Cambridge InsideOut - January 31, 2017

Potential Topics:

1) Crazy Orange Updates

2) Civic Opportunities

3) Jan 30 City Council meeting

4) Jan 23 City Council meeting

5) Jan 9 City Council meeting

6) Cambridge Chronicle News Stories

7) 2017 Candidates

8) Civic Infrastructure - Revisited

9) Candidate Slates? - what might we expect in 2017

10) Civic Calendar

The City of Cambridge is currently recruiting applicants to take the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Open Competitive Examination for Police Officers on March 25. Learn more at an informational open house for Cambridge residents Monday, February 6, 2017, from 6-7:30pm, at Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility, 125 Sixth St., Cambridge. To apply go online to or call 617-878-9895. Also visit http://CambridgeMA.Gov/CPD.

Mayor E. Denise Simmons and City Manager Louis DePasquale will deliver a joint State of the City address in the Sullivan Chamber of City Hall on Wednesday, February 1 at 6:00pm. The address will reflect upon the work of the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, and the City Manager’s Administration over the past year, as well as the anticipated issues this community shall face over the next 12 months.

Members Sought to fill Vacancy on Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women

City SealJan 13, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women. Commissioners support staff in their mission to create and promote programs that increase public awareness and understanding of multiple issues affecting women and girls, particularly marginalized women and girls, within the city; advocate to improve the quality of women’s and girls’ lives; and build coalitions and partner with community organizations on these issues.

The Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women meets the second Wednesday of every month, from 6:30-8 p.m., at 51 Inman St., Cambridge, in the Women's Commission Conference Room, 2nd floor.

For more information, contact Kimberly Sansoucy, Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women, at 617-349-4695 or Letters of interest, including resume and/or applicable experience, can be sent via mail or e-mail by Friday, February 17, 2017 to:
Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

City Announces First Minibond Issuance, Invites Residents to Directly Invest in Cambridge

City SealJan 23, 2017 – The City of Cambridge is pleased to announce that it intends to offer Cambridge residents the chance to invest directly in Cambridge infrastructure by purchasing minibonds. Minibonds enable residents to earn tax-exempt interest and invest for the future while supporting the Cambridge capital budget.

A minibond is similar to a traditional municipal bond in which investors loan money to a city or public agency for an agreed period of time, receive interest on the investment, and get their loan paid back when the bond matures. The City will use minibond proceeds to support capital projects such as school building renovations, municipal facility upgrades, and implementation of the Complete Streets plan.

All municipal bonds previously sold by the City were sold in denominations of $5,000 or more. Minibonds are different because residents can purchase them for as little as $1,000, making them more accessible than traditional municipal bonds for potential investors.

The City is working with Neighborly Securities* to issue the minibonds. Neighborly is not affiliated with the City of Cambridge in any way, other than as the broker-dealer for this sale of minibonds.

The City expects to sell up to $2 million of minibonds in its first minibond sale, which will take place from February 17-23, 2017. Each Cambridge resident may purchase up to 20 minibonds for a total possible investment of $20,000 (20 x $1,000/minibond). The interest rate on the 2017 minibonds will be determined on February 17, 2017 and interest will be paid semiannually. Principal on the 2017 minibonds will be paid in five years in 2022.

Minibonds will only be offered to investors following release of a Preliminary Official Statement of the City that will describe the terms of the minibonds and provide other financial information concerning the City. The City expects to issue a Preliminary Official Statement by February 13, 2017.

Residents who are interested in buying Cambridge minibonds will need to create an account through before the order period ends or purchase minibonds through their own broker. Once a minibond order is submitted through Neighborly, Neighborly’s investment team reviews it for approval and allocation. If the order is approved, minibonds will then be allotted and filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Neighborly representatives will be at Cambridge City Hall on Wednesday, February 15 from 6-8pm and Tuesday, February 21 from 6-8pm to provide assistance and discuss the minibond process.

For questions about setting up an account with Neighborly to purchase minibonds, please contact Neighborly at (866) 432-1170,, or

For general questions about Cambridge minibonds, please visit or contact the City’s Budget Office at or (617) 349-4270.

