Linehan appoints Baker head of special charter reform committee

Councillor Frank Baker, District 3

(UPDATED Jan. 30, 2014) District 3 Councillor Frank Baker will be heading up a special committee charged with reviewing the city’s charter, under committee assignments set up by City Council President Bill Linehan. A Dorchester councillor who was reelected to a second two-year term in November, Baker will likely explore term limits and changes to the structure of the mayorally appointed School Committee.

Baker, who has previously pushed for a School Committee that is made up of both mayoral appointments and elected members, said he could see adding seats to the 7-member body, like giving a youth advocate a vote or providing the City Council with a designee.

Instituting term limits for the mayor and City Council could be another topic on the committee’s agenda. Baker, who is close with Mayor Marty Walsh, often clashed with Mayor Thomas Menino, who served for twenty years. Asked whether Walsh, who expressed opposition to term limits on the campaign trail, would be open to the idea, Baker said, “I’ll have that conversation with him.”

Any changes to the charter would need the approval of the mayor and the state Legislature.

Baker said he plans to hold a series of public hearings with the committee to gauge interest in changing the charter.

District 6 Councillor Matt O’Malley will serve as vice chair of the special committee.

It will be the second attempt in four years to restructure city government: When City Councillor Michael Ross was president, he tapped then-District 6 Councillor John Tobin to chair a similar charter reform committee. But the effort faded after Tobin left the Council for a post at Northeastern University in 2010.

First-termer Michelle Wu, a city councillor at-large, is expected to receive the chairmanship of the special committee on small business, entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as the arts committee. The special committee on small business will focus on permitting and licensing and neighborhood commercial districts, two topics that Wu spoke about on the campaign trail last year. The committee will have oversight of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the city’s Main Streets program, the licensing board, the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Inspectional Services Department, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Food Truck program, and the New Urban Mechanics division.

Linehan, in gathering votes for the Council presidency, pledged to offer more power to the committees and decentralize the office of the Council president.

The names of committee chairs will be formally released later this week. District 9 Councillor Mark Ciommo of Allston-Brighton is expected to retain the chair of the budget-focused Ways and Means Committee, while City Councillor At-Large Stephen Murphy is expected to return to the Public Safety Committee after serving as City Council president for three terms, according to a source familiar with the appointments.

UPDATE: This post was updated with the full list of chairs and vice chairs at 5:47 p.m. Jan. 30.

Arts & Culture: Michelle Wu (chair), Matt O'Malley (vice chair)

City, Neighborhood Services & Veteran Affairs: Tim McCarthy (chair), Sal LaMattina (vice chair)

Economic Development & Planning & Labor: Sal LaMattina (chair), Stephen Murphy (vice chair)

Education: Tito Jackson (chair), Matt O'Malley (vice chair)

Environment & Parks: Matt O'Malley (chair), Sal LaMattina (vice chair)

Government Operations: Michael Flaherty (chair), Tito Jackson (vice chair)

Healthy Women, Families & Communities: Ayanna Pressley (chair), Tim McCarthy (vice chair)

Housing: Frank Baker (chair), Charles Yancey (vice chair)

Human Rights and Civil Rights: Josh Zakim (chair), Ayanna Pressley (vice chair)

Post Audit and Oversight: Charles Yancey (chair), Frank Baker (vice chair)

Public Safety: Stephen Murphy (chair), Michael Flaherty (vice chair)

Rules and Administration: Stephen Murphy (chair), Bill Linehan (vice chair)

Ways and Means: Mark Ciommo (chair), Michelle Wu (vice chair)

Committee of the Whole: Bill Linehan (chair), Mark Ciommo (vice chair)

Special Committee on Charter Reform: Frank Baker (chair), Matt O'Malley (vice chair)

Special Committee on Small Business, Entrepreneurship & Innovation: Michelle Wu (chair), Frank Baker (vice chair)

Special Committee on Transportation, Public Infrastructure, Planning and Investment: Josh Zakim (chair), Tim McCarthy (vice chair)

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