Feb 8 Update: City of Cambridge offices and the Cambridge Public Schools were closed today due to snow. A Parking Ban went into effect on Snow Emergency Routes starting at 10:00am and was lifted at 6:00pm. The City Council meeting scheduled for Feb 8 was cancelled. - All is now back to normal....
Back to Work - Monday, Feb 8, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting
The 2016-2017 City Council committee assignments have been announced by Mayor Simmons. There are also proposed amended 2016-2017 City Council Rules on the agenda for this week's meeting. The proposed changes include uniformizing most City Council committees at 5 members and allowing for the possibility that some Roundtable meetings may be televised. One curious departure from tradition is that Mayor Simmons will co-chair the Housing Committee and also be a regular member of the Civic Unity Committee and the Public Safety Committee. In all my year's of Council-watching, I don't recall the Mayor being anything other than an ex-officio member of any subcommittees (other than committees of the whole) and certainly never a co-chair. I have to interpret this a strong desire of Mayor Simmons to continue work begun on these committees during the last term. I'm especially pleased by the appointments to the Government Operations, Rules, & Claims Committee - especially with the City Manager's contract discussion coming up soon.
Other interesting items on this coming Monday's City Council agenda:
Manager's Agenda #17. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Sharlene Yang as the new STEAM Coordinator.
So much of the focus on STEM/STEAM has seemed like little more than political fashion, but if any of these efforts result in matching young people growing up in Cambridge with real opportunities in the local economy of today, it will all have been worth it. That said, a coordinator needs to have something to coordinate and it will be interesting to see if the required opportunities develop.
Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Sage Cannabis, Inc., to amend the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Overlay District Section 20.700 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance and Map.
Communications #8. A communication was received from Michael Dundas, Chief Executive Officer, Sage Cannabis, Inc., 13 Commercial Way, Milford, MA, regarding a status update on the zoning amendment petition APP 2015 #72 filed with the Cambridge City Clerk on Nov 9, 2015.
Order #3. That the zoning petition filed by Milford Medicinals, Inc. be placed on file. Mayor Simmons
It's hard to say where this matter is going to ultimately end up, but it's important to note that the City Council and City staff spent a considerable amount of time on the current zoning that delineates two areas where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate. Has the case really been made that those districts are inadequate and that additional mini-districts have to be established whenever a medical marijuana dispensary wants to operate elsewhere? It's also worth considering how the marijuana sales landscape will take shape in the event that the ballot question on legalization prevails later this year.
Order #5. That the amendment to the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge to amend the provisions of the PUD-KS District set forth in Section 13.10 of the Zoning Ordinances and which includes a majority of the Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, be refiled as of Feb 9, 2015. Councillor Carlone
This re-filing has been anticipated for some time, and now there will be an Ordinance Committee to work on it.
Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant City departments to study the benefits of a wellbeing index and plan for how it might be incorporated into various City planning processes, including the city wide Master Plan. Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor McGovern
Call me skeptical. I just read the following description of a wellbeing index: "The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is designed to be the Dow Jones of health, giving a daily measure of people's wellbeing at the close of every day. With a daily measure, determining the correlation between the places where people work and the communities in which they live, and how it impacts their wellbeing, is now possible. Additionally, the index will increase an understanding of how those factors impact the financial health of corporations and communities." This seems to be in part a continuation of the spectrum of policies that Cambridge planners have been using for years in promoting transportation alternatives and integrating passive and active recreational opportunities wherever possible. My skepticism comes from the potential subjectivity of such a measure. I'm reminded how when various measures of cycling safety led to inconclusive results, a new "comfort index" was invented in order to justify specific policies regarding road design that some planners wanted. How shall we measure "wellbeing"? - Robert Winters
Feb 1 - It was again a short City Council meeting tonight ending at 6:40pm. There wasn't anything either detailed or controversial on the agenda, so the brevity was expected. Unfortunately, I was expecting to get the City Council Committee appointments tonight but they are not yet available - not due to any delay by the Mayor but rather due to difficulties in getting some city councillors to commit to work for the pay they receive.
The Tuesday, Feb 2 edition of Cambridge InsideOut will feature Parts 2 and 3 of the 1992 interview with Tip O'Neill recorded for the original Cambridge Inside Out program. Part 1 aired last week. All three parts are viewable at http://cambridgecivic.com/?p=4656. We'll return to live shows next week on Tues, Feb 9 with guest Michael Orr, Waste Reduction Mgr, DPW who will provide detailed information about the Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance that's set to go into effect at the end of March. - RW
Groundhog Eve - A Few Items from the Feb 1, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting agenda
Perhaps there will be just six more weeks of winter, then it will get cold again. Until then, here are a few comment-worthy items on tap for this Monday:
Resolution #1. Happy Birthday wishes to former Mayor and City Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves. Councillor Maher
Happy birthday, Ken!
It's interesting that 55 years ago the same-numbered bill read: "1961 House Bill 3019. An Act Providing A Penalty For Operating A Motor Vehicle So Dangerously Under The Circumstances That The Operator Should Be Conscious That He Is Unreasonably Endangering The Lives Or Safety Of The Public."
The first of these measures would mandate better mirrors and side guards on some vehicles as a means of helping to prevent catastrophic injuries to cyclists. (A significant fraction of cyclist fatalities involve altercations with very large vehicles). The third of these measures would clarify the rights of a cyclist in a crosswalk (which could make a big difference in terms of legal liability in the event of injury or death). Bicycles are vehicles, but in a situation like the Minuteman Bikeway where there are crosswalks at intersections it's currently not clear what a cyclist is supposed to do - proceed with caution or dismount and walk.
The second of these measures is the most significant. It attempts to define "vulnerable user" and includes cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, people in wheelchairs, tractor operators, and people riding an animal. The proposed law would require that a safe distance of at least three feet be maintained for a motor vehicle traveling at thirty miles per hour or less, and one additional foot of clearance for every ten miles per hour above thirty miles per hour. The law would also require that if a passing vehicle cannot maintain this safe distance when overtaking a "vulnerable user", the overtaking vehicle shall use all or part of an adjacent lane, crossing the centerline if necessary, if it is safe to do so or wait for a safe opportunity to overtake. This should be standard practice anyway for any good driver, but it will be great if this is enshrined in law. The greatest danger for cyclists (and pedestrians) occurs when there are turning vehicles, but there is also some risk (and some fear) of getting "brushed back" by a careless motor vehicle operator who does give a wide berth when passing a cyclist, a pedestrian or, for that matter, even a slower motor vehicle.
If I could wave a magic wand and command the legislature to do right, I would also mandate lower speed limits on any road where the distance between moving vehicles and parked vehicles is below some minimum, e.g. many Cambridge one-way streets with cars parked on both sides. Nobody should be driving more than 25mph on streets like Lee St., Fayette St., or Antrim St. (just to name a couple of streets in my own neighborhood). I will also point out that according to the above proposed law regarding vulnerable users it may not even be physically possible to legally pass a cyclist on such road.
