Boston City Council meeting - August 23, 2017
At the start of today’s meeting we joined Councilor Essaibi-George in honoring Learn to Cope, a non-profit organization that assists those struggling with substance use, as well as their families and loved ones, to face addiction head on. You can learn more at Councilor Baker led us in honoring Jay Richards, a 19-year veteran of the Boston Transportation Department and traffic supervisor who took action when he saw a building on fire in the North End on August 3rd, stepping in to help carry a woman down seven flights of stairs to safety. Councilor Jackson led us in recognizing James T. Garrett, Jr. who in 1974 filed a class action lawsuit to end discriminatory training programs in the Ironworkers union; and also Monica Cannon, Didi Delgado, and Angelina Camacho who organized the August 19th march to fight white supremacy and everyday work to make our city, state, and country more just and equal for people of color.
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Appointments: Mayor Walsh made the following appointments:
· Jesse Jeter, reappointed to the Boston Employment Commission until July 2019.
· Anne Connolly, reappointed as Associate Commissioner to the Parks and Recreation Commission until January 2021.
· Boston Fair Housing Commission: Onyen Yong, Egobudike Ezedi Jr., Michele Feliz-Rosario, reappointed as members of the Commission until July 2020.
Collective Bargaining: We voted to approve the Mayor’s order to appropriate $81,222 for the recently settled contract between the City and the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 6, representing employees in the Inspectional Services Department. Councilor Ciommo noted that the agreement runs through FY20 and is in line with the other increases that the City has settled through collective bargaining, with 2% base wage increases each year. The funding will come from the City’s Collective Bargaining reserve as budgeted.
Health Care Provider Parking Permits: Councilors McCarthy and Zakim reported back on a hearing to discuss parking challenges for in-home health care providers such as nurses and physical therapists who travel to multiple homes in Boston during the day, often complicated by neighborhood-wide resident-only parking restrictions. The matter remains in the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services and Veterans Affairs with future working sessions planned.
Temporary Protected Status: We voted to adopt Councilor Zakim’s resolution calling on the Trump Administration to extend temporary protected status (TPS), an emergency immigration status given when people are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. TPS designation allows eligible Honduran, Nicaraguan, Salvadorian, and Haitian nationals to temporarily continue living and working in the United States. This resolution was similar to the one that we passed on May 17, 2017 in support of extending TPS for the Haitian community (after our vote the federal government did extend Haitian TPS for six months). Today’s resolution called for extending TPS granted after Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras and Nicaragua in 1999 and after earthquakes devastated El Salvador in 2001. As several Councilors emphasized, our immigrant neighbors strengthen Boston’s culture and economy. The goal is to add our voice to the voices across this country calling for common sense policies, compassion, and openness for immigrant residents.
Resolution Condemning Pro-Nazi, White Nationalist, and White Supremacist Ideologies: We voted 11-0 (Councilors LaMattina and Campbell absent) to adopt the resolution from Councilors Pressley and Zakim urging elected officials to condemn the totalitarian impulses, violence, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis. The resolution also commends the Governor and State Legislature for condemning these hateful groups in a proclamation. Councilor Pressley noted that in order to fight something, we first have to name it.
Hero Square, Jamaica Plain: We voted to adopt Councilor O’Malley’s resolution to rename the intersection of Forest Hills St. and Robeson St. in Jamaica Plain in memory of Richard Laughlin O’Leary for his honorable service in Vietnam.
MBTA Green Line Extension: The Council voted to support a resolution offered by Councilor O’Malley and me in support of extending Green Line streetcar service on South Huntington Avenue from Heath Street to Hyde Square in Jamaica Plain. Such an extension would support local businesses in the Hyde Square neighborhood by attracting more visitors to the area, and would be a much needed public transit improvement for those living in the hundreds of new units of housing that has been constructed along this corridor in recent years. Thousands of new units are planned for this corridor, and residents would be almost entirely reliant on the 39 bus for public transportation without a Green Line extension.
