2009 CCJ Notes
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Cost Per #1 Vote - 2007 Cambridge Municipal Election

CC Candidate receipts expend #1 votes $ per #1 vote order elected Notes
Moree, Gregg 23000.00 23000.00 111 207.21   2007-2008 totals
Decker, Marjorie 56680.22 54154.66 1069 50.66 5 2007-2008 totals
Reeves, Ken 64080.26 60073.93 1217 49.36 4 2007-2008 totals
Murphy, Brian 53971.09 50481.02 1160 43.52 6 2007-2008 totals
Toomey, Tim 63651.15 51085.04 1339 38.15 2 2007 totals
Davis, Henrietta 66454.54 60554.15 1592 38.04 1 2007-2008 totals
Simmons, Denise 40131.00 34542.22 996 34.68 7 2007-2008 totals
Sullivan, Edward J. 34560.00 28621.85 831 34.44   2007-2008 totals
Maher, David 51000.00 40938.30 1312 31.20 3 2007-2008 totals
Seidel, Sam 26994.75 29105.12 1037 28.07 9 2007-2008 totals
Kelley, Craig 30658.47 25963.78 1118 23.22 8 2007-2008 totals
Janik, Jonathan 5056.29 5056.31 261 19.37   2007-2008 totals
Ward, Larry 11385.44 11302.60 699 16.17   2007-2008 totals
Moore, M. Kevin 2760.00 1160.00 251 4.62   2007-2008 totals
Podgers, Kathy 0.00 0.00 92 0.00   2007-2008 totals
SC Candidate receipts expend #1 votes $ per #1 vote order elected Notes
McGovern, Marc 26061.00 26260.40 2277 11.53 1 2007-2008 totals
Tauber, Nancy 9756.91 9533.09 1246 7.65 6 2007-2008 totals
Schuster, Luc 10760.00 12589.36 1680 7.49 4 2007-2008 totals
Nolan, Patty 11828.19 12184.47 1672 7.29 3 2007-2008 totals
Lemily Wiggins, Gail  6925.00 7266.29 1024 7.10   2007-2008 totals
Grassi, Joseph 8709.61 8821.07 1629 5.42 5 2007-2008 totals
Harding, Richard 6729.00 7710.60 1562 4.94   2007-2008 totals
Malner, Stefan 920.01 574.41 133 4.32   2007-2008 totals
Fantini, Alfred E. 6630.32 6114.00 2017 3.03 2 2007-2008 totals
Note: Anthony Galluccio is not included in City Council candidate totals.

Sept 6, 2009 - High court to reassess election financing - by Robert Barnes, Washington Post

Published in September, 2009: Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950.

Ticket-Toppers: Candidates with the most #1 votes in Cambridge City Council elections (1941-2007):
Sorted by Year     Sorted by most votes     Sorted by highest percentage of #1 votes

Talking with the Evil Empire

On Dec 14, I commented on a City Council Order regarding a poll being conducted by Comcast. Here's what I said:

I don't know what the Evil Empire of Comcast is up to with this poll, but I'll be happy to offer some feedback right here. It was not very nice to take away virtually all of the TV stations for Basic Analog Cable customers other than those that can be picked up off the air. Except for New England Cable News, CCTV, and the municipal stations, everything else recently vanished. Perhaps some stations would return if I got their digital service, but I expect that will require at least another $50 per month for the privilege of getting back some of these commercial-laden stations and it's hard to justify this. I believe I'd have to pay close to $100 per month to see any Red Sox games. Meanwhile, Comcast is in the process of buying the National Broadcast Company (NBC) from General Electric for perhaps $35 billion. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when we need him to break up the trusts?

My inclination is to say good-bye to Comcast. I hope others in Cambridge feel the same way. Of course, I'm sure the Evil Empire will only try to find other ways to restrict access to television programs unless their trolls are paid handsomely in order to buy up even more media companies. Welcome to The World of More.

In response, Comcast's Marc Goodman had this to say several days later:

I hope you would consider adding my comment to your recent blog post.

Hi, this is Marc from Comcastís Boston office. Comcast and the City of Cambridge are negotiating a cable license renewal. Part of any cable license renewal is a process called ascertainment where the cable operator works with a third party to assess the interest of local residents in paying for access television and other cable-related needs that are outlined in an actual license. Comcast strongly supports access and CCTV. We look forward to coming to a mutually beneficial agreement for our customers, the city and the company in the months ahead.

And, just to be clear, the only channels that recently moved were from our Standard Cable package as part of our digital network enhancement. This digital upgrade allowed us to double the number of HD channels in Cambridge and introduce even faster Internet speeds of up to 50 Mbps. All current Standard Cable customers are eligible to obtain up to three pieces of complimentary digital equipment as part of this enhancement. And unlike our competitors, Comcast still chooses to provide an analog basic cable option.

As always, feel free to stop by our Cambridge service center at 88 Sherman Street or call us at 1-800-COMCAST or chat with us online at www.comcast.com.

After taking a few days to digest this, here's my reply (Dec 22):


I don't know why I'm even wasting my time responding to you. Comcast is a predatory company, plain and simple. How else can one describe the practice of restricting access to all stations other than broadcast stations unless one is forced to pay upwards of $70 per month? Comcast chooses to not even offer an affordable package to someone who wants only to add a few basic additions to the most basic lineup. It is now rarely possible to see an old movie on TV because they are only made available on channels in the higher-priced packages. Doesn't it seem strange that the price jumps from $6.50 per month to about ten times that amount to go from Basic Cable to the next available option?

The truth is that the only reason the City of Cambridge negotiates with you is because they must - there is no competitor willing and able to build a parallel infrastructure. City officials were very eager to talk to RCN or another company the last time the license renewal came up, but the up-front costs kept all potential competitors out - to the eternal detriment of Cambridge residents.

And "just to be clear", the channels that disappeared recently from Basic Cable customers were most of the stations we used to get. Comcast's analog basic cable option provides essentially the same thing that anyone can pick up with an antenna, i.e. what you can otherwise get for free. If you want to do me a favor and possibly salvage the Comcast name to at least one customer who is on the verge of quitting you, here's a request: Give me a package that includes just the broadcast stations and public access stations plus a few Cable news stations and Turner Classic Movies, AMC, and perhaps Comedy Central and a few others at a total cost of around $25-30 per month (and not just a bogus introductory rate that will soon double). Then give me a quote for an a la carte addition of Red Sox games during the baseball season.

If you have an offer like that, we'll talk. Until then, you are just another employee of the Evil Empire.

Robert Winters
Cambridge Civic Journal

Dec 25 - Seeds of worry for health overhaul - If Mass. is indicator, cost of care could be concern in US plan (Boston Globe)

You might also find this an interesting read:
Compulsory Private Health Insurance: Just Another Bailout for the Financial Sector?

Dec 5 - The School Committee Recount is now complete (except for the "topping off" of the elected candidates until they reach the election quota). Here are the complete results for the transfers: 2009 School Committee Recount

In the original count, Patty Nolan edged out Joe Grassi by 18 votes. In the Recount, the election quota remained the same and the final margin between these two candidates increased to 19 votes. The only other notable change was that Fred Fantini surpassed Nancy Tauber in #1 votes to "top the ticket". The winners did not change.

Nov 27,28 - Age and party voting statistics for the recent Cambridge municipal election:

Average age of all registered voters 43.7
Median age of all registered voters 38.4
Average age of those who voted in the 2009 election 55.2
Median age of those who voted in the 2009 election 56.1
Percentage of registered voters who voted 26.6%
Percentage of registered Democrats who voted (11169 of 35587)     31.4%
Percentage of registered Republicans who voted (563 of 2800) 20.1%
Percentage of Unenrolled who voted (4182 of 20997) 19.9%
Percentage of registered Green-Rainbow who voted (65 of 262) 24.8%

Here's a histogram showing the age distribution of all registered Cambridge voters:

This histogram shows the age distribution of those who actually voted in the municipal election:

Compare the previous one with this histogram of the age distribution of Cambridge voters in the
2008 presidential election
which closely matches the first diagram for all registered voters:

Municipal Election

Age turnout
18-22 8.9%
22-26 8.6%
26-30 8.5%
30-34 10.3%
34-38 14.3%
38-42 22.4%
42-46 31.2%
46-50 37.7%
50-54 43.5%
54-58 45.0%
58-62 48.9%
62-66 48.9%
66-70 55.1%
70-74 56.8%
74-78 57.0%
78-82 58.5%
82-86 53.8%
86-90 49.7%
90-94 40.8%
94-98 26.5%
98+ 25.5%


Nov 26 - Voter turnout in Cambridge by precinct in the recent Cambridge City Council election:
Precinct Reg. voters Voted turnout      Precinct Reg. voters Voted turnout      Precinct Reg. voters Voted turnout
9-1 2160 788 36.5% 3-1 1593 468 29.4% 4-2 2319 536 23.1%
1-2 1686 609 36.1% 4-1 2092 603 28.8% 3-3 1539 336 21.8%
11-3 2403 861 35.8% 8-2 2002 552 27.6% 6-2 2035 428 21.0%
9-2 2346 812 34.6% 2-1 1817 497 27.4% 8-1 1565 283 18.1%
9-3 2187 756 34.6% 6-1 2079 555 26.7% 4-3 1029 182 17.7%
1-3 1757 603 34.3% 5-1 2362 611 25.9% 11-1 1704 274 16.1%
11-2 2178 729 33.5% 6-3 2125 540 25.4% 7-2 1239 169 13.6%
10-2 2236 720 32.2% 7-1 1998 507 25.4% 7-3 800 88 11.0%
5-2 2113 660 31.2% 10-3 1634 399 24.4% 8-3 743 71 9.6%
10-1 2401 716 29.8% 1-1 2265 542 23.9% 2-3 599 37 6.2%
5-3 2264 669 29.5% 3-2 1834 432 23.6% 2-2 762 40 5.2%

Citywide, there were 59,866 registered voters and 16,073 City Council ballots cast for an overall turnout of 26.6%. It should be noted that the registered voters include many "inactive" voters who may no longer live in Cambridge but who remain on the registered voter list due to requirements of the Motor-Voter Law. A more accurate value for the actual turnout may be about 34.4%. Comments?

Nov 22 - Squaresville, USA:  How to fix American politics, one right angle at a time (by Joe Keohane, Boston Globe Ideas)

Nov 13 - The Final, Official Count of the Cambridge Municipal Election (including any provisional ballots and overseas absentee ballots) took place on Friday, Nov 13, 2009 at the offices of the Cambridge Election Commission (51 Inman St., 1st Floor Conference Room). Here are the Final Results:

Elected to the City Council - Henrietta Davis, Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Ken Reeves, Sam Seidel, Marjorie Decker, and Leland Cheung (in order of election).

Elected to the School Committee - Nancy Tauber, Richard Harding, Marc McGovern, Fred Fantini, Alice Turkel, and Patty Nolan (in order of election).
[Nov 18 update - Joseph Grassi has filed a petition for a recount. He was edged out by Patty Nolan by 18 votes.]
Note: The order of election shown has been corrected to show that Nancy Tauber was the first candidate to reach the election quota.

Excel spreadsheets of Final Election Counts (Nov 13) - now with Ward, Precinct Info (Nov 17)
now with #2 vote distributions for City Council (Nov 18)
now with #2 vote distributions for School Committee (Nov 24)

Printable PDF of Final Election Counts (Nov 13) - now with Ward, Precinct Info (Nov 17)
now with #2 vote distributions for City Council (Nov 18)
now with #2 vote distributions for School Committee (Nov 24)

Discussion and comments

Nov 18 - The Replacements (should a City Council or School Committee vacancy occur over the next two years)

Nov 23 - Graphic Representations of the Election Counts
(by Jeff O'Neill using OpenSTV:
City Council    School Committee

City Council Orders and Resolutions
Combined 2008-2009 Final Standings
2008-2009 P I R M D C A F
Davis 93 51 23 32 25 138 15 1
Decker 61 47 2 23 12 125 9 457
Kelley 27 72 18 22 1 16 6 1
Maher 25 19 10 18 158 76 3 0
Murphy 19 14 3 5 9 24 4 2
Reeves 10 11 4 8 27 73 9 2
Seidel 44 54 13 12 2 33 3 2
Simmons 66 22 20 33 46 425 35 5
Toomey 41 57 9 54 287 128 3 1
Ward 7 4 1 1 5 11 0 0
Total 294 304 77 175 473 939 82 466

Total Orders and Resolutions for 2008-2009: 2810 

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

City Council Committee meetings
chaired and attended (2008-2009)
through reports of Dec 21
Councillor Chaired Attended
Seidel 20 73
Davis 20 63
Kelley 12 50
Reeves 16 45
Maher 31 44
Mayor chairs all
Council and School
Committee meetings
Toomey 4 34
Murphy 22 26
Ward 1 23
Decker 11 20

There are up to 7 committee reports yet
to be filed for the 2008-2009 term

Nov 9 - There may be a handful of additional ballots to be included this Friday after 5:00pm in the Final Official Count for the Cambridge Municipal Election, but this will almost certainly not affect the outcome of the election. While we all stand breathlessly waiting for the results to be finalized, perhaps this is a time to make a few observations on this year's election:

1) We were blessed this year with some very good new candidates, most notably Tom Stohlman, Minka vanBeuzekom, Leland Cheung, and Neal Leavitt for City Council and Alan Steinert for School Committee, to name a few. Let's hope they all assume greater roles in civic affairs in Cambridge and perhaps consider being candidates again in the future.

2) While many were quick to dismiss Marjorie Decker's chances as a write-in candidate, nearly all the incumbents and several of the challengers knew better as indicated by their concerns expressed at several Election Commission meetings prior to the election. Indeed, an often expressed sentiment was that she might actually have an advantage by being distinguished by the notoriety of the write-in campaign and by the ability to appeal to voters to give their #1 vote this time due to this special situation. She also had a great campaign manager in Jeni Wheeler and plenty of cash.

3) Newly elected Leland Cheung was not, in fact, carried into office by waves of MIT and Harvard students. Though he did well among the relatively few students who voted, Leland's votes were spread uniformly across the city.

4) Though some activists in East Cambridge did their best to portray Tim Toomey in the worst possible light, he still managed to get 52.5% of all #1 votes in Ward 1. East Cambridge challenger Charlie Marquardt, in contrast, received 3.6% of the #1 votes in Ward 1.

5) Though it took longer than usual to review all the additional auxiliary ballots caused by the write-in campaign, the general consensus is that the process was thorough and accurate and relatively quick (once they got the hang of it).

6) The School Committee election was unusual in that 8 of the 9 candidates did quite well in #1 vote totals with 7 of them within a few hundred votes of each other. None of them reached the election quota in the 1st Count. In the deciding 5th Count, only 19 votes separated Patty Nolan and Joe Grassi. However, unlike the 2001 election when there was a near 3-way tie for the last 2 seats and a lengthy recount, the ballot scanners did not accept ballots with overvotes (or write-ins or blanks) and consequently almost all potentially challengeable ballots have already been reviewed during the two days after Election Day. It is therefore extremely unlikely that a recount would change the results, especially since there were no over-quota candidates and therefore no variability caused by which surplus ballots would be distributed.

Stay tuned. Once the Final Official results are in, much more analysis will follow.

Nov 5 - Unofficial Final Election Results (Thursday): Elected to the City Council - Henrietta Davis, Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Ken Reeves, Sam Seidel, Marjorie Decker, and Leland Cheung (in order of election).

Elected to the School Committee - Richard Harding, Nancy Tauber, Marc McGovern, Fred Fantini, Alice Turkel, and Patty Nolan (in order of election).

Excel spreadsheets of Unofficial Final Election Counts (including auxiliary ballots)

Printable PDF of Unofficial Final Election Counts

Nov 4 - Wednesday End-of-Day Election Update: The Election Commission has now processed about half of all the combined City Council and School Committee auxiliary ballots (4607 is the combined number). They will start up again on Thursday at 9:00am and hope to complete the task by late afternoon or early evening (though nothing is guaranteed).

City Council Campaign Finance Report Summaries (sortable, through Oct 31) - Just in case you're interested in how much some of the City Council candidates raised and spent in their campaigns this year. (Click on the column headings to sort by that column.) The numbers will likely rise still, but so far Marjorie Decker raised $60,614 and spent $57,190 - outpacing all other candidates by a wide margin in both categories. In contrast, Leland Cheung may win a seat and so far has spent a grand total of $4,567.

Nov 4 - Wednesday Mid-day Election Update: The processing of the auxiliary ballots for the Cambridge City Council and School Committee elections continues. One important new piece of information is that there were several precincts at which the scanners were not accepting ballots for a portion of the day on Tuesday and these ballots are included among the auxiliary ballots. This is significant because most of these ballots are ordinary ballots in the sense that they don't necessarily contain any write-in votes. This may help to explain why there were 3,590 auxiliary ballots for City Council when a reasonable expectation would be closer to 2,000 or less. It also helps to explain why there were 1017 auxiliary ballots for School Committee where there was no organized write-in campaign.

The latest estimate for Marjorie Decker is that she has approximately 1285 #1 votes and the election quota will likely be around 1600. This also means that most of the remaining 2305 ballots will be distributed according to #1 votes to other candidates. Most observers are still predicting that the Decker totals will likely be sufficient for her to be elected, but we won't know for sure until all the ballots are scanned and the tabulation software does all the transfers and determines the winners. The Election Commission is processing the precincts with the most auxiliary ballots first. After that, things should move more quickly and hopefully we'll have final unofficial results tonight.

The School Committee race is also potentially greatly affected by the fact that several precincts did not process many ordinary ballots on Tuesday. In particular, if these precincts lean more toward either Patty Nolan or Joe Grassi, that may make the difference between which of them picks up the last seat on the School Committee. Though not absolutely certain, this is the only thing that has a reasonable chance of changing from yesterday's preliminary results which appeared to elect Nancy Tauber, Richard Harding, Marc McGovern, Fred Fantini, Alice Turkel, and Patty Nolan.

One curious development in the School Committee race is that there appear to be over 50 ballots on which Marjorie Decker stickers have been affixed. Though this won't have any measurable effect on the election outcome, it does mean that she will have enough School Committee votes to actually have a round just to transfer her votes to continuing candidates.

Check back later for additional updates.

Note: There were 28,268 Candidate Pages read from Nov 1 to Nov 3.
Thank you, Cambridge voters, for taking interest in your local government.
The voter turnout actually went UP from 13,721 in 2007 to approximately 16,061.

The election results are very preliminary for the City Council race. There were 12,471 valid City Council ballots processed on Election Day, but there are an additional 3,590 "auxiliary ballots" still to be processed. These include ballots with write-in votes, blank ballots, and ballots which for some other reason could not be scanned at the polls. Observers at The Count on Election Night noted that most of these auxiliary ballots were relatively complete with many preferences expressed on most of them. Write-in candidate Marjorie Decker will likely have #1 votes on at least a third of these auxiliary ballots, but possibly significantly more. Though the election quota based only on the ballots scanned on Tuesday is 1248, this is expected to go up to about 1600 when all ballots are included.

The very preliminary results list nine "winning" candidates, but it is likely that only the top 3 to 6 of these have a lock on election. The top finishers in terms of #1 votes were Tim Toomey (1587), Henrietta Davis (1446), and Denise Simmons (1441). The #1 vote totals for the next tier of probable winners are David Maher (1106), Craig Kelley (1080), and Ken Reeves (1010), but all of these numbers will change when the other 3590 ballots are examined. The #1 vote totals of the other candidates listed as "winners" in this relatively meaningless preliminary tally are Eddie Sullivan (791), Sam Seidel (755), and Leland Cheung (673), but it would be foolish to consider them as winners until all the ballots are included.

The School Committee preliminary results are far more likely to be close to the final results, but there are an additional 1017 auxiliary ballots to be considered. The apparent victors are (in order of election) Nancy Tauber, Richard Harding, Marc McGovern, Fred Fantini, Alice Turkel, and Patty Nolan.  However, in the deciding Round after Alan Steinert is defeated and his ballots transferred to continuing candidates, there is a gap of only 19 votes separating Patty Nolan and Joe Grassi. In this preliminary result, Grassi is defeated and his transferred ballots elect, in sequence, Fred Fantini, Alice Turkel, and Patty Nolan to complete the election. This difference of only 19 votes could change upon examination of the 1017 auxiliary ballots, so the issue of whether Patty Nolan or Joe Grassi picks up the last School Committee seat is not yet settled.

Excel spreadsheets of Preliminary Counts (not including auxiliary ballots)

Sept 28, Oct 4, Oct 26 - The Cost of a City Council Campaign
There's a little less than a month to go in the 2009 City Council campaign and, as you might expect, the really big costs are yet to come (printing, mailing). Two candidates have already taken in over $40,000 in receipts for the year, and three candidates have already spent in excess of $20,000 (though in one case the expenses overlap with that candidate's State Rep. race).

A sortable table at http://cambridgecivic.com/?p=345 gives an accounting of the opening balance, total receipts, total expenditures, and current campaign balance of all City Council candidates covering the period from January 1 through October 15 of this year. The table will be updated frequently. Comments on this topic are encouraged. Additional details from the individual reports may be found at http://rwinters.com/elections/campaignfinance2009.pdf. If you discover any errors in the summary table or the detailed report, please let me know. Anyone can search the campaign finance reports at the OCPF website.

School Committee candidates are required to file their campaign finance reports of activity from January 1 through October 16 no later than October 26. The figures will be posted here when they become available. -- RW


Nov 1 - Signs of many candidates are a tradition at my house. Check out the sign (right) that anonymously appeared today.

Nov 2 - Here's a little history of how well the City Council candidates have done in their #1 vote counts over the last six municipal elections expressed as percentages of "quota" - the number of ballots necessary to be elected. Those who were elected are indicated in bold.

  1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007
City Council Candidates % quota % quota % quota % quota % quota % quota
Adkins, Lawrence         15.1  
Cheung, Leland            
Davis, Henrietta 54.9 78.3 100.0 91.9 90.7 116.7
Decker, Marjorie   88.0 89.9 68.6 94.8 78.4
Flanagan, Mark            
Glick, Silvia            
Kelley, Craig       49.4 64.8 82.0
Leavitt, Neal            
Maher, David   55.4 59.4 59.2 56.1 96.2
Marquardt, Charles            
Moree, Gregg           8.1
Podgers, Kathy           6.7
Reeves, Ken 81.9 76.2 66.6 75.9 75.1 89.2
Seidel, Sam         60.5 76.0
Simmons, Denise     78.2 58.8 82.7 73.0
Stohlman, Tom            
Sullivan, Eddie           60.9
Toomey, Tim 103.1 80.4 81.8 80.3 89.1 98.2
vanBeuzekom, Minka            
Ward, Larry           51.2
Williamson, James   6.9 3.4      
quota 1688 1878 1713 2009 1608 1364
number of candidates 19 24 19 20 18 16

Editorial Comment (Nov 2):
In this and every Cambridge municipal political season, it is standard fare for some candidates and their minions to blame the City Charter as well as the City Manager for all the ills of mankind. This certainly draws some attention to these candidates, though primarily from the same few hundred people who want to "blame society" rather than take the time to understand how things really work in municipal government. More than anything, I am entertained by the assertion that the City Manager acts unilaterally against the will of the elected City Council on matters of significance. This is more than just naive - it's ignorant. In response to one such uninformed assertion the other day on one of the pages of the CCTV website, I posted the following reply. This pretty much sums up my point of view on the Council-Manager balance of power that these irritable candidates keep harping on:

I am always amused by suggestions that the City Manager acts as a dictator. In fact, the City Manager is only diligently carrying out the policies set by the City Council.

