1. Get Ready for Medford City Budgeting!
  2. Alternatives to Policing / Community Safety Working Group Update
  3. Ways to Engage with ORM-Endorsed Elected Officials
  4. Getting Involved with OR Medford & Neighbor Campaigns

Get Ready for Medford City Budgeting!

Our annual opportunity to fund the City Budget We Deserve is approaching! 

The City of Medford does not have a participatory budgeting process, and the Mayor does not seek input from the public as she creates her budget. So for the past few years OR Medford has organized to encourage people to share their thoughts about the budget with the Mayor and City Council. This year we are shifting our organizing strategy to reach out earlier in the process directly to the Mayor. If you can help organize this year’s toolkit, please get in touch by responding to this newsletter or emailing our.revolution.medford@gmail.com!

Medford Inauguration 2021! From left to right: Mea Mustone, Paul Ruseau, Kathy Kreatz, Melanie McLaughlin, Jenny Graham, Sharon Hays, Breanna Lungo-Koehn, Zac Bears, Adam Knight, George Scarpelli, Rick Caraviello, Kit Collins, and Justin Tseng. Not pictured: Nicole Morell.

How It Started

In 2020 and 2021, we eagerly awaited until the Mayor’s budget was released, reviewed it, discussed changes we wanted to request from the city council, and then attended the City Council budget hearings or wrote in to share our thoughts.

OR Medford members showed up to the City Council budget hearings in support of many different pieces of a City Budget We Deserve. In 2020, we asked for a budget line for translation that is now funded! In 2021, concerned by the increase in the police budget while so many other essential services languish with little or no funding, OR members wrote in with a lot of ideas for reallocating funding to essential public services and alternative emergency response, none of which were taken up. 

We observed that by the time the Mayor has presented her budget to the City Council, the decisions have really already been made and there are few areas of the budget we are able to influence at that point. The Mayor’s presentation and subsequent budget hearings are a rather superficial way of checking the box of a “transparent” process where the public can come and hear about decisions made and have the opportunity to voice an opinion about it, but any changes are ultimately the choice of the mayor, who is not in attendance at all of the hearings. Furthermore, the hearings historically have been up to 7-hour meetings that take up full days and exhaust everyone who participates, from councilors to constituents!

Organizing for the FY2023 Budget

This year, rather than focusing on attending the budget hearings in June and begging for changes after decisions have been made, we are organizing earlier to submit information to the Mayor while she is drafting her budget. That window is open now and will close by early June. The production of last year’s budget was led by former CFO Aleesha Nunley Benjamin. The Mayor recently hired a new CFO to support this year’s budgeting process.

To get started, take a look at our current FY22 budget, start thinking about an FY23 City Budget We Deserve, and ORM will share tools in the coming weeks to help you write a letter to the mayor about your budgeting priorities. Last year volunteers met to discuss demands, then developed a toolkit with background/historical data, a letter template, talking points for the budget hearings, and a Zoom background. If you would like to help organize this year’s toolkit, please get in touch by responding to this newsletter or emailing our.revolution.medford@gmail.com!

Medford’s Budgeting Process

  1. The school committee goes through their budgeting process, which starts at the beginning of the calendar year, and submits their budget to the Mayor
  2. The Mayor meets with the other city departments and develops a budget with them.

    *This is where we are in the process now!*
  3. The Mayor adds her budget for the rest of city services and administration, and presents the budget to the City Council. This is expected to happen in early June this year.
  4. The City Council goes through a series of meetings with each department of the city to ask questions about their budget, usually in mid-June. The City Council can only REDUCE budget lines, not add new programs or spending to the budget. Excess funds from reduced budget lines go into the Mayor’s fund for reappropriation.
  5. The City Council amends and/or votes on the budget in late June. The FY23 (July 2022 – June 2023) budget must be passed by June 30, 2022.

If you would like to help organize this year’s toolkit, please get in touch by responding to this newsletter or emailing our.revolution.medford@gmail.com!

