Friday, January 28, 2011

Backstage behind the scenes at Boston City Council

Tour backstage behind the scenes at the Boston City Council. How does the City Council work? What does the City Messenger there actually do? Why does the City Stenographer there use out of date stenographic machine equipment? Why are the seats in the public meeting Council Chamber painfully uncomfortable? How about the Boston City Council public meeting in more comfortable surroundings where observers can sit more comfortably? What are the specialties of some of the 100 or so City Council staff? How do the City Clerk there and the Assistant City Clerk there keep track of the proceedings? How advanced are the technologies used at Boston City Council?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How City Councilors keep public information away from citizens.

How City Councilors keep public information away from citizens.

Proper tracking of all the Councilors at Boston City Council isn't made easy for interested citizenry.

What's problematical about Boston City Council are the public records of this city council are kept at too long an arms reach for any interested citizen to read. For example Boston City Council applies the maximun allowable fees under Massachusetts public records laws And the maximum allowable fees are assessed at each step of retrieval of the public record enquiry violating the spirit of open government FOI freedom of information public records principles. It's a loophole in law that allows custodians of public records to keep a public record out of reach for citizens' ordinary household budgets.

see also

Charges are assessed for retrieval of the public record at the prorated hourly wage of the lowest paid employee who is capable of performing the task More charges are added for making paper copies even for electronic public records. Then more charges are added for redacting

Compare the 17F Order of Boston City Council.
"SECTION 17F. Requests for Specific Information. The city council at any time may request from the mayor specific information on any municipal matter within its jurisdiction, and may request his presence to answer written questions relating thereto at a meeting to be held not earlier than one week from the date of the receipt of said questions, in which case the mayor shall personally, or through a head of a department or a member of a board, attend such meeting and publicly answer all such questions. The person so attending shall not be obliged to answer questions relating to any other matter. The mayor at any time may attend and address the city council in person or through the head of a department, or a member of a board, upon such subject as he may desire. [Acts of 1951, c. 376, s. 1.17F]"
17F of Chapter 452 of the Acts of 1948

What's needed are reviews and amendments of all applicable Massachusetts Sunshine open public meeting laws and FOI freedom of information public records laws. A public records commission is needed. Attorneys in the offices of the Secretary of the Commonwealth and in the offices of the Attorney General that review/enforce public records and open meetings appeals need to be given a title of Administrative Judge.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Skilled, talented Boston City Council staff and new technology.

Among the 100 or so Boston City Council staff where are there people with the talents and skills for making the more effective use of new technology that communicates the proceedings and activities of the Councilors? For too long the City Council has been behind the curve with out of date stenographic services, out of date stenographic machine, uninformed attitudes toward free software A more up to date Boston City Council would make use of free software City of Boston government could lead other cities governments by getting up to date technology, up to date software for communicating the important efforts of the Councilors. Advanced use of technology would serve the interest of the City Council in balancing the power of the Mayor's Offices.

Ellen M. Fritch and Associates, City Stenographer
373 Silver Street
Boston MA 02127
tel 617 269-5448
emfritch at

The Honorable William Francis Galvin
Massachusetts Archives Records Management Unit
Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Terry French, Records Analyst
tel 617 727-2816 x259
fax 617-288-8429
terry.french at

Dear City Stenographer,

Please keep the original stenographic machine record, a public record at City Hall. Don't remove the original stenographic machine record from City Hall. A copy of the original can be used for editing.

Examples of historic preservation of a few of the previous years of this significant public record, the stenographic machine record, are kept by the Boston City Clerk at the City Archives and at Special Collections Department of Boston Public Library

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Are the out of date City Stenographer services grandfathered in?

Is there a grandfathering in without widespread advertising for bids?... for the out of date City Stenographer services at Boston City Council that use out of date stenographic machine technology. Up to date stenographic machine technology features closed captioning on public meeting webcasts and cable TV broadcasts for folks with hearing loss. Up to date stenographic machine technology or as it's now called scopist tchnology lowers the costs.

