Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

February 7, 2016

Back to Work – Monday, Feb 8, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 11:00 pm

Back to Work – Monday, Feb 8, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Committee Members
Ordinance Carlone (Co-Chair), Cheung (Co-Chair)
(committee of the whole)
Finance McGovern (Chair)
(committee of the whole)
Government Operations,
Rules, and Claims
Maher (Chair), Cheung,
Mazen, McGovern, Toomey
Housing Mayor Simmons (Co-Chair),
McGovern (Co-Chair),
Carlone, Devereux, Maher
Economic Development and
University Relations
Devereux (Chair), Carlone,
Cheung, Mazen, McGovern
Human Services & Veterans McGovern (Chair), Devereux,
Maher, Mazen, Toomey
Health & Environment Devereux (Chair), Carlone,
Kelley, McGovern, Toomey
Neighborhood and Long Term
Planning, Public Facilities,
Art, and Celebrations
Mazen (Chair), Carlone,
Cheung, Devereux, Maher
& Public Utilities
Toomey (Chair), Carlone,
Cheung, Kelley, Mazen
Civic Unity McGovern (Chair), Devereux, Kelley,
Mazen, Mayor Simmons
Public Safety Kelley (Chair), Maher, Mazen,
McGovern, Toomey, Mayor Simmons

Back to WorkThe 2016-2017 City Council committee assignments have been announced by Mayor Simmons. There are also proposed amended 2016-2017 City Council Rules on the agenda for this week’s meeting. The proposed changes include uniformizing most City Council committees at 5 members and allowing for the possibility that some Roundtable meetings may be televised. One curious departure from tradition is that Mayor Simmons will co-chair the Housing Committee and also be a regular member of the Civic Unity Committee and the Public Safety Committee. In all my year’s of Council-watching, I don’t recall the Mayor being anything other than an ex-officio member of any subcommittees (other than committees of the whole) and certainly never a co-chair. I have to interpret this a strong desire of Mayor Simmons to continue work begun on these committees during the last term. I’m especially pleased by the appointments to the Government Operations, Rules, & Claims Committee – especially with the City Manager’s contract discussion coming up soon.

Other interesting items on this coming Monday’s City Council agenda:

Manager’s Agenda #17. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Sharlene Yang as the new STEAM Coordinator.

So much of the focus on STEM/STEAM has seemed like little more than political fashion, but if any of these efforts result in matching young people growing up in Cambridge with real opportunities in the local economy of today, it will all have been worth it. That said, a coordinator needs to have something to coordinate and it will be interesting to see if the required opportunities develop.

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Sage Cannabis, Inc., to amend the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Overlay District Section 20.700 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance and Map.

Communications #8. A communication was received from Michael Dundas, Chief Executive Officer, Sage Cannabis, Inc., 13 Commercial Way, Milford, MA, regarding a status update on the zoning amendment petition APP 2015 #72 filed with the Cambridge City Clerk on Nov 9, 2015.

Order #3. That the zoning petition filed by Milford Medicinals, Inc. be placed on file.   Mayor Simmons

It’s hard to say where this matter is going to ultimately end up, but it’s important to note that the City Council and City staff spent a considerable amount of time on the current zoning that delineates two areas where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate. Has the case really been made that those districts are inadequate and that additional mini-districts have to be established whenever a medical marijuana dispensary wants to operate elsewhere? It’s also worth considering how the marijuana sales landscape will take shape in the event that the ballot question on legalization prevails later this year.

Order #5. That the amendment to the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge to amend the provisions of the PUD-KS District set forth in Section 13.10 of the Zoning Ordinances and which includes a majority of the Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, be refiled as of Feb 9, 2015.   Councillor Carlone

This re-filing has been anticipated for some time, and now there will be an Ordinance Committee to work on it.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant City departments to study the benefits of a wellbeing index and plan for how it might be incorporated into various City planning processes, including the city wide Master Plan.   Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor McGovern

Call me skeptical. I just read the following description of a wellbeing index: "The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is designed to be the Dow Jones of health, giving a daily measure of people’s wellbeing at the close of every day. With a daily measure, determining the correlation between the places where people work and the communities in which they live, and how it impacts their wellbeing, is now possible. Additionally, the index will increase an understanding of how those factors impact the financial health of corporations and communities." This seems to be in part a continuation of the spectrum of policies that Cambridge planners have been using for years in promoting transportation alternatives and integrating passive and active recreational opportunities wherever possible. My skepticism comes from the potential subjectivity of such a measure. I’m reminded how when various measures of cycling safety led to inconclusive results, a new "comfort index" was invented in order to justify specific policies regarding road design that some planners wanted. How shall we measure "wellbeing"? – Robert Winters

