Councillors Look To Open Better Communication With Mayor

By Adam Swift

Some City Councillors want to see better communication between the council and the mayor’s office.

For his part, Mayor Brian Arrigo said he has an open door policy, and councilors are free to contact him whenever they need an update on the status of a motion or request.

Ward 3 Councillor Anthony Cogliandro filed a motion at last week’s meeting requesting the mayor establish lines of communication with the council regarding motions that have been approved and signed by the mayor.

Cogliandro noted that he recently spoke with mayoral aide Gianni Hill and that he appreciated that Hill, who started with the mayor’s office in the summer, has been an effective line of communication between the administration and the council.

“I’d like to see that continue, as we are really the link between the people and city services and the administration,” said Cogliandro.

Councillor-at-Large (and former mayor) Dan Rizzo said he would like to see a more formal method of communication between the council and the mayor’s office.

He noted that mayoral responses to the council motions used to be included in the council packets, or there would at least be a direct email response to councillors requests.

“I think that would be helpful, instead of it going off into oblivion so that we know that this is being acted on,” said Rizzo. 

Rizzo said there are several motions he’s put in that he’s never heard back about, and that it can be frustrating because those motions are often put in at the request of constituents.

Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino said there have been motions he has made that ultimately he hasn’t heard back on, including a motion for the city to ask MassDOT to change the traffic light configuration at the old cinema intersection.

“I went back into the records, and the mayor’s office did send a letter (to MassDOT), but then I ended up reaching out and I talked to somebody at the Arlington office at MassDOT, and he said that never trickled down to them, and that if we sent a letter to the secretary, it didn’t always trickle down to them,” said Serino. “So there was no follow up, and there was no follow up on my end either, maybe I should have, but it would be nice if we could have some collaboration with motions like that and in general.”

Arrigo said there has always been an open-door policy with the mayor’s office and city staff. 

“If there are things that folks want to know answers to, you all have my cell phone number and I’m happy to pick up the phone,” said Arrigo. “I will say that as we have had some staff turnover, it’s alway helpful to reconnect and make sure that we are on the same page.”

Cogliandro suggested that the ward councillor or maker of a motion be included on any relevant emails reaching out to city departments.

Hill said he is happy to sit down with any councillors to work on ways to improve communications and is happy to answer any of their calls.

Rizzo said he agreed with Cogliandro’s suggestion that councillors be included on relevant emails.

“You can get stuff done out of the mayor’s office much better than we can oftentimes as a councillor,” said Rizzo.

Council President Patrick Keefe said he would work on sending out a quarterly reminder to the mayor’s office for updates on any outstanding motions.

“A lot of things, if we remind or send a message or text or email, the response time is very, very good,” said Keefe. “We also have to do our part to make sure there are substantive motions and it is not just glutting up the process, because sometimes that can happen.”

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