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Walsh declares racism a public-health emergency; shifts money from police overtime budget to public health

COVID-19 Media Availability 6/12/20

Mayor Walsh today declared racism a public-health crisis in Boston and announced he will ask the City Council to shift $12 million from the Boston Police overtime fund to public-health efforts aimed at ending racial disparities in Boston health care in the fiscal year that starts next month.

Walsh also announced a task force, chaired by former US Attorney Wayne Budd, to review how the Boston Police Department's use of force. And he said he will revive a BPD Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel and end the use of a controversial hair-based cocaine test as part of its promotion policy.

In a press conference at City Hall this morning, Walsh said Covid-19 immediately exposed significant differences in health care for minorities and whites. The protests following George Floyd's murder - and the conversations he has had with black elected officials, staffers and community members - have made it clear more needs to be done to ensure minority residents get access to the same levels of health care and have the same housing and job opportunities, which can affect health outcomes, as whites. "The impacts go far beyond the current Covid-19 crisis," he said.

The money that could go to the Boston Public Health Commission would fund a variety of programs, including:

  • $3 million to address health inequities;
  • $1 million for trauma teams and counseling services at BPHC;
  • $2 million in new funding for community based program, from violence intervention grants to youth programming, language and food access, immigrant advancement and support for the elderly;
  • $2 million for additional mental-health clinicians who can respond to crime scenes with police;
  • $2 million for economic development initiatives aimed at minority- and women-owned businesses;
  • $2 million for housing programs in general and for youth-homelessness programs in particular.

The $3 million for specific public-health programs would cover creation of a Boston Health Equity Now plan to do something about worse health outcomes for minority residents, driven by racial and ethnic data the commission will begin to compile from local hospitals, create prevention and treatment programs aimed at specific ethnic and language groups and to advocate at the state and federal level for policies and funding for such programs.

"We are not going to let this movement, or this moment, to pass us by," Walsh said.

Walsh said the budget shifting was no slap at police. He praised BPD officers for their investment in community policing, including such programs as Flashlight walks, Coffee with a Cop and various programs for at-risk youth and families, which he said has led to double-digit drops in complaints about police use of force - and in crime numbers - since he took office.

BPD Commissioner William Gross supported the mayor. Although he thinks his officers have done a good job, there's always room for improvement, he said. "The death of Mr. Floyd, it is the duty and responsibility of each and every one of our citizens to make sure that that cowardly murder will not happen in the city of Boston." So it's good to have people such as Budd take a look, he said, adding, "you watch somebody die for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, you want to make sure that doesn't happen in your city."

Gross said he is not concerned about cutting his overtime budget because the public-health emphasis could mean reduced demands on police - who now have to respond to calls that aren't really related to crime, such as parents calling police when their kid doesn't want to go to school. "How many hats do you want us to wear?" he asked. "We shouldn't have to respond to each and every call when it doesn't require a uniform."

Boston's movement to end racism.

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Comments

The BPD has an annual budget of $414M+ in addition to their annual OT budget of $60M+.

https://www.change.org/defundbostonpd

This is the rest of the breakdown:
Administration & Finance: $273,613,629
Health & Human Services: $151,261,682
Public Works Department: $100,708,003
Cabinet of Operations: $45,826,683
Library Department: $41,632,909
Parks & Rec: $26,700,477
Housing & Neighborhood Development: $27,088,350
Arts & Culture: $2,275,752

$3M is an insult to our communities of color defund the BPD today.

https://data.aclum.org/2020/06/05/unpacking-the-boston-police-budget/

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Voting closed 53

The city doesn’t spend a dime on education. Not even a penny. Tragic. Shortchanging the kids my a mile.

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I know you're being sarcastic, but just to have the facts handy, the BPS budget is $1.4 billion.

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I'm shocked at what the BPS budget is...
"On Wednesday, March 27, the Boston School Committee passed the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) Boston Public Schools (BPS) budget of $1.139 billion in a unanimous vote. The BPS budget represents a $26 million increase over the current year and a $200 million increase since Mayor Martin J. Walsh took office in 2014."

So clearly they do spend a dime. I'm sure I'm ignorant about how this school budgeting works, but it seems that the schools should be so much better with a budget this big.
They need to do better with the money they have, or get a bigger budget.

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Is it big? I don't know the answer but we'd have to see comparison to other similar sized districts to know the answer.

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The dollar amount is certainly large, but yes, how does it compare? Over a billion dollars still kinda blows my mind though. I feel like they could be doing so much better with that kind of budget.

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But somehow people are omitting that huge portion of the city budget when they discuss the BPD’s portion of the pie.

Of course, they left Fire off, too, but my assumption is that it is less than police.

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ANY budget with a $60M overtime line item should be called out as a disgrace to the city. We should have a force right sized to not have any overtime at all. Lazy lot, all of them. SMH

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Glad I’m not the only one who thinks this is pretty appalling. I think many rely on or expect this overtime income though.

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Overtime can be a fiscally responsible strategy.

If you had no overtime, you’d either need to have non-utilized staff who you keep around during peak periods or you’d have to accept not being able to get to things as quickly when demand is high.

This is the reason manufacturing plants have overtime budgets. Especially if they have unpredictable demand like grocery fresh meat that’s packaged by Perdue, Tyson, they use overtime to cover surge periods.

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at City Hall during Busing? That's when I knew racism was a disease.

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This will backfire when Walsh tries to fire a city employee for a racist tweet, and then the city employee says "But it's a disease. I have a doctor's note."

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Using "Public Health" as an excuse to end run around the legislative process is a dictatorial Hell excused with good intentions.

This is the sort of thing which should be done through the regular City Council hearing process and not by fiat under a "Public Health" emergency. Otherwise any time the Mayor wants to ignore any legislative process he/she can declare an issue to be a "Public Health" emergency to do whatever they want by fiat.

Housing is a "Public Health" emergency, bulldoze the entire South End for affordable high-rises.
Climate Change is a "Public Health" emergency, seize all the waterfront property for a sea wall and ban all cars.
Gun violence is a "Public Health" emergency, suspend civil liberties and quarantine neighborhoods with stop & frisk checkpoints.

Anyone see how this a slippery slope into disaster? Is the City Council going to abdicate their duties and let the Mayor rule by decree?

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I've clarified the story (I hope). The changes are in Walsh's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, which the city council still gets to review. My apologies for any knickers bunching I may have induced.

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Slippery slope, everyone's favorite logical fallacy.

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Proposed budget makes sense. The way the article was originally written made it look like the mayor was ruling by decree with an emergency declaration being used to justify and end run around oversight by the city council and public participation in hearings.

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Is the bunching of knickers better, or worse, than the twisting of panties?

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and its not in reference to an automobile, I ignore it.

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I'd suggest ignoring that as well.

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Unless the Mayor is more liberal than this City Council I do not see what you could possible be talking about. He still has to get past the Council and I don't know if you have been living under a rock but this Council is ten times more liberal than the Mayor. I doubt he needs a Public Health Emergency to get them to do something liberal.

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They can say and do a lot. They ultimately have very little actual responsibility. The buck stops with the mayor for most things.

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Real question: if the city council has no real duties, why do we pay millions for them, their offices and their staff?

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You may not like them, it's your right, but their "constitutional" role (actually their charter role, under the city charter, which is like the constitution, only for the city) is to oversee the city budget (they can veto proposals from the mayor, although they can't vote to put additional money into the budget).

They also have the power to hold hearings, which includes the power to subpoena people (which they've threatened to use a number of times, but so far the threat has been enough),. That brings with it the informal bully pulpit (Walsh has gotten better at "Wifi'ing" ideas first proposed by councilors, most recently his declaration last week that racism is a public-health crisis, which Ricardo Arroyo first proposed).

And, like any legislative body, they can propose specific laws (in this case ordinances and regulations), although those are subject to a veto by the mayor and sometimes require the approval of the state legislature and the governor.

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I have no faith in Mayor Walsh's ability to have Ombudsman- for BPS the Ombudsman also investigates residency fraud. How can she be neutral to parents when she is also "investigating" them?!?!?

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Pretty please with sugar on top, I'm on your side ! See what I proposed with no fear or pandering in my mind at all?..I'm a good Mayor.
Did we send a representative from the City to the New Country of Chaz yet?

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How did the opioid crisis public health emergency work out for us? I'll believe it when I see real change, Mahhhdy.

