Interesting Agenda Items on the Sept 18, 2017 City Council Agenda

City HallThe City Council meeting last week was dominated by a rhetorical clash over municipal political campaign finance (or perhaps, more correctly, over how to use this as a wedge issue in this year's municipal election campaign). This week appears to be more routine, though anything is possible in the midst of the political season.

Here are some things I find interesting on this week's agenda:

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor, the City Assessor and the Community Development Department to prepare a Municipal Transfer Fee Ordinance and, if required, an appropriate Home Rule Petition, to implement a municipal transfer fee on sale of all residential, commercial and institutional properties where the buyer pays 1% of purchase price on any amount in excess of $2.5 million and an additional 4% of the purchase price on any amount more than $5 million.

Charter Right #3. City Council support of H.3512 in the Massachusetts Legislature, allowing Massachusetts to obtain a fee on large real estate transactions that will be put towards affordable housing endeavors.

As I said last week, there may be some merit in these proposals, but as long as the focus remains exclusively on raising more revenue to regulate even more housing while not solving the affordability question more generally, this is all just pissing in the wind.

Applications & Petitions #1. A Zoning Petition has been received from Joseph Maguire, SVP - Real Estate Development & Asset Services, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., to amend certain provisions of Article 13.000 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow for the creation of Innovation Office Space in the PUD-3A and PUD-4C Zoning Districts.

I would like to learn more about the motivation for this change. It seems minor, but interesting.

Resolution #9. Resolution on the death of Cleo Stoughton.   Councillor Devereux

Cleo was a transportation planner at the Community Development Department. She recently passed away at the age of 28 after battling cancer.

Resolution #11. Congratulations to Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian for being honored for his exemplary work in reducing crime and incarceration rates by the Adolescent Consultation Services.   Mayor Simmons

I just want to give a shout-out to Sheriff Koutoujian. His efforts to match prison inmates with work projects provided us with the labor to clear previously inaccessible parts of the towpath along the Middlesex Canal in Billerica. I was able to lead a better hike along the canal, and all of the prisoners enjoyed the work - a really great community service.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to provide an update to the City Council on the status of the Light Cambridge Committee and anticipated next steps.   Councillor Maher

The idea here is to promote appropriate architectural lighting of culturally or historically significant sites in Cambridge. It does not appear to be controversial, but it does seem that lighting draws political attention like moths.

Order #4. That the Co-Chairs of the Housing Committee are requested to schedule hearings to take up the attached proposed Comprehensive Housing Plan for review and consideration in the near future.   Mayor Simmons

I'll have to read this very long proposal a bit more carefully. Either that or you can explain it all to me. It just seems like we've been arguing the same points about housing for decades and we just keep spinning our wheels.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Director to the Election Commission and the Election Commissioners with the view in mind of adding a link to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance on the Election Commission website.   Councillor Toomey

There's already a link there, but you can get some easier to digest summaries here and here.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with a schedule for resubmitting a revised draft of the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance that incorporates clearer wording and/or more clearly explains each section in less technical jargon and is more coherent in its entirety, with the goal of seeing such an Ordinance adopted by the end of this City Council term.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

I was getting kinda curious about whatever became of this. Here it returns - just in time to shine a light on it during election season.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Office of Workforce Development and other appropriate City personnel to establish a comprehensive and robust skilled labor trades program, with a view toward increasing the number of Cambridge residents working in the skilled labor trades.   Mayor Simmons, Councillor Toomey, Vice Mayor McGovern

The truth is that the City could do more to address income inequality by taking on initiatives like this than all the combined political rhetoric on the issue. There are a lot of people now in Cambridge who need people to work on their houses and can afford to pay for that work. There's plenty of work to do.

Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the appropriate City personnel to establish an aggressive outreach program to all property owners, with a view towards purchasing any properties possible and converting these properties into affordable housing.   Mayor Simmons

I'm always a bit suspicious about initiatives like this. I don't know that I would be comfortable with the City scooping up any properties just to regulate them. It almost sounds as though the goal is to regulate as much housing as possible - like a back door recreation of rent control. I don't like the rampant speculation that's been happening with Cambridge residential properties, but I'm equally uncomfortable with putting so much residential property under government control.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Mayor E. Denise Simmons and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Co-Chairs of the Housing Committee, for a public hearing held on May 16 to discuss tenant protections, anti-displacement policies, and Inclusionary Housing tenant selection policies; the Committee will also discuss any updates received from the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA), including a report on the issuance of CHA Choice Vouchers to public housing applicants.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on July 26 to discuss the next steps for the Foundry Building including: financing, community benefit, non-profit ecosystem, and community engagement.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Health and Environment Committee, for a public hearing held on Sept 6 to discuss the recently published “City of Cambridge Getting to Net Zero Action Plan: Fiscal Year 2016 Progress Report” and to receive a general update on the Net Zero Action Plan. Councillor Devereux stated that there is information in the report explaining how the City originally adopted the Net Zero Policy. It began with a citizen petition, and was later adopted by the City Council. The Community Development Department will be producing yearly progress reports to track movements on the way towards the ultimate Net Zero goal. This hearing is to discuss the first progress report.

No comments to offer on these committee reports - just links for you to read them if you wish. - Robert Winters


Sept 15 - I'm actually starting to enjoy reading and posting candidate submissions for the Cambridge Candidate Pages. Today's real treat comes from School Committee candidate Piotr Mitros. I urge you to read what this very interesting candidate has to say: - RW

Sept 14 - The really thoughtful responses for the Cambridge Candidate Pages continue with today's submission by City Council candidate (and Vice Mayor) Marc McGovern. I strongly recommend reading it. - RW

Sept 13 - Cambridge School Committee candidate Fred Fantini today sent a really comprehensive response for his Cambridge Candidate Page. Check it out at:

Sept 10 - New responses to the Cambridge Candidate Pages were submitted today by City Council candidates Denise Simmons and Hari Pillai. I encourage you to read their thoughtful responses. - RW

Sept 10 - I just remade my Big Voter Database that merges the current (Sept 1) registered voter list with the voter histories going back to 1997. As of Sept 1 there are 65,142 registered Cambridge voters. Of these, there are 131 supervoters who haven't missed a Cambridge election since 1997, including all municipal elections, state elections, state primaries, citywide special elections, federal elections, and presidential primaries. - RW

Sept 9 - The latest quality submission to the Cambridge Candidate Pages comes from School Committee candidate Will MacArthur. I highly recommend that you read his responses. - Robert Winters

Fall Semester at the Sullivan School - Sept 11, 2017 City Council Agenda Highlights.

City HallThe City Council returns from Summer Vacation this week. In addition to appropriation requests for a wide range of essential programs, here's a look at what seems interesting - at least to me.

