On request.... here are some of the unofficial results from the recent Democratic primary. Only contested races are shown.
(No offense to our Republican friends, but there's really nothing to report until the General Election in November.)
There are still a few overseas absentee ballots to be included before the official results will be finalized.
|Candidate||Cambridge Votes||Cambridge %||Cambridge %
|Overall Votes||Overall %|
|Candidate||Cambridge Votes||Cambridge %||Cambridge %
|Overall Votes||Overall %|
|Candidate||Cambridge Votes||Cambridge %||Cambridge %
|Overall Votes||Overall %|
|Candidate||Cambridge Votes||Cambridge %||Cambridge %
|Overall Votes||Overall %|
|State Representative (25th Middlesex)|
|Candidate||Cambridge Votes||Cambridge %||Cambridge %
|Overall Votes||Overall %|
|Marjorie C. Decker||3546||72.6||83.2||72.6||83.2|
|Lesley R. Phillips||709||14.5||16.6||14.5||16.6|
|District Attorney (Middlesex - Northern District)|
|Candidate||Cambridge Votes||Cambridge %||Cambridge %
|Overall Votes||Overall %|
|Marian T. Ryan||5199||41.6||48.6|
|Michael A. Sullivan||5476||43.8||51.2|
|Rep. in Congress (5th District)|
|Candidate||Cambridge Votes||Cambridge %||Cambridge %
|Overall Votes||Overall %|
|Katherine M. Clark||5633||78.2||89.6|
Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program Chosen as
Beneficiary of Whole Foods Market’s 5% Day
Backpack Program is Featured Non-Profit to Receive 5% of all Proceeds at
Cambridge Whole Foods Locations on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Today, Mayor David Maher announced that Whole Foods Market has selected a local non-profit, the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, as this season’s beneficiary of 5% Day. Four times a year, Whole Foods Market of Cambridge donates 5% of the day’s net sales to a selected local charity, and on Wednesday, September 17th the Weekend Backpack Program will be the featured non-profit organization.
“An astoundingly simple idea has turned into a wonderful program that directly serves students at seven of Cambridge’s elementary schools,” said Mayor Maher. “Food insecurity is far too common of a problem, with particularly crippling effects for school age children. I encourage all residents to support the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program on 5% Day this Wednesday and help ensure that more children in our community receive the nutrition they need, 7 days a week.”
The Cambridge Weekend Backpack program sends two lunches, two breakfasts, milk, and fresh fruit home to Cambridge public school students whose primary source of nutrition is the school cafeteria. The healthy meals are packed discreetly in the students' backpacks Friday afternoons in order to help stop food insecurity outside of school time. This program ensures that the students, who would normally be undernourished over the weekend, receive enough food to eradicate their food insecurity and help them to be better prepared to learn. The program hopes to expand their offerings to 10 Cambridge Public Elementary Schools in October.
The Weekend Backpack Program will staff an information table inside the Whole Foods Market Fresh Pond (Alewife Brook Parkway), Whole Foods Market River Street & Whole Foods Market Prospect Street stores from 9am until 8pm and will hand out literature explaining the program. The program will use all funds received from the 5% Day to help provide healthy weekend meals to children whose primary source of nutrition is the school cafeteria.
For more information about Weekend Backpack Program or the 5% Day at Whole Foods Market, call 617-501-4561, or visit http://www.cambridgeweekendbackpack.com/.
The Ides of September - Sept 15, 2014 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights
This week's central agenda item is the vote to approve the appropriation of CPA funds.
Manager's Agenda #8. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, requesting that the City Council formally appropriate/allocate the Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds as follows:
The information is provided here only to highlight the City's continuing commitment to dedicating the maximum 80% of Community Preservation Act funds toward Affordable Housing initiatives and the minimum 10% each to Open Space Acquisition and to Historic Preservation. These are the only three permissible uses for CPA funds.
Applications & Petitions #2. A zoning petition has been received from Charles D. Teague, et al. to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance to clarify existing ordinance so that said ordinance can be enforced: align the zoning amendment expiration date in the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance to be the same as state law, align the Special Permit criteria with adjudicated state law and require that the master plan be followed whereas following the master plan is optional under state law.
As to the first proposal regarding expiration dates of zoning petitions, this is a simple correction that the City Council should have addressed when they were first alerted to the discrepancy by the City Solicitor. I wrote here on July 29, 2013: "The ambiguity between zoning petition expiration dates can be simply resolved via a minor change in the Zoning Ordinance. It's baffling why no city councillor has yet proposed this solution."
The second proposal calls for changing the language in the Zoning Ordinance so that Special Permits "may be granted" rather than "will normally be granted" by the Planning Board if all the Special Permit criteria are met. This would be a major change from a relatively clear process with established criteria to an environment in which there may as well be no criteria at all.
The third proposal is actually pretty funny (as well as absurd). Mr. Teague was perhaps the single most outspoken person making the claim during last year's municipal election season that Cambridge had no master plan. Now he's saying that the very thing he said did not exist must now be followed to the letter. Even if Mr. Teague had a change of heart regarding his beliefs, it would perhaps be a good idea if he tried to understand the difference between planning principles and legally enforceable ordinances. It's an important difference.
Resolution #18. Declare Sept 21, 2014 as Gratitude Day in the City of Cambridge. Mayor Maher
I am most grateful to Mayor Maher for this Resolution.
Order #4. Scheduling of Roundtable/Working Meetings on Oct 6, 2014 with the Affordable Housing Trust, Dec 1, 2014 to discuss city-wide planning including discussions with the Planning Board and Jan 12, 2015 to discuss city-wide planning including discussions with the Planning Board. Mayor Maher
Order #5. That the Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee schedule a meeting to review the City Council's most recent goals and make recommendations for FY16 Goals to include the addition of a goal relating to City-Wide Planning. Mayor Maher
It's worth noting that these steps addressing City-Wide Planning are taking place the week after the distraction of the Carlone Petition was finally eliminated. This is not to say that there won't be other zoning petitions forthcoming. In particular, it seems likely that those who wish to block the Sullivan Courthouse redevelopment and those opposed to building housing in the Alewife area may yet have a few cards to play.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public meeting held on July 9, 2014 to discuss the Community Development Department's efforts to preserve expiring use buildings, and a discussion about inclusionary zoning and the Nexus study.
In the spirit of moving on to more important business, it's about time that these housing-related matters are fully addressed. In particular, an increase in the inclusionary zoning requirement will likely have to permit additional density to cover the cost of the additional "affordable" units. That will likely require some uncomfortable political choices. The preservation of expiring use buildings is now a top priority of the Affordable Housing Trust and the Housing Division of the Community Development Department. Suffice to say that the cost of preserving existing affordable housing units is generally far less than building new affordable housing units. - Robert Winters
September 20 - The Day for Everything
Free Public Shredding Day – Saturday, Sept 20
The Cambridge Consumers’ Council and the Public Works Department will be joining forces with the U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service to host a Free Public Shred Event for Cambridge residents Saturday, Sept 20, from 10am–2pm, in front of Central Square Post Office, 770 Mass. Ave., Cambridge.
This event will be held rain or shine and will enable residents to safely dispose of unwanted records and documents. Documents will be destroyed on the spot in a highly advanced technical mobile shredding truck provided by Shred King Corporation.
Ten minute drop-off parking will be available on Massachusetts Avenue (between Pleasant & Sellers streets). Residents can also stop by for information on tips to avoid identity theft, fraud and scams, the City’s recycling and composting programs, and other topics.
For more information, please contact Laura M. Nichols with any questions at 617-349-6150 or email@example.com.
Danehy Park Family Day – Saturday, Sept 20
The City of Cambridge will host the 19th Annual Danehy Park Family Day on Saturday, September 20, from 11am–4pm. Enjoy a fun-filled day of children's amusement rides, arts and crafts, music and roving performers, plus free hot dogs, chips, sodas and T-shirts while supplies last! Check out performances throughout the day at the children's stage. Other special giveaways include colorful kites that appeal to kids of all ages! The rain date is Sunday, Sept 21.
Danehy Park is a 55-acre facility located at 99 Sherman Street in North Cambridge (adjacent to Garden and New Streets). This free event, sponsored by the City of Cambridge, attracts over 4,000 people annually and offers something for everyone.
Shuttle buses will be running throughout Cambridge to provide transportation. Danehy Park can be reached by public transportation: #74 bus or #78 bus from Harvard Square; #83 bus from Central Square; or take a shuttle bus from the Alewife MBTA Station. Picnics and lawn chairs are encouraged.
For more information, call 617-349-4301 or visit www.cambridgema.gov.
Enjoy a variety of free historical tours and events on Cambridge Discovery Day Saturday, Sept 20, from 9:30am–7pm. For tour descriptions, view the list below or visit http://www2.cambridgema.gov/Historic/walks.html, choose some tours and meet guides at the starting locations. All tours and events will take place rain or shine! For more information, contact Cambridge Historical Commission at 617-349-4683 (weekdays) or Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site at 617-876-4491 (weekends).
A Pearl of a Street (9:30-11am)
Meet at Pearl Street entrance of Central Square Branch Library, 45 Pearl St., Cambridge
Explore the neighborhood of upper Pearl Street and discover Mr. Valentine’s workers’ cottages, the rowhouses built by Mr. Squires and the site of an old soap factory. Led by Kit Rawlins, Cambridge Historical Commission. Questions? 617-349-4683 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Free Tours of The Longfellow House - Washington’s Headquarters
(10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm)
Meet in the Visitor’s Center, Longfellow House, 105 Brattle St., Cambridge
In the winter of 1775-1776, this was the headquarters of General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed Continental Army. From here, Washington directed the Siege of Boston and began to train and discipline the militias gathered in Cambridge. He entertained notable visitors, including Benjamin Franklin and Benedict Arnold. From 1837-1882, the house was a warm and welcoming place, the home of the poet, scholar and professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his family. It was a favorite gathering place for philosophers and artists, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Julia Ward Howe, James Russell Lowell and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Readings from poems, letters and diaries enliven the tours. Led by National Park Service Rangers. Questions? 617-876-4491
Stories of The Port: Between Kendall and Central (10-11:30am)
Meet at Jill Brown-Rhone Park, 900 Main St., junction of Columbia and Main streets and Mass. Ave.
Explore this neighborhood rich in ethnic and cultural diversity, public art and political history through the stories told by lifelong residents, immigrants and activists. See the mural on Portland Street celebrating Area 4; discover Clement Morgan and the park that bears his name; and delve into controversial projects, including urban renewal and the Inner Belt. The tour will end at Toscanini’s for coffee, ice cream and conversation. Led by Sarah Boyer, Oral Historian, Cambridge Historical Commission. Questions? 617-349-6171 or email@example.com
“Have You Milked The Cows Today?” (11:30am–12:30pm)
Meet on brick apron to right of the Mass. Ave. door of First Parish Unitarian Church, Zero Church St. Look for the bright red rug! For Children Ages 4-12. (Must be accompanied by a responsible adult).
Mistress Elizabeth, an 18th century living history character from Charlestown-Beyond-the-Neck, is the widow of Captain Elias de la Rue and a sometime schoolteacher and lives in the summer of 1773. Mistress Elizabeth will teach attendees how to write their name with a quill pen, card and spin wool, and read the abecedarium from a hornbook. Join us in singing songs and dancing country dances, too! Materials will be provided. Questions? 781-646-3013 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Longfellow House Presents the Dead Writers Showcase (12-3pm)
Meet in the garden at Longfellow House-Washington’s HQ National Historic Site, 105 Brattle St.
Join this modern literary salon featuring living history performers portraying 19th Century American writers. Drop in at any time to chat informally with the authors, who will offer brief readings from their works throughout the afternoon. You may meet Richard Henry Dana Jr. (Daniel Berger-Jones), Margaret Fuller (Jessa Piaia), Nathaniel Hawthorn (Rob Velella), Julia Ward Howe (Libby Franck), Washington Irving (John Dennis Anderson), Harriet Beecher Stowe (Susan Lenoe) and Henry David Thoreau (Richard Smith). [Writers attending may change.] Questions? Call 617-876-4491
Streets & Squares of Cambridge: A Walk In Mount Auburn Cemetery (1-2:30pm)
Meet at front gate of Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn St.
Have you ever wondered for whom the streets and squares of Cambridge are named? This tour will introduce you to the honored namesakes, including Zachariah Porter, Joseph Buckingham, Jared Sparks, Morrill Wyman, John Appleton, the Rindge family and many others. Their ideas and contributions — from the Porterhouse steak to the founding of Mount Auburn Hospital — helped create our culture and our city. Led by Carol Harper, volunteer docent. Questions? 617-607-1980 or friendsofmountauburn.org or www.mountauburn.org
Agents of Change: Polity & Politics in Cambridge Churches (1-2:30pm)
Meet at the information kiosk, Harvard Square.
Diversity of religious and political affiliations have been issues in Cambridge since Harvard’s first president became a Baptist and was asked to resign. Visit historic church sites; learn about the impact on New England of England’s Civil War of 1640 (the other civil war: Roundheads vs Royalists); and discuss how issues between Cambridge and Boston clergy foreshadowed and influenced events leading up to the Revolution. Sing a tune from the Bay Psalm Book at the site where it was published, join in a rousing political song or two at the Blue Anchor Tavern site, and listen to poetry by colonial writers. Handout included. Your guide, Mistress Elizabeth, is an 18th Century living history character from Charlestown-Beyond-the-Neck. The widow of Captain Elias de la Rue and a sometime schoolteacher, Mistress Elizabeth lives in the summer of 1773, just six months before the Boston Tea Party and a little less than two years before events at Lexington and Concord. Questions? 781-646-3013 or email@example.com
Fresh Pond Places: A History Walkabout (1-3pm)
Meet at Ranger Station (door under the clock tower facing pond), 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
A walk from the Water Treatment Plant to Black’s Nook passes through thousands of years of history, from Fresh Pond’s glacial past, through the days of private land ownership, to the booming international ice trade of the 19th century. Learn about the role of the railroad, view areas where ice houses stood, and discover the origins of place names. Program will be inside it it’s raining. Registration REQUIRED by Sept. 13. Wear comfy shoes! Led by Chief Ranger Jean Rogers Black’s Nook. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
The Old Burying Ground: Epitaphs, Elegies & Encomiums (3-4:15pm)
Meet at the Old Burying Ground gate next to Christ Church, Zero Garden St.
Examine the work of early colonial carvers; discuss the stones and the information they convey about important figures in the Cambridge community; and study how institutionalized colonial slavery affected burial sites, stones and commemorative texts in the years just prior to the American Revolution. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. No touching or rubbing of stones is permitted in the grounds; photography and drawing are fine! Handout included. Led by Mistress Elizabeth. Questions? 781-646-3013 or email@example.com.
The Women of Tory Row (3-4:30pm)
Meet at the Tory Row marker, corner of Brattle and Mason streets
In the 1760s, the estates along the King’s Highway to Watertown formed Cambridge’s richest and most elegant neighborhood. The American Revolution turned that world upside-down. This tour explores the lives of the women who managed households along modern Brattle Street, from the tumult in 1774 that drove away the neighborhood’s leading families, through the early republic. The women to be discussed include widows both wealthy and impoverished, wives who went into exile both happily and reluctantly, a formerly enslaved housekeeper and a German noblewoman captured with her husband at Saratoga. Led by J. L. Bell, historian. Questions? www.boston1775.net
The Writers of Cambridge Cemetery (5:30-7pm)
Meet at Cambridge Cemetery, 76 Coolidge Ave., outside the cemetery office.
Not all of our famous writers are interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Join this twilight stroll through Cambridge Cemetery and visit the final resting places of some of the 19th Century’s most important literary figures, including William Dean Howells and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Led by Rob Velella, literary historian. The cemetery is a short walk from the 71/73 bus stop at Mount Auburn St. and Coolidge Ave. Parking is available at the cemetery. Questions? http://americanliteraryblog.blogspot.com
Cambridge Discovery Day is sponsored by the Historic Cambridge Collaborative:
Cambridge Historical Commission – 617-349-4683 or www2.cambridgema.gov/historic
Cambridge Historical Society – 617-547-4252 or www.cambridgehistory.org
Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery – 617-547-7105 or www.mountauburn.org
Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site – 617-876-4491 or www.nps.gov/long
Cambridge Public Library/Archives & Special Collections – http://thecambridgeroom.wordpress.com
This program was funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Back in Session - Notable Items on the Sept 8, 2014 Cambridge City Council Agenda
Summer's over. Here are a few agenda items that caught my eye.