*Minibonds will only be ordered through Neighborly Securities, member FINRA, SIPC & registered with MSRB, pursuant to a preliminary and final official statement to be made available during the ordering period. This information does not constitute an order to sell or the solicitation of an order to buy any securities. You will be responsible for making your own independent investigation and appraisal of the risks, benefits, and suitability of any securities to be ordered and neither the City of Cambridge nor Neighborly Securities is making any recommendation or giving any investment advice.

Members Sought for New City Manager’s Advisory Committee

City SealJan 13, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking volunteers to serve on the new City Manager’s Advisory Committee. Community input is a vital component of the decision making process in Cambridge and the City strives to engage and involve all stakeholders. In an effort to foster community collaboration and deepen the understanding of community issues, the City Manager is forming this new advisory Committee.

The City Manager’s Advisory Committee will consist of 12-15 residents and stakeholders who will meet at least quarterly to discuss issues happening in the city, develop working relationships, work with organizations, bring different opinions to the table, and work to resolve problems in advance.

Selection of individuals to serve on the City Manager’s Advisory Committee will be based on their ability to represent the diversity of the Cambridge community. The final group of committed participants selected will be broadly representative of many backgrounds including: small/local business community, large business community, non-profit community, neighborhood associations, higher education, arts community, primary/secondary education, public health and human services, housing advocacy, faith community, new immigrant/under represented communities, youth community, senior community, LGBTQ+ community, and mobility community (bike/transit/pedestrian).

Applicants should be Cambridge residents or individuals with a strong connection with the City.

For more information, contact Lee Gianetti, Director of Communication and Community Relations, at 617-349-3317 or Letters of interest, including resume and/or applicable experience, can be sent via email or mail by the deadline of Friday, February 17, 2017 to:
City Manager Louis A. DePasquale
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

Now Featuring.... Coming Attractions at the Jan 30, 2017 Cambridge City Council meeting

GroundhogWith Groundhog Day fast approaching, and in recognition of a really great movie, perhaps the City Council will find the wisdom (and the kindness toward the City Clerk) to dispense with On The Table Items #3, #4, #5, #7, and #8. I mean, seriously, the Nutcracker performances are over for 2016, so why is the matter of banners promoting the Boston Ballet's Nutcracker still on the agenda every week? This will take all of one minute to dispense with these zombies and allow the City Council move on to bigger and better things (as well as the usual lot of smaller and poorer things). Here are a few agenda items that seem either interesting, controversial, or just plain ridiculous:

Manager's Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to an update on the Bicycle Safety Work Plan.

One conclusion that I draw from this report is that this plan is basically non-negotiable. On-street parking will soon be removed on major streets and any claims of "evaluation" are fiction. Politicians will henceforth be in charge of traffic engineering. Those who believe that bicycles belong on the sidewalk and not in the streets are now calling all the shots. Those of us who choose to ride in the street are now squeezed into narrower lanes and greater danger. I have yet to meet an MBTA bus driver who has anything good to say about Cambridge's plans. I only wish City officials would drop the pretense of calling these "temporary measures" while at the same time making them permanent as was recently done in the Special Permit conditions imposed on the Mass and Main development in Lafayette Square.

Manager's Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the comprehensive Needs Assessment Report relative to the Community Benefits Ordinance.

This has been long in coming. There is a need for a more rational process in determining how money derived from new developments will be distributed for projects and institutions for the public good. I still have some concerns about "mitigation as shakedown" and the possibility that not-so-great projects will be permitted to go forward as long as the developers sufficiently "sweeten the pot" with additional contributions. I would rather see good projects regardless of the mitigation.

Manager's Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the results of the biannual City of Cambridge Citizen Telephone Survey for 2016.

I have taught statistics courses, but I get no pleasure in reading statistical reports like these. All you really need to know is in the City Manager's cover letter. "Overall opinions of the City remain very positive. Citizens’ extreme satisfaction with overall performance of City government in Cambridge ... is a reflection on responsible, forward-thinking policies, and a capable and extremely dedicated workforce." "Affordable housing/housing was again identified as the ‘single most important issue facing the City of Cambridge today’." Enough said.

Manager's Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-110, regarding the Central Square Restoration Zoning Petition.

Most of this is old news, but it's good to have it summarized in this report. There is an important legal opinion from City Solicitor Nancy Glowa on the legality of the proposed Formula Business regulations in the petition. The rest of the petition is pretty solid and received accolades from the Planning Board, but we may have to live for now without the proposed change from the current Fast Food Cap to the more desirable Formula Business regulations. Then again, maybe we'll see some revised language at the Feb 2 hearing on the matter. In any case, the core provisions of this petition should pass - and soon.