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development with the intention of organizing a Volpe Task Force made up of representatives from abutting neighborhood groups and Kendall Square residents and businesses. Councillor Toomey
I would have thought that such a group would already have been formed, but this does again bring up the dilemma of who really represents the people in the various neighborhoods of Cambridge. I am reminded of Al Vellucci's oft-stated phrase "the self-anointed, self-appointed."
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Information Technology Department and any other relevant City departments on ways the City of Cambridge can implement such a service with the goal of notifying residents of city-wide and neighborhood events and meetings via automated calls or text messages. Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux
This isn't a bad idea, but I have to wonder who will decide which meetings and events will be deemed call- or email-worthy and which residents will be contacted (abutters, immediate neighborhood, citywide).
This would provide an additional source of funds for expanding services like Hubway. Let me just say that as a cyclist who likes to work on my own bike, there' nothing like getting to know your own wheels.
Order #9. City Council support of a grant application by the City of Cambridge to the U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge, proposing the development of an automated, connected-vehicle transportation system that has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Councillor Toomey
Beyond all the greenhouse gas stuff, this grant could help in the development of the future Grand Junction Multi-use path which will help link together residential, commercial, and educational centers in Somerville, Cambridge, and Allston. There are reasons for doing this that go beyond climate change, but I suppose that's where the money is to be found in this political environment.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting notification from the President of the Massachusetts State Senate, calling for a special election to be held on Tues, May 10, 2016, to fill an existing vacancy in the First Suffolk and Middlesex Senatorial District [Petruccelli].
This means that there will also have to be a primary on Tues, April 12 and, since it's unlikely that we'll see a viable Republican or other party candidate, that's when the actual decision will be made with the Democrat running unopposed or minimally opposed on May 10. Special elections like this should not be conducted in this way. If there is to be a primary, it should be a single open primary where the top two finishers, regardless of party, advance to the final election. Better yet, require ranked-choice-voting (RCV) with transferable votes to elect a single winner and eliminate the primary altogether. It's idiotic that legislators should be determined in a low turnout primary. Isn't Massachusetts supposed to be a hotbed of intellect and innovation? Why can't we get elections right?
Don't forget - the Presidential Primary is also taking place on Tues, March 1.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., transmitting a series of articles regarding the affordable housing crisis. [San Francisco's Self-Defeating Housing Activists] [What's the Matter with San Francisco?]
The comparison of San Francisco and Cambridge may be imperfect, but the underlying issues explored in these articles do have some relevance here.
We'll also likely get the 2016-17 City Council Committee Assignments at this meeting (or at least we hope so). - Robert Winters
Democratic Election Commissioner Hearing and Questionnaire
The Cambridge Democratic City Committee (CDCC) will hold a public hearing for persons in the Cambridge community who wish to run for Democratic Election Commissioner.
Election Commissioner Public Hearing
Wednesday, March 9, 2016 (time TBA)
Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave. (Central Square)
According to the CDCC bylaws, any person who wishes to be nominated for Election Commissioner "must be present at the hearing to answer questions from members and from the public, unless she or he notifies the Chairperson before the hearing of her or his unavailability because of an unforeseen emergency."
A questionnaire will be used to evaluate candidates for the position and interested persons must complete the attached questionnaire by 5:00pm on Tues, Feb 16. Potential candidates should answer each question so the City Committee can compare the answers of candidates in order to obtain a full and fair picture of each candidate's qualifications and ideas for the position. [Questionnaire] A copy of the questionnaire is also posted on the CDCC website www.cambridgedems.com.
Responses should be in a form suitable for reproduction and should be single-spaced. Warren Behr, CDCC Secretary, must receive the responses by 5:00pm on Tues, Feb 16, 2016. No exceptions will be made to this deadline. Responses can be mailed to 54 Hudson Place, Cambridge, MA 02138 or emailed to email@example.com. Responses will be compiled and made available to CDCC members and the public.
This micro GRANT PROGRAM is intended to support civic improvement projects and creative physical interventions that better Cambridge's built environment for the benefit of all the city's residents, workers, and visitors by non-profit organizations, community groups, and small businesses throughout Cambridge, MA.
We're awarding Planning & Design grants up to $5,000; Innovation & Experimentation Capital grants up to $10,000; and Infrastructure Capital grants up to $10,000 for a wide variety of projects that contribute to the civic and social capital of Cambridge. LEARN MORE
Cambridge Launches New Snow Center Website: www.CambridgeMA.gov/snow
Jan 25, 2016 – The City of Cambridge has launched a new Snow Center website, www.cambridgema.gov/snow, to provide residents with timely updates on the city’s response to winter storms and to provide useful winter storm information that can be viewed quickly and easily in one location.
Through the online Snow Center, Cambridge residents can stay informed of when a Snow Emergency has been declared or lifted; register to receive emergency alerts; find out about Snow Emergency off street parking locations; or learn if city offices or programs have modified hours of operation.
“After last year’s record-breaking snow season, we made it a priority to learn lessons not only about how to improve our operations, but also about additional ways to communicate timely, useful information to residents,” said Owen O’Riordan, Commissioner of Public Works. “The Cambridge Snow Center website will be a great tool for helping the public access information about the city’s snow operations, parking regulations, and other frequently asked questions, all in one, easy-to-view location.”
The Cambridge Snow Center also includes a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section with helpful information on property owner responsibilities and the Snow Exemption Program, as well as a What's Happening section displaying real time snow related social media updates and news stories; and finally a Useful Information section with additional resources and important phone numbers and websites.
Residents can also use the new City’s non-emergency reporting system, Commonwealth Connect, www.cambridgema.gov/CommonwealthConnect to report an icy or snowy street or unshoveled sidewalk. To receive voice, text, and email notification of declared Snow Emergency Parking Bans in the city, residents can sign up for receive CodeRed alerts directly from the City’s Snow Center.
The Presidential Primary will be held on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. For Cambridge residents not already registered, the last day to register to vote is Wednesday, February 10, 2016 until 8 p.m. The Office of the Secretary of State has developed an Online Voter Registration System at www.registertovotema.com. Individuals may use the online system to submit an online application, update their address, or change their party affiliation. You must have a valid driver's license, learner's permit, or non-driver ID issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). You must also have a signature on file with the RMV. If you do not have an RMV ID you can use the system to create an application. Print and sign the completed form and mail or bring it to the office of the City Cambridge Election Commission.
Absentee Ballots are now available at the Cambridge Election Commission office. 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 Monday, February 29, 2016 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: Monday, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30am-5:00pm; Friday, 8:30am-Noon. The office will also be open for Absentee Voting on Friday, February 26th from 8:30am until 5:00pm and on Saturday, February 27th from 9:00am until 5:00pm. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7:00am until 8:00pm.
