Check out the latest episodes of Cambridge InsideOut: Tuesdays, 5:30pm and 6:00pm on CCTV
If you would like to be a guest (or co-host) one of these Tuesdays, let me know. - RW
|Episode 353 (Nov 13, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Central Square murals, Taste of the BID; Elections - local, state, federal - recounts & runoffs; Ranked Choice Voting in Maine
|Episode 354 (Nov 13, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Field trip following Cambridge organics recycling; Ranked Choice Voting; some PR history, and a comparison of the Cambridge PR election system and a proposed alternative
|Episode 351 (Nov 6, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio] - w/guest co-host Patrick Barrett
Topics: Central Square, Business Improvement District (BID), Formula Business Ordinance and the Central Square Restoration Petition, Envision Cambridge
|Episode 352 (Nov 6, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio] - w/guest co-host Patrick Barrett
Topics: Nov 5 City Council meeting highlights, Envision Cambridge, First Street Garage & Sullivan Courthouse redevelopment
|Episode 349 (Oct 30, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: World Champion Red Sox, Oct 29 City Council highlights, trees!, proposal for early voting for municipal elections
|Episode 350 (Oct 30, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Growth Policy Document, Envision Cambridge Housing Working Group, middle-income housing, property assessments and FY19 tax bills, parking $ in Cambridge property, vacancy rates
|Episode 347 (Oct 23, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Baseball, Envision Cambridge, some history (Cambridge ECO, CCLN, Parking Freeze, Growth Policy Document, Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance, housing policy changes, Concord-Alewife Plan, Master Plan), Chapter 40B, Subsidized Housing Overlay proposal
|Episode 348 (Oct 23, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Envision Cambridge, middle-income housing, Central Square murals, formula business regulation
|Episode 345 (Oct 16, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Baseball, Oct 15 Council meeting, Inman Square, Subsidized Housing Overlay controversy, Envision Cambridge
|Episode 346 (Oct 16, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Zero Waste Report, urban design & retail (creating actve storefronts), Central Square, upcoming events
|Episode 343 (Oct 2, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Baseball, zoning & housing affordability, property taxes, tax rates, tax classification, tax levy
|Episode 344 (Oct 2, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: affordable housing, Envision Cambridge end game, the changing face of Central Square
|Episode 341 (Sept 25, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Charter Rights and Wrongs, opioid lawsuit, Sancta Maria salvation, zoning & housing affordability, property taxes, tax rates, tax classification, tax levy, assessments
|Episode 342 (Sept 25, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: time travel, Middlesex Canal, Constellation Center and future possibilities, resident permit parking fees, street cleaning/towing, current zoning petitions
|Episode 339 (Sept 18, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: 3rd CD recount result, the case for Ranked Choice Voting, recycling updates, electric scooters, retail and vacant storefronts
|Episode 340 (Sept 18, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Sept 17 City Council meeting, Inman Sq. configuration to move ahead, rainwater and flat roof zoning petition, Envision Cambridge updates (Affordable Housing Overlay, Super-Inclusionary Zoning, Environment Performance Incentive proposals), and more
|Episode 337 (Sept 11, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Sept 11 comments, modern campaign realities, Primary Election results, 3rd Congressional District recount, Ranked Choice Voting, and Bill Galvin. [Note: The crackling sound at the start and at various points is the sound of one of the CCTV studio microphones failing.]
|Episode 338 (Sept 11, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: 3rd CD recount, the case for Ranked Choice Voting, shortcomings of top-two runoffs, Capuano-Pressley election outcome and dynamics, voter turnout, November election outlook, some history of Question 9 (rent control), return of the City Council, Inman Sq. redesign questions, Envision Cambridge updates - development scenarios and likely pushback, quadrupling density and the proposed Affordable Housing Overlay, and ignoring traffic issues.
|Episode 335 (Aug 28, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Sept 4 Primary preview, Emerald Ash Borer
|Episode 336 (Aug 28, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: new voting machines, MIT graduate student housing, new developments in Kendall Square, Alewife, Harvard Square
|Episode 333 (Aug 21, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Envision Cambridge, Affordable Housing Overlay proposal
|Episode 334 (Aug 21, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Central Square Mural Project, Neon lights!, OldTime Baseball
On Deck for the Nov 5, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting
Here's my first pass at the interesting stuff:
Manager's Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $92,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Police Extraordinary Expenditures account for the fit out of a new Police Reporting Station at 628 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square.
The new substation will be a welcome addition to this part of Central Square.
Manager's Agenda #6. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $200,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Community Development Extraordinary Expense Account to fund a Bicycle Plan Update with Feasibility Analysis and Implementation Plan.
As the Manager's communication says, "The 2015 Cambridge Bicycle Plan created a bicycle network vision, an aspirational plan for creating a high-quality bicycle infrastructure network on streets and paths in the city. The Plan did not include technical studies to evaluate space and operational constraints for each street segment to determine the feasibility of creating separated facilities in the short term." It's important to highlight the fact that the Plan was never carved in stone and immutable. It was an aspiration, i.e. a Big Wish intended to address the general issue of bicycle safety and "comfort". Where much of this went wrong was in the decision to rush through a number of half-baked "quick build" projects. This latest expenditure could yield balanced, sensible (and probably more expensive) plans or just more of the same - depending, at least in part, on whether City staff proceed with open minds or pre-baked conclusions.
