency, but knowing about something for 45 days and not voting on it hardly constitutes an emergency.

Where does this leave the budget?

If the budget is not voted on by June 26, the city council doesn’t need to vote on the budget.

The city manager’s budget will be adopted without their vote.

Couldn’t we have a temporary (1/12) budget voted in?

The City of Boston seems to be able to be able to vote for partial budgets while they work through councilor’s concerns.  It does not appear that Worcester has the same ability; the charter refers to an ‘annual’ budget.

Worcester Police Service Aides in the 1970s

Kevin had recently shared a paper called “Police Service Aides: Paraprofessionals for Police,” which was written in 1978 about a program that the Worcester Police Department had initiated in May of 1974. I am not sure how long it lasted (but I welcome commenters who remember!).

We often think (correctly) that Worcester is a backwater that couldn’t find a good idea if it bit the city in the face, but I am always cheered when I see examples that we were ahead of our time, in a good way.

As various people in the city demand defunding of the WPD, and as the Board of Public Health begins to look at racism/discrimination relative to the WPD, it’s interesting to look back at our history to see how we used to handle things a bit differently.

What was a police service aide (or police paraprofessional)? This was a “police specialist” [quotes in this post are from the article] who handled service calls so that sworn officers could be freed up to deal with the active-crime-specific calls.

There were 41 police service aides at the time of the study (in June 1975). I’m not sure how many police/sworn officers there were in 1975, but my copy of the LWV “Here’s Worcester” brochure from 1969 said that at that time there were 306 patrolmen; assuming that there were similar numbers in 1975, this would be 1/5 of the number of patrolmen. The article says that aides responded to “24.7 percent of all radio calls and assist in an additional 8.2 percent of calls,” so this seems pretty accurate for a percentage of aides-to-sworn officers/patrolmen.

Police service aides made a bit less than very junior police officers ($7,280 for the police service aide vs $9,152 for an officer with less than two years’ experience.

Police service aides had special uniforms and marked cars, worked from 10am-2am, but were not armed and did not have the power of arrest. They rode alone (no partner) and were “dispatched directly by the central dispatcher.”

From a diversity perspective, it doesn’t seem horrible for the mid-1970s: “The average age of the forty-one [police service aides] was 22.5 years; 40 percent were female; 12 percent were from racial minorities; and 32 percent were married.”

What types of service calls did they answer? A list from the article:
Snow Complaints
Notifications (All kinds such as: death in family, children arrested by police or outside agencies, children injured, found, etc.)
Assist Citizen
Fire Alarms
Noise Complaints
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Animal Complaints
Stolen and Lost Property
Recovered Property
Stolen and Recovered Vehicles
Missing Persons
Sick Persons
Injured Persons
Defective Streets and Sidewalks
Automobile Obstruction
Parked or Abandoned Motor Vehicles
Children Complaints [one can only wonder what THIS is!]
Rubbish Complaints

[I’d say at least some of these (snow, streets/sidewalks, etc.) are currently handled by DPW Customer Service]

Why did Worcester implement a police service aide program? The article says there were five major reasons for the program:

1 – “[T]he major impetus for the idea came from within the police department. One of the main architects of the plan was a deputy chief who became chief of police in 1975.” (I am not sure if this is John T. Hanlon; a commenter can feel free to correct me.)

2 – “Worcester has a city manager-county type of government. The current city manager, having been in office for many years, used his strong position to support the police service aide program.”

(So, nothing was going to happen without McGrath’s approval – and he did!)

3 – “[T]he Worcester Regional Law Enforcement Committee planners, who actually developed the plan for the grant and who took care of the details required by the state funding process, were very knowledgeable about the internal functioning of the Worcester Police Department.”

4 – “[T]he relative noninvolvement of the police union.” (You can read more about on page 4 of the article, which I find fascinating but which others may find a bit dry. Basically, the police were moving from one union to another for representation, and the new union was negotiating other things and not focused on the issue of police service aides.)

5 – The presentation of the aides to the existing police force was as “supplements” and not as replacements. In addition, 35 additional police officers were hired (in addition to the 40+ police service aides). And finally, this was part of a “major Worcester Crime Impact Program, which was initially funded at an annual rate of $750,000.” This was sold to the regular police officers as a chance to not have to take the crap calls and just focus on “real” police work.

Wrapping up: There isn’t enough in this short article for me to call the police service aides a success. I’m not sure why Worcester discontinued the program; the article says that the program, which had started out partly grant-funded, was now (1978) completely funded by the city. It also indicated that the aides were underutilized (though it’s unclear if they were more ‘underutilized’ than sworn officers).

The program was structured to be part of WPD but without the benefits of being a police officer (retirement, union membership, etc.), and many of the police service aides said that their reasons for joining were so that they would have a leg up when applying to become a police officer.

I will research this more once I can access the WPL’s microfilm collection again, but it’s worth looking back to our history to see a time when nearly 25% of all radio calls did not involve an armed police officer, and where citizens were, by and large, happy with the response to their calls.

We have already had a system where some “police” calls were handled, just fine, by non-police officers, and we can have that system again. It will look quite different than what happened in the 1970s, but I feel confident that this can happen again.

PS – After I wrote this, I decided to see if I could find better numbers for officers/aides. From the T&G column “Override gets “no frills” police operations” (June 17, 1991) by Donald E. Cummings, which seems like a column to encourage a Prop 2 1/2 overrride vote for the police:

“In 1979, Worcester had 355 police officers and 45 police service aides. These 400 police personnel responded to somewhat fewer than 75,000 calls each year and made about 6,000 arrests. Currently 289 police officers – no police service aides – answer 125,000 calls and make more than 11,000 arrests annually.”

And to compare to other cities:

“Providence has 344 police officers, Springfield 374 and Hartford 406, while Worcester’s strength has been reduced to 289 police officers.”

WooSox CBA review

I won’t be able to give folks a full review of the WooSox Community Benefits Agreement. As has been reported, the project is already nearly $30 million over budget, and Ed Augustus’s promises of no existing taxpayer dollars are looking more and more like the “read my lips” of yesteryear.

