January 31, 2009

Boston Herald Story

Click here. Story, more or less, about the irony of Peter Blute (ex head of MassPort) doing for Direct Air and Massport/ORH. But what caught my eye was

"The radio spots are part of a $300,000 federal grant to tout the airport and Direct Air, a new airline that flies from Worcester to Florida and Myrtle Beach."

We spent the last $300,000 in the Small Community Air Service Grant on Direct Air. Looking back we only spent less then $25,000 on Allegiant and over $100,000 on IMG and now $300,000 on Direct Air. We spent this money horribly.

Lastly where the hell did the spend the $300,000????

1% Percent Arguement

I am so sick of people saying 1%, no big deal. First of all in the case of the meals tax it is really 2%, 1% by the Commonwealth and 1% by the City of Worcester. Lets look at it for what it really is a

40% increase in the meals tax.

This week any bills I get, I am going to take 1% off them and pay them and tell people "whats the big deal, it is only 1%."

Cab Driver Breaks up Robbery

Telegram story, anyone hear from Jeff?

Clive McFarlane Story

Yesterday's paper Clive had a story in the Telegram titled "City Can Run Just Fine on Bare Bones". I actually was looking forward to reading what he had to say. In the article he went after two departments--the Forestry and Law Department. I have dealt with both departments and they are both two of the better run departments in the City of Worcester.

Great title but the story should have focused on the millions that can be saved if we:
  1. privatize the airport
  2. privatize the golf course
  3. privatize DCU
  4. privatize Union Station
  5. stop anymore low to mod income housing developments
  6. stop guaranting 5.8 million dollars when there is no foreseeable means of paying it back unless there are more Federal monies coming to pay the loan

January 30, 2009

Allegiant Keeps Expanding

note this link anonymous sent in.

Allegiant is expecting another strong year ahead. "The world has not ended," Allegiant CEO Maurice is quoted as saying by BusinessRockford.com. "It is hard to get that message across." As for growth, ATW reports Allegiant "will add four MD-80s to its fleet in the first half of 2009." And BusinessRockford.com writes Allegiant also "is planning to announce either a new focus city or another service expansion, officials said in a conference call with investors."

January 29, 2009

Fox UnderCover

Tonight there is suppose to be a segment on how people buy or rent "low to mod" income housing, rent them out to someone else, and pocket the difference while living somewhere else.

Here is the link, thank Jeff, click here.

Watch the video, the City of Boston does not want to do anything about since they would be violation of the low to mod income requirement and they (the City of Boston) and would have to pay the back any HUD monies that went to this unit on behalf of the person in question. The answers from the lady from the BRA are hillarious.

Cost of Public Housing

Jahn has been saying this for months, but we need to look at the hidden costs of all these high density low to mod income housing. Today Dewey sent me an article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, where the future Red Sox right fielder grew up.

Read this one line as to why the school budget has gone 42% in the past three years:

"We have the highest concentration of public housing of all Allegheny County," Ms. Serenka said, "and, we believe, in the state."

In fact, the Executive Director of the South Worcester Neighborhood Center has used the fact Canterbury Street School enrollment is down and we do not want it to be closed as a reason why we need Southgate place, 25 low income apartments at the former City Builders site.

January 28, 2009

Price Rite on Southbridge

Let stress this is from the RUMOR MILL.

Opening has been delayed indefinately since the building location violates zoning set backs and they can not get an occupancy permit?

Again purely rumor but somewhat reliable. Posting here to get feedback.

Flat Screen TV at Prisons

Click here for Boston Herald Story

Expanded Bottle Bill

Read about it in the Telegram today. Just another tax and another way to make small businesses uncompetitive.

Lets go back to cigarettes again. In Worcester the cigaretter business has been hurt up North it has been crushed by the latest $1 per pack tax that in the end has resulted in less total tax collections. Why stop there lets move into non-carbonated drinks and add a deposit.

People will say that the cost of these items will only go up .05 per bottle, but that is never the case. There is a cost now to handle and process the empties at both the whole and retail level so the cost will go up more, not to mention the cash that will now be tied up in these deposits. A fair estimate that the cost at the retail level will go up to consumer by about $2 per case, not $1.20 based on a case of 24.

Now lets assume you live in Northern Mass and you could buy a case of water for $8 in New Hampshire or $10 in Massachusetts, what would you do? Proponents will say that you will get you monies back when you bring back the empties but in this case you get $1.2, bring you to $9.20 not $10.00. Bottom line is that this passage will make Massachusetts even more uncompetitive and hurt retail businesses even more.

Here is the dirty rottten secret. For the people who don't return their deposits and simply throw them away, who gets that money. Not the retailers, not the wholesalers but the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Read the article, the Commonwealth expects to collect $20 million in unredeemed deposits.

In summary:
  1. this is just another tax on the people of Massachusetts
  2. another blow to the competitiveness of Massachusetts retailers and wholesalers

At least we may be able to collect a toll when people drive across the border to buy their alcohol, cigarettes, lottery and now uncarbonated businesses.