At so much a cost why should the stenographic machine record, a public record, be removed from City Hall?... taken home by the City Stenographer. The stenographic machine record belongs to the people. The stenographic machine record of the public meeting of Boston City Council should be made available. Look at the photographs of the stenographic machine. Check out on the web the manufacturer's model of the stenographic machine used at Boston City Council currently versus the new technology available.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is the Office of the Boston City Clerk and Assistant City Clerk in denial?

Is the Office of the Boston City Clerk and Assistant City Clerk in denial about public records management?... How to improve the relationship between the City Stenographer and the staff of the Office of the Boston City Clerk/Assistant City Clerk is a matter of concern for tracking the proceedings of the public meeting of Boston City Council.

Removed from City Hall, should the original stenographic machine record, a public record of the City of Boston, be taken home by the City Stenographer? How to get City Clerk and City Stenographer practices improved for better records management of public records is important for citizen access/open government and for historic preservation of the public record.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ask your favorite Boston City Council candidate...

Ask your favorite Boston City Council candidate...
. Will you disclose the stenographic machine record?... of the public meeting of Boston City Council.

. Will you better train and better supervise better staff development programs for the 100 or so staff of Boston City Council?... with respect to FOI freedom of information public records enquiries.

. Will you coordinate for better access online?... to materials in the Boston City Council Library with the Government Documents Division at Boston Public Library and the City Archives

. Will you bring Boston City Council into compliance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts records management guidelines for municipalities? and comply with historic preservation of City Council records.

see also
By Ann Taylor Schwing
Open Meeting Laws 2d

Boston City Council resources... Research Director Kevin Parker
also retired Research Director Robert Hannan.

By Peter Bachrach
The Theory of Democratic Elitism, A Critique
Peter Bachrach, Editor
Political Elites in a Democracy

International Municipal Lawyers Association

Peter Kurilecz
Records and Archives in the News RAIN

Saturday, January 15, 2011

City Messenger custodian of all City Documents.

Official indifference

Job description.
Why didn't the City Messenger make available the complete listing of City Documents?... the City Messenger job description includes "the City Messenger will be responsible for serving as custodian of all City documents.

The complete City Messenger listings of all City Documents need to be made available at


Under the supervision of the Staff Director, the City Messenger will be
responsible for:

* Providing staff support for assigned committees, scheduling
committee hearings, attending hearings and preparing notes and committee
reports, drafting or revising legislation at the request of committee
members; and

* Preparing for publication all City Council documents (Municipal
Register, Organization of City Government, City Council Minutes,
etc...); and

* Serving as custodian of all City documents; and

* Serving as Sergeant-At-Arms of the Council and escort members of
the Council at all official functions; and

* Preparing Council Chambers for all Council sessions and
hearings; and

* Processing daily incoming and outgoing mail; and

* Performing other duties as assigned by the Council or Staff

* Working knowledge of city government and city departments
* Excellent interpersonal skills and attention to detail
* Excellent written and oral skills
* Word for Windows and Excel (Access a plus)
* Boston residency upon hire

Salary range: $40,000-$55,000

Friday, January 14, 2011

A culture of resistance.

Boston City Council has been culture of resistance when it comes to public disclosure and accountability. A new City Council President, even one promising transparency and openness, can't easily alter or affect that culture of resistance.

Continuing to deflect enquiries for the stenographic machine record of the public meeting of Boston City Council violates the spirit of open government.

Be concerned every time a single bureaucrat in an isolated circumstance violates or hampers the public's right to access or information. When it becomes the practice and custom in a government organization, those concerned are multiplied. Far too many governmental entities - - local, state, regional and federal- - are serial violators of disclosure and access laws. That's a huge concern.

Self government doesn't work when governments operate behind closed doors and under cloaks of secrecy. Assuming people want a government that is honest and effective, and one that works for their best interest, they need access to information that allows them to hold that government accountable. It simply doesn't work any other way.

see Ken Bunting

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Candidates. Sticker campaign.