I’d like to summarize the more interesting points of the CBA, which is in this evening’s city council meeting’s agenda:

1 – The city is the only entity firmly committing a dollar amount ($3 million in CDBG funding over the next five years).

2 – The team is going to commit to following the law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Massachusetts minimum wage. If “we will comply with the law” was so much in question that you needed to get it in the agreement, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing business with that entity!

3 – The team is going to let the city have access to the stadium [that the city owns] for 8 revenue-generating events a year for the first five years. Since they already agreed to it, it’s nice that they were able to remember that and get it in this document.

4 – Anything you see the team agree to (10 community days a year, 15 community meetings a year, hiring practices, giving schoolkids free tickets, polling place, etc.) is only good for the first five years.

5 – The city will be given a suite in the ballpark. Keep an eye on that, kids.

6 – They’re going to have recycling bins, family/gender-neutral bathrooms and a place for women to breastfeed. Like, normal things any business that wants to attract people would do. Good for them!

7 – The team is a bigger fan of endeavoring and exploring than even Captain Cook. They’re going to try to do a lot of things, like hiring local people, women, as long as it’s reasonable and maybe their third-party concessionaire will do the same, as long as it’s commercially feasible.

In short, we are committing $3 million of funds (never mind the tens of millions we are already on the hook for) so that we can get a guarantee that a company will comply with the law (!) and do things that are advantageous to their business.

At the end of 5 years, how much more will the city have to commit to continue to get these same “benefits”?

Political Mailers – as of October 31

What follows are all the political mailers I have received as of Halloween.  Between my husband and I, we’ve sometimes received duplicates, and my parents were kind enough to lend me a few that I hadn’t gotten…

Tracy O’Connell Novick:


Cara Lisa Berg-Powers:

Etel Haxhiaj:

Khrystian King:

John Trobaugh:

 

Moe Bergman is definitely going for “most creative”:

Donna Colorio and the PACs that support her have definitely gotten the most media coverage with the ‘Worchester’ misspelling (first mailer you’ll see below).  There’s definitely lots of the same elements going on in other mailers.  The real question, of course, is — who is the cute guy who looks like a young Robert Foxworth from Falcon Crest?!?

Laura Clancey:

Jermoh Kamara:

Tony Economou; the first one is from the preliminary election:

Joe Petty:

City Council Candidate Forum – October 30

This is at Worcester State U / Eager Auditorium. Sponsored by League of Women Voters, YWCA, and Worcester State.

Candidates here: Bergman, Coleman, Colorio, Corrigan, Economou, Gibson, Haxhiaj, Honeycutt (D5), King, Petty, Rosen, Sarkodieh, Tiscione, Toomey, Wally (D5). I believe we are missing Colorio (from the signs at the front of the auditorium).

Format of the forum: each candidate 1 min opening remark, then series of questions from sponsoring organizations, then questions from the audience.

Opening Statementsas I have now been to a zillion of these I will hold unless I hear something interesting

Bergman: most proud – thought it would take a lot longer for people to feel proud of being from Worcester. Especially younger folks – we want you to stay in Worcester.

Coleman spoke but I think nothing new? He went to WSU and is proud of it.

Corrigan: Dressed for the holiday seasons (orange and black signs) – swears it’s for Halloween and not for Bergman! Tomorrow everyone can dress up as the scariest thing: a politician!

Colorio is now here

Economou: when he was D1 councilor, he was available with his shovel for anything. Emphasizes quality of life issues.

Gibson: works as a preacher. He works with youth, loves it. He emphasizes cultural competency.

Haxhiaj: one of her sons will turn 8 on November 5 – hopefully will be a big night for son & mom. Working families, homeless families, young people, those in public housing – city for all, city with all. Plans to take the commitment to the end.

Honeycutt: has learned a lot about how businesses run. Sees a lot of development. Specific districts should be included in downtown prosperity. Wants to make sure everyone is able to stay and participate.

King: began community work when he was in high school at Friendly House. Had friends who passed away from gun violence when he was in college, decided to become a social worker. Sees all different neighborhoods and can bring his unique perspective. Econ dev = development of everyday people.

Petty: he mentions his many achievements. Arts community has really taken off. Everyone should be included; disparities study. Affirmative action plan.

Rosen: most exciting times he’s seen in Worcester. When you read social media, you see that a lot of the naysayers are disappearing or have changed their minds. Keep Worcester clean, affordable, and safe.

Sarkodieh: HE HAS THE LONGEST NAME ON THE BALLOT. Currently a law student, currently with 7Hills RI. Came here with a dream – believes everything is possible. Wants to inspire the next generation. Wants them to see their future in me and through me.

Tiscione: has a 16-year-old daughter at Doherty. Was a firefighter for 30 years, was a member of US Army. Strongly believes in military service and service to country. Keep tax rates manageable and low – continue to do the best he can for the city.

Toomey: has been an educator, and experience in healthcare and addiction fields. Sometimes adversity hits you. Clean streets, safe community, good schools, jobs.

Wally: current D5 councilor, has had a positive first term, running for a second term. Webster Square Walgreens no longer has trash spread all over their property due to his work. Parks – Farber Field rectangular field. Pedestrian safety at schools.

Colorio: more teaching, less testing. Ballot question to get rid of Common Core. Worked in addiction field as psychotherapist. All of that brings her here. Focused on (you may have hear her ad on the radio) lowest residential taxes. SHE IS SECOND ON THE BALLOT.

Question to Coleman: tax deferments, what about bringing more private investments?

Coleman: private investment wants to see intelligent workforce – add housing stock and improve schools.

Question to Colorio: if developer like Polar Park does not enter into CBA, would you be willing to withdraw the TIF?

Colorio: to be honest, I don’t know. I’d have to look at that and do research. (More but that’s essentially it)

Question to Rosen: colleges – how to bring institutions together?

Rosen: has many good colleges/universities. Government can’t do everything. College consortium can make students a bigger part of the city. They should be going to meetings. We can do a lot, but colleges can do a lot for themselves.