Manager's Agenda #15. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 17-45, regarding a report on formulating a plan that will provide relief and fair compensation to liquor license holders that have been impacted by dramatic devaluing of their liquor licenses, and Awaiting Report Item Number 17-72, regarding an update on the progress and plan to address the concerns relative to the sale of liquor licenses. [Reports from City Solicitor and License Commission Chair]

This City Solicitor's response is pretty much what was logically expected. The final paragraph states: "Therefore, in my opinion, the License Commission has no legal obligation to provide compensation to alcohol license holders who may be experiencing a devaluation of their alcohol license on the private market. There may be ways that the License Commission could mitigate the devaluation of certain alcohol licenses, such as by exercising its discretion not to issue new alcohol licenses, but there is nothing of which we are aware that would require the License Commission to do so."

The true value of a liquor license is in the income it can generate in the normal course of business. It was never meant to be a retirement investment. Like taxi medallions and confederate currency, not all things were meant to have lasting value.

Manager's Agenda #16. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Harvard Square Conservation District Study Committee, effective Sept 1, 2017: Christopher Mackin, Jerry Murphy, Christopher Angelakis, Jessica Sculley, William Barry, Joseph Ferrara and Kyle Sheffield.

Manager's Agenda #18. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following person as a member of the Central Square Advisory Committee for a term of three years, effective Sept 11, 2017: Tahir Kapoor

Never underestimate the value of our volunteer citizen boards and commissions. Congratulations and thank you to all the appointees.

Charter Right #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a Non-Binding Public Opinion Advisory Question Petition filed with the Election Commission on July 14, 2017. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Cheung on Aug 7, 2017]

It's likely that we'll have more posturing on this issue at this meeting. It's worth noting, by the way, that the mailing address for the petitioners is the business address for Councillor Mazen.

There is a worthwhile conversation to be had regarding various ways to level the playing field for candidates, but this is not the way to do it. For starters, the statement of the petitioners reads more like an accusation than a proposal. More importantly, the proposal asks voters to "buy a pig in a poke". There are no specifics provided - only that public financing of political campaigns is to be supported like motherhood and apple pie. I will simply suggest that if a voter understood this to mean that new candidates would receive a small stipend to get their campaign started there might be a fair amount of support. On the other hand, if the goal is to grant $50,000 to every candidate to waste in any way they see fit, it's almost certain that voters would not support this. The details matter. It also matters that we use PR elections in Cambridge, and slates would certainly be formed just to aggregate money to support the slate candidates.

It's worth noting that Communication #12 comes from Adam Strich, the person who delivered the signatures to the Election Commission for this proposed ballot question. His words should make clear where these petitioners are coming from: "It’s hardly a secret that more than a few councillors are in the pocket of special interests, big developer in particular. I would imagine, however, that you didn’t enter into public service aspiring to become corporate stooges and shills. But whatever idealism you may have had was gradually eroded by the realities of local politics – in particular, by the need to maintain a war chest large enough to fund the practically endless campaigning required of you. All of that is completely understandable; I’m not here to judge. I would hope, though, that you retain some sense of unease regarding this state of affairs, and that such feelings would lead you to embrace the opportunity to provide public funding for municipal election campaigns, so that you can finally serve the hardworking residents of this great city, rather than your current robber baron overlords. Thank you."

Councillor Toomey has a somewhat different view. See Order #23. Perhaps throwing even more money into the furnace of municipal election campaigns isn't really the answer.

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Christopher D. Smith, et al., to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by adding sections and provisions to Article 13.000 regarding Graduate Student Housing Production Requirements.

Some candidates and advocates have been referring to this as the MIT graduate student petition. However, it didn't come from the MIT Graduate Student Union and, in fact, 4 of the 16 signers are new City Council candidates hoping to exploit the controversy. Most people will agree that MIT should be providing more housing for graduate students and possibly for post-docs. In fact, MIT agrees. How much graduate housing is appropriate is open to question and should not be prescribed in zoning. Most MIT graduates have preferred to live off-campus and generally choose to do so as long as they can find a place where they can afford the rent. Hopefully MIT can provide greater clarity regarding its plans to build more graduate (and undergraduate) student housing - both how much and where - between now and the vote on the Volpe Petition. Perhaps a Memorandum of Understanding can be signed with some commitments. That would be the better approach.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City departments to streamline recording and transcription requirements in line with those currently in place for the Planning Board for the Board of Zoning Appeal and the Historical Commission.   Councillor Devereux

There does come a point of diminishing returns. Is it really that important to have a play-by-play of every discussion regarding dormers, paint colors, and types of shingles?

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to update the City Council on a Police Substation in Central Square.   Mayor Simmons

I'll once again say that a multi-service space for police, MBTA workers, and public information - with a public bathroom - would have been the right approach. Separate little huts for each of these purposes isn't the best plan. We could, however, use a little more police presence in Central Square regardless.

Order #10. That the City Manager update the City Council on progress for the goal of 1,000 New Affordable Units by the end of the decade.   Mayor Simmons

If you factor in all the Inclusionary units in the pipeline we might actually be doing pretty well. However, the greater problem is not the number of regulated "affordable units" so much as the general loss of affordability in market housing, and that can only be solved regionally. I hate to break it to you Cambridge, but you cannot house the world unilaterally.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to provide an update on the Eastern Cambridge Kendall Square Open Space Planning Study.   Councillor Toomey

This is useful information in the ongoing discussion of the Volpe Petition. What will the Big Picture be for residents and workers navigating their way through the greater Kendall Square area when everything is built out?

Order #15. That the City Manager is requested to confer with City staff to identify and share with the City Council possible solutions to regulatory or legislative gaps on the local or state level that would help clarify how emerging types of conveyances can most safely and effectively be incorporated into Cambridge’s Urban Mobility planning and infrastructure investments.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Cheung

Order #17. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Police Commissioner and the Fire Chief with the view in mind of creating and developing city wide alternate routes for fire apparatus and emergency police vehicles in an emergency situation that would avoid travel routes where there is backed up traffic.   Councillor Toomey

Order #18. That the City Manager is requested to determine the feasibility of procuring additional fire apparatus, especially rescue vehicles and ambulances, in the East Cambridge and the Port area.   Councillor Toomey

Every day I see how some of the City's well-intentioned roadway reallocations effectively choke some roads, make it more difficult for buses and delivery vehicles to navigate, and make it virtually impossible to pause to pick up or drop off people or goods. Curb access is disappearing even as the need for improved curb access is increasing in a world of online shopping, Uber and Lyft vehicles, and a variety of new modes of transportation. The only thing the Traffic Department (a.k.a. the Department of Wishful Thinking) seems to prioritize is novice cyclists. I shudder to think what we'll have to contend with when there's either snow or a motor vehicle breakdown. The City is rapidly removing all flexibility in the roads. Pretty soon the only way a driver will be able to yield to an emergency service vehicle will be by running down some "flexi-posts".