Written and edited by: Jess Farrell

Alternatives to Policing / Community Safety Working Group Update

Next All-Teams Working Meeting: May 4th at 7PM

The Community Safety working group has been met twice now to discuss various points of organizing around this part of the People’s Platform. From school crossing guards to animal control to traffic safety, there are lots of ways that the reach and power of police have grown exponentially. 

While this group is still getting up and running, we know that there are a few things we’d like to focus on: reducing the overall budget of Medford PD, removing police officers (and carceral systems, generally) from our schools, social services, traffic safety, and more, and to invest in community care through unarmed crisis response. 

There are small steps that we can organize around in order to reach our broader goal and the more people we have organizing with us, the better. We’d like to start planning our organizing around this coming fiscal year’s budget proposal from the Mayor so if this is of interest to you in any way, please reach out to Miranda or Dave and/or join us at our next working session on May 4th at 7PM.

Written and edited by: Miranda Briseño

Register for the 5/4/22 All-Teams Working Meeting today! [link]

Ways to Engage with ORM-Endorsed Elected Officials

Zac Bears: I recently released a spring update on my website and my email list regarding some recent actions by the Council and other goings-on here in Medford. Check it out here! You can also sign up for my email list at zacbears.com. 

Please feel free to reach out to me at hello@zacbears.com or ibears@medford-ma.gov about any issues you’re facing or actions you would like to see the City Council take.

I will be scheduling joint office hours with fellow councilors in the weeks and months to come.

Kit Collins: I am trying to vary how and when to hold office hours, to try and make them accessible for as many folks as possible – i.e. switching up times of day, weekday vs. weekend, and I hope to schedule outdoor office hours in public spaces as soon as the weather gets a bit more consistently nice. In the meantime, I welcome any suggestions about how to make these more useful to you or the people you know. 

Can’t make an office hour time slot but want to chat? Have questions or need an accommodation? Drop me a line at kcollins@medford-ma.gov and we can talk over email or set up a time to chat.

If you have a quick suggestion, or have something to say but prefer to stay anonymous, I invite you to make use of my policy suggestion form.

I’ve also been attempting a per-month retrospective on Council activities at   www.kitformedford.com/updates. Hoping to get the latest recap up soon! 

Jenny Graham: I’m holding office hours on Wednesday 4/27 from 7-8PM. I’m planning to host additional office hours but am awaiting the schedule of Budget Hearings before finalizing.  Reach out to me any time and I’ll find a time that works to meet!

Sharon HaysWith spring weather on its way, I plan to have more office hours at playgrounds throughout the city, on weekday afternoons and weekends. I am also hoping to have some evening office hours, probably at the Wegmans dine-in area (come for office hours, pick up a few groceries!)

Sharon Hays and Mea Mustone in March 2022 at Carr Park for joint Office Hours.

Nicole Morell: With the baby, my schedule is a little erratic so I encourage folks to call, text or email at nmorell@medford-ma.gov. I’ll have virtual office hours in April and hope for some patio office hours starting in May. 

I also want to highlight the City Council’s work on the polystyrene ban and tree ordinance. If these issues are important to you please let all councilors know and attend meetings if you can.

Mea Mustone: To quote the Irish poet William Butler Yeats “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.” 

Please know I would love to meet with community members. We can meet at my home, for coffee on a weekend morning or a drink on a weeknight. Office hours will be scheduled ASAP and shared on the OR Medford Facebook page.

Mea Mustone and Paul Ruseau – Joint Office Hours 

When: Monday, April 25th, 6:30-8:30PM
Where: Longcross Bar and Kitchen (Station Landing Medford)
More info: https://fb.me/e/2840hlNQ9 

Note from Paul Ruseau: In March, the Rules & Policy Subcommittee held its first of at least two meetings to discuss creating a district-wide dress code policy. Another meeting will be scheduled shortly to discuss potential policy recommendations.

Justin Tseng: Residents can reach me by email at jtseng@medford-ma.gov about any topic they would like to discuss. Check out my social media pages for more updates!

Getting Involved in Our Revolution Medford & Neighbor Campaigns

Getting Involved in OR Medford

There are many ways to get involved in Our Revolution Medford, from sharing information to leading a campaign to helping coordinate monthly organizing sessions. No matter what your capacity, abilities, or interests are, we strive to create spaces that are welcoming to everyone who is committed to the Medford People’s Platform.