Overdose Awareness Day: We voted to adopt Councilor Essaibi-George’s resolution desgnating August 31, 2017 as Overdose Awareness Day in the City of Boston. Councilor Essaibi-George noted that 4 in 10 MA residents know someone who has misused prescription painkillers in the last 5 years. Stigma may prevent someone from reaching out for help, or getting support, and this awareness day is one way of breaking down stigma around our city. There are several events happening in Boston on August 31, including on City Hall Plaza where an interfaith ceremony will occur from 5-6:30pm.
Removal of Georges Island Confederate Memorial: We voted 11-0 (Councilors LaMattina and Campbell absent) to adopt Councilor Jackson’s resolution urging the removal of the memorial located at Fort Warren on Georges Island that commemorates Confederate Soldiers. Councilor Jackson stated that the plaque was placed in 1963 by the now-defunct Boston Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at a location where many Confederate POWs were held. Councilor Jackson also noted that Governor Baker had the memorial covered up in June and has been supportive of removing it.
Gun Control Legislation: We voted 11-0 (Councilors Campbell and LaMattina absent) to adopt Councilor Flaherty’s resolution in support of H.3081, a bill under consideration at the State House to create a process for temporarily removing firearms from the possession of at-risk individuals. Individuals including mental health workers, family members, and caregivers would be able to petition a judge to issue an extreme risk protective order when someone poses a significant danger to themselves or others were they to maintain possession of a firearm.
Community Preservation Act: We took two actions following up on last meeting’s passage of the ordinance setting up Boston’s procedures for its Community Preservation Committee:
· First, we voted 11-0 (Councilors LaMattina and Campbell absent) to pass my order creating a Special Committee on the Community Preservation Act (CPA), which will help guide our process to nominate four members to the Community Preservation Committee and then ensure that the City Council remains an engaged and active partner in CPA actions. The Special Committee will accept applications from interested residents of Boston, evaluate candidates, hold public hearings for input from residents, and nominate four individuals for a vote from the full Council. After all the Community Preservation Committee members are in place, the Council’s Special Committee will continue to exist as a mechanism for transparency and open public process in the allocation of CPA funds.
· Secondly, we voted to pass my order creating a 90-day Working Group to support the Special Committee for this first round of nominations. This first round of nominations requires the start-up work of creating an application form and process, setting evaluation criteria, and choosing four members at once; with staggered terms, future openings will likely follow the same process and come up one by one. As described in my order, this Working Group will include representatives of the Yes for a Better Boston Coalition, as well as representatives from the business community and other stakeholders as determined by the Chair of the Special Committee.
Sandwich Board Signs: We voted to reject without prejudice the Mayor’s proposal to make permanent the regulations instituted in 2015 as a pilot program for advertising on free-standing signs (sandwich boards). Because this proposal was delivered from the Mayor as a 60-day order, the Council needed to take action procedurally, but the Government Operations Committee plans to hold a working session to review the ordinance as well as proposals from Councilor Zakim to amend the regulations regarding concerns about too many signs on Newbury Street. In rejecting the proposal without prejudice at this time, the Committee can continue to study the issue and the Mayor can reintroduce the matter at a later date.
BPS Facilities Upgrades: We voted 10-0 (Councilors Campbell, LaMattina, and Zakim absent) for the second reading to approve appropriations for a feasibility study and schematic design work associated with boiler, window, or roof replacement projects at the following schools: East Boston High School, O'Donnell School K-5, Sumner School K-5, Timilty Middle School, Tobin School K-8, UP Academy K-8, Russell School K-5. These will be eligible for reimbursement from the MA School Building Authority at a rate of 65%. As with all capital appropriation orders, this required two votes at least two weeks apart with an affirmative 2/3 majority. With this second vote, the appropriations are approved.
· Monday, Sept. 11th at 4:30PM: project with the National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI) and the Boston City Council on disciplinary policies’ impact on girls of color (Healthy Women, Families, and Communities) [Offsite at Bolling Building, 2300 Washington St.]