Malden News

ELECTION 2019: Questions for the Candidates: Week 1 of 5 – Transparency

By Prisco Tammaro

Q1 Photo City Hall construction photo by Prisco

Malden City Hall under construction. Photo by Prisco Tammaro

The 2019 elections in Malden are approaching. The Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

To provide Malden voters with information, Neighborhood View will run a series of "Quality of Life" questions and answers with the city council and mayoral candidates.  Suggestions for questions were provided via Facebook on a Malden (MA) Politic's poll; 10 questions were formulated by the moderators in consultation with Neighborhood View and sent to all  candidates. Each candidate was given 150 words to respond to each question. Every effort was made to reach out to every candidate.

Today's two questions focus on issue of public meetings and government transparency. 


QUESTION 1: PUBLIC MEETINGS

Would you support a plan and provide resources to have Committee of the Whole, Subcommittee and License Board meetings be live streamed and archived for the public? 


MAYOR – Incumbent – GARY CHRISTENSON

Not only would I support such a plan, but as chair of the Municipal Building Committee for the new City Hall, I have made it a priority to ensure that each conference room on the first floor, where these type of meetings will be held, is wired and setup to be live streamed and stored online for future viewing. I believe this increases transparency in government by enabling a greater percentage of the public to be able to find out what is taking place in real time while also preserving the meetings so that they may be reviewed at a later date. I am confident that with the new technology in place it will allow the public to be informed and engaged without the limitation of having to be there in person at the actual time a meeting takes place.

 


MAYOR – Challenger – JOHN MATHESON

Yes, I support more visibility of public meetings and will provide the resources needed to accomplish this. The residents have a right to know how their government is working. When residents have increased access to these meetings, it results in better policy making and fewer deals that benefit the politically privileged.

 


At Large Councillor – Incumbent – CRAIG SPADAFORA

Yes, I would be in favor of all board or organizations that are  associated with the city of Malden. Committee meetings is where the bulk of the work is done and are important because some of the most significant topics, fact and issues are discussed in detail. For example, it's the city's finance committee that discusses and debates the city's budget in detail. It's the city's ordinance committee that approves or disapproves of new developments, such as a new shop, housing complex, or multifamily on your block. Listening to a City Council meeting you get bits and pieces of the policy, whereas committee meetings will give you that full flavor—the crucial and important details about potential city polices.


10-demariaAt Large Councillor – Incumbent – DEBBIE DEMARIA

Working closely with MATV, I would most certainly support the opportunity for more filming of meetings. I have always supported transparency, as proven by my advocating and sponsoring “Public Comment” at City Council Meetings. This has opened the door for dialog and has given all a voice while embracing the needs of our busy community. I am blown away with the dedication of residents that attend meetings, donating their time and talent to film. I do believe there is a huge need for more. I also support the translation of our meetings in multi-languages as well as for those hearing impaired. I will be sponsoring a Resolve in the near future.


11-winslowAt Large Councillor – Incumbent – STEVEN WINSLOW

The Council has voted to fund many technological improvements as part of the Malden City Hall Project.Once that system is in place we can evaluate the extent new staffing may be necessary to expand live stream and archiving of meetings.

 


12-leone

At Large Councillor – Challenger – JERRY LEONE

Yes, I would support that.

 


1-crowe

WARD 1 Councillor – Incumbent – PEG CROWE

I do think it makes sense to have meetings streamed and archived for the public. The new City Hall is equipped with state of the art technology which I believe will allow us to more one step closer to making that happen. At this point I don't have a proposal to review and offer support and as I always say "the devil is in the details".

 


2-condonWARD 2 Councillor – Incumbent – PAUL CONDON

Did not respond.

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.


3a-LinehamWARD 3 Councillor – Non-Incumbent – AMANDA LINEHAN

Yes. I believe public meetings should be as accessible as possible, and streaming and archiving more of them allows citizens to stay informed, even when they can’t attend in person. Right now, we rely on dedicated citizens who are going above and beyond to provide extra streaming, but our new City Hall should be wired to do this, and if Granicus doesn’t provide the level of support we need, there are other platforms to explore. I know first-hand that it’s hard to stay involved in local politics when you work full time, commute, or have caregiving responsibilities and can’t attend in person, and we risk losing those voices in decision-making if we don’t provide an additional way to stay up to date. I’ll support finding additional resources to do this and I believe it would ultimately also help us recruit a broader diversity of candidates for local positions as well.


3b-OrsinoWARD 3 Councillor – Non-Incumbent – JULIANNE ORSINO


Yes. I also support MATV and their role providing important public services such as broadcasting public meetings. Many in Malden get their information via MATV. It would be helpful to work with MATV to formalize a way to balance all means of meeting coverage including social media.

 


4-omalleyWARD 4 Councillor – Incumbent – RYAN O'MALLEY

Yes, absolutely. Government transparency has been a primary goal of mine since joining the Malden City Council. Through the help of citizen journalists, we have been able to document more public meetings than ever before. While this grassroots approach has worked well we should make it at priority to fully utilize Granicus, the tool we already pay for, to record and document all of our public meetings.

