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Boston City Council votes to extend terms to four years

The City Council voted today to extend members' terms from two to four years. The measure now goes to Mayor Walsh and, if he approves, to the state legislature, whose members serve two-year terms.

Only Councilor Michelle Wu (at large) voted against.

Councilors say the move, which would make council elections concurrent with the election for mayor, will save the city roughly $1.6 million for off-year primaries and final elections and free them from the tyranny of being in non-stop campaign mode.

Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester), who pushed the measure, noted the low turnout in off-year council elections. "It requires a lot of time and effort on campaigning and organizing instead of devoting 100% of time [to the job]."

Baker dismissed concerns that eliminating the off-year elections would make it harder for newcomers to break into city government. He said low turnouts tend to favor incumbents - although he did acknowledge last year's off-year results, in which challengers defeated two entrenched incumbents.

Councilor Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan) said that after being away from his family, the hardest thing about being a councilor is asking friends for money when he knows they may not have it. He said a two-year term forces councilors to constantly worry about re-election rather than "thinking outside the box" for dealing with city issues.

Under the terms of the proposal, the council could call a special election to replace a member who leaves if there is eight or more months left on his or her term.

After the meeting, Wu said she recognizes the concerns - council agendas shrink in the weeks before elections as councilors are pulled away for campaign events - but that she thinks more frequent elections keep councilors more directly connected and "as accessible as possible" to the people they represent.

She said that four-year terms give incumbents that much more of a head start in fundraising, which could make it even harder for challengers to win.

Also today, the council voted to bar anybody from ever pulling a Yancey again and running for two municipal offices at once. That proposal, which also goes to the mayor, passed unanimously.

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Comments

"hardest thing about being a councilor is asking friends for money when he knows they may not have it"...
Ask GE!

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Then they get accused of being in the pocket of corporate donors.

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It requires a lot of time and effort on campaigning and organizing instead of devoting 100% of time [to the job].

If you did a great job people would vote for you without much campaigning.

Why not vote to extend it to lifetime appointments if the goal is to make it as easy on the councilors as possible. It will go great with their pay raise.

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All looking to make it a life time career. None of them have plans to go anywhere.

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Really buddy? You hate asking for money? Well, why don't you show some fiscal responsibility and stop spending all of that money you asked for on junkets. $191 for "dinner with colleagues" at Hillstone? $160 for dinner w/colleagues in Galway, Ireland? $617 for a plane ticket to Ireland. $482 for a hotel in Ireland. How many ads could you have purchased with all that money? Think of all the friends who could have held on to their money had you forgone the boondoggle to Ireland FOR A HOCKEY TOURNAMENT w/your buddy Frank Baker.

EDIT- McCarthy sure had no problem asking his "friends" the Akiki's (who live in Dedham and run Akiki auto in Hyde Park) for money. After giving $250 in 2014, they really stepped up and gave $5,000 in 2015. More than enough to pay for the $300/mo lease for McCarthy's campaign funded Ford vehicle.

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Compare Boston City Councilors Baker, Campbell, Ciommo, Essaibi George, Flaherty, Jackson, LaMattina, Linehan, McCarthy, O'Malley, Pressley, Wu, Zakim
at
http://www.ocpf.us/Reports/SearchItems

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It will make you sick. The amount of other people's money these fools spend to keep themselves fed is disgusting.

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Stenographic Services http://www.ellenmfritch.com/ at Boston City Council contributions to City Councilors
at
http://www.ocpf.us/Reports/SearchItems

Why no greater competition among Vendors for Stenographic Services at Boston City Council?... with more advanced technology/software than the out of date software in the Council Chamber?

Why grandfather in the same Vendor of Stenographic Services using out of date technology/software instead of more up to date technology/software other Scopist Vendors offer?

Why isn't the Plover software, free, libre, open-source stenography program used? (pronunciation rhymes with lover)
http://stenoknight.com/wiki/FAQ

Ask for the Bid Advertisement and Bid Documents for Stenographic Services at Boston City Council !
http://bostonfincomm.com/The_Boston_FinComm/Contact_us.html

The Stenographic Record is kept out of reach from hard of hearing folks, kept out of reach from the Deaf Community, kept out of reach from ESL English as a Second Language folks, kept out of reach from all folks.

2 different Stenographers cover Public Meetings of Boston City Council, the City Stenographer http://www.ellenmfritch.com/ and WGBH Media Access
http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/captioning.html

Budget. Boston City Council
http://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/14%20Non-Mayoral%20Departme...

