2007 CCJ Notes
(items moved from the main page)

Dec 31, 2007 - That was a short one
The City of Cambridge declared a Snow Emergency and Parking Ban effective at midnight on Sunday, Dec 30 into Monday, Dec 31.

The City of Cambridge Snow Emergency and Parking Ban is lifted as of 8am Monday, Dec 31.

Site for Cambridge Selected: December 28, 1630


...in 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony proprietors chose a site along the northern bank of the Charles River for their capital. They named it Newtowne, and laid out an orderly grid of streets fortified by a wooden palisade. It was the first planned town in English North America. Six years later, the colony's first college was established in Newtowne. In honor of the English university town, Newtowne was renamed Cambridge. Contemporary William Wood noted "this is one of the neatest . . . towns in New England, having many fair structures with many handsome . . . seats." Despite its well-ordered appearance, Cambridge did not remain the colony's capital. In 1638 the General Court settled five miles downstream, in the neighboring town of Boston.

Listen to this moment: http://www.massmoments.org/audio/December28%2EAIF1%2Em3u

Read more about this moment: http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=372

Visit Mass Moments to search past moments: http://www.massmoments.org

Scofflaws - My neighbors and I do a pretty good job of clearing our sidewalks of snow and ice during and after each snowstorm. I'll routinely clear a path in front of my commercial neighbor when they're closed so that pedestrians can walk the whole street. (See pictures taken at 10:00am Sunday.) Contrast this with the properties at 46 Dana Street [owner of record: Crowley, Michael J., Tr , of Furcob Realty Trust c/o Jeffrey D. Woolf, Esq., PC; P.O. Box #961267, Boston, MA 02196-1267] and 406 Broadway [owner of record: Whittlesey, Faith, TR of Whittlesey Nominee Trust, 64 Greenwood St., Sherborn, MA 01770].

Consistently these property owners (and many others) do absolutely nothing to make their sidewalks passable and, to my knowledge, the City of Cambridge never goes after them. It's not just the property owners who are at fault here. The residents of these buildings, if they possess human souls, should care about how their neighbors get around without falling down. [The last record I have for residents at 46 Dana are Andrew Dunn (27), Alberto Martinez (37), and Kathryn Thirolf (29). Residents listed at 406 Broadway were Ethan Cohen-Cole (33) and Monika Parikh (34), but Monika reports that they moved prior to this and the negligence is attributable to their successors at that address.] If we 50-somethings can shovel snow and clear ice, so can these youngsters. Perhaps they were too busy working out on their treadmills at the health spa. I'm no fan of increased regulation, but pride and shame are concepts we should bring back. Real property owners and residents are proud to do their part.

Broadway from Broadway Terrace to Lee Street, 10am Sunday, Dec 16

Broadway side of 46 Dana Street, Tuesday, Dec 18 - two days later and still untouched

Wonderfully cleared driveway at 406 Broadway
Where did they put the snow?

They piled it on the sidewalk, of course!
(as long as their cars can get in and out, who cares?)

Worst sidewalk #1 (as always) - 46 Dana Street

Worst sidewalk #2 - 342 Harvard Street (next door to the
outgoing mayor - his sidewalk was in great shape, by the way)

The last City Council meeting of the 2006-2007 term took place this on Monday, December 17. The new City Council will be inaugurated on January 7 at 10:00am in the Sullivan Chamber of City Hall.

Nov 24-25, 2007 - I just received word that former Election Commissioner Ed Samp passed away yesterday (Fri, Nov 23). Many of us remember when Ed would play the piano during the down time of the old PR Count at the Longfellow School. A friend described him best as "a congenitally honest, civil, and decent human being." The Boston Globe notice (Nov 25) follows:

SAMP, Atty. Edward J., Jr. in Cambridge, Nov. 23, 2007. Beloved husband of Mary (Abbott). Dear father of Edward J. III of Wayland, his twin brother John B. of Westwood, Frederick S. of Saco, ME, Richard A. of Arlington, VA and Margaret H. Samp of Cambridge. Loving grandfather of 6. Devoted brother of Mary Jane Grede, Helen Jean Filkins, Dr. Robert Samp, all of FL and Virginia Knaplund of Falmouth.

Funeral from the Keefe Funeral Home, 2175 Mass. Ave, NORTH CAMBRIDGE, on Tuesday at 9AM. Funeral Mass in St. Peter's Church Cambridge at 10AM. Relatives and friends invited. Visiting hours Monday 4-8. Parking at Pemberton Farms. Please visit KeefeFuneralHome.com. Late Navy Veteran WWII. Interment is private. In lieu of sending flowers, the family requests that you make a small contribution to either the Blessed Sacrament School (http://school.blsacrament.org) or the Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.

Nov 26 - Ed Samp's obituary in the Cambridge Chronicle

Nov 22, 2007 - Small Turnout, Large Price Tag - Special elections mean hefty costs (Boston Globe)
We've seen a rash lately of elected officials leaving their positions in the middle of their terms. While turnover is good (and we could use a lot more of it!), there are costs associated with all of these special elections to fill vacancies, and the state reimburses only a portion of the costs. It's also totally unfair to the voters and to the other candidates when an elected official (invariably an incumbent) seeks reelection only to make an early exit. I have a suggestion: Whenever any elected official chooses to leave office during his or her term and requiring a special election to determine a successor, any salary that official was to receive for the entire term is forfeited and used to defray the costs of the resulting special election. Obviously, this would not apply in the case of an official being forced out of office due to health concerns or other exceptional circumstances. - RW

Nov 16, 2007 - Patrick OK's law clarifying tideland development (Boston Globe)
It appears that the NorthPoint project in East Cambridge may now be back on track. Expect the Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods (which does not actually represent any Cambridge neighborhoods) to continue to make a fuss.

 2007 Official Final Election Results - City Council and School Committee (PDF)

Nov 7, 2007 (updated Nov 16,17) - All of the ballots have now been counted. There were no late overseas absentee ballots, so the final official results are identical to the unofficial results announced on Nov 7. Here are the final official results in the order in which the candidates were elected:

City Council
Henrietta Davis (1st Round)
Tim Toomey (6th Round)
David Maher (7th Round)
Ken Reeves (8th Round)
Marjorie Decker (9th Round)    
Brian Murphy (9th Round)
Denise Simmons (9th Round)
Craig Kelley (10th Round)
Sam Seidel (10th Round)
School Committee
Marc McGovern (1st Round)
Fred Fantini (1st Round)
Patty Nolan (6th Round)
Luc Schuster (6th Round)
Joe Grassi (7th Round)
Nancy Tauber (7th Round)

Henrietta Davis was the only City Council candidate to reach the election quota (1364) in the 1st Round with 228 surplus ballots to spare. In the decisive round to determine the last seats, Sam Seidel (1348) and Craig Kelley (1342) eclipsed Eddie Sullivan (1038) to round out the nine elected to the Council.

In the School Committee race, Marc McGovern and Fred Fantini both reached quota (1897) in the 1st Round. McGovern had 380 surplus votes and Fantini had 120 surplus votes. The most interesting aspect of the race is that the three slate candidates (Nancy Tauber, Gail Lemily Wiggins, and Stefan Malner) came in behind all other candidates in #1 vote totals, but their votes coalesced to allow Nancy Tauber to pass Richard Harding in the decisive round by 64 votes. Effectively, Nancy Tauber replaces Nancy Walser, and Marc McGovern's strong campaign coupled with Richard Harding's relatively weak campaign resulted in Harding's defeat.

The other significant aspect of this election is the record low turnout - 13,721 people cast City Council ballots, a significant drop from the previous record low of 16,202 in 2005.

City Council #1 Vote Distribution by Ward/Precinct      School Committee #1 Vote Distribution by Ward/Precinct 

Nov 11 addendum: If you scale the #1 votes totals of continuing candidates from 2005 to correct for the lower voter turnout in 2007, and then subtract these scaled numbers from the #1 vote totals for 2007, you can get some idea of who realized the greatest true gains and losses from 2005 to 2007. Here are the results:

David Maher
Henrietta Davis
Craig Kelley
Sam Seidel
Ken Reeves
       Tim Toomey
Brian Murphy
Denise Simmons
Marjorie Decker
Michael/Eddie Sullivan

Of course, the source of most of the large gains were the many votes that would otherwise have gone to Anthony Galluccio. - RW 

Nov 16, 2007 - The Replacements (2007) - Now that I have the 2007 ballot data, I was able to run the tabulation software to determine which candidates would replace each of the elected candidates in the event of a vacancy:

City Council Replacements
Davis - Larry Ward
Decker - Larry Ward
Kelley - Larry Ward
Maher - Eddie Sullivan
Murphy - Larry Ward
Reeves - Anthony Galluccio
   (Kevin Moore if Galluccio excluded)  
Seidel - Larry Ward
Simmons - Larry Ward
Toomey - Eddie Sullivan
School Committee Replacements
Fantini - Richard Harding
Grassi - Richard Harding
McGovern - Richard Harding
Nolan - Richard Harding
Schuster - Gail Lemily Wiggins
Tauber - Gail Lemily Wiggins

Nov 17, 2007 - Here's something REALLY amazing - If the 2007 City Council ballots are used to select just one person by continuing the series of runoffs until only one candidate remains (a simulated "Instant Runoff" to select a mayor), Henrietta Davis (5903 votes) would handily defeat Tim Toomey (3939 votes) in the deciding round. Which candidate is the last to be eliminated before the final round? Answer - Sam Seidel!

Here are the runoffs:

Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7 Round 8 Round 9
Toomey 1829 1919 2010 2145 2244 3018 3561 3939 -
Davis 1811 2062 2313 2818 3435 3795 4443 5903 6817
Maher 1672 1720 1886 2020 2200 - - - -
Reeves 1480 1764 1838 2048 2249 2452 - - -
Murphy 1343 1430 1633 1853 - - - - -
Seidel 1314 1410 1687 1879 2283 2510 2814 - -
Kelley 1308 1380 - - - - - - -
Decker 1276 1468 1609 - - - - - -
Simmons 1256 - - - - - - - -

Distribution of #2 votes behind each Cambridge City Council candidate - 2007

Distribution of #2 votes behind each Cambridge School Committee candidate - 2007

2007 Cambridge Candidate Pages
[gallery of all candidates in the November 6 Cambridge municipal election with links to individual candidate pages]

Nov 5 - The Harvard Crimson has a Special Election Issue (link expired).

Voter turnout by
ward and precinct

ward pct. #










































1 2 495























































465 22% 32%








345 21%





























































2007 Unofficial Final Election Results - City Council and School Committee (PDF)

Nov 7, 2007 - All of the ballots have now been counted except for a handful of late overseas absentee ballots which, if any, will be included 10 days after Election Day for the "official" count. Here are the final (unofficial) results in the order in which the candidates were elected:

City Council
Henrietta Davis (1st Round)
Tim Toomey (6th Round)
David Maher (7th Round)
Ken Reeves (8th Round)
Marjorie Decker (9th Round)    
Brian Murphy (9th Round)
Denise Simmons (9th Round)
Craig Kelley (10th Round)
Sam Seidel (10th Round)
School Committee
Marc McGovern (1st Round)
Fred Fantini (1st Round)
Patty Nolan (6th Round)
Luc Schuster (6th Round)
Joe Grassi (7th Round)
Nancy Tauber (7th Round)

Henrietta Davis was the only City Council candidate to reach the election quota (1364) in the 1st Round with 228 surplus ballots to spare. In the decisive round to determine the last seats, Sam Seidel (1348) and Craig Kelley (1342) eclipsed Eddie Sullivan (1038) to round out the nine elected to the Council.

In the School Committee race, Marc McGovern and Fred Fantini both reached quota (1897) in the 1st Round. McGovern had 380 surplus votes and Fantini had 120 surplus votes. The most interesting aspect of the race is that the three slate candidates (Nancy Tauber, Gail Lemily Wiggins, and Stefan Malner) came in behind all other candidates in #1 vote totals, but their votes coalesced to allow Nancy Tauber to pass Richard Harding in the decisive round by 64 votes. Effectively, Nancy Tauber replaces Nancy Walser, and Marc McGovern's strong campaign coupled with Richard Harding's relatively weak campaign resulted in Harding's defeat.

The other significant aspect of this election is the record low turnout - 13,721 people cast City Council ballots, a significant drop from the previous record low of 16,202 in 2005.

City Council #1 Vote Distribution by Ward/Precinct      School Committee #1 Vote Distribution by Ward/Precinct 

2007 Preliminary Election Results - City Council and School Committee (PDF)

Nov 6, 2007 - Based on all ballots scanned on Election Day, the following candidates prevailed (in the order of election):

City Council
Henrietta Davis (1st Round)
Tim Toomey (6th Round)
David Maher (8th Round)
Ken Reeves (8th Round)
Brian Murphy (9th Round)
Marjorie Decker   (9th Round)       
Denise Simmons (9th Round)
Sam Seidel (10th Round)
Craig Kelley (10th Round)
School Committee
Marc McGovern (1st Round)
Fred Fantini (1st Round)
Patty Nolan (6th Round)
Luc Schuster (6th Round)
Joe Grassi (7th Round)
Nancy Tauber (7th Round)

These preliminary results do not include "auxiliary ballots" which will be counted on Wednesday. The unofficial results will be announced when all of these additional ballots are included. The official results will be announced ten days after Election Day to allow for possible late overseas absentee ballots to arrive. (There were none in 2005.)

Henrietta Davis was the only City Council candidate to reach the election quota (1344) in the 1st Round with 232 surplus ballots to spare. In the decisive round to determine the last seats, Sam Seidel (1339) and Craig Kelley (1325) eclipsed Eddie Sullivan (1020) to round out the nine elected to the Council.

In the School Committee race, Marc McGovern and Fred Fantini both reached quota (1874) in the 1st Round. McGovern had 379 surplus votes and Fantini had 124 surplus votes. The most interesting aspect of the race is that the three slate candidates (Nancy Tauber, Gail Lemily Wiggins, and Stefan Malner) came in behind all other candidates in #1 vote totals, but their votes coalesced to allow Nancy Tauber to defeat Richard Harding in the decisive round by 64 votes.

The other significant aspect of this election is the record low turnout - approximately 13,500 people voted, a significant drop from the previous record low of 16,202 in 2005.