Manager's Agenda #10. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $150,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Finance Extraordinary Expenditures account to support a 12-month digital equity research initiative.
While the expressed purpose of this initiative is "to study and analyze gaps affecting the City’s low-income or otherwise disadvantaged population in use of the broadband internet", it also formally ends the Broadband Task Force. What the communication does not emphasize is that some proposals for a full municipal broadband system that could have had a very significant price tag and financial exposure for the City grew out of that Task Force - something that was not well-received by the City Manager. On the flip side, there may be ways in which such a system could pay for itself. That conversation will likely continue outside the confines of City boards.
Manager's Agenda #11. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $5,000,000 from the Community Benefits Stabilization Fund to the Grant Fund Human Services Other Ordinary Maintenance account to be used: (1) for grant agreements with nonprofit organizations to address the City’s most pressing service needs, and (2) to enter into a contract with a Project Evaluator to work with the grant recipients as well as the Community Benefits Advisory Committee (CBAC), which is overseeing this effort.
Manager's Agenda #12. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, requesting the City Council authorize the City Manager to enter into a contract with a consultant service agency to provide evaluation services for 5 years from the date of the execution of the contract pursuant to G.L. c. 30B, §12b for the purpose of obtaining independent evaluation services to assess the use of community benefits funding by City-based nonprofit organizations in accordance with the Community Benefits Ordinance and the Guiding Principles of Community Benefits Funding.
While I claim no great understanding of this ordinance and its funding mechanisms, there are a few points worth making here. First, this was spawned by concerns about prior community benefits agreements associated with zoning proposals - generally upzoning - in which a property owner offered some benefit (such as the donation of the Foundry building or contributions to scholarship funds, community centers, etc.) to secure the necessary votes for the proposed zoning change. I believe the intention was to regularize this process so that it was not conducted as part of some relatively private understanding that yielded benefits to organizations favored by individual councillors. There is also the notion that agreements like this are a bit like purchasing zoning relief by sweetening the pot with cash. Zoning should be primarily driven by good planning rather than the extraction of financial benefits. Another concern that I have is that the universe of recipients of these "community benefits" now seems to be limited to subsidized housing and various social service agencies. One of the more significant things that grew out of the K2C2 deliberations several years ago was the understanding that "community beneifit" should also include things like placemaking and an improved retail environment. It would be a shame if those priorities were forgotten.
Order #2. That the City Manager work with the Fire Department to evaluate the existing capacity of fire stations in the Kendall Square area and whether a new fire station is needed, and if so, determining the feasibility of locating a plot of land for this use. Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey
It's worth noting that there used to be a fire station in Kendall Square at the intersection of Dock Street and Main Street. That station was sold by the City around 1999-2000 to be repurposed as a Bed & Breakfast/restaurant (now "The Kendall").
Order #3. Further Study Needed on First Street Garage. Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone
This is sure to be a Big Deal in the months ahead with a lot of activism brewing in East Cambridge. It is worth again emphasizing that even if you have a 50-year brooding resentment about the Sullivan Courthouse being built in the first place, the First Street Garage was built, at least in part, to support the traffic associated with that building. The legal machinations over the development rights at the Courthouse site appear to all be over, but the preliminary plans were based on the ability to lease space in the First Street Garage or, if that was blocked politically, in the Galleria garage. What complicates this now is the possibility that the Cambridgeside Galleria complex may undergo significant re-envisioning which might involve a reduction in parking capacity. There are lots of moving parts in all of this.
Order #4. Rethink Approach to Envision Cambridge. Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux
This is sure to be a point of contention at the meeting. The Order seems to focus primarily on the public relations error of leading with just three recommendations which have not all been received with love and kisses. One could also argue that there were some underlying flaws in the Envision process itself - primarily its focus on a long list of ideas growing out of working committees rather than a unified vision for the future.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 16, 2018 to discuss CMA 2018 #196 and any other matter related to Jerry’s Pond.
