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波士頓市議員吳弭 (Michelle Wu ) - meeting notes 3/14


Apologies for being a day late! I’ve been serving on jury duty this week and was able to join part of yesterday’s meeting the courtroom lunch break, but couldn’t finish my notes until last night. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

South Boston Waterfront (Seaport) Civic Spaces: Councilors Flynn, Flaherty & I called for a hearing to discuss city services and public facilities in the South Boston Waterfront Seaport neighborhood. By 2030, the Seaport and Fort Point area’s residential population will nearly triple from 2012 levels to exceed 20,000 residents, with approximately 13,000 jobs added in the neighborhood. Yet despite the incoming industries, businesses, and restaurants, there is no school, library, community center, fire station, police station, or other similar public facilities in the neighborhood. Civic infrastructure is important for safety, community and civic engagement. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation for a hearing.

Fare-Free 28 Bus: Councilors Janey and I called for a hearing on eliminating the ridership fare on the MBTA Bus Route 28, which serves more than 12,000 riders on the average weekday, the most of any MBTA bus route. According to a passenger survey, 54% have no usable vehicles, 45% do not have a valid driver’s license, 65% of riders are low income residents, and 92% are people of color. The 28 Bus ranks as the nineteenth slowest bus route out of the MBTA’s 163 bus routes and experienced a 9% decline in ridership from 2014-2016 due to its unreliability. The 28 Bus Route connects Mattapan Square along Blue Hill Avenue and Warren Street to Grove Hall and Dudley Square to Ruggles Station near Longwood Medical Area, representing an important economic opportunity corridor. The MBTA and the City are working on a proposal to speed bus times through a dedicated bus lane on Blue Hill Avenue, and the City of Boston is working to design a community process to assess this. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation for a hearing.

Hotel Alexandra: Councilor Garrison offered a resolution that the renovation of the historic Alexandra Hotel follow the zoning code as to the height of the building and that this historical site be preserved and protected under the guidelines of the South End/Roxbury Landmarks District. Councilor Janey stood to oppose this, because it would freeze the currently proposed project which plans to retain the facade but add height above to make the financing possible for the preservation and rehab of the facade. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

Boston Trust Act: Councilor Zakim ordered a hearing regarding Enforcement of the Boston Trust Act. The Trust Act was passed in 2014 and prohibits the Boston Police Department from detaining individuals based on their immigration status and directs the BPD to disregard federal immigration detainer requests. The Act was established to make all Bostonians safer by improving trust between law enforcement and Boston’s immigrant communities, so that witnesses or victims of crimes can interact with the BPD without fear of arrest due to their immigration status. Recent news reports indicate that BPD officers worked in concert with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents to arrest Jose Martin Paz Flores on May 10, 2017. At that time Mr. Paz Flores was not authorized to be in the United States. Concerns have been raised as to overall compliance with and enforcement of the Trust Act. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Civil Rights for a hearing.

Disabilities Services: Councilors Flynn, Flaherty and Edwards called for a hearing to discuss services for persons with disabilities. According to Boston’s Language and Communications Access program, 12.8% of Boston residents identify as having at least one disability, including experiencing difficulties in self-care, hearing, vision, independent living, cognition, and walking. In addition to federal accessibility law, Boston also requires access to assistive technology from the Communications Access Ordinance passed in 2016. The matter was assigned to the Committee on City, Neighborhood Services and Veterans & Military Affairs for a hearing.

Veteran Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Councilors Garrison and Essaibi-George called for a hearing on Veteran Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and improving awareness of and access to mental health care services for veterans. PTSD impacts 11-20% of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 12% of Gulf War veterans and 15% percent of Vietnam veterans. Risk factors for PTSD among people in the military include compromised socioeconomic status, previous trauma, drug/opioid and/or alcohol use, a poor social support system, homelessness, family history of mental illness and a lack of accountable local veteran support resources. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health and Recovery for a hearing.

Sandwich Board Signs: Councilor Zakim called for a hearing to discuss Free-Standing Signs (aka sandwich board signs) on sidewalks. Free-standing signs, such as sandwich boards, serve as significant marketing tools for small and local businesses. Accessibility for all is an important goal and the City of Boston should be making all reasonable efforts to ensure access on our streets and sidewalks regardless of physical ability. In May of 2018 the free-standing signs pilot program was extended for an additional year to allow community stakeholders to work with city departments to create specific guidelines. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing.

Traffic Enforcement Unit: Councilor Campbell reported back on the hearing to discuss the possibility of creating a traffic enforcement unit within BPD and exploring the pros and cons of installing traffic enforcement cameras. At the hearing the Boston Police Department and Boston Transportation Department discussed the City’s current enforcement efforts and plans, stating that BPD is already at minimum coverage geographically, so there are not extra officers able to focus on traffic enforcement. BTD Commissioner Fiandaca stated that the Mayor and department are discussing moving forward with cameras to catch those blocking the box and passing a stopped school bus, but not for speed limit enforcement. The matter remains in the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice.

Gold Street Discontinuance: We voted 11-0 (Essaibi-George and McCarthy absent) to give a favorable second reading to discontinue public way rights to access Gold Street in South Boston. Discontinuance designations require two affirmative ⅔ votes at least two weeks apart. Today’s was the second vote.

Appointments: The Mayor made the following appointments:
Zoning Commission:
  • Reappointment of Michael DiMella as a member for a term ending November 1, 2020
  • Reappointment of Michael Nichols as a member for a term ending October 1, 2021
  • Reappointment of Annaise Foureau as a member for a term ending May 1, 2021
  • Reappointment of Jill Hatton as a member for a term ending May 1, 2021
  • Reappointment of Joanne Keith as a member for a term ending October 1, 2021
  • Appointment of Giordana Mecagni as a Member of the Archives and Records Advisory Commission for a term expiring January 3, 2022
  • Reappointment of Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan as a Member of the Boston Public Health Commission's Board of Health for a term expiring January 15, 2020
  • Appointment of Phillomin Laptiste as a Member of the Boston Public Health Commission for a term expiring January 15, 2022

Appropriations and Grants:
  • $732,604 appropriated to cover recently settled collective bargaining agreements between the City of Boston and the Boston Public Library Professional Staff Association (PSA) covering 2016-2020. The major provisions of the contracts include base wage increases of 2% per year and a new step starting in 2019. The matter was assigned to the Ways & Means Committee.
  • $280,000 in the form of a grant for the Safe & Successful Youth Initiative - Amendment FY18 and FY19, awarded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services to be administered by the Boston Police Department. The grant will fund a comprehensive, inter-agency strategy that connects law enforcement, employment, education, public health and youth development agencies to reduce youth violence in the Commonwealth. The matter was assigned to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee.

UPCOMING HEARINGS (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv):
  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, March 20th
  • Monday, March 18th at 11:30am: Hearing on Wetlands Ordinance (Government Operations)
  • Tuesday, March 19th at 10:00am: Hearing on Cannabis Industry Equity Ordinance (Government Operations)
  • Tuesday, March 19th at 2:00pm: Hearing on Investor and Commercial Properties Transfer Fee (Government Operations)
Just a reminder to please let us know if we can count on your support and help this year! Every volunteer makes a big difference, and we'd love to see you at our Volunteer Organizing Meeting next week. 



2019 is a municipal election year in Boston! I'm always excited for the opportunity to engage the entire city about our shared future, but this year it's more important than ever to organize. We have a chance to build on the grassroots energy that drove last year's historic midterm election turnout and to feed local activism, where every person can make a difference right away. But we need your help.

Will you join our first Volunteer Organizing Meeting on March 21st to see our campaign organizing plan and sign up to get involved?

Every person has a role to play in helping to mobilize family, friends, and neighbors for a more equitable, sustainable Boston. Please join us in feeding civic engagement across the city!

We'll be gathering on Thursday, March 21st at 6:30 PM at the Reggie Lewis Center and I hope you can make it! To RSVP for the meeting, or to sign up to help at a different time, please share your interest and availability here.

Hope to see you on March 21st. Thanks for all that you do!


P.S. Please share this link to let your networks know about ways to get involved: bit.ly/WuTeam2019

The Wu Committee
P.O. Box 960782
Boston, MA 02196
This afternoon, the MBTA’s governing board voted to approve fare hikes starting July 1st in a short-sighted and disappointing move.


However, the board did vote to amend the proposal so that fare increases will not apply to reduced fare tickets, senior passes, student passes, and all bus fares. These carve-outs are a direct result of the public pressure and organizing over the last six weeks.

Since January, our coalition of commuters, advocacy groups, and elected leaders has demonstrated the political will for a new approach to public transit, one rooted in equity and sustainability. Our petition shows support for real investments in transit and immediate steps to remove barriers, such as free student and senior passes, a commitment to implementing a low-income fare and fare-capping, and the elimination of bus fares on certain routes through underserved communities.


Over the last month, we took our organizing efforts from MBTA stations to public hearings. You can watch the video below to see our organizing effort in action.




At the MBTA’s February 27th public hearing, over 70 speakers voiced their opposition to the fare hikes, and as a group we presented our petition. It was great to see everyone supporting points made by previous speakers in a true picture of community organizing.

The FCMB’s vote to increase subway and commuter rail fares -- even as they acknowledged repeatedly that a delay would be in their best interest -- is not the story of today. Today’s vote against fare hikes for bus riders, youth, and seniors demonstrates the impact when we organize to lift up the voices of those who would have been hit hardest by an across-the-board hike.

Thank you for spreading the word, organizing to bring people to the MBTA meetings, and advocating against the fare hikes throughout your neighborhoods and networks. Please know that so many people will benefit from the work that you’re doing, and that we’re not done advocating for a vision of mobility that includes everyone.

Thank you for building our movement for equity and access, and thank you for growing the momentum for civic engagement.

In community,

Michelle



The Wu Committee
PO Box 960782
Boston MA 02196 United States
Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu Releases Statement Following MBTA Vote on Fare Increases
Prior to today’s vote, Councilor Wu presented an updated petition opposing the fare increases signed by 3,200 elected officials, community organizations, and commuters.
BOSTON – Today Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu released a statement following a vote by the MBTA’s Fiscal Management and Control Board to move forward with an amended fare increase proposal:   


“It’s disappointing and frustrating to see short-sighted MBTA fare hikes approved. But the carve-outs shielding students, youth, seniors, and bus riders are important changes resulting from public pressure and weeks of community organizing by a coalition of commuters, advocacy groups, and elected officials. We remain focused on the urgent goal to make public transportation accessible and reliable for all as we face worsening traffic throughout the region and the increasingly destructive impacts of climate change. We also continue to call for immediate steps to remove barriers to transit and boost ridership, particularly urging a commitment to implementing a low-income fare, fare-capping, fare-free student and senior passes, and designated fare-free bus routes through underserved communities. Today City Councilor Kim Janey and I filed a hearing order at the Boston City Council to discuss fare elimination for the MBTA 28 Bus route, which runs from Mattapan Square to Ruggles Station in Roxbury and represents an important economic opportunity corridor. Together we’re building a movement for equity and access, and we’re not done.”


To learn more about Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu visit http://michelleforboston.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
we started our meeting by congratulating Sam Tyler from his retirement as head of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau after 46 years! Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

VOTES:
Community Preservation Fund: We voted (10-0, Councilors Baker, Ciommo & McCarthy absent) to approve the appropriation of $34.9M from the Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal Year 2019 Community Preservation Fund revenues for 56 projects recommended by the City of Boston Community Preservation Committee ("CPC"). Between the first round of grants and now this second round, every neighborhood in Boston has received funding from the CPC. See the list of all projects here: https://www.boston.gov/news/56-projects-34-million-recommended-inclusion-community-preservation-funding.

Genocide Education Support: We voted to adopt the resolution from Councilors McCarthy, Flynn & Zakim in support of state legislation requiring genocide education. The Boston Public Schools curriculum currently does not require history or social science frameworks to include the topic of genocide when teaching United States or world history. The Councilors emphasized that it is important for students to recognize that national, ethnic, racial, or religious hatred can manifest in acts of extreme violence, and create immense suffering for marginalized peoples and groups. Such curriculum unit would include, but not be limited to, teaching the histories of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the Famine Genocide in Ukraine known as Holodomor, the Pontian Greek Genocide, the more recent atrocities in Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Sudan.

Municipal Participation of the Widest Eligible Range: We voted to adopt a resolution that Councilors Zakim, Janey & I offered urging passage of the Massachusetts House Bill known as the EMPOWER Act, sponsored by Representatives Andy Vargas and Dylan Fernandes. The proposed legislation would allow cities or towns to extend the right to vote in municipal elections to citizens at 16-years of age, when youth can drive, work without restrictions, and pay taxes. Research shows that voting at an earlier age leads to more dedicated voting than starting at 18 years of age. In jurisdictions where there is a lower voting age, the data shows that the 16- and 17-year old first-time voters consistently turn out to vote at higher rates than 18- and 19-year-old first-time voters.

Freedom of the Press: We voted to adopt Councilor Edwards’ resolution affirming the rights of journalists as workers and the need for a free press, supporting members of the Boston Newspaper Guild in negotiations with the Boston Globe and workers at WBUR who have voted to organize. As she noted, democracy depends on a free press to promote the open exchange of ideas, promote debate and critical reflection, question authority, lift up and remember history and the stories of neighborhoods, and to seek, discover, analyze and share information that affects residents’ lives and wellbeing.

RECENT HEARINGS:
Safety in School Environments: Councilor Essaibi-George reported back that her scheduled hearing to analyze the safety and security measures taken to protect school environments from threatening situations was postponed due to snow.

South Boston Interim Planning Overlay District and Neighborhood-Wide Zoning: This hearing was also postponed due to snow on Monday and remains in committee.

Exam School Admissions: Councilors Essaibi-George, Janey and Campbell reported back on the hearing on Admissions to Boston’s Exam schools that happened yesterday. BPS administrators, community leaders, and advocates discussed the gaps in access to exam schools and especially Boston Latin School between Black and Latino students and their White and Asian American counterparts. Starting this fall, all 6th graders will have the opportunity to take the eligibility exam in their classrooms with an opt out policy, rather than having to take the test offsite on a weekend. Advocates suggested further changes, such as reserving seats by neighborhood, changing the entrance exam to a different test, or moving to a holistic admissions model. The matter remains in committee.

Use of Public Ways: Councilor Zakim and I reported back on yesterday’s hearing on the use of Public Ways, where we heard about the 4,000+ permitted events that take place across the City. Many of them are walks, runs, rallies, or sporting events in Councilor Zakim’s district April-October each year. He pushed for better notification of residents and coordination of access to residential streets and driveways. I learned during the hearing that preference in scheduling and location is always given to existing events, and I suggested that the impacted neighborhoods should have input into whether an event should return. The item remains in committee.

NEW ITEMS:
Boston Employment Commission and Boston Residents Jobs Policy: Councilors Edwards and Janey called for a hearing on the biannual review of the Boston Employment Commission and Boston Residents Jobs Policy. In 2017, the Council and Mayor approved a revised Boston Residents Jobs Policy Ordinance raising the standards for minimum hours worked to 51% Boston workers to 51%; 40% workers of color, and 12% women. The ordinance requires the Boston City Council to hold biannual hearings in April and October on reports from the Boston Employment Commission specifying number of compliance determinations, contractors or developers out of compliance, sanctions received, sanctions by trade, work hours by trade and total hours performed by Boston workers, women and people of color. It also requires the Boston Employment Commission to furnish data as requested by the council to evaluate future increases to the goals for people of color or women worker hours. The matter was assigned to the Jobs, Wages and Workforce Development Committee for this hearing.

Homeless Veterans: Councilor Garrison called for a hearing regarding the state of homeless veterans in Boston. The United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) estimates that roughly 11% of the overall adult homeless population are veterans and 58,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. The City of Boston has a responsibility to ensure that our veterans receive the care and benefits they have rightfully earned in their service to our country, and to create a welcoming and safe home for them to return to. The matter was assigned to the City, Neighborhood Service and Veteran & Military Affairs Committee for  hearing.

Safety in Nightlife Settings: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing to analyze the safety of patrons, especially women, in Boston’s bars, clubs, and other nightlife venues, following the recent kidnapping of Olivia Ambrose and murder of Jassy Correia after the two women were socializing in Boston establishments. She stated that women have the right to be safe while enjoying nightlife in our city, and that the goal was to convene the Boston Licensing Board, Police, business owners, and others to discuss a more proactive approach to safety. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety & Criminal Justice for a hearing.

Artist Workspace and Live-Work Spaces: Councilors Essaibi-George, O’Malley & Janey refiled a hearing to discuss strategies for creating more affordable work space for artists, given ongoing displacement of artists who are struggling to find affordable housing and workspace. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Arts, Culture & Special Events for a hearing.

Winthrop Square: The Mayor filed an order for Council authorization of a $200,000 grant from the 115 Winthrop Square Redevelopment Project Cooperation Agreement to fund a bus rapid transit plan as described in the project's Transportation Access Plan Agreement. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.

Appointments: The Mayor made the following appointments:
  • Boston Water & Sewer Commission: Muhammad Ali-Salaam reappointed as a member until January 2023
  • Living Wage Advisory Committee: Brian Piccini reappointed as a Member until February 2022
  • Community Preservation Committee: Michael Parker, Kathryn Bennett as members until January 2022
  • Board of Examiners: Alexander MacLeod & Daniel DeRoma reappointed as Commissioners until July 2020
  • Neighborhood Jobs Trust: Frank Baker appointed Trinh Nguyen reappointed as Trustees until January 2020

UPCOMING HEARINGS (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv):

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, March 13
  • Tuesday, March 12, 11am: Hearing on Boston Public Health Commission (Healthy Women, Families and Communities)
  • Tuesday, March 12, 3pm: Hearing on the creation of a traffic enforcement unit (Public Safety and Criminal Justice)
Anyone
can sign up to receive these notes by email at
www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes
or see the list of all previous notes at
www.michelleforboston.com/notes.



ORDINANCES

Shared
mobility businesses:
Councilors Flaherty and
O’Malley reported back on yesterday’s hearing on the Mayor’s
proposed
ordinance
to set regulations for shared mobility
companies, including electric scooters. The ordinance would create a license for companies to operate in Boston, as well as a Small Vehicle Sharing Business Advisory Committee to help the Boston Transportation Commissioner establish regulations. The ordinance
does not outline specific rules, but lays out categories for the Commissioner to issue rules later, including safety, speed limits, accessibility, and the number of licenses that will be available. The matter will remain in committee for further action.


Good
Food Purchasing:
Councilor Flaherty and I reported
back on Monday’s working session on my
proposed
Good Food Purchasing ordinance
, which would
add requirements to the City’s food procurement to ensure that we are aligning our purchasing power to promote nutritious, local, sustainable, fair and humane practices along the entire food supply chain. After a hearing in December and this recent working
session, the ordinance reflects the feedback and work of a wide coalition of advocates, the Boston Public Schools’ Director of Food and Nutrition Services, and the Administration. We are aiming for a vote on this revised language next week.

Mental
Health Commission:
Councilor Essaibi-George filed
an
ordinance
to establish an independent mental health commission
.
She noted that the City of Boston should provide and promote prevention and treatment services and programs, while also advancing the range of policies needed to take on the structural issues at the root of many mental health conditions. An independent commission
could establish a program for coordination and implementation of these policies across agencies and departments.  The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Right
of Free Petition:
We did not take a vote on my
proposed ordinance to give residents a way to directly shape the Council agenda, as announced at the last Council meeting. Several colleagues asked for more time to study and consider the measure, so we now anticipate a vote in two weeks.

EDUCATION
BuildBPS:Councilor Essaibi-George reported back on yesterday’s
hearing on the Boston Public Schools’ facilities plan. At that hearing, several Councilors including myself asked about specific timelines and when there would be a solidified plan to give families predictability around proposed renovation projects, grade
configurations, and transitions. BPS administrators stated that the current presentation was the plan because facilities changes will lead to further changes that need community process. Councilor Essaibi-George pushed back on the characterization of this
as a plan and emphasized the need for firm timelines and budgets. The matter remains in committee.

Year
13 Programming
: Councilor Flaherty called for
a hearing regarding implementation of “Year 13” programming in the Boston Public Schools System. He stated that a number of schools across the country have implemented such programs which provide an extra year of high school, allowing for transition into post-secondary
education. A fifth year of high school, or a “Year 13”, would support not only students on track to enter four-year colleges, but also for students entering vocational, technical, or community college. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for
a hearing.