Manager's Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-72, regarding a report on evaluating parking around the Sullivan Courthouse.
There is little doubt that issues of traffic and parking will continue to be part of the discussion of the future use of the Courthouse building at 40 Thorndike St. A proper comparison should be between the previous active use as a courthouse/prison vs. the proposed uses for office/housing/retail. The availability of on-street resident parking and an analysis of the existing structured parking in the area are part of this discussion. This report addresses the former.
Manager's Agenda #13. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-80, regarding a report on fluoride in the City's water supply.
Read Saul Tannenbaum's take on this: https://www.cctvcambridge.org/WaterFluoridation
Manager's Agenda #14. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-75, regarding a report on possible options for preserving the Silver Maple Forest. [Letters from DPW Commissioner Owen O'Riordan and DCR Commissioner John Murray]
Most people, including the City Manager, feel that this area would be preferably preserved as open space but, as the report and the attached letters indicate, "it's complicated" and there are plenty of competing priorities when it comes to land acquisition.
Applications & Petitions #8. A zoning petition has been received from CJUF III Northpoint LLC to amend certain provision of the City of Cambridge Zoning Ordinance that govern the Planned Unit Development in the North Point Residence District to allow limited amounts of off-street retail parking.
This appears to address the need for sufficient parking to support retail uses planned for the North Point area. This is completely in line with the nearly universal desire for mixed use development in this area and elsewhere in the city.
Communications #7. A communication was received from Gerald Bergman, 82 Elm Street, regarding the ongoing debate about the Carlone Petition.
Most communications sent to the City Council in recent years have been boring repetitions of talking points pushed by various advocacy groups. Gerry Bergman's letter, in contrast, is a substantial appeal that greater attention be paid to the affordability of housing. Whether you agree or disagree with the points he makes, Gerry's letter offers detailed suggestions and is worth reading. Even if the affordability of housing is an issue that can only be meaningfully addressed regionally, it's important that Cambridge continue to hold up its part of that conversation.
Resolution #4. Resolution on the death of Peter A. Vellucci. Councillor Toomey
Resolution #5. Resolution on the death of Mayor Emeritus Walter J. Sullivan. Mayor Maher, Councillor Toomey and Councillor Simmons
I note these resolutions simply to once again note the loss of these two major Cambridge political figures on the same day in early August.
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to issue a report to the City Council that details how many City jobs have been outsourced to outside vendors since 2010, how the decision is made to consider outsourcing a job that was originally an internal hire, how the outside vendors are chosen, what the benefits to the City are of outsourcing these jobs to outside vendors, and whether individuals working in these positions have the same job benefits and protections as those who work directly for the City have. Councillor Simmons and Councillor McGovern
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to issue a report to the City Council that outlines what the City's hiring process is, whether Cambridge residents are given preference when applying for jobs, whether internal candidates are given preference over external candidates, and what the City's procedure is for encouraging employee advancement and professional development for current employees. Councillor Simmons and Councillor McGovern
Both of these Orders seem like reasonable requests for clarification of policies regarding the hiring and advancement of City employees. They provide an interesting contrast with the discussions and resulting ordinance of 20 years ago that mandated residency for many City jobs. Whether or not you agreed with that short-lived ordinance (it was repealed a few months after ordination when a new City Council took office), the simple fact is that the high cost of housing in Cambridge creates a significant dilemma if the ideal is to have people who work in (and for) Cambridge also live in Cambridge.
Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with Community Development Department and report back to the City Council with a summary of previous recommendations for the Volpe Center site included in planning studies such as but not limited to, ECAPS, Neighborhood Planning Studies, K2, and efforts by the East Cambridge Planning Team and that the report summarize zoning and zoning overlays, and outline the development potential and limitation of this area. Councillor Toomey
The future of the Volpe Transportation Center site in Kendall Square may well prove to be one of the major planning opportunities for the next few years if it does become available for redevelopment. Much of the housing recommendations in the K2 study were focused on the Volpe site and there have been indications that the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority and the Community Development Department are eager to realize those recommendations in some form or another.
Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and any other appropriate City or State Departments to create a pedestrian stairway leading from the sidewalk on Alewife Brook Parkway to the Fresh Pond Mall parking lot. Councillor McGovern
Though this seems like a perfectly reasonable idea that builds upon what people are already doing today, I expect that ADA requirements will drive up the cost and complexity of such an accommodation to the point where nothing happens.
Order #10. The City Manager report back to the City Council with an update on work underway to recommend changes to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, next steps to be taken by staff and the City Council toward the goal of amending the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance to increase the ratio of required affordable units, and implications of such an increase so that the City Council can be prepared to take up changes to this important Ordinance. Councillor McGovern, Mayor Maher and Vice Mayor Benzan
This is a timely Order that acknowledges the fact that there will be trade-offs associated with any change in the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, e.g. the need to permit additional height and density in order to deliver the desired affordable housing units.
Order #12. The City Manager is requested to work with the City Clerk and the IT Department to create a searchable, sortable public online resource which clearly displays all policy orders that have come before the City Council, including also: each City Council member's voting record, information on the City Manager's progress on each order, any departmental notes related to any given order, and an estimated timeline related to any given order. Councillor Mazen
For any consequential City Council Order, this is usually achieved by the inclusion of language in the Order requiring a report back from the City Manager. The inclusion of each councillor's voting record seems more politically motivated than anything else and, besides, most Orders pass unanimously. It is perhaps better to let the City Manager and the various City departments do their job of prioritizing and acting on City Council orders without unnecessary bookkeeping of every action taken and when. Then again, if micromanagement is your thing, then this Order is for you. For the most part, the City administration has been very responsive to City Council requests over the last few years even when juggling many such requests.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., Chair of the Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee for a public hearing held on Aug 14, 2014 to review expenditures/allotments in reference to the City Council Travel and City Council Resolutions with possible amendments, the position of Deputy City Clerk and any other items that may properly come before the Committee.
The central recommendations of this report are that (a) individual councillors should get an increase in their annual allotments for job-related travel; (b) councillors should restrain themselves from submitting excessive numbers of resolutions; and (c) Paula Crane should be appointed as Deputy City Clerk. These are all good proposals. There was some discussion of placing a strict quota on how many resolutions each councillor could file, but it does seem that voluntary compliance is the better way to go with public shaming of any councillor who goes overboard.
Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on July 30, 2014 to discuss a zoning petition filed by Dennis Carlone, et al. requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge to designate the City Council as the exclusive special permit granting authority for Project Review Special Permits.
Committee Report #7. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public meeting held on Aug 27, 2014 to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge to designate the City Council as the exclusive special permit granting authority for Project Review Special Permits.
These are the reports of the two Ordinance Committee hearings concerning the Carlone Petition which will hopefully be euthanized in short order. Even Councillor Carlone acknowledged that this was really about putting the brakes on at most three projects currently in the pipeline (Courthouse redevelopment, New Street housing, and Alewife Triangle housing). It will be in everyone's best interest if this petition is put to sleep and attention redirected toward the proposed citywide planning process. That said, the intense focus by some advocates on the Courthouse and other projects could lead to other zoning petitions in the coming weeks that are more site-specific.
One thing I'll say specifically about the second Ordinance Committee meeting on this topic was how effectively some of the more specious claims by some advocates (regarding the Alewife area and New Street) were refuted. Specifically, requirements for any new development in the Alewife area would produce greater flood storage capacity than now exists, and any "brownfield" aspects of proposed housing sites on New Street are subject to full review and required remediation. In short, redevelopment would yield cleaner sites and greater flood protection than doing nothing - in addition to any new housing that is provided. Then again, perhaps this is really all about traffic in the final analysis, and the fact that residential housing has minimal traffic impact is something people just don't want to hear.
