City Unveils Climate Change Opportunity Assessment
April 1 - After several years of research the City of Cambridge at long last has revealed its assessment of what may be in store in the decades to come - and it's exciting!
DPW Commissioner Owen O'Riorden summarized the report as follows: "We started out with the idea of producing a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in order to prepare for rising sea levels, extreme weather, and higher temperatures. Our highest priority was to determine what changes in infrastructure might be necessary to prevent catastrophe. Then at some point we simply realized we were looking at this all wrong. We began to see that one man's catastrophe was another man's opportunity."
City Manager Richard Rossi noted how a 10 foot rise in sea level plus the natural rise and fall of the tides could be used to provide clean energy at virtually no cost. "Here we were worrying ourselves silly about the ocean spilling over the Charles River Dam and the Amelia Earhart Dam. Then we realized the enormous hydroelectric potential of this new clean, renewable natural resource. Sure, we may have to sacrifice a neighborhood or two, but just think about how many electric cars we'll now be able to power at virtually no cost. That's the kind of traffic congestion we can all get excited about - really sustainable transportation."
Tremendous job growth is expected in such diverse fields as climate control, dam and levee construction, hydroelectric power, and a whole range of seafaring jobs from captain to bilge pumping.
Fresh Pond to host yacht club at site of Water Treatment Plant
FPRA's visionary leaders plan for a bright future
With rising sea levels come all sorts of new possibilities and creative ideas. One especially exciting proposal in the City's Capital Plan is the expansion of the Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Plant to include new docks extending into Fresh Pond to support the newly formed Fresh Pond Yacht Club. Construction costs will be covered by recently enhanced Participatory Budget funds. With the over-topping of the Amelia Earhart Dam on the Mystic River, members of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance (FPRA) quickly realized the potential to transform the Alewife Brook into a new inland waterway. From the FPRA press release:
"We were getting so worked up about housing on New Street and the prospect of being inundated by hundreds of new residents that we failed to see the exciting possibilities that can come with true inundation. No longer will we have to travel to our second homes on the Cape. We will now be able to just bring our yachts to Cambridge via the new Mystic/Alewife Inland Waterway!"
Growing the Local Economy - Our Silver Maple Lumber Future
Lovers of great quality furniture were thrilled to learn of a new start-up at the western frontier of Cambridge. Recent logging operations in the Silver Maple Forest yielded a bonanza of high quality Silver Maple lumber that's now being milled and used in the production of some truly great furniture.
From protester to entrepreneur - one woman's road from anger to opportunity!
Leading this venture is Sue Woodson of Cambridge Highlands. "Last year I was out in the streets protesting the clear-cutting of the forest and cooling my heels in a detention facility," said Ms. Woodson. "Now I'm the CEO of a furniture manufacturing company. I could never have predicted this!"
Freshly milled Silver Maple lumber
Here are some samples from the new Cambridge Silver Maple Furniture Company catalog:
Buy Local! We even make silver maple guitars!
Lovin' Local Campaign Misinterpreted - Love-Ins Break out all over Cambridge
It began as a well-intentioned effort by Cambridge Local First, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Development Division of the Community Development Department to give a boost to businesses hit hard by the recent tough winter. Game cards were issued for local consumers to fill in as they patronized a range of local businesses. An unfortunate misprint on the card, however, led to unintended consequences as participants thought this was the Love-In Local Campaign, and began participating with great gusto!
Said one aging hippie, "We haven't seen this much Free Love in Cambridge in over 40 years! My old lady and I hope this becomes an annual tradition! It's like the Sixties all over again!"
Millennials were also caught up in the campaign. Taking time out from their "Code for America" activities, they allowed themselves to be swept up in the excitement. "I even wrote an app for the event," texted one young hipster. His card sadly remained empty.
Some especially randy residents were so motivated to quickly fill in their Love-In Local game cards that they filled them up on the first day and came back for more game cards. City officials debated whether to print more cards or call off the campaign. Even Public Health officials were getting concerned.
"Sure, we're lovin' all the Love-Ins now taking place all over town," said Iram Farooq, Acting Asst. City Manager for Community Development , "but we have some concerns about the effect on the local economy. Many people are taking time off from work and even when they show up at work they're getting just a little too cozy with their co-workers."
New "Creator Space" Comes to Central Square - open 6 days/week followed by Day of Rest
Creator Space© - now open in Central Square
Recent trends in the creation of "maker spaces" and similar components of "creative class' economics reached a new zenith with the surprise arrival last week of the new Creator Space in Central Square. Previously located in Providence, plans for the new space can best be described as having almost biblical proportions. This is not a single purpose operation. Initial plans call for dedicating each Day of the week to very specific and distinct purposes.
On Mondays, for example, entrepreneurs specializing in heaven and earth-based manufacturing as well as all things relating to lighting will dominate the space.
Tuesdays will be for sorting and inventory control - primarily separating heavenly bodies ("firmament") from water-based products.
Wednesdays will be for land-based technologies, land reclamation, and biological engineering, e.g. grass, fruit trees, and the like.
Thursdays will be dedicated to solar products and various lunar and cosmological technologies.
In partnership with several seaport companies, it is expected that Fridays will be dedicated to the design and manufacture of various aquatic and airborne products or, as the company likes to joke, "fish and fowl".
Rather than take off for the whole weekend, Creator Space will dedicate every Saturday to a variety of animal and human-based technologies. It is expected that 3D printers will be utilized in creating duplicates in the image of The Creator.
On Sundays, Creator Space will be closed for a welcome Day of Rest.
Luxury Overlay District proposed
A group of residents living in and around Brattle Street have submitted a zoning petition to the City Council requesting that a "Luxury Overlay District" be created that encompasses Brattle Street between Mason Street and the Cambridge/Watertown city line. In a letter accompanying the petition, the residents note that their lawns would be considered spacious parks in some neighborhoods and the only parking problems that they have is the expense of plowing long driveways. "It is time to give back to our City," the letter continues, "While some neighborhoods reject gentrification, we will take on that burden, and welcome billionaires with open arms."
Robert Healy to move back to Cambridge - files organization papers to run for Cambridge City Council
After a successful career in city management, former Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy recently announced plans to move from Lowell back to North Cambridge in order to seek a City Council seat. This is where his roots are and he expects to have a strong neighborhood base on which to build his campaign. "I think I may have the Danehy vote all locked up," said Healy. "Various other candidates have courted that constituency with some success over the last twenty years, but these are really my people." Healy plans to open his campaign headquarters at Norris St. and Mass. Ave.
"Ever since I turned over the keys to the city to the current administration, I've been just itching to get back to show some of these newbies on the City Council a thing or two." Asked what special talents he may have to offer as a city councillor, Healy said "I think I'd be pretty good as Chair of the Finance Committee, but I do want to remind everyone that 'I don't do zoning'." He added "and don't forget to vote Healy #1 this November."
Cambridge Election Commission Endorses Mandatory Voting
In a surprise move last week, the Cambridge Election Commission took a hint from President Obama and proposed that all Cambridge residents who are eligible to vote will henceforth be required to exercise their franchise at every election. "We just got sick and tired of low voter turnout," said Commissioner Ethridge King. "If people want to live here, drive on our streets, play on our playgrounds, and send their kids to our schools, then the least they can do is show up to vote." Penalties for failing to go to the polls may include loss of parking sticker or being required to run for public office.
Anarchists and Libertarians were equally outraged at what they see as an infringement of their inalienable right to live freely outside of the political process. They are planning demonstrations at the polls on Election Day and are threatening to lie down in the doorways of polling precincts with their arms chained together inside traditional ballot boxes. "Apathy is our right," said former Occupy activist Wanda "Lightfoot" Macnair. "We choose to vote not with our fingers, but with our feet."
New Mayoral Election Method Debated
In response to the friction that happens ever two years as city councillors engage in horse trading over the question of who should be elected Mayor, the Government Operations Committee met last week and proposed a novel method sure to satisfy the concerns of even the most hardened opponents of the Plan E Charter. Councillor Toomey's proposal calls for the arrangement of 8 chairs in the center of the Sullivan Chamber on Inauguration Day. Music will then be played at the direction of the City Clerk who will secretly signal that the music be stopped without warning. At that moment, councillors will seat themselves. Whoever fails to be seated will then be eliminated from mayoral contention. This will be followed by the removal of one more chair. The music will then play again as the remaining 8 councillors circle around the remaining 7 chairs. Once again, at the discretion of the City Clerk, the music will suddenly stop, councillors will make every effort to be seated and the one not seated will be removed from contention. This series of musical runoffs will continue until the last person seated is declared Mayor for the next two years.
Election reform advocates from around the country are very supportive of the proposed change in election method. "Especially in the case of a city using proportional representation to elect its City Council, this method is remarkably fair," said Rob Richie of Fairvote. Other cities will no doubt want to follow Cambridge's lead.
