Friday, June 05, 2015

Boston City Council Looks At Budget, Hotel Workers, Criminal Sanction Reform & Gun Violence

Councillor-At-Large Michelle Wu provides notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the items below and more at their June 3, 2015 meeting:

Capital Budget Vote #1: Today was the first reading for the capital expenditures portion of the City budget. Any capital appropriation requires 2 votes, at least 2 weeks apart. The individual items passed unanimously, with the exception of three dockets that Councilor Yancey objected to. He said he was conditioning his vote on the administration's cooperation in responding to his 17F information requests, and until he received the information, he would vote no. This resulted in a 12-1 vote (Councilor Yancey in the minority) on two dockets for the BRA and one involving funding for electronic access to information. You can find more detail on the capital budget here.

Hotel Workers Health & Safety Hazards: Councilors Zakim, Pressley & McCarthy called for a hearing on the health and safety of hotel workers at the Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill, which is close to MGH and hosts many patients before or after surgical procedures and outpatient treatment. The hotel workers have been exposed repeatedly to bodily fluids and medical waste but have not been provided with adequate safety equipment. The OSHA complaint and working conditions were covered by the Boston Globe a few weeks ago (https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/05/20/wyndham-housekeepers-file-osha-complaint-over-mgh-patient-waste/0CzR46Jh5lp2C5Dw82KHUP/story.html). The matter was referred to the Committee on Healthy Women, Families, and Communities for a hearing.

Resolution for Justice Reinvestment Act: Councilor Jackson filed a resolution to support the Justice Reinvestment Act (S.64/H.1429) filed by State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and State Rep. Mary Keefe on Beacon Hill. The act includes four primary reforms in criminal sanctions: 1) repeal of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes; 2) step down of certain non-violent felonies to misdemeanors; 3) creation of medical parole regulations for inmantes who are permanently incapacitated; 4) elimination of automatic collateral sanctions at the RMV for drug related offenses unrelated to operating a vehicle. Furthermore, the act requires the savings accrued from these sentencing and reentry reforms to be calculated and then reinvested into community education and workforce development programs. The matter was referred to the Special Committee on Black and Latino Men and Boys for a hearing.

Gun Violence: Councilor Jackson called for a hearing to review initiatives to reduce crime related to gun violence. He noted that although the number of murders in Boston is down this year, the number of shootings is up. He pointed to the example of Richmond, CA, which has used big data to target resources to preventing gun violence. Councilor Jackson further noted that Boston has 50 street workers, and we need to make sure they have sufficient resources. The matter was referred to the Public Safety Committee for a hearing.

**Budget Hearing Summaries**

In order to make the FY16 budget process more transparent, Councillor Wu posted all the pre-hearing information we receive from departments and agencies, summarizing their accomplishments from the past year and goals for the current budget request. Check out the table of contents at MichelleForBoston.com.

For prior Boston City Council meetings, visit www.michelleforboston.com/notes or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes.

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