The Boston City Council's regular Wednesday meeting was quick, with the Council approving two union contracts, as well the introduction for two future hearings on recycling in schools, and mental health services provided by the city.
Mental health services hearing
At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo called for a hearing to examine the mental health services provided by the City of Boston.
"One of the issue that affects our community is mental health issues, and some of them can be the hardest to recognize if you’re self-diagnosing," said Arroyo. "There’s a stigma attached to seeking help. But we need to recognize and work on issues of mental health... and make sure resources are available for them."
Arroyo said he'd like the Boston Public Health Commission to come in, as well as leaders of the healthcare industry.
At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley said it's important to connect people to services, but often times there’s a lack of knowledge of what services are available. Pressley, along with other councilors, said they are looking forward to learning about what services are available.
Kicking up the meeting
Before getting down to business, the Council received a tae kwon do demonstration by students of the Higginson-Lewis K-8 School. The students are a part of a the US TaeKwonDo Education Foundation program that teaches how to deal with behavior and bullying issues.
About 20 students, donning yellow belts, and white martial arts jackets, displayed their martial arts skills in the center of the council's floor, as their teacher, Master Han, provided instruction. Han emphasized the students keep physically fit, gain mental respect, discipline and confidence through the free program.
Two orders that will be discussed at future hearings were filed by Arroyo. One is to discuss bringing single-stream recycling into Boston Public Schools. Currently, the school system does not have an overall recycling program through schools, but individuals schools do recycle on their own.
Arroyo previously called for recycling bins to be on all Boston streets. But he said this latest idea came from a student speaking at the State House.
"This young person got up and said 'we would like to have single stream recycling in our cafeteria.' That’s a great idea," said Arroyo. "True to form, they asked me to work on it. This is a young person in our public schools wanting to know why (recyclable items) goes to the trash?"
At-Large City Councilor John Connolly quickly commended Arroyo on the legislation, "I think this hearing will be an excellent way to find out what's going on (with recycling in the schools)."
Connolly said Boston's schools have a $900,000 waste contract but no single stream recycling contract.
"There’s been a task force made up of local environmentalists who meet routinely at Boston Natural Areas Network," said Connolly.
The schools are trying to get a contract out to bid for single-stream recycling, but that's it's been stalled, according to Connolly.
"This hearing is a great way to use leverage on BPS and get single-stream recycling into our schools. I will schedule that hearing ASAP as chair of the education committee," he said.
The order was referred to the Committee on Education to have a hearing scheduled.
Other council business
- The Council approved a $400,000 grant from the state to expand the Boston's Citizen Connect app to other municipalities in the state. The app allows Boston residents to report potholes and such via their smartphones.
- The Council also passed and approved a supplemental appropriation of $397,897 for various departments for Fiscal Year 2012 to cover collective bargaining agreements between the City of Boston and the AFSCME. District 9 City Councilor said this contract affects 2,400 employees, and that these were two unions that took wage delays during the problematic Fiscal Year 2011.