At Boston City Council, meetings may not have so many fireworks

Boston City Council full meetings seem likely to have fewer fireworks this year after the president is enforcing rules moving debate to hearings and working sessions after a year of public outbursts.

“These topics are discussed in the hearings in the working sessions — not really during Wednesday’s session,” City council President Ed Flynn told the other assembled members during the weekly full meeting on Wednesday. “And we have to do a better job at attendance at our hearings or working sessions as well. That’s when we that’s when these issues are discussed.”

The body meets most Wednesdays as a whole, and that’s when the assortment of hearing orders, ordinance changes, resolutions and the like can be introduced or voted on in a final form, if they’ve been introduced previously.

The council schedules hearings with outside panelists or working sessions for the councilors to hash out items amongst themselves on other days, and not final votes come out of those. All are public and most are available to stream live.

Flynn, after a 2022 that may be better remembered for a series of outbursts by different councilors and audience members than most items the council actually passed, said that only a legislative item’s sponsors can speak on it at the meeting when an item is introduced, and that the Wednesday meetings aren’t for deliberation or argument.

It’s previously been typical for whatever other councilors want to speak on an issue to each given their own spiel for or against whatever’s being introduced. Effectively, this change will shorten council meetings and prevent councilors from dunking on each other’s proposals during the full-body meetings.

Flynn reiterated this change this week after saying much the same at the year’s first meeting. This time, he repeated it as City Councilors Erin Murphy and Julia Mejia seemed to be at odds over the sponsorship for a hearing about special education, an item they co-sponsored together last year but that Mejia was reintroducing this year with co-sponsors that didn’t include Murphy.

After a quick recess, the meeting continued without argument.

“The topics are discussed at the hearings in the working sessions, and it’s easy to discuss it now when everyone’s here, but I need everyone’s attendance at the working sessions and the hearings,” Flynn said. “That’s when these topics are discussed.”