MBTA Announces Meigs Elevated Railway Service to Central Square and Beyond
The City's Transit Advisory Committee, working in concert with the MBTA and the Cambridge Historical Commission, have announced plans for new kinda-rapid transit service to Central Square with the option of extending service further west in the future. On the drawing board for more than a century, the Meigs Elevated Railway will add desperately needed capacity to supplement the Red Line. "Several cranky neighborhood activists have been complaining about "Crush Hour on the Red Line", but offered few suggestions for improvement. MBTA analysts decided that it was just too difficult to safely move that many people underground and concluded that the time-tested concept of elevated railway service is an old idea that's about to become new again.
Cambridge stops are planned for Kendall Square, the new "Village in Lafayette Square", and the western end of Central Square where City Hall now stands.
On a related note, plans are being drafted to relocate City Hall to Hilliard Street in order to make way for the new Central Square station on the Meigs Elevated Railway.
Historical Commission Executive Director Charles Sullivan conceded, "The Rindge gifts have had their day in the sun. While we remain grateful for the remarkable gifts from Frederick Hastings Rindge to the City of Cambridge, including City Hall, it's time to make way for grander visions." Sullivan added, "Sometimes history is simply overrated."
Regarding the relocation of City Hall, City Manager Richard Rossi added, "People from Hilliard Street have been trying to run the City government for years. We see this as a bold move toward more open government."
"It's what we always wanted," said Gladys and Priscilla, two long-time residents of Hilliard Street. "Sure, we were able to pull strings behind the scenes for decades through various front organizations, but it will be so much simpler when it's in our own front yard."
Cambridge City Council Flip-Flops on Olympics 2024
McGovern to compete in Greco-Roman Wrestling
When news broke a few months ago about plans to host the 2024 Olympics in Boston and neighboring cities, Cambridge city councillors were none too pleased about not being consulted or involved in any way in the Olympic bid. They even passed a resolution opposing the Boston bid. Concerns were raised about the financial risks associated with the Olympic Games, the impact on housing and transportation, and especially on the ability of Cambridge residents to access their second homes on the Cape and elsewhere.
Well, now the Council is whistling a different tune. The tide began to turn when Councillor Marc McGovern announced his intention to compete in the Greco-Roman wrestling event. "I'll definitely have home field advantage," said McGovern.
It's not yet clear if any other elected officials are planning to compete. Councillor Kelley did, however, state that, "If they finally get around to making chess an Olympic sport, then I'm all in."
Several members of the City administration also expressed interest in competing. Any potential Olympians currently employed by the City of Cambridge are asked to contact Recreation Director Paul Ryder for details on what steps are necessary to become qualified. Olympic officials have quietly let it be known that they'll let pretty much any local official or City employee compete if it will help bring the Olympics to the Greater Boston area.
The temporary one-way streets created in East Cambridge in February because of snow impacts will return to their previous two-way traffic pattern as of Wednesday, April 1. The affected streets include: Otis St, Thorndike St, Hurley St, Fifth St, and Sciarappa St. Crews will begin removing “Do Not Enter” signs throughout the neighborhood on March 31. Coinciding with the return of the regular traffic patterns in East Cambridge is the beginning of the City’s monthly street cleaning operations.
“We appreciate the support that we received from East Cambridge residents in observing the temporary one-way streets this winter,” said Joseph Barr, Director of the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department. “The street cleaning operations that will occur this Wednesday and Thursday in the neighborhood should facilitate resident’s repositioning their vehicles parked on the affected streets so that they are facing in the appropriate direction.”
Beginning on Monday April 13, parked vehicles that are facing the wrong way will be ticketed. Drivers are asked when returning to the area, that they park their vehicle in the appropriate direction.
Residents with questions about these traffic changes can contact the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department at 617-349-4723 or by email at email@example.com.
Out Like a Lamb - What's Happenin' at the March 30, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting
As this brutal winter stumbles to a welcome end, the City Council meets on Monday to do its thing. Here are a few noteworthy items (at least to this Council watcher).:
Manager's Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a rescission of the remaining amount of the loan order ($1,600,000) authorized by the City Council on Feb 13, 2012 for the renovations to the original police station at Five Western Avenue.
How can you not like it when a project comes in $1.6 million under budget?
Manager's Agenda #12. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-07, regarding a report on variance requests and application results since January, 2010. [really big attachment]
I'm reminded of the time several summers ago when a City Council request for information from the Police Department yielded a stack of paper several feet high resting on Councillor Kelley's desk. This is just a PDF file and not nearly as voluminous, but it always reminds me that you shouldn't ask for information that requires some effort to generate unless you have some notion of what you'd like to do with that information once you get it. This request came from an Order by Councillor Kelley that was adopted on Feb 20, 2015. If the goal is to identify shortcomings in the Zoning Ordinance that routinely lead to many requests for variances, that would be a useful exercise that might warrant some tweaks to the Zoning Ordinance. It's just as likely that the intention might be to crack down on variances without examining why people seek them in the first place.
Manager's Agenda #17. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of members of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committees for two year terms, effective Apr 1, 2015.
Manager's Agenda #18. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an update on the status of the Pearl Street reconstruction project.
I occasionally wonder what would happen if someone like me who questions some of the bicycling infrastructure decisions made internally by the City were to apply to be on the Bicycle Committee. My sense is that diversity of opinion is not welcome on that particular committee and that applicants are screened accordingly. Regarding the Pearl Street project, I fear that the plan is to wait out the opposition and proceed with the elimination of curbside parking when the best opportunity arises - regardless of need or the preferences of abutters.
Manager's Agenda #19. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the recommendation from the Planning Board to approve 1) the disposition of the leasehold interest in the Foundry Building; and 2) a diminution of the disposition process as it relates to the provision of a traffic study and provision of real estate appraisals of the Foundry Building.
Unfinished Business #12. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an update on the Foundry Building process, including the City's plans to collaborate with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (the "CRA") to redevelop the Foundry building in a way that meets the vision and objectives expressed by the City Council and the community...
It's good to see some progress on the Foundry matter. I really don't know what balance will ultimately be struck among the competing interests and financial constraints associated with this building, but at least things are moving forward. It's great to see how the revitalized Cambridge Redevelopment Authority is playing an active role in this and other initiatives.
Unfinished Business #11. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee for a public hearing held on Dec 19, 2013 to conduct a public hearing on an amendment to the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.67 entitled relating to Plastic Bag Reduction. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Feb 24, 2014.
Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 12, 2015 to discuss amendments and other related documents associated with the plastic bags ordinance.
It's likely that this proposed ordinance will be voted at this meeting. The essential elements are that (1) plastic checkout bags would be banned in Cambridge (which won't affect those of us who shop almost exclusively in Somerville and Everett), (2) a mandatory fee of at least 10¢ will be charged for every paper bag used at checkout (not sure what this means regarding single- vs. double-bagging), and (3) a minimum thickness (3 mils) will be established for what constitutes an approved reusable bag. There are only limited provisions for exemptions.
Personally I use only reusable bags and have done so for years. I imagine most municipal election candidates this year will be distributing reusable bags emblazoned with their names and the usual #1 Vote request. Perhaps I'll vote for candidates based on who provides the most durable shopping bags. Councillor Toomey was way ahead of everyone last time in this regard.
Unfinished Business #13. That any committee report that has not been signed by the Chair of the committee within seven days after submission of the committee report by the City Clerk be placed on the City Council Agenda unsigned. Order Number Eight of Mar 2, 2015 Referred to Unfinished Business.
It's interesting how many committee reports have been submitted since this proposal was submitted by Councillor Toomey. Anything that moves things along is welcome. Now if only we can come up with a Rules Change that would prevent significant matters from being endlessly kicked down the road - and I'm definitely thinking of Central Square here which is only now getting some renewed attention years after a broad range of recommendations were presented as part of the K2C2 process. There will be an Ordinance Committee hearing on those recommendations on Wed, April 15 (at 5:30pm in the Sullivan Chamber), but only for the purpose of discussion with no actionable items before the committee.
The Normandy/Twining zoning proposal for the Mass. & Main area of Central Square is also now before the Ordinance Committee. The petitioners recently increased the percentages of permanently and privately subsidized units in their project to 20 percent should the proposed zoning be approved. Their original petition called for 17 percent affordable and middle-income units. They have now doubled the percentage of affordable units (50 to 80% of area median income) from 8.5 percent in the original petition to 17 percent and will maintain 3 percent middle income units (80 to 120% of area median income). The proposal would deliver 40 affordable and 7 middle income housing units for a total of 47 permanently and privately subsidized units out of a total of about 230 units. Enhanced ground floor retail opportunities and neighborhood connectivity are also included in their proposal.
Unfinished Business #14. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 3, 2015 to continue discussions on the zoning petition filed by Whitehead Institute to amend the Zoning Ordinance, Sections 14.32.1 and 14.32.2 to provide for an increment of 60,000 square feet of GFA to be allowed by special permit in a portion of the MXD District, in Section 14.70 by retitling "Special Provisions Applicable Within the Ames Street District: and by adding a new Section 14.72 "Special Provisions Applicable Outside the Ames Street District. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Mar 30, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Dec 16, 2014. Petition expires Apr 8, 2015.
