Downtown Worcester from Franklin St. (public domain)
Hey everyone, welcome to Worcester News this Week (as the title gets tweaked again, we'll settle on one ... one of these days). There are a few “pretty big deals” on the horizon, including something that you won't see here this week, and that's the July 1st takeover of Worcester Regional Airport (ORH) by MASSPORT.
Hopefully MASSPORT and the City of Worcester have doctors who can resuscitate that thing.
This week, we've got the WRTA Bus Drivers about to strike again, City Manager O'Brien's performance evaluation, a decision to set the CSX vote before the City Council next week (before they go on summer vacation, smart move), despite the Worcester Telegram and Gazette's continued campaign against the move.
They've now sunk so low as to call the Grafton Hill Business Association (who, if you'll recall, hasn't updated their website in three years) a “key” group to the deal. All signs point to the City Council ignoring the nonsense and moving forward with the project; but we'll all know for sure next Tuesday night.
As for this week, let's get started.
June 23, 2010 - The City Council gave out City Manager Michael O'Brien's job performance review at the City Council meeting on Tuesday (it was essentially the only thing on the agenda), and want to extend his contract.
O'Brien, who has been the Worcester City Manager since 2004, received an overall job performance evaluation grade of 4.7 from his 11 bosses, the Councilors. The grade is based on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 for superior performance and 1 for unacceptable.
It is the highest overall evaluation grade ever received by a city manager since the City Council began annually evaluating the manager's job performance 25 years ago. Last year, O'Brien received an overall grade of 4.66.
Councilor Philip Palmieri, who gave O'Brien an overall grade of 4.75, praised the manager for being able to strike a balance on many important issues. He then told the other Councilors to seriously consider extending O'Brien's contract. O'Brien's current contract took effect in 2007, and will run through 2012.
Most Councilors gave O'Brien the same or better score as last year, but in a shocking turn of events (ok, not really all that shocking) Councilor Konnie Lukes gave the manager a grade of 4.5, down from the 5 she gave him last year.
Lukes said she was “disappointed” that the manager recommended a $2 million increase in property taxes for the fiscal 2011 budget, which would be an increase on one of the lower property tax rates in the Commonwealth. She said she fears that tax increase could set a precedent for future years. The only thing she didn't say was “Look at me! Look at me! I used to be mayor you know!”
Being, essentially, the only item on the agenda this week, the meeting was over by 8:30. Expect another “one item” meeting next Tuesday, the CSX vote. If you're attending, get there early. The meeting starts at 7 PM (at City Hall), but expect there to be a big crowd, as all 22 members of the Grafton Hill Business Association will be there.