Nov 3, 2007: In which parties are Cambridge voters registered? (October 2007)

Party Democrat Unenrolled Republican Green-Rainbow Libertarian Other Parties Total
Active voters 24927 (61.6%) 12942 (32.8%) 1831 (4.6%) 204 (0.5%) 116 (0.3%) 72 (0.2%) 39462
Inactive voters 8754 (51.9%) 6646 (39.4%) 1145 (6.8%) 192 (1.1%) 98 (0.6%) 42 (0.2%) 16877
Total voters 33051 (58.6%) 19588 (34.8%) 2976 (5.3%) 396 (0.7%) 214 (0.4%) 114 (0.2%) 56339

Nov 3, 2007: Age Distributions of Cambridge Voters (Nov 3, 2007)

I just did some analysis of the age distribution of current registered voters in Cambridge (except for 2 voters without birthdates). Here are some statistics and graphs:

All Registered Voters (as of Oct 2007)
Number of voters
: 56337    Median age: 39.33    Mean age: 44.19

Current Voters who voted in Nov 2006
Number of voters
: 31212    Median age: 48.68    Mean age: 49.35

Current Voters who voted in Nov 2005
Number of voters
: 15059    Median age: 56.33    Mean age: 56.33

Current Voters who voted in last five general elections
Number of voters
: 9202    Median age: 59.53    Mean age: 60.22

Current Voters who voted in last 13 elections, including primaries (March 2000 through November 2006)
Number of voters
: 683    Median age: 64.30    Mean age: 64.94

Perhaps the most clear conclusion that you can draw from this analysis is the well-known fact that older voters tend to vote in far greater numbers than younger voters.

Nov 3, 2007 - The "Random Draw of Precincts" took place today at the Cambridge Election Commission on Nov 1. This determines the order in which ballots from precincts throughout the city are counted in the election. Though this has a relatively minor effect on the tabulation of the ballots (because of the "Cincinnati Method" used to transfer surplus ballots), it can potentially make a difference in a very close election. Here's the ordering determined by lottery (read down the columns):


How'd the City Council candidates do in 2005?

The table below shows the number of ranked preferences for each candidate in the 2005 City Council election.

Candidate in 2005 #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10-18 Total
Adkins, Lawrence 243 256 258 242 159 165 162 138 115 580 2318
Condit, James 42 90 111 122 92 104 118 104 93 619 1495
Davis, Henrietta 1459 1441 1428 1110 787 606 359 238 153 289 7870
Decker, Marjorie 1524 1630 1447 1147 848 493 322 225 159 307 8102
Galluccio, Anthony 2001 1598 1353 916 631 440 361 254 175 337 8066
Gordon, Jesse 626 499 502 435 406 307 256 179 111 562 3883
Green, Andre 181 181 192 175 212 157 130 106 101 597 2032
Hall, Robert 75 108 144 139 135 158 141 96 110 636 1742
Hees, Bill 198 165 153 133 131 136 146 113 110 603 1888
Kelley, Craig 1042 749 519 436 364 333 249 210 152 540 4594
LaTrémouille, Robert 118 118 153 156 153 166 124 124 116 612 1840
Maher, David 902 930 989 858 666 513 423 315 239 441 6276
Murphy, Brian 1236 1003 984 872 767 533 439 317 187 371 6709
Reeves, Ken 1207 1082 971 834 713 521 358 260 197 379 6522
Seidel, Sam 973 885 662 557 384 324 244 194 106 527 4856
Simmons, Denise 1330 1458 1337 994 779 531 429 290 177 313 7638
Sullivan, Michael 1464 1761 1449 857 671 504 311 277 228 313 7835
Toomey, Tim 1432 897 834 763 477 394 297 242 196 418 5950
Write-In 17 18 24 14 17 24 15 14 13 21 177
Total votes 16070 14869 13510 10760 8392 6409 4884 3696 2738 8465 89793

Every candidate knows that the Number 1 votes are primarily what determines the election outcome, but part of the game is to convince voters who ranked a candidate #2 or some other high ranking to change that to a #1 vote. This is especially true in an election like this where two of the candidates who won in 2005 (Anthony Galluccio and Michael Sullivan) are not seeking reelection. Of course, there are a number of challengers who would also like to pick up those #1 votes.

For information on this year's candidates, visit the Cambridge Candidate Pages at vote.rwinters.com

Nov 1, 2007 - NorthPoint project sold for more than $175m  (Boston Globe)

"The purchase of the former rail yard includes 44 acres permitted and ready to go for 5 million square feet of office, lab, residential, retail, and hotel development. Two residential buildings are near completion."

"Cambridge North Point LLC is made up of about 100 investors, most formerly affiliated with Spaulding & Slye, and has a one-fourth share of the ownership. In July, Cambridge North Point said the agreement to sell the property constituted 'a major step forward toward resolving the legal issues between the partners.'"

"Archon (the buyer) has recently sold off some of its substantial holdings in Fort Point rather than develop them.

"Anything of scale has to come to this project, because it's the only permitted project," he said.

"Archon specializes in commercial development and could sell the residential portion of NorthPoint - about 2,500 units - or find a partner to build it."

NorthPoint through the years (Boston Globe photo gallery)

Oct 26, 2007 - Mass. House OKs bill to fix glitch in tidelands law  (Boston Globe)

It appears that a version similar to Gov. Patrick's proposed legislation to correct the deficiency in the "landlocked filled tidelands" regulations will soon pass the legislature and be signed by the governor. This occurs as numerous bidders on the North Point development have emerged and new ownership for this very significant project on the edge of Cambridge will soon be in place. The City Manager has this to say on the agenda for the upcoming City Council meeting:

Oct 29, 2007
To the Honorable, the City Council:

In response to Awaiting Report Item Number 07-65, regarding the financial impacts of development delays for the North Point project, Director of Assessment Robert P. Reardon reports the following:

The Board of Assessors has reviewed the financial impact of development delays for the North Point Project over the next five years and ten years.

The revenue estimates for the next five years indicates little or no impact from the North Point Project lawsuit. The financial projects, which were included in the five year plan are already under construction and are not impacted by the lawsuit. Commercial development was not considered to be significant because of the relocation of the Lechmere Station, considered a revenue neutral event.

The projected assessed value estimates for years six through ten would be approximately $100,000,000 per year, with approximately 60% residential and 40% commercial or $450,000 in residential taxes and $735,000 in commercial taxes, based upon a 20 year build-out. The cumulative loss, if the project were not started in years six to ten, would be approximately $6,225,000 or $1,245,000 per year in real estate taxes.

The difficulty in estimating future revenue is the uncertainty of the economy, which will dictate the development of the project mix and has direct impact on the real estate taxes. The overall project is anticipated to be worth approximately $2 billion in today’s dollars and will be split 60% residential and 40% commercial. If the real estate market for commercial development is strong during years six to ten, then the City of Cambridge would benefit because of the split tax rate, whereas, if residential development were the major focus the City would have less of a financial benefit.

The residential development component also has the possibility of condominium units, which would be eligible for individual residential exemption, as opposed to apartment development, which, if the owner resides in the complex, would only be eligible for one residential exemption for the entire complex.

Very truly yours, Robert W. Healy, City Manager

Oct 20, 2007 - Follow the Money - A very interesting article by Bill Cunningham and Aimee Smith in The Bridge about some of the current real estate activities of former city councillor Bill Walsh and the ongoing saga at 55 Magazine Street. [Links have been removed due to abandonment of website of The Bridge]

Cambridge Candidate Pages

Requests for statements on a range of topics were sent on September 7 to all City Council candidates and on October 7 to all School Committee candidates. Check out the Cambridge Candidate Pages for what they have to say. Responses are posted as soon as they arrive. The names of candidate who have responded will be shown in bold in the photo gallery on the Candidate Pages. Here are the topics sent to candidates:

Cambridge City Council

1) Background [biographical, etc.]

2) Top Priorities [List about three and elaborate below]

3) Quality of Life and Public Safety (including rodents, noise abatement, etc.)

4) Traffic, Parking, and Transportation

5) Municipal Finance (Budget, Assessments, Property Taxes, etc.)

6) Government and Elections (Plan E Charter, City Manager, staff for councillors, etc.)

7) Land Use, Planning, Economic Development

8) Human Services Programs [including youth programs and senior programs]

9) Open Space, Parks, and Recreation

10) Energy, the Environment, and Public Health

11) Housing

12) Arts and Public Celebrations

13) University Relations

14) Civic Participation

15) Cambridge Public Schools

Candidates are invited to add additional topics if they wish.

Council Orders and Resolutions: 2006 - 2007
through Oct 29, incl. late orders of Oct 22
2006-2007 P I R M D C A F
Davis 125 66 28 64 34 146 17 6
Decker 49 31 5 30 7 116 9 1530
Galluccio 55 55 6 35 319 147 3 2
Kelley 83 122 14 41 2 39 3 1
Maher 1 3 0 4 10 7 0 0
Murphy 60 10 11 22 7 95 6 2
Reeves 37 10 5 17 62 421 78 2
Simmons 73 51 19 46 24 139 14 1
Sullivan 90 69 24 113 763 550 68 4
Toomey 48 32 7 55 264 154 19 3
Total 398 348 90 332 1155 1517 193 1540

Note: The distribution of Orders and Resolutions by city councillors can provide insight into how they approach their job and how they spend their time and staff resources. (Orders with multiple sponsors count once in the totals.)

P - Policy orders

I - Requests for information from the City Manager and City departments

R - Rules and procedural items, such as the scheduling of hearings

M - Maintenance orders: fixing things, putting in stop signs, potholes, traffic, etc.

D - Death resolutions

C - Congratulations, get-well wishes, birthdays, naming of street corners, etc.

A - Announcements of upcoming events, holidays, proclamations, etc.

F - Foreign and national policy matters

Cambridge School Committee

1) Background [biographical, etc.]

2) Top Priorities [List about three - then elaborate below]

3) School Department Administration [positives and negatives, and changes you would support]

4) Superintendent Thomas Fowler-Finn's Contract - Based on what you know today, would you support an extension of this contract and, if so, for what term and under what conditions?

5) Controlled Choice, Student Assignment Policies, and the "Achievement Gap"

6) Enrichment Programs [honors classes, after-school opportunities, etc.]

7) Enrollment and the Marketing of Public Schools vs. Charter Schools and Private Schools

8) Elementary Schools and Curriculum [positives and negatives, and changes you would support]

9) High School Programs and Curriculum [positives and negatives, and changes you would support]

10) School Department Budget and Capital Needs (including CRLS renovations), and the Disposition of Surplus Buildings

11) MCAS and Measuring Student Achievement [pros, cons, alternatives]

12) School Safety and Student Behavior

13) Parent Involvement and School Councils

14) Other [Include additional topics, if you wish.]

City Council Committee meetings
chaired and attended (2006-2007)
(includes reports up to Oct 29)
Councillor Chaired Attended
Davis 13 66
Sullivan 36 61
Kelley 14 57
Murphy 22 47
Simmons 16 45
Toomey 12 39
Galluccio 7 33
Decker 19 32
Mayor chairs all
Council and School
Committee meetings
Maher 0 1

Upcoming Candidate Forums
Send information about other candidate events and check out the Cambridge Candidate Pages

Fri, Nov 2

7:30pm   Inside City Hall Debate - City Council Candidates Forum on CCTV (Cable Channel 10), moderated by Ben Eisler. The program will be replayed on Cable Channel 9 on Nov. 3 and 8:00am and 6:00pm and again on Nov. 4 at 1:00pm.

Tues, Nov 6
7:00am-8:00pm   Election Day

On a big TV in Harvard Square, group watches Olde Towne Team (Boston Globe, Sept 29, 2007)

Panel from “Boston, November 1980” taken from American Spendor #7 by Harvey Peker.

Sept 27 - Council Hopefuls Clash on Housing (Harvard Crimson article by Paras Bhayani and Nicholas Tabor)

2007 Municipal Election Calendar (and some advice for candidates)

The deadline for filing nomination papers has passed. Candidates will also want to get a current database of registered voters. This is available from the Election Commission free of charge to any candidate who has pulled nomination papers. Voter history files and the street listing are also available. If you are a legitimate candidate and want a merged file showing all currently registered Cambridge voters with their ten year voting history in Cambridge elections (if they voted - not who they voted for!!), you can request it from me free of charge.

The deadline for municipal candidates to file withdrawal of nomination has also passed.

The deadline for voter registration for the municipal election has passed.

Mon, Oct 29: 5pm deadline for School Committee candidates and Political Committees to file Municipal Campaign & Political Finance Reports. (City Council candidates should consult their OCPF packets regarding depository-filing requirements). City Council candidates are required under state law to set up a depository account at a bank. The bank will report all deposits and expenditures directly to the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF). School Committee candidates are not required to set up a depository account, but they must file a campaign finance report in mid-October and at the end of the year.

Sat, Nov 3: Election Commission office will be open 9am to 5pm for over-the-counter absentee voting.

Mon, Nov 5: Noontime deadline to apply for absentee ballot, either for mail-in or over-the-counter voting.

Tues, Nov 6: Municipal Election. Polls are open 7:00am until 8:00pm. All absentee ballots must arrive at the Election Commission office by 8:00pm to be counted. Ballot count begins at the Cambridge Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave., Central Square after the polls close. It is expected that the Election Commission will report preliminary election results Tuesday evening, but this tally does not include write-in ballots and other ballots not counted for a variety of reasons.

Wed, Nov 7: 9am-5pm. Ballot count resumes at Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave., Central Square. The entire process is usually complete by early evening and the unofficial election results will be announced upon completion. Federal law requires an additional ten days to allow for any overseas military absentee ballots to arrive, and the final official election results will be announced then. [There were no such ballots in the 2005 election.]

The Election Commission Office is open Mon, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tues-Thurs, 8:30am-5:00pm; and Fri, 8:30am-Noon (except July 4, Sept 3, and Oct 8).

The 2007 Cambridge Candidate Pages are now under construction. Check back as the campaign season progresses.

Sept 14 - Just out of curiosity....

Neil McCabe over at The Alewife stated: "With Maher filling the Sullivan seat, the next in line is Alewife columnist Sam Seidel."

