We started today’s meeting by honoring the organizers of the Boston Women’s March for America held last Saturday on Boston Common and attended by over 175,000 people. As always, please reach out with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-635-3115. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the whole list of notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.
- Boston Public Health Commission: Mayor Walsh reappointed Manny Lopes and Tyrek Lee for terms expiring January 15, 2020, pending Council confirmation
- Public Works: Mayor Walsh appointed Chris Osgood as Interim Commissioner
- Neighborhood Housing Trust: I reappointed Councilor Zakim for the 2017 calendar year
Boston Public Library Trustees: Mayor Walsh filed a home rule petition to increase the number of seats on the Boston Public Library’s Board of Trustees from 9 to 15. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Boston Art Commission: Mayor Walsh filed a home rule petition to give the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) three nominations for one seat on the Boston Art Commission. With this petition, the ICA would join the Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stuart Gardener Museum, Boston Public Library, Boston Society of Architects and Mass College of Art in having a seat on the Commission. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Boards and Commissions: Mayor Walsh filed a home rule petition that would give him the authority to appoint members to seats that are vacant for at least ninety days. The goal is to ensure that the City’s boards and commissions are able to effectively carry out their duties. The boards and commissions included are: the Boston Arts Commission, the Boston School Committee Nominating Panel, the Back Bay Architectural Commission, the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission, the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Boston Housing Authority Monitoring Committee, the Freedom Trail Commission, the Boston Zoning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Inclusionary Development Policy: Mayor Walsh filed a home rule petition that would allow the Zoning Commission to codify the longstanding Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) into the Zoning Code. It would also maintain the city’s linkage program which requires developers to contribute into an affordable housing fund when the BPDA approves a large project through the Article 80 process. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Affordable Housing Project: Mayor Walsh filed home rule petitions that would exempt the Boston Housing Authority from having to meet certain contracting and procurement requirements at the state that could slow down projects in East Boston and the South End. The BHA has been granted this exemption on ten other redevelopment projects. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Universal Pre-K: Mayor Walsh filed a home rule petition that would redirect revenue generated in Boston by surcharges on sightseeing tours and rental car transactions from the Boston Convention Center and Exhibition Fund to the City’s general fund to pay for Universal Pre-K for all four year olds in the City of Boston. Currently, the revenue comes is earmarked toward paying off the Convention Center costs, but often generates a surplus. With the Convention Center expansion on hold, the Mayor is proposing that the revenue generated in Boston come back to the City for this targeted purpose. The matter was sent to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing.
Urban Renewal Minor Modifications: The Boston Planning & Development Authority noticed minor modifications to the South End Urban Renewal Plan, the Campus High School Urban Renewal Plan and Washington Park Urban Renewal Plan. The matters were placed on file.
Boston Residents Jobs Policy: We voted 12-0 (Councilor Linehan absent today) to pass an amended version of the ordinance updating the Boston Resident Jobs Policy numbers. The ordinance increases the employment requirements on construction projects to 51% Boston residents, 40% people of color and 25% women. In gathering feedback from the hearing and working session, the ordinance was amended to replace the term “non-white Hispanic” with “Hispanic/Latino” as well as include “Pacific Islander” to better reflect the city’s makeup. The Council voted to unanimously approve the order.
BPS Grade Configurations: Councilor Essaibi George refiled a hearing order to discuss grade configurations in Boston Public Schools. She noted that within BPS, there are 33 different grade configurations impacting the use of school facilities, start and end times, transportation, and resources available to families. The matter was sent to the Education Committee for a hearing.
BPS Residency Requirement: Councilor Essaibi George refiled a hearing order to discuss the regulations and enforcement of the BPS residency requirement for students. She noted that many schools have waiting lists and that fully funding BPS is already a challenge, so we can’t let people skirt the rules. The matter was sent to the Education Committee for a hearing.
Homeless Census: Councilor Essaibi George filed a hearing order to review the results of the 2017 Boston Homeless Census, which will take place across the city tonight. Data collected from census informs the city’s policies aimed at eliminating homelessness. The matter was sent to the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health and Recovery for a hearing.
Community Choice Aggregation: Councilor O’Malley and I filed a hearing order to discuss implementing Community Choice Aggregation in Boston. This is a program established by state law that allows cities and towns in Massachusetts to use bulk purchasing power on behalf of residents and small businesses to set a higher percentage of clean, renewable energy. According to the state’s process, City Councils can vote to authorize the Administration to proceed with an alternate energy contract that sets higher renewable energy standards, including the ability to focus on regional clean energy sources and spark jobs in our local green economy. The utility companies would still deliver the energy to consumers and administer billing as usual. Individuals can opt out of the bulk contract and return to their own default sources at any time. Councilor O’Malley and I both noted the urgency of needing to take local action to combat climate change. 2016 was the 3RD YEAR IN A ROW that we broke the record for hottest year on record. With a new President in DC who denies climate change and plans to install climate change deniers to head several federal agencies that oversee environmental regulations, local action can’t wait. The matter was sent to the Environment & Sustainability Committee for a hearing.
Early Education and Childcare Briefings: Partnering with Councilors Pressley, Campbell, and Essaibi George, I filed an order to launch a new policy briefing series focused on early education and childcare. This will be the second series that the Council has convened, modeled after our very successful Transportation briefings. Each of the four female Councilors will host one or two sessions with policy experts and community, focusing on specific topics including: childcare for homeless families, community based providers, childcare funding mechanisms, childcare for parents with nontraditional work schedules, transitioning from daycare to school, expanding childcare access and on-site childcare at the workplace. The monthly dialogues will take place in City Hall and in the neighborhoods. The matter was sent to the Committee on Healthy Women, Families and Communities.
Equality Act: We voted to pass the resolution that Councilor Zakim and I filed in support of the Equality Act. The federal Act, sponsored by Rep. Cicilline and Sen. Merkley, would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protections on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Councilor Zakim spoke eloquently on the need to make these protections explicit in the face of a President who has spoken about targeting certain groups and restricting protections.
Police and Fire Residency Preference: We voted to suspend and pass Councilor Flaherty’s home rule petition to increase the residency requirement to meet the Boston Police and Boston Fire hiring process residency preference, from 1 year of residency to 3 years. Over the last year, the Council held several public meetings and passed this legislation in the form of an ordinance, and now the Mayor’s office is requesting that this be codified in state law as a home-rule petition. The goal would be to increase opportunities for lifelong Bostonians to join the Boston Police and Boston Fire Departments.
Overcoming the Odds Program: Councilor Campbell called for a hearing to review the Overcoming the Odds Program, which is a partnership between the Department of Corrections and the Boston Police Department to provide support to residents returning to the community from incarceration who may need support finding housing, employment, recovery services and mental health treatment. The matter was sent to the Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee for a hearing.
Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel: Councilor Campbell filed a hearing order to review the Boston Community Ombudsman Panel, which was established in 2007 to review citizen appeals to Boston Police internal investigations. She noted that there is currently a backlog of requests and that the panel itself in 2015 issued a report with recommendations for improvements, which stated that in its current form there was not enough capacity to adequately address issues or establish community trust. The matter was sent to the Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee for a hearing.
College and University Engagement: Councilor McCarthy refiled a hearing order to discuss creating a College and University Engagement Office for the City. He noted that there are 25 colleges and universities in Boston and all of them interact with the city regarding student housing, building, event permitting, programming, and more. Most of these institutions have Government Affairs liaisons that interact with individual city departments, and we could benefit from having a one-stop shop to centralize coordination. The matter was assigned to the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services and Veterans Affairs for a hearing.
Human Trafficking Awareness Day: We voted to pass Councilor Flaherty’s resolution establishing today as Human Trafficking Awareness Day, in line with January’s focus as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. He stated that since 2005, over 450 children from Boston have been identified as victims of human trafficking, and we should be working to enforcement punishment against the perpetrators but also supporting this often invisible group of survivors.
Upcoming Hearings (Watch at www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/live.asp)
- Monday, 2/13 at 11:30AM, Community Preservation Committee (Government Operations)
- Monday, 2/13 at 6:30PM (Tentative): Violence in City of Boston (Public Safety and Criminal Justice)
- Tuesday, 2/14 at 2:00PM (Tentative): Mental Health Clinicians in BPD (Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery)