By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,236)
The city has announced that the first meeting of a newly formed task force to review inspection programs and make recommendations to the city council for Portland apartments has been set for Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014. However, no time or place for the meeting was announced in the press release issued late this afternoon. The names of the task force members were also released, but no tenant(s) were named to it. Some see this as an oversight in a city in which more than half the residents are tenants.
The task force was formed in response to the 3-alarm fire at 20-24 Noyes Street on November 1st in which six tenants died. The rental property is owned by Greg J. Nisbet, who owns other rental property in the city. Numerous complaints had been filed with the city about the condition of the property for years prior to the fire. It is unclear from the public records how the city responded to these accumulated complaints. (Many do know what the city does when a car owner accumulates more than three (3) unpaid parking tickets; it’s “BOOT” time! Couldn’t some of those personnel be temporarily reassigned to “booting” negligent landlords?) This all begs some questions: Did anyone in the city propose a penalty to negligent landldords? And if not, why not? Who dropped this big ball? An investigation of the fire remains underway.
The first phase is an internal review of city codes and ordinances The second phase involves a review of fire and code inspection policies and practices as well as recently completed reports that were focused primarily on staffing levels. The task force will draft recommendations which will be shared by the Acting City Manager at her regular meetings with neighborhood association representatives for comment and then forwarded to the Public Safety Health and Human Services Committee for consideration in February of 2015.
The task force members include: Julie Sullivan, Joseph Fleming, Deputy Fire Chief, Boston Fire Department, Tammy Munson, Jon Rioux, Rich Bianculli, Keith Gautreau, Stuart O’Brion, Julie Gegor, Carl Winslow, Crandall Toothaker, and Kathryn McGovern, Esq., an attorney for Pine Tree Legal.
It is planned that a public education campaign will begin in late February of 2015. That’s when tenants will be allowed to participate.