One pet peeve that I harbor is the notion that hazardous sites should just be fenced off or otherwise sealed off for eternity rather than cured. This applies to the asbestos-laden Sullivan Courthouse building as well as Jerry's Pond. I expressed much the same point of view years ago in suggesting that water from the Stony Brook system should be directed to the Muddy River in order to increase the flow. The response was that this might disturb toxins in the river bottom. A little disturbance may not be such a bad thing if one day those materials are removed. Sealing off a problem is not the ideal way to address a problem. - Robert Winters
Turnout figures for Early Voting (2018 - State Election)
|Early Voting Location (2018)||Oct 22||Oct 23||Oct 24||Oct 25||Oct 26||Oct 27||Oct 29||Oct 30||Oct 31||Nov 1||Nov 2||Total|
|Main Library (449 Broadway)||222||177||206||158||180||286||275||265||338||296||547||2950|
|Election Commission (51 Inman St.)||297||170||245||143||169||138||305||276||449||359||588||3139|
|O'Neill Library (Rindge Ave.)||175||96||137||94||142||159||193||114||286||206||331||1933|
|Water Department (at Fresh Pond)||183||145||112||111||152||200||175||163||225||194||329||1989|
|Police Department (East Cambridge)||153||55||86||90||103||92||145||113||215||152||291||1495|
Turnout figures for Early Voting (2016 - Federal Election)
|Early Voting Location (2016)||Oct 24||Oct 25||Oct 26||Oct 27||Oct 28||Oct 29||Oct 31||Nov 1||Nov 2||Nov 3||Nov 4||Total|
|Main Library (449 Broadway)||619||396||465||262||289||688||483||376||624||436||848||5486|
|Election Commission (51 Inman St.)||576||399||465||304||304||401||532||399||571||455||564||4970|
|O'Neill Library (Rindge Ave.)||387||208||302||171||207||373||273||216||395||279||478||3289|
|Water Department (at Fresh Pond)||368||207||218||131||157||429||233||216||348||254||474||3035|
|Police Department (East Cambridge)||290||186||225||93||104||263||251||205||349||260||508||2734|
Total Cambridge ballots cast in the 2016 Election was 53,282 (including Early Voting). 36.6% of ballots cast were done via Early Voting.
Tues, Oct 30, 2018 -- Today's Homework Assignment:
Please identify which policies, if any, from Cambridge's Growth Policy Document should be changed.
[To the best of my knowledge, these important policies have never been part of the discussion among the current Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee or its various Working Groups. Indeed, some of the current recommendations growing from the Envision Cambridge process clearly contradict some of these current policies. - RW]
Cambridge Growth Policy - Toward a Sustainable Future
1. Such action will permanently forestall excessive development at the core campus of an existing institution, in particularly sensitive locations; or
2. Existing institutional activity in a core campus area will be reduced or eliminated, particularly at locations where conflict with existing residential communities has been evident or is possible in the future; and
3. The potential for future commercial, tax-paying development is not significantly reduced; or
4. The presence of a stable, well managed institutional activity could encourage, stimulate, and attract increased investment in non-institutional commercial tax producing development.
1. Those areas can adapt to new commercial and industrial patterns of development;
2. The residential neighborhood edges abutting such areas are strengthened through selective residential reuse within the development areas or through careful transition in density, scale and lot development pattern;
3. New uses and varied scales and densities can be introduced into such areas;
4. Uses incompatible with the city’s existing and future desired development pattern are phased out.
1. To provide opportunities for those who work in the city to live here;
2. To limit the use of the automobile to get to Cambridge and to travel within Cambridge;
3. To encourage more active use of all parts of the city for longer periods throughout the day; and
4. To limit the secondary impacts of new development on the existing, established neighborhoods. These impacts may be both economic, as in the increased demand placed on the limited stock of existing housing, and environmental, as in the increase in traffic on neighborhood streets.
For example: low rent industrial space for start up enterprises; locations for industrial use and development which could be compromised by proximity to other, incompatible, uses, including residential uses; small commercial enclaves which directly serve their immediate surrounding residential neighborhood; locations appropriate for gas stations, car repair facilities, tow yards, etc.; structures or clusters of structures eligible for local historic district designation; or for designation as a local conservation district; environments as frequently found in the Residence “A” districts, where a unique combination of distinctive architecture and landscaped open space prevails; areas designated or eligible as national register historic districts.
A First Look at the Oct 29, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda
Here's my first pass at the interesting stuff up for discussion at this week's meeting:
Manager's Agenda #10. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $67,179.02 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Department Extraordinary Expenditures Account to support additional tree plantings in the Gore Street Neighborhood.
What is notable is that the street tree that was lost has been appraised at $67,179.02. I'd love to learn more about how that figure was derived. Especially the two cents.
Charter Right #1. That the Chairs of the Ordinance Committee schedule a hearing on Tree Protections and the Chairs of the Health & Environment Committee schedule public hearings on Tree Protections and the preliminary results from the Ordinance Committee hearing.
There are good ways and bad ways to do this. As a side note, I heard that the tulip tree on Cambridge Street that was at the center of a controversy almost two decades ago (with at least one person chaining herself to the tree) was removed recently due to internal rot. Some have suggested that this may have been helped along, but in any case the tulip tree is no more.
Charter Right #2. The City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the Community Development Department to provide a written timeline of what specific steps must take place in order to take a final vote on the Affordable Housing Overlay legislation.
Communications #6. Sundry communications received relating to opposition of City Envision proposal.
My sense is that very few people know much about the proposed Subsidized Housing Overlay proposal and its provisions to permit neighboring properties to be redeveloped as subsidized housing as of right a) at densities up to four times what is allowed under current zoning, b) with minimal setback requirements, c) and with no objections permitted. The proposal is a severe departure from the Growth Policy Document that has been successfully applied for nearly 25 years. The Overlay proposal was panned at the Planning Board for many reasons. It does nothing to address the housing affordability problem as most people understand it, i.e. the difficulty most people have in finding an affordable place to own or rent without being forced to apply to a government agency for housing.
Communications #3. A communication was received from Charles Hinds, President East Cambridge Planning Team, regarding the disposition process of the First St. Garage.
The First Street parking garage is there largely because it served the needs of the Courthouse. The primary reason it has been underutilized (hence the available surplus of parking) is because the Courthouse has been closed for some time. Sure, some things have changed in the interim and perhaps in an ideal world the Courthouse building would be scaled down more than is proposed, but courts have ruled that the re-purposing of the Courthouse building may proceed as planned.
Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on offering early voting in City Council and School Committee elections. Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui
As much as I want everyone to vote (I'm one of the only 116 Cambridge voters who has voted in every citywide Cambridge election since 1997), I really don't see how the substantial increased cost of this proposal is justifiable. Unlike state and federal elections, the Commonwealth won't be picking up the tab. It really is very simple to vote in municipal elections on Election Day and absentee voting could simply be expanded to achieve the same goal.
Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to provide an update on any current discussions or plans for extending the Alewife Greenway Bike Path from Alewife to Sherman Street. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone
This is a great idea. In fact, if the path switched over to the north side of the tracks at Sherman Street, you could extend it all the way to Porter Square with the added treat that you could pass under Walden Street through the old cattle pass.
Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to confer with City staff and report back to the City Council on the status of the Cambridge Street Bicycle Safety Demonstration Project and on any efforts to assess how successful the project has been and what lessons the City may learn from the project that may help inform street allocation and design decisions elsewhere. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux
Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to confer with City staff and report back to the City Council on opportunities and plans to increase signage or other communication efforts to help ensure that all users of Brattle Street between Eliot and Mason Streets understand the cyclists may be using Brattle Street in the opposite direction of prevailing motor vehicle traffic. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux
Order #19. That the City Manager is requested to include protected bicycle infrastructure along the entire length of River Street as part of the FY20 River Street Redesign project. Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone
All of these are covered under the City's "Listen Zero" policy regarding bicycle accommodation. There were and still are better ways to re-envision traffic flow on Cambridge Street, and Brattle Street should have been made into a two-way "slow street" from Mason St. to Eliot St. connecting to Mt. Auburn St. As for River Street, there is no way on earth that safer bicycle accommodation won't be a central part of the plan, and this is one location where traffic calming and some separation of cyclists from traffic (including drivers just off the Pike who have not yet mentally slowed down) is completely justified.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair and Councillor Quinton Y. Zondervan, Co-Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on Sept 27, 2018 to discuss stormwater management best practices and get an update on how Cambridge will be impacted by the EPA’s new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, which took effect on July 1, 2018.
I'm highlighting this report simply because I think that every Cambridge citizen should learn more about the "hidden city" under their feet, i.e. the infrastructure that we depend on every day. We should have regular citizen seminars on this.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair and Councillor Quinton Y. Zondervan, Co-Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on Oct 9, 2018 to was to receive an update on progress towards Zero Waste goals and to discuss successes and challenges of the citywide composting and recycling programs to date.
Two words - Recycle Right. If you want to ensure the economic viability of recycling you have to be mindful of the eventual end markets. Recycling is a lot more than throwing things into a blue (or green) container.
Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 2, 2018 to discuss a petition filed by the City Council to amend the zoning ordinances in Articles 2.000, 4.000, 6.000 and 11.000 and to establish provisions for Cannabis Uses.
I really hope the City Council reconsiders the proposal to allow pot shops to open as of right in all of the City's BA-1 zones [base zoning map]. These include many of our small "mom 'n pop" mixed residential/commercial zones. [Full disclosure - I live in a BA-1 zone, but I'm directly across the street from a school and have a day care and two Montessori schools as neighbors, so I'm within the buffer zone.] This is fundamentally different than allowing pot shops along a BA corridor like North Mass. Ave. [BA-2] or Cambridge Street east of Inman Square [BA], though I'll leave it to residents along those corridors to chime in for themselves. The Western Ave. corridor is primarily BA-3. A proposed Order in this committee report calls for allowing adult use (recreational) pot shops as a use as of right in all BA-1, BA-2 and BA-3 districts. Another proposed Order would reduce the buffer zone around schools and other youth facilities from 500 ft. to 300 ft.
Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Mallon, transmitting notes for the first meeting of the Mayor's Arts Task Force.
