Civic Nerdiness

Annual Documents SealThis week on Tuesday, Jan 16 at 2:30pm, the City Council's Ad-Hoc Rules Committee will conduct a public hearing in the Sullivan Chamber to discuss and suggest changes to the City Council Rules. This committee consists of Vice Mayor Devereux (Chair) and Councillors Mallon and Kelley; as well as Donna Lopez, City Clerk; Nancy Glowa, City Solicitor; Maryellen Carvello, Office manager to the City Manager, and Wil Durbin, Chief of Staff to the Mayor.

I suppose it must be the pinnacle of civic nerdiness to care about the City Council Rules, but the structure of the City Council subcommittees, their mission, the number of members on each committee, and what constitutes a quorum are actually contained within the City Council Rules. From this civic nerd's point of view this actually is significant. In an ideal world the subcommittees should be where most of the detail work takes place. Unfortunately, it has sometimes been the case that these subcommittees become little more than discretionary devices for their respective Chairs where matters that sometimes have little to do with the purpose of the committee are pursued. In addition, there have been some topics in the last few years that didn't really have a natural match to any of the existing City Council committees or which were taken up by what might be viewed as the wrong committee. For example, if there is a Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, why were matters relating to bicycle transportation handled within the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations Committee? [I would restructure the committees just to shorten the name of that one.]

It's interesting to look at what the standing committees have been at various times in Cambridge history. Here are a few snapshots, including some recorded in the City's Annual Documents (yes, I really do have these original books on my shelf):

Joint Committees: 1887
Accounts
Almshouse
Assessor's Department
City Engineering
Claims
Finance
Fire Department
Fuel
Health
Lamps
Ordinances
Printing
Public Instruction
Public Property
Roads and Bridges
Rules and Orders
Water Supply

Standing Committees
of the Mayor and Alderman

Bonds
Claims
Elections and Returns
Fire Department
Health
Licenses
Police
Roads and Bridges
Sewers

Standing Committees
of the Common Council

Bills in the Second Reading
Elections and Returns
Enrolled Ordinances

Joint Committees: 1911-1912
Accounts
Assessor's Department
City Engineering
City Home
Claims
Finance
Fire Department
Health
Highways
Legal Matters
Legislative Matters
Ordinances
Parks
Printing
Public Property
Public Instruction
Water Supply
Wires and Lamps

Standing Committees
of the Board of Alderman

Bonds
Cemeteries
Claims
Elections and Returns
Fire Department
Health
Highways
Licenses
Parks
Police
Rules and Orders
Sewers
Soldier's Aid
Street Railways

Standing Committees of the Common Council
Bills in the Second Reading
Elections and Returns
Enrolled Ordinances
Rules and Orders

City Council Committees: 1938
Americanization and Education

Bonds

City Engineering

City Planning

Claims

Elections and Printing

Finance

Health

Industrial Development

Legislative Matters

Licenses

Military Affairs

Ordinances

Parks and Cemeteries

Public Celebrations

Public Property and Public Institutions

Public Safety

Public Service

Roads and Bridges

Rules and Orders

Soldier's Aid

Water Supply

Wires and Lamps

City Council Committees: 1998
Cable TV and Communications

Civil and Human Rights

Claims

Economic Development, Training, and Employment

Elder Affairs

Environment

Finance

Food Policy

Government Operations

Health and Hospitals

Housing and Community Development

Human Services and Youth

Ordinance

Public Safety

Public Service

Rules

Sister Cities

Traffic and Transportation

Veterans

City Council Committees: 2000
Cable TV, Telecommunications, and Public Utilities

Civic Unity

Economic Development, Training, and Employment

Finance

Government Operations, Rules, and Claims

Health and Environment

Housing

Human Services

Neighborhood and Long-term Planning

Ordinance

Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

Public Safety

Transportation, Traffic, and Parking

Veterans

City Council Committees: 2012
Cable TV, Telecommunications, and Public Utilities

Civic Unity

Claims

Community Health

Economic Development, Training, and Employment

Environment

Finance

Government Operations and Rules

Housing

Human Services

Neighborhood and Long Term Planning

Ordinance

Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

Public Safety

Transportation, Traffic, and Parking

University Relations

Veterans

City Council Committees: 2016
Civic Unity

Economic Development and University Relations

Finance

Government Operations, Rules, and Claims

Health and Environment

Housing

Human Services and Veterans

Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

Ordinance

Public Safety

Transportation and Public Utilities

City Council Committees: 2018
?????

It's likely that prior to the adoption of the Plan E Charter that went into effect in 1941 there was either the need or the desire for more oversight of City departments, and both the number and the nature of the City Council (and Board of Alderman) committees seem to reflect this. Some standing committees are essentially permanent (Ordinance, Finance), but others clearly change with the times and even with the desires of individual councillors. What should be the focus of City Council subcommittees for the 2018-2019 City Council term? Should they remain the same? Are there any priorities that warrant a redefinition of the Council subcommittees? Should we revive some committees from the long past?

If you have any ideas, come to the meeting Tuesday afternoon. - Robert Winters


This Week:

Tues, Jan 16

2:30pm   The City Council's Ad-Hoc Rules Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss and suggest changes to the City Council Rules  (Sullivan Chamber)

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

6:30pm   Planning Board meeting  (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)

General Business

1. Update from the Community Development Department

2. Adoption of Planning Board meeting transcripts

Public Hearings

6:30pm   PB#333 – 114 Inman Street – Special Permit application by 11 Development, LLC to convert an existing church to 4 units of housing pursuant to Section 5.28.2 Conversion of a Non Residential Structure to Residential Use. (Notice) (Materials)

7:30pm   PB#243 – 100 Binney Street and 41 Linskey Way – Major Amendment to Planned Unit Development (PUD) Special Permit by ARE-MA Region No. 45, LLC and ARE-MA Region No. 47, LLC, c/o Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. to revise the Development Plan of 2010 and to allow up to 2,700 square feet of bank use at 100 Binney Street and to shift the approved location of an active use in the Final Development Plan from 100 Binney Street to the abutting parcel, 41 Linskey Way pursuant to Section 12.37 Amendments to Final Development Plan. This will be the first of two required public hearings for the Planned Unit Development process as outlined in Article 12.000. (Notice) (Materials)

General Business

3. PB#329 – 3-5 Linnaean Street – Request to extend the time for a public hearing on the Special Permit application and for the issuance of a decision.

Wed, Jan 17

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

I. MINUTES

II. REPORTS

1. Executive Director's Report

2. Assistant Director's Report

3. Commissioners' Reports

III. PUBLIC COMMENT

IV. ACTION AGENDA

Old Business

1. 2017 Municipal Election Review

New Business

5:30pm   Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board Meeting  (Police Station, 125 Sixth St., First Floor Community Room)

[Meeting Agenda and supporting materials]

Thurs, Jan 18

6:00pm   Meeting to discuss Porter Square intersection safety improvements  (Lesley University, University Hall Amphitheatre, 1815 Mass. Ave.)

6:00-8:00pm   Envision Cambridge - Engagement Working Group Meeting  (City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, 4th Floor Meeting Room)


Cold StartThis first regular meeting of the 2018-2019 Cambridge City Council will be chaired by our newly minted Mayor Marc McGovern. As one might expect, it's a short agenda as the new and returning councillors settle in. City Council committee appointments may not be settled for a few weeks, so the only business will be what takes place in the regular Council meetings for now. There is one active zoning petition and 15 items from Awaiting Report that were requested to carry over to the new Council.

Here are some agenda items this week that seem interesting:

On the Table #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Craig Kelley, regarding assessing and approving Neighborhood-Based Resiliency. [Tabled on the motion of Councillor Kelley on Dec 18, 2017]

I remember when the term "Sustainability" was first popularized. It took people years to decide what the word really meant with various interested people and groups trying to fashion it in a way that suited their ideals and/or agendas. I'm not really sure what was ultimately decided. Though I have some idea what the term "Resiliency" might mean, e.g. hardening of infrastructure, my sense is that we're in a place similar to where we were with "Sustainability" 25 years ago. For example, does Alewife Resiliency translate into transit-oriented development with better connections for all transportation modes or does it mean "Don't build anything there because there may be flooding at times." The current narrow political dichotomy will likely answer in two radically different ways. Soft definitions are always risky propositions.

Order #1. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to reach out to representatives of supermarkets other than Star Market, such as Market Basket, to determine the possibility of their opening a location at 20 Sidney Street, and to report back to the City Council on this matter.   Councillor Simmons

There has been an active discussion about the store closure on the Cambridgeport listserv over the last few days. Here's an excerpt of what I wrote there:

The Memorial Drive Stop & Shop closed in May 1994 which left the Cambridgeport area very much in need of a local supermarket. I believe it was in 1997 when University Park (really Forest City) offered to host a Star Market in their hotel/garage building. This was definitely done in order to sweeten the deal in order to obtain the necessary curb cuts (and let's not forget the discontinuation of Blanche Street). There had been a City analysis of access to supermarkets in the wake of the Stop & Shop closure that informed the University Park decision.

At the time a lot of us felt that the whole concept of a 2nd floor supermarket with paid parking (though a discount was offered) was not a sustainable plan, but there really was a serious need for food access at that time - especially for Area 4 (now The Port) and MIT people who would get there on foot. Some of that logic has changed in recent years as more people live without motor vehicles, but most people who do any significant grocery shopping will choose to drive to a place like Market Basket in Somerville not only for the prices but also because there's (usually) available parking. It's virtually impossible that Market Basket would want to operate in the University Park space. It's completely contrary to their very successful business model in which they own most of the locations of their stores and pay no rent. There are other operators that have a very different business model that might be able to make it work at this location, but only if University Park is willing to negotiate a rent that can make it sustainable.

Though I don't believe there is any legal obligation that University Park must continue to host a supermarket, I think there's at least some moral obligation to do so. The original University Park plans called for a "marketplace" that was never built (as well as a movie theater), and some might argue that the inclusion of the Star Market was a sort of making good on that original concept. Perhaps more significantly, the offer to host the Star Market came at a point when the matter was before the Planning Board and the City Council (for the curb cuts), and it was part of the negotiation even if there was no formal commitment to maintain the supermarket in perpetuity. - RW

Back in 1998 I wrote this: "We also learned at this meeting that an agreement has been worked out with the new Star Market at University Park that would make parking for the supermarket free for the first 1½ hours. This was one of the stickier issues a few years ago when the City voted to grant various curb cuts and to discontinue Blanche Street in order to make way for the hotel and supermarket." - Sept 14, 1998 in CCJ Issue #12

Here's what I wrote on June 16, 2000: "There have also been persistent rumors about just how permanent the Star Market is at that location. For now, at least, it appears to be staying put." Well, it lasted longer than I thought and is now scheduled to close on Feb 3, 2018. Hopefully another supermarket operator can be found and that Forest City/University Park will be willing to offer a long-term lease with terms that can can allow a supermarket to economically operate there. Not everyone wants to shop by bike at Whole Paycheck.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to provide an update to the City Council on progress made in regards to the Stated Goals of the City Council, as outlined during the 2016-2017 City Council term.   Councillor Simmons

Goals are important, but the primary goal should be to not spend an endless time talking about them. - Robert Winters


The Upshot: There was a very healthy discussion regarding the future of the supermarket site in University Park. Look for some community meetings to take place in the coming weeks and months.

Mayor McGovern has appointed Councillors Carlone and Kelley as Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee.

Mayor McGovern also appointed a Special Ad-Hoc Rules Committee to review the City Council rules and the recommend any changes, including possible restructuring of the City Council subcommittees. This Ad-Hoc Committee will consist of Vice Mayor Devereux (Chair) and Councillors Mallon and Kelley; as well as Donna Lopez, City Clerk; Nancy Glowa, City Solicitor; Maryellen Carvello, Office manager to the City Manager, and Wil Durbin, Chief of Staff to the Mayor. This committee is requested to come back with recommendations in time for the next City Council meeting on January 22.

Comments?


Jan 1, 2018 - The 2018-2019 Cambridge City Council was inaugurated this morning in the Sullivan Chamber of City Hall. After each elected councillor took the oath of office, the new City Council took care of its first order of business - the election of the Mayor. Though the eventual outcome was already known to many in the room for the last few weeks, there is always at least some drama due to the possibility that an alternate deal could be struck in the interim. However the vote went more or less as predicted with Marc McGovern being elected as Mayor for the 2018-2019 term. The initial vote was 7-2 for McGovern with Councillors Simmons and Toomey casting their votes for Tim Toomey, but Councillor Simmons changed her vote to McGovern to make the final vote 8-1.

After a speech by the newly elected Mayor McGovern that stressed themes of unity the Council then elected Jan Devereux to serve as Vice Chair of the City Council for the 2018-2019 term. That vote was initially 5 votes for Jan Devereux and 4 for Denise Simmons, but Alanna Mallon and then Craig Kelley changed their votes to Devereux to make the final vote 7-2 with Councillors Simmons and Toomey voting for Simmons.

After these proceedings there were several statements by councillors thanking Sandra Albano for her 47 years of service to the City and especially her role managing the City Council office since 1982. Sandy's last day on the job is tomorrow - Jan 2, 2018 - and it's hard to imagine City Hall without her.

Perhaps the high point of the entire Inaugural Meeting was Cambridge Police Deputy Superintendent Pauline Carter Wells singing John Lennon's song "Imagine" - just as she did two years ago and just as inspiring.

Later in the day, starting at 6:00pm, the newly elected 2018-2019 Cambridge School Committee took their oaths of office and elected Kathleen Kelly as the Vice Chair (who will be responsible for making all subcommittee appointments). That vote was initially split with Manikka Bowman and Laurance Kimbrough voting for Manikka Bowman; Emily Dexter and voting for Patty Nolan; and Fred Fantini, Kathleen Kelly, Patty Nolan, and Marc McGovern voting for Kathleen Kelly. Emily Dexter and Laurance Kimbrough then changed their votes to Kathleen Kelly leading to the final 6-1 vote to elect Kathleen Kelly.

Mayor McGovern has tapped Wil Durbin to serve as Chief of Staff of the Mayor's Office. He also tapped Luis Vasquez to be in charge of constituent services and outreach. Both are inspired choices.

The Plan E Charter only designates the Mayor as Chair of the City Council and the School Committee. All other roles and initiatives of the Mayor and the Mayor's Office are at the discretion of the Mayor, and every Mayor defines their role differently. Mayor Simmons was a wonderful Mayor for the last two years and our newly elected Mayor McGovern promises to be just as inspiring in how he defines his role for the next two years.

One last note: A new portrait of former Mayor Barbara Ackermann now graces the back wall of the Sullivan Chamber. This was an extra special treat. - RW

Mayor McGovern oath
Marc McGovern is sworn in as Mayor
Mayor McGovern
Mayor McGovern's inaugural address
Pauline Carter Wells sings "Imagine"
Pauline Carter Wells sings "Imagine"
Barbara Ackermann portrait in Sullivan Chamber
Barbara Ackermann portrait in Sullivan Chamber

The Mayors of Cambridge


Looking Back at 2017 and the 2016-2017 City Council term

Two years ago I put together an outline of some of the issues and tasks that lay before the City Council and the City administration that perhaps needed attention at that time. I called this outline Unfinished Business (Jan 5, 2016). Let's do a status check on how we fared over the last two years.

I – Housing

  1. Barrett Petition – Accessory apartments, etc.
    • Outcome: This was ordained on Jan 11, 2016 and most or all outcomes seem to be positive, including better and more creative use of basement spaces in commercial buildings.
  2. Affordable Housing Overlay – Citywide? Or not?
    • Outcome: To the best of my knowledge no report on this was ever issued and no definitive plan ever emerged. Proposals have been floated, especially during political campaigns, but it seems doubtful that any citywide proposal to encourage "affordable housing" in all most or all residential districts will garner political support. Don't be surprised if the concept is at least explored in the current (2018-19) term, but it seems more likely that any outcome will affect only some residential districts.
  3. Future housing on Central Square parking lots?
    • Outcome: No word yet on any such plans. In the meantime, there does seem to be at least some acknowledgement that you can't just wish away all parking needs, but look for enhancements to structured parking lots before any new housing appears on existing surface lots.
  4. Adjustments to Inclusionary Zoning required percentages
    • Outcome: The City Council on Apr 3, 2017 unanimously approved an increase from 15% (effectively about 11.6% after density bonus) to an absolute 20% requirement (with no additional density bonus) along with other amendments and provisions for periodic review.
  5. Vail Court?
    • Outcome: The City took the property by eminent domain and the matter is currently tied up in litigation.

II – Citywide Master Plan/Envision Cambridge

  1. Will it be the ultimate way to kick every can down the road “until the master plan is completed”?
    • Outcome: The Envision Cambridge process is proceeding with expert analysis, but there have been frequent suggestions that some matters be delayed "until the Envision Cambridge process is completed". It has also become common to refer some pressing matters to the Envision Cambridge process - a practice fraught with the risk (or possibly the intention) of unrealistic expectations.
  2. Will it be cooperative or combative with people taking sides from the start and competing to pack the public meetings and serve on committees?
    • Outcome: This has not appeared to generally be the case, though there have been some indications of resistance to some of the Alewife-specific proposals. We'll have to wait and see is there will be any other push-back as additional proposals are solidified this year.
  3. Will it be a competition between those who support transit-oriented development and density vs. those who support limiting growth, limiting heights, limiting density in the name of “livability”?
    • Outcome: This division of viewpoint is evident in ways that reach well beyond Envision Cambridge, especially in the dichotomy that played out during the recent municipal election.
  4. Representativeness of participants – will all points of view be represented?
    • Outcome: Irrespective of any other aspects of the process the Envision Cambridge staff and consultants have done a better job of outreach and seeking representativeness than anything in recent memory. That said, we should all expect criticism that the opposite was the case - especially if the recommendations are not to the liking of various interest groups.
  5. Alewife early action item – will the current Concord-Alewife Plan be significantly altered to respond to those concerned about pace of housing growth in the area (and NIMBYism)?
    • Outcome: At this point I would have to say both YES and NO to this. The current proposals do plan for significant new housing in the area, but there's also a lot of emphasis on "light industry" uses. The reality is that some significant housing growth has occurred and is still in development - regardless of the Envision Cambridge process. Much attention remains on transportation enhancements such as a bridge (possibly only for pedestrians/cyclists but maybe also for shuttle buses) over the RR tracks connecting the Triangle and the Quadrangle, but there are no solid plans or financial mechanisms in place for building such a bridge. This is almost certain to be part of City Council rhetoric for the next year or more, but I can't imagine how the City Council might turn words into action.
  6. Transportation in the Citywide Plan (likely to be renamed “Envision Cambridge”: Will the discussion continue to be dominated by “bicycle as panacea” or will there be a more comprehensive view? Will any new connections be proposed over RR tracks, rivers, or one-way patterns? Will new modes like personal mobility devices be accommodated?
    • Outcome: The plan was, in fact, renamed “Envision Cambridge” and time will tell if there are any creative transportation proposals. The consultants have suggested bicycle-priority routes, but much of this seems to be going on outside of the Envision Cambridge process, e.g. among activists and highly politicized, e.g. the "bikelash" over the hastily-approved/implemented changes to Brattle St. and Cambridge St. Comprehensive transportation planning for all modes has become a war about "turf". Meanwhile, traffic remains dreadful on some major roadways, e.g. Fresh Pond/Alewife Brook Parkways.
  7. Will the end product have any fundamental recommended changes or will it be essentially an endorsement, more or less, of the way we are now doing things?
    • Outcome: It's fair to say that prior studies and recommendations have been fairly integrated into the Envision Cambridge plans - or so it appears so far.
  8. Will there be any movement on Central Square, the C2 Recommendations, or some alternative?
    • Outcome: Most progress in this has been independent of the Envision Cambridge process, e.g. the ordination of the Central Square Restoration Petition on Feb 27, 2017.

III – STEAM/STEM

  1. Will there be any follow-up of discussions of the last year or so?
  2. Will there be any actual jobs created or connections to jobs for Cambridge residents who actually need them?
  3. Will we have simply created or grown another bureaucracy that drafts plans but delivers little benefit?
    • Outcome: Creating opportunities in Cambridge-based companies, especially in the Kendall Square area, for people who have grown up in Cambridge remains one of the most difficult challenges with relatively few solutions so far. If the 2018-2019 City Council, the City administration, Cambridge schools, and these companies can make some progress in this it will be a great achievement.

IV – Bans, Ordinances, and changes in City services

  1. Curbside Organics Collection
    • Outcome: This goes citywide starting in April 2018.
  2. Plastic Bag Ban - Checkout Bag Ordinance – when does it go into effect? Any glitches?
  3. Polystyrene ban – when does it go into effect? Possible glitches, exemptions, recommended changes?
    • Outcome: Actually, these bans seem to be working out OK and other cities and towns have followed suit.
  4. Anything else to be banned or restricted? Soda? Candy? Fatty foods? Meat?
    • Outcome: The City Council did ban the sale of all non-rescue animals in Cambridge pet shops. On the other hand, they changed the zoning to create a mechanism for beekeeping. Hopefully these are all rescue bees.
  5. Regulation of outdoor lighting?
    • Outcome: In spite of a zoning petition and a long effort to craft a municipal ordinance, this matter become stalled as efforts to regulate lighting became so broad that it eclipsed the more reasonable regulation of ordinary nuisance lighting.

V – Mass & Main

  1. When will actual construction commence? Will there be disruptions?
    • Outcome: It's happening right now.
  2. Large stormwater storage tank to be built in parking lot behind Mass & Main site.
    • Outcome: This is also in the pipeline (as is a pipeline crossing Mass. Ave. under the T) for 2018.
  3. Will there be lawsuits to try to block project? More petitions?
    • Outcome: There were, but primarily of the nuisance variety.

VI – Foundry Building

  1. When will building actually become available for use?
  2. Programming in building – what fraction for non-profits, etc. and what fraction for revenue generation to support the whole building? Will there be controversies over decisions made by Advisory Committee and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority?
    • Outcome: There have been plenty of controversies, changes in plans, and added costs. Perhaps one day we'll all look at this as a great resource, but former City Manager Bob Healy's reaction to the gift of this building as part of the Alexandria zoning remain prophetic: "This is going to be a problem."

VII – Volpe Site – Zoning and Possible Uses

  1. Likely that current petition will be re-filed
    • Outcome: Development rights were award by the federal government to MIT who consequently filed a rezoning petition in June 2017 that was ordained as amended on Oct 23, 2017.
  2. How will competition between economics and possible housing/open space play out?
    • Outcome: I would say that this played out reasonably well - largely because MIT was the chosen developer of the site and their interests are much longer term (and they're not going anywhere). There were a lot of competing interests - all in the midst of a municipal election season - yet consensus was reached. There will be ~1400 units of new housing (20% "affordable"), a community center, a job connector program, transit improvements, money for community benefits, conveyance of rights along the Grand Junction RR right-of-way for a future multi-use path, and more. The memorandum of understanding also expresses MIT's commitment to constructing a significant amount of new graduate student housing.
  3. Will Volpe Center just stay there in same building for another 20-50 years?
    • Outcome: Don't look for too many immediate changes, but this site will see dramatic changes within a few years.

VII – The “Sharing Economy”

  1. Uber, Lyft, taxis – how will that dilemma be resolved? New regulation by City? By State?
    • Outcome: This seems to be stalled. The value of a taxi medallion has plummeted and Uber and Lyft vehicles are everywhere - often behaving badly.
  2. AirBnB – will this be further regulated or will everybody run their overpriced condos as unofficial hotels?
    • Outcome: The City unanimously ordained a well-considered and thoughtfully amended zoning petition on Aug 7, 2017 to regulate short-term rentals.

IX – Miscellaneous other Cambridge-style initiatives that may happen or go nowhere

  1. Publicly funded municipal elections
    • Outcome: This was an interesting idea that went nowhere - largely because it was presented more as an accusation than a reform. The topic will likely come up again over the next two years, but hopefully independent of any political campaigns.
  2. Voting rights for non-citizens in local elections
    • Outcome: This was, I believe, forwarded to the state legislature with little chance of actually being implemented either locally or statewide.
  3. Shifting of political power to individual councillors via political aides, discretionary money, and differing interpretations of the City Charter
    • Outcome: This is a trend that unfortunately continues. Campaign managers continue to be hired as personal aides. There are opportunities with three new councillors and changes in the City Council office to possibly realign staff along the lines of City Council committees (and their purpose) rather than personal assistance, but don't count on it.
  4. Changes to Residential Exemption, e.g. only for low-income people with requirement that residents prove their income to be eligible (very unlikely – authority of state)
    • Outcome: Never heard another word on this.
  5. $15 minimum wage (also unlikely except for City contracts and City workers – City lacks authority to set wages/prices except perhaps in declared emergency)
    • Outcome: All such authority resides with the state legislature.
  6. Proposed special status for “recognized groups” at Ordinance Committee meetings – opens up a wider discussion of legitimacy and representativeness of neighborhood associations, political advocacy groups, etc.
    • Outcome: Thankfully this was never heard again.
  7. Proposal to have 11 full days of early voting for November election at precincts all across the city with staffing and security. A far better Order would have asked for a report from the Election Commission on how to best plan for Early Voting in accordance with changes in state law (as opposed to dictating to staff how this should be done).
    • Outcome: This was implemented at 5 sites (not at 33 individual precincts) for state/federal general elections and seems to have been an great success with a high level of participation.
  8. Effect of new development in Union Square, Somerville on Cambridge traffic, housing availability and affordability, access to Green Line Extension (if it happens any time soon).
  9. Will the current housing speculation bubble burst?
    • Outcome: It hasn't yet.

X – Civic Unity – Race, class, and the never-ending conflicts between different groups, neighborhoods, etc.

XI – Other Notable Things that emerged in the intervening two years

  1. Road reconfigurations (for better or worse) for bicycle accommodation
    • Outcome: This remains unsettled and volatile.
  2. Changes in License Commission policies and procedures
    • Outcome: Overall things are moving in a good direction, but the loss of resale value of a liquor license stings.
  3. Invasion of local politics by national political organizations
    • Outcome: How's that Revolution workin' for ya?
  4. Harvard Square controversies and changes
  5. Changing of the Guard
    • Outcome: Louis DePasquale takes over as new City Manager, Acting Police Commission Brent Larrabee and new Police Commissioner Branville G. Bard, Jr., retirement of Fire Chief Gerald Reardon
  6. CRLS Boys Basketball repeats as State Champions
  7. Pedro Martinez plays in the Oldtime Baseball Game at St. Peter's Field
  8. City Announces First Minibond Issuance, Invites Residents to Directly Invest in Cambridge
    • Outcome: It was very popular.
  9. The 2017 municipal election
    • Outcome: 26 City Council candidates, 12 School Committee candidates
      Voluntary exit of three incumbents (Maher, Mazen, Cheung)
      Dramatic increase in voter turnout, especially among younger voters
      Election of new councillors Alanna Mallon, Sumbul Siddiqui, and Quinton Zondervan
  10. Some very notable passings
    • Renae Gray
    • Robert Moncreiff, former Cambridge city councillor

Check out the latest episodes of Cambridge InsideOut:

If you would like to be a guest (or co-host) one of these Tuesdays, let me know. - RW

Episode 283 (Jan 16, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Civic Nerdiness, City Council Rules and Committees
Episode 284 (Jan 16, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Cambridge history of garbage
Episode 281 (Jan 9, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Jan 8 City Council meeting highlights, supermarket closure, snow issues
Episode 282 (Jan 9, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Council committee appointments; discussion of the record of the 2016-2017 City Council
Episode 279 (Jan 2, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: 2018 Inaugurations of the Cambridge City Council and School Committee and the Election of Mayor Marc McGovern
Episode 280 (Jan 2, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Discussion of some of the more challenging priorities for the new 2018-2019 City Council
Episode 277 (Dec 19, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Dec 18 City Council recap, fond farewells
Episode 278 (Dec 19, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Harvard Square, Central Square, Catching Up on the Cambridge News
Episode 275 (Dec 12, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Dec 11 City Council recap, Hubway, looking back at 2017
Episode 276 (Dec 12, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Looking back at 2017, anticipating the next Council term
Episode 273 (Dec 5, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Dec 4 City Council recap, curbside compost collection coming
Episode 274 (Dec 5, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: more election-related facts
Episode 271 (Nov 28, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Election Data Binge - Part 1, final results, voter turnout, demographics
Episode 272 (Nov 28, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Election Data Binge - Part 2, fractional transfer, #2 votes, vacancy replacements
Episode 269 (Nov 14, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Post-Election Notes - Part 1
Episode 270 (Nov 14, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Post-Election Notes - Part 2
Episode 267 (Oct 31, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Pre-Election Notes
Episode 268 (Oct 31, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Pre-Election Notes

Central Square Christmas
Merry Christmas from Family Friendly Central Square! (photo by Kyle Klein)


Featured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):

YEAR IN REVIEW: Cambridge’s top stories of 2017 (Dec 28, 2017)

Cambridge to expand composting city-wide in 2018 (Dec 22, 2017)Cambridge Chronicle

Hate crimes down in Cambridge after decade-high in 2016 (Dec 21, 2017)

New 526-unit apartment building OK’d for Alewife (Dec 20, 2017)

State: Cambridge liquor license situation ‘unfortunate;’ investigation ongoing (Dec 20, 2017)

New monthly event in Cambridge offers free legal consults to immigrants (Dec 19, 2017)

Cambridge proposes climate resilience plan for Alewife (Dec 18, 2017)

New officers join Cambridge Police Department (Dec 17, 2017)

Cambridge Health Alliance staff receive awards (Dec 17, 2017)

Harvard Lampoon Building presented Historic Preservation Award (Dec 16, 2017)

DCR grants given to Magazine Beach (Dec 16, 2017)

Cambridge announces participatory budgeting winning projects (Dec 15, 2017)

Roche Bros. grocery store coming to Kendall Square (Dec 14, 2017)

Advisory Committee to bring energy and expertise to help STEAM education (Dec 14, 2017)

Central Square’s Out of the Blue Too gallery closes (Dec 11, 2017)

Here’s how Watertown and Cambridge hope to speed up commutes in 2018 (Dec 7, 2017)

Cambridge vice mayor: Petco’s closure is not due to non-rescue ban (Dec 6, 2017)

Cambridge’s Berkshire Street fire, one year later: $48M in damage, $1.2M donated (Dec 4, 2017)

Massachusetts recyclers grapple with effects of China ban (Dec 1, 2017)

GUEST COLUMN: Democracy, accessibility and the Cambridge School Committee (Nov 27, 2017 by Emily Dexter)

Commercial robberies double over last year in Cambridge (Nov 29, 2017)

Councillors urge city to manage expectations around Alewife plan (Nov 21, 2017)

MBTA financial board approves contract price for GLX (Nov 20, 2017)

Final election results released in Cambridge (Nov 20, 2017)

Twining Properties breaks ground on Cambridge property (Nov 17, 2017)

GLX constructors picked for Green Line design-build contract (Nov 17, 2017)

Women find success on Massachusetts ballots (Nov 17, 2017)

Incumbents sweep as auxiliary ballots confirm first-tally election results (Nov 9, 2017)

Unofficial results: All incumbents re-elected; Siddiqui, Mallon, Zondervan named to council (Nov 8, 2017)

Cambridge councilors mull plan to boost safety for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians (Nov 1, 2017)

Residents celebrate, criticize new Cambridge bike lanes (Oct 30, 2017)

PHOTOS: What does MIT have planned for Volpe site? (Oct 25, 2017)

Cambridge City Council OKs MIT plan for Volpe site (Oct 25, 2017)

Cambridge City Council rejects move to delay Volpe vote (Oct 24, 2017)


That's All Folks! - Featured Items on the Dec 18, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda

That's All Folks!This will be the last meeting of the 2016-2017 Cambridge City Council and the final meeting for Councillors Cheung, Maher, and Mazen who will soon pass their seats along to Councillors-Elect Mallon, Siddiqui and Zondervan for the 2018-2019 City Council term. It's been great having Leland Cheung (first elected in 2009) and David Maher (first elected to the Council in 1999) for all the years they served and the wisdom they shared.

Here are some agenda items that seem to rise above the others:

Manager's Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Regulation for Keeping of Honey Bees. [DPH Bees Memo] [DPH Bees Regs]

Unfinished Business #8. An amendment to the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge on Beekeeping. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Nov 6, 2017. Planning Board hearing held on Oct 3, 2017. Petition expires Jan 3, 2018.

This is expected to be ordained at this meeting (or it will expire).
Update: It was Ordained 9-0 as Amended.

Manager's Agenda #12. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to letter from Leggat McCall Properties regarding the proposed disposition of a leasehold interest in the First Street Garage for parking spaces and the development of first floor retail space in connection with Leggat McCall’s redevelopment of the former Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse building at 40 Thorndike Street in East Cambridge.

Now that the series of lawsuits (that never had a chance) have expired, the redevelopment of the courthouse building is expected to proceed.

Unfinished Business #9. An amendment to the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge on Innovation Office Space in PUD-3A and PUD-4C Zoning Districts. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 18, 2017. Planning Board hearing held on Oct 17, 2017. Petition expires Feb 13, 2018.

This may also be ordained on Monday. The expiration isn't for some time but there's really no reason to kick this can down the road.
Update: It was Ordained 8-0-1.

Resolution #6. Retirement of Alessandra "Sandra" Albano from the City Council Office.   Councillor Cheung

Sandy's tenure dates to the days of Mayor Al Vellucci. It's hard to imagine City Hall without her. Happy Trails, Sandy.

Update: Here's the list of city councillors Sandra will have worked with by the time she leaves after the Inaugural meeting.

Alanna Mallon
Alfred LaRosa
Alfred Vellucci
Alice Wolf
Anthony Galluccio
Brian Murphy
Craig Kelley
Daniel Clinton
David Maher
David Sullivan
David Wylie
Denise Simmons
Dennis Benzan
Dennis Carlone
Edward Cyr
Francis Duehay
Henrietta Davis
James Braude
Jan Devereux
Jonathan Myers
Katherine Triantafillou
Kathleen Born
Kenneth Reeves
Larry Ward
Leland Cheung
Leonard Russell
Marc McGovern
Marjorie Decker
Michael Sullivan
Minka vonBeuzekom
Nadeem Mazen
Quinton Zondervan
Sam Seidel
Saundra Graham
Sheila Russell
Sumbul Siddiqui
Thomas Danehy
Timothy Toomey
Walter Sullivan
William Walsh

Order #1. That all items pending before the City Council and not acted upon by the end of the 2016-2017 Legislative Session be placed in the files of the City Clerk, without prejudice provided that those proposed ordinances which have been passed to a second reading, advertised and listed on the Calendar under "Unfinished Business" during the 2016-2017 City Council term, along with any other pending matters on the Calendar listed as "Unfinished Business," shall be forwarded to the next City Council and further provided that any items pending in committee may, at the discretion of the committee, be forwarded to the next City Council.   Mayor Simmons

There's nothing nicer than a clean slate, and that goes especially for virtually all of the items on "Awaiting Report" - many of which have already been addressed and some of which should have been brushed off long ago. I hope the next City Council exercises more discretion in the demands made of City staff and the wild geese it chooses to chase. - Robert Winters

Comments?

Catching Up on the Cambridge News

Vail Court Property – Litigation and demolition update

Vail Court - 2013Dec 18, 2017 – On Dec 5, 2017, the Court issued an order vacating the temporary restraining order that prohibited the City's proposed abatement and demolition of the buildings at the Vail Court property. Accordingly, the City may now proceed with the planned abatement demolition of the buildings.

Due to the delay caused by the litigation, the City will need to re-bid the contract to hire a new contractor for work at the property. We expect abatement and demolition to move forward in spring 2018 as the method of demolition (using water) that will likely be used cannot be done without a consistent outdoor temperature above 32 degrees. The City will be maintaining rodent control on site in the interim. Those with questions about abatement/demolition and conditions on site should contact Dan Riviello at driviello@cambridgema.gov / 617-349-4825.

While the Court has vacated the temporary restraining order issued earlier this year, the litigation brought by the former owner against the City in this matter is still pending. We cannot predict how long this challenge will be pending, however can say that litigation like this can often take considerable time to resolve. The City will continue to vigorously defend against this challenge to the City's ownership of the property. However, as the litigation is still active, we believe the best course of action at this time is to continue to delay the process to plan for the redevelopment of the property as affordable housing.The City and the Affordable Housing Trust will monitor the status of the litigation, and, when advisable, reengage with the community. As was discussed at the last community meeting, both the City and the Trust remain committed to holding a second public meeting to gather more community input to be considered in the redevelopment of the property as affordable housing, and will do so at the appropriate time. The City remains committed to moving forward with building new affordable housing at the property as swiftly as possible, however must move forward in a manner that acknowledges the active legal challenge to this effort.

We will provide more information when it becomes available and encourage residents to visit the project page at www.CambridgeMA.gov/VailCourt to subscribe to email updates. [City of Cambridge]


Residents Sought for Board Vacancies on Cambridge Conservation and Human Rights Commissions

City SealDec 6, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking residents to fill vacancies on the Cambridge Conservation Commission and the Cambridge Human Rights Commission.

The Conservation Commission is responsible for the 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. For more information, contact Jennifer Letourneau, Cambridge Conservation Commission, JLetourneau@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4680.

The Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC) seeks Cambridge residents representing the diversity of Cambridge. Commissioners are expected to attend monthly meetings, participate in subcommittees on outreach and public education, and work with Commission staff on the investigation, mediation and resolution of complaints filed with the Commission which allege discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment or education based upon race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, family status, military status or source of income.

The Human Rights Commission is made up of 11 members who serve three-year terms. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of every month at 6pm. For more information, contact Nancy Schlacter, Cambridge Human Rights Commission, at 617-349-4396 or nschlacter@cambridgema.gov.

The deadline for submitting applications for both commission vacancies is Friday, January 12, 2018. Applications to serve on these committees can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City's online application system at cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter and resume or applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager's Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave.


Cambridge/Community Legal Services and Counseling Center

City SealThe City's Commission on Immigrant Rights & Citizenship is pleased to announce the formation of a free, monthly Screening Clinic for Immigrants seeking legal advice and possible referral for additional legal services. [flyer]

The first City of Cambridge/Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC) Immigration Legal Screening Clinic was held on Wed, Dec 13, from 5:15-7:15pm at the offices of Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC), 47 Thorndike St. (lower level), in East Cambridge. Program participants are asked not to arrive at CLSACC more than 15 minutes prior to the start time; please note that early arrivals will not be given any preference. Starting in 2018, the Screening Clinic will be held on the 3rd Wednesdays of the month, at same time/location.

For more information, contact Nancy Schlacter, nschlacter@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4396.


Cambridge Announces Participatory Budgeting Winning Projects
Residents voted on how to spend $800,000 to improve Cambridge

City SealDec 13, 2017 – The results are in for the fourth Participatory Budget (PB) Process. Over 6,778 Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted to decide how to spend $800,000 on capital projects to improve the community - a 43% increase from last year.

The following 7 projects won $867,000 in FY19 Capital Funding:

  1. 100 Trees for a Cleaner, Greener Cambridge ($141,000)
  2. Critical Resource Kits for the Homeless ($50,000)
  3. Flashing Crosswalks for Safer Streets ($176,000)
  4. Drinking Water Across More Parks ($100,000)
  5. New Musical Instruments for CRLS ($200,000)
  6. Jade Chain: Living Moss Walls to Combat Pollution ($100,000)
  7. Upgrade the Gately Youth Center ($100,000)

"Participatory Budgeting has been an incredible community engagement tool in the city and I am pleased we were able to invest $67,000 more in funds to allow a 7th winning project to be selected," said Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager. "Over the past 4 years we have been able to engage thousands of people in this innovative process, and I am particularly proud that all Cambridge residents at least 12 years old, including non-US citizens and university students, were able to vote."

Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process through which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. The goal of PB is to directly involve residents in the budgeting and City-building process, foster civic engagement and community spirit, and help ensure that the City's Capital Plan reflects the priorities of Cambridge residents.

Community members brainstormed and submitted project ideas this summer to improve Cambridge. Afterward, volunteer Budget Delegates researched and developed those ideas into formal project proposals that were reviewed by City staff and approved by the City Manager appeared on a PB ballot in December for a public vote. The following winning projects will be included in the FY19 Capital Budget for adoption.

Many thanks to the PB Outreach Committee, Budget Delegates and Facilitators, City staff, and all of the volunteers and participants who helped make the City's third PB cycle a success.

To learn more about PB and the winning projects, please visit pb.cambridgema.gov.


City of Cambridge Seeks Members for Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force

City SealDec 12, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking applicants to serve on a new task force that will advise and provide guidance and feedback to a project team charged with developing a comprehensive Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP).

The UFMP will guide the development of the urban forest into the future and includes a strategic plan to evaluate, maintain and expand the urban forest canopy while being more resilient to climate change, reducing the urban heat island effect, mitigating stormwater runoff, reducing nutrient runoff, and contributing to community well-being. The UFMP will coordinate with the efforts of the citywide comprehensive plan (Envision Cambridge) and the Climate Change Preparedness & Resilience Plan.

The Task Force Committee will meet monthly over the next 12 months. Subcommittees may be set up to investigate specific topics to report back to the full committee. All Task Force meetings are open to the public.

Applicants are sought from various stakeholder groups, including residents, neighborhood groups, city boards/committees, universities, property owners, local businesses and experts from surrounding universities and government agencies.

The deadline for submitting an application to serve on the Task Force is Fri, Jan 19, 2018. Applications can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City's online application system at cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter describing your interest, resume, or applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager's Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave.

Trees!


Cambridge Secures Grant to Test Bus Rapid Transit Features
Barr Foundation Funding Allows for Mount Auburn Street Bus Pilot in Collaboration with Watertown

City SealDec 7, 2017 – The City of Cambridge announced earlier this week that the Barr Foundation, as part of its BostonBRT initiative, has awarded the community a grant to conduct a pilot project testing bus rapid transit (BRT) features in collaboration with Watertown and the MBTA. The pilot, affecting routes 71 and 73, will include inbound bus “queue jump” lanes to give buses priority in lane segments on Belmont Street at Mt. Auburn and Mt. Auburn St. at Fresh Pond Parkway and transit signal priority where feasible.

The pilot will seek to create a faster and more reliable commute for over 12,000 daily bus riders, representing about 50% of rush hour travelers in the corridor. The bus priority lanes could save bus riders an average of 3 minutes per trip. The pilot will be carried out in conjunction with the Department of Conservation & Recreation’s improvements to the Fresh Pond Parkway / Mt. Auburn Intersection planned for late spring/early summer 2018.

The pilot is a temporary demonstration. Following a robust public engagement strategy, Cambridge, Watertown, and the MBTA will work with community members to evaluate the pilot and determine if any of the elements should be permanently implemented or explored further.