With policy order after policy order, the City Council says that it wants to fund every imaginable program, build more publicly subsidized housing than anywhere in the Commonwealth, preserve all jobs for everyone working for the City, and add additional jobs on top of that to support not only their own personal needs but also to staff the various programs they want.

None of this comes for free. So, whether explicitly or implicitly, the City Council is telling the City Manager to carry out a program that will generate additional revenues - and this primarily translates into commercial and residential development. This is not done by the City Manager for any reason other than that it is EXACTLY WHAT THE CITY COUNCIL HAS ASKED HIM TO DO. In virtually all cases, appointments to the Planning Board and other City boards are consistent with the policies established by the City Council.

If you disagree with these policies, you should consider voting for some different City Council candidates who are less liberal in their spending policies. Otherwise, you get what you vote for.

A later response:

Calling Mr. Healy a dictator or an autocrat or whatever other term your enmity conjures up on a given day doesn't make it so.

Personally, I like living in Cambridge. I'm glad that my property taxes are affordable and I'm downright thrilled with the fact that we were able to build a new police station, renovate the War Memorial, build the West Cambridge Youth Center and the new Main Library, and get started on the high school renovations all during not the best economic times. I'm also thrilled that infrastructure improvements on the water and sewer systems have continued unabated through good times and bad.

Regarding the lawsuit to which you continually refer, are you aware how many City employees there have been during the tenure of Robert Healy as City Manager? How many complaints by disgruntled employees have there been over these nearly three decades? Answer - not many. You seem to believe in the philosophy that the exception is the rule. My experience is quite contrary to yours. My observation has been that the overwhelming majority of City employees have been thrilled with the performance of the City Manager for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they have been able to keep their jobs during times when other cities were laying off many employees. City department heads tend to like their boss because he gives them the freedom to do their jobs without being micromanaged and with the knowledge that the Manager will, as a rule, back them up when needed.

There is a reason why the great majority of city councillors have continued to support their City Manager. They know a lot more about how the City actually functions and they vote accordingly. - Robert Winters

Cambridge School Committee Elections Near (by Sofia E. Groopman and Rediet T. Abebe, Harvard Crimson, Oct 27, 2009 )

Voting by Proportional Representation (PDF derived from official City brochure)

Voting by Proportional Representation (HTML derived from official City brochure)

Voting by Proportional Representation (Flash version derived from official City brochure - click or grab corner to turn page)

Voting by Proportional Representation (rescaled Flash version derived from official City brochure - click or grab corner to turn page)

Supplemental notes on the Cambridge PR elections

An example - 2003 City Council election graphs round-by-round (PDF)

Oct 29, 2009 - The "Random Draw of Precincts" took place today at the Cambridge Election Commission on Oct 28. 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):


Nov 3: Cambridge Candidate Pages - 2009
http://vote.rwinters.com  or http://vote.cambridgecivic.com

The Cambridge municipal election is today - Tuesday, November 3. There are 21 candidates running for 9 seats on the Cambridge City Council, and 9 candidates for 6 seats on the Cambridge School Committee. The polls will be open until 8:00pm.

In Cambridge's proportional representation (PR) elections, you may vote for as many candidates as you please, but you must rank your choices. Give a #1 rank to your top choice, a #2 rank to your next choice, etc. Ranking additional candidates will not hurt your top choice(s). If you assign the same rank to more than one candidate, none of those candidates will receive your vote. To prevent this, incorrectly cast ballots will be rejected and returned to you for correction. This way every vote will count as intended.

Many Cambridge voters have not yet decided who should get their #1 vote in each of these races, and many more voters have not yet thought much about who will get their #2, #3, etc. votes.

Most of the candidates in this year's election have provided responses on a number of topics relevant to the offices they seek. They have also provided other information such as contact information and candidate websites. New information is added each day and will continue to be added right up until Election Day.

All of the individual Candidate Pages are accessed by clicking on each candidate's picture in the photo gallery at http://vote.rwinters.com. Additional election-related information is also provided at this site.

Please read as much as you can about all of the candidates and make informed choices.

Robert Winters
Cambridge Civic Journal

Cambridge Candidate Pages - http://vote.rwinters.com or http://vote.cambridgecivic.com
Cambridge Civic Journal - http://rwinters.com

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Boston Celebrates Opening of Aqueduct: October 25, 1848
ON THIS DAY...in 1848, 300,000 people from all over New England gathered on Boston Common. They came to celebrate the completion of the city's first municipal water system. With the construction of an aqueduct that brought fresh water 15 miles from Lake Cochituate in Natick to Boston, the city for the first time had a pure supply of water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and cleaning. As the sun set, the gates to the fountain in Frog Pond were opened and a stream of clean water shot 80 feet in the air. People cheered and wept with joy. The celebration continued the next day, when the mayor announced that schools would close so that the city's children could play in the Frog Pond fountain.

Listen to this moment:  http://www.massmoments.org/audio/October251%2Em3u

Read more about this moment:  http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=308

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

Photos of the Cochituate Aqueduct and the Sudbury Aqueduct, both of which used to provide water for the Greater Boston area.

Oct 19, 2009 City Council Agenda Highlights

Tonight's agenda is relatively light, but there are a few notable items. In the weeks immediately preceding a municipal election, you can usually expect to see some effects of the campaign bleeding their way into the City Council agenda. Often this takes the form of a zoning petition carefully timed to come to a final vote immediately prior to the election, though this is not the case this year. Issues at the core of a challenger's campaign which become topics at candidate forums can also pop up within City Council orders as the incumbents try to steal some thunder. One such example is Order #15 addressing the Council/Manager balance of power that has been beaten to death at candidate forums. Here are a few items that stood out:

Communication #5. A communication was received from Kathy Podgers, transmitting information on how stress makes allergies worse and last longer.

Though clearly irrelevant to the City Council or the business of the City of Cambridge, this letter highlights the ongoing grudge by Ms. Podgers directed toward Councillor Decker growing out of a City Council meeting a few years ago at which the presence of Ms. Podgers guide dog caused a substantial allergic reaction by Councillor Decker (who was pregnant at the time and unable to take anti-allergy medication) forcing her to leave the meeting early. My only comment is that the civic environment can only be diminished when people resort to lawsuits and personal vendettas instead of acceptable compromise. Besides, if a resident/candidate wants to take issue with an incumbent city councillor, there are better, more adult ways of doing so. This letter stinks of passive aggression.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor to report back to the City Council with a legal opinion on whether or not listing public notices on the City website could fulfill the obligation of the City to publish legal notices.   Councillor Toomey

See comments entitled "Putting the Paper to Bed".

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council if any residents are in danger of losing their housing due to the fiscal status of affordable housing providers in Cambridge.   Vice Mayor Seidel

I periodically wonder about questions such as this. The City has now worked collaboratively on many housing projects with companies like Just-A-Start, Homeowner's Rehab, and CASCAP. As buildings age and the economic and political landscape shifts, how secure can the City's "housing policy" be when so much of it is in the hands of agencies that are influenced by the City but not really under the control of any City department? Perhaps it's better this way - almost a privatization of City housing policy. However, a day may come when some of these agencies will have costs that exceed their revenues. What then? Can they sell off some of their buildings to cover the rest?

Order #15. That the City Manager is requested to submit to the City Council a request for an appropriation sufficient to enable the City Council to undertake academic or legal counsel to review the Plan E Charter.   Councillor Reeves

O-15     Oct 19, 2009
ORDERED: That the Mayor and Cambridge City Council shall seek independent academic or legal counsel to review the Plan E Charter for the purpose of a clear and definitive explanation of the role and power of the City Council and the role and power of the City Manager before mid-December; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to submit to the City Council a request for an appropriation to the City Council Office Budget sufficient to enable the City Council to undertake this consultation on this timetable.

I've never seen the matter of the Council/Manager balance of power as particularly complicated or difficult to understand. The City Council passes ordinances, approves budgets, and determines overall policies (Orders) for the Manager to implement. The Manager submits an annual budget and oversees all of the operational details necessary to run the City government and implement City Council policies, including the hiring and management of all City personnel. If a majority of the City Council decides that the Manager is not properly doing his job, they can show him the door.

There is, of course, the reality that the long tenure of a Manager will tend to strengthen the hand of the Manager, but this is primarily due to the willingness of the City Council to go along with the wisdom gained by tenure. The flip side of this is that during the early years of a new Manager, the City Council will have the greater "wisdom" and the stronger hand. Such will be the case in just a few short years at the end of Robert Healy's current contract, or sooner should he choose to retire earlier. Be careful what you wish for! Will this City Council be up to the challenge when the pendulum swings? To some, including this observer, this is a serious factor in sorting out the challengers as well as the incumbents. I'm not so sure that we now have nine who can choose a new Manager let alone manage their new Manager.

Is Reeves' Order really asking a question or is he merely trying to shift the balance during an election in which some challengers have chosen to make the City Manager an issue? Is this just another page in the ongoing saga of last year's Monteiro decision and this year's Great Gates Case that have made their way into Reeves' statements at candidate forums? Is it really necessary to obtain a budget for legal and academic consultation on this? My understanding is that Mr. Reeves has a Harvard law degree. Surely he can answer his own question as well as anyone. -- Robert Winters

Oct 18 - Putting the Paper to Bed

There seems to be a movement afoot at the state and local level that could have a significant effect on any local newspaper that may still exist in Cambridge. The basics are that a) newspaper circulation is significantly down, b) more people are using Internet resources to get their news, and c) local and state finances are challenged. So, why not change the requirement that legal notices be published in a "paper of general circulation" to a standard more appropriate to the realities of today?

At the state level, the Beacon Hill Roll Call reports:

"ALLOW BIDDING NOTICES TO BE POSTED ON WEBSITES - The State Administration Committee held a hearing on legislation that would allow notices soliciting bids from companies seeking contracts to work on local city, town and county projects to be posted only on the local community's website or the state website. Current law requires that the notices be published in local newspapers."

"The Patrick administration says that the change would save the state time and money and ensure that projects move forward faster. Critics say that the change would hurt many newspapers that are already struggling. They argued that this new policy is unfair and decreases openness and transparency because not every business and individual has Internet access."

To this you can add the following City Council Order for Monday, October 19 from Councillor Toomey:

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor to report back to the City Council with a legal opinion on whether or not listing public notices on the City website could fulfill the obligation of the City to publish legal notices.   Councillor Toomey

O-10     Oct 19, 2009
WHEREAS: The requirement to list legal notices in local newspapers cost the city an estimated $125,000 per year; and
WHEREAS: Newspaper circulation and the industry in general has faltered as a result of increased use of the internet for news and information; and
WHEREAS: Public access to the internet is significantly improving; and
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge website could be used as an alternative for listing notices in the newspaper; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the City Solicitor to report back to the City Council with a legal opinion on whether or not listing public notices on the City website could fulfill the obligation of the City to publish legal notices.