Three steps you can take to get involved!

  1. Fill out the membership form and accept our community agreements
  2. Attend a general meeting or an all-teams meeting. *Meeting dates and links below*
  3. Accept your invitations to the ORM Slack channel and ormedford-discuss discussion email list

After you’ve filled out our membership form, you are added to our news & announcements email list. Check the link to the news & announcements list – if you can’t access the link to the Google Group, then you are not yet a member. Fill out the membership form to join!

After you fill out the membership form, if you have already attended an ORM meeting or a comrade in OR Medford can vouch for your intentions in joining, you will be added to our internal communications outlets: our discussion email list, Slack, and any working groups you would like to join. If you don’t know anyone, that’s exciting; we love onboarding people who are new to the community and/or new to organizing! Just attend an OR Medford meeting or event. Everyone who attends a meeting and gets involved in organizing with ORM is promptly invited to our internal discussion spaces.

If you are a longtime member who has let your Slack or Google Group invitation expire and need a new one, or if you have questions about accessing ORM internal discussion spaces, please send an email response to this newsletter and we’ll clear it right up. Our member onboarding process is meant to build safe spaces for organizers committed to taking care of each other, and not intended to create barriers to access.

Coalition Partners and Neighbor Campaigns

Medford Charter Review Coalition

As expected, the vote on the Mayor’s Home Rule petition on electing a ward-based Charter Review Commission came down to a 4-3 vote. Unfortunately, this once again stalls community members’ rights to review our city’s charter (our local government’s “constitution”).

The Medford Charter Review Coalition is fine tuning the next steps for initiating a signature collection drive for registered voters in Medford and/or working with the Mayor to establish a Charter Review Committee.

To stay up-to-date with Medford’s Charter Review efforts, consider joining the email list here.

Next meeting: April 13th at 7PM by Zoom (click here for meeting link)

Upcoming Our Revolution Medford Meetings 

  • Sunday, April 17th at 10AM – OR Medford Communications Team Meeting  

Always open to more help and ideas! 3rd Sunday of every month. Contact our.revolution.medford@gmail.com to request the meeting link!

  • Wednesday, May 4th from 7PM-8:30PM – OR Medford All Teams Meeting

A monthly meeting to check in with other groups, spend some time working on a project, and share back your progress. Registration link here.

  • Sunday, May 15th at 10AM – OR Medford Communications Team Meeting 

Always open to more help and ideas! 3rd Sunday of every month. Contact our.revolution.medford@gmail.com to request the meeting link!

  • Thursday, May 26th from 7PM-9PM – OR Medford May General Meeting

We’re holding our next big monthly meeting on May 26th to discuss our strategy and plan for the FY2023 City Budget and mobilize as many residents and supporters as possible to advocate to Mayor Lungo-Koehn about what to include in the budget. We will also discuss the City Council’s plans for budget hearings in June and how we can fight for the City Budget We Deserve!

Non-member allies should register in advance for this meeting at this link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

City of Medford Meetings

All meetings of the City Council, City Boards and Commissions, and public meetings hosted by the Mayor’s Office can be found on the Medford City Events Calendar at this link.

The Medford City Council holds regular meetings on Tuesdays at 7PM (in-person and via Zoom) as well as Committee of the Whole and Subcommittee meetings, generally on Tuesdays at 5:30PM and Wednesday at 6PM. Check the Medford City Events Calendar for Zoom links and other Council meetings.

Author and edited by: Meg Callaghan and Zac Bears

To submit items for future newsletters, please email us at ourrevolutionmedford@gmail.com!  Acceptance will depend on alignment with the Our Revolution Medford People’s Platform, space constraints, and timing. Content will be edited for grammar and punctuation.

Special shoutout to all of the authors, contributors, and special guests who made this newsletter possible!

Want to get involved with the ORM Communications Team and help expand our community outreach? Come join us! Email ormedford-communications@googlegroups.com for more info.