Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Boston City Council Looks At Late Night T Service, Olympics, 911 Data And More

Councillor-At-Large Michelle Wu provides notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the items below and more at their March 11, 2015 meeting:

911 Data: Councilors Murphy & Flaherty reported back on their 2nd hearing in a series on speeding up 911 response times in Boston. This hearing discussed a platform that would allow residents to attach information to their cell phone number, so that if they needed to dial 911 from that cell phone, first responders could know their address, medical information such as allergies, whether a pet lives in the home, etc. Very little information is conveyed automatically from cell phone 911 calls. Other Councilors noted the need to have a better platform for receiving 911 cell phone calls that relays the closest cell tower's location, rather than the phone's original purchase location. The matter was placed on file.

Snow Removal Fines: We voted to pass an amended version of Mayor Walsh's home rule petition that would allow the City to impose fines up to $1,500 for commercial property owners' failure to responsibly remove snow, slush, or ice. The current cap on fines is $300, and this is based on state law. The Administration explained that asking for a $1,500 maximum was meant to allow for potential future increases without having to go back to the Legislature and also deter behavior. 

Diversity & Inclusion in 2024 Olympics: Councilor Pressley called for a hearing on diversity and inclusion in the planning, hiring, and contracting process for the Boston 2024 Olympics bid. She noted that the efforts to bring the Olympics to Boston need to be intentional, creative, and consistent about inclusion and diversity related to women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community. Councilor Jackson pointed out the 9-year timeline, and that we need to be deliberate about policies now, because the city could be impacted for nearly a decade. The order was assigned to the Special Committee on the 2024 Olympics.

Late Night MBTA: We unanimously passed a resolution filed by Councilor Zakim & myself urging the MassDOT Board to establish permanent Late Night T Service. At a well-attended hearing last week, residents and passengers spoke of the need for late night service to help Boston's economy and provide a safe, convenient & affordable transportation option for workers, students, young professionals, the arts community, and others. Most of all, we need predictability - businesses and workers can't make decisions about new jobs and new locations unless they know this service will last beyond a 1-year pilot. The late night pilot program had a net cost of $11M, less than 1% of the MBTA's operating budget. Councilor McCarthy noted that there would still be appetite for the service even with potential fare increases, because the alternative for many workers returning home to his district after their shifts is a $50+ taxi ride. Many Councilors and residents offered creative funding solutions, such as university partnerships and Councilor O'Malley's idea to license late night food vendors. 

Boston 2024 Olympics & Sex Trafficking: Councilor Pressley filed a hearing order to discuss a comprehensive approach to reduce sex trafficking at mega sports events including potential Olympics. She noted that major world sporting events are widely recognized as sex trafficking hubs, including some major arrests of traffickers and johns related to the 2015 Super Bowl. The order was assigned to the Special Committee on the 2024 Olympics.

For complete notes from the March 11th meeting, 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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