This zoning petition will likely be ordained at this meeting.
Applications & Petitions #3. A zoning petition has been received from Chestnut Hill Realty, requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance in the Basement Housing Overlay District Section 20.600.
I won't pretend to understand what the intent of these technical amendments are. As was the case when the original zoning was introduced and passed, I'll just say that it would be a shame if any basement space in buildings that is actually necessary for bicycle storage and other needs of residents is lost just to pack in a few more income-producing units. On either side of my house on Broadway there are buildings that maximized the rentable space by eliminating options for on-premises bike parking and seriously compromising the options for storing and managing waste and recycling.
Resolution #24. Reminder to Cambridge residents that street cleaning will begin the first week of April. Councillor Toomey
Run for your lives! The sweepers are coming! Don't get towed!
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with all relative City departments to increase the number of electric charging stations available in the City, to determine the feasibility of making these stations free and to recommend other incentives that may include, but not be limited to, free resident parking stickers and allowing electric cars to park at parking meters free of charge as ways to encourage the purchase and use of electric cars. Councillor McGovern
Let me see if I got this straight. This proposes to provide free parking and free electric charging to anyone with an electric vehicle. Why stop there? The City should also pay the rent and mortgage costs for these superior beings. But seriously, I would think that driving an energy-efficient vehicle that costs less to operate should be more than enough incentive. I also expect that any lost revenue or added energy costs borne by the City will ultimately lead to increased parking fees for those of us less enlightened beings who still have more conventional engines in our vehicles.
Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate city departments to update the City Council as to whether there are any proposed increases to Common Victualer (CV) and Liquor License renewal fees, to determine if there is a liquor license cap in the Central Square area and to the suitability of raising the liquor license cap in and around the Central Square area. Vice Mayor Benzan
I'm not sure what's behind this, but my understanding is that there is a cap on the number of liquor licenses that may be sold, but the License Commission has been issuing nontransferable "no value" pouring licenses to restaurants In Central Square and elsewhere in order to help those businesses.
Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the local business associations, neighborhood groups and city departments to conduct a series of cleanups of our neighborhoods and City Squares, primarily Kendall, Harvard, Central, Alewife, Inman, Huron Village and Porter. Vice Mayor Benzan
These kinds of events are always best organized by the local business and neighborhood associations and by individuals with whatever assistance the City is able to affordably provide. The City should simply let the organizers know what help they might be able to provide, but let the residents and business owners take the lead.
Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with an update on the analysis that has been done to understand the finances of new development in Central Square, including the report by economic consultant Sarah Woodworth. Councillor Carlone, Councillor Kelley and Councillor Mazen
I am curious about the underlying purpose of this Order. While it's certainly a good idea to have a firm grasp on the economic realities surrounding development proposals like the one contemplated for Mass. & Main (Normandy/Twining), my suspicion is that this could be an effort to cook up grounds to justify blocking the proposal. We'll all benefit from an honest discussion of the economics, but hopefully not just as a smokescreen for a separate agenda.
Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the status and next steps for the Beekeeping ordinance. Councillor Carlone
I wasn't aware that there was an actual proposed ordinance to allow and perhaps promote beekeeping, but it's a good idea worth pursuing. On the other hand, it seems a bit ridiculous that this should be over-regulated or banned in the first place.
Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City personnel to determine and provide an update to the City Council on parking needs and availability in the Central Square area and to confer with the appropriate City personnel to determine, as part of the broader question above, the cost and feasibility of adding additional parking levels to the Green Street Garage, to determine how many additional feet the garage could be expanded to as of right and how many extra parking spaces that would yield, and what changes, if any, would be needed to existing zoning laws in order to build the garage to its maximum capacity. Councillor Simmons, Vice Mayor Benzan and Councillor Carlone
Though I think it would be a good idea to ensure a sufficient supply of parking in and around Central Square, I can't help but note that if a proposal to add commercial parking was made a decade or two ago it would have been aggressively opposed by some activists. Those were the days when the Parking Freeze was giving way to the current Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance. Times have changed, vehicles run much cleaner, and there are now other competing priorities. Perhaps additional parking capacity at the Green Street Garage would replace what might be lost by building on surface parking lots elsewhere in Central Square. Perhaps the idea is to calm the fears of those who see the building of new housing as an existential threat to the well-being of their on-street parking. In any case, it's a discussion worth having. - Robert Winters
The Department of Public Works (DPW) will begin street sweeping operations on Wednesday, April 1. Cambridge’s monthly street sweeping operations run from April through December each year. In addition to neighborhood sweeping, City squares are cleaned daily by both mechanical street sweepers and by hand crews.
“We’ve had a very severe winter and with all of the snow a lot of debris has gathered and remains on sidewalks and in gutter lines. Some roadways may have snow within the parking lanes, and our crews will maneuver street sweeping equipment to clean in between snow piles to the extent possible. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to remove the remaining snow, crews are now being deployed for street and park maintenance and there is an enormous amount of work that needs to be done in both of these areas.” said DPW Commissioner Owen O’Riordan. “The first month of street sweeping is critical, given that the streets have not been swept since last November/December.”
Cambridge’s Street cleaning program plays an important role in the city’s stormwater management program. By sweeping up sand and other debris, catch basins are kept clean and able to function efficiently. This debris also contains heavy metal particles and chemicals that get deposited on roadways through the wear and tear of vehicle parts, and leaking engine fluids, and so an effective street sweeping program also helps reduce a significant source of pollution to the Charles River and the Alewife Brook.
For information on street cleaning operations, visit CambridgeMA.Gov or call the Department of Public Works at (617) 349-4800. Residents are encouraged to sign up to receive weekly email notifications regarding street cleaning in their neighborhood through the City’s Eline notification system at www.cambridgema.gov/eline . Updates are also available on Twitter at @CambMA and Facebook at CambridgeMA.Gov.
Mar 27 (from Marc McGovern) - The Mayor's Income Insecurity Commission is looking at how expensive it is to live in Cambridge and what an individual or family needs to be financially secure. They created a survey (link below) and hope that you will take a few minutes to fill it out. It is only 12 questions. They are looking for Cambridge residents of at all income levels to take part. The survey is confidential. Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FDP3M28
On March 17, the City and its consultant presented the preliminary findings of its Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. The slides from that presentation may be viewed here. Additional reference materials may be found here. An interim report and technical appendices will be issued by the end of April.
Path Towards a Net Zero Cambridge – On April 8 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, the Getting to Net Zero Task Force will present its 25-year action plan for reducing Greehhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from building operations citywide. The presentation will take place at City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave., in the Sullivan Chamber. The task force is seeking public input on the plan. The draft report is available by clicking here. For more information, contact Ellen Kokinda at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-349-4618.
Tues, Mar 31
7:00pm Planning Board meeting (2nd floor meeting room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)
1. Update from the Acting City Manager for the Community Development Department
2. Adoption of the Meeting Transcript(s)
3. Board of Zoning Appeal Cases
a. PBBZA 006299 – 2015 - 27 Corporal Burns Rod, special permit to create a nonconforming driveway within the setback and to be a compact space.
b. BZA 006231 – 2015 – 777 Memorial Drive, sign variance to replace a non-conforming sign with a smaller sign that does not conform to the sign area requirements.
7:00pm PB#295, 305 Webster Avenue, Special Permit to convert an existing industrial building with a new conforming addition to mixed use with 35 multifamily dwelling units and retail or office space on the ground floor. The project will require a Project Review Special Permit per Section 19.20 of the Zoning Ordinance as the proposal exceeds the 20,000 square foot threshold in the Business A zoning district. The project is also requesting a special permit pursuant to Section 5.28.2 Adaptive Reuse to permit the dimensions of the existing building to be retained. The applicant is M & H Realty Trust, c/o Sean Hope, Esq.
8:30pm PB#243, Minor Amendment, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., pursuant to Section 12.37.2 and a Special Permit pursuant to Section 6.35.1 for a Reduction of Required Parking for the residential parking ratio to be reduced for the 270 Third Street and 161 First Street residential buildings.
Wed, Apr 1
4:00pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on the Normandy/Twining Zoning petition. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Apr 6
5:30pm Roundtable/Working City Council meeting to discuss the Volpe site. No public comment. No votes will be taken. Meeting will not be televised. (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)
Tues, Apr 7
5:30pm The City Council's Civic Unity Committee will conduct a public hearing to receive an update from the City Manager's Office on the measures it has taken to increase diversity and fairness within the City's workforce since taking office. (Sullivan Chamber)
Fri, Apr 10
9:30am Special City Council meeting between the leadership of the Cambridge Health Alliance and the City Council to discuss their financial status and the merging of the psychiatric emergency room with the medical emergency room. This meeting to be televised. (location to be determined)
Mon, Apr 13
5:30pm City Council meeting (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)
Tues, Apr 14
5:30pm The City Council's Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to receive from the Cambridge Housing Authority an update on the RAD progress and to receive responses to questions from the tenant Town Hall meeting of October 2014. (Community Room, Main Library, Level 2)
Wed, Apr 15
5:30pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the C2 portion of the K2C2 Study. This hearing to be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board Meeting (Cambridge Police Dept., 1st Floor Community Room, 125 Sixth St.)
