Healy Changes Mind - To Remain as City Manager through 2020

Robert HealyRichard RossiRossi cries foul. Will challenge Healy to settle matter via baseball contest.

"Don't get me wrong." said Rossi. "Bob has been a great city manager. I'm sure he has a few good seasons left in him, but I can hit with power and can also run the bases."

Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs Louis Depasquale will serve as umpire. "I don't take sides," said Depasquale, "except when it involves the New York Yankees." It has been reported that both sides are making offers to former Budget Director and long-ball hitter David Kale to return in time for the game.

City Councillor and State Representative Marjorie Decker is still undecided whether she will sign on with the Healy or the Rossi team. Said Decker, "I've been going to bat for both of these guys for years." Meanwhile, Councillor Kelley has announced that he will refuse to attend the contest. "I've been voting No for a decade. Why should I switch now?" said Kelley.

Casinos to Replace Pharma in Kendall

Gambling"We must have been on drugs," said industry representative Viagra Q. Zantax.

DiceMIT/Kendall Petition amended to add gambing as allowed use in PUD-5 district.
House Speaker DeLeo Vows to Fight Plan

"Why anyone would locate a casino outside of Saugus or Winthrop is beyond me," said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. " I could see Revere, maybe, but no way Cambridge." Cambridge's Economic Development Division (CDD) is working with the Tourism Board to develop a slogan for this new addition to Cambridge's diverse economy. "We wanted to use 'whatever happens in Cambridge stays in Cambridge' as our slogan, but Nevada officials have informed us that the phrase is owned by a desert town in Nevada not far from Hoover Dam."

City Faces Lawsuit over Roundtables

RoundtableA Cambridge resident has filed suit in Massachusetts Superior Court seeking an emergency injunction to end meetings that the Cambridge City Council has dubbed "roundtable" meetings. According to the Council, roundtable meetings allow a more relaxed give-and-take. While these meetings are public, neither public comment nor television broadcasts are possible. Tom Stohlman, a previous candidate for the Council who has tangled with them over interpretations of the Open Meeting law, said that he was seeking injunctive relief because the Council had gone too far. "The Council has the right to make its own rules, but it doesn't have the right to make new meanings for old words," Stohlman said. "There's nothing round about these roundtable meetings.

"The tables are set up in almost a square, and the tables themselves are rounded rectangles." Stohlman, an architect by training, said that the misrepresentation of meeting geometry was a betrayal of the public trust and a symptom of a deeper distrust between the Council and Cambridge residents. Mayor Henrietta Davis, who chairs the City Council, declined comment on Stohlman's suit, but noted that, in our litigious society, these sort of suits were, in her words, "the shape of things to come."

Late Changes to MIT/Kendall Zoning Petition

Miniature Golf KendallIn response to overwhelming pressure from the MIT and East Cambridge communities, MIT officials today announced their intention to include miniature golf as an allowed use in the proposed PUD-5 District. "It's an essential part of the innovation ecosystem for this area," said Steve Marsh, Managing Director of Real Estate, MIT Investment Management Corporation - MITIMCo. "We realize this is only a start. We are now working with MIT's Mechanical Engineering faculty to develop what will likely be one of the greatest rollercoasters ever conceived. We had plans to build a Go-Kart track, but City officials informed us that this would violate the City's Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance." When informed that the Go-Kart Rally might require the zoning petition to be again re-filed, MIT Executive Vice President Israel Ruiz said, "No way we want to do that. We feel that miniature golf will fulfill the shared goals of MIT, the Kendall Square Association, and the City's Planning Board. It's entirely consistent with the recommendations of the K2C2 Committee."

Future plans include water skiing on the Charles River. "If this doesn't connect the people of East Cambridge and our Kendall Square entrepreneurs to the river, I don't know what will," said Marsh. Even former MIT Director of Campus Planning Bob Simha agrees with the concept. "It's consistent with the 1965 plans for the eastern end of the MIT campus."

MIT Graduate Student Association President Brian Spatocco also expressed excitement: "Sure, we were looking for more graduate student housing, but this is gonna be AWESOME!" The petition is expected to come to a vote on April 8.

Central Square Urban Renewal District Created

Felafel TowersCambridge Redevelopment Authority to Oversee Clearing of Buildings
and Kickstarting of New Development

Plans include replacing Moody's Falafel Palace with a 300 ft. tall slender residential tower. "With the new microhousing units", said City urban design specialist Roger Boothe, "we should be able to accommodate at least 4-5 units per floor. We estimate about 1200 units with this property alone." When asked about other possible development in the area, recently appointed CRA Executive Director Tom Evans said, "The sky's the limit."

Residential Towers proposed
Two Towers have been proposed for Massachusetts Avenue at both the eastern and western ends of Central Square. The tentative name for the western tower is Minas Tirith which will feature 7 distinct levels consistent with the bulk control plane requirements of the zoning code. The eastern tower will be known as Minas Morgul and will feature 24-hour concierge service. Her name is Shelob and she promises that you'll sleep well for all eternity in these new residences.

Cambridge Historical Commission recommends landmark status for Central Square MacDonalds

Historical Commission Executive Director Charles Sullivan presented the detailed report of the Commission last week. He noted the important cultural asset that this property represents. "The latter half of the 20th Century was, in large part, defined by the explosive growth of the fast food industry. Many of the historical remnants of this storied history are rapidly vanishing as new cafes and fancy-ass restaurants are displacing these community institutions." Sullivan continued, "I shudder at the thought that one day there will be no more golden arches to be found except along highways. It's the cities that always suffer." The report recommends that in the event that the MacDonalds cannot be saved in the face of extraordinary development pressure, the golden arches could still be incorporated into the facade of any new building. "We must respect the past even as we welcome the future."

City Discovers Master Plan - It's the Zoning Ordinance!

Members of the Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods and its alter-ego group, the Cambridge Residents Alliance, issued a statement upon the announcement of the discovery of the document. "Who knew?" said ACN cameraman Charles Teague. "We were looking far and wide, high and low for the City's master plan, and there it was all the time!" Said Assistant City Manager Brian Murphy (CDD), "We thought we had done a pretty good job with the department's website redesign, but I guess a few documents just fell through the cracks. It may be that we filed it under 'zoning' instead of 'master plan' where it should have been. We promise to immediately rectify this unfortunate confusion."

City to Propose Ban on Fossil Fuels

Pursuant to City Council Order #14 of April 1, 2013, Cambridge hopes to pass a local ordinance banning the use of fossil fuels "for all purposes not to include leaf blowers." The proposed ban came as a surprise to no one. "We have long been aware of the threat of climate change," said Councillor Minka vanBeuzekom, chief sponsor of the ban. "If we don't start this process here in Cambridge, the relentless march toward extreme weather and disappearing shorelines will continue unabated." Major oil companies have stated their intention to seek an injunction to the ordinance if it should be ordained, but they're not the only parties lining up to protest the ban. Robert "Red" Fawcett of Fawcett Oil Co. was quoted saying, "What about local businesses like mine? If we can't sell oil, what are we supposed to do? Fill our tanker trucks with Nantucket Nectars? We may have to go back to selling Hay & Grain."

Rat RaceA legitimate question is, of course, how people will heat their homes in the absence of fossil fuels. While some have proposed solar panels heavily subsidized by the City's unlimited wealth, Councillor vanBeuzekom had a more novel plan. "Rat power," she said. We can harness the rodent power of Cambridge by installing batteries of 'hamster wheels' in each home and put these rodents to work!" Speculators have already taken out permits to open new industrial pet food supply outlets to keep up with the expected demand for rodent chow. "Shares in the Ralston-Purina company soared in anticipation of the proposed ban.

"I'm more than happy to volunteer as wrangler for this new four-legged workforce," said vanBeuzekom. "We should start by removing all the rat baits now distributed around the city. We need to maintain a healthy workforce." The alternative is to use people for power generation, but they're far more expensive to keep.

The Consolidation Plan

The City will announce this week plans to consolidate its many boards and commissions. Some expected that the Peace Commission, Human Rights Commission, and a variety of other boards might be joined into a single "mega-board" to deal with complaints from disgruntled citizens. Instead, the Board of Zoning Appeals will merge with the Planning Board. Chair Hugh Russell said, "This will be a great step forward in streamlining government." He added, "We'll be able to incorporate all the exceptions as part of the plan."

recycling symbolFuture plans include folding the Licensing Commission into the Planning/BZA commission as well. The Recycling Advisory Committee will merge with the Police Review Advisory Board (PRAB). While current PRAB Director Brian Corr worried that the additional focus on recycling might delay investigation of police misconduct, Recycling Advisory Committee members expressed excitement at the fact that they will now have subpoena power. "There will no longer be the need to beg citizens to comply with recycling regulations," said long-time member Robert Winters. "We'll now be able to just haul their asses before the Board."

MIT to Refocus its Mission

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an institution in Boston and Cambridge since the days of the Civil War, announced today that it would retool as a training school for the hotel/motel industry. "We have for far too long focused on technological innovation," said MIT President Rafael Reif. "It's time we focused on the people. Like no other institution, we have the capacity to engineer ways to deliver comfortable accommodations to travelers around the globe." In acknowledgement of the many financial contributions toward this exciting new initiative, it was announced that Killian Court will be renamed "Marriott Plaza." Protests are already planned. In addition, the large dome at 77 Massachusetts Avenue will be substantially altered to better reflect the hospitality industry. Several designs now being considered by a faculty advisory committee are shown below.

MIT Hiway House
Sign planned for 77 Massachusetts Avenue
Neon 2 Neon 1
MIT El Rancho Signs
Signage planned for the new Kendall Square Hotel Innovation Cluster

Mathematics Department officials were excited. Said an unnamed department spokesperson, "The Differential Equations course (18.03) was getting kind of tired with its inhomogeneous nth order linear differential equations and Laplace transforms. Now we can do something really transformative. Opportunities like this grow neither on trees nor along rural highways."

Harvard University to Fold

In response to the announcement that MIT had already developed extensive plans to refocus its mission on the hospitality industry, Harvard announced yesterday that it would be closing at the end of the current academic year. "We've had a great 377 year run," said Harvard President Drew Faust. "But discretion truly is the better part of valor. We have no need to spill our crimson blood in a battle with MIT. With the sale of our extensive real estate holdings, we'll make out like bandits." The Harvard Board of Overseers has yet to comment on the proposed closure, but rumors suggest that they may dedicate the remaining endowment funds toward the rapidly expanding gaming industry.

Williamson to Get Job

James Williamson, long-time public commenter, announced yesterday his intention to seek employment. "I've had a long and storied career in the commenting industry, but the lack of a paycheck has limited my ability to do many things." While thanking City, State, and Federal authorities for housing him all these years, Williamson said, "It's time to give back to the community."

City Council Announces Retirement Plans

In a group statement, the nine incumbents announced, "We've had a good run, but there's got to be more to life than just public service."

There is no word yet from incumbent School Committee members.

More News Here

Early look at the April 1 Cambridge City Council agenda

Here's a sneak peek at what's coming up at Monday's City Council meeting:

City Manager's Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-29, regarding a report on the feasibility of not allowing residents of new buildings to obtain on-street resident parking stickers.

The City Solicitor reports that this question was already fully answered 11 years ago when the question arose whether resident parking stickers could be withheld from Harvard students residing in Harvard dormitories. The advice then as now was that a resident of Cambridge whose motor vehicle is registered in Massachusetts and principally garaged in Cambridge is entitled to receive a resident parking sticker. End of story.

Another zoning petition arrives:

Applications & Petitions #2. A zoning petition has been received from Michael Phillips, et al., requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance to the Special District 2 (SD-2) zoning district in North Cambridge.

Heather Hoffman insists that the East Cambridge Planning Team has expressed no opinion on the MIT/Kendall Zoning Petition in:

Communications #2. A communication was received from Heather Hoffman regarding the MIT petition and East Cambridge Planning Team.

Councillor Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee responds with:

Order #7. That Committee Report #6 of Mar 18, 2013 be amended on page two in the second paragraph by striking out the sentence that reads: "The MIT proposal has received support from the East Cambridge Planning Team."   Councillor Maher

So what DOES the East Cambridge Planning Team really have to say about this? Inquiring minds want to know.

