James Williamson, photo by Marcus Halevi

James Williamson
2011 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
1000 Jackson Place
Cambridge, MA 02140

Contact information:
e-mail: tompaine@hotmail.com

The Tech (MIT) Candidate Grid





Elected Member, Democratic City Committee (Ward 11) -- But I hasten to add that I consider myself a disgruntled Democrat:

"We needed an FDR, but we got Obama."

Elected Board Member, Alliance of Cambridge Tenants (ACT)

Co-President, Jefferson Park Tenant Council

The 2013 Cambridge Candidate Pages are now at http://vote.cambridgecivic.com

Dear Cambridge Voter, Neighbor and Resident-Citizen:
Welcome to my world! Thanks for joining me for this "work in progress."

There is plenty of good information available out there for voters like you who are willing to make the effort. Unfortunately not enough do.

Robert Winters' website has been first among several that are emerging which provide useful repoprting and coverage of especially this Cambridge election, the various candidates and the issues we all confront as Cantabrigians. I commend Robert for the civic service he has provided and continues to provide. It is especially invaluable to a candidate like myself who has declined to accept or expend any campaign contributions in this current election -- and I have signed a pledge to that effect, which you can find on file with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF).

But before you do anything else -- and before you vote for ANYONE on this coming election day -- I urge you to examine the information available at the OCPF website that will tell you, quite clearly, from whom the various candidates who are taking money are receiving major contributions -- and you should be able to infer, quite easily, for what purposes.
That website can be accessed here: http://www.mass.gov/ocpf/viewreports.htm
And: http://www.efs.cpf.state.ma.us/default.aspx

Just enter either a "candidate" name or a "contributor" name, and then examine the "receipts" category at the window that appears for as many of the recent reporting periods as you care to investigate.
For example: http://www.efs.cpf.state.ma.us/DisplayReport.aspx?reportId=142250&schedule=DisplayScheduleA

You might choose a contributor name like "Ratner." The Ratners, of Shaker Heights, a wealthy suburb of Cleveland, own and operate the giant real estate corporation "Forest City" (an interesting name in and of itself, no??) which is MIT's "partner" for their massive development along and behind Mass. Ave. near Central Square. There are as many as five different Ratners who "give" the maximum allowable to the same candidate. The maximum allowed is $500.00.

So you might find it instructive to look here (searching for "Ratner"): http://www.efs.cpf.state.ma.us/SearchItemResults.aspx

Cambridge has become a giant corporate office park. Parts of it might as well be "Rt. 128 on the Charles." Quite literally. (City bosses recently boasted the "return" of Biogen to Kendall Square from Rt. 128.)

There's a tsunami coming. (Another one...) This time it's gathering around Kendall Square, and along Mass. Ave., east of Central Square. MIT's MITIMCo plans for Kendall; Novartis along both sides of Mass. Ave., and Forest City Real Estate Investment Co. to the south. Even MIT's former director of planning for 40 years, Bob Simha, is distressed and exasperated with MITIMCo's overly commercialized "vision" for increasing profits and enhancing bonuses from their Kendall Square plans.

Where are the residents of Central Square in all of this? Area IV? Cambridgeport? East Cambridge? 100 Memorial Drive, right in the middle of it all?? And what about even the faculty and, especially, the students of MIT, who Mr. Simha has argued are being short changed in these emerging plans for giant 300 ft. edifices doting the landscape around Kendall?

The residents and citizens of Cambridge need more power to shape these massive projects which are coming at us, for the better. To better serve and reflect our needs as a community and to work to preserve what's left of an increasingly disappearing "livability" to our city. I will definitely work hard to help do this should you help elect me to the City Council. (Oh, and by the way, do you trust the incumbents to do a good job of this? Have they done a good job of this these last several years, or even decades??)

The current council get $70,000 a year each and often have other paid activities, too. In addition, each are allowed paid "research assistants." Yet they often still don't seem to have a clue about obvious things that are going on in our community, nor do they embrace some of the obvious and simple solutions available for our more urgent problems.

They're way better at getting themselves re-elected with contributions from big corporate real estate interests (the consequences of whose major construction projects they purport to decry), than they are at actually effectively and energetically representing the interests of the citizens and residents of Cambridge once they've managed to get back "in..." (Or is it "on?" No, that's the bloated Cambridge payroll, I guess.)