For any additional information, please visit the Cambridge Election Commission office at 51 Inman Street, call (617-349-4361) or visit our website at www.cambridgema.gov/election.
Tasty menu items for the Jan 25, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting
More than anything else, I'm hoping that the membership and Chairs of the City Council subcommittees will be completed in time for this Monday's meeting. There's also the possibility that the committees themselves could undergo some changes. In 2014 the number of committees was reduced from 17 to 11 via consolidation. It's unlikely that this number will be further reduced, but some reconfiguration is not out of the question.
Other than the committee appointments, here are some morsels that aroused my interest:
Regardless of the merits of the proposal, it's hard to tell what is meant here by "parity between the effective tax rates paid by the richest and poorest in Massachusetts". The proposed constitutional amendment would add an additional 4% tax on top of the current 5.1% state income tax on earnings in excess of $1 million in any tax year.
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to communicate the Cambridge City Council’s full support of the Cambridge Housing Authority's proposed project funding to the Commonwealth and MassDevelopment and to convey the immediacy of the Cambridge Housing Authority’s need in requesting that the Commonwealth approve tax-exempt bond financing without delay. Councillor Cheung, Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern
This would be one more step to ensure that the financing is available to carry out the necessary renovations to the Manning Apartments in the Central Square area.
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate City departments to report back with a rough estimate of capital and operating expenditures for a pilot City of Cambridge tool library for the year 2017. Councillor Mazen, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux
This is an intriguing proposal, though it seems like the best model would be more like a public-private partnership. Compare with Parts and Crafts in Somerville.
Order #6. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to coordinate with the Clerk’s Office and the appropriate departments to implement within three months an electronic public comment display in the Sullivan Chamber, listing the speaker’s name and affiliation as well as a timer. Councillor Mazen, Councillor Cheung
Just get a better timer - perhaps one with a green, yellow, and red light to alert the speaker when his or her time is drawing to a close. There is no need for "an electronic public comment display.... listing the speaker’s name and affiliation". Each speaker now provides that information verbally and that is sufficient.
Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Department of Public Works and the Community Development Department to work with Eversource and other power providers to plan and implement infrastructure improvements to fully support future development in Cambridge and further to confer with the appropriate departments to draft an amendment to the City’s Zoning Ordinance that would see projects needing a special permit undergo a power needs assessment as part of the permitting process. Councillor Cheung, Councillor Devereux
This is a modified version of an order from the Dec 21, 2015 meeting. More attention needs to be given to the evolving infrastructure needs in Cambridge as new housing and other structures are introduced - not as a means of blocking development but to ensure that such things as electrical power are adequate to support future needs.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 14, 2015 to discuss the climate change vulnerability assessment.
I make note of this report only because my testimony at this hearing relates to the above Order regarding electrical infrastructure needs.
Order #9. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs with a view in mind of scheduling two finance committee hearings to be chaired by a Councillor of the Mayor’s choosing, one as an update from the head of the Finance Department and the other to review budget priorities, to be held in the middle of February. Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux
It is likely that this Order will simply be redirected to the Finance Committee to schedule these meetings if the City Council committee assignments are completed in time for this meeting.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a response to amend Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Kim Courtney and Xavier Dietrich dated Jan 5, 2016.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a response to an Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Hasson Rashid dated Jan 8, 2016.
Shoo, fly. When well-meaning laws like the Open Meeting Law degenerate into vehicles for malcontents to act out their psychological issues, it's time for the State Legislature to consider amending the laws to better respect their intended purpose. City officials should not be required to waste their time on complaints such as the two listed above. - Robert Winters
2016 Evenings with Experts Lecture Series
Presented by Grow Native Massachusetts at the Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway Cambridge, MA 02138
Link for more information: http://grownativemass.org/programs/eveningswithexperts
February 3 – Native Plant Gardens: Learning By Example
March 2 – Restoring Nature’s Relationships at Home
May 4 – Planting in a Post-Wild World
January and February Programs at Fresh Pond Reservation
These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.
|THE SECRET LIFE OF WHITE OAKS
Date: Sunday, January 31, 1 to 3pm
Place: Register for meeting place
What do white oaks, cottontail rabbits, craneflies, common dandelions, and gray squirrels have in common? Come learn about the fascinating world of white oaks and the natural communities they sustain at Fresh Pond. In this workshop, we’ll go over winter tree identification with a focus on trees found at Fresh Pond Reservation, as well as explore the numerous (and largely secret) relationships between trees, mammals, birds, insects, et cetera. Enrich your pond-side strolls with new insights into the Reservation’s ecosystems. Bring your smartphone, tablet, or laptop all charged up for a group exploration with Ranger Jean. Register for this event with firstname.lastname@example.org.
|DOCUMENTARY SCREENING: Blue Gold: World Water Wars (2008)
Date: Monday, February 8th, 6:00-7:30pm
Place: Water Purification Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
In light of recent water-related news headlines, this documentary may be of particular interest. This award-winning film explores the possibility of future water shortages actually inciting war. Learn about the intricate and expansive political and economic struggles surrounding water use. This film also provides interesting and informative commentary on the privatization of water for profit in case studies from around the world, and makes a strong case for water activism and community action.
|A WALK IN THE URBAN WOODS: Winter Ecology Hike
Date: Saturday, February 13th, 1pm-2:30pm
Place: Meet at Maher parking lot, 650 Concord Ave.
Strap on your snowshoes (if applicable at the time) and join CWD staff for a fun wintry weekend excursion. While enjoying the snow and seeing the sights of the Reservation, we will talk about how winter conditions shape the survival and habits of Fresh Pond resident plants and animals. We will also keep a close eye out for examples of wintertime animal adaptations, and tracks and tunnels to identify. Families welcome, make sure to bundle up! Please RSVP to email@example.com. Weather permitting.
|THIRD FRIDAY SEASONAL WALKABOUT
Date: Friday, February 19th, Noon -1pm
Place: Meet at Maher parking lot, 650 Concord Ave.
