Council Digest

Posted 2/24/21

Committee votes nullified due to 'Zoom access issue' Just weeks after a Zoom access issue delayed the proceedings of the city's Planning Commission, another technical issue has forced the City Council to invalidate votes taken during recent committee

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Council Digest


Committee votes nullified due to ‘Zoom access issue’

Just weeks after a Zoom access issue delayed the proceedings of the city’s Planning Commission, another technical issue has forced the City Council to invalidate votes taken during recent committee meetings and send the business involved back for new consideration.

Monday’s council docket included votes to “nullify the actions and votes” taken by the Claims, Public Works and Ordinance committees on Feb. 11.

Those included votes to recommend passage of several notable measures, including the placement of new utility poles on Natick Avenue as part of a solar energy installation; the formation of a districting committee; the addition of additional associate and auxiliary judges to the Municipal Court bench; and the creation of new small business and pandemic response advisory panels.

“The reason for this is we had some Zoom access issues,” Council President Chris Paplauskas said prior to the nullification votes.

The process was completed through separate motions by committee. Citywide Councilwoman Jessica Marino, who is party to a lawsuit involving the Natick Avenue solar project, recused herself from voting on that matter at the committee level and during Monday’s meeting.

All of the business was referred for reconsideration during the next committee meetings, scheduled for March.


Women’s History Month recognized

The council on Monday unanimously passed a resolution recognizing March as Women’s History Month.

The measure was sponsored by citywide councilwomen Nicole Renzulli and Jessica Marino, along with Ward 1 Councilwoman Lammis Vargas and Ward 2 Councilwoman Aniece Germain.

Renzulli said the resolution is a “celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society.” She said she has undertaken a research process regarding the history of women in city government, and her findings to date indicate that the four women currently serving on the council are the most to serve at one time in the body’s history.

“I’m so excited and proud to be part of this historical council,” she said.

Renzulli said she plans to “fill the calendar” with celebrations of women’s history in March. Germain also spoke of plans for an International Women’s Day celebration on March 8, and language was added to the resolution regarding that date.

“It’s nice that we’re all making history together … the fact that we got here because the people of this great city all decided to put us here is a tribute to the city as a whole,” Marino said.

Council President Chris Paplauskas added: “The four of you are trailblazers.”


Resolution on source of income discrimination OK’d

A resolution calling on the General Assembly to ban a tenant’s source of income as a lawful consideration for landlords in rental decisions received the City Council’s backing Monday.

Late last year, the council had approved an ordinance seeking to bar source of income discrimination at the local level. Mayor Allan Fung vetoed the legislation shortly before leaving office, however, and the council was unable to muster the two-thirds majority needed to override that action.

Ward 3 Councilman John Donegan, the lead sponsor of that local ordinance, noted Monday that Providence has since introduced in the General Assembly seeks to do the same for the state as a whole.

“We’re all aware of the housing affordability issue … in our city, 30 percent of homeowners are cost burdened, 50 percent of renters are cost burdened, and half of the people I represent are cost burdened,” Donegan said.

He called for his colleagues’ support to “remove existing barriers to people accessing safe and affordable housing,” adding: “People need it more than ever right now.”

Ward 2 Councilwoman Aniece Germain said: “I think now it’s time we urge the General Assembly to take action … It’s not asking for a lot. It’s the right thing to do.”

Council Vice President Ed Brady, who had abstained from the vote on the local ordinance, said he was “proudly supporting this resolution tonight.”

Ward 6 Councilman Matt Reilly was the sole dissenter on the resolution. He argued that “different sources of income do have different levels of risk” for landlords, which he said separates the issue from discrimination on the basis of factors like race.

“This decision needs to be left to the individual person whose property they’re dealing with,” he said, adding: “It attempts to erode a person’s property rights.”


In other business:

* The council unanimously approved a new Class B liquor license for L.A. Bailey’s Café, to be located at 1458 Park Ave. Another Class B license applicant, Camp Nowhere at 641 Fletcher Ave., withdrew its application prior to the meeting. The council votes were needed because the new license requests exceeded the city’s current Class B cap. * The council voted on, or acknowledged, a number of new appointments to city boards and commissions.

Those appointed to the new Affordable Housing Commission are Jeff Barone, Frank Dizoglio, Annette Bourne, Amy Rainone and Derik Tutt.

Quilcia Monronta was appointed to the Board of Canvassers, while Matthew Volpi, Stephen T. Quartino and Ivy Swinski were appointed to the Traffic Safety Committee. More appointments to the committee are forthcoming. * At the conclusion of its regular business, the council entered executive session to discuss “prospective litigation” and “investigative proceedings regarding allegations of civil misconduct.”

-- Daniel Kittredge

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