This meeting was mainly just introductions, but it's worth keeping an eye on where this Task Force is headed. - Robert Winters
November Programs (and Beyond) at Fresh Pond Reservation
These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.
|Woodland Restoration Area Gardening
Dates: Tuesdays, between 9:30am and 1:00pm
Place: Meets at the Woodland Habitat (Near the Lusitania Wet Meadow)
Join other stewardship-minded volunteers in caretaking the native plant restoration area next to Lusitania Meadow, and learn about the diversity of native plant life! We seek dedicated participants who enjoy camaraderie and hard work that includes weeding, pruning, planting, watering new plantings, hauling wood chips and moving logs. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to come, and for more information.
|Fresh Air Walks
Dates: Wednesdays, 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
These casual walks, led by Ranger Tim, will encompass Fresh Pond and take an informal look at each week in nature, life, and the city. Come alone or bring your co-workers! Rain or shine. Questions? Contact: tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov
|Fresh Pond Stewards
Dates: Thursdays, 10:00am to 12:00 noon
Place: Meets at the volunteer trailer near the front of the Water Treatment Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway.
Join our weed-warrior crew! We are Fresh Pond citizens dedicated to keeping invasive plants at bay for the benefit of wildlife, water and humans alike. No experience or long-term commitment necessary! All tools are provided; sturdy shoes, pants, long-sleeves and a water bottle are strongly recommended. Meets at the volunteer trailer in the lower parking lot. Contact tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov for more information.
|Seasonal Walkabout at Black’s Nook
Date: Friday, November 16th, 11:00am to 12:00 noon
Place: Meets at Maher Park, 650 Concord Ave.
Come out for a seasonal walkabout with Ranger Jean at Black’s Nook. We will monitor wildlife by sign, track or presence, and make note of weather, state of plants, condition of water and other abiotic resources. You can help chart the seasonal changes of some of our most active wildlife spots, or simply come to enjoy the walk. Come dressed to be outdoors for the hour. All knowledge levels welcome. We will be walking off-path. Service dogs only, please. To RSVP, please contact Ranger Jean at (508) 562-7605 or email jrogers@cambridgeMA.gov. Heavy rain postpones to the following Friday.
|Animal Detectives: Getting Ready for Winter
Date: Sunday, November 18th, 11:00am to 12:00 noon
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Parkway (under the clock tower)
November’s spotlight is on different winter adaptations. From big to small all animals need a plan for the cold, we will explore the different methods by putting ourselves in the animals’ shoes. This family program is best suited for kids between 4 and 12. Accompanying adult must be present, service dogs only please, and dress appropriately as this is an outdoor program. Groups please check-in with Ranger Tim at tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov prior to Thursday, Nov. 15th.
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 is $10 and can be paid online or sent to 31 Mt. Pleasant St., Cambridge, MA 02138.
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.
|A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
Coming up soon on the Cambridge Civic Front:
Tues, Nov 13
3:00pm The City Council's Health and Environmental Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss draft recommendations from the Envision Cambridge Climate and Environment working group and any other related matters. (Sullivan Chamber)
6:30pm Planning Board meeting (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)
1. Update from the Community Development Department
2. Adoption of Planning Board meeting transcripts
6:30pm PB#339 – 200 Monsignor O’Brien Highway – Special Permit application by Ascend Mass, LLC to convert existing space into a Medical Marijuana Dispensary pursuant to Section 11.802.8 Registered Marijuana Dispensary Use in the Business A District. (Materials)
PB#179 – Cambridge Crossing (Materials)
• Parcel EF – Informational Update
• Parcel G - Design Update and Approval of Final Plan
• Parcel H - Design Update and Approval of Final Plan
• Parcel I - Design Update and Approval of Final Plan
• Parcel W – Design Update and Approval of Final Plan
Wed, Nov 14
8:00-9:30am Recycling Advisory Committee (RAC) Meeting (Sullivan Chamber, City Hall)
3:00pm The City Council's Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the Policy Order adopted regarding Cambridge publicly finance Municipal Election Program and the Cambridge Municipal People’s Pledge Program. This Hearing will be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30-7:30pm Bicycle Committee meeting (4th Floor Conference Room, 344 Broadway)
5:30pm Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board Meeting (Police Station, 125 Sixth St., First Floor Community Room)
Thurs, Nov 15
10:00am Pole & Conduit Commission meeting (Lombardi Building, 831 Mass. Ave, Basement Conference Room)
1:00pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussion on the petition filed by the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance as it relates to cannabis uses. This Hearing will be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
6:00pm LGBTQ+ meeting (Windsor St. Health Center, 119 Windsor St.)