Question to Corrigan: disgusted between rancor and bitterness – how will you lead in solving problems and setting example?

Corrigan: being unable/unwilling to work together does the constituents a disservice. Naturally people have different ideas – if no one is willing to compromise or come together, problem will still persist. Be good to be open to ideas and work with others.

Question to Haxhiaj: climate emergency. Where are best opportunities? Env justice, transpo, etc.

Haxhiaj: has already organized mothers in WOrcester & across the state about climate crisis. Would like to work with the climate group to improve – emissions from WRTA. Investing in public transpo should not be an afterthought. Fixing ALL gas leaks in low-income neighborhoods, new housing initiatives – lead abatement AND energy efficiency.

Question to Economou: Equal Pay Law 2018. How to ensure Worcester is an employer that is compliant?

Economou: as developers come into city, CBA could come into play. Men, women, minorities, everyone should be paid the same. [As someone familiar with this law, Nicole says it’s specifically about women and this is more something that the CM/Super need to be held accountable for.]

Question to Gibson: CBA for Polar Park. What are you going to do?

Gibson: have to do research to do something correctly.

[WHY CAN’T PEOPLE BE PREPARED FOR THE OBVIOUS QUESTIONS?]

Question to Petty: sanctuary city, solidarity with immigrant communities.

Petty: we are a welcoming city. WPD does not ask for immigration status. We follow same rules as those who call themselves sanctuary cities. He is out in immigrant community all the time.

Question to Toomey: what have you done to eliminate inequities for people of color?

Toomey: one of founders of Latino Ed, has been member of NAACP. Most important thing is to learn about other people, to understand different cultures/values, to have friends that you can get an honest answer from. Make sure that schools understand that this is important.

Question to King: residential tax rate increase. why? single tax rate? why?

King: supports lower residential tax rate – lack of affordable housing. His 26-year-old daughter cannot access affordable housing. Mindful of folks on fixed incomes. Increase to single rate – should look at PILOT and new growth first – never on back of the homeowners.

Question for Bergman: gentrification, high-end housing. What should council do to address this imbalance?

Bergman: there are options available that we have not looked at. Carriage houses as extra apartments. More than 3 unrelated people should be able to live in an apartment.

Question for Sarkodieh: limited services for the homeless. What new strategies?

Sarkodieh: attack from mental health side. People don’t sleep outside because they want to. We should expand homeless shelter, more concerned about housing that is affordable.

Question to Tiscione: residents feel needs not being addressed. How do you respond?

Tiscione: might have to start a city newspaper to get news to people who don’t have electronic means.

Question to Honeycutt: some POC-owned businesses moved away from downtown because of increased rents.

Honeycutt: ensure that all businesses have necessary resources. Many first-time owners do not feel they do. Dual tax rate is very important way to keep things affordable. Make sure people stay in the city and are involved in the city.

Question to Wally: transparency, accountability about racial demo data on minority businesses and city hiring. How to increase diversity?

Wally: any publicly funded building needs to have minority and female hires. Proud of being part of the current council that has put this forward as well as chief diversity officer.

Question to Coleman: many Woo res struggling for affordable housing.

Coleman: Modified Plan E government. City Council can make recommendations – you can have bully pulpit as a city councilor to make recommendations. Have a way for starter homes so that they can save money.

Question to Petty: Worcester Youth Center question: a lot of roads in poor neighborhoods are neglected.

Petty: willing to take a million or two of tax levy and fix roads. Each district gets about $150-200k for roads. Money is spread around and we only have a limited amount. Roads have taken a backseat to other investments (parks, schools, etc) but willing to look at it.

Question to Colorio: there’s a school committee. How do you view healthy relationship between CC and SC?

Colorio: served on SC – Education committee includes both but they need to be able to get together more often. Important for econ dev, healthy life = good schools. Continue to have this meeting, allocate some funds.

Question to Sarkodieh: what are ideas for positive spaces for youth?

Sarkodieh: wants to inspired youth to do good. (1) Youth Initiative – youth come up with ideas, more involved. (2) Into mentoring programs.

Question to Haxhiaj: Environmental protection, especially for reducing use of plastic. Questioner’s school recently started serving fruit wrapped in plastic!

Throwing more plastic at the problem (clear plastic recycling bag) does not solve the problem. Schools are not recycling properly. One of her dream projects would be a curbside compost program. This would be in line with the climate action initiative city council recently passed.

Question to Honeycutt: Beaver Brook basketball court is falling apart. Why not investing in parks?

Honeycutt: city has been doing a good job with parks lately, but there are lots of other parks that are lacking.

Question to King: safety in all Worcester communities, not just downtown, with limited resources. What is your strategy?

King: public safety is a joint venture between WPD and community. Number of community groups, but there is a lack of diversity. Human Rights Commission trying to get more involved. Mini-City Hall in Main South, WPD substations, bike patrol for WPD to engage with the public. Details at Union Station – trying to be as conservative as possible.

[A lot of these questions are from the youth]

Q to Corrigan: arts programs outside of school

Corrigan: nice to have a question from the youth to the youth of this race. Pow! Wow! Worcester murals are great – something like that is beneficial. You can’t get full funding for everything, though.

Q to Rosen: what are you doing to increase voter turnout?

Rosen: I knew I should have worn my red and white shirt tonight. He is on the streetcorners because he wants to show people he wants the job. At least they know there’s an election coming. He explains basic politics, city council, when people are stopped at Kelley Square. He blames the Telegram for not putting something in the paper the day before the election.

Q to Economou: what are we doing to support small businesses?

Economou: running on spinning downtown success into neighborhoods. More manageable tax rate, would like to see decorative lighting, benches, trash receptacles at smaller businesses. Ties to older names for neighborhoods (Brattle Stop etc)

Q to Gibson: WRTA – how to support public transpo, commuter rail to/from Worcester

Gibson: buses need to be on time. Need to increase train capacity.

Q to Toomey: community block grants. Is this grant [to construction in downtown] best use of limited funds?

Toomey: going to be able to create jobs. Downtown is a neighborhood. Lot of needs, need to balance everything.

