Members: Mike Hugo, Robert Case, Beverly Hugo, Barbara LeDuc, Parwez Wahid, Larry Stoodt, Cesar Stewart-Morales, Adam Steiner, Phil Ottaviani, Mel Warshaw, Norma Shulman, Tom Mahoney, Chris Lorant, Rosamond Hooper-Hamersley, Kurt Fusaris, Doug Lawrence, Margareth Shepard, Jim Hansen, Kathie McCarthy, Tracey Bryant, David Magnani, Margareth Shepard, Jack Lewis, Ricky Finlay, Adam Freudberg, Christopher Broyles, Shahid Kahn, Barbara Fontes
Associate Members: Andrew Machkasov, Audrey Hall, Cheryl Gordon, Mayor Dr. Yvonne Spicer, Joel Winett, Isabella Petroni
Guests: Charlie Sisitsky, Trent Fortner, Kate Donaghue
Welcome, Announcements and Updates – Chair Mike Hugo
- The chair called the meeting to order at 7:03pm.
- A moment of silence was held in memory of long-time member Jack Duffy. Carmen will be in touch with us at some point to let us know arrangements for a memorial service.
- The chair reviewed the agenda and introduced Charlie Sisitsky.
Discussion with Mayoral candidate, Charlie Sisitsky: A presentation of his record, vision for moving the city forward, and recruitment of campaign workers to assist him in his upcoming race.
- Wants to continue the collaboration to get things done as Mayor.
- Moved to Framingham 1971 and 4 kids go through FPS.
- City Planner and Director of DPW for Natick for over 20 years.
- Managed large budgets and made decisions to guide Natick through the years.
- PTO member, Town Meeting Member, elected to Board of Selectman in 1997.
- Sisistky laid out his argument and his plan to be Mayor.
- Who should members reach out to in order to volunteer?
- Jack Lewis welcomed Mr. Sisistky and voiced his endorsement of Charlie and also offered to speak to other committee members if they had questions about his endorsement.
- Water & Sewer bills where businesses were calling for them but ultimately, they did not receive them for a couple years. Why do you lay the blame for the water and sewer issues at the feet of the current administration? And are you speaking for all 7 of those from the first city council who did not run for re-election was due to the Mayor?
- No, I did not mean to make it sound like I was speaking for everyone who did not run for re-election. In casual conversation with others after the election it was felt like that might be a reason several did not run for re-election, because they were not the ones able to work with the Mayor to get anything done.
- I am not familiar with what you are talking about and businesses not getting water or sewer bills for 3 or 4 years. What I can tell you is that during my time on the Board of Selectmen we always made sure the water and sewer rates were set appropriately to raise the funds needed that year. We maintained a healthy reserve funds for emergencies, and when the Mayor took over setting the rates she burned through that reserve in three years to artificially keep the rates lower than they should have been. As a result, the reserves have been spent and we have to play catch up. That is the reason you did not get a tax bill at the beginning of the year, because the state would not certify our tax rates to the deficit in our water and sewer accounts. I thought the Selectmen handled it very responsibly when we had the role to set the water and sewer rates.
- Mayor needs a plan to deal with store/office vacancies, so what is your plan?
- We need to reach out to the owners and contact real estate brokers to see what they are hearing, and to figure out what else can be done with these spaces. We need to form a team in order to make plans on how to deal with the post-pandemic changes in the business economy.
- Phil Ottaviani – Local outreach to business is key and we need that moving forward. It has been the last three years that the surplus was spent. Businesses need to know what to expect going forward.
- If the position were City Manager instead of Mayor, would you qualify for the position?
- More qualified than any other candidates with 40 years of municipal experience, civil engineering career, and municipal leadership experience.
- What is your plan, if you are elected, to repair the relationship between the Mayor and Council?
- Retreat with Council at the beginning of his administration to discuss priorities and create a vision for the city.
- Get the budget to the Council before the last day and respect councilors by asking their priorities for their district and the city.
- What have you done in the last couple years to help the city through the pandemic and to have a seat at the table beyond Framingham?
- The most important thing for the mayor is to focus on Framingham. There is a lot to be done to repair relationships with the Council and School Committee members. There is a lot of work to be done in the city and I plan to concentrate on that first. If there is time to reach out beyond the city that is certainly important, but the Mayor has to show up every day and focus on Framingham first.
- The chair reminded everyone to keep the civility in the upcoming election season. We are all Democrats and will work as hard as we can for our candidates of choice, but we are also one Framingham and must keep things civil.
FDC Anti-racism discussion: Lessons learned and work yet to be done – Rozzy Hooper-Hamersley & Cesar Stewart-Morales.