Contrary to the fanciful claims of the Wizard of Essex Street that the MIT faculty doesn't like the MIT/Kendall Petition, there are these:

Communications #6. A communication was received from Marc Kastner, Dean, School of Science, Donner Professor of Science, MIT School of Science transmitting strong support for the Institute's proposed rezoning of Kendall Square.

Communications #7. A communication was received from Adele Naude Santos, Dean, Professor of Architecture and Planning, School of Architecture + Planning transmitting enthusiasm and support for the Institute's Kendall Square proposal.

Communications #9. A communication was received from David Schmittlein, John C Head III Dean, MIT Sloan School of Management, Professor of Marketing transmitting support for the Institute's proposed rezoning of Kendall Square.

Could it be that the "MIT Faculty Newsletter" is not actually the newsletter of the MIT faculty? It sure seems like it.

We should all be entertained by Councillors Decker and Cheung when this comes up:

Order #1. That all public meetings and hearings be conducted within the city limits and have a Cambridge address, and in the event that a public meeting or hearing is held outside of the city limits, that a vote be required of the City Council to approve said meeting or hearing being held outside the city limits.   Councillor Decker

Vice Mayor raises a valid question with:

Order #3. That the Government Operation and Rules Committee is requested to provide an update to the City Council on any progress that has been made in drafting a Community Benefits & Mitigation Plan, and that an expected timeframe in which a formal recommendation on policy might be made to the City Council is also provided.   Vice Mayor Simmons

Councillor vanBeuzekom declares war in:

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to urge the Cambridge Retirement Board of Trustees to cease investments in fossil fuel companies, review Cambridge's investment portfolio, contact fund managers for any fossil fuel company investments, prepare a report which explains options for investing in the pension fund in a way that maximizes positive impact of the fund, establish investment policies which support local projects and jobs, create a timeline for implementation of findings and release annual updates.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

Will Cambridge ban gasoline after they ban plastic bags, styrofoam, and soda pop? Will they declare Cambridge a pepperoni-free zone? - Robert Winters


Mar 28 - Cambridge Redevelopment Authority selects new executive director (Erin Baldassari, Cambridge Chronicle)

Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) members voted 4-0 on March 27 to enter into contract negotiations with MassDOT Transportation Planner Tom Evans to be their next executive director.

Upcoming Civic Opportunities

Longfellow Bridge postcard
Windowshopping at Trowbridge & Mass. Ave.
photo by Patrick Barrett, Mar 28

Mon, Apr 1

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Tues, Apr 2

2:00pm   The City Council's Cable TV, Telecommunications and Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public meeting to discuss the ability of the City's existing utility infrastructure to meet long-term increases in demand.  (Sullivan Chamber)

4:00pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public meeting to continue discussion on the petition by MIT to create a new Section 13.80 Planned Unit Development 5 (PUD-5) District. This meeting to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

6:00pm   School Committee Meeting  (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)

7:00pm   Planning Board meeting  (City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, 2nd Floor Meeting Room)

General Business

1. Board of Zoning Appeal Cases

2. Update by Brian Murphy, Assistant City Manager for Community Development.

3. Adoption of the Meeting Transcript(s).

4. K2C2 Planning Board meeting with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority

General Business items may be taken out of the order in which they appear on the agenda above. Times for General Business items are approximate. Public comments are taken only during a Public Hearing. During the discussion and deliberation on General Business items, the Planning Board does not solicit public comment. For further information concerning this agenda, please contact Liza Paden, Planning Board staff (617-349-4647, lpaden@cambridgema.gov). Applications and Petitions are online at www.cambridgema.gov/cdd.

Wed, Apr 3

4:30pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create a new Section 6.100 Bicycle Parking, and create a new definition for Bicycle Parking in Article 2.000, modify the Yard Standards in Article 5.000 as they relate to bicycle parking and modifying various sections of Article 6.000 to remove references to bicycle parking.  (Sullivan Chamber)

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



1. Executive Director's Report

2. Assistant Director's Report

3. Commissioners' Reports



Unfinished Business

1. 2013 Annual City Census

2. 2013 Special Elections

New Business


6:30-8:00pm   INNOVATION DISTRICTS: FAD OR FUTURE? (Harvard Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy St, Piper Auditorium) [Details]

"A Better Future for A Better Cambridge"

How can we plan for urban growth in Cambridge to promote a more diverse, livable, and sustainable city for all residents?

An esteemed panel will address the coming demographic shifts that will put further pressure on the Cambridge's housing market and our transportation systems, and talk about solutions that can make Cambridge a leader in defining a new urban America in the age of climate change.

  • Frederick P. Salvucci, Former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation and current MIT Professor of Civil Engineering
  • Barry Bluestone, Founding director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University
  • Andre Leroux, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance

Moderated by Renee Loth, Editor at ArchitectureBoston and former Editorial Page Editor for the Boston Globe.

Thursday, April 11th
Cambridge College
1000 Massachusetts Ave.

All are welcome! Please register online to let us know you'll be participating in the discussion: http://abettercambridge.org/register-forum

Sponsored by A Better Cambridge | Working to build a more diverse and dynamic Cambridge on the path toward sustainable growth.

Web:http://abettercambridge.com | Facebook:http://facebook.com/ABetterCambridge | Twitter: @ABetterCambMA


Innovation Districts: Fad or Future?

Innovation districts are all the rage, with cities around the world attempting to create them. What makes them work the presence of a world class university, the proximity of research labs to start-ups, or the easy access to venture capital? Along with these questions is a question of self-interest Can they be replicated? A panel of experts wilI discuss the phenomenon of innovation districts and examine whether they are a passing fad, or are here to stay.

