I just got back from the City Council Candidate Forum hosted by the Ward 6 Democratic City Committee at the Senior Center. There were 17 of the 23 candidates there, though Councillor Simmons and Vice Mayor Benzan left before I arrived due to a conflicting engagement. Mayor Maher was also chairing the School Committee meeting. Much of the forum was taken up by responses to questions submitted by attendees, so they were not necessarily representative of what the candidates are actually hearing outside the forum as they move about the city. That said, some of the responses were interesting. Here are just a few observations I took away from this event (and from a previous one held last week by the Mid-Cambridge Neighborhood Association):
The first observation is that some people seem to be obsessed by the existence of candidate slates in this year's election and think they are supposed to be something more than a strategy for enhancing the chances of election of the candidates included on a given slate. Councillor Mazen started this ball rolling by creating his own slate of candidates (Mazen, Davidson, Sanzone, Waite) that most people see as specifically designed to reelect Mazen. That said, the other three candidates on that slate have some good qualities - even if they are perhaps not really yet ready to be elected officials. The four candidates on this slate also happen to be the four youngest candidates of the 23 who are running.
The second candidate slate to appear was the Unity Slate (Benzan, Cheung, Kelley, Maher, McGovern, Simmons, Toomey) that consists of seven incumbents, though they were apparently open to including challengers. This slate is very diverse and all of the candidates are socially and politically progressive relative to any reasonable standard, but the slate is based more on collegiality and the idea of working collaboratively to actually move some things forward. It is not an ideologically-driven slate. Those who have watched local Cambridge politics over the years understand well that progressives simply "talking the talk" does not necessarily translate into concrete actions. In the end, of course, this slate like all other slates is primarily about strategically enhancing the election chances of its member candidates.
The latest candidate slate (whether they call it a slate or a list of endorsees) is the one put together by the Cambridge Residents Alliance (Carlone, Connolly, Devereux, Mazen, Waite). It's ironic that several members of this slate seem bothered by the existence of the Unity Slate when they are, in fact, designed for exactly the same purpose - to enhance electability. Unaligned candidate Ilan Levy has even gone so far as to file a legal challenge to the existence of the Unity Slate, though it should be obvious to anyone that the election of individual candidates or a group of candidates has never been a policy issue before the City Council subject to either discussion or a vote. No whistle, no foul; and certainly no violation of the Open Meeting Law. I suppose all it takes is a pen and a grudge to file a complaint.
The existence of candidate slates should not have been a topic at either of these forums. Individual candidates certainly could have and should have promoted their slates at these forums, but this is not what forum organizers should be doing. Their focus should be on the qualities of the candidates, where they stand on current issues, and any new ideas they might pursue if elected.
Several candidates expressed interest in having a directly elected mayor. Councillor Carlone even went so far as to suggest that Cambridge might do this the way it is done in Worcester. He neglected to mention that in that city there are many city council candidates who declare for mayor, but the field is reduced in a preliminary action. Cambridge has no preliminary or primary elections thanks to our proportional representation system of election with its ranked preferences and transferable votes, so if one assumes there would be close to 9 mayoral candidates (or more), the likelihood of electing a mayor that way with majority support would be virtually nil. These details matter. At candidate forums, the candidates can say almost anything without having to provide any information that might cause their positions to come into question. Thankfully, most of the candidates in attendance expressed general satisfaction with the system of election that we use in Cambridge.
Councillor Carlone also made the claim that the Town of Belmont had offered $10 million toward the purchase of the so-called "Silver Maple Forest" in the Belmont uplands bordering on Cambridge. Perhaps he has some inside information but that's the first I ever heard of Belmont putting $10 million on the table to prevent the housing project now under construction from being developed at that site.
There are many other things that could be said about these forums. I was glad that candidates Courtney and Dietrich were absent at the Ward 6 forum. They would likely have just used the opportunity to again gripe about their failure to secure a license for their proposed wine bar and how this indicates that all of Cambridge's boards and commissions are either corrupt or incompetent or that the City Manager needs to lord over them at the expense of their independence.
Perhaps the most disturbing position taken by any candidate at this forum was Councillor Mazen's proposal to eliminate the Residential Exemption on the property tax bills of Cambridge residents except for those who can prove with their tax returns that their income is sufficiently low to deserve this benefit. This is something Mazen promoted recently at the City Council meeting when this year's proposed tax rates were voted subject to approval by the Mass. Dept of Revenue. The Residential Exemption this year is $277,937 and with an approved tax rate of $6.99/thousand this translates into a tax savings of about $1,943 per residential homeowner. In other words, Councillor Mazen wants homeowners to pay an additional nearly $2,000 per year in property taxes unless they can prove to City officials with their tax returns that they should get the exemption. This is what he calls "progressive taxation". Perhaps a good question for the next candidate forum should be directed to Mazen's fellow slate members asking whether they also feel that homeowners should be asked to produce either $2,000 or their tax returns. Fortunately, state law supersedes City Council politics, so the question is purely academic. - Robert Winters
