Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

August 29, 2014

A Vehicular Revamping

Filed under: Cambridge,cycling,MIT,schools,transportation — Sharanya Srinivasan @ 5:22 pm

Anyone who has traversed up the bulbous convexity of a steep hill has made the sweaty decision that bicycles should come equipped with an alternative power source that does not involve leg muscles. Luckily the recent development of the e-bike, an electric bicycle that comes with a rechargeable battery-powered motor, has addressed this serious transportation concern. According to a 2014 report in The New York Times, e-bike sales are “surging” in Europe, with “250,000 e-bikes on the road in Switzerland and bike sales rising by over 9 percent in Netherlands”. Numerous start-ups in the Cambridge and Boston areas are looking to emulate the success of e-bike sales abroad, by engineering products that significantly reduce the physical exertion of riders while enabling an easy crossover from standard bikes to electric.

Superpedestrian, a Cambridge-based enterprise, creates a novel design for the e-bike called the Copenhagen Wheel. This technology involves no necessary hardware to install other than the wheel itself, and therefore fits on most standard bicycles. The wheel’s motor is operated by a lithium battery which manipulates the torque on the bike’s back wheel to propel the vehicle 20 mph via power assist. And the best part? The speed settings for the Copenhagen Wheel can be controlled by a smartphone app. Superpedestrian, born from a collaboration between MIT’s SENSEable City Lab and the City of Copenhagen, plans to release its first consumer models by the end of the year.

Evelo, another Cambridge-based company, was established a few years ago and advertises the “electrifying power” of its bicycles. Evelo bikes are equipped with Intelligent Pedal Assistance, which provides 3 options of riding with a mid-drive motor system. Further e-bike expansion is around the corner – Craigslist posts shared by the Boston Cyclists Union have hinted that another electric bike venue will be coming soon to Boston.

Undoubtedly, these e-bike businesses are looking to capitalize on the relatively strong biker culture that already exists in Cambridge, a demographic that spans college students maniacally racing to class, leisurely weekend cyclists, and daily commuters pedaling to offices. Thus far, e-bikes have garnered attention in the US as a transportation option for the elderly and people with limited mobility. However, The New York Times states that e-bikes still represent a “niche” in the US. For e-bikes to experience commercial success in Cambridge and elsewhere in the US, these start-ups need to reach a broad target market and encourage standard bike users to transition to the electric version.

The state of Massachusetts also has specific restrictions on motorized bicycles, that limit the speed of e-bikes to 25 mph and prohibit their usage on major highways or roadways where standard bicycles are not allowed. Another “speedbump” to e-bike sales might be price; the Copenhagen Wheel is priced at 799 dollars, and various Evelo models land at 2000 dollars. Certainly, there is fairness behind the upmarket price tag on e-bikes (remember the smartphone app?), but it is up to electric bike companies to market this rationale appealingly to consumers.

Regardless, for those cyclists who find pedaling to be tiresome and an exercise in redundancy…you now have your solution!

August 20, 2014

Cambridge Challenges Somerville to the Ice Bucket

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 2:42 pm

SAM_0736

L to R: Joe Amaroso, Mayor David Maher, City Manager Richard Rossi, School Superintendent Jeff Young

Not shown: School Committee members Fred Fantini, Mervan Osborne, Kathleen Kelly, and Patty Nolan; and City Councillors Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Nadeem Mazen, and Dennis Carlone

Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher and City Manager Richard C. Rossi, along with members of the City Council, School Committee, and City Staff, participated in an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on August 20, 2104. The challenge was dedicated to current City employees who are battling this disease and to those employees who have lost their fight. Over 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time.

So many people in all walks of life are being faced with this terrible disease,” stated Cambridge Mayor David Maher, “just last week we lost a long time Cambridge School employee and friend, Jurina Vellucci, to ALS. Knowing how many people are suffering from ALS, we felt compelled to participate in a large scale way to help create awareness and to contribute to research for a cure.”