Funding
Early Childhood Education:
Councilor Flynn filed
an order for a hearing to discuss the possible allocation of linkage fees from development to fund early childhood education. Currently, linkage fees are used to fund affordable housing and job training programs, with the funds going into the Neighborhood
Housing Trust and the Neighborhood Jobs Trust. Linkage fees are currently $10.81 per square foot in total for developments exceeding 100,000 square feet, with payments of $9.03 per square foot for the housing contribution, and $1.78 per square foot for jobs
contribution. He described how currently there is a shortage of pre-kindergarten seats in Boston Public Schools, and early education programs are extremely costly for families. The matter was assigned to the Healthy Women, Families and Communities Committee
for a hearing.

Teacher
Diversity in Boston Public Schools:
Councilor
Janey called for a hearing regarding teacher diversity in Boston Public Schools. She noted that there is a stated goal in the district's 2016 Opportunity and Achievement Gap Policy, that the district should have employees who reflect the demographics of BPS
students. Research on the impact of teacher diversity has found that students with teachers of the same race can substantially improve educational outcomes for all students, and greater diversity of teachers improves social-emotional outcomes for students
of color. She noted that 86% of BPS students are Black, Latino, or Asian, yet only 38% of teachers are Black, Latino, or Asian, and teacher diversity has failed to increase over the last ten years, despite policy goals and a court desegregation order directing
the district to increase. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

HEALTHY
COMMUNITIES
Black
Maternal Health, Racial and Gender Equity in the Healthcare System:

Councilors O’Malley and Janey filed an order on black maternal health, racial and gender equity in the healthcare system. They noted that the United States has the highest rate of deaths from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy compared to any
other developed country, 18 per 100,000 births. The maternal mortality rate for black women is 40 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 12.4 for white women. Massachusetts has one of the lowest rates of maternal mortality in the country, yet the Massachusetts
State Health Assessment documents that persistent prenatal care disparities remain for black mothers. The matter was assigned to the Healthy Women, Families and Communities Committee for a hearing.

Communities
Impacted by Violence and Trauma:
I called for
a follow-up working session on communities impacted by violence and trauma, continuing the progress from the Council’s listening-only session that then-Councilor Pressley convened last year in her last act on the City Council. At that hearing, I committed
to follow up within three months to identify prescriptive recommendations, including how to improve and make available trauma response and mental health care. The matter was assigned to the Healthy Women, Families & Communities Committee for a hearing.

Tenants
facing Eviction and Displacement:
Councilor Flynn
filed an order for a hearing regarding ways to stem tenant eviction and displacement. Boston has one of the most expensive rental markets in the nation, with many longtime residents facing the threat of eviction and displacement from our neighborhoods. Evictions
disproportionately affect the most vulnerable residents in our City- including low income residents, people of color, immigrants, the elderly- and often these tenants do not know their rights or have attorneys to represent them when they appear in housing
court to fight their eviction. The goal is to support our residents who are at risk of losing their homes, including ways to enable tenants to have better access to attorneys and resources in housing court, or consider extending the notice period if the eviction
is for reasons other than non-payment, especially for seniors, disabled, and low income residents. The matter was assigned to the Housing & Community Development Committee for a hearing.

TRANSPORTATION
MBTA
Local Assessment:
Councilor Garrison called for
a hearing on withholding city funding to the MBTA Local Assistance Fund until service levels are better. This matter dovetails with the order that Councilor Essaibi-George and I filed last month on Boston’s $85M annual local assessment payment to the MBTA.
We will bundle the dockets together and hold a joint hearing. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development & Transportation Committee for a hearing.

MBTA
Fare Increase Proposal:
At the MBTA’s public
meeting the same evening, we submitted a petition to the MBTA with nearly 2,800 signatures collected over the last 10 days opposing the agency’s proposed fare increases and urging immediate steps toward transit equity and access. There is still time to add
your name before we send a final version at the end of the public comment period:
bit.ly/freetheT.
Over 60 people testified against the fare hikes proposal at tonight’s meeting.

OTHER
VOTES & APPOINTMENTS
Gold
Street:
We took a unanimous first vote to discontinue
a stub of Gold Street between A Street and the South Boston Bypass Road in South Boston. This narrow segment of roadway had been a thru-street until a bridge had been discontinued, turning it into a dead-end. It is too narrow to meet modern standards for sidewalk
width and accessibility, so the two abutters will compensate the City, maintain the roadway and co-own the street with cross-easements.

BHA
Redevelopment:
We voted to pass the home-rule
petition that would allow the Boston Housing Authority to participate in a redevelopment using federal funds to revive the Eva White housing development in the South End. The language would streamline the sub-bid process as consistent with other subsidized
housing development renovations and redevelopment.

Collective
Bargaining:
We voted to appropriate $9,899 to
cover the FY19 cost contained from recently settled collective bargaining agreements between the City of Boston and the New York Typographical Union, CWA Local 14156 over 2016-2020. The major provisions of the contract include base wage increases of 2% effective
the first pay period in January of each fiscal year. This bargaining unit is made up of 3 employees at the Boston Police Department.

Community
Preservation Fund:
The Community Preservation
Committee recommended $34,926,700 in allocations from FY 2018 and FY 2019 Community Preservation Fund revenues for projects outlined below. The matter was assigned to the Community Preservation Act Committee for a hearing.

Appropriations
and Grants:
We voted to pass the following appropriations:

  • $76,340 grant for the Tiny Tots Program, awarded by Leahy Holloran, Ohrenberger
    and Roslindale Community School Council to be administered by the Boston Center for Youth & Families.The grant will fund partial reimbursement of the cost of preschool programs at three BCYF sites.
  • $62,563
    grant for the the Senior Companion Program 2018, awarded by Corporation for National and Community Service to be administered by the Elderly Commission. The grant would fund stipends for part-time community service activities by low-income persons who are
    60 years and older.
  • $20,000
    grant for the Emerging Artists Award, awarded by the Boston Foundation to be administered by the Department of Arts and Culture. The grant will fund the original creation of contemporary artwork by emerging artists.
  • $2,700
    grant for the Eos Foundation Fellowship, awarded by the Eos Foundation to be administered by the Mayor's Office to fund an internship program.



Appointments:The Mayor made the following appointments:

  • Local 1952 Housing Trust Fund: William Onuoha, Brian Doherty, Bethany Serota
    & Domonique Williams as Trustees until January 2020
  • Make
    Boston Shine Trust Fund: Jerome Smith, Inez Foster, Jacob Wessel, Kaira Fox & Manar Swaby as Trustees until January 2020



UPCOMING
HEARINGS
(In the City Council Chamber unless
otherwise noted. Watch at:

https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv):

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, March 6
  • Thursday
    February 28th, 9:30am: Hearing on MBTA Better Buses Project (Planning, Development & Transportation)
  • Thursday
    February 28th, 12pm: Hearing on BPS Transportation Budget (Ways & Means)
  • Thursday
    February 28th, 2pm: Hearing on Divestment and Socially Responsible Investing (Ways & Means)
  • Monday
    March 4th, 2pm: Hearing on
    Safety and Security Measures taken
    to Protect School Environments (Education)
  • Monday
    March 4th, 6pm: Hearing on South Boston Interim Planning Overlay District (Planning, Development & Transportation)
  • Tuesday
    March 5th, 10am: Hearing on Admissions to Boston Exam Schools (Education)
  • Tuesday
    March 5th, 1pm: Hearing on Use of Public Ways for Special Events (Planning, Development & Transportation)

https://www.facebook.com/events/330260764259576/
Since the MBTA announced its plan on January 28th to hike fares by 6% this coming July, I’ve shared my thoughts in print, on TV, and on the radio. My bottom line is this: increasing public transportation ridership is the single most important step we can take to reverse the effects of climate change. Fare hikes would take us in the wrong direction, and they would further burden residents who can least afford transportation alternatives.  

We’re collecting signatures to show the MBTA the overwhelming community support we have in rejecting their plan to take us backwards for our families, economy, and planet. Please see below for the full text of our petition. Will

Please join me at the MBTA’s public meeting on this fare hike proposal to share your thoughts in person: Wednesday, February 27th, 6:30PM at the State Transportation building, 10 Park Plaza 2nd floor.


P.S. - Don’t forget to forward our petition to friends and family who value the T as well!



We are halfway through Black History Month, a time when we come together to celebrate the integral role of African Americans in the success of our country. Today I challenge each of us to make a plan for advancing equity and empowerment year-round so that the gains and focus of February extend to the other eleven months of the year. Here are two actions you can take right now to help build momentum for equity and empowerment:

  1. Transit Equity: All across the region, commuters have been noticing the Rosa Parks stickers now featured on MBTA buses as a reminder of the sacrifices made to end segregation on public transit. Yet deep inequities in transit access continue to divide Boston. Black residents who commute by bus spend 64 hours per years longer on buses than their white counterparts because of less frequent and reliable service. Earlier this year, my office released a report highlighting transit inequities that create tremendous barriers for youth throughout the city. Yet the MBTA is proposing fare increases that would exacerbate income inequality, racial disparities, and climate change. Sign our petition here to oppose the MBTA fare hikes and instead support transit equity
     
  2. Closing the Wealth Gap: In 2017, then-Councilor Ayanna Pressley and I introduced an ordinance for Equity in Opportunity for City Contracting, which was passed unanimously and signed into law. The ordinance requires transparency and supplier diversity when exercising our municipal purchasing power. A few months ago, we received the first mandated report as required by the ordinance, showing that the City spent $664 million on goods and services in FY18: 0.75% of those dollars went to women-owned business enterprises, 0.65% to minority-owned business enterprises, and 0.36% to small businesses owned by Boston residents. This week Councilor Kim Janey and I called for a hearing to follow up on aligning the City’s discretionary spending with our values to address income inequality by creating wealth in our local communities. Read the report here and sign up for an update once our hearing on this issue has been scheduled.

For 28 days in February, the country intentionally centers the Black experience. Yet it is for 365 days a year that our policies and actions either lift up or break down diverse communities. Please join me in celebrating Black History Month by working towards a future together where the dream of stability, access, and opportunity for all becomes a reality for every Boston resident.



P.S. There’s still time to have an impact for the rest of the month too! Join me in taking up State Representative Chynah Tyler’s Boston Black Restaurant Challenge: dine at 4 Black-owned restaurants this month to find new favorites to support throughout the year. Tag me on social media with #BostonBlackRestaurantChallenge and I’ll share!

Dear Members of the Fiscal Management and Control Board, Secretary Pollack, and Governor Baker:

We oppose the proposal to raise MBTA fares.

The proposed 6% fare hike would place an undue burden on residents already struggling to meet transportation-related costs, totaling an unaffordable 41% increase in MBTA fares since 2012. The increased costs would push more commuters to drive, undercutting our most urgent goal of increasing transit ridership to ease congestion, limit air pollution, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We are running out of time to transform our economy and society in the face of climate change, and the Greater Boston region is now confronted with the worst traffic in the nation.The proposed fare increase represents a step in the wrong direction when we can’t afford anything less than aggressive progress forward.

We urge you to reject the fare increases and instead take steps toward a fare-free transit system to ensure the right of mobility for all:

  • Create a single youth pass with free, unlimited, year-round access to the MBTA. Currently, MBTA options for students and youth passes are needlessly complicated and inconsistent, and are turning the next generation of riders against public transportation.
  • Extend the same free, unlimited, year-round pass to seniors residing in Massachusetts.
  • Provide low-income riders with Charlie Cards and a low-income fare option, distributing these MBTA passes through agencies that administer SNAP and other means-tested benefits.

We also urge the MBTA to take immediate steps for fare equity:

  • Commit to rejecting distance-based bus and subway fares, which have been shown to be regressive, as more residents are being priced out of housing close to job centers.
  • Rezone the commuter rail fares so that all of Boston is Zone 1A and no municipality is split between multiple fare zones.
  • As the MBTA moves toward a cashless fare collection system, reject plans to spend resources on costly fare vending machines at every bus stop and instead designate the bus routes where riders will depend on cash as fare-free routes.

Finally, we ask that you focus on building a sustainable funding base for public transit:

  • Advocate for the Transportation & Climate Initiative.
  • Implement smarter tolling and congestion pricing.
  • Support increased surcharges for TNCs (such as Uber and Lyft) that encourage shared rides.
  • Support legislation to enable regional ballot initiatives that would allow voters to identify and raise revenues for transit priorities.

Transportation planning must not exist in a vacuum, and fare hikes will only continue to exacerbate the inequities and climate and public health challenges facing our city and region. Please take action to strengthen opportunities for generations to come by embracing transit equity and access.

Signed,
The Wu Committee
P.O. Box 960782
Boston, MA 02196

Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

Elections Reform: We voted on two of the three proposals that Councilor Campbell had filed at the last Council meeting:
  • Length of Council Terms: The Council voted 11-2 (Councilor Zakim and I opposed) to advance a home-rule petition that would double the length of the Council terms, from 2 years to 4 years. Several Councilors had stated at the working session on Monday and on the Council floor today that having a longer term would strengthen the Council as a counterweight to the Mayor’s office, and it would save the City money by eliminating the need to run a citywide election in the non-Mayoral odd year. Councilor Zakim and I voted against this proposal because of concerns that it would raise the barriers for new candidates to challenge incumbents. Absent campaign finance reform, this would double the amount of time and number of years that incumbents could build up warchests and make it more difficult for a first-time candidate to raise the resources for a credible campaign. Many of the instances where new candidates successfully challenged incumbents have occurred in the non-Mayoral years, so we would effectively halve the opportunities for new candidates to join the Council (in fact, it has been 22 years since an incumbent Councilor was unseated in a Mayoral-year election; the four examples of challengers winning seats in the last 20 years have all happened in the off-years, which would be eliminated under this proposal). Finally, I believe that having a two-year term makes Councilors more accountable to constituents and pushes us to be the most nimble level of government. Certainly there are projects that require more than two years, but there are also many projects that move along more quickly because of that accountability. The proposal will need approval by the Mayor and state legislature to be implemented.
  • Running for Multiple Municipal Offices: The Council voted 12-1 (I opposed) to prohibit candidates from running for two municipal offices at the same time. The most recent example of this was when Councilor Yancey in 2013 ran simultaneously for Mayor and for re-election to the Council. Proponents believe that this will force candidates to make a choice about which office to pursue seriously. I voted for this when the Council passed this docket in April 2016, but believe that in this political moment, we should take every step to encourage more people to run, not restrict ballot access. This proposal will also need Mayoral and state legislative approval to be implemented.
  • At-Large Vacancy: We did not take a vote on this docket, which would change the rules to fill an At-Large vacancy from the current 5th place finisher taking the seat to a special election process similar to the way that vacant District Council seats are filled. Councilor Baker stood to say that he would have voted against this, because although he filed this docket in 2016, he would not want to disrespect Councilor Garrison today and how she earned her seat. The matter remains in committee.

Early Voting: We voted to pass a home-rule petition filed by Councilors Zakim, Janey & Campbell to implement early voting for municipal elections. Currently, the state law only requires and allows early voting for state elections, and Boston has seen early voting drive up turnout due to convenience and flexibility. The docket will require state approval to be implemented.

Corporate Tax Break Transparency: I filed an ordinance to increase corporate tax break transparency for incentives granted by the City. Residents should be able to easily access information about which companies are benefiting from corporate tax breaks in order to understand how much of a return Boston is getting on its investment. Massachusetts received the lowest score from Pew Foundation in 2017 for its evaluation of tax breaks, and Boston’s Tax Increment Financing Program received a score of zero in transparency from Good Jobs First, while other cities, such as New York and Austin, are providing their citizens with transparent databases that hold businesses accountable. Businesses receiving tax breaks should have to share basic information on the benefits they will provide the city, including number of jobs created with wages and benefits information. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

After-Hours Construction: Councilor Flynn called for a hearing to discuss construction and development issues outside standard permitted hours of 7am-6pm, including early morning, late evening, weekends and holidays. Particularly in the South End, community leaders have questioned the frequency of permits granted for after-hours and weekend construction for emergency and extraordinary circumstances. Residents in South Boston and Chinatown have highlighted concerns regarding security and safety in all phases of development at construction sites, damages to neighboring properties, the need for adherence to approved plans, and suitable rodent control. The current penalty for demolition, erection, alteration, or repair of any building outside of permitted hours without special approval is $300 for each offense. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.

Voter Registration Information to all New Tenants: Councilor Zakim and I filed a hearing order to discuss providing voter registration information to all new tenants in Boston. Massachusetts allows eligible citizens to register to vote in person at a number of public facilities including city and town halls, via mail-in registration form, or online if the Registry of Motor Vehicles has their signature on file. 64% of Bostonians are currently renting their homes and apartments, and a number of municipalities around the country, including Seattle, Washington, and most recently St. Paul, Minnesota, have implemented ordinances requiring that landlords provide voter registration information to all new tenants upon the signing of a lease. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Civil Rights for a hearing.

MBTA Better Bus Project: I called for a hearing regarding the MBTA Better Bus Project, including the recently released 47 cost-neutral proposals to update and modernize existing routes. The Better Bus Project includes several components: continuous change, analysis, proposed near-term changes, multi-year investment strategy, and the Bus Network Redesign. These proposals are meant to lay the foundation for a bus network with more frequent, reliable service to provide better connectivity in Greater Boston. The City of Boston has a big role to play in working to advance the MBTA’s proposals, and I suggested today that the we could bundle this hearing order with the one previously filed by Councilor Essaibi-George and me on the City’s annual local assessment payment to the MBTA. Councilor Essaibi-George also noted that it would be important to add BPS bus transportation to the MBTA bus conversation. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development and Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Equity in City of Boston Procurement and Purchasing: Councilor Janey and I called for a hearing to follow up on the Equity in City of Boston Contracts Ordinance that then-Councilor Pressley and I had filed and that the Council passed unanimously in December 2017. The language included changes to the City’s RFP process, as well as requirements for quarterly reporting on total dollars expended on procurement contracts to date; the number and type of contracts entered into to; and the number and value of contracts awarded to businesses owned by women, people of color, and Boston residents. In November 2018, we received the first report regarding the City's procurement metrics as required by the ordinance, and the data showed that of the $664M spent on contracts for goods and services in FY18, 0.65% of that dollar value went to businesses owned by people of color and 0.75% went to businesses certified as women-owned businesses. This matter was assigned to Government Operation Committee for a hearing.

Right to Free Petition: Councilor Flaherty noted that he intends to move for a vote on my proposed Right to Free Petition ordinance at our next Council meeting in two weeks, since we have now had two hearings and one working session and incorporated feedback from all my colleagues.

Appropriations and Grants:
  • $440,000.00 in the form of a grant for the Nutrition Services Incentive Program, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, passed through the MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs, to be administered by the Elderly Commission. The grant will fund meals for homebound seniors. This is an estimated award total based on prior allocations. The matter was assigned to the Healthy Women, Families and Communities Committee for a hearing.
  • $200,000.00 in the form of a grant for the Immigrant Advancement Initiative, awarded by the Donor Group to be administered by the Office of Immigrant Advancement. The grant will fund programs, initiatives, events and small grants that enable immigrants to play an active role in the economic, civic, social and cultural life of the City of Boston. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
  • $25,000.00 in the form of a grant, for the FY18 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement formula grant, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, passed through the Massachusetts State Police / Crime Laboratory, to be administered by the Police Department. The matter was assigned to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee for a hearing.

Appointments: The Mayor made the following appointments to the Zoning Board of Appeals:
  • Nadine Fallon as an alternate member until July 2021
  • Bruce Bickerstaff as a member until July 2021
  • Mark Fortune as a member until July 2021
  • Joseph Ruggiero as a new member until July 2021
  • Christine Araujo as a member until July 2021

Upcoming Hearings (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv):

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, February 20, at 12pm.
  • Thursday, February 14th, 1:30pm: Gold Street Discontinuance Hearing
We started today’s meeting by joining Councilor Essaibi George in celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day with female athletes from Boston schools. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

NEW ORDINANCES--
Equity in Cannabis Licensing: Councilor Janey filed an ordinance to promote and encourage equity in the newly created marijuana industry with full participation of residents from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities. The cannabis industry is already a multi-million dollar industry in Massachusetts, with early sales having generated almost $30M. The ordinance would create a new category of equity applicants, which would include companies with 51% or more ownership stake from 1) a person who has resided in an area of disproportionate impact for at least 5 of the past 10 years, 2) a Boston resident who has a past conviction for possession, sale, or trafficking of marijuana (or his/her child or spouse), 3) someone who has resided in Boston for at least the past 5 years, 4) someone who is of Black, African American, Hispanic, or Latino descent, OR 5) someone whose annual household income is below 400% of the federal poverty level. To date, no certified minority-owned businesses have been licensed by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations committee for a hearing.

Reprecincting: Councilor Campbell and I filed an ordinance requiring a review of precincts every 5 years in Boston. All municipalities in the state except for Boston are required to undertake reprecincting every 10 years, redrawing boundary lines to equalize the population within wards and precincts. Because of Boston’s exemption, reprecincting has not happened in 90 years, and some precincts have several thousand voters, while others have just a few hundred. This leads to very long lines at certain polling locations where population has grown, and the Council previously passed a separate home-rule petition to subdivide the six largest precincts to improve voter access, which the Mayor has refiled this legislative cycle. Our proposed ordinance would require that the appropriate committee of the City Council conduct a review of city precincts every five years beginning in the year immediately following passage of this ordinance, taking into account population shifts; development in neighborhoods; impact of precinct size on polling locations, staffing, and election day operations; and other factors as necessary. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations committee for a hearing.

HOME-RULE PETITIONS--
Retirement Classification for Retiring School Officers: Councilor Baker filed a home rule petition for the retirement reclassification of Boston School Police Officers. Group classification for retirement purposes is determined by the position, occupation, and duties of an employee. Group 1 includes officials and general employees (clerical, administrative and technical workers, laborers, mechanics, and all others not otherwise classified). Group 2 includes probation officers, court officers, certain correctional positions whose major duties require them to have the care, custody, instruction or supervision of prisoners, and certain positions who provide direct care, custody, instruction or supervision of persons with mental illness or developmental disabilities. Retirement Boards assign employees to one of four specific groups based upon their classifications, and under current classification, Boston School Police Officers are Group 1. Councilor Baker stated that he believe these retirees should be treated as Group 2. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations committee for a hearing.

Terms of Office for City Councilor: Councilor Campbell filed a home-rule petition to increase the term of city councilors to four municipal years from two municipal years, similar to one that the Council passed in April 2016 but that was not approved by the State Legislature. Councilor Campbell stated that having a municipal election every two years where voter turnout is often low is burdensome for city resources, since a citywide election costs $800K to manage. Making the term of office for city councillors a four year term will reduce costs in having multiple elections. In the debate on this issue three years ago, proponents described the benefits as cost-savings, allowing Councilors to focus more on legislative work and less on campaigning, giving Councilors more freedom to take positions that challenge the status quo, and strengthening the Council as a counterbalance to the Mayor. My concern then (and why I was the lone opposition vote when it passed 12-1) remains true now: that this measure will strengthen incumbency and make it harder for new candidates to put together a credible campaign as incumbents will have an even longer period of time to build up campaign accounts would raise the barriers for newcomers. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations committee for a hearing.

Home Rule Petition Election Procedures: Councilor Campbell filed a home rule petition to restrict candidates from seeking nomination for two elected offices during the same municipal election. In 2013, Councilor Yancey collected signatures and ran for both Mayor and City Council; he ended up being reelected to the Council then. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations committee for a hearing.

Home Rule Petition Vacancy: Councilor Campbell filed a home-rule petition to change the process for filling a vacancy in the office of City Councilor At-large. Currently, the 5th place finisher in the last At-Large election becomes Councilor in the case of a vacancy (as Councilor Althea Garrison has after Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s swearing-in to Congress). The ordinance would change this so that a special election would take place, similar to the process for District Council vacancies. Councilor Garrison stood to oppose this change. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing

MBTA MATTERS--
Access to Charlie Card Pickup: Councilor Campbell filed a letter in support of increasing access to Charlie Card pickup in response to the MBTA’s plans to increase fares by an average of 6.3% and adopt a new automatic, cashless fare collection system. She noted that through a partnership with the MBTA, the City of Chelsea recently made Charlie Cards available to purchase preloaded with five dollars, or to pick up free of charge at Chelsea City Hall. Councilor Campbell offered support for a similar effort between the MBTA and the City of Boston to increase residents' access to Charlie Cards.

Fare-Free Transit: In case you missed it, I wrote an op-ed calling for a halt to fare increases and suggesting that the goal should be to increase ridership for economic mobility, equity, and climate justice. Fare-free transit would be the single biggest step we  could take toward those goals, and there are immediately feasible ways to get closer to that -- free MBTA passes for MA students and seniors, fare-free bus trips on routes where the majority of riders are low-income residents, and fare-capping rather than monthly passes. Read my whole op-ed here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/01/31/opinion-michelle-forget-fare-hikes-make-free/vJpKVu6Rft2C4Esi50mB5M/story.html.

HOUSING--
Vacant Residential Properties: Councilors Campbell, O'Malley, and Janey refiled a hearing order to discuss strategies to reduce and activate vacant residential properties in the City of Boston. Boston has roughly 1,251 city-owned vacant lots. There is limited information and no central database to indicate how many vacant properties in the city are privately owned. The lack of data creates a barrier for development and implementing solutions for utilizing these spaces. The Councilors described how other cities have explored financial disincentives including imposing a tax, or encouraging development with tax abatements with vacant properties. Others have created land banks to transform vacant parcels into parcels that are useful to the community. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Housing and Community Development for a hearing.

An Act to Sustain Community Preservation: We voted to adopt a resolution from Councilors Campbell and Flaherty in support of state legislation, An Act to Sustain Community Preservation, which would adjust the surcharge on fees for recording deeds to increase match-funding revenue as prescribed by the Community Preservation Act.

Senior Home Repair Program: Councilors Campbell and Edwards called for a hearing to discuss the Senior Home Repair Program and other housing programs run by the Boston Home Center, which works with neighborhood agencies to assist our seniors with minor to larger repairs to their homes. The Councilors described how this Program is vital to help our senior residents remain in their homes during a time when the City of Boston is experiencing a housing crisis that is displacing many residents. The matter was assigned to the City, Neighborhood Services and Veterans & Military Affairs committee for a hearing.

Appointments:
  • Boston Public Health Commission: Mayor Walsh appointed Phillomin Laptiste as a Member of the Boston Board of Health until January 15, 2022
  • Boston School Committee: Mayor Walsh appointed Lorna Rivera as a member until January 6, 2020
  • City Clerk: We voted to reappoint Maureen Feeney as City Clerk and Clerk for the City Council until February 2020

Upcoming Hearings (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv):

  • Friday, February 8th, 11am: Working session re: issues related to stray voltage (City, Neighborhood Services and Veterans & Military Affairs)
  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, February 13, at 12pm.
It's become quite a tradition to celebrate the Lunar New Year with my friends and supporters each year! A quick reminder that I hope you can join us this Thursday for our 4th annual Lunar New Year celebration -- February 7th from 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM at the Omni Parker House. For a special treat, Nüwa Athletic Club, an all-female dance group, will be performing a ceremonial lion dance again this year.
To RSVP or make a contribution towards the event, please click here: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/mwlunarny19.
Special thanks to our generous chair committee for their support! With questions or other RSVPs, please email sharon@michelleforboston.comThank you for your generosity and friendship.
See you Thursday! 
Michelle  

We
started today’s meeting by joining Councilor Edwards in recognizing and thanking volunteers from Charlestown who have been cleaning up and maintaining the land around the Bunker Hill Monument as the federal government shutdown has meant that the National Park Service has not been able to maintain the area. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

Zoning Code for Gross Floor Area: Councilors O’Malley and Baker refiled a zoning text amendment that would redefine Gross Floor Area in the Boston Zoning Code to be measured from the interior of the wall, rather than the exterior. The current zoning code defines the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) as the ratio of the gross floor area of a structure to the total area of the lot, and the Gross Floor Area as the sum of areas of the several floors of the structure as measured by the exterior faces of the wall. If the zoning code is amended, this would give developers more flexibility to have thicker walls that would not count against their developable space, and they can include increased insulation in their buildings, increasing energy efficiency and decreasing the buildings’ carbon footprint. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development, and Transportation Committee.

Investor and Commercial Properties Transfer Fee: Councilors Edwards and Janey filed a Home Rule Petition to establish a property transfer fee. The councilors noted that there is a housing crisis in the city, and real estate speculation accelerates housing unaffordability. The petition would include a fee up to 6% of the purchase price of a real estate transfer, with 3% paid by the seller, and 3% paid by the purchaser. In the case of repeated sales of properties within 24 months, the city can impose a fee of up to 25% of the sales price on the seller. There are several exemptions to the fee, including transfers under $2M (although not exempt from repeated sales fee) and transfers between family members, among others. The fees would go towards the Neighborhood Housing Trust for affordable housing. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Independent Commission on Equal Opportunity: Councilors Edwards, Campbell and Zakim filed an ordinance to establish an Independent Commission on Equal Opportunity and the Elimination of Systemic Bias in the Workplace. The City currently does not have a standard template or set of guidelines for when and how an independent investigation should be conducted, and the Mayor and the City Council should be able to call an independent investigation once they are being made aware of a pattern or practices of bias or discrimination within a city agency or the City Council. The Commission, at the request of the Mayor or by a majority vote of the City Council, can initiate an independent review of the City department in question. The Commission can also establish standards and protocols for a request or call for an independent investigation, set internal rules and procedure that will govern the Commission itself, exercise subpoena power, and issue binding policy orders to a city department. Councilors pointed to the recent Boston Fire Department investigation as an example of how an investigation without truly independent oversight can be lacking. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Fire Cadet Program: Mayor Walsh filed a Home Rule Petition to establish a Fire Cadet Program to create another opportunity to join the Boston Fire Department in addition to civil service. The goal of the cadet program would be to recruit and train more women, people of color, and Boston residents to serve as firefighters. The program would allow the Fire Department to recruit people ages 18-25 to serve as Fire Cadets to receive training and perform civilian duties over the course of the program. After completion, the cadets would receive preference to be on a list of eligible candidates for up to 33% of an incoming recruit class. The creation of a fire cadet program was among the recommendations set forth by an external review to examine the working environment for female firefighters, following allegations of discrimination, harassment, and sexism faced by female firefighters in the Boston Fire Department. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Diversity in Public Safety Agencies: Councilor Campbell filed a report with recommendations to increase the diversity in the city’s public safety agencies. It notes that the Police Department, Fire Department, and Emergency Medical Services have some of the highest paying City employees, but the diversity of the workforce in these departments are far lower than the City’s demographics. Some of the measures include making personnel data more accessible to the public, adequately funding each departments' diversity officers and recruitment efforts, and prioritizing the promotion of women and people of color on the current promotional list. You can  read the report here.

BPS Exam Schools: Councilors Janey and Campbell refiled a hearing order to examine the admission policies for the three exam schools in Boston: Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. The sponsors noted that the demographics of exam school students do not reflect the makeup of Boston Public Schools overall, since Black and Latino students make up 75% of total BPS students, but only 40% of the population in exam schools, and only 20% at Boston Latin School. Admissions to these schools is determined by test scores from the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) and grades from the last two grades, but the ISEE include subjects that are not taught in the BPS curriculum, which creates a disadvantage for students who may not be able to afford test prep. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Sober Housing: Councilors Janey and Essaibi-George refiled a hearing order on sober housing in the City of Boston. Sober housing can be an important resource for those with substance use disorder who need housing, and this include a range of community-based recovery and reentry services, including short-term and long-term residential programs, and these programs are often required as a condition of probation or parole. The matter was assigned to the Housing and Community Development Committee for a hearing.

Condo Conversion Protection: Councilors Edwards and Zakim filed an ordinance to reauthorize Boston’s condominium conversion ordinance, which will expire on December 31, 2019. The ordinance was last updated in 2014, and includes giving residents of eligible properties  a notice period, right of first refusal to purchase their unit, relocation assistance, just cause eviction, and relocation benefits if the unit is converted to a condominium. The expiration of this ordinance can pose a threat to vulnerable renters, as conversion levels increased substantially between Fiscal Years 2013 and Fiscal Year 2017. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Net Zero Carbon Requirements: Councilor O’Malley and I refiled a hearing order on requiring all new municipal buildings to have net zero carbon requirements. The Council had several working sessions on the benefits of having net carbon zero requirements, and other cities have already established roadmaps to achieving net zero carbon in their municipal buildings. In Boston, buildings contribute to over half of the greenhouse gas emissions. Councilor O’Malley referenced the City’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050, and that in the year 2019, we are closer to 2050 than to 1987. I also stood to offer a reminder that the international and national reports have given us until 2030 to drastically lower our emissions. We should set these net zero requirements for new municipal buildings--which is entirely within our control--immediately. The matter was assigned to the Environment, Sustainability and Parks Committee for a hearing.

Boston School Committee: Councilor Essaibi-George refiled a hearing order about the governance structure of the Boston School Committee. The School Committee has 7 members appointed by the Mayor, taken from a list of candidates recommended by a 13-member Citizens Nominating Panel composed of parents, teachers, principals, and representatives of higher education communities. However, many parents do not feel that families have an adequate voice in decisions and have been asking for discussions on a directly elected school committee or hybrid school committee with some appointed members and some elected members. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Equity Practices for Marijuana Licensing: Councilors McCarthy and Janey refiled a hearing order to discuss Boston’s current marijuana licensing process and explore best equity practices.The current marijuana licensing law requires the development of “procedures and policies to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities”. Many residents of color and low-income communities were disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs, and it is important that there is access for residents to enter the cannabis industry. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business & Consumer Affairs.

Traffic and Pedestrian Safety around Cannabis Facilities: Councilor Flynn filed a hearing order to discuss City policies regarding the proximity of cannabis facilities to sites where children congregate, such as daycare centers and playgrounds, as well as regulations to ensure adequate infrastructure to maintain road and pedestrian safety. While there are restrictions regulating proximity from cannabis facilities to K-12 schools, there are still many types of sites where children gather. Moreover, cannabis facilities can create traffic and encourage people to double park, which causes congestion and increase the risks of accidents. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business & Consumer Affairs.

BPS Transportation Budget: Councilor Essaibi-George refiled a hearing order to examine the spending of the BPS transportation budget and see if there are any mid-year adjustments. For FY18, $116 million was allocated to BPS transportation, and that number increased to $119 million for FY19. The cost of transportation increases year to year, yet there are still cost overruns. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Councilors Flynn and Campbell refiled a hearing order on ways to support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, reduce these violent acts, and increase the awareness about the prevalence of these incidents. In Massachusetts, nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence; 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner; and 1 in 7 women have experienced rape. There have been 266 victims of domestic violence-related homicides between 2003 and 2012. For young people, 11% of high school students and 6% of middle school students reported being physically hurt by a date. Moreover, sexual assault and domestic violence cases are often underreported, especially in immigrant, LGBTQ, and other communities of color. The matter was assigned to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee for a hearing.

Madison Park Technical High School: Councilors Essaibi-George, Janey, and I refiled our hearing order to examine the admissions policy and to discuss funding changes for Madison Park Technical Vocational High School. Madison Park is the only technical high school in Boston, but the school has many vacant seats and lacks an admissions policy. Moreover, the school needs repairs and new equipments for its students, yet there is no mention of Madison Park in the recent BuildBPS plan. Over the last year we had several hearings with Madison Park stakeholders to discuss recommendations to strengthen the school, including implementing an admissions policy, financial strategies to support the school with more funding, as well as ways to strengthen partnerships. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

South Boston Zoning: Councilors Flaherty and Flynn filed a hearing order to discuss the South Boston Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD). The POD and the expansion of Article 68 was intended to advance the City’s housing-creation goals, while creating a zoning framework that is respectful to the residents who are impacted by the growth in the area. However, the Councilors noted that there are existing flaws in the current IPOD and zoning schemes that can advance developments that are harmful to residents’ daily lives, and residents and abutters deserve better. The matter has been assigned to the Planning, Development and Transportation Committee for a hearing.

School Security: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing to analyze the safety and security measures to protect school environments. According to the US Naval Postgraduate School’s K-12 school shooting data, in 2018 there were 94 school gun violence incidents in the United States — a record high since 1970. Councilor Essaibi-George noted that every school needs locks on doors, monitored entryways, schoolwide active shooter trainings, and preventative measures against violent attacks, as well as elimination of physical, verbal and cyber bullying. Moreover, the opioid crisis continues to be an added concern, with an influx of needles found near schools. Students deserve to learn in a safe environment, and all schools should have equal access to opportunities to improve safety practices and infrastructure. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

BPS Nurses and Social-Emotional Support Specialists: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing on implementing a policy to require every school have a full time nurse, a full-time psychologist, and a full-time social worker. BPS has 125 schools with approximately 56,000 students enrolled, but only 74 schools have full-time nurses, and systemwide there are only 59 social workers, and 71 school psychologists. Even though  the BPS FY19 budget invested $2.3 million into 8 additional full time nurses, 12 additional psychologists and social workers, there are still not enough staff to serve our students. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Maximum Age Assignment Policy in BPS: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing to discuss the maximum age assignment policy and to allow those who are turning 22 during a school year to complete that school year. The the maximum age assignment policy was implemented in 1999 and only admits students up to 21 years old. However, there have been recent reports that students turning 22 during the school year are being immediately disenrolled, disrupting their education. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Independent Education Plans in BPS: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing to review the Independent Education Plan policy and process in BPS. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees the rights of children with learning disabilities and other disabilities to access a free and appropriate public education, and BPS must provide students that require additional services with an Independent Education Plan (IEPs), a document identifying the needs, goals, services and vocational outcomes for the student to succeed. More than 20% of the BPS students have disabilities and require services based on their own individual needs, but the IEP progress is complicated and stressful for families. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Harrison Avenue Corridor: The Mayor filed an order to accept and expend $1.5M from the Boston Planning and Development Agency to fund the costs related to the design and construction of the Harrison Avenue Complete Street Corridor Project. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development, and Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Appointments: Mayor Walsh appointed the following individuals as members of the Boston Public Health Commission, subject to Council confirmation:
  • Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan until January 2020
  • Jacqueline Rivers until January 2020

Electric Vehicles: At the close of our meeting, I rose to give everyone an update that our Right-to-Charge Electric Vehicles home-rule petition was signed into law two weeks ago. In October 2017, the City Council unanimously passed this petition to increase access to electric vehicle charging stations, specifically prohibiting condo associations from banning the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure on or near common property, e.g. the driveway or garage. Condo associations can add any reasonable requirements about maintenance and location. Thanks to the leadership of our state sponsors State Representative Adrian Madaro and State Senator Joe Boncore for ushering the legislation through many steps on Beacon Hill!

Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, January 30th, at 12pm.

Dear Friends,
Yesterday I celebrated an early 34th birthday at home—Cass and Blaise helped bake the cake, and Conor stocked up on my favorite ice cream.


As I blew out the candles, my heart was filled with gratitude for the blessings of family, friends, and community. In the face of great challenges to our society, democracy and planet, people all across Boston and America are rolling up their sleeves to fight for a better world for all our kids and grandkids.

Today on my actual birthday, I wanted to highlight one of the partner organizations that gives me the greatest hope for a future grounded in economic mobility, racial equity, and climate justice: Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE). From developing youth environmental justice leaders, to organizing public transit riders through the T Riders Union, to providing legal services for environmental justice concerns, ACE embodies the power of community taking the lead.


Their work depends on grassroots support, and I hope you’ll learn more about ACE and consider joining me in supporting their mission with a contribution today!

Thank you for all that you do to make our city a home for everyone.