Tim Rowe
Founder, Cambridge Innovation Center

Guillaume Pasquier
Deputy Director, Paris Saclay

Gavin Kleespies
Executive Director, Cambridge Historical Society

David Dixon
Principal, Goody Clancy

Marc Draisen
Executive Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Sam Seidel
Moderator, Former Cambridge City Councillor

Wed, April 3, 6:30-8:00pm, 48 Quincy St, Piper Auditorium
Harvard Graduate School of Design
Presented by HUPO Free. open to the public

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! - March/April 2013

Yard Waste Collection Starts 4/1recycling symbol
Clean Out Your Closet and Donate Clothes
Spring Dates for Recycling Tours!
Household Hazardous Waste Collection 4/20
Nominations Sought for Outstanding City Employees

Yard Waste Collection Starts 4/1

Weekly yard waste collection (same pickup day as recycling/trash) begins April 1-5 through December 9-13. Place yard waste in paper refuse bags or loose in barrels, no plastic bags. Request stickers online or call 617-349-4800. From April-October, free compost is available to residents in small quantities at the Recycling Center during open hours: Tues/Thurs 4-7:30pm and Sat 9-4pm. Note that clean plastic plant pots are accepted with curbside recycling. Pemberton Farms sells the SoilSaver backyard compost bin for $60 at 2225 Mass Ave. Make sure your backyard compost bin is at least 50% “browns” (dry leaves, torn up cardboard, crumpled paper) and no more than 50% “greens” (food scraps, grass). Always bury greens or cover up with browns. Keep your backyard compost bin vegetarian (no meat, no dairy, no oils). If you cannot compost at home, find out where you can drop-off food scraps!

Clean Out Your Closet and Donate Clothes

Did you know there are 20+ places in Cambridge to donate clothes to? Did you know that Cambridge residents still trash over 1,000,000 pounds of clothing and textiles each year? Did you know that you can donate clothing and textiles that are torn, stained, broken or missing something, to Goodwill, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Got Books/Clothes, and Planet Aid? These organizations take clothing, shoes, belts, purses, hats, linens, stuffed animals, and fabric scraps. Just no dirty rags, nothing wet, nothing soiled, no carpets, no rugs, and no mildewed items. If its not wearable, damaged clothing is recycled into wiping rags and everything else is processed back into fibers used to make paper, yarn, insulation, carpet padding, and sound proofing. See the attached map which shows clothing drop boxes, thrift stores & consignment shops and second hand stores! [Clothing Donation Map]

Spring Dates for Recycling Tours!

Cambridge residents and City employees are invited to tour the Casella recycling facility in Charlestown on Tuesday, April 16 (morning) or Wednesday, June 19 (afternoon).No children under 16.Tours last about 2 hours and involve walking on narrow catwalks and stairs, close to heavy equipment. Please note that you must be walk at a steady pace with a group.We meet at DPW and carpool.Email recycle@cambridgema.gov to sign up and well send you more info. Let us know if can drive and how many people you can take. *We will also offer a virtual recycling tour on Monday, April 22 (evening) at Public Works, 147 Hampshire St.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection 4/20

2013 dates: 4/20, 7/13, 10/19 from 9am-1pm. Bring accepted items to the Danehy Park Parking Lot on Field St at Fern St. Cambridge residents only. Items accepted include auto fluids, batteries (non alkaline), car tires, glues, medications, mercury items, paint products, solvents, and propane tanks (20 lbs or less). Click here for a full list of items accepted, alternative options and items you can bring to the Recycling Center during open hours. When deciding what items to bring to a hazardous waste collection, look for products labeled with these signal words: POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION.

Nominations Sought for Outstanding City Employees

Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy is seeking nominations for the 2013 Outstanding City Employee Awards program which recognizes employees for exemplary performance and contributions that go above and beyond job requirements. Nominations will be accepted through Wednesday, April 10 either online at www.cambridgema.gov, by e-mail to mcarvello@cambridgema.gov, by fax to the Personnel Department at 617-349-4312, or by mail/in person to the Personnel Dept, 3rd Floor, City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue.

  • Missed recycling or trash? Please use iReport or call DPW at 617-349-4800 no later than 12 noon the day after collection to make a request.
  • Request for toters, brochures, stickers or posters? Use our online form.
  • "Like" the Cambridge DPW on Facebook.
  • Please note that during holidays weeks, trash, recycling and yard waste collection is delayed one day. Check the 2013 collection schedule online for full details.

Take the 50% recycling pledge today at www.cambridgema.gov/recycle and get a free sticker!
Recycle More. Trash Less.

If you support recycling and finding solutions to pollution, you may also find this interesting:
From garbage to fuel: Santa Cruz nonprofit pushes program to turn plastic pollution into power

Letter from Tom Stohlman (Mar 19, 2013)

To the City Council,

The City Charter says:
"Except in the cases of executive sessions authorized by section twenty-three A of chapter thirty-nine, all meetings of the city council shall be open to the press and to the public, and the rules of the city council shall provide that citizens and employees of the city shall have a reasonable opportunity to be heard at any such meeting in regard to any matter considered thereat."

It appears sometime in the past, someone crafted an interpretation of these words which would allow the City Council to meet and not give citizens "a reasonable opportunity to be heard at any such meeting in regard to any matter considered thereat." I'm sure it may have been for some good reason along the lines of, "We, the City Council, need to be able to meet and discuss matters before us without devoting the whole meeting to listening to the public talk about matters before us."

Thus the "roundtable" meeting was born. I think it was illegal then and I think it is illegal now.

The City Council Rules were voted without (much) debate at the beginning of your term, and reflect the wishes of some long-gone previous incarnation of the City Council. The rules are broken, in multiple senses of the phrase. The rules are ignored when they get in the way. The rules are invoked inconsistently to stifle debate. The rules are also broken if they actually keep you from doing your job.

I know you all and I know you are capable of having a discussion among yourselves and giving the public "a reasonable opportunity to be heard at any such meeting in regard to any matter considered thereat." It's your meeting and you control it, not some long-gone previous incarnation of the City Council, not the City Manager, not the City Solicitor, and not the public.

The City Charter gives you that power. All it asks in return is that you do what it says. I recognize that my Charter right must be invoked reasonably and I want you to devote as much time as you can to discussing this among yourselves in whatever way you find most useful. Even if the Charter didn't require it, you should open all your meetings (and sub-committee meetings) to whatever form of public communication (speech, TV, Internet, letters, emails, etc., etc.) is reasonably available and you should give the public a reasonable amount of time to be heard (literally).

I ask that you get a fresh start, and embrace the spirit of the Charter's words this Friday at 9:30am. Find a way to hear the public while having a (real) discussion among yourselves and City staff about this important matter before you, the MIT PUD5 Zoning Amendment.


Tom Stohlman
19 Channing Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


Voter Registration and Absentee Ballots for the Special State Primary, April 30th

The Special State Primary will be held on Tues, Apr 30, 2013 for the office of Senator in Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator John F. Kerry. For Cambridge residents not already registered, the last day to register to vote is Wed, Apr 10, 2013 until 8pm. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7:00am until 8:00pm.

