April 29, 2011

Spotlights on May Street tonight

Red Sox game?  No sewer work.  Must have broken a line because the flood lights were out.    From maria's kitchen to this building has to be 1000 feet of sewer to benefit the apartments in the basement (stop them from flooding), of which I think there are 6. 

Conservatively lets say the total project is $1,000,000.  Now divide that by 6 apartments that equates $166,667 per apartment for their sewerage.    The numbers are just staggering.  too bad we could not divert monies like this into facades for businesses within the expanded CARD versus 100,000.

Expanding the CARD district

Story in WBJ today how the City would like to expand the Commercial Area Revitalization District (CARD), which would expand the pool of businesses that could apply for Facade and Micro-Loan monies.   At first glimpse this is a good idea, but....  

The CARD, and NRSA for that matter, are funded by the Federal Government through HUD viia what is referred to as CDBG monies.  Remember how last week I wrote a blog after Nick K article, we only have $1,866,000 of discretionary funds available.   Of which, according to the article today in the WBJ only $100,000 will give allocated for the CARD.

Bottom line expanding the CARD sounds great, but we just dont have any money to properly fund this expansion. 

Bryan LaHair

Makes you wonder what a guy needs to do to be called up to the MLB.   This year batting .356 with 4 home runs and 16 RBI's.       Career minor league stats

April 27, 2011

Flat Dollar versus percentage

Assume you had two employees who do the same exact job and get paid the same exact amount of money.  One has his family plan with Blue Cross while the other has his family plan with Fallon Select.    The employee, who has Blue Cross is in essence getting compensated (not w-2 wise) 3,000 more per year then the person who has opted for Fallon Select.

Does this make sense?

April 26, 2011

Non-union City health plan options

I had a chance to look this over for a friend of mine who is retired and currently has the Blue Cross family plan.

Three Plans

One is from Blue Cross and the other two are from Fallon. The two Fallon plans are the same plan design just different networks, Direct and Select (City of Worcester is calling it Advantage). Direct is smaller network mainly the old Fallon Clinics and if you are not already in the Direct network, it is hard to get a PCP.  Select, on the other hand, matches up with Blue Cross except that they only have access to the Boston Hospitas through their Peace of Mind program. 

My fiiend doctors do not accept Fallon Direct, so his choices are to stay with Blue Cross or go to Fallon Select.  he does not want to change doctors
  • Blue Cross total premium is 1652.49
  • Blue Cross employee cost will cost 413.12 per month
  • Fallon total premium is 1339.12
  • Fallon Select employee cost 349.78 per month
  • 63.34 per month difference
  • 760.08 annual difference

There really is not much difference between the two plans, some slights ones with co-payments and extra like fitness benefits etc.     The real difference is in the tiering of hospitals when it comes to day surgeries and hospitalizations.   What is this?The plans are starting to put hospitals in dfiferent categories. 

Blue Cross will charge, you either 150/200/500 for day surgeries and hospitalizations depending on which hospital you go to, after plan year deductible is paid (250).  Click here for the list.    Medical City or Saint Vincets (Enhanced Hospital) will cost 150, while UMASS (Belmont or Lake Ave) will cost 500 (Basic).   Please note Harrington considered basic.

Fallon will charge 150/300 for day surgeries and 250/500 for Hospitalizations depending on which hospital you go to, after plan year deductible is paid (250)..  Click here for their list.      All the hospitals in Worcester would be in the first tier so day surgeries will cost 150 and hospitalizations will cost 250 at UMASS or Med City (Saint Vincent's).

What should he choose?
First his doctors utilizie UMASS so it would cost him more if he had Blue Cross (500) versus either (150 or 250) if he had Fallon.     So he went with Fallon Select right??   No he did not.    He likes the fact that Blue Cross has the Boston Hospitals in the network and does not have to go through Fallon's Peaace of Mind Program.   It was worth the extra 63.34 pre month to him.
Flat Dollar
In the end the City of Worcester would rather see my friend go with Fallon since the premium for Blue Cross.
  • Blue Cross monthly total premium is 313.37 more per month then Fallon or 3760.40 annual
  • Employee total monthly premium is only 63.32 more per month then Fallon or 760.08 annual
  • The City of Worcester is paying nearly 3,000 more towards the cost of an employee choosing Blue Cross over Fallon.
The City sould institute a falt dollar amount towards the cost of an employee's healthcare to accurately reflect the true cost of the underlying premium. 