|City Council Candidate||Address||Birthdate||Occupation|
|Dennis A. Benzan||1 Pine Street, 02139||Candidate for Re-Election||1/25/1972||Attorney|
|Dennis J. Carlone||9 Washington Avenue #6, 02140||Candidate for Re-Election||5/7/1947||Architect|
|Leland Cheung||157 Garden Street, 02138||Candidate for Re-Election||2/11/1978||-|
|Mike Connolly||20 Harding Street #3, 02141||6/3/1980||-|
|Kim Courtney||2 Ware Street #401, 02138||12/6/1973||Attorney|
|Mariko Davidson||2 Ware Street #411, 02138||11/20/1981||-|
|Plineo T. Degoes, Jr.||99 Garden Street, 02138||2/10/1981||Teacher|
|Jan Devereux||255 Lakeview Avenue, 02138||5/13/1959||Writer/Commun.|
|Xavier Dietrich||2 Ware Street #401, 02138||12/2/1961||-|
|Craig A. Kelley||6 Saint Gerard Terrace, 02140||Candidate for Re-Election||9/18/1962||Politician|
|Ilan S. Levy||148 Spring Street, 02141||11/1/1967||Software Engineer|
|David P. Maher||120 Appleton Street #2, 02138||Candidate for Re-Election||8/8/1958||Non-profit Mgr.|
|Paul F. Mahoney, Jr.||23 Lawn Street, 02138||5/8/1950||-|
|Nadeem A. Mazen||720 Mass. Avenue #4, 02139||Candidate for Re-Election||9/20/1983||Entrepreneur|
|Marc C. McGovern||15 Pleasant Street #2, 02139||Candidate for Re-Election||12/21/1968||Social Worker|
|Gary W. Mello||324 Franklin Street #2, 02139||5/24/1953||Clerk|
|Gregg J. Moree||25 Fairfield Street #4, 02140||6/16/1957||Carpenter|
|John Sanzone||540 Memorial Drive #304, 02139||10/16/1988||-|
|E. Denise Simmons||188 Harvard Street #4B, 02139||Candidate for Re-Election||10/2/1951||Public Office|
|Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.||88 Sixth Street, 02141||Candidate for Re-Election||6/7/1953||Councillor|
|Minka Y. vanBeuzekom||20 Essex Street #1, 02139||7/24/1960||Government|
|Romaine Waite||60 Lawn Street #5, 02138||6/7/1991||-|
|James M. Williamson||1000 Jackson Place #45, 02140||1/13/1951||-|
|School Committee Candidate||Address||Birthdate||Occupation|
|Manikka L. Bowman||134 Reed Street, 02140||11/27/1979||-|
|Pia Cisternino||62 Holworthy Street #1, 02138||8/28/1974||speech-lang. pathologist|
|Fran Albin Cronin||1 Kimball Lane, 02140||Candidate for Re-Election||2/14/1952||School Committee|
|Jake W. Crutchfield||281 River Street, 02139||3/31/1987||Teacher|
|Emily R. Dexter||9 Fenno Street, 02138||3/16/1957||Educational Researcher|
|Alfred B. Fantini||4 Canal Park #203, 02141||Candidate for Re-Election||6/8/1949||Retired|
|Richard Harding, Jr.||189 Windsor Street #1, 02139||Candidate for Re-Election||10/16/1972||Administrator|
|Elechi M. Kadete||10 Laurel Street #4, 02139||9/30/1989||Accountant|
|Kathleen M. Kelly||17 Marie Avenue #1, 02139||Candidate for Re-Election||3/8/1960||Social Worker|
|Patricia M. Nolan||184 Huron Avenue, 02138||Candidate for Re-Election||8/28/1957||School Committee|
|David J. Weinstein||45 S. Normandy Avenue, 02138||12/10/1972||Writer/Commun.|
CC = City Council, SC = School Committee
Official List of Candidates for the 2015 Cambridge Municipal Election (PDF - released Aug 19, 2015)
This list of candidates is also available as sortable tables at http://cambridgecivic.com/?p=4193.
The 2016 Cambridge Municipal Election will be held on Tues, Nov 3, 2015. For Cambridge residents not already registered, the last day to register to vote is Wed, Oct 14, 2015 from 8:30am to 8pm.
Please contact the Cambridge Election Commission office to find out when the Absentee Ballots will be available. Any voter who is unable to go to the polls on Election Day due to physical disability, religious belief, or absence from the City may request an Absentee Ballot from the Commission by Noon on Mon, Nov 2, 2015. Absentee Ballots may be mailed to voters, or such voters may choose to vote at the Commission office during regular City office hours: Mon, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tues-Thurs, 8:30am-5:00pm; Fri, 8:30am-Noon. The office will also be open for Absentee Voting on Fri, Oct 30 from 8:30am until 5:00pm and Sat, Oct 31 from 9:00am until 5:00pm. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7:00am until 8:00pm.
For any additional information, please visit the Cambridge Election Commission office at 51 Inman Street, call (617-349-4361) or visit our website at www.cambridgema.gov/election.
Conversations about the Volpe Site
The Volpe Outreach forum originally scheduled for Aug 17 has been rescheduled to Saturday, October 17th, 10am-12pm at the Kennedy-Longfellow School, 158 Spring St. An agenda will be posted on the Volpe webpage before the forum. http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/zoninganddevelopment/Zoning/Amendments/PUDKSVolpeSite
Full-Scale Flyer (PDF)
Select Stories from the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):
Putnam Square Apartments preserved for seniors in Harvard Square (Sept 30, 2015)
Cambridge votes to triple linkage fees in support of affordable housing (Adam Sennott, Sept 29, 2015)
Guest Column: How to keep Cambridge affordable (Jess Kansen-Benanav, Sept 29, 2015)
Curbside composting to expand in North Cambridge (Sept 28, 2015)
Farooq to take helm at Cambridge Community Development Department (Erin Baldassari, Sept 23, 2015)
Cambridge councilors look to 'take back' a deteriorating Central Square (Adam Sennott, Sept 22, 2015)
Guest Column: Cleaning up Central Square (Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan, Sept 21, 2015)
Editorial: We want your news – here's how to share it (Sept 18, 2015)
Consumer advocates take aim at home insurance soaring rates (Gerry Tuati, Sept 18, 2015)
Post-Eclipse - Items from the Sept 28, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda
It was a Super Moon in Total Eclipse on Sunday, but Monday brings us back to Earth. Here are some things of interest at this week's City Council meeting:
Manager's Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following members of the Foundry Advisory Committee: Deborah Rue (3-year term), Folakemi Alalade (2-year term), Jamie Sabino (1-year term), Jason Slavick (3-year term), Mark Tang (2-year term), Mariam Bucheli (1-year term), Richard Thal (3-year term).