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. The deadline to apply for an Absentee Ballot is Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at Noon. 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, Apr 26th from 8:30am until 5:00pm. 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.

April Programs at Fresh Pond Reservation

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

Date: Saturday, April 6
Time: 9 to 11am
Place: Street end of Neville Place driveway, 650 Concord Ave.
    Spring is the season birders dream of! Songbirds are abundant, active, vocal, and in full breeding plumage. During this walk we may see birds courting, building nests, defending territories, or eating voraciously during rest breaks in their northward migration. Beginners are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them.

Date: Sunday, April 7
Time: 1 to 3pm
Place: Maynard Ecology Center, lower level of Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
    Brooks Mathewson, award-winning nature photographer and ecologist, will give a talk on spring songbird migration. He'll discuss the wintering, migratory, and breeding ecology of the flycatchers, vireos, thrushes, wood warblers, tanagers, and sparrows that either pass through eastern Massachusetts on their way north, or spend the breeding season here and he'll explain the factors conntributing to their decline in recent years. In addition, Matthewson will present his stunning photography of this diverse group of birds. You must register for this program. Limited to 35 people.

Date: Monday, April 15
Time: 6 to 7:30pm
Place: Water Purification Facility front door, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Come learn where your tap water originates, how it is purified to make it safe and tasty for drinking and cooking, and the role Fresh Pond plays in the process. Members of the Cambridge Water Department staff will describe the process, answer your questions, and give a tour of the building.
Date: Sunday, April 21
Time: 7:30 to 9:30am
Place: Street end of Neville Place driveway, 650 Concord Ave.
    Every bird walk is unique and an opportunity for surprises. Because birds are so highly mobile, we only can guess in advance what we might see and hear. At this time of year it might include a variety of migratory songbirds as well as waterfowl. Beginners are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them.
Date: Monday, April 22
Time: 6 to 8pm
Place: Water Purification Facility front door, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Come help Fresh Pond's volunteer stewards keep the Reservation healthy by eradicating this invasive weed! Garlic mustard is fast-growing, it crowds out native plants, and it puts toxins in the soil that inhibit native seeds from sprouting. It is also easy to recognize, easy to pull, and is even edible! We will provide knowledgeable leaders, gloves, tools and bags. Please wear shoes appropriate for walking off-path. (Sandals are not recommended.)
Date: Sunday, April 28
Time: 1 to 3pm
Place: Maynard Ecology Center, lower level of Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
    When you and your dog visit Fresh Pond Reservation, your dog is probably far more aware than you are that the Reservation is the home of coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, and many smaller mammals. Sightings of wild animals, especially coyotes, are increasing and have raised concerns about what we should do when we encounter these critters. John Maguranis is the Belmont Animal Control Officer and the Massachusetts representative for Project Coyote (www.projectcoyote.org). He will share with us his knowledge and experiences, tell us about coyote behavior, and instruct us on pet and human safety. After the formal presentation, we'll walk outside (weather permitting) to look for coyote tracks.

Please register for each event that you plan to attend. You will receive information on parking after you register. E-mail Elizabeth Wylde at friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com or call (617) 349-6489 and leave your name and phone number.

Offered by 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 friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com, 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.

*For more information on the Grow Native Massachusetts winter/spring "Evenings with Experts" lecture series, visit the GNM web site at www.grownativemass.org.

Sign up for the City of Cambridge's informative "Recycling and Composting Newsletter" by e-mailing recycle@cambridgema.gov.

East Cambridge Dollars for Scholars

East Cambridge Dollars for Scholars (formally the East Cambridge Scholarship Fund) is currently accepting applications for the 2013-2014 academic year from East Cambridge residents who are attending, or planning to attend, a college or university, graduate school or vocational/trade schools. Applications may be obtained by writing to:

East Cambridge Dollars for Scholars
P.O. Box 410026
Cambridge, MA 02141

or by emailing eastcambridgedfs@hotmail.com. In addition, applications are available at the East End House, the Frisoli Youth Center, the Kennedy Community School Office, the Sixth Street O'Connell Library and State Representative Tim Toomey's office on Cambridge Street. The deadline for submitting an application is April 8, 2013.

Thank you.
East Cambridge Dollars for Scholars

The Rumors Are Flying - Candidates for 2013 (Jan 19, updated Feb 16, Feb 27, Mar 7, and Mar 12)

Not a day goes by these days without my being asked who the candidates will be this year for Cambridge City Council and Cambridge School Committee. [Why do they ask me?] Anyway, let's just put all this on the table - rumored candidates, confirmed candidates, rumored vacancies, etc. We'll update this as unnamed candidates sheepishly emerge and named candidates angrily deny. This way it will all be on the table.

City Council

Incumbents expected to seek reelection: Leland Cheung, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Kenneth E. Reeves, E. Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Minka vanBeuzekom.
There are rumors that Henrietta Davis might not seek reelection, but neither she nor anyone else has made any statement indicating this.

Verified challengers: Dennis Benzan, Mike "No Money" Connolly, Logan E. Leslie, Marc McGovern, Tom Stohlman, Luis Vasquez, Kristen von Hoffman

Possible challengers: Julian Cassa, Janneke House, Gregg Moree (perennial), Matt Nelson, Lesley Phillips, Sam Seidel, Jefferson Smith, Larry Ward, James Williamson (perennial)

Not running: Marjorie Decker (incumbent), Joseph "Slugs" Aiello

School Committee

Incumbents expected to seek reelection: Alfred E. Fantini, Richard Harding, Patricia Nolan, Mervan Osborne, Alice Turkel

Incumbent who will attempt to jump to City Council: Marc McGovern

Possible challengers: Joseph "Slugs" Aiello, Fran Cronin, Emily Dexter, Joyce Gerber, Kathleen Kelly

Not running:

Feel free to submit the names of any other rumored or actual candidates. [If there's someone you would like to see as a candidate. we can create a category for that too. Maybe we can recruit some good candidates that way!] If you are a rumored or actual candidate, feel free to confirm or deny your candidacy. If you would like to be added as a rumored or actual candidate, just click on my initials and let me know. - RW

Cambridge Candidate Pages - 2013

Comments? (and updates)

