City Council
Much of Thursday’s nearly five-hour meeting was devoted to hearing public comment about and discussing a proposed five-year contract with Motorola Solutions to replace the unreliable dashboard cameras used in Northampton Police Department vehicles. The issue is before the council because the city cannot enter into a contract of more than three years without City Council approval. The financial cost of the contract would be $133,000 over the five years.

I was among several councilors who asked that the “social responsibility” track record of the three vendors under consideration be evaluated to determine which aligns most closely with values already established in Northampton by its declaration as a sanctuary city and adopting ordinances limiting the use of surveillance technology and banning any use of facial recognition systems.

The council voted unanimously to refer the issue to the Finance Committee (on which I sit) for further study, and that discussion will continue at 5 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 8 via Zoom.

Moose Lodge property
A financial order to appropriate $100,000 to purchase the former Moose Lodge property at 196 Cooke Ave. will go to the City Council Feb. 17. The site would be used for an animal-control facility, with parking for the adjacent Broad Brook-Fitzgerald Lake conservation area.

Wayne Feiden, the city’s director of Planning & Sustainability, and I will attend an outdoor gathering at the site from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday Feb. 12 to hear from neighbors before the project is discussed by the City Council.

COVID vaccine boosters
The Northampton Health Department continues its walk-in clinic at the Elks Lodge, 17 Spring St., Florence, providing COVID vaccine booster shots. The clinic offers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The Health Department, following CDC guidelines, recommends Pfizer or Moderna boosters.

The remaining schedule is Monday Feb. 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.; Thursday Feb. 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Friday Feb. 11, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Monday Feb. 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.

Building trades training
Jeff Napolitano, project director for Community Works, asked me to publicize this once-a-year training program that begins this week.

The free Community Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is wrapping up its application process for the 2022 class. It is a state-registered training program to prepare people (particularly those who are currently working) for a career in the building trades, construction, and transportation industries. The program runs for nine weeks from Tuesday Feb. 8 to Saturday April 16, online Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and in-person on Saturdays for hands-on training. Women, people of color, and veterans are especially encouraged to apply.

More information is available at, and anyone interested in applying may email [email protected] or call or text Jeff at 413-320-6099.

Housing as a Human Right
The Northampton Human Rights Commission and Forbes Library are cosponsoring an online panel conversation from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 9 titled “What can we do in our community to address affordable and available housing?” It is part of the commission’s year-long commitment to Housing as a Human Right.

The scheduled panelists are Keith Fairey, CEO of Way Finders; Jessica Bossie, founder of Independent Housing Solutions; and Pamela Schwartz, director of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness.

Registration is available here:

Mosquito control
The state Mosquito Control Task Force will hold a virtual listening session from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday Feb. 10 to hear public comments about recommendations to reform policies in Massachusetts, including the process by which communities may choose to opt-out of aerial spraying and the extent of local control. The current law expires Dec. 31, 2022.

Suggestions for changes include allowing communities to opt-in to options including education, eliminating standing water, supporting mosquito predators, and using larvicides or adult pesticides.

The draft recommendations are available here:

People may sign up to speak at the listening session by using this form:

Written comments may be submitted by 5 p.m. Feb. 14 by using this link: