Aldermen Notes: ‘A gross injustice’

by Tom Nash on October 18, 2010

The Board of Aldermen met Oct. 14, discussing the issues raised by a group of protesters and the new police chief contract, among other items. Full video here.

Aldermen seek input on 162 Highland Ave. affordable housing

In response to the protest that followed the rejection of the Somerville Community Corporation’s proposed housing project at 162 Highland Ave, aldermen plan on examining affordable housing in the city.

Save Our Somerville co-founder Matt McLaughlin asked the board to reconsider the rejected housing project on 162 Highland Ave.

“I can’t put in words how mad I am that six families are going to be out on the streets struggling to survive because of the recent Zoning Board of Appeals decision,” he said, later adding, “What hope do the children of these families have if people don’t want them living next door?”

Ward 3 Alderman Tom Taylor, a co-sponsor of the resolution and on record as having opposed the project, noted he has always supported affordable housing but remains concerned about overcrowding in the city.

“I think this particular issue that happened at 162 Highland Ave. is a healthy one,” he added. “The issue for me has never been my support of affordable housing … I hope this is the beginning of a discussion.”

Ward 5 Alderman Sean O’Donvovan, who also opposed the project, remained critical of SCC’s decision to put the housing development there and McLaughlin painting the opposition as anti-affordable housing.

“I would be more than happy to try to identify locations in my area or across the city for affordable housing projects,” he said. “Never once did a person from Ward 5 that I spoke to, did they bring up the fact that (people) were homeless and they didn’t want them in their neighborhood.”

The language in the resolution referencing the project was removed after Ward 7 Alderman Bob Trane, Aldermen-at-Large Dennis Sullivan and Bill White asked that the board not single out SCC’s project.

“I think it creates a false dichotomy that if you’re against 162 Highland Ave. you’re against affordable housing, which is not the case,” Sullivan said.

Police chief contract approval on hold

Incoming Police Chief Thomas Pasquarello, a former DEA regional director, will be waiting for his final round of approval from the board until he exits the federal system. View the contract here.

Reserve firefighter list questions renewed

Two aldermen are asking why the city’s legal department didn’t share an e-mail from the state’s Civil Service Commission that stated an Iraq war veteran was required to be at the top of the city’s reserve firefighter list.

The board voted on an older version of the list that left O’Brien out earlier this year, prompting an appeal with the state’s Civil Service Commission that he won in September. He is now required to be the first candidate on the city’s next list.

Alderman-at-Large Bill White and Ward 6 Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz submitted a resolution asking that the legal department explain why the state’s e-mail was not shared with the board.

“Why were we not told of this?” White asked. “I’m not going to jump to any conclusions … but I think we’re entitled to hear an explanation of why we were never told about this.”

“We have an e-mail in plain black and white that says a returning veteran should have been number one on the list, and we did not receive it,” Gewirtz said. “It was an injustice done to this person.”

“I’m going to have somebody’s head on this, if this is true,” Confirmation of Appointments Committee Chair Bob Trane said, adding, “To come before any committee here and not give full disclosure of information requested by this board, that should get the death penalty.”

“This is a gross injustice, if this is true,” Alderman-at-Large Dennis Sullivan added.

Connolly asks about free parking for residents over 60

Alderman-at-Large Jack Connolly asked that the Traffic and Parking Department look into whether the age for free residential parking permits can be lowered to 60.

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