UPDATE: The Carlone Petition was euthanized at the Sept 8 meeting. A motion to pass it to a 2nd Reading failed on a 3-5-1 vote with Councillors Carlone, Mazen, and Simmons voting YES; and Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillors Kelley, McGovern, Toomey, and Mayor Maher voting NO. Councillor Cheung was ABSENT.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Mayor David P. Maher announcing the formation of a Special Mayor's Commission to explore the issues surrounding poverty and its effects on our community and Councillor McGovern will chair this Commission.
Good idea, Mr. Mayor, and you chose the right Chair.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting copies of two Acts of 2014 signed by the Governor, An Act Authorizing the Department of Conservation and Recreation to Lease Certain Parkland in the City of Cambridge; and An Act Authorizing the Commissioner of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to Convey a certain parcel of land in the City of Cambridge.
I look forward to hearing a little more detail about the second of the two documents having to do with land conveyed in the North Point area (possibly for the proposed skate park). The first of these concerns the lease of the Powder House at Magazine Beach to the City of Cambridge. This opens up the possibility of an active use of this structure in conjunction with the great restoration work now underway. - Robert Winters
City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking a Cambridge resident to fill a vacancy on the Cambridge Conservation Commission.
The Conservation Commission is responsible for administration of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (WPA), a state law governing activities in and immediately adjacent to local wetlands, waterways and floodplains. The Commission holds two regularly scheduled public meetings each month to review permit applications under the WPA, issue permits and conduct other business related to the management of Cambridge’s natural resource areas.
The Conservation Commission consists of seven members appointed by the City Manager to serve three-year terms. Cambridge residents with expertise in landscape architecture, civil/environmental engineering, hydrology, ecology or law are encouraged to apply.
Please send a letter of interest and/or resume via e-mail, mail or fax by Friday, Oct 3, 2014 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Tues, Sept 2 - The Cambridge Public Schools returned today for the 2014-15 school year but, as is often the case, there are a few kinks yet to be ironed out. My tale this morning is about the lack of communication between City departments.
I've lived across the street from a school building now for over 35 years, so the sound of delivery trucks is nothing new. Today, however, was different. An 18-wheeler made a delivery to the old Longfellow School building and afterwards the driver decided that this was the perfect place to relax for well over a half-hour with his very LOUD refrigeration unit running at full tilt. I asked him if he could turn it off and he refused. He also refused to move. I went into the main office of the King School (now housed in the building) and was told that the principal was in a meeting and that I should wait (she never came out). I then called the School Department main number and it rang for several minutes before I finally gave up. I then telephoned the King School and they transferred me to the cafeteria person who then transferred me to someone else. I was told that this wasn't the King School's problem because the truck was delivering to a pre-school in the building that is administered through the City's Department of Human Services Programs. I called there and was transferred to someone who is in charge of pre-K programs and could only leave a message. After this endless runaround I went over to take photos of the truck and its nonresponsive driver.
Just as I was getting ready to contact the City Manager's Office I noticed that a Cambridge police officer had arrived and was now speaking with the driver who claimed that he was entitled to be there under some federal law. Fortunately, I knew the police officer and when he called over to me by name only then did the driver start showing signs of moving. He left a few minutes later.
I understand that this was Opening Day for the schools and that perhaps not everything should be expected to work seamlessly, but this really was a first class runaround. I'm especially perplexed by the fact that King School administrators claimed that they could do nothing because this involved a pre-school run by Human Services. Don't these people talk to each other? - Robert Winters
The 21st Annual Oldtime Baseball Game last night was a great time for all who attended. Thanks again to Steve Buckley for doing all that he does to make this happen, and a special thanks to Pete Frates for all the inspiration he's provided.
Statement from Mayor David Maher regarding License & Traffic Decision on Bridj Application
Aug 22 - “It has become increasingly clear that the City of Cambridge, like many other cities, needs to develop transportation strategies that better respond to these emerging transportation services. Recently, we have seen a number of new technologies aimed at promoting alternative transportation methods for those living and working in Cambridge. We must continue to seek these alternative modes of transportation if we hope to positively impact climate change and reduce the burden on our public transit services. As Cambridge moves forward with our Master Planning process, I expect that transportation issues will continue to be a major focus.”
From the Bridj website:
Bridj is an express mass transit system - meaning users save time by going directly to their destinations. When compared to traditional public transit, Bridj saves you time by offering reliable service, no transfers and way fewer stops. Using Bridj to move around the city is incredibly affordable. For a little more than a subway ride, but less than a taxi you can get to and from your destination quickly and easily. Plus, if you commute using Bridj, the entire expense may be tax deductible. Each shuttle is top of the line. When you enter, you'll sit down in your guaranteed premium seat and enjoy a quiet ride with complimentary WiFi. The time you spend traveling is not only more comfortable, but you can also be productive. Smart Bridj makes cities move more effectively by crunching millions of data points to see where people live and work. We use this data to construe commuting patterns and instead of forcing people to conform to an existing mass transportation system we can conform to meet your needs.
L to R: Joe Amaroso, Mayor David Maher, City Manager Richard Rossi, School Superintendent Jeff Young
Not shown: School Committee members Fred Fantini, Mervan Osborne, Kathleen Kelly, and Patty Nolan;
and City Councillors Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Nadeem Mazen, and Dennis Carlone
Mayor Maher challenged Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, the Somerville Board of Alderman, the Somerville School Committee and the staff of Somerville City Hall to support ALS research by duplicating the effort made by the City of Cambridge. Rich Rossi also challenged Belmont Town Administrator (and former City of Cambridge Budget Director) David Kale.
Sat, Sept 20
9:30am-7:30pm Cambridge Discovery Day Historical Tours (various locations)
10:00am-2:00pm Free Public Shredding Day (front of Central Square Post Office)
11:00am-4:00pm Danehy Park Family Day (Danehy Park)
Sun, Sept 21
2:00pm-4:30pm Somerville Architectural and Historical Walking Tour (front of Somerville High School, 91, Highland Ave., Somerville)
“Union Square: An Intermixing of Industry, Immigration and Innovation” - An Architectural and Historical Walking Tour. [Flyer]
[Rain Date: Sun, Sept 28] Meet in front of Somerville High School, 91 Highland Ave., to meander down to Union Square, walking westward. The walk will include interior tours of the historic St. Anthony’s Church and the new Greentown Labs, and will end with a reception at Machu Picchu Restaurant. To register or for more information, contact Brandon Wilson, SHPC Executive Director, (617-625-6600 ext. 2532, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kristi Chase, SHPC Preservation Planner (617-625-6600 ext. 2525, email@example.com). Sponsored by: Historic Preservation Commission & ArtsUnion, a Union Square cultural economic initiative directed by Mayor Joseph Curtatone and the Somerville Arts Council.
Mon, Sept 22
5:30pm City Council meeting (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)
Sat, Sept 27
10:00am-2:00pm Repair Café [details] (Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender St.)
Sun, Sept 28
The 7th Annual Bow Tie Ride
Ever notice that the city of Cambridge is shaped like a bow tie?
Our 13 mile tour through Cambridge starts at the Cambridge Main Library, 449 Broadway. We'll meet at 10:00am for orientation and leave promptly at 10:30am. The ride will finish back where we started, on the library grounds, about two hours later.
It wouldn't be a Bow Tie Ride without bow ties. We're excited to be partnering once again with our friends at OoO Tie. Enter our drawing at the end of the ride for a chance to win a free bow tie. We have three to give away so you have three chances to win!
Want to start the ride showing off your good taste by sporting a new bow tie? Shop at the OoO Tie website and get a 20% discount using the code BOWTIERIDE2014.
Bow ties are optional but you can't ride without a bicycle. If you need one for the day,Urban AdvenTours has a special discount offer. Call 617-670-0637 to make your reservation and mention our ride. Your rental fee will be only $25 for the day.
You can pick up your bike at Urban AdvenTours any time after 9am on Sunday and must return it by 6pm. For an additional $10, Urban AdvenTours will deliver your rental bike to the Cambridge Main Library, where the ride starts and ends.
Like all our tours, this ride is free of charge. We'll keep you posted with more news of our plans at the CambridgeBikes.org website.
Mon, Sept 29
5:30pm City Council meeting (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)
6:30pm The City Council will conduct a public hearing to discuss the property tax rate classification. (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)
Tues, Sept 30
3:00pm The City Council's Housing Committee will conduct a public meeting with the Community Development Department to provide updates on inclusionary zoning, linkage, the Nexus Study, the three expiring use buildings (Briston Arms, the Close Building and Fresh Pond Apartments) that the City is working to preserve and preferences for affordable housing waitlists. (831 Mass. Ave., Basement Conference Room)
7:00pm Planning Board meeting (in East Cambridge - presumably at Kennedy school building)
1. Update by Brian Murphy, Assistant City Manager for Community Development.
7:00pm Continued public hearing on PB#288 – 40 Thorndike Street, Special Permits to convert the existing nonconforming Courthouse structure at 40 Thorndike Street to a mixed use office building containing ground floor retail uses, 24 dwelling units, and below grade parking. Special permits are being sought pursuant to Section 19.20 Project Review, Section 8.22.2.a. Alteration of a Nonconforming Structure, Section 5.28.2 (et seq.), Conversion of a Non-Residential Structure to Residential Use, and Section 10.40 General Special Permit Requirements. by LMP GP Holdings, c/o Leggat McCall Properties, LLC.
September Programs at Fresh Pond Reservation
These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.
|A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
Dates: Fridays from Sept 12 through Nov 21
for young kids and their parents/caretakers. Join CWD staff and volunteers for casual explorations and play in our urban wild! We meet at Maher Park (650 Concord Ave) through October 3. For the rest of Oct. and Nov. we meet at the Ranger Station (far side of the Water Dept building, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy). Heavy rain or thunder cancels. Contact: Kirsten at (617) 349-6489, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wake-Up and Weed!
|Tours of the Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Facility
Dates: Monday Evenings: Oct 6, Nov 3
Time: 6:00 to 7:30pm
Location: Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
The Cambridge Water Department is offering tours of the City's beautiful Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility. The program will include a virtual tour of the Cambridge water supply system, explaining the process by which water that falls as rain in the suburbs 10 miles west of Cambridge is transported to Fresh Pond and made into pure drinking water for our city. Come, and bring your questions. For more information and parking directions, contact Kirsten at (617) 349-6489 / email@example.com
|Fresh Pond History Walk About
Date: Sept 20
Place: Meets at Ranger Station
In celebration of Cambridge Discovery Days learn about Fresh Pond’s past while we walk through the recently restored Northeast Sector and beyond to Black’s Nook. Starts at the Ranger Station and ends at Maher Park on Concord Ave. Wear comfortable shoes. Distance about 1.5 miles. Contact: Jean Rogers at at firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-349-4793.
|Community Weed Out: Smorgasbord!
Date: Sept 22
Place: Meets at volunteer trailer in lower parking lot
We’ll tackle the smorgasbord of weeds at the end of the growing season. Digging, dead-heading, and weed-wrenching are all possible! Gloves and tools provided; please wear sturdy shoes. Long pants, sleeves, bug spray and a water bottle recommended.
|National Public Lands Day Stewardship
Date: Sept 27
Place: Meets at Ranger Station
Join People Making a Difference (PMD) and Ranger Jean to help with a variety of stewardship tasks while learning about Fresh Pond Reservation and the resources it provides the community. Tools, gloves and good company provided. Please wear sneakers or boots. No sandals. Contact: Jean Rogers at at email@example.com, 617-349-4793.
Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at www.friendsoffreshpond.org to download a form.
Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at http://friendsoffreshpond.org to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants. Upcoming Programs
• The Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program
• Grow Native Massachusetts is offering a series of free nature-related "Evenings with Experts" lectures at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. Details are at www.grownativemass.org and grownativemass.org/programs/eveningswithexperts in particular. First Wednesdays of the Month, 7:00-8:30pm.
• Sign up for the City of Cambridge's informative "Recycling and Composting Newsletter" by e-mailing email@example.com.
|AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.|
|Sat, Sept 20, 2014. Parks & Greenways, Quincy. 7-mi. walk w/beach, woods, salt marshes, historic sites, 10:00am - 2:30pm. Bring lunch. Take Quincy Shore Drive to Wollaston Yacht Club pier at Beach St. Or T to Wollaston, walk 1 mile. L Mike Tuohey.||Sun, Sept 21, 2014. Explore East Boston. From 10am-2pm. Harbor walk, beaches, historic sites, and more. Meet inside near the exit turnstile at Airport T Station (Blue Line). Bring lunch, water. Storm cancels. New members welcome. L Sharon Marshall.|
|Sun, Sept 21, 2014. Lynn Woods, Lynn. Leader's Choice, 5 miles, 9:00am-1:00pm. Bring lunch, water, 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. L Nelson Caraballo.||Sun, Sept 21. Duxbury Beach. 10:00am. It is 10-15 degrees colder on the beach. Please dress accordingly. Begin at Powder Point Bridge crossing 1/2 mile to the peninsula which is surrounded by ocean and bay. Hike the beach for 1.8 miles to High Pines. Cross over to a packed dirt road, the Gurnet Road, which passes through thick pine forest on the ocean side and marsh on the bay. Walk to the Plum Hills, or the Plymouth Town Line, approximately 1 mile. Return the same way. Lunch at French Memories (also owners of Cafe Vanille, Four Seasons Hotel, Boston) at Snug Harbor, Washington Street, Duxbury Center. Click on link for directions. Heavy rain cancels. If uncertain, contact a leader. L Lisa Fleischman, CL Mary Wisbach.|
|Sat, Sept 27. Middlesex Fells, Winchester. 10am-2:30pm. Moderate walk. Bring water/lunch. Meet Wedgmere Station, Winchester. From Rte. 93 exit 33 (Medford), take S. Border Rd. W 2.2mi. to Mystic Valley Pkwy., 0.9mi. to Bacon St., R under tracks. Lot on L. Storm cancels. L Betsy Goeke.||Sun, Sept 28. Middlesex Fells, Winchester. Sheepfold Pkg. lot. Mod to stren. 6-7 mi. hike over many hills & rough terrain. 9:00am-2:00pm. Bring lunch, H2O, snacks. Rte. 93 S to exit 35. At stop sign, go L under highway. At next stop sign go R. At first set of lights turn R onto Rte. 28. Turn R into Sheepfold entrance. Rte. 93 N to exit 33 (Route 28). Sheepfold entrance is 2 miles up on the L. Cancel if rain. L Nelson Caraballo.|
|Sun, Sept 28. Caryl Park, Dover. Fast-paced hike, 10am, 5mi. Rte.95/128 exit 19, Highland Ave. 1.8mi. to Needham Ctr., R onto Rte.135 1 block, L onto Chestnut St. S 1.5mi., bear R at fork onto Dedham St. 1.5mi. Pkg.lot on L (tennis courts) past Mill Farm. L Joyce Beatty.||Sun, Sept 28. Bedford/Burlington/Lexington Woodlands. Very hilly 6-mi. wander through various conservation & municipal lands. 9:45am-2:30pm. Meet at the new Wilson Mill Park, Old Burlington Rd., Bedford, MA. From Rte. 128 exit 31B head NW 2.1 mi. toward Bedford on MA 225W/MA 4N to MA 62E. Turn R (toward Burlington) and bear R at "Y" in 0.9 mi on Old Burlington Rd. Pkg. lot is 0.3 mi at dead end. Heavy rain cancels (if weather uncertain call). L Mark Levine.|
We're taking a few weeks off from Cambridge InsideOut. We're down a co-host and considering our options.
Recent Broadcasts of Cambridge InsideOut [complete list of shows]
June 10 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.
Watch Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm. The co-hosts are Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
Tues, Aug 19 - Our guest on Cambridge InsideOut was Terry Smith, former Director of Government Affairs, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. [Susana Segat was on vacation this week.]
Cambridge Selected to Compete for $5 Million Dollar Energy Efficiency Prize
Aug 12 - The City Cambridge was one of 52 communities across the country selected to advance to the quarterfinalist round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), a $5 million incentive competition to reduce America’s energy consumption.
Cambridge has assembled a municipal team, outlined a plan and secured signed commitments of collaboration from NSTAR, MIT and HEET (Home Energy Efficiency Team).
“Getting to the Quarterfinals is just the beginning, now the Cambridge community needs to generate real energy savings by upping everyone’s commitment to energy efficiency and solar,” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi.