“Encouraging and improving public transit options improves mobility for everyone. The Bus Rapid Transit pilot aligns with Cambridge’s Vision Zero efforts to make our streets safer for people of all ages and abilities to travel between work, school, shops, and other destinations, whether they choose to walk, bicycle, drive, or take transit,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We are grateful to the Barr Foundation for their support in helping us implement the pilot, and we look forward to collaborating with our neighbors in Watertown to make it a success.”

The grant in Cambridge was one of three awarded as part of a competitive request for proposals from BostonBRT, which invited municipalities to partner with the MBTA to demonstrate the potential of BRT in high-ridership, high-traffic areas, with the goal of improving the transit experience for the most people. The Cambridge-Watertown project was selected along with projects in Arlington and Everett. Cambridge will work closely with Arlington to support their transit signal priority implementation for bus route 77 along North Mass Ave.

“We are thrilled to receive funding from the Barr Foundation to pilot Bus Rapid Transit infrastructure,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “The grant will contribute to our citywide goal of creating a comprehensive, sustainable transportation network. We look forward to collaborating across departments and city lines to make bus transit safer and more reliable for all riders.”

“These pilot projects will show BRT’s potential to transform how people in Greater Boston get to where they need to go, and how BRT can fit within the region’s transportation system,” said Mary Skelton Roberts, co-director for climate at the Barr Foundation. “For BRT to be successful, local and state governments, communities, and transit experts need to work together. These winning proposals demonstrated their readiness to do so. And we hope their commitment to collaboration during this pilot testing periods is just the beginning. Massachusetts residents deserve flexible, environmentally-sustainable transportation options they can count on, like BRT.”

All pilot grants were selected by a committee comprised of Massachusetts transportation leaders convened by the Barr Foundation and BostonBRT technical consultants that reviewed criteria such as the number of BRT elements included within proposals, proof of concept, potential impact (including density of population and employment), municipal and community support, and willingness to partner with state agencies to create a successful pilot.


Cambridge Residents and Businesses Can Save Money and Receive 100% Renewable Electricity
Cambridge Community Electricity Program’s 100% Green Option Offers Savings

City SealOver 500 Cambridge residents and businesses now receive 100% renewable electricity through the Cambridge Community Electricity program’s 100% Green option. By opting into 100% Green, these households and businesses are powered by carbon-free renewable energy, including solar and wind, generated locally in New England.

Following the November release of Eversource’s Basic Service rates, residents and businesses enrolled in the 100% Green Option will save money and receive 100% renewable electricity. Eversource’s Basic Service, in effect through June 2018, costs 13.157 cents/kilowatt-hour (c/kWh) compared to the 100% Green Option’s 12.180 c/kWh.

Currently, over 32,800 residential electricity customers and more than 4,800 commercial electricity customers are participating in the Cambridge Community Electricity program. Those enrolled in the Standard Green option, which provides more solar energy from local resources than required by the state of Massachusetts, are also saving money, with rates at 10.486 cents/kWh. Participants can switch from Standard Green to 100% Green or opt-out of the program at any time with no penalties.

“We are proud to offer a program that has allowed people to support the city’s climate goals without negative impacts on their personal finances,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “Standard Green participants have seen savings since July 2017, and now residents and businesses have the opportunity to upgrade to receive 100% renewable energy and still save money through next June.”

The electricity supplied through the 100% Green option is generated by renewable energy projects in New England. Through 100% Green, Cambridge residents and business owners support New England-based jobs in addition to reducing the environmental impact of their electricity use. Cambridge residents and business owners can opt-in to the 100% Green Option through January 2019 by calling the Cambridge Community Electricity program supplier, Agera Energy, at 1-888-589-7790.

“The 100% Green option offers a unique opportunity for Cambridge residents and business owners to use renewable energy and support the local economy,” said Assistant City Manager for Community Development Iram Farooq. “The Cambridge Community Electricity program is a crucial step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century and ensuring a Net Zero Energy future for Cambridge.”

The Cambridge Community Electricity program launched in July 2017. As a municipal electricity aggregation approved by the state, it uses the bulk purchasing power of the entire community to negotiate a price and increase the amount of renewable energy in the City’s electricity supply. The program provides an alternative to Eversource Basic Service and other electricity supply offers in the marketplace. The City has signed a contract with Agera Energy that runs until January 2019.

Updated energy mix information is now available for the Cambridge Community Electricity program. This document shows how the electricity was generated and provides detail on how much of that energy comes from renewable vs non-renewable sources.

Additional information about the program and its enrollment options are available at www.masspowerchoice.com/cambridge. Residents and business owners can also contact the City’s program consultants at 1-844-379-9934 or cambridge@masspowerchoice.com.

A Quick One - Featured Items on the Dec 11, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda

City HallHere are a few of the more interesting agenda items:

Manager's Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a legal opinion relative to the City Manager’s authority to make Historical Commission appointments.

This one was never in doubt. Councillors really should learn about the Plan E Charter.

Manager's Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the Harvard Square Kiosk.

Manager's Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $444,534.67 from the Hubway Capital Projects Equipment Fund to the Community Development Department Public Investment Fund Extraordinary Expenditures Account. These funds will be used for the purchase and expenses of Hubway bikeshare equipment. These funds represent the donor agreement revenues and will contribute to the purchase, installation and maintenance of approximately 10 additional stations and bicycles, pending identification of acceptable locations.

Manager's Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $489,780 associated with the Hubway Bike Share Equipment from the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund to the Public Investment Fund Community Development Extraordinary Expenditures account. These mitigation funds will be used for the purchase and expenses of Hubway bikeshare equipment.

That's nearly a million dollars for Hubway.

Manager's Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 17-114, regarding a report on the plan for snow removal from the new bike infrastructure in the city.

Plow the streets from curb to curb. If any plastic posts get in the way, sharpen the blades on the snow plows.

Unfinished Business #8. An amendment to the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge on Beekeeping. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Nov 6, 2017. Planning Board hearing held on Oct 3, 2017. Petition expires Jan 3, 2018.

It's very possible this will be ordained at this meeting. - RW

Comments?


City of Cambridge Set to Mark Affordable Housing Milestone with Approval of 1000th Inclusionary Unit

Nov 1, 2017 – This month, the City of Cambridge will approve its 1000th inclusionary housing unit, marking a significant milestone in the City’s efforts to create new affordable housing.

City SealInclusionary housing, which requires developers to incorporate affordable units into new residential buildings, has been the greatest generator of affordable housing in Cambridge in recent years. Inclusionary housing in Cambridge is built without public funding, and the city’s inclusionary housing stock now represents more than $500 million in private investment in affordable housing in Cambridge.

“Diversity is the backbone of our vibrant and progressive community, and inclusionary housing has been a key component in our efforts to preserve and champion that diversity,” said Mayor E. Denise Simmons. “With the approval of its 1000th inclusionary unit, Cambridge is demonstrating our unwavering commitment to creating quality, affordable housing that will enable more families and individuals from all socio-economic backgrounds to remain a vibrant part of our City.”

Last April, the Cambridge City Council passed an amendment to the city’s 1998 Inclusionary Housing Zoning Ordinance that nearly doubles the amount of inclusionary housing units in new developments, requiring that developments of ten or more units allocate 20% of residential floor area for low- and moderate-income tenants or moderate and middle-income homebuyers.

“No City in the Commonwealth is as committed to affordable housing as Cambridge is, and we are proud of this milestone,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “By using various strategies, like inclusionary zoning, we are advancing our housing goals, and we have been able to help thousands of residents with some amazing results.”

The city’s inclusionary housing program has enabled individuals and families with a wide range of incomes to live in neighborhoods throughout Cambridge. Residents living in inclusionary housing include retirees, lifelong Cambridge residents, immigrants, young families, and households moving out of homelessness. Inclusionary residents are employed in healthcare, education, the nonprofit sector, public service, retail and other small businesses, local banks, and institutions.

“It is our mission to support housing affordability for Cambridge families, and the inclusionary program is our key tool to leverage the market to support this goal. While much work is still needed, we are proud of the success of the program,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development.

Following the approval of the 1000th inclusionary unit, review of other new inclusionary housing developments will continue and applicants will be selected for inclusionary rental units being completed in North Cambridge and inclusionary homeownership units soon to be completed in East Cambridge.

The City’s Community Development Department (CDD) oversees inclusionary rental and homeownership programs through the Homeownership Resale Pool, the Inclusionary Housing Rental Program, and the Middle-Income Rental Program, each of which accepts applications on a rolling basis. For more information about the application process for each program, visit: cambridgma.gov/housing.

December Programs (and Beyond) at Fresh Pond Reservation

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

Woodland Restoration Area Gardening
Dates: Tuesdays between 9:30am and 1:00pm (excluding December 26)
    Join other stewardship-minded volunteers in caretaking the native plant restoration area next to Lusitania Meadow, and learn about the diversity of native plant life! We seek dedicated participants who enjoy camaraderie and hard work that includes weeding, pruning, planting, watering new plantings, hauling wood chips and moving logs. Please email friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com if you would like to come, and for more information.
Fresh Pond Stewards: Wake Up and Weed!
Dates: Thursdays, 10:00am to noon (excluding Thanksgiving Day & December 28)
Meeting location: Water Purification Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Join our weed-warrior crew! We are Fresh Pond citizens dedicated to keeping invasive plants at bay for the benefit of wildlife, water and humans alike. No experience or long-term commitment necessary! All tools are provided; sturdy shoes, pants, long-sleeves and a water bottle are strongly recommended. Meets at the volunteer trailer in the lower parking lot.
Fresh Pond Kids’ Walks
Dates: Fridays, 10 to 11am (excluding December 22 and 29)
Meeting location: The Gazebo at Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
    Join us for casual nature explorations, designed for young kids and their parents/caretakers, and play in our urban wild! We might look for frogs and turtles at Black’s Nook, or find pill bugs and bird nests in the Butterfly Meadow. Please come dressed ready for the weather and in clothes that are OK to get a bit dirty! Feel free to contact Catherine Pedemonti at friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com with any questions or to RSVP.

Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or fpr@cambridgema.gov for any RSVPs or questions!

Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at www.friendsoffreshpond.org to download a form.

Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at http://friendsoffreshpond.org to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants.

Upcoming Programs

A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
http://www.friendsoffreshpond.org/calendar2014/photopages2014cal/jan14/p01-13-14chipnorton.htm
AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.
AMC Local WalksSat, Dec 30. Neponset River Greenway/Mattapan Sq/Milton Hill. 7.5-mile walk along Neponset River to Mattapan Square on newly opened stretch of Neponset Greenway then to Hutchinson Field in Milton 9:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch and water. Meet at Hallet Street entrance to Pope John Paul II Park. From Route 93N, take exit 11 (11B from Route 93S) to Granite Avenue, north over Neponset River, immediate right on Hilltop Street, right under bridge into parking lot. E-mail if severe weather. Bring traction devices and/or snow shoes. Conditions will determine which to use. L Mike Tuohey. AMC Local WalksMon, Jan 1. Holiday Hike - Lynn Woods, Lynn. 5 miles, Leader's Choice. 9:00am-1:00pm. Bring lunch, H2O, and snacks. Dress for the elements. I-95/Route 128 to Walnut Street exit, 4 miles. From Route 1, Walnut Street exit, 2 miles. Turn left on Pennybrook Road to Western Gate parking lot. Cancel if rain. L Nelson Caraballo.
AMC Local WalksSat, Jan 13. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike/snowshoe around pond, 10:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. If no snow, bring traction device for boots. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias. AMC Local WalksSat, Jan 27. Grassy Pond Conservation Land, Acton. Slow-paced nature walk through fields and forests to Grassy Pond learning to identify deciduous plants in winter. The walk will focus on plant ID and fun natural history. 1:00pm-4:00pm. Rte. 2 to Exit 42 (Rte. 27/Main St., Acton). Follow Rte. 27 north for about 1 mile through Acton Center and turn left on Nagog Hill Rd. Go 1.1 miles. Parking lot on left just past small meadow. Steady rain or heavy snow cancels. L Boot Boutwell.
AMC Local WalksSat, Feb 3. Broadmoor Mass Audubon walk, Natick. 10:00am-Noon. Meet at the Visitors Center. Join us for a walk in this convenient (Natick on Route 16), yet expansive wildlife retreat. Moderate pace, easy trails with some gentle hills and rocks. Bring water and snacks. No children or dogs. Severe weather cancels, if snow on the ground, we will snowshoe. Call Lisa if uncertain. Charge: $5 if not a Mass Audubon member, plus $1 if not an AMC member. Click here for: Driving directions. L Lisa Fleischman; CLs Mary Wisbach, Julia Hsia. AMC Local WalksSun, Feb 4. Powisett Farm, Dover. Gentle walk, open fields. Snowshoe/walk, thru meadows, 1:00pm-3:00pm. Meet at Trustees of Reservation Powisett Farm, at grey barn near the entrance. I-95/Rte. 128 Exit 16B to Rte. 109W for 1 mi., then R on Dover Rd. becomes Powisett Road. 2.5 mi. to Powisett Farm on left. Rain cancels. Snowshoes if snow. L Jean Veigas.
AMC Local WalksSat, Feb 17. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike/snowshoe around pond, 10:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. If no snow, bring traction device for boots. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias. AMC Local WalksSat, Mar 10. World's End Reservation, Hingham. 5 mile hike/snowshoe, 9:00am-noon. Bring snack/water. From Rte. 3 exit 14, take Rte. 228N 6.5 mi., L on Rte. 3A 1.0mi. to rotary, R on Summer St. 0.5 mi. to light, L on Martin's Lane to entr. $6 fee for non-members of the Trustees of Reservations. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.

Stories written by Luis Vasquez for the Cambridge Chronicle


Cambridge Civic/Political Review 2016


Book Release - Building Old Cambridge by Susan E. Maycock and Charles M. Sullivan (published by MIT Press)


THE MUNICIPAL SITUATION IN CAMBRIDGE
A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904

BY HENRY N. WHEELER, PRESIDENT OF THE LEAGUE
PRECEDED BY A PROGRAM OF THE WORK OF THE LEAGUE FOR 1904
[original PDF]


Here's Something Worth Watching


Robert & Judy on Cambridge InsideOutCambridge InsideOut airs weekly every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm with producers/hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. We will have other guest hosts as well.

[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos of each]

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 281-282: Jan 9, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 279-280: Jan 2, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 277-278: Dec 19, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 275-276: Dec 12, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 273-274: Dec 5, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 271-272: Nov 28, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 269-270: Nov 14, 2017 (Post-Election Notes)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 267-268: Oct 31, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 265-266: Oct 24, 2017 (w/guest Emily Dexter)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 263-264: Oct 17, 2017 (w/guests David Weinsten and Elechi Kadete)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 261-262: Oct 10, 2017
(w/guests Jake Crutchfield and Josh Burgin)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 259-260: Oct 3, 2017 (w/guest Manny Lusardi)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 257-258: Sept 19, 2017 (w/guest Piotr Mitros)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 255-256: Sept 12, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 253-254: Aug 29, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 251-252: Aug 22, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 249-250: Aug 15, 2017 (w/guests Fran Cronin and Wil Durbin)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 247-248: Aug 8, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 245-246: Aug 1, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 243-244: July 25, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 241-242: July 18, 2017 (w/City Council candidate Alanna Mallon and School Committee candidate Will MacArthur)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 239-240: July 11, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 237-238: June 27, 2017 (w/City Council candidate Paul Toner)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 235-236: June 20, 2017 (w/City Council candidates Sean Tierney and Adriane Musgrave)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 233-234: June 13, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 231-232: June 6, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 229-230: May 23, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.

Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2013-2014 featured co-hosts Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2015-2017 features co-hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters.

MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989
By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990

MAPC Study: 435,000 new housing units needed by 2040

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.


Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

Cold Start – Jan 8, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting (and more) - posted Jan 7, 2018

2017 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports (as of Jan 4, 2018)

2017 City Council Campaign Receipts, Expenditures, and $/Vote (as of Jan 4, 2018, updated frequently)

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Dec 18, 2017)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – Dec 18, 2017

That’s All Folks! – Featured Items on the Dec 18, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda (Dec 18, 2017)

A Quick One – Featured Items on the Dec 11, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda (Dec 11, 2017)

Running Down the Clock – Dec 4, 2017 City Council Agenda Highlights (Dec 3, 2017)

The Shifting Demographic (Nov 23, 2017)

Featured Items on the Nov 13, 2017 City Council Agenda (Nov 13, 2017)

2017 Cambridge Election Results – Bar Graphs (Nov 13, 2013 - Unofficial Results)

Cambridge School Committee 2017 Campaign Finance Summaries and $/Vote (posted Nov 5, 2017)

Age and Turnout: comparing the 2015 and 2017 Cambridge elections (Nov 4, 2017)

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2017 (Nov 4, 2017)

Cambridge City Council and School Committee Candidates – 2017 (posted July 24, 2017, updated July 31, 2017)

Not left, Felton (by John Allen, posted Sept 24, 2017)

Topics for Candidates for Cambridge School Committee – 2017 (posted Sept 4, 2017)

Topics for Candidates for Cambridge City Council – 2017 (posted Sept 4, 2017)

Women Candidates in Cambridge Municipal Elections: 1941-2017 (Aug 14, 2017)