I recognize only one name in this group of appointees - and that's probably a good thing.
Manager's Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the votes necessary to seek approval from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue of the tax rate for FY2016.
Excerpts from the Manager's letter: The actual FY16 property tax levy is $354,430,753, an increase of $12,985,298 or 3.8% from FY15. The 3.8% property tax levy increase is below the five-year average annual increase of 4.54%. With approval of these recommendations, the ten-year average annual increase will be 4.75%. Based on a property tax levy of $354.4 million, the FY16 residential tax rate will be $6.99 per thousand dollars of value, subject to Department of Revenue approval. This is a decrease of $0.83, or -10.61% from FY15. The commercial tax rate will be $17.71, which is a decrease of $1.58, or - 8.19% from FY15. This will be the eleventh year in a row that a majority of residential taxpayers will see a reduction, no change or an increase of less than $100 in their tax bill. In fact, in FY16, approximately 87% of residential taxpayers will see a reduction, no increase or an increase of less than $100. As a result of market activity in calendar year 2014, which is the basis of the FY16 property assessment, total residential property values increased by 16.28%, which is the highest increase in the past decade. Total commercial property values increased by 13.18%. For FY16, the total assessed value of taxable property in the City equals $34,680,060,680 a 15.1% increase over FY15 values. The actual FY16 total assessed values are significantly greater than the projections presented to the rating agencies in February 2015 due to continued strength in the Cambridge real estate market.
Unfinished Business #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on July 14, 2015 to discuss proposed amendments to Section 11.200 entitled Incentive Zoning Provisions and Inclusionary Housing Provisions. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Aug 24, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held July 21, 2015. Petition expires Oct 12, 2015.
Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee, for a public hearing held on Sept 22, 2015 to further discuss the petition to amend the incentive zoning requirements that is currently under consideration by the City Council.
There's a good chance the amendments to the incentive zoning requirements will be ordained at this meeting.
Order #2. That the City Clerk, in consultation with the City Solicitor, draft a response regarding the Open Meeting Law complaint filed by Ilan Levy for the City Council's consideration. Mayor Maher
Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Mayor David P. Maher transmitting an Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Ilan Levy, 148 Spring Street.
Perhaps someone can explain to me how the reelection of councillors can somehow be interpreted as "business before the City Council" that might be subject to the Open Meeting Law. Will the councillors be voting on the question of their own reelection at an upcoming meeting? Without such a basis, this complaint could just as well have been raised about seeing more than 5 city councillors in a restaurant or at a baseball game. While the Open Meeting Law is a good idea in principle, it continues to amaze me how some individuals (and candidates) use it just to be a pain in the ass (PITA) without any constructive purpose. Perhaps there should be a PITA Slate in the November election.
Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Community Development Department to draft an ordinance extending Cambridge's big bank retail storefront limitations to the rest of Porter, Harvard, Central, and Kendall Square. Councillor Cheung
My only suggestion is that there should also be an ordinance prohibiting retail stores from covering up their windows with advertisements and other clutter to the point that you can no loonger even see inside the building. For example, drop by the CVS and Walgreens stores in Central Square.
Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to report back on the ability to increase funding for affordable housing in a manner which would not adversely impact real estate taxes on existing housing units or cause a shift in taxes from commercial, industrial and personal property taxes to the residential class and given the limitation upon the tax classification, any recommendation must not jeopardize the current tax distribution by shifting a greater burden on the residential taxpayers which would result in making existing housing less affordable for current residents. Councillor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Vice Mayor Benzan and Councillor Kelley
This seems like a shell game. How do you increase expenditures without increasing revenue from any available taxable properties? At some point this City Council will have to address a far more general notion of what constitutes "affordable housing" that goes beyond simply subsidizing housing for people who can satisfy certain income criteria on paper. Perhaps this may be an impossible dream but in a properly functioning economy there should be a sufficient supply and a broad range of housing options of varying size, quality, and location so that most people can at least find something acceptable within their means without a government subsidy.
Order #15. That a Home Rule Petition "AN ACT TO ADOPT PROTECTIONS FOR CAMBRIDGE'S GOVERNMENTALLY-INVOLVED HOUSING STOCK" be submitted to the General Court for a special law relating to the City of Cambridge to be filed with an attested copy of this order which is hereby approved under Clause 1 of Section 8 of Article II, as amended, of the Articles of Amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to the end that legislation be adopted precisely as follows, except for clerical or editorial changes of form only. Councillor Mazen
Perhaps this is well-intentioned, but the language in this Order has all the markings of a back door re-introduction of rent control. Perhaps that's the intention of whoever drafted this petition. As such, I suspect the state legislature will have some reservations.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Councillor Marc C. McGovern transmitting a report on the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Income Insecurity in Cambridge.
This report is a good read about a topic that many people in Cambridge don't really think about. I do have some questions about some of the assertions in the report, e.g. the claim that "a family of 4 needs to earn $108,800 annually to meet their minimum needs." Perhaps if you focus only on averages and medians you might draw such a conclusion, but a better analysis would look at the entire distribution of housing options and services and not just at the averages and medians. - Robert Winters
A Better Cambridge Holds Fall Discussion Series on Affordable Housing and Development in Cambridge
A Better Cambridge (ABC), Cambridge's citywide group of residents working to build a more diverse and livable Cambridge, has announced a fall discussion series to help engage Cambridge residents, political candidates, and policy experts in planning for the growth of a sustainable Cambridge that provides affordable housing options for all families.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th: POLICY DISCUSSION
Affordable Housing in Cambridge - At the Epicenter of Development and Demand
As Cambridge embarks on a citywide plan for development our real estate market booms and our population is expected to grow in the coming decade, low and middle-income families in Cambridge city still struggle with unaffordable and rising housing costs. How can we ensure that new development in Cambridge serves the housing needs of all families including those with lower incomes? How does this relate to other important development issues – density, walking/biking/public transit, parking, and creating exciting, walkable neighborhoods? A Better Cambridge brings together experts to discuss what Cambridge can do to build a more diverse, affordable, and livable city for all families.
