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Appointments: Mayor Walsh made the following appointments
- Boston Cultural Council: Norris Welch, Marie Fukuda, Kathryn Niforos, Anh Nguyen and Ana Guigui for terms until October 2019
- Licensing Board: Lesley St. Germain as Secretary until June 2020
Trust Act Reporting: The Council received a filing from Boston Police Commissioner Evans with an annual report of the number of civil immigration detainer requests Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent to BPD. In 2016, ICE lodged 15 requests to detain people, all of which Boston Police refused to detain and hand over to ICE. Of those 15, 3 posted bail and 12 were transported directly to court for arraignment. The matter was placed on file.
Reprecincting: Councilor McCarthy, Chair of the Committee on City, Neighborhood Services & Veterans Affairs reported back on a hearing on Monday regarding reprecincting in Boston. In the decades since we last made major adjustments to equalize precinct sizes, the city’s population has shifted. Today our biggest precinct (Ward 3, Precinct 8 in Chinatown) has over 6,000 registered voters, while the smallest (Ward 8, Precinct 6 near South Bay) has just under 500 voters. That means very long lines at certain polling locations and difficulty with voter access. For my detailed summary of the hearing, click here.
Boston Police Cadet Program: Councilors Linehan & Campbell filed a hearing order to receive an update on the implementation of the Boston Police Cadet program, an on-the-job training program for Boston’s youth seeking a career in law enforcement. The Program is a minimum of a two-year commitment available to Boston residents ages 18-24. Cadets rotate throughout the Department in various assignments and shifts, including Headquarters, District Stations, and other specialized units throughout the City. Commissioner William Evans, Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross, and several members of the current police command staff started out as cadets many years ago, but the program was discontinued in 2010 due to funding. Thanks to advocacy from the City Council, community, and within the Administration, the program was reinstated in 2016, including an explicit goal of diversifying the police force across ethnicity, neighborhood, and gender and creating a local pipeline to these jobs. Councilor Campbell also mentioned the possibility of exploring a similar cadet program for the Boston Fire Department. The matter was sent to the Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee for a hearing.
Immigrant Defense Fund: Councilor Jackson filed a hearing order to discuss creating a pilot immigrant defense fund in Boston. The fund would help undocumented immigrants facing deportation or who have been detained retain a lawyer. He noted that other cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco have established such programs and seen very different outcomes for immigrants facing deportation with counsel. Several Councilors spoke in support of the idea of providing representation, but emphasized that we should explore public-private partnerships to seek outside funding, given the Council’s role in fiscal stewardship of the City budget. The matter was sent to the Committee on Healthy Women, Families & Communities for a hearing.
Special Committee on Civil Rights: We voted unanimously to approve my order to establish a Special Committee on Civil Rights, which will be chaired by Councilor Zakim. The Council had previously had a Committee on Human Rights & Civil Rights, but this was discontinued last year as part of our reorganization. I’d emphasized that every committee’s charge included protecting human rights and civil rights, and in the interest of balancing resources and focus with the creation of new committees (such as Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery and Jobs, Wages & Workforce Development) discontinued this committee, which had been less active. However, we have been hearing from constituents in the last two weeks that it is more important than ever for cities to lead in protecting civil rights and fighting discrimination, especially given the recent federal Executive Orders banning refugees, threatening sanctuary cities, and barring nationals from seven Muslim countries from entering the US. The committee will also have a revamped, proactive focus, taking on our third policy briefing series at the Council, focused on Civil Rights. For more details on the committee, see our press release.
Student Assignment: Councilor Jackson filed a hearing order on the Boston Public Schools student assignment process. He mentioned that when the current assignment process was implemented in the 2013-2014 school year, the External Advisory Committee and School Committee charged BPS to provide annual updates on the assignment process, which we have not yet received. Councilors also pointed to schools with assignment zones that make no sense, such as the Perry School, adjacent to Dorchester Bay and with an assignment zone that includes much water, and the Mattahunt and BTU Schools, whose assignment zones include large swaths of cemetery. Councilor Essaibi George further emphasized that enrollment numbers drive many important decisions in BPS, including school closures, funding, and transportation, so we need to fix the broken underlying assignment process that determines enrollment. The matter was sent to the Education Committee for a hearing.
Upcoming Hearings (Watch at www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/live.asp)
- Thursday, 2/9 at 2:30PM, Barr Foundation Grant (Environment & Sustainability)
- Monday, 2/13 at 11:30AM, Community Preservation Committee (Government Operations)
- Monday, 2/13 at 6:30PM, Violence in City of Boston (Public Safety and Criminal Justice) [Offsite at Hibernian Hall]
- Tuesday, 2/14 at 2:00PM, Mental Health Clinicians in BPD (Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery)
- Monday, 2/27 at 1:00PM, Boston Garden Economic Development (Planning & Development)