Unofficial List of Certified Candidates for District 7 City Councillor
Special Preliminary Municipal Election – February 15, 2011
1. Natalie E Carithers   Dorchester
2? Haywood Fennell ?   Roxbury? Sticker campaign?
3. Althea Garrison   Boston
4. Tito Jackson   Dorchester
5. Cornell Mills   Roxbury
6. Roy Owens   Roxbury
7. Danielle Renee Williams   Roxbury

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When the Boston City Council Staff Director gets promoted...

When the Boston City Council Staff Director gets promoted it will be an opportunity to get a Staff Director that will no longer block, deflect or delay access to the public records of the City Council. A new Staff Director will take more seriously the spirit of open government and the spirit of democracy by putting an end to the deflecting of enquiries about proceedings of Boston City Council.

Emotional extortion. Staff Director. Boston City Council.
Emotional extortion of the people making enquiries about the proceedings of Boston City Council is done by threatening to take away access to the routine communications emailed from the City Council. After being deflected, continuing to press for access to public records of the City Council gets any access made even more difficult to other communications, or gets access denied.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The stenographic machine at the public meeting.

Read the more complete stenographic machine record of the public meeting of Boston City Council. Budgeted for with public funds the stenographic machine more completely records the Councilors' deliberations in the public meeting of the Council for public feedback, comment, questions, suggestions and makes accessible the proceedings for folks with hearing loss.

Email and Boston City Council.
Boston City Council distributes email communications that need to include the attachments in the message so the communications are easy to view and share without further the reformatting required.

Technical staff at Boston City Council.
More qualified technical people are needed among the 100 or so Boston City Council staff.

The Library at Boston City Council.
A more open Boston City Council Library that is accessible online please! Public documents of Boston City Council need better historic preservation for studying metropolitan area government. See also

Out of print documents at Boston City Council.
Put the out of print public documents online. For example see

Communications. Boston City Council.
Rules of Boston City Council need to be updated with respect to online access to public records of Boston City Council.

A new up to date stenographic machine.
Updating the stenographic equipment hardware improves Boston City Council communications with the people. Closed captioning for folks with hearing loss. Real time text of the deliberations during the proceedings of the public meeting of Boston City Council.

The position of scopist was created when computers were introduced to the court reporting profession. Prior to PCs, court reporters oftentimes relied upon notereaders to produce their transcripts manually on typewriters. Because court reporting has become so computerized over the years, the scopist has become much more than just a legal transcriptionist; rather, they also perform vital computer-oriented tasks which can make them invaluable to today's court reporter.

Deflecting enquiries.
Too many citizen enquiries are deflected at Boston City Council.

Resisting change.
Improving Boston City Council is resisted by the entrenched souls there that no longer keep open in spirit the doors to their offices.

Emotional extortion.
Staff are used to emotional extortion to deflect enquiries. Boston City Council communications are distributed but then cut off arbitrarily to the people attempting to press concerns.

Ingratiating journalists and broadcasters.
Covering stories at Boston City Council, journalists and broadcasters get compromised, ingratiated to the same officials they attempt to gather news about for print and broadcast media.

Bids. Publicity. Stenographic services.
Bids for stenographic services are too limited for a lack of publicity.

City Messenger. Staff Director. City Stenographer. City Clerk. Assistant City Clerk.
Responsibilities of the City Messenger, Boston City Council Staff Director, City Stenographer, City Clerk and Assistant City Clerk need to be outlined more clearly for the public interested, concerned and following the proceedings of the public meeting of Boston City Council.

An unwelcoming public meeting.
The people aren't made welcome at the public meeting of Boston City Council, the Council chamber seating being remarkably unsuitable.

Some stenographic machine records.
Only a few stenographic machine records of the public meeting of Boston City Council are available at the Boston City Archives and at the Boston Public Library Special Collections Division.