Thurs, Apr 16
3:00pm Cambridge Biosafety Committee meeting. (Windsor Community Health Center, 119 Windsor Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room)
Wed, Apr 22
5:30pm The City Council's Housing Committee will meet. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Apr 27
5:30pm City Council meeting and Budget Overview (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)
Wed, Apr 29
5:30pm The City Council's Economic Development and University Relations Committee will meet. (Sullivan Chamber)
Likely City Council Challengers for 2015 (as of Mar 27, 2015)
- Courtney, Kimberly S., 2 Ware St., Cambridge, MA 02138
filed organizational papers Jan 9, 2015 [Treasurer: Jessica Ernst]
- Devereux, Janis A., 255 Lakeview Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
filed organizational papers Feb 11, 2015 [Treasurer: Doug Brown]
- vanBeuzekom, Minka Y., 20 Essex St., Cambridge, MA 02139
announced intentions [Treasurer: Ian Carlson]
- Hopson, Diane, 1 Leighton St., Cambridge, MA 02141
multiple people reporting
Likely School Committee Challengers for 2015 (as of Feb 13, 2015)
- Elechi Kadete, 10 Laurel St., Cambridge, MA 02139
stated on C-Port listserv
The Cambridge Animal Commission is sponsoring a Rabies Vaccination Clinic for Dogs only Saturday April 11, from 9-11am, in the Public Works lot, 147 Hampshire St., Cambridge. The cost is $15 per dog. Rabies vaccinations are required by Massachusetts General Laws. A Microchip Clinic, sponsored by All Dog Rescue, will also be available at this clinic at a cost of $20 per dog.
For your pet’s safety, dogs must be leashed at all times. Please note that also per state law, every dog over the age of 6 months is required to have a current dog license. Dog licenses for the license period from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 will be available at this clinic. Pet owners are also welcome to stop by to pick up a license if their dog is up to date on its rabies vaccination. Cost of the license is $8 for spayed/neutered dogs or $25 for non-spayed/neutered dogs.
Controlling your dog at all times is also an excellent way to keep them protected. When you are outside with your dog, please make sure to obey the leash law. Also, to keep our community, parks and open space clean, owners are required by law to carry means to pick up and dispose of their dog’s waste. The city does supply dog waste bags but the responsibility to have means of disposal and to pick up is entirely on the owner or keeper of the dog.
When walking your dog in shared use areas, always have your dog under control and within your sight (particularly at Fresh Pond). Please note that there are fundamental elements of these regulations that are posted at the shared use areas and also at the designated dog parks in the city. Cat owners should keep their cats indoors; it’s a safe and controlled environment.
As always the Cambridge Animal Commission would like to remind dog owners of the three L’s of dog ownership – License, Leash and Love your pet.
If your cat needs to be vaccinated, there are clinics in the area that administer low cost programs for rabies vaccinations. For more information, please call the Cambridge Animal Commission at 617-349-4376.
City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking individuals interested in serving on the Cambridge Peace Commission. Composed of up to 20 members who serve three-year terms and represent the socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic diversity of the city, the Peace Commission meets on the third Wednesday of most months at 6:00pm, at 51 Inman St., 2nd Floor Conference Room, Cambridge. Prospective members must reside in Cambridge.
Commission members are volunteers appointed by the City Manager who work with the staff in fulfilling the mission of the Cambridge Peace Commission and in accomplishing its goals. Members are expected to attend regular meetings, participate in organizing the Commission’s events and activities, and do some work outside of Commission meetings. Members are encouraged to learn about the day-to-day work and projects of the staff, and offer advice and viewpoints that reflect the Commission’s mission and role within City government.
As a department of the City of Cambridge, the Peace Commission works with other municipal agencies, communities of faith, nonprofit organizations, and the community as a whole to build connections and strengthen relationships, and to promote positive dialogue and foster understanding. The Commission fosters a community where differences and diversity are understood and celebrated, so that all residents can contribute to making Cambridge an equitable and peaceful community. It pays special attention to traumatic events and violence affecting Cambridge and its residents, and coordinates and supports compassionate community responses to support recovery and healing.
The Commission supports Cambridge’s Sister City relationships, including those with: Les Cayes, Haiti; San José Las Flores, El Salvador; and Yerevan, Armenia. It also celebrates Cambridge residents and local efforts with recognition programs and events, and raises awareness about local and global peace and social justice issues through educational forums, discussions, and presentations. For more information about the Commission, see its web page at www.cambridgema.gov/peace.
A letter of interest with a brief résumé should be sent via e-mail, mail or fax by April 27, 2015 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Ph. 617-349-4300; Fax 617-349-4307
Catching Up on the Cambridge News (March 20, 2015)
The City’s Office of Workforce Development is sponsoring a Health & Human Services Job Fair on Wednesday, April 1, from 11:00am-1:00pm at Central Square Library, 45 Pearl St., Cambridge.
This will be a great opportunity for job seekers to connect with employers such as Cambridge Health Alliance, Crittenton Women’s Union, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Perkins, Senior Whole Health, Spaulding Hospital/Cambridge, and many others.
Those who plan to attend should remember to research companies and job opportunities before the job fair and to apply for appropriate positions online. For more information, contact Josh Foley at 617-349-6259 or email@example.com.
Participating organizations include:
|Cambridge Health Alliance||Perkins|
|Spaulding Hospital / Cambridge||Fenway Health|
|Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health||Bay Cove Human Services|
|Arbour Counseling Services||Nurtury|
|The Edinburg Center||Senior Whole Health|
|Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries||Crittenton Women’s Union|
Tip: Take the time to apply for positions online and research companies before attending
If you're a Cambridge resident age 12 or older, YOU can VOTE on how to spend $500,000 in FY16 Capital Funds to improve the community! In December 2014, the City of Cambridge launched the Participatory Budgeting (PB) initiative inviting community members to share ideas on projects to improve Cambridge.
Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process through which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Cambridge’s pilot PB project will for the first time, directly involve residents in the budgeting and city-building process, foster civic engagement and community spirit, and help ensure that the city’s Capital Plan reflects the priorities of Cambridge residents.
From January-March, over 40 volunteer Budget Delegates evaluated the 380 ideas that were submitted, and developed project proposals to meet community needs. From March 22-28, 2015 Cambridge residents are invited to vote on which projects will get funded! Projects on the ballot will be for capital improvements related to:
- Culture & Community Facilities
- Environment, Public Health & Public Safety
- Parks & Recreation
- Streets & Sidewalks
Each voter can select 5 projects on the ballot, regardless of the amount they add up to. The city will allocate $500,000 for the winning projects. Vote week begins with a kickoff event Sunday, March 22, from 2-4pm, at Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. Residents will be able to talk with Budget Delegates and view project displays at two Project Expos on Tuesday, March 24, from 5:30-8:30pm, at Windsor Street Health Center, 119 Windsor St., and on Saturday, March 28, from 10am-2pm, during the Winter Farmers’ Market at Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender St. Paper ballots at voting events will be available in English, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Residents can also vote online, as long as they have a cell phone. Online voting will be text message authenticated. Voters will enter their cell phone number online and then will receive a code via text that must be entered for one-time access to the ballot. A link to the online ballot on the Participatory Budget webpage will be made available during the voting period March 22-28, 2015. The online ballot will be available in English and Spanish. For information on project proposals on the ballot and a full list of voting dates and locations, please visit www.cambridgema.gov/yourbudget.
The City of Cambridge is pleased to announce the launch of a Sidewalk Poetry Program, designed to stamp poems written by Cambridge residents into freshly poured sidewalk locations throughout the City. A collaboration of the Department of Public Works, Cambridge Arts, and the Cambridge Public Library, the Sidewalk Poetry Program will launch with a Poetry Contest to select several poems for 2015.
The Cambridge Sidewalk Poetry Program was inspired by a similar ongoing program in St. Paul, Minnesota, begun in 2008 by artist Marcus Young as artist-in-residence in the St. Paul Department of Public Works. St. Paul has over 450 poems in St. Paul sidewalks to date. The Cambridge program will integrate poetry into its routine sidewalk repairs. The fresh concrete necessary when the City pours new sidewalk panels will provide an opportunity to stamp a poem in selected locations throughout the City.