- We need to have a presence throughout the community and attend community events. This will let residents know that we care about what goes on in the city, and we encourage them to join us.
- We have shared a PowerPoint presentation to everyone.
- In what concrete ways do you think you and the work of our committee might grow in a commitment to fully embrace and definitively promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice?
- We have heard many guests at our meetings question why our membership is primarily white and older. What would it take to build and diversify our membership in terms of equitable representation and an unbiased, shared implementation of policies and action?
- We need a mission statement up front and, on our website, to state our intentions for diversity and inclusion.
- The FPD went through the same training and work that we are doing and that is impressive. The chair shared the FPD Chief Baker will be coming to speak with our committee in September or October and he is impressive with his work and viewpoints in this area of diversity and inclusion.
- Is there a Young Democrats group and is it possible the location of the Framingham Green may not be an attractive location to hold our meetings?
- We need more youth voices, and we need to create that environment to give them a place to have those conversations.
- I think the FDC supporting a small Young Dems group and allowing them to have a separate voice and space to talk about is important. It will give youth the chance to speak more freely and no pressure to speak about topics that are important to younger Democrats.
- We need a welcoming committee and a better buddy/mentor system to welcome new members, so they stay and join us.
- We should reach out more like company recruiters do, write up what it involves and what it entails to be a member, and then go out to where the people are located and bring those people in. People want to know what is required of them, will they feel welcome, and will their voice be listened to? We need something written up and going out to seek people to make it happen.
- Some people feel like it is a power thing that even if they get involved its not going to help or affect them directly. We need to make sure that social justice is for everyone including them directly.
- It is not enough to put out flyers, putting our flyers, putting out information in general – we have to go to the places where young voices are making change and having that conversation of what is important to them and what they want to fight for. They need to feel they are supported in whatever issue is important to them. It is not about the adults looking to score brownie points and talking down to youth. It is about having real conversations and making them feel heard and listened to.
- To find the youth we need to deal with issues important to them such as gender and environmental issues. We have environmental groups and Black Lives Matters group we need to reach out and form a coalition with them and that has not been done yet.
- It is important to invite and give youth jobs and responsibilities to help with our events and that can draw a group of youth to us.
- We need to focus out more and partner with other social justice campaigns that are ongoing, and our voices can be an important part.
- Just showing up to an event, such as Framingham Pride today, it goes a long way to knowing each other better. It allows us to get to know new people and even people we may not agree with all the time. With the FDC showing up we can show that we do this all the time and people should be involved with us. It can be fun, and it can help us come together and naturally create an environment for coming together instead of always creating a formal recruiting event.
- We have to find out what makes everyone excited, and in particular young people, and what excites us all as Democrats.
- We need to be specific with what we ask people to do and not speak in just generalities. There are platform hearings and if we have one here and advertise it in such a way that their voice can be included and make a difference. Even if their comments do not make it into the final platform, we can be there to support the issues they bring to the hearing, and we will know what is important to them.
- Let us also show up to other meetings such as the Youth Council and let these groups know they are important to us.
Secretary’s Report – Minutes of May 16, 2020, Business Meeting – Robert Case, Secretary
- Motion to approve the minutes by Beverly Hugo; seconded by Tracey Bryant.
- There was no discussion; motion approved unanimously.
Treasurer’s Report – Larry Stoodt – Annual Dues are due, Associate Member discussion.
- Still some members and associate members who have not submitted their dues. 5 or 6 members and 8 associate members.
- 615 Belknap Street is the Treasurer’s address to mail dues.
- On May 13th we had $4,099.12. We received $150.17 in dues, we received an interest payment for this month, leaving a balance of $4,249.29 total.
- Motion to approve the Treasurer’s report by Kathie McCarthy; seconded by Chris Broyles.
- Motion approved unanimously.
Reports on the Budget from City Council & School Committee
- City Councilors Adam Steiner & Cesar Stewart Morales, Finance Subcommittee
- Final budget discussion is on Tuesday night and the last chance to really work on it.
- The budget process is too condensed and needs to be months longer to facilitate more conversations.
- $1M in new cannabis review is projected for next year.
- Councilors overall felt the strain that 2.5% tax increase would be too much coming out of the pandemic and when other worthy causes were passed such as CPA, new Fuller Middle School, etc.
- Our Water & Sewer issues are unique to us, and a bit of our federal funds are being diverted to the structural deficit.
- Majority of the Council are making cuts and it is not all about the money, it is about having leverage to move the conversation or move a project forward.