Order #21. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor, the City Assessor and the Community Development Department to prepare a Municipal Transfer Fee Ordinance and, if required, an appropriate Home Rule Petition, to implement a municipal transfer fee on sale of all residential, commercial and institutional properties where the buyer pays 1% of purchase price on any amount in excess of $2.5 million and an additional 4% of the purchase price on any amount more than $5 million.   Councillor Toomey

Order #22. City Council support of H.3512 in the Massachusetts Legislature, allowing Massachusetts to obtain a fee on large real estate transactions that will be put towards affordable housing endeavors.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

There may be some merit in these proposals, but as long as the focus remains exclusively on raising more revenue to regulate even more housing while not solving the affordability question more generally, this is all just pissing in the wind.

Order #23. Establishment of a "Cambridge Municipal Election People's Pledge" program.   Councillor Toomey

This "modest proposal" does manage to make a few interesting points - most significantly regarding the amount of money being spent this year and in recent years on some municipal election campaigns. While some candidates speak ill of money from "developers", some of these same candidates have a political base encompassing the loftier socio-economic classes and are graced with $500 and $1000 checks like the falling of autumn leaves. It's also interesting how many candidates pay big money or campaign managers and even pay people to canvass for them. That's not how things used to be done. Candidates had actual supporters for many of those tasks. Maybe the dirty little secret now is that some campaigns only have as much support as they can purchase.

I can't say that I support all of Councillor Toomey's proposals in this "People's Pledge", but some of them do have some merit. In the meantime, we can settle on disclosure - making abundantly clear where campaign funds come from and how efficiently those funds are spent. Let the voters judge.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 2, 2017 to discuss a zoning petition by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create a new Planning Unit Development Overlay District (PUD-7) over the area known as the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center site in Kendall Square.

I'll simply say that if the current City Council cannot settle this with a good outcome by the Oct 31 expiration date, then perhaps they should be judged accordingly a week later. There are some great opportunities here if these nine councillors can earn their pay and create those good outcomes. - Robert Winters


Sept 6 - The requests went out a couple of days ago to all City Council and School Committee candidates to provide statements on a variety of topics for their Candidate Pages. Every once in a while a candidate provides statements that rise above all others. Today I received a statement from City Council candidate Sean Tierney on the issue of housing and housing affordability that really took me to school. You should definitely read what he wrote for his Candidate Page on this topic. You'll be impressed. - Robert Winters

Sept 4 - Topics for 2017 Cambridge School Committee candidates

Based on a lot of great suggestions from CCJ readers, here's my revised list of topics for this year's School Committee candidates for their Candidate Pages. My intention is to ask each candidate to write whatever they wish on most of these topic areas, but they are free to omit some topics. Candidates may consolidate topics or expand to other topics. Please note that there are no "Yes or No" questions and there will be no ranking, endorsements, or anything like that on the Candidate Pages - just an opportunity for all candidates to reach voters in whatever way they see fit. - Robert Winters

School Committee Topics for 2017 Candidate Pages - Express your thoughts on most of these topic areas

1) Background [biographical, etc.]

2) Top Priorities [List about three ­ then elaborate below]

3) Top Challenges Facing the Cambridge Public Schools today

4) Innovation Agenda, Hybrid Middle School model

5) School Department Administration and Superintendent

6) School Department Budget and Oversight, Capital Needs

7) Achievement Gaps, Meeting the Needs of All Students

8) Meeting the Needs of Advanced Learners

9) Controlled Choice, Student Assignment Policies

10) Family engagement and communication

11) Standardized Testing

12) Role of the School Committee

13) Role of Teachers in shaping programs and influencing policies

14) Curriculum and Programs
a) Elementary School Grades
b) Middle School Grades
c) High School Grades
d) Language Immersion Programs
e) Extended day programs
f) Early childhood education
g) Social and emotional development

Sept 3 - Topics for 2017 Cambridge City Council candidates

Based on a lot of great suggestions from CCJ readers, here's my revised list of topics for this year's City Council candidates for their Candidate Pages. I may still tweak it a bit before sending out the request. This was not a simple exercise due to the range of topics and the interrelations between so many of them. My intention is to ask each candidate to choose at least 10 of these topic areas on which to write whatever they wish, but candidates are free to write on all of these topics if they please. Candidates may consolidate topics or expand to other topics - it's a long list. Please note that there are no "Yes or No" questions and there will be no ranking, endorsements, or anything like that on the Candidate Pages - just an opportunity for all candidates to reach voters in whatever way they see fit. - Robert Winters

City Council Topics for 2017 Candidate Pages - Express your thoughts on at least 10 topic areas

1) Background [biographical, etc.]

2) Top Priorities [List about three and elaborate below]

3) Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density, Envision Cambridge [this may include specific ideas regarding particular neighborhoods and major city squares]

4) Housing (in general) and Affordable Housing (in particular) – priorities, plans, proposals

5) Economic Development and Commerce, Retail Viability and Affordability

6) Income Inequality, Economic Opportunity

7) Human Services Programs; Youth Programs; Senior Programs

8) Human Rights, Civic Unity, Diversity

9) Energy, Waste Reduction, Recycling, the Environment, and Public Health

10) Infrastructure: Water & Sewer; Climate-related issues and planning, Resiliency; Municipal Broadband

11) Traffic, Parking, Transportation, Cycling and Pedestrian Issues

12) Open Space, Parks, and Recreation

13) Municipal Finance (budget, assessments, property taxes, etc.)

14) Quality of Life, Noise, Public Safety, Accommodation of People with Disabilities

15) Civic Participation, Structure and Function of City Council and its committees

16) Government and Elections, Plan E Charter, City Manager

17) Relations and Collaboration between Cambridge, neighboring municipalities, the Commonwealth, regional and federal agencies (e.g. in regard to transportation projects, housing)

18) University Relations – Responsibilities, Collaboration

19) Arts and Public Celebrations

20) Cambridge Public Schools

Civic Opportunities

Mon, Sept 25

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

6:30pm   The City Council will conduct a public hearing to discuss the property tax rate classification. (Sullivan Chamber)

Tues, Sept 26

3:00pm   The City Council's Health and Environment Committee will conduct a public hearing as a follow up to Policy Order #2 of June 20, 2016 to discuss the City’s Tree Ordinance and possible ways to improve this ordinance to protect the tree canopy while protecting individual property rights.  (Sullivan Chamber)

7:00-9:00pm   Green Cambridge's Environmental Resiliency Candidates Forum  (location TBD)

Wed, Sept 27

3:30pm   The City Council's Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss with universities seamless communication about appropriate preparations for University events that may have an impact on outside University campuses.  (Sullivan Chamber)

5:30pm   Cambridge Election Commission meeting  (1st Floor Meeting Room, 51 Inman St.)