April 24, 2011

Mayor wants incentives for residency

I understand why we want more city employees to live in the City of Worcester, but it really goes beyond that.  We want people, who make money to want to live in the City of Worcester, whether they work for the municipality or not.    Creating an incentive for one group of people really does not make alot of sense and it will not work.   

We need to focus on why people who have chosen not live in the City of Worcester, no matter who they work for, and change it.    Ironically we are working on that right now with RKG on a new Housing Policy that should be ready in the fall.

The current Housing Policy which has seen approximately 100,000,000 million invested into low income housing in the inner-core of the City of Worcester has not worked as evidenced by these numbers.   We need to stop all of these development projects and focus on giving incentives to developers to build market rate housing in the City of Worcester.   I really like the over-used term "build it and they will come."  

The upcoming new Housing Policy that will be done by RKG in the fall will most likely emphasize the need for market rate housing and to pull back on the CDC's developing low income housing.   The push-back from the developers (CDC's) of these low income projects will be huge.

Rather then creating incentives, I say lets listen to RKG this time?

April 23, 2011

CDBG Monies

Earlier in the week or last week, Nick K wrote a clumn about this.   City Manager O'Brien said that the City of Worcester annual allocation has dropped from 4.900,000 to 4,100,000.  Of that 4,100,000, much of this money has already been spent:

Debt Service Obligation
  • Webster Square Fire Station      350,000
  • Gardner-Kilby-Hammond          365,000
  • South Worc. Industrial Park       145,000
  • Inspectional Services                  543,000
  • Economic Development              831,000
Total Expenses     2,234,000
Discretionary        1,866,000

Let me remind everyone about the 365,000 for Garder-Kilby-Hammond.  The City originally took out a 5,800,000 million dollar for site acquisition, demolition and preparation of a 7.5-acre parcel in Main South, so it could be redeveloped.   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).   In fact, I always remember the City of Worceser being referred to as the guarantor. 

Instead the City of Worcester has been depending on the Feds to make the 365,000 payment or waive it , which was the case for the first couple of years.   Evidently that is no longer the case and the interest on the 5,800,000 loan is being taken out of our CDBG allocation.  Never mind being the guarantor, it is being taken right out of our annual CDBG allocation.

In the end the City Manager will submit to City Council on May 10th his recommendations on how to spend the $1,866,000 balance.      Not much money left for successful programs like the Chandler Street NRSA.  

Colt 45 Blast

I knew it would not take long for Four Loko to be replaced.  Introducing Colt 45 Blast:

A mere 12% alcohol , but no caffeine so it is legal

April 21, 2011

McDonald's for breakfast

New favorite oatmeal with fruit and a coffee for $3.    Can't beat it for breakfast.    Coffee at Dunkiin costs me $2 now??? 

End of America

I have heard this ad on the radio many times.

Check it out??

April 19, 2011

Tea Party Rally

Yesterday I was asked to speak at the Tea Paarrty Rally about health insurance.  Got to admit that I was nervous, but think I survived it?    I want to write here my "call to action":

Minimum Credible Coverage (MCC)

As a consumer I have to buy one family plan that insures myself, my wife and my daughter.  We are all in good health and have no prescriptions.  The ideal plan for me would be a catastrophic plan that had a $5,000 deductible and no prescriptin coverage.

The Commonweallth of Massachusetts, however, has instituted minimum amounts of coverage that a residennt needs to buy in order to avoid the state penalty    If I was to buy a plan described above, I would not meet MCC and would be subject to the state penalty.

If nothing else, if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts merely removed the requirement to have prescription coverage in order to meet MCC, my premiums would drop 10%.  That would not mean that I could not buy prescritpions,I would just need to pay out-of-pocket.   Considering companies like Walmart that now have over 400 prescriptions that cost $4 for a 30 day supply waiving prescription coverage is a viable option.

Contact your State Rep and State Senator and tell them to remove prescription coverage from the MCC standards.

April 17, 2011


try it--good.

Sutner on the Mayor

Story in today's Telegram

The thing I found most interesting, however, was the Chamber of Commerce.  Why?  You have one of the biggest employers in the City of Worcester, Ralph Crowley of Polar, calling the Mayor an "enigma".  On the other hand,  you have the Chamber of Commerce calling him "fantastic". 

