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2014 Committees Signed, Sealed, Delivered, but There’s More…

Your Face Here! Sorta… (WMassP&I)

SPRINGFIELD—The new City Council President moved quickly only a day after his election to appoint committees for the Council’s 2014 term.  Ward 2 Councilor Michael Fenton shuffled the seats on the Council’s committee Tuesday and announced the formation of two policy-centric proactive committees, which will be solely responsible for producing legislation.

Fenton jettisoned the Casino Siting, Residency and School Safety Committee, saying that the Council’s standing committees would be quite capable of handling those issues.  Specifically on Casino Siting, Fenton noted that given the advanced stage of the casino process, the focus for the Council would likely switch over to other committees anyway like Special Permits.

At-large Councilors Tom Ashe and Kateri Walsh and Ward 1 Councilor Zaida Luna retained their chairs of Public Safety, Maintenance and Development and General Government respectively.  Fenton spun off Race & Civil Rights from Public Safety, placing Ward 4 Councilor E. Henry Twiggs as chair.  At-large Councilor Bud Williams was moved to chair Health & Human Services.  Ward 5 Councilor Clodo Concepcion retained his Elder Affairs Chair, but will be joined by other councilors this session.

Ward 3 Councilor Melvin Edwards will lead the Audit and Responsible Employer Ordinance Committee.  Newcomer Ward 8 Councilor Orlando Ramos will lead Special Permits, which ostensibly will reassert its jurisdiction over permitting, something Planning and Economic Development had taken over in recent years.  That committee will be chaired by Ward 6 Councilor Ken Shea and was renamed simply Economic Development.  Fenton himself will lead the State & Federal Relations Committee, with an emphasis on I-91’s redevelopment in terms of the Council’s dealings with the Commonwealth.

The full committee list is now available on the Council website.  Fenton also appointed the Council’s seat on committees that include appointees from other city agencies including Capital Improvement Committee (Walsh), the School Building (Ramos) and Animal Control (himself).

Fenton also reiterated his plans for Special citizen/councilor committees whose sole purpose will be to develop legislation and proposals for the City Council to consider.  No matters will be referred to them from the Council floor.

The committees include: a repurposed Green Committee, with an environmental policy focus; a New Revenue Committee, that will consider new options to boost the city’s coffers; a Young Professional Committee geared toward attracting and retaining young professionals and families; and a Workforce Development Committee that will consider how to train residents that can go out and find jobs to become successful.  The Workforce Development Committee look at how city can leverage its resources to help residents build and maintain their professional careers.

Fenton will chair the Green Committee.  Newcomer at-large Councilor Justin Hurst will chair the Young Professional Committee while Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen will chair the New Revnue and Workforce Development Committees.

Fenton repeated his intention to get the public involved in these committees and urged interested city residents to contact the City Council office and/or email Council staffers Susan Kacoyonnakis or Kelley Mickiewicz.  Early interest from the public has exceeded expectations according to City Hall sources.  Prospective members may send them a resume or another statement of interest that displays their interest, commitment and qualifications (where applicable).  The Council office can be reacehd at 413-787-6170.  Submissions will be accepted until Friday January 17, 2014.