5:30pm   SFI hearing [Statement of Financial Interest]



1. Executive Director’s Report

2. Assistant Director's Report

3. Commissioners' Reports



Old Business

1. Municipal Election, November 7th

New Business

Mon, Oct 2

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Oct 4

4:30am   The City Council's Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss and receive feedback on bike safety related issues, and to plan for future bike safety measures in the City of Cambridge.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Thurs, Oct 5

3:30pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a proposed zoning amendment on Beekeeping. This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Sat, Oct 7

10:00am-1:30pm   NAACP Candidate Forum  (Christian Life Center, 85 Bishop Richard Allen Drive)

School Committee forum: 10:00am-11:30am

City Council forum: noon-1:30pm

Members Sought for Historic and Neighborhood Conservation District Commissions
Application deadline extended to September 25, 2017

Aug 23, 2017 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking to fill vacancies for members and alternate members on the Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) Commission, Half Crown-Marsh NCD Commission, and Mid Cambridge NCD Commission. The original application deadline for these commissions has been extended to Monday, September 25, 2017.

City SealNeighborhood Conservation Districts were established by City ordinance beginning in 1983. NCD designation recognizes the particular design qualities of distinctive neighborhoods and encourages their protection and maintenance for the benefit of the entire city. The three NCD commissions in Cambridge each include five members and three alternates. Most members must be residents of the respective neighborhood commission. More information and maps of the Avon Hill, Half Crown-Marsh, and Mid Cambridge NCDs are available at

The volunteer commissions meets monthly and are supported by the professional staff of the Cambridge Historical Commission. Applicants should have an interest in architecture, local history or neighborhood preservation and be committed to protecting the historic resources and built environment of the City. Appointments are made by the City Manager with regard to a diversity of viewpoints. Minority candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

Individuals interested in being considered should apply by using the city’s online application system at and selecting the relevant commission. A cover letter and résumé or summary of applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, September 25, 2017.

Political Updates

Vote!Aug 14 - I updated my all-time municipal candidate lists today to include the 2017 candidates:

Index of all Cambridge City Council and School Committee candidates: 1941 to 2017  – updated Aug 14, 2017  [plain text version]    [PDF version] – updated Aug 14, 2017

I also compiled a list of how many candidates and how many women candidates have been in the City Council and in the School Committee elections going back to 1941. It's a sortable table. Have fun:

The Election Commission meets this Wed, Apr 16 to see if any candidates have filed to withdraw. After that the roster is all set. I still haven't heard from either Dan Lenke or Hari Pillai. If anyone knows either of them, tell them to get in touch. I don't have email addresses for those two candidates.

Aug 2 - The Election Commission voted to certify all nomination signatures submitted between July 27 and the July 31 deadline. All signatures for the 26 City Council candidates and 12 School Committee candidates are now certified and official.

City Council Candidates (26) School Committee Candidates (12)
Ronald Benjamin, 172 Cushing Street, 02138
Josh M. Burgin, 812 Memorial Drive #1411, 02139
Dennis J. Carlone, 9 Washington Avenue #6, 02140
Olivia D'Ambrosio, 270 3rd Street #305, 02142
Jan Devereux, 255 Lakeview Avenue, 02138
Samuel Gebru, 812 Memorial Drive #614A, 02139
Richard Harding, Jr., 189 Windsor Street #1, 02139
Craig A. Kelley, 6 Saint Gerard Terrace #2, 02140
Dan Lenke, 148 Richdale Avenue, 02140
Ilan Levy, 148 Spring Street, 02141
Alanna M. Mallon, 3 Maple Avenue, 02139
Marc C. McGovern, 15 Pleasant Street, 02139
Gregg J. Moree, 25 Fairfield Street #4, 02140
Adriane B. Musgrave, 5 Newport Road #1, 02140
Nadya T. Okamoto, 220 Banks Street #5, 02138
Hari I. Pillai, 165 Cambridgepark Drive #234, 02140
Jeff Santos, 350 3rd Street #809, 02142
Sumbul Siddiqui, 530 Windsor Street, 02141
E. Denise Simmons, 188 Harvard Street #4B, 02139
Vatsady Sivongxay, 59 Kirkland Street #2, 02138
Bryan Sutton, 764 Cambridge Street #6, 02141
Sean Tierney, 12 Prince Street, 02139
Paul F. Toner, 24 Newman Street, 02140
Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., 88 6th Street, 02141
Gwen Thomas Volmar, 13 Ware Street #4, 02138
Quinton Y. Zondervan, 235 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue, 02141
Manikka L. Bowman, 134 Reed Street, 02140
Fran A. Cronin, 1 Kimball Lane, 02140
Jake W. Crutchfield, 281 River Street #1, 01239
Emily R. Dexter, 9 Fenno Street, 02138
Alfred B. Fantini, 4 Canal Park #203, 02141
Elechi M. Kadete, 10 Laurel Street #4, 02139
Kathleen M. Kelly, 17 Marie Avenue #1, 02139
Laurance V. Kimbrough, 24 Aberdeen Avenue, 02138
William MacArthur, 18 Shea Road, 02140
Piotr Flawiusz Mitros, 9 Michael Way, 02141
Patricia M. Nolan, 184 Huron Avenue, 02138
David J. Weinstein, 45 S. Normandy Avenue, 02138

2017 Cambridge Candidate Pages

2017 Campaign Event Listings and Candidate Forums
[Note: Only events open to the general public (with or without RSVP) will be listed.]

2017 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports (with sortable tables)

Campaign Finance Reports - 2017 City Council (PDF with links to detailed reports)

Campaign Contributions (2017) - Total Receipts and Cambridge Receipts, Total Expenses

August-September Programs (and Beyond) at Fresh Pond Reservation

These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.