Number of candidates in Cambridge municipal elections: 1941-present (posted July 25, 2017)

Sheet of ice draws praise from bicycle advocates (posted Apr 20, 2017 by John Allen)

All the News That’s Printed to Fit – April 1, 2017 (the April Fools edition)

Black ice blindness (Feb 21, 2017 by John Allen)

Central Square is a Grandma (Dec 17, 2016)

The Municipal Situation in Cambridge (1904) – by Henry N. Wheeler (Nov 6, 2016)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – April 1, 2016 (April Fools Edition)

Sunday Morning Statistics – Who Voted in the Cambridge Presidential primary (by age) (posted Mar 20, 2016)

A Conversation with Tip O’Neill (1992) on Cambridge Inside Out (Jan 17, 2016)

Who Voted in the 2015 Cambridge Municipal Election? (Dec 6, 2015)

Final Official Election Results – Cambridge 2015 Municipal Election (Nov 13, 2015)

Flashback to March 1998 (Oct 12, 2015)

Who Votes in Cambridge? (July 9, 2015)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2015) - the April Fool's Day edition

Brian Murphy, 1964-2015 (Feb 5, 2015)

Age Distribution of Voters in Cambridge Elections: 2007-2014 (Jan 4, 2015)

MBTA Role in Cambridge Center Project – Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989 (Feb 13, 2014)

The Advent of PR in Cambridge (Nov 10, 2013)

Completing the Square (June 11, 2013)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes (June 8, 2013)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2013) - the April Fool's Day edition

On becoming a True Cantabrigian (Dec 29, 2012)

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

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

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

April Fools Day - 2017 (and here)

April Fool's Day - 2016 (and here)     April Fool's Day - 2015 (and here)     April Fool's Day - 2013 (and here)


The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998

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

Introduction: Memorandum from the Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 on its Final Recommendations
Full Report (reformatted in HTML) Goals
Public Places to Build Community Public Places elements
Retail, Cultural and Non-Profit Diversity Housing
Connecting People to the Square Foster a Sustainable Future for Central Square
Leverage Future Private and Public Investments Definition of Central Square Districts
Zoning Recommendations Transfer of Development Rights
Transportation Recommendations Location Specific Issues
Comments?

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

Feb 1980 - CDD report entitled "Central Square - Commercial Area Revitalization District

June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square

Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)

1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)

Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan

1989 - Draft Central Square Development Guidelines

May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"

Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!

Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)

May 1995 - Central Square Improvements Project, Master Plan Report

May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)

May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"

Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study

Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)

Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)

June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)

2009 - CDD Central Square Customer Intercept Survey Report

2011 - Central Square Market Profile

2011 - Red Ribbon Commission Study Report

2012 - Goody/Clancy report and recommendations

2013 - K2C2 Final Reports

K2C2 Final Reports Released

K2C2 areaThe 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.

Community Development Department

Kendall Square Central Square Planning Study (K2C2)

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.

Comments?


THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik (33½ minutes)

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

City Council Rules 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect current Council committees)

City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)

City Council Committees (for the current term)


School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)

School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)


June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).

I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:

These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization and I'm tempted to say that some should be incorporated into the recently adopted City Council's Goals for FY2010 (adopted Feb 2, 2009). In fact, of the 22 current goals, the only one that comes close is: "An increased level of recruitment and opportunities for membership on boards and commissions." The current Council goals emphasize things like "fostering community" via block parties and such, though one has to wonder if the City should be promoting these activities or just getting out of the way so that people can foster community on their own. The goals also seem to put some emphasis on developing "successful nightlife campaigns" while mentioning nothing about promoting ordinary "daytime" economic activity that supports the everyday needs of residents.

One founding principle of the CCA that fell into disuse over the years is listed above as #3: To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs. Indeed, I can personally testify to the fact that in its dying years the only reason the CCA made endorsements at all was because the CCA-endorsed incumbents wanted the benefit of having an advertised CCA slate of candidates that would help secure their reelection. There was precious little effort to recruit new candidates or to support them. Today, the benefits of incumbency are greater than ever. The cost of political campaigns have become absurdly high and most of the incumbents now have (City paid) staff who are inevitably political appointees who directly or indirectly assist in the reelection efforts of their bosses. The deck is increasingly stacked against challengers. Furthermore, the salary and benefits for elected councillors are now so sweet that it is unlikely that any of them would ever want to move on to another job.

With this background in mind, I would like to encourage all Cambridge residents to help level the playing field by finding out about this year's challengers for seats on the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge School Committee. This is not meant as a dig against any particular incumbent as much as an appeal to support the challengers in what is a difficult and laudable effort. Please see the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the current list of expected candidates. Then use your own judgment - don't expect me or anyone else to do it for you.

Speaking of this year's municipal election, there are some activists who are now expending great effort to attack the City Manager and most of the current City Council. That is not nor has it ever been the intention of the Cambridge Civic Journal or its editor. Candidates are now being seduced by financial promises from one angry fellow with a Brattle Street address and a basketful of grudges. Former CCA Executive Board members from its darkest and most manipulative days are oozing up from the civic swamp trying to at last make good on their failed campaigns of the early 1990s to oust city manager Bob Healy.

It's entertaining to watch people who have primarily earned disrespect in their civic efforts try to capitalize on the recent Monteiro jury decision as a means of realizing their decades-old vendettas. Conveniently forgotten in their recent letters to Cambridge's "oldest weekly newspaper" are the many achievements of City Manager Bob Healy, the strong financial position of the City, and the recent 8-1 vote of confidence bestowed upon Mr. Healy in granting him a three year contract extension. Also missing in this testimony is the fact that virtually all affirmative action in the hiring of employees and department heads has taken place on Mr. Healy's watch. These letters also fail to divulge how long these writers have been carrying their jealousy and anger toward Mr. Healy for actually orchestrating progress in Cambridge while the best they could ever do is snipe from the sidelines. - Robert Winters


This Old Land of Cambridge - The true story of the geological history of Cambridge - by George Ehrenfried
Sadly, George passed away (Jan 5, 2010) at the age of 96. He led many a geology-themed hike with the AMC Local Walks/Hikes.

Selected City of Cambridge References:

Plan E Charter (Cambridge's city charter) Acts of 1921, Chapter 239 as amended (establishment of Cambridge Election Commission)

Mass. General Laws Chapter 54A (governing Cambridge's PR elections)

Pen Portraits of Prominent People - by Henry J. Mahoney Editor, Cambridge Sentinel - 1923

This book was published c. 1923 and features very witty one-page “pen portraits” (with photo) of prominent Cantabrigians of the day. I'll be adding names alphabetically as time permits. There are 182 portraits in the book.

It comes to mind that there may be some value in expanding these profiles to other prominent Cantabrigians who arrived on the scene after 1923, including prominent Cantabrigians of today. With this in mind, I extend the invitation to any and all who may wish to contribute their own “pen portraits” of Cambridge people. Contributions do not necessarily have to be in the style of Mr. Mahoney. Inclusion is, as always, subject to the erratic discretion of the editor.

Special thanks to Karen Welch for sending me the book. - RW


Political History of Cambridge in the 20th Century
written by Glenn Koocher, November 2004 -- edited by Robert Winters, July 2006
 
[An alternate edit of this essay will appear, along with many other valuable essays, in a
centennial volume to be published by the Cambridge Historical Society in 2007.
]

Which People's Republic
written by Bill Cunningham, 1999


Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for people who can give one to two hours per week to help students in the Cambridge Public Schools, grades K through 12. No experience necessary. Call 617-349-6794 or e-mail csv@cpsd.us for more details.

Oliver Wendell Holmes – Morning Exercises of December 28, 1880
As recorded in the book 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Cambridge (1881)


 
Robert Winters
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
 
Philosophy of the CCJ Editor
 
faces
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:
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz

Subscribe to the Cambridge Civic Journal.
Specify in your message whether you wish to receive each new e-mail version or if you wish to be notified when the online versions are available at this web site. Under no circumstances will the subscription list be made available to any third party.

“The Number One thing I would emphasize is that journalists and bloggers would do well to see themselves as partners in the provision of information and that each can benefit greatly from the other. I’ve never seen this as a competition. It is especially true these days that local papers and young journalists are not very well-versed in the communities they serve. Much of the institutional memory has either died out or been bought out.” -- Robert Winters, mathematician and creator of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online publication about Cambridge, MA (rwinters.com)

Jorkin: “Come, come, Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”

Fezziwig: “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business, Mr. Jorkin…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must.”

Scrooge: “I think I know what Mr. Fezziwig means, sir.”

Jorkin: “Oh, you hate progress and money, too, do you?”

Scrooge: “I don't hate them, sir, but perhaps the machines aren’t such a good thing for mankind, after all.”

Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"



the known universe
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