Happy New Year! Today our Council meeting started with the official swearing-in of Councilor Althea Garrison to fill the At-Large vacancy from our new Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s moving on to DC. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

Fair Work Week: I refiled an ordinance to establish fair scheduling predictability standards for City agencies and vendors that provide services to the City.  More than 4 in 5 hourly part-time workers reported that their weekly work hours fluctuated by an average of 87% week to week, and more than half of minimum wage workers say they have to work more than one job to make ends meet. Half of all hourly workers report that their employer schedules their shifts without their input, and among workers of color, this is even higher. These conditions lead to personal and financial stress from work-family conflicts, as well as difficulty balancing schedules between multiple jobs. This ordinance would require City agencies and City contractors and subcontractors to provide employees with written and good faith estimates of their work schedules in advance; that employees upon the time of hire have the right to make work schedule requests; that employees would be compensated when there are employer initiated changes to schedules occuring after advance notice; that employees have to right decline without penalty to not work long shifts that are close together, and that employers would offer available hours to existing workers first before hiring new employees. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Free Petition: I refiled an ordinance to codify the right of free petition at the municipal level in Boston. The right of free petition is unique to Massachusetts, found in Article XIX of the state constitution and dating back to colonial times. At the Massachusetts State House, the right of free petition guarantees that any citizen may file a bill through his or her state legislator. Several cities and towns have laws codifying free petition at the municipal level in place already, including Chelsea, Lawrence, Winthrop and Newton. The free petition ordinance would require the Boston City Council to hold a public hearing on the subject of any group petition signed by 500 or more residents, within three months of filing the petition. The goal is to provide another outlet for residents to get involved in influencing policy and public discourse in Boston, regardless of voter registration and immigration status. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Good Food Purchasing Standards: I refiled an ordinance for the City to adopt good food purchasing standards for all city agencies, emphasizing locally grown foods, environmental sustainability, fair labor practices, animal welfare, and nutrition. The program would support local food producers, small business owners and employees in Massachusetts food production and processing, as well as help address income inequality in our city. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing.

Early Voting: Councilors Zakim, Janey & Campbell refiled a Home Rule Petition from last year to authorize the City of Boston to offer early voting in municipal elections. Currently, the state legislation for early voting only applies to state general elections, with no access to early voting in city elections. In the 2017 municipal election, the turnout was less than 28%, and allowing voters to vote early would remove barriers to access.The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Liquor Licenses: The Mayor refiled a Home Rule Petition that Councilor Pressley had been advocating for over the last few years to expand the number of liquor licenses in Boston. The proposal calls for 184 new non-transferable licenses over three years:
  • 5 citywide all-alcohol licenses and 5 citywide beer & wine licenses, provided that the neighborhoods of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the North End would not be granted more than 3 of the city-wide licenses per year
  • The Licensing Board may grant up to 3 all-alcohol licenses and 2 wine and malt licenses for each of the following neighborhood zoning districts: Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, Roxbury, Roslindale, and Charlestown per year
  • The Licensing Board may grant up to 3 all-alcohol licenses and 2 malt and wine licenses for areas designated as Main Streets Districts by the Boston Planning and Development Agency per year
  • The Licensing Board may grant 1 all-alcohol license for the Lawn on D at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, I all-alcohol license for the Boston Center for the Arts, 1 all-alcohol license for the Bruce C. Bolling Building and I all-alcohol license for the Huntington Theater.
Additionally, the Home Rule Petition proposes “umbrella licenses” for large scale commercial or mixed-use development projects with a combined gross floor area of at least 700,000 sq.ft, including at least 125,000 sq.ft of commercial space. Operators can apply for these umbrella licenses without impacting Boston’s liquor license cap, and the annual fee will be $150,000. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Linkage and Inclusionary Development: Three separate items were filed on the City’s programs to create more affordable housing through private development:
  • Councilor Edwards filed a Home Rule Petition to amend the laws regarding linkage payments. Currently, the linkage payment in Boston totals $10.81 per square foot, exempting the first 100,000 square feet of development, but in 2016, a Linkage Nexus study was done for the City of Boston, and recommended that the linkage payment should be between $14.86-$24.04 per square foot, as well as  regular adjustments for inflation, elimination of certain exemptions, changes to eligibility criteria, shortened payment periods and other changes. To implement these recommendations, there would need to be amendments to the current statute. Councilor Edwards’ Home Rule Petition would increase the linkage fees to $21.39 dollars per square foot for affordable housing and $2.64 dollars per square foot for job training, as well as lowering the exempt gross floor area from 100,000 sq.ft to 30,000 sq.ft. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
  • Councilors Flaherty & Flynn filed a hearing order on Boston’s inclusionary development policy (IDP). IDP was created in 2000 to promote the production of affordable housing in Boston, which requires medium and large scale developments to set aside a percentage of the units to be designated as affordable units. IDP has proved to be an important tool in the production of affordable housing, although there the Councilors mentioned the need for better accountability for the program. The matter was assigned to the Housing and Community Development Committee for a hearing.
  • The Mayor filed a Home Rule Petition to increase Boston’s flexibility on adjusting its linkage rates, and to memorialize Boston’s current Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) into its zoning code. Since 1986, developers of projects larger than 100,000 sq. ft have been required to pay a linkage fee to fund affordable housing and jobs training, and Boston can adjust the linkage rate in accordance with the Consumer Price Index every three years. This Home Rule Petition would grant Boston the ability to adjust the linkage rate formula as needed. The matter was assigned to Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Use of Public Ways: Councilor Zakim refiled a hearing order from last year on the process for approving road closures on our streets for special events. He noted that nearly weekly road closures for various events can make it difficult for residents to travel, especially for residents of Back Bay, where most of the road closure events take place. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development, Transportation Committee for a hearing.  

Partial Government Shutdown Impact on Veterans and Families: Councilors Flynn and Edwards filed a hearing order to discuss how the current partial government shutdown is impacting veterans and military families in Boston. While the Department of Veterans Affairs is not affected by the shutdown, other departments and programs that provide essential services to veterans and military families are affected, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as services designated to assist female veterans, homeless veterans, and disabled veterans. The matter was assigned to the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services, Military Families and Veterans Affairs for a hearing.

Stray Voltage in Boston: Councilor Flynn refiled a hearing order to discuss issues and concerns regarding stray voltage in the city. Boston has older electrical utility cabinets, and during the winter months, the infrastructure is weakened due to the ground being saturated with salt, which can corrode wiring and grounding lugs. This poses threats to pets, and there have been multiple incidents where pets have been injured or passed away due to this, and children may be able to touch the stray voltage also. The matter was assigned to the Committee on City, Neighborhood Services and Veterans & Military Affairs for a hearing.

BPS Student Transportation: Councilor Edwards, Essaibi George & I refiled a hearing on student transportation to Boston Public Schools. Students and their families often face difficulties in getting safe and reliable transportation to and from schools, including drop-off and pick-up locations, lack of direct routes to citywide schools, alternative transportation to after-school programs, and more. Last month, my office released a report on Boston students’ transportation challenges, which you can read here: http://michelleforboston.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/BYPT-Report_final.pdf. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Pension Fund Investment: Councilors Edwards, O’Malley and I filed a hearing order to discuss disclosure and divestment of City pension funds to ensure socially responsible investment. The City has the leverage and power to be morally responsible in terms of our pension fund investments, divesting away from fossil fuels and supporting industries that are aligned with the City’s policy goals. Other cities have divested their pension funds from the fossil fuel sector and/or unethical industries, including New York City and Somerville. While the City of Boston established an interim cash investment policy outlining protocols for non-pension fund investments, it does not currently exercise socially responsible investment screens. The matter was assigned to the Ways and Means Committee for a hearing.    

MBTA Local Assessment Payment: I joined with At-Large colleagues Councilors Essaibi George & Flaherty to call for a hearing on the City of Boston’s annual assessment to the MBTA, which totaled $85.8M in Fiscal Year 2018. The revenue from local assessments levied on the 175 cities and towns in the MBTA’s service area make up the third-largest source of revenue for the agency, after state sales tax and fares paid by MBTA riders. Boston’s contribution makes up over half of the local assessment revenue, and it comprises 4% of the MBTA’s total operating budget. This $85.8M represents taxpayer dollars from all of Boston, and yet the MBTA’s fare pricing structure does not treat all Boston residents equitably. Hyde Park, West Roxbury, and Roslindale residents do not have access to subway service, and are categorized in commuter rail fare zones where it is more than twice as expensive to travel within the city. The MBTA’s governance structure is also up for debate, as the Fiscal Management & Control Board (FMCB) is a temporary structure set to expire, and the City of Boston should have a direct voice on MBTA decisions with any new governance structure. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.

BuildBPS: Councilor Essaibi-George refiled a hearing order on BuildBPS, the $1 billion ten-year facilities plan for Boston Public Schools buildings. In December of 2018, the School Committee voted to close the West Roxbury Academy and Urban Science Academy despite opposition from community and Councilors. The McCormack Middle School will be also be closed, leaving many students and families anxious and uncertain of their future. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Body Cameras: Councilor Campbell refiled a hearing order to review the results from the final study of the Boston Police Department’s body-worn camera pilot program. The pilot program started in September of 2016 for six months, and was extended for another six month in March of 2017. In March of 2018, the City Council held a hearing on the preliminary findings, and later approved $2 million for permanent implementation in FY19. In July of 2018, Northeastern University released the final report, and the hearing will seek to get updates from the final report, as well as information on the implementation. The matter was assigned to Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee for a hearing.

Traffic Cameras: Councilor Campbell filed a hearing order to discuss the possibility of creating a traffic enforcement unit within the Boston Police Department, as well as the possibility of installing traffic cameras. Boston lowered its speed limits to 25 mph in 2016, and with the City’s “Vision Zero” goal of zero traffic fatalities, as well as programs like Slow Streets, traffic enforcement is important to implementing these policies. Other cities such as New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles have installed traffic cameras to help enforce traffic laws, but while some municipalities find a decrease in in traffic violations, others are concerned about reliance of citations for the city budget, increased surveillance, and the potential for fees to create a disportionate burden for low-income residents. The matter was assigned to Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee for a hearing.

Gold Street Parcel: The Mayor filed an order to authorize the sale of a portion of Gold Street in South Boston. The parcel is about 6,261 sq. ft, and the Public Improvement Commission voted to discontinue the parcel for public use on December 6, 2018. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development, and Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Grants:
  • $2.25M Boston Fire Department State Training Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services to fund the Boston Fire Department’s Training Division for FY19 to supplement the City’s funding for training, supplies, and materials for the Training Division and Academy.The grant will be administered by the Fire Department. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice for a hearing.
  • $283,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund additional activity and programming from the Mayor’s Office of Food Access, which includes the hire of staff, program evaluation, and additional support and outreach in different neighborhoods to provide nutrition incentives to SNAP recipients. The grant will be administered by the Office of Food Access. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Healthy Women, Families & Communities for a hearing.
  • $171,242 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the Title III-Ombudsman 2019 to fund services and advocacy for seniors in nursing homes. The grant will be administered by the Elderly Commission. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Healthy Women, Families & Communities for a hearing.
  • $123,715 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the FY19 Fair Housing Assistance Program, which will fund the processing of housing discrimination complaints received by the Boston Fair Housing and Equity Commission. The grant will be administered by the Office of Fair Housing and Equity. The matter was assigned to the Housing and Community Development Committee for a hearing.
  • $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the FY19 Traffic Enforcement Program, which will fund high-visibility traffic enforcement of motor vehicle laws, which includes speeding, aggressive driving, impaired driving, and occupant protection. The grant will be administered by the Boston Police Department. The matter is assigned to Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee for a hearing.
  • $50,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for the FY19 First Responder Naloxone Administration Grant, which will fund the purchase of Naloxone and supplies for the Boston Police Department and the Fire Department. The grant will be administered by the Boston Police Department. (Passed)
  • $35,200 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the FY19 Fair Housing Assistance Travel Program, which will fund the travel costs for the Office of Fair Housing and Equity employees to attend required training. The grant will be administered by the Office of Fair Housing and Equity (Passed).
  • $3,726 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund staff and administrative expenses at City Hall Child Care Center. The grant will be administered by the Boston Centers for Youth and Families (Passed).

Appointments: the Mayor appointed the following individuals:
  • Anne Galvin as a member of the Boston Fair Housing Commission, for a term expiring December 10th, 2021
  • Stephanie Everett as a member of the Boston Employment Commission, for a term expiring July 1st, 2019
  • Kennell Broomstein reappointed as a Commissioner of the Boston Employment Commission, for a term expiring July 1st, 2020
  • Quac Tran appointed as a member of the Boston School Committee, for a term expiring January 2nd, 2023
  • Jeri Robinson appointed as a member of the Boston School Committee, for a term expiring January 2nd, 2023


Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, January 16th, at 12pm.

On Tuesday night we packed the historic Slade’s Bar and Grill in Roxbury for our annual holiday party. Each year I am humbled to gather with friends and partners to reflect on the progress we’ve seen and mobilize for the work ahead. Thank you to everyone who joined our event on Tuesday night and our efforts everyday.


This year has been especially exciting, as we pushed new legislation on housing, transparency, food justice, workers rights and climate change. Most of all, I’ve been exhilarated to see a new energy in our city and country about the importance of every individual getting involved. We’re ready to engage even more residents across the city in partnership for economic mobility, racial equity and climate justice, but I need your help.

As we look ahead to a new year, could you help grow our movement of grassroots supporters demanding bold, urgent progress? Every grassroots contribution keeps this campaign energized and people-powered--would you consider giving $10, $25 or $50 to help build our movement?

Stay tuned for our year-in-review newsletter coming out next week!
Grants:
  • Fire Department FEMA Grants: $966,871 for an Accountability Management System for critical on scene activities, including Personal Accountability Reports and unit assignments and $172,427 for personnel to be trained in tech rescue in Boston and its surrounding towns and cities, assigned to the Committee on Public Safety & Criminal Justice. We also passed a $54,286 grant for 1,500 smoke alarms, 1000 carbon monoxide monitors, and 10,000 fire safety education materials for outreach and prevention activities carried out by the Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Division, and $50,124 for instructor-led, train-the-trainer courses and clinical resources to develop a peer support program in the Fire Department.
  • Waste Reduction: $2,000 from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for the FY19 Sustainable Material Recovery Program to fund materials and services for waste reduction programs. The grant will be administered by the Environment Department. (Passed)

Appointment: The Mayor appointed Kathleen Joyce as the Chair of the Boston Licensing Board, for a term expiring June 1, 2020.

Upcoming hearings (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv):

  • Thursday, October 18th, 1pm: Hearing re: BPDA’s biannual Urban Renewal Update (Planning, Development, and Transportation)
  • Thursday, October 18th, 6pm: Working session re: Redevelopment of One Charlestown. Location: Harvard Kent School.  (Housing and Community Development)
  • Tue, October 30th, 11am: Hearing re: Safety of Boston’s gas line infrastructure. (Environment, Sustainability, and Parks)
  • Our next City Council meeting will be on October 24, 2018 at 12pm

Today, we declared September 24-30 as Climate Preparedness Week in the City of Boston! Next week, community leaders are hosting events around greater Boston to help prepare residents for the dangerous impacts of climate change and extreme weather. For more information or to find out about activities near you, check out climatecrew.org/prepweek. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

Public Accommodations Protections: We voted (11-0, Councilors Flaherty & Zakim absent) to adopt Councilor O’Malley’s resolution in support of voting yes on Question 3 on this year’s ballot, which asks voters whether to maintain the anti-discrimination and public accomodation laws passed in 2016 to protect the rights of transgender people. This referendum is the first attempt in the country to repeal transgender public accommodation laws. Voting Yes would preserve the statewide anti-discrimination protections.

Commission for Economic Justice in the Construction Industry: Councilors Edwards and Janey filed an ordinance to establish a Commission for Economic Justice in the Boston’s Construction Industry. In order to better implement and ensure compliance of the revised Boston Residents Jobs Policy, the Councilors would like to establish this commission to have biannual reviews to assess union and nonunion contractors’ performance in meeting the standards set in the Boston Residents Jobs Policy. The language would require at least two public hearings a year with representatives of each of the trade unions covering Boston, and twice a year with representatives of open shop trade associations which represent non-union contractors. The Commission representatives would include one representative from each of the nine Council districts from nominees put forward by district Councilors and four representatives appointed by the Mayor (one with a history of advocating for the rights of Boston workers and involvement with education, one with a history of advocacy for workers of color, and one with a history of advocacy for women in the construction field). The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee.

Net-Zero Carbon Requirements: Councilor O’Malley reported back as Chair of the Committee on Environment, Sustainability and Parks on three working sessions over the last year on the benefits of net-zero carbon requirements and incentives for future construction. He summarized policy suggestions coming out of these sessions:
  • Incentivize density bonuses
  • Lower parking requirements
  • Require energy use intensity reporting after a year of operation
  • Include riders during the land-disposition process that new construction become Net Zero Carbot
  • Establish a Net Zero Carbon Overlay District
  • Advocate for a State building code to follow Architecture 2030
  • Hire an engineer to conduct a review of energy models and ensure quality control of Article 37
  • Support family homes in converting from oil to heat pumps
  • Expedite permitting for qualifying projects
  • Revise the floor area ratio in the zoning code to measure from the inside of the wall
  • Promote the use of eco-roofs (green, solar, solar thermal, etc)
The matter remains in Committee.

Gas Infrastructure: Councilors O’Malley, Flynn and Pressley called for a hearing to examine the safety of gas infrastructure in the city and look at our emergency preparedness measures in the face of risks from gas leaks and incidents. In the wake of what happened in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover, we need to make sure that natural gas companies have the standards to ensure the safety of neighborhoods, and that the City is taking all the necessary steps to ensure this disaster is not repeated. Specifically, the Councilors called for discussing natural gas safety features such as automatic shutoff valves, communications strategies to inform residents through multiple sources about disaster preparedness, and optimized coordination with utilities. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Environment, Sustainability & Parks for a hearing.

Employment and Residents Jobs Policy: Councilors Edwards and Janey filed an hearing order on a biannual review of the Boston Employment Commission and Boston Resident Jobs Policy. The policy, first enacted in 1983 and most recently revised in 2017, requires city-financed construction projects to have at least 51% of the working hours be performed by Boston workers, at least 40% workers of color, and at least 12% women. The Boston Municipal Code requires the Council to hold biannual hearings with the Boston Employment Commission about compliance on the Boston Residents Jobs Policy, including data on the number of compliance determinations, contractors or developers out of compliance, sanctions received, sanctions by trade, work hours by trade and total hours performed by Boston workers, women and people of color. The Councilors also noted that the hearing would consider procedural structures to have uninterrupted biannual reviews. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Jobs, Wages, and Workforce Development for a hearing.

Opioid Crisis: Councilor Essaibi-George filed a hearing order in compliance with open meeting law as the Council and Boston State Delegation convene a working session regarding a collaborative approach to tackle the opioid crisis on Monday, September 24th, at 10AM in the Curley Room at City Hall. She noted that the meeting will be open to the public, but there will be no public testimony taken.

Grants:
  • Domestic Violence Advocates: Mayor Walsh filed an authorization order for the Council to accept a $417,809 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant from the Justice Department to fund four Domestic Violence Advocates. The grant will be administered by the Police Department. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety & Criminal Justice for a hearing.
  • Youth Homelessness: We voted to approve the Mayor’s order to accept $4.92M from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the FFY17 Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. This is the largest grant of its kind that the City has ever received. On any given night, there are over 360 youth and young adults on our streets and in our shelters experiencing homelessness, not to mention youth who are couch-surfing and living in unsafe conditions who are undercounted in this number.
Grants: The Mayor filed orders to request authorization to accept the following grants:
  • Reducing $155,895 from the FY19 Reserve for Collective Bargaining to provide funding for collective bargaining agreements between Property Management and the Municipal Police Patrolmen’s Association
  • Reducing $42,146 from the Reserve for Collective Bargaining to provide funding for collective bargaining agreements between Parks and Recreation Department and the Boston Park Rangers Association
  • Reducing $23,806 Reserve for Collective Bargaining to provide funding for collective bargaining agreements between Property Management and the Municipal Police Superior Officers Association
Trust Fund for BPS Kitchens:  We voted to approve establishing the “My Way Cafe Trust Fund” following Councilor Ciommo’s recent hearing. The order creates a mechanism to accept and disburse funds for the City to renovate or retrofit kitchens in various Boston Public Schools so that fresh and healthy meals can be cooked and served on site. Councilor Edwards noted some concerns about the lack of opportunity for Councilors to shape the details of the language establishing the trust, which does not include a parent or teacher on the board, and any guarantees for continuing to provide meals with potential future shortfalls.

