Thursday, August 04, 2016

Boston City Council Looks At Grading Food Trucks, Cultural Council Grants, Plastic Bag Ban & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered these items and more at their August 3, 2016 meeting:


Appointments: Mayor Walsh made the following appointments:
  • Amy Yandle, as Interim Director of the Mayor’s Office of Tourism, Sports & Entertainment
  • Andrew Grace, as Boston’s Alternative Representative to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council
  • Compensation Advisory Board: William Sinnott, Carol Fulp and Amy Sheridan as re appointments and John Tobin as a new appointee until June 2021
Restaurant/Food Trucks Grades: Mayor Walsh filed an ordinance to implement a letter grading system for restaurants and food trucks based on health inspection results. The Inspectional Services Department would issue A, B, or C letter grades and conduct follow up inspections based on the grade, and establishments would face a $300 fine for not displaying the letter grade. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Boston Cultural Council Grants: We voted to approve an ordinance sponsored by Mayor Walsh to allow the Boston Cultural Council to accept grants on a rolling basis, rather than just once a year. This change will allow for more flexibility for both the Cultural Council and artists/arts and cultural organizations seeking financial support.

Charter Cap Resolution: The Council voted 11-2 (Councilors Campbell & Zakim in the minority) to support a resolution filed by Councilors Jackson and O’Malley opposing Question 2, the ballot initiative to raise the charter cap in Massachusetts. Councilors speaking against the ballot question pointed to budgetary concerns with lifting the cap and draining funding from struggling public schools. Councilors Campbell and Zakim both noted that they are personally undecided on the ballot question and therefore did not want to take a position through advancing a Council resolution. Every Councilor spoke about the need to improve access to quality school options across the board, including traditional public, charter, and parochial schools.

Plastic Bag Ban Working Group: The Council voted to pass Councilor Wu's order as Council President creating a 90-day working group, chaired by Councilor O’Malley, to study and propose opportunities to eliminate plastic bag pollution from Boston streets. Councilor O’Malley will name members to the working group, to include residents, business owners, advocates and Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Austin Blackmon. Single-use plastic bags are harmful to the environment and contribute significantly to litter on our streets, in our trees, and in city storm drains. The goal of this working group is to formally broaden the conversation and return recommendations on an expedited timeline.

Tobacco Regulations: Councilors Jackson and Wu called for a hearing to discuss recent changes to the City’s tobacco regulations, specifically the partial ban on selling flavored tobacco products passed by the Boston Public Health Commission in December to take effect this month. The change was proposed to reduce youth access to tobacco and was paired with a regulation that increases the age of purchase from 18 to 21 years of age, which retailers support across the board. Convenience stores and neighborhood retail establishments are now prohibited from selling flavored tobacco, but smoke shops continue to be allowed to carry these products, creating inequity and impacts on local businesses. Unlike the Smokeless Tobacco ordinance proposed by Mayor Walsh and passed by the Council a few months ago, the flavored tobacco partial ban did not include a Council hearing process or vote. The matter was referred to the Committee on Women, Healthy Families and Communities for a hearing.

Budget Matters: Mayor Walsh filed several matters appropriating city budget funds – all were assigned to the Ways & Means Committee for public hearings
  1. Acceptance of a state law provision that allows municipalities to separately account for fees received under cable franchise agreements in support of public, educational, and governmental (PEG) access and using those funds to create a 21st Century Access Fund
  2. An order to reduce the City’s collective bargaining reserve by $2,783,841 to fund the FY16 agreement between BPS, the Bus Drivers Union and vendor Transdev
  3. An appropriation of $4M from the Surplus Property Fund to the Boston Housing Authority to sustain public safety staffing levels and fill the gap given the structural deficit in the BHA’s operating budget related to BHA public safety staffing (used to be funded by revenue from the Winthrop Square Garage, which has now been shut down for a number of years)
  4. An appropriation of $1.2M from the Parkman Fund to the Parks Department for the maintenance and improvement of Boston Common and Parks

Upcoming Hearings
  • Thursday, 8/4 at 5:30PM, BPD Body Camera Pilot (Public Safety & Criminal Justice) – Off-site at Mildred Ave Community Center, 5 Mildred Ave, Mattapan, MA
For complete notes on this meeting and prior Boston City Council meeting notes, visit MichelleForBoston.com or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email. 

No comments:

Post a Comment