Cambridge is motivated to succeed because it currently pays some of the highest energy prices in the country, so the next challenge is to motivate renters, landlords and homeowners to tackle energy efficiency and solar installations. Significant energy efficiency strides are necessary for the Cambridge community to achieve net-zero for all energy use in buildings.
In total, over the two years of the GUEP competition, Cambridge and other participants have the potential to save more than $1 billion in total energy costs and cut millions of tons of CO2 emissions.
“The communities GUEP selected are leaders in energy efficiency who will develop innovative approaches that will inspire and enable others to follow in their footsteps,” said Dr. Francis Slakey, Founder and Executive Director of the Georgetown University Energy Prize.
“Over the next few months, we will fine tune our energy efficiency plans and look for input and participation from the community through our school children, educational institutions, landlords, tenants and homeowners,” said Brian Murphy, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “We welcome hearing from individuals who want to volunteer their time and energy to making Cambridge the home of energy innovation.”
About Georgetown University Energy Prize
The Georgetown University Energy Prize aims to rethink America’s energy use by harnessing the ingenuity and community spirit of towns and cities all across America. Over the course of a two-year period, the Prize will challenge small- to medium-size towns, cities and counties to rethink their energy use, and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. To compete for the Prize, local governments, residents, utilities and others will need to work together to demonstrate success in sustainably reducing energy consumption. For more information, visit www.guep.org.
August 8 - I just returned from the wake for Walter J. Sullivan. Though the event is the death of a great man, this was a thoroughly joyful experience. So many people from all walks of life were there, including many people from political life past and present. It was like a walk down a half century and more of Cambridge history - and not the history of buildings and events. This is the history of the many long time families of Cambridge - and everybody knew Walter. - RW
July 30 - I attended a City Council Ordinance Committee today on the topic of the Carlone Petition that would transfer much of the Special Permit granting authority from the Planning Board to the City Council for the next several years. This is perhaps the second worse zoning petition I've seen introduced over the last three decades. Though I had not intended to speak at the meeting, after hearing all the rubbish that was said during public comment, I really had to chime in with a little perspective. It's unfortunate that Councillor Toomey couldn't make the meeting (it was a very busy day at the State House) because as a city councillor since 1990 he would have been able to provide the kind of institutional memory that some of the new kids on the block simply don't possess. It is at times like this that I really miss Councillor Reeves who could usually be counted on to set the record straight.
One thing that some councillors forget, never knew, or perhaps just want to avoid is the whole idea behind devices like Special Permits, Overlay Districts, and Planned Unit Developments. There was a time when zoning was a lot more cut and dried. Districts were designated as Residential, Commercial, Industrial, and perhaps another category or two. There were also some mixed districts such as neighborhood-scale mixed retail and residential. (I live in such a district.) There were also established limits on height and density and setbacks appropriate to some districts, though there were also zones with no such limits. The zoning determined what you could build "as of right," and you did not have to go to the Planning Board or the City Council just as long as your plans did not exceed the prescribed limits. On some occasions you might have to seek a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals if you needed a little relief. It was all pretty simple.
Over time, the allowed heights and densities have been increased when there was a desire to attract new construction or, in more recent times, to "downzone" to lower heights and densities in response to demands for "liveable neighborhoods." The last few decades also saw the introduction of Overlay Districts and Planned Unit Developments as devices that would allow the Planning Board to have a little more flexibility as a means of extracting desirable outcomes. One device that was used in conjunction with these districts and, more recently, in some other districts, was the Special Permit process.
The basic (and very good) idea of the Special Permit process is this: Cap what can be built as of right (by lowering heights and densities), but allow a property owner/developer some additional height or density in exchange for providing certain carefully specified benefits. These constitute the Special Permit Criteria. It's really a form of gentle extortion for the public good. Better building design, publicly accessible open space, additional housing are examples of Special Permit criteria, and it's the City Council who votes on what criteria are specified in the Zoning Ordinance. The Planning Board (in conjunction with City staff) is then charged with ensuring that the criteria are met, and the deal is pretty simple: Meet the criteria and you get the Special Permit.
It has to be emphasized that this is not a blank check. There are still limits on height and density for projects built under a Special Permit, and it's all laid out in the Zoning Code passed by the City Council. Fortunately, there's an expert Planning Board and City staff to sort out all the details. They don't have too much discretion to address "bigger issues" because that was never intended. The Planning Board are not the policy-makers. That task is left to the elected City Council and that's what they do when they amend the Zoning Ordinance. This includes modifying the Special Permit criteria depending on what incentives for the public good they decide might be extracted via the Special Permit process. Even in the disposition of proposed zoning amendments, whether those proposed by residents or by the Planning Board itself, the Board only makes recommendations to the City Council, and it's up to the City Council to adopt, amend, or reject the proposal.
Creating incentives for new housing via Special Permit in former industrial areas was an initiative of the City Council a little more than a decade ago. Not too much housing was produced at first, but in recent years the goal of new housing has been happening at a quicker pace. It's happening because the City Council wanted it to happen, and now newly-spawned groups such as the Cambridge Residents Alliance (CRA) and the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance (FPRA) are howling in protest. Instead of proposing modification of the Special Permit incentives, we instead get the Carlone Petition (which, by the way, was also signed by Councillor Mazen). It will be a shock if it gets more than those two votes, and it requires six votes out of nine to pass. The best course of action for the City Council would be to discuss it briefly at the next Ordinance Committee meeting and then forward it to the full City Council with a negative recommendation. Then they can process it into the dumpster in September.
The Carlone Petition survives now only as a political organizing tool for Carlone (and Mazen), Carlone's supporters, and his paid City Council aide Mike Connolly who is receiving a City paycheck for what is fundamentally outside political activity with the CRA. [This, of course, was inevitable when these Council aide positions were established. Virtually all of these aides played significant roles in the elections of the people for whom they now work, and it's hard to imagine firing any one of them without inviting retaliation from the associated councillor.] The City Council could and should be tackling more significant matters, including adjustments to the Special Permit criteria if they feel the need. There were a lot of good ideas generated during the K2C2 process that are languishing on the back burner while time and effort is wasted on Carlone's Folly. Now would be a good time for some leadership from the other seven city councillors. - Robert Winters
Midsummer Night's Distraction - July 28, 2014 Cambridge City Council Agenda
The City Council returns briefly on Monday for its only meeting of the summer. Due to renovations to the Sullivan Chamber, this meeting will take place in the Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway, CRLS. Here is a sampler of items of interest:
Manager's Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $133,437.51 funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to the Grant Fund Police Salary and Wages account ($97,423.51) and to the Grant Fund Other Ordinary Maintenance Account ($36,014) which is a reimbursement of expenditures related to the 2013 Marathon Bombing during the week of Apr 15, 2013 through Apr 24, 2013 and will be used to offset overtime costs and to purchase a Morphotrak system used for identifying latent finger prints.
Though there isn't really anything controversial in this, I'm reminded of an appropriation a few months ago to cover costs associated with bomb-sniffing dogs that led to concerns about excessive police presence. In the end, most of us just got to pet Kevin, a very nice and very talented police dog.
Manager's Agenda #15. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to zoning text prepared by the Community Development Department in regard to a request made by the Ordinance Committee at its June 9 public hearing on the Chun, et al. Zoning Petition, which proposes amending the zoning in the Cambridge Highlands neighborhood.
Nothing special to say here - just that maybe third time's the charm. This is the Chun III Petition.
Manager's Agenda #19. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-71, regarding a report on the feasibility of streamlining the permitting process for one-day permits for food trucks visiting Cambridge for special events.
I suppose some steps have to be taken to ensure public safety, but I remember being a youngster in New York when all you needed was a low-cost vendor's permit and you could just park a cart along a road and sell hot dogs and other tasty stuff. I did that for a part of a summer and never once had to deal with regulators, inspectors, the fire department, or anyone else for that matter. When did eveything get so damn complicated?
Manager's Agenda #35. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-52, regarding a report on New Street improvements.
Not long ago, a City Council proposal to improve New Street was assailed by those who felt that improvements would facilitate the approval of new housing on that street - even though their original complaint was about the dreadful state of the street. Solution = Problem (to some). I hear that some paint has been applied to the street to better guide the traffic. The proposed improvements will be better still. The horror!