City Council Scoreboard: Jan 1, 2012 through Feb 11, 2013

It seems like a good time to highlight 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 Feb 11, 2013:

City Council Committee meetings
chaired and attended (2012-2013)

through reports of Feb 11, 2013
Councillor Chaired Attended
vanBeuzekom 5 45
Cheung 6 35
Kelley 6 31
Maher 20 26
Simmons 2 26
Davis (Mayor chairs all City Council and School Committee meetings) 21
Decker 8 18
Toomey 3 18
Reeves 0 15
Council Orders and Resolutions: Combined 2012-2013
through Feb 11, 2013
  P I R M D C A F
Cheung 57 31 2 17 5 110 3 5
Davis 31 11 9 4 34 199 10 2
Decker 15 5 2 1 13 99 1 1
Kelley 4 19 6 7 3 12 1 0
Maher 5 1 9 1 155 60 0 0
Reeves 12 4 2 4 33 141 3 2
Simmons 16 8 3 10 25 148 3 2
Toomey 18 18 3 15 171 78 2 0
vanBeuzekom 40 28 6 12 3 23 2 2
Total 160 107 40 63 355 718 25 11
Total Orders and Resolutions: 1479

The distribution of Orders and Resolutions by city councillors can provide insight into how they approach their job and how they spend their time and staff resources.

P - Policy orders

I - Requests for information from the City Manager and City departments

R - Rules and procedural items, such as the scheduling of hearings

M - Maintenance orders: fixing things, putting in stop signs, potholes, traffic, etc.

D - Death resolutions

C - Congratulations, get-well wishes, birthdays, naming of street corners, etc.

A - Announcements of upcoming events, holidays, proclamations, etc.

F - Foreign and national policy matters

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 committe report).

Housing and the Kendall Square/MIT Petition

There was a forum at MIT on Wed, Feb 6 hosted by the MIT Graduate Student Council that addressed some of the issues associated with the current MIT/Kendall Sq. zoning petition now before the Cambridge Planning Board and the Cambridge City Council. This forum was intended for an MIT audience, and only MIT affiliates were invited. It was an honor to have been asked to be a panelist at this forum. The forum was very well attended and required an overflow room to accommodate all the graduate students, undergraduates, post-docs, faculty, staff and administration who came to hear the plans and ask questions.

The good folks of the MIT GSC know how to run a very good meeting that showcases multiple viewpoints while refraining from advocacy. Special acknowledgement goes to GSC President Brian Spatocco who deserves to one day be the mayor or governor of somewhere, somehow, based on his ability to be so informative, fair, and objective.

After the introductions, the forum opened with Israel Ruiz (MIT Executive Vice-President & Treasurer) and Steve Marsh (Managing Director of Real Estate, MIT Investment Management Corporation - MITIMCo) explaining the elements of the zoning petition and its purpose. The panelists were Martin Schmidt (Associate Provost & Prof. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), Linda Patton (Asst. Director of Off-Campus Housing), Bob Simha (Director of Campus Planning, 1960-2001 and DUSP Lecturer), Jonathan King (Prof. of Biology), Robert Winters (mathematics lecturer, editor of Cambridge Civic Journal), Ruth Perry (Prof. of Literature), and Thomas Kochan (2030 Faculty Task Force & Professor of Management).

Though the organizers were aware of which panelists might speak favorably or unfavorably about the zoing petition (so that they could provide balance), there were no conditions on what specific topics each panelist could address. I chose to focus on the context of housing for graduate students and on the affordability of housing in general. I tried to look at things from my point of view as someone who was an MIT graduate student starting in 1978 and who bought a three-family house in 1985 where I continue to live today. Though I may have skipped a point or two, here are the points I tried to make during my presentation:

The situation as it used to be (circa 1978):

1) There was a significant supply of multi-family housing stock in Cambridge.

2) Rent control was the law for much of the housing stock.

3) The great majority of graduate students preferred to live off-campus rather than in MIT dormitories.

4) Most graduate students were content to live in housemate situations, often with 3 or 4 or more to an apartment. Luxury accommodations were not in demand.

5) There were relatively few post-docs.

6) Kendall Square as a job generator did not really exist.

What happened? (the perfect storm)

1) Rent control ended as a result of a 1994 statewide initiative petition.

2) Much of the multi-family housing stock was converted to (high-end) condominiums.

3) Kendall Square and elsewhere was developed without concurrent housing greatly increasing the pressure on existing local housing stock for both rental and ownership opportunities.

4) There was a significant increase in post-doc opportunities (in lieu of tenure-track faculty opportunities) significantly increasing the grad/post-doc pool of people competing for housing.

5) Changing expectations grad students/post-docs are demanding much higher quality housing, often shunning housemate situations.

6) Among some grads/post-docs, there is a greater need to be close to their labs.

7) There has been a national shift toward people preferring to live in urban environments, reversing the earlier pro-suburban movement among faculty, professional people, and seniors.

8) Any new housing built in and around Kendall Square will also be occupied by people who work in Boston and elsewhere.

The Net Effect:

All of these factors (and more) affect the availability and affordability of housing in and around Cambridge - not just for graduate students but for everyone. The problem is pervasive and is compounded by the resistance by many existing residents toward the construction of new housing in Cambridge and elsewhere. The isolated construction of a limited amount of housing anywhere in Cambridge will have a negligible effect on the overall housing problem. Indeed, it can even paradoxically have the opposite effect by attracting people toward this limited supply of new units who will then bid up the price to create a local "bubble" in the price of housing.

Indeed, the only way to reverse this "perfect storm" is to advocate for significant amounts of new housing in Cambridge, in Somerville, in Allston, in Charlestown, and elsewhere in the greater Boston area. Only when there is a range of housing choices at various rents and locations will any kind of rental housing market be restored in which people can make rational economic choices such as living a little further away or in less luxury in exchange for paying less rent. Trying to create a smattering of "affordable housing" units via inclusionary zoning or government subsidy will never have more than a limited effect on the essential problem. There are just too many factors conspiring to make housing unaffordable. If graduate students really want affordable housing, they should be clamoring for many thousands of housing units to be built everywhere in the area - and not just in Kendall Square and Cambridge.