Charter Right #1. A zoning petition has been received from Richard Harding, et al. to amend 20.800 titled the Mass and Main Residential Mixed Income Sub district to reflect a more appropriate affordable housing contribution and height limitation for this zoning. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Jan 23, 2017.]

This petition was rendered moot by the granting of the Special Permit for the Mass and Main and related developments this past Tuesday by the Planning Board. The votes aren't there to pass this petition anyway.

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager is requested to hire an independent consultant who shall assess the efficiency and effectiveness of how all City Departments conduct their work, who will begin implementing whatever necessary adjustments are deemed to be necessary, and who will report back to the City Manager and the City Council on his or her progress in regular monthly intervals. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Simmons on Jan 23, 2017.]

The City Council should amend this Order to simply ask the City Manager to consider hiring a consultant to advise him on possible changes in the structure and function of City departments. While they're at it, the City Council and the City administration should take a good objective look at all of the City's volunteer Boards and Commissions to see if there are any efficiencies that can be made or if any of the ordinances that created some of these boards should be amended to better reflect today's needs and priorities.

Then the City Council should take a good hard look at its own operations. For example, wouldn't it work better if City Council aides were assigned to Council subcommittees rather than to individual councillors? Perhaps each Council subcommittee could also keep its own web page that tracks what each committee is doing, the status of any initiatives, and a record of all actions taken.

Resolution #2. Resolution on the death of Renae Gray.   Mayor Simmons

Renae was the first person to invite me (in 1991) to be on a board of a civic organization in Cambridge. She always brought positive energy to anything with which she was involved. This is a very significant loss to the civic fabric of the city.

Renae Gray

Order #2. Amendment to Chapter 8.12.010 of the Municipal Code.   Councillor Cheung

This is almost like a mystery question. The Order basically just asks that the requirement that any gas station with self-serve pumps "have service bays and offer automotive repairs" be removed. On the face of it, this just seems like common sense since there are already self-serve gas stations in Cambridge where no repairs are made. But why is this revision being posed now? Is this just housekeeping or is there a service station that wants to do self-serve gas and get out of the repair business? It matters because self-serve stations usually come with bright lights, extended hours, and elaborate fire-suppression structures. That's a pretty big change from Goober's Fillin' Station.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to work with the MBTA to install a shelter on Aberdeen Avenue without advertising or lighting comparable to what was originally there and to consult with City staff to develop a policy that prohibits advertising and illumination on bus shelters in residential areas citywide and as well as in the Parkway Overlay District.   Councillor Devereux

We probably all would rather see less advertising on bus shelters, Hubway stations, etc., but that is how the maintenance costs are covered. Perhaps they can just dim the lights and make the advertisements classier.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department, the Department of Public Works (DPW) and any other relevant City department and report back to the City Council on ways the City can help small businesses offset other costs, included but not limited to, the possibility of DPW picking up trash from these small businesses during their regular routes.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Cheung

This debate has gone on for at least 25 years. The truth is that DPW already does pick up trash from small businesses in some mixed-use buildings (like next door to me). If the City did choose to include more commercial customers, they would also have to include recycling services.

Communications and Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a response to an Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by John Hawkinson alleging violation to attorney client privileged redactions of executive session minutes of the City Council for Aug 1, 2016, Oct 13, 2016 and the Oct 31, 2016.

While few will argue with the intent of the Open Meeting Law, there does come a point when complaints like these pass well into the realm of the ridiculous. In this particular case, these were Executive Session meetings specifically focused on contract negotiations. They are not subject to the Open Meeting Law and redaction in the minutes is permitted when appropriate, so no one should be surprised that much of the minutes were redacted. There are far more important things to worry about - even here in the Little Village of Cambridge. In any case, I wish the complainant would show a little more respect to the women who work in City government. Nobody appreciates being hounded while under threat of a negative "news" story that's barely distinguishable from a personal attack. - Robert Winters


Coming up this Monday - Jan 23, 2017 Cambridge City Council agenda [extra detail here or here (15.4MB PDF)]

Jan 23, 2017

Manager's Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following person to the position of Assistant City Manager for Finance, effective Mar 13, 2017:  David Kale.