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Most people have absolutely no idea who their city councillor is. If people are happy with the city as a whole they might be more willing to give the incumbent the benefit of the doubt, but you do need to get your name out there.

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The ballot clearly shows if someone is an incumbent. Like the way the city works? Vote for the incumbent. Think things are failing? Vote for someone else.

Get their name out by going to meetings and talking with voters, not just by using their cash to stuff mailboxes with photos of them smiling.

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Now that they have their pay raise and some job security, I hope our poor city councilor are finally able to drag themselves out of poverty.

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I'm confused why the council voted to restrict themselves from running for mayor and reelection at the same time. Was that a sweetener demanded by Walsh?

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in action. Eliminates placeholder politics.

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Frank Baker talking about needing more time to devote to his job is a joke. Why on earth is a City Councilor taking trips to Seattle and to IRELAND in a 3 month span? Fact finding mission? Trade mission? All on the backs of the hard working people who gave him money to get elected. It's a joke. That's why they don't want to run every 2 years, their campaign funds is a giant slush fund that provides them a lifestyle they don't want to give up. Expensive dinners, travel, gifts, charitable donations....why waste all that money on an election when you can spend it on yourself?

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OK well, either I'm voting for Trump or a Baboon. What's that? A baboon isn't running?

Oh. Nevermind then.

I guess I'll keep hoping Sanders gets the nomination.

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I think Sanders and Trump are running for a 4 year term.

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grave?

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Added her comments to the original post.

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the Councilors are "pulled away", the better.

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I think this makes sense, as long as they add term limits to the mayor and city council, to 2 terms (8 years) for mayor and 3 terms (12 years) for city council.

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There's just no real passion in politics these days. Everyone has an ulterior motive. To quote George Carlin, "it's all one big circle jerk, folks. Only you don't know who's jerking off who". World class youths eager for change, scumbag Tammany Hall politicians still in control..

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As one of those people who staffs polling places, I say yes to fewer elections. 15 hour days for a stipend of less than $200 are hard enough when it's busy and people are excited to be voting. Low turnout elections are boring and demoralizing.

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I have to assume that the stipend is to pay you for providing the service of staffing the tables. Are you required to do so? Or is it a perk of who you know? Whining about being paid only $200 for sitting at a table when it's purely voluntary is gross and hypocritical.

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The election department has a hard time getting people to work at the polls. As I said, it's a long, often boring day. I don't do it for the money (obviously). I do it because it's my civic duty. Poll workers do more than just sit at a table. If you don't believe me, do what I do -- take a day off from your regular job and work as a warden or clerk.

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but let's move it to the same election day as everything else. This off year crap is nonsense.

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Records Management practices at Council Central Staff Offices and Records Management practices at Boston City Clerks Office are out of date, need more up to date technology/software. More knowledgeable new Technical Staff are needed to make available Public Documents now out of reach. Greater Civic Engagement is needed to counter the less responsive Councilors in denial re bad Records Management practices lack of ready online access to Public Records of Boston City Council. Hard of hearing folks, the Deaf Community, ESL English as a Second Language folks, all folks need better access to out of reach Public Documents of Boston City Council.

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Release online the Stenographic Record of Public Meetings of Boston City Council for hard of hearing folks, for the Deaf Community, for ESL English as a Second Language folks, for all folks. The Stenographic Record is budgeted with public funds. The Stenographic Record has been released in the past but now out of reach. Stenographic Records of Public Meetings during the Busing are available at Boston Public Library Special Collections Division.

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If he doesn't like what comes with the job, then get a different job. Problem solved.

Punish those who voted for this by voting them out.

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On the one hand 2 years is NOTHING. They do have to constantly be running or raising money to run. Kind of a waste. And those preliminary elections to narrow the field from 3 to 2....don't even get me started on what a waste THAT is.

The other side is that these councilors now have 4 years between being responsible to their constituents. Some of them will work hard all the time, but some will do next to nothing for 3 years and then call for a bunch of stupid meetings to get their name in the paper so people will vote for them again.

On the premise that this will save a good chunk of money I approve, but not without some lingering concerns.

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who thinks this is probably something the voters should be able to decide?

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The 2 Year Term encourages our democracy. Voter Mobilization is lacking because of the lack of up to date technical/software experience of Elections Staff.

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This is a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse. This is basically a charter change, and since the other major changes went through the hands of the voters, this one should, too.

Of course, that is assuming the council wants approval from us.

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Of course, that is assuming the council wants approval from us.

Knee slapper.

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I hope this money goes to Boston Public Schools, Public Safety, Boston EMS, Boston Fire, and other programs such as Andrew Cousino suggested in 2013.