April 16, 2011

Rosen nails it too


"Phil’s latest crusade is his most ridiculous one. His inept leadership in support of a ban on the sale of cigarettes at pharmacies and college campuses will not make anyone healthier. Smokers will still smoke because they will simply buy butts at supermarkets and convenience stores. But drugstores, which Phil sees as havens of health, will be allowed to sell candy, ice cream, pastries and potato chips. You just can’t make this stuff up.

The city council preaches that it is only trying to protect us from the dangers of life. But who will protect us from the city council? The biennial municipal elections certainly don’t."

Kudos to Bill Eddy

I missed this the other night but this from Jeremy Shulkin's Worcesteria regardinig City Council Meeting Tuesday night regarding Bill Eddy riling up the Chamber of Commerce:

  • " Having government get in the way between competing businesses is not the way to (reduce smoking rates)."
  • Eddy believes the chamber should be unified in representing all businesses, not just some. 

Truer words could not be spoken.  A Chamber of Commerce that supports 1) the taxation of larger apartment buildings commercially not residentially and 2) supports a smoking ordinance because it only hurts the larger chains is not the message the Chamber of Commerce should be sending out to businesses consdiering coming to Worcester. 

April 15, 2011

Cigarette Ordinance

Can someone let me know.  If Walmart-Target or a grocery store has a pharmacy, will they not be allowed to sell cigarettes?

April 13, 2011

Cigaretter Ordinance

It must have taken up an hour and half of the meeting last night.  Random thoughts:
  • The sign portion is a positive step, but still allows up to 50% of the windows to be covered.   Not sure what is "historic" about this?
  • I have heard the Chamber of Commerce did not oppose this since it was would mainly only hurt the biggger chain stores not the small stores.    I can think of some smaller independently owned pharmacies around the City of Worcester, who may think differently.   Shouldn't the Chamber represent the interest of both small and big business?
  • A woman from UMASS said this will save the City of Worcester $45 million dollars?
  • Anything that we try to pass will result in lawsuits as evidenced by the apprearance of a lawyer from a cigarette company, who flew out from Illinois to talk 3 minutes.  Do we have extra money to spend defending this ordinance?
  • If you had regular prescriptions and bought your cigarettes, when you went to the pharmacy and lived on the city borders.   Maybe you would move your prescription two miles into one of the surrounding towns?
  • Question?? Seriously.  Walmart sells prescriptions does this mean that they can no longer sell cigarettes???  Same for Target?
  • Kudos to Kate Toomey.

April 12, 2011

Wellfleet Harbor Steamboat

Business has ben busy as of late.  Today I was visting a client in Attleboro and the owner, who is pretty much retired was there.  Ask him what he has been up to and he showed me this video:

Surveillane Cameras

In the enwspaper today there is a picture of three kids, who were arrested for the double murder this past week-end.  In the story, it mentioned how the surveillance cameras helped the police.  I can not tell you how helpful these are for neighborhoods.

The City should do all they can to secure monies (Weed & Seed??) to install these wherever they can and have a dedicated person, or hire someone, that is able to go into stores reveiw cameras and burn videos.  In th Chandler NRSA, we have invested 15,000 inot cameras.  Check out EVO:

  1. evo.everfocusddns.com (no www)
  2. install the add -on for Everfocus
  3. User name: wpd
  4. Password: wpd

April 09, 2011

Southgate Place

Story in Worcester Wired.

Please read.  I really do not know where to start?  
  • First off, I bet you the project does look nice inside. Keep in mind $7,000,000 for 25 units equates to 280,000 per unit.  It better look good???   The cost of the project never mentioned in the story by the way?   
  • How this project "breathes life" into the South Worcester Industrial Park completely escapes me.  This project does absolutely nothing to help the Industrial Park.   Ironically if the Indusrtial Park does briing high-paying jobs and if a tenant of Southgate Place gets a high paying job, they would most likely not qualify to live there anymore and have to leave? 
  • Now I am hearing talk of Phase 2??    
  • When is enough enough??     

Really look forward to reading the comments after you read the story in Worcester Wired.



April 07, 2011


Worcester, MA – Direct Air, an air service with corporate headquarters located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina announced today it has added two new Caribbean destinations flying from Worcester Regional Airport. Beginning November 17th, 2011, two NON STOP flights per week departing and returning on Thursday and Sunday will begin to San Juan, Puerto Rico and Nassau, Bahamas.

