On Dapper O'Neil's birthday, budget talks begin

It's budget season!

11:43 a.m.: Nine councilors present when the gavel bangs.

11:47 a.m.: Rich Rogers, of the Greater Boston Labor Council brings two labor leaders from New Orleans to the podium, who tell us about workers'-rights abuses in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. "People over there are trying to get their lives back together, and it's very, very hard," says Robert Hammond, president of New Orleans' International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 130. Brenda Mitchell, president of the United Teachers of New Orleans, commends Boston for the degree to which labor and management work together. "We should not have to come back home to make less money than we did before," she says of teachers' plight back home.

11:55 a.m.: Photo op.

12:06 p.m.: This year's budget process begins. Some quick notes:

  • $2.14 billion on the table.
  • $88 million more than last year, a lot of which comes from health-insurance expense, according to Consalvo (Ways and Means chair).
  • Increased money for schools
  • Funding for two new police classes
  • Affordable-housing trust fund
  • Merging municipal police with city police
  • New departments and new positions (there will be a special hearing on these "new initiatives.")

12:10 p.m.: The council (which can veto budget items but can't suggest their own) will begin holding public budget on April 24 --- schedule to be posted on council Web site.

12:12 p.m.: Consalvo announces the theme this year --- Where are dollars are, where they're being spent, how they're affecting the delivery of city services. A novel theme for budget season!

12:15 p.m.: For the first time, in an effort to engage more residents and parents, school, police, and youth budget hearings will be held at night.

12:17 p.m.: "The budget before us is not very ambitious," Yancey says. He criticizes the lack of new youth-worker positions, the reduction in funding for some affordable housing program, and the fact that no money is allocated for a new high school (that was promised in 1995). Still, he commends the adminstration for its committment to increasing diversity in city departments.

12:23 p.m.: More crime stats arrive from the administration.

12:33 p.m.: Turner calls for a quick recess. Lots of laughter and merriment, and a huddle up by the podium between Flaherty, Turner, Feeney, and Arroyo.

12:43 p.m.: Back from recess, and two things happen immediately. First, Turner withdraws a resoultion "regarding the controversy between UMass and the College of Public and Community Services." No idea what that would have been about.

12:44 p.m.: Then, Turner calls for a roll-call vote on a different decision (which means he disagrees with how it went down). A funny vingette:

   As the clerk starts reading names, Arroyo tries to clarify what a "Yes" vote would mean.

   "It would mean you stand with the chair," the clerk explains, pointing to the president's podium.

   "Then I guess no," Arroyo says with a smirk at Flaherty, who seems entirely unamused.

12:50 p.m.: Three late-filed matters. One, from Turner, is put forth in support of a House bill (proposed by state rep Peter Koutoujian) regarding building conditions and public-health standards within public buildings, including schools. Resolution adopted.

12:55 p.m.: It's Albert "Dapper" O'Neil's 86th birthday!

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