It's like that line from the Blues Brothers - "We're putting the band back together." Welcome back, David.

Manager's Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-107, regarding the purchase of K9 Rumba by Officer Peter Neal.

There was no absolutely right resolution to this dilemma. In the end, four-year-old Rumba still has work to do for the City of Cambridge.

Manager's Agenda #11. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $35,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Human Services Other Ordinary Maintenance account, to be used to expand the existing contract with Food for Free to support the Weekend Backpack Program.

This is not the first time the City has taken up the slack when the state or federal government discontinued funding for a useful program such as this. I expect it won't be the last.

Manager's Agenda #17. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation regarding the Medical Marijuana Zoning Petition. [The Planning Board does NOT RECOMMEND adoption.]

Committee Report #2 and Committee Report #3 from the Ordinance Committee for public hearings held on Dec 21, 2016 and on Jan 3, 2017 relative to the City Council petition to amend the Zoning Ordinance to delete the existing Section 20.700 – Medical Marijuana Overlay Districts; create a new Section 11.800 – Medical Marijuana; and list Registered Marijuana Dispensary within Section 4.35 of the Table of Use Regulations, allowed only by Planning Board Special Permit within Business A, B, B-1, B-2, C, Industry A-1, B-1 and B-2 districts. These are the 2nd and 3rd hearings on this petition.

The basic issue here is that if there are to be medical marijuana dispensaries in Cambridge, the existing zones where it is allowed appear to be inadequate as evidenced by repeated zoning petitions to add new small zones tailored to specific sites. The alternative is to simply make this an allowed use in some or all of the existing business districts (as long as other constraints are met). One identified complication is that under the recently passed initiative petition to liberalize the use, possession, and sale of recreational marijuana, the dispensary sites could also become recreational marijuana outlets. One discussion I have not yet heard is the reality of where such facilities would actually end up being located if they become an allowed use in business districts. These are not the kind of facilities that would be dependent on foot traffic and they don't need a site that commands high rent, so the most likely sites would be in the smaller business zones or on the outer periphery of the Squares. Wherever they locate, their particular clientele will be sure to find them.

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Richard Harding, et al. to amend 20.800 titled the Mass and Main Residential Mixed Income Sub district to reflect a more appropriate affordable housing contribution and height limitation for this zoning.

Communications #1. A communication was received from Massasoit Elk's Lodge #129 Membership, 55 Bishop Allen Drive, transmitting opposition to the 19th floor height of the B-1 and B2 towers that are grossly out of scale for Central Square and Port neighborhoods, and far higher even than proposed by the C2 study.

I'm at something of a loss trying to understand out of which blue this petition came. The Normandy/Twining petition of a couple of years ago that has made possible the Mass & Main development that is now being permitted was a very public process with more than its share of controversy. That petition was ordained on a 7-2 vote on May 18, 2015 with significant concessions to produce affordable housing units as part of that development. A tremendous amount of planning and negotiation has occurred since then and many opportunities for the public to weigh in. This new petition is really the horse that left that barn 18 months ago. All of the relevant issues have already been debated. The communication from the Elk's Lodge specifically references the petition. It's difficult to guess what the real motivation is for this petition's appearance at this time. It could be related to a potential City Council candidacy or maybe it's a proxy petition promoted by an activist group, but it could also be based on fear of construction disruption when the Mass & Main development gets underway later this year. In any case, this petition is long past its freshness date.

Resolution #2. Congratulations to José Mateo for being named a 2017 Commonwealth Award honoree for Achievement by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.   Councillor Devereux

Resolution #14. Retirement of Greg Russ from the Cambridge Housing Authority.   Mayor Simmons

In their respective fields, both José Mateo and Greg Russ are local giants.