This is not quite true. I just ran the numbers out of curiosity, excluding newly elected Councillor Maher and Robert Hall (who passed away). Here are the current replacements for the 8 councillors (not including the newly elected David Maher):
Davis: Sam Seidel (beats Jesse Gordon and Larry Adkins 437-340-82)
Decker: Sam Seidel (beats Jesse Gordon 358 to 308)
Galluccio: Sam Seidel (beats Jesse Gordon 175 to 154)
Kelley: Sam Seidel (beats Jesse Gordon, Bill Hees, and Larry Adkins 565-297-132-102)
Murphy: Sam Seidel (beats Jesse Gordon 457 to 342)
Reeves: Sam Seidel (beats Larry Adkins 308 to 285)
Simmons: Jesse Gordon (beats Larry Adkins 335 to 271)
Toomey: Andre Green (beats Sam Seidel 127 to 120)

    East Cambridge is a wonderful place..... and a bit quirky. - RW 

Sept 14 (updated Sept 22)- A few more election numbers for the truly incorrigible -- How did Cambridge vote in the Sept 11 Special Primary Election? Here's the table showing the Final Official Tally of votes by ward and precinct:

Candidate 3-2 6-1 6-2 6-3 7-1 7-2 7-3 8-1 8-2 9-1 10-2 Total Pct
Galluccio 141 122 51 129 95 30 8 44 108 268 182 1178 52.08%
Flaherty 39 58 53 69 70 21 13 36 74 101 137 671 29.66%
Ross 18 56 32 37 46 18 8 14 38 44 69 380 16.80%
Nowicki 5 2 3 4 5 0 0 1 1 0 8 29 1.28%
Write-ins 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 4 0.18%
Total 204 238 139 240 216 69 29 96 221 414 396 2262 100%
Blanks 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 -

Sept 11, 9:43pm - According to the Cambridge Chronicle, it appears that Anthony Galluccio has prevailed in the Special Primary Election to succeed Jarrett Barrios in the State Senate. Details as they come in may be found at http://blogs.townonline.com/campolitics/

The news story is here: http://www.townonline.com/cambridge/homepage/x1822773381

Sept 22 - Final results posted by the Secretary of State's Office:

Candidate Cambridge Boston Everett Somerville Chelsea Revere Saugus Total Pct
Galluccio 1178 836 1584 188 331 386 187 4690  42.09%
Nowicki 29 414 751 12 1414 206 142 2968  26.63%
Flaherty 671 735 571 74 186 66 60 2383  21.20%
Ross 380 192 208 58 178 21 68 1105  9.92%
Write-ins 4 6 6 0 0 0 2 18 0.16%
Total 2262 2183 3120 332 2109 679 459 11144 100%
Blanks 1 3 1 0 36 3 1 45 -

Source: Massachusetts Secretary of State's Office

The Middlesex, Suffolk, & Essex State Senate Race gets ugly

What started out as a sleepy little filling of a vacancy in the State Senate has, as Primary Election Day (Tues, Sept 11) approaches, begun to show signs of a schoolyard fistfight - a fight primarily waged not only by the candidates but by various surrogates and other interested parties. We've all heard by now about the well-orchestrated campaign to portray Anthony Galluccio in the harshest possible light over his past indiscretions. One need look no further than Blue Mass Group to see how three bloggers will pull out all stops to torpedo a candidate and put all Democratic Party candidates on notice as to whose rings must be kissed. The BMG Three decided to whack Galluccio early, and the only thing left to decide was which candidate to back who could hurt Galluccio the most. They chose Tim Flaherty to be that candidate. Blue Mass Group has often been a good source of current information on political matters, but the BMG environment has grown increasingly hostile of late, and a principal focus has been on explicit and implicit endorsements of candidates by the owners of the weblog.

Not to be outdone by the arbiters of democracy on BMG, one commenter on that blog recently posted comments that attempt to connect Tim Flaherty's candidacy with proponents of casino gambling in Massachusetts. It's true that Flaherty has accepted some large donations from people associated with the gaming industry and his responses to questions on casino gambling have been that it's a done deal and that the only things left to decide are when, where, and how. The fact that Flaherty's father, former House Speaker Charlie Flaherty, is a lobbyist for the gaming industry did not go unnoticed by this blogger. Recent literature from Jeff Ross, by the way, has focused on distinguishing himself from his opponents as being the only one unambiguously opposed to casino gambling.

Perhaps the biggest blockbuster is the posting that appeared on BMG early Sunday morning (Sept 9) that reads like an indictment of Jeff Ross. In this very long post, entitled simply “Questions for Jeff Ross”, writer Larry Lopez laid out a scathing criticism of the financial, professional, and personal life of Ross. I have no idea about the validity of the claims, but it does hang together pretty well and it's hard to ignore. It definitely offers a decidedly different view of "The Progressive Democrat" in this race. [Update: The Larry Lopez posting about Jeff Ross was expunged mid-day Sunday without explanation but has now been restored on Sunday evening. (I had the foresight to save it - just in case). Since all four candidates are lawyers, one could easily see how threats of libel could be a factor in its temporary disappearance. Curiously, any and all allegations about Galluccio remain and have been consistently promoted at BMG.]

My preference would be for candidates to be measured on the merits rather than on any real or alleged personal failings. Wasn't that the original motive of "MoveOn.org" when they got started during the Republican campaign to destroy Bill Clinton? They advocated that we should "Move On" from all the scandalizing tactics. MoveOn now seems to have declared themselves to be the arbiters of all that is right and wrong in America. Under current quasi-journalistic “gotcha” standards, every indiscretion is potentially a political death sentence. Joe McCarthy would be proud.

And then there are the newspapers. Tim Flaherty has invested a good deal of money in surveys and media consultants as part of what I've heard referred to as his “smash and grab” strategy to win this election. He managed to win the Boston Globe endorsement, but there's no knowing who was involved in that process, i.e. who was talking to whom, and many have noted that the endorsement was light on details. The local paper, the Cambridge Chronicle, also gave Flaherty the nod, but the combined institutional memory at that paper is quite short. A well-packaged load of BS can have a lot of impact under those conditions. Sadly, the Chronicle seems to place a lot of weight on Galluccio's storied past and on Flaherty's pretended future. Cambridge's other little North Cambridge paper, The Alewife, gave the nod to Galluccio but strangely used the unrelated (and silly) issue of having a directly elected mayor in their reasoning to move Galluccio out and up the political ladder.

And then there's the Wolf factor. When all four candidates were asked by Scott Harshbarger at a recent forum which of the two previous occupants of the Senate seat, Tom Birmingham or Jarrett Barrios, they might want to emulate, Paul Nowicki stole the show by joking that he was “better-looking than both of them.” Galluccio said something like "I'll be a flaming liberal in Cambridge and Italian as hell in Chelsea" and got some well-deserved laughs for that. However, when it was Flaherty's turn, he said he would want to emulate State Representative Alice Wolf - and bowed to her as he said it. Anyone who's been watching Cambridge politics for a while knows that Galluccio and Wolf were opponents on two occasions for the seat now occupied by Wolf, and that Wolf defeated Galluccio on both occasions. It is also common knowledge that Wolf at least feigned interest in running for this Senate seat not only when Barrios was considering running for District Attorney, but also when Barrios resigned to initiate the current contest. It would seem that Wolf feels compelled to defeat Galluccio even when she's not willing to risk being a candidate. [By the way, a pretty good account (without spin) of the most recent State Senate debate is available here.]

From this writer's perspective, the two candidates who have shined brightly through all of this process have been Paul Nowicki and Anthony Galluccio. There's been barely a hint of BS from either of them, they have very comparable experience as city councillors and as Chairs of their respective city councils, and they both exhibit a wealth of detail in the mechanics of what works and doesn't work in their respective parts of the district. Experience matters a lot more than talking points written by media consultants.

-- Robert Winters     Sept 9, 2007

TV Show Plug

A new weekly Cambridge political news show premiered on Tues, Sept 11 at 6pm on CCTV (channel 9). Hosted and produced by Harvard undergrad Ben Eisler, Inside City Hall is currently featuring fifteen minute interviews with each of the sixteen candidates for the City Council. The questions you want asked, the information you want, live and in person. If you have an ItCH to know, you'll want to be there - Inside City Hall. The show will broadcast every Tuesday at 6pm with different guests each week.

Let's hope this is a step up from the usual “Be Live” stuff. The host, Ben Eisler, has been doing his homework in preparation for the show - a very promising sign. [For the record, I have always appreciated Harvard students doing their homework, especially the assignments I give in class!]

Sept 5 - It's Official! David Maher has been elected to replace Michael Sullivan

The official vacancy recount to determine Michael Sullivan's replacement on the Cambridge City Council took place this morning at the offices of the Cambridge Election Commission. The results coincide with those published previously here. Congratulations to David Maher!


David Maher

Michael Sullivan Vacancy Recount
(this is the official count!)
CANDIDATE Round 1 Round 2  
Maher, David P. 709 0 709 ELECTED -- 1st round
Adkins, Lawrence J. 64 -64 0 DEFEATED -- 1st round
Gordon, Jesse A. 61 -61 0 DEFEATED -- 1st round
Seidel, Sam 53 -53 0 DEFEATED -- 1st round
LaTremouille, Robert J. 48 -48 0 DEFEATED -- 1st round
Green, Andre Lerone 31 -31 0 DEFEATED -- 1st round
Hees, Bill 31 -31 0 DEFEATED -- 1st round
Condit, James E., III 25 -25 0 DEFEATED -- 1st round
Write-In 1 3 -3 0 DEFEATED -- 1st round
EXHAUSTED PILE: 583 316 899  
TOTALS: 1608 0 1608  

Aug 27 - The Cambridge Election Commission today set the date of the official Vacancy Recount to replace Michael Sullivan on the Cambridge City Council at Wed, Sept 5 at 10:00am in the 1st Floor Conference Room at 51 Inman Street (offices of the Election Commission). The outcome is not in doubt as David Maher will win in a landslide, but the seat remains vacant until the vacancy recount has officially taken place and David Maher is sworn in, presumably at the start of the September 10 City Council meeting.

A vacancy in either the Cambridge City Council or School Committee is filled by taking only those ballots which were used to elect the official leaving office (his "quota" of ballots) and using them in an "instant runoff election" to elect one person as the successor. All candidates in the original election who were not originally elected and who still reside in Cambridge are eligible candidates in the vacancy recount. In the Sullivan Vacancy Recount, of the 9 candidates who would normally be eligible, Robert Hall Sr. has died and my understanding is that Lawrence Adkins is now living in Maine. City Solicitor Don Drisdell is now clarifying the eligibility requirements. This will not change the outcome, but it's good to have the matter researched and settled for future vacancy recounts. Some candidates may also choose not to be eligible.

Assuming Mr. Adkins is ineligible, the list of eligible candidates will be: David Maher, Jesse Gordon, Sam Seidel, Robert LaTremouille, Andre Green, Bill Hees, and James Condit. David Maher is expected to best his closest competitor by at least a 10 to 1 ratio. [Sullivan vacancy]

Dick Cheney on invading Iraq (1994) - Intelligent guy, that Dick.

Quiz Questions (and solutions)

Based on the July 2007 list of registered voters plus my voter history files from 1997 through 2006, I posed the following two questions:

Quiz Question #1: Of the 54,948 currently registered Cambridge voters, how many have voted in every single Cambridge election, including primaries, since 1997?  Answer: 500

Quiz Question #2: How many currently registered Cambridge voters have voted in each of the last three municipal elections, i.e. 2001, 2003, and 2005?  Answer: 8517

Quiz Question #3: How many currently registered Cambridge voters have voted in every municipal election since 1997?  Answer: 5174

Any other questions you'd like answered from the data? Send me your questions.

Aug 23 - City Manager Robert Healy has appointed Poly Cobb as Democratic Election Commissioner to finish the term of Gerry McDonough who resigned to take a patronage job with the Deval Patrick administration after serving only one year of his four-year term. The Cambridge Democratic City Committee (CDCC) chose Linda Pinti as their #1 choice at their June 14 meeting. Mushtaque Mirza and Poly Cobb were the also-rans at that meeting at which the CDCC chose three nominees to transmit to the City Manager (there was no vote for #2 and #3 choice). Earlier this year, the City Manager bypassed the first two choices of the Cambridge Republican City Committee (CRCC) to appoint Ethridge King as one of the two Republican commissioners.

There are plenty of comments I could make about this choice, but I'll save that for another day. Read my previous notes here.

Aug 22 - On the seamier side of things, there's this: The Boston Herald today reports that former Boston city councilor David Scondras pleaded guilty yesterday to enticing a child under 16 and was ordered to register as a sex offender. David Scondras, 61, of Cambridge avoided jail time in a plea deal with prosecutors from the Essex District Attorney’s Office, under which he was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, ordered to surrender his computer, and stay off the Internet and away from children younger than 16. Scondras appeared yesterday in Lawrence District Court. Scondras was arrested in October 2006, when, after lengthy computer chats as part of a sting, he arranged to meet who he thought was a 15-year-old boy in a Lawrence parking lot.

Boston Globe note: Ex-councilor admits guilt in sex case
A former five-time Boston city councilor pleaded guilty in Lawrence to trying to lure someone he believed was a teenage boy into meeting him for sex. Judge Kevin Gaffney ordered David Scondras to register as a sex offender and placed him on probation for 18 months. He also ordered him not to work with children under age 16, and not to use the Internet during the term of his probation. Scondras agreed to forfeit his computer. Prosecutors said the 61-year-old sent pornographic images and messages on the Internet to someone he believed was a 15-year-old boy. The person was actually a 20-year-old hospital security guard who showed the messages to police. Scondras, a Harvard-educated tenant activist, arranged a meeting at the parking lot of the Day Charter School in Lawrence, where he was arrested. (AP)

.... and this guy wanted to run for Cambridge City Council in 2007. Good riddance. -- RW

Aug 21, 2007- City Councillor Michael Sullivan submitted his resignation from the Cambridge City Council on Friday, August 17 - effective immediately. The vacancy will be filled using the ballots that elected Michael in 2005. It is expected that David Maher will be elected to fill the vacancy. [Aug 27 update - The date for the official count to determine Michael's replacement will be Wed, Dec 5 at 10:00am at the offices of the Election Commission.]

Best of luck, Michael. You've been the best of the bunch - one of the best ever.

Michael Sullivan's resignation letter

Replacements for councillors elected in 2005         More information on the filling of a vacancy

Aug 7 - Four candidates on the ballot for the Sept 11 primary to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Jarrett Barrios

According to the Mass. Secretary of State's Office, four candidates have met the required minimum of 300 certified voter signatures to qualify for the Sept 11 Democratic primary election. They are Cambridge City Councillor Anthony Galluccio, Cambridge resident Tim Flaherty, Jeff Ross (who only moved to Cambridge when Barrios announced he was vacating his seat), and Chelsea City Councillor Paul Nowicki. At least two other potential candidates filed signatures but failed to meet the minimum. To the best of my knowledge, there are no Republican or independent candidates at this time for the Oct 9 general election, so the winner on Sept 11 will almost certainly be the one to succeed Barrios.

It is in the nature of special elections that the winner is often the candidate who can conduct the most effective get-out-the-vote campaign to get "their voters" to the polls on election day. In this race, that advantage probably goes to Galluccio who has built up a substantial organization in Everett and elsewhere in addition to his home town. Other candidates, notably Nowicki and Ross, are resorting to "robo-calls" - pre-recorded phone messages delivered to every available phone number in the district like e-mail SPAM. It's not clear how effective these calls are, but it seems like a popular alternative for candidates with little or no field organization. Time will tell how much money is sunk into this race by the four candidates, but the word on the street is that Mr. Ross has already committed to pulling $100,000+ of his own money out of his carpetbag to buy this seat - a very "progressive" sum indeed.

A most unfortunate outcome in this race would be for the three Cambridge candidates to split the Cambridge vote and hand the election to the other candidate with less than a majority vote. This most unfortunate side-effect of plurality elections is preventable by having a runoff election (or using "Instant Runoff Voting"), but a this is not an option for this election and will likely never be available as an option as long as our head-in-the-sand Mass. Democratic Party remains comfortable with the devil they know. Neither the Democratic nor Republican parties in Massachusetts have expressed much interest, if any, in reforms proposed in the name of achieving fair elections. -- RW

July 31, 6:50pm - It's all settled: 16 candidates for City Council and 9 candidates for School Committee

Those who turned in nomination papers and are on the City Council ballot: Denise Simmons, Jonathan Janik, Brian Murphy, Tim Toomey, Larry Ward, Kevin Moore, Ken Reeves, Sam Seidel, Gregg Moree, Marjorie Decker, Kathy Podgers, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Henrietta Davis, Anthony Galluccio, and Eddie Sullivan - 16 in all.

Denise Simmons Jonathan Janik Brian Murphy Tim Toomey Larry Ward Kevin Moore Ken Reeves Sam Seidel Gregg Moree Marjorie Decker Kathryn Podgers Craig Kelley David Maher Henrietta Davis Anthony Galluccio Edward Sullivan

Those who did not submit nomination papers: Reed Bundy, Michael Sullivan, Wade Smith, and Danny “Buddy” DeGuglielmo - 4 in all.

Reed Bundy Michael Sullivan Wade Smith Danny DeGuglielmo

For School Committee, it's Richard Harding, Joe Grassi, Fred Fantini, Marc McGovern, Patty Nolan, Nancy Tauber, Gail Lemily Wiggins, Luc Schuster, and Stefan Malner - 9 in all. Everyone who pulled papers for School Committee turned in sufficient signatures. Of the incumbents, only Nancy Walser did not seek reelection.
Richard Harding Joe Grassi Fred Fantini Marc McGovern Patty Nolan
  Nancy Tauber Gail Lemily Wiggins Luc Schuster Stefan Malner
Check out this year's Cambridge Candidate Pages.

Here are the candidates who met the deadline and the number of signatures submitted and certified:

Name Office Signatures submitted     Signatures certified    
Jonathan Janik City Council 50 (July 9); 50 (July 11) 40 + 42 = 82
Fred Fantini School Committee     100 (July 9) 99 - almost perfect!
Larry Ward City Council 70 (July 11) 61
Tim Toomey City Council 100 (July 12) 100 - perfect score!
Kathryn Podgers City Council 24 (July 14), 23 (July 23), 16 (July 25)   22 + 20 + 16 = 58
Marc McGovern School Committee 100 (July 23) 90
Anthony Galluccio City Council 100 (July 23) 89
Denise Simmons City Council 71 (July 23) 68
Patty Nolan School Committee 39 (July 23), 25 (July 30) 36 +23 = 59
Richard Harding School Committee 98 (July 24) 84
Kevin Moore City Council 68 (July 25) 53
Henrietta Davis City Council 50 (July 26), 35 (July 27) 44 + 32 = 76
David Maher City Council 100 (July 26) 100 - perfect score!
Marjorie Decker City Council 15 (July 27), 52 (July 30) 14 + 47 = 61
Craig Kelley City Council 95 (July 27) 84
Joe Grassi School Committee 100 (July 27) 94
Nancy Tauber School Committee 92 (July 27) 78
Brian Murphy City Council 92 (July 30) 78
Sam Seidel City Council 100 (July 30) 90
Luc Schuster School Committee 95 (July 30) 73
Gail Lemily Wiggins    School Committee 68 (July 30) 60
Ken Reeves City Council 100 (July 30) 84
Gregg Moree City Council 100 (July 31) 78
Stefan Malner School Committee 78 (July 31) 64
Edward J. Sullivan City Council 100 (July 31) 97 - almost perfect!

July 31 - A little comedy

The Cambridge Chronicle has been providing a “Mayor Ken Reeves blog” for several months now, but even a cursory glance at the items posted makes clear the fact that Reeves doesn't write it and may never even look at it. Here's an example - posted July 31:

An Important Meeting with the President of Harvard July 31st, 2007 by Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves

I hosted a reception yesterday, Monday, July 30, for the new President of Harvard University, President Drew Gilpin Faust, to meet Cambridge City’s officials and elected City Counselors and School Committee members. It was intended to be a small informal gathering, where Cambridge officials and the President of Harvard could introduce each other and get to know each other. She was very gracious and committed to working with Cambridge and the Cambridge school committee. Accompanying President Faust, were Government and Community Relation staff, Mary Powers, Marianne Jarvis, Tom Lucey, and Dean Allen Stone. They mingled with the Counselors and the School Committee and they answered questions. It was an important gathering for all of us, to meet in such an intimate and informal way. I look forward to develop more partnerships with Harvard and for us to work together in the future.

It's generally considered rude to point out spelling errors in web postings. However, if a sitting city councillor doesn't know how to spell the name of his own job, well.... I think it's pretty clear that he's not the one doing the writing. Apparently, it's written by his political campaign Mayor's Office staff.


First and foremost, on behalf of my family and myself I want to thank everyone for their out pouring of support to my family on the death of my uncle, Edward J. Sullivan. In particular the Mayor, City Manager and their respective staffs, the police, DPW, fire and traffic for their assistance in helping us with the arrangements, your assistance meant a great deal to us as we are experiencing a tremendous loss.

My uncle was very proud of his service to the people of Cambridge, Middlesex County and the Commonwealth. He enjoyed every minute of it and was grateful for the opportunity that the people had given him to serve. Last year as I was campaigning, he joined me on the campaign trail so that he could go around the county and personally express his appreciation for this opportunity.

He was proud of his family's tradition of public service beginning with my grandfather, Michael A. Sullivan in this great chamber in 1936. I have been very fortunate for the foundation that my grandfather, uncle and father had laid for me and am very proud of their service, a service that has been coined as "Sullivan Service." I am proud to have followed in this tradition.

Recently there has been some attention given to my holding two elected positions. As a result, I had retained the services of a former Superior Court Judge, who had served as a member of the State Ethics Commission, who has advised me that as a matter of law, I could serve in both positions.

No matter what office or position I have ever held, I have always put a 110% into it, always with the understanding that I would put in the time it takes to get the job done. Particularly over the past six years between having the great pleasure to serve as Mayor for 4 years, my campaign for Clerk and serving in the dual positions, it has meant some extremely long hours away from home.

A few years ago I was speaking at an occasion in the Ackerman room and I told people at the gathering that over the course of my life I have had many titles, but the one that has meant the most to me is "Daddy." This past month, for the first time in a long time I had the opportunity to spend some family time and it was important to both my wife and myself and our sons. When I was first elected Mayor, Michael was three and Paul was two, although I never missed any of their special occasions, doctors appointments or milestones, there was always a lot of time away from home.

The most important job that I have is that of husband and father. This is a crucial and important time in our young family's life. And it is not something I am willing to sacrifice.

Secondly, as I stated earlier I am very proud of the service that my family has provided to the people of Cambridge, now for 72 consecutive years. My father, uncle, grandfather and I believe myself have served here with distinction and honor and I would never want to do anything that would detract from that, it is something that I hold very dearly.

I am for ever reminded of a poem my father had given my brother and I upon our graduation from college entitled, "Your Name." The ending of the poem goes something like this, Your name it came from your father, its all he had to give, so make sure you guard it wisely because after all is said and done, you'll be glad the name is spotless when you give it to your son.

The most difficult part of my decision is that I truly have enjoyed ever minute of my service on this City Council. When I was in high school I wrote a paper about my family and my hope one day to serve here and preside at the rostrum, not many people get to live one of their dreams and I was fortunate to be able to do that.

Last fall I said I would decide at a latter date as to whether I would seek re-election or not. For the proceeding reasons I have decided not to seek re-election. The Sullivan tradition will not be lost, my cousin Eddie Sullivan, former County Commissioner is a candidate for City Council.

Tonight I foremost want to thank the people of Cambridge for the opportunity they have given me. I hope that I lived up to the trust and expectations they have placed in me. And I will continue to do the same in the future.

I have had some of the best campaign volunteers and I want to thank each of them, you know who you are, I was successful in my elections because of you.

I want to thank each of my colleagues over these past 14 years for what they do on behalf of the people of Cambridge, much of which is unseen and at times seems under appreciated. I want to thank them for the times we agreed and for the times we didn't because in the end I believe together we have accomplished a lot. I most particularly want to thank you for having given me the opportunity to serve as Mayor for four years. Like my father and uncle I enjoyed the challenge tremendously.

I like wise want to thank the people that I had the great fortune to serve with in the Mayor's, City Council and City Clerk's offices, you are true professional and my friends and I greatly appreciate your assistance over these 14 years. Many things would not have been possible without you.

To the City Manager, his staff and city employees at every level, I have enjoyed working with all of you and thank you for what you do on a daily basis to help make this a tremendous city. In many regards we are the envy of many other communities in this commonwealth and country. It would not have been possible without your true care and concern for this city.

I want to thank my parents for always being there for me and each of my siblings and for laying the ground work for the people we are today. Through their love and sacrifice we have each succeeded. They taught us how to be caring and compassionate people, this they practiced not just in word but in everyday life. These same principals they are likewise passing on to their grandchildren.

The most important people I have to thank tonight are my wife Denise and my sons Michael and Paul. This December, Denise and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary and I truly have been fortunate each and every day for the past ten years. She never envisioned herself marrying a politician. I thank her for her support and encouragement. No one could ask for two better kids, I am truly blest. As we were discussing our decision, they were talking about who would be Mayor amongst them and in the art of true compromise they decided they would be co-Mayors and they then began to select their staff. We may need a rules change for them to accomplish this.

In closing, one of my favorite movies is a "Wonderful Life," with Jimmy Stewart. Although, I have much left to accomplish, I believe that when I look back over these 14 years, that I have made a difference in our community and more importantly in some individual lives that I have touched.

I again from the bottom of a grateful heart I want to thank all of you for having given me the opportunity to serve.

Michael A. Sullivan

Cambridge Discovery Days [www.cambridgehistory.org]

9:00am to 10:00am   Longfellow’s Poems for the Voiceless. Paul Blandford, Longfellow Nat’l Historic Site Tour begins at the front gate of Longfellow National Historic Site, 105 Brattle Street. 617- 876-4491

10:00am to 11:00am   Cambridge Literati: Writers in Residence. Lewis Bushnell, Cambridge Historical Society At the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House, 159 Brattle Street. 617-547-4252 or <lbushnell at cambridgehistory dot org>

10:00am to 4:00pm   Hunt for History: A Tory Row Quest -- for Families. Begin at Longfellow Nat’l Historic Site, 105 Brattle Street; follow Quest Map to treasure box at Hooper-Lee-Nichols House, 159 Brattle Street. info@cambridgehistory.org 

10:00am to 11:30am   The Cambridge of James Russell Lowell. Aurore Eaton, Manchester Historic Association Tour begins at the front gate of Longfellow National Historic Site, 105 Brattle Street. <aeaton at manchesterhistoric dot org>

10:30am to Noon   A Walk down Tory Row. Chris Basler, Cambridge enthusiast. Tour begins at the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House, 159 Brattle Street 617-755-6790 or <cmbasler at yahoo dot com>

10:30am, 11:30am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm   Tours of the Longfellow National Historic Site. Led by National Park Service Rangers At Longfellow Nat’l Historic Site, 105 Brattle Street. 617-876-4491. Admission charge.

11:00am to Noon   It’s a Classic: American Architecture & Famous Phrases. Karen Davis, Executive Director, Cambridge Historical Society. Tour begins at the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House, 159 Brattle Street. 617-547-4252 or <kdavis at cambridgehistory dot org> 

11:30am to 12:30pm   “Have you milked the cow today?” -- for children 4-12. Mistress Elizabeth (aka Donna La Rue). Activities take place on the brick area beside First Parish Church, Unitarian, corner of Mass. Ave. and Church Street. 781-646-3013 or <ihsdlrue at bu dot edu>. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

3:00pm to 4:00pm   Literary Cambridge: Anne Bradstreet to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Susan Wilson, author and local historian. Tour begins in front of Out of Town News, Harvard Square. 617-876-4491

3:00pm to 4:15pm   The Old Cambridge Burying Ground: Epitaphs, Elegies & Encomiums. Tour begins at the Old Burying Ground gate next to Christ Church, Zero Garden Street. 781-646-3013 or <ihsdlrue at bu dot edu>

4:00pm to 5:30pm   Mount Auburn: A Muse to our Nation’s Writers. Staff, Mount Auburn Cemetery. Tour begins at entrance gates, 580 Mt. Auburn St. 617-547-7105 or www.mountauburn.org

4:00pm to 6:00pm   Poetry Reading at Schoenhof’s Foreign Books: Contemporary Poets. Read from their Latest Works, in English and other Languages. Program at 76A Mount Auburn Street. Rupert Davis, <rdavis at mep-inc dot net>

Oldtime Baseball Game - August 15, 7:00pm at St. Peter's Field, Cambridge (on Sherman St. near Danehy Park)

Legends Johnny Pesky and Lennie Merullo return this year as Oldtime Baseball Game managers. There will be a pre-game performance by Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon (whose best song was, in my opinion, "Palisades Park", written by Chuck Barris - best known for TV's "Gong Show"). This is a great game every year, sponsored by Abbot Financial Management, organized by Boston Herald columnist (and 1975 Cambridge School Committee candidate!) Steve Buckley, and play-by-play by the one and only Glenn Koocher.