Manager's Agenda #37. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, request support from the City Council of my intention to submit an application for funding under the Commonwealth's Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program (referred to as the "I-Cubed" program).
The report provides some explanation. "The I-Cubed program provides a mechanism for funding public infrastructure associated with economic development projects. It relies on new state tax revenues derived primarily from new jobs associated with the project to pay debt service on the bonds which are issued by the Commonwealth to fund the infrastructure." The application is for future development in the NorthPoint area.
Manager's Agenda #38. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an update on the Cambridge Conversations: Preliminary Summary of Process and Input.
The report covers only the initial "conversations" phase of the larger "Master Plan" process and mainly consists of a compilation of impressions expressed by residents. Some have suggested that the whole process may take several years.
Manager's Agenda #39. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to actions I am taking in light of the July 16, 2014 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in the case of Merit Construction Alliance v. City of Quincy as it relates to the Responsible Employer Ordinance.
Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor to determine if there are other options for requiring apprenticeship programs and to report back to the City Council with a legal opinion on how to proceed in ensuring these programs remain part of the Cambridge Employment Plan. Councillor McGovern and Councillor Simmons
The Order is in response to the fact that the court decision renders some of the City's legally mandated apprentice programs unenforceable. Ideally, voluntary compliance with the intent of that law could still provide the same benefits.
Manager's Agenda #41. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to proposed amendment to Chapter 6.04 of the Cambridge Municipal Code (the "Animal Control Regulations").
Those who fail to scoop the poop may soon have to pick up or pay more. Other proposed changes include giving Ranger Jean at Fresh Pond the authority to enforce all aspects of the Animal Control Regulations. Does this include speeding, lane violations, or failure to yield to smaller dogs?
Unfinished Business #8. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk's Office 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 June 24, 2014 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code entitled "Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance." The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after July 14, 2014.
This matter was passed to a 2nd Resolution at the June 30 meeting and is now in the queue for ordination. As this is not an especially onerous regulation, it could well be voted and approved at this meeting.
Resolution #11. Resolution on the death of Seth Teller. Councillor Toomey
I knew Seth primarily via email and only met him briefly a few times. In addition to being a popular professor at MIT, he was recently very involved in organizing opposition to the proposed redevelopment of the former Courthouse building at 40 Thorndike Street (which will have its next hearing at the Planning Board on Tues, July 29). People who involve themselves in Cambridge civic affairs may often line up on opposite sides of an issue, but they are all players on the same field. When someone dies so unexpectedly, it leaves a void that crosses all lines.
Resolution #36. Resolution on the death of Kensley David. Vice Mayor Benzan
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to devise and implement a system that will require the City to publicize and convene a community meeting within 72 hours of any catastrophic event - including but not limited to murders, shootings, or other similar episodes - that could impact public safety or the perception of public safety. Councillor Simmons
Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Police Commissioner and report back to the City Council and the community on the specific number of additional police officers that will be assigned to patrol Area IV neighborhoods, whether this increased police presence will be in place through the winter months, and what other additional measures will be undertaken by the Police Department in Area IV. Councillor Simmons
Kensley David was the young man who was recently murdered on Windsor Street. The two Orders are in response to this tragedy.
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to resume negotiations with Mr. Fawcett regarding the Whittemore Avenue Community Garden and to explore the possibility of securing this space by eminent domain. Councillor Carlone
Many of us would love to see this community garden restored and made a permanent part of the city's inventory of community gardens. It's worth mentioning, however, that over the years there have been a number of such community gardens on private property that were voluntarily made available to residents thanks to the generosity of the property owners. One such garden on Putnam Ave. some years ago was at the center of a controversy when new housing was proposed for that lot. Would that property owner have ever made the lot available for a community garden if he knew that one day it would prevent other uses on that lot? Let's hope that in the present case some mutually acceptable agreement can be reached.
Order #4. That the City Council go on record affirming its support for the preservation of the Silver Maple Forest. Councillor Carlone
Yeah, sure, let's have another resolution. Many of us would like to see open space like this preserved, but these orders are getting tiresome. It's interesting that the language of the Order is directed toward the property owner "sending him our warmest regards" but also calling for taking "any and all legal steps necessary to prevent the City from providing any water or sewer connections to the proposed Silver Maple Forest development site". That's something of a mixed message. The "Silver Maple Forest" is the 15.6 acre site of a controversial development project along Acorn Park Drive in the Alewife area located at the intersection of Cambridge, Belmont, and Arlington.
Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City departments regarding the loss of on-street parking spaces as well as the loss of a handicap parking space in Municipal Lot #8 as a result of the reconstruction/reconfiguration of Western Avenue. Councillor Toomey
My greatest concern about the Western Avenue reconfiguration has been that in order to accommodate bicycles on the sidewalk it would lead to dangerously narrowed lanes in the roadway that would endanger those of us who prefer to cycle on the roadway rather than on the sidewalk. There is still much work to be done before the road is completed, but recent visits have only confirmed my fears. This roadway will be worse for both motor vehicles and bicycles, and I fully expect less safety for pedestrians, bicycles, and motor vehicles.
Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to work with community experts, local universities and the Cambridge Water Department to produce a research study determining the possible harmfully effects of continuing to fluoridate the city’s water supply. Councillor Mazen
I don't really know that fluoride is needed in the water supply in this day and age when every toothpaste has all the fluoride needed to provide any necessary dental health benefits. That said, I do love the alarmist language in the order like "adding industrial-grade fluoride chemicals to the public water supply". The Order calls for a research study but already contains the conclusions that "Fluoride is classified by the FDA as a drug, not a nutrient, with many side effects and known neurotoxicity and therefore it is not appropriate to add to a city's water supply" and "More than 33 studies have reported an association between fluoride drinking water concentration and reduced IQ." Having consumed lots and lots of fluoridated water over the last 59 years, I can only imagine how brilliant I might have been had I only abstained from consuming this toxic beverage known as water.
Order #17. That the City Manager is requested to form an advisory committee comprised of residents, business leaders and planning professionals to advise the City Manager and staff on ways to improve the Planning Board process while also determining ways to make the special permit process more understandable and transparent to the public and look for opportunities to provide greater public involvement and engagement. Mayor Maher, Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor McGovern and Councillor Simmons
This is, in my opinion, the real centerpiece of this meeting's agenda. The Carlone Petition introduced at the June 30 meeting would politicize all Special Permit development projects over a certain size. It's a dreadful proposal. There is, however, a perception in some quarters that the current Planning Board procedures for hearings and decisions on Special Permits do not permit adequate public review and input. Whether true or not, this Order proposes that the City Manager form an advisory committee comprised of residents, business leaders and planning professionals to advise the City Manager and staff on ways to improve the Planning Board process. One simple revision that would make a lot of sense would simply be to have a proponent first bring in a concept and solicit public input prior to coming in with a fully-designed development proposal. Subsequent meetings would then benefit from this early feedback from the public.
If the City Council has any wisdom at all, they will pass this Order and ask that the City Manager move quickly to form this advisory committee and propose useful procedural changes at the Planning Board (which may soon see one or more new members). This could make things better for both residents and Planning Board members. This would be far better than disempowering the Planning Board and turning every development proposal into political theater before the City Council.
Order #19. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and reach out to the principals at Vecna to work with them and assist the company with its plan to create new retail and open space opportunities which could significantly add to the vitality of this growing area of Cambridgepark Drive. Mayor Maher
One of the most positive trends I've noticed over the last year or two is that ground-floor retail is being regularly characterized as a community benefit. It wasn't all that long ago that only open space and "affordable housing" were seen as community benefits. Nowadays there is a lot of emphasis put on "place making" and that's a very good development.
Order #20. That the City of Cambridge joins with our fellow citizens, municipalities and elected officials across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in calling for a boycott of Market Basket stores in the spirit of unity with current and former employees of Market Basket Mayor Maher
As a regular Market Basket shopper, I do hope there's some kind of resolution soon. However, I don't think it's good that elected officials or elected bodies are calling for boycotts. That's a decision best left to individuals.
