Essaibi George: My work will continue despite losing committee

A steadfast City Council committee that had specifically addressed the opiate crisis in the South End was dissolved under new Council President Kim Janey, and its former leader, Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, told neighbors this week she won’t abandon the issue.
The Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health and Recovery had been in place for the past several years, having been created under former Council President Michelle Wu. Essaibi George had headed up that Committee since its inception, and had used it to collaborate with the Opiate Working Group – attending many of those monthly meetings in person.
However, under last week’s new committee assignments, that committee was missing, and Essaibi George had lost that vehicle for the issue. This week, she told neighbors at the East Berkeley Neighborhood Association she would continue on.
“I don’t see my work ending on this issue,” she said. “I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into this work. When we’re talking about homelessness, many times it overlaps with issues of mental health addiction and recovery. Housing is part of the answer, but only part. It’s something I think we need to keep doing. I’m not disengaging from the South End Forum. I’m not disengaging from the Working Group. In fact, I find more motivated than ever to double down on these efforts…It’s important to me.”
President Janey’s office did not return a request to elaborate on breaking up the Committee – which has been very helpful to her district in Roxbury and the South End. It is the President’s prerogative to change committees, end committees and bring in new members to lead them.
Essaibi George said it wasn’t a question she can answer.
Nevertheless, District 1 Councilor Lydia Edwards did say that the homelessness piece has been added to her Housing Committee, and mental health and recovery had been added to the Public Health Committee.
She said it was all about efficiency.
“The issues of mental health and recovery are important issues under the new committee on Public Health,” she said. “The issue of homelessness will be under my committee on Housing and Community Development. It is within the president’s prerogative to restructure our entire committees. It makes sense to Councilor Janey to streamline those conversations…I think she made an efficiency decision.”
Councilor Essaibi George has filed to create Commissions on Mental Health and Recovery.

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