Aug 1 - Bill may stall Bullfinch Triangle project  (Boston Globe article concerning "landlocked filled tidelands", North Point, and the inability of the state legislature to make timely decisions)

July 30 - On Waterfront, No Time to Waste (Boston Globe editorial)
This addresses the matter of the regulation of "landlocked filled tidelands" such as North Point.

There's a City Council meeting tonight, the annual Midsummer meeting. There are 190 resolutions, 43 orders, and plenty of foreign policy to decide.....

And then there's this little nugget in another Globe editorial:  “Last month, the House passed a bill that would make intentionally misleading voters a federal crime.” How will people campaign for public office if they're not permitted to mislead voters?

July 27 - Edward J. Sullivan (40 Ellery St.) today took out nomination papers to run for City Council. See below. This is former Middlesex County Commissioner Edward J. Sullivan, cousin of Michael Sullivan and nephew of the late Edward J. Sullivan who passed away on July 24. Michael Sullivan has not to date filed any nomination signatures, so this could signal a changing of the guard - subject, of course, to the will of the voters in November.

July 27 - Revisiting Community Preservation  (Boston Globe Op-Ed, by Robin Sherman and David Luberoff)

July 25 - Feuding owners aim to sell NorthPoint  (Boston Globe)

July 12 - Who the F*%& is Jeff Ross?

There's an interesting sideshow developing in the special election to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Jarrett Barrios. We all know that our own City Councillor Anthony Galluccio is running for the seat. Several names of other possible candidates have been floated in one forum or another. These include Rosanne Bongiovanni of Chelsea who, unfortunately, was not registered as a Democrat in time to qualify for the primary election. Paul Nowicki, also a Chelsea city councilor, will apparently be running for the seat. Several others names from Cambridge and Somerville have also been floated. Then there's this other name - Jeff Ross.

I've never met Jeff Ross and I know very few things about him other than that he offends me. Specifically, I have now received a pre-recorded message from him and a glossy, large postcard with his picture in which he pretends to be the friend of the working man by posing with some guy who apparently works for the MBTA. This is all fine - standard political garbage. However, in his phone message, on his postcard, and in several blog postings he repeatedly refers to himself as “THE progressive Democrat”. He also urges voters to “vote for progressive justice on Sept 11”, i.e. to vote for his sorry ass.

Another thing that I know about Ross is that he only registered to vote in Cambridge on June 11 - just one month ago. He's NEVER been involved in ANYTHING that I know of in Cambridge, yet he wants everyone to know how “progressive” he is. Now I'm not in the business of shilling for any particular candidate, but how this Ross guy chooses to contrast himself as the “progressive” choice over Anthony Galluccio is just plain bewildering. I've known Anthony Galluccio for 15 years, and he is a classic liberal Democrat who has consistently voted for and actively worked for virtually every cause near and dear to people who like to call themselves “progressive”. He's also a very persuasive guy who could accomplish a lot for Cambridge in the State Senate. On what planet does Jeff Ross qualify as being more “progressive” than Anthony Galluccio? As I've said before, it all depends on your lack of a definition.  --  Robert Winters

Mon, July 9 - The City Council's Government Operations and Rules Committee met to continue discussion of changes to the City Council travel policy and to discuss standing committees and a proposal that the Mayor review the City Council “research assistant” program and some additional business. At this meeting I submitted the following statement:

Statement of Robert Winters – July 9, 2007 Gov’t Operations Committee Hearing
[Regarding the City Council "Research Assistants"]

Though I do believe there may be some need for additional research assistance for city councillors, the question is how this can best be accomplished. I do not believe that the provision of personal assistants for each elected councillor is the answer nor do I believe that the budget necessary to support up to 7 additional positions for this purpose is justifiable. There is a City Council Office and the question of how that office is staffed and whether that staff or the staff of the City Clerk’s Office could be expanded for research purposes has not been addressed. The current provision of "research assistants" out of the Mayor’s Office budget is, in my opinion, a political accommodation that was part of the behind-the-scenes process that delivered the votes to select the current mayor. There were no City Council orders, no committee hearings, and no recommendation from the City Manager to establish these positions. In fact, the last time the matter came up at a Government Operations Committee hearing in 2000, it was settled by a subsequent significant pay raise for city councillors in lieu of a provision for personal staff for councillors.

A well-functioning City Council committee will delegate responsibilities so that each member masters certain facets of the tasks at hand and shares this knowledge with the rest of the committee. In effect, councillors serve as staff to each other. I would argue that ideally elected officials should educate themselves rather than relegating this to staff.

Are these "research assistants" publicly posted with a job description? Who does the actual hiring? Does the mayor have veto power over the hire? Does the Personnel Department play any role in these political hires? Is there a screening process to ensure that only qualified people are hired? Do affirmative action and other guidelines apply to these positions? None of these details have been discussed publicly and they are important.

There is already evidence that some of the "research assistants" who have been hired have been affiliated with the political campaigns of the councillors to whom they are assigned. What are the rules governing conflict of interest? Are these "research assistants" directly or indirectly working on behalf of the reelection campaigns of incumbent councillors? If so, this policy has the effect of using taxpayer dollars to support these political campaigns. This is a very disturbing development and there is, in fact, evidence that this is precisely the case.

Why is the budget for "research assistants" for city councillors in the budget of the Mayor’s Office? Logically, one would suppose it would belong in the City Council budget. I am not proposing that this budget be relocated and institutionalized within the City Council budget – certainly not in its current form. I do have serious concerns that this Government Operations Committee hearing will be used to accomplish exactly that goal, namely to institutionalize a wasteful and politically motivated program that should never have been established in the first place.

I want to reiterate my belief that the Plan E Charter explicitly dictates that requests for information be directed, after a majority vote, to the City Manager in the form of a City Council Order. Councillors are free to research on their own any matter they wish, but the provision of City-funded staff to research this information seems like a clear circumvention of the Plan E Charter. If the consensus is that the City Manager is being obstructive or extraordinarily slow in responding to City Council Orders, then that matter should be addressed directly.

If the term "research assistant" is meant to be factual, these RA’s should be topic-specific and they should report directly to City Council committees or to the whole Council rather than to individual councillors. In this regard, it seems clear that a more appropriate administrative way to do this would be to put the entire matter of "research assistance" in the hands of the City Clerk with an appropriate budget to fund these activities on the basis of need. Has any such protocol or alternative model been discussed either formally or informally within the Government Operations Committee? If the goal is to provide councillors and taxpayers with the best quality research for their tax dollars, then it would seem an obvious choice to rethink the current policy. To not do so seems like an acknowledgement of the purely political nature of the current policy.

In summary, I do not question whether some changes in staffing are warranted. I do, however, ask that any changes be done in the best interest of taxpayers and that City funds never used to either directly or indirectly support the reelection efforts of elected officials. I also would like to formally request the names of the people who have been hired under this policy and the councillors to whom they are affiliated. This should be a matter of public record.

Robert Winters

Reminder: Massachusetts Avenue from the Cambridge Common at Waterhouse Street to Mellen Street will be closed from 5:00pm Friday, June 22 to 6:00am Monday, June 25 so that three buildings from the Harvard Law School area can be moved to their new location up the street. The Law School will also soon be demolishing their parking lot at Everett Street and Mass. Ave. and an adjacent brick building in order to make way for a dramatic new Law School building at the northwest corner of the Harvard campus.

More information from Harvard Law School about the move and the project

Pictures of the move taken by Erika George

June 22 - The Plot Thickens: Jeff Ross explores Barrios’ Senate seat (Cambridge Chronicle, Link expired)

I never heard of Jeff Ross, but his nebulous quote says it all, “I am the Progressive Democrat in this race.”

June 22 - Survey of Parents Reveals School Shortcomings (by Paras Bhayani and Jamison Hill, Harvard Crimson, June 22, 2007)
Results point to school quality as explanation for declining enrollment

June 20 - MCAS Aces Fare Better in College, Study Finds - Low scorers are said to struggle (by Peter Schworm, Boston Globe, June 20, 2007)
Warning: Opinion follows, read at your own risk -- Say what you will about the pros and cons of MCAS and the negative aspects of “teaching to the test,” but these results do appear to speak for themselves. [It should, however, be pointed out that this “study” may simply be confirming the rather obvious fact that students who “apply themselves,” as my teachers used to say, will generally do well on standardized exams and in college, and it is not the case that exams cause better college performance. Again, correlation does not imply causation.] My personal feeling is that “teaching to the test” is not necessary to achieve good MCAS results and is, in fact, a sign of laziness on the part of teachers and administrators. If you set high standards for students, most students will be able to achieve those standards. Conversely, if you set low standards or offer primarily touchy-feely crap and tell students how wonderful they are, you'll likely produce a high percentage of self-congratulating dolts. A primary problem with MCAS and public education, in my humble opinion, is that they must do a better job of shepherding underachieving students through school without penalizing high-achieving students. Not long ago, CRLS did exactly the opposite when they placed high-achieving students in classes that were far below their capabilities - all in the name of “equity.” Fortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the Cambridge Public Schools have stepped back from that precipice. - Robert Winters, June 20, 2007

June 20 - New Hampshire prohibits smoking in bars and restaurants (by Associated Press, Boston Globe, June 20, 2007)
Live Free and Don't Die!

June 19: Political Intelligence - NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves GOP (Associated Press - link expired)

Never mind all the crap about Hillary and Obama and Rudy and Mitt and Gore and that guy from the TV, how about an independent candidate for President?

We now resume local Cambridge coverage....

June 18 - Anything interesting on tonight's City Council agenda?

Here a few items that caught my attention:

City Mgr's Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 06-195, regarding a report on urban design process and advertising with restrictions related to the placement of public toilets in Central Square.

The communication quotes a response from MBTA General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas agreeing to begin a pilot program to expand public use of restrooms in the Central Square, Harvard Square, Porter Square, and Alewife T stations. In addition, the City is in final negotiations with the Salvation Army located at 328 Mass. Ave. to have their toilet facilities expanded for public use. Once the final agreements have been reached, signs will be posted indicating public restroom facilities at each location. This is a marvelous example of one public agency (the MBTA) stepping up to the plate in the public interest, and Mr. Grabauskas and his administration deserve credit and thanks for doing this.

City Mgr's Agenda #20. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 07-64, regarding a report on the ongoing lawsuit between the parties to the joint venture for the development at North Point.

According to this communication, the partners in the North Point development (near Lechmere) are "hopelessly deadlocked with respect to continued development of the project." The matter is to be adjudicated in a Delaware court later this summer. Especially relevant to Cambridge is the issue of whether any agreements made with the City of Cambridge will be binding on the party or parties who buy out the others after the court's decision. The relocation of the Lechmere station may also hinge on the outcome. The City of Cambridge is not a party in this lawsuit, but the City's Law Department is continuing to monitor the proceedings.

Communication #6. A communication was received from Roseann T. Bongiovanni, President of the Chelsea City Council, transmitting a resolution adopted by the Chelsea City Council naming Chelsea a "Sanctuary City".

This communication is noteworthy primarily because Rosie Bongiovanni is planning to run for the State Senate seat being vacated by Jarrett Barrios, and what better way to appeal to the voters in the 11 wards of Cambridge in that Senate district than to advertise Chelsea's solidarity with Cambridge as a "sanctuary city."

Resolution #24. Resolution on the death of Will Stackman.   Councillor Sullivan

Order #1. That the City Council go on record dedicating a suitable location to Will Stackman.   Councillor Sullivan

Much appreciation to Michael Sullivan for the resolution and the order. My suggestion is to name the corner of Dewolfe St. and Cowperthwaite St. at Memorial Drive in honor of Will. This was the operations center of the Cambridge River Festival which Will staged for many years.

Order #4. That the City Manager confer with the head of the recycling division of the Public Works Department on the future plans to increase paper recycling and to the feasibility of providing an additional recycling bin, to compliment the current bin, specifically designed for the recycling of paper products.   Vice Mayor Toomey

The Cambridge Recycling Advisory Committee (of which I am a member) met last week to talk about the possibility of "single-stream" recycling in the future. This is where paper and comingled containers are intermixed in a single, larger recycling container. This discussion is in the context of plans for the processing facility (FCR in Charlestown) to re-engineer its facility for single-stream recycling in the near future - as it has already done at its Auburn facility. This change will likely have the greatest impact on places like Boston where recycling rates (less that 14%) are well below where they ought to be. Market prices for recycled material are very high now and FCR wants to capture much more material than is now the case. Cambridge's recycling rate (near 30%) is already pretty good, so single-stream collection  would likely have less of a positive impact than would be the case in Boston. Another long-term possibility for Cambridge made possible by single-stream collection would be the ability to collect rubbish and recyclables in separate sections of a single vehicle (and most likely done in-house by City workers). The economic cost or benefit of such a change is still very unclear, but the discussion is now possible. In any case, there are still 3 years on our current recycling contract.

Order #8. That the City Council go on record dedicating a suitable location in the vicinity of Brattle and Church Streets in honor of Wayne "Rusty" Drugan.   Councillor Sullivan

Again, a good order from Michael Sullivan for a very good man, former Election Commissioner Rusty Drugan.