 


5a-murphyWARD 5 Councillor – Incumbent – BARBARA MURPHY

Yes, I would support a plan to have Committee of the Whole, Sub-Committee and License Board meetings be streamed and archived. In fact, in the future, technology should allow us to go beyond just those meetings. As a member of the City Hall Municipal Building Committee, I have ensured that the three public meeting rooms in the new City Hall, easily accessible on the ground floor, will be outfitted with state of the art conference technology. They will have the capability of streaming live to the internet, broadcasting to MATV and archiving to Granicus. While we currently have technology resources, my goal would be to expand support to provide training and ensure that all staff is adequately trained to utilize that technology so we take advantage of those expanded capabilities.

 


5b-najmiWARD 5 Councillor – Challenger – DANYAL NAJMI

I support making government as transparent as possible. Presuming the resources are available, I see no reason not to do this.

 


6-camellWARD 6 Councillor – Incumbent – DAVID CAMELL

Yes. Right now we have citizens doing this work, getting it our on various streaming sources. But we should do our best as a City to provide this so our citizens can stay informed; it is crucial in a democracy.

 


7-andersonWARD 7 Councillor – Incumbent – NEAL ANDERSON

Did not respond.

 


8a-sicaWARD 8 Councillor – Incumbent – JADEANNE SICA

Absolutely. We currently have some logistic challenges that make a consistent practice of streaming meetings difficult if not impossible. I understand those challenges will be a thing of the past when we move to a permanent City Hall, and expect that will be a catalyst for making this goal a reality.


8b-vanni-no imageWARD 8 Councillor – Challenger – ANDREW VANNI

Did Not Respond.


QUESTION 2: TRANSPARENCY

What additional steps do you think the City could do to create more transparency in governance?


MAYOR – Incumbent – GARY CHRISTENSON

Our administration as a whole has been a leader in using technology to make government more transparent and accessible. We have utilized various social media platforms such as FaceBook and Twitter to keep residents informed while providing a means to address questions and collect feedback as a form of Citizen Engagement. One initiative that I know we will continue is our Facebook Live forums where we field questions of City officials and departments in real time. We also plan to expand and improve our new website which has significantly increased the amount of public information available through modules such as the Public Meetings Calendar, Agenda Center, and Bid & RFP Center. Moving forward, we will also be transitioning our City Ordinances to a web-based service. This will allow ordinances to be easily navigated, searched and referenced as well as reveal historical information showing how a particular ordinance evolved over time.


MAYOR – Challenger – JOHN MATHESON

1. Residents deserve to know if and when the mayor plans to fix their street. As mayor, I will inventory every street, sidewalk and public tree for quality control, and include the public in a participatory process that is fair to everyone.

2. Water/sewer rate increases should be advertised and televised. Presently, the mayor and his three appointees conduct these changes in his office with no public attention.

3. As mayor, I will appear before the Finance Committee to answer questions about the annual budget. This is the most important form of transparency, and it was abandoned six years ago by the current mayor.

4. As mayor, Malden will post 25 MPH speed limit signs
and improve enforcement. Our mayor has been slow to act while residents pay the price. Two years ago, street sweeping fines were doubled while residents aggressively fined $1 Million without fair notice of the rules.


At Large Councillor – Incumbent – CRAIG SPADAFORA

Transparency in government is important, and the public has the right to know how and why decisions are being made by our public officials.

 


10-demariaAt Large Councillor – Incumbent – DEBBIE DEMARIA

At the beginning of this year I worked tirelessly to set guidelines for more transparency of our meetings, both meeting minutes and executive session minutes. It was not an easy task, as never were these released or even asked for. However, it passed unanimously. Last year as Council President, I sponsored a paper requiring minutes to be circulated and approved to committee members at their very next scheduled meeting. The task of typing out minutes was previously worked on over the summer recess, leaving much room for error.

I am happy to see we now approve minutes at the next scheduled appropriate meeting. Change in policy is a dauntingly difficult process, but I am proud to report it does seem to be working much better these days.

BIG thank you to our community for setting this bar high.


11-winslowAt Large Councillor – Incumbent – STEVEN WINSLOW

Many other communities put together a complete council package that at one location identifies all the papers the Council or subcommittee will be taking up. Just simply easier and quicker to understand agenda items and draft resolution and ordinances this way.


12-leoneAt Large Councillor – Challenger – JERRY LEONE

All increases to any fees including annual water rate increases would be reviewed annually on TV with prior notice. Further all the Chapter 90 money the Mayor receives and how it is spent would be reviewed each year to ensure the public is aware.


1-crowe

WARD 1 Councillor – Incumbent – PEG CROWE

I believe open, honest and respectful communication is key to transparency. That can be achieved in many ways. The responsible use of social media, using technology (that is easily searchable, timely and accurate). The use of technology cannot be the only manner of communication, you cannot discount face to face communication. I do believe interacting with the residents and having conversation with feedback and understanding goes a long way in creating transparency.