Worcester Regional Airport currently is serviced by Direct Air to; Myrtle Beach, SC; Ft. Myers /Punta Gorda; Orlando/Sanford, and West Palm Beach, FL.

Direct Air Announcement

New destination at press conference at 1:00PM?

My guess
  1. Melbourne, Florida
  2. Lakeland, Florida

April 06, 2011


Yesterday ate at Bertucci's, great new item Torta Rustica & Rosemary Sausage.  $9.99-- what a deal.

Also stopped by LeRoux meats on Main Street in Holden.  They opened a new retail section--highly recomment.

Lastly, just left the Wonder Bar.  Still one of my favorites.

CIgarette Ordinance

We can go round and round on this, but the City Council has not place being involved in this.   Telling pharmacies that they can not sell cigs, while other businesses can is no different then our current dual tax system and simply sends the wrong business message out about Worcester being "business friendly".

April 05, 2011

The Wire

April 04, 2011


Been a great tournament      

Go Butler

April 03, 2011


Adjusted Median Income..           If a person wants a 3 bedroom at Southgate Place, there are three apartments available. in order to qualify they have a lsot for 50% AMI and 60% AMI.    Assume a family of 4, 50% AMI is 39,950 and 60% AMI is 47,900.       if you amke more then this you can not get an apartment at Southgate Place.

The rent being asked i 1,109 to 1,223 per month.     Lets assume a family of 4 qualifies for the three bedroom at the 50% AMI being earning 39,000 per year.   Now you calculate rent of 1,109 (lowest) or 13,308 per which equates to 34% of the total family income.  

My point here is  based on these low income requirements nobody will be able to rent these apartments at the rent they are asking unless the are on Section 8, RCAP or of other rental programs.


Nick K

Has a story on the Cigarette Ordinance.  I put this right up there with the
  1. Shopping ordinance
  2. Street Vendor ordinance
  3. Pit bull ordinance (a week from now Rushford will be luck if he has 5 pit bulls registered)
One councilor thinks the City Councilor should get involved because “The fact that more than 480,000 people die each year (nationwide) from smoking-related illness is reason enough to consider these restrictions.”   How about people who die from being over-weight or drink too much?  Do we have ordinances coming out next addressing this?   My point is that this is not something the City Council of Worcester , Massachusetts should be addressing.   The only good thing in this ordinance had to do with the proliferation of cigarette signs, which I believe was addressed in the sign ordinance.

I got great idea, instead of this, why doesn't the City Council talk about:

  1. Main and May Street sewerage work--who is paying for all of that?
  2. Request a review of all RFP's the past 5 years of City owned land and find out their current status (comply with the LDA or not).   Those that are not in compliance need to be taken back by the City of Worcester and rebid.
  3. Do we make statement and stop accept anymore "free" monies for no-low housing when we are 50% over the state mandate of 10%.
  4. Do we look into privatizing a service like school custodians
  5. Philadelphia Plan--do we target 10 under-utilized commercial properties and offer to waive all permitting fees and lock in the assessed value for ten years 
Now these are 5 issues that the City Council does fall under their auspices.

April 02, 2011

Southgate Place Rents

1 bedroom        766 to 853 rent        30% to 60% AMI
2 bedroom        932 to 1025 rent        30%, 50%  and 60% AMI
3  bedroom       1,109 to 1,233          50  and 60% AMI

These are high!!!   Work-force housing?? The only ones who can afford these rents are people receiving subsidized housing...

April 01, 2011

Ban on blunt wraps

Let me give you a little history lesson

  • In the old days if you wanted to smoke pot, you bought your conventional rolling papers (EZ or Zig Zag)
  • People began to like the paper on Cigars like Philly Blunts, Dutchmasters, etc.  A person would buy a cigar, dump out the tobacco, fill it with pot and smoke.
  • The cigar companies then came out with different flavors of cigars.  People  buy the cigars, dump the tobacco, fill it with pot and smoke.
  • The cigars companies said lets save a step (and tobacco).   Why not just sell the cigars without the tobacco thus, wraps were born.
If we ban the sale of wraps, people will either revert to their old ways or go to Shrewsbury, Auburn, Leiceseter, Holden, Paxton or West Boylston to buy them.   

Exactly what does this accomplish?