The City Council today adopted new rules that will limit new City Clerk Maureen Feeney's ability to pick up some side cash by performing weddings.
City Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury) said the new rules will bring transparency to a government function and some extra money to city government. At the State House, state Rep. Marty Walz (D-Back Bay) is pushing similar legislation to limit the ability of city and town clerks to make money through weddings during business hours.
Under the new regulation, proposed by City Councilor Mike Ross (Mission Hill), any fees for weddings performed during business hours at City Hall will go into city coffers, rather than Feeney's pocket. Previously, Feeney and her predecessor, Rosaria Salerno, could keep the $15 fee for "solemnizing" a wedding.
In addition, the new regulation limits City Hall Weddings to the hours of 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays - although Ross said an "emergency provision" would let would-be spouses apply for a wedding at other times in unspecified emergency situations. But weddings performed by city officials outside City Hall during any business hours are now prohibited, although Ross added that that just means people will now get married "in this beautiful building."
The City Council today appointed former Councilor Maureen Feeney as city clerk in a process that would have taken about 30 seconds if council President Steve Murphy had not taken the opportunity to rail against "the broadsheets" and a former mayoral candidate.
For 15 minutes, Murphy excoriated the Globe and Kevin McCrea, accusing them of creating a circus with moving goalposts that bordered on harassment and only showed they want to chose the next city clerk, but they don't have the right because who elected them?
The Dorchester Reporter posts a copy of Council President Steve Murphy's recommendation that the full council hire former Councilor Feeney for the post of city clerk - which includes a bonus denunciation of a Globe story daring to question the timing of her interview for the post. The council is scheduled to vote tomorrow to appoint Feeney.
Gin Dumcius tweets that state Rep. Marty Walz (D-Back Bay) is filing legislation that would bar city and town clerks from making any money from performing marriages either during work time or in their offices even after hours.
Gee, what did a former city councilor expected to become Boston city clerk tomorrow do to annoy Walz so much that she not only files legislation but issues a press release that ends like this?
The Boston City Council is expected to select a new City Clerk on Wednesday, December 21. "I am announcing this legislation today so the new clerk knows that the days of using the Clerk's office as a private for-profit wedding chapel are numbered," Rep. Walz concluded.
UPDATE: The city has a fulltime legal department, yet apparently nobody thought to check whether interviewing a former city councilor less than 30 days after she quit might violate state ethics laws, the Globe reports (Globe account required).
A roving UHub reporter files this report from this afternoon's interviews of the two candidates for the job of city clerk:
The Committee on Rules chaired by Steve Murphy interviewed the two candidates for the job. The first was Maureen Feeney, who fielded mostly softball questions from the councilors present for about half an hour.
However, Counselor Yancey asked her about the removal of councilor Turner - specifically the hearing at which the council voted 11-1 to remove him (one guess who that one vote was). Yancey asked if it was true that the rules don't allow for an item to be brought up and voted on in the same day unless voted on by a majority. Feeney agreed that is what the rules say. Yancey brought up the fact that he objected and so it was not unanimous and so Turner should not have been removed. Feeney agreed that rules should be followed. Yancey did not press the point.
The second candidate, Natalie Carithers, then also answered about the same questions from the councilors and also spoke for about half an hour. Yancey also asked her about Turner, but it was a brief discussion: She said she didn't know much about the hearing at which he was removed (even though she ran for his seat).
It appeared that the committee was going to have a discussion about the candidates but Murphy said something about the fact that there were cameras present and so that changed the complexion of the situation and so gavelled the meeting to a close.
City Council to briefly consider second applicant for city clerk's job before giving it to Maureen FeeneyBy adamg - 12/10/11 - 4:34 pm
Steve Murphy's Committee on Rules and Administration will pose tough questions to Natalie Carithers of Dorchester on her bid to become the next city clerk at an interview on Monday. The committee is also scheduled to formally interview recently retired Councilor Maureen Feeney before members vote on a recommendation to the full council.
The interviews begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Atkins Room on the fifth floor of City Hall.
New city job posted: Knowledge of Robert's Rules of Order, what city councilors want for the holidays requiredBy adamg - 11/26/11 - 11:41 am
All applicants must have a Bachelors Degree and a minimum of ten years experience working within municipal or county government, legislative experience preferred. Applicant must also have two years experience planning, organizing, or directing a public agency, including formulation, implementation and oversight of agency funding.