Upcoming Hearings (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv)
  • Thursday, 9/20, 5:30pm: Working Session re: East Boston Master Plan (Planning, Development, and Transportation)[Offsite at the East Boston YMCA, 215 Bremen Street]
  • Monday, 9/24, 10am: Working Session re: the opioid crisis (Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery)[Curley Room]
  • Thursday, 9/27, 12pm: Hearing re: land disposition and stewardship (Planning, Development, and Transportation)
  • Monday, 10/1, 3pm: Hearing to review the Boston Public School's strategies to serve off-track youth (Education)
  • Tuesday, 10/2, 1pm: Hearing re: plans regarding reconstruction of the Long Island Bridge and the reopening of service facilities (Planning, Development, and Transportation; Homelessness, Mental Health and Recovery)
  • Our next City Council meeting will be on September 26, 2018 at 12pm

Please save the date to join my annual block party in Roslindale: Thursday, August 23rd, 5-8PM! Bring the whole family for food, music, and fun outside my home on Augustus Ave. To RSVP, respond to this email or register online here: bit.ly/WuBlockParty18

Hope to see you in a few weeks!


P.S. If interested in volunteering, respond to this email or click here.

We started today’s meeting by joining Councilor Janey in celebrating local activist and community leader Stephanie Thomas and joining Councilor Pressley in thanking the advocacy organization, Parenting Journey, for their work to propose a parenting bill of rights. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

Living Wage Ordinance: Mayor Walsh submitted for Council approval an ordinance amending City of Boston Code, Ordinances, Chapter 24, Boston Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance. These amendments will ensure that City dollars are not used to undercut the prevailing standards that have been attained by individuals who clean and maintain buildings and individuals who provide security guard services, such prevailing standards exceeding the current requirements of the City’s Living Wage ordinance. The Mayor also added a transitional employment period for individuals providing such services to the City in the event that a City contract expires or is otherwise terminated. This police will provide valuable protection for workers and serve the City’s interest in maintaining a qualified and experienced contracted workforce that is familiar with the City’s facilities and work. You can view the entire ordinance here.

Back Taxes: Councilors Edwards and Flynn filed a ordinance regarding repayment of back taxes. Boston has a significant number of low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners that have property tax arrears owed to the City. Although the City provides support for payment of future taxes, such as a senior tax work-off program, there is currently a requirement that payment plans must include a 25% down payment and one year for paying off the full amount. State law allows municipalities to adopt a provision granting the ability to enter into more flexible payment plans and the ability to forgive up to 50% of accrued interest pursuant to G.L Ch. 60 Sec 62A. The Councilors propose extending the repayment period to three years in general, or five years for those with a demonstrated financial hardship and who is a senior, recently unemployed, disabled, or a veteran or on active military status. The legislation would also create the ability for the City to enter into commercial repayment agreements that could waive 50% of the interest accrued if the property owner files a written agreement for remediation of an environmentally contaminated site, leasing of at least half of the housing units at below-market rents for ten years, or leasing a retail storefront at below-market rent to a Boston business for five years. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing.

Chain Store Zoning: I filed a zoning text amendment with Councilors Janey and Edwards to amend our zoning code to regulate formula retail use, also known as chain stores, to require conditional use permits for chain stores to open in neighborhood business districts. Chain stores would be defined as an establishment with 11+ locations worldwide and satisfy at least two of the following: a standardized array of merchandise, a standardized facade, a standardized decor and color scheme, uniform apparel, standardized signage, a trademark or a servicemark. The legislation would not prohibit chain stores anywhere, but would give local residents and stakeholders a voice in community process before the Zoning Board of Appeals in how a national corporation might complement a neighborhood rather than destabilize local businesses. Councilor Janey spoke about how important small businesses are for building community and community wealth, and that chain stores may make sense in some locations but not others. Councilor Edwards stated that the North End Starbucks fight highlighted that our zoning code should treat chain stores differently from local businesses because of different impacts, both positive and negative. Councilor O’Malley expressed caution, saying that local elected officials can have a role in speaking up even in as-of-right situations, and this is a complicated matter that could have unforeseen consequences, particularly worrying about locally-owned businesses that have grown to have many locations. Councilor Campbell reinforced that the zoning code is very complicated, and chain stores may be welcome in many places. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.

Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Policy: Councilors Zakim and Pressley filed an order to adopt a discrimination, harassment, and retaliation policy for City Council employees, following working sessions to discuss details. The proposed language would codify a zero tolerance policy for any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, including Councilors, paid staff, and unpaid staff. The policy defines a process for receiving, documenting, and addressing each complaint, with deadlines for action. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Rules and Administration for a hearing.

Parent Bill of Rights: We voted to adopt Councilor Pressley’s resolution to support Parenting Journey’s Parents’ Bill of Rights. Parenting Journey, a national nonprofit based in Somerville, has established a Parents’ Bill of Rights to support policies that empower families and erode systemic barriers of oppression. These policies include paid time off to care for a new child or sick family member, comprehensive healthcare, high quality and affordable childcare, and much more. You can read more about the Bill of Rights at https://parentingjourney.org/pbor.

Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women: We voted to adopt Councilor Pressley’s resolution to urge the House Committee on Ways and Means and Governor Baker to, respectively, pass bill S.2260 “Act negating archaic statutes targeting young women” and sign it into law. She noted that with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announcement of his retirement from the court, the President and his administration can nominate a new Supreme Court judge, upending a delicate pro-choice majority. The lawsuits seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade, which provided access to safe and legal abortion care, are moving through the lower courts. There are several archaic statutes still on the books in Massachusetts that limit access to birth control and abortion and pose new threats to women’s reproductive freedom should the federal government overturn Roe. Bill S.2260 would repeal archaic laws targeting women, including the laws that could be used to criminalize abortion.

Child Care Assistance to Homeless Families: We voted to adopt the resolution filed by Councilors Pressley and Essaibi-George to support S.257 and H.2796 “An Act providing immediate child care assistance to homeless families.” Currently, there are 1,123 homeless families in Boston and parents in a shelter must prove that they take part in a “service need” such as employment or education for 30 hours a week to qualify for full-time child care, but for most families their eligibility depends on their ability to find flexible child care. Childhood homelessness has been linked to social and emotional delays among teens and low academic achievement. The passing of these bills will ensure all families, no matter their socioeconomic background have access to tools to ensure their children are adequately supported during their educational, emotional, and physical growth.

Foundation Budget Amendment: We voted to adopt Councilor Essaibi-George’s resolution supporting Rep. Dan Ryan’s amendment to cap the municipal revenue growth factor for communities like Boston and allow our city to benefit from new funding sources. Nearly every Councilor spoke about the need for Boston to be treated equitably in school funding, and how the foundation budget changes should include improvements for Boston as well.

INon-U.S. Citizen Voting: Councilors Flaherty and Campbell reported back about yesterday’s hearing on extending voting privileges in municipal elections to non-citizens, including residents and taxpayers who are legal permanent residents, as well as visa holders, Temporary Protected status recipients, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. The matter remains in Committee for further action.

Surplus Request: Frontage Road in South Boston: Mayor Walsh filed an order to declare surplus and transfer of care, custody, management and control of the following parcels to the Public Facilities Committee: 400 & 200 Frontage Road. This would enable the City to potentially sell off the Public Works facility and tow lot for private development. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.

Wetlands Protection Legislation: I filed a hearing order regarding the local wetlands protection legislation to examine the policies and resources available for the development and implementation of local wetlands ordinance. Urban wetlands are an effective land use for alleviating the effects of climate change, particularly managing flooding and reducing the urban heat island effect. They also provide important ecosystem services, such as water filtration, wildlife habitat, and pollution sequestration, including carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. A total of 198 municipalities within the Commonwealth have enacted local wetlands ordinances, and those, such as Arlington, that have included consideration of climate change in their regulations, have effectively provided better protection against flooding and heat island effects. The matter has been assigned to the Committee on Environment, Sustainability & Parks for a hearing.

Retirement Age of Police Officers: Councilors Flaherty and Flynn filed a hearing order to discuss the retirement age of Boston police officers, currently set at 65 years of age. Councilors Flaherty and Flynn stated that police officers gain significant training and experience, as well as develop relationships and familiarity with communities in our city. There is a need to retain talent and experience, as many officers have the mental and physical capabilities to continue to serve beyond the required retirement age of 65. The matter has been assigned to the Committee on Public Safety & Criminal Justice for a hearing.

Body-worn Cameras: Councilor Campbell filed a hearing order to review the Boston Police’s body-worn camera pilot program final study results. In September 2016, Boston Police began a six month body-worn camera pilot program, which was extended an additional six months to ensure sufficient data is available for an effective study of the program. Northeastern University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice has recently released their final and full evaluation of the pilot program. The matter has been assigned to the Committee on Public Safety & Criminal Justice for a hearing.

Appointments: Mayor Walsh made the following appointments:
  • Kara Elliott-Ortega as Interim Arts Commissioner of the Office of Arts & Culture, effective July 1, 2018.
  • Gayle Willett, Commissioner of Assessing, appointed Julie Castor as Assistant Assessor, effective June 9, 2018.
  • We voted to approve the Constable Bonds of Baraa Mohamed, Charles MBA and Carmen Rivera as approved by the Collector-Treasurer.
Hero Square Designation: We voted to approve the following resolutions to designate a Hero Square to recognize the following individuals’ service and sacrifice for our country:
  • Councilor Baker designated the intersection of Edison Green Street and Pond Street in Dorchester as 2nd Lieutenant Warren Francis Ames Hero Square. He joined the U.S. Army/Air Force on April 26, 1943 at the age of 19, and served as a 2nd Lt. in Hungary. He was killed in action during a battle in Hungary on March 2, 1946.
  • Councilor Baker designated the intersection of Bellevue Street and Kane Street in Dorchester as the Sergeant Victor M. Gemelli Hero Square. He was born in Roxbury and grew up in Dorchester. He joined the U.S. Army at the age of 35 and served as Sergeant in Germany. Sgt. Gemelli was killed in action on October 21, 1944 from wounds received during hostile ground action in Germany
  • Councilor Ciommo designated the intersection of Royce Road and Commonwealth in Allston as the Private First Class John MacDonald Hero Square. He served bravely in World War II with Company F, Second Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division and was killed in action on November 20, 1943 in the Battle of Tarawa. His remains were not identified and returned to his family until 74 years later and was finally laid to rest at the Massachusetts National Cemetery
Grants: We voted to approve Mayor Walsh’s authorization orders for:
  • Department of Neighborhood Development to receive $17,299,498 from the Federal Community Development Block grant. The grant will fund Housing Preservation and Production, Homebuyer and Homeowner Assistance programs, Human Services, Fair Housing, Environmental Abatement program, Main Streets and Business Assistance programs.
  • Department of Neighborhood Development to receive $5,863,642 from the Home Investment Partnership Program grant. The grant will fund development of affordable rental and homeownership housing units.
  • Department of Neighborhood Development to receive $$2,588,781 from the Housing Opportunities for Person with AIDS grant. This grant will fund Housing related services to person with HIV/AIDS, primary to provide tenant-based rental assistance.
  • Boston Police to receive $250K from the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District Public/Private Safety Initiative. The grant would fund the purchase and installation of video cameras and related equipment in the Downtown business area and assist BPD with enhancing public safety and improving quality of life in the downtown area.
  • Boston Center for Youth and Families to receive $150K from the CanShare 2018/2019 grant. The grant will fund matching and supporting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Healthy Incentives Program and the new Boston Double Up Food Buck pilot program. This funding will enable beneficiaries of these programs to double their buying power at Boston Farmer’s Market and select neighborhood convenience stores, providing greater access to fresh foods.
  • Boston’s Office of Economic Development to receive $100K from the Efficiency and Regionalization grant to fund the Greater Boston Regional Economic Compact Cities to hire a consultant who will develop an Action Plan of operational projects based on overlapping needs expressed in the municipalities’ community master plans.
  • Mayor’s Office to receive $90K from the TD Bank’s Community Gardens Grant to fund the activation of community gardens and green spaces located in the City.
  • Environment Department to receive $25K from the Barr Foundation’s Phase II of the Climate Ready Boston Initiative grant to fund a set of community-level resilience strategies recommended by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission to address climate risk
  • Boston Police to receive $13,607.50 from the Pipefitter’s Association Local Union 537 to fund the installation of two security cameras on Enterprise Street and Clapp Street
School Repairs: Mayor Walsh submitted authorization orders for the following school repairs projects, all assigned to the Committee on Ways & Means for a hearing:
  • $5,429,403 for a window replacement project at the John Marshall Elementary School (UP Academy). The order can be viewed here.
  • $600,000 for a feasibility study and schematic design work associated with partial/full boiler replacement and/or roof replacement projects at the following schools: Hernandez, Lyndon, McKay K-8, Otis, Josiah Quincy ES, Snowden, and O’Bryant. The order can be viewed here.
The projects will be expended under the direction of the Public Facilities Department on behalf of BPS and includes the payment of all costs incidental or related thereto, and for which the City may be eligible for a grant from the MA School Building Authority.
Upcoming Hearings (livestream: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv)
  • Monday, 7/16 at 6PM: Hearing on East Boston zoning initiative and master plan [off-site at Umana Academy on 312 Border Street in East Boston] (Planning, Development & Transportation)
  • Tuesday, 8/7 at 2PM: Hearing on vacant affordable housing units and improving access to those units in the City of Boston (Housing & Community Development)

There will be no City Council meetings on 7/18 and 7/25; meetings will resume on 8/1.

At the beginning of today’s meeting we joined Councilor Flynn in thanking representatives from Comcast for their annual service day in Boston’s neighborhoods, which took place this year in Chinatown. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

FY19 City of Boston & School Department Budget: We voted to pass Mayor Walsh’s resubmitted Recommended Operating Budget of $3.29 billion (unanimously) and the BPS budget of $1,112,248,805 (12-1, Councilors Campbell opposing). The revised budget includes $500,000 for expanded training on racial and gender bias, sexual harassment and employee awareness, new funding for the Elder Nutrition Program, funding to expand the number of community-based pre-K seats (for 4 year-olds) by 80 seats, a doubling of funds for the Youth Development Grant Program, additional staff for the Office of Immigrant Advancement, Office of Economic Development, park ranger program, and increased funding to support collective bargaining agreements. Councilor Edwards said she was very torn, expressing support for many of the initiatives included in the budget, but also stating that she did not believe the Administration and this budget had included a strong enough commitment to addressing harassment and discrimination, particularly for the women serving as firefighters in the Boston Fire Department. Councilor Campbell stated that she believed Boston Public Schools had enough resources to deliver quality education, but that the current systems are not performing at a high enough level given those resources, and that the School Department had not delivered on promised transportation budget savings. You can see the full budget here and the school department budget here.

Capital Budget: We voted unanimously to take the second necessary vote on the FY19 Capital Budget. Capital loan appropriations require two affirmative votes by a 2/3 majority of the Council at least two weeks apart. See more details on the 5-year, $2.4B capital budget here: https://budget.boston.gov/capital-projects.

Lobbyist Registration and Regulation: We voted (through a voice vote; Councilor Baker opposing the Home-Rule Petition) to pass an ordinance that I filed with Councilors Flaherty and Campbell to require lobbyist registration and disclosure, as well as an amended home-rule petition originally filed by the Mayor. The goal of the legislation is to ensure transparency by requiring registration and disclosure of lobbying activities, to create fairness and consistency by applying the same rules across the board, and to reinforce public trust in government by guaranteeing convenient, timely access to information about attempts to influence the government’s decisions. Mayor Walsh had previously filed a Home-Rule Petition based on state lobbying regulations and the Administration wanted to preserve fines of up to $10,000 and criminal penalties mirroring the state. My co-sponsors and I believed that we could most effectively implement lobbyist registration and disclosure requirements not through a home-rule petition, which would involve waiting for the uncertainty and longer timeline of state approval but through a city ordinance more tailored to municipal decision-making and that could be implemented immediately. The ordinance also removed thresholds in the home-rule petition that exempted lobbyists from disclosure and registration if making less than  2500 during the reporting period or if engaging in fewer than 25 hours of lobbying per reporting period, focusing instead on what counts as lobbying whether paid or unpaid, regardless of how many hours per month.More and more decisions affecting parties with significant financial interests are coming through City Hall on a regular basis (e.g. short term rentals, cannabis industry licensing, development and zoning decisions, and more). We believed it was most important to set the rules through city law now, even at the city’s standard fines of $300 per violation per month, then seek heightened penalties through a simplified home-rule petition. The ordinance additionally refined the definitions of the types of activities categorized as lobbying to match city business, and increased the frequency of disclosure from twice a year to quarterly. The provisions of the ordinance will take effect 180 days after the Mayor signs the legislation, giving some time for the Clerk’s office to set up systems for registration, access, and enforcement.

Salary Increases: We voted 11-2 (Councilors Pressley & Zakim in the minority) to pass the Mayor’s ordinance amending salary categories for certain city employees, including elected officials, following the recommendations of the City of Boston Compensation Advisory Board. The Mayor’s salary will be increased from $199K to $207K, to take effect after the next Mayoral election, and Councilors’ salary will go from $99,500 to $103,500, to take effect after the next Council election. Although I still believe that elected officials should not set their own salaries and therefore we should have a fully independent board set the amounts without a Council vote, this year’s process was as close as practically possible to an independent review in the near term. The Compensation Advisory Board retained an independent consultant to analyze classification and compensation from cities across the country, and the board voted unanimously to present this recommendation to the Mayor. The increases will not take effect this term, but now have been passed with plenty of time for anyone to run for these positions with the new compensation. You can view the committee’s report here.

City Council Personnel Salaries: We voted to pass Councilor Campbell’s order to increase certain City Council personnel salaries for the central staff members that support every Council office, and for the staff members in each Council office that report to individual Councilors. Each Councilor’s office shall receive $236,250 per year (increased from $216,250) for staff salaries excluding benefits and the President’s office shall receive $287,500 (increased from $262,500).

Jitney License: We voted to reject the Local Motion’s petition for a jitney license to operate a corporate shuttle between Boston Landing and Kenmore Square. At the hearing several weeks ago, the Boston Transportation Department representatives recommended disapproval of the license as redundant to public transportation since commuter rail stops have recently been built near the proposed pickup and dropoff locations. The situation implicates a larger concern -- many institutions and businesses operate private shuttles that should require a jitney license according to the current laws, but have not applied for a license with the city. As committee chair, I will be undertaking a larger effort to understand the law and verify licensing requirements in order to close any loopholes or amend the relevant law in order not to punish those that attempt to seek a legal license rather than operate a route under the radar.

Curbside Composting Program: Councilors O’Malley and Pressley reported back on the feasibility of implementing a curbside composting program in Boston. They both spoke on how such a program would save the City money by reducing waste sent to landfills, while also producing finished compost that could be used for landscaping in Boston’s parks and gardens or could be sold. This year, the City will add two weeks of yard waste pick ups, increasing the window for curbside leaf and yard waste, but we still do not have a plan for full curbside composting. The matter will remain in the Committee on Environment, Sustainability & Parks for a hearing.

Affordable Housing Units: Councilor Essaibi-George filed a hearing to determine strategies for streamlining the process to apply for affordable housing and to create a more rapid and efficient process for occupying affordable housing units. Currently the City is at 108% of the target pace needed to create 1,500 new units for extremely low income households by 2030, having permitted 422 new units, 348 of which have been targeted to homeless households. The process to access both ownership and rental affordable units is irregular and unpredictable for those paying increasingly more of their disposable income for housing costs, experiencing homelessness and in emergency assistance. Affordable housing will continue to make Boston a more inclusive and diverse City. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Housing and Community Development for a hearing.

Inclusionary Development Policy Fund: We voted to follow Councilor Edwards’ recommendation to pass the Mayor’s order designating $30M from the Inclusionary Development Policy Fund to the Department of Neighborhood Development to produce and preserve affordable housing.

Safe Communities Act: We voted to adopt Council Pressley’s resolution urging the state legislature to support the MA Safe Communities Act with specific provisions that would protect families from being separated. On June 20, 2018, we voted to unanimously passed a resolution condemning the current Federal ‘Zero-Tolerance’ immigration policy that is separating families at the US-Mexico Border. There is a conference committee at the Mass State House charged with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the Safe Communities Act but it is imperative that the final version of this bill include provisions that would protect parents from being torn away from their children.