It's been reported many times over that Legal Notices are a sizable and dependable source of revenue for "newspapers of general circulation." The Cambridge Chronicle, for example, appears to average about one and a half pages per issue of Legal Notices - much of it from the City of Cambridge. The City's Purchasing Department already posts all of its requests for bids on the City website. There are also some City job listings posted. You can also find Proposed Zoning Amendments Currently Under Review with minimal effort. It seems pretty clear that the City could post all of its Legal Notices and other Public Notices in a clear and inviting way at little or no cost to taxpayers. There are also other civic websites (such as this one) that would gladly link to all of the City's Legal Notices or post them at no cost, especially if City officials made it as effortless as possible. -- Robert Winters

October 15 - Every once in a long while, a candidate (or two) will do something really new and different. Here now is a public service announcement from two of our new candidates:

Flu Politics - by Tom and Minka

The Sorry State of Civic Affairs (Boston Globe, Oct 12, by Lou Ureneck, B.U. Journalism Dept. Chair)

Excerpt: "What accounts for the sorry state of the nation's civic health and to what extent do the better-or-worse evolution of the media and education share in the problem? I tilt the blame in that direction because our entire system of government rests on the presumption that people with good information make good choices about their governance. To assert otherwise undermines the argument for democratic government."

Question: Has the local press in Cambridge met its obligation to provide adequate information to the citizens regarding its local government and its municipal elections in order to support democracy at the local level?

by Bill Griffith (Oct 10, 2009), in the style of former Inman Street artist Ken Brown

Oct 12 - Information Requested: The unwritten tale of one City Council candidate's campaign receipts for September. Candidates are required to report the occupations and employers of all donors of $200 or more, but if the donor doesn't provide the information, the campaign is required only to send a letter requesting the information. Most campaigns provide complete or nearly complete information on their donors.

More on campaign finance at http://cambridgecivic.com.

Oct 7 - City of 8 Million Was a Ghost Town at the Polls  (New York Times)
Some NYC precincts had no voters at all.

Cambridge City Council 2009 Campaign Finance Report Summaries (PDF) - updated periodically

Aug 24, Sept 5 - While some people enjoy reading novels, I get my reading pleasure from things like meeting minutes and campaign finance reports. For extra fun, I'll analyze ballot data and voter history records or maybe write a little piece on proportional representation. I hope someone other than me finds this stuff interesting.

Here are a few items from past and present that get my attention:

1) Henrietta Davis' recent reports show three different people paid as campaign staff (though two of them were only for a few hours). This contrasts with, say, Denise Simmons whose reports show no paid campaign staff. Some new candidates have hired campaign managers while others rely entirely on friends and family. [Aug 30 Note: Lest anyone misinterpret the intent of this note, the only point is that some candidates have paid staff and others do not.]

2) Marjorie Decker's 2006 Annual Report showed a debt of $13,808.85 to Cambridge Offset Printing left over from her 2005 campaign. It makes you wonder why a business allows such substantial debts to remain unpaid for so long, yet additional unpaid bills for $1833.75 appeared on the 2007 report for a total liability of $15,642.60. This same report showed the illegal in-kind contribution of $2500 from the John Buonomo campaign paid to Cambridge Offset Printing which apparently covered what would have been an even greater debt. [Note: This story has been somewhat covered recently by the Cambridge Chronicle.] The report was later amended to bring the unpaid debt to Cambridge Offset Printing to $17,424.08. The 2008 Annual Report continued to show a $15,642.60 debt to this vendor with no indication yet of this debt being paid. At some point it's fair to ask whether this is an unpaid debt or a very large in-kind donation of services.

3) Craig Kelley continues to personally fund a substantial portion of his campaigns, though his periodic reports show very little activity so far this year. So far, the campaigns of new candidates Cheung, Glick, Leavitt, Marquardt, Stohlman, and vanBeuzekom are primarily or entirely self-funded, but this will likely soon change as they attract more voters and supporters.

4) David Maher pulled in $14,465 in donations last December. Other incumbent city councillors will have similar major fundraising months. This illustrates one of the primary advantages of incumbency.

5) Gregg Moree's 2007 Report showed an entirely self-funded $22,390 campaign, yet no details whatsoever appear about his expenditures.

6) Ken Reeves' 2005 Report shows $12,170 in liabilities but absolutely no details are provided. In that year, he maintained a headquarters for perhaps four months in a prominent Central Square storefront, yet there is no record of any expenditure for rent or any record of an in-kind donation for what is far in excess of the campaign finance legal limits. Candidates are required to report the fair market value for any such donation of space and the name(s) of those who provide the space. Reeves also maintained a headquarters on Mass. Ave. for several months in the 2007 campaign and this also never appears in any reports. His 2007 reports show an outstanding debt of $14,875.83 primarily for campaign staff but with no mention of the headquarters. A very low estimate for the unreported donation of office space would be at least $6000 - far in excess of anything Mr. Buonomo improperly contributed to Ms. Decker's campaign.

7) Two of the biggest funders of political campaigns (primarily in 2007) were Timothy and Amy Rowe (he's the CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square). The recipients were Galluccio ($1250), Kelley ($1000), Davis ($1000), Toomey ($1000), M. Sullivan ($500), Decker ($1000), Maher ($1000), Reeves ($1000), Simmons ($1000), Seidel ($1000), and Murphy ($1000). The other king donors are John DiGiovanni (Trinity Management, Harvard Square) and his family. Since 2007, they gave to Reeves ($1500), M. Sullivan ($1000), Murphy ($2000), Galluccio ($3000), Decker ($1000), Maher ($2000), Simmons ($2000), E. Sullivan ($500), and Toomey ($1000). Surely, all this money flows from the kindness of their very large hearts.

8) Tim Toomey continues to pay Jason Alves (his City-funded personal aide) every month out of his campaign account as staff for his state representative district office. It's apparently legal, but it highlights the clearly political nature of these City-funded aides.

9) As of Sept 25, the campaign treasure chests in decreasing order were (to the nearest dollar):

Candidate balance           Candidate balance           Candidate balance
Davis, Henrietta $20,622 Seidel, Sam $8,526 Leavitt, Neal $1,102
Decker, Marjorie $16,140 Kelley, Craig $7,307 Ward, Larry $301
Toomey, Tim $14,480 Marquardt, Charles J.     $6,950 Flanagan, Mark $100
Maher, David $10,816 Sullivan, Edward J. $5,231 Adkins, Lawrence $28
Simmons, Denise $10,812 Stohlman, Tom $5,087 Moree, Gregg J. $0
Glick, Silvia $9,439 vanBeuzekom, Minka     $3,246 Podgers, Kathy $0
Cheung, Leland $9,115 Reeves, Ken $1,553 Williamson, James    $0

One observation worth noting is the trend over the years toward paid campaign managers. There was a day when managing the campaign of an Independent candidate would be entirely the work of friends and family. Paid staff was typically seen only with CCA type candidates. Nowadays, many candidates (other than the usual suspects) will hire campaign staff, though not all. Some incumbents have several paid staff (in addition to the City-funded personal staff who handle all their Council business while they're out on the campaign trail).

Anyone can search the campaign finance reports at the OCPF website. Knock yourself out. - RW

Proportional Representation - Open Forum (a discussion of the concept and how it has worked over the last 68 years)

The Plan E Charter - Open Forum (a discussion of the pros and cons of the City Charter)

Sept 13 - Message to all candidates for Cambridge City Council and School Committee:

Quite a few people rely on the contact information for candidates shown in the Cambridge Candidate Pages. If your contact information (e-mail address, telephone, website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is not current, it will be difficult for people to contact you. If you have any updates, please send them. If you would like some information to be only selectively given out to those who are sending candidate questionnaires or invitations to forums, please specify what is for public posting and what should be provided more selectively.

You should all be receiving a request shortly for new material for the Cambridge Candidate Pages for this year.

Thank you,
RW, Editor

To: Candidates for Cambridge City Council - 2009

As in the 2003, 2005, and 2007 municipal elections, I am again maintaining the Cambridge Candidate Pages this year. In the last two elections, these pages received thousands of unique hits per day in the days just prior to the election. I expect at least as much activity this year. Entering a Cambridge candidate's name in a search engine will usually direct people quickly to these pages.

I would like to respectfully request your statements on the topic areas listed below. Your responses will be posted on your own candidate page at http://vote.rwinters.com. Your page will contain a photo, a prominent link to your own web site (if you have one), and relevant contact information. Please visit this site to see the provisional pages derived from material from the 2007 election and from material recently sent by candidates. You will have the opportunity to amend or expand your responses at any time up to Election Day (within reason). You may consolidate some topic areas, if you wish.

The suggested topics for this year are as follows:
1) Background: [biographical, etc.]
2) Top Priorities: [List about three and elaborate below]
3) Quality of Life and Public Safety (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, Zoning, Density:
8) Economic Development and Commerce:
9) Human Services Programs (including youth programs and senior programs):
10) Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
11) Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
12) Housing:
13) Arts and Public Celebrations:
14) University Relations:
15) Civic Participation:
16) Cambridge Public Schools:

You don't need to respond to all of these topic areas, but it will be helpful if you respond to as many as possible so that voters can compare the statements of all candidates. You can split any of the above topics into specifics or include additional topics if you feel the need. I will do my best to integrate them in a coherent way. Examples are: biotech, race and class issues, historic preservation, Community Preservation Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the City's boards and commissions, wireless Internet access, the City's website, the liquor license Cap Policy, the MBTA, etc.

These topics are intentionally broad in nature so that you may use your discretion to explain your priorities and point of view to voters in whatever way you wish. There is no strict limit on the length of your responses, but I hope you will be concise and to the point.

The sole purpose of these pages is to allow voters to learn more about your candidacy. There will be no endorsements on the Candidate Pages - just the information you provide. Links to other pages will be added when clarification of topics is warranted.

In order to expeditiously post all the information, I urge you or someone from your campaign to submit your responses and related materials via e-mail to Robert@rwinters.com, preferably in plain text and as soon as possible. I generally turn things around very quickly. If you must send materials via US Mail, send them to me at 366 Broadway, Cambridge MA 02139. Again, responses can be amended any time up to Election Day, Nov 3, 2009.

Robert Winters, Cambridge Civic Journal, 617-661-9230

Cambridge Candidates Pages: http://vote.rwinters.com or http://vote.cambridgecivic.com
Cambridge Civic Journal: http://rwinters.com      CCJ Forum - http://cambridgecivic.com

To: Candidates for Cambridge School Committee - 2009

As in the 2003, 2005, and 2007 municipal elections, I am again maintaining the "Cambridge Candidate Pages" this year. In the previous election, these pages received thousands of unique hits per day in the days just prior to the election. I expect at least as much activity this year. Entering a Cambridge candidate's name in a search engine will usually direct people quickly to these pages.

I would like to respectfully request your statements on the topic areas listed below. Your responses will be posted on your own candidate page at http://vote.rwinters.com. Your page will contain a photo, a prominent link to your own web site (if you have one), and relevant contact information. Please visit this site to see the provisional pages derived from material from the 2007 election and from material recently sent by candidates. You will have the opportunity to amend or expand your responses at any time up to Election Day (within reason). You may consolidate some topic areas, if you wish.

The suggested topics for this year are as follows:
1) Background (biographical, etc.)
2) Top Priorities (List about three - then elaborate below)
3) School Department Administration and Superintendent
4) School Department Budget and Capital Needs (including CRLS renovations, and the disposition of surplus buildings)
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, middle school proposal, other changes you would support)
9) High School Programs and Curriculum (positives and negatives, and changes you would support)
10) MCAS and Measuring Student Achievement (pros, cons, alternatives)
11) Teacher Evaluations and Performance Measures [added Aug 18 on request]
12) School Safety and Student Behavior
13) Parent Involvement and School Councils
14) Other (include additional topics, if you wish)

You don't need to respond to all of these topic areas, but it will be helpful if you respond to as many as possible so that voters can compare the statements of all candidates. You can split any of the above topics into specifics or include additional topics if you feel the need. I will do my best to integrate them in a coherent way. These topics are intentionally broad in nature so that you may use your discretion to explain your priorities and point of view to voters in whatever way you wish. There is no strict limit on the length of your responses, but I hope you will be concise and to the point.