January 27, 2009

Worcester Section 108 Loans

This is an older link from 2003. Sorry could not find anything newer. It lists, on page 3, some 29 million in HUD guaranteed loans that the City of Worcester has made, current balance and who are the recipients. It accurately points out that Gardner Kilby Hammond will be 5.8 million.

Here is my question. Should we not hold Gardner Kilby Hammond accountable for not paying back the 5.8 million dollar loan the City of Worcester guaranteed for them??

HUD Section 108 Loan

Found this story in the Republican Herald in Pennsylvania. It is about a larger retailer in Pennsylvania, Boscov's, looking for two counties to help them out with 35 million in guaranteed HUD Section 108 loans.

Although the two counties want to help out the retailer and keep them in business, they were concerned as to what would happen if Boscov's was unable to pay back the 35 million themselves. The State of Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development wrote a letter to the two counties and I quote:

“...in the event of a default by Boscov’s NEWCO in repaying the 108 Loan, the Department will make the necessary payments on the 108 Loan so that the Community Development Block Grant funds otherwise available to Schuylkill County will not be seized by HUD (Housing and Urban Development) as permitted under the 108 Contract for repayment of the 108 Loan."

Even though the state of Pennsylvania is saying that they will cover the loan in the event Boscov's defaults and their CDBG funds will not be lost, they still would not do it. Why?

“How can you guarantee a loan by the state if we’re already $2.6 billion in debt?” Butler County Commissioner James L. Kennedy said in a telephone interview Friday.

In Worcester, we took out a guaranteed 5.8 million Section 108 HUD loan without, as far as I can tell, without any idea how we would pay it back other then the hope of additional Federal monies to make the annual payment.

January 26, 2009

Job Cuts

Spint -- 8000 jobs
Home Depot -- 7000 jobs
Caterpillar-- 5000 jobs
Microsoft--- 5000 jobs

Maybe the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reduce its workforce to balance the budget like private industry?

Take Back Beacon Hill


January 25, 2009

Local Aid Cuts

Just noticed this line in yesterday's Telegram:

Mr. O’Brien said. He also said the city would like to see the state take on the entire cost of operating the airport, which amounts to $1.2 million on the city budget each year.

Why would the state take on the entire cost of operating ORH, especially now when the Commonwealth is struggling? We need to do two things right now:

  1. Request a report as to how much would be saved if we were to downgrade to General Aviation?
  2. Put together a RFP to out right sell or lease long-term the entire airport?

Happy New Year

Business is booming on Canterbury Street as it is Chinese New Year tomorrow. Many parties tonight.

January 24, 2009

Local Aid Cut 4.5 Million

Note story in Today's Telegram. Thats alot of money. Why don't we put up tolls on 290 on the Worcester border and collect money?

On a serious note I could save this $4.5:
  1. Privatize ORH and allow a company like AvPorts to take over ORH if they agree to take over the operating and debt service for 20 years.
  2. Privatize Green Hill and have a company like Johnson Gold take over Green Hill
  3. Privatize the DCU Center
  4. Hire a company like EduClean take over janitorial services at the public schools and any other public buildings that require janitorial services
  5. Stop giving anymore subsidies to Low Income Housing projects by that I mean no more waiving permitting fees, no more waiving water/sewer fees, no more grant monies, etc

January 23, 2009

Section 108 HUD Loan

Sorry this loan is really driving me crazy..... Currently we are using unexpended CDBG funds, but eventually when we run out of unexpended of expended CDBG funds , how do we pay back the loan?

I went on the HUD website:

Loan Security

The principal security for the loan guarantee is a pledge by the applicant public entity or the State (in the case of a nonentitlement public entity) of its current and future CDBG funds. Additional security will also be required to assure repayment of guaranteed obligations. The additional security requirements will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but could include assets financed by the guaranteed loan.

In other words once the unexpended CDBG funds are spent then are current CDBG fund allocations will be cut to cover the payment. We need to take a look back at how we thought we were going to pay back this loan to avoid making this mistake again.

Southgate Place EPA Meeting

February 9th at 5:30PM at the South Worcester Neighborhood Center (SWNIC) there will be a public meeting on the 73,500 EPA Grant that is being given to SWNIC to clean up the old City Builders site. Keep in mind since SWNIC is a non-profit, they do not have to pay these monies back.

I am submitting one question:

I would like you to get in writing from the EPA that if this land is later sold to a for profit entity, within the next 5 years, will the grant become payable?

5.8 Million HUD Loan

Senator Jahn, I am totally confused. The City takes out a 5.8 million dollar for site acquisition, demolition and preparation of a 7.5-acre parcel in Main South, so it could be redeveloped. O'kay so far so good.

I assumed the City of Worcester took out this loan to kick start the project, but would get monies back from the parties benefiting from the clean-up (Main South CDC, The Boys Club and Clark). These monies monies would in turn be used to pay off the loan? The way I read Nick's story the City of Worcester was depending on the Feds to make the payments on the loan, that they in fact gave to us, does this make sense?