Any Cambridge resident of any age is invited to submit up to two poems to the 2015 Sidewalk Poetry Contest. Poems will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of representatives from Cambridge Public Works, Cambridge Public Library, and Cambridge Arts, as well as a former Poet Populist and a Cambridge high school student. The deadline for submissions is 11:59pm on Sunday, April 12, 2015. Winners will be announced on Thursday, April 30, 2015. For more information on submission guidelines and how to submit poems, please visit www.cambridgema.gov/sidewalkpoetry
Cambridge Rolls Out Lovin’ Local Raffle Card to Encourage Patronage of Businesses
This winter has been rough on both Cambridge residents and businesses. The good news is that spring is just around the corner. In an effort to encourage increased shopping at Cambridge businesses, the City of Cambridge is launching the Lovin’ Local raffle card game from March 16-April 3, 2015. Here’s how it works: download a raffle card at: http://www.cambridgema.gov/lovinlocal or pick up a game card at one of the following locations:
- Mayor’s Office, Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave.
- Cambridge Main Library, 449 Broadway (Q& Desk)
- Cambridge Community Development Department, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway
Follow these rules:
Step 1: Shop at a local business.
Step 2: Have the local business sign a cell on the card
Step 3: Take a picture of yourself visiting at least 1 business and tweet, Instagram or Facebook a picture using the hashtag #LovinCambMA. Please tag the business you are visiting, too!
Raffle cards can be emailed, dropped off to the Mayor’s Office or City Hall Annex, or mailed in by Friday, April 3, 2015. More information and how to participate are available at: http://www.cambridgema.gov/lovinlocal.
"The Lovin’ Local contest is a creative way for residents and area workers to come together and support our local, small business economy," said City Manager Richard C. Rossi.
April is Fair Housing Month and the Cambridge Human Rights Commission is accepting nominations for its Innovations in Fair Housing Awards. Consider nominating individuals and/or groups who are working hard to continue Cambridge’s long history of fair housing and diversity.
Individuals or groups should be Cambridge-based, involved in the promotion of fair housing, and have had a significant achievement within the last two years, with a focus on innovative work in support of fair housing.
When submitting nominations, please tell us why you think this person or group deserves this award and provide a description of the work performed in Cambridge to promote Fair Housing. Selected nominees will be honored at the Fair Housing Month Awards Ceremony Tuesday, April 14, 5-7pm, at Cambridge City Hall, Sullivan Chamber, 795 Mass. Ave.
Please send nominations via mail or email by March 30, 2015 at 8pm to: Nancy B. Schlacter, Fair Housing Project Coordinator, Cambridge Human Rights Commission, 51 Inman Street, 2nd floor, Cambridge, MA 02139; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Items of Interest on the March 16, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda
Perhaps the most notable items this week are the announcement of the annual water/sewer rates, a couple of committee reports relating to the proposed Twining/Normandy petition, and a resolution on the tragic death of Marcia Diehl - a friend to thousands of Cantabrigians, including me.
Manager's Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $6,000,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Public Works Other Ordinary Maintenance account ($4,825,000) and to the General Fund Public Works Extraordinary Expenditures account ($175,000) and to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Extraordinary Maintenance account ($1,000,000) to cover winter 2014-2015 snowstorm expenses associated with snow plowing contracts, salt and other material, and repair costs.
Some years the "Rainy Day Fund" can be a "Snowy Winter Fund". Few should be surprised at this additional cost after a record-breaking winter. Spring (technically) arrives with the vernal equinox this Friday at 6:45pm EDT.
Manager's Agenda #17. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-04, regarding a report on next steps to converting the Watertown Branch rail line.
We're getting there - slowly but surely. This will one day be a nice addition to the off-road recreational facilities for the local region, and will also provide pretty handy access to the Arsenal Mall area.
Manager's Agenda #18. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the block rates for water consumption and sewer use for the period beginning Apr 1, 2015 and ending Mar 31, 2016.
The recommendation is for a 0% increase in the water consumption block rate and a 6.8% increase in the sewer use block rate, resulting in a 4.9% increase in the combined rate for the coming year. This is the fifth consecutive year that the City has been able to produce a 0% increase in the water rate.
Unfinished Business #12. That any committee report that has not been signed by the Chair of the committee within seven days after submission of the committee report by the City Clerk be placed on the City Council Agenda unsigned. Order Number Eight of Mar 2, 2015 Referred to Unfinished Business.
It's interesting that at the first meeting after Councillor Toomey introduced the Order calling for this modification in the City Council Rules to hasten the delivery of committee reports, this agenda contains 5 committee reports.
Resolution #27. Condolences to the family of Marcia Deihl. Councillor Simmons
Marcia was killed while riding her bicycle last Wednesday afternoon, March 11. Reports indicate that she was likely exiting the Whole Foods onto Putnam Ave. or riding along Putnam Ave. when she was struck and killed by a truck traveling on Putnam Ave. Many of us are eager to learn more details about this tragedy. Though I didn't know Marcia nearly as well as some others who are now really suffering from this loss, I really loved her sense of humor and her distinctive way with words. Our shared interests included old VWs, kitsch, Zippy the Pinhead, and everything about Cambridge. [Globe story on Marcia Diehl]
While looking over old email messages from Marcia, I came across this one from 2009: "We really need a Cambridge History thing, or class, or institutionalized available web site. My specialty is the 70s, and I loved working with Charlie (Sullivan) and the Historical Commission looking for old photos. I have performed a few Cambridge history in music shows, one of which 'When Hippies Roamed the Earth' is centered around the Inman, Harvard, and Central Square cultural and political counterculture. Another one was songs related to social justice history at Old Cambridge Baptist Church."
Two years ago (Feb 2013) Marcia wrote this in the CCJ Forum: "I remember being called a 'barnie' and having garbage thrown at me when a bunch of us college grad hippie pinkos lived in communes on the Broadway and Columbia corner in 1971-2. CRA paid us a thousand each to relocate and we carried our stuff across the street to a Chiccarelli building. At a rent control strike hearing, she yelled 'THEY WANT MY BLOOD, THEY WANT MY BLOOD!' Ah, memories. I've lived kitty corner to Villa Vellucci in almost-East Cambridge, attended many times, and busked in Harvard Square. Now retired and living two blocks from where I did 35 years ago in my favorite spot in the universe, Cambridgeport, I know I am not worthy to be a Cantabrigian."
You were as worthy as anyone who has ever lived here, Marcia. I hope we can name a park or a garden after you.
Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to review the questions raised from Kim Courtney and report back to the City Council on such matters the City Manager considers appropriate to address. Councillor McGovern, Mayor Maher, Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen [Attachments]
I suspect there must be some connection here between the apparent licensing irregularities with Mr. Kapsalis (owner of The Cellar and a neighboring liquor store) and a petition that was submitted to the License Commission several months ago attempting to block Ms. Courtney and her partner from opening a competing establishment near to Mr. Kapsalis' businesses. That petition was pretty much 100% fraudulent and even included fake names at my address. I was able to see the petition when an investigator from the License Commission came to my house verifying the names of those who had apparently signed the petition. It also had the name of at least one friend of mine who said he had never signed such a petition. Even a casual look at the petition showed that it was all likely written by the same person. Who does something like that? I never patronized The Cellar or his liquor store anyway, so they won't be missing my business.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 22, 2015 to discuss the Normandy/Twining zoning petition to amend Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new Section 20.800 entitled Mass. and Main Residential Mixed Income Sub district within the Central Square Overlay District.
Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 26, 2015 to discuss the refiled Normandy/Twining petition to amend the Zoning Ordinances in Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and the zoning map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new section 20.800 entitled Mass and Main Residential Mixed Income Subdistrict within the Central Square Overlay District.
The next couple of months should prove interesting. The Cambridge Residents Alliance was spawned a few years back in response to proposals for new housing in and around Central Square. [In short, they don't want it.] They've now spawned yet another entity specifically trying to block new housing at this Lafayette Square location. It's anybody's guess how this zoning proposal will fare and how the actual building will take shape should the zoning change make it possible.
Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Jan 13, 2015 to discuss the production of language for a city-wide affordable housing overlay district, to be considered by the City Council to identify areas in the city that would be best suited for an affordable housing overlay district.
I'm still curious to see what people have in mind with this proposed "affordable housing overlay district." So far all I've heard is the sentiment that only low- and moderate-income people are welcome in areas like Central Square, and that's not a particularly sustainable (or even friendly) perspective. - Robert Winters
Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking nominations for the 2015 Outstanding City Employee Awards program which recognizes employees for exemplary performance and contributions that go above and beyond job requirements.
Cambridge city government is made up of dedicated employees who strive to provide a high level of quality services to all its citizens. The annual awards ceremony provides a special opportunity to give some well deserved recognition to a handful of deserving individuals. Winners will be recognized at a special awards ceremony on Friday, May 1, 2015.
Outstanding City Employee Awards are designed to recognize contributions that are above and beyond job requirements. Criteria for determining outstanding performance include:
- Demonstrated strong leadership and a high level of commitment to the City and its residents.
- Demonstrated outstanding customer service to the public and/or fellow employees.
- Developed an innovative or creative solution to a problem.
- Made superior contribution to the success of a project, completing work on time and within budget.
- Donated significant time to activities that benefit the Cambridge community.
- Encouraged and valued community involvement.