Join Ranger Jean for a lunchtime walkabout of Black’s Nook. Develop your ability to take in more of the Reservation! On these monthly walks from December through June, help chart the seasonal changes of some of our most active wildlife spots, or simply come to enjoy the walk while we do the work. We will monitor wildlife by sign, track or presence, make note of the weather conditions, state of plants, condition of water and other non-resources. Come dressed to be outdoors for the hour. No dogs please! Extreme weather cancels. For more information contact Ranger Jean at (508) 562-7605.
|A MID-WINTER BIRD WALK
Date: Saturday, February 20th, 10am to noon
Place: Register for meeting location
Many people think that birds vacate New England or hibernate in the winter, but in fact, many birds stay here and are active all winter long. Protected by their down coats, they don’t much mind the temperature, but they must spend most of their limited daylight hours searching for food. We will visit areas of the Reservation where birds are most likely to be foraging. Beginners are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. We will be outside for almost 2 hours, so be sure to dress very warmly with boots, hat, gloves, etc. Register for meeting place and a cancellation email if the weather is bad. Contact Catherine Pedemonti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|UNCOVERING THE SECRET LIFE OF EASTERN WHITE PINES WITH YOUR SMART PHONE
Date: Sunday, February 28th, 1-3pm
Place: Register for meeting location
Enrich your pond-side strolls with new insights to the Reservation’s ecosystems. Find out what white pines, white footed mice, wild turkeys, raccoons, green stink bugs and black cherry trees have in common. Come research the fascinating world of white pines and the natural communities they sustain at Fresh Pond on your SMARTPHONE, TABLET OR LAPTOP. In this workshop we’ll learn how to identify white pines and their kin as well as explore the numerous and largely unknown relationships between trees, mammals, birds, insects and other plants. BRING YOUR SMARTPHONE, TABLET OR LAPTOP (all charged up) for an indoor technology group exploration with Ranger Jean. To register and for meeting location, please email: email@example.com by February 21.
Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or firstname.lastname@example.org for any RSVPs or questions!
Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail email@example.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. Upcoming Programs
• The Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program
• Grow Native Massachusetts is offering a series of free nature-related "Evenings with Experts" lectures at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. Details are at www.grownativemass.org and grownativemass.org/programs/eveningswithexperts in particular. First Wednesdays of the Month, 7:00-8:30pm.
• Sign up for the City of Cambridge's informative "Recycling and Composting Newsletter" by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
|A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
Tues, Jan 19 - We will not be doing a new Cambridge InsideOut show tonight. Instead, you'll be treated this week to a re-run of last week's shows with Anthony Galluccio. In the future, my intention is to occasionally air programs of the original Cambridge Inside Out show. One especially interesting program from 1992 featured a conversation with Tip O'Neill. I recently purchased a device to transfer old VHS recordings to digital files and I have a good sample of old programs from 1991 through 2000. Perhaps you'll soon be seeing some vintage Anthony Galluccio, Denise Jillson, Jim Braude and others who appeared on the show during those years. If anyone else has some old tapes of the original program that are particularly interesting. let me know and we'll try to get them on the air for public consumption. - RW
Tues, Jan 12 - Our guest tonight on Cambridge InsideOut was Anthony Galluccio (5:30pm and 6:00pm, Jan 12 on CCTV)
Episode 105 - Cambridge InsideOut (Jan 12, 2016)
Episode 106 - Cambridge InsideOut (Jan 12, 2016)
Jan 26, 2016 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking Cambridge residents interested in serving on the Police Review & Advisory Board. Made up of volunteer members who serve five-year terms, the Board generally meets on the last Wednesday of the month at 6pm, except for July and August.
The Police Review & Advisory Board was established by City Ordinance in 1984 to:
• Provide for citizen participation in reviewing Police Department policies, practices and procedures;
• Provide a prompt, impartial and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals against members of the Cambridge Police Department; and
• Develop programs and strategies to promote positive police/community relations and to provide opportunities for productive discussions, improved understanding and innovative ways of resolving differences.
The Board consists of five Cambridge residents who are representative of the City's racial, social and economic composition. Board members must possess a reputation for fairness, integrity and responsibility; have demonstrated an active interest in public affairs and service; and be a resident of the City of Cambridge.
Board Members serve as volunteers without compensation and are responsible for reviewing and evaluating completed investigations to make findings on the allegations contained in each complaint; identifying needs for changes to Police Department policies, procedures or training, and reporting findings and recommended solutions to the Police Commissioner and the City Manager; and assisting in education and outreach to promote awareness and understanding of the Board and strengthen community-police relations.
For more information about the Board, see its web page at www.cambridgema.gov/prab. A letter of interest with a brief résumé should be sent via e-mail, mail or fax by Monday, February 22, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge 795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Jan 14, 2016 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). Made up of five members and seven associate members, the BZA meets twice a month on Thursday evenings to review applications for variances and special permits in accordance with Cambridge Zoning Ordinance. Board members also act on appeals to zoning decisions made by the Commissioner of Inspectional Services.
For more information, contact the Inspectional Services Department at 617-349-6131. Letters of interest, including resume or applicable experience, can be sent via mail, fax or e-mail by Friday, February 12, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Jan 8, 2016 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking volunteers to serve on the newly formed Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee, the Envision Alewife Working Group, and the Engagement and Communications Working Group. These groups are being created to advise the city and its consultant team on the newly named citywide plan, Envision Cambridge. This multi-year process will help set a new direction for a sustainable, prosperous future.
The Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee will be a sounding board for planning concepts, help set priorities for the plan, and help establish a feedback loop between the City, the consultant team, and Cambridge residents, businesses, and institutions. The committee will consist of residents, property owners, and representatives of local businesses and institutions.
The Envision Alewife Working Group will help guide the Alewife district study and develop comprehensive and actionable recommendations for the area.
The Engagement and Communications Working Group is a topic-focused group that will provide guidance and advice on how the citywide plan can best engage the entire community and ensure that dialogue is representative of the city’s diversity.
At later stages of the planning process, additional working groups will be formed. We anticipate working groups on topics such as climate and energy, economic development, housing, and mobility.
Who is Eligible?
Any Cambridge resident, property owner, or representative of a local business or institution is welcome to apply. For the Engagement and Communications Working Group, the city seeks individuals with experience, expertise, and interest in public engagement and communication.
How Often Will the Groups Meet?
The Advisory Committee will meet approximately every six weeks. Working Groups will convene at critical junctures in the planning process in condensed periods of time and are likely to meet an estimated six to eight times throughout the process. The Envision Alewife Working Group will meet approximately every six weeks during the Alewife planning process, which is anticipated to start this spring and finish within the year.
How Many People Will Be Selected?
Approximately 16-20 people will serve on the Advisory Committee. Working Groups will consist of approximately 6-8 people, except for the Envision Alewife Working Group, which will be larger due to its multidisciplinary nature. Each Working Group will include at least one Advisory Committee member.
How Will Members Be Chosen?
The Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee will be broadly representative of the Cambridge community including residents, institutions, property owners, and businesses. The goal will be to create a Committee that represents the diversity of the city. Working groups will include people with expertise or interest in the specific topic area.
How to Apply
To apply, send a letter by Monday, February 1, 2016 (deadline extended from original Jan 22 date) describing your interest and background to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
c/o Melissa Peters
Community Development Department
344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139
Please describe your interest in Envision Cambridge and make clear if you would like to serve on the Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee, the Envision Alewife Working Group, Engagement and Communications Working Group, or multiple groups. If you are interested in serving on the Envision Alewife Working Group, Engagement and Communications Working Group, or other topic-specific working group, please describe any relevant experience. You may include a résumé with your application, if helpful.
