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Collective Bargaining: The Mayor Walsh filed orders to fund the recently settled collective bargaining agreements between the City of Boston and SEIU, Local 888. This would include base wage increases of 2% effective the first pay period of January of each fiscal year and new steps beginning in July 2018. The contract is from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2020. The matter was assigned to the Ways & Means Committee for a hearing.
Grants: Mayor Walsh filed an authorization order for Council approval for:
- The City of Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics to accept $34,800.00 from the Boston Redevelopment Authority to fund a staff position to manage the Bank On Boston program. The goals of the program are to ensure that all Boston residents have access to safe and affordable financial products and services, to empower Boston residents to build wealth, and to encourage economic mobility. The matter was assigned to the Ways & Means Committee for a hearing.
- The City of Boston to accept $5,000.00 from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. This would fund the City Council’s Black History Month Event--The Diaspora: A Celebration of Black Immigrants--sponsored by Councilors Pressley, Campbell, Janey and Edwards to take place tonight (Wednesday, February 28th, 5:30-7:30PM) in the City Council Chamber.
Appointments: Mayor Walsh made the following appointments
- Boston Public Health Commission’s Board of Health: Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak and John Fernandez as members until January 15, 2021.
- Public Facilities Commission: Dion Irish and Katherine Craven as members until January 3, 2022.
- Public Facilities Commission: Larry Mammoli as a member until January 3, 2022.
- Labor Relations: Ann Marie Noonan as Interim Director of Labor Relations until February 12, 2018.
- Assessing Department: Christopher Lynch as an Assistant Assessor.
- Assessing Department: Gayle Willet as Commissioner of Assessing until February 15, 2018.
Civil Immigration Detainer: The Police Commissioner provided an update regarding civil immigration detainer requests for 2017. ICE lodged 68 individuals that were in BPD custody and all were given access to the Bail Commissioner. 18 of the individuals were posted bailed and/or were released from BPD custody prior to arraignment. 50 of the individuals were transported to the court for arraignment directly from BPD custody. BPD did not directly transfer any of the suspects to ICE custody and did not receive any cost reimbursements from the federal government pursuant to any granted detainer requests.
Development: The Boston Redevelopment Authority filed the following updates:
- Fenway Urban Renewal Plan: The Fenway Urban Renewal Plan Project No. Mass. R-115 would add a new Parcel 27 that would be used for residential and commercial use and parking. Parcel 27 would be part of the 1000 Boylston Street project.
- Bridgeview Apartments: A Certificate of Vote and Approval of the BPDA was adopted on February 8, 2018 for the “Third amendment to the report and decision on the Bridgeview Apartments Chapter 121A project for approval of a zoning deviation and change of use for the project and related matters.”
- Old Colony Phase 3A: A Certificate of Vote and Approval of the BPDA was adopted on February 8, 2018 for the "report and decision on the application of old colony phase three a4 limited partnership and old colony phase three a9 limited partnership for authorization and approval of a project under chapter 1214 of the general laws and acts of 1950, chapter 552, both as amended, known as old colony phase three a Chapter l2lA project.”
Greenway Business Improvement District: A Better City filed a petition to organize the Greenway Business Improvement District (BID), a financing mechanism made available by state law that would assess abutting businesses to fund the Rose Kennedy Greenway’s maintenance and operations. This portion of land incorporates the land made available from the Central Artery Tunnel project and includes the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Park. The process requires at least 51% of assessed valuation of all real property within the proposed BID and at least 60% of property owners approve; the BID application included signatures from 89% and 82% respectively. This would be the second BID in Boston, following the Downtown Crossing BID, and it requires City Council approval. See the proposed BID map at: http://meetingrecords.cityofboston.gov/sirepub/view.aspx?cabinet=published_meetings&fileid=234809. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development, and Transportation for a hearing.
Medical Marijuana: We voted to award a letter of non-opposition for Beacon Compassion Center to proceed with their application to the state for a medical marijuana dispensary at 1524 VFW Parkway in West Roxbury. Such a letter is required from the local City Council or Mayor for any applicant to move forward in the Department of Public Health’s licensing process. At our Council hearing last Thursday, representatives of Beacon Compassion presented documentation that the proposed site complies with state and local regulations, as well as describing their outreach to the surrounding community. District Councilor Matt O’Malley affirmed that the applicants had conducted a robust public process with multiple civic associations also issuing letters of non-opposition. He also emphasized that his support was conditional upon the applicants agreeing to a proviso that the approval would be for medical marijuana operations only, not recreational.
