Thursday, January 14, 2021

Boston City Councils Looks at Elections, Appointments, Electronic Billboards, Traffic, Taxes & Much More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Below are a few highlights from the first City Council Meeting of 2021, which includes refiles of Councilors’ priorities from the last year.


  • Boston Redevelopment Authority Board: Michael P. Monahan as a member for a term expiring August 23, 2023.

  • Boston School Committee: Michael O'Neill as a member for a term expiring January 4, 2025. 

  • Boston Civic Design Commission: Andrea Leers, David Hacin, David Manfredi, Deneen Crosby, Eric Howler, Mikyoung Kim, Kirk Sykes, William Rawn, Jonathan Evans, Katherine Kottaridis, and Mimi Garza Love appointed as members.

  • Board of Examiners: Alexander MacLeod for a term expiring on July 1, 2023.

  • Nick Martin as Chief Communications Officer, effective December 14, 2020.

  • Barbara Parker as Director of Labor Relations and the Boston Public Schools Labor Office, effective November 17, 2020.


Banning Credit Checks in Employment Processes: Mayor Walsh vetoed the ordinance introduced by Councilors Campbell and Janey to ban the use of credit checks during employment background checks as an inequitable barrier. His message detailed the Administration’s concern that the fine and enforcement structure outlined in the ordinance exceeds the City’s home rule authority as defined by state law. He recommended working through a home-rule petition instead to designate credit status as a protected class. The City Council may override mayoral vetoes with a two-thirds vote, meaning 9 members.

Restricting the Use of Chemical Crowd Control Agents and Kinetic Impact Projectiles: Mayor Walsh vetoed the ordinance introduced by Councilors Arroyo and Campbell to restrict the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and other crowd control methods at public demonstrations.


Resolution to Support Waiving MCAS: The Council voted to adopt a resolution filed by Councilor Essaibi-George in support of waiving MCAS in Spring of 2021. She stated that offering a standardized test during the ongoing pandemic would only be measuring privilege.


Waiving Potential Special Election: Councilor Arroyo filed a home-rule petition to waive the provision in the Boston City Charter to require a special election for Mayor if a vacancy occurs before March 5, 2021, to fill the rest of the term (in this case, through the end of the year). The sponsor stated that holding a special election during the pandemic would endanger the health of Boston residents, impact the financial future for the City, and contribute to existing inequities often seen in elections. Other colleagues spoke up to state their belief that the rules in the charter should not be changed in the middle of an election with various political interests before us. The matter was assigned for a hearing to the Committee on Government Operations.

COVID-19 Vaccines: Councilors Campbell and Arroyo called for a hearing regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Effective and equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine to a large portion of the population is critical to ending the pandemic, and the City must develop strategies that will result in the most equitable outcome possible for communities of color. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Health.

Small Business Outreach & COVID-19: Councilors Mejia, Arroyo & I called for a hearing discussing the accessibility of small business outreach during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the COVID-19 recovery and moving forward, it is crucial to develop a more in-depth understanding of what “outreach” to Boston’s small businesses actually looks like, including quantifying the number of programs offered, engagement by neighborhood, and what languages are accommodated in these outreach spaces. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business and Workforce Development.

Access for MBE to High-Volume Commercial Centers: Councilor Mejia called for a hearing to discuss addressing commercial segregation through focusing on access for minority business enterprises to the high-volume commercial centers such as the Seaport, Newbury Street, and Faneuil Hall marketplace. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business and Workforce Development.

Public Hearings: Councilors Mejia and Edwards called for a hearing on public hearings as they relate to government accountability and accessibility. The ability to access public hearings is a crucial aspect of our constituency making their voices heard because they address issues which impact Bostonians from all across the city. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

Late Night T Service: Councilor Mejia & I refiled a hearing order on the status of Late-Night MBTA Service in Greater Boston. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

Electronic Billboards: Councilors Flynn and Bok called for a hearing to discuss the proliferation of electronic billboards in the City of Boston. Electronic billboards have proliferated in Boston over the past several years, causing important safety and quality of life concerns for our residents.  The matter was assigned to the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services.

Traffic Plan in South Boston: Councilors Flynn and Flaherty called for a hearing to discuss establishing a traffic master plan for South Boston. With South Boston rapidly developing, transportation and congestion will remain a critical issue that will continue to affect both long-time and new South Boston residents, visitors, and commuter for years and decades to come, there should be a transportation Master Plan for South Boston to assess the neighborhood’s short, mid and long term transportation needs and capacity, so that the city and residents can understand the potential impact of upcoming developments and better plan for the neighborhood. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

Property Tax Relief for Seniors: Councilor Flynn called for a hearing to discuss property taxes and assistance programs for seniors & long-term residents facing difficulties during COVID19. Seniors have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and during this difficult time, the city should do what it can to assist senior homeowners who are feeling additional financial strains due to COVID-19, including potentially doubling the exemption for seniors over a certain age while considering their income and evaluation. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means.

Boston Groundwater Trust: Councilor Bok called for a hearing regarding potential zoning amendments to be proposed by the Boston Groundwater Trust. The Boston Groundwater Trust is a crucial steward of a shared public good, the groundwater levels on which the pile integrity of many buildings throughout the City of Boston depends. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

UPCOMING HEARINGS (Streaming online): 

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, January 27th, at 12PM.

For complete notes of Boston City Council meetings, visit to sign up to receive Council Notes automatically.

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