- Aaron Gornstein, President/CEO, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH)
- Edward Marchant, Affordable Housing Development Consultant and Adjunct Lecturer of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
- Andre Leroux, Executive Director, Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance
- Moderator: Dante Ramos Boston Globe Op-Ed Columnist
This panel will be held on Saturday, 9/26, 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the Citywide Senior Center (806 Mass. Ave, Central Square). For updated information, including the announcement of additional panelists and moderator, visit the ABC website: http://www.abettercambridge.org/housing_forum_2015.
Cambridge stands at a crossroads and the next City Council will play a major role in determining the future diversity, sustainability, and character of our city. As we look to this November's municipal election, residents want to understand how all City Council candidates approach the development challenges and opportunities facing our city. Join candidates for Cambridge Cambridge City Council in a moderated discussion about their plans and visions for our city's future.
This candidates forum will be held on Thursday, October 15th, 6:30pm to 9:30pm at the Broad Institute (415 Main Street, Kendall Square). The moderator will be Robin Young, host of "Here and Now" on WBUR. Please stay tuned to the ABC website for more details.
ABC is Cambridge's only citywide pro-smart growth resident group. Since our founding in 2012, ABC has been instrumental in opposing the downzoning of Central Square, advocating for expansion of a mixed-use neighborhood in Kendall Square, and most recently, securing the promise of 50 units of affordable housing at Mass. Ave & Main Street. For more information about ABC or either of these events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC). Made up of 11 members who serve three-year terms, the CHRC meets on the first Thursday of every month at 6:00pm. The Commission seeks Cambridge residents representing the diversity of Cambridge.
Commissioners are expected to work with other members of the Commission and staff to fulfill the goals and objectives of the Cambridge Human Rights Commission Ordinance (CMC Chapter 2.76). Commissioners are expected to attend monthly meetings, participate in subcommittees on outreach and public education, and work with Commission staff on the investigation, mediation and resolution of complaints filed with the Commission which allege discrimination in housing, public accommodation, employment or education based upon race, color, sex, age, religious creed, disability, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, family status, military status or source of income.
For more information, contact Nancy Schlacter, Cambridge Human Rights Commission, at 617-349-4396 or email@example.com.
Letters of interest, including resume and/or applicable experience, can be sent via mail, fax or e-mail by Friday, October 16, 2015 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Summer's End - Select items from the Sept 21, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda
The City Council returns this week from their summer vacation. Here's a sampler of potentially interesting items on the meeting agenda.
Reconsideration #1-3 relating to the regulation of taxi services and ride-sharing companies.
It's anyone's guess why these items are being reconsidered. All three of these orders were relatively benign actions about which there was little disagreement.
Reconsideration #4. Councillor Cheung has notified the City Clerk of his intention to file reconsideration on Policy Order #25 of Aug 10, 2015 adopted by the City Council to petition the Massachusetts General Court to enact the attached Home Rule Petition entitled "AN ACT TO ENABLE CERTAIN NON-CITIZEN RESIDENTS OF CAMBRIDGE TO VOTE IN SCHOOL COMMITTEE AND CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS".
Frankly, I was surprised that this order passed without any discussion. Though I seriously doubt that the proposed Home Rule petition has any chance of passage at the State House (and it shouldn't), this is a matter that should at least have been debated.
Manager's Agenda #21. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to recommendations from the Community Preservation Act Committee Chair that the City Council formally appropriate/allocate the Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds.
This is the annual vote on appropriation of CPA funds and there's no doubt whatsoever that it will be for an 80-10-10% split with affordable housing getting 80% of the funds and the minimum 10% each for open space acquisition and historic preservation.
Manager's Agenda #22. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Iram Farooq as Assistant City Manager for Community Development.
Iram Farooq is a great choice to head CDD, especially as we head into a multi-year evaluation of long-term citywide planning.
Manager's Agenda #28. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a request from Normandy Real Estate Partners and Twining Properties ("Normandy/Twining") to make available for disposition approximately 1,042 square feet of City owned land known as Coolidge Place, which is an eight (8) foot wide public way that connects Massachusetts Avenue to the City-owned Municipal Parking Lot Number 6 on Bishop Allen Drive.
This is just a formality, but opponents might try to monkey-wrench the proposed development any way they can.
Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Patrick W. Barrett III, et al. to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by amending Article 2.000 ("Definitions") and Article 4.000, Section 4.22 ("Accessory Apartments").
This is a very interesting zoning petition for many reasons - not the least of which is the fact that those who signed the petition span the whole spectrum civic/political activists. If ordained, this petition could create a significant amount of housing opportunities across the city.
Order #4. That the City Council go on record committing Cambridge to produce locally what it needs to consume by 2054. Councillor Mazen
I seriously doubt that we'll be seeing cows grazing on the Cambridge Common or at Danehy Park to satisfy the culinary choices of those of us who enjoy a cheeseburger now and then. Perhaps they can just print them on a 3D-printer. Then again, this is a City Council that REALLY likes to enact bans, so I suppose they could just ban anything that can't be produced locally.
Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with appropriate City departments regarding the possibility of a satellite police station in Central Square, data for incidents in Central Square for the last six months, increase of the City's drug treatment capacity and beds, additional trash barrels and updates for sidewalk and street improvements. Vice Mayor Benzan
Though Central Square is getting better every day in many ways, and will continue to improve when more housing is created, there are some things that continue to plague the area, including vandalism, drug problems and incidents of violent crime.