Q to Wally: how to increase voter participation and community engagement

Wally: state/federal level – how do we provide easiest way to vote? Recommends federal/state holiday. Clerk’s office signs up 16/17 year olds to vote. Would love to see a national holiday so that people could go vote.

Q to Tiscione about bringing in private investment

Tiscione: to get private investment, need strong core (infrastructure)

Q to Bergman how to bring rich institutions (colleges) together to solve common problems.

Bergman: contest to engage colleges to compete, have celebration. Have opportunity for college kids to engage with each other downtown.

[I am sorry, that question is so boring and I am not portraying what he said right. Not his fault.]

Q to Toomey: Climate Emergency Declaration. how to reduce climate impact, env justiceplanning, dev, public transpo

Toomey: Walkability factor, one of the first people to talk about it. Every great city is one where you can walk. We have to rearrange what we do with cars. Make downtown car-free. Trolleys so people can walk more. How can you encourage econ dev if you don’t have people walking in front of stores?

Q to Gibson: Residents feel not being heard. How do you respond?

Gibson: Worcester is a diverse community. Bring people into the room to solve problems.

Q for Tiscione: Polar Park, no CBA, whatcha gonna do?

Tiscione: certainly more than a one-man job. Will take a coalition of people. Need to start doing things differently, as a city need to be more assertive especially when we are offering TIFs. Perks should come with conditions – too many companies do what they have always done.

Q for Petty: youth, how to create positive spaces

Petty: the youth’s most important time is between 3-6pm. RecWorcester in 10 schools. Athletics in schools, give them time to do arts. Youth Violence Prevention Program. Sports keep kids busy.

Q for Wally: about improving diversity.

Wally: in his professional bank work…wrote an As I See It, proposed Bank On Worcester program, majority of unbanked individuals are minorities, improving safe financial services. Has been chair of org to improve banking services for the underserved.

Q for Coleman: transparency and accountability. What process for transparency and reporting, how to increase diversity?

Coleman: a lot of diversity these days vs 20 years ago. Would ask for regular updates on hiring practices from Chief Diversity Officer – retain, support, recruit quality applicants.

Q for Economou: more gentrification. How to address imbalances?

Economou: 10,000 units of affordable housing. In past few years, 1500 units more. Any HUD $$ has affordable housing component. He has done & will continue to support those efforts.

Q for Colorio: public safety, given limited resources, across the city.

Colorio: when people looking to move to Worcester: schools, safety. Beer Garden headlines – people’s perception of safety can be two different things. Some parents felt Doherty wasn’t safe when her daughter attended. Good WPD communication needed.

Q for Rosen about homeless population.

Rosen: we have issue on our corners with panhandlers. Many homeless, some aren’t. Money is not the answer. Many of these people have mental health issues and addiction issues. Some people know about services, but we have to let folks know they don’t have to continue this way of life. The help is out there, enough folks do not know about the services. We recommends that we get a van to let people know.

Q to Corrigan about econ dev in developing outside of central business district and for POC-owned businesses.

Corrigan: Polar Park took some land through eminent domain. Consider impact on community. Important to be considerate for people who are there.

Q to Sarkodieh about tax

Sarkodieh: Worcester residents – small business exemption. Businesses come and go, residents stay, in favor of senior discount.

Q to Haxhiaj: public transpo, commuter rail

Haxhiaj: we need to work with our delegation to make sure that Worcester has electrified rail, which will help us meet climate crisis goals. Fare-Free WRTA – 39 communities have done this and ridership has increased. Equity issue for poor and elderly – they rely on it – and this will help increase walkability as well.

Q to Bergman: sanctuary city, develop policies for solidarity with immigrant communities.

Bergman: WPD policy is not to ask questions. To officially declare ourselves a sanctuary city would impact our federal funding, which would impact the poor and marginalized the most. Would not do anything further.

Q for Economou: civic engagement.

Economou: civics needs to be taught in schools again. He thinks this is a major issue. City does a good job promoting elections, but could use excise, water/sewer bills to let people know. Tours with kids at city hall is best civics lesson of all, see mock city council meeting.

Q to Honeycutt: Equal Pay Law. How to enforce?

Honeycutt: all the questions we have are contradicting everyone – we need to push businesses in the area. If you don’t comply, you don’t get to come in here. Worcester Red Sox, how much of an achievement is that? Sometimes we have to be ok with saying no.

[I’m not sure if that was about the question or not]

Q to King: roads in poorer neighborhoods are neglected.

King: does not necessarily support accessing tax levy. Need to re-prioritize – make sure equitable across all sides of the city. All parts of the city should gain. Voting rates should not impact services given to different neighborhoods.

Questions from audience

Q to Coleman about upward mobility.

Coleman: hates the term ‘minority’ – what he will do to stimulate people. USA is greatest country in the world – make sure overabundance of opportunity. Everyone should see, feel, experience the opportunities.

Q for Colorio: convo about not raising homeowner taxes – but allocating funds to underfunded areas. How do you give money to the WooSox when areas are neglected?

Colorio: econ dev in favor of, sometimes have to give TIFs, but she is not a proponent. Would like small biz exemption. If you want community with good workforce, need affordable housing. Need to work on creating that environment. Don’t want to be like Boston where no one can afford a house.

Q for Haxhiaj: as POC, lives on Bell Hill, never seen a candidate, why should I bother to vote?

Haxhiaj: has been door-knocking everywhere. I have translated materials to many languages. You have every right to be pissed off, you should be treated same way as people from West Side. We hired 10 girls, mostly of color, for my campaign. Look at my actions.

Q for Corrigan: do you have any ideas/experience to have people of different backgrounds come to agreements on how to move our city forward?

Corrigan: experience as a camp counselor in Germany. People from all over – people from different places have different ideas. Campers were also international. People came together.

Q for Rosen: what initiatives to retain college-age population/talent?

Rosen: we need jobs. A lot of them want to stay in Worcester. Important to retain and expand existing businesses, bring in new biz. Still competing, and attracting new businesses. PawSox looked at 18 communities – but they chose us!

Q for Economou: how can city council ensure that community receives spinoff from econ dev/ballpark?