All the monies that were spent to acquire and clean up the land, did we not get any money back in sales or rental income? Someone help me understand this loan.

January 22, 2009

Anonymous Comment Posted


Indirect Air Carriers do not have to report their loads to the Feds. So, you will find nothing publicly available about Direct Air's loads. If they (or a counter at every airport) don't tell you, you won't know. I am sure that the airport has counts, but they are going to hang on to them.


By federal law, all public charters must keep their fares in escrow until the flight departs. If vacations and all those goodies are included, all of that has to be in escrow until they are used. In addition, all public charters must file a $200,000 bond in order to operate.

Your money is actually safer with Direct Air than a network carrier. Even if you pay Direct Air in cash, you can still get your money back out of their bond as long as it is valid.The key to their profitability is to find out the charter costs of the aircraft. A very coarse estimate would be $8,000-$10,000 per block hour including fuel. That number is for similar sized jets, but a little older. However, the constant utilization may have gotten them a contract price that was very, very good.

Whole Foods

Post from 4-Rilla.



Tough Times for Retail

I predict here that over the next couple months we are going to see a few bigger name restaurants in Worcester hot spots (Canal, Shrewsbury Street, etc) close. Adding a local meals tax will only worsen the situation.

Kudos to Nick K

Story in the newspaper today, click here.

In the private world if a developer goes into default trying top build a project, the bank forecloses and we might read a headline in the newspaper. The problems are between the developer and his creditors.

In the world of affordable housing development, as I have said many times on this blog (patting myself on the back), there is another entity involved--the underlying municipality. Typically the underlying municipality provides grants (Federal sometimes State HOME Funds) that do not have to be paid back by the developer as long as affordability time periods are honored; for example the developer has to sell or rent to low to mod income people for a stipulated period of time. In the event there is a violation, the municipality (HUD calls it the presiding jurisdiction) has to pay back the grant monies not the developer!!

In Main South, it is a little different but the same premise. The City of Worcester takes out a HUD guaranteed loan in the amount of 5,800,000 for to demolish and prepare a 7.5 acre parcel for the Gardner Kilby Hammond Initiative. If everything goes right and the houses are sold, the City (I assume) would have gotten money back and have been able to pay down the note. What happens if the Gardner Kilby Hammond Initiative stumbles?

The City of Worcester (you and I), the PJ (presiding jurisdiction), is left holding the bag. Now we need to take monies from our CDBG account and make a payment of $132,939 on top off another payment this past August. It does not get better, we have another payment due of $232,061 due in August.

Was this George Bush's fault? No it was not it was the City of Worcester fault to be a partner in all of these projects without much reward, but tons of risk that is coming back on us in a big way right now. Do you think this will stop the parade of low income housing development projects in the City of Worcester?

I doubt it.

January 21, 2009

Turbo Tax

Today I had the television on for the confirmation hearings for the nomination of Tim Geithner to be the next Secretary of the Treasury, who has been identified as the person to get the economy going. In case you did not know this or not, he his hit some road blocks on his tax return which he refers to as as "wage versus self-employment income mishap."

Ask anyone self-employed person what this means!!! Anyone of them can tell you that if you are self-employed or receive a 1099 you have to pay both halves of social security (7.65% as the employee and 7.65% as the employer). It is pretty simple stuff and for the next Treasury Secretary to refer to this as a mishap is pretty scary.

It gets better. Although he took responsibility, he indirected blamed his software program--TurboTax. I almost fell off my chair when I heard that. Being self-employed, I have not even tried to do my own taxes in 25 years and hire a CPA to do my returns. Honestly, the next Treasurer should not being making mistakes like this.

Kudos to Councilor Rosen

Last night he asked the City Administration for the average loads being carried out of ORH by Direct Air. His answer was similar to that given by the Airport Director. Bottom line is that I hope we are able to improve our loads and that Myrtle Beach is a success.

Keep thinking about the $300,000 of monies that were left in the Small Community Air Service Grant before Direct Air that are now gone. What did we spend it on?

January 20, 2009


At Council tonight it was told that they will have their financing in place by the end of February and construction will begin in the Spring. Lets hope this does in fact happen and I will gladly say that I was wrong.

If this in fact the case then the developer should have all his permitting paperwork into the code department so that he will have his permit in the Spring and take title to the property for the dollar per the terms of conveyance and start paying property taxes and maintaining the property.

January 19, 2009

City Builders Water and Sewer Fees

In total Southgate Place, old City Builders, will add 33 bedrooms to the City of Worcester Sewerage System. Since there were never any pre-existing bedrooms on this parcel the past 5 years, the sewerage fee alone (33 times 1,320) should be 43,560. That is not including the water hook-up fees but I think it is fair to say that their costs will be in the $50,000 area.

Do you think this will ever get paid?