Dec 21, 2015 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking to fill a vacancy on the Cambridge Housing Authority is seeking to fill a vacancy on its Board of Commissioners.
Established under state law in 1935, Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) provides long-term rental housing and rental assistance to more than 6,500 low-income families, elders and disabled individuals through its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Programs. It has an annual budget of $87 million and currently has over $150 million in active construction contracts with significant, additional, capital investment and construction to continue over the next 3-5 years as CHA revitalizes all the public housing in Cambridge.
CHA also invests in Cambridge families and provides enhanced support to 10% of the city population. By tailoring its approach to focus on policy innovation and family economic opportunities, CHA is able to meet its mission to develop and manage safe, good quality, affordable housing for low-income individuals and families in a manner which promotes citizenship, community and self-reliance in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.
A five-member Board of Commissioners governs CHA. One member is appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts and the remaining four members are appointed by the Cambridge City Manager and confirmed by the Cambridge City Council. By law, the Board must include a housing authority resident and a representative of labor unions; both of these positions are currently filled. All Board members must be residents of Cambridge.
The CHA Board oversees the Agency's overall direction and approves all significant contract awards, budget decisions, formal submissions to state and federal funding agencies, planning and reporting documents, all major policy decisions, and many other important matters. Commissioners also serve as board members on CHA’s three non-profit affiliates. The Board sets policy but is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the agency. CHA’s Board of Commissioners meets regularly on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, at 5:30pm, at the Agency’s office, 362 Green St., 3rd floor, Cambridge. Additionally, the board may occasionally meet for special meetings as needed.
A letter of interest and brief resumé should be sent by Friday, January 29, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Starting from Scratch - Agenda Items from the Jan 11, 2016 Cambridge City Council Meeting
It's hard to characterize as "new" an elected body that's 8/9 the same as the previous one, but it's a clean slate nonetheless with a new Mayor. We'll have to wait and see where this train takes us. Also, the City Clerk's Office has changed the way they make meeting materials available starting with the new Council term. It's good in some ways, but it's a lot more difficult in other ways, especially in linking to specific documents without having to open up a 30MB PDF file just to find a single item buried among 300 pages. Here are a few agenda items that seem worthy of comment:
Manager's Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, in response to the City Council's request for a legal opinion on whether the City can act either through ordinance, home rule petition or additional avenues to protect tenants from dramatic rent increases or unfair evictions, and whether the City has the ability to strengthen the tenant protections provided under the state Condominium Conversion Act.
As the City Solicitor's opinion makes clear, municipalities have very limited authority in such matters, especially in the regulation of rents, but some specific tenant protections could possibly be enacted via a successful Home Rule petition.
Manager's Agenda #10. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Barrett, et al, Zoning Petition.
Unfinished Business #9. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 19, 2015 to discuss a petition filed by Patrick W. Barrett III, et al. to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by amending Article 2.000 ("Definitions") and Article 4.000, Section 4.22 ("Accessory Apartment"). The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 28, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held on Oct 27, 2015. Petition expires Feb 17, 2016.
Communications #1. A communication was received from Patrick W. Barrett III, Esq., regarding the Barrett Petition.
These three items refer to the Barrett Petition that would modify zoning relating to Accessory Apartments and Basement Space. With a Feb 17 expiration date, now would be a good time to get the City Council Committee assignments completed so that the Ordinance Committee could reconvene and iron out any desirable amendments to this petition.
[UPDATE: The Barrett Petition passed (as amended only to insert an effective date of May 1, 2016) by a 7-1-1 vote (Cheung, Kelley, Maher, Mazen, McGovern. Simmons, Toomey voted YES; Carlone voted NO; Devereux voted PRESENT).]
Charter Right #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item #15-32 (2015), regarding a report on the economic analysis for Central Square. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor McGovern on City Manager Agenda Number Twenty-six of Dec 21, 2015.]
The timeliness, scope, and accuracy of this report hardly makes it a good starting point to reactivate discussions on the future of Central Square, but it's something. Even a refutation of some of its assumptions would refocus some attention back to this area.
Charter Right #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to amend article 4.000 of the Zoning Ordinance to require that a power needs assessment be a requirement for appropriate projects that undergo special permit review. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Maher on Order Number Twelve of Dec 21, 2015.]
There was a residential project proposed for 10 Essex Street that went through its required hearings and approvals two years ago and was never built. At the time, one topic discussed was the need to accommodate an electrical vault accessible from the street. This otherwise technical detail was relevant in light of the fact that the abutting new H-Mart in Central Square (which would have an entrance through this proposed building) had its opening delayed for a long time due to inadequate electrical infrastructure to service that block. Only a temporary waiver permitted the opening of this now very popular store and one might speculate that this could be related to the failure to build this welcome transit-oriented development. Either that or it's the usual inaction of this particular property owner.
When the City's latest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment findings were announced recently, I made the point that the adequacy of the city's electrical infrastructure should have been given more attention in that study. Councillor Cheung's Order of Dec 21 is relevant in that it seeks to ensure adequate electrical infrastructure for new large developments, but greater attention also needs to be paid to the entire electrical network of the city, especially in view of potential additional burdens - often on very aged and inadequate electrical lines - that may come with extended summer heat waves.
Charter Right #6. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to give recognized community groups the ability to present alongside or directly after city staff, on the record and as part of the presentation agenda during meetings of the Ordinance Committee. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Maher on Order Number Thirteen of Dec 21, 2015.]
I really hope this proposal is discarded outright or radically amended into something sensible. There simply is no standard for what constitutes a "recognized community group", and the proposal would in all likelihood simply confer a special status upon a political entity such as the "Cambridge Residents Alliance" to present their official review of all proposals to come before the Ordinance Committee. Nothing now prevents members of this or any other organization from presenting oral or written testimony just like any other citizen or interested party.
[UPDATE: After a curious discussion, this matter was referred to the Government Operations & Rules Committee (not yet appointed).]
Unfinished Business #8. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 18, 2015 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to amend Article 6.000 to create a new Section 6.24 Car-sharing Provision that will create a definition and general provisions for Car-sharing and will allow the limited use of parking spaces. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 28, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Oct 27, 2015. Amendment submitted by Councillor Cheung on Dec 21, 2015. Petition expires Feb 16, 2016.
This will likely be ordained at this meeting (or very soon) now that the public notice requirements have been met.
[UPDATE: The Car-sharing Zoning Amendment passed on a 7-2 vote with Councillors Kelley and Toomey voting NO. Councillor Toomey has since filed for Reconsideration of the vote.]
Applications & Petitions #3. A zoning petition has been received from Peter L. Cohen, with regard to a proposed amendment to the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance to restrict garage development in dimensionally non-conforming lots.
I don't know much about this petition, but judging from the signatures on the petition it sounds like someone wants to build a garage on a dimensionally non-conforming lot on or around Donnell St. or R.C. Kelley St.
