Green Caucus Meetings
On April 14, 2013 the Green Caucus endorsed the following two Warrant Articles for the May 2013 Town Meeting.
Article 22: This article submitted by Michael Sanders and Chris Dempsey is a resolution that funds be included in the Fiscal Year 2015 Town budget for a study of the costs and benefits of upgrading Town-owned traffic signals along Beacon St. to allow for prioritization of MBTA trolleys. Prioritization would encourage the use of public transportation by reducing the trolley waiting times at traffic lights. The Green Caucus endorses Article 22 and urges all Caucus members to vote for its adoption.
Article 23: This article submitted by Carol Oldham is a resolution expressing opposition to the transportation of Canadian tar sands products through New England and to support low carbon fuel standards. Bill McKibben's climate action group 350.org has stated, "The tar sands represent a catastrophic threat to our communities, our climate, and our planet." The Green Caucus endorses Article 23 and urges all Caucus members to vote for its adoption.
At the April 14 meeting, the Green Caucus also discussed Brookline's recent selection as a Solarize community and possible future Warrant Articles related to mandatory business recycling; bottled water; and local option excise taxes on electricity and gasoline.
On March 10, 2013 the Green Caucus discussed a Warrant Article Resolution prepared by Carol Oldham opposing the transportation of tar sands oil within Massachusetts. Carol will present this article to the 2013 Spring Town Meeting. Frank Farlow from Brookline PAX discussed an initiative to have the Town divest from investments in fossil fuel companies as advocated by 350.org. Jill Apell from Concord discussed their ban on the sale of small plastic containers of plain non-sparkling water. The caucus also discussed the following possible warrant articles: (1) mandatory business recycling; (2) a petition to the state (hopefully with support from other MA municipalities) for a local option to tax electricity and/or gasoline to fund efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and (3) creation of a Town Office of Sustainability to implement the Climate Action Plan of the Selectmen's Climate Action Committee. There were updates on solar progress in Brookline and on ways to connect with other municipalities through the Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN).
On February 17, 2013 the Green Caucus discussed a possible Warrant Article Resolution to create a Town Office of Sustainability to implement the Climate Action Plan of the Selectmen's Climate Action Committee. The caucus discussed a separate Warrant Article Home Rule Petition to fund the Office of Sustainability with a $0.005 per kilowatt hour municipal excise tax on electricity (similar to the Boulder, CO tax). The tax would cost a typical Brookline household about $25 per year. Customers receiving 100% renewable electricity would be exempt from the tax. The caucus discussed a local option petition to the state legislature as a possible alternative to the home rule petition. The caucus then discussed a possible Warrant Article to ban the sale of small plastic containers of plain non-sparkling water identical to the ban in Concord, MA. There was also an update on solar progress in Brookline, discussion of the feasibility of wind power in Brookline, and mention of a state "dark skies" bill to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from public streetlights and from new and rehab private lights.
On January 27, 2013 the Green Caucus discussed the possible establishment of a Town Office of Sustainability funded by a "carbon tax" on electricity use similar to the tax in Boulder, Colorado. The caucus also discussed ways to encourage more solar panels on roofs, an incentive for early compliance with the plastic bag ban, and the possible divestment of Town investments in oil companies.
On December 6, 2012 the Green Caucus celebrated the overwhelming success of all three endorsed Warrant Articles at the November 2012 Town Meeting. We also discussed possible new initiatives including a carbon tax similar to the one in Boulder, CO and solar PV panels for flat roofs.
On October 28, 2012 the Green Caucus met to complete preparations for the November 2012 Town Meeting.
On October 14, 2012 the Green Caucus endorsed the following three Warrant Articles for the November 2012 Town Meeting.