January 18, 2009


I think it is great news that UNUM is in discussions with City Square, but that is all they are discussions. Can UNUM be in any better position in their negotiations now? They can virtually ask for the moon, the sun and the stars and they might get it.

Comments on Interview

It is a very positive step that the new Airport Director got back to the blog with his answers so fast and is a sign that he truly wants to build community support and realizes the importance of silly bloggers. Here are my comments that I will forward to the Airport Director tomorrow:

  1. I can understand why we were not give exact load numbers.
  2. We need to do study to find out exactly how much ORH would save if we were downgraded to General Aviation and no longer Part 139 certified.
  3. I can understand why the new Airport Director may not know this answer but someone else should have found this out since Allegiant left in September of 2006.
  4. Lets hope MassPort is in fact in negotiations with Cape Air.
  5. On March 18th on this blog I had some questions answered by Airport Liaison Niddrie, who told me that there was $300,000 left in the Small Community Air Service Grant. Now we have nothing? We spent $300,000 on Direct Air??
  6. We spent approximately $100,000 for IMG to recruit and retain an airline, not to mention an additional $100,000 for the report that they did. That is alot of money and I am glad to hear that there contract has ended.
  7. same as 4
  8. It is true that ORH is a deal compared to the other major airports around us, but we should comparing our parking rates to other successful secondary airports like Rockford where parking is typically free.

Again I want to thank the Mr Davis, follow up withy my comments to him and try to get a clarification on the Small Community Air Service Grant.

January 16, 2009

Airport Director Blog Interview

I would like to thank our new Airport Director for answer the questions below and I will leave them up for the week-end and make no other posts so as many people as possible can see:

1) What have the average loads been with Direct Air?
In the nearly two months that Direct Air has been flying from ORH, Worcester is at the top of their new cities in terms of bookings. Some of the flights have been full, some have not. The bottom line is more people need to use the service.

2) If ORH was downgraded to General Aviation how much would be saved as at ORH?
The airport is a Part 139 certified airport which allows for scheduled and unscheduled commercial service of more than 30 seats. Massport believes the Part 139 certification should be maintained and is needed to attract more commercial service. The last eight years have been among the most challenging in the history of the airline industry. More than 100 US cities lost all air service in 2008. ORH is getting air service. This is an asset that needs to be maintained and protected for the long term. The city and Massport are working to maintain and enhance airside and landside infrastructure in a cost-effective, prudent manner. That said, General Aviation, however, has a significant place at ORH.

3) Why do you think Allegiant left ORH, when their loads what were considered excellent?
That is a question that should be addressed to Allegiant.

4) Why does Cape Air not come to ORH with shuttle to Logan with their JetBlue codesharing agreement like they have for Hyannis, P-town, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket?
Massport is in discussions with many airlines about service opportunities, but I would not want to be more specific than that.

5) How much money is left in the Small Community Air Service Grant?
That grant was used to promote Allegiant and Direct Air and has been spent.

6) Are we still working with IMG?
That was a contract with the City of Worcester and I am told that contract ended.

7) Any chance of us getting one, or two, of the JetBlue Embraer shuttles to JFK diverted from Boston to Worcester?
JetBlue is growing at Boston Logan, not pulling down service. As I said before, Massport is in discussions with many airlines about service opportunities.

8) How important is FREE parking initially for ORH and would you consider lobbying the City Council and the City Manager for FREE parking?
I think there are bigger issues for motorists, such as improving access to the airport from I-90. The parking at ORH is already a bargain, lower than at BOS, PVD or MHT and it is an important source of revenue to help offset operating costs of the airport.

Snow Cops

Great story in the Boston Globe sent to me by one of our blog readers--THANKS!!


Over the past year I have been in touch with a guy from AvPorts. They are in the airport management business, there is a good presentation on their site about them. Here are a few airports that they manage:

  1. Albany
  2. New Haven
  3. Westchester
  4. Teterboro
  5. Atlantic City
Recently AvPorts was bought out by another company, which should actually bode well for Avports. The other day my contact there told me that he would come up if someone wanted to talk to them? I have forwarded the e-mail to the City Manager.

January 15, 2009

Blackstone Valley Visitor Center--19 million?

I remember when the cost to build was at $10 million dollars. Rumor mill tells me that the cost now is at $19 million.

The New Cigarette--Camel Snus

As R.J. Reynolds prepares a national marketing campaign for the company's new smokeless-tobacco product, dubbed 'Camel Snus,. Snus is a tea bag-like pouch of steam-pasteurized smokeless tobacco that consumers can tuck between their cheek and gum to deliver a hit of nicotine. R.J. Reynolds plans to launch the marketing campaign for Camel Snus early next year, and at least two other U.S. tobacco companies are test-marketing snus.

Best thing about them is that you can swallow the salivia and do not have spit like chew and one snu should last 30 minutes.

