The Boston City Council held an unprecedented weekly meeting on March 18, where half of the Council appeared in the Chamber, and the other half participated in the meeting via the remote conferencing program, Zoom, in an attempt to follow social distancing guidelines.
According to the council meeting agenda, “in accordance with Governor Charlie Baker’s March 12 Executive Order modifying certain requirements of Open Meeting Law to enable public bodies to carry out responsibilities while adhering to public health recommendations regarding social distancing, the City Council will be limiting in-person attendance for…hearings to Councilors and staff.”
Council President Kim Janey said that this meeting was “probably” the last time the Council would come to City Hall for a while, and they will henceforth work to do as many thinks remotely as possible.
Though there were some technical difficulties at times, the hybrid meeting mostly went off without a hitch, and the Council members were able to tackle their regular agenda, as well as make comments about the ongoing public health crisis. Councilors expressed their pride and gratitude for all those in Boston who are helping during these challenging times.
“This is unlike anything we’ve ever had to deal with,” said Councilor Matt O’Malley. “The response of Boston has been remarkable and unsurprising.”
Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George thanked the staff and school communities who have come together to support Boston’s students as “teachers are looking for new ways to communicate and instruct their kids.” She said that having her own boys at home has “created a very different rhythm for us.”
Councilor Ed Flynn said he wanted to “highlight the tremendous work of our first-responders and city employees,” calling them “unsung heroes.” He also stressed the importance of treating every resident with respect and empathy, especially “our immigrant neighbors.”
City Councilor Julia Mejia echoed Councilor Essaibi-George’s sentiments about educators in the city, saying that as a mom who now has to help instruct her kids from home, adding it has helped her to realize that Boston teachers “are doing a really good job at educating our students.” She also said she is looking forward to supporting “those that are the most vulnerable” in the city, which includes undocumented workers who may be struggling right now.
“These are times we have not seen before,” said Councilor Janey. “Folks are fighting hard to get the resources they need. It’s important that we continue to advocate and lift up those who have been left behind.”
Janey said that residents can reach out to any council member for support, and reminded everyone to “please be kind to each other.”