Article 8: This Article submitted by Nancy Heller proposes to prohibit use of polystyrene food or beverage containers to serve food or beverages, if the packaging takes place on the premises of food establishments. It would not take effect until December 1, 2013, and six month waivers can be granted by the Director of Health and Human Resources. The intent of the Article, as originally filed, is to eliminate the use of "Styrofoam" containers in Brookline. Based on our understanding of the original intent of this Article, The Green Caucus endorses Article 8 and urges all Caucus members to vote for its adoption.
Article 9: This article was submitted by Jessica Arconti, who has moved out of Brookline. With her permission Clint Richmond has assumed responsibility for finalizing the Article's provisions. The Article proposes a program to reduce the usage of single-use, non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags by retail establishments in Brookline. It provides exemptions for small businesses. It would not take effect until December 1, 2013, and six-month waivers can be granted by the Director of Health and Human Resources. The Green Caucus endorses Article 9 and urges all Caucus members to vote for its adoption.
Article 15: This article submitted by Thomas Vitolo proposes creation of a Selectman's Committee to study potential costs and benefits of adopting a policy to require suitable Town-owned roofs be made "solar ready" at the time of construction or substantial renovation. "Solar ready" means a roof that incorporates structural and design elements so that solar photovoltaic panels can be installed later when appropriate. The Green Caucus endorses Article 15 and urges all Caucus members to vote for its adoption.
On June 10, 2012 we met to discuss the May, 2012 Town Meeting; the Selectmen's Climate Action Plan; the town Open Space Plan; the Boulder, Colorado municipal carbon tax; and the recent Concord, MA municipal ban on bottled water. The group also discussed the Boston Complete Streets guidelines available at www.bostoncompletestreets.org. Janey Gilman, Betsy Shure Gross, and Linda Pehlke are planning to meet with Kate Bowditch at the Brookline Conservation Commission to discuss open space. Betsy suggested the Green Caucus might convene all town boards and commissions to share ideas regarding environmental protection and sustainability. A Brookline municipal carbon tax might require enabling legislation at the state level. Paul Harris agreed to contact people in Boulder and then Brookline state Rep. Frank Smizik.
On May 6, 2012 we met to discuss Warrant Articles of the spring 2012 Town Meeting. Most of the discussion was about Warrant Articles 23 and 28. Article 23 relates to Contraflow Bicycle lanes in Brookline. The article was still evolving at the time of our meeting and it was unclear whether members in our group would vote for or against it. It was important to the group that we show support for safe bicycle use in Brookline. Everyone at the meeting supported Article 28, which would encourage the Board of Selectmen to reduce pollution from diesel vehicles in Brookline. We also discussed possible future warrant articles related to zero waste and plastic bags. Other topics included Parking Day on 9/21/12, recent problems with Zipcar, and that the town will resurface a portion of the Fuller St. parking lot with permeable pavement to get some experience with this material.
On February 12, 2012 we met to discuss possible Warrant Articles. Adam Mitchell will sponsor a Zero Waste Resolution at the spring 2012 Town Meeting. We formed a committee to prepare a Warrant Article for the fall 2012 Town Meeting requiring all Brookline businesses to recycle. We also discussed a possible plastic bag Warrant Article, the Town capital budget, a possible Town Sustainability Coordinator, the possibility of installing solar panels on Town buildings, permeable pavements, and the Selectmen's Climate Action Plan now available on the Town's website at www.brooklinema.gov/cap
On December 4, 2011 we met to develop a process for deciding which Town Meeting Warrant Articles the Green Caucus will support or oppose; we brainstormed possible Warrant Articles which the Green Caucus could sponsor; and we discussed Green Caucus strategy.
On November 6, 2011 we had a potluck dinner and discussed Fall 2011 Town Meeting Warrant Articles.
On September 16-18, 2011 twelve of us, from eight pricincts, participated in a successful retreat to launch the Green Caucus. At the retreat we drafted Guiding Principles and the following Mission: "Through Town Meeting, promote a sustainable future, a lower impact on the natural environment, and an improved quality of life for the greater Brookline Community."