Woodland Restoration Area Gardening
Dates: Tuesdays between 9:30am and 1:00pm
    Join other stewardship-minded volunteers in caretaking the native plant restoration area next to Lusitania Meadow, and learn about the diversity of native plant life! We seek dedicated participants who enjoy camaraderie and hard work that includes weeding, pruning, planting, watering new plantings, hauling wood chips and moving logs. Please email if you would like to come, and for more information.
Fresh Pond Stewards: Wake Up and Weed!
Dates: Thursdays, 10:00am to noon
Meeting location: Water Purification Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Join our weed-warrior crew! We are Fresh Pond citizens dedicated to keeping invasive plants at bay for the benefit of wildlife, water and humans alike. No experience or long-term commitment necessary! All tools are provided; sturdy shoes, pants, long-sleeves and a water bottle are strongly recommended. Meets at the volunteer trailer in the lower parking lot.
Cycle to the Source
Date: Saturday, Sept 23rd, 8:30am-4:00pm
Meeting location: Walter J. Sullivan Purification Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Come explore the Cambridge Watershed with the Cambridge Water Department staff and guides from Urban Adventours to learn about where your water comes from! This is a guided, 33 mile bike ride that explores the lands in Lincoln, Lexington, Weston, and Waltham that make up the watershed. It will include stops at the reservoirs, dams, gatehouses, and Cambridge Water Department field office. Registration is REQUIRED: or contact Michelle O’Donnell at 617-349-7712. Registration closes Sept 19.
Fairy and Hobbit House Building (for kids)
Date: Saturday, September 23rd, 10:30am-noon
Meeting place: Kingsley Park, Outlook near upper parking lot
    Come dressed as a fairy, elf, or gnome, and help us create some houses for the magical creatures of Fresh Pond to inhabit! We might also look at a book or two, and make some magic-inspired arts and crafts. Stop at our nature-inspired playground on your way, or bring a picnic to enjoy after the program! Please contact Catherine Pedemonti at with any questions or to RSVP.
The Fresh Pond Drainage and Community Gardens Project
  - What’s Going on Behind the Fence

Date: Monday, Sept 25th, 6:00-7:00pm
Meeting location: Walter J. Sullivan Purification Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Have you been walking by the construction and wondering about what you’re seeing? Join us for a brief walk on the detour path so we can identify the elements of the project and answer your questions. We’ll also have an artist’s rendering of the completed project so you’ll know what to look forward to when the project is completed. Contact Ranger Jean to register at 617 349-4793 or
Fresh Pond After-school Kids' Walks
Dates: Friday, September 29th, 3:30-4:30pm
Meeting location: The Gazebo at Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
    Join us for an after-school romp in our urban wilds! This program is intended for kids of all ages accompanied by their parents/caretakers. Please come dressed for the weather and in clothes that are ok to get dirty. Feel free to contact Catherine Pedemonti at with any questions.
Things that Fly: Get Ready to Honk!
Date: Saturday, Sept 30th, 1:00-2:30pm
Meeting location: Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Ranger Jean and the Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project invite kids age 4-8 with a parent, grandparent, or other adult to come to Fresh Pond for an art-full afternoon. Come to learn a bit about things in our city that fly, including birds, insects, and even seeds! Make an owl mask or a bee puppet that you can wear on October 8th at the Honk! Parade (between Davis and Harvard Square) with the Cambridge Wildlife marching group. To register email or call 508 562-7605.

Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or for any RSVPs or questions!

Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at to download a form.

Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants.

Upcoming Programs

Curious about the construction that's happening on the Reservation across from the Tobin school?
Go here to learn more about the drainage and community garden project.

A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.
AMC Local WalksSat, Sept 23. Wildcat Conservation Area, Boxford. Kids and dogs are welcome. Meet at 1:00pm. It will be about 2 hours, easy terrain, moderate pace. From Rte. 95 take Rte. 133 into West Boxford center, head east on Main St. to a 4 way intersection with grassy patch in center. Go left on Ipswich Rd. to another 4 way, then right onto Hemlock Rd. (at the 4 way Spofford Rd. comes in from the left) Very soon find a parking on on the right. L Steve Davis. AMC Local WalksSat, Sept 23. 4th Annual Duxbury Beach Walk. 10:00am-2:00pm. This year we will extend the walk to the end of Duxbury Beach and have lunch at the Gurnet Point Lighthouse. Moderate pace. Bring lunch, snacks, and water. No children or dogs. Heavy rain cancels. If uncertain, contact Lisa or Mary. Ls Lisa Fleischman, Mary Wisbach.
AMC Local WalksSat, Sept 23. Breakheart Reservation, Saugus. Fast-paced, very challenging 6-mile hike with steep scrambles and lots of views, 9:30am-1:30pm. Bring lunch, water, and hiking boots. From Rt. 1 in Saugus take Lynn Fells Pkwy West 0.3 mi., right onto Forrest Street. Park at end. Meet at Visitors Center. Rain cancels. L Marc Hurwitz. AMC Local WalksSun, Sept 24. Powisset Farm to Noanet Woodlands and back, Dover. 1:00pm to 3:00pm. Easy loop walk from Powisset Farm (Trustees of Reservations) to Hale Reservation to Noanet Woodlands and back. Level walking. Meet at Trustees of Reservations parking lot on Powisset Street in Dover. L Jean Veigas.
AMC Local WalksSun, Sept 24. Gamlin Crystal Spring, Groton. 1:00pm-3:00pm. Explore this large and pretty area of various conservation lands, including a number of beaver ponds, meadows, and upland forest. Meet at the Crystal Spring parking area on the west side of Old Dunstable Road at 42.63118N 71.51023W. About 2 hours, moderate pace. L Olin Lathrop. AMC Local WalksWed, Sept 27. Walden Pond/Lincoln Woods. (Registration required) Meeting at 10:30am at Walden Pond Reservation Visitor Center. Distance is 4 miles or 3 hours. Apres hike lunch in Concord is optional. Reg. required. Limited to 12. L Barbara Fay.
AMC Local WalksSat, Sept 30. Blue Hills, Ponkapoag Pond. 4 mi. mod.-paced hike, 10:30am-1:30pm. Bring lunch+water. I-93/Rte. 128 exit 2A to Rte. 138S for 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course pkg lot on L. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias. AMC Local WalksSun, Oct 1. Burrage Pond, Hanson. 5-mile hike, 10:00am-12:15pm on abandoned cranberry bog, sandy trails featuring open water and marshland. From Rte. 27 in Hanson, Pleasant Street for 0.2 mi., take sharp right to Hawks Ave. across the tracks, left on dirt road at fence, past building to trailhead. Bring water and snack. Email if severe weather. L Mike Tuohey.
AMC Local WalksSat, Oct 7. JFK/UMass to Rowes Wharf walk. 9:00am-2:30pm. Meet at the JFK/UMass Red Line T Station at the outdoor plaza located between the T Station and Morrissey Boulevard, and join us for a moderate-paced 10 mile walk, with stops at points of interest along the way. 10 miles. There will be opportunities to leave by public transportation during the walk. Bring lunch, snacks, and water. Rain date: Oct 8 (Sun). Questions? Contact Lisa or Fran. Ls Lisa Fleischman, Fran Price.

Central Flea
Central Flea will return to 95 Prospect St. on the last Sunday of the month now through October! We're thrilled to bring together local artists and vendors in partnership with New England Open Markets. 11:00am to 5:00pm.