Order #2. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the License Commission, the Cambridge Arts Council, the Community Development Department, the Police Department, and any other appropriate City department to discuss the feasibility of allowing small businesses to host live acoustic music performances without a license.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

This seems like a great idea - certainly for occasional performances and particularly for those without amplification. There are, however, some factors that the City Council and the City administration may want to consider before making such a change, e.g. hours of operation, whether the business has "operable windows" that would project the sound outward, and if there might be some conflict with any residential abutters. Not all acoustic music is low volume, e.g. drums and horns. Acoustic doesn't necessarily mean a folk singer gently strumming her guitar strings.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to hire an independent consultant who shall assess the efficiency and effectiveness of how all City Departments conduct their work, who will begin implementing whatever necessary adjustments are deemed to be necessary, and who will report back to the City Manager and the City Council on his or her progress in regular monthly intervals.   Mayor Simmons, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Mazen

Assessing the effectiveness of City departments and making necessary improvements should, of course, be standard practice. In that spirit, this Order seems perfectly great. However, the phrase "who will begin implementing whatever necessary adjustments are deemed to be necessary" in regard to a hired independent consultant is more than a little problematic. If read literally, this would imply that the City Manager would hire a consultant who would not merely advise the City Manager and the City Council but actually independently make changes in the management of City departments. At the very least, the City Council should amend this order to make clear that any recommendations are strictly advisory.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on current or potential future public-private partnerships that could deliver an operational Foundry that consists of significant community space for the community.   Councillor Toomey

Lately I have begun to think that the entire process regarding the Foundry building has become one large circular discussion that has brought of back to pretty much the same place we were at four years ago.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to issue a report on the current status of the Broadband Task Force, including a schedule for ongoing discussion and final decision and recommendation.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Cheung

I still have not heard a convincing argument for why the City should invest a huge sum of money on a speculative initiative like this.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff and report back to the Council with an explanation of how the success of these “pop up” lanes will be measured and what lessens we expect to learn from them to help implement safer bicycling facilities throughout the City as soon as possible.   Councillor Kelley

This is an incredibly perceptive Order from Councillor Kelley. I have already seen at least one advocacy group running surveys designed to "prove" the desirability of these changes. I cannot speak for the one near the Harvard Law School, but it's hard to imagine that the obstacle course that was installed in Lafayette Square would pass muster in any objective analysis. There are plenty of trouble spots that can be identified for improved bicycle safety in Cambridge, but these don't especially coincide with those promoted politically.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 13, 2016 to discuss recent and anticipated development projects and commercial and institutional leasing in Harvard Square and how such changes may affect the future of Harvard Square.

This was an interesting hearing, but it's not at all clear what the action items are or where this discussion may be headed.

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 4, 2017 to discuss a petition by the City Council to amend provision of the Zoning Ordinance related to Inclusionary Housing, including the insertion of new definitions into Article 2.000 and the substitution of revised zoning text for the current text of sections 11.200 through 11.206.

There is a noticeable urgency to pass these changes regardless of what the effect may be on new housing construction. The proposed mandatory percentage of "affordable units" is almost double what has been in effect since the 1998 ordinance was adopted. It may be economically sustainable, but this is not a sure thing. The only sure thing is that the adoption of these changes to Inclusionary Zoning will be prominently featured on a lot of campaign literature this fall. - Robert Winters


New Year at City Hall - Jan 9, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

2017It's a relatively short agenda to open the new year, but there are some notable items:

Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Acting Police Commissioner Brent B. Larrabee, effective Jan 9, 2017.

Even if we'll have Acting Commissioner Larrabee for just the next 6-8 months, he comes highly recommended by former Commissioner Robert Haas. That's all I need to hear to know that the Police Department is in good hands.

Manager's Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt with suggested modifications, the zoning amendments to Article 19.000 related to lighting in project review.

This is a reasonable proposal and the modifications suggested by the Planning Board make sense. Nonetheless, the alarmists are out in full force arguing against reason. One message posted on a listserv states, "If you do not want Las Vegas style lights in Cambridge, if you believe you have the right to some darkness at night, you need to, once again, email your councillors right now." Yeah, right. Las Vegas here we come. Let's see if the tail wags the dog Monday night.

Manager's Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt with some minor modifications, the Central Square Restoration Zoning Petition (Sater, et al).

I haven't yet heard any serious objections to this zoning petition. It's a very moderate step forward that may yield positive benefits for housing and retail in the Central Square area. It does not preclude further modifications that might one day emerge from the Envision Cambridge process.

Charter Right #2. City Council support of asking the Cambridge Historical Commission to initiate a landmark designation study process on the Abbott Building in Harvard Square. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Dec 19, 2016.]