Resolution #5. Resolution on the retirement of Elaine Thorne. Mayor Simmons
Elaine Thorne has, in addition to other duties, served as the staff person for the Central Square Advisory Committee for many years. She has been a great friend for over two decades and I wish her well in her retirement. Perhaps one day we may see her again as a citizen member of on the City's boards & commissions. Her expertise and her perspective as a life-long Cantabrigian would be a welcome addition.
Resolution #7. Congratulations Chip Norton and Henrietta Davis. Mayor Simmons
It is very appropriate for this year's Fresh Pond Stewardship Award to be awarded to Chip Norton and Henrietta Davis. It was nearly two years ago that Chip Norton died unexpectedly, but he served many years working to protect the watershed areas of the Cambridge water supply. Henrietta Davis has also been an advocate for Fresh Pond and the watershed areas for many years (though I do wish she would return the MAPC Cambridge watershed study I loaned her many years ago!).
Order #3. That the City Council Ordinance Committee be and hereby is requested to review the attached proposed amendment to §12.16.030 Trees—Climbing, Signposting, Fastening horses. Councillor Kelley, Councillor Cheung, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey
You certainly have to read the text of the Order to appreciate its intent, namely to address the problem of bicycles being recklessly locked to living trees. I do enjoy occasionally looking at the sometimes obsolete language of some of Cambridge's more dated ordinances. For example: "9.04.070 - Throwing objects in streets or on bridges. No person shall play ball or throw a stone or other missile in any street, or upon or from any bridge." You didn't know that stickball was illegal in the streets of Cambridge, did you?
Order #4. That the matter of creating smoke free places of employment to protect all workers in unenclosed areas be referred to the Ordinance Committee for consideration. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone
A motivation for this proposed amendment seems to be to address the potential dangers of smoking at construction sites where there are flammable materials present. The fire at the new Putnam Ave. school that delayed its opening for six months seems to be the most obvious example of this hazard.
Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and other relevant departments to draft a zoning ordinance that would see the installation of solar panels be as of right in all zoning districts in the City. Councillor Cheung
This is a reintroduction of an Order from Oct 19, 2015. It remains an excellent idea after any potential conflicts have been resolved.
Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development and report back to the City Council with language that could create a Grand Junction Overlay District that would help to create incentives and ensure the completion of the Grand Junction Multiuse Path. Councillor Toomey
This is basically a reintroduction of an Order passed on Feb 23, 2015. The only difference now is that there is some sense that funding may be more difficult to come by in light of the scaling back or indefinite delay of other MBTA projects, e.g. the Green Line Extension. Some "Occupy" types have suggested that "Cambridge should just build it", but that's problematic if you don't own or control the right-of-way or, most importantly, the RR bridge over the Charles River that carries an active rail line. That said, creating an overlay district with incentives for abutting property owners to facilitate the construction is a good start.
Order #8. That the City Council go on record accepting the attached provisions of Chapter 162 of the Acts of 2015, the same being ‘AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE TAX STATUS OF CERTAIN LAND OWNED BY A HOUSING AUTHORITY WITHIN THE CITY OF CAMBRIDGE.” Mayor Simmons
It's hard to say whether this was done for a specific property or in connection with some of the creative financing plans the Cambridge Housing Authority has been exploring and adopting. In any case, the Act was adopted and signed by the Governor, so all that's left is for the City Council to accept its provisions.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Transmitting An Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Kim Courtney and Xavier Dietrich, 955 Massachusetts Avenue #259, Cambridge, regarding the amended Minutes of the City Council meeting of Aug 10, 2015.
We can only hope that these two mosquitoes will soon fly away or find another host on which to feed. - Robert Winters
Our friend Henry Irving passed away on Saturday, January 2, 2016 in Cambridge at the age of 65. Henry lived on Bigelow Street and is survived by his wife Kate. Henry was very active with the Cambridge Republican City Committee and was a candidate for Twenty-Fifth Middlesex State Representative in 2006.
A church service for Henry will be held 12:00pm, Saturday, January 16th, at: St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 838 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, followed by a reception at the home of neighbors Marie-Claire and Pierre Humblet, 13 Bigelow St., Cambridge.
IRVING, Henry Russell
Son of the late John Evelyn du Pont Irving and Louise Russell Irving, was born in Wilmington, Del., on Sept. 17, 1950, and died Jan. 2, 2016, in Cambridge, Mass., with his family by his side, at the home where he spent four happy decades. Henry was a graduate of Groton School, Boston University, and received an M.B.A. from Suffolk University Graduate School of Management.
Following the death of his first wife, Elizabeth Yeardley Irving, in 1974, Henry returned to the town where he spent much of his childhood, Unionville, Pa. He started a play-reading group, and it was at a reading of "The Little Foxes" that he met Kate Olivier, a British paintings conservator working at Winterthur. In 1977, Kate was hired by the Fogg Art Museum, and together they moved to Beacon Hill, married, and later bought a house in Cambridge, where they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Alexandra.
His wide range of jobs included stonemason, manager of the Boston Phoenix classifieds, and creator of "Henry's Fresh Fishcakes." He loved the theater and worked long hours behind the scenes at Theater Works and The American Repertory Theater. He spent nearly a decade at UNICEF before his final career as an independent financial advisor.
Henry was proud to be one of the few Republicans active in Cambridge politics. In 2006, he ran for state representative, saying after the landslide, "both I and my opponent knew I didn't have a chance." But he enjoyed the campaign – having set out to knock on every door in Cambridge – and made lasting friends from both parties. Henry had a gift for making and keeping friends, and they ranged far and wide. He loved his Bigelow Street neighbors – often first to the shovel in a snowstorm and the last to leave a party. His eyes shone at pre-dawn skates at the hockey rink, and with his rain-or-shine dress shirts, dramaturgical background, and meticulous and witty game-day chronicles, he was known as the "The Bard" by his Fogg softball teammates. Rarely seen without his binoculars, birding was Henry's greatest passion, forever hooked following a trip to the Kenyan Rift Valley in 1996. He made countless visits to Mount Auburn Cemetery, and during migration season, he was known to stay from dawn to dusk. England was his second home. He loved the countryside and was drawn to the people and the way of life. He and his wife made yearly visits to stay with friends and family, and Henry squeezed in birding trips to Scotland whenever possible.
