As always, please reach out with any questions to michelle.wu@boston.gov 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.
Appointments: Mayor Walsh made the following appointments:
  • Board of Appeal: (all pending Council confirmation) Marie St. Fleur, Anthony Pisani, Bruce Bickerstaff & Eugene Kelly until July 2018, Kerry Walsh until November 2019, Tyrone Kindell Jr. until October 2019, Mark Fortune until June 2018, and Mark Erlich until September 2019
  • Boston Groundwater Trust: Gary L. Saunders, Tim Ian Mitchell, Peter J. Shilland, Aaron Michlewitz, Greg Galer, and Lisa Soli for terms until March 2019
  • Boston Cultural Council: Hanah Fadrigalan and Patricia McSweeney for terms until October 2019
  • Boston Conservation Commission: Anne Herdst for a term until November 2019
MSBA Facility Upgrade: Mayor Walsh filed an order to submit a statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for repair of The Carter School. The matter was assigned to the Ways & Means Committee for a hearing.
Plastic Bag Ban: Councilor O’Malley reported back on Monday’s working session regarding the ordinance he and I filed to reduce plastic bag waste in Boston. We had a robust conversation with many Councilors, advocates, and representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Environment, Energy and Open Space. We watched a video made by the Dorchester Girl Scouts showcasing how many of the flimsy, single-use plastic bags end up tearing and littered on our streets or in our trees. The ordinance would require retail establishments to offer plastic bags of at least 3 mils in thickness (think bookstore bags) that are more reusable and charge a 5-cent fee on these thicker plastic bags, recyclable paper bags, and compostable bags. That fee would go back to the retail establishment to cover the increased cost of thicker bags. The goal of the ordinance is to encourage residents to use reusable bags when shopping and reduce plastic. The matter remains in the Government Operations Committee for further action.
Special Education Equitable Transitions: Councilors Jackson and Pressley reported back on Monday’s hearing to review the FY17 BPS special education budget and identify solutions to ensure equitable transitions of BPS youth as they graduate or age out of BPS. This is the fourth hearing in a larger conversation on this issue led by Councilor Pressley. She noted that although the graduation of BPS special education students has been rising, post-secondary enrollment has remained stagnant, despite an increase of fiscal investment in transition services. The matter remains in the Education Committee.
Early Education and Childcare Policy Briefing—Community-Based Providers: Councilor Pressley reported back on the second briefing in our early education and childcare policy series, focused on community-based providers. Last night’s briefing was hosted by Councilor Pressley and took place at the Catholic Charities Labouré Child Care Center in South Boston. We heard from policy experts and policymakers about the need to invest in the community-based provider workforce and the collection of reliable data if we want to increase the quality of child care. Future sessions will focus on topics including childcare funding mechanisms, childcare for parents with non-traditional work schedules, and more. You can watch the full panel discussion here: https://www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/cc_video_library.asp?id=11183.
Shelter Recovery Beds: Councilor Jackson filed a hearing order to address recovery service beds at the Southampton Street Shelter. Councilor Jackson described the Southampton Street Shelter’s decision to shift from a transitional housing model to a rapid rehousing model for one of its programs as the loss of 40 recovery service beds focused on HIV-positive men. He spoke about the need for our homeless residents to have access to beds and stated that the Administration should spend the money to maintain these beds, rather than repurposing them for supportive services. Councilor Essaibi-George contested this characterization, stating that rapid rehousing is a better model, moving people towards permanent housing for long-term stability rather than keeping them in emergency shelter. The matter was assigned to the Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery Committee for a hearing.
Fenway Cultural District: I filed a hearing order with Councilors Pressley, Zakim, and Jackson to review the Fenway Cultural District’s reapplication to maintain its designation as a Cultural District. On March 24, 2012, the Fenway was officially designated the Fenway Cultural District—one of the first state-designated cultural districts—by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. To maintain this designation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council requires all cultural districts to submit a reapplication every five years and to hold at least one community input meeting. Several Councilors spoke about the value the Fenway Cultural District has added to the City of Boston as an arts and culture hub. The matter was assigned to the Arts, Culture and Special Events Committee for a hearing.
Urban Renewal Progress Update: I refiled an order for the Council to hold biannual urban renewal progress update hearings until 2022. On March 23, 2016, the Boston City Council approved a six-year extension to fourteen Urban Renewal Zones, on the condition that the Boston Planning and Development Agency commit to providing public updates twice per year to the Council. The second of these updates is due in April. The matter was assigned to the Planning & Development Committee for a hearing.
MSBA Facilities Upgrades: We took the second of two necessary 2/3 votes to fund roof and boiler replacement costs for projects at the following schools: Boston Latin School, Condon Elementary, McCormack Middle School, Dever Elementary, and Channing Elementary. The City has applied for cost reimbursement from the MA School Building Authority and is eligible for up to 65% reimbursement.
Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions (Watch at www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/live.asp)
  • Monday, 4/3 at 9:30AM, Tentative: Parking Meter Fund (Government Operations)
  • Monday, 4/3 at 1:00PM, Overcoming the Odds Program (Public Safety & Criminal Justice)
  • Tuesday, 4/4 at 2:00PM, Safe & Effective Sharps Disposal Practices (Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery)
  • Tuesday, 4/4 at 6:30PM, Violence in the City of Boston (Public Safety & Criminal Justice) [Offsite at Thelma Burns Building]
  • Monday, 4/10 at 10:30AM, Tentative: Urban Renewal Progress Update (Planning & Development)
  • Monday 4/10 at 3:00PM: Tentative: Immigrant Defense Fund (Healthy Women, Families & Communities)