Most of us want to see the exterior of this structure remain essentially as it is today - regardless of any changes in tenancy within the building. The word is that Curious George will find a new home nearby. One striking lesson from the Dec 19 City Council meeting discussion on this subject was that this area already has substantial protections as a neighborhood conservation district, and landmarking of this building really adds no additional protection. The issue, however, has become a political rallying point, so I don't expect the City Council to exercise good sense here. There are important discussions that are needed regarding the future of Harvard Square, but this isn't one of them. I would be much more thrilled if we could focus just a little attention on the detrimental effect of foreign investors treating this area and all of Cambridge as just a place to shelter their assets. Some of us actually live here - and not just for the investment value.

Communications and Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, relating to Council Goals and capacity building for the Community Development Department.

The City Council is long overdue in their periodic goal-setting process, and I imagine more than a few of them would like to address this sooner than later. Regarding whether the Community Development Department is understaffed or if there's a need for a "vision statement for how CDD will run differently in the year 2020", I look forward to hearing what City staff and the rest of the city councillors may have to say on the matter. - Robert Winters


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

T.T. The Bear's owner could lose $225k if license buyer can't be found (Jan 13, 2017 by Bill Whelan)

Bikers, water officials clash over trails (Jan 13, 2017 by Gerry Tuoti)Cambridge Chronicle

Could advocates' merger boost Cambridge small businesses? (Jan 13, 2017 by Bill Whelan)

Retired fire captain spends half-century documenting Cambridge's fire history (Jan 12, 2017 by Amy Saltzman)

Late Danvers coach Kevin Flynn follows the blueprint of his Matignon mentor (Jan 11, 2017 by Joe McConnell)

Councilors attack delays to Central Square revitalization (Jan 11, 2017 by Monica Jimenez)

Crimson Corner looks to relocate, owner says he was forced out (Jan 9, 2017 by James Sanna)

Pizzeria seeking to open in Crimson Corner space (Jan 6, 2017)

Councilors divided on aggressiveness of affordable housing push (Jan 6, 2017 by Bill Whelan)

Alanna Mallon, founder of Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, announces run for City Council (Jan 4, 2017)

Cambridge Rindge girls basketball sets sights on another state tourney (Jan 4 by Wayne Gethers)

Employers warn $15 minimum wage would be costly (Jan 3, 2017 by Colin A. Young, State House News Service)

Stories written by Luis Vasquez for the Cambridge Chronicle

Looking Ahead

Possible City Council and School Committee candidates for 2017 (with age at time of election)

City Council Candidate Birthdate Age address Notes
Timothy J. Toomey 6/7/1953 64 88 6th St., 02141 incumbent, first elected in 1989, some speculation that he may not seek reelection
E. Denise Simmons 10/2/1951 66 188 Harvard St. #4B, 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2001
Craig Kelley 9/18/1962 55 6 Saint Gerard Terr. #2, 02140 incumbent, first elected in 2005
Leland Cheung 2/11/1978 39 157 Garden St., 02138 incumbent, first elected in 2009
Dennis Carlone 5/7/1947 70 9 Washington St. #6, 02140 incumbent, first elected in 2013
Marc McGovern 12/21/1968 48 15 Pleasant St., 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2013
Nadeem Mazen 9/20/1983 34 720 Mass. Ave. #4, 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2013
Jan Devereux 5/13/1959 58 255 Lakeview Ave., 02138 incumbent, first elected in 2015
Quinton Zondervan 9/15/1970 47 235 Cardinal Madeiros Ave., 02141 privately announced, registered with OCPF
Alanna Marie Mallon 12/6/1970 46 3 Maple Ave., 02139 announced, registered with OCPF
Ronald Benjamin 1/5/1971 46 172 Cushing St., 02138 announced, registered with OCPF
Vatsady Sivongxay 2/20/1982 35 59 Kirkland St. #2, 02138 not yet announced, but registered with OCPF
Olivia D'Ambrosio 9/13/1983 34 270 3rd Street #305, 02142 not yet announced, but registered with OCPF
Theodora Marie Skeadas 8/16/1990 27 988 Memorial Drive #185, 02138 not yet announced, but registered with OCPF
Sam Gebru 11/20/1991 25 812 Memorial Dr., 02139 announced, registered with OCPF
Dennis Benzan 1/25/1972 45 1 Pine St., 02139 served 2014-15, speculated that he'll seek reelection, but may choose to remain in private sector
James Williamson 1/13/1951 66 1000 Jackson Pl., 02140 perennial candidate
Gary Mello 5/24/1953 64 324 Franklin St. #2, 02139 ran several times
Greg Moree 6/16/1957 60 25 Fairfield St. #4, 02140 perennial candidate
Ilan Levy 11/1/1967 50 148 Spring St. 02141 ran in 2015, seems to be planning to do it again
Sean Tierney 3/10/1985 32 12 Prince St., 02139 considering a City Council run
Andrew King 4/17/1986 31 40 Essex St., 02139 conflicting reports on whether or not a candidate
Romaine Waite 6/7/1991 26 60 Lawn St. #5, 02138 not announced, but may try again
School Committee Candidate Birthdate Age address Notes
Fred Fantini 6/8/1949 68 4 Canal Park #203, 02141 incumbent, first elected in 1981
Richard Harding 10/16/1972 45 189 Windsor St. #1, 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2001, speculation he may run for City Council
Patty Nolan 8/28/1957 60 184 Huron Ave., 02138 incumbent, first elected in 2005
Kathleen Kelly 3/8/1960 57 17 Marie Ave. #1, 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2013
Emily Dexter 3/16/1957 60 9 Fenno St., 02138 incumbent, first elected in 2015
Mannika Bowman 11/27/1979 37 134 Reed St., 02140 incumbent, first elected in 2015
Will MacArthur 5/24/1998 19 18 Shea Rd., 02140 definitely running for School Committee

