Somerville/Medford News Weekly Speakup Line:Year end review: Charter reform, affordable housing overlay, Covid-19 relief

Dear Billy T and Somerville/Medford News Weekly Speakup Line,

5 million prominsed to small businesses? Where is the money coming from? Please investigate. They are also promising more housing? Where the hell are they going to put it? This is a newsletter generated by Matt McLaughlin.

What about the relief for the struggling landlords and homeowners who took hits on rents and can’t pay yearly increases in water and taxes? Only relief for their friends in business. How many businesses owned by locals will receive some of this money? Will the proceeds be going to the mayor’s friends who are most likely ready to pack up and move away from this failed administration? I bet the breweries are getting a bailout. Who else? Let’s demand a list be provided for all to see. Demand a full audit of the DPW and all city hall transactions.

(If you want to post just do not put my name) thanks



Dear …–

2020 is almost in the record books, and I’m sure most people are looking forward to better days. It was an incredibly difficult year for everyone, and the City Council was also impacted by these difficulties. As Council President I am proud of simply keeping our government open and functioning. While some cities struggled just to hold meetings, Somerville went remote right away. I believe this decision, as well as the dedication of my fellow councilors, enabled us to not only address Covid-19, but also led to significant gains in other matters.

The City Council held a special meeting on December 17 (the last official meeting of the year would have been December 10) to approve a $5 million relief package for small businesses. With no relief from the federal or state government in sight, Mayor Curtatone took the initiative address this urgent need now. While I wish we didn’t have to provide such a bailout, the entire council and I supported it because we know how much our residents and businesses are suffering.

The City Council unanimously passed an affordable housing overlay at our November 24 meeting. This zoning change will make it easier for 100 percent affordable housing developments to be built. Some of my first actions in local politics involved affordable housing developments that were derailed by planning and zoning boards decisions or lawsuits from residents seeking to prevent affordable housing from being built in their neighborhood. Something as simple as a parking requirement derailed projects that would have housed families.

This zoning change will save affordable housing from this fate. It makes 100 percent affordable housing “as of right” instead of requiring special permits. The public will still have input on proposed developments since the housing will require state, federal or city funding, but the overlay removes unnecessary obstacles and prioritizes people in need.

Finally, the city finally announced plans to form a Charter Review Committee to review and reform the city charter. This document dictates the separation of powers for the executive and legislative branch. There will be eight positions residents can apply for to help form the future city charter. I encourage any interested resident to apply. The deadline is this Thursday, December 24. You can find more information here.

While 2020 is a year most people will like to forget, I am grateful to be in a position where I can help my fellow residents. I am also grateful to the City Council, who nominated me to be Council President for another year. I will continue to use this position to keep government our working for the people.

Matthew McLaughlin


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