Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

City Council considers accepting public safety grants at weekly meeting

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Ashlyn Wang
Boston City Hall. (Ashlyn Wang/Beacon Staff)

The Boston City Council considered distributing grants and supporting resolutions on public safety and the arts at its meeting on Feb. 7 in the Christopher Iannella Chamber at City Hall. 

Early on in the agenda, two public safety–related grants that would help bolster the city’s Emergency Operations System and Human Trafficking Units were considered. 

The first grant, docket 0282, would authorize the city to expend over $92,700 awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to enhance the Office of Emergency Management (OEM)’s emergency operations center and increase professional development for OEM staff. 

Council President Ruthzee Louijeune initially referred the grant to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice. Councilor Brian Worrell, who serves as vice-chair of the committee, sought suspension of the council rules and passage of the docket. 

“This grant holds potential in bolstering the operational capacity of the Boston Emergency Operations Center,” said Worrell. “Given the low dollar amount and the critical nature of our emergency preparedness, I urge the suspension and passage of this grant.” 

Councilor Ed Flynn, former council president, objected to suspending the rules and passing this grant immediately, instead requesting a formal hearing. 

“I would like to learn more about this grant,” said Flynn. “I know my colleagues that are brand new as well would like to learn more about this grant.” 

Due to Flynn’s objection, the docket was sent to the committee. 

The second grant up for consideration, docket 0283, would allow the city to expend $65,000 awarded by the Massachusetts Gamic Commission to help coordinate and fund investigations led by the Boston Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit. 

Worrell again sought suspension and passage of this grant, with Flynn’s objection coming soon after that. 

“I want the city councilors that are not present to learn about these grants,” said Flynn. “We’re not educating our council colleagues by passing a grant without our colleagues knowing about it.” 

This docket was also referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice, and Louijeune noted, “I am only in my second term as a city councilor, but we routinely passed these grants when [former] Councilor Flaherty was chair of the [Public Safety] Committee.” 

The council also heard more information about the city expending over $146,000 in the form of a STOP Grant awarded by the Department of Justice to help combat domestic violence. Specifically, the grant would fund a domestic violence advocate to work with victims in Jamaica Plain, East Boston, and Charlestown. 

Councilor Erin Murphy, chair of the Committee on Strong Women, Children, and Families, gave a detailed report on the public hearing held on Monday, Feb 5. on this docket. 

The hearing was attended by Councilor Liz Breadon, who serves as vice chair of the committee, in addition to Councilors Flynn, Weber, Louijeune, FitzGerald, Mejia, and Durkan. Jenna Savage, the deputy director of the city’s Office of Research and Development, testified on behalf of Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration at the hearing. 

In her testimony, Savage explained that their office applies for grants to fund “innovative, evidence-based services beyond what the operating budget can cover.” 

Murphy thanked her council colleagues who attended the hearing and noted, “We had a robust conversation and asked some great questions.” 

A vote was taken shortly after Murphy’s report out, and the docket passed unanimously 9-0, with councilors Breadon, Gabriella Coletta, Durkan, FitzGerald, Flynn, Louijeune, Murphy, Weber, and Worrell voting in the affirmative. 

A resolution supporting the Creative Spaces Act, designed to give cities the local option of creating zone spaces for creative spaces, was put before the council.

“There are so many instances in which we’ve been losing our creative, artistic spaces throughout the city,” said one of the act sponsors, Louijeuene. “Make sure that we are bringing out the creative talent of our city and making sure that we are maximizing how we can use our government dollars to support our artists and the art.”

Councilor Coletta, one of the resolution’s sponsors, emphasized that many other spaces receive priority in legislative protection.

“Our legacy as a vibrant and culturally rich city is at stake,” Coletta said.

Co-sponsor Breadon furthered this point, saying, “We have to recognize that the art and arts and culture are an essential part of our local economy in Boston.”

The act was unanimously passed.

Councilors also discussed a petition to waive the Boston Police Department’s maximum age requirement for Paul O’Brien, a 47-year-old Boston native who has spent 11 years as an EMT with Boston EMS, to join the police force. 

Murphy argued for O’Brien to receive the waiver, stating how much Boston’s EMS works with the fire and police departments and the nature of the work he is already doing.

 “He has the ability to connect with people, remain calm under pressure, and de-escalate tension, all things I know that the Boston Police Department would be very happy to take on,” said Murphy

The petition has been sent to the Committee on Government Operations, where a hearing on the matter will be held. 

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