There are others who are likely to be candidates but who have not yet chosen to be identified as such. Please let me know of other candidates. Not all of the individuals listed above may wish to be identified as candidates, and I will be more than happy to remove those names (unless I am absolutely certain they will be running!). Anyone who has filed papers with OCPF (Office of Campaign & Political Finance) is assumed to be running for City Council. - RW

Civic Infrastructure (from Dec 1, 2015)

Civic landscape today dominated by single-issue advocacy and neighborhood groups that often do not represent their neighborhoods. Common pattern is that some dominant characters eventually drive out other participants rendering the group a narrow agenda-driven entity. Some groups (PSNA, Agassiz-Baldwin) generally have a better focus such as (a) children (Agassiz), or (b) cooperation with the local business community (PSNA).

Groups like the Cambridge Residents Alliance are dominated by zoning and, arguably, efforts to slow or stop new development - residential or commercial/office/lab. The Fresh Pond Residents Alliance is of this type (in addition to serving as a launching point for a City Council candidacy).

For the Cambridge Schools there are also advocacy groups (Special Ed and others), but not necessarily a general forum for broader discussion.

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:

These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization.

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.

CCA Origin

The Advent of PR in Cambridge - by David Goode

What Slates are Not (from Dec 1, 2015)

Tom Stohlman recently wrote up his version of an explanation of how PR voting works. His illustrations involved cups being filled with water. The representation was a good one, but he completely mischaracterized the role of slates among actual voters. Tom's belief seems to be that most voters identify themselves with one of the various slates in the same way that they might identify as either Democrat, Republican, or other party. Though there are certainly some voters that have such a Black & White view of things, there really isn't much evidence to support that point of view. What seems far more apparent is that voters still are focusing on individual candidates and then appreciate the "advice" that one or more slates seem to provide - even if imperfectly.

The far more dominant factor in this election was that some voters who might previously voted for Leland Cheung chose this time to vote for somebody else - in part due to lack of a campaign, in part due to a concerted effort by Mazen and others to draw those votes away, and in part because of some unpopular stands taken by Cheung, e.g. the 1,000 foot Volpe tower.

A Kelley voter may have been influenced by the advice to vote for other Unity Slate candidates, but there is no natural grouping of some of the Unity Slate candidates other than the political convenience of their having worked cooperatively over the current City Council term. Similarly, a typical Toomey #1 voter might see David Maher as a likely #2 choice, but beyond that the Slate is more like casual advice. A Mazen voter most likely doesn't identify all that much with other candidates beyond perhaps Mariko Davidson. Carlone/Devereux voters might be more inclined to identify with (a portion of) the CRA Slate, but the same certainly cannot be said of most Cambridge voters.

Perhaps Slates may take on more of a distinct identity in future municipal elections, but they were primarily utilitarian this year.

That said, the electorate is changing and the way political association is carried out in future years will have to take this into account.

In terms of candidates, we could really use something analogous to the Farm System of Minor League Baseball.