February 6, 2016

Cambridge School Committee 2015 Campaign Finance Summaries

Cambridge School Committee 2015 Campaign Finance Summaries (updated Feb 6, 2016)

CandidateStartReceiptsExpendituresBalanceIn-KindCambridge $% Cambridge (through Oct)#1 Votes$/voteNotes
Manikka Bowman$0.00$15,256.98$13,251.61$2,005.37$0.00$2,985.0024.4%1488$8.91
Pia Cisternino$0.00$1,607.30$1,607.30$0.00$149.00 $1,134.3777.7%657$2.45account closed
Fran Cronin$1,560.03$12,765.00$11,229.67$3,095.36$0.00 $7,640.0070.8%1418$7.92$0 liabilities
Jake Crutchfield$0.00$8,692.00$8,650.93$41.07$400.00 $375.005.1%1221$7.09
Emily Dexter$0.00$7,315.38$4,740.06$2,575.32$0.00 $5,441.6782.7%1402$3.38$4416 liab. to candidate
Fred Fantini$3,786.27$8,136.00$6,447.20$5,475.07$0.00 $2,950.0052.2%2721$2.37$14,396 liab. to candidate
Richard Harding$0.00$14,191.60$13,985.15$206.45$0.00$7621.5070.2%1989$7.03$6,595.54 liab. to candidate
Elechi Kadete$47.00$688.41$724.45$10.96$0.00$283.5241.2%427$1.70has not yet filed end-of-year report
Kathleen Kelly$1,754.85$12,574.00$8,641.80$5,687.05$0.00 $9,639.0087.9%1710$5.05$3,000 liab. to candidate
Patricia Nolan$1,081.40$7,288.00$8,289.16$80.24$0.00 $1,510.0032.0%3006$2.76$8,850 liab. to candidate
David Weinstein$0.00$7,157.11$5,553.08$1,604.03$150.00 $1,409.3546.9%696$7.98$1,252.11 liab. to candidate

Vote!Note: Non-itemized receipts are not included in the Cambridge receipts. Any candidate with a significant amount of non-itemized receipts will have a lower percentage of Cambridge receipts.

The deadline for submitting campaign finance reports was October 26.

Additional receipts and expenses will appear in the year-end report filed in January 2016. The information here will be updated at that time.

February 1, 2016

Groundhog Eve – A Few Items from the Feb 1, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:16 am

Groundhog Eve – A Few Items from the Feb 1, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting agenda

groundhogPerhaps there will be just six more weeks of winter, then it will get cold again. Until then, here are a few comment-worthy items on tap for this Monday:

Resolution #1. Happy Birthday wishes to former Mayor and City Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves.   Councillor Maher

Happy birthday, Ken!

Order #1. That the Cambridge City Council go on record in full support of H.3019/S.1810, H.3073/S.1807, and S.1809 as needed protections for area bicyclists.   Councillor Kelley

It’s interesting that 55 years ago the same-numbered bill read: "1961 House Bill 3019. An Act Providing A Penalty For Operating A Motor Vehicle So Dangerously Under The Circumstances That The Operator Should Be Conscious That He Is Unreasonably Endangering The Lives Or Safety Of The Public."

The first of these measures would mandate better mirrors and side guards on some vehicles as a means of helping to prevent catastrophic injuries to cyclists. (A significant fraction of cyclist fatalities involve altercations with very large vehicles). The third of these measures would clarify the rights of a cyclist in a crosswalk (which could make a big difference in terms of legal liability in the event of injury or death). Bicycles are vehicles, but in a situation like the Minuteman Bikeway where there are crosswalks at intersections it’s currently not clear what a cyclist is supposed to do – proceed with caution or dismount and walk.