Members Sought for Cambridge Citizens’ Committee on Civic Unity
Application Deadline August 28, 2017 September 21, 2017

City SealJuly 19, 2017 and Aug 30, 2017 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking residents and members of the Cambridge community (including private sector, municipal employees, business owners, students and others) interested in serving on the Citizens’ Committee on Civic Unity.

The mission of the City of Cambridge Citizens’ Committee on Civic Unity is to foster fairness, equity, unity, appreciation, and mutual understanding across all people and entities in Cambridge. The Committee works to provide opportunities for constructive discussions and community events regarding race, class, religion, gender, disability, and sexual orientation, through recognizing and raising awareness of historic, existing, and potential civic issues; providing opportunities for honest dialogue and engagement; and by building bridges across communities to better understand and connect with one another.

The Committee generally meets monthly. Committee meetings are open to the public and may include presentations by guest speakers, city staff, and various experts. For information on the committee’s work, current goals, meeting schedule, and events, please visit:

Individuals interested in being considered can submit a cover letter, résumé or summary of applicable experience using the city’s online application system at Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline for submitting applications is Thursday, September 21, 2017.

Featured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):

Pedro Martinez draws large crowd at Cambridge's Oldtime Baseball Game (posted Aug 22, 2017 - game was on Aug 17)

Huron Avenue work nears completion after five tough years (Aug 18, 2017)Cambridge Chronicle

Sale of non-rescues soon to be banned in Cambridge pet shops (Aug 8, 2017)

$14.5M donation secures affordable housing at Cambridge’s Close Building (July 26, 2017)

Planning Board gets first look at Volpe rezoning proposal (July 26, 2017 by Rob Carter)

Cambridge Police promote two new superintendents (Steven J. DeMarco and Christine A. Elow) (July 26, 2017)

Housing advocates optimistic as Vail Court debated (July 25, 2017 by Adam Sennott)

Eversource rate case presenting fiscal woes for solar projects (July 20, 2017 by Matt Murphy / State House News Service)

LETTER: Cambridge needs more long-term housing (July 19, 2017 by Jesse Kanson-Benanav, founder and chairman of A Better Cambridge)

Cambridge activists push for more housing on Volpe site (July 19, 2017 by Adam Sennott)

Comm. Ave. Bridge project: What it means to Cambridge (July 18, 2017)

What to do when you encounter wildlife in Cambridge (July 17, 2017 by Abigail Simon)

Police: Cambridge man knocked out, hospitalized after stealing phone (July 14, 2017 by Amy Saltzman) - then watch this video

Planning Board lets Harvard Square pizzeria application move forward (July 12, 2017 by Rob Carter)

Harvard Square group gives boost to &Pizza plans (July 11, 2017 by Adam Sennott)

Diaries reveal 18th century life in Cambridge (July 7, 2017 by Betsy Levinson)

Proposed Cambridge Airbnb regulations headed for City Council vote (July 6, 2017 by Adam Sennott)

A gem polished in Cambridge (July 5, 2017 by Lisa Cerquiera)

Arlington, Cambridge officials see ways to improve transportation on Mass. Ave. (July 3, 2017 by Bram Berkowitz)

PHOTOS: MIT’s vision for a redeveloped Volpe site (June 30, 2017)

Community gives feedback to MIT on Volpe Center plans (June 30, 2017 by Rob J. Carter)

Cambridge investigating affordable housing on divinity school land (June 27, 2017 by Adam Sennott)

Cambridge City Council seeking faster roll-out of protected bike lanes (June 27, 2017 by Adam Sennott)

To help struggling small businesses, Cambridge looks into reforms (June 15, 2017 by Jill Jaracz)

Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust to step down (June 14 by Abigail Simon)

‘Millionaire tax’ makes it to the 2018 ballot (with interactive map) (Jun 14, 2017 by Michael P. Norton, State House News Service)

Cambridge councillors call for action on ‘worthless’ liquor licenses (June 13, 2017 by Adam Sennott)

City, developer commit $6M to improve transit in Kendall Square (June 12, 2017 by Betsy Levinson)

PHOTOS: Cambridge Rindge and Latin Class of 2017 graduates (June 9, 2017)

‘Cambridge in your DNA:’ Rindge graduates encouraged to teach, give back (June 9, 2017 by Linda Kush)

‘We know there were witnesses:’ DA calls on public to help solve teen’s murder (June 5, 2017 by Amy Saltzman)

PHOTOS: River Fest takes over East Cambridge waterfront (June 5, 2017)

PHOTOS: Wicked awesome mortarboards from high school graduations (June 5, 2017)

Cambridge joins area towns to forge own path against climate change (June 5, 2017 by Gerry Tuoti)

Family-run flower shop in Kendall Square celebrates 75 years (June 2, 2017 by Lisa Cerqueira)

Cambridge awards record $210K in scholarships (June 2, 2017)

Cambridge launches new plan for Foundry Building (June 1, 2017)

Developer’s plan would bring movies back to Harvard Square theater (May 31, 2017)

June 21, 2017 – MIT today has filed its Volpe rezoning petition. An MIT News Office article provides background on the proposal and a link to the zoning petition. [message from Sarah Gallop, Co-Director, MIT Office of Government and Community Relations]
[Boston Globe article (June 21)]  [text of the petition]

Check out the latest episodes of Cambridge InsideOut:

If you would like to be a guest (or co-host) one of these Tuesdays, let me know. - RW

Episode 257 (Sept 19, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: elections, endorsements, Harvard Square, Sept 18 Council meeting
Episode 258 (Sept 19, 2017, 6:00pm)
Guest: School Committee candidate Piotr Mitros
Episode 255 (Sept 12, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Sept 11 City Council meeting, tax-financed municipal campaigns, Volpe Petition
Episode 256 (Sept 12, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Volpe Petition, MIT graduate housing, candidate forums, endorsements
Episode 253 (Aug 29, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Hurricane Harvey and resiliency of cities, the Volpe Petition and a related new petition
Episode 254 (Aug 29, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: some history of the Plan E Charter and some of the realities of PR elections
Episode 251 (Aug 22, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Oldtime Baseball, Solar Eclipse, Politics
Episode 252 (Aug 22, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Cambridge Candidate Pages - some history and a request for topics, questionnaires from political organizations
Episode 249 (Aug 15, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Guest: School Committee cabdidate Fran Cronin
Episode 250 (Aug 15, 2017, 6:00pm)
Guest: Wil Durbin and the newly ordained Cambridge regulations for short-term rentals
Episode 247 (Aug 8, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Agenda items from the Aug 7 City Council meeting, especially the ordination of the Short-Term Rental Zoning Petition
Episode 248 (Aug 8, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Agenda items from the Aug 7 City Council meeting, especially the MIT/Volpe Petition, controversy over segregated bike lanes, and an unsuccessful late effort to place a ballot question on the November ballot regarding publicly funded municipal campaigns
Episode 245 (Aug 1, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Final list of candidates for Cambridge municipal election, Leland Cheung's decision to not seek reelection
Episode 246 (Aug 1, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: municipal campaign finance, MIT/Volpe Petition
Episode 243 (July 25, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Cambridge municipal election and its many candidates as well as some history of Cambridge's PR elections
Episode 244 (July 25, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: upcoming events and some observations re: Harvard Square activism
Episode 241 (July 18, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Guest: Alanna Mallon, City Council candidate
Episode 242 (July 18, 2017, 6:00pm)
Guest: Will MacArthur, School Committee candidate
Episode 239 (July 11, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Nomination papers for Cambridge City Council and School Committee, candidate list - who's on the ballot so far
Episode 240 (July 11, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Cambridge PR election history (especially the probability of an incumbent being ousted when there are multiple vacancies), and the status of short-term rental regulation
Episode 237 (June 27, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Guest: Paul Toner, City Council candidate
Episode 238 (June 27, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: June 26 City Council meeting, upcoming events
Episode 235 (June 20, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Guest: Sean Tierney, City Council candidate
Episode 236 (June 20, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Adriane Musgrave, City Council candidate