January 14, 2009

Zip Code Site

Found an awesome site that analyzes everything about a zip code. Check out:

01602 Worcester

01603 Worcester

01520 Holden

01581 Westborough

Just one little comparison. Estimated median household income in 2007 for Westborough was 90,664 and Holden was 79,502 while Worcester was much less (01603 -- 45,651 and 01602---60,594).

We need to lure people of income, not pajama people, back into the urban core of downtown Worcester.

New Airport Director Interview

I tried calling but have been able to catch him so I sent him an e-mail for a blog interview request. Here are my questions so far does anyone else have a question that they want asked?

1) What have been the average loads with Direct Air since inception?
2) If ORH downgraded to General Aviation and concentrated on this, as well as freight, how much would be saved?
3) Why do you think Allegiant left ORH when their loads what were considered excellent?
4) Why will Cape Air not come to ORH with shuttle to Logan with their JetBlue codesharing agreement like they have for Hyannis, P-town, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket?
5) How much money is left from the Small Community Air Service Grant?
6) Are you a City of Worcester or MassPort employee?


UNUM is a great step and lets hope it becomes not only a done deal but a fair deal for the City of Worcester. Keep in mind, however, I have lived through Judith Light at the grand opening of the Worcester Fashion outlets, Centrum, the Convention Center, Hilton Garden, new courthouse and Med City.

City Square is only a step in the right direction. We need to also:

  1. stop anymore affordable housing projects

  2. establish a single property tax rate for commercial/residentail

  3. create economic zones that waive all permitting fees and lock in assessed values for 10 years like we did with the Hanover Theatre

  4. get out of businesses that we should not be in (airport and golf course for starters)

  5. worked on improved commuter service

  6. term limits for City Councilors (NEW ONE)

  7. creation of a Boston Latin type high school downtown

UNUM is great news but needs to be the starter not the end.

January 13, 2009

Dewey Not in The Hall Yet

Telegram story about UNUM and City Square

SiteMeter and LinkedIn

At Paulie's New Orleans bash, I had a chance to talk to Jeff of WormTown Taxi, he is a good guy and very tech savy. Matter of fact I am going to try and do more picture and videos like Jeff does.

He also urged me to put sitemeter on my site so everyone can see the activity on the blog. January 2nd of this year, I finally did and from then till now we have been averaging 153 visits per day. Click on the sitemeter link anytime.

Also I have stared work on a profile, again per Jeff's suggestion, that I set up in LinkenIn. There is also a link to the left.

Thanks Jeff..

January 12, 2009

I Told You So

This last cig tax increase was a killer. It made the spread to much and forced people, especially in tough economic times, to seek alternative ways to buy cigs. One of which was the state of New Hampshire.

Not only do you lose cig sales revenues, but when people go to New Hampshire they buy liquor and lottery too. Just read this in the Nashua Telegraph:

Cigarette sales brought in $20.1 million last month when only $18.3 had been expected.Likewise, liquor sales came in at $18.7 million; that was $3 million more than its forecast for December

Although there was an additional dollar per pack tax, the Commonwealth raised more money right? Wrong, from the Belmont Citizen Herald:

State finance documents project a decline in tax collections of about 3.6 percent for fiscal 2009, instead of the assumed 3.8 percent growth

Think about that, the Commonwealth added a dollar per pack tax to cigs to raise revenues to fund the new Commonwealth of Massachusetts health reform law and not only have they not raised more money, but actually collected less. At the same time New Hampshire collected 10% more then expected.

Jahn, what do you think really happened here.

Long Beach Considers Privatization

Full story in LA Times. Here is part, please note the only successful privatization has been Newburgh, NY (Stewart):

Local governments that have tried to privatize airports in the past have found it to be a slow and frustrating process. Since 1997, a Federal Aviation Administration program to privatize airports has had six applications. Five have been terminated or withdrawn because of community opposition, inadequate business plans, a lack of financing or a repurchase by a government entity.

The only application awaiting FAA approval is from Chicago Midway Airport, which now serves about 17 million commercial passengers a year. Its proposed 99-year lease to a consortium of investors could provide Chicago with about $2.5 billion. Supporters say it could be a model for airport privatization.

Comment on Nemeth Column

It was not me either, how funny!!

i just want to say that you should listen to more imput like that man mr. randell and others have to say and maby you might actually have a decent running airport.
-just a thought

Berkely Back out of North Pointe

From Banker and Tradesman:

Fundraising Gets Creative

Headline in today's paper, but they missed one.

Non-profits should let businesses know if they have contaminated lands that they will take ownership for a nominal fee (say $1), apply for EPA grants which do not have to be back since they are a non profit and deed the land back for say $10,000.

Everyone wins:
  • the original owner gets his land cleaned up for free
  • non-profit pockets 10,000

Only who loses is the tax-payer, but who is really keep track.

January 11, 2009

Diligent Standard

Drove by Canterbury lot that was awarded to Pharmashere in January of 2008 and nothing has been shoveled all winter. Remember this is the bidder who was suppose to break ground last March but has been allowed not to buy the parcel until they get a permit, but with a deadline of September 1st, 2009. Even if they do not have the building permit by then the deadline will be extended till Septembe 1st, 2010, as long as they are "diligently" pursuing the building permit.