Henry is survived by his wife of 38 years, Kate, his daughter Alexandra, son-in-law Dan, his mother Louise, his brothers John, Douglas, and David, his sister Carol, sister-in-law Carol, brother-in-law Robert, and nieces and nephews. A service will be held at noon, Saturday, Jan. 16th, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 838 Mass Ave., Cambridge, where Henry was an active member and in recent months found great solace at the weekday Morning Prayer gatherings. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Mount Auburn Cemetery or Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. [more here]
E. Denise Simmons was elected unanimously as Mayor on the 1st ballot.
Later, Marc McGovern was unanimously elected as Vice Mayor (actually, Vice-Chair of the City Council)
Rep. (and Councillor) Tim Toomey, Senator Sal DiDomenico, Rep. Marjorie Decker,
Vice Mayor Marc McGovern, Rep. Jay Livingstone (photo by Jim Henry)
|AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.|
|Sat, Jan 30. Hike Beautiful Billerica - The Fields. 9:45am-12:00pm. Meet by the tennis courts of Boys and Girls Club aka Lampson Field aka Peggy Hannon-Rizza Recreation Complex, 1 Ed Hayes Way, Billerica. Easy two hour hike along Narrow Gauge and B&M RR ad Martina Gage conservation land, with focus on camaraderie and local history, access to open space and trails exploration. Snowshoeing when there is snow... Winter walking: No bugs, no poison ivy, better views! Sturdy footwear recommended, and bring snack and drink. L Marlies Henderson.||Sat, Jan 30. Hike Beautiful Billerica - The Fields. 9:45am-12:00pm. Meet by the tennis courts of Boys and Girls Club aka Lampson Field aka Peggy Hannon-Rizza Recreation Complex, 1 Ed Hayes Way, Billerica. Easy two hour hike along Narrow Gauge and B&M RR ad Martina Gage conservation land, with focus on camaraderie and local history, access to open space and trails exploration. Snowshoeing when there is snow... Winter walking: No bugs, no poison ivy, better views! Sturdy footwear recommended, and bring snack and drink. L Marlies Henderson.|
|Sat, Feb 6. Hike Beautiful Billerica - Warren Manning. 9:45am-12:00pm. Meet by the Manning Manse aka Jon Ryan's Pub parking lot, 56 Chelmsford Road, Billerica. Easy two hour hike through Warren Manning State Forest, with focus on camaraderie and local history, access to open space and trails exploration. Snowshoeing when there is snow... Winter walking: No bugs, no poison ivy, better views! Sturdy footwear recommended, and bring snack and drink. L Marlies Henderson.||Sat, Feb 6. Blue Hills, Quincy. 10:00am-3:00pm. Snowshoe 6 miles in the Chickatawbut section, the most remote area of the Blue Hills Reservation. Will hike 7 miles in hilly areas if no snow. Meet at Shea Ice Rink parking lot by the trailhead, Willard St., Quincy. Call if weather questionable. Joint with Friends of the Blue Hills. L Steve Olanoff.|
|Sun, Feb 7. Powisett Farm, Dover. Snowshoe/walk, thru meadows, 1-3pm. Meet at grey barn. I-95/Rte. 128 Exit 16B to Rte. 109W for 1 mi., then R on Dover Rd. becomes Powisett Road. 2.5 mi. to Powisett Farm on left. Trustees of Reservation property. Rain cancels. L Jean Veigas.||Mon, Feb 15. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike/snowshoe around pond, 10:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch & 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. L Beth Mosias.|
City Council Scoreboard: 2014-2015 term
Here's an update of the scoreboard of activity of the individual city councillors for the 2014-2015 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 Dec 21, 2015 (several committee reports are still outstanding):
Year-by-year and current totals can be found on the City Council page. More detailed information on each City Council committee can be found on the City Council Committees page (including links to each committee report).
Second City of Cambridge Participatory Budgeting Winning Projects Announced!
Dec 18, 2015 – City officials announced the winning projects of Cambridge’s second Participatory Budgeting (PB) initiative. PB is a democratic process in which residents directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. [Editor's Note: Democratic does not necessarily mean representative of the whole community. It simply means that anyone could participate.] From December 5-12, 2015, Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted on how to spend $600,000 of the FY17 Capital Budget. The following seven projects won funding:
- Cambridge Prepared Food Rescue Freezer Van ($48,000)
- Separate Bike Lanes from Traffic ($50,000)
- 5 Water Bottle Refill Stations ($40,000)
- Make Massachusetts Avenue Safer for Bikers ($70,000)
- Shape Up Our Squares! ($40,000)
- Faster, Better #1 Bus for Cambridge ($250,000)
- New Chairs for Cambridge Public Schools! ($102,000)
Over 540 project ideas to improve Cambridge were submitted by community members in August. Volunteer Budget Delegates worked from September to November to research and develop the highest priority ideas into 23 proposals to be voted on by residents in December. This time, 4,184 residents voted — a 53% increase over the City's pilot PB process.
Many thanks to the PB Cambridge Steering Committee, the Budget Delegates, the Participatory Budgeting Project, City staff, the Stanford Crowdsourced Democracy Team, and all of the volunteers and participants who helped make the second PB process a success.
“This has been a terrific civic process, full of so much community spirit,” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi.
Episode 103 - Cambridge InsideOut (Jan 5, 2016)
Episode 104 - Cambridge InsideOut (Jan 5, 2016)
Episode 101 - Cambridge InsideOut (Dec 29, 2015)
Episode 102 - Cambridge InsideOut (Dec 29, 2015)
Episode 99 - Cambridge InsideOut (Dec 22, 2015)
Episode 100 - Cambridge InsideOut (Dec 22, 2015)
Cambridge School Committee 2015 Campaign Finance Summaries (updated Jan 24, 2015)
|Candidate||Start||Receipts||Expenditures||Balance||In-Kind||Cambridge $||% Cambridge||Notes|
|Kathleen Kelly||$1,754.85||$10,964.00||$5,498.78||$7,220.07||$0.00||$9,639.00||87.9%||$3,000 liab. to candidate|
|Emily Dexter||$0.00||$6,576.67||$2,789.21||$3,787.46||$0.00||$5,441.67||82.7%||$4416 liab. to candidate|
|Pia Cisternino||$0.00||$1,459.37||$1,185.36||$274.01||$0.00||$1,134.37||77.7%||$484.37 liab. to candidate|
|Fran Cronin||$1,560.03||$10,790.00||$5,341.77||$7,008.26||$0.00||$7,640.00||70.8%||$0 liabilities|
|Richard Harding||$0.00||$10,856.40||$8,187.01||$2,669.39||$0.00||$7621.50||70.2%||$6,595.54 liab. to candidate|
|Fred Fantini||$3,786.27||$5,650.00||$1,061.50||$8,374.77||$0.00||$2,950.00||52.2%||$14,396 liab. to candidate|
|David Weinstein||$0.00||$3,007.11||$2,043.49||$963.62||$106.25||$1,409.35||46.9%||$1,252.11 liab. to candidate|
|Elechi Kadete||$47.00||$688.41||$724.45||$10.96||$0.00||$283.52||41.2%||Report not yet available|
|Patricia Nolan||$1,081.40||$4,715.00||$5,413.57||$382.83||$0.00||$1,510.00||32.0%||$8,850 liab. to candidate|
This chart currently includes campaign finance reports through late-October.