6:00-8:00pm Pedestrian Committee Meeting (4th Floor Conference Room, 344 Broadway)
Fri, Nov 16
2:00pm Cambridge Election Commission meeting (51 Inman St., First Floor Meeting Room)
2:00pm COUNTING OF PROVISIONAL BALLOTS
5:00pm COUNTING OF OVERSEAS BALLOTS
1. Executive Director's Report
2. Assistant Director's Report
3. Commissioners' Reports
III. PUBLIC COMMENT
IV. ACTION AGENDA
2018 State Election, Tuesday, November 6th
Mon, Nov 19
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
6:00pm Half Crown-Marsh Neighborhood Conservation District Commission Meeting (Lombardi Building, 831 Mass. Ave, Basement Conference Room)
Tues, Nov 20
1:00pm The City Council's Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to review the current status of the Short-Term rental (STR) registration and enforcement efforts in Cambridge, including any legal proceedings, the exploration of possible new legal proceedings against illegal STR operators or platforms and will assess the City’s need to implement new policies or contracts given the state’s inability to create a master registration of any sort and to discuss opportunities to work with the state to create a funding stream for STRs. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Nov 26
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District Commission Meeting (Lombardi Building, 831 Mass. Ave, Basement Conference Room)
Tues, Nov 27
4:00pm The City Council's Transportation and Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the next the steps in creating a protected bike network and an update on future Vision Zero infrastructure improvements. (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, Nov 28
3:00pm The City Council's Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to review the Cambridge Police Department’s truck enforcement actions, to discuss how Cambridge can better use navigational platforms like Garmin and Signage to keep trucks off of illegal or impractical roads, how Cambridge may extend its no-truck designations, how pilot programs on sideguards are working, how City contracts may be used to demand safer vehicles for both contractors and sub-contractors for City projects and similar truck-related issues. (Sullivan Chamber)
Thurs, Nov 29
1:00pm The City Council's Transportation and Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss truck safety measures in the City. (Sullivan Chamber)
Notable items on the Oct 15, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda
Here's my first pass at the interesting stuff up for discussion at this week's meeting:
Manager's Agenda #2. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $160,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Executive Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account which will fund an expansion of free food programming for Cambridge youth.
Expanded Free Breakfast & Lunch in Cambridge schools and pre-schools courtesy of Mother Cambridge.
Manager's Agenda #7. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $5,000,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Department Extraordinary Expenditures Account to support the completion of the Inman Square Intersection Improvements Project.
Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Kelley, transmitting memorandum regarding Inman Square Redesign Project.
There are some who still feel that the plan needs revision (including Councillor Kelley), but the judge isn't going to look at the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.
Manager's Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-76, regarding a report on Linkage fee as part of the Incentive Zoning Nexus Study.
Another study coming. At least this time there will also be effort expended to measure the impact of new nonresidential development on employment opportunities for Cambridge residents (could there be a positive impact?). Currently any linkage fees exacted from new development go toward subsidized housing. Some might argue that the greatest deficiency in how these nexus studies and associated linkage fees work is that they do little to address the lack of access for existing residents to jobs in all these new bright shiny buildings, and building additional subsidized housing without such access to employment isn't necessarily the best strategy.
Charter Right #1. That the Envision Cambridge draft recommendations should be reviewed by the entire City Council in respective committees.
As I have said previously, handing a laundry list of suggestions from Envision Cambridge working committees to each of the City Council committees hardly seems like the best path toward comprehensive planning (you know - the Master Plan). Maybe they just want the Faster Plan.
Order #1. That the City Manager confer with the City Solicitor’s Office on the legal question and the feasibility of placing a condition in public bidding documents prohibiting municipal contractors from displaying any signage—other than company markers and contact information—on vehicles. Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux
Though I don't know for sure (really, I do), I believe this Order came about because somebody snapped a picture of a cement truck that had "Make America Great Again" on it.
Order #4. That the Chairs of the Ordinance Committee schedule a hearing on Tree Protections and the Chairs of the Health & Environment Committee schedule public hearings on Tree Protections and the preliminary results from the Ordinance Committee hearing. Councillor Zondervan
I may just have to take down sooner than later that problematic ash tree in my yard that's leaning on my roof. Otherwise, if a new ordinance is passed I may need a lawyer and an additional check.
Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and the City Solicitor to investigate the queries posed by the Economic and University Relations Committee for a City-Based Cannabis Social Equity Program. Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan
Cast me out from the community, if you will, but I simply cannot wrap my head around a policy that gives preferential treatment to relatives of people convicted of drug-related crimes. Ensuring that the new dope industry provides economic opportunity broadly, i.e. "social equity", is one thing, but getting nailed for dealing dope under previous laws should not provide an advantage over those who lived within the law.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councilor E. Denise Simmons, Chair and Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Sept 27, 2018 to discuss Affordable Housing Overlay District.
The juggernaut continues. I spoke my mind on this subject at the most recent meeting of the Envision Cambridge Housing Working Group (which really should be renamed the "Subsidized Housing Working Group" based on the fact that they never addressed housing generally). As I have stated repeatedly, it's certainly true that people want housing to be affordable in the sense that a typical person or family can find a place to buy or rent within their budget, but this is not the same as advocating for a dramatic increase in subsidized housing (of which Cambridge already has a significant amount when you add up all the Housing Authority properties, Inclusionary housing units, etc.). Indeed, I think an argument can be made that the singular focus on subsidized housing may be contributing to the non-affordability of housing generally. The best affordable housing program ever conceived was the proliferation of multi-family housing, and that involved no government subsidy at all.