Locally, it may well be that condominium conversion has had the greatest impact on this loss of affordability. Where once there were streets lined with two-family houses and triple-deckers that provided affordable housing for a resident owner AND for the other tenants in a building (including many graduate students), there are now luxury condominiums where the prices have been bid up to the point of unaffordability except for those in the upper income echelons. The only "working class" residents remaining are those who bought their housing long ago, inherited it, married well, or those with some expertise in benefiting from government-subsidized housing and related programs.

There are also people like me who bought their homes and continued to rent apartments to graduate students, post-docs, and others and who managed to pay off their mortgages without ever excessively raising rents. My affordable housing continues to provide the affordable housing for two other families who were graduate students when they first arrived. Cambridge would be a better place today if more of its two- and three-family homes had never been turned into luxury condominiums. Failure to put some limits on that condominium conversion may be the single greatest reason why MIT graduate students can no longer find affordable housing opportunities in Cambridge. This is also one of the greatest public policy failures by Cambridge elected officials who put all their faith in rent control. Building "affordable housing" today really is like closing the stable doors long after the horses have run away.

The MIT/Kendall Petition

This petition basically redefines the upper limits (heights, density) of what might be constructed in the area east of Ames Street, south of Main Street (plus the area around One Broadway to Broad Canal), and down to Memorial Drive. This petition is both timely and appropriate. This area has always had a mix of uses, including industrial uses. It's also located at a major Red Line T station, and virtually all planning professionals agree that it's best to concentrate density close to public transportation. The petition would only define the envelope of what could be built and not precisely what will be built.

Any debate regarding the appropriateness of commercial buildings vs. academic buildings vs. residential buildings in the petition area should really not be taking place before the Cambridge Planning Board or the Cambridge City Council (though this may affect how the petition is received by these respective bodies). This debate is properly one that must occur within the MIT community administration, real estate investment people, faculty, staff, and students and preferably also among those who live and work in the surrounding area.

MIT/Kendall plan - courtesy of Israel Ruiz
photo from MIT's The Tech

Text of MIT/Kendall Petition

Jan 11, 2013 Memo from Community Development Dept. (CDD)

Regarding the graduate student housing issue

MIT can provide a good "Plan B" option for graduate students and post-docs by having ample on-campus and near-campus MIT-owned residential properties (especially for those who need to be close to labs, etc.), but this will barely make a dent in the larger problem. Many, perhaps most, graduate students and post-docs will continue to seek housing options off-campus - preferably within walking or bicycling distance. The focus has to be on increasing housing options within a reasonable distance of the MIT campus and not just on building housing within the MIT campus. Unfortunately, this is not something that MIT can unilaterally accomplish. It also requires action by local and state government AND by the developers who will ultimately build sufficient housing to restore some kind of viable housing market. Building "affordable housing" is fundamentally just politically expedient window-dressing.

A note on transportation

People really are choosing to be less reliant on automobiles, so public transportation infrastructure has to grow and to provide more frequent service and more reliable connections, and the entire system has to evolve from a hub-and-spokes model to more of a regional network. Otherwise we will be forever limited by the capacity of the hub in Boston. In the coming decades it will be very advantageous if a variety of new transit lines can be developed that do not require passing through the hub of Boston.


Whatever comes of the MIT/Kendall petition and of future plans for the petition area, it is essential that the results should not be boring. There really is a place for food trucks, diners, bumper cars, miniature golf, and other things that will have great appeal to many people - especially to MIT affiliates who have always had a love for things eclectic, entertaining, and affordable. There's a reason why those food trucks are so popular. Those whose memories go back several decades understand that those food trucks are modern versions of the old F&T Diner. There has to be a place in the future East Campus where modern-day memories will be created - the 21st Century incarnations of the F&T, Pritchett Lounge, and the Muddy Charles Pub. People can reasonably debate the relative merits of housing vs. academic buildings vs. commercial buildings that will help finance long-overdue renovations of existing MIT buildings. However, if the future is boring and pathetically predictable, that will be unforgivable. - Robert Winters


F&T 1

F&T 2

F&T 3

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

At the West End Museum: Connections North: Bridges of the West End

Longfellow Bridge postcard
Aesthetics meet functionality in the Longfellow Bridge

Jan 15 - Apr 20, 2013

at The West End Museum (map)
Tuesday - Friday 12-5pm
Saturday 11am-4pm
Cost: FREE

Did you know...
...that for 150 years Harvard college depended on an unusual source of income: its ferry. Harvard opposed attempts to build bridges, claiming that more visitors would put "scholars in danger of being too much interrupted in their studies & hurt in their morals."

It's easy to forget that Boston is a peninsula surrounded by water, but until the Charles River Bridge was built in 1786 there there were only two ways to get to Cambridge: take the Charlestown ferry, owned by the Harvard Corporation, or make an 8 mile journey overland via Boston Neck (Washington Street) through Roxbury and Brookline.

Connections North tells a story spanning 300 years about the bridges that changed not only the area immediately around the Charles, but the entire face of Boston, which benefited from new resources brought in from the north. We'll be covering the Charles River Bridge, West Boston Bridge, Canal Bridge and Warren Bridge, along with their design, construction and the political intrigues they stirred up! [Find out more on our website]

Events happening around the exhibition

Talk: "The Future of Boston Bridges"
Thursday, April 4th at 6:30pm-7:30pm

at The West End Museum [Register]
Cost: FREE
Presentation of designs for new pedestrian bridges along the Charles River Basin that will increase connectivity between the historic neighborhoods of Beacon Hill and the West End with the Esplanade. Miguel Rosales | lead Architect and Urban Designer for the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill bridge

John Leverett, English governor of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony. Leverett
Street, lost in Urban Renewal, was
named after him.

Panel Discussion: "The Long Span"
Saturday, April 6th 2pm-4pm

at The West End Museum [Register]
Cost: FREE
A group of Engineers, architects and city planners discuss construction techniques of historic bridges. Panelists to be announced.

Members' gallery exhibition: "Street Names: Lost and Found"
Friday, March 1 - Saturday April 27, 2013

at The West End Museum
Cost: FREE
During Urban Renewal, the streets of the West End were reconfigured. If you compare a 1938 map with a current one, you'll see the street names have changed: Chambers Street was reconfigured and changed to Cardinal O'Connell Way, Lynde Street was made a dead end street and new streets with new names sprang up, such as Lomasney Way, formerly Lowell Street, which is named after ward boss Martin Lomasney. Street Names: Lost and Found delves into the history of the streets of the West End, exploring these old and new pathways and the characters after whom they are named.