Gin Dumcius soberly analyzes the PR mess Maureen Feeney's put her now ex-colleagues in in her frenzied dash to push City Clerk Rosaria Salerno aside so she can start clerkin' it up.
Just imagine if they were all in high school, though. Feeney'd be all "Listen, bitch, that job's mine, now move it!" and Salerno'd be "yeah, bitch, bring it! I'll cut you!" And Mikey Ross'd be waving his arms around going, "girls, girls, don't fight!" while Moose Murphy would just be standing there, happy he didn't ask either of them to the prom.
The Globe reports the longtime Dorchester city councilor quietly submitted her resignation last week rather than just waiting to be replaced on Jan. 1. Did she convince Rosaria Salerno to retire as city clerk?
The Council's Committee on Public Safety holds a hearing Thursday on a proposal by Councilor Maureen Feeney (Dorchester) to create a civilian taxi board to oversee the city's medallion cab fleet.
Feeney says regulations pushed by Mayor Tom Menino and enacted by the police department's hackney unit three years ago that require owners to start buying hybrid cabs, install credit-card machines and wash their cabs once a day were simply too stringent, especially in a difficult economy. Cab drivers successfully sued to block the hybrid requirement but have been unable to shake the credit-card or cleanliness requirements.
A day after police and inspectors swooped down on a Blue Hill Avenue building nearby residents called a criminal warren, city councilors and lawyers began hammering out an ordinance for cracking down on owners of troubled apartments - including a provision that would require licensing for landlords with repeat offenses.
The City Council voted today it is fed up with absentee landlords who let their properties go to hell and backed a hearing proposed by Councilor Maureen Feeney (Dorchester) on cracking down on them.
The Dorchester Reporter reports that Maureen Feeney has decided against seeking re-election to her District 3 City Council seat (Dorchester), which she's held for 17 years.
Her decision comes just as the city releases nomination papers for this fall's city-council elections. The Reporter provides a handy list of possible candidates for her seat.
David Bernstein surveys the changes on the council over the past few years.
Hogan, who ran citywide in 2007, joins Feeney and 2009 at-large candidate Doug Bennett, also making a run for a district seat this time.
Hogan says his campaign will focus on city budget reform, because the city is spending "lavishly." One area where Hogan would not cut, however, is in crime fighting - he says crime is "spiraling out of control." He adds he would oppose cuts in school and fire funding.
Hogan is a South Boston native who now lives in Ashmont. An IT consultant, Hogan is also president of the Dorchester Day Parade and sits on the board of the Dorchester Symphony Orchestra.
Feeney, who was first elected in 1993, has said that this next run will most likely be her last.
A Boston Licensing Board hearing turned heated this morning when City Councilor Maureen Feeney accused the new owner of the Ka-Carlos building at 33 Hancock St. of lying to residents and city officials about his plans for the building.
Peter Gelzinis reports she proposed easing school budget woes by having teachers work for a day without pay. Meanwhile, with little firefighter-like fanfare, school janitors attended a council budget hearing to protest the loss of 41 janitors come July 1 (down from the originally planned 83).
It was, Councilor Maureen Feeney recalls, complete pandemonium: Last summer, somebody opened five hydrants in the area around Norton and Bowdoin streets and the area became an instant disaster zone: Basements were flooded, backyards washed out, cars damaged and some little kids were sent tumbling down the hill because of the force of the water. Thank God a fire didn't break out in the area at the time, she says.
Never again, Feeney and fellow Dorchester Councilor Charles Yancey vowed today. Although the Boston Water and Sewer Commission is installing supposedly more tamper-proof locks on the hydrants in the area - and buying special wrenches for firefighters to use to open them - the two councilors said at a hearing today they want fines and even possible jail time as cudgels to go after kids who open hydrants during the dog days of summer.
Mike Ball, who actually attended yesterday's City Council vote on term limits (I couldn't take another day of those alleged seats in the council chambers and so watched the procedings from our comfy couch on Comcast Channel 51), didn't think much of Maureen Feeney's performance as chair of the committee on government operations - which had bottled up the term-limits issue for months:
... She clearly found the subject distasteful. She repeatedly reduced the issues to sing-song platitudes. In many ways, she is the Pooh of the body, a bear of very little brain. ...
