Thursday, September 16, 2021

Boston City Council Looks At Non-binding Ballot Questions, BERDO, Arts Grant, Public Records & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Below are some highlights from September 15, 2021 City Council meeting:


Eversource Substation Petition: The Council voted unanimously to approve a petition entitled “Petition for Eversource Substation East Boston,” which will place a nonbinding public opinion question on the November 2021 municipal election ballot, asking Boston voters: “Should a high voltage, electric substation be built at 400 Condor Street in East Boston, along the Chelsea Creek, near homes, parks, playgrounds, jet fuel storage, and in a flood risk area rather than in a nearby alternative safe and secure location such as non-residential Massport land at Logan Airport?”

Elected School Committee Petition: The Council voted unanimously to approve a petition entitled “An Elected Boston School Committee,” which will place a nonbinding public opinion advisory question on the November 2021 municipal election ballot, asking Boston voters: “Should the current appointed school committee structure be changed to a school committee elected by the residents of Boston?”

Prepaid Envelopes for Mail-In Ballots Ordinance: The Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance proposed by Councilors Edwards, O’Malley and Flynn to increase voter participation by providing prepaid envelopes for mail-in voting whenever the Elections Department sends mail-in ballots to Boston voters.


Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure: Councilor Edwards reported back as Chair of the Committee on Government Operations on a hearing recently held to discuss an ordinance amending the section of the City of Boston code regarding Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure, known as BERDO 2.0. This ordinance would require that starting in 2025, the 3,500 buildings covered by this ordinance (4% of Boston building stock) would be required to meet greenhouse gas emissions standards that decrease every 5 years to reach zero by 2050. (Remains in the Committee on Government Operations)  


City Protocols for Providing Public Records: Councillor Bok introduced a hearing order to discuss city protocols for providing public records. The City has been repeatedly cited by the State’s Supervisor of Records over the course of the summer for its failure to provide public records, and while the Administration has not provided a detailed response to the Council’s recent inquiry about its public records protocols, it appears that City departments generally control the ultimate decision to release records and therefore can hold such records indefinitely for vetting. Additional public records staff may not solve the problem of unresponsiveness if the reason for delay lies with the Mayor’s Office and departments. This matter was referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

Civilian Review Board Nominations: Councilors O’Malley and Campbell introduced an order regarding the Civilian Review Board, established under the Ordinance to establish an Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT) in December 2020. This order states that the City Council shall receive applications, and that the appropriate committee will hold a working session to review applications, before seeking a consensus on the nine nominees which will be submitted to the Mayor for consideration. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice.

BPDA Plan for East Boston: Councilor Edwards filed a hearing order to discuss the status of the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) Plan for East Boston. This matter was referred to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation. 


  • Environment Department: Alison Brizius was appointed as Commissioner, effective August 2, 2021. (Placed on file)

  • Constables: The constables bond of Samuel Desrosiers was approved and received by the Collector-Treasurer. (Passed)

  • Boston Cannabis Board: Jasmin Winn was appointed as Project Manager, effective September 20, 2021. (Placed on file)


  • $2,051,903 in the form of a grant for the Boston Cultural Fund, awarded by the Boston Redevelopment Authority to be administered by the Office of Arts and Culture to fund cultural spaces, organizations, programs, artists, and activities in the South End, with the goal of preserving and enhancing cultural activity. (Passed)

UPCOMING HEARINGS (Streaming Online)

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, September 22 at 12PM.

  • Monday, September 20 at 10AM: Hearing on home rule petitions for special laws regarding the maximum age requirement for police officers and benefits for the widow of a former firefighter (Committee on Government Operations)

  • Monday, September 20 at 2PM: Hearing regarding the safety of construction sites in the City of Boston (Committee on Small Business & Workforce Development)

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

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