By Michael Gaffney
This Week in Worcester is doing a candidate response to the question of why Worcester residents should vote for you. George Russell’s responses were as hilarious as dishonest.
He leads off by claiming he supported public safety:
“I pushed for foot patrols in areas that needed attention. My interaction with Neighborhood groups and the WPD has been an asset to our neighborhoods. I supported adding new recruits to the WPD & WFD. We have also supported giving our 1st responders the tools they need to do the job.”
Except he didn’t. He stood by with his hands in his pockets while North High students were left unprotected. He stood against the “tools they need to do the job” when he failed to support additional police dogs. Foot patrols in his district only occurred when the residents went to the crime watch meeting at the Senior Center and shouted over him for more police.
He claims to support the residential taxpayer on taxes:
“I know that it takes money to run a safe and clean City. However, I am not afraid to ask the tough questions at Budget to make sure every tax dollar is spent wisely. I have supported and/or proposed cuts in the City Budget that have save the taxpayers millions in the last 2 budgets alone.”
He does ask questions, but then immediately backs down if the manager says “no.” By supporting cuts, he means he voted for proposals by Councilor Lukes and I. Otherwise, he’s been pretty useless at the budget hearings.
He claims to have accomplished something on parks too:
“I have been instrumental in bringing Park upgrades at Blithewood, Lake Park, Mulcahy, and Greenwood. When some on the Council wanted all the Dog Parks on the West side of town, George pushed for and received the 1st Dog Park in D3 at Vernon. Soccer fields have been added at Glodis Field on Providence St. & Greenwood.”
Council made a decision to spend taxpayer money on parks, Russell did nothing special at all. His claim of supporting a dog park in this district only came about after Councilor Rosen pushed hard for dog parks across the City. This was an effort that Rosen pushed that Russell is now trying to claim credit. But the worst part of this statement is that he cut and paste it from his campaign propaganda. Note he refers to himself in the third person “George pushed for…” Too lazy to provide an original response.
He claims to have done something on jobs:
“It was my idea to create a Policy where big businesses asking for special tax deals make Jobs available for Local residents… I think that the City and big businesses should favor local residents while hiring new staff.”
He made a suggestion that the City ask for jobs for residents when giving away taxpayer money to the wealthy developers. In other words, when he votes for a TIF to a wealthy and politically connected developer he asks them to hire local. There is no legal requirement to hire locally, but they are asked. So, when an out-of-town wealthy developer gets a tax break to pay 20% of what small local businesses and residents pay, Russell makes sure they are asked to hire locally.
He claims to have done something for small businesses, stating he has “made it easier for small businesses to open and grow. We got major changes passed in parking lot licensing and sewer connection fees.” By parking lot licensing I assume he is talking about the Commercial Corridor Overlay that was placed about the entire City that I think he recused himself on the vote because it included his property, to his advantage.
Grade: B (because he recused himself from the actual vote)
He claims to be amazing with constituent services:
“You can always count on me to take your call and help you with your constituent services. I don’t have all the answers but I know where to get them and how to put my years of experience in City Government to work for you.”
I’m not going to grade him on constituent services as I’m not a constituent, but if all you have to offer is that you are a great go-between with the City Manager and staff, you aren’t offering much. The City Manager’s office, DPW, Inspectional Services, etc. are all easy to find on the City’s website. Unless Russell is claiming that the City Manager and his staff wouldn’t assist residents of his district without his intervention, Russell really isn’t offering much that can’t be obtained by a direct phone call.
Overall grade: Do not reelect!
Next up, Gary Rosen.