Economou: CBA will ensure that people from the city are hired for these jobs. That’s the best way to ensure that people get those jobs first.

[Honestly, I want to know what kind of factory they’re building at Polar Park with all these jobs!]

Q for Gibson: we’re the second-largest city in New England – what initiative do you propose to promote that?

Gibson: emphasize diversity and welcoming nature. Make sure we have all represented.

Q for Petty: how quickly to get to 100% renewable energy?

Petty: the quicker the better, many solar panels. We have biggest solar farm here. Who knows if it will snow here this winter?

Q for Toomey about reducing solid waste to meet DEP guidelines

Toomey: recycling center in schools, could reuse some material creatively. Would ask that people think about what they are doing – ordering online, many cardboard boxes and plastic packaging. Ask people to consider online companies to reduce packaging. People should use their recycled bags.

Q to King: how to protect non-profits, I think this is about Oak Hill CDC

King: will support doing all we can to support CDCs. He was just made aware of this issue today. Need to meet with folks to address these issues.

Q to Bergman: how to make Worcester a favorable destination for tourism?

Bergman: has been involved in Preservation Worcester for a number of years. Some people would have laughed at this question a few years ago – no more. This is a great destination to enjoy history. We’ve got as good a history as the City of Boston – we just don’t market it.

Q for Sarkodieh: teenagers and employment.

Sarkodieh: mentors to guide for college opportunities. High schools – classes at city hall to see what is going on. Good citizens as parents.

Q to Tiscione: if I never see candidates in my neighborhood, why should I vote?

Tiscione: that’s the whole reason why you should vote. I try to get around as much as I can – it’s a big city and I can’t get everywhere. After you do a couple dozen three-deckers, it gets tiring. Vote so your voice is heard. You can’t be heard if you don’t show up.

Q to Honeycutt: not raising homeowner taxes – but variety of underfunded areas. Woo Sox vs not raising taxes

Honeycutt: downtown is vital, but running for D5. Focus on residential taxes don’t rise. Transpo needs to be more accessible to people in community. Make smaller routes to destinations. Focus is on D5 – lowest residential tax rate.

Q to Wally: what initiatives to retain college-age population/talent?

Wally: need WELL-PAYING jobs, and entertainment options that 22 year olds want. The latter has been improving.

Closing statements – you know I won’t type unless I need to.

Toomey has been involved in very sexy issues like infrastructure and sewers. That is an exact quote.

TISCIONE IS LUCKY THIRTEEN ON YOUR BALLOT. Homeless problem is growing issue and will affect every issue of our lives. Keep talking about gentrificaton – we are not doing enough for people in need. We need real answers – not put in bandaids. People come from surrounding communities because we have the services.

Haxhiaj is an exhausted single mom who has advocated for Plumley Village residents, brought 1000 people to City Hall, showed up at Polar Park to ask why there is no CBA. Her heart, mind, and all her energies are all in the right place.

Tony ALSO mentions curbside compost. I don’t think it was necessarily positive, but we’re getting there, kids!

Corrigan recommends calling DPW Customer Service for potholes. They have 30 days to fix it before the city is liable. People at DPW know him!

BILL COLEMAN IS GIVING OUT T-SHIRTS, PEOPLE!

School Committee Forum – October 29

Telegram coverage here

This is one of my favorite forums, sponsored by a lot of community groups, including the Worcester Youth Center and Worcester NAACP, which is meets on the 4th Monday of every month at Central Branch YMCA and is always looking for new members!

Before we begin…

Someone asked me why I was late to last night’s forum.

I was spending my night at the Mustard Seed, a place many of you have heard of, some of you have visited, and which has, on occasion, been called “America’s Favorite Soup Kitchen.”

The Family Health Center of Worcester’s Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program (HOAP) is currently raising funds to open a health clinic at the Mustard Seed!!

So I have two things to ask of you:

1 – Vote your conscience on November 5

2 – Please consider donating to build this life-changing clinic and share the link with your networks!

…and now…on to the forum…

Ground rules: each candidate will have one minute for opening & closing statements.  Also have one minute to answer questions. 

Opening statements:

John Trobaugh: Moved here from Alabama more than a decade ago; he and his husband both work for medical school.  They have two sons, both in 9th grade.  Evidence-based plans for parental engagement for child, school, district.  We can’t do same thing over & over again when parents don’t feel welcome in school or engaged.  Parents should have a voice in what happens in classroom, school, school district – key stakeholders.

Tracy O’Connell Novick: main reason she is running is that her work brings her to school districts to improve practices.  She does not see this work happening in Worcester and it should be.

John Monfredo: every decision he made as a principal was what is in the best interests of children, and that has carried forward into his work on the school committee.  He has received many awards, has filed many items, etc.

Jack Foley: has been on school committee for last 20 years.  (1) Funding – things looks good right now, but we need to think strategically, hold community forums on how to spend.  (2) Look at data (grad rates, achievement rates).  (3) Restore integrity and transparency.  Cannot continue what was done with school busing, sex ed.

Laura Clancey: parent in WPS system.  Child currently at Forest Grove.  Some problems with communications.  Licensed guidance counselor.  She is an ed advocate for DYS for over 14 years.  Has been advocate for over 14 years.  Happy to be at the Youth Center because she has done much work over the years.

Chantel Bethea: she is the nosy parent who will not take “that’s the way it’s always been.”  You hold our kids to a certain standard – hold the admin, principals, students to a certain standard.  Running to show children that when something is not right, it’s time to fight.  She fights when she is upset.

Cara Berg-Powers: has a 6 yo in the schools.  Has been student and educator in the WPS.  Has worked in educational fights around funding for the past 10 years.  Saw a lot of inequity as a foster parent.  Just because she won gains for her kids does not mean the battle is over.

Q1 to John Trobaugh: Sept 2 article in T&G: superintendent opposed in-house bus service.  What is your position?  Would you want 5 year proposal?  (Q from Worcester Youth Center)

Trobaugh: interactions with Transportation Department have not been good.  Durham is not good, but issues start with Transo Dept.  One of his kids was lost – took them a week to call him back.  Yes, it will save money – but we also need to clean house.

