A kind-of interesting city council, we're not kidding

[Deirdre Fulton guest-blogging.]

11:37 a.m.: Murphy is the first to arrive.

11:48 a.m.: Roll call, meeting begins.

11:59 a.m.: The first major item of business concerns the redevelopment of the Franklin Hill projects, where a private developer (Trinity Financial) is poised to partially take over a public-housing development in Dorchester. To do so, the council has to send the proposal over to the state legislature. Feeney, chair of the Government Operations committee, calls Franklin Hill a "public development that truly needs a facelift --- more than a facelift, a major renovation," and enthusiastically recommends passing the matter on to the State house.

12:05 p.m.: Franklin Hill is in Yancey's district, and he rises first to acknowledge that one tenant activist is present in the chamber (tenants have been concerned about issues of privatization and relocation). He has several questions about the home-rule petition, and he goes on to accuse the BHA of divesting itself from rental units --- which causes residents to suffer, he says. "There's a pattern here," and he doesn't want the council to vote on the matter today.

12:10 p.m.: "The federal government has abandoned public housing," Feeney says in defense of the BHA. "The fact of the matter is that there is no federal dollars."

12:12 p.m.: As she continues speaking, Feeney gets riled up. "I'm offended. I'm absolutely offended," she says, accusing Yancey of trying to drag things out longer than necessary.

12:15 p.m.: Yoon gets up to calmly explain the particulars --- I get the sense he will play this rational-peacemaker role a lot --- and Feeney mouths: "Thank you."

12:25 p.m.: Several councilors have risen to add thoughtful commentary to this discussion. Turner supports the project with reservations; Ross and Scapicchio support the project, and offer examples, from their own districts, of successful public-private collaborations on housing projects.

12:27 p.m.: The BHA waiting list for affordable housing is 22,000 people long????

12:28 p.m.: All Yancey wants to know --- and he "challenges" any of his colleagues to provide an answer --- what are the general and special laws that the BHA is seeking to be exempted from.

12:33 p.m.: One guess as to who rises to the challenge......Anyone who guessed Yoon is obviously right. He explains the exemption.

12:38 p.m.: Yancey and Turner vote no; Arroyo abstains; the question passes. Hooray for a lively debate!

12:50 p.m.: The council passes an order (Flaherty's) to ban three particularly dangerous types of guns from the city. (One of these types can supposedly take down a plane, another can pierce a bulletproof vest.)

12:56 p.m.: Will Mike Ross ever be council president? I've gotten the chance to ponder that question over the past few minutes, while the council discussed things like a Boston Waterways Board, and more affordable housing. Ross took over for Flaherty during the discussion of Flaherty's gun ban, and he looks quite comfortable up there at the podium. What does Mike Ross want to do after this?

1:02 p.m.: Flaherty reclaimed his seat.

1:10 p.m.: Yoon, Arroyo, and McDermott file an order for a hearing "to discuss potential reforms to the city's affordable housing programs, including the Inclusionary Zoning Program." Lots of affordable-housing talk today, which is great.

1:12 p.m.: Northeastern University has announced plans to purchase several row houses on Mass Ave, which are set aside as affordable housing. Northeastern has promised to maintain affordability, but the tenants aren't convinced. Turner is calling for a hearing on the matter, which will "give the university the opportunity to stand by their word."

1:17 p.m.: Now it's Ross' turn to be riled up. "We can't let institutions take over every housing unit that's private, every housing unit that's public... I just couldn't believe it.... That's where they spend their money, gobbling up affordable housing.... It's disturbing. I don't think we should let this sale go through. I think we should fight it. I think this is a dangerous precedent."

1:22 p.m.: McDermott chimes in with generic BC-and-Harvard-are-encroaching-on-Allston-Brighton stuff.

1:23 p.m.: Good point from Murphy: If those buildings become Northeastern property, the city will lose that tax revenue.

1:30 p.m.: I'm sneaking out before the congratulatory resolutions, with semi-restored faith in the council's desire --- if not its ability --- to get things done.

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