The City Council today agreed to hold a hearing on how the Wu administration is dealing with Covid-19, possibly as early as next week.
City Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester), who called for the hearing, made it clear today he is fed up with mandates and required shots for city employees. In explaining his hearing request, he said the city's current indoor-space and city-worker vaccine mandate "came with suspension of collective-bargaining rights, it came with the suspension of business rights and it came with the suspension of individual rights, in my opinion."
And the administration is keeping councilors like him out of the loop, unlike Marty Walsh, who held frequent meetings with councilors on Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic.
Baker said he wants the hearing on the issue to be held in person, unlike the past two years of City Council hearings, which have been held online via Zoom. He said that if Wu and her minions don't want such a hearing, they could simply drop the mandates on Monday or Tuesday and he'd call off the hearing.
"We need to hold people accountable," Baker said, demanding to know whether other councilors would like it if they had to show ID just to vote. Baker did not explain the specific public-health risks involved with casting a vote.
Baker added he's upset the way the Wu administration gave councilors just a half hour's notice before announcing new vaccine mandates, at a December press conference that was "more like a campaign rally than more like a campaign rally than it did a public-health emergency declaration," he said. "It looks political to me."
City Council President Ed Flynn assigned the hearing to the council's Committee on Public Health, chaired by Councilor Erin Murphy (at large), who co-sponsored the proposal with Baker - the committee's vice chair.
Last week, Murphy requested her committee be allowed to hold a hearing on the vaccination mandate for city workers, Flynn assigned that to the committee that deals with the workplace in city government.
Murphy today focused on what she said was a lack of meaningful data for both councilors and the public. She noted as of yesterday, the last Boston Public Health Commission weekly Covid-19 report had been posted in September and the supposed Boston Covid-19 online dashboard no longer even works. Sometime today, BPHC added a weekly report from yesterday, although it is dated "08-08-2022." She questioned whether the Boston Public Health Commission even has its full complement of board members.
Outgoing City Councilor Lydia Edwards (East Boston, North End, Charlestown) agreed with Baker and Murphy on the need for increased transparency on Covid-19 efforts, but pleaded with them to be responsible and allow people to participate in the hearing remotely.
"It's the safer option for some people, who really are concerned about contracting this disease," she said, also asking that Baker and Murphy insist that people who attend wear masks. The council as a whole today held its third straight Zoom meeting after a group of mask protesters attended its in-person meeting and refused to put masks on.
Edwards also urged them to try to maintain a civil hearing rather than allowing it to become "a rally moment to scream about their frustrations."
"It's disheartening how cruel people have been to each other" over masks, she said. And one purpose of the hearing, she said, should be how to prepare for life with Covd-19, which she said she doubted will ever disappear completely, in a way that is "respectful, kind and actually brings people together."