Seriously how does one enforce a "diligent" standard?

More importantly how can anyone being given almost three years (Jan, 2008 through Sept, 2010) to get a building permit be considered "diligent"?

Kudos to Nick K

Click here for story. In particular:

Another group that has stepped forward in recent years and is playing an increasing role in keeping an eye on the city government is the local “blogosphere” — citizen journalists who write about what is going on in their city government on blogs they have created. Worcester has some very interesting, informative and entertaining bloggers out there.

Not only do they break government-related news on more than a few occasions, but they also offer some pretty interesting analysis and in-depth reporting on issues. There are some who dismiss the bloggers’ efforts because they feel their reporting is biased and suited to promote their particular agendas, but let’s be honest, newspapers have had agendas, too.

The growth of local talk radio and blog reporting underscores the fact there are people around who feel there is a need for greater scrutiny of their city government. As transparent as the city government has become, it doesn’t mean much if there aren’t people scrutinizing the information and reporting on it. Somehow, that news has to get out to the public, whether the traditional media is going to do it or not.

New Airport DIrector Column

Nice article by Mr Nemeth regarding the new airport director, click here. I particulary liked the line

Mr. Davis places special emphasis on community involvement, partnership with the business and college communities and collaboration with government authorities.

Wonder if community involvement includes working with bloggers like us? I posted before that I would try and contact Mr Davis for blog interview, butnever did. This week I will.

January 10, 2009

Buffalo to Ireland

Why not Worcester to Ireland? From BuffaloNews .com, here is a part:

A direct flight to Ireland could be as close as the Niagara Falls International Airport by the end of year. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has begun discussions with Dublin, Ireland-based Ryanair Holdings regarding direct charter flights between the Falls airport and Dublin Airport.

The NFTA’s Director of Aviation William Vanacek met with Ryanair representatives in Dublin on Friday to talk about the international air link. “The really encouraging thing is that they sought us out and wanted to talk,” said NFTA Chairman Gregory Stamm. “We’ve got our fingers crossed because they are a big player over there and landing them would open a lot of doors for us

January 09, 2009

Local Contractor

I did see a fence company, Paramount Fence, on May Street today.

Rumor Mill

Dewey says UNUM annoucement for City Square within the week. Hope he is right and I will gladly say I was wrong.

January 08, 2009

Venice Florida City Manager

VENICE - Four candidates chosen from 81 applicants for Venice's city manager position will be interviewed this week and one may be offered the job at a special City Council meeting on Saturday.

The candidates include Pam Brangaccio, 52, a former Charlotte County and Broward County executive; David Dorgan, 55, a former city manager of Elgin, Ill.; Thomas Hoover, 61, a city manager in Royal Oak, Mich.; and Isaac Turner, 51, the former city manager of Ormond Beach.....

The new manager will have to deal with a long-overdue airport master plan that has brought pressure from the Federal Aviation Administration and airport businesses; a contentious growth management plan that has limited building height and density and brought criticism from the planning commission; tight budgets; and low employee morale.

The search firm, Slavin Management, pointed out some of those issues in its packet to the candidates, just as it pointed out some of the challenges the final candidates faced in previous jobs. Three of the four candidates were either fired or pressured to resign from their last job, according to Slavin's report.....

Hoover, who is city manager of Royal Oak, Mich., was asked to resign from his previous job as a manager of Worcester, Mass.

City Council Wish List

  1. Work on a single real estate tax for both commercial and residential
  2. Create economic zones in the City of Worcester that waive all permitting fees, sewer hook-ups, etc and lock in assessed values for ten years. This is what was done in Philadelphia and was done with the Hanover Theatre
  3. Take action to dispose of city assets like the Green Hill Golf Course and Worcester Airport
  4. Stop all future high density low income housing projects
  5. Take steps to work on John Mahoney's idea to create Boston Latin type high school downtown whereby we utilzie the strenghts of all the area colleges

You may think number 3 is a stretch, but two years ago the Council voted to ban duplexes in zones designated either RS-7 or RS-10 why can't they do the same with low income housing projects. Keep in mind that we are already way above the 10% threshold as mandated by the Commonwealth.

Was going to list better train service, but I am not sure how much the City Council can really do.


Driving home tonight by Mr Krock's property on the corner of Salisbury and Forest (or is it Grove)? Not shoveled. In fact it was hard to find a shoveled walk between here and Indian Lake. Todays storm was horrible!! Do you wait, do you shovel? My point is that this sidewalk is pretty much enforceable. What lesson is there to be learned here...

Instead of the City Council focusing on snow removal sidewalk ordinances, street vendor ordinances, topless zoning or the whole pocket knife issue. Maybe the City Council should spend their time of issues like a flat property tax rate for both commercial and residential??

Not chance that will happen...