Concealed Carry of Firearms: We voted to adopt Councilors Campbell’s and Pressley’s resolution to support HR38/S446 Opposing Concealed Carry Reciprocity. U.S. Representative Richard Hudson introduced HR 38 and U.S. Senator John Cornyn introduced S 446, both known as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would allow people with concealed carry permits in one state to take their weapon to any other state, even if the other state has stricter limits on concealed carry weapons than the home state in which they obtained their permit. Our nation is suffering from an epidemic of gun violence which kills over 200 Massachusetts residents every year, and we must begin taking steps to protect our residents from this public health crisis.

Disaster Housing Assistance for Puerto Rico: We voted to adopt Councilor Pressley’s resolution urging the activation of the HUD/FEMA federal program available to provide long-term relief to victims of the natural disaster of Hurricane Maria through rent subsidies, security-deposit assistance, and help paying utilities. Activating this program would help stabilize Puerto Rican evacuees in Massachusetts and throughout the nation who have been displaced by Hurricane Maria.

Everett Street in Allston: Mayor Walsh filed an order to declare surplus and authorize a sale of a certain portion of public way known as Everett Street in Allston, containing 4,417 square feet. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.

Boston Planning and Development Agency: Communication was received from the City Clerk by BPDA of the “First Amendment to the Report and Decision on the Boston Garden Development Corp, now known as the Hub on Causeway Chapter 121A Project.

Grants: We voted to approve Mayor Walsh’s authorization orders for:
  • Boston Police to receive $100,833 from the MA Department of Mental Health to fund continued support of a full-time Master’s level Mental Health Clinician to co-respond with officers in Police Districts B-2 and B-3, as well as a part-time Certified Peer Specialist.
  • Consumer Affairs & Licensing to receive $58,000 from the MA Attorney General to fund the intake, resolution, and administration of consumer complaints and outreach on topics of concern to consumers.
  • Boston Police to receive $15,000 from the Department of Public Health to fund data collection by the Bureau of Investigative Services and the Drug Control Unit.
  • Department of Neighborhood Development to accept and expend $27M from HUD for Community Development Block Grant, Home Investment Partnership Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, and Emergency Solutions Grant; $4.3M from HUD to fund investments in education, public safety, workforce development, economic development, street improvement, public art, placemaking, parks, home ownership and WiFi; $1.4M for essential services to residents experiencing homelessness, emergency shelters, and homeless prevention services.

Vacant Properties: Councilor Flynn as Committee Chair and Councilors O’Malley and Campbell as sponsors reported back on their hearing to explore solutions to vacancies in the City, including potential fees on vacant properties and the need to continue reviewing the available data. The matter remains in committee for further action.

Healthy Youth: We voted to adopt the resolution filed by Councilor Pressley to urge the State Legislature to support H.3704 “An Act relative to healthy youth” in an effort to advance comprehensive sexual education curriculum for youth that promotes inclusion, consent, and medically accurate information. The benefits of a comprehensive sex education curriculum extend well beyond curbing inflection rates and teen pregnancies and can have positive effects on social and emotional wellness. According to the biennial MA Health Youth Survey in 2015, teens reported experiencing increased rates of bullying, dating violence, and non-consensual sex. State Senator Sal DiDomenico and State Representative James O’Day have introduced the bill to require schools that teach sex education to have a more comprehensive curriculum.
Voter Registration: Councilor Zakim filed a hearing order regarding the elimination of the voter registration cutoff law and its effects on Boston. He noted the importance of giving everyone who is eligible the opportunity to register to vote and exercise their right, free of unnecessary and arcane limits. A year ago, the Massachusetts voter registration cutoff law (M.G.L. Ch. 51 Sec. 1F & 26) was ruled unconstitutional by Suffolk Superior Court in Chelsea Collaborative v. Galvin. While we are waiting for the MA Supreme Judicial Court ruling to come down shortly, Boston must take proactive steps to ensure our Elections Department is prepared to uphold the new law. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Civil Rights for a hearing.
Upcoming Hearings (livestream: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv)
  • Thursday, 6/14 at 10AM: Policy Briefing on Diversity Initiatives for Boston’s Public Safety Agencies (Public Safety & Criminal Justice)
  • Thursday, 6/14 at 1PM: Hearing on Summer Violence and Community Engagement (Public Safety and Criminal Justice)
  • Monday, 6/18 at 10AM: Hearing on Tree Coverage (Environment, Sustainability & Parks)
  • Monday, 6/18 at 3PM: Hearing on Teacher Diversity in BPS (Education)
  • Tuesday, 6/19 at 4PM: Hearing on Usage of Surveillance Technology (Public Safety & Criminal Justice)
  • Friday, 6/22 at 1PM: Hearing on Equitable Access to Public Transportation & Cashless MBTA Fares (Planning, Development & Transportation)
  • Monday, 6/25 at 10AM: Hearing on Curbside Composting (Environment, Sustainability & Parks)
  • Thursday, 6/28 at 2PM: Hearing on Resident Parking (Planning, Development & Transportation)
and 3-family homes may list an additional owner-adjacent unit for up to 120 days per year. The previously proposed exemption for medical stays is still included, as well as an exemption for corporate or institutional furnished stays of 10 or more consecutive nights. Property owners that want to use residential units for short-term rentals outside the bounds of this ordinance will still have the option of applying for and securing a change of use and occupancy for those units. The matter remains in committee for potential amendments. The next opportunity for a vote would be at our next meeting, June 6th.

Security Officers: We voted to adopt the resolution filed by Councilors Campbell and Janey in support of 32BJ security officers in Boston and Cambridge. 2,265 security officers are currently in contract negotiations, all of whom work in the Boston area, are on the front line in emergency situations, protecting the lives of CEOs, secretaries, lawyers, and other members of the public in our city. The goals of the 2018 contract - affordable health care, higher wages, retirement benefits, and better working conditions - are fair and reasonable and will mean better jobs and stronger neighborhoods. The current contract expires on June 30th, 2018.

Land Disposition and Stewardship: Councilor Edwards filed a hearing order regarding public land disposition and stewardship in the City of Boston. She stated that public land is a public good whose protection and use or disposition should further a greater purpose, such as promoting open space, enhancing cultural activity, creating recreational opportunities or expanding and preserving affordable housing in perpetuity. Currently, Boston lacks a uniform policy for land disposition that would further these community-defined priorities, including affordable housing goals that match that community’s needs and provide for the longest term of affordability, and offer the highest level of community resident ownership and control. In 2017, the Department of Neighborhood Development reported 186 land parcels and buildings sold or transferred for development or open space. Boston may have additional tools at its disposal to optimize the stewardship of land or promote long-term affordability. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development, & Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Concurrent BPD Jurisdiction: We voted to pass a home-rule petition filed by Councilor McCarthy to create concurrent police jurisdiction for State and Boston police at certain Massachusetts Port Authority properties in Boston. This legislation follows a recent public hearing and many years of conversations--the Seaport neighborhood of the South Boston Waterfront is the only place in the state where the municipal police do not have at least concurrent jurisdiction; State police have full and exclusive jurisdiction currently. As the residential population continues to grow quickly and more visitors spend time at companies and retail businesses in the area, having BPD jurisdiction (including ability to collect data, make arrests, and respond to calls) is urgent. Councilor McCarthy noted that this is an emergency law needed for the immediate preservation of public safety.

Open Meeting Law: Council Campbell filed an order for the Law Department for the City of Boston to address an open meeting law complaint on behalf of the Boston City Council.
Upcoming Hearings (livestream: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv)
  • Thursday, 5/24 at 1:00 PM: Hearing re: an appropriation from the George Francis Parkman Fund for the maintenance and improvement of certain parks (Ways & Means)
  • Thursday, 5/24 at 3:00 PM: Hearing re: amending the City of Boston Code, Ordinances, Ch. VI, Sec. 6-6.3, Schedule of Parking Fines (Government Operations)
  • Friday, 5/25 at 10:30 AM: Hearing re: Petition of Local Motion of Boston, for a license to operate motor vehicles for the carriage of passengers for hire over certain streets in Boston (Planning, Development & Transportation)
  • Friday, 5/25 at 11:00 AM: Hearing re: Petition of Limo Liner, LLC, for a license to operate motor vehicles for the carriage of passengers for hire over certain streets in Boston (Planning, Development & Transportation)
  • Wednesday, 5/30: No Boston City Council Meeting (Memorial Day holiday)
  • Wednesday, 5/30 at 11:00 AM: Hearing re: implementation of Community Choice Energy in Boston (Environment, Sustainability & Parks)
  • Wednesday, 5/30 at 3:00 PM: Working Session re: implementation of Plastic Bag Ban in Boston (Environment, Sustainability & Parks)
  • Thursday, 5/31 at 2:00 PM: Hearing re: flexible payment plans for property tax arrears (Ways & Means)
Upcoming Budget Hearings (livestream: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv)

  • Thursday, 5/23 at 11:30 AM: FY19 Budget: Parks and Recreation Department
  • Monday, 6/4 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Carryover
  • Tuesday, 6/5 at 2:00 PM: FY19 Budget: Public Testimony

Today, we joined Councilors Pressley and Essiabi-George in thanking the Samaritans for their work in suicide prevention and raising awareness. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

Reservation Road Park, Hyde Park: The skate park and turf field planned for Reservation Road in Hyde Park got a boost, as the Council voted to suspend and pass Mayor Walsh’s home rule petition seeking approval from the Legislature pursuant to Article 97 to change the use land from conservation use to playground use. In 1980 and 1981, the City acquired two parcels now known as Reservation Road Park in Hyde Park, but later legislative action changing the use to playground only listed one of the two parcels making up the site. We also voted to approve the acceptance and expenditure of a $300,000 grant from the US Department of the Interior to the Parks Department to make capital improvements to the park.

Boston Public Health Commission: We voted to fund the supplemental appropriation order for the Boston Public Health Commission for FY18 in the amount of $6,252 to cover the FY18 costs items contained within the collective bargaining agreements between the Boston Public Health Commission and the Firemen and Oilers, Local 3, SEIU. The contracts are from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2020 and include 2% annual increases in line with other collective bargaining agreements.

Arts and Culture Grants: The Mayor filed orders asking for Council approval to accept the following grants (all assigned to the Committee on Arts, Culture & Special Events except the last one)
  • $332,330 from the Boston Redevelopment Authority to fund Boston Artists in Residence programming.
  • $235,011 from the Boston Redevelopment Authority to fund the Boston Cultural Council grants to individual artists.
  • $332,330 from the Boston Redevelopment Authority to fund Boston Artists in Residence programming.
  • $250 from Runstreet Donation, awarded by Donor Group, to fund the Mayor’s Mural Crew.

Appointments: Mayor Walsh appointed the following individuals as Constables of the City of Boston, authorized to serve civil process upon filing of bond, for the period commencing May 1, 2018 and ending April 30, 2021:
  • Lorellys Arrington
  • Lamar Capehart
  • Eric Hardin
  • Daniel Manning
  • Maria Patrone
  • Carmen Rivera
  • Regina Skinner
  • Crefton Watty-Niles

Motor Vehicles License: LimoLiner, LLC submitted a petition for a license to operate motor vehicles for the carriage of passengers for hire over certain streets in Boston. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development and Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Liquor Licenses: Government Operations Committee Chair Flaherty and sponsor Councilor Pressley reported back on yesterday’s hearing regarding a home-rule petition for a Special Law to authorize additional non-transferable liquor licenses in Boston: 5 citywide all-alcohol licenses, 5 citywide beer & wine licenses, 3 all-alcohol and 2 beer & wine for each of Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, and Roxbury, 3 all-alcohol and 2 beer & wine licenses for Main Streets Districts, and 1 all-alcohol license each for the Lawn on D at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston Center for the Arts, and the Bolling Building. Several Councilors voiced urgency on this matter, as neighborhoods lacking licenses (particularly in communities of color) are struggling from inequity. Councilor Flaherty noted that there was a question remaining on whether the proposal should be split in two, because there is additional concern about granting blanket umbrella licenses for a large development, and whether that results in progress for equity. The matter remains in committee.

BPD Age Exemption Petition: We voted to pass Councilor Baker’s home rule petition to waive the maximum age requirement for police officers so that Hugh Truong Ngo could proceed with the BPD exam process. He aged out weeks into the process, and Councilors noted that the hearing highlighted Mr. Ngo’s qualifications. He is also fluent in Vietnamese, and our police department very much needs Vietnamese-speaking officers and AAPI officers across the board are underrepresented.

East Boston Zoning Initiative and Master Plan: Councilor Edwards filed a hearing order for a community-driven East Boston Zoning Initiative and Master Plan. She spoke about East Boston’s rapid growth, intense development pressures, traffic congestion, and sea-level rise and flooding. East Boston lacks a comprehensive transportation, traffic and parking plan; the last master plan was completed 18 years ago and for many does not reflect the current needs of the community and what we can expect with intensifying climate change. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing in the neighborhood.

Payment in Lieu of Taxes Agreements: Councilors Edwards and Essaibi-George filed a hearing order regarding the City’s Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with tax-exempt institutions. Boston depends heavily on property tax revenues to fund education, police and fire departments, housing, social services, road plowing and maintenance, and other investments in public goods. However, nearly half of Boston’s land is tax-exempt, including land owned by educational, medical, cultural and religious institutions, city departments, state agencies, the federal government, and quasi-public organizations such as the Boston Planning and Development Agency and the Massachusetts Port Authority. Many of these institutions depend extensively on the city’s infrastructure, housing stock, roadways, and social services. The City negotiates PILOT agreements with several tax-exempt institutions in an attempt to guide them towards paying a fair share and to help them alleviate the burden on residential and commercial tax payers. The Mayor’s PILOT Task Force calls upon tax-exempt institutions to submit payments for 25% of the assessed value of their property, deducting from that payment certain community benefits that demonstrate clear value to Boston residents and any real estate taxes paid based on use. Participation in the program has deteriorated significantly since 2012, with institutions paying only 65% of dollars requested in 2017. In 2017, educational, medical and cultural institutions were expected to contribute approximately $49.5 million in cash and $52,3 million in community programming, those institutions contributed $32 million dollars, with several institutions not contributing at all and some institutions charging the City for Boston Public Schools’ use of athletic fields. The City of Boston does not negotiate PILOT agreements with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, although that Agency assists in negotiation of PILOT agreements with private leaseholders on behalf of the City of Boston. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing.

Concurrent BPD Jurisdiction: Councilors McCarthy and Flynn filed a hearing order regarding concurrent jurisdiction of MassPort-controlled properties in the city. Currently, state law specifies that the State Police is the sole police authority of Logan airport and MassPort properties located within a municipality. The Boston Police does not have jurisdiction on MassPort properties in the city. Prohibiting the Boston Police from responding to incidents on MassPort properties creates public safety concerns and may place the city at risk of litigation if the Boston Police respond to situations on MassPort properties. This type of jurisdiction is specific to MassPort properties only. The State Police and local police have concurrent jurisdiction on all other state property including DCR property, MBTA property and state roads. The proposed legislation does not take away the authority of the State Police, but adds concurrent jurisdiction for BPD. The Councilors hope the proposed amendment grants jurisdiction to local law enforcement and requires the establishment of roles and responsibilities between the State Police and local enforcement. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice for a hearing.

Short Term Rentals: Mayor Walsh tried to late-file a revised ordinance creating regulations for the short-term rental industry, including platforms like AirBnB, but it was blocked by Councilor Baker’s objection. [Because of Open Meeting Law requiring 48 hours’ notice, legislative dockets must be filed with the Clerk’s office by Monday morning in order to appear on the Wednesday meeting agenda. There is a process for submitting dockets late, but it requires unanimous consent of the Council.] That means, the item will appear on next Wednesday’s agenda and the Council can discuss it then. In the meantime, the language is available online. The amended version eliminates investor units and restricts short-term rentals (defined as fewer than 28-night stays) to owner-occupied properties, except that owner-occupants of 2- and 3-family homes may list an additional owner-adjacent unit up to 120 days per year. The previously proposed exemptions for medical stays is still included, as well as an exemption for corporate or institutional furnished stays of 10 or more consecutive nights. The docket will be assigned to the Government Operations Committee next week for a hearing to be scheduled afterwards
Happy Pi Day! Please stay warm and safe as everyone digs out from this most recent nor’easter. We started today’s meeting by joining Councilor Essaibi George in honoring Curley School 5th grader Ezeriah for setting local swim records with the Dorchester YMCA swim team and then breaking his own records! Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the list of all previous notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.

Collective Bargaining: The Mayor filed an order seeking Council authorization to fund the recently settled collective bargaining contracts with the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation. This would include base wage increases of 2% effective the first pay period of July of each fiscal year and new steps beginning in July 2018. The contract is from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2020, and includes increases to existing Quinn Bill/Education benefits (which encourage police officers to earn degrees in law enforcement and criminal justice), modified cumulative risk benefits, and increases to hazardous duty pay. The Mayor also filed orders to fund the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society - Forensic Group contract. This would include base wage increases of 2% effective the first pay period of January of each fiscal year and new specialty differentials beginning in 2018. The contract is from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2020. The matters were assigned to the Committee on Ways & Means for a hearing.

Grants:
  • We voted to authorize the City of Boston to receive $195,500 from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The grant would fund the Innovation Delivery Team’s mission to address data-driven processes to assess problems, generate responsive new interventions, develop partnerships, and deliver measurable results.

  • We also voted to authorize the Police Department to receive $6,200 from the Detective Joe Gallant Memorial Foundation. The grant would fund the purchase of technology for the Cam-Share program at District C-11 and support the BPD’s School Police Unit in purchasing student supplies and to support the unit’s “Lunch with a Cop” program. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety & Criminal Justice for a hearing.

Compensation Advisory Board Report: We received the report from the Compensation Advisory Board reviewing the salaries of elected officials, department heads and senior leadership positions as required by city ordinance every two years. Their vendor partner, Segal Waters Consulting, found that the City’s salary ranges are lower compared to the public senior market and recommended salary range adjustments for selected titles to attract and retain talent. These recommendations include moving select positions to a different pay category, increasing the salary ranges for four categories of staff, and increasing the Mayor’s and the City Councilors’ salaries by 4.2% to adjust for the change in cost of living from 2015 to 2017. The complete report is available at: http://meetingrecords.cityofboston.gov/sirepub/view.aspx?cabinet=published_meetings&fileid=235959

BPD’s Body-Worn Camera Pilot Program: Councilor McCarthy as Chair of the Public Safety & Criminal Justice committee and Council President Campbell reported back on the hearing held on Monday, March 12th. At the hearing, Commissioner Evans and the Boston Police Department summarized the preliminary study results of the BPD’s Body-Worn Camera Pilot, during which officers wore cameras for one year, starting in September 2017 and following policies drafted with input  from the Social Justice Task Force. 200 videos were collected, and BPD saw a reduction in the number of civilian complaints and the number of excessive force complaints during the time of the study. In 2011, there were 80 complaints of excessive force and in 2017, there were only 21 complaints. The final results will be available in May. The matter remains in committee for further work.

Voter Registration: The hearing on Councilor Zakim’s ordinance reducing barriers for voter registration originally scheduled for yesterday, Tuesday 3/13, was postponed due to snow. We will announce a new date as soon as it becomes available.

Public and Private Sewer Lines and Alleys: Councilor Flynn and I called for working sessions to discuss private alleys and private sewer lines, as well as potential solutions for streamlining and alleviating maintenance burdens on property owners abutting private infrastructure. Some Boston neighborhoods have private alleys that abut commercial and residential properties, where owners of these properties are responsible for the maintenance of the alleys. However, many of these alleys were designated as either private or public as early as the 1850s, and property owners abutting private alleys are often unaware of the ownership status of the alleys, as well as their upkeep responsibilities. The Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) oversees the City’s public water infrastructure and has an agency policy called the Betterment Program whereby residents of abutting private sewers can petition for their sewer lines to be accepted into the public system through a cost-sharing arrangement, but the requirements to make use of the Betterment Program often do not match the situation of neighbors who need it. Councilor O’Malley also stated that some homes in West Roxbury are still connected to septic tanks and would benefit from a discussion of public and private water infrastructure as well. The matter was assigned to the Committee on City, Neighborhood Services and Veterans & Military Affairs.

