All Councilors wore red today in solidarity with International Women’s Day and the “A Day Without Women” action! 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.
We started today’s meeting by honoring Officer Matt Morris for his service with the Boston Police Department and his dedication to the City of Boston. Officer Morris was one of the police officers seriously injured in a shootout with a suspect, after responding to a domestic disturbance call in East Boston last October. We were happy to see him in good health today and thank him for his service.
Appointments: Mayor Walsh appointed Richard DePiano as Temporary First Assistant Collector-Treasurer and Anthony Dello Iacono as Temporary Second Assistant Collector-Treasurer.
Parking Receipts: Mayor Walsh filed an order to accept the provisions of the 2016 Municipal Modernization Act that allow for municipalities to deposit parking meter receipts into a separate parking meter fund. This would continue the City’s practice of separating parking meter revenues for maintenance of parking meters and enforcement technology, regulation of parking, salaries of parking management personnel, improvements to the public realm, and transportation improvements. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Just Cause Eviction: Councilor Flaherty reported back on Monday’s hearing on the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act, a home rule petition filed by Mayor Walsh with a goal of preserving housing stability and maintaining diversity in Boston’s neighborhoods. The petition would apply to landlords who own seven or more units in Massachusetts and includes two major provisions: 1) requiring notification that any eviction or nonrenewal of a lease must be sent to the City’s Office of Housing Stability within two days after such notice is sent to the tenant, which would give the City important data on evictions and particularly mass emptying of buildings; and 2) replacing “no-fault eviction” with a requirement that the eviction notice specify one of nine just causes for eviction, including nonpayment of rent, violation of terms of the lease, damage to the apartment, illegal activity, recovering the property for personal or family use, etc. Monday’s six-hour hearing featured testimony from a variety of viewpoints, from the Small Property Owners Association, to Vida Urbana, to individuals on all sides. The matter remains in the Government Operations Committee for further work. You can read the proposed legislation here: http://meetingrecords.cityofboston.gov/….
Boston Patrolmen’s Association Contract: We voted unanimously to pass Mayor Walsh’s order to approve and appropriate the FY17 cost items contained within the collective bargaining agreements recently settled between the City of Boston and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association for July 1, 2016 – July 30, 2020. The provisions include base wage increases of 2% each year, increases to existing Quinn Bill/Education benefits, modified steps, and increase to hazardous duty pay. Several Councilors praised the Mayor and the union for settling this contract through collective bargaining and avoiding binding arbitration. One other issue mentioned at yesterday’s hearing involved two placeholder provisions in the contract, about body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras. The contract does not directly address the question of compensation and working conditions around these two technologies, but says that the City and union may reopen the contract to continue bargaining around them. Several of us asked for assurances that the current body camera pilot program would be expanded and not held up due to timing of continued bargaining, and we heard from the Administration and BPD leadership that this was indeed a priority.
FY2016 Budget Review: Councilor Ciommo reported back on yesterday’s hearing on a post audit review of the FY2016 Budget. The hearing aimed for a broad look at city departments’ actual spending relative to the approved budget and honed in on specific successes and areas of improvement. Councilor Ciommo noted the majority of surplus funds in the FY2016 Budget went toward capital projects. The matter remains in the Ways & Means Committee.
Sanctuary Schools: We voted unanimously to pass Councilor Jackson’s resolution affirming Boston Public Schools as sanctuary schools, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents must not be allowed to enter BPS sites without the explicit permission of the Superintendent and District Attorney. Councilor Jackson reported back on last night’s well-attended offsite hearing held at St. Stephen’s Church in the South End. He spoke about the powerful testimonies students shared expressing their fear and anxiety given recent federal Executive Orders. Many colleagues strongly emphasized how important it is for government and the Council to stand up for students and families in this uncertain environment, and along those lines, several Councilors expressed disappointment in BPS’s hesitancy at the hearing to support the use of the term “sanctuary schools.”
Liquor Licenses: Councilor Pressley filed a home rule petition to add up to 152 new non-transferable liquor licenses within the City of Boston. The proposal would grant 105 alcohol licenses to seven neighborhoods—Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, and Roxbury—with each neighborhood receiving five licenses over the next three years. It would also create 15 licenses for Main Streets districts and 30 citywide licenses over the next three years, along with licenses specifically for the Lawn on D and the Boston Center for the Arts. The non-transferable licenses cannot be resold on the open market and must revert back to the City, and the designated neighborhood, if a restaurant goes out of business. Councilor Pressley emphasized the importance of reducing competition between neighborhoods for licenses and reducing the barrier to entry for new restaurants to open in all neighborhoods. The legislation would also create umbrella licenses, which would cover large developments with a single liquor license. Many Councilors rose to express their support and to commend Councilor Pressley for her hard work on this matter. There were a few calls for additional neighborhoods or subneighborhoods to be added in the legislation, which do not have formalized Main Streets programs but do have the potential to benefit from sit-down restaurants. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Needle Disposal: Councilors Essaibi-George, McCarthy, and Baker filed for a hearing to discuss safe and effective needle disposal practices. The opiate crisis has had a disproportionate effect on the City of Boston due to the centralization of recovery services, resulting in an increase in sharps litter affecting every neighborhood in the city. Councilor Essaibi-George cited that Boston 311 has received approximately 3,000 calls flagging needles in city neighborhoods within the past year. Currently, the City has many tools to manage sharps litter, including disposal kiosks and sharps collection teams coordinated by AHOPE and 311. Councilor McCarthy spoke about the need to educate and train students, residents, and city employees in how to handle safe disposal of needles. The matter was sent to the Homeless, Mental Health & Recovery Committee for a hearing.
Upcoming Hearings (Watch at www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/live.asp)
- Thursday, 3/9 at 2:00PM, Procurement & Purchasing (Jobs, Wages & Workforce Development)
- 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)
- Tuesday, 3/28 at 6:30PM, Tentative: Policy Briefing: Community-Based Providers (Healthy Women, Families & Communities) [Offsite at Catholic Charities Laboure Center)