- Demonstrated an exceptional ability to work in a multicultural organization.
- Consistently contributed to better City operations.
All City employees at all levels of the City workforce are eligible for nomination. Anyone who lives or works in Cambridge may nominate one or more City employees for recognition. Individuals are not limited as to how many employees s/he chooses to nominate but must submit a separate Nomination Form or letter for each employee. An employee may not nominate her or his own supervisor or department head for recognition.
Online Nomination Forms can be accessed from this news story at www.cambridgema.gov. A signed nomination letter may be submitted instead of the nomination form. Completed nominations must be submitted to the Personnel Department by Monday, April 6, 2015. In addition, you may email nominations to email@example.com or fax to the Personnel Department at 617-349-4312. For more information, contact Maryellen Carvello at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-349-4301.
In Like a Lion: Mar 2, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting
Here's my list of interesting agenda items. Additional comments may follow after the meeting (not my usual practice), but here are a few words for now:.
Reconsideration #1. Councillor Mazen notified the City Clerk of his intention to file reconsideration of the vote taken on Feb 20, 2015 failing to adopt an order that the City Manager is requested to identify an organization or organizations to study and present options to the City Council regarding possibilities for publicly funded municipal elections that takes into account issues unique to Cambridge. Order failed of adoption 3-4-1-1 and Reconsideration was filed by Councillor Mazen on Feb 23, 2015.
My great suspicion is that this initiative is part of a greater plan for this year's municipal election to portray any candidate who accepts money from a property owner/developer as inherently "unclean" in the "clean elections" sense of the word. Perhaps a better measure would be the percentage of a candidate's campaign receipts that originate from outside Cambridge or from ANY identifiable "special interest group." At least commercial property owners in Cambridge have a direct interest in the future of the city.
Manager's Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the City of Cambridge retaining the noteworthy distinction of being one of approximately 34 municipalities in the United States with three AAA ratings from the nation's three major credit rating agencies. [Attachment]
There is simply no way to disassociate this year's round of great bond ratings with the tragedy of Brian Murphy's death that occurred while City officials were in New York City meeting with the rating agencies.
Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to create and fund the position of ombudsman, with degrees of both organizational independence to serve as an advocate and organizational ties to be effective, to serve as a liaison with and an internal advocate for community members. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor McGovern on Order Number Ten of Feb 20, 2015.]
Just vote it down. City employees already do a fine job assisting the public, and for everything else there are nine city councillors from which to choose to represent you and any concerns that you may have.
Charter Right #2. That the City Manager is requested to contact the current owners of the Vail Court property and demand that graffiti be removed, exterminators assess the property, and any other maintenance that would improve the appearance and safety of this building be conducted immediately. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Mazen on Order Number Seven of Feb 23, 2015.]
In addition to the obvious deplorable state of this property, it should be obvious to anyone who heard the debate last week on this matter that this is as much about Councillor Mazen's "special relationship" with this property owner as anything else. If he can resolve it, he'll be able to claim some credit. Otherwise, enjoy that albatross, councillor.
On the Table #12. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the Community Development Department to abandon the "Complete Street" plan for Pearl Street. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Order Number Seven of Jan 5, 2015. Placed on the Table on the motion of Councillor Cheung on Jan 29, 2015.]
I expect the Council will just leave this permanently On the Table rather than seize the opportunity to define limits on how much residents can be abused in the name of a proposal that never achieved anything close to consensus in that neighborhood.
Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with local business associations, the Arts Council, and other appropriate city departments to determine the feasibility of hosting a series of "End of Winter" Festivals in our City Squares (Harvard, Central, Inman, Porter, Huron Village, and Kendall) to celebrate our city's resilience and strength. Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor McGovern, Councillor Cheung and Councillor Toomey
Having proposed exactly this sort of thing a week or so ago, I do hereby declare this to be the best damn proposal on this entire agenda. Bring on Martha and the Vandellas.
Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Information Technology Department to create a space on the city website, where agendas can be made available prior to committee meetings. Councillor Mazen
This is a good start, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. Every City Council committee should have (and maintain) its own web page that indicates all the business that has been addressed by that committee, what matters are currently under consideration (along with all relevant documents), and any future plans under consideration by the committee. - Robert Winters
Select Stories from the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):
Cambridge Planning Board wants more info on Central Square zoning petition (Sara Feijo, Feb 25, 2015)
First step toward redeveloping Volpe Center (Erin Baldassari, Feb 25, 2015)
Cambridge City Council rejects study of public campaign funding (Monica Jimenez, Feb 25, 2015)
[Note: the actual vote was 3-4-1-1 and one councillor has filed for Reconsideration]
A ‘visionary' leader: Friends, colleagues pay tribute to Cambridge's Brian Murphy (Erin Baldassari, Feb 11, 2015)
The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) announced on Feb 18, 2015 the establishment of the Forward Fund, a new microgrant program intended to support innovative pilot projects by non-profit organizations, community groups, and small businesses throughout Cambridge. They will be awarding Planning & Design grants up to $2,500 and Capital grants up to $10,000 for a wide variety of projects that contribute to the civic and social capital of Cambridge.
Love Food? Top Tips to Prevent Wasting It
Love Food? Top Tips to Prevent Wasting It
Check out these top 8 tips from Love Food Hate Waste, as well as their “Hints and Tips” resource where you can click on the food you want to rescue. Remember, reducing and reusing are even better than recycling and composting. Thanks for all your efforts to reduce food waste. The Recycling Division’s web page about reducing food waste is another helpful resource.
Be Kind to Collection Crews
Please clear snow to curb so collection crews can access your recycling toters and trash barrels without major obstructions. For more click here. If there is not access we will not be able to empty the containers. Thank you.
Love Recycling? Distribute Recycling Flyers
Please order recycling flyers to distribute at your building. It’s important to distribute recycling flyers periodically as it refreshes residents on what can be recycled and reinforces that it’s a community norm and priority. Thank you for your help! You can also use this link to order refrigerator magnets, laminated signs, toter labels and toters. We look forward to fulfilling your request!
Love Clementines? Compost the Boxes
Once all the plastic has been removed from wooden clementine boxes they can go with food scraps at the food waste drop-off sites around Cambridge. Thanks for removing all plastic first.
Free Document Shredding 3/7
The Cambridge Consumers’ Council and US Postal Service are offering a free document shredding on Saturday, March 7 from 10am-2pm, at the Central Square Post Office, 770 Mass. Ave, snow or shine. Members of the public can securely dispose of personal and confidential paper documents. Documents will be destroyed on the spot in a highly advanced technical mobile shredding truck and sent for recycling. Ten minute drop-off parking will be available on Mass Ave between Sellers & Pleasant Street. Please call the Consumers Council at 617-349-6150 or email email@example.com.
Take the 50% recycling pledge today at www.cambridgema.gov/recycle and get a free sticker!
April (and beyond) Programs at Fresh Pond Reservation
These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.
|A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
|Migratory Bird Walk #1
Date: Saturday, April 4
Time: 8 to 10am
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
Among the migrating birds that are passing through at this time of year, we might see several species of waterfowl as well as songbirds, including a variety of warblers. In addition, many of our summer residents will have returned: tree swallows, catbirds, phoebes, vireos, orioles, grackles and red-winged blackbirds. Beginners are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. Led by Nancy Guppy. Register with Elizabeth Wylde at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|A Tour of the Water Purification Facility
Date: Monday, April 6
Time: 6 to 7:30pm
Meeting Place: Water Purification Facility front door, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
Come learn how the Cambridge Water Department purifies drinking water for your tap after it's pumped into our facility from nearby Fresh Pond. You'll have the chance to speak with water treatment and testing staff, see the equipment in action and check out our water quality lab! For more information, contact Kirsten: (617) 349-6489, email@example.com. Please call ahead if coming with a large group.
|Wake Up & Weed
Dates: Thursdays, starting April 9
Time: 10am to 12 noon
Meeting Place: Volunteer trailer in the lower parking lot
Join our weed-warrior crew! We are Fresh Pond citizens dedicated to keeping invasive plants at bay for the benefit of wildlife, water and humans alike. No experience or long-term commitment necessary! All tools are provided; sturdy shoes, pants, long-sleeves and a water bottle are strongly recommended. Contact: Kirsten at (617) 349-6489, firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Fresh Pond Kids' Walks!
Dates: Fridays, April 10, 17, and 24
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Meeting Place: Maher Park Parking Lot, 650 Concord Ave.
Join CWD staff and volunteers for casual nature explorations, designed for young kids and their parents/caretakers, and play in our urban wild! Please come dressed ready for the weather (and in clothes that are OK to get a bit dirty). Solid rain or thunder cancels. Contact: Kirsten at (617) 349-6489, email@example.com.
