New Police Chief
New Police Chief
Last week, City Council welcomed and interviewed Chief John Carmichael. His candid, forward-looking answers to our many tough questions were impressive. I invite you to listen to the meeting (link here). The chief stressed the importance of trust and strong relationships with both the community and the officer corps. He also emphasized policing as community service, as a problem-solving branch of government (particularly on quality of life issues), and the importance of teamwork with other entities when responding to mental health and addiction disorder calls.
Chief Carmichael has experience with creating a more diverse department by removing it from the Civil Service system. We will undoubtedly be examining whether that is the right move for Newton.
I look forward to working with the new chief as Newton moves forward to implement recommendations from the Police Reform Task Force and other citizens, while also taking care of our officers’ mental and physical health.
The mayor's budget for next year (starting in July) is here, and the capital priorities are here. I am pleased that the roads budget will gradually return to our $9.5m/year investment, that school renovations and re-builds are resuming, and that the Library Children's Room is back on track for expansion and remodeling. Good to see parks and the library back to normal funding, also. Council's review and debate will continue for the next few weeks.
US Rep. Jake Auchincloss, Sen. Cynthia Creem, Rep. Kay Khan, Mayor Fuller and 10 city councilors met last Monday to share ideas on how to restore good transit to the north side of Newton. Sen. Creem has filed a state budget amendment to restore hourly train service and the #505 Express Bus. It will take at least 9 years to achieve two-platform. accessible stations for the Worcester Line--which are needed if Newton is to get the same hourly service as other communities--even if Newton can secure Federal money now. Newton might also be able to leverage development increment tax financing. I am filing a resolution from the Council to push the state to fully fund refurbishment of the three stations and to do so in this budget.
Gun Store Debate
The idea that a firearms vendor might open on Washington Street has many of us concerned. Ensuring Newton’s safety and strictly limiting the ability of gun stores to operate near schools and residences is a priority. As the store owner works to get a building permit, prompt action is crtiical.
Some have suggested we ban gun stores. But many in the gun-control community warn that this approach will lose in court, and could make it more difficult to regulate gun stores anywhere in the US. I am not willing to gamble with Newton’s future, and will be supporting strong, effective zoning that is easier to defend. The ban will be discussed Wednesday, May 26 at 6:30 pm. Council debate on the strict zoning will continue June 7th at our regular meeting, which may start early to allow enough time. More details here.
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Almost every month I write constituents about a topic before the city