2014: A Year in Review

Committee Work

As Chairman of the Government Operations Committee, I worked with the lead Sponsor, Mayor’s office and all members of the Council to hold hearings and recommend matters to be voted on in Council Meetings. This year, we held over 25 hearings and working sessions. Below are some of the most notable accomplishments of the City Council’s Committee on Government Operations in 2014.

·         Bilingual Ballots, Sponsored by Mayor Walsh, Passed on 2/2/14
We ensured that ballots would be available to voters in precincts with large populations of residents whose first language may not be English. We passed this measure in time for the first special elections of 2014.

·         Trust Act, Sponsored by Councilor Zakim, Passed on 8/20/14
The committee crafted an ordinance that would be effective in strengthening our justice system and improving communication between law enforcement agencies and local immigrant communities.

·         Gender Non-Discrimination Healthcare Coverage, Sponsored by Councilors Wu and Pressley, Passed on 6/11/14
A huge victory for equality, this matter ensures that the City of Boston will contract only with healthcare providers that offer coverage for gender-related treatment.

·         University Accountability, Sponsored by Councilor Zakim, Passed on 8/20/14
This ordinance requires local colleges and universities to disclose addresses of students living off-campus. This information will help identify areas with significant student populations to more effectively protect the health, safety, and welfare of students and their neighbors.

·         Mobile Apps regarding Public Parking Spaces, Sponsored by Councilor Baker, Passed on 8/20/14
The passage of this ordinance successfully bans mobile apps, such as Haystack, from operating in Boston and allowing users to reserve and profit from city-owned parking spaces. 

·         Fire Safety Code, Sponsored by Councilor Murphy, Passed on 7/30/14
A very critical public safety matter, this amendment to the Boston Fire Prevention Code strengthens regulations for grilling and outdoor heating appliances.

·         Truck Sideguards and Protection for Road Users, Sponsored by Mayor Walsh, Passed on 10/14/14
Collaborating with Mayor Walsh and Councilor Pressley, we passed this ordinance to require large city vehicles to be equipped with sideguards to reduce the risk of fatal accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians.

·         BERDO, Sponsored by Mayor Walsh and Councilor Baker, Passed on 5/14/14
The Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) initially passed in 2013 with the purpose of improving sustainability and encouraging more efficient use of energy and resources in the city. With a focus on raising awareness about these issues and achieving compliance with all of Boston’s building owners, the committee amended reporting deadlines and upheld the significance of promoting a more environmentally conscious community.
 
·         Inspection and Re-Inspection of Rental Units, Sponsored by Mayor Walsh and Councilor Linehan, Passed on 5/21/14
The ordinance upholds the intention of maintaining safe and habitable dwellings for tenants in Boston. The committee made changes to relieve the burden of extra fees for Boston residents by adding a fee exemption for owner-occupied buildings with 6 units or less. Amendments also ensure that property owners who are now exempt from fees will be refunded.

Committee Description:
Committee on Government Operations, which shall concern itself with the organization and structure of city government, including departmental fees and charges. The committee shall have referred to it all proposed ordinances and special laws affecting the structure, duties and responsibilities of city departments, agencies and commissions. The committee shall also concern itself with the review of the city’s policy regarding residency for city employees. The committee shall concern itself with encouraging cooperation between the city and other levels of government to reduce duplicative programs, coordinate efforts to provide services, and present the council's views on matters that have a direct bearing on the council’s business. In scheduling hearings and working sessions, the committee will coordinate with the chair of the committee whose jurisdiction covers the policy area discussed in the ordinance or special law. The committee shall exercise oversight with respect to the Boston Retirement Board, City Clerk, Election Department, Execution of Courts, Purchasing Department, Health Benefits and Insurance Program, Human Resources Department, Law Department, Medicare Payments, Office of the mayor (except those components assigned to other committees), Pensions and Annuities, Purchasing Division, Residency Compliance Commission, and Workers Compensation Program, Office of Intergovernmental Relations.

Matters Sponsored By Councilor Flaherty

·         Residency Preference for BPD and BFD applicants
This ordinance sought to increase the existing residency preference on the Civil Service Exam from 1 year to 3 years. This matter was passed unanimously in City Council and vetoed by Mayor Walsh, with the recommendation that it would be passed as a Home Rule Petition. 

·         Home Rule Petition regarding Special Police Officers
This matter would create a Special Police Force comprised of recently retired BPD officers for the sole purpose of performing details on a part-time basis until age 68. This matter passed unanimously in the Council, was signed by Mayor Walsh, and is currently awaiting approval from the Massachusetts State Legislature and the Governor.

·         Re-zoning of South Boston
In response to the increasing pace of development in the city, Council President Linehan and I sponsored a hearing to discuss a comprehensive master plan for South Boston that would update the neighborhood’s obsolete zoning code. The hearing was well-received by the Mayor’s office and the BRA who pledged to work with Councilors and residents on a thorough re-evaluation of zoning codes throughout the city.

·         Public Awareness of Sex Offenders
With help from constituents and advocates, I called for a hearing to discuss the communication efforts of the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board to promote public awareness of sex offenders in our neighborhoods who have a high risk of re-offending. With over 600 Level 2 and 3 sex offenders currently living in Boston, it is essential that local residents, especially families with young children, are notified and educated about this issue.

·         PILOT Agreements with local universities
PILOT agreements ensure that tax-exempt institutions, such as colleges and universities, provide monetary and other community benefits to their respective neighborhoods. Based on recent data comparing recommended PILOT payments to actual amounts received, I co-sponsored a hearing to examine the program and whether it should be updated.

·         Faneuil Hall Renovations and Pushcart Merchants
Earlier this year, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation revealed its master plan for renovating and modernizing Faneuil Hall. As many of the pushcart merchants have been local business-owners in Faneuil Hall for generations, we held a hearing to discuss the proposed renovations and how business-owners might be affected by the changes.

·         School Safety Technology
With over 300 school emergencies across the country in 2014 alone, it is imperative that our schools are prepared for any scenario. I filed a hearing to discuss implementing the real-time alert system, COPsync911, to improve response methods from law enforcement officials and help keep our children safe.

·         Survivors of Homicide Victim Awareness Month (SHVAM)
This past August, several public officials from the city and state, along with community leaders, took part in a dialogue that discussed the need for bringing long-overdue justice to the families of victims 300+ unsolved murders. This year, I co-sponsored a resolution that commemorates the plight of survivors who have dealt with homicidal trauma in their lives, and hosted an event that marked the closing of SHVAM (November 20th - December 20th).
 

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 Snapshots of Last Year's Events!

Took the stage with Senator Linda Dorcena Forry at last year's St. Patrick's Day breakfast.

Served delicious chili, cooked by The Brahmin, at Dorchester's Annual Chili Cook-Off to benefit the Dorchester Day Parade.

Councilors McCarthy, Baker, Wu and I co-hosted a breakfast for the Vietnamese community who held a flag raising to marked the 39th Anniversary of the Fall of South Vietnam.

With Representative Dan Ryan and Councilor LaMattina at Team Flaherty's Cook-Out in East Boston.

Hosted a discussion on Immigration and Child Refugees with Centro Presente and
the 
National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities.

Volunteered at BPHC Thanksgiving Basket Distribution with my friend Shirley Shillingford.

Hosted a dialogue between City Councilors and leaders of the Boston Conference of Community Health Centers of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

With my kids at the American Diabetes Association's Father of the Year awards banquet.

My colleagues and I were joined by the talented students of the Eliot School for
our commemoration of Italian-American Heritage Month.

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