Time for a Vote: Councilor Serino Revises His Time-of-Meeting Proposal

Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino is advancing a proposal concerning various city boards and the starting times for their meetings. Originally Serino proposed that all City Council subcommittee meetings and city board meetings start at 6 p.m. or later.

However, after listening to his City Council colleagues, other public officials and his constituents weigh in on the matter, Serino has revised certain aspects of his proposal.

The City Council will vote on Serino’s motion at its next meeting on Nov. 9. Currently City Council meetings start at 6 p.m., with subcommittee meetings preceding the committee-of-the-whole meetings. During previous years, the Council has held its regular meetings at starting times ranging from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Revere Journal asked Councilor Serino about his much-discussed proposal that would affect all board members and residents throughout the city. Following are Councillor Serino’s responses:

RJ: Do you want all government meetings in Revere – including the School Committee – to start at 6 p.m. or later?

RS: The original language of the motion would have required meetings of all municipal committees, boards and commissions begin in the evening hours of 6 p.m. or later.  However, as discussion evolves, I admit that a one-size-fits-all approach would not be appropriate.  For example, the School Committee does sometime hold meetings during the day to accommodate teachers; the License Commission holds meetings in the afternoon to accommodate restaurant owners/managers who might otherwise be operating their businesses in the evenings; both the Council on Elder Affairs and the Retirement Board hold meetings in the afternoon due to the nature of their business, which works for the population they are serving.  However, the true intent of the ordinance change is to give the vast majority of people in the City a reasonable timeframe in order to participate in meetings in which the subject matter might truly affect them personally.  This goes for City Council meetings – sub-committee and the committee of the whole; Zoning Board of Appeals meetings; Conservation Commission meetings; Planning Board meetings, etc.  Particularly with regard to the meetings of our own body, I am quickly learning that most Council business is dispensed with during sub-committee meetings, which are held at hours in which most reasonable people would argue are working hours.  At the very least, our sub-committee meetings should be held in the evening hours to allow the average taxpayer the chance to weigh-in and participate without having to take time off work.  Again, as I stated tonight, this was not meant to be a self-serving motion.  As an elected official, I know what my commitment is, and I am able to make it work.  This is for the North Revere residents who couldn’t attend a Planning Board meeting in January, the residents of Sherman Street who couldn’t attend a ZBA meeting last month, and all residents who have had to either miss or take time off work to attend various public meetings.

RJ: Will the Council be voting on your proposal at the Nov. 9 City Council meeting? What do you anticipate the amendments will be from your colleagues?

RS: Based on the discussion at our Oct. 26 meeting, I am anticipating that the Legislative Affairs sub-committee will take this up on November 9, and I am hopeful that with clarifying language, it would be forwarded to the entire City Council for a vote on that night.

The amendments that I would imagine would be proposed would be language to explicitly state which municipal boards would be excluded from this ordinance change (i.e. School Committee, License Commission, Council on Elder Affairs, Retirement Board).

RJ: Did you infer in the original discussion of your proposal that you would be okay with your proposal not going into effect until January, 2021?

RS: Regarding my comments on requesting that this be taken up before the end of the calendar year – in January, 2021, new sub-committees of the Council will be assigned, and therefore I was asking that this be taken up before the current Legislative Affairs sub-committee changes.  But, in essence, I wanted to make clear that I wanted our committee to take a vote on the matter at some point in the near future and that I did not want the subject matter to fall by the wayside. 

RJ: Various city councillors and other  officials have indicated their opposition to your proposal. Do you think you have the majority of your colleagues ready to vote in favor of your motion?

RS: I think that if we amend the language to address the concerns that some of the councillors brought up at the Oct. 26 meeting, I do think it would have a good chance of passing.

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