Ms. Vellucci was an employee at the King Open School (and the former Harrington School) who lost her four year battle with ALS.

“I would do this challenge as many times as necessary if the awareness raised by this campaign could help find a cure,” said City Manager Richard Rossi.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

The ice and buckets were generously donated by Acme Ice on Kirkland St. in Cambridge.

To learn more about ALS visit: http://www.alsa.org/

Aug 20 Boston Globe Update:
ALS Association Donations Top $31 Million Thanks to Ice Bucket Challenge

August 19, 2014

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 79 and 80 with Terry Smith

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:50 pm

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 79 with Terry Smith (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Aug 19, 2014 at 5:30pm. Robert Winters was the host (Susana’s on vacation). [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 80 with Terry Smith (Part 2)

This episode broadcast on Aug 19, 2014 at 6:00pm. Robert Winters was the host (Susana’s on vacation). [On YouTube]

August 17, 2014

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Aug 17)

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 7:20 pm

Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals Vacancies

City SealCity Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). Made up of five members and seven associate members, the BZA meets twice a month on Thursday evenings to review applications for variances and special permits in accordance with Cambridge Zoning Ordinance. Board members also act on appeals to zoning decisions made by the Commissioner of Inspectional Services.

For more information, contact the Inspectional Services Department at 617-349-6131. Letters of interest, including resume or applicable experience, can be sent via mail, fax or e-mail by Friday, Sept 12, 2014 to:

Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Fax 617-349-4307
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

August 16, 2014

2013 Cambridge City Council Campaign Finance Receipts (Jan 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014)

2013 Cambridge City Council Campaign Finance Receipts (Jan 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014)

Candidates
Cambridge
Total
Cambridge %
union/PAC %
Real Estate %
Notes
Benzan, Dennis$25,891.00$55,161.0046.9%3.3%0.5%$2,000 overpayment subtracted
Carlone, Dennis$34,796.00$41,650.0083.5%0.6%0.5%$16,000 from candidate
Cheung, Leland$21,366.00$51,385.3741.6%6.4%20.2%$2 from candidate
House, Janneke$12,177.24$14,811.7382.2%0.2%5.1%$6867.24 from candidate; $1132.76 reimbursed
Kelley, Craig$10,591.00$11,441.0092.6%0%3.5%$25 from candidate
Lee, James$1,800.00$1,975.0091.1%0%0%$1,800 from candidate
Leslie, Logan$20,520.00$24,007.5385.5%4.2%0%$13,100 from candidate
Maher, David$28,260.00$50,653.6855.8%6.6%22.4%-
Mazen, Nadeem$10,706.96$41,058.4326.1%2.7%0%includes $1750 in-kind, $3000 loan from candidate
McGovern, Marc$28764.80$58,228.1349.4%9.3%29.5%$1903.58 from previous campaign
Mello, Gary$500.00$500.00100.0%0%0%$500 from candidate
Mirza, Mushtaque$17,786.00$19,983.0089.0%0%0%$17,000 loan; $16793.84 apparently forgiven
Moree, Gregg J. $2,400.00$2,400.00100.0%0%0%$2,400 from candidate not itemized
Peden, Ron$500.00$500.00100.0%0%0%$500 from candidate not itemized
Phillips, Lesley$500.00$500.00100.0%0%0%-
Reeves, Ken$14,343.88$67,362.9321.3%9.3%25.0%Campaign headquarters greatly underreported; accounting unclear
Seidel, Sam$15,362.00$22,245.8269.1%1.1%0.9%$4,001 from candidate
Simmons, Denise$16,125.00$35,222.0245.8%14.1%20.3%-
Smith, Jefferson$20,040.00$39,440.0050.8%6.0%0%$17,220 from candidate; confused accounting
Toomey, Tim$15,969.43$41,083.7738.9%13.6%22.1%-
vanBeuzekom, Minka $22,512.00$31,757.7070.9%1.3%3.0%$7,500 from candidate
Vasquez, Luis$1,375.00$2,410.9657.0%0%0%-
von Hoffmann, Kristen$6,351.33$17,166.4537.0%0%1.7%$1,750 loan; $1640.33 in-kind forgiven
Williamson, James-----no reported receipts
Yarden, Elie-----no reported receipts

Note: Receipts include candidate loans which can greatly increase the percentage from Cambridge. Fees are included and reduce total receipts. Percentages for unions/PACS and identifiable real estate interests (RE) are shown. The total receipts in the first graph below includes all receipts reported by the bank. Bank receipts in some cases do not match the reported itemized receipts. All figures taken from Mass. Office of Campaign & Political Finance (OCPF) reports.

Two candidates in particular, Nadeem Mazen and Jefferson Smith, have financial reports that are especially difficult to decipher due to their liberal use of credit cards which resulted in some expenses being counted twice. I corrected the data as much as I could, but both campaigns could have used a competent treasurer.

Additional information, including expenditures, may be found at http://cambridgecivic.com/?p=2660.

These figures will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Receipts
Total Itemized Receipts – 2013 (through Dec 14)


Cambridge Percentage
Percentage of Itemized Receipts from Cambridge – 2013 (through Dec 14, minimum $2000)

Cambridge Receipts from Others
Percentage of Itemized Receipts from Cambridge w/o Candidate Loans


Percent Real Estage
Percentage of Itemized Receipts from Real Estate/Developers – 2013 (through Dec 14, minimum $5000)

Campaign Finance – 2013 Cambridge City Council candidates

Filed under: 2013 Election,campaign finance,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 5:15 pm

The campaign finance reports are continuing to tell a story about which candidates made serious runs for a seat on the Cambridge City Council in 2013, how costly their campaigns were, and how effective their expenditures proved to be. Here are the figures from January 2013 through the latest (July 31, 2014) reports:

Summaries
Start
End
Open
Receipts
Expend
Balance
#1 Votes
$/Vote
Notes
Benzan, Dennis16-Jan-1331-Jul-14$0.00$57019.84$56829.83$190.011302$43.65$2000 refunded donation subtracted
Carlone, Dennis1-Aug-1331-Jul-14$0.00$42330.05$41727.29$602.761151$36.25includes late $10,000 candidate loan (Dec 2013)
Cheung, Leland1-Jan-1315-Jan-14$7016.78$50586.80$37041.34$20562.242392$15.49$800 overpayment deducted; now running for Lt. Gov.
House, Janneke1-Jun-1331-Jan-14$0.00$13518.97$13538.95-$19.98411$32.94$1132.76 reimbursed candidate loan subtracted
Kelley, Craig1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$5262.08$11461.80$4820.65$2903.231093$4.41$9,000 candidate loan reimbursement subtracted
Lee, James1-Aug-1315-Nov-13$0.00$1207.42$1207.42$0.0092$13.12$1,149.64 loan reimbursed subtracted
Leslie, Logan16-Jan-1331-Jul-14$0.00$26274.52$24831.40$1443.12505$49.17
Maher, David1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$19131.76$50678.68$68425.33$1385.111460$46.87
Mazen, Nadeem1-May-1331-Jul-14$0.00$45255.44$46854.70-$1599.26984$47.62$100 refunded donation subtracted; cost of school bus and parking costs not in any reports; account overdrawn; horrible accounting
McGovern, Marc16-Feb-1331-Jul-14$0.00$61640.86$49776.17$11864.691189$41.86$1,903.58 School Committee balance included in receipts
Mello, Gary1-Aug-1315-Dec-13$0.00$549.99$549.99$0.00107$5.14
Mirza, Mushtaque16-Aug-1331-Jan-14$0.00$20083.00$20083.00$0.00284$70.71
Moree, Gregg J. 1-Feb-1315-Jan-14$0.00$3850.00$3896.46-$46.4638$102.54account overdrawn
Peden, Ron2-Aug-1329-Aug-13$0.00$500.00$500.00$0.0050no depository reports
Phillips, Lesley16-Aug-1315-May-14$0.00$3994.50$3994.50$0.0083$48.13$1267.31 from previous campaign account not recorded, $500 loan subtracted
Reeves, Ken1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$16034.27$56540.07$68962.93$3611.41932$73.99Only $1,000 campaign hdqtrs. rent to 3MJ Realty recorded
Seidel, Sam1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$253.96$22247.60$22260.40$241.16700$31.80
Simmons, Denise1-Jan-1331-Jul-14
$7625.65$43184.05$47357.89$3451.811183$40.03
Smith, Jefferson1-May-1331-Jul-14$0.00$41369.46$41412.12-$42.66579$71.52account overdrawn; credit card debt apparently being paid down
Toomey, Tim1-Jan-1331-Dec-13$6035.62$41083.77$36840.00$8779.391459$25.25$1500 loan reimbursement subtracted from expenses, balance.
vanBeuzekom, Minka 1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$5201.71$32285.19$33722.01$3764.89874$38.58$8,007.68 bank transfer included in expenditures
Vasquez, Luis16-May-1315-Jun-14$0.00$2387.33$2387.33$0.00264$9.04
von Hoffmann, Kristen16-Feb-1331-Dec-13$0.00$16919.17$16919.17$0.00421$40.19$109.67 reimbursed loan subtracted
Williamson, James1-Jan-1331-Dec-13$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0074no reports on record
Yarden, Elie2-Aug-1331-Dec-13$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00102no reports on record

