Somerville BOA: June 26, 2014

On July 2, 2014, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

city_hall_webBy Jeremy F. van der Heiden

The Somerville Board of Aldermen gathered for a regular meeting this past Thursday, June 26, to discuss a variety of matters ranging from problems with speeding drivers in certain neighborhoods to the city’s divestment from the fossil fuel industry.

The first order of business was to recognize and commend Maureen James and Jo-Ann DePrizio, who recently retired from the City Clerk’s Office after a run of 57 years working for the Somerville public sector. The commendation was pitched by the entire Board of Alderman and Mayor’s Office, while the board also recognized Rose Ryan who just retired from the Somerville Public School’s Culinary Arts program following 29 years of service.

Ward 5 Alderman Mark Niedergang introduced an agenda item that would essentially act as a resolution to show the board’s support for Fossil Free Somerville and other groups that have been working to get the city to divest funds from publically traded fossil fuel companies.

When this matter was first introduced to the board during a public hearing, the City Solicitor urged all members to hold off on commentary and support given their status as public sector employees. Since then, the board has discovered that it is acceptable and legally safe to discuss the matter and put forth the opinions contained therein.

Alderman Niedergang’s resolution called for the BOA to urge individuals, colleges and universities, governments, and foundations to begin divesting from fossil fuel companies, which was passed.

Ward 6 Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz also addressed the topic, noting that the time to act is now and commended the City Solicitor for his meticulous research of legal matters in the board’s actions. One of the more important components of this resolution was to call for more action on behalf of the BOA to support a bill that is currently in the Massachusetts House of Representatives that would lead to a $1.4 billion divestment from fossil fuel companies within the state’s pension reserves.  The board unanimously approved the resolution.

Another big agenda item of the night was the finalization of the City of Somerville budget for Fiscal Year 2015. There were a few points that are still in committee, but the vast majority of the budget has been completed and is now available for the public to view. Interested parties can locate every item within the budget, as well as the status and final decision, through the Board of Alderman’s main website.

Alderman Gewirtz noted that more work likely needs to be done to boost the city’s involvement in health and human services actions, as well as those related to the affordable housing. Alderman Niedergang brought up similar needs for forthcoming budget hearings in the coming years to become more involved in affordable housing conversations.

As a note, Somerville has been one of the most rapidly growing communities in the commonwealth, but continues to face challenges in housing and support for individuals living under the poverty line.

Ward 4 Alderman Tony Lafuente, who is the acting chair of the Finance Committee, thanked the mayor for his work in focusing on the affordability of living in Somerville.

Mayor Joseph Curtatone offered comments on the budget and answered questions from members of the board for each of the various items contained therein. He commended the board’s efforts in these matters, as well as the work completed by the Finance Committee and the general management of the budget throughout the city government.

Finally, BOA President William White introduced an item that would call for the City Solicitor to apprise the board of the latest developments in the controversial Union Square Post Office sale. The United States Postal Service has still yet to land on an agreement, while some of the board members noted that the impacts of changing circulation since the closure have been somewhat negative.

The board pushed this to the Committee on Legislative Matters.


8 Responses to “Somerville BOA: June 26, 2014”

  1. A. Moore says:

    And what do they think they will gain by divesting from fossil fuel companies? They make money for the pensions. That’s the problem? What do they think they will invest in now? Maybe one of those green companies that gets all sorts of government money and then closes shop. Have these people lost all of their common sense?

  2. Don says:

    Pretty pathetic that this much thought has been made by these two just to make a statement on this one issue–which the city lawyer told them not to make by the way. Rebekah doesn’t show up for an entire week of budget but this is the most important thing on her plate when she comes back?!? Someone please run against this girl and her buddy in ward 5.

  3. Johnnie Jazz says:

    A Moore, wait until the market tanks again and the pensions really take another hit. It’s due as the fundamentals aren’t there for a lot of overblown stocks. I hate to bum a lot of people out, but fossil fuels are still abundant and the cheapest form of energy.

    I hope the pensions all go broke now because of these silly do-gooders and the city unions sue the city for their promised benefits. I would call that a win/win.

  4. Uncle Rocco says:

    Why worry about potholes when you’ve got ExxonMobil to take down?
    Or get involved with a $1B development in Union Square when there are takeout places still using styrofoam cups?

  5. Jack the Destroyer says:

    Really, Johnnie Jazz? You hope all the pensions go broke? I bet you weren’t one of the popular kids…

  6. ritepride says:

    Yeh!.. Worry out the Post Office after you screwed the taxpayers by again rubber stamping the mayor’s bloated budget…Did you eliminate any of his hack positions hidden in other departments or are you running scared from the former alderman’s brother who threatened you come election time if you did not vote the budget the way he wanted it? He’s a “gem” just like his brother… The only reason the BOA is worried bout the Post Office? Cause it might not end up in a favored developer’s hands…. Well fellow blogger let’s have our own poll! Future Indictments Pending Yea or Nea!

  7. insider says:

    It wasn’t just Kevin that spoke in opposition of cutting the rec department. There was a room full of people-including kids-that were opposed. It would be nice if you got your facts rite.

  8. There were obviously a number of “plants” at the meeting worried about their own jobs being cut–so who is NOT getting their facts straight?

    Former Ward5 Alderman’s brother was the first to speak and threatened the board with “we will remember at election time if you cut jobs…..”.

    Yeah, well we also remember who we do not want getting a hack job….that is your brother who is a disgrace to this city instead of filling his pockets with taxpayer money and getting away with illegal re-zoning for his condo enterprising, swindling homes from elderly women and who knows what other virtuous gifts bestowed upon us by that slithering creep.

    Everyone who spoke at that meeting should have been forced to provide their job title with the city. I bet it was at least 50%, and 20% up there for their relatives benefiting from the $300k communication handouts. This is not a city comprised of 2 million people and we certainly don’t need continual emails from multiple city employees/organizations on the same message. I’d like them to invest some time on planning meetings in advance so working people can get a few days notice, instead of notifying on the same day, just a few hours before it begins. A number of meetings have been set up on the same day, so you have to pick and choose which to go to, when we should have the opportunity to attend all if we want–not just those within our Ward. All meetings should be taped and on SCAT TV at multiple times, since not everyone can make it.

    Re: Recreation:

    Grown men should remember they are no longer the wanna be all star jocks of yester-year, they should stop trying to live vicariously in the lives of their children and get a real job.

    Coaches who will continue to make sports a fun atmosphere for all, some who are volunteers, spending countless hours, should be the ones who are paid–not these obvious freeloading trouble makers like the former alderman’s obnoxious brother.

    I agree we need recreation for kids in our city, but it should be inclusive for all kids, not just children of the “connected”. And it should provide them with constructive, healthy competition which supports self-esteem, confidence and pride.

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