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It will go to salaries for City Council staff.

This has nothing to do with saving money and everything to do with being able to ignore citizens.

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Did they make it for after the next election, or did they literally vote themselves two years extra of the job that's supposed to be decided by the voters!?

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Actually, first the mayor has to approve it. If he does, then it goes to the state legislature and, if they approve it, to the governor.

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As much as people don't like the idea of longer terms, too much time campaigning is not good either.

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Being more answerable to the constituents.

I balk at the idea that Tim McCarthy is really spending inordinate amount of time fund raising and politicking. An incumbent just needs to listen to his/her constituents and do a few events to get reelected.

Your member of Congress, state rep, and state senator can campaign every 2 years, and they have a lot more responsibilities in their elected offices.

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Spent over $3k of his campaign funds to go to Ireland to watch a college hockey tournament. How exactly does that help him win reelection? If he was that worried about raising money, or about his actual constituents, he would have stayed home and saved the cash.

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is under appreciated. Having to routinely explain to constituents that its the Mayor or legislatures fault is tiring and sometimes even leads to lockjaw. Having to drink coffee out of a paper cup and eating at a less than clean neighborhood restaurant can mean frequent bathroom breaks. Those last 4 years though are a bonus when it comes to pension averaging calculations.

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"Why should we have to campaign every other year and ruin our summer. We can fund-raisefor an additional 2 years and build a war chest to better fend off anybody who dares run against us." Shameless power grabbing. First grabbing money from developers and putting the concerns of the residents to the side, now a move to guarantee that they don't even have to work to keep the job that they don't really do any work at. Term limits are needed on these politicians. It's our only hope.

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From President to Dog Catcher, democracy is extinct.

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I say we make city councilors punch a time clock and for the days that they don't go to city hall because they are "in the district" or "meeting with constituents", they should wear a body camera. By the way, if you ever want to hear some good stuttering, the next time you call to speak to your councilor for something, and you're told that "he's in the district", tell the person on the phone that you're in the district also and ask where in the district the councilor is so you can just talk to him there. You'll be met with a lot of "aah, uhmm, well....I, aah....."

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The councilor could be in the district, but not in a coffee house or something where you can easily find him. I know I've seen Tim McCarthy out on streets in his district with BTD or public-works people several times.

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A time clock for someone who's job is to be at events, in meetings and all over the place?

It is also entirely possible that when you call they are, gasp, not working, If someone has a 7am meeting, works a few hours, has a meeting at 7pm that will go until 9pm but they will not get home until after 10pm because they get stuck at the door talking to someone... they may chose to run errands from 2 to 4 when there is nothing on their schedule.

Also speaking as a former "gate keeper" at a non profit if you call about the same thing every day that can not be fixed and you are the only one who cares about it and are obsessed about it you end up with the canned excuse. "I can check to see if he is in the office" "I've been to your office, you are ten feet from his desk how do you not know if he is there???" "Damned if I know sir"

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Baker is useless, his district has guns, drugs human trafficking and garbage. I have. Only ever seen him schilling for developers and shouting about the evils of rent control.
If you contact his office you get same form reply and the people in his office are just rude. As tenants get pushed out by developers Baker will get voted out by new people because he has no clue......or plan or idea .

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Councilor Baker mentioned difficulty hearing at the Public Meeting of a Committee of Boston City Council... hard of hearing?
http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/09/05/candidate-chat-frank-...

Boston City Council has failed to take into account civic engagement of folks with different challenges, hard of hearing folks, the Deaf Community, ESL English as a Second Language folks, tinnitus ringing in the ears, concussion recovery, stroke recovery folks, folks with cognitive difficulty, dyslexic, ADD attention deficit, elderly, folks in city neighborhoods far afield of City Hall, Lower Mills folks, Ashmont folks, Cedar Gove folks, Adams Village folks, Peabody Square folks, Neponset folks, Port Norfolk folks, Popes Hill folks, Hyde Park folks, Mattapan folks, Orient Heights folks, folks with difficulty to tolerate hard aggravating public seats of the Council Chamber sidelined for lack of access to the Full Plain Text Stenograph Record of Public Meetings of Boston City Council.

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I hope the Mayor or the Legislature rejects this Council request. They do so little as it is and only have power over the Budget. They just voted themselves a huge increase in salary and even today they are usually too busy with their second jobs to meet with constituents in the office. Two years is perfect. Gives us a chance to vote useless ones out, though for us Linehan has managed to stay in due to all the money he raked in from business.

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