January 07, 2009

ORH and Solar Energy

From the Attleboro Sun, here is part:

An alternative energy firm is eyeing sites in the city to lease for a planned $750 million solar power project.Junaid Yasin of Ansar Energy LLC said his firm wants to find a number of locations across the state for solar panels with a goal of generating and selling 100 megawatts of electricity.

Worcester Airport is already on his list of sites. Other locations in Attleboro, Greenfield, Lowell, Gardner and communities in the Berkshires will be studied for their feasibility.Yasin said his firm is interested in capped landfills and other sites owned by cities and towns. He said the firm is willing to pay approximately $15,000 an acre per year for a long-term lease.The sites should be at least 20 acres and be accessible to the power grid, he said. Leasing 20 acres to the firm would mean $300,000 in annual income to the city.

"This is an absolutely intriguing possibility," said state Sen. James Timilty, D-Walpole, who is pushing for the project at the state level.Timilty said it has the double benefit of generating clean energy and raising money for cities and towns."I don't see a downside," he said.Attleboro Assessor Stanley Nacewicz said he, Mayor Kevin Dumas and others will meet with Ansar Energy Friday to talk about three sites in Attleboro.Nacewicz said he has identified about 100 acres of city-owed land near the closed Attleboro landfill, about 50 acres near the city wastewater treatment plant and another 65 acres "deep in the woods" off Lindsey Street as possibilities.All three sites have power lines nearby, he said.Nacewicz said he would like Ansar to lease all three sites, which could mean revenue of $1 million or more to the city - with no costs.Yasin said he has attorneys, consultants and a construction firm lined up to begin the project as soon as contracts with utilities and leases with cities can be obtained.

About one-third of the financing would come from government grants, with the rest obtained privately, he said. The contracts with the utilities would be used to leverage the financing, he said.Yasin said he has already talked to Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, about his plans. McGovern represents both Worcester and Attleboro. Murray is heading up a task force to compile a list of priority projects to be funded if and when Congress approves President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus package.

January 06, 2009

Executive Session Tonight??

City Council just went into Executive Session about pending lawsuits?? Whats up with that????

Anyone know.....

January 05, 2009

Local Contractors Part 2

Burwick and May Street, I need to ask again does anyone know anyone local subs working either of these two projects, representing between 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 in development costs?

49 Canterbury Street

As of tonight still not shoveled.

This parcel was awarded to Pharmasphere a year ago for $1, although they still have not taken title. In fact, they do not have to take title until they get a building permit, of which they have until September of 2010 to obtain. In the meantime the City of Worcester still owns the lot, has to maintain it and does not receive one penny in property taxes.

This lot starts on Canterbury Street, across from Pioneer Oil, heads South down Canterbury, turns left on Gardner then left again on Southgate. Linear feet has to be 500 yards and not one yard has been shoveled.

In this case I am actually not blaming the City of Worcester for not shoveling their walks, but question how they can conduct an RFP, whereby the proposed winning bidder can tie up a property for three years while the City of Worcester does not collect 1 penny in taxes and also has the added responsibility of maintaing the walks for 1 dollar?


The other night I met up with Paul, Harry and hiw wife at EVO. Already ate so I only had drinks, but the Bud was cold, the bar was nice and the place looked great. Today I went back with my wife for lunch.

Maybe the best thing that has happened to Chandler Street in years!! I highly recommend this for food or just drinks. By the way, it is Living Earth's restaurant which has taken up half of the grocery store. Complete seperate from the grocery store with its own entrance.

Buy Local

Great concept and idea. I have mentioned this before but when you drive the Burwick or May Street project, tell me if you recognize any local contractors. I drive by these projects every day and I have yet to notice one local contractor.

January 04, 2009

Tony Rezko

This is not going to turn into a political blog, but we have all heard the name Tony Rezko and then the word slumlord right after it. Guess what, the only real estate that he owned was tax subsidized low income housing. Here is a great story that from the Chicago Sun Times entitles "Why Didn't City Hall Stop Him." Part of the story:

These businessmen had a brainstorm for a new venture -- rehabbing rundown buildings for poor black families.

Rezko and Mahru had no construction experience. Yet City Hall gave their new company, Rezmar Corp., a $629,000 loan to help fix up an abandoned apartment building at 46th and Drexel.

They had applied for the loan just six days after Richard M. Daley won his first term as mayor in 1989, having campaigned on a promise to build more housing for the poor.

Rezko and Mahru got the loan four months later, and quickly became one of the Daley administration's favored developers. They got deal after deal -- between 1989 and 1998, more than $100 million from the city, state and federal governments and bank loans to rehabilitate 30 buildings in Chicago.

Rezmar was paid at least $6.9 million to develop those apartments.

Taxpayers have lost $5.7 million in grants and loans written off by the Daley administration, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found. Millions more could be written off, based on court records and interviews.

And the IRS has so far demanded that corporations repay $7.8 million in tax breaks they got for investing in Rezmar apartments that failed to provide low-income housing for at least 15 years.