*This series is for small family/caretaker groups only - if you wish to bring a class or other organized group, please contact Kirsten for alternative opportunities.*
|Migratory Bird Walk #2
Date: Sunday, April 19
Time: 8 to 10am
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
Every bird walk is unique and an opportunity for surprise sightings. That is part of the thrill of birding! We can only guess in advance what we might see and hear. At this time of year many of the birds are courting and claiming territories, so we will probably hear plenty of bird song. Beginners welcome, and we will lend you binoculars. Led by Nancy Guppy. Register with Elizabeth Wylde at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Spring Walk for Families - REGISTER by April 17
Date: Tuesday, April 21
Time: 9:30 to 10:30am
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
We'll search for signs of spring and take note of animals and insects moving about. Children 8 and up must be accompanied by an adult. Limit: 24 participants. Please register by April 17 with Ranger Jean Rogers at email@example.com.
|Sprout the City Spring: Throw Seeds!
Date: Wednesday, April 22
Time: 1:30 to 2:30pm
Meeting Place: Ranger Station at Water Dept., 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
Go guerilla in a good way: help spread wildflowers around Cambridge! Native wildflower species are not only beautiful, they also provide nectar and seed sources for wildlife and reduce erosion. Make "seed bombs" out of compost, clay and seeds at this workshop to toss around town! Contact: Kirsten at firstname.lastname@example.org, (617) 349-6489.
|Garlic Mustard Muster
Date: Wednesday, April 22
Time: 6 to 7:30pm
Meeting Place: Maher Park Parking Lot, 650 Concord Ave.
Join our Community Weed-Out kick-off! We'll tackle garlic mustard to free up our woodland for native species like wild violet. No experience necessary! All tools are provided; long sleeves, pants and a water bottle are recommended. Latecomers welcome; you'll find us weeding near Black's Nook. Contact: Kirsten at email@example.com, (617) 349-6489. Groups: please register in advance.
|Pick a Tree, Plant a Tree -
an Arbor Day workshop with Ranger Jean
REGISTER by April 18
Date: Saturday, April 25
Time: 1 to 3:30pm
Meeting Place: Maynard Ecology Center, Bsmt. of Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
Did you know that each human on Earth needs 7 mature trees to take up the CO2 we breathe out? Do you know where your 7 trees are? Learn about selecting and planting trees in your Cambridge location. After activity based learning inside the Maynard Ecology Center, apply what you've learned by planting a tree on the Reservation. Rain postpones to May 2. For directions on what to bring and wear, please register by April 18 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Spring Bird Walk
Date: Sunday, May 3
Time: 8 to 10am
Meeting Place: Register for meeting location and parking information
Many of our summer residents will have returned, including tree swallows, catbirds, grackles, and red-winged blackbirds - and perhaps phoebes, vireos, and orioles. They will be singing up a storm, courting mates, defending territories, and some will be hard at work building nests. Led by Nancy Guppy. Beginners are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. To register and for important meeting and parking information, email Elizabeth Wylde at email@example.com.
|Birding by Ear
Date: Saturday, May 9
Time: 7:30 to 9:30am
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
Bird walk leader Herb Pearce will help us learn to identify and locate birds by their songs. At this time of year we may also hear babies in the nest and see their parents bringing them food. We will use guides with pictures of the birds to help you get to know them. Birders of all experience levels are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. Register with Elizabeth Wylde at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Nesting Bird Walk
Date: Sunday, June 6
Time: 7:30 to 9:30am
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
Many birds choose Fresh Pond Reservation as the place to build their nests and raise their young. There is an abundance of insect food and plenty of safe habitat. We may hear birds singing to protect their territories and see others gathering food for their hungry babies. Walk leader Nancy Guppy will help us look for Baltimore orioles, yellow warblers, warbling vireos, and redwing blackbirds, all of which spend the breeding season at Fresh Pond. Beginning birders are welcome! If you don't have binoculars you may borrow a pair from us. Register with Elizabeth at email@example.com.
|Summer Solstice Bird Walk
Date: Sunday, June 21
Time: 6 to 8pm
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
If you can't bear to get up at dawn to look at birds, this walk, led by Nancy Guppy, is for you. Just as people take advantage of the longest days of the year to continue their outdoor activities, so do birds. They spend the extra hours of daylight foraging for food for their hungry babies. Beginning birders are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. Register with Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail email@example.com, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at www.friendsoffreshpond.org to download a form.
Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at http://friendsoffreshpond.org to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants. Upcoming Programs
• The Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program
• Grow Native Massachusetts is offering a series of free nature-related "Evenings with Experts" lectures at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. Details are at www.grownativemass.org and grownativemass.org/programs/eveningswithexperts in particular. First Wednesdays of the Month, 7:00-8:30pm.
• Sign up for the City of Cambridge's informative "Recycling and Composting Newsletter" by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
|AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.|
|Sat, Apr 4. Castle Island, South Boston. Fast-paced seven-mile scenic walk along ocean to Castle Island, 10:00am-1:30pm. Bring lunch and water. Meet inside JFK/UMass Red Line T station, upper level gates (no nearby parking). Storm cancels. No e-mail after 4/3. L Beth Mosias.||Sat, Apr 4. Virginia Wood, Middlesex Fells, Stoneham. It’s been a long winter, but spring is finally here. We’ll look for plants in bloom and other signs of the season. The walk will focus on plant ID as well as fun and interesting natural history about the plants which we see. Meet in the driveway of #1 Woodland Rd at the intersection of Woodland Rd and Pond St in Stoneham. Steady rain cancels. L Boot Boutwell.|
|Sat, Apr 11. Boxford Conservation Land. 1.5 hours; meet at 1:00pm. Easy terrain, moderate pace, kids and dogs welcome. Follow Rte. 133 to the center of west Boxford, where 133 intersects with Main St. (church and village store). Go west on Main St., past the fire station to the intersection of Silver Mine Rd. Park on Silvermine. If there is enough snow, bring cross country skis or snow shoes. L Stephen Davis.||Sat, Apr 11. Neponset River Greenway/Milton Hill. 5-mile walk along Neponset River to Hutchinson Field, 9:30am-12:15pm. Bring snack. Meet at Hallet Street entrance to Pope John Paul II Park. From Route 93N, take exit 11 (11B from Route 93S) to Granite Avenue, north over Neponset River, immediate right on Hilltop Street, right under bridge into parking lot. E-mail if severe weather. L Mike Tuohey.|
|Sat, Apr 11. Warner Trail, Cumberland, RI. 9:00am-4:00pm. 10-mi. mod. hike from Wampum Corner, Wrentham to Diamond Hill. 71st season. Bring lunch and water. We will spot cars before the hike. I-95S to Route 295S Exit 11 in Cumberland, RI, then Route 114N for 3.7 miles to Diamond Hill State Park on the right opposite the Ice Cream Machine. Heavy rain cancels. Email Jim if uncertain. L Laura Cerier, CL Jim Goyea.||Sun, Apr 12. Groton Hills. 1:00pm. This walk has it all, including deep woods, open fields, a pond, and even bagging a 500 footer with good views. About 2 hours. Meet at the end of Kaileys Way, 42.62245N 71.54062W. L Olin Lathrop.|
|Sun, Apr 12. Middlesex Fells, Stoneham. Easy 2 hr. walk in Middlesex Fells. Meet at 2pm at Greenwood Park (across from Stone Zoo). Take Rte. 93 to exit 34. Go N on Rte. 28 to South St., right to park. Bring sturdy shoes, water and snack. L Betsy Goeke.||Sun, Apr 12. Mt. Misery, Farrar Pond, and adj. conservation areas. 9 mi. [70+ temp may lessen distance.] Meet at 9:30am in Lincoln RR commuter pkg. lot. From Rte. 95/128 take exit 28 in Waltham, follow Trapelo Road W 2.5 mi., L on Lincoln Rd 1.4 mi., R just before tracks into RR sta. lot. L Jim Loughlin.|
|Sat, Apr 18. Delaney Wildlife Mgt. Area (Stow, MA). Meet at 10am, finish by mid-afternoon. 6-7 miles. Two small stream crossings. Registration required due to limited parking at trail site. Short car pool. L Jim Loughlin.||Sun, Apr 19. Marblehead Light and Castle Rock, Marblehead. Approx 4-mi walk from Deveraux Beach to Castle Rock and Marblehead Light followed by optional hot chocolate break. 12:30-3:30pm. Take Rte. 114 or Rte. 127 to Ocean St. or Beach St. Go E to Devereaux beach pkg lot. Storm/icy roads cancels. L Sara Epstein.|
THE SEGREGATION OF THE STREET - With all the swirling controversy about whether to install segregated bicycle facilities on Pearl Street, this article provides a great perspective on the difference between perceived safety and actual safety.
Perhaps it's time to rein in the Cambridge Bicycle Committee
The Cambridge Bicycle Committee (or, to be more precise, current and former members and others who share their mindset) has a Facebook page [Cambridge Bikes!]. It's been interesting hearing what some of the members are saying in response to Councillor Toomey's proposed Order questioning the removal of parking on one side of Pearl Street from Central Square to the Charles River in order to segregate cyclists. Here are some gems:
Tom Meek - The message is the city wants to get more people on bikes.... Don't like it make a pretty $$$ on your house and move elsewhere where you can buy a pad with a big driveway for 1/2 as much lol
Matt Carphree - Street parking in Cambridge costs the user less than 7 cents a day. A nickel, and two pennies to rent 200 square feet of prime real estate in one of the thirty most population dense cities in the USA. Hellas yeah if I was on that crack, I'd fight anyone threatening to take it away!
