Thursday, January 28, 2016

Boston CIty Council Looks at Pay Equity, Condon School, Charter Changes & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered these items and more on January 27, 2016:

• Neighborhood Jobs Trust: Councilor Mark Ciommo and Trinh Nguyen were appointed as Trustees until January 2018
• Carl Spector was appointed Commissioner of the Environment Department
• Jake Sullivan was appointed Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

• Housing Trust: Councilor Zakim was appointed until December 2017 (this was a Council President appointment; all the others were Mayoral appointments)

Massachusetts School Building Authority: Mayor Walsh filed statements of interests for repair cost reimbursement for the following schools: West Roxbury Education Complex, Jackson-Mann K-8 in Allston, McCormack Middle School in Dorchester, Dever Elementary in Dorchester, Boston Latin School in Fenway, Channing Elementary in Hyde Park, and the Condon School in South Boston. The matters were assigned to the Ways & Means Committee for a hearing.

Hubway Grant: The Council voted to authorize a grant in accordance with Councilor McCarthy’s recommendation that would fund Hubway bike share stations in Brighton ($95,600 from the Boston College Neighborhood Improvement Fund). Councilor McCarthy and Councilor Ciommo both stated that Hubway needed to have better communications with the City and Councilors about the placement of stations, because the Council is committed to supporting multi-modal transportation but placing the stations without community feedback can lead to unintended traffic and safety issues.

Landmarks Designation: The Boston Landmarks Commission filed for Council approval on two new designations: the Winthrop-Carter Building (1 Water Street, downtown) and the Alvah Kitterage House (10 Linwood Street, Roxbury). These would automatically take effect on February 12, 2016 if no vote takes place. The matters were assigned to the Committee on Planning & Development for a hearing.

Pay Equity Resolution: The Council voted unanimously to suspend and pass Councilor Pressley’s resolution supporting state legislation to establish pay equity (S.2107/H.1733). The legislation would amend the current Massachusetts Equal Pay Act to include provisions that would allow employees to discuss compensation among co-workers, prohibit employers from inquiring about previous compensation in the interview process, and create a standard for internal review for businesses to ensure compensation is in accordance with industry standards. In the US, women working full-time earn 79% of what men earn. Black women working full-time earn 68% of what men earn, and Latina women earn 54%. 

Income Inequality: Councilor Pressley filed a hearing order to discuss how to reduce income inequality in Boston and identify best practices for economic mobility, workforce development, asset building, and retention. She noted that the order was in response to the Brookings Institute’s recent study that found Boston was the city with the greatest income inequality in the country. The matter was sent to the Committee on Jobs, Wages & Workforce Development.

Special Education Equitable Transitions: Councilor Pressley called for a hearing to review the FY17 BPS special education budget and identify solutions to ensure equitable transitions of BPS youth as they graduate or age out of BPS. Councilor Jackson noted that he appreciated the focus on the BPS budget, as he doesn’t believe the increases to the budget this year are sufficient, given that they don’t match inflation. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Urban Renewal: Councilor Linehan filed for a working session on the Urban Renewal Plan and process from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The BRA’s urban renewal powers are set to expire in April 2016, and the agency has been seeking a 10-year renewal of their existing powers, which would require Council approval and approval from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. The matter was sent to the Planning & Development Committee for a hearing.

Sister Cities: Councilor Flaherty called for a hearing on Boston’s Sister Cities program. He noted that Boston currently has ten sister cities around the world, allowing the city to develop educational, cultural, and economic ties, which are crucial to remaining a global leader in innovation. The matter was sent to the Committee on Arts, Culture & Special Events for a hearing.

Open Meeting Law Complaint: The Council voted to pass my order designating the City’s Corporation Counsel as our respondent for the Open Meeting Law complaint filed against the City Council by Shirley Kressel. Councilor Wu filed the order to comply with the state Open Meeting Law and the Attorney General’s regulations, which require that any legislative body that receives a complaint acknowledge it at a public meeting of the body and designate a respondent. The substance of the complaint deals with the Council’s December 9, 2015 vote to approve transfer of the Winthrop Square Garage to the Public Facilities Commission.

Charter Changes: Councilor Baker filed three home-rule petitions to change the Boston City Charter, which were assigned jointly to the Special Committee on Charter Reform and the Committee on Government Operations:

• Term of Office for Councilors: extending the term of office from two years to four years
• Process for filling Vacancy: in case of vacancy for Councilor At-Large, there would be a special election to fill the role instead of having the 5th place finisher automatically move into the role
• Concurrent Candidacies: prohibiting anyone from running for multiple city offices at the same time (e.g. Mayor and Councilor)

For complete an prior Boston City Council meeting notes, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email. 

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