The sole purpose of these pages is to allow voters to learn more about your candidacy. There will be no endorsements on the Candidate Pages - just the information you provide. Links to other pages will be added when clarification of topics is warranted.

In order to expeditiously post all the information, I urge you or someone from your campaign to submit your responses and related materials via e-mail to Robert@rwinters.com, preferably in plain text and as soon as possible. I generally turn things around very quickly. If you must send materials via US Mail, send them to me at 366 Broadway, Cambridge MA 02139. Again, responses can be amended any time up to Election Day, Nov 3, 2009.

Robert Winters, Cambridge Civic Journal, 617-661-9230

Cambridge Candidates Pages: http://vote.rwinters.com or http://vote.cambridgecivic.com
Cambridge Civic Journal: http://rwinters.com      CCJ Forum - http://cambridgecivic.com

ALERT - There is misinformation being spread about what can and cannot be done regarding write-in candidates in the Cambridge municipal election. Specifically, word is being spread that giving a #1 ranking is the only option for a write-in candidate. This is FALSE. Voters who write in the name of a candidate may give that candidate any ranking they wish and the ballots will be counted (and possibly transferred) in the same way as ballots without write-ins. In any case, voters must fill in the oval corresponding to the ranking given to any candidate, including write-ins.

July 31, 5:00pm - The deadline has now passed for candidates to submit nomination papers for the 2009 City Council and School Committee elections. Randy Fenstermacher, Sylvia Barnes, Kevin Moore, and incumbent City Councillor Marjorie Decker did not turn in the necessary signatures prior to the filing deadline and will not appear on the November ballot.

PS - If you have any comments of this year's municipal election, you may offer them on the new Cambridge Civic Journal Forum, a parallel interactive site. Comments are moderated - discussion is welcome, abuse is not.

Aug 2 Update: Marjorie Decker has announced that she will run as a write-in candidate for City Council. From a note sent to her supporters: "I am writing to assure you that I am running for re-election to the Cambridge City Council. As some of you may have heard, I did not get my nomination papers in on time this year. There was some internal confusion in my campaign. That said, I take full responsibility for the failure of my campaign to file the papers on time. After speaking to quite a few of you and consulting with some campaign and election professionals, I have concluded that I can and should enter this election. This does not minimize the additional challenges and the amount of work this has created for me and my supporters. At this time, however given my leadership on key issues that are important to all of us, I have been encouraged and have decided to pursue a write-in/sticker campaign."

I found this 1950s vintage photo of a DPW garbage truck (a.k.a. "honey wagon") in an MIT collection. There used to be separate food waste, i.e. garbage, collection back then. As one native Cantabrigian commented, "I remember the simple pleasures of youth sitting with my grandfather on the front porch on garbage pick up day on a hot summer's day. The pungent smell would wrap the entire neighborhood and every fly was on escort duty above the truck."  Keep Cambridge Clean!

July 31 - The Plot Thickens (Wesley Morris, Boston Globe)

July 28 - The Big Circus was in town last night

The Cambridge City Council midsummer meeting last night was interesting in its political speechmaking and the presence of news cameras in the wake of the Most Overblown Story of the Year. The best thing was watching the local network news reporters sit silently for hours in the sweltering Sullivan Chamber while almost all public comment was about everything but the Great Gates Caper. The reporters were treated to heavy doses of comment on taxicab regulations, curb cuts, the closing of Il Panino, Harvard employment practices, the McCrehan pool, water parks, bedbugs, and other matters that affect Cambridge residents far more than The Big Controversy. Yes, there were a few people who commented on The Great Ware Street Confrontation, but these were primarily the usual suspects and their total testimony took up at best one tenth of public comment. Most comical was how the TV cameras would whirl into action whenever the topic of the Gatescapades came up. I didn't catch the 11 o'clock news to see how much of the video was aired, but there's little doubt that it must have been one of the least representative samples of Cambridge and of what occurred at the meeting that you'll ever find.

When public comment was finally over, the political posturing commenced. It opened with Councillor Kelley moving Tabled Item #2 - an Order and a Substitute Order relating to the ongoing appeal of the Monteiro v. City of Cambridge case. Ultimately, it was Councillor Toomey's substitute language that passed requesting an opinion from the City Solicitor on the propriety of providing the City Council with funds to hire their own legal counsel for this matter. It is clear to this observer that Councillor Kelley's sole motivation is to challenge the City Manager regardless of the merits of the case or its appeal. The other two sponsors of the original Order, Councillor Reeves and Mayor Simmons, have their own motivations.

Regardless of motivation, there is an important charter-related issue here. It is absolutely clear that ALL personnel matters are to be handled by the City Manager, and this includes any complaints or lawsuits filed by present or former employees against the City. On the other hand, the City Council ultimately has to vote, albeit indirectly, on all appropriations including legal settlements. Ideally, the City Council would pass a resolution or discuss in Executive Session its preferred policies on where to draw the line on legal appeals or settlements in this case. One would think that they would have already done this in their multiple Executive Sessions on this matter, but the public is (supposedly) not privy to those conversations. This conversation with the Manager, the City Solicitor, and the City Councillors should have already taken place and probably has taken place, and presumably some consensus should have been reached. Is there actually a majority opinion among city councillors on this matter? Maybe not.

The actual votes on Monday were somewhat interesting. It was a 5-4 vote to remove the matter from the Table with Councillors Decker, Kelley, Reeves, Seidel, and Simmons voting in favor. Kelley's intention was to vote on the original Order requesting funds for legal counsel, but procedurally Councillor Toomey's substitute had to be voted first. Councillor Toomey made clear that the issue was distinguishing the proper roles of the City Council and the City Manager under the City Charter. Councillor Decker wanted the City Solicitor to give his opinion now. On substituting Councillor Toomey's language for the original language of Councillors Kelley, Reeves, and Simmons, the vote was 5-4 with Davis, Decker, Maher, Toomey, and Ward voting in favor, and Councillors Kelley, Reeves, Seidel, and Simmons opposed. The main motion with the substitute language then passed 8-1 with Councillor Decker as the sole dissenting vote.

Next came statements from City Manager Robert Healy and Police Commissioner Robert Hass on The Great Gates Affair. Mr. Healy gave a comprehensive chronology of what had transpired from the original July 16 incident to the present. Several councillors expressed dissatisfaction about not being included in every aspect of the matter and of having to learn some things only through the public media. As an observer, I detected some unhappiness at their not being asked to share in the public spotlight in a matter that garnered national attention. However, this was fundamentally an operational matter which, objectively, would have been completely routine save for the fact that some people chose to turn it into a media circus. Regarding the notion that the city councillors were not kept informed, why didn't each and every one of them, as Councillor Ward wisely suggested, just pick up the phone and call the Manager? Unless the Manager was refusing their calls (which certainly did not happen), the councillors had every opportunity to be kept abreast of every aspect of this whole silly affair. This suggests that this was not about being informed but about sharing the spotlight.

What happens next should be interesting. Mayor Simmons will surely want to have yet another "Race and Class Forum," though it seems doubtful that Charles Ogletree, the lawyer for Mr. Gates, will be the chosen moderator this time. This is also a municipal election year, so will the other councillors be completely OK with again giving Mayor Simmons the spotlight? Considering how vehemently Councillor Reeves was taking sides on the issue, it's doubtful he will want to again cede the political stage to Simmons or anyone else. Opportunity knocks. - Robert Winters

Let the Games Begin! (Aug 3, 2:00pm update - complete)
Nomination papers for City Council and School Committee - deadline Friday, July 31, 5:00pm

Candidates began pulling papers for this year's municipal election on July 1. 50 certified signatures are required in order for a candidate's name to be placed on the November ballot. As of the 5:00pm deadline on July 31, here are the candidates who pulled papers and the number of signatures submitted and certified.:

Name Office Signatures submitted     Signatures certified    
Edward J. Sullivan City Council 100 (July 27) 98
E. Denise Simmons City Council 98 (July 20) 84
Charles J. Marquardt   City Council 81 (July 13) 77
David P. Maher City Council 100 (July 20) 99
Philip R. Fenstermacher           City Council did not file any signatures  -
Neal Leavitt City Council 50 (July 21), 8 (July 30) 55
Minka vanBeuzekom City Council 84 (July 7) 75
Larry Ward City Council 95 (July 29) 88
Silvia P. Glick City Council 61 (July 24), 5 (July 28) 53
Timothy J. Toomey City Council 100 (July 7) 96
Sylvia Barnes City Council did not file any signatures  -
Kenneth E. Reeves City Council 98 (July 29) 83
Alan Steinert, Jr. School Committee         83 (July 7) 77
Fred Fantini School Committee     100 (July 7) 97
James Williamson City Council 40 (July 21), 25 (July 29) 61
Mark F. Flanagan City Council 63 (July 31) 55
Leland Cheung   City Council 100 (July 16) 88
Sam Seidel City Council 100 (July 28) 96
Tom Stohlman City Council 100 (July 31) 92
Marjorie Decker City Council 29 (July 29) - filed fewer than minimum 26
Henrietta Davis City Council 49 (July 22), 11 (July 28) 59
M. Kevin Moore School Committee did not file any signatures  -
Marc McGovern School Committee 63 (July 16) 57
Patricia M. Nolan School Committee 62 (July 28) 55
Richard Harding School Committee 83 (July 29) 76
Richard Harding City Council did not file any signatures  -
Joseph Grassi School Committee 100 (July 27) 94
Nancy Tauber School Committee 100 (July 28) 97
Alice Turkel School Committee 87 (July 30) 86
Lawrence Adkins City Council 100 (July 30) 87
Craig Kelley City Council 97 (July 30) 91
Charles L. Stead, Sr. School Committee 80 (July 30), 19 (July 31) 92
Gregg Moree City Council 93 (July 31) 76
Kathy Podgers City Council 21 (July 30), 38 (July 31), 27 (July 31)  69

Check out this year's Cambridge Candidate Pages.
24 people pulled papers for City Council and 10 for School Committee.
[Note: Richard Harding pulled papers for both, but he's actually running for School Committee.]

Aug 18 - To the IDIOTS on the Cambridge City Council who voted to oppose security cameras on public streets, please read this article in the Boston Globe about a recent kidnapping and sexual assault in Brookline. [Please pardon the heavy dose of opinion here, but political posturing should not stand in the way of catching anyone who would commit these crimes. - RW]

July 24 - Perhaps I'll say more later - after I teach my Harvard class this morning, but in the meantime.... an editorial cartoon by David Hitch in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette pretty much says it all.

July 15 - Got a comment? Keep it to yourself  (Douglas Bailey, Boston Globe)

July 4 - Nirvana and Ranked Choice Voting (Boston Globe)

June 26 - Journalism in the era of Twitter (Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe)

June 24 - Boston to begin single-stream recycling starting July 1 (Boston Globe)
Note: This may also be coming to Cambridge at some point.

June 23 - Lesley/Porter Zoning Petition Adopted (reported by John Howard, Porter Square Neighbors Association)

On June 22 the Cambridge City Council voted 8-1 to create a Lesley Porter Overlay District. This new overlay district rezones Lesley University's Porter Square campus, including the former North Prospect Congregational Church site, to allow Lesley to bring the Arts Institute of Boston to Porter Square. It limits what Lesley could eventually build on the parking lots behind and across Massachusetts Avenue from University Hall, although Lesley has not proposed any specific plans for those sites. It also has provisions to require open space and to encourage ground floor retail.

