Working at Home: Councillors participate in meeting remotely

Patrick Keefe Jr. was sitting in his dining room when he called the Revere City Council meeting to order Monday night. It was an historic moment in the city’s history as the Council President and his 10 colleagues “met” despite being away from the Council Chamber at City Hall.

In an effort to lessen the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the Council convened “in accordance with Governor Baker’s Executive Order that the meeting be held by remote participation only” – as explained at the top of the Council meeting agenda that was available to residents online.

Attendance was perfect as President Keefe welcomed Councillors Jessica Giannino, Steven Morabito, George Rotondo, Gerry Visconti, Anthony Zambuto, Joanne McKenna, Ira Novoselsky, Arthur Guinasso, John Powers, and Richard Serino to the virtual meeting.

City Clerk Ashley Melnik performed her customary responsibilities from a remote setting. Mayor Brian Arrigo spoke by remote during the meeting that was also broadcast live on Revere TV.

The meeting, conducted via Zoom technology, proceeded smoothly as each councilor could be seen and heard on screen speaking and voting on the various items on the agenda.

Keefe felt the meeting went well on what was a new communications vehicle for the 11-member board.

“They say, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention,’ and you have an honorable body that has been established for many years and very familiar with the process of doing the meetings in person,” said Keefe. “Due to the coronavirus, we were forced to seek alternative measures and it worked out well.”

Though he was “a little nervous” about potential technical glitches and that “councilors have varying ranges of technology,” Keefe said, “The councilors did very well.”

Councillor-at-Large Jessica Giannino said about the unprecedented meeting, “It is reassuring to know that even in difficult times city business still goes on. Tonight’s meeting was a learning experience, but I think it went very well. Great job coordinating, Council President Keefe.”

Councillor-at-Large Steven Morabito said the virtual meeting was successfully executed. “Our city’s business was not put on hold tonight, yet it was conducted responsibly by remote participation,” said Morabito.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not something that one should take lightly. Everyone must work smarter and stay safe by social distancing while we try to curve the spread of this virus throughout our state and the country.”

Keefe said depending on the status of the coronavirus, the Council could utilize Zoom again for the next Council meeting on April 27.

“We were originally going to have two meetings for April, but we’re going to have only one – and it’s in the latter part of April, with the hope that we’ll be able to meet in the Council Chamber,” said Keefe, adding that remote meetings might be an option for the Council and other boards and committees during major snowstorms and other city emergencies.  

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