[Note: This post has been updated, following confirmation from Mark Ciommo.]
Boston City Council President Michael Ross will tap rookie district councilor Mark Ciommo of Allston-Brighton to chair the important Ways & Means committee.
Ross's office would not confirm the decision, but Ciommo confirmed that he expects to be named to the post, possibly as early as tomorrow. Ross has promised to announce committee assignments this week.
The Ways & Means chair runs the series of budget hearings each year, and this year's hearings figure to be particularly contentious, given the extremely difficult fiscal climate -- likely necessitating huge cuts to public schools and other departments -- as well as the political atmosphere, with mayoral and council elections this fall. Ciommo is well aware that he is stepping into the eye of the storm, telling me today that "I've never run away from a challenge."
Ciommo is something of a surprise choice, because he has only been on the council since 2007, and does not have as much experience with the city budget process as more veteran councilors. At-large councilor Steve Murphy chaired the committee last year. He was preceded by Rob Consalvo of Hyde Park.
While Ciommo is new to the council, he has years of experience running organizations, most notably the Veronica B. Smith Multi-Service Senior Center in Brighton, where he was executive director for 14 years.
"I believe I can bring a thoughtful, fresh approach to the budget process," Ciommo says.
Ciommo was a crucial vote for Ross to become council president, so some are speculating that the Ways & Means chairmanship was promised in return. One councilor, however, tells me that Ross and Ciommo did not discuss committee assignments until after Ross secured the presidency.
I am also told that Chuck Turner, who of course is facing federal corruption charges, will be assigned to committees but will not be given a chairmanship. At-large councilor John Connolly is expected to chair the education committee, which Turner chaired last year.
In addition, Ross is expected to dramatically reduce the number of committees, by eliminating some, and combining others. There may be as few as 13 committees after the restructuring.