The City Council also granted landmark status to the church, meaning that any alteration to the church's exterior, or relocation of the church on its lot, will require approval by the Historical Commission.

Lesley University has submitted a related memorandum of understanding which commits them to working with neighbors on construction mitigation, providing courtesy parking during snow emergencies, ensuring adequate parking during events, contributing to beautification along Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard and Porter Squares, giving the public access to Lesley facilities such as an art library, and long-term engagement with the neighborhood.

This is the outcome of nearly three years' negotiation by Lesley University, City of Cambridge planning staff, neighborhood associations including PSNA and Agassiz Baldwin, abutters, and other concerned citizens, to develop an acceptable rezoning plan.

Discussion by the City Council included the usual questions about traffic and parking, impact on immediate abutters, construction mitigation, worry that economic problems could cause the project to be suspended halfway through, retail issues, and open space. Many of these concerns were addressed by amendments worked out in an intensive dialog between Lesley, the City's planning staff, and neighbors and abutters over the last several weeks. Most of the councillors praised the civil tone of the dialog, the dedication of both supporters and opponents, and the hard work of all participants, and called for continuing engagement of all parties.

The next major step in the process will be for Lesley to develop a specific design for the Arts Institute of Boston project, for submission to a special project review before the Planning Board as well as Historical Commission review. That will take a while. There is lots more coming, but at the moment we can hope for a respite. - John Howard

June 21 - Atlanta Adopts New Housing Model - Boston Globe [....just something to think about....]

Cambridge City Solicitor Don Drisdell takes the Cambridge Chronicle to task (May 26, 2009)
[while the Chronicle continues to get its legal advice from the goose guy]
Related documents:
   Judge MacLeod-Mancuso's rejection of post-trial motions (April, 2009)
   Monteiro jury verdict (May 2008)
   Summary judgment on City's motion to dismiss (February 2003)

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

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

Purposes: This association is formed for the following purposes:

1. To promote businesslike, honest, and efficient conduct of local government, open to public scrutiny.

2. To induce residents to take an active interest in the affairs of the City of Cambridge.

3. To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs.

4. To assure that the best qualified persons are appointed to positions in the City government after consideration of all qualified candidates.

5. To promote among the citizens of Cambridge equitable distribution and benefit of public services and equal opportunity for economic security, education, and social advancement.

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

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

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

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

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

An Inconvenient Truth - Global warming study sees smaller shift in sea levels (Boston Globe, May 15, 2009)
Keep doing the home insulation and the compact fluorescent bulbs, folks, but perhaps a little less alarm would be in order, even if that's inconvenient for your larger political goals. - RW

Superintendent's Contract between Cambridge School Committee and Jeffrey M. Young (HTML)

The First Annual Clean Cambridge Spring Cleanup took place last weekend (Sat, May 2 and Sun, May 3). Find out more at http://www.cleancambridge.org.

Excerpt from "Sketches of Boston, Past and Present", by Isaac Smith Homans, 1851

2008-2009 Goals of the Cambridge School Committee and Administration

April 14: NOTICE - The Cambridge School Committee has been CANCELLED

OK, perhaps not. However, right now I'm wondering whether or not it should be. I have occasionally attended School Committee meetings over the years and have been known to opine that their primary focus is more about creating and maintaining School Department jobs than educating young people. So, when it was announced that they were having a Roundtable meeting on trends in mathematics education, I was thrilled. Just once, perhaps, the Cambridge School Committee would have a meeting that focused on educational specifics.

Alas, no. With virtually no notice, the meeting was cancelled - not postponed, just cancelled. Just a little notice buried deep in the School Department website. Granted, this meeting was not going to draw the crowds of the previous week when the race of the School Superintendent candidates was used to get people all riled up. This was just about mathematics - not race or class or gender or compact fluorescent light bulbs or Salvadoran elections - just something that young people might actually need to know something about if they ever want to get a job in Cambridge some day (other than a job in politics or the School Department).

I showed up for the meeting and was informed by one of the more helpful members of the School Committee that the meeting had been cancelled "because we have to pass a budget." It's not that I'm completely uninformed about what goes on around town - I even try in my own way to let people know what's going on. I don't mind wasting some time, but I really don't like it when others waste my time. Inserting a cancellation notice in an obscure location just doesn't cut it.

So, to the Cambridge School Committee, you can now go back to talking about all of your nonacademic issues. Let me know when I should next walk to CRLS for something other than a letdown. Maybe, just maybe, you'll grace us again with a meeting that focuses on educational specifics. I won't hold my breath. - Robert Winters

April 7 - The Cambridge School Committee tonight voted 5-2 to select Dr. Jeffrey Young as its next Superintendent of Schools. The next step is to negotiate a contract. Voting for Jeffrey Young were Joe Grassi, Marc McGovern, Patty Nolan, Luc Schuster, and Nancy Tauber. Voting for Carolyn Turk were Fred Fantini and Denise Simmons.

This was one of the most intense meetings I've witnessed in a long time. Most of the people in the audience were very partisan supporters of either Jeffrey Young or Carolyn Turk, and there is no question that this partisanship was highly correlated with race. Indeed, once the vote was taken many supporters of Carolyn Turk marched out of the room shouting "status quo" even though the School Committee had, in fact, just voted to make a change from Interim Superintendent Turk to Superintendent Young.

Without a doubt the most devastated of all the School Committee members was Mayor Simmons. To this observer, it seemed she was doing everything she could just to keep herself together. Even though all members had pledged to work together regardless who was chosen, when Fred Fantini (who had also voted for Turk) made such a motion, Mayor Simmons voted "present".

From my vantage point (and the luxury of not having to take sides on this matter) I will state that this was a very adult decision from this School Committee. This is not a comment on who they chose, but rather about the courage they showed in making their decisions based on what they really believed, regardless of political consequences. There will be some political and personal fallout as a result of this vote, but I can honestly say that my respect for all seven of them went up a notch or two based on their courage and convictions - regardless of who received their vote. - Robert Winters

Candidates Vie to Head City Schools (Harvard Crimson, Mar 31)

Cambridge superintendent finalists answer to the public (Cambridge Chronicle, Mar 31)

School Committee Screens Superintendent Candidates (Harvard Crimson, Apr 1)

March 31 - My brief comments on last night's (March 30) forum: Any of the three candidates for Superintendent would be a good choice. Mary Nash came across as the consummate teacher - her style is very much that of a classroom teacher familiar with all of the educational theories and practices. Carolyn Turk showed a sense of humor and humanity and the ability to cut through the BS, and she clearly has a lot of experience with the Cambridge Public Schools. Jeffrey Young had the greatest focus on academic excellence and rigor and clearly has a record to back it up in Newton.

There were about 200 people in attendance, perhaps more, at the Monday night forum. The down side of the forum was that it was a bit like asking each candidate to do a standup routine at a nightclub. Some of the questions helped to bring out differences in the candidates, but important factors like how each candidate might manage a moderately large administration were not part of the questioning. For those of us whose primary concern is that the Cambridge Public Schools produce more mathematically competent and excellent students, there was little at this forum to indicate how each candidate might achieve this goal.

As is often the case in matters relating to the Cambridge Public Schools, there was much focus on ensuring adequate and equitable education for all and not nearly enough discussion of academic rigor and challenge. Then again, this is more the job of classroom teachers than Superintendents in many ways, but it would have been nice to see more focus on this side of the equation. Perhaps the Tuesday night session with School Committee members will bring out some of these other qualifications of the three candidates. - RW

Superintendent Search Update:
Cambridge School Committee announces Cambridge Superintendent Finalists
The Cambridge School Committee today announced three finalists for the next Superintendent of Cambridge Public Schools. They are: Dr. Mary C. Nash, currently the Academic Superintendent for the Boston Public Schools, Dr. Carolyn L. Turk, currently Deputy Superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools, and Dr. Jeffrey M. Young, currently Superintendent of the Newton Public Schools.

Dr. Nash holds a PhD in Curriculum, Instruction, and Administration from Boston College, a Masterís degree in Child Development, also from Boston College, and a Bachelorís degree in Elementary Education from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. Dr. Nash has spent her entire career in the Boston Public Schools, and served in a variety of roles, including teacher, program specialist, senior advisor, principal, cluster leader, assistant superintendent, and academic superintendent.

Dr. Turk holds an Ed. D. in Educational Administration from Seton Hall University, a Masterís degree in Educational Technology from Fitchburg State College, and a Bachelorís degree in Elementary Education from Boston State College. Dr. Turk has spent her whole career in the Cambridge Public Schools, and served in a variety of roles, including teacher, assistant principal, acting assistant superintendent, interim superintendent, and deputy superintendent.

Dr. Young holds an Ed. D. in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Masterís degree in Education from Tufts University, and a Bachelorís degree in English and American Literature from Brandeis University. Prior to his time in Newton, he has served as superintendent in Lexington, and Lynnfield. He also has served as a teacher, English department chair, and curriculum coordinator in the Brookline Public Schools.

Meet the Superintendent Finalist Candidates!
Dates: Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Town Hall Forum

Date: Monday, March 30, 2009, 6pm
Place: Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Henrietta Attles Meeting Room/Media Cafeteria

The Cambridge School Committee invites all community members to attend a Town Hall Forum on Monday, March 30, 2009 beginning at 6:00pm featuring the finalists for the position of Superintendent of Schools. This Town Hall meeting precedes finalist candidate interviews by the School Committee on Tuesday, March 31. This forum provides the opportunity to meet and pose questions to each of three finalist candidates and learn more about what candidate would bring to Cambridge as the next leader of the Cambridge Public Schools. Candidates will be presented individually to take and respond to community questions. This Town Hall Forum will be moderated by search consultant Dr. Dave Gee of Ray & Associates, and will be televised live on Community Access Channel 99. The School Committee values community input and all interested CPS members and partners are encouraged to participate in this very important forum! For more information, visit www.cpsd.us/supersearch or call 617-349-6620.

Finalist Superintendent Candidate Interviews!
School Committee Interviews
Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 6pm
Place: Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Henrietta Attles Meeting Room/Media Cafeteria

The Cambridge School Committee invites all community members to attend the finalist interviews on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, beginning at 6:00pm, featuring the finalists for the position of Superintendent of Schools. This meeting allows School Committee members to pose questions to each of the three finalist candidates as they, with community input choose the next leader of the Cambridge Public Schools. This meeting be televised live on Community Access Channel 99. The School Committee values community input and all interested CPS members and partners are encouraged to attend this very important meeting! For more information, visit www.cpsd.us/supersearch or call 617-349-6620.

Perverse Cosmic Myopia - David Brooks, New York Times

My favorite columnist, David Brooks, again hits the nail on the head regarding Mr. Obama's handling of the current economic crisis: "The president of the United States has decided to address this crisis while simultaneously tackling the four most complicated problems facing the nation: health care, energy, immigration and education. Why he has not also decided to spend his evenings mastering quantum mechanics and discovering the origins of consciousness is beyond me." The whole column, as always with our Mr. Brooks, is worth the read.

March 16 Quiz Question: How many Cambridge voters have voted in the last 20 elections without a miss, including all primary elections? Are you on the list?

I just loaded the latest registered voter list, the most recent street listing, and all of the voter history files from November 1997 to November 2008 into my database software. Anything else you'd like to know???

--Robert Winters

In the News - March 6, 2009
MASSACHUSETTS - 6 charter schools honored nationally
    Six Massachusetts charter schools were among 21 nationwide singled out for recognition yesterday by a national nonprofit that analyzes charter school achievement. The Effective Practice Incentive Community, or EPIC, grant program honored Community Day Charter Public School in Lawrence, Boston Preparatory Charter Public School in Hyde Park, Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Roxbury, Boston Collegiate Charter School in Dorchester, MATCH Charter Public School in Boston, and Prospect Hill Academy Upper School in Cambridge. The organization will give individual principals, teachers, and instructional staff from the schools awards totaling an estimated $735,000. EPIC considered 144 schools for the award.

Paul Harvey, 90; broadcasting pioneer delivered news with distinctive voice (Boston Globe)
There's not a man or woman in America's heartland who hasn't heard Paul Harvey on the radio. I used to listen to him every day when I lived in Flagstaff, Arizona several decades ago. - RW

Feb 24 - It's official. Larry Ward has been elected to replace Brian Murphy on the Cambridge City Council. As was reported here last week:

If Jonathan Janik and Anthony Galluccio are excluded (and they were) and all others remain, then the result will be:
Larry Ward 339, Edward Sullivan 112, Kevin Moore 97, Others 83 (Ward elected by having a majority of all continuing ballots).

Larry's not a city councillor until he's sworn in at the beginning of the next City Council meeting on Monday, March 2. Like all other city councillors, he's up for reelection this November.

Mon, Mar 2
5:00pm   Special City Council Meeting to administer the oath of office to Councillor-elect Larry W. Ward.  (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm   Regular City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Feb 23, 2009 - Sooner or later somebody has to say it, so let me give it a try:
I have my doubts about this Obama fellow. This man who is still treated like some kind of sage and savior has now pressed for more new federal spending than any of us can possibly appreciate (it will measure in the trillions), and the markets have responded by sinking rapidly - now to 1997 levels, and that's without inflation factored in. Is this what an "economic stimulus" is supposed to do? Sure, I suppose we have to be somewhat patient for the benefits of this alleged stimulus, but the fact is that the stock market is, in many ways, a weathervane on economic futures, and that weathervane started blowing due south with the passage of this so-called "stimulus." Now, with his very best "deer in the headlights" look, Obama declares that he intends to cut the federal deficit in half by the time his "first" term is over. Does anyone actually believe this?

Personally, I never saw the attraction in this guy. I suppose that in comparison to George W. Bush, a block of wood or a damp sponge would have been an improvement, but surely we could have done better than this. - Robert Winters (who now eagerly awaits the inevitable blasphemy charges)

Shakeup at the Election Commission
Anyone who knows anything about the manner in which people are appointed to the Cambridge Election Commission knows that it's all about politics. Sometimes it's also about payback, and the Republican City Committee is giving Republican Commissioner Artis Spears much the same treatment that the Democratic City Committee gave former Commissioner Sondra Schier in 1994. Commissioner Spears has served on the Cambridge Election Commission since 1980, the longest of all four current commissioners. Each political committee nominates three people in alternate years from which the City Manager must choose (by April 1) to serve for a four-year term.

Two years ago, in 2007, the Republican City Committee forwarded a ranked list of three nominees to the City Manager as their nominees: Peter Sheinfeld, Fred Baker, and Ethridge King. Though not required to do so, the City Manager typically chooses the first choice of the committee, but in 2007 he passed over the top two nominees and chose Ethridge King to fill the slot. The word at the time was that Artis Spears had lobbied the City Manager heavily to appoint Ethridge King. As one might expect, this did not go over so well among Republican City Committee members.

On Monday, February 9, the Republican City Committee met for their biannual nomination meeting and chose Peter Sheinfeld as their #1 nominee on a 22-9 vote. Their 2nd nominee was Henry Irving on a 20-13 vote. Their 3rd nominee was Fred Baker on a 20-12 vote with 1 abstention. In each case it was a choice between two candidates, and Artis Spears was defeated in each round.

The rules governing the process are spelled out here: http://rwinters.com/docs/Acts1921Chap239.htm. The relevant section is this: "SECTION 3. As the terms of the several election commissioners expire, and in case a vacancy occurs in said board, the city manager shall so appoint their successors that the members of the board shall, as equally may be, represent the two leading political parties, and in no case shall an appointment be so made as to cause the board to have more than two members of the same political party. Every such appointment shall be made by the city manager from a list to be submitted to him by the city committee of the political party from the members of which the position is to be filled, containing the names of three enrolled members of such party in said city, selected by vote of a majority of members of such committee present and voting at a duly called meeting; provided, that not less than thirty such members are present and voting at such meeting; and every member of said board shall serve until the expiration of his term and until his successor has qualified. No appointment to said board need be confirmed by the city council."

State law does not specify that the list of three nominees be a ranked list. This is a practice that both party committees choose to do in an effort to have as much control as possible over the eventual choice, but it has no legal standing whatsoever.

It's a Municipal Election Year
This year (2009) is an odd-numbered year and that means it's a municipal election year. Normally we'd be hearing rumors by now about who might be seeking a City Council or School Committee seat in November, but Cambridge has been quiet. [Feb 5]

So....., as Tip O'Neill used to ask, "Whattaya hear?" Let me know. Let's get those rumors flying. - RW

The Rumor Mill:
The word is that Kevin Moore (who ran for City Council in 2007) will throw his hat in the ring for School Committee in 2009. We're still waiting to hear about Richard Harding and Gail Lemily Wiggins. [as reported by Deep Throat]

The word from our CCJ correspondent in South America is that Jeff Ross (one of the four candidates who ran for Jarrett Barrios' vacant Senate seat in 2007) may be interested in a Cambridge City Council seat. [Feb 16]

Luc Schuster wrote a letter (Feb 20) in the Cambridge Chronicle stating that he will not seek reelection to the School Committee later this year.

Feb 16 - With Brian Murphy's departure from the Cambridge City Council (and Larry Ward's soon-to-be ascension to a Council seat on Feb 24), there are rumblings in East Cambridge about assembling a slate of candidates or recruiting individual candidates to seek a Council seat. The fact that Brian Murphy was essentially the successor to Jim Braude who was essentially the successor to Frank Duehay may be an indication of where there are some votes to be had this November.

All City Council and School Committee seats are at-large seats, so you can't absolutely say that any one councillor succeeds another, but it's still a good first approximation. Few would argue, for example, that Alice Wolf was succeeded in 1993 by Katherine Triantafillou and Kathy Born (a twofer with Ed Cyr getting bumped in that election), and Marjorie Decker's election in 1999 was clearly at the expense of Triantafillou. "Mickey the Dude" Sullivan's seat was passed to his son Edward Sullivan in 1949 and then to his brother Walter Sullivan in 1959 who passed it on to his son Michael Sullivan in 1993 who served until 2007. Lenny Russell was succeeded by his wife Sheila Russell in 1985, and the "Russell base" was effectively passed to David Maher in 1999. In recent years, the changing demographics of Cambridge have created opportunities for candidates like Craig Kelley and Sam Seidel, and those same shifting sands together with changes in voter turnout could create further opportunities for future candidates. That said, there's nothing like the departure of an incumbent to create a scramble by other candidates for the "base" of an exiting incumbent. The Sullivan and Galluccio (Independent) bases are still very much out there to be courted, and now you can add Brian Murphy's more CCA-oriented base to the mix.

Though it seems strange to have to say it, for those relative newcomers, the CCA (Cambridge Civic Association) was a local civic/political organization that was formed in 1945 out of three entities that had existed from the 1930's. The CCA aligned itself with the politically advantageous issue of rent control in 1969 and essentially died when rent control was wiped out in 1994. The CCA soldiered on and continued to endorse municipal candidates through the 2003 election, though half-heartedly at best. There have been no substantive organized candidate endorsements since then, and the winners and losers are now primarily determined by demographics and incumbency.

As one measure of the votes that may be lurking out there for this year's election, yesterday I ran the election software to determine who would have been elected in the 2007 election if Brian Murphy had been excluded. In that hypothetical, Edward Sullivan (Michael's cousin) would have picked up the 9th seat. However, under the "Vacancy Recount" provisions in state law for Cambridge's elections, the vacancy will be filled (officially on Feb 24) by Larry Ward. The basic logic of the procedure is that a vacancy should preferably be filled by that candidate who best matches the exiting incumbent. However, there really is no obvious match in this case among viable challengers. This observation should not be lost on those considering tossing their hat into the ring later this year.

February 9, 2009 - Cambridge City Councillor Brian Murphy tonight announced his resignation from the Cambridge City Council. Councillor Murphy will be moving on to become Deputy Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Appended below is Councillor Murphy's prepared statement to his City Council colleagues.

Madame Mayor -- Thank you.

I have been proud to serve as a Cambridge city councillor for these past seven years. Cambridge is a remarkable community, and I have been honored to have had the chance to serve our city.

I have been presented with another opportunity in public service, to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The challenge of helping to reform and restructure our stateís transportation system and to help craft and implement a new viable funding structure for transportation in Massachusetts is one of the most important public policy debates facing our Commonwealth.

Given the challenges of my new position, I will not be able to serve as both a city councillor and Deputy Secretary. Therefore I am announcing I am resigning as a city councillor and that today, February 9, 2009 is my last day as a city councillor.

When I first arrived as a city councillor in January of 2002, I was not sure what to expect -- most of my experience was with state government. Since day one, I have been impressed by the dedication and commitment of Cambridgeís municipal employees. My job has been made so much easier because of the hard work of so many others.

As I reflect on my service here, I am reminded of the expression "success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan." While that expression is usually used in the pejorative sense, my successes have almost always been due to effective collaboration with colleagues and administration employees, working together creatively to get results.

As Finance Chair, Iíve been honored to be a part of the strongest fiscal management team in Massachusetts. Because of the leadership and work of people like Louis DePasquale, David Kale, Jim Monagle, David Holland, Angela Pierre, Steve Hanmer and Manisha Tibrewal, Cambridge has managed to provide the highest quality of services and projects while maintaining its fiscal health.

That team, along with the leadership of City Assessor Robert Reardon, worked tirelessly on the Special Committee on the Property Tax to respond to citizen concerns about property tax equity and transparency. Iím proud that we now mail three annual newsletters demystifying the property tax and making our tax process the most transparent in the state. We even managed to get Louie DePasquale on cable TV explaining how an assessment works!

And speaking of cable TV, Calvin Lindsay and Grant Casassa were enthusiastic in directing, producing and airing a cable TV spot on the earned income tax credit as we worked on finding more ways to ensure Cambridge residents could maximize their benefits.

Iíve been impressed by the willingness of City staff to support implementation of new and innovative ordinances, such as Ellen Semonoff and Michael Muehe working on local enforcement of ADA provisions to require readily achievable removal of physical barriers or Lisa Peterson and her team finding a way to make leaf blower restrictions achievable and sustainable.

Iíve been very fortunate to have taken the lead, along with my co-chair David Maher, on zoning changes to enable several of the most important development projects in our community. I take particular pride as I walk by the former Switch House and think of the thirty-three Cambridge families who can afford to stay in Cambridge because of the affordable housing contained in the Riverside Zoning. That community benefit and the open space along the Charles River would not have been possible without the guidance of Beth Rubenstein, Les Barber and Stuart Dash of the Community Development Department and the assiduous advocacy of Don Drisdell and Nancy Glowa. That guidance and advocacy was not the exception, but is rather the norm, as seen in the Tobin-Danehy downzoning, the Memorial Drive Overlay District or tonightís Alexandria zoning.

Iíve also been struck by the willingness and ability of City staff to collaborate across departments. Whether working on off-leash dog runs (Thank you Nancy Schlacter, Mark McCabe, Paul Ryder, John Nardone, Kelly Writer, Taha Jennings, Sarah Burks, Chip Norton, et al.) or preserving the Garment District building and adding more affordable housing (Thank you Charlie Sullivan, Chris Cotter and the Affordable Housing Trust), the City staff continually recognizes that we are one city. The common good is what motivates them, day in and day out.

Iíve had better than a front row seat for an exciting time in Cambridgeís history ≠ Iíve had the chance to be a part of making that history. The policies and projects in these seven years are astonishing ≠ first in the nation marriage equality, the smoking ban, the West Cambridge Community Center (with a floor for dancing), the state of the art Robert W. Healy Police Station, CORI reform to allow more Cambridge residents a second chance, a poet populist, opposition to the Patriot Act, new dog parks at Pacific Street and soon at Danehy Park, preservation of the Dance Complex, preserving Shady Hill Square and the soon to be reopened main library are just some of the examples.

Obviously given the preceding list, I have a great deal of respect for the City Manager Bob Healy and Deputy City Manager Rich Rossi and the leadership and dedication that they have shown to Cambridge. Bob and Rich work as effectively together as any two leaders Iíve seen, and Bob is smart enough to realize he should be the straight man and leave the jokes to Rich. Iíd also be remiss if I didnít thank Maryellen Carvello and Diane Squires for their behind-the-scenes work in making things run more smoothly. Youíve made it seem like I knew what I was doing, even when I didnít have a clue.

The Clerkís Office has consistently made me look better than I deserve, from writing committee reports to helping with policy orders. Thank you to Margaret Drury, Donna Lopez, Marybeth Cosgrove, Paula Crane, Jennifer Rebello, Louise Maraio, Bruni Guzman, Bernadette Valentin, Brenda Boyd and Sandra Lucas.

City Hall has always been a special place that is maintained with care and respect, and in no small part that is because of the dedication of such employees as Steve Arruda, Kate Joyce, Manny Alicea and Errol Crawford.

From the Council Office I have to thank Sandra Albano and Mary Horgan. You have made my job so much easier and have shown such warmth and affection to my family and to me. You may miss my presence, but my friendship is yours forever.

I have made the foolhardy attempt to highlight a few City employees, knowing full well I will inevitably forget some. Please forgive me for my omissions.

Finally, Iíve had the great fortune of working with committed colleagues who care deeply about our community. Whether Anthony Galluccio's commitment to youth programs or Michael Sullivanís passion for finance; Tim Toomeyís constituent service, commitment to public safety and ability to cut to the chase or Ken Reevesí intelligent focus on a big idea and his love for the arts; Henrietta Davisís breadth of interests and passion for the environment, or David Maherís dedication to doing the needed hard work quietly behind the scenes to get things done; Marjorie Deckerís passionate advocacy for peace and justice, or Denise Simmonsís calm leadership and commitment to economic development; Craig Kelleyís independence and focus on data, or Sam Seidelís thoughtful considerate approach to policy, I have learned from all my colleagues. Together we have been a synergistic council, together providing greater service than any one of us could do alone. I thank my colleagues for their work and their friendship.

I couldnít have done this job without the voters, and I thank each and every one of them who placed their faith in me. I have done my best to earn it.

My family ≠ my wife Kate, my daughter Molly and my son Joseph -- has been very supportive of me and are the most important people in the world to me. I thank them for their love and support. I know the children will be glad to be able to watch other things now on Monday night TV.

It has been an honor to serve as a Cambridge City Councillor, and it is with regret that I tender my resignation. I will miss you all very much.

Brian Murphy
Feb 9, 2009

What happens next? (updated Feb 16)
    The vacancy created by Brian's departure will be filled under the rules of Chapter 54A of the Massachusetts General Laws governing proportional representation elections under the Plan E Charter. All ballots and only those ballots credited to Brian Murphy in the 2007 election (1364 ballots) will be used to determine his replacement in an Instant Runoff election. These ballots are a public record and it's a simple matter to use the election tabulation software to determine the outcome. Indeed, once the official process takes place, first-time candidate Larry Ward will succeed Brian Murphy in all conceivable scenarios.

If all defeated candidates in 2007 retain their eligibility, then the final tally will be:
Larry Ward 339, Anthony Galluccio 182, Jonathan Janik 152 (Ward elected by having a majority of all continuing ballots).

If Senator Anthony Galluccio excludes himself, then the final tally will be:
Larry Ward 318, Jonathan Janik 161, Edward Sullivan 136 (Ward elected by having a majority of all continuing ballots).

If Jonathan Janik is excluded and all others remain, then the result will be:
Larry Ward 345, Anthony Galluccio 177, Edward Sullivan 124 (Ward elected by having a majority of all continuing ballots).

If Jonathan Janik and Anthony Galluccio are excluded and all others remain, then the result will be:
Larry Ward 339, Edward Sullivan 112, Kevin Moore 97, Others 83 (Ward elected by having a majority of all continuing ballots).

You get the point. The full list of who would have replaced each of the city councillors is here. -- Robert Winters

Sat, Feb 7, 2009
11:30am   Robert W. Healy Public Safety Building Dedication  (125 Sixth Street)
The City of Cambridge will host a dedication ceremony for the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility. This building is named in honor of City Manager Robert W. Healy for his dedicated service to the City of Cambridge since 1974. Construction build-out of the 110,000 square foot building that houses the Cambridge Police Department and the cityís Emergency Communications/911 Call Center incorporated green building technologies into the design. This included installation of highly efficient mechanical and electrical systems with chilled beam heating and cooling technology, a green roof system, a highly advanced security system design and building management/lighting control systems. It is anticipated that the design of this building will result in a U.S. Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Silver level certification.

Bob Healy's family and public officials at the ribbon-cutting

Bob assists his grandchildren in the cutting of the ribbon

Feb 7, 2009 - Billboard at Binney and Broadway - as seen on the walk back from the dedication of the new Robert W. Healy Public Safety Building. This is so Cambridge, isn't it? Right in the middle of the biotech capital....

Feb 7, 2009 - The Boston Globe reports that celebrated vandal, Photoshop hobbyist, and presidential poster-maker Shepard Fairey was arrested last night en route to a worship session at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). According to the Globe account, "Fairey, 38, who is known for his countercultural style, was arrested on two outstanding warrants and was being held, according to a police official with knowledge of the arrest who requested anonymity. Police could not describe the nature of the warrants, but said they originated in Massachusetts. ... Fairey has been arrested at least 14 times, he has told the Globe."

Jan 28, 2009 - Cambridge Health Alliance shutting clinics, laying off workers (Cambridge Chronicle) - Chronicle article    Globe article

Jan 27, 2009 - City's urban design director Roger Boothe receives American Institute of Architects award (Cambridge Chronicle)

Jan 26, 2009 - Geneva Malenfant, a friend to so many people and a civic activist of unmatched perspective and generosity, has passed away at the age of 70. The entire Malenfant family have been anchors of civic life in Cambridge for years. Geneva will be missed not only by her close friends and family, but by City officials and by everyone active with the Cambridge Community Foundation and other charitable organizations. She really was the best of all I have known in the civic landscape of Cambridge. - Robert Winters

Geneva (Tallman) Malenfant - Of Cambridge and Wakefield, RI, on January 25. Beloved wife of the late Arthur Lewis Malenfant. Loving mother of Elizabeth and her husband Curt Paden, Nancy and her husband Alexander Berman, Gavin and his wife Janet Malenfant, Joanna Tucker and her husband Edward Fischer. Cherished grandmother of Olivia Paden, Christopher, Nicholas, and Louisa Berman, Hannah and Aidan Malenfant, and Geneva and Maeghan Fischer. Dear sister of Benjamin Tallman. Past member of the Riverside Cambridgeport Community Corporation. Candidate for Cambridge City Council in 1985. Geneva was civically active in the City of Cambridge on the Historical Commission and Planning Board as well as Cambridge Youth Soccer, Cambridge Civic Association, Central Square Neighborhood Coalition, and Cambridge Community Foundation. In lieu of flowers donations in her memory may be made to the Arthur L. and Geneva T. Malenfant Fund at the Cambridge Community Foundation, 99 Bishop Allen Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139. The family will be having calling hours on Tues, Feb 3 and Wed, Feb 4 from 4 to 7pm at the Norton's Woods located at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 200 Beacon Street, Somerville, Massachusetts, www.amacd.org. A memorial service is planned for April 4 at Harvard Epworth United Methodist Church, 1555 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, Massachusetts. Arrangements by Rogers Funeral Home, Cambridge.

Jan 19, 2009 - Bidders line up for Harvard Square's Out of Town News - Jillian Fennimore, Cambridge Chronicle

Comment: I suppose that as a taxpayer in the City of Cambridge, I should be satisfied that the City is obliged under state law to rent the Harvard Square kiosk to the "highest, respectable bidder," but I'm not. It is troublesome that state laws designed to prevent corrupt practices have as a consequence that municipal officials are legally prevented from doing creative things that don't necessarily provide the greatest financial benefit. I have no idea what kind of operation the high bidder "Muckeyís Corp" proposes at $140/sq. ft. for this 451 sq. ft. space, but my guess is that it won't be nearly as cool as letting Sheldon Cohen, the man who started Out of Town News at that site in 1955, have a free hand in creating something perhaps less profitable, but more in keeping with our local history. As the news article states, Sheldon Cohen is working with the party that submitted the lowest of the four bids for the space.

Personally, I'd prefer that the space be modeled on "Casey's Diner" in Natick where you can order hot dogs "all around" through the window. I suppose for the Harvard Square clientele, you'd have to add more politically correct choices to the menu, but that would really "enliven" Harvard Square. - RW

First Legal Sea Foods Lost to Fire: January 16, 1980

...in 1980, fire destroyed the original Legal Sea Foods fish market and restaurant in Cambridge. The restaurant re-opened, but the business soon outgrew the neighborhood. Today there are 30 family-owned Legal Sea Foods restaurants. All bear the same incongruous name, which goes back to the company's roots. In 1904, Harry Berkowitz called his Inman Square store Legal Cash Market because his customers could redeem legal, government-issued cash stamps there. When his son branched out into fish, he kept the "legal" name. Now his grandson runs the company out of a new 75,000-square-foot headquarters overlooking Boston Harbor. On the roof sits a 45-foot-long stainless steel sculpture of a New England cod.

Listen to this moment: http://www.massmoments.org/audio/Jan161%2Em3u

Read more about this moment: http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=20

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

Jan 20 - Special Notice from the East Cambridge Planning Team:

WHAT: Alexandria Realty Equities, Inc., the owner of 15 acres of land along Binney Street, is asking the city for rezoning of the property that will allow them to build more than twice the density of industrial laboratories than the current zoning permits. The East Cambridge Planning Team subcommittee has been working with Alexandria since September to come up with a revised mutually acceptable petition that would allow for increased density but only in exchange for considerations that would create a vibrant, mixed-use district along Binney Street. The revised petition would include a substantial amount of housing offering possibilities for home ownership for Cambridge residents, open space, retail space for shops and restaurants, office space for small businesses, and 50,000 square feet allocated for a community center. This process has been productive, however, due to the re-filing tactic used by Alexandria, no one in the community or any members of the Cambridge Planning Board, Community Development Department, or City Council (other than the co-chairs of the Ordinance Committee) have seen the final petition that will go before the planning board this Tuesday, and that may be up for a final City Council vote February 2nd or 9th.

WHO: PLANNING BOARD MEETING - Cambridge Planning Board, Cambridge City Council, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. , Cambridge residents in opposition to the procedure for refilling the petition

WHEN: Tuesday, January 20 at 7:45 PM

WHERE: Cambridge City Hall Annex, 234 Broadway, second floor Cambridge, MA

Flyer for the meeting

Betty Boop for President - 1932, Max Fleischer