The second of these measures is the most significant. It attempts to define "vulnerable user" and includes cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, people in wheelchairs, tractor operators, and people riding an animal. The proposed law would require that a safe distance of at least three feet be maintained for a motor vehicle traveling at thirty miles per hour or less, and one additional foot of clearance for every ten miles per hour above thirty miles per hour. The law would also require that if a passing vehicle cannot maintain this safe distance when overtaking a "vulnerable user", the overtaking vehicle shall use all or part of an adjacent lane, crossing the centerline if necessary, if it is safe to do so or wait for a safe opportunity to overtake. This should be standard practice anyway for any good driver, but it will be great if this is enshrined in law. The greatest danger for cyclists (and pedestrians) occurs when there are turning vehicles, but there is also some risk (and some fear) of getting "brushed back" by a careless motor vehicle operator who does give a wide berth when passing a cyclist, a pedestrian or, for that matter, even a slower motor vehicle.

If I could wave a magic wand and command the legislature to do right, I would also mandate lower speed limits on any road where the distance between moving vehicles and parked vehicles is below some minimum, e.g. many Cambridge one-way streets with cars parked on both sides. Nobody should be driving more than 25mph on streets like Lee St., Fayette St., or Antrim St. (just to name a couple of streets in my own neighborhood). I will also point out that according to the above proposed law regarding vulnerable users it may not even be physically possible to legally pass a cyclist on such road.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development with the intention of organizing a Volpe Task Force made up of representatives from abutting neighborhood groups and Kendall Square residents and businesses.   Councillor Toomey

I would have thought that such a group would already have been formed, but this does again bring up the dilemma of who really represents the people in the various neighborhoods of Cambridge. I am reminded of Al Vellucci’s oft-stated phrase "the self-anointed, self-appointed."

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Information Technology Department and any other relevant City departments on ways the City of Cambridge can implement such a service with the goal of notifying residents of city-wide and neighborhood events and meetings via automated calls or text messages.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux

This isn’t a bad idea, but I have to wonder who will decide which meetings and events will be deemed call- or email-worthy and which residents will be contacted (abutters, immediate neighborhood, citywide).

Order #4. That the City Council go on record in support of the Bikeshare Transit Act.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Mazen, Councillor Devereux

This would provide an additional source of funds for expanding services like Hubway. Let me just say that as a cyclist who likes to work on my own bike, there’ nothing like getting to know your own wheels.

Order #9. City Council support of a grant application by the City of Cambridge to the U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge, proposing the development of an automated, connected-vehicle transportation system that has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   Councillor Toomey

Beyond all the greenhouse gas stuff, this grant could help in the development of the future Grand Junction Multi-use path which will help link together residential, commercial, and educational centers in Somerville, Cambridge, and Allston. There are reasons for doing this that go beyond climate change, but I suppose that’s where the money is to be found in this political environment.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting notification from the President of the Massachusetts State Senate, calling for a special election to be held on Tues, May 10, 2016, to fill an existing vacancy in the First Suffolk and Middlesex Senatorial District [Petruccelli].

This means that there will also have to be a primary on Tues, April 12 and, since it’s unlikely that we’ll see a viable Republican or other party candidate, that’s when the actual decision will be made with the Democrat running unopposed or minimally opposed on May 10. Special elections like this should not be conducted in this way. If there is to be a primary, it should be a single open primary where the top two finishers, regardless of party, advance to the final election. Better yet, require ranked-choice-voting (RCV) with transferable votes to elect a single winner and eliminate the primary altogether. It’s idiotic that legislators should be determined in a low turnout primary. Isn’t Massachusetts supposed to be a hotbed of intellect and innovation? Why can’t we get elections right?

Don’t forget – the Presidential Primary is also taking place on Tues, March 1.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., transmitting a series of articles regarding the affordable housing crisis. [San Francisco’s Self-Defeating Housing Activists] [What’s the Matter with San Francisco?]

The comparison of San Francisco and Cambridge may be imperfect, but the underlying issues explored in these articles do have some relevance here.

We’ll also likely get the 2016-17 City Council Committee Assignments at this meeting (or at least we hope so). – Robert Winters

January 26, 2016

New and Old – Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 107 and 108

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:48 pm

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 107

This episode was broadcast on Jan 26, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. This episode featured updates on what’s been going on lately in the Cambridge civicsphere. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 108 – a blast from the past

This episode was broadcast on Jan 12, 2016 at 6:00pm, but it’s actually Part 1 of a 3-part 1992 interview with Tip O’Neill on the original Cambridge: Inside Out>. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. Topics included the upcoming citywide planning process, where things stand with the taxicab industry and Uber, and connecting Cambridge kids to Cambridge jobs. [On YouTube]

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Jan 26, 2016)

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 10:55 pm

Member Sought for Police Review & Advisory Board

City SealJan 26, 2016 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking Cambridge residents interested in serving on the Police Review & Advisory Board. Made up of volunteer members who serve five-year terms, the Board generally meets on the last Wednesday of the month at 6pm, except for July and August.