Matt Carphree (Parking scarcity is never a supply problem. It's a pricing problem)
Douglas M. Kline - In addition to the points already made (to amplify one, an annual resident parking sticker should cost at least $1,000 and as much as $2,000 in some neighborhoods and that would put a dent in the demand for on-street parking), no one promised that on-street parking would always be available and life is full of risk. Car owners have a lot of nerve assuming that they will always have what they should never have been given in the first place. Also the distinction between adding cars and taking away spots is hardly more than semantic unless you intend to take away a spot for each car that is sold or whose owner moves away and doesn't expect to regularly use the space any more such that spots for cars currently owned by current residents are grandfathered in and others are eliminated and all on-street parking will eventually be eliminated.
The more I hear from these people of the Cambridge Bicycle Committee the more I am convinced that they're out of control and that Councillor Toomey's Order is both timely and appropriate. Rarely have I seen this level of self-righteous hostility in Cambridge - and I'm a year-round daily cyclist. - Robert Winters
PS - Here's a sterling example of a graphic that violates every principle of statistical survey design:
The image on the left suggests a cyclist about to be run over by a bus. That's the image used to illustrate the Pearl Street design option the Bicycle Committee and its staff does not want you to choose. It's in the online survey instrument they circulated among people they hope will vote the way they want. The inclusion of this graphic renders the survey invalid. That's Statistics 101.
We're taking some time off from Cambridge InsideOut. We hope to be back on the air in April 2015.
Recent Broadcasts of Cambridge InsideOut [complete list of shows]
June 10 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.
Watch Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm. The co-hosts are Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
|MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989
By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990
A new report is estimating that the greater Boston area will need another 435,000 new housing units by 2040 to lure new workers and accommodate an aging population. [Reports available here]
Note: When comparing the peak population of Cambridge back in the 1950s (over 120,000) to what it is today (perhaps 107,000) it's important to keep in mind that families were typically much larger then. It's also the case that what people find acceptable in terms of living space and amenities has changed dramatically over six decades. This translates into considerably more "units" of housing (and higher density) in Cambridge if the population should rise to levels close to what they were in days of yore.
K2C2 Final Reports Released
The final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.
The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998
April 2, 2013 - Well, that was fun. Thanks to everyone for being such a sport on April Fool's Day.
Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)
The Neverending Study of Central Square
Aug 11, 2012 - While preparing to write a series of essays on Central Square, I put together the following list of Central Square studies culled from a variety of sources. I have originals for most of these. If you know of any others, please let me know. - Robert Winters
June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square
Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)
1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)
Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan
May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"
Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!
Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)
May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)
May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"
Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study
Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)
Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)
June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)
2013 - K2C2 Final Reports
THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik (33½ minutes)
FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee
City Council Rules 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect current Council committees)
City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)
City Council Committees (for the current term)
School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)
School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)
June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).
I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:
Purposes: This association is formed for the following purposes:
- 1. To promote businesslike, honest, and efficient conduct of local government, open to public scrutiny.
- 2. To induce residents to take an active interest in the affairs of the City of Cambridge.
- 3. To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs.
- 4. To assure that the best qualified persons are appointed to positions in the City government after consideration of all qualified candidates.
- 5. To promote among the citizens of Cambridge equitable distribution and benefit of public services and equal opportunity for economic security, education, and social advancement.
These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization and I'm tempted to say that some should be incorporated into the recently adopted City Council's Goals for FY2010 (adopted Feb 2, 2009). In fact, of the 22 current goals, the only one that comes close is: "An increased level of recruitment and opportunities for membership on boards and commissions." The current Council goals emphasize things like "fostering community" via block parties and such, though one has to wonder if the City should be promoting these activities or just getting out of the way so that people can foster community on their own. The goals also seem to put some emphasis on developing "successful nightlife campaigns" while mentioning nothing about promoting ordinary "daytime" economic activity that supports the everyday needs of residents.
One founding principle of the CCA that fell into disuse over the years is listed above as #3: To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs. Indeed, I can personally testify to the fact that in its dying years the only reason the CCA made endorsements at all was because the CCA-endorsed incumbents wanted the benefit of having an advertised CCA slate of candidates that would help secure their reelection. There was precious little effort to recruit new candidates or to support them. Today, the benefits of incumbency are greater than ever. The cost of political campaigns have become absurdly high and most of the incumbents now have (City paid) staff who are inevitably political appointees who directly or indirectly assist in the reelection efforts of their bosses. The deck is increasingly stacked against challengers. Furthermore, the salary and benefits for elected councillors are now so sweet that it is unlikely that any of them would ever want to move on to another job.
With this background in mind, I would like to encourage all Cambridge residents to help level the playing field by finding out about this year's challengers for seats on the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge School Committee. This is not meant as a dig against any particular incumbent as much as an appeal to support the challengers in what is a difficult and laudable effort. Please see the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the current list of expected candidates. Then use your own judgment - don't expect me or anyone else to do it for you.
Speaking of this year's municipal election, there are some activists who are now expending great effort to attack the City Manager and most of the current City Council. That is not nor has it ever been the intention of the Cambridge Civic Journal or its editor. Candidates are now being seduced by financial promises from one angry fellow with a Brattle Street address and a basketful of grudges. Former CCA Executive Board members from its darkest and most manipulative days are oozing up from the civic swamp trying to at last make good on their failed campaigns of the early 1990s to oust city manager Bob Healy.
It's entertaining to watch people who have primarily earned disrespect in their civic efforts try to capitalize on the recent Monteiro jury decision as a means of realizing their decades-old vendettas. Conveniently forgotten in their recent letters to Cambridge's "oldest weekly newspaper" are the many achievements of City Manager Bob Healy, the strong financial position of the City, and the recent 8-1 vote of confidence bestowed upon Mr. Healy in granting him a three year contract extension. Also missing in this testimony is the fact that virtually all affirmative action in the hiring of employees and department heads has taken place on Mr. Healy's watch. These letters also fail to divulge how long these writers have been carrying their jealousy and anger toward Mr. Healy for actually orchestrating progress in Cambridge while the best they could ever do is snipe from the sidelines. - Robert Winters
This Old Land of Cambridge - The true story of the geological history of Cambridge - by George Ehrenfried
Sadly, George passed away (Jan 5, 2010) at the age of 96. He led many a geology-themed hike with the AMC Local Walks/Hikes.
Selected City of Cambridge References:
Mass. General Laws Chapter 54A (governing Cambridge's PR elections)
Pen Portraits of Prominent People - by Henry J. Mahoney Editor, Cambridge Sentinel - 1923
This book was published c. 1923 and features very witty one-page “pen portraits” (with photo) of prominent Cantabrigians of the day. I'll be adding names alphabetically as time permits. There are 182 portraits in the book.
It comes to mind that there may be some value in expanding these profiles to other prominent Cantabrigians who arrived on the scene after 1923, including prominent Cantabrigians of today. With this in mind, I extend the invitation to any and all who may wish to contribute their own “pen portraits” of Cambridge people. Contributions do not necessarily have to be in the style of Mr. Mahoney. Inclusion is, as always, subject to the erratic discretion of the editor.
Special thanks to Karen Welch for sending me the book. - RW
Political History of Cambridge in the 20th Century
Which People's Republic
Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for people who can give one to two hours per week to help students in the Cambridge Public Schools, grades K through 12. No experience necessary. Call 617-349-6794 or e-mail email@example.com for more details.
Oliver Wendell Holmes – Morning Exercises of December 28, 1880
As recorded in the book 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Cambridge (1881)
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
The Cambridge Civic Journal is an independent newsletter of civic affairs in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published as a public service by Central Square Publications. All items are written by Robert Winters unless otherwise noted. [Of course, I do sometimes forget.]
Thoughts for these times:
''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz
Subscribe to the Cambridge Civic Journal.
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“The Number One thing I would emphasize is that journalists and bloggers would do well to see themselves as partners in the provision of information and that each can benefit greatly from the other. I’ve never seen this as a competition. It is especially true these days that local papers and young journalists are not very well-versed in the communities they serve. Much of the institutional memory has either died out or been bought out.” -- Robert Winters, mathematician and creator of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online publication about Cambridge, MA (rwinters.com)
Jorkin: “Come, come, Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”
Fezziwig: “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business, Mr. Jorkin…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must.”
Scrooge: “I think I know what Mr. Fezziwig means, sir.”
Jorkin: “Oh, you hate progress and money, too, do you?”
Scrooge: “I don't hate them, sir, but perhaps the machines aren’t such a good thing for mankind, after all.”
Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"