The deadline for School Committee campaign finance reports for late-October through Dec 31, 2015 was January 20.
This table will be updated when that additional information is publicly available.
Cambridge's new Superintendent of Schools
The Cambridge School Committee voted 6 (Cronin, Kelly, Fantini, Nolan, Osborne, Maher) - 1 (Harding) to appoint Dr. Kenneth Salim as the next Superintendent of Schools pending contract negotiations, tonight.
Dr. Salim is the current Superintendent in Weymouth, MA and previously work in the Boston Public Schools as Senior Director for the Chief Academic Office and Interim Assistant Superintendent for Professional Development.
We are back on the air as of Tues, Oct 13, 2015. The show is broadcast live every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm with producers/hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. We plan to have other guest hosts as well.
[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos of each]
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 105-106 with Anthony Galluccio (Jan 12, 2016)
Cambridge InsideOut – Episodes 97 and 98 (Dec 16, 2015)
Oct 13, 2015 - The Return – Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 81 and 82
June 10 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2013-2014 featured co-hosts Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2015-2016 featured 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
April 2, 2015 - Another fun April Fool's Day
April 2, 2013 - Well, that was fun. Thanks to everyone for being such a sport on April Fool's Day.
Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)
The Neverending Study of Central Square
Aug 11, 2012 - While preparing to write a series of essays on Central Square, I put together the following list of Central Square studies culled from a variety of sources. I have originals for most of these. If you know of any others, please let me know. - Robert Winters
June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square
Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)
1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)
Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan
May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"
Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!
Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)
May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)
May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"
Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study
Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)
Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)
June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)
2013 - K2C2 Final Reports
K2C2 Final Reports Released
The final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.
THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik (33½ minutes)
FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee
City Council Rules 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect current Council committees)
City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)
City Council Committees (for the current term)
School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)
School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)
June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).
I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:
Purposes: This association is formed for the following purposes:
- 1. To promote businesslike, honest, and efficient conduct of local government, open to public scrutiny.
- 2. To induce residents to take an active interest in the affairs of the City of Cambridge.
- 3. To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs.
- 4. To assure that the best qualified persons are appointed to positions in the City government after consideration of all qualified candidates.
- 5. To promote among the citizens of Cambridge equitable distribution and benefit of public services and equal opportunity for economic security, education, and social advancement.
These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization and I'm tempted to say that some should be incorporated into the recently adopted City Council's Goals for FY2010 (adopted Feb 2, 2009). In fact, of the 22 current goals, the only one that comes close is: "An increased level of recruitment and opportunities for membership on boards and commissions." The current Council goals emphasize things like "fostering community" via block parties and such, though one has to wonder if the City should be promoting these activities or just getting out of the way so that people can foster community on their own. The goals also seem to put some emphasis on developing "successful nightlife campaigns" while mentioning nothing about promoting ordinary "daytime" economic activity that supports the everyday needs of residents.
One founding principle of the CCA that fell into disuse over the years is listed above as #3: To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs. Indeed, I can personally testify to the fact that in its dying years the only reason the CCA made endorsements at all was because the CCA-endorsed incumbents wanted the benefit of having an advertised CCA slate of candidates that would help secure their reelection. There was precious little effort to recruit new candidates or to support them. Today, the benefits of incumbency are greater than ever. The cost of political campaigns have become absurdly high and most of the incumbents now have (City paid) staff who are inevitably political appointees who directly or indirectly assist in the reelection efforts of their bosses. The deck is increasingly stacked against challengers. Furthermore, the salary and benefits for elected councillors are now so sweet that it is unlikely that any of them would ever want to move on to another job.
With this background in mind, I would like to encourage all Cambridge residents to help level the playing field by finding out about this year's challengers for seats on the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge School Committee. This is not meant as a dig against any particular incumbent as much as an appeal to support the challengers in what is a difficult and laudable effort. Please see the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the current list of expected candidates. Then use your own judgment - don't expect me or anyone else to do it for you.
Speaking of this year's municipal election, there are some activists who are now expending great effort to attack the City Manager and most of the current City Council. That is not nor has it ever been the intention of the Cambridge Civic Journal or its editor. Candidates are now being seduced by financial promises from one angry fellow with a Brattle Street address and a basketful of grudges. Former CCA Executive Board members from its darkest and most manipulative days are oozing up from the civic swamp trying to at last make good on their failed campaigns of the early 1990s to oust city manager Bob Healy.
It's entertaining to watch people who have primarily earned disrespect in their civic efforts try to capitalize on the recent Monteiro jury decision as a means of realizing their decades-old vendettas. Conveniently forgotten in their recent letters to Cambridge's "oldest weekly newspaper" are the many achievements of City Manager Bob Healy, the strong financial position of the City, and the recent 8-1 vote of confidence bestowed upon Mr. Healy in granting him a three year contract extension. Also missing in this testimony is the fact that virtually all affirmative action in the hiring of employees and department heads has taken place on Mr. Healy's watch. These letters also fail to divulge how long these writers have been carrying their jealousy and anger toward Mr. Healy for actually orchestrating progress in Cambridge while the best they could ever do is snipe from the sidelines. - Robert Winters
This Old Land of Cambridge - The true story of the geological history of Cambridge - by George Ehrenfried
Sadly, George passed away (Jan 5, 2010) at the age of 96. He led many a geology-themed hike with the AMC Local Walks/Hikes.
Selected City of Cambridge References:
Mass. General Laws Chapter 54A (governing Cambridge's PR elections)
Pen Portraits of Prominent People - by Henry J. Mahoney Editor, Cambridge Sentinel - 1923
This book was published c. 1923 and features very witty one-page “pen portraits” (with photo) of prominent Cantabrigians of the day. I'll be adding names alphabetically as time permits. There are 182 portraits in the book.
It comes to mind that there may be some value in expanding these profiles to other prominent Cantabrigians who arrived on the scene after 1923, including prominent Cantabrigians of today. With this in mind, I extend the invitation to any and all who may wish to contribute their own “pen portraits” of Cambridge people. Contributions do not necessarily have to be in the style of Mr. Mahoney. Inclusion is, as always, subject to the erratic discretion of the editor.
Special thanks to Karen Welch for sending me the book. - RW
Political History of Cambridge in the 20th Century
Which People's Republic
Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for people who can give one to two hours per week to help students in the Cambridge Public Schools, grades K through 12. No experience necessary. Call 617-349-6794 or e-mail email@example.com for more details.
Oliver Wendell Holmes – Morning Exercises of December 28, 1880
As recorded in the book 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Cambridge (1881)
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
The Cambridge Civic Journal is an independent newsletter of civic affairs in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published as a public service by Central Square Publications. All items are written by Robert Winters unless otherwise noted. [Of course, I do sometimes forget.]
Thoughts for these times:
''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz
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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"