The Police Review & Advisory Board was established by City Ordinance in 1984 to:

• Provide for citizen participation in reviewing Police Department policies, practices and procedures;

• Provide a prompt, impartial and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals against members of the Cambridge Police Department; and

• Develop programs and strategies to promote positive police/community relations and to provide opportunities for productive discussions, improved understanding and innovative ways of resolving differences.

The Board consists of five Cambridge residents who are representative of the City’s racial, social and economic composition. Board members must possess a reputation for fairness, integrity and responsibility; have demonstrated an active interest in public affairs and service; and be a resident of the City of Cambridge.

Board Members serve as volunteers without compensation and are responsible for reviewing and evaluating completed investigations to make findings on the allegations contained in each complaint; identifying needs for changes to Police Department policies, procedures or training, and reporting findings and recommended solutions to the Police Commissioner and the City Manager; and assisting in education and outreach to promote awareness and understanding of the Board and strengthen community-police relations.

For more information about the Board, see its web page at A letter of interest with a brief résumé should be sent via e-mail, mail or fax by Monday, February 22, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge 795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Ph. 617-349-4300
Fax 617-349-4307

Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals Vacancy

City of CambridgeJan 14, 2016 – City 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, February 12, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Fax 617-349-4307

Volunteers Sought for Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee and Working Groups
Help Shape the Citywide Plan!

City of CambridgeJan 8, 2016 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking volunteers to serve on the newly formed Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee, the Envision Alewife Working Group, and the Engagement and Communications Working Group. These groups are being created to advise the city and its consultant team on the newly named citywide plan, Envision Cambridge. This multi-year process will help set a new direction for a sustainable, prosperous future.

The Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee will be a sounding board for planning concepts, help set priorities for the plan, and help establish a feedback loop between the City, the consultant team, and Cambridge residents, businesses, and institutions. The committee will consist of residents, property owners, and representatives of local businesses and institutions.

The Envision Alewife Working Group will help guide the Alewife district study and develop comprehensive and actionable recommendations for the area.

The Engagement and Communications Working Group is a topic-focused group that will provide guidance and advice on how the citywide plan can best engage the entire community and ensure that dialogue is representative of the city’s diversity.

At later stages of the planning process, additional working groups will be formed. We anticipate working groups on topics such as climate and energy, economic development, housing, and mobility.

Who is Eligible?
Any Cambridge resident, property owner, or representative of a local business or institution is welcome to apply. For the Engagement and Communications Working Group, the city seeks individuals with experience, expertise, and interest in public engagement and communication.

How Often Will the Groups Meet?
The Advisory Committee will meet approximately every six weeks. Working Groups will convene at critical junctures in the planning process in condensed periods of time and are likely to meet an estimated six to eight times throughout the process. The Envision Alewife Working Group will meet approximately every six weeks during the Alewife planning process, which is anticipated to start this spring and finish within the year.

How Many People Will Be Selected?
Approximately 16-20 people will serve on the Advisory Committee. Working Groups will consist of approximately 6-8 people, except for the Envision Alewife Working Group, which will be larger due to its multidisciplinary nature. Each Working Group will include at least one Advisory Committee member.

How Will Members Be Chosen?
The Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee will be broadly representative of the Cambridge community including residents, institutions, property owners, and businesses. The goal will be to create a Committee that represents the diversity of the city. Working groups will include people with expertise or interest in the specific topic area.

How to Apply
To apply, send a letter by Monday, February 1, 2016 (deadline extended from original Jan 22 date) describing your interest and background to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
c/o Melissa Peters
Community Development Department
344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

Please describe your interest in Envision Cambridge and make clear if you would like to serve on the Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee, the Envision Alewife Working Group, Engagement and Communications Working Group, or multiple groups. If you are interested in serving on the Envision Alewife Working Group, Engagement and Communications Working Group, or other topic-specific working group, please describe any relevant experience. You may include a résumé with your application, if helpful.

Cambridge Housing Authority Board Vacancy

City of CambridgeDec 21, 2015 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking to fill a vacancy on the Cambridge Housing Authority is seeking to fill a vacancy on its Board of Commissioners.

