Before the start of today’s meeting, we joined Councilor Ciommo in celebrating the Brighton High School boys’ basketball team, winners of the Division 2 state championship game earlier this month. Coach Hugh Coleman commended his team on their integrity, discipline, and academic achievements, highlighting that 90% of the team will be attending college next year. Go Bengals! Councilor Campbell then introduced Agnes Ugoji and Topé Sholola, two performers from the Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance Collective (MassLEAP), for a powerful performance showcasing the detrimental effects of solitary confinement on mental health. Councilor Campbell and Prisoners’ Legal Services are hosting a performance of “Mariposa & the Saint,” a play about incarceration and solitary confinement, tomorrow at 12pm in the 5th floor Council Chambers. Julia Steele-Allen performs the play co-created with Sara Fonseca through letters they penned to each other over the course of three years while the latter was incarcerated. The performance is free and open to the public and all City of Boston employees. For more details, please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/408870059460014/.
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Nomination Papers: We voted to pass Mayor Walsh’s home-rule petition to amend the rules around nomination papers. The home-rule petition would allow registered voters to sign as many candidates’ papers as they wish, rather than limit them to one valid signature for candidates for Mayor and District City Councilor and up to four candidates for City Council At-Large. Councilor Essaibi George opposed the ordinance, citing the large number of candidates that successfully collected enough signatures to make the ballot in 2013 as evidence that the current system is not too burdensome, and that having some requirements for potential candidates is a good thing.
Solitary Confinement: We voted to pass Councilor Campbell’s resolution in support of several state bills regarding solitary confinement reform. She described practice of confinement for more than 15 consecutive days to be both ineffective, inhumane, and expensive — estimating that Massachusetts is spending $100,000-$170,000 per year for each inmate in segregation, compared to $50,000 to house an inmate in a regular cell block. Councilor Campbell also spoke about the negative psychological and behavioral effects—especially for those with pre-existing mental health conditions—caused by solitary confinement. The proposed bills are: S.1306/HD.346, “An Act Reducing Recidivism, Curbing Unnecessary Spending, and Ensuring Appropriate Use of Segregation,” sponsored by Senator Jamie Eldrige and Representative Russell Holmes; S.1296/HD.2337, “An Act to Promote Human Conditions of Confinement and Enable Safe Reentry,” sponsored by Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Ruth Balser; and S.1286/HD.3368, “An Act to Collect Data Regarding the Use of Solitary Confinement in Massachusetts Prisons and Jails,” sponsored by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Representative Christopher Markey.
Recruiting & Retaining Educators of Color: Councilor Jackson refiled his hearing order to continue the conversation on strategies for recruiting and retaining educators of color in Boston Public Schools. He noted that as of 2016, BPS students of color represented 86% of the total student population while only 36% of BPS teachers were people of color. Moreover, African American and Asian American teachers leave the district in proportionally higher numbers at earlier points in their careers. Finally, Councilor Jackson noted that BPS has spending $8M-$14M per year for the last few years on new hiring methods to recruit teachers of color, but the overall number of teachers of color has declined in that time due to issues of retaining teachers of color. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.
Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions (Watch at www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/live.asp)
- Thursday, 3/23 at 2:30PM, Community Preservation Committee (Government Operations)
- Monday, 3/27 at 11:00AM, Tentative: College & University Engagement Office in the COB (City, Neighborhood Services & Veteran Affairs)
- Monday, 3/27 at 3:00PM, Working Session: Plastic Bag Ordinance (Government Operations)
- Monday, 3/27 at 6:00PM, Special Education and Equitable Transitions (Education)
- Tuesday, 3/28 at 6:30PM, Tentative: Policy Briefing: Community-Based Providers (Healthy Women, Families & Communities) [Offsite at Catholic Charities Laboure Center)
- Monday, 4/3 at 1:00PM, Overcoming the Odds Program (Public Safety & Criminal Justice)
- Tuesday, 4/4 at 6:30PM, Violence in Boston (Public Safety & Criminal Justice) [Offsite at Thelma Burns Building in Roxbury]
- Thursday, 4/13 at 2PM, Boston Police Cadet Program (Public Safety & Criminal Justice)
- Wednesday, 4/19 at 5PM, Free Petition Ordinance (Government Operations)