We had a long and intense council meeting on Monday. We hit a number of items of public interest, several of which are listed below. As always, reach out to me if you want to discuss any of these issues.
1. GMT spoke to a recent incident involving students being kicked off of the bus before their stop. Some students and parents have expressed that they feel that race played a role in the way students were treated.They feel that the disciplinary measures taken by the driver were harsher because many of the students on the bus were young boys of color. I asked GMT about the issue of race. They responded that they have reviewed the video of the incident and they believe that the officer violated policy, but they do not believe race played a role. I will reach out to GMT to request to watch the video myself in the coming week.
2. A new director of CEDO (Community Economic Development Office) was appointed unanimously — Luke McGowan.
3. Police Chief Del Pozo was re-appointed on a 10-2 vote.
4. All other department heads up for reappointment were reappointed unanimously.
5. Councilors Freeman, Tracy and I introduced a resolution that would create stronger accountability for the Burlington Police Department. This is on the heels of three key incidents in which officers used force on residents — in one case causing a brain injury, and in one case contributing to the death of a community member. Our resolution called for the greater use of body cameras, release of body camera footage as standard practice in these instances, for the City to advocate for policy that would allow for termination of officers determined to have used brutal and excessive force, and for, over time, shifting our investments as a community away from hiring more police officers, and towards hiring more social workers and other social service providers. The resolution failed 3-9.
6. Councilor Roof brought forward a resolution to create a task force made up of diverse stakeholders and community members to work on issues of police oversight and accountability, and to help craft and recommend policy that would address issues such as unnecessary use of force by police officers. The resolution passed 11-1.
7. Department of Public Works was authorized to move forward on the Champlain Parkway project on a 9-3 vote.
8. Department of Public Works was authorized to move forward on a contract with Gotcha (the company that does the Ben and Jerry’s bike share program) to expand that program from 105 normal bikes to 200 electric bikes. The e-bikes are expected to arrive in early September! Gotcha is also interested in bringing electric scooters in the future — the City will continue to explore with them going forward a possible e-scooter pilot. I worked very hard over the past few weeks advocating for this resolution and was excited to see it pass 11-1.