The table can be sorted by category in ascending or descending order by clicking on the category name in the top row.

The Dollars Per Vote information will continue to rise as outstanding bills are paid. In addition, some reimbursed candidate loans have been subtracted in order to give a more accurate picture of actual expenses.

Two candidates in particular, Nadeem Mazen and Jefferson Smith, have financial reports that are especially difficult to decipher due to their liberal use of credit cards which resulted in some expenses being counted twice. I corrected the data as much as I could, but both campaigns could have used a competent treasurer.

All 2013 Campaign Finance Report Summaries (PDF) – last updated August 16, 2014
.

You can also look up these periodic reports yourself at the OCPF website.

This post and the table will be updated periodically.

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2013

August 14, 2014

Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher and City Manager Richard C. Rossi Accept ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 4:37 pm

City Council and School Committee Members will Participate in Group Challenge

ALS ChallengeOn Wednesday, August 20, at 2:00pm, Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher, along with Vice-Mayor Dennis Benzan and other members of the Cambridge City Council, will participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and funds for ALS research. The event will occur on Cambridge City Hall lawn. “So many people in all walks of life are being faced with this terrible disease,” stated Cambridge Mayor David Maher, “just last week we lost a long time Cambridge School employee and friend, Jurina Vellucci, to ALS. Knowing how many people are suffering from ALS, we felt compelled to participate in a large scale way to help create awareness and to contribute to research for a cure.”

Ms. Vellucci was an employee at the King Open School (and the former Harrington School) who lost her four year battle with ALS last week.

Joining them will be several Cambridge School Committee members, City Manager Richard C. Rossi, several city department heads and City Hall staff.

Vice-Mayor Dennis Benzan and Councilor Marc McGovern were recently challenged by former Cambridge City Councilor and Massachusetts State Representative Marjorie Decker. The Mayor’s office seized the opportunity to make it a group challenge on the lawn at City Hall, and to help create awareness of ALS. The Cambridge contingent will be challenging another local city to do the same.

The ice and buckets will be generously donated by Acme Ice on Kirkland St. in Cambridge. Eric Law, owner of Acme Ice can be reached at 781-420-1332.

For additional information, please contact Alanna Mallon in Mayor David Maher’s Office at 617-349-4327 or email amallon@cambridgema.gov.

August 5, 2014

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 77 and 78 with Patty Nolan

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 8:54 pm

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 77 with Patty Nolan (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Aug 5, 2014 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Susana Segat and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 78 with Patty Nolan (Part 2)

This episode broadcast on Aug 5, 2014 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Susana Segat and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

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