Good Food Purchasing Standards: I filed an ordinance for the City to adopt good food purchasing standards for all city agencies. The Good Food Purchasing Program, which was developed in 2012 as a set of national standards for local procurement, emphasizing local economies, environmental sustainability, fair labor practices, animal welfare, and healthy food. The program would support small business owners and employees in Massachusetts food production and processing, as well as help address income inequality in our city. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing.

Federal Interference in Elections: We voted to adopt Councilor Zakim’s resolution for the City Council to call on the U.S. Congress and our Massachusetts federal delegation to reject the current version of the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act since the current language would allow President Trump to deploy agents of the federal Secret Service to local polling locations across the country. Councilor Zakim spoke about how local elected officials must stand up against unconstitutional interference by the federal government to protect their constituents’ and all Americans’ right to vote free from intimidation.  

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 3/15 at 1:30PM: Meeting re: sexual harassment policy in the Boston City Council (Civil Rights) [Curley Room, 5th Floor City Hall]
  • Thursday 3/15 at 6:00PM: Hearing re: Redevelopment of One Charlestown Project (Housing & Community Development) [offsite at Knights of Columbus 545 Medford Street, Charlestown]
  • Friday, 3/16 at 2:00PM: Working session re: Implementation of Community Choice Energy in Boston (Environment, Sustainability & Parks)  [Piemonte Room, 5th Floor City Hall]
  • Monday, 3/19 at 10:00AM: Working session re: Ordinance Allowing Short-Term Residential Rentals in Boston (Government Operations) [Piemonte Room, 5th Floor City Hall]
  • Monday, 3/19 at 2:00PM: Hearing re: Benefits of net-zero carbon requirements and incentives for future construction in Boston (Environment, Sustainability & Parks) [Piemonte Room, 5th Floor City Hall]

I'm so incredibly proud of Michelle! As you may have heard, Michelle is one of six finalists across the country for the EMILY’s List 2018 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award.
EMILY’s List is the nation’s largest resource for women in political office. The winner will get to highlight her story and the work she's done in her community at the EMILY's List Gala next month. There is no doubt that Michelle would represent Boston (and New England) well --- and she would have the tremendous opportunity to highlight the work we’ve done together in Boston, from passing paid parental leave to improving transportation access for economic mobility, racial equity, and climate justice.
I hope you'll join me in casting an online ballot for Michelle here: https://secure.emilyslist.org/Vote-For-Michelle. The deadline to cast your ballots is this Wednesday, March 7th at 5PM.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sharon


P.S. Don't forget to spread the word and ask friends and colleagues to vote here: https://secure.emilyslist.org/Vote-For-Michelle
I was surprised to get a phone call from the President of EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in political office. I was speechless at what Stephanie Schriock told me next: I’ve been nominated as one of six finalists across the country for the EMILY’s List 2018 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award.

Over the next seven days, anyone can vote online to choose the next Rising Star Award winner, who will get the chance to share her story and priorities at the national EMILY’s List gala next month.

The award honors the commitment to community, dedication to women and families, and determination and civility that have been the hallmarks of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ career, in and out of office. It’s an opportunity to highlight the work we’ve done together in Boston, from passing paid parental leave to improving transportation access for economic mobility, racial equity, and climate justice. Previous recipients include our very own Councilor Ayanna Pressley, Philadelphia Councilor Helen Gym, Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran, and Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.

Although I was speechless to hear that I’d be on a list to honor Gabby Giffords alongside five amazing leaders, I’d have a lot to say in DC about our collective leadership in Boston and the urgency of taking action for a more inclusive, equitable and resilient world.

Could you take a minute to VOTE and share the link with your friends and family? Voting is open now and goes until 5pm on Wednesday, March 7th:


Last night I was honored to receive the Massachusetts Democratic Party's 2017 Eleanor Roosevelt Award. It was a pleasure to celebrate with Franklin Roosevelt award winner Congressman Jim McGovern, as well as activists and elected officials from across the Commonwealth. 
It was also an incredible opportunity to talk with fellow Democrats about our shared future.
We live in uncertain times. We’re grappling with serious matters from health care to affordable housing, immigration to infrastructure, and the urgency of climate change. And we are faced with the misguided policies of a presidential administration that would roll back advances in civil and human rights that generations have fought for.
Rather than letting the fear and confusion in today's rhetoric distract us from who we are as a country, we need to follow the example of Eleanor Roosevelt, who said: “Government exists for one purpose – to make life better for all people.” She was at the forefront of fights for political and economic inclusion that we carry on today. 
Eleanor Roosevelt was an unapologetic liberal who made her vision of a better world a reality through an unassuming, unconditional accessibility to people who don’t usually see politicians in their midst. That is the charge for elected officials and activists today.
It is a charge I am ready to take on in every fight to fund education and transportation, to provide access to early education and affordable housing, and to ensure streets for people and local sustainability. And I am excited about the future of Massachusetts because last night reminded me of how many strong, progressive allies we have in this movement.
         
Thank you for joining me on this journey to build a City of Boston that makes life better for all people. 
Michelle

P.S. Please join me in the march, not just figuratively but literally! Sign up here to walk with us this month at the Dorchester Day, Pride, or Bunker Hill Day parades.

It's official -- we are on the ballot for the fall! Thanks to the work of more than 75 volunteers we collected over 2,700 signatures in just 13 days. I am so grateful to everyone who pitched in time to give me this opportunity to run again. 
I look forward to earning every vote over the course of the campaign, and to working with you all to continue building a brighter future for Boston.
We have a lot to do in the coming weeks and months. Click here to get involved with the Michelle for Boston campaign!

As always, please reach out with any questions! 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:
  • Associate Commissioner of the Boston Parks and Recreation Commission: William Epperson until January 2021
  • City of Boston Representative to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council: John Barros until May 2020
  • Boston Employment Commission: John Redd until August 2018
Constables: We voted to suspend and confirm the appointments of 52 constables approved by the Boston Police Department. Constables have the authority to oversee evictions and serve civil process, including subpoenas, divorce papers, and modifications; the criminal background check and approval process is conducted by BPD, subject to City Council confirmation. Last fall, this process came under intense scrutiny after the shooting in East Boston that left two Boston Police officers wounded, in which the alleged shooter was a constable confirmed by the Council in April 2016 after having passed all the BPD background checks. It turned out that those background checks had been restricted to Massachusetts, so they did not uncover the suspect’s criminal record from another state. Following a Council hearing called by Councilor McCarthy, the Administration and Boston Police have changed their procedures so that today’s process requires fingerprinting and multistate background checks. Councilors Flaherty and McCarthy noted that this more intensive process resulted in eight applicants withdrawing and two being disqualified from this round of applicants.
Community Preservation Committee: Councilor Flaherty reported back on Monday’s working session on the creation of the Community Preservation Committee. State law requires that after communities opt in to the CPA, the local legislative body passes an ordinance to define the composition and procedures of the committee that will make recommendations on how to allocate CPA funds. This ordinance proposes a committee of 5 members appointed by the Mayor (heads of various agencies/commissions that oversee affordable housing, parks and open space, and historic preservation as statutorily defined) and 4 appointed by the City Council, serving staggered 3 year terms. The group would be responsible for recommending allocations of expenditures from the Community Preservation Fund, which must be appropriated by vote of the City Council. CPA projects must be related to the acquisition, creation, and preservation of open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing. At the working session, we reviewed a revised draft that included more specific language on transparency, committee member expertise, and the selection process. The Yes for a Better Boston (YBB) Coalition which had led the community mobilization efforts pushing for the ballot initiative had requested that all four Council appointments should come from a list of 12 people that YBB would provide. The Administration also drafted an ordinance that would have the Mayor appoint these seats – 1 from a list created by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and 3 from a list of 9 from YBB. Councilors expressed concern about allocating seats to specific organizations, given that ordinances will be on the books for years to come and the composition and leadership of organizations can change. Our proposal is for the Council to create a subcommittee to oversee the selection process (through an open application portal on the City website that could include support letters from organizations) and hear recommendations from the CPA Committee on allocation. Councilor Flaherty also mentioned that there was some discussion on whether the Council needed to formalize the committee structure by June 1st in order for the City to begin collecting and potentially disbursing the funds in this fiscal year; if that is the case, we would have to vote on the ordinance at next week’s meeting. The matter remains in the Committee on Government Operations.
Temporary Protected Status for Haitian Nationals: We voted to adopt my resolution filed in partnership with Councilors Jackson, McCarthy, and Zakim to urge the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals. TPS is 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. The TPS designation allows eligible Haitian nationals to temporarily continue living and working in the United States, and it was granted to Haitian nationals who were in the US as of January 12, 2010, the date of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The designation has been renewed multiple times, and the latest extension expires July 22, 2017, with a decision due by May 23rd to leave enough time for a 60-day notice period. Legally, the decision should only be based on current conditions in Haiti, and whether people could safely return. We know that Haiti has not yet recovered from the 2010 earthquake and the nation suffers from economic and political crises, rampant Zika and Chikungunya, the effects of a devastating cholera epidemic, and the destructive effects of Hurricane Matthew. However, there have been recent reports that the Trump administration has requested questionable data regarding TPS beneficiaries’ involvement with the criminal justice system and public benefits system, suggesting that they are looking to build a misleading narrative. Several Councilors rose to support extending TPS for Haitian nationals, citing the strong and thriving Haitian American community in the Greater Boston region, which makes up the country’s third-largest Haitian population; nearly 1 out of 10 Haitians living in this area have TPS. May is Haitian Heritage Month, and the City of Boston is proud to be the first city in the nation to formally celebrate Haitian Heritage Month.
Malcolm X: Councilors Pressley and Jackson rose to highlight their resolution designating May 19th as Malcolm X Day in Boston in perpetuity. Councilor Pressley honored Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malikel-Shabazz) for his numerous contributions to black history, humanity, Boston, and this country. She reminded us that Malcolm X has deep Boston roots, as he came to Boston in 1940 as a teenager and lived with his sister in Roxbury for twelve years. She also emphasized that Malcolm X was a product of Boston and a reminder of the strength of Boston’s black community. Tomorrow, May 18th at noon, there will be a flag-raising over City Hall Plaza in honor of Malcolm X. In addition, the 30th Annual Malcolm X Memorial and Awards Breakfast will take place this Saturday, May 20th at 8:00 AM at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center.    
Haitian Breakfast and Flag Raising: Councilor McCarthy invited all members of the City Council and the public to attend this Friday’s breakfast and flag-raising in honor of May being Haitian Heritage Month. The breakfast will feature authentic Haitian cuisine and will begin at 10:30 AM in the City Council Curley Room. The flag-raising over City Hall Plaza will begin at noon.  
Council Chamber Accessibility Project: I gave a brief update on the Council Chamber accessibility project, which is proceeding on schedule for renovations this summer beginning in early July and lasting until September. We are finalizing plans to use Faneuil Hall for those summer meetings during construction, except that the space is booked already for the dates of our last two meetings in September, so we may need to adjust those dates or find a different location. As a reminder, the project will lift the Council floor and make our space fully accessible for those with mobility challenges and/or using wheelchairs. Currently, the Council floor is three steps down from the main floor, and the only way down is from a ramp that requires someone in a wheelchair to go all the way around to the back entrance for access. The new plans will mean that no one will have to go around to the back to access the Council floor, and that the Councilors’ entrance and President’s podium will be fully accessible. We will also change a row of public seating to provide wheelchair-accessible seating (currently nonexistent). The improvements will also include sound treatments on some of the walls to help attendees hear better, LED lights that will save energy and provide adequate lighting on one side of the Chamber that is currently dark, and new carpeting in the form of carpet tiles that are easier to clean and overall more cost-effective to maintain.
As an elected representative, I take very seriously the charge to be a voice for the most pressing needs of the day as well as the long-term stewardship of our city for future generations. 
Former Governor Mike Dukakis and I coauthored an op-ed in today's Boston Globe raising concerns about the proposed redevelopment of Winthrop Square and a process that has put short-term financial gain above transparency and community planning. Please read our thoughts here or below, and let me know what you think.
Today at 1:30PM, the Boston City Council holds a hearing on proposed legislation to exempt this development project from existing state law protecting Boston Common and the Public Garden. The committee will take public testimony at the hearing, or if you can't make it in person, you can submit written testimony by email to ccc.go@boston.gov (please CC me at michelle.wu@boston.gov so I can read your comments too).
Thank you for your advocacy and support.
Michelle
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Happy Passover and Easter! At the start of today’s meeting, we joined Councilor O’Malley in getting ready for Marathon Monday with a celebration of Olympic and Boston Marathon champion runner Joan Benoit Samuelson. As always, please reach out with any questions! 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.
FY 2018 Budget: Mayor Walsh filed his recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The budget totals $3.14B, including $1.08B for Boston Public Schools. The total operating budget represents an increase of 4.8% ($144M) over FY17. Starting at the end of this month, the Council’s Ways & Means Committee, chaired by Councilor Ciommo, will hold hearings to look into each department’s proposed budgets. The Council will vote on the FY18 budget in June. All of the associated dockets were assigned to the Ways & Means Committee. You can see more detail on the proposed budget in the Mayor’s press release at: https://www.boston.gov/news/mayor-walsh-releases-2018-recommended-budget.
Surplus City Parcels: We voted 12-0 (Councilor Zakim absent) to transfer two parcels of land to the City’s Public Facilities Commission.
  • Northeasterly corner of Richie Street and Columbus Ave in Roxbury: a subdivided 20’ sliver totaling 5,970 square feet from an existing parcel serving as a Public Works facility in Jackson Square with an appraised value of $120K. The abutting property will be developed as a 75,000 square-feet recreational center including an ice rink and indoor turf field, and the developer has expressed interest in this parcel as a potential field house. The parcel would be made available through an RFP to consider uses that increase the public benefits of the proposed rec center.
  • Willow Court in Dorchester: a 10’ sliver totaling 1,140 sf within Public Works custody, with an appraised value of $23K. The current owner of the abutting property at 68 Willow Court is building a 9-unit residential building, and would like to purchase this sliver lot to provide access to the development from the side along Enterprise Street.
Urban Renewal Progress Update: Councilor Linehan reported back on Monday’s meeting with the BPDA, the second of our biannual oversight meetings regarding urban renewal. The BPDA reported that two of the fourteen urban renewal map areas have been inventoried for Land Disposition Agreements—the South End/Lower Roxbury area and the Downtown/Central Business District area. They are now one year into the two-year action plan for inventorying LDAs and stated that they should be close to 50% complete, because the South End and Charlestown map areas were by far the largest maps. The plan is for public access to specific LDAs to be available through the BRA’s zoning viewer tool online, and for there to be significant progress about changing boundaries by the next check-in meeting. The BPDA also committed to codifying through a letter their mutual understanding with the Council that regardless of whether DHCD would consider a temporal extension of urban renewal areas as a minor modification, the Boston City Council will have a controlling vote. The matter remains in the Committee on Planning & Development for the next update meeting in six months.
Immigrant Defense Fund: Councilors Pressley and Jackson reported back on Monday’s hearing on Councilor Jackson’s order to explore an immigrant defense fund to help undocumented immigrants facing deportation or who have been detained to afford a lawyer. Councilor Jackson stated that only 4% of immigrants appealing deportation proceedings without legal representation are successful, yet there are tremendous costs when breadwinners are removed from families, e.g. $28K to put a child in foster care. The likelihood of success rises to 49% in cases with representation. The matter remains in the Committee on Healthy Women, Families & Communities.
Early Education and Childcare: Councilor Essaibi-George reported back on Tuesday’s briefing focused on funding mechanisms and cost barriers for quality early education and childcare in Massachusetts. This was our third briefing in the policy series that Councilors Pressley, Essaibi-George, Campbell and I launched, and we were joined by Ann Bookman, Director of the UMass Boston Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy; Tracy Palandjian, CEO of Social Finance; and Elizabeth Gaines of the Forum for Youth Investment. We heard about the troubling cost landscape in MA, as well as examples of funding mechanisms that other states and municipalities have launched. See the link to slides and video here: https://www.boston.gov/public-notices/22046. The matter remains in the Committee on Healthy Women, Families & Communities.
Shelter Recovery Beds: Councilor Essaibi-George reported back on yesterday’s hearing on the transition of shelter recovery beds at the Southampton Street Shelter as an informative conversation about the shift to rapid rehousing, with a goal of greater long-term stability. Councilor Jackson maintained that the Boston Public Health Department knew about the transition for a year without notifying participants, then placed residents recovering from addiction in the same programs as active users. Councilor Jackson said that since the transition, 7 residents relapsed, and 3 have been incarcerated. The matter remains in the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery.
Winthrop Square Project: Councilor Linehan filed a home-rule petition to amend the state’s shadow laws and allow for an exemption for Millennium Partners’ proposed redevelopment of the Winthrop Square Garage site. The proposal would provide an exemption for this project to cast shadow on Boston Common, as well as eliminating the remaining shadow bank that developments abutting the Common may take from, and extending shadow protections to Copley Square. Councilor Linehan described it as a great deal for the city, trading a little more shadow for $12M in taxes and $153M in public mitigation funds, including $28M for Boston Common, $28M for Franklin Park, $35M for BHA. Councilor Jackson stood to oppose the proposal, stating that the BPDA has tried to usurp City Council power through a process that has not been transparent. He mentioned that Millennium has already been exempted multiple times, that the mitigation funding was conditional on certain sales projections, and that this was set a bad precedent. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing. A home-rule petition would require approval by the Council, signature from the Mayor, and then state legislative approval as well.
Memorial Hero Square: We voted to suspend and adopt Councilor McCarthy’s resolution designating a Memorial Hero Square at 927 Harrison Avenue in honor of Chief Water Tender, Frank Elmer Smith. He mentioned that this was a revision, based on more accurate research identifying where Mr. Smith had grown up.
Announcements: Several Councilors stood in tribute to Councilor LaMattina, who yesterday announced that he will not be seeking reelection this year after over a decade on the Council and three decades working for the City of Boston.
Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions (Watch at www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/live.asp)
  • Thursday, 4/13 at 12:00PM, Ownership and Occupancy Deadline for Residential Property Exemptions (Government Operations)
  • Thursday, 4/13 at 2:00PM, Boston Police Cadet Program (Public Safety & Criminal Justice)
  • Tuesday, 4/18* at 5:00PM, Free Petition Ordinance (Government Operations) *note date change
  • Tuesday, 4/25 at 3:00PM, Community Choice Aggregation (Environment & Sustainability)
Ways & Means hearings on the proposed FY18 budget begin April 24th. The full budget hearing schedule will be published with the next Council Notes!