Not that he found much to love in the other councilors who voted against term limits, including Sal LaMattina, who wanted to put it up to a referendum:
... I really hadn't been paying enough attention to the abstracts. Of course, we are in the territory of MassResistance, the Mass Family Institute and the Christian Civic League of Maine. Let the people vote is the call. It is the perfect way to pass the buck and pretend you are being true to the roots of our nation and commonwealth. Treat each important idea as though it were a town meeting discussion and you don't have to be a leader or be responsible for any resulting decision and its effects. ...
The Herald reports.
The Boston City Council voted unanimously today to support the tradition of twice-daily cannon shots at the USS Constitution in Charlestown.
Beyond supporting a custom that dates to 1798, some city councilors told Charletown newcomers complaining about the cannon fire to read up on local history.
"When someone moves into the city of Boston, they need to understand the traditions we have, the history," Councilor Sal LaMattina, who represents Charlestown, said.
Councilor Maureen Feeney, who reprsents Dorchester, went even further, saying she found it "almost offensive" that anybody would object to the sound of cannons. "It's so disprespectful for us to turn our back on the sacrifices that were made. ... I'm sorry, it's sad that we even have to have this discussion."
City Council President Maureen Feeney just announced the council will postpone a meeting on Councilor Chuck Turner, to prevent Turner and his backers from turning it into "a stage for the political theater" and because Turner has yet to be indicted.
"We will take no action based on a mere arrest," she said. "Let's all pray there isn't an indictment. But if there is, we will all need to take further action."
Instead, a council committee and city lawyers will take a look at what to do if Turner is indicted. That could include censure or voting to ask Turner to quit. She is also establishing a new committee on ethics to address such issues for the future, because the city charter doesn't explicitly state what to do in a case like that.
Feeney denied shutting down Turner's phones or computers on Friday. "My interest is to ensure the residents of City Council District 7 continue to receive representation and access to city services."
She also denied putting off action because of lawsuit threats from Turner. "We are not easily intimidated, I can assure you." She said today's meeting was not to try to force Turner out, but to figure out what to do in coming weeks.
However, she did acknowledge stripping Turner of his chairmanship of the education and human-rights committee. She said this allows the committees to continue their work "unfettered" and not "distracted" at a time when the School Department is looking at significant restructuring.
If Boston cab-fleet owners want fare increases, they should be forced to clean up their acts, City Council President Maureen Feeney says in a letter to Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who oversees taxi fares in Boston.
The taxicab industry has been described as "sharecropping on wheels" with drivers forced to pay thousands of dollars in fees before they can earn any salary. This system penalizes both drivers and passengers. It is time for a comprehensive look at our taxi cab system in Boston. I ask you to strongly consider establishing a commission to review the taxi cab industry in Boston and recommend reforms to address the serious concerns raised both by passengers and by drivers.
My office has received several reports of illegal and out-of-town cabs operating in Boston, and of illegal kickbacks from hotel doormen to livery services. Taxi cab drivers face serious challenges and, in addition to your hearing today, I hope you will continue to work with them to address these issues. ...
Let's see if I can do this ...
As I type, City Councilor Maureen Feeney, who helped organize the thing, is opening the event - 400 people in attendance. Wants to revitalize civic discussion and participation in Boston. Only 11% of Bostonians voted in the last election. The city now is supported by "hands too few and too tired." Local groups and neighborhood watches act in isolation.
"Not about potholes and paving sidewalks. It is about political positioning." Positive discussion about civic health and vitality.
For a few minutes, at the least. He's slated to address participants at this Saturday's Boston Civic Summit between 12:55 and 1 p.m., according to a draft agenda (not the one on the Web site).
It's Councilor Maureen Feeney's effort (along with some other Names You Must Know, if not any beginning with M) to get some dialog going on where Boston should be going, May 3 at the South Boston convention center:
This summit will start a conversation on how we can strengthen the overall vitality of city life by promoting greater civic engagement and fostering dialogue between community groups. It will also provide current and prospective community leaders with tools, training and support to better exercise their important civic responsibility.