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People having children they could never support is what that is about. White trash matters!!!!

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Not the doctors pushing too many scripts?

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Man, I’m getting old.

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Mr. Budd is a Fixer of the Highest Order.

Remember, he was one of the people that settled the whole Patriots Moving to Hartford crap in 1997.

Not from Boston, but from Springfield, which of course is in Massachusetts but since they speak differently there, not really part of this orbit.

Went to BC and is African American, works for a big powerful law firm.

Lots of boxes being checked off for the Big Important Report that will say we need to do things better which will be released on the Friday before Labor Day at about 4:15 in the afternoon.

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Guess he just lost the racist White person from Dorchester vote

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They will still vote for him vs. Wu, thus he has nothing to lose by taking on more progressive positions

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In a matter of moments, the Boston Marathon bombings inflicted as much as $333 million in damage to the local economy in lost wages, retail sales and infrastructure damage, according to preliminary estimates. --CNBC, May 1, 2013

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When might we get a comprehensive damage estimate from the city for the widespread, devastating looting of the city on May 31? Not just property destroyed but the vast amount of jewelry and retail goods stolen citywide? The BFD can come up with a fairly accurate damage estimate before the last ember has cooled at a major fire scene but Mayor Walsh won't release the amount of damage caused by this man-made disaster almost two weeks ago? We know the looters were greater in number and their area of operation was much more widespread than the Islamic terrorists who struck the Marathon. Add in the element of grand larceny involved in the looting and this could top the Marathon attack and Blizzard of '78 for record disaster damage. The city is required to report to MEMA and FEMA on all natural and man-made disasters. Who is handling that report? Lastly, was any contact tracing done on the looters taking goods from the stores? After all, if you are taking your own money from your local bank, you must fill out Baker's forms. Goose? Gander?

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LOUD NOISES!!!

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Were you at the protest on Sunday, May 31, Mr. O-FISH-L? Yeah, didn't think so.

So, perhaps you missed the part where the police corralled everyone onto Boston Common and then abruptly and with basically no warning declared an "unlawful assembly" and proceeded with mounted police, flash-bang grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets to "clear the park" while at the same time forcing the MBTA to close off access to any downtown subway stations and also blocking all streets leading to the area. ANYONE with an OUNCE of sense can tell you how that's going to turn out. You can be damn sure the police commanders on scene knew how it would turn out.

The police *started* this riot. It's clear that the forces of "lawn order" WANTED MAYHEM that would justify the beatings and arrests they were itching to make. All they subsequently had to do to "get control" of the situation (in the eyes of the teevee-watching populace) was to DO NOTHING and it would look like somehow they were "helping to restore order" when, in fact, all they were doing was to STOP PROVOKING RIOTS.

We also have MULTIPLE WITNESSES to random muscular white dudes throwing shit through shop windows to *start* the looting at Downtown Crossing.

Did a general melee ensue? Yes. Did a LOT of people of various skin-tones take advantage of the opportunity to grab shit from stores? Yes.

If you don't see how the POLICE STARTED THIS "RIOT" then I don't know how to help you.

THAT'S why you can take your itemized bill for all the damages and address it to "White People," c/o of the Boston Police Department.

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Voting closed 13

You can hyperventilate while using words like "widespread," "devastating," "vast," and "disaster" all you'd like (which is apparently a whole lot) but that still won't make them true.

How much do you think plate glass windows cost to replace, exactly? Do you really believe there are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of liquor, watches, and handbags for sale in the entire city, let alone sitting there unattended in retail businesses downtown that had been closed and vacant for two months?

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The red herrings with a string of questions (which an alleged former LEO would have the ability to get answers to) meant only to stir up conspiracy kooks.

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This right here is the political path forward to actually accomplishing something really important instead of everyone just firing off clapback tweets in preparation for next year's mayor's race.

Gross said he is not concerned about cutting his overtime budget because the public-health emphasis could mean reduced demands on police - who now have to respond to calls that aren't really related to crime, such as parents calling police when their kid doesn't want to go to school. "How many hats do you want us to wear?" he asked. "We shouldn't have to respond to each and every call when it doesn't require a uniform."

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No Action. The protests will continue this weekend.

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Ah, Boston founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 and unimpeded by progress. Sam Adams is looking up and laughing.

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