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 floats creation of climate superfund

Kellyn Taylor

At its Dec. 6 meeting, the Boston City Council deliberated on several significant issues, from supporting the creation of a climate superfund to granting voting rights to all legal residents and banning the sale of guinea pigs in pet stores. The council additionally discussed the proposed move of the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science from Roxbury to West Roxbury. 

Councilors Kendra Lara and Sharon Durkan offered a resolution to support House Bill 872 and Senate Bill 481, two acts that would create a climate change superfund and promote polluter responsibility throughout Massachusetts. Both bills currently sit in the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, where no hearing has been held on the matter since early May. 

“We live in a day and age where greenhouse gasses are at levels higher than ever, where thousands of species face extinction, and we stare at the face of the hottest decade ever recorded in the last 125,000 years,” Lara said. “The crisis of climate change has been an unfortunate reality for years.” 

Lara mentioned that the approval of these bills by the state legislature would require top polluters to contribute to a superfund used to pay for climate-related damages in Massachusetts. 

Durkan echoed many of the points made by Lara.

“Those who make the mess should be the ones to clean it up,” she said. 

All councilors endorsed this docket by adding their names, and it passed with a unanimous voice vote. 

The council continued its discussion on granting voting rights to all legal residents in Boston. 

Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, chair of the Committee on Government Operations, provided a summary of the committee hearing held on Dec. 5 on this docket. A majority of the council was in attendance, and voting rights advocates emphasized their widespread support for this resolution. 

The hearing focused on the need to enfranchise immigrants with legal status, giving them the right to vote in municipal elections. 

Jessie Carpenter, the city clerk in Takoma Park, Maryland, detailed their municipality’s process for enfranchising immigrants with legal status. Carpenter mentioned that this process has been in place for 30 years in Takoma Park and noted that there is a separate registration form for residents with legal status to vote in municipal elections. 

The Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office is in the process of creating a supplemental vote database for residents that would fall under this category. 

The docket will remain in committee until it is passed in an amended draft with more clear and actionable language. 

Councilor Julia Mejia, who chairs the Committee of Education, introduced a docket that proposes a hearing to explore plans for relocating the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science from Roxbury to West Roxbury.

The school’s mayor and superintendent’s proposed move was announced in the spring of 2023, citing a need for more space and updated facilities.

However, concerns have been raised by parents and educators regarding the move, including worries about reduced student diversity and longer commutes. What’s more, many community members have discussed concerns over the lack of community engagement that occurred before the announced move, which is what the proposed hearing would like to address. 

“This is a moment for us to meet and restore trust in government and create space for the community to feel heard and affirmed,” said Mejia. “We are always talking about removing barriers for people. Last night’s hearing demonstrated what is possible when we pour resources into making those things happen for folks.”

Since the meeting, the council has officially stated opposition to the move and would like the mayor to reconsider the proposal.

The city council passed an ordinance banning the sale of guinea pigs in pet stores. The ordinance amends an existing ordinance of the city of Boston Code, which had previously banned the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits in pet shops.

The ordinance is not intended to dissuade the adoption of guinea pigs but rather encourage adoption from shelters rather than shops, said Councilor Liz Breadon.

“We are not saying that families shouldn’t adopt guinea pigs,” said Breadon. “There are many guinea pigs in our shelters. If folks want to have a guinea pig in the family, there are lots of opportunities to do that.” 

Currently, 60 percent of guinea pigs sold from pet shops are later abandoned. As a result, a strain is being put on animal shelters, which are struggling to keep up with the cost of the animals’ medical bills.

“Even though guinea pigs are known as affordable for purchase, their medical bills and requirements can go up in the thousands,” said Arroyo. 

The bill will be implemented in the next three months to give the shops time to adjust.

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