Order #23. That the City Manager is requested to confer with all appropriate departments and explore the feasibility of creating a Cambridge City Youth Council that will represent the youth population of the city and serve as an advisory board to the City Council. Councillor Cheung
I thought we already had such an advisory board - the Kids' Council. Their charge may be to coordinate services relevant to Cambridge youth, but advising the City Council could be added to that charge. Having a new, separate group seems a bit redundant. Modifying the existing Kids' Council seems like a simpler and more effective idea.
Order #24. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Cambridge Community Development Department on the feasibility of producing a Cambridge Sustainability Plan with stated priority goals to complement Cambridge's Master Plan. Councillor Cheung
I'm inclined to say that the policy goals contained in the Growth Policy Document (1992) coupled with the 2006 update is the Cambridge Sustainability Plan and it's a pretty good one. I would expect a few revisions to grow out of the next process but it's not like we have to revert to Square One.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee for a public hearing held on June 11, 2014 to explore the way forward for a shared use with a rail and trail path along the Grand Junction Corridor.
All good ideas, so let's get things moving. I would especially like to see some fresh ideas on how best to connect to the Somerville Community Path.
Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk's Office, 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 July 2, 2014 to discuss the Timothy R. Flaherty, et al. zoning petition requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge to expand the Medical Marijuana Overlay District, MMD-1 to encompass 61 Mooney Street.
No comment - just the observation that Planning Board report has been received and with the Ordinance Committee report this matter could now be moved to a 2nd Reading putting it in the queue for ordination in September.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Leland Cheung transmitting information on The Rush to Build Walkable Urban Grocery Stores.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey Jr. regarding his appeal of a public records denial with the Division of Capital and Asset Management and Maintenance regarding the sale price of the Sullivan Courthouse.
Both of these communication have a relationship to the Legatt McCall proposal to redevelop the former Courthouse building at 40 Thorndike St. One of the benefits touted by the developer would be a new neighborhood grocery store to be located on the ground level of the First Street Garage. Regarding the sale price of the Courthouse property, I doubt whether that will be made known until the final transfer of title has taken place. As of this past Tuesday, no papers had been passed. It was anticipated that the transaction would be completed soon after the prisoners were evacuated from the jail and that took place last month. Perhaps we'll learn more at the July 29 Planning Board hearing. - Robert Winters
Household Hazardous Waste Day 8/23
Household Hazardous Waste Day 8/23
The next HHW collection is Saturday August 23 from 9am-1pm at the Parking Lot on Field St at Fern St by Danehy Park. Cambridge residents only, bring proof of residency. We accept auto fluids, batteries (non alkaline), car tires, glues, medications, mercury items, paint products, solvents, and propane tanks (20 lbs or less). If the product label includes the words POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION, bring to HHW day. Click here for more info including alternative options and what you can bring to the Recycling Center during open hours. Last HHW Day for 2014 is October 4. Property Managers: If you’re bringing more than 25 pounds or 25 gallons from a Cambridge residential building or if you have no proof of residency, please email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance.
Can You Fix Stuff? Volunteer at Cambridge Repair Café
We’re looking for people who can fix electrical appliances, musical instruments, jewelry, furniture, bikes and other household items. Please click here if you have repair skills and can volunteer your time and share your skills for 4 hours on Saturday 9/27 from 10am-2pm, and thank you!
The Cambridge Repair Café is Saturday September 27th from 10am-2pm at the Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender St. Free and open to the public. What to do with a chair when a leg is loose? With a toaster that no longer works? Or a sweater with moth holes? Toss it? No way! You can repair it at Repair Café! Repair things together, receive expert advice, meet each other, be inspired and save money. This is a joint project of the Cambridge Public Works Department, Cambridge Recycling Advisory Committee, Cambridge Public Schools Office of Sustainability, Green Cambridge, Community Development Department, Cambridge Community Center, and more! More Info: Facebook.com/CambridgeRepairCafe.
Free Workshop - Reduce Food Waste & Compost 8/25
Monday, August 25, 6pm, Water Department, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway, meet at front entrance. Learn your options to compost food scraps, and ways to reduce food waste. We’ll review best practices for outdoor composting, indoor composting with worms, and options for drop-off and bicycle pickup. Recycling food scraps and making soil is extremely rewarding, benefits your garden and house plants and helps to curb climate change! Reducing food waste is also incredibly important considering that Americans waste more than 40% of the food we produce for consumption. That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion. For more info on composting, click here. To RSVP please email email@example.com.
Do Something Super with Unwanted Furniture 8/27-9/3
Moving September 1st and can’t take it all? Plan ahead and arrange a free pick up from inside your home with the Coalition for the Homeless on 8/27, 8/28, 8/29, 9/2 or 9/3. Items must be clean and usable. Someone’s gonna love your stuff. Email pictures of your good-condition furniture to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your address, phone number and put “Cambridge Pickup” in the subject line. They take kitchen tables & chairs, couches & sofa chairs, ottomans, hutches, end tables, coffee tables, bed frames, dressers, bookshelves, cabinets, rugs, lamps, dishes, pots & pans, and blankets & linens. Your donation helps low-income and formerly homeless families furnish their apartments at no cost to them. **Also, we’re thrilled to announce that beginning this September, the Coalition will schedule pickups in Cambridge for the last Friday and the first Monday of every month, except holidays. For more info and other options, visit CambridgeMA.Gov/Furniture.
Old Appliance Tips and Free Power Strips!
Residents can schedule and pay for the pickup of large items/appliances online. This includes air conditioners, dehumidifiers, dryers, exercise equipment, freezers, lawnmowers, refrigerators, stoves, washers, water coolers & heaters, and more! For electronics, know that you can save the City money and take back TVs and computers to retailers including Best Buy, Staples, Apple and Radio Shack.
Cambridge renters: complete this City survey and receive a free 7-socket smart power strip, a $30 value! These devices automatically eliminate wasteful standby power, saving money and energy. A widescreen TV plugged into it can save $140/year. If you’re going on vacation unplug appliances that use standby power and turn off your air conditioner off. Also, check out these great energy savings tips for spring and summer.
22-CityView Inside Features Cambridge Recycling
In case you missed it, 22-Cityview Inside recently interviewed Cambridge Recycling Director Randi Mail. Check it out at http://youtu.be/w1XQg-55GdE. Ms. Mail talks about the curbside compost pilot program, drop off sites for food scraps, tips to reduce food waste, donating furniture to the Coalition for the Homeless, the upcoming Repair Café on 9/27 and more!
Take the 50% recycling pledge today at www.cambridgema.gov/recycle and get a free sticker!
Magazine Beach Park is located on the Charles River at the foot of Magazine St., Cambridge, MA.
Plenty for all...this summer & fall
For news & event updates: www.magazinebeach.org -- In case of rain, check event updates on our website.
June 9 - This week Cambridge received the Congress of New Urbanism Charter Award, regarded as the preeminent global award for excellence in urban design.
|MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989
By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990
A new report is estimating that the greater Boston area will need another 435,000 new housing units by 2040 to lure new workers and accommodate an aging population. [Reports available here]
Note: When comparing the peak population of Cambridge back in the 1950s (over 120,000) to what it is today (perhaps 107,000) it's important to keep in mind that families were typically much larger then. It's also the case that what people find acceptable in terms of living space and amenities has changed dramatically over six decades. This translates into considerably more "units" of housing (and higher density) in Cambridge if the population should rise to levels close to what they were in days of yore.
K2C2 Final Reports Released
The final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.
The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998
April 2, 2013 - Well, that was fun. Thanks to everyone for being such a sport on April Fool's Day.
Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)
The Neverending Study of Central Square
Aug 11, 2012 - While preparing to write a series of essays on Central Square, I put together the following list of Central Square studies culled from a variety of sources. I have originals for most of these. If you know of any others, please let me know. - Robert Winters
June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square
Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)
1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)
Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan
May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"
Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!
Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)
May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)
May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"
Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study
Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)
Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)
June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)
2013 - K2C2 Final Reports
THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik (33½ minutes)
FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee
City Council Rules 2010-2011 (adopted January 4, 2010 and amended April 5, 2010)
City Council Goals - FY2010-2011 (approved February 2, 2009)
City Council Committees (for the 2010-2010 term)
School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)
School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)
June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).
I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:
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"