Rezmar was supposed to provide 1,025 apartments for the poor. But today:

• Six of its 30 buildings are boarded up.

• Seventeen went into in foreclosure, most after Rezmar abandoned them.

• An 18th building is being foreclosed on by the state. Rezmar walked away from it, leaving it to the corporate investors, who got a state loan to try to save it but failed. The building is now boarded up.

• Hundreds of apartments are vacant, most in need of major repairs.

"Every one of these properties has failed,'' said Phillip Kupritz, the architect on every Rezmar low-income rehab.

In a brief interview, Mahru said, "We did our best.''

Rezko did not respond to interview requests regarding the low-income housing deals. Rezko is under federal indictment on unrelated charges, accused of demanding kickbacks from companies seeking state business under the Blagojevich administration. He's also charged with fraudulently obtaining a $10 million loan for pizza restaurants he began while fixing up low-income buildings with tax dollars.

January 03, 2009

Obama Housing History

Found this story pretty amazing click here from the Boston Globe, looks like we should get ready for more of these projects.. Here is one part of one part of the story on Valerie Jarrett, one of Obamas favorites to take his Senate seat.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama's presidential campaign and a member of his finance committee. Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems

E-Mail Today

I will not put the person name but here is what he sent me today, referring to the Direct Air website. I tried and it worked fine?

To whom it may concern;

Your web site needs work if you want business. Under "Book flight now" departure dates,the calendar freezes up when next is clicked. I tired for 20mins. to check on a flight from Worcester to Fl. and gave up. This was not the first time I've attempted to book a flight with you.Your site needs help.

49 Canterbury Street Walks


Today marks the one year anniversary in the Telegram announcing the award of 11 acre parcel on Canterbury Street to Pharmasphere for $1. Click here for the story, especially the part where construction could start by March--that is of 2008.

Jeff, are their walks shoveled?

Jahn, I just looked up these properties on the City of Worcester Website and it still does not look like these parcels have been transferred yet? It is not so much the $1 purchase price but they taxes that we are losing out on these parcels.

This is a refreshere from a previous post on this parcel:

The actual transfer of the property for $1 will now take place no later then ten days after a building permit is obtained. O'kay I can accept this, but what I can not accept is the deadline to get the building permit. The deadline is September 1st, 2009.

Let me get this right. Pharasphere won the bid for $1 in January, 2008, because they were suppose to "move forward quickly" and now they have until September 1st, 2009 to obtain a building permit before they have even have to take title to the property within ten days for $1. It gets better, or should I say worse.

Even if they do not have the building permit on September 1st, 2009, the TOC can not be terminated until September 1st, 2010 as long as Pharmasphere "has pending applications to obtain such permit and is diligently pursuing such permit." How does one interpret or enforce a "diligent" standard. This winning bid of $1 in essence can tie up this 11 acre parcel, that nobody is paying taxes on, until September 1st, 2010.

95 Grand Street

City has an RFP out on it right now due mid January. Who do you think will be awarded this bid?

City Builders LLC

This is the entity that has been formed to build the 25 unit 7 million dollar 100% low income housing project at the former site of City Builders. Who is City Builders LLC?

Well 51% of it is owned by the South Worcester Neighborhood Center. This is a great agency when dealing with human services, but has a less then stellar track history--Cambridge/Hacker Street. This project more or less went into foreclosure but there was a co-signor on the noter (Holy Cross) who has taken over.

The other 49% is Mechanics Guild. They are a newly formed corporation, who I do not believe own any other projects like this, although they have been subs on other similar projects. My point is that in the private sector there is pretty much no chance this entity would have gotten financing from a bank but in the world of low income housing none of this matters.

WormTown Request

Can you drive by the current and future home of LIH (Jahn's suggestion) to check compliance:

  • Mason/Winfield
  • Southgate Place
  • 90 Grand Street
  • May Street
  • Burwick
  • Cambridge/Hacker
  • Kilby



WormTown Taxi

I think Jeff should be in charge of dispensing the tickets on violations regarding the unshoveled sidewalks. Check out his blog today.. His efforts result in better compliance then a 75 fine!!!

Positive Jim, Where are You?

I have anxiously been awaiting the announcement of your blog detailing all the positive things that I either overlook or fail to recognize. The people of Worcester need you to offset my negativity.

Please, we need you you.

January 01, 2009

Kilby Street

Just drove down Kilby Street and noticed that they have begun building on the foundations at the end of Kilby Street. Right now I know of four new construction projects in Main South:

  1. Burwick Building
  2. May Street
  3. Kilby Street
  4. Southgate Place
Jahn, what do these four projects all have in common?

Direct Air

Rumors I have been hearing are that loads are not where they need to be and Virgin may want their planes back? Lets hope both are wrong.

Sidewalk Ordinance Question

What happens if you shovel your sidewalk promptly but the ensuing wind gusts blow the light snow back into the sidewalk, are you in violation of the ordinance?