Order #7. That the City Council meetings scheduled for Nov 30, 2015 and Dec 28, 2015 be and hereby are cancelled. Councillor Toomey
Order #14. That the following regular City Council meetings be scheduled as Roundtable/Working meetings: Oct 5, 2015 - Roundtable to discuss Opioid Abuse; Oct 26, 2015 - Roundtable to discuss City-Wide Planning; Nov 16, 2015 - Roundtable between the School Committee and the City Council; Dec 14, 2015 - Roundtable to discuss Transportation Issues. Mayor Maher
I read somewhere that cancelling a couple of meetings and scheduling several Roundtable meetings is somehow dereliction of duty on the part of the City Council. In fact, meetings around Thanksgiving and the December holidays are cancelled almost every year and this has been the case for decades. Council rules call for 6-8 Roundtable meetings per year and this will make 9 if they all happen. There were 6 last year, so this seems about right for this two-year City Council term. Besides, are there really any dire issues now that require an intense meeting schedule? I don't think so. Besides, all of the proposed Roundtable meetings are on very essential matters.
Order #20. That the City Council go on record formally urging MIT to reconsider the decision to not renew the lease for Metropolitan Moving & Storage, and to determine whether any other viable alternatives to this plan exist. Councillor Simmons
Considering the fact that this building is in a location close to the heart of the MIT campus, it sure seems like it could enjoy a better use than just a warehouse. In any case, it's hard to imagine how this building can be re-purposed as housing while maintaining its fortress-like exterior. Then again, a lot of MIT people prefer to travel in tunnels, so maybe this will be ideal for them.
Order #21. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Director of Traffic, Parking and Transportation to create an electronic list containing the number of parking stickers issued to each development in the past ten (10) years should be made publicly available, to include, if possible, any demographic information that would help inform car ownership discussions such as age of the car owners. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor Mazen and Councillor McGovern
While it's certainly true that a lot more Cambridge people are now choosing not to own a motor vehicle, it would be helpful to quantify this better. I'm especially interested in knowing how the excessive cost of on-premises parking translates into residents who do own cars choosing to instead park on the street for the cost of a resident sticker.
Order #26. That the amendment to the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge to amend the provisions of the PUD-KS District set forth in Section 13.10 of the Zoning Ordinances and which includes a majority of the Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, be refiled as of Sept 28, 2015. Vice Mayor Benzan
It has been expected for some time that this zoning petition would be refiled to allow for at least a bit more analysis and discussion.
Order #27. That the City Manager confer with the CRA and report back with clarification regarding the past and future relationship between the CRA and Boston Properties and if Boston Properties will be the party to develop and lease any new square footage as a result of the zoning petitions passage and if the City Council can require a process for new developers to bid on CRA projects. Councillor Toomey
It's an interesting question whether the fact that Boston Properties was selected decades ago as the primary developer for Kendall Square means that this must always be the case.
Order #31. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority with the view in mind of purchasing the property on Vail Court in order to convert to affordable housing. Councillor McGovern and Councillor Simmons
Whether it's redeveloped as "affordable housing" or in some other way, it's just ridiculous that this property so near the heart of Central Square has been derelict for decades. Perhaps the threat of eminent domain and redevelopment by the CRA may finally force some action. Then again, this is an issue that's been debated at the City Council repeatedly and all that's happened is that the parked vehicles have disappeared and big red X's now festoon the exterior of the building.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 11, 2015 to discuss how to assist tenants in danger of losing their homes due to the recent sale of their buildings on Harding Street.
The committee report gives all indication that the new owners of the Harding Street properties have absolutely no clue how to manage rental properties. I really have to wonder who is financing their real estate acquisitions.
Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 6, 2015 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code by adding a new Chapter 8.70 entitled "Prohibition on the Use of Polystyrene Based Disposable Food Containers."
The motto for this City Council might well be "When in doubt, ban it." Why bother trying to convince people to do the right thing when you can just make it impossible for them to do otherwise. - Robert Winters
Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Sept 19, 2015)
First of all, there's Danehy Park Family Day today! Don't be surprised if you see a few City Council and School Committee candidates there working the crowd. There's also the first City Council meeting of the fall this coming Monday (Sept 21). Any human beings out there may also be interested in serving on the City's Human Services Commission (application deadline Sept 30).
How many City officials and Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Taskforce committee members does it take to change a light bulb?
Proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance (as of June 4, 2015)
The City is once again undertaking its Participatory Budgeting process. Idea Collection ended on August 31 and Proposal Development is now ongoing. Volunteer Budget Delegates turn ideas into concrete project Proposals during Sept-Nov 2015. City staff vet proposals for Feasibility and Cost during Nov 2015. Residents will Vote on which projects they’d like the City to fund during Dec 5-12, 2015. Results will then be announced. Winning projects will then be included in the City’s FY17 capital budget (Dec 2015). The pilot PB process will later be Evaluated during Jan-Mar 2016 and projects will be Implemented July 2016 onward.
Pumpkins, Leaves & Free Compost until 10/31
Pumpkins, Leaves & Free Compost until 10/31
After Halloween, pumpkins are accepted with yard waste for curbside collection (remove candles). But, consider cooking your sugar pumpkins! Chop it and roast in the oven or steam/puree it to use in delicious roasted breads, soups, cookies, pies and more.
Save fall leaves to cover up or bury food scraps in your backyard compost bin, and remember to keep right ratio: 3 parts “browns” to 1 part “greens”. Remember that separate yard waste collection (leaves, grass and small twigs & branches), ends the week of Dec 14-18 and begins again April 1st. For yard waste stickers, order them online, call DPW, or stop by the office. Cambridge residents can get free compost in small quantities at the Recycling Center during open hours: Tues/Thurs 4pm-7:30pm and Sat 9am-4pm. Bring your own containers and get some while it’s available this year, through October 31. Thanks to Rocky Hill Farm for giving back our food scraps as rich beautiful soil!
Cambridge Kids are Green :)
Last school year, Cambridge Public School kids, teachers and faculty recycled over 765,000 pounds of paper and containers to be made into new products. At the 10 schools with lunchroom composting programs, over 120,000 pounds of food scraps were collected to be made into rich soil. In June, CPS received the 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Award in Washington, D.C. presented by U.S. Secretary of State and the White House Council on Environmental Quality!
