Friday, April 06, 2018

Councilor Wu Holds a Hearing on Free Petition

Councilor Wu Holds a Hearing on Free Petition
Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu Holds a Public Hearing Regarding Free Petition
BOSTON – On Monday, April 9th, 2018 at 2 pm, the Boston City Council will hold a public hearing on Councilor Michelle Wu’s proposed ordinance to codify the right of free petition at the city level. This ordinance would give residents a way to directly shape the Council’s agenda by requiring that the City Council will hold a hearing on the topic of any petition that is signed by 500 or more Boston residents within 90 days. Several other municipalities have already codified the Right to Free Petition, including Chelsea, Winthrop, Lawrence, and Newton.

“Now more than ever before, civic engagement matters,” said Councilor Wu. “By empowering people to get involved directly with local government, the City Council and City of Boston will be stronger and more accountable to community ideas and partnership.”

The Right of Free Petition is unique to Massachusetts, the only state in the country where any citizen has the guaranteed right to file a bill at the state legislature. The commitment to giving direct access and providing constituents a way to shape the policy agenda has been in the fabric of the Commonwealth since colonial times.

"The Right to Free Petition has the potential to transform, in a very powerful way, how the city expands participation and access to all of its residents,” said Tanisha Sullivan, President of the NAACP Boston Branch.  “Our democracy is strengthened when the systems by which we are governed are structured to provide the people, all people, with the necessary tools to help facilitate shared ownership and accountability in how our neighborhoods are served and supported.”

Local activist Jamarhl Crawford added, "The Right of Free Petition Ordinance is a simple and logical step to encourage civic participation in all neighborhoods and will provide residents with a voice on issues that affect their quality of life in the City of Boston. My hope is that the residents of Boston will use this new ordinance as a tool to bring their long neglected issues and innovative ideas to the forefront."

The ordinance was originally filed on March 1st, 2017, followed by a first hearing on April 18th, 2017.  This latest hearing in the Government Operations Committee will take place on Monday, April 9th at 2 pm in the City Council’s Iannella Chamber, and public testimony will be included.

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