A few people have noticed that the seating arrangement at City Council meetings looks a little different lately, with City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher sitting directly to the left of Council President Roy Avellaneda.
“After last week’s meeting, I got a lot of phone calls from former councilors and people in the community asking me why they saw the city solicitor, who is not part of the council, sitting up with the council,” said Councilor-At-Large Leo Robinson.
Avellaneda said the decision to have Watson Fisher up with the full council, rather than at her customary place in the audience next to City Manager Tom Ambrosino, stemmed from a recent meeting where there were a number of legal questions.
“I found it very helpful to have Ms. Watson, basically our attorney for the city, to my immediate left assisting me during the meeting,” said Avellaneda. “I’ve watched other city council meetings in the area, Revere and Everett come to mind in particular, and in some of them, they have the City Clerk as part of the meeting, and in others they’ve actually had the City Solicitor there.”
He said that during many meetings, councilors have legal questions and that having Watson Fisher with the council helps streamline the process of answering those questions.
“I just thought it was an efficient process to have her here,” Avellaneda said. “It is, I think, the discretion of the president, it’s not set in stone. If the next president chooses not to do the same thing, then it would be up to the next president.”
Robinson said he understands the president has that discretion, but added he would have liked the council as a whole to have more input in the decision.
“The past practice has been that the City Solicitor has always been in the audience,” he said. “If there is going to be a change, we should have had some say into the matter, I believe.”
Lest anyone think Robinson bore any ill will to Watson Fisher personally, the councilor introduced the order declaring Sept. 25 as Chelsea Day, and praised Watson Fisher for her role in organizing the downtown event.
“The City Solicitor led a group of city workers and nonprofit groups to put Chelsea Day back together,” said Robinson. “I think this is an opportunity for us to be able to participate and do some shopping on Broadway on Saturday, and I just want to recognize the City Solicitor and thank her for her efforts.”
District 5 Councilor Judith Garcia echoed Robinson’s sentiments about Watson Fisher’s efforts in organizing Chelsea Day.
“Regardless of where you sit, I want to really acknowledge the work you’ve done,” she said. “You are a resident of this community, you continue to be invested in our community, and I thank you for doing it with so much love and really motivating so many others and organizations and nonprofits to really be a part of this beautiful day.”