Walking tours

Original Boston shorelineWalking Tour: "Tracing Boston's Original Shoreline"
Sat, April 20, 2013
11am - 1pm

(RAIN DATE: Saturday April 27, 2013, 11am-1pm)
West End Museum
Cost: $15 ($7 members) [Register on our website]

Boston used to be an isolated peninsula attached to the mainland by a narrow isthmus - it was only in the 19th century that Boston as we know it started to emerge from the water through a scheme of aggressive land reclamation. For instance did you know that Haymarket square used to be a mill pond? Or that Back Bay has its name because it really was a bay at one point? Join exhibition curator Duane Lucia on a truly revealing tour of the original Boston shoreline! [Read More] [Register on our website]

Family events

Zakim BridgeFamily Walking Tour: Boston Bridges Walking Tour
Saturday April 6, 2013

Meet at the West End Museum

Boston is full of amazing bridges: some are huge, some that move, some are old, some are new. Every one of them has a story to tell. Come with us on a tour of some of these great structures. Starting at South Station, we'll explore the bridges along Boston's beautiful Harborwalk along the Fort Point Channel, watch one of the bridges move, see some of the Central Artery and the Rose Kennedy Greenway above, and end off by the Zakim Bridge and the new double helix North Bank Bridge. [Read more]

The West End Museum
150 Staniford Street, Suite 7, Boston, MA 02114, (617)-416-0718

Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

Letter from Tom Stohlman (Mar 19, 2013)

Evacuation Day at City Hall March 18 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights (Mar 18, 2013)

"A Better Future for A Better Cambridge" (Mar 13, 2013)

The Rumors Are Flying Candidates for 2013 (Jan 19, 2013, updated Feb 16, Feb 27, Mar 7, and Mar 12)

East Cambridge Dollars for Scholars (Mar 12, 2013)

In Like A Lamb March 4 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights (Mar 4, 2013)

And the Oscar goes to. Feb 25, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights (Feb 24, 2013)

Kristen von Hoffmann announces candidacy for Cambridge City Council (Feb 24, 2013)

Proposed City Manager Contract between City of Cambridge and Richard C. Rossi (Feb 22, 2013)

Marijuana and More Feb 11, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda highlights (Feb 11, 2013)

Housing and the Kendall Square/MIT Petition (Feb 10, 2013)

Everything from Zoning to Soda Pop Jan 28, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights (Jan 27, 2013)

On the Jan 14, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda (Jan 13, 2013)

A Sampler from the Jan 7, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda (Jan 7, 2013)

On becoming a True Cantabrigian (Dec 29, 2012)

Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Dec 24, 2012)

Prospect Pubs, Planning, and Pilot Programs Dec 10, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights (Dec 10, 2012)

Enjoying? the Concord Avenue "raised bike lanes" (Dec 3, 2012 by John Allen)

The Apprentice, starring Richard Rossi Dec 3, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights (Dec 2, 2012)

Cambridge City Council to Propose 3-Year Appointment of Richard Rossi as City Manager (Nov 30, 2012)

Nov 19, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda highlights (Nov 19, 2012)

Cycle track disease is contagious! (Nov 14, 2012 by John Allen)

2011 City Council and School Committee Candidates Campaign Finance Reports (updated periodically)

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

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

How would you elect a mayor? (posted Dec 25, 2011)

Specific issues with Western Avenue project (posted Nov 3, 2010 by John Allen)

Western Avenue proposal: ill-considered (posted Oct 27, 2010 by John Allen)

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

Comments on Cambridges Western Avenue project (posted June 22, 2010 by John Allen)

Open Forum - Proportional Representation (posted Aug 21, 2009)

Open Forum - The Plan E Charter (posted Aug 10, 2009)

Nov 18, 2012 - A question raised as a result of Saturday's NIMBY forum at the Senior Center (which I missed because hiking is far more satisfying than listening to propaganda) is about the number of motor vehicles owned by Cambridge residents. The FY2013 Budget Book reports that 26,985 resident permits were issued during the period from Nov 2011 through Jan 2012. There were undoubtedly a few more issued after that to new residents and chronic procrastinators. The City's 2011 Statistical Profile reports the number of vehicles per household as follows (based on census data):

Year w/None w/One w/Two w/Three or More Total Vehicles Recorded Total Residents
1960 Households 13,516 17,791 2,295 651 24,334 107,716
1970 Households 13,642 18,411 3,673 690 27,827 100,316
1980 Households 13,844 19,542 4,706 744 31,186 95,322
1990 Households 11,137 20,339 6,676 1,283 37,906 95,802
2000 Households 11,812 21,943 7,466 1,394 41,764 101,355
2007-9 Households 15,321 22,714 8,342 1,248 43,724 105,162 (2010)

Notes: The number of vehicles reported here differs from that reported by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The figures are collected using different methodologies and are not directly comparable. In addition, the decennial census does not report commercial vehicles owned. For 1960, 1970 and 1980 estimated total assumes three cars for all households reporting three or more vehicles. For 1990, 2000, and 2007-9 total figures based upon total cars reported by census.

Nov 9, 2012 - I'll have some statistics very soon on the recent election, but here are a few preliminary facts:

69,367 = Total number of registered Cambridge voters as of Nov 2, 2012
53,058 = Number of Cambridge voters listed as "Active" (though some Inactive voters will vote)
48,787 = Number of Cambridge ballots cast for President (not including write-ins, auxiliary, overseas absentee, provisional ballots)
70.33% = Percentage of all registered Cambridge voters who cast a Presidential ballot.

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

The Neverending Study of Central Square

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

"Planning is a form of embroidery laid over a predetermined outcome." - Fred Salvucci at the Cambridge Historical Society Symposium on the Inner Belt, Apr 4, 2012.

THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik (33 minutes)

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

City Council Rules 2010-2011(adopted January 4, 2010 and amended April 5, 2010)

City Council Goals - FY2010-2011 (approved February 2, 2009)

City Council Committees (for the 2010-2010 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 csv@cpsd.us 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.]
Thought for these times:
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

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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 (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"

the known universe

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