Friday, February 09, 2018

Boston City Council Looks At Huntington Theatre, Surveillance, Special Election, Urban Renewal, Child Abuse & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and more at their February 7, 2018  meeting:

Huntington Theatre: The Mayor filed an order to accept the right to enforce a use restriction to ensure that the Huntington Theatre continues to be used as a theatre or similar cultural use. The developer, QMG Huntington, will impose a use restriction on the building, requiring the owner of the property, and any successor, to use it as theatre and performance center for theatrical, cultural, live performance, educational, and ancillary activities. QMG Huntington will give the Huntington Theatre Company a 100-year lease to use the new lobby and will also gift the Huntington Theatre to the Huntington Theatre Company, a nonprofit theatre company that has occupied the theatre since 1982. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Arts, Culture & Special Events for a hearing.

Special Election: William F. Welch, Clerk of the Senate communicated that a Special Election will be held on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 to fill an existing vacancy in the First Suffolk Senatorial District, caused by the resignation of Senator Linda Dorcena Forry. 

• Boston Conservation Commission: Mayor Walsh appointed Alice Richmond as member until November 1, 2019
• Living Wage Advisory Committee: Mayor Walsh appointed Benjamin Stuart as a member until June 11, 2018

Commuter Rail Fare Equity: Friday, February 9th) at 4pm, I will be hosting a meeting in the Piemonte Room on the 5th floor of City Hall to discuss the issue of Commuter Rail fare inequities with colleagues and transportation advocates. Learn more and RSVP on Facebook

Net-Zero Carbon Requirements: Councilor O’Malley refiled a hearing order on considering the benefits of developing net-zero carbon requirements and incentives for future construction. He spoke on the City’s robust construction boom and the significant demand for innovative and modern designs that would be energy independent and not reliant on carbon. He reminded us of the City of Boston’s commitment to making its buildings carbon neutral by 2050, and noted that over half of emissions come from free-standing buildings. We can protect all residents from the impacts of climate change while also saving on costs by improving energy efficiency and increasing jobs. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Environment, Sustainability & Parks for a hearing.

Surveillance Technology: I filed a hearing order in partnership with Councilors Campbell and McCarthy to discuss usage of surveillance technology in the City of Boston. Surveillance technology and electronic data gathering can be useful tools for advancing effective delivery and analysis of constituent services, public safety and security. We can act to provide safeguards to protect privacy rights and civil liberties as we see an increasing number of available surveillance and data-gathering technologies. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice for a hearing.

Vocational education: I called for a hearing with Councilors Essaibi-George and Janey to discuss how vocational educational opportunities in Boston can be improved and expanded. Boston currently has only one vocational technical high school, Madison Park High School, and the city is home to a thriving job market with many positions that do not require a post-secondary degree. In today’s world of astronomical college tuitions and student loan debt, plus a quickly changing job market with automation and globalization, vocational education is more relevant than ever and also more flexible than ever, training students not just in alternatives to traditional colleges, but also with technical skills that are a foundation for a post-secondary degree in a technical field. The types of pathways we see include traditional vocational pathways such as construction, carpentry, and culinary arts, as well as information management, health sciences, and advanced manufacturing. In addition to spending time discussing Madison Park, my goal is to visit other successful vocational schools across the Commonwealth to learn about best practices, funding levels, and key industry pathways. The matter was assigned to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Boston Logan Airport Workers’ Strike: The Council voted to adopt Councilor Edwards’ resolution to support the Boston Logan Airport Workers’ Strike. About 500 Logan Airport workers employed by JetBlue’s subcontractors FSS and ReadyJet have announced their intention to strike due to illegal surveillance, threats and intimidation of workers who are organizing for workplace changes. Several colleagues reinforced that the workers deserve the right to organize for improvements and rights on the job, free from surveillance, and threats or acts of intimidation. 

Urban Renewal Updates: I filed an order for the Council’s Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation to hold biannual urban renewal progress update hearings with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, following up on commitments from the last urban renewal approval in 2016. Look out for the next update to be scheduled sometime in early March.

Mandated Reporting of Child Abuse: The Council voted to adopt my resolution with Councilor Pressley in support of federal legislation on expanding mandated reporting requirements for sexual and physical abuse. As we all saw in the media reports about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics, coaches and officials in amateur athletic organizations are not mandated reporters, even though they work with minors on a regular basis. The bill, sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein, would expand mandated reporting requirements as well as requiring training, oversight practices, policies and procedures to prevent abuse of amateur athletes and extends the statute of limitations for civil suits filed by minor victims of sexual abuse. 

Upcoming Hearings (Watch Live): 
• Tuesday, February 13th at 10am: Hearing on Short Term Rentals in the City of Boston (Government Operations)

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

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