- Phil Ottaviani: It is not necessarily about money, it is so they will look at combining HR of the city and schools, but it might not work. I will accept whatever the answer is, but it does bother me that we have to do this to move a project forward.
- Margareth: If we think a department is not working you need to improve the conditions of the department. You need to work with the employee directly and not with the entire department in order to get improvement. I think the Council needs to be more aware of the needs of the city as a politician to do what’s best for the city and not what’s best for themselves.
- Norma: I am concerned we are cutting positions and salaries to make something else happen. Who else will want to work here if they see the punitive cuts happening and their job could be at risk?
- Mayor Spicer Comments:
- 99% of taxpayers have paid their taxes. The dire picture being painted is not accurate and not as bad as being presented.
- There are concerns about how we are going to receive the assistance coming when we have made cuts that reduce the infrastructure to use that assistance.
- School Committee Chair Adam Freudberg & Beverly Hugo, Finance Subcommittee
- The school budget is stable and working on how to manage the $1.4M cuts which will be done over the summer.
- A direct grant is going to the City and a direct grant to the schools is being made with no state involvement.
- Next hearing is June 23rd on how to invest this money over the 3 years and how to apply this money.
- Join the meeting or email the committee with your comments.
- Fuller Middle School is on schedule and will open when school starts in the Fall.
- Collective bargaining with different units has begun.
- Starting with a new bus company that begins on July 1
- Thank you to Brandale Randolph for helping to supply 100 bicycles and helmets to children to get them to school.
- If anyone would like a tour of the current Fuller Middle School, please reach out to him and he can help to make that happen.
Report from our House Delegation, – Rep. Jack P. Lewis, Rep. Maria Robinson, Rep. Carmine Gentile, Sen. Pres. Karen Spilka
- Jack Lewis – Bills are starting to go through committees, but they are operating under emergency rules, so it is slow going. The House and Senate passed the Fair Share Amendment and that will be going to the ballot next year and if it passes it should bring in $2Billion annually to the schools and infrastructure projects. An emergency session will be held on Tuesday for local boards and committees and small businesses to help allow some of the newer emergency programs to continue after the state of emergency is lifted.
- The chair mentioned that policies will be coming through the Dept of Public Health to help with some issues.
State Committee Report & Caucus Planning
- Parwez Wahid – the purpose is to elect our delegation to the platform convention in Lowell and a suggested caucus planning committee is recommended.
- The FDC Chair relayed information that the biggest issue now is finding a venue to host our caucus. We have a few feelers out on a location, and we will get that settled soon and the word out on when and how our caucus will be held.
- Norma Shulman – most other Senate caucuses are going to be zoom and not hybrid; there is a concern if we continue to push a venue that would prefer us not to be there it could jeopardize us using the property in the future for meetings.
Subcommittee Reports, discussions, actions and votes:
- Bylaws – Mel Warshaw
- The subcommittee met recently and have revisited the question of endorsements at the request of a member.
- 5 yes, 1 no, and 1 abstention to ask the committee to revisit next time.
- Communications – Gwen Holbrow/Jim Hansen
- No report.
- Civics Education – Beverly Hugo
- Thank you to Rozzy and Barb Fontes for putting together the questionnaires for candidates. The surveys will be sent to candidates as soon as their signatures are certified.
- Environmental/Climate Change – Larry Stoodt
- Subcommittee met to discuss and support the Climate Change Resolution.
- Styrofoam ban being brought to the Council.
- Support of energy aggregation.
- Legislative – Doug Lawrence
- Subcommittee discussed the Climate Change resolution and the voted 9-1-1 to recommend the full committee support the resolution to send to our local government.
- Motion to adopt the resolution made by Doug Lawrence; seconded by Kurt Fusaris.
- All Councilors abstained
- Motion passes 20-0-8
- Outreach – Parwez Wahid/Carmen Chico
- Stephanie Deeley from LWV will be the guest at the next meeting to discuss collaborative efforts for voter registration.
- Programming – Rosamond Hooper-Hamersley & Cesar Stewart-Morales
- Will be continuing efforts from tonight in the future.
New Business, member announcements, general announcements
- No new business or announcements
- Motion to adjourn by Kathie McCarthy; seconded by Tracey Bryant.
- There was no discussion; motion approved unanimously.
- The meeting adjourned at 9:15pm.
Special Note: If you or a loved one are experiencing any issues that we can help with during this extraordinary time please contact the Chair or any Officer and we will do all we can to get services or meet any needs that we can for that person. Our Committee has many well-placed members who are always happy to answer the call to action, and we would be honored to render discreet aid to anyone in need, to the best of our abilities.
NEXT MEETING July 18th at 7:00 P.M. – Caucus is TBA