Thursday, February 09, 2017

Boston City Council Looks At Reprecincting, Immigration, Civil Rights & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered these items and more during their Feb 8, 2017 and Feb 1, 2017 meetings:

Appointments: Mayor Walsh made the following appointments:
• Boston Cultural Council: Norris Welch, Marie Fukuda, Kathryn Niforos, Anh Nguyen and Ana Guigui for terms until October 2019
• Licensing Board: Lesley St. Germain as Secretary until June 2020
Air Pollution Control Commission:  Virginia Tisei and Russell Preston for terms until September 2019
• Boston Confirmation Commission: Kristen Kleisner until November 2019
• Boston Employment Commission: Jesse Jeter until July 2017

• Zoning Commission: The Council voted to confirm Annaise Foureau for a term until May 2018, Nelson Arroyo until May 2019, Michael Nichols until October 2018 and Michael DiMella until November 2017
• Boston Public Health Commission: The Council voted to confirm Manny Lopes and Tyrek Lee as members until January 2020

Reprecincting: Councilor McCarthy, Chair of the Committee on City, Neighborhood Services & Veterans Affairs reported back on a hearing on Monday regarding reprecincting in Boston. In the decades since the Council last made major adjustments to equalize precinct sizes, the city's population has shifted. Today our biggest precinct (Ward 3, Precinct 8 in Chinatown) has over 6,000 registered voters, while the smallest (Ward 8, Precinct 6 near South Bay) has just under 500 voters. That means very long lines at certain polling locations and difficulty with voter access. Read President Wu's detailed hearing summary.

Immigrant Defense Fund: Councilor Jackson filed a hearing order to discuss creating a pilot immigrant defense fund in Boston. The fund would help undocumented immigrants facing deportation or who have been detained retain a lawyer. He noted that other cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco have established such programs and seen very different outcomes for immigrants facing deportation with counsel. Several Councilors spoke in support of the idea of providing representation, but emphasized that we should explore public-private partnerships to seek outside funding, given the Council’s role in fiscal stewardship of the City budget. The matter was sent to the Committee on Healthy Women, Families & Communities for a hearing.

Special Committee on Civil Rights: The Council voted unanimously to approve my order to establish a Special Committee on Civil Rights, which will be chaired by Councilor Zakim. The Council had previously had a Committee on Human Rights & Civil Rights, but this was discontinued last year as part of our reorganization. I’d emphasized that every committee’s charge included protecting human rights and civil rights, and in the interest of balancing resources and focus with the creation of new committees (such as Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery and Jobs, Wages & Workforce Development) discontinued this committee, which had been less active. However, we have been hearing from constituents in the last two weeks that it is more important than ever for cities to lead in protecting civil rights and fighting discrimination, especially given the recent federal Executive Orders banning refugees, threatening sanctuary cities, and barring nationals from seven Muslim countries from entering the US. The committee will also have a revamped, proactive focus, taking on our third policy briefing series at the Council, focused on Civil Rights. For more details on the committee, view our press release.

City Council Communications Assistant: The Council voted to finalize the hiring of Candace Morales as the City Council Central Staff’s new Communications Assistant. Candace will be working with our Technology Director Kerry Jordan to expand our capacity to host and broadcast off-site meetings in the neighborhoods, as well as increase our outreach by generating content through video, newsletter, social media, and potentially the blog feature on the City website. Welcome, Candace!

Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions (Watch at www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/live.asp)
  • Monday, 2/13 at 11:30AM, Community Preservation Committee (Government Operations) CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER
  • Monday, 2/13 at 6:30PM, Violence in City of Boston (Public Safety and Criminal Justice) [Offsite at Hibernian Hall] CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER
  • Tuesday, 2/14 at 2:00PM, Mental Health Clinicians in BPD (Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery)
  • Monday, 2/27 at 1:00PM, Boston Garden Economic Development (Planning & Development)
For complete notes on Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email. 

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