Stories written by Luis Vasquez for the Cambridge Chronicle

Cambridge Civic/Political Review 2016

Book Release - Building Old Cambridge by Susan E. Maycock and Charles M. Sullivan (published by MIT Press)

A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904

[original PDF]

Here's Something Worth Watching

Robert & Judy on Cambridge InsideOutCambridge InsideOut airs weekly every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm with producers/hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. We will have other guest hosts as well.

[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos of each]

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 257-258: Sept 19, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 255-256: Sept 12, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 253-254: Aug 29, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 251-252: Aug 22, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 249-250: Aug 15, 2017 (w/guests Fran Cronin and Wil Durbin)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 247-248: Aug 8, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 245-246: Aug 1, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 243-244: July 25, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 241-242: July 18, 2017 (w/City Council candidate Alanna Mallon and School Committee candidate Will MacArthur)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 239-240: July 11, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 237-238: June 27, 2017 (w/City Council candidate Paul Toner)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 235-236: June 20, 2017 (w/City Council candidates Sean Tierney and Adriane Musgrave)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 233-234: June 13, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 231-232: June 6, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 229-230: May 23, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.

Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2013-2014 featured co-hosts Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2015-2017 features co-hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters.

MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989
By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990

MAPC Study: 435,000 new housing units needed by 2040

A new report is estimating that the greater Boston area will need another 435,000 new housing units by 2040 to lure new workers and accommodate an aging population. [Reports available here]

Note: When comparing the peak population of Cambridge back in the 1950s (over 120,000) to what it is today (perhaps 107,000) it's important to keep in mind that families were typically much larger then. It's also the case that what people find acceptable in terms of living space and amenities has changed dramatically over six decades. This translates into considerably more "units" of housing (and higher density) in Cambridge if the population should rise to levels close to what they were in days of yore.

Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

2017 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports (posted Aug 7, 2017, updated Sept 20, 2017)

2017 City Council Campaign Receipts and Expenditures (posted Aug 7, 2017, updated Sept 19, 2017)

Interesting Agenda Items on the Sept 18, 2017 City Council Agenda (Sept 18, 2017)

Fall Semester at the Sullivan School – Sept 11, 2017 City Council Agenda Highlights (posted Sept 11, 2017)

Topics for Candidates for Cambridge School Committee – 2017 (posted Sept 4, 2017)

Topics for Candidates for Cambridge City Council – 2017 (posted Sept 4, 2017)

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Aug 23, 2017)

Women Candidates in Cambridge Municipal Elections: 1941-2017 (Aug 14, 2017)

A Midsummer’s Night – Featured Agenda items for the August 7, 2017 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Aug 7, 2017)

Statement from Councillor Cheung on his decision to not seek reelection (Aug 1, 2017)

Cambridge City Council and School Committee Candidates – 2017 (posted July 24, 2017, updated July 31, 2017)

Number of candidates in Cambridge municipal elections: 1941-present (posted July 25, 2017)

Cambridge Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony – 2017 (posted May 29, 2017)

Sheet of ice draws praise from bicycle advocates (posted Apr 20, 2017 by John Allen)

All the News That’s Printed to Fit – April 1, 2017 (the April Fools edition)

Black ice blindness (Feb 21, 2017 by John Allen)

Central Square is a Grandma (Dec 17, 2016)

The Municipal Situation in Cambridge (1904) – by Henry N. Wheeler (Nov 6, 2016)

Floyd Freeman, Nov 7, 1915 – July 11, 2016, neighbor, friend, philosopher (July 16, 2016)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – April 1, 2016 (April Fools Edition)

Sunday Morning Statistics – Who Voted in the Cambridge Presidential primary (by age) (posted Mar 20, 2016)

A Conversation with Tip O’Neill (1992) on Cambridge Inside Out (Jan 17, 2016)

Who Voted in the 2015 Cambridge Municipal Election? (Dec 6, 2015)

Final Official Election Results – Cambridge 2015 Municipal Election (Nov 13, 2015)

Flashback to March 1998 (Oct 12, 2015)

Who Votes in Cambridge? (July 9, 2015)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2015) - the April Fool's Day edition

Brian Murphy, 1964-2015 (Feb 5, 2015)

Age Distribution of Voters in Cambridge Elections: 2007-2014 (Jan 4, 2015)

MBTA Role in Cambridge Center Project – Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989 (Feb 13, 2014)

The Advent of PR in Cambridge (Nov 10, 2013)

Completing the Square (June 11, 2013)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes (June 8, 2013)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2013) - the April Fool's Day edition

On becoming a True Cantabrigian (Dec 29, 2012)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, Initial Years, 1963 to 1982 (July 12, 2012)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area – Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (Apr 5, 2012)

“Cycle track”: a sidewalk by another name (posted Aug 11, 2010, letter of Paul Schimek)

April Fools Day - 2017 (and here)

April Fool's Day - 2016 (and here)     April Fool's Day - 2015 (and here)     April Fool's Day - 2013 (and here)

The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998

Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)

Introduction: Memorandum from the Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 on its Final Recommendations
Full Report (reformatted in HTML) Goals
Public Places to Build Community Public Places elements
Retail, Cultural and Non-Profit Diversity Housing
Connecting People to the Square Foster a Sustainable Future for Central Square
Leverage Future Private and Public Investments Definition of Central Square Districts
Zoning Recommendations Transfer of Development Rights
Transportation Recommendations Location Specific Issues

The Neverending Study of Central Square

Aug 11, 2012 - While preparing to write a series of essays on Central Square, I put together the following list of Central Square studies culled from a variety of sources. I have originals for most of these. If you know of any others, please let me know. - Robert Winters

Feb 1980 - CDD report entitled "Central Square - Commercial Area Revitalization District

June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square

Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)

1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)

Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan

1989 - Draft Central Square Development Guidelines

May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"

Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!

Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)

May 1995 - Central Square Improvements Project, Master Plan Report

May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)

May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"

Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study

Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)

Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)

June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)

2009 - CDD Central Square Customer Intercept Survey Report

2011 - Central Square Market Profile

2011 - Red Ribbon Commission Study Report

2012 - Goody/Clancy report and recommendations

2013 - K2C2 Final Reports

K2C2 Final Reports Released

K2C2 areaThe final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.

Community Development Department

Kendall Square Central Square Planning Study (K2C2)

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.


THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik (33½ minutes)

FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee

City Council Rules 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect current Council committees)

City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)

City Council Committees (for the current term)

School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)

School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)

June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).

I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:

These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization and I'm tempted to say that some should be incorporated into the recently adopted City Council's Goals for FY2010 (adopted Feb 2, 2009). In fact, of the 22 current goals, the only one that comes close is: "An increased level of recruitment and opportunities for membership on boards and commissions." The current Council goals emphasize things like "fostering community" via block parties and such, though one has to wonder if the City should be promoting these activities or just getting out of the way so that people can foster community on their own. The goals also seem to put some emphasis on developing "successful nightlife campaigns" while mentioning nothing about promoting ordinary "daytime" economic activity that supports the everyday needs of residents.

One founding principle of the CCA that fell into disuse over the years is listed above as #3: To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs. Indeed, I can personally testify to the fact that in its dying years the only reason the CCA made endorsements at all was because the CCA-endorsed incumbents wanted the benefit of having an advertised CCA slate of candidates that would help secure their reelection. There was precious little effort to recruit new candidates or to support them. Today, the benefits of incumbency are greater than ever. The cost of political campaigns have become absurdly high and most of the incumbents now have (City paid) staff who are inevitably political appointees who directly or indirectly assist in the reelection efforts of their bosses. The deck is increasingly stacked against challengers. Furthermore, the salary and benefits for elected councillors are now so sweet that it is unlikely that any of them would ever want to move on to another job.

With this background in mind, I would like to encourage all Cambridge residents to help level the playing field by finding out about this year's challengers for seats on the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge School Committee. This is not meant as a dig against any particular incumbent as much as an appeal to support the challengers in what is a difficult and laudable effort. Please see the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the current list of expected candidates. Then use your own judgment - don't expect me or anyone else to do it for you.

Speaking of this year's municipal election, there are some activists who are now expending great effort to attack the City Manager and most of the current City Council. That is not nor has it ever been the intention of the Cambridge Civic Journal or its editor. Candidates are now being seduced by financial promises from one angry fellow with a Brattle Street address and a basketful of grudges. Former CCA Executive Board members from its darkest and most manipulative days are oozing up from the civic swamp trying to at last make good on their failed campaigns of the early 1990s to oust city manager Bob Healy.

It's entertaining to watch people who have primarily earned disrespect in their civic efforts try to capitalize on the recent Monteiro jury decision as a means of realizing their decades-old vendettas. Conveniently forgotten in their recent letters to Cambridge's "oldest weekly newspaper" are the many achievements of City Manager Bob Healy, the strong financial position of the City, and the recent 8-1 vote of confidence bestowed upon Mr. Healy in granting him a three year contract extension. Also missing in this testimony is the fact that virtually all affirmative action in the hiring of employees and department heads has taken place on Mr. Healy's watch. These letters also fail to divulge how long these writers have been carrying their jealousy and anger toward Mr. Healy for actually orchestrating progress in Cambridge while the best they could ever do is snipe from the sidelines. - Robert Winters

This Old Land of Cambridge - The true story of the geological history of Cambridge - by George Ehrenfried
Sadly, George passed away (Jan 5, 2010) at the age of 96. He led many a geology-themed hike with the AMC Local Walks/Hikes.

Selected City of Cambridge References:

Plan E Charter (Cambridge's city charter) Acts of 1921, Chapter 239 as amended (establishment of Cambridge Election Commission)

Mass. General Laws Chapter 54A (governing Cambridge's PR elections)

Pen Portraits of Prominent People - by Henry J. Mahoney Editor, Cambridge Sentinel - 1923

This book was published c. 1923 and features very witty one-page “pen portraits” (with photo) of prominent Cantabrigians of the day. I'll be adding names alphabetically as time permits. There are 182 portraits in the book.

It comes to mind that there may be some value in expanding these profiles to other prominent Cantabrigians who arrived on the scene after 1923, including prominent Cantabrigians of today. With this in mind, I extend the invitation to any and all who may wish to contribute their own “pen portraits” of Cambridge people. Contributions do not necessarily have to be in the style of Mr. Mahoney. Inclusion is, as always, subject to the erratic discretion of the editor.

Special thanks to Karen Welch for sending me the book. - RW

Political History of Cambridge in the 20th Century
written by Glenn Koocher, November 2004 -- edited by Robert Winters, July 2006
[An alternate edit of this essay will appear, along with many other valuable essays, in a
centennial volume to be published by the Cambridge Historical Society in 2007.

Which People's Republic
written by Bill Cunningham, 1999

Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for people who can give one to two hours per week to help students in the Cambridge Public Schools, grades K through 12. No experience necessary. Call 617-349-6794 or e-mail for more details.

Oliver Wendell Holmes – Morning Exercises of December 28, 1880
As recorded in the book 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Cambridge (1881)

Robert Winters
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
Philosophy of the CCJ Editor
The Cambridge Civic Journal is an independent newsletter of civic affairs in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published as a public service by Central Square Publications. All items are written by Robert Winters unless otherwise noted. [Of course, I do sometimes forget.]

Thoughts for these times:
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz

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“The Number One thing I would emphasize is that journalists and bloggers would do well to see themselves as partners in the provision of information and that each can benefit greatly from the other. I’ve never seen this as a competition. It is especially true these days that local papers and young journalists are not very well-versed in the communities they serve. Much of the institutional memory has either died out or been bought out.” -- Robert Winters, mathematician and creator of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online publication about Cambridge, MA (

Jorkin: “Come, come, Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”

Fezziwig: “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business, Mr. Jorkin…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must.”

Scrooge: “I think I know what Mr. Fezziwig means, sir.”

Jorkin: “Oh, you hate progress and money, too, do you?”

Scrooge: “I don't hate them, sir, but perhaps the machines aren’t such a good thing for mankind, after all.”

Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"

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