Better ideas would be to permit multi-family housing in all zones, adjust allowable densities to better reflect the existing built environment, and work regionally to increase the overall housing stock. As I stated at the very first meeting of the Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee, constructing many housing units in Somerville's Union Square, in Everett, in Allston, and elsewhere will do more toward making housing more affordable in Cambridge than anything. Only when people have options can they make rational economic choices. It is the shortage of available better options that allows housing costs in Cambridge to rise unchecked.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Sept 12, 2018 to discuss Storefront Vacancies Best Practices.
Though I suppose I like the idea of "pop up" art in vacant storefronts, it's a poor substitute for actual retail. On a related matter, current state law requires all new marijuana stores to obscure the views into these establishments (kinda like a speakeasy in the prohibition era). The crappy response has been to propose putting artsy stuff in the front windows. There are better approaches. My proposal is to create arcade-like shallow retail operations on these frontages. How about a hot dog vendor? A newsstand (if anyone still buys newspapers/magazines)? Maybe just a simple water bottle filling station. How about just creating a recessed area with an awning where a local vendor can sell hats, scarves, or trinkets? There are plenty of other good ideas. I would make the same proposal for other "formula businesses" to create active, low-cost, retail opportunities. - Robert Winters
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Confirmed in Cambridge
Aug 23, 2018 - On Monday, August 20, 2018, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) confirmed that Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been found in Cambridge. EAB is particularly concerning because of the speed at which it kills Ash trees, generally within 1-3 years. Standing dead ash trees present a public safety risk due to how quickly their brittle branches will fail.
The City of Cambridge was the first municipality in New England to develop a comprehensive treatment strategy to protect the ash tree population on city property. Healthy Ash trees on city property, including street trees, have been protected from EAB through proactive treatments of TreeAzin over the past 3 years. TreeAzin is a product derived from seed extracts of the Neem tree and is administered by injection at the trunk of the tree. TreeAzin is listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for use in organic production in the U.S. This pesticide is not hazardous to humans or animals. For more information on the City’s treatment program for EAB, please visit: www.cambridgema.gov/EAB
How do I know if I have an Ash tree?
According to University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Tree Guide, Ash trees have four identifying features:
- Ash trees have compound leaves comprised of 7 to 11 leaflets.
- The twigs are smooth, rigid and grayish and resemble bones.
- The bark of mature trees is deeply furrowed.
- They have opposing branches.
excerpted from http://clear.uconn.edu/info/EAB_quick_reference_guide.pdf
I have an Ash tree. What do I do?
If you have an ash tree on your property, please consider one of the following:
- Treat - If you have not yet begun a treatment program, we recommend that you work with a certified arborist to develop an ongoing treatment plan for your Ash tree. It is far more cost-effective to treat a healthy Ash tree than it is to remove it. You can find a certified arborist at www.massarbor.org.
- Remove - Dead and dying trees become a risk for public safety. Remove and replace unhealthy Ash trees with different species. Doing nothing may put you and your property at unnecessary risk.
For additional questions or concerns regarding Emerald Ash Borer in Cambridge, contact the City’s Urban Forestry staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.|
|Fri, Nov 9. Beacon Hill/North End, Boston. Leisurely 4-mi walk including historic streets, secret alleyways, and a visit to a bakery and an Italian food shop. 6:30-9:15pm. Meet outside Park St. T-stop at wall/fence abutting Park St. Rain cancels. L Marc Hurwitz.||Sat, Nov 10. Lincoln Conservation Land Foliage Hike, Lincoln. Fast paced, very scenic 8-mile hike to lesser-known areas, including Chapman Pasture, Pigeon Hill, Browning Fields, and Beaver Pond, 9:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch/water. From I-95/Route 128 Exit 28 in Waltham, take Trapelo Road west for 2.5 miles to a left on Lincoln Road. Travel 0.6 miles and turn right at the sign for Lincoln Public Schools. Take left at the tennis courts on the left and park in lot by the courts. Rain cancels. L Marc Hurwitz.|
|Sat, Nov 10. Glacial Features Walks, Sudbury. 9:30am-12:00pm. Registration Required. Limit 12 participants. Contact Lisa to register. Join glaciologist/geophysicist Bruce Porter for a walk through Gray Reservation/Haynes Meadow Reservation/Water District protection zone to explore the many features formed by the glacier that blanketed New England 10,000 yrs. ago. Kettles pit the plane and kame terraces rise abruptly to create beautiful vistas of the wetlands below. Be able to identify eskers, erratics, kames, and more on your next hike. Flat with one steep 50 foot section. Bring water. AMC non-members $1. Severe weather cancels. Directions: Meet at the Curtis Middle School, 22 Pratts Mill Road, Sudbury. Look for the group towards the left side of the parking lot, facing the school. The parking lot is to the right of the school and behind it, just beyond the basketball courts. Questions: Contact Lisa. L Bruce Porter. Contact: Lisa Fleischman: email@example.com or 617-244-5747.||Sat, Nov 17. Crane Beach, Ipswich. Easy pace 5 mile walk, across scenic sand dunes, and along ocean beach. Beautiful desert landscapes, include pitch pine forest, views of Essex Bay, and sea birds. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at Woodman's Seafood Restaurant, in nearby Essex, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Crane Beach parking lot. Parking Fee. From Route 128, exit 14 in Gloucester, take Route 133 West for 5 miles. Turn right on Northgate Road. Then, turn right on Argilla Road, follow to beach. L Brian Connolly.|
