2003 CCJ Notes

October 30, 2003 - As anticipated, the City Council on Monday settled the Riverside rezoning, the last of the major rezoning processes begun during the previous Council term. Though some were unhappy with the results (mainly peripherally involved activists), most of the neighbors who were closely involved seemed cautiously pleased with the results. Congratulations were the order of the day as all nine city councillors credited each other for their thoughtful and cooperative work in resolving this matter.

The Ordinance Committee co-chairs David Maher and Brian Murphy were unanimously congratulated for a job well done. They really deserved the praise. It was a tall order to spend as many hours as they did to find a resolution while most candidates were out canvassing for votes. Give credit also to Ken Reeves for helping to get the whole process going and the neighborhood organized. Let's also not forget Marjorie Decker and Anthony Galluccio for putting in many hours over the last few weeks meeting with Riverside residents and helping to bring everyone to a resolution they could live with.

The only other significant matter at Monday's meeting was the resolution from David Maher that asked the Council to take a position on rent control. As expected, Denise Simmons moved to table the matter and it was tabled on a 6-3 vote. Only Councillors Maher, Toomey, and Sullivan voted against tabling.

October 26, 2003 - This Monday's City Council meeting will likely be dominated by 11th hour negotiations and discussion on the Riverside rezoning. If the Council fails to come to an agreement (that can secure the necessary six or seven votes), they'll meet again Tuesday morning at 10am to hammer out the last details. Give extra credit to the M&M boys (Councillors David Maher and Brian Murphy), co-chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for all their efforts to bring this to a successful conclusion.

Also on the agenda for Monday is the Hot Potato Order on rent control first introduced by Councillor Maher at the Sept 27 meeting. That meeting was adjourned early to avoid discussion on the order. Last Monday (Oct 20), Councillor Simmons exercised her charter right to again delay discussion on the order. We'll see Monday what the next tactic will be to prevent the councillors from taking a public position on rent control. My guess is that there will be at least five votes to table it, a non-debatable motion.

I would say two things about this business of forcing the incumbent councillors to speak their minds on the rent control issue.

First, the rent control petition that will be on the Nov 4 ballot is hardly a "grassroots" movement with widespread public support, though it might get a majority vote. It's an effort spearheaded by The Old Left, the same people who were responsible for bringing rent control to Cambridge over 30 years ago. Even as the rest of Cambridge moved on or moved away, The Old Left carried on and has repeatedly tried to bring back rent control since 1994. Meanwhile the City Council and the City Administration have devoted an enormous amount of resources toward affordable housing programs in a comprehensive way, as opposed to the blunt instrument of rent control. One can certainly make the case that The Old Left should not be permitted to force their agenda on the elected officials who have been working unanimously on a much more comprehensive solution.

That said, registered Cambridge voters will be casting their votes on November 4 not only for this hopeless petition but, more importantly, for candidates for City Council and School Committee. The City Council will ultimately have to make the decisions on housing policies for Cambridge, and the public does have a right to know where they stand. For this reason, and not because of the narrow agenda of The Old Left, the councillors should speak their minds on housing policies and not run away every time the issue of rent control comes up. - RW

October 24, 2003 - The Cambridge City Council today adjourned the Special Meeting on the Riverside rezoning petitions without taking any action. A lot of activity is expected to take place over the weekend in preparation for the regular City Council meeting on Monday where a vote is expected. If the vote does not take place on Monday, the Mayor has scheduled a Special City Council meeting for Tuesday at 10:00am in the Sullivan Chamber to decide on the Riverside rezoning. The deadline for action on the petitions is Tuesday.

Vote puts state close to smoking ban   (Boston Globe, Oct 23, 2003)

House Speaker backs statewide smoking ban  (Boston Globe, Oct 21, 2003 )

You certainly have to hand it to the good folks at the Longfellow School on Broadway. They clearly have maintained their sense of humor. Both the Longfellow and Graham & Parks school buildings will be closed at the end of this school year as a result of the elementary schools consolidation approved earlier this year.

Still somewhat unsettled is what will ultimately become of the community schools programs that were housed in these buildings.

May 13, 2003 - The Cambridge School Committee voted unanimously tonight (at midnight) to appoint: Dr. Thomas Fowler-Finn, Superintendent of the Fort Wayne Community Schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the new Superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools effective August 1, 2003.

The School Committee also voted to thank Carolyn Turk for her service as Acting Superintendent.

For continued updates and discussion about the Cambridge schools, check out the website http://cambridgepublic.us.

May 12, 2003 - The Cambridge City Council tonight voted in favor of the recommendation from the Community Development Department for the development of up to 40 units of affordable housing to be built on the parcel of land in Trolley Square on north Mass. Ave. obtained by the City from the MBTA. The City Manager was instructed to include in the Request for Proposals the desire for some publicly accessible open space and, if feasible, some (preferably non-profit) community use, such as space for the North Cambridge arts group NOCA. Though all parties involved in this controversial process seemed amicable in the end, there will no doubt be some lingering political fallout. Though the outcome of this vote was never in doubt, it was delayed for months by the controversy.

Councillor Reeves expressed his very targeted diagnosis to North Cambridge residents that they have a problem in the manner with which they engage in controversies such as this. He opined that the net effect of their tactics was to create a situation in which developers would rather build less-than-desirable projects as-of-right rather than tolerate abuse from neighborhood activists. Though Councillor Reeves was pointing out what many people have understood for years, it was refreshing to hear him say it so directly.

The vote was 8-1 to transfer the Trolley Square property into the hands of the Affordable Housing Trust. The lone dissenting vote was by Councillor David Maher. In the political dynamics of proportional representation elections, this should translate into a political benefit for Councillor Maher in the November elections as an identifiable constituency may see him as the champion of their cause.

April 9, 2003 letter from North Cambridge affordable housing advocates on the Trolley Square proposal

May 5, 2003 - The Cambridge City Council passed another home rule petition "Enabling Certain Non-Citizen Residents Of Cambridge To Vote In School Committee And City Council Elections". The original order called for the franchise to be extended only for School Committee elections. Councillor Decker amended her order to extend this to City Council elections as well. The amended order passed on a 5-3-1 vote with Councillors Davis, Decker, Murphy, Reeves, and Simmons voting in favor. Councillors Galluccio and Maher and Mayor Sullivan voted against the order and Councillor Toomey was recorded as absent.

The petition now goes to the State Legislature where it will almost certainly die a slow death.

Mar 20, 2003 - Pictures from the Anti-War March through Cambridge

Mar 1, 2003 - Frostbike Ride from the Cambridge Common to City Hall

Feb 24, 2003 - Though it was not originally on the agenda for the Feb 24 City Council meeting, the City Council again passed a Home Rule Petition to the State Legislature requesting authority to lower the voting age to 17 for municipal elections only. There were some minor changes to the language passed last year. The matter passed this time 8-1 with Councillor Maher voting NO.

Feb 12, 2003 - In this month's issue (February 2003) of the Phi Delta Kappan, the national education professionals journal, former CRLS Principal Paula Evans gives her take on her tenure at CRLS.
A Principal's Dilemmas: Theory and Reality of School Redesign by Paula M. Evans
The text was scanned from the magazine and reformatted. If you have comments on the article, you are encouraged to participate in a discussion on this topic at http://www.cambridgepublic.us.

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