Politics

Following heated meeting, Boston City Council president wants to talk rules and conduct

Council President Ed Flynn closed last month's meeting to the public as he fought spectators and councilors alike for control over the hearing.

Ricardo Arroyo (center) talking to Council President Ed Flynn, right, and City Clerk Alex Geourntas during a recess on Aug. 31. Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff)
Boston City Council:

Boston City Council President Ed Flynn wants to go over the council’s rules and conduct expectations after passions and tensions flared into a heated meeting late last month, in part, over the role race plays on the council.

Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, Flynn has filed a hearing order for a committee to review the body’s rules.

“In order to run meetings most effectively, it is helpful that each member of the Boston City Council is familiar with the Boston City Council Rules and all regulations regarding procedure and conduct outlined and adopted by this body,” the order states.

The standards, Flynn notes, are “a set of rules that set parliamentary procedure during Boston City Council meetings, as well as expectations for Council, staff, and public conduct” during meetings and hearings.

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The standards are adopted each time the council elects a new president. The council most recently voted, unanimously, to set the rules when Flynn took over the presidency in January.

Flynn’s order, however, does not make mention of the council’s intense last full-body meeting on Aug. 31, where Flynn had to fight for control of the proceeding from both councilors and spectators alike. With frequent interruptions from the latter, Flynn ultimately closed the meeting to the general public, and one person was arrested.

The fiery hearing was driven largely by controversy surrounding Councilor Ricardo Arroyo and rivaling subpoenas for public records from two councilors.

One, filed by Councilor Frank Baker, intended to seek investigative records for the two times Arroyo was investigated for possible sexual assaults as a teenager.

Arroyo, 34, was never charged with a crime. Investigators in one case dubbed the matter as “unfounded,” per documents later released by Arroyo, and the woman involved in the other case, via an attorney, has said Arroyo never assaulted her.

The second subpoena, sponsored by Councilor Kendra Lara, was an apparent response to Baker’s filing. Lara’s measure sought records related to Baker’s 1993 conviction for drug possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Both Lara and Baker discussed their subpoenas but ultimately withdrew each one at the meeting.

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Baker, though, said he is prepared to re-file his request for Arroyo’s records if he decides he should.

He ended his remarks by saying, “If a predator continues to roam, the killing field only becomes larger.”

Additionally, Flynn’s decision to temporarily strip Arroyo of his chairmanship positions raised serious concerns from councilors of color over what impact the move will have on diversity in the council’s ongoing redistricting process.

That process was led by a body Arroyo, who is Latino, had chaired, but will now be helmed by Councilor Liz Breadon, who is white.

Councilors of color highlighted incidents of racism and disrespect that they have faced while serving on the council, and said they are held to a different standard than their white colleagues by council leadership.

Lara, who is Black, said she receives death threats in her email inbox every day, with messages calling her things such as a “(racial slur) wh*re.”

She placed blame on the sister of Councilor Erin Murphy, who is white, as the alleged perpetrator of an attack campaign.

Lara said she brought the matter to Flynn, but that, despite Flynn’s request, Murphy refused to speak to her sister about it.

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“I have to show up to events in my district with security,” Lara said.

Murphy told reporters later that she “cannot be responsible” for the actions of her family members, according to the Boston Herald.

At one point during impassioned remarks, Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson, who is Black, said “all the white councilors here stick together.”

She added later, “The f* do I have to do in this f***g council in order to get respect as a Black woman?”

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