|Thurs, Nov 22. Holiday Hike - Lynn Woods, Lynn. 5 miles, Leader's Choice. 9:00am-1:00pm. Bring lunch, H2O, and snacks. Dress for the elements. I-95/Route 128 to Walnut Street exit, 4 miles. From Route 1, Walnut Street exit, 2 miles. Turn left on Pennybrook Road to Western Gate parking lot. Cancel if rain. L Nelson Caraballo.||Fri, Nov 23. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. 4 mi. mod.-paced hike, 10:30am-1:30pm. Bring lunch+water. I-93/Rte. 128 exit 2A to Rte. 138S for 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course pkg lot on L. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.|
|Sun, Nov 25. Middlesex Fells Skyline Trail Loop, Medford. 9:00am-4:00pm (or sooner). Approx. 8 mile hike on the Middlesex Fells Skyline Trail. Meet at Bellevue Pond parking lot at 161 S Border Rd, Medford. L Nancy Cahn.||Sat, Dec 15. Walden Pond, Concord. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, across grassy meadows and through hemlock forest, to scenic Walden Pond. Visit a cove, once inhabited by Henry Thoreau. Enjoy sit-down break, on the shore of Walden. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at China Ruby Restaurant, in nearby Maynard, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Lincoln Train Station commuter parking lot. From Route 2, take Route 126 South for 2 miles. Turn left on Codman Road, follow to end. Turn left, see Train Station on left. L Brian Connolly.|
|Sun, Dec 16. Habitat Audubon Sanctuary, Belmont - Celebrate the Solstice Walk. The Winter Solstice arrives in just 5 days. We’ll take a slow-paced nature walk through forests and fields and around a pond focusing on plant ID of bare trees, naked shrubs and winter weeds as the natural world prepares for winter. We’ll also talk about fun and interesting natural history about the Winter Solstice as well as about the plants we see. 1:00-4:00pm. From Rte. 2, Exit 59 go west on Rte. 60/Pleasant St. 0.6 miles. Right onto Clifton St, first left on Fletcher Rd, bear left at fork, next left on Juniper Rd. 0.2 miles to Sanctuary at #10 Juniper Rd. Steady rain or heavy snow cancels. L Boot Boutwell.||Tues, Dec 25. Foss Farms, Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and Greenough Land, Carlisle, MA. Easy approx. 4-5 mi. wander through a good birding area with river and pond views, pine forest and red maple swamp. Snowshoe if sufficient snow cover. Meet 10am. Foss Farms parking lot, about 1/3 mi west of Concord River off Rte. 225. From Rte. 128 Exit 31B follow Rtes. 4/225 through Bedford, continuing on Rte. 225 toward Carlisle. Storm cancels. If weather uncertain contact Leader. L Mark Levine.|
|Tues, Dec 25. Holiday Hike - Lynn Woods, Lynn. 5 miles, Leader's Choice. 9:00am-1:00pm. Bring lunch, H2O, and snacks. Dress for the elements. I-95/Route 128 to Walnut Street exit, 4 miles. From Route 1, Walnut Street exit, 2 miles. Turn left on Pennybrook Road to Western Gate parking lot. Cancel if rain. L Nelson Caraballo.||Tues, Dec 25. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 4-mi. hike/snowshoe around pond, 10:00am-12:15pm. Bring snack & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. If no snow, bring traction device for boots. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.|
Featured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):
The Cambridge Chronicle has apparently chosen to install a paywall on its cambridge.wickedlocal.com site, so I will no longer be posting links to their news articles. If you would like to subscribe or pick up a free paper copy at various sites, I encourage you to do so. It really is The Paper of Record and I would prefer to be able to provide links to the news stories, but I guess this is the way the world goes round.
THE MUNICIPAL SITUATION IN CAMBRIDGE
A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904
BY HENRY N. WHEELER, PRESIDENT OF THE LEAGUE
PRECEDED BY A PROGRAM OF THE WORK OF THE LEAGUE FOR 1904
Cambridge InsideOut airs weekly every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm with producers/hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. We will have other guest hosts as well.
[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos (and now audio too!) of each]
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 351-352: Nov 6, 2018 w/Patrick Barrett
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 319-320: June 19, 2018 (w/Alanna Mallon, Sumbul Siddiqui)
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 317-318: June 12, 2018 (w/Michael Monestime)
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 313-314: May 22, 2018 (w/Patrick Barrett)
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2013-2014 featured co-hosts Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2015-2018 features co-hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters.
|MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989
By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990
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.
The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998
Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)
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
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.
FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee
City Council Rules 2018-2019 (adopted January 29, 2018)
City Council Rules 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect revised Council committees)
City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)
City Council Committees (for the current term)
School Committee Rules (Adopted January 1, 2018; Revised June 19, 2018)
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.
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.
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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"