Novick: this has been in the works since 2006.  WPS already run a substantial number of buses.  Those are the buses that come – we can’t say the same about Durham.  Durham is not keeping the district apprised of where the kids are and lies.  As a parent, has no confidence in Durham.  (She spoke a lot more but I couldn’t keep up.)

Monfredo: We need to sit down and get it right.  Running a bus company is not the business of the WPS.  The superintendent would be the first to say let’s do it if it were to save money.  This is a serious decision that needs to be made carefully.  Wants to see the facts and figures before moving forward.  Are they flat-nosed buses, which are safer?  Retirement benefits, health benefits…we cannot do it by 2020.

Foley: As Tracy said, this discussion has been going on over 10 years.  This was a flawed process – not a level playing field.  Service from Durham unacceptable, continues to be a problem.  We can do a much better problem running it ourselves.  We run a lot of other in-house services ourselves (like food service).  $2-3 million could be put back into the classroom.

Clancey: as a parent, has had numerous bus issues.  We have their contract for 2, possibly 3 years.  As SC member, will not let something be worked on for 10 years.  Won’t say ‘we’ve been trying to work on this for ten years.’

Bethea: that’s the first thing I’ve agreed with you on.  It doesn’t make sense to keep a company that has bad service.  Parents have called her when they don’t know where the kids are – bus company refuses to answer the phone.  Accountability is one thing, responsibility is another.

Berg-Powers: this is the issue that has come up the most in door-knocking and contacting voters/parents.  Some of these stories are for young children, where parents are not able to locate them for hours.  This is NOT a separate issue from whether to pay the company.

Q2 for Novick from Main South CDC: suspension rate from white and non-white students.

Novick: first, acknowledge that there IS an issue.  Having someone from DESE come – we needed state intervention for something that is a civil rights issue.  We need to clean up our act.  We need training – and look at where the ties are between students and various other things (long term absenteeism for example).

Monfredo: not a fan of suspensions.  However, the students are not disciplined based on racial profile.  There is a welcoming school policy.  A number of workshops have been held and will be held.  He lists them.

Foley: Own the data – we have to put the data out there and discuss it.  Let’s break it down by school, gender and understand what is happening.  Take a hard look at emergency removals.  What is happening and at which schools is it happening and why.  Look at schools who could be models.  Supports for teachers and professionals.  Need more trauma informed care and alternatives in school.

Clancey: We are not collecting data across the board consistently at every school.  Each school needs to document in the same way.  Implicit bias is important to be trained in.  Make sure that we are collecting the data.

Bethea: I do agree with her a little bit again – it’s weird.  Was at a city hall meeting with DESE.  Data is certified by superintendent.  You can look how you make it want to look.  How does that work?  [I am not sure what her concern is, sorry.]  She wants to see the raw data and have a third party put it together and identify the issues. 

Berg-Powers: make sure that we have quality data, and need to acknowledge that we have an issue.  Community deserves acknowledgment about what they are seeing on the ground, truth & reconciliation work is going to be a critical task of new school committee.  Many of these are deep beliefs that many have never interrogated.  Teachers need support – they deserve to support them as much as they love them.

Trobaugh: standardized reporting – that we don’t know what happened is a huge disciplinary problem.  One thing to affect change in a system – look at systems that are causing these problems.  We don’t have parental or community engagement – they could be part of the decision making process. 

Q3 to Berg-Powers from YWCA, do you support creation of diversity & equal opportunity officer?  If so, how to ensure that it addresses systemic racism and gender bias?

Berg-Powers: daughter’s principal has been hired for this role.  Some concerns about making sure that she is supported, but impressed with what she’s started.  Needs to be an office, cannot just be one positon.  Look at some of the entire community planning processes.  Also have transparency and accountability tracker on their website (Framingham or Boston – she may be talking about)

Trobaugh: thinks we need an office, but does not need to be just for personnel.  For employees and staff, but also at what’s happening with the kids.  Is there equity among different student populations?  Broader than just employment.  Should touch student performance.

Novick: believes that the position needs to be broader.  School Committee got bad legal advice – needs to involve hiring, curriculum, policies around equity – should be on the agenda all the time.  Districts have a report at every school committee meeting.  Should be a superintendent goal and we need to evaluate her on it. 

Monfredo: superintendent made a good choice.  She will look for opportunities to hire and recruit.  In addition, training will be given.  Teachers need to build on knowledge students bring to the classroom.  This can take place with good training.  Would like diversity office to work with Worcester Future Teachers Program.  Could be like the minor league where we bring students into teaching.

Foley: concerned about job description and autonomy.  Pleased with the hire.  This needs to be part of strategic goals of school committee and superintendent.  Professional development, looking at implicit bias.  We as a community – have to repair fracture.  We all need to work together to resolve the issue.

Clancey: supports the idea and the person who was hired.  Looking at recruitment and hiring policies is key.

Bethea: does not agree with it at all.  Chief Diversity Officer for the city isn’t doing anything either.  Hiring from within Worcester does not achieve anything.  She will not have leeway.  City CDO was not given the tools – current one ditto.  Doesn’t think schools CDO will do anything either.

Q4 for Bethea from Worcester Common Ground: affordable housing impacts educational outcomes.  What can SC do to improve neighborhood stability?

Bethea: involve organizations that work with families.  If SC and admin would let community inside schools and DAB, we could get a lot of things done on a cheaper scale.  We are putting the money and saying it’s most valuable…[in unimportant areas?]  Need to look at the whole child.

Berg-Powers: Schools cannot do this on our own.   We are asking schools to solve a lot of social problems that are bigger than schools.  Schools need to be part of the whole system conversation.  Band-aid programs (food pantries, clothing) – need to keep kids in safe, trusting school relationship – keep them with educators that they know and love.

Trobaugh: when you are not properly housed, affects your education.  Need to make sure that students are properly supported.  We need to have a Housing First model – we can work on that with the city.  Everyone who needs housing can have housing.  As far as schools go – school counselors/psychologists/clinicians are underutilized.