Here are some green ideas for parents:
Curbside Pickup of Food Scraps Expands! 10/19
Curbside pickup of food scraps is expanding in Cambridge! The pilot program of 600+ households in North Cambridge was so successful that it will expand to 5,000 more households in the Monday route. From October 6-14, eligible residences with 12 units or less and City trash service will get: how-to instructions, a kitchen bin with compostable bags, a green curbside bin (to share at multi-family buildings). Free weekly collection begins Monday, October 19.
Door to Door in North Cambridge in October
Household Hazardous Waste Collection
|AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.|
|Sat, Oct 10. Eastern Blue Hills, Quincy. Fast-paced 7-mi. hike to remote scenic areas including Fox Hill, Slide Notch, and the Kitchamakin ledges, 9:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch, water. Meet at Shea Ice Rink, Willard St., Quincy. From SE Expwy exit 8 in Quincy, go S 0.6 mi. on Willard St. Or from Rte. 93/128 exit 6 in Braintree, go N 0.7 mi. Bus 238 from Quincy Ctr. T sta. Storm cancels. L Marc Hurwitz.||Sat, Oct 10. Boxford State Forest. Meet at 1:00pm in the parking lot on Middleton Rd. in Boxford, at the steel gate. Take Rte. 95 and use exit 51 on the Topsfield-Boxford line. Go west (left if heading north, right if heading south on 95) and then an immediate right on Middleton Rd. Go about 1 mile to parking area on left. Easy terrain. moderate pace, kids and dogs welcome, time about 2 hours. L Steve Davis.|
|Sun, Oct 11. Emerald Necklace, Boston. Enjoy our historical heritage, appreciate the wonder which is the Back Bay and learn more about Frederick Olmsted. We will walk about 6 miles at a moderate pace with stops to enjoy major sights but we should be done by 12:30pm. We will meet at the Arlington T stop, in front of Hermes at the corner of Boylston and Arlington at 9:30am. From the Commonwealth Mall to Park Drive to the Muddy River to Jamaica Pond and on to the Arboretum. Most of the Necklace will be covered. End at Forest Hills T on the Orange Line. We will cross 2 or 3 roads but otherwise be off the roads. L Eveline Weyl.||Sun, Oct 11. J. Harry Rich State Forest, Groton. Meet at 1:00pm. This is a flat stroll along a scenic former bend of the Nashua River no longer in the main flow and popular with wildlife, parts of the active Nashua River, and through New England forest in fall splendor. Meet at the entrance on Nod Road across from Common St, 42.63009N 71.57936W, about 2 hours. L Olin Lathrop.|
|Mon, Oct 12. Blue Hills, Ponkapoag Pond. 5 mile morning hike around Ponkapoag and side trails, 9:30-noon. Bring snack. From I-93, Exit 2. Go south on Rte. 138 1/4 mile to Ponkapoag parking lot on left. Heavy rain cancels. L Corinne Waite.||Sat, Oct 17. Middlesex Fells, Malden. 6-mile hike, some rocky steep hills to cliff views including waterfall w/lunch at pond. Moderate-rated hike, not for beginners. 10:00am-2:30pm. Bring lunch/water/hiking shoes. Meet on Washington St. side of Oak Grove T sta. From Rte. 93 exit 32 in Medford take Rte. 60 E 1.2 mi., L on Highland Ave. 0.5 mi., R on Glenwood St. 0.6 mi., L on Wash. St. 0.1 mi., R into T sta. lot (fee) or park on street. Email if severe weather. L Mike Tuohey.|
|Sat, Oct 17. Duxbury Beach walk. 10:00am-Noon, moderate pace. Bring water and snacks. No children or dogs. Lunch afterwards at a local restaurant for anyone interested. Heavy rain cancels. Call if uncertain. Directions: From North or South: Take Rte. 3 to Exit 11. Exit roundabout at 2nd turn from either direction which is Congress/West Street for 1.8 miles. (stay right at fork,continuing on West St.). Straight at traffic light onto St. George Street 1.1 miles to Washington Street, Left for 30 yards and then immediate right onto Powder Point Road. 1.0 mile to the Powder Point Bridge Parking lot before bridge. L Lisa Fleischman, CL Mary Wisbach.||Sun, Oct 18. Middlesex Canal, Wilmington. Three-mile leisurely walk along a scenic section of historic canal to Patch's Pond, 1:30pm. See oxbow, grooves in rocks from tow lines, and stone aqueduct. I-95/Route 128 Exit 35 (Woburn), Route 38N for 2.4 miles to the Wilmington Town Park lot on the left. Joint trip with Middlesex Canal Association. For more info, see http://www.middlesexcanal.org, or contact Roger Hagopian. L Robert Winters, CL Roger Hagopian.|
October Programs at Fresh Pond Reservation
These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.
|A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
|Wake Up and Weed!
Dates: Thursdays, 10am to 12
Place: Meets at the volunteer trailer in the front parking lot.
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.
|Friday Morning Kids' Walks!