2-condonWARD 2 Councillor – Incumbent – PAUL CONDON

Did not respond.

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.


3a-LinehamWARD 3 Councillor – Non-Incumbent – AMANDA LINEHAN

I’m hearing loud and clear from voters that more transparency is needed. At a minimum, a City Councillor should call constituents back when they have questions, problems or are seeking an explanation on a vote; I commit to always do this. To be inclusive and go the extra mile, an engaged Councillor should host neighborhood meetings 2-4 times per year, provide updates via e-newsletter, social media, and by mail, offer child care (or kid-friendly venues), translation of materials and interpretation at forums, and stream and record meetings for those who can’t attend in person. Holding meetings at a variety of days and times would also welcome more to the table. I will do these things, and will also commit to proactively sharing minutes and records so constituents don’t have to ask for them. I’d also like to see our City charter digitized, searchable, and publicly accessible online. 


3b-OrsinoWARD 3 Councillor – Non-Incumbent – JULIANNE ORSINO

If elected as the Ward 3 City Councillor I will recommend that all department heads present a quarterly report to the City Council. It is important for residents to understand more about how city government is operating and for city leaders to understand expectations from residents. This would provide greater transparency. As Ward 3 City Councillor I will hold “office hours” at differing times during the day and evening. It is important for all our elected leaders to be available, approachable and transparent.


4-omalleyWARD 4 Councillor – Incumbent – RYAN O'MALLEY

I believe it is time for a dedicated staff person to handle public records requests in order to speed up the process and improve the customer service level expected by the public when they request public records. Our public records are our most valued records. They are, or should be, the most accurate records of history we have. Journalistic review of this information is vital to the success of our representative democracy form of government.


5a-murphyWARD 5 Councillor – Incumbent – BARBARA MURPHY

The new website the city has recently converted to has made great strides in improving transparency through a more streamlined sharing of all public information with greater search capabilities and, in general, the ability to deliver what the public wants to see. Having meeting rooms in the new City Hall capable of independently streaming and broadcasting and making sure all new technology is ADA compliant are important steps in being more transparent. For example, bluetooth technology will be installed in the new Council Chamber to support the hearing impaired. Font sizes can now be adjusted on the city website for the visually impaired and translation to multiple languages is available. Providing greater access for all our residents leads to greater transparency. I will continue to advocate for new technology to make government in Malden as transparent as possible and I do believe each year we make meaningful progress that our residents notice and appreciate


5b-najmiWARD 5 Councillor – Challenger – DANYAL NAJMI

I love that the city budget is easily accessible on the city website. It would be great if voting records were more easily accessible. In light of the discussion around PAYT and the 20 year contract signed with JRM by a previous administration, I think there ought to be some limits to what kinds and lengths of binding agreements our city can enter into without more input from voters. When decisions are being made that affect a particular neighborhood such as determining the future of Roosevelt Park, I would like to see more input from residents, such as putting more issues to public referendum.


6-camellWARD 6 Councillor – Incumbent – DAVID CAMELL

I have been a strong (and slightly annoying) proponent to improve our electronic records. This ranges from our ordinances, to papers in front on the council, minutes, and agendas. Poorly scanned PDFs are not appropriate in the 21st century. I am very optimistic that our new City Clerk is as enthusiastic as I am about improvement, and there are some initiatives being worked on right now. As a Council, we must continue doing our due diligence and get regular status updates on the efforts.


7-andersonWARD 7 Councillor – Incumbent – NEAL ANDERSON

Did not Respond.

 


8a-sicaWARD 8 Councillor – Incumbent – JADEANNE SICA

I advocate continuing to utilize technology to the fullest extent possible to aide in this goal. The City recently migrated to a new web platform which will provide some much needed capabilities to further our efforts at transparency. In addition, I am currently working with our new City Clerk to digitize our City Ordinances, making searchable and accessible from the web. Finally, making it a common practice to record ALL meetings for later viewing should be our goal. I think we have made some meaningful strides here the past few years.


8b-vanni-no imageWARD 8 Councillor – Challenger – ANDREW VANNI

Did Not Respond.

 

"Election 2019: Questions for Candidates" will continue next week with two questions about Open Space.

You must be the change you want to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

2 Comments on ELECTION 2019: Questions for the Candidates: Week 1 of 5 – Transparency

  1. Hello! These look great, I’m hoping my name can be corrected since it’s spelled wrong. It’s Linehan (not ham). I’ll be sharing on social later today!

    Amanda

    >

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Neighborhood View – Questions for Candidates | Malden Votes
  2. 2019 – Jadeane Sica for Ward 8 City Councillor | Malden Votes
  3. ELECTION 2019: Questions for the Candidates: Week 2 of 5 – Open Space – Neighborhood View
  4. ELECTION 2019: Questions for the Candidates: Week 4 of 5 – Housing Needs – Neighborhood View

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