Novick: appreciates that people are acknowledging that schools can’t solve everything.  School Committees represent largest constituency that cannot vote with them.  Food pantries, washers/dryers are not enough – we need to go to the City Council and say that the policies they make are affecting students.  The priorities should be to those who already live here and who go to school here.

Monfredo: he agrees with Stacy [sic] on this.  If you just look at SC – not enough.  Need to make key decisions with social agencies.  There are lots of things to do – mentions Andy’s Attic, etc.

Foley: Clark has worked with Main South CDC on housing opportunities.  Bring together quality housing, make sure all partners brought.  It can be done with community partnerships but not by schools alone.  SC can push city for additional affordable housing.

Clancey: wraparound services are huge. 

Q5 to Berg-Powers from Worcester Coalition of Ed Equity: how should district and SC be assessed when community is displeased with inequities?  (Long question – you’ll get the point)

Berg-Powers: we really can look at what our goals/objectives are, right now the things we are talking about are not being measured.  She has committed to measures to being engaged – weekly office hours, ombudsman position, and have someone who can connect to solutions right away.

Trobaugh: relates to community/parental engagement.  Each school needs to be judged on how engaged parents are, as well as district.  Once you’re on the school committee, you’re part of the system and need to be judged as part of the system.

Novick: one of the standards of superintendent evaluation is culturally competent two-way communication.  School Committee has not made this more of a point.  This has been a real weakness in this SC.  Other school committees do self-assessments and ask for them.  Admin should not be developing policies (cell phone, dress code) without parent or student involvement.

Monfredo: school committee “in partnership” with administration.  [Doesn’t that just about sum it up]

Foley: we are assessed at the voting booth every two years, and people need to hold us accountable.  About community trust and losing it.  Lack of transparency and modesty.  One way to approach is more public forums.  We do this in Finance & Operations Committee – have convo with public about priorities.  Also needs to happen in eval of superintendent – which is also an eval of the SC

Clancey: we need to create procedures & goals for schools. Make sure we listen to everyone.  No one was listening or engaging in this.  [Slight technical difficulty]

Bethea: the relationship between district and school committee needs to be accessible.  Doesn’t need to go through six different channel.  Same people have been here for 39 years.  [BRIAN IS DEAD AND HE WAS ONLY HERE FOR 35 YEARS!]  If there are more black and brown people on the school committee, there will be more accountability.

Q6 from EAW for Clancey: what motivated you to run?

Clancey: first, being a parent.  She implemented communication and other things as a PTO president that she would like to implement at a district level.  Also, helping kids navigate through the system has motivated her.

Bethea: sex ed.   Her kids heard her say she was running at a school committee meeting and they pushed her to go for it.  You need to be able to respect other people’s values – she doesn’t agree with half the people up here but she can still be civil.

Berg-Powers: at end of 2018 school year, became foster parents unexpectedly.  They had learned that there had been several attempts at supports that had not been met and that he was going to be held back because of the lack of leadership.  Not enough to help one kid when there are other kids still there.

Trobaugh: in part because of his children.  As he has seen them go through the system, seen a lack of system to communicate with parents.  CPPAC and site councils’ recommendations fall on deaf ears.  A couple of community groups asked him if he would consider running. 

Novick: was on a panel this spring sponsored by Mass Inc.  Shift from federal accountability to local accountability.  She thought about what she was going to about it.  Site councils were intended to be a launching ground for school committees – but ours are very ineffective.  Thought she has a responsibility to do it.

Monfredo: has made difference in the lives of many children as an educator.  He lists many of the resume items you are well familiar with.  Focus on community involvement is about it takes a village.

Foley: what motivated him 20 years ago was that he had kids in the district.  Last time he thought about no longer running – but it’s been a tough 12 months, and he has concerns about how things are going, lack of transparency and process, has decided to stay and work on this to push district forward successfully.

Q7: Worcester (?) Building Trades, to Foley: how to go to preapprenticeship, etc.

Foley: concerning that Worcester Tech is an exam school and prohibits kids who are interested and would benefit from attending.  Trying to involve other students in gaining expertise.  More Ch 74 programs.  Worcester Tech was intended as an 18 hour school, wants it opened up more for vocational training.

Clancey: her husband has been a union carpenter for 20 years.  Worcester Tech is not using its best capacity.  Comprehensive high school should retain college-bound kids and kids who would benefit from voke education should have access to Worcester Tech.

Bethea: no one can get into Worcester Tech.  All schools should have some form of tech training in it.  Choices for all families.  Not all kids are college bound and all of our families need to be familiar with the resources.

Berg-Powers: Last 15 years has been running youth programs in media & creative arts.  Bridge programs in our schools.  Need to get creative.  She has $200k in student debt and two mortgages – we should not expect this of every young person.

Trobaugh: big proponent of vocational programming.  He went to voke school, became an EMT, and put himself through college.  We do have a problem in that we have many kids on waitlist – need to increase vocational programming.  Need to think about what innovation economy needs, and adapt to system we have now. 

Novick: first year she was teaching high school, it was a comprehensive that had voke component with a GPA requirement.  One of her students really wanted to be an auto mechanic.  A Ch 74 program is not a full voke program – need to take it seriously.  We used to send “those kids” to Voke – now have gone in the other direction – and need to get back in the middle and serve all.

Monfredo: we all agree.  Not everyone gets into a technical high school, we have to follow state guidelines.  We are expanding Ch 74 in all comprehensive high schools.  More needs to be added on. 

Q8 to Monfredo from Worcester Community/Labor Coalition: do you support trainings around rape culture?  What to do to make sure we move forward?

Monfredo: first makes the comment ‘rape culture?’; unclear whether he has heard the phrase before. We are trying to address as many issues as possible.  Through sex ed, need for comprehensive sex ed program.  Have children learn as much fact information as possible.  We could address that in sex ed and move forward.

Foley: we need a comprehensive, inclusive, age-appropriate sex ed at the earliest age possible.  Curriculum will deal with all the issues including consent – people should know from a very young age about consent.  Not alarmed by sex ed curriculum – students need to learn at a young age.  This information will serve them well throughout their life.

