With the mayoral race as a backdrop, city council struggles over budget


Saul Bellow of Chicago wrote: “The politics of the city is a comedic opera. But in Boston right now, they’re more like the pages of a comic book because the slugfests outnumber the tunes.

Last week’s city council meeting featured pieces of both, as councilors maneuvered to approve their version of interim Mayor Kim Janey’s multibillion-dollar spending plan a day before the new fiscal year began.

A mayoral race, with three councilors vying for the highest post in town hall, served as the backdrop. But most of the punches came from East Boston brawler not running for mayor: Lydia Edwards of District 1, who said she still had reservations about the budget and called the drafting process of the budget for “this merry-go-round, this little farce.”

Earlier this month, she hit back at comments made by Jon Santiago, the South End state representative, who is one of the top six mayoral candidates. Watching the setbacks play out between the acting mayor and councilors, he took to Twitter to urge them to make peace instead of turning the budget into “political football”.

Edwards was ready. “Maybe you should be more concerned with making your own budget than what happens on the board,” she said. (As of this writing, Beacon Hill lawmakers still have not sent their annual state budget, which is expected to be ten times the city’s, to Governor Baker’s office, even though the new fiscal year began on July 1.)

Edwards ultimately voted for a budget, but once again presented a proposal that she led that would expand the council’s budget-drafting powers. Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has given the proposal the green light to see it in the citywide November ballot.
“We are powerful, we can go hand in hand” with the mayor, said Edwards. “I think this budget will pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass,” she added before the vote.

Kidney Stone No.1, the city’s $ 3.67 billion operating budget, was passed 10-2, with At-Large Councilor Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell of District 4 both running for election. town hall, voting “no”.

Wu said she voted “no” because the budget was “not in line at the moment.” “We have to get to a place where we address the set of underlying challenges,” she said.

Campbell said she voted no on both the operating budget and the separately allocated school budget ($ 1.3 billion) as they fail to ensure police accountability, improve infrastructure of the BPS and to create solutions to the problems of “Mass and Cass”.

“It’s not political for me; it’s about getting the job done and standing up for those who are not seen or heard, ”said Campbell, who said she recently answered a phone call from a union police officer who turned up. apologized for attacking her personally while pushing for greater reform in the Boston Police Department scandal. According to Campbell, the appellant stated that when he saw his former union leader, accused of child molestation, benched by his superiors, “I thought he was on duty because it was a case of domestic violence “.

Campbell told his Council colleagues: “I refuse to say that we have to wait until the next budget cycle to fix these problems which continue to worsen”

The adoption of the operating budget came at a low point in relations between the City Council and the deputy mayor.

Last week, the Janey administration sought to put in place a $ 31.5 million mini-budget as a sweetener for advisers willing to agree to its spending plans. This budget sends $ 3 million in federal funding to the region known as “Mass and Cass”, which struggles with drug trafficking and homelessness. The smaller budget, which passed, 11-0, also includes $ 2 million for full-time social workers in Boston public schools, money for youth jobs and for the new Office of the police accountability and transparency, and permanent outdoor dining in the city.

With this being their last meeting before summer recess, the councilors clashed again after adopting Janey’s spending plans. Frank Baker of District 3 made a last minute offer for council approval on an $ 850,000 grant for an already existing information-sharing center for the police, but it was blocked by Councilor Campbell and d ‘others who said the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) lacks transparency while maintaining a database on gangs. The grant was blocked by a 4-8 vote.

With that, the council meeting was over, and the slugfests moved from town hall to election campaign,

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