Bicycles on sidewalks and crosswalks? Pedestrain safety?? Mitigating the five-month shutdown of weekend "service" on the Red Line between Alewife and Harvard? (This mess started today! Lord help us... [I'll get to this in a minute.]) And a City Manager who's paid $336,000 a year and a Deputy Manager who gets paid $270,000?? (Tim Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury,gets $191,000.) Is this reasonable?

Healy and his deputy have been in charge of all too much in Cambridge for far too long. Thirty-five years, to be exact. (That's actually longer than Mubarak!) Their extremely top-down and tight control of too much in Cambridge crowds out the imagination and creativity of citizens like you. Want a better City? How can we accomplish this when we are blocked by an unelected and unaccountable management, while supposedly hired by us, seem to be the ones doing the hiring? (Do the Council hire the manager, or does the manager choose the Council??)

The best way to mitigate the weekend disruption of the Red Line would be to increase weekend service on the #83 Bus along Rindge Ave. See: http://www.mbta.com/uploadedFiles/Documents/Schedules_and_Maps/Bus/route083.pdf [Currently only every 50 minutes on Sunday!]

The CPD can and should enforce the Cambridge Bicycle Ordinance and the Mass. General Laws regarding riding bicycles in Cambridge. What's so hard about that?? Half the CPD are paid over $100,000 a year, yet they can't seem to be bothered, or can't be managed effectively, to stop people running you over in a crosswalk or on the sidewalk! JUST STAND OUT IN FRONT OF CITY HALL -- AT THE CORNER OF INMAN AND MASS. AVE., -- AND OBSERVE THE STEADY STREAM OF PEOPLE RIDING THEIR BIKES: THROUGH THE RED LIGHT, THROUGH THE CROSSWALK, AND THEN THROUGH THE END OF INMAN. Difficult for Councillors and City Staff and Managers to notice this??? (Or to then actually DO anything about it, evidently.)

Dear Reader (if you've gotten this far...!): A certain Cambridge publication asked each candidate two questions. I timely sent a photo which they did not use. (They used a dated file photo instead.) I timely sent a revised version of my answers which, was within their "140 word" limit for each answer, but they didn't print that version either. (I'll leave you to guess the publication... Here's a clue: "Where's the beef?") In any case, the version of my answers they chose to run was not too terribly bad, so here they are, for your individual, and collective, edumication...

Thanks for your #1 Vote on Tuesday!

The questions:
• What do you hope to bring to the position of City Council or School Committee?
• Do you think it's time for a new City Manager?

City Council
Name: James Williamson
Age: Forever Young
Address: 1000 Jackson Place [Jefferson Park] Cambridge, MA 02140
Party: elected member of the Democratic City Committee, Ward 11 (disgruntled/FDR Democrat...)
Occupation: Roads Scholar & Concrete Cowboy

Intelligence. Humor. Good looks. Sartorial Splendor?

I will definitely bring it. (And I can add!)

I will be the only tenant on the Council in a city where 64% of residents are tenants. I know what it's like to pay rent and I won't take a dime from real estate interests.

I have 40 years of experience living in Cambridge.

I have a deep appreciation for what's been lost: Remember The Tasty? Emily Rose? Cronin's? The Harvard Donut Shop? The F&T?? I have a keen eye for what matters and I will fight to preserve and protect the character, human scale and diversity of our city. I walk everywhere. I depend on public transportation. I see the city from the ground up. Our sidewalks and crosswalks must be safe for pedestrians, especially our senior citizens!

No excuses!

There's more...

Yes. Of course. But it's time for a new City Council, as well. (Aren't they responsible for the City Manager??) Robert Healy gets paid -- pays himself? -- $336,000 a year. His 'depadee', Richard Rossi, gets $270,000. Tim Geithner, the Secretary of the US Treasury, gets $172,000 a year. Anything wrong with this picture? Healy squandered $10 million fighting a "retaliation" verdict by two juries. Money well spent?? "Bob" Healy has been in power for 35 years, longer than Mubarak! It would be prudent for the Council to begin a search for a suitable replacement NOW.

But we can't wait and blame everything on the manager. Where are the City Council??

Why aren't our sidewalks and crosswalks safe for pedestrians?

Why isn't the brand new, $91 million library open on Sundays?

Free Municipal Wi-Fi??

So much to do; where's the [over the 140 word limit] [MISSING TEXT? "Where's the City Council...??"]

2009 Responses

CCTV Candidate Video (2011)

Page last updated Wednesday, September 4, 2013 10:05 AM Cambridge Candidates