Clancey: we need comprehensive sex ed. Discussions about consent and what’s appropriate and not.  There are certain games in the sex ed curriculum proposed by WISH that she did not agree with, but plenty that she did.

Bethea: we do need something that is comprehensive.  We use that word like diversity – means anything.  We need to believe students.  Lots of talk about curriculum and policies, but need to bring people to justice for things they have done.  State Rep Jim O’Day bringing forward a good proposal – need to make sure this gets passed.  Our kids are asking for this information.

Berg-Powers: describes how she had been sexually assaulted by a neighbor at age six – the same age her daughter is now. This is an important curriculum issue.  Dedham Teachers Union contract – wanted grievance process for sex assault.  WPS needs a safe environment for everyone. 

Trobaugh: need an evidence-based program.  We don’t have something that will reduce STIs, pregnancy, and will give kids more knowledge about sex so that they delay trying it.  Missing the evidence part.  We need to teach not just about consent but about healthy relationships (including LGBT)…

Novick: we need to have rape culture discussed.  We need curriculum that does not blame victims.  Not just about health education  School Title IX coordinator should not be Safety Coordinator.  We still have a dress code where girls are blamed for distracting boys.  That is rape culture.

Q9: are you in favor of LGBTQIA subcommittee?

Trobaugh: yes, equal opportunity officer.  We need to discuss diversity at each meeting.  We need to make sure we are protecting people who have not been historically protected.

Novick: concerned about governance structures – danger in getting too many subcommittees and then it’s someone else is responsible and we do not consider this as part of everything we do.  The notion behind this – that this is something for which there should be accountability – is right and we are not currently doing this.

Monfredo: chief diversity officer could discuss it.  Need to make sure that all students’ needs are being met.

Foley: does have some structural worries because there are only so many SC members.  There are some existing committees that could take this on.  We need to work about a number of issues relative to inequity and achievement gaps.  Should be district-wide initiative and not necessarily part of a committee.  Would like it as major function for existing committee.

Clancey: agrees with Foley’s comments.  Strengthen site councils at each school.  If we use them the way they are supposed to, can be dealt with at school level.

Bethea: this needs to be in the chamber.  Someone from Shades should be sitting at that table and have a vote and it’s always there.  In the forefront, live on TV at all times.  There should be a parent at that table at all times.  Someone who represents our community at all times and not behind closed doors.

Berg-Powers: is open to this and the structure is something we can figure out. If we are not measuring something, it’s not happening.  Opportunity here to make sure we have an eye to how all the other pieces are fitting in – opportunity for every young person in our schools to become whole, healthy adults.

Q for Monfredo from Carpenters Local 336: district school committee members – in favor?

Monfredo: no, every school committee represents all districts, all neighborhoods.  If not, they shouldn’t be running.  Voters should vote for those they feel best represent.

Foley: we have talked about this – still not in favor.  Solve the problem at the ballot box.  Worries that if it’s district rep for schools, may be a battle neighborhood by neighborhood as we see city councilors now.  Opportunities for students to travel across the city to go to school – at that point, who represents them?

Clancey: has seen district councilors fighting – should not be done at SC level.   Vote for people who know school district.

Bethea: doesn’t have a full answer.  If we were to do it, then have at-large and district.  Doesn’t know how this would actually work.

Berg-Powers: No idea.  Look at how it works in other places.  Our schools do not align with our city council districts.  In D4, where she lives, people do not feel served.  Question speaks to larger issue of transparency, community engagement.

Trobaugh: if we had a mixed model similar to city council, would probably be best to go.  You have to raise A LOOOOOOOTT of money to run citywide.  This excludes a LARGE portion of our population.  A mixed model might work well.  Our school committee currently does not reflect the diversity of the community.

Novick: the school committees she sees with a district model or hybrid model ends up with one member fighting for “their” schools – unhealthy for everyone.  Relegating “those kids” to “that” committee member.  Can’t pretend that ballot box is the answer.  But RANKED CHOICE VOTING could be – because you could run a smaller campaign.  LOOK INTO IT – RANKED CHOICE VOTING.

Final Q from NAACP, to Clancey: would you be interested in providing incentives for male POC to be teachers in WPS?

Clancey: No.  Basing incentives on color of skin should not be done.  Does not think this is a practice we can get into.  May be illegal to pay someone more money based on the color of skin.

Bethea: I don’t know.  There needs to be a bigger pull – more ways to help or assist those who are trying to be teachers.  Always a disadvantage in paying for MTELs, there are still wage gaps.  We need more teachers/administrators who look like our students.  We need quality over quantity.  We need to open the door for our people who look like our population.

Berg-Powers: question is about incentives.  We need to provide incentives.  Pay is not usually an incentive for people who go into teaching.   But incentives can be cohorts to build a school community, create spaces where they can be safe in how they experience school.  Retention is particularly of concern.  How are we recruiting all teachers of color, but esp black and brown men?

Trobaugh: whoever is responsible for hiring should be responsible for numbers.  If super is evaluated based on the numbers, that will help.  Pipeline programs should be expanded.  Get support staff to become teacher, be eligible for exemption, get ed to finish the certification.  Mentoring, etc.

Novick: people work in schools because they are comfortable in schools.  Experience in K-12 makes you want to continue to spend time in schools – or not.  Things that cause problem for students make them less likely to become teachers.  Students need places to LIVE – some colleges are trying to work on that, people can’t afford to go into teaching right out of college.

Monfredo: Worcester Future Teachers – students go to Worcester State, major in education, and they will be hired in WPS.  IAs – are given free courses, can get help, will get assistance in exam, and then will become teachers.

Foley: would support incentives.  We have to compete.  But that’s not enough – we have to create a really welcoming community as well.  Do a lot more in the city to support the requirement.  We need to do hiring much earlier than late springtime.

There is a statement from Jermoh Kamara read

Closing statements – I will hold on typing.  (If I can confess something – it’s nice to just listen to candidates for a few minutes instead of desperately typing and muttering their words to myself like some sort of incantation!)