Rutherford Ave/Sullivan Sq: We voted to approve Mayor Walsh’s request to accept and expend grants from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in the amount of $250,000 to fund a portion of the City’s cost for the design of the Rutherford Avenue/Sullivan Square Project. This will offset the 20% of the City’s portion of the $4 million dollars for the first phase of the project, with other costs shared by the federal government. As mentioned at the last meeting, there are some outstanding questions about whether the surface alternative had been fully evaluated by the City as the Transportation Department presented a design maintaining the underpasses in the corridor, citing heavier traffic volumes from the casino and development in the area. Advocates and experts presented an expanded surface option that uses the same traffic volume assumptions. Since our hearing, this plan was officially presented to BTD with the commitment for written feedback. As Committee Chair, I moved for acceptance of this grant so as not to jeopardize the City’s regional funding timelines, but will continue to push feedback on design that moves people through the area more efficiently with multimodal transportation access, safe infrastructure, and new open space.
Boston Public School Transportation: Councilor Essaibi George as Chair of the Education Committee reported back on yesterday’s hearing to discuss the BPS 2018-2019 transportation budget. BPS shared a presentation on the number and cost of buses in its fleet, bus drivers, students using the buses for corner stops and for door-to-door transportation, students using MBTA, and other data as it related to the budget. The matter remains in committee for further discussion. You can see the School Department’s detailed responses to my information request around BPS bell times and transportation at: http://michelleforboston.com/bps-bell-times.
Huntington Theatre: We voted to pass the Mayor’s order to enforce a use restriction to ensure that the Huntington Theatre continues to be used as a theatre or similar cultural use, following a hearing of the Arts, Culture, and Special Events Committee chaired by Councilor Janey. Representatives from the Mayor’s Office and the BPDA spoke in support of the matter. Parts of the building will be used for residential and commercial use, but the Huntington Theatre will remain as a theatre and cultural space for the community.
Eviction Data: Councilors Zakim and Baker refiled their ordinance to require data collection regarding evictions in Boston. Eviction notices must be filed with the courts, but it can be cumbersome to seek the data and difficult for the City to obtain it on a timely basis. With dramatically rising housing costs in Boston, evictions are causing displacement of individuals and families who may be faced with homelessness as they struggle to find another affordable place to live. The hope is that having evictions data at the city level will inform policies regarding affordable housing and neighborhood stabilization. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing.
Justice-Involved Women: We voted to adopt Councilor Pressley’s resolution urging the State Legislature to pass Rep. Kay Khan’s H.3586 Act relative to justice-involved women, which calls for improved conditions for justice-involved women, help within the justice system to better respond to women’s needs, and prioritization of keeping families together. Councilor Pressley noted that women are a rapidly growing subset of the criminal justice population in Massachusetts and the vast majority of justice-involved women are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, have extremely high rates of substance use and mental illness, and have experienced significant trauma.
Post-Audit Budget Review: Councilor Ciommo called for a hearing to review past budgets up to and including the 2018 budget. The matter was assigned to the Ways & Means Committee for a hearing.
Gun Violence: We voted to adopt Councilor Edwards’ resolution for the City Council to support the March for Our Lives and comprehensive action to halt the epidemic of gun violence. The failure to regulate the use and ownership of lethal weapons presents an ongoing public health crisis for young people, residents of low-income communities, people of color and all Americans. Gun violence took the lives of 17 students in Parkland, FL on February 14, 2018. Several Councilors stood to affirm the inspiring leadership of young people on this issue and to recognize the existence of daily exposure to gun violence and trauma in our communities as we rally against the horrific mass shootings that have happened far too many times.
Campus Sexual Assault: We voted to adopt Councilor Pressley’s resolution urging the State Legislature to support H.632 and H.4159 sponsored by Reps Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Lori Ehrlich to increase students’ safety on campus and provide additional resources for survivors of sexual assault. The bill would require colleges and universities in Massachusetts to continue conducting research-based sexual misconduct surveys, provide ongoing prevention, education and training programs for students, and assemble review panels tasked with implementing and monitoring campus response networks.
Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv)
- Thursday 3/1 at 1:00PM: Working Session re: Ordinance Allowing Short-Term Residential Rentals in Boston (Government Operations) [Piemonte Room, 5th Floor City Hall]
- Friday 3/2 at 10:00AM: Boston Planning and Development Agency biannual Urban Renewal update to the City Council (Planning, Development, and Transportation)
- Monday, 3/12 at 2:00PM: Hearing re: Boston Public Department’s Body-Worn Camera Pilot Program preliminary study results (Public Safety and Criminal Justice)