Dates: Fridays, 10am to 11:30
Place: Meets at the upper parking lot at Kingsley Park
Young kids and their parents caretakers, join CWD staff and volunteers for casual explorations and play in our urban wild! Heavy rain or thunder cancels.
|Honk! Parade with Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project
Date: Sunday, October 11th, 1lam to 1pm
Place: Starts at Davis Square In Somerville (corner of Herbert and Day streets)
March with our Fresh Pond Creatures contingent in the HONK! Parade, a festival of brass bands from all over the United States. Meet at the mustering time of 11:00am and look for "Fresh Pond Creatures". At 12 noon we march from Davis to Harvard Square where we disband into OctoberFest at about 1pm. Families and individuals are welcome to join Fresh Pond Creatures on foot, scooter, bicycle, or stroller to help celebrate the ecosystem at Fresh Pond. We have costumes and masks to lend to you during the parade or you can help hold one of our banners. We'll have Giant Great Blue Herons (birds), a Peregrine Falcon, Sunflowers, Snapping Turtles, Butterflies, Red-winged Blackbirds, and more! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions & visit the Eventbrite page!
|Cycle to the Source
Date: Saturday, October 17th, 8am to 4pm
Place: Meeting details provided upon sign-up
Explore where your drinking water comes from - by bike! Tour Cambridge's watershed in the towns of Weston, Waltham, Lincoln and Lexington where water is collected into the two reservoirs that feed Fresh Pond. This is an athletic tour, entailing 33 miles of riding on a mix of urban and rural routes. The tour is FREE, but please bring your own bicycle, safety equipment and a lunch. REGISTRATION is REQUIRED; please contact Julie Coffey to sign-up, or for more information: email@example.com, 617-349-7712. This tour is for adults only. Rain date is Oct. 24.
|Fascinating Fungi of Fresh Pond
with Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation
Date: Saturday, October 24th, 2 to 4:30pm
Place: Maynard Ecology Center, basement of Neville Place (650 Concord Ave)
Mycologist Lawrence Millman has identified 251 mushroom species at Fresh Pond Reservation. For the past eleven years he has led similar Fresh Pond mushroom forays that give participants the chance to add to this list as well as learn more about the world of fungi. He'll also be selling (and signing!) copies of his beautiful book, Fascinating Fungi of New England, the first guidebook devoted exclusively to New England mushrooms. To register and for important parking information, email Catherine Pedemonti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Do the Duck Walk
with Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation
Date: Sunday, October 25th, 1 to 3pm
Place: Register for parking and meeting information
Fresh Pond Reservation is an attractive resting place for a variety of birds - especially waterfowl - during the fall migration. We will use a telescope to get good looks at birds on the water, and binoculars to look at songbirds. We have binoculars to lend, and will show you how to use them. Beginners are welcome! To register and for important parking information, email Catherine Pedemonti at email@example.com.
|Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility Tour
Date: Monday, November 2, 6 to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at the front door (250 Fresh Pond Parkway)
Come learn how the Cambridge Water Department purifies drinking water for your tap after it flows from nearby Fresh Pond into our facility. You'll have the chance to speak with water treatment staff, see the equipment in action and check out our water quality lab! Please call ahead if coming with a large group. For more information, contact Julie Coffey: firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-349-7712.
Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at www.friendsoffreshpond.org to download a form.
Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at http://friendsoffreshpond.org to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants. Upcoming Programs
• The Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program
• Grow Native Massachusetts is offering a series of free nature-related "Evenings with Experts" lectures at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. Details are at www.grownativemass.org and grownativemass.org/programs/eveningswithexperts in particular. First Wednesdays of the Month, 7:00-8:30pm.
• Sign up for the City of Cambridge's informative "Recycling and Composting Newsletter" by e-mailing email@example.com.
|2015 Receipts with Cambridge totals, overall totals recorded through Sept 12 with the
Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF), and Cambridge percentage of total receipts
|Summaries (2015)||Open||Bank Receipts||Expend||Balance||Cambridge 2015||OCPF Receipts||Cambridge %|
|Mahoney, Paul F.||0.00||100.00||74.00||26.00||0.00||0.00||none|
Thurs, Oct 8
12:00pm The City Council's Health and Environment Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the City's work towards implementing municipal procurement and energy aggregation. (Sullivan Chamber) [Agenda]
5:30pm Commission for Persons with Disabilities meeting (51 Inman St., 2nd Floor Conference Room)
Tues, Oct 13
2:30pm The City Council's Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss issues of bike safety, including traffic enforcement, street maintenance and traffic signal devices including lights and signs. (Sullivan Chamber) [Agenda]
7:00pm Planning Board meeting (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)
1. Update from the Community Development Department
2. Adoption of Meeting Transcript(s)
7:00pm Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Zoning Petition to amend the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan and to amend the existing MXD zoning, Article 14.000. The proposed zoning amendments include, among other changes, increasing the maximum aggregate gross floor area (GFA) from the current 3,333,000 square feet to 4,273,000 square feet, the maximum retail limit of 150,000 square feet would be deleted and small scale retail would be exempt from the GFA cap, a new category called Innovation Space would be created and 5% of new office/R&D GFA would be required to be this Innovation Space. Also to be amended is the existing height limit of 250 feet, a new height of 200 feet would be allowed in the MXD area north of Broadway, and residential buildings that satisfy certain middle-income requirements may be allowed to reach a height of 350 feet.
3. Board of Zoning Appeal Cases
a. BZA case #8287-2015, 269-273 Putnam Avenue, variance to allow ground floor accessory structure approved in BZA case 6937 to be used for limited retail food sales and restaurant.
Wed, Oct 14
8:00-9:30am Recycling Advisory Committee meeting (City Hall, Sullivan Chamber)
5:30-7:30pm Bicycle Committee Meeting (City Hall Annex, 4th Floor Conference Room)
Sat, Oct 17
10:00am-noon Volpe Outreach forum (Kennedy-Longfellow School, 158 Spring St.)
