Thursday, March 05, 2015

Boston City Council Looks At Transportation, A New Superintendent, Spring & The Week Ahead

Councillor-At-Large Michelle Wu provides notes from Boston City Council meetings. The March 4, 2015 meeting was delayed by two hours for the Council to attend the Boston Municipal Research Bureau's annual meeting and hear Mayor Walsh's address (here's the text of his speech if curious: http://www.cityofboston.gov/news/default.aspx?id=20023). Please reach out to Councillor Wu with any comments. Anyone can sign up to receive weekly email meeting notes at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see past notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.   

Snow Removal Fines: Mayor Walsh submitted a home rule petition to the Council that would allow the City to impose fines up to $1,500 for failure to responsibly remove snow, slush, or ice. The proposal would allow Boston regulators to impose 3 categories of fines: 1) people, corporations, associations, and societies who remove snow/slush/ice and throw it onto a public way, 2) abutting property owners who fail to clear sidewalks, and 3) abutting property owners who fail to clear curb ramps. The current cap on fines is $300. The Mayor noted that increasing the fines would help deter bad behavior but also recover some of the costs associated with snow cleanup. The matter was referred to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Refinancing Bonds: We voted unanimously to authorize the City to issue up to $65M in refunding bonds to refinance and take advantage of favorable market conditions. The Administration estimated a savings of $9.2M over FY 2016-2029 after refinancing from 4.6% interest to 2.3%, even after fees are accounted for.

Boston 2030: Councilor Linehan proposed a hearing to develop the city's policies and projects to improve transportation infrastructure in conjunction with the City's Go Boston 2030 transportation planning initiative as we look ahead to Boston's 400th birthday. The first phase of Go Boston 2030 launched in late January, collecting 4,000 questions from 15 different neighborhood spots to develop an action plan this spring. Councilor Linehan noted that the City Council should have a seat at the table and participate in developing this initiative, given the importance of transportation infrastructure. The matter was referred to the Special Committee on Transportation, Public Infrastructure & Investment for a hearing.

Spring Clean-Up & Street Sweeping: Councilor O'Malley called for a hearing to discuss the city's plans for cleanup once the snow banks have melted. He anticipated issues around trash that has collected in the snow as well as flooding. Councilor Flaherty also noted that many youth sports leagues are scheduled to start but worried about the condition of parks and fields. The matter was sent to the Committee on City & Neighborhood Services and Veterans Affairs for a hearing.

New Superintendent: Councilor Jackson as Chair of the Education Committee announced that the School Committee selected Dr. Tommy Chang to lead the Boston Public Schools last night. Many Councilors voiced appreciation for the openness of the interview process and the Administration's model of transparency. Councilor Jackson encouraged each District Councilor to host the new Superintendent at a reception in their district to introduce him to residents and families. You can find Dr. Chang's bio and application for the job here: http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/Page/4464.

Upcoming Meetings/Hearings (all in the Iannella Chamber unless otherwise noted):
• Thursday, March 5th, 11:30AM: Residency Policy Commission meeting, Piemonte Room
• Thursday, March 5th, 6PM: Hearing on Late Night MBTA Service
• Friday, March 6th, 10:30AM: Hearing on 2024 Olympics
• Wednesday, March 11th, 12PM: Weekly Council Meeting
• Thursday, March 12th, 6PM: Hearing on Equitable Transitions for Students Receiving Special Education Services

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