Mon, Jan 30

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Tues, Jan 31

2:30pm   City Council Public Goal Setting Session  (Sheraton Commander, 16 Garden Street)

7:00pm   Planning Board meeting  (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)

General Business

1. Update from the Community Development Department

2. Adoption of Planning Board meeting transcripts

7:00pm   MIT SoMa Building 4 Design Review. Public comment will be taken.

Public Hearings

8:00pm   850 Cambridge Street, City of Cambridge seeks special permits pursuant to Section 4.56, footnote 6 to approve Local Government Administrative Office use; Section 5.54.2 to exceed the height limit of 45 feet but not to exceed 55 feet or, in limited areas, 65 feet (paragraph c) and to reduce the front yard setback to less than 10 feet for a section of a roof overhang; Section 6.43.5 to approve tandem parking spaces; and waiver of the Special Permit application fee for a proposal to demolish the existing school building and construct a replacement municipal school structure and administrative office building to include a municipal K-5 and 6-8 school with attached preschool.

Thurs, Feb 2

3:00pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct an additional public hearing to discuss the Central Square Restoration Petition.  (Sullivan Chamber)

5:30-8:00pm   Volpe Working Group meeting  (Cambridge Police Station, 1st floor Community Room, 125 Sixth St.)

6:00pm   Cambridge Historical Commission meeting  (Citywide Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Ave.)

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



1. Executive Director’s Report

2. Assistant Director's Report

3. Commissioners' Reports



Unfinished Business

1. 2017 Annual City Census

New Business


Mon, Feb 6

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

5:30-6:30pm   Drought Information Session  (Water Department Conference Room, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway)

Join us for an information session to learn more about the drought we're currently experiencing, and have your questions answered. For more info or to RSVP, email

Tues, Feb 7

7:00pm   Planning Board meeting  (Senior Center, 806 Mass Avenue)

General Business

1. Update from the Community Development Department

2. Adoption of Planning Board meeting transcripts

3. Town Gown Reports

Town Gown reports are submitted annually by Cambridge's educational institutions. The reports include information about student, staff and faculty populations, parking and transportation, and current and future development plans.

The Planning Board will hold a meeting to discuss Town Gown reports submitted at the end of 2016. You are invited to attend the meeting and hear presentations by Harvard University, MIT, Lesley University, and the Hult International School of Business.

The Town Gown Reports can be viewed online on the Community Development website at: For more information about the Town Gown report, please contact Cliff Cook at 617-349-4656 or

7:00pm   REPEAT INMAN SQUARE REDESIGN MEETING - Inman Square Intersection Improvements (Main Library)

The City is currently developing plans to improve the intersection of Hampshire St and Cambridge St in Inman Square. On Tuesday, February 7, city staff will host a repeat community meeting due to the large turnout at the January 24th meeting. The format will be similar, with staff presenting the same presentation and design options.

Repeat Community Meeting Tuesday, February 7 Cambridge Public Library (Main Branch), Lower Level (L2) 449 Broadway

Open House: 5-8 pm

Presentation: 7 pm

We will also hold office hours during the week of February 6 at the City Hall Annex at 344 Broadway. Project staff will be available during the times noted below. The design option boards will be on display all week. Office Hours at 344 Broadway, Second Floor

Monday, February 6, 12 pm-1 pm and 6 pm - 7 pm.

Tuesday, February 7, 12 pm - 1 pm

Wednesday, February 8, 12 pm -1 pm

Thursday, February 9, 12 pm -1 pm

For more information, including design options and online survey, please visit: To be added to the project email list, please contact Kelly Dunn, DPW Community Relations Manager at

Wed, Feb 8

5:30-7:30pm   Bicycle Committee Meeting  (4th Floor Conference Room, 344 Broadway)

Mon, Feb 13

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Feb 15

5:30pm   The City Council's Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss next steps on bike and transit safety in Cambridge.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Feb 22

7:00pm   The City Council's Public Safety Committee will hold a public working group meeting to gather feedback on a short-term rental policy for Cambridge. These findings will be communicated to the Public Safety Committee during a meeting scheduled on Mar 1, 2017 at 4:00pm.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Mon, Feb 27

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Mar 1

4:00pm   The City Council's Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to draft language for short-term rental regulations to be forwarded to the Ordinance Committee.  (Sullivan Chamber)

6:00-8:00pm   Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee meeting  (4th Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)