An agenda will be posted on the Volpe webpage before the forum. http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/zoninganddevelopment/Zoning/Amendments/PUDKSVolpeSite
Mon, Oct 19
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
6:00pm Half Crown-Marsh Neighborhood Conservation District Commission meeting (Friends Meeting House, 5 Longfellow Park)
Tues, Oct 20
3:30pm The City Council's Transportation and Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss Sustainable Transportation and the Cambridge Bike Plan. (Sullivan Chamber)
6:00pm The City Council's Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss coordinating local resources to provide housing and services for incoming refugees from the Syrian Civil War. (Sullivan Chamber)
7:00pm Planning Board meeting (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)
Wed, Oct 21
3:00pm The City Council's Human Services and Veterans Committee will conduct a public hearing to update and report back on progress made to the recommendations put forth 2011 Silver Ribbon Commission. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board Meeting (Police Station, 125 Sixth St., First Floor Conference Room)
Thurs, Oct 22
4:00-6:00pm Affordable Housing Trust meeting (Ackermann Room)
5:30-7:30pm Pedestrian Committee Meeting (City Hall Annex, 4th Floor Conference Room)
Mon, Oct 26
5:30pm City Council Roundtable/Working Meeting to discuss City-Wide Planning. No public comment. No votes will be taken. Meeting will not be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Oct 27
3:00pm The City Council's Human Services and Veterans Committee will conduct a public hearing to receive a report from the Department of Human Services regarding the plan to move forward with the recommendations brought forth by the Charrette on Homelessness. (Sullivan Chamber)
7:00pm Planning Board meeting (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)
Candidates for City Council and School Committee in each municipal election since 2003 have been asked to submit statements to be posted on their Cambridge Candidate Pages on a range of topics relevant to the respective offices. Candidates can also submit statements on other topics of importance to them. The request will soon go out again to this year's candidates. Are there any particular topic areas that should be on this year's list? Please let me know what you think so that we can have a good starting point for all candidates. For reference, the topics from the 2013 election are listed below with some modifications based on submitted suggestions. - Robert Winters
City Council candidates were asked in 2013 about:
Other topics that you might wish to address (including some submitted suggestions): Civic Participation; Government and Elections; Plan E Charter; City Manager; University Relations; Youth Programs; Senior Programs; Arts and Public Celebrations; Cambridge Public Schools; Future of the Foundry Building; Municipal Broadband/Cable TV; Planning and budgeting for snow removal; Oversight of City contractors doing road, sewer, and water work.
Priority Question: What is your vision for Central Square over the next decade?
School Committee candidates were asked in 2013 about:
Other topics that you might wish to address: MCAS and Measuring Student Achievement, Teacher Evaluations and Performance Measures, School Safety and Student Behavior, World Languages, Parent Involvement and School Councils, Enrollment in Public vs. Charter vs. Private Schools
Priority Question: What are your recommendations for meeting the needs of high-achieving/advanced learners, especially in the middle-school grades?
The Midsummer Cambridge City Council Meeting is coming up this Monday, August 10. With this being a municipal election year, it's likely there will be a few very politically-oriented Council orders on the agenda (available tonight) illustrating just how much Councillor X cares about the needs of every voting constituency that can be harvested in November. I expect to see scores of Orders and over a hundred Resolutions.
We now have our first candidate slate - basically one incumbent councillor (Mazen) and several feeders (Davidson, Sanzone, Waite) recruited to help ensure the reelection of the incumbent though it's being portrayed as a selfless act in support of civic engagement.
I expect there will be other candidates slates before all is said and done. The Cambridge Residents Alliance (CResA) is guaranteed to assemble its own slate - perhaps under an alias because, after all, they are a non-profit, charitable tax-exempt organization and not a political organization. If you believe that, I have some nice bottomland at Alewife for sale just for you. As for the election, it will be interesting to see if the CResA challengers help to re-elect their favorite incumbent (Carlone) or facilitate his exit by elevating one or more of their challengers past him.
I'm curious to see how Minka vanBeuzekom fares. Two years ago she was ranked very favorably by many voters (4th best out of 25 candidates if you count the number of voters who ranked her #1 through #5 on their ballots), but she lost by a narrow margin because many of her supporters chose to give their #1 vote to a newcomer. Will they come back? We'll have to wait and see. - RW
There are 61,910 registered voters with identified birthdates (as of June 29, 2015). Their median age is 39.3. Here's how their ages as of Election Day (Nov 3, 2015) are distributed:
Registered Voters - 2015
Of these currently registered voters, 31,789 voted in last year's state election. Their median age is 50.7. Here's how their ages are distributed:
Registered Voters Who Voted in the 2014 State Election
Of these currently registered voters, 16,773 voted in the 2013 municipal election. Their median age is 58.7. Here's how their ages are distributed:
Registered Voters Who Voted in the 2013 Municipal Election
City Council Scoreboard: Jan 1, 2014 through June 22, 2015
Here's an update of the scoreboard of activity of the individual city councillors for the current term. Though there are other matters that occupy the time of these elected officials, the records of committee attendance and the number and type of City Council Orders and Resolutions introduced are two objective measures for which data is readily available. Here are the figures through June 22, 2015:
Year-by-year and current totals can be found on the City Council page. More detailed information on each City Council committee can be found on the City Council Committees page (including links to each committee report).
We're taking some time off from Cambridge InsideOut. We will be back on the air starting Tuesday, October 13, 2015.
Recent Broadcasts of Cambridge InsideOut (2014) [complete list of shows]
June 10 - 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.
Watch Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm. The co-hosts are Susana Segat 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
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.
K2C2 Final Reports Released
The 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.
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 Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998
April 2, 2015 - Another fun April Fool's Day
April 2, 2013 - Well, that was fun. Thanks to everyone for being such a sport on April Fool's Day.
Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)
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
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
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 - 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)
2013 - K2C2 Final Reports
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:
Purposes: This association is formed for the following purposes:
- 1. To promote businesslike, honest, and efficient conduct of local government, open to public scrutiny.
- 2. To induce residents to take an active interest in the affairs of the City of Cambridge.
- 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.
- 4. To assure that the best qualified persons are appointed to positions in the City government after consideration of all qualified candidates.
- 5. To promote among the citizens of Cambridge equitable distribution and benefit of public services and equal opportunity for economic security, education, and social advancement.
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:
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
Which People's Republic
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
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:
''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz
Subscribe to the Cambridge Civic Journal.
Specify in your message whether you wish to receive each new e-mail version or if you wish to be notified when the online versions are available at this web site. Under no circumstances will the subscription list be made available to any third party.
“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 (rwinters.com)
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"