Order #13. That the City Manager confer with the appropriate departments to see what building permits have been pulled for 44 Brattle Street and that these permits be pulled immediately until the matter of terminating employees during renovation is resolved.   Councillor Decker

Even if the Ann Taylor Corporation consisted of money-grubbing scoundrels, how the hell would the City of Cambridge justify withholding building permits or occupancy permits just because some elected officials don't agree with the personnel decisions of the company? There's no way that the City can withhold or rescind permits for something like this without opening itself wide for litigation. This lunatic order should be filed alongside the order from late last year to rezone the site of the former Radisson Hotel to Open Space because some councillors disagreed with the personnel decisions of the new owner. That order was appropriately rescinded at the following meeting. - Robert Winters

June 17 Notes on the process of nominating an election commissioner

On Thursday, June 14 the Cambridge Democratic City Committee (CDCC) met to decide its three nominees for the soon-to-be-vacant seat on the Cambridge Election Commission. (The City Manager makes the final selection among the three nominees.) I never knew anything about the CDCC until a year or so ago when circumstances forced me to join the CDCC after I made myself available as a candidate for the position now being vacated after just one year of a four-year term. That experience taught me several things.

I have yet to identify anything of substance that the CDCC does except these biennial nominations. The same can be said of that other venerable institution, the Cambridge Republican City Committee (CRCC). To be fair, these committees serve as a networking tool for potential campaign workers and people seeking political jobs. Many people in the CDCC, for example, put in time in places like New Hampshire and Ohio during the 2004 presidential campaign.

These party committees are primarily clubs for political partisans. Both of them do an abysmal job of outreach to registered voters in their own party or unenrolled voters, and neither of them are representative of the electorate of their respective parties or of voters in general. The CDCC, in particular, is dominated by two factions: (a) the old guard associated with currently elected representatives, senators, and their past, present, and future staff; and (b) the “Progressive Democrats of Cambridge” (PDC) and their adherents. My impression is that neither faction has much use for the other and there is a struggle between these factions for who will dominate the political hospice that is the CDCC. The CRCC, on the other hand, can barely keep a membership.

In an ideal world, one would think that each of these party committees would put some effort into recruiting qualified people to one day serve as election commissioners. In fact, the process seems to be that when a seat is vacated either by resignation or death, both committees simply ask amongst themselves, “Who wants a job.” I'm not singling out any past, present, or future commissioners for criticism. I'm simply saying that these party committees don't make any effort to find good candidates, and their decisions are based primarily on “who you know” rather than on any qualifications of the candidates. In the case of the CDCC, individual ward committees play a significant role and the size of these ward committees can vary from a handful up to 35 members according to recent rule changes. This puts a lot of control into players in the overrepresented wards like Ward 6, Ward 9, Ward 11, and occasionally Ward 5. The CRCC membership, on the other hand, barely exceeds that of the largest CDCC ward committee. [Correction: The CRCC currently has 66 members. The best estimate for the CDCC is 203 voting members plus 33 associate members.]

The law requires only that each party nominate three people for commissioner (Republicans in odd years, Democrats in even years), but both parties choose to rank order their nominees. The CDCC, to their credit, requires candidates to complete a questionnaire, though it's not at all clear how many voting members actually read the responses. [You can also look at last year's questionnaire, if you wish.] The Democrats also hold a Q&A forum with the candidates two weeks prior to the vote. The Republicans do not ask candidates to provide any information about themselves except a throwaway two-minute speech the night of the vote. The Republicans use a secret ballot in each of their votes. The Democrats require a roll call vote, and this has the consequence of causing some members to avoid the vote entirely rather than create any resentment or retribution.

The Republicans use a winner-take-all plurality vote to select each of their ranked nominees. For example, in their vote in January, their #1 pick (Peter Sheinfeld) achieved a plurality but not a majority of the 43 members who voted. With Peter out of the running, Fred Baker received a majority vote for the #2 pick, and Ethridge King then easily won a majority for the #3 pick. The City Manager then interviewed all three nominees and chose the #3 pick, Ethridge King, as the next Republican election commissioner.

The Democrats require runoff elections to determine each ranked nominee, and a majority vote is required for selection. In their June 14 vote, there were three candidates: Polyxane Cobb, Mushtaque Mirza, and Linda Pinti. The roll call vote made it clear that Cobb was the favorite of the old guard, Pinti was the favorite of the PDC, and Mirza was independent of either faction. The first ballot was Pinti 44, Cobb 39, and Mirza 12. [Other credible reports have the vote at Pinti 46, Cobb 38, Mirza 11, but the Chair refused to announce what the actual tally was.] Since no candidate achieved a majority of the 95 votes cast, Mirza was eliminated and in the runoff Pinti received 52 votes to Cobb's 43 votes and Pinti was selected as the #1 choice of the CDCC. [Ref.: CDCC bylaws]

At that point, CDCC Chair KD Mernin ignored the by-laws of the CDCC and declared Cobb the #2 choice and Mirza the #3 choice without a vote. [Ms. Cobb, perhaps not so coincidentally, was Mernin's #1 choice.] This was not only a technical violation, but possibly contrary to what an actual vote might have decided. Specifically, once Pinti was selected, all CDCC members who had voted for Pinti were now free to choose between Cobb and Mirza for their #2 pick, and it's very possible that this could have given a majority vote to Mirza for the #2 pick. It is such a delicious irony that in the selection of nominees for election commissioner, the CDCC couldn't actually conduct a proper election. Though the CDCC website now lists their nominees as Pinti #1, Cobb #2, Mirza #3, they really should just leave Cobb and Mirza unranked since that election never actually happened. [June 19 Addendum: A major factor in the outcome was that Pinti and her supporters had an excellent turnout from her ward (Ward 6 at 80%) compared to Poly Cobb's ward (Ward 9 at a paltry 25%). As in many elections, the “get out the vote” factor is crucial.]

The next steps may also prove intriguing. Though the City Manager interviewed all three Republican nominees, I don't believe he's done that in the past for the Democratic nominees (though I don't know this for a fact). The Democrats claim that the Manager has always picked the #1 choice of the CDCC. Will Mr. Healy interview the Democratic nominees? Will he break with tradition and choose someone other than the #1 choice? Will he choose the person favored by the old guard? Time will tell. One thing's for sure - the 1921 Special Act that created the Election Commission could really use another look. According to MassInc, the electorate of Massachusetts is now 13% Republican, 36% Democrat, and 50% Unenrolled. It's just not possible to make a convincing argument anymore that Democrat and Republican partisans should be the sole administrators of any local elections. - Robert Winters

June 12 - Galluccio's Running.... Wolf is Not

The Cambridge Chronicle today reported that State Representative Alice Wolf sent a fax [Link expired] saying, “After much thought, I have decided not to run for the senate seat being vacated by Senator Barrios. There are many factors that played a part in my decision, and the strongest factor is that I love my job serving in the House of Representatives and representing the people of Cambridge and the 25th Middlesex district. I appreciate all the support and encouragement I have received from my constituents and from people across the senate district. I look forward to continuing to work with them on common goals.”

Later in the day, Anthony Galluccio told the Chronicle that he would be seeking the seat.

Here's the Chronicle story on Galluccio's entry into the race for the seat being vacated by Jarrett Barrios.

It is my understanding that Chelsea City Council President Roseann “Rosie” Bongiovanni will also be a candidate for the seat.

Special Election Calendar

Here's something: Faces of Women (a nice YouTube video)

2007 Municipal Election Calendar (and Advice for Candidates)

Mon, July 2: Municipal Election Nomination Papers available at Election Commission office, 8:30am-8:00pm. Nomination papers will be available through the July 31 submission deadline, but it is advisable that a candidate pick up papers early and get started collecting signatures. The process is an excellent way for a new candidates to “get their feet wet” and acclimate to the process of asking for support. The first page of your nomination papers must be notarized, by the way, and there are a total of three sheets. [Kinko's will notarize documents, by the way.]
You will also want to get a current database of registered voters. This is available from the Election Commission free of charge to any candidate who has pulled nomination papers. Voter history files and the street listing are also available. If you are a legitimate candidate and want a merged file showing all currently registered Cambridge voters with their ten year voting history in Cambridge elections (if they voted - not who they voted for!!), you can request it from me free of charge.

Tues, July 31: 5pm deadline to submit nomination papers & statements of financial interest for candidates. A minimum of 50 valid signatures must be filed and a candidate may submit up to 100 signatures. Once a voter's signature has been recorded for a particular candidate, it cannot be used for another candidate in the same race. That is, a voter should sign for exactly one candidate for City Council and one candidate for School Committee. Candidates should submit as many signatures as possible over the minimum of 50 because it is very likely that some signatures will not be certified. It is advisable that all signatures be checked against the voter registration list before submitting them. Candidates do not have to submit all their signatures at one time, and it is advisable that signatures be submitted as each sheet becomes full. The Election Commission staff traditionally checks signatures soon after they are submitted, so it is possible to know how many signatures have been tentatively certified in case it is necessary to obtain more signatures to reach the minimum of 50 certified signatures. Actual certification is only official when the Election Commission votes to approve them.

Tues, Aug 14: 5pm deadline for Election Commission to certify signatures on nomination papers.

Thurs, Aug 16: 5pm deadline for municipal candidates to file withdrawal of nomination.

Wed, Oct 17: 8pm deadline to register to vote in municipal election. In person registration hours are 8:30am to 8:00pm at the Election Commission office only. (Mail in registration must be postmarked by October 17).

Mon, Oct 29: 5pm deadline for School Committee candidates and Political Committees to file Municipal Campaign & Political Finance Reports. (City Council candidates should consult their OCPF packets regarding depository-filing requirements). City Council candidates are required under state law to set up a depository account at a bank. The bank will report all deposits and expenditures directly to the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF). School Committee candidates are not required to set up a depository account, but they must file a campaign finance report in mid-October and at the end of the year.

Sat, Nov 3: Election Commission office will be open 9am to 5pm for over-the-counter absentee voting.

Mon, Nov 5: Noontime deadline to apply for absentee ballot, either for mail-in or over-the-counter voting.

Tues, Nov 6: Municipal Election. Polls are open 7:00am until 8:00pm. All absentee ballots must arrive at the Election Commission office by 8:00pm to be counted. Ballot count begins at the Cambridge Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave., Central Square after the polls close. It is expected that the Election Commission will report preliminary election results Tuesday evening, but this tally does not include write-in ballots and other ballots not counted for a variety of reasons.

Wed, Nov 7: 9am-5pm. Ballot count resumes at Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave., Central Square. The entire process is usually complete by early evening and the unofficial election results will be announced upon completion. Federal law requires an additional ten days to allow for any overseas military absentee ballots to arrive, and the final official election results will be announced then. [There were no such ballots in the 2005 election.]

The Election Commission Office is open Mon, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tues-Thurs, 8:30am-5:00pm; and Fri, 8:30am-Noon (except July 4, Sept 3, and Oct 8).

The 2007 Cambridge Candidate Pages are now under construction. Check back as the campaign season progresses.

June 7 - Here we go again: Reeves in Media Tiff (Harvard Crimson)

Comment: It is a well-established fact that under Cambridge's PR election system it is strategically advantageous for a candidate to portray himself as being “in trouble” during a municipal election year in order to galvanize his voter base so that they don't consider giving their #1 vote to another candidate. What you have here with Mr. Reeves is an attempt to portray himself as the victim of a media attack that is entirely of his own creation. Seriously, would it have been all that hard to return the phone calls from the Cambridge Chronicle? Was producing an accounting of his expenses (paid out of our taxes, by the way) really such an unreasonable request? What kind of man blames all of his troubles on others?

For the record, this mayor and his cronies have been conducting a campaign of misinformation accusing me of directing the actions of the Cambridge Chronicle earlier this year when his finances came under scrutiny. There is no basis to this. This imperious mayor, accountable to no one, even had the audacity to use the Mayor's Office webpage to repeat the allegation: “How did the Chronicle come to misrepresent these travel and expenses? Actually we are not certain, but we did read a blog entry by Robert Winters that seems to have inspired and literally written the reporter’s story.” The fact that more than one media outlet writes about a topic doesn't mean that one directed the other. As I have instructed my statistics students, correlation does not imply causation. Perhaps a little schooling of the mayor is in order.

Newspapers have been asking elected officials to explain their use of public funds for over 200 years. That this mayor has chosen to cast this as a personal attack shows an ignorance of history and a profound lack of perspective.

June 6 - Political correctness is one thing, but this is ridiculous

Pending before the Mass. State Legislature is Mass. House Bill 3239, “An Act Relative to the History of Slavery in the Commonwealth.” The chief sponsor is Rep. Byron Rushing (whose district includes part of Cambridge) and two of the 10 co-sponsors are our own Reps. Alice Wolf and rookie Will Brownsberger. It's always interesting to learn about history, and the central purpose of this bill is to generate more research into the history of slavery in Massachusetts, but this bill has the provision:

Section 1. The Secretary, state agency or state authority shall require that any company that enters into a contract with the Commonwealth, whether the contract is subject to competitive bidding or not, shall complete an affidavit, prior to or contemporaneous with entering into the contract, certifying that: A.) The company has searched any and all records of the company or majority-owned subsidiary and any predecessor company or its majority-owned subsidiary regarding records of participation or investments in, or profits derived, from slavery, including slaveholder insurance policies issued during the slavery era; and B.) The company has disclosed any and all records of participation in or profits derived by the company or majority-owned subsidiary and any predecessor company or its majority-owned subsidiary from slavery, including issuance of slaveholder insurance policies, during the slavery era, and identified names of any enslaved persons or slaveholders described in the records. The Secretary, state agency, or state authority may terminate the contract if a company fails to fully and accurately complete the affidavit.

Why stop there? Let's require all individuals and companies to research and reveal all disagreeable actions taken over the last two centuries and review all contracts for political correctness. The fact that 3 of the 10 sponsors of this bill are Cambridge representatives only serves to reinforce the perception that Cambridge is the capital of the loony left. What was it that Gov. Patrick said about making it simpler to do business in Massachusetts? Does this bill further that goal?

June 5 - The Cambridge Chronicle is reporting [Link expired] that School Committee member Nancy Walser will announce tonight that she will not seek reelection this year. According to the Chronicle report: “She will, however, be lending her support to the new ‘progress for Cambridge’ slate, which includes candidates such as: Stefan Malner, a West Cambridge resident who works as an analyst for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; Nancy Tauber, a Graham & Parks parent and experienced public school teacher who lives in Cambridgeport; and Gail Lemily Wiggins, a North Cambridge parent who works as a counselor for The Educational Resource Institute (TERI) in Boston.”