http://michelleforboston.com

波士頓信任條例:疏散移民執法權力的呼籲
你聽到你的喊叫在街上迴響。你絕望地看著強盜用槍指著你來搶劫。你想求助,可是你不能。你想打911,可是你心裡懷著巨大的恐懼,你的手指不能按電話上的數字。因為你知道如果你打電話,你可能會被驅逐出境。
多數報告證實很多無證移民避免向警察報案,包括很多比偷盜更嚴重的案件,因為他們害怕在聯邦法律中的安全小區(Secure Communities)項目下他們會被扣留和被驅逐出境。當地警察必需把被捕人的指紋送到國家安全部。當指紋被鑑定後,美國移民局與海關執法局(ICE) 會決定當地警察應不應該扣留他們48個小時。 ICE 然後決定被扣留的移民會不會被驅逐出境。可是這個政策威脅很多無證移民的安全,因為這阻礙著他們報案和讓罪犯逃出法網。
波士頓認識這種帶著排外主義的無證移民處理方法是無效的。 據《波士頓環球報》報導,從2008-2012年,在安全小區項目下,在麻州被驅逐出境的移民有大概51%的人是沒有犯罪前科的。近期,波士頓市議會與市長馬蒂•偉殊(Marty Walsh) 支持了一個叫“信任條款”的方案,讓波士頓警察只能扣留有著至少五年徒刑的無證移民。
 “我們的警察有著有限的資源, 市議員約書•扎肯(Josh Zakim)說,他是市議會人權與公民權利委員會的會長和讚助這條方案的議員。 “我不認為賦稅人會想把他們的錢用在[驅逐出境]上。”
驅逐出境高昂費用是不可辯駁的。根據美國前進中心的數據,在2008財政年度中,驅逐出境一個人的費用是$23,482美元,最多時每年會有400,000個人會被驅逐出境。這個費用不只增加了聯邦赤字,政府每年還會損失$200億的稅收,因為無證移民不能做正當工作。如果我們有直接途徑讓這些大部分是工人的1100萬無證移民成為合法移民,這對全國的經濟是有益的。根據美國前進中心的計算,這樣州的稅收會增加大概$7480億,所有美國職工的收入會在下十年增加$4700億。
“大部分的移民是誠實和勤奮的人,”市議員扎肯說。 “我認為無證移民和合法居民中都有同一樣多的罪犯。”事實上,在2010年,多於百分之五的勞動力是無證移民, 和當嬰兒潮那一代的職工在下二十年退休時,只會有5130萬的本地工人去做退休員工留下來的這5860萬份工。這些移民來到美國是為了有更好的生活,他們還可以為社會服務,幫助美國改善經濟。
可是很多人還是對給無證移民有機會得到身份帶著懷疑。他們認為“非法”等於不可信用。可是,很多無證移民還沒有身份是有原因的:在現時的移民法律下,低技能的無證移民非常難得到機會去改變他們的身份,他們的數量大大超過發給低技能移民的簽證。還有,老實說,很多人沒有選擇。他們的國家受到暴力與販毒集團的困擾,他們需要逃離國土。一些人已經有親戚在美國。就算法律現時更加嚴格,無證移民的數量已經上升到了1100萬。這證明著當人們無法安全地留在本土生活和美國的經濟需要工人時,非法移民會繼續地來。
一個經常被提出可以減少非法移民的提案是這樣的:如果我們提供一條直接與合法的道路給無證移民得到身份,這樣低技能工人的需求會降低,同時可以鼓勵著人們合法地進入美國。很多分析人都說了一個對移民友好的方案會有很多好處。那麼,為什麼這些方案沒有被實施呢?
“移民法律是聯邦的政策,”,市議員吳弭(Michelle Wu)解釋,她自己也是移民的女兒。 “我們在城市級別正在因為聯邦僵局而行動,因為我們認識到移民居民對我們社區和城市的貢獻。”
可是,國會沒能通過任何移民改革的方案,這包括S. 744,一條會提供W簽證給低技能職工的方案,一條“夢想”法案,和其它可以給無證移民身份而減少非法移民進入的方案。眾議院連考慮都沒有考慮參議院的改革法案。那麼,聯邦有著所有的權利,可是他們什麼都沒幹?
也許,聯邦應該把一些移民法律的權力給州和本地政府。當然,聯邦政府需要製定標準來防止一些移民條例的通過,如亞利桑那州的SB 1070 法例。可是移民法律現在已經成為一個有著不同地區需要的全國性的問題。在麻省,一個遠離南方邊境的地方,現時也因為帕特里克州長願意幫助聯邦政府暫時收容無證進美國的孩子而被牽涉到了移民問題中。在《波士頓環球報》的一個調查里,43% 的人不同意帕特里克州長的計劃,和他們很可能不會支持未來對移民友好的法律,除非他們跟負責移民執法的人有溝通和理解。如果我們把移民執法的權力分到地區政府,這樣我們可以改善居民和移民執法人的關係。在教育系統中,這種方法已經是有效地讓每個州結合自己的課程而同時滿足聯邦標準。
當然,不管誰負責執行移民法律,總會有人反對對移民友好的方案。可是這種盲目的反對不是碰撞著我們國家的基本信仰嗎?難道美國不是民主和自由的象徵?不是一處有著多種機會給來至不同國家人民的“文化熔爐”嗎?根據皮爾研究中心的數據統計,麻省幾百萬的合法移民中就有大概12-20萬的無證移民。無證移民們已經融入了我們的勞動人力和社區中。
在一個破碎的移民系統中,只是強制執行法律是無效和昂貴的。波士頓信任條款顯示著本地政府有著可以成功執行移民法律的潛力,和它挑戰著一個無功能聯邦項目的合理性。這是走向正確方向的一步。可是有人一定要行動,因為那些有權力的人失敗地實施任何改革。如果州政府有一些執行移民法律的權力,我們會更有可能有一個可用的系統。我們應該一起推動一個大大的變化在國會。這樣,我們至少可以希望,我們不會辜負擁有一個真正自由社會的美國理想。
戴佳是一個準備上高中四年級的聯盟學校(Commonwealth School)學生,也是波士頓市議員吳弭辦公室裡的一位實習生。



------波士頓市不分區市議員吳弭( Michelle Wu),藉由自己曾是小企業商家的經驗,最近提出更新波士頓市政府發放牌照,許可的25點建議。

            波士頓環球報日前刊出一篇專欄,聲稱吳弭的這些建議,有望為波士頓市奠定基礎,簡化,加快牌照,許可的申辦過程與速度。
            該文指出,從今年三月起,吳弭巡迴全市,和商家,波市各機關單位晤談,為提建議做功課。
            她提出的有些建議,很顯而易見。例如,按照波市府現行規定,企業商家要申請安裝防火警報器許可,得填報兩份不同的申請表,一份來自檢查局(ISD),另一份來自消防局。同樣的情況也發生在商業垃圾桶上。吳弭建議制定一份跨機構的單一申請表,以整合這重疊的過程。
另一項建議是排定政府各單位的客戶服務先後順序。有些創業者沒有勇氣創辦企業,因為申請牌照時,還不知道要通過申請,有哪些步驟,得等多久,就先得到一個否定答案。吳弭建議政府單位要提供明確的處理時間估計。吳弭也建議聘用小企業聯絡員來協助企業商家。
         查詢詳情,可上吳弭的網站, www.michelleforboston.com 電洽她的辦公室,617.652.0136,或發電郵 info@michelleforboston.com 

BOSTON CITY COUNCILOR MICHELLE WU FILES OPEN DATA ORDINANCE

BOSTON – Michelle Wu, Boston City Councilor At-Large, today filed an open data ordinance to be proposed at the April 9th meeting of the Boston City Council.

Following up on Wu’s 50 Ideas for Boston Families from the campaign trail (“Idea #41: Leverage data using hackathons and availability of sanitized information”), the proposed ordinance would require Boston’s city agencies and departments to make data available online using open standards developed in collaboration with the public, promoting opportunities for civic innovation.

“Government today should center on making data-driven decisions and inviting in the public to collaborate around new ideas and solutions,” said Wu.  “The goal of this ordinance is greater transparency, access, and innovation.  We need a proactive, not a reactive, approach to information accessibility and open government.”

An open data ordinance would codify open government policies and create consistency among Boston’s city departments by developing uniform technical standards.  It would institutionalize a culture of open government while simultaneously requiring city departments to balance transparency with privacy.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, 21 cities, three states, and six counties have passed open data laws.  The City of Boston maintains a data portal to make certain datasets accessible to the public at data.cityofboston.gov but does not currently have a formal requirement to make data available beyond federal Freedom of Information Act obligations.  A municipal open data ordinance would mandate that agencies and departments across the board contribute to these publicly available datasets in accordance with technical standards that ensure privacy and public safety.  Boston currently has 46 datasets available on its portal; New York City, which passed an open data law in 2012, has over 1,100 datasets at data.cityofnewyork.us.

Wu cited San Francisco and New York City as municipalities where open data laws have been particularly effective.  In San Francisco, the open data ordinance has provided opportunities to develop innovative partnerships with citizens and companies, e.g. partnering with Yelp, a business review website, to display the City’s publicly available health inspection scores on each restaurant’s Yelp profile.  New York City’s open data law required soliciting public input in developing technical standards, and the city continues to host regular competitions and challenges to invite public analysis and participation in developing new civic innovation tools.

“Boston is a world-class city full of energy and talent,” said Wu. “In addition to promoting open government, making information available to the fullest extent possible will help leverage Boston’s energy and talent for civic innovation. From public hackathons to breaking down silos between city departments, putting more data online can help us govern smarter for residents in every neighborhood.”

As Chair of the Committee on Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Chair of the Committee on Arts and Culture, Wu has prioritized strengthening Boston's innovation economy, creative economy, and neighborhood small businesses.
 

吳弭首召公聽會談企業問題

2014-03-26 15:09 [ 打印 ] [ ]

本報記者菊子波士頓報導:波士頓市首名華裔市議員吳弭(Michelle Wu)昨(25)日下午首度以小企業,創業及創新小組委員會主席身分召開公聽會,約九名市府部會首長出席報告。吳弭稍後將進社區舉辦十場聆聽民意之旅,預定四月底做總結。
吳弭與第五區市議員Timothy McCarthy,第八區市議員Josh Zakim等三人,昨日在市府大樓五樓的市議會Iannella會議廳主持會議。
波士頓市長新設的「做吧(DoIT)」部門幕僚長Matt Mayrl;上任才九個月,年僅31歲的鄰里發展部(DND)營運長Devin Quirk,企業發展組John Lynch,波士頓市長辦公室消費者事務及牌照主任Patricia Malone,市府牌照局理事Jean Lorizio,檢查局(ISD)局長Bryan Glasscock,新任消防局長等人,都出席公了聽會,分別說明各機構在處理市民申請牌照,許可上的目前做法,改善計劃等。
Matt Mayril指出,波士頓市長馬丁華殊(Martin Walsh)上任以來,積極的想為小企業出力,已指示市府各部門應用科技,簡化作業程序,修訂區域規劃規定,方便市民。
Devin Quirk表示,DND麾下有小企業發展組,與波士頓市內的20個主街機構合作,為企業主提供包括申請牌照許可,了解政府運作,發給改善營運補助等的各種協助。
在回應市議員普斯莉的認為該部門應以多種語言進社區宣傳時,Devin Quirk表示,該部門已儘量做到以多種語言為市民提供資訊,許多文件都已譯成多種語言,在民眾提出要求時,該部門也儘量配合。
檢查局(ISD)局長Bryan Glasscock表示,該局一年約需處理四萬四千份牌照,許可申請,每月有不下一千人造訪,辦理各種事務,有時的確忙不過來。不過該局已從一年半前起,啟動追蹤系統,以及網上申辦服務,應可逐步進行改善。
昨日出席會議的第一區市議員Salvatore LaMattina在離席前表示,他轄區內的一家企業,在申請牌照許可時,曾經遭遇鄰里發展部和檢查局之間不協調,令人生氣情況,找他幫忙,他才親自體會 到小企業在牌照,許可上的申請手續,有各部會疊床架屋,不必要的繁瑣現象。
昨日聆訊的主題有二:一為編號0386,有關小企業許可及牌照改革議案;一為編號0439。關於改善政府發放小企業牌照的內部處理問題。
吳弭辦公室表示,吳弭將針對創業者,擁有企業者,在未來數周舉行跨越全市的「聆聽之旅」,從經營企業者的角度,深入了解在申請牌照、許可上,關鍵問題有哪些。
吳弭辦公室歡迎有話要說者,有意見者打電話到1(617)635-3115,或發電郵到ccc.sbei@cityofboston.gov。

You may have seen the recent Globe article about my first hearing as chair of the Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee, focused on finding ways to streamline the city's permitting process and make it easier for business owners of all backgrounds to succeed in Boston's neighborhoods. For entrepreneurs just starting out--especially those who can't afford to hire outside help to navigate through the complicated and often drawn-out process--the time lost chasing permits means losing out on rent, resources, and sometimes opening their business altogether.

The hearing is this Tuesday, March 25th at 2:00 PM in the City Council Chamber (City Hall, 5th Floor), and is open to the public.  This hearing will be one step in a larger process, in collaboration with Mayor Walsh's administration, to make small business permits easier for everyone to access.  Tomorrow, we'll focus on city agencies involved in the permitting process - the work already in progress, plans for the future, and potential challenges.  In the weeks to come, we'll convene a neighborhood listening tour to hear from business owners directly about the challenges they've faced and opportunities they see.

Access to small business permits may not be the most glamorous issue, but it affects the culture and vibrancy of all our neighborhoods. I am looking forward to tomorrow's hearing to hear how government processes can be condensed and streamlined, and in the next few weeks look forward to meeting with business owners across the city to hear feedback directly from those who have had the most experience.

If you are interested in attending the hearing, it is open to the public and will be held in the Council Chamber tomorrow at 2:00 PM. Interested members of the public will be invited to testify after government officials give their updates.  If you can't make it, but would like to submit testimony, participate in one of our neighborhood listening stops, or want to know more--please call my office at 617-635-3115.   To watch tomorrow's hearing online, tune in at www.cityofboston.gov/ citycouncil/live.asp at 2:00 PM tomorrow.  
Thank you very much!
Michelle

BOSTON CITY COUNCILOR MICHELLE WU FILES HEARING ORDERS ON SMALL BUSINESS PERMITTING, ARTS FUNDING; FILES RESOLUTION SUPPORTING DOMESTIC WORKERS

BOSTON – Michelle Wu, Boston City Councilor At-Large, filed her first agenda items as Councilor at the Boston City Council meeting on Wednesday, February 26th. A brief overview of each is below.

Streamlining business permitting: In her first speech on the Council Floor, Councilor Wu called for a hearing to address the permitting process through consolidation of certain permits, licenses and fees in order to support small business owners and entrepreneurs.

“Streamlining the permitting process will empower Boston’s small businesses to create more economic opportunity in our neighborhoods,” said Wu. “From licensing milk to eggs to fortune-telling, it’s time to revisit our regulatory structure and think about how to streamline through consolidation or elimination of certain permits and licenses.”

Councilor Wu called the consolidation and elimination of some permits, licenses and fees “the first of multiple fronts” to streamline the permitting process.  The hearing order was referred to the Special Committee on Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which Councilor Wu chairs.

Evaluating the distribution of arts and culture funding: With budget season approaching, Councilor Wu called a hearing to examine how best to utilize and distribute arts funding from the City of Boston to maximize impact for the arts, cultural and creative community.

Wu cited creative examples employed by other cities, the Mayor's strong commitment to supporting the arts and culture community and creative economy through the creation of a Cabinet-level Arts Commissioner, and the Administration's plans for a designated arts and culture line-item in the budget. 

“With Mayor Walsh already having shown himself to be a champion of the creative community, including committing to an additional line-item for arts and culture in the city budget, the hearing will prepare us to make every additional dollar stretch,” said Wu. “We’ll consider examples from other cities that offer multi-year grant opportunities, individual artist grants, and other funding structures, and I hope we will have a strong showing of ideas from the arts and culture community.”

The matter was referred to the Committee on Arts and Culture, which Councilor Wu chairs.

Supporting Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights: Councilor Wu introduced a resolution in support of Domestic Workers, calling on the Massachusetts legislature to pass the “Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights” (H. 3884) sponsored by Representative Michael Moran and Senator Anthony Petruccelli.

“The legislation would provide protections to ensure safe and dignified working conditions for domestic workers such as house cleaners, nannies, and personal care attendants,” said Wu. “Domestic workers have historically been excluded from basic state and federal labor rights. This bill would offer 24 hours off per seven-day calendar week, parental leave, protection from discrimination and sexual harassment, and termination rights for live-in nannies so they would not become immediately homeless if fired.”

The Council voted unanimously to pass the resolution.

As Chair of the Committee on Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Chair of the Committee on Arts and Culture, Wu has prioritized strengthening Boston's innovation economy, creative economy, and small businesses.

On these cold winter mornings, I think back to the many early hours we spent on the campaign trail outside T stations and transit hubs across the city. While shaking hands and asking for votes, I heard the stories of Bostonians from every neighborhood. Many of these conversations were with homeless women and men who wanted to tell me about their experiences at shelters, the resources they needed but couldn't find, and the ways in which the city could do better. 
These men and women included parents, veterans, LGBT youth, survivors of domestic violence. Some struggled with substance abuse or mental illness. Especially as winter brings dangerously cold conditions, access to Boston's resources--through government, nonprofits and community organizations--is especially important.

Starting next week, I'll be visiting homeless shelters across the city to understand the needs and resources available to shelter guests and staff. I want to find out how best to support the good work already happening, make improvements where more help is needed, and streamline resources to make services accessible for people who may not know where to look. 
Boston is a city of resources. When we connect those resources to families across all walks of life, it strengthens our commitment to each other and to being the best city we can be.
As always, please send me your ideas and feedback. Whether on homelessness, small business, education, or any other issue facing our neighborhoods--I want to hear from you. As your Councilor, I'll be attending as many neighborhood meetings and events as possible to introduce myself and my staff. If you have an event you'd like us to attend, please let us know by emailingevents@michelleforboston.com.
Together, we can make a difference for this city. I am excited to get started, and with your help, maximize our city's resources to support everyone.
Michelle


Michelle Wu, Candidate for Boston City Council At-Large
About Michelle Wu
Michelle, 28, is an attorney and community advocate. Most recently, she worked full-time on
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, where she directed statewide outreach to
communities of color. Prior to the Warren campaign, Michelle worked for Mayor Thomas M.
Menino in the Mayor’s Office as a Rappaport Fellow in Law and Public Policy. At City Hall,
she created the Restaurant Roadmap guide (available on the City of Boston website), which for
the first time outlined in one place the city’s restaurant permitting process from start to finish.
Michelle was also a driving force behind the Food Truck Challenge, which launched three new
food trucks on City Hall Plaza.
Michelle has a background in community advocacy, having worked at the WilmerHale Legal
Services Center in Jamaica Plain, providing legal advice to low-income small business owners.
She also worked at the Medical-Legal Partnership at Boston Medical Center on immigration
cases for survivors of domestic violence. Michelle has served on the boards of the Kwong Kow
Chinese School in Chinatown, the Puerto Rican Veterans Monument Square Association, and the
RoxVote coalition in Roxbury.
Michelle graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. She lives in the South End
with her husband Conor and her two sisters – Sherelle, a student at Suffolk University, and
Victoria, a student at Boston Latin School.
Check out Adrian Walker’s article in the Boston Globe about Michelle Wu, Candidate for
Boston City Council At-Large.
For more information go to: www.Michelleforboston.com



BOSTON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE MICHELLE WU ANNOUNCES NEW HIRES
Campaign Manager and Finance Director Join Growing Team

Michelle Wu announced today that she has hired Dan Murphy, a veteran of several Massachusetts campaigns, as her Campaign Manager.  Additionally, Rachel Schwarzman joins the staff as Finance Director.
 “I’m thrilled to have Dan and Rachel join the campaign,” said Wu, a candidate for Boston City Councilor At-Large.  “They bring energy, talent and fresh perspectives to the quest of involving more people in city government and the task of organizing an inclusive, grassroots campaign.”
 Murphy has worked most recently on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign as a political consultant and organizer, and on Congressman Michael Capuano’s bid for Senate as Deputy Press Secretary in 2009.  He has also worked for the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.  He was born in Boston and earned his bachelor’s degree from Emerson College.
Rachel Schwarzman joins the Wu campaign after having served as Finance Director for Joseph Kearns Goodwin’s recent bid for State Senate in the Third Middlesex District.  Schwarzman is a graduate of Boston University, and lives in the South End.  
“This is going to be an exciting campaign,” Murphy said. “We have a dynamic candidate with original ideas, a skilled Finance Director with eager donors, and a group of committed volunteers ready to take Michelle’s progressive message and pragmatic approach directly to the voters, neighborhood by neighborhood, door to door.”
 “We are proud that we have raised more than $48,000, but more importantly, that our donor list reflects a diverse coalition of support,” stated Schwarzman.  “We're confident that we will have the resources to compete in a city-wide campaign.”
The campaign’s strong fundraising effort complements growing support from volunteers in what will be a robust, grassroots endeavor.
About Michelle Wu
Michelle, 28, is an attorney and community advocate.  Most recently, she worked full-time on U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, where she directed statewide outreach to communities of color.  Prior to the Warren campaign, Michelle worked for Mayor Thomas M. Menino in the Mayor’s Office as a Rappaport Fellow in Law and Public Policy.  At City Hall, she created the Restaurant Roadmap guide (available on the City of Boston website), which for the first time outlined in one place the city’s restaurant permitting process from start to finish.  Michelle was also a driving force behind the Food Truck Challenge, which launched three new food trucks on City Hall Plaza.  

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