Reporter’s Notebook: Warren and Menino team up to push gun-control proposals

Mayor Menino and Senator Warren: Talking gun control last week at the Parkman House. Photo by Bill ForryMayor Menino and Senator Warren: Talking gun control last week at the Parkman House. Photo by Bill Forry

With Mayor Thomas Menino by her side, US Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered her support last week for three gun control proposals that are likely to be filed in the Senate this week: an assault weapons ban; the closing of loopholes in background checks on gun buyers at gun shows and through private sellers; and a clear statement marking gun trafficking as a federal crime.

The newly elected Warren, in a press conference on Friday with Menino at the city-owned Parkman House, said 6,000 children have been lost to “gun violence” over the last two years, an average of eight children a day. “If eight children a day were dying from a mysterious virus, as a country we would bring all of our resources to bear to stop that,” she said. “We would say we are determined to find out everything we can about the causes of that virus and to do everything we can to reduce its impact and to eliminate it. We are losing our children to a deadly scourge of gun violence.”

The Cambridge Democrat, who was born in Oklahoma, said she grew up in a family that used guns and she learned to shoot one in grade school. “But no one needs military grade assault weapons and no one needs Rambo-style high capacity magazines to protect a family or to hunt game,” she said.

Lawmakers at the state and federal level have sought to tighten gun control measures after the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut where a gunman killed 20 children.

A longtime gun control advocate, Menino co-chairs the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and has repeatedly called on President Obama to deploy political capital and put forth a gun control plan. Obama laid out his proposals last week, including universal background checks and a ban on military-style assault weapons.

At their meeting, Warren and Menino also expressed interest in a Beacon Hill proposal aimed at reducing gun violence by requiring owners to have insurance on their guns.

Yancey shifted to tourism committee; Jackson given reins of new tech panel
City Councillor Charles Yancey has been given the chairmanship of a committee usually reserved for rookies and City Councillor Tito Jackson has been tapped for a new committee focused on technology, according to committee assignments for 2013.

Yancey, who as District 4 Councillor represents parts of Dorchester and Mattapan and frequently criticizes the Menino administration, had chaired the Environment and Human Rights Committee last year when he presided over a fireworks-filled hearing in December on the racial make-up of city departments. District 8 Councillor Michael Ross is taking over the environment committee’s chair this year while keeping his job as chair of the Public Safety Committee, according to a list of committee assignments obtained by the Reporter.

District 3 Councillor Frank Baker, who also represents parts of Dorchester, is the chairman of the Post Audit and Oversight Committee, which Yancey chaired in 2011. A freshman councillor, Baker held the Arts, Film and Tourism Committee chair last year. District 7 Councillor Jackson, who lives Grove Hall, will chair the new Committee on Global Opportunities and Innovation and Technology. In a statement, Jackson said the “committee will develop Boston’s standing internationally as a leader in technology, innovation, and culture by strengthening relationships with foreign governments and overseas entities.”

Other members of the new committee include Councillors Rob Consalvo, Matt O’Malley, Ayanna Pressley, Baker, Ross, and Yancey.

Committee leadership remains largely unchanged, with Consalvo and O’Malley staying atop the Housing Committee and Government Operations Committee, respectively. Councillor-at-large John Connolly also will continue to helm the Education Committee, which will, he said in statement, tackle “our ongoing efforts aimed at pushing the school department to reform the school assignment system, to put a comprehensive quality school plan into action, to develop a long-term school facilities plan, to improve STEM education and vocational education programs, and to increase dual language and inclusive school options for our English language learners and students with disabilities,” according to a statement from Connolly.

On WBZ, Menino talks fundraising, campaigning, and another term

Mayor Menino says he still has an appetite for another four year term. “No, my appetite is not less,” Menino told WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller in a sit-down at the city-owned Parkman House on Beacon Hill where Menino is recuperating after his recent lengthy hospital stays. “Just that I was – I can’t raise money from a hospital bed. I was in the hospital from October to January, so I wasn’t able to raise any money.” He added: “I don’t want to be an elected official like some who just sit there and take the glory. I want to make a difference in the city.”
The mayor raised $3,350 in the first half of January, bringing his war chest to $650,145.24, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

When asked how he will make the decision to make another run, Menino said, “I just want to make sure that I just have the drive to do it. I mean, you know, I’ve been through a lot in the last eight weeks and I just want to be out there. I’m dying to get back out in the streets.”

In the taped interview, which aired on Sunday, Keller asked the mayor if he needs to be mobile and keep an “intense schedule” in order to be an effective mayor. “I don’t have to be that, you know -- my schedule is backbreaking, really,” Menino said. “And everybody recognizes that. Do I have to do that still? You know, I would think it’s an obligation. I made a commitment to the people of Boston that I’d be out there working hard every day and that’s why I do it. I enjoy it …You know, some elected officials, they get elected, you never see them again. Me, I want to be there every day, shaking their hands.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Material from State House News Service was used in this report. Email us at newseditor@dotnews.com and follow us on Twitter: @LitDrop and @gintautasd.