Now this is interesting! Let's hope that one or more City Council seats open up as well or that the emergence of new candidates for School Committee leads to a movement for some new blood in both elected bodies. As a “long time civic observer,” I can say that we desperately need a whole new vocabulary in City Council and School Committee affairs. That change starts with residents stepping forward and making themselves available as candidates and giving voters good, credible alternatives.

May 23 - Seidel To Seek Council Seat (Harvard Crimson, by Paras Bhayani and Nicholas Tabor)

Other candidates for City Council are Larry Ward and Greg Moree. In addition, Kevin Moore and David Maher may enter the race. All incumbents are (so far) planning to seek reelection, though this could change.

On the School Committee side, Mark McGovern is a declared candidate. So far, all incumbents will be seeking reelection.

If you've ever considered candidacy for City Council or School Committee, now's the time to step forward. 

City of Cambridge Polling Locations 

June 1 - Former City Council candidate Helder "Sonny" Peixoto dead in apparent murder-suicide (Palm Beach Post - link expired)

Cambridge Chronicle story on Sonny Peixoto's demise 

  Globe story (June 2)    Herald story (June 2)


Herald story (June 3 - link expired)       Globe story (June 3)       Palm Beach Post follow-up story (June 3, Link expired)

Herald follow-up (June 4 - link expired)


May 31 - Heirs on hand, gerrymandering draws a nod  (Michael Levenson, Boston Globe)
In particular: “Then he grumbled, ‘Mispronounced.’ His family, he said, wince every time they hear gerrymandering mentioned on the news. They pronounce the family name with a hard G sound.” As my old professor Banesh Hoffmann used to say, “A man’s name is a man’s name.”

Election Commissioner candidates forum – May 31

There will be a public hearing on May 31 at 6:30pm at the Cambridge Senior Center at which the four candidates wanting to fill an upcoming vacancy of one of the Democratic Party seats on the Cambridge Election Commission will take questions from the public. All candidates were asked to respond to a questionnaire on the candidacy. Their responses are here:

2007 Democratic Party Election Commissioner candidate responses 

The selection of an ordered list of three candidates will be made by the Cambridge Democratic City Committee at their June 14 meeting. Though both of these meetings are open to the public, only members of the CDCC may vote.

May 29 - Another article on North Point: Ruling calls developers' projects into question  (Boston Globe)

May 22 - Sen. Jarrett Barrios to resign for job at Blue Cross (Boston Globe, May 22)
It's official: Barrios is leaving the State House (Cambridge Chronicle, May 22)
Barrios Departs, Race Opens (Harvard Crimson, May 23)
Barrios set to resign from state Senate (Boston Globe, May 23)
Candidates begin testing the waters to fill vacancy (Boston Globe, May 23)

Statement from Senator Barrios:

Dear friend,

I have been honored to represent you in the state legislature, and I wanted you to know personally about my decision to leave the Senate for an important, new opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people who need a strong voice.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, one of the largest private health philanthropies in the state, has named me to serve as its president. Through grants and policy initiatives, the Foundation works to broaden health coverage and reduce barriers to health care for uninsured, vulnerable and low-income individuals and families. The Foundation played a leading role in the development of the state's universal health care plan, which has become a model for the nation.

I am humbled by the opportunity to lead this prestigious Foundation as we continue working to make universal health care a reality. The Foundation has been a leader in health care policy, and I am excited to join the team at this important time. The implementation of the Commonwealth's new health care law remains a daunting, but exciting, job of the Foundation. The next challenge will be to answer the question, "After these reforms, who has been left out?" We will need to work hard to increase enrollment in low-income communities, improve the delivery of culturally competent care, and address disturbing trends in health disparities based on race, ethnic background and economic class.

It has been a pleasure to serve on the Foundation board since its inception in 2001, along with the national health care advocacy organization Families U.S.A. and other, local efforts to expand access to quality health care. I believe the challenge of public service is to find the highest, best use of one's abilities to serve the common good. Today, the changed politics and policy landscape of health care – with so much progress being made and so much work yet to be done – make this arena an amazing, productive place for me to devote my (admittedly frenetic) energies.

Health care has always been a priority for me. The very first bill I sponsored in the legislature expanded emergency room care by requiring hospitals to provide interpreter services for people who don't speak English. In the Senate, I served as vice chair of the Health Care Committee, focusing on disparities between rich and poor in health access and outcomes, pushing for more affordable prescription drugs and fighting for environmental justice. I'm proud to lead efforts in the Senate on a measure to address health care disparities.

I also chaired the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and made this area my other primary focus. With your support, we've made great progress: Creating a state witness protection program, redesigning the state's fire code, serving on an oversight commission to reform the correction system, instituting a ban on assault weapons and passing the first-of-its kind grant program to stop youth violence.

I was drawn to politics ten years ago, in part, because I felt important viewpoints were missing from the debate on Beacon Hill. For those who have known me, the voices I have most passionately sought to represent are the voices of poor and working people ?of whatever color, nation of origin or creed. For them, state government has a unique ability to make a positive difference in their lives. Public safety, credit and consumer issues, housing, and education are all areas in which those who are less well-off rely on effective and compassionate leadership in state government. Of these issues, none is impacted more by competent state policy than health care. My new role will enable me to focus on ensuring that all individuals and families in Massachusetts have the peace of mind of knowing that they can get high-quality, affordable health care for themselves and their loved ones.

Of course, there are important things left undone. I will not leave until after the Constitutional Convention concludes and the Senate budget process is completed in June. I anticipate a July end date for my term of service, and have so informed Senate President Therese Murray.

A special election will be held to select a new Senator to represent you. In the meantime, my office will remain open and ready to serve you. Please do not hesitate to call with any questions or concerns about state government.

It truly has been a privilege to work for you in the state legislature. I will never forget the opportunity you gave me to serve. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

-- Jarrett Barrios

Cambridge's 2007 GoGreen Awards

While many people are talking about the problem of climate change, some Cambridge businesses are doing something about it. The City recognized these efforts with its annual GoGreen Business Awards, which were presented at a public reception at the City Hall Annex on Thursday, May 17.

This year’s energy winners are Harvard and Novartis. Harvard was honored for its facility renovation at 46 Blackstone St., which has received the highest possible rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The building has many state-of-the-art energy savings features, uses renewable materials, and has landscaping designed to capture stormwater.

Novartis has initiated 13 energy efficiency projects, involving reducing temperatures, closing chemical exhaust hoods, and installing systems to shut off lights. Novartis was also a winner in the transportation category, for its successful efforts to encourage employees to take public transit, ride share, bike, or walk to work. A remarkable 67% of Novartis employees choose not to drive alone.

The other transportation winner was the Green Streets Initiative, a grassroots effort to get people to leave their cars behind and walk, bike, or take transit on the last Friday of each month. Green Streets, which began in March 2006 at a handful of Cambridge schools, now has 60 volunteer coordinators and the participation of over 30 Cambridge businesses.

The recycling and waste reduction award winners were Genzyme and two restaurants – Oleana and Charlie’s Kitchen. Genzyme was recognized for its aggressive efforts to save paper and for recycling its food waste. The company recycles 32% of all of its waste.

Both Oleana and Charlie’s Kitchen send their food scraps to the City’s new food composting program for commercial-scale food establishments. Oleana has reached out to other restaurants to encourage them to participate and buys local produce, thus supporting Massachusetts agriculture. Charlie’s Kitchen reuses fryolator oil to fuel two vehicles and hopes to heat the restaurant with used oil.

City employees John Bolduc and Rosalie Anders were also recognized for their efforts.

The featured speaker was Robin Chase, founder of GoLoco which is the new Web-based ride-sharing and social networking service and co-founder of Zipcar.

Choosing the Right School (Harvard Crimson, April 30)

April 30 - It looks like a very light agenda for tonight's City Council meeting, though that won't necessarily stop The Nine from talking endlessly about matters both small and smaller. The only item that seems like it may generate some speechmaking is City Manager's Agenda #6, a draft of the proposed Hotel Worker Retention Ordinance that grew out of the recent (and now resolved) uncertainty about the jobs of people working at the former (?) Radisson Hotel on Memorial Drive. My understanding is that the Radisson issue was resolved without the intervention of city councillors though you would never know it from the speeches, the photo ops, the quotes in the press, and the threats of regulatory taking. Regardless of what actually happened with the Radisson, you can count on every aspiring politician wanting to move up to grab hold of this opportunity to portray himself or herself as the Darling of Labor. Expect many speeches.

There are quite a few items languishing "On the Table" and on "Unfinished Business" that could use some final resolution. Can you public servants please move some of this stuff along? An unresolved matter pertaining to the Police Review and Advisory Board has been sitting there for two and a half  years. How about voting on it or dismissing it? Leaving it lying around for years makes you look indecisive. You wouldn't want that now, would you? This is, after all, an election year.

And while we're at it, how about clearing off some of the 53 items listed under "Awaiting Report"? If the Manager wants to just whisk away some of the more frivolous matters on the list, I'll not complain. For the handful of substantive matters, one good push in the name of Spring Cleaning ought to do it. Then let's ask the councillors to only approve requests for reports on serious matters in the future. If puppies can be trained, so can elected officials.

So, fellow Cantabrigians, read the agenda. If there's anything interesting there I missed, let me know. And councillors, there's no shame in ending the meeting early. -- RW

The first Budget hearing took place on Saturday, April 28 (Councillor Decker did not attend)

Sat, Apr 28 
10:00am   The City Council's Finance Committee will conduct a public meeting to discuss the FY08 City Budget.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Budget Overview
License Commission  
Mayor’s Office
City Council
City Clerk
Finance Admin.
Information Technology  
Employee Benefits
General Services
Election Commission
Public Celebrations
Animal Commission
Fire Department
Police Department
Traffic, Parking & Transportation  
Police Review & Advisory Board 
Inspectional Services
Weights & Measures
Emergency Management
Emergency Communications 
Historical Commission
Summaries Section
Revenue Section

Date changes for individual departments may occur.

Note: Last year's budget highlight was the dramatic 54% expansion of the Mayor's Office budget for "research assistants" for all the city councillors. There was no warning and no discussion during the budget hearings. It just appeared out of nowhere in the budget book. My guess is that this ill-founded program will be continued (again without any discussion) and the budget moved (permanently) to the City Council budget. [It's still in the Mayor's Office budget for FY08.]

Everyone should understand that these personal aides invariably do work to support the reelection campaigns of incumbent councillors - all at taxpayer expense. The current mayor is the root of this problem. All indications are that he added these "research assistants" in exchange for the votes he needed to be selected as mayor. This mayor also gave jobs to most of his political campaign. His staff includes his campaign treasurer (Bernard Hicks - $51,250 plus benefits = $61,968), his campaign manager (Gabriel Mondon - $51,250 plus benefits = $61,968), and one of his major supporters (John Clifford - $51,250 plus benefits = $61,968). That's a $185,904 public contribution to his campaign. Last year's budget for the personal aides for councillors was an additional $248,553.

In the FY08 budget, Hicks, Mondon, and Clifford will each cost us $52,275 in salary ($63,703 including benefits) - a total of $191,109. The personal aides have a budget of $256,135 in the FY08 budget. Their benefactor, Kenneth E. Reeves, will receive an annual salary of $99,552 ($116,211 including benefits).

April 11 - All Wet on North Point (Boston Globe editorial) [This editorial gives a pretty good summary of the situation.]
Boston Globe map of North Point development
There's also this editorial from the April 7 Boston Herald: To save shore, investments (link expired)
And this: Dry is the New Wet (Boston Weekly Dig, Apr 11 - link expired)

Apr 27, 2007- There's also this classic piece of rationalization: Recent SJC Decision Could Benefit Cambridge (Apr 17, Cambridge Chronicle op-ed)
Note: The author of this op-ed is one of the leaders of ACN/CCLN. He and his organization in 2000-2001 used the regulatory process to extract (extort?) a $195,000 settlement from a housing developer at Alewife in exchange for allowing the project to proceed. The developer originally offered a $135,000 donation to the Mystic River Watershed Association (MRWA) and $60,000 to Cambridge's Affordable Housing Trust in order to avoid further delay. Instead, the money went to the ACN/CCLN to be used by the 14 appellants named in the settlement. The only restriction on the use of the funds was that some aspect should relate to the originally intended purposes. The 14 appellants were Michael Brandon, Peter Cignetti, Richard Clarey, Stash Horowitz, Craig Kelley, Hope Kelley, Carolyn Mieth, Ronald Millar, Thecla Ree, Gretchen von Grossman, Lew Weitzman, Nona Yarden, Elie Yarden, and Ralph Yoder. It would be interesting to see a complete report of how the $195,000 was spent.

Developers’ squabble could spell trouble for NorthPoint (Cambridge Chronicle/Boston Herald, May 4)

Partners' row may threaten project - NorthPoint creators suing each other over payments, contracts (Boston Globe, May 5)

In Search of a Progressive Definition
(appeared in the April 2007 edition of The Alewife)

It's a municipal election year and already the grapevine is ripe with rumors about who's running, who's not running, and whether any “slates” of candidates will emerge in time for the November election. With Senator Travaglini's recent exit from the State Senate and the possibility that Tim Toomey may seek the seat [update], it makes the game of musical chairs so much more interesting. At last count, there were already 6 challengers ready to gather signatures to get on the City Council ballot and at least one challenger (so far) for School Committee. If a vacancy should arise, the numbers will grow.

Things used to be much simpler in the days when the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) was in the business of building and supporting slates of candidates for the City Council and School Committee. Though imperfect (to say the least), it was possible for a Cambridge voter who wanted to vote “progressive” to know who to vote for without actually having to pay attention - a real convenience for Cambridge's sociopolitical upper crust. It also served to let many Independent voters know who NOT to list on their ballots. The choice of Us versus Them couldn't have been simpler.

But wait! You say it wasn't so simple to tell the good guys from the bad guys? Surely, the CCA was the very essence of “progressive” and, by exclusion, everyone else was “regressive”. Having walked both sides of the line, I've long been fascinated by the slipperiness of the Cambridge definition of “progressive”. If this was a battle for a seat at the state house, you might look to issues like abortion, marriage rights, and universal health care to craft a progressive definition. At the federal level, you might look at the Iraq war or campaign finance reform to draw the lines. But in Cambridge sans rent control, and with no major issues to distinguish the candidates, the progressive slope couldn't be more slippery.

There are plans underway again to assemble a “Progressive Democrats of Cambridge” slate (PDC), and the sponsors are searching for a progressive definition to determine who will be on and who will be off the slate. Their first stab at a definition was that a candidate had to endorse the firing of the city manager in order to gain endorsement, but that proved to be a bit restrictive. The latest word is that being a non-incumbent (or nearly so) will send you to the head of the class - as good a definition as any from where I stand.

Many of us know that until 1994, being a “progressive” in Cambridge meant, with few exceptions, that you were in favor of rent control. You might have advocated the annihilation of polar bears, but as long as you vowed to keep the rent cheap for potential voters, you were a bona fide progressive. During the late 1980's, I used to laugh when I'd see the banner in the window of the Cambridge Civic Association office that read “Progressive Government - That Works!”. Never mind the fact that most of the working class residents of Cambridge were voting for the other guys.

My theory is that the definition of “progressive” in Cambridge is most closely tied to socioeconomic status. If you have an advanced degree or if you went to prep school or a major university, or if you just believe you're smarter than all those Joe Six-Packs out there, then you have a leg up with the progressive crowd. If you're a cop, a firefighter, or work at Public Works, or if you even know anyone who works “on the City,” chances are that you aren't hanging with the progressives.

Many decades ago, being progressive meant you were one of the “goo-goos”, i.e. the “good government” crowd. That included many of the old guard Republicans who brought managed government and the Plan E Charter to Cambridge and who founded the CCA back during the FDR administration. Progressive Republicans you say? Well, that's the way it was back then. The Democrats saw government as a jobs program for the politically connected, and the Republicans lobbied for better managed government and restraint in municipal budgets. Political party designations don't exist in our municipal elections today, but it's pretty safe to say that every elected official in Cambridge today is a social and economic liberal eager to support and fund a broad range of programs. Are they all progressives? It all depends on your lack of a definition.

Cambridge's municipal election system tries to represent its residents in proportion to their fraction of the electorate. It works well when there are clear definitions of the electorate - neighborhood, race, ethnicity, gender, position on some pivotal issue (like rent control), or whether you support some well-publicized candidate slate. During the rent control days, you might have 7 of 9 councillors living west of Harvard Square because rent control trumped geography on the list of definitions.

In the absence of significant issues, geography and personal identity now define the electorate and the candidates more than any issue. But why let these factors decide the election? Why not be more creative with candidate slates? Here are some suggestions for candidate slates for 2007:

DZ Slate: Candidates who would downzone Cambridge to farmland if they could.

TB Slate: Candidates who will support anything that grows the tax base.

CRED Slate: Candidates with credibility. Now there's a concept.

NEW Slate: Anyone but incumbents, preferably with credibility.

JOB Slate: Candidates who actually work for a living.

DD Slate: Candidates who hold (or want to hold) two elected offices (double-dippers).

SLACKER Slate: Candidates who can't do their job without a personal assistant.

BIKE Slate: Candidates who get around by bicycle.

KIDS Slate: Candidates who have children.

SSS Slate: Candidates who say the same stuff over and over again.

FOR Slate: Candidates who believe the City Council should be a foreign affairs forum.

TIN Slate: Candidates from the fringe who wear tin foil hats and receive alien messages. We always get one or two in every election.

- Robert Winters - posted April 3, 2007

March 7 - Schools See Small Budget Increase (Harvard Crimson)

March 1 - Local Teens Take College Courses (Harvard Crimson)
I'll have more to say about this later. In addition to the mathematics classes I teach at Brandeis University, I also teach classes at the Harvard Extension School (Math E-21a and Math E-21b) and I have had quite a few CRLS students enrolled in my classes over the years. Some have also attended regular Harvard mathematics classes after completing my courses. - Robert Winters

Feb 22, 2007 - I just picked up a 1965 document on the history of Cambridge's water system written by John F. Davis (president of the Cambridge Water Board at that time). It could use a bit of editing and revision, but it's still worth the read.
The Life Story of Cambridge Water    PDF version

Here's an IDEA (originally posted July 15, 2006 and re-posted Sept 23, 2006 for additional “nominations”)

Have you ever felt that the people we elect (and reelect) to the Cambridge City Council and Cambridge School Committee are, to say the least, not the best that Cambridge has to offer? There are so many disincentives to running for public office that it's a wonder any reasonable person would ever do it.

I got to thinking about who I would nominate as candidates, regardless of their willingness to ever do such a thing. My list would include professors, professionals, artists, laborers, and just plain human beings who I've met over the years. I can think of many incredible people who would be an inspiration to the residents of Cambridge -- not career politicians, but people we would all respect and admire.

So the idea is this:  What if a group of fresh faces could be assembled and organized into a slate of candidates that ran as a team? The cost to each candidate would be greatly reduced, and people from all over Cambridge could contribute some money, time, and effort to promote the team. Individual candidates could do their own promotion as well - nothing wrong with that.

All election systems heavily favor incumbents. It's a fact of life. Wouldn't it be great if we could create a mechanism for recruiting great new candidates and giving them a hand? The alternative is just more of the same. Any ideas for candidates? Who would you love to see represent you? Be creative! The 2007 municipal election is not as far off as you may think.

Who would you nominate? I'll make a list. - RW

July 20, 2006 update - The list is growing, slowly but surely. Send in your nominees!! The list will be posted when we get a few more.

Apr 4, 2007 - Cities are the Answer - Doug Foy and Robert Healy (Boston Globe Op-Ed)
Yes, that's our City Manager Robert W. Healy. Way to go, Bob!

Mar 31 - Employee expense reports reveal city bureaucracy's quirky workings (Boston Globe)
Interesting article about what goes on in Boston. If the reporter asked the same questions in Cambridge, the Mayor and his staff would call him a racist. So it goes in the PRC.

Feb 21 - Tax a Burger for Reeves - Boston Herald editorial - link expired

Feb 20 (expanded Apr 3) - Oh what a tangled web you weave when you practice to deceive

The Reeves-Clifford travel story continues. The Cambridge Chronicle's web-log today reports [link expired] that the Boston Herald and the Associated Press (as published in the Worcester Telegram) have now picked up the story. Reeves and his bodyguard spokesperson, John “Man of the Street” Clifford, continue to justify their travels by claiming it's all done for the sake of the children of Cambridge. The three sentences that say it all to me are these:

“Reeves’ travel spending habits are unusual in the region: his tab dwarfs the $8,700 that Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s office says he spent last year on business trips.”

“The mayor of Somerville pays out-of-pocket for airfare, hotels and meals related to municipal travel.”

“Reeves defended his spending as an investment in a quest to recruit black teachers and biotech workers. He said he’s also promoting ‘a very important city.’”

Those of us who call Cambridge home all believe this is an important city, but are these the guys we want to serve as our ambassadors? I would also like to better understand Reeves' statement that he is recruiting black teachers and biotech workers. Could he supply us with the names of some of these teachers and biotech workers who will soon be coming to Cambridge as a result of his recruitment efforts? Perhaps the names were scribbled on those receipts that went missing.

I promised myself over three weeks ago that I would stay away from the whole “Reeves thing.” I posted a chronology (as I understood it) and a few conclusions/suggestions (see below). However, one week ago (Feb 12) Neil McCabe (editor of the Alewife) and I were asked to come down to the CCTV studio by Roger Nicholson who had John Clifford as a guest on his “Be Live” show. I showed up solely to correct any misinformation and waited outside the studio until I was gestured in after Clifford began making on-air accusations. For the rest of the program, he lashed out at any and all who would question Reeves. He called me (and the Cambridge Chronicle) racist and implied that I had no job. I corrected him by explaining that I teach mathematics at Brandeis University and that I once worked for the Office of Minority Education at MIT and as the mathematics coordinator for a high school pre-engineering program for Boston area minority youth. I also pointed out that, unlike Clifford, my job was not obtained through political patronage. After the show was over, Clifford accused me of being a drug abuser and topped it off with threats, warning me that he was “a man of the street.”

I've been involved for over two decades in civic affairs in Cambridge and would like to continue doing so into the foreseeable future. I take my citizenship very seriously. I don't think any citizen of Cambridge should be subject to this kind of abuse just for paying attention to City Council agendas and appropriation requests. And, yes, I am concerned about retaliation from the Mayor's Office. - RW

Jan 27, 2007 - A few words on the whole “Reeves thing”:

It's interesting to see how a small question about an appropriation request has grown into a dominant political story in Cambridge over the last month or so. Allow me to offer my own chronology of this little tempest:

1. Several days before the Dec 18 City Council meeting, I read (and posted) the meeting agenda and discovered an appropriation request for an additional $19,750 for the Mayor's Office “to cover additional travel expenses related to the Congressional Black Caucus Conference, National Association of Black School Educators, U.S. Conference of Black Mayors, Gay and Lesbian Elected Officials Conference and visits to School Districts to observe closing the achievement gap initiatives.” Since there was already $20,500 in the Mayor's Office annual budget for travel, this caused me to question why there was a need for $40,250 per year for travel expenses (about $110 per day). I pondered on this page whether any of the nine councillors would ask for a discussion of this expenditure before approving it. In fact, it passed without discussion. This is the core issue in the whole “Reeves thing” - the fact that many of the elected councillors resist disclosure, especially the mayor. In fact, City Council Rule #38 requires that travel expenses be fully accounted and that all receipts be available to the public in the Mayor's Office. The mayor is also a city councillor and, as such, is subject to the rules of the City Council.

What everyone needs to know is that there are good reasons to question the expenditures of this mayor. For starters, while every other City department held the line on their FY07 budgets, the Mayor's Office increased its budget by 54.3%, primarily due to the addition of so-called “research assistants” for councillors at a cost of $35,000 per part-time assistant. All indications are that this new expenditure ($245,000 total) was part of the deal to make Reeves mayor. The mayor's annual salary, by the way, is $95,377 plus benefits, and each councillor is paid $64,033 plus benefits. These salaries, together with automatic cost-of-living adjustments, were established in response to a previous effort in 2000 by some councillors to get personal aides. That is, councillors were given a 23% pay raise in lieu of getting personal assistants.

It must also be understood that, denials to the contrary, this mayor did get into financial hot water during his previous stint as mayor when he “gamed the system” and collected duplicate paychecks, i.e. a bonus as mayor for serving on the school committee plus a separate school committee paycheck. A settlement was reached wherein Reeves agreed to pay back the money by foregoing future salary increases, an odd settlement to say the least since it presumed his reelection. There were also Cambridge Chronicle accounts during that time of Reeves abusing a City-issued credit card. Regardless whether there was actual abuse, there are precedents for a newspaper reporter to choose to question Reeves' financial decisions.

2. Shortly before that Dec 18 Council meeting, I received a phone call from a Chronicle reporter about an unrelated matter. During the conversation, I noted the agenda item and the reporter said that she had also wondered about that as well. Based on what the reporter told me, I wrote, “Reeves has apparently blown through $40,000 in travel expenses.” As it turns out, according to the Mayor's Office, most of the money has not yet been spent. Whether or not the money has already been spent is, of course, not the issue. The issue is why this mayor needs $40,000 for travel and whether his explanations can withstand scrutiny.

The Chronicle subsequently published a headline story in its Dec 21 issue (with some factual errors which they have acknowledged) on Reeves' travel expenses. The paper also filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request of the Mayor's Office for details on the expenditures. The City responded by saying that $167.58 would be required for the information. The Chronicle chose to pay $67.58 after deducting $100 (based on Reeves' $50/hr rate for redacting “information not subject to public disclosure”). The Mayor's Office responded by releasing a spreadsheet summary of expenses and then refused to provide additional details. This is why this otherwise small story grew into a larger one. Whether or not elected officials or other City officials like it, it is the job of newspaper reporters to ask these kinds of questions, especially when the elected councillors fail to do so themselves. While Reeves has tried to characterize this as some kind of personal attack, this is, in fact, all about public accountability - clear and simple.

3. Subsequently, the Mayor's Office settled into a bunker mentality. The mayor refused to answer any further questions and even went so far as to accuse the Chronicle of racism. Reeves assigned one of his staff, John Clifford, to be his spokesman. The paper continued to demand accounts from the Mayor's Office while the Mayor's Office produced (and continues to produce) ponderous accounts (or perhaps rationalizations) of the mayor's good intentions with most of the spin being on Reeves' supposed quest for information on “closing the achievement gap.” While this is an admirable goal, I question why Reeves needs to travel extensively to procure information already extensively researched, e.g. by MassInc and by Cambridge's own School Department, and why Reeves should be the one empowered to gather this information at considerable expense. Are there not people in the School Department and on the School Committee who would be better suited to do this research? Why should the mayor of Cambridge, whose position is primarily ceremonial and procedural, be the point person on this issue?

4. There is now what appears to be an orchestrated campaign by Reeves' supporters to spin the Chronicle's request for accountability as a personal attack on their man. Reeves took out a full-page ad in the Chronicle attacking the paper and extolling his own virtues. (It's still not clear who paid for the ad, though I presume it was paid from the Reeves political campaign account.) There's now a rambling note on the Mayor's Office webpage lashing out at those who have questioned Reeves on this matter.

At this point, the only reasonable conclusions I can draw from the whole “Reeves thing” are these:

a) Reeves is angry that he may now have to justify future expenses.

b) Public accountability might actually become an election issue this year - a good thing.

c) There needs to be greater clarity in the City budget on whether the (very questionable) councillor aide positions should be paid out of the Mayor's Office budget (if at all), whether fees for national conferences attended by councillors are or should be paid out of the Mayor's Office travel budget, and exactly what kinds of expenses should be permissible under the Mayor's Office travel budget.

d) The City Council should abide by its own rules regarding travel expenses or change those rules if there is consensus to do so.

e) There needs to be some clarity about who is best suited under our City charter to obtain information on alternate approaches to education, and specifically whether the mayor should be that person. [I believe this is a matter best pursued by actual educators.]

f) When elected officials refuse to answer reasonable questions from the press, the responsibility for any repercussions falls squarely on those elected officials for turning molehills into mountains.

-- Robert Winters