Residency Requirements Redux

I’m sure I could have a “residency requirements redux” post every year, because the City Council always brings it up, so expect a “residency requirements redux redux” post next year.

I don’t have a lot to mention that’s new this year, but it’s always worth remembering that the same issues that were mentioned at the May 28 meeting (see “Council rekindles residence issues”, T&G  May 29), and at every meeting where a residency requirement is discussed, occur in the municipalities where there are existing residency requirements.

That is, unless anything has changed — and I don’t believe it has —  teachers, firefighters and police are exempt from Boston’s residency requirementsDitto Springfield.  So while I appreciate the angst we periodically experience about city residency, unless there’s a different plan beyond “but Boston does it” and a willingness to talk about how much this is worth to us, in dollars (as Councilor Lukes said), we’ll just keep talking about this year after year.

But how’s that auditor search coming?

Open Meeting Law memo from the AG’s Office

I don’t believe this is a scoop, since I’m one of the subjects of the memo, but the Attorney General’s Office has responded to Kevin Ksen’s and my Open Meeting Law complaints from last July.  I’ve posted the memo on Google Docs, and you can also find it on their website.

Because it’s been a long time since we initially filed the complaint, I’ll try to give a short timeline of what happened:

On the morning of June 26, 2012, Mike Lanava, the mayor’s chief of staff, sent an email to the City Council to see if anyone wanted to sign on to requesting the city manager draft a panhandling ordinance.  This item was not on the agenda of the June 26 meeting.

Mr. Ksen and I took issue with the way this was handled — both that the email might constitute serial communication and that the Council has a habit of not including important, controversial items on agendas — and filed Open Meeting Law complaint forms in time for the Council’s next meeting, which was held on July 17, 2012.

Mr. Ksen and I then waited months to receive a response.  We contacted the Attorney General’s Office for guidance on what to do, as the city had far exceeded the deadline of 14 business days.   The Attorney General’s Office let the city know that they needed to respond to us by October 17.  We finally received a response on October 22.  That response is covered in this Worcesteria post.

Ultimately, the decision of the Attorney General’s Office was that the city did not violate the Open Meeting Law in either of our complaints.

But wait!  There’s more!

One of our concerns — and one that came up again when the slots parlor was discussed before the City Council — was whether having councilors co-sponsor an item was a violation of Open Meeting Law.

This was the response of the Attorney General’s Office on page 3 of the memo:

City Solicitor David Moore writes in his October 22, 2012 memorandum to the City Manager that “[c]o-sponsoring items is a centuries-old legislative practice. On its face there is no attempt to solicit opinions or provoke a series of emails discussing the merits of the order. There is only an attempt to offer councilors the opportunity to co-sponsor the introduction of an item to the legislative body.” While we acknowledge that this practice has been in effect for many years, to the extent that such practice reaches a quorum of a body’s members, it does not comply with the current Open Meeting Law. If the Council wishes to announce the sponsors of an order at the time it is introduced, an individual who is not part of the Council, rather than a Councilor, may make the request for sponsorship. For example, the City Clerk or a Council administrator could send an email, blind carbon copying the Council members, attaching a specific piece of legislation and requesting sponsorships. That same staff person could then compile the sponsorships, and announce the result during a meeting. The results should not be made public prior to the meeting, however, including in a publicly-posted meeting notice. While the change is admittedly minor, it would enable the Council to compile sponsorship information without members conducting an improper poll outside of a meeting (which is deliberation). See OML 2011-35. Alternatively, a Council member who introduces an order can request sponsors during a meeting, or at a prior meeting before the order is introduced.

(More to come.)

CWW: TouchTomorrow and Day of Play this weekend

TouchTomorrow will be held Saturday, June 8, from 10am to 4pm throughout the WPI campus.

We attended last year and it was sooo good.  Highly recommended!

Take a look at the website for a full list of events.

On Sunday, June 9, from 11am-5pm, the second annual Worcester Day of Play will be held at Elm Park.  You can find a schedule of events on their website.  (And note that this event was originally scheduled for Saturday and switched to Sunday!)

MBCR Meet the Managers

For those of you who take the train, you may want to attend the MBCR Meet the Managers sessions:

South Station
June 4, 2013
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Back Bay
June 6, 2013
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
North Station
June 12, 2013
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

(unfortunately, I missed this — there was one at South Station yesterday evening)

And today is the last day to register to vote for the special Senate election on June 25.

No Slots

Now that the slots parlor negotiations have reached a natural end, I’m glad to see that City Council meetings have gone back to their normal rhythm of five-minute-long Billy Beault monologues, Jo Hart talking about pedestrian issues, and City Councilors trapped in their seats for fear of a loss of quorum.

Likewise, I hope this blog can go back to its own regular business.

First order of business is to repurpose all those signs and buttons:


Because I’m all about recycling.

This summer, I hope to get back to those topics I’m passionate about — among which are the library (and the Theater District Master Plan), other redevelopment and public works projects, green burial, and curbside compost.