Established under state law in 1935, Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) provides long-term rental housing and rental assistance to more than 6,500 low-income families, elders and disabled individuals through its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Programs. It has an annual budget of $87 million and currently has over $150 million in active construction contracts with significant, additional, capital investment and construction to continue over the next 3-5 years as CHA revitalizes all the public housing in Cambridge.

CHA also invests in Cambridge families and provides enhanced support to 10% of the city population. By tailoring its approach to focus on policy innovation and family economic opportunities, CHA is able to meet its mission to develop and manage safe, good quality, affordable housing for low-income individuals and families in a manner which promotes citizenship, community and self-reliance in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

A five-member Board of Commissioners governs CHA. One member is appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts and the remaining four members are appointed by the Cambridge City Manager and confirmed by the Cambridge City Council. By law, the Board must include a housing authority resident and a representative of labor unions; both of these positions are currently filled. All Board members must be residents of Cambridge.

The CHA Board oversees the Agency’s overall direction and approves all significant contract awards, budget decisions, formal submissions to state and federal funding agencies, planning and reporting documents, all major policy decisions, and many other important matters. Commissioners also serve as board members on CHA’s three non-profit affiliates. The Board sets policy but is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the agency. CHA’s Board of Commissioners meets regularly on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, at 5:30pm, at the Agency’s office, 362 Green St., 3rd floor, Cambridge. Additionally, the board may occasionally meet for special meetings as needed.

A letter of interest and brief resumé should be sent by Friday, January 29, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Fax 617-349-4307

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Jan 26, 2016)

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge Redevelopment Authority,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 11:15 am

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority announces the second year of the FORWARD FUND.

Forward Fund 2016This micro GRANT PROGRAM is intended to support civic improvement projects and creative physical interventions that better Cambridge’s built environment for the benefit of all the city’s residents, workers, and visitors by non-profit organizations, community groups, and small businesses throughout Cambridge, MA.

We’re awarding Planning & Design grants up to $5,000; Innovation & Experimentation Capital grants up to $10,000; and Infrastructure Capital grants up to $10,000 for a wide variety of projects that contribute to the civic and social capital of Cambridge. LEARN MORE

Cambridge Launches New Snow Center Website:

Snow SidewalkJan 25, 2016 – The City of Cambridge has launched a new Snow Center website,, to provide residents with timely updates on the city’s response to winter storms and to provide useful winter storm information that can be viewed quickly and easily in one location.

Through the online Snow Center, Cambridge residents can stay informed of when a Snow Emergency has been declared or lifted; register to receive emergency alerts; find out about Snow Emergency off street parking locations; or learn if city offices or programs have modified hours of operation.

“After last year’s record-breaking snow season, we made it a priority to learn lessons not only about how to improve our operations, but also about additional ways to communicate timely, useful information to residents,” said Owen O’Riordan, Commissioner of Public Works. “The Cambridge Snow Center website will be a great tool for helping the public access information about the city’s snow operations, parking regulations, and other frequently asked questions, all in one, easy-to-view location.”

The Cambridge Snow Center also includes a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section with helpful information on property owner responsibilities and the Snow Exemption Program, as well as a What’s Happening section displaying real time snow related social media updates and news stories; and finally a Useful Information section with additional resources and important phone numbers and websites.

Residents can also use the new City’s non-emergency reporting system, Commonwealth Connect, to report an icy or snowy street or unshoveled sidewalk. To receive voice, text, and email notification of declared Snow Emergency Parking Bans in the city, residents can sign up for receive CodeRed alerts directly from the City’s Snow Center.

Voter Registration, Absentee Ballots and Extended Office Hours for the March 1, 2016 Presidential Primary

Vote!The Presidential Primary will be held on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. For Cambridge residents not already registered, the last day to register to vote is Wednesday, February 10, 2016 until 8 p.m. The Office of the Secretary of State has developed an Online Voter Registration System at Individuals may use the online system to submit an online application, update their address, or change their party affiliation. You must have a valid driver’s license, learner’s permit, or non-driver ID issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). You must also have a signature on file with the RMV. If you do not have an RMV ID you can use the system to create an application. Print and sign the completed form and mail or bring it to the office of the City Cambridge Election Commission.

Absentee Ballots are now available at the Cambridge Election Commission office. Any voter who is unable to go to the polls on Election Day due to physical disability, religious belief, or absence from the City may request an Absentee Ballot from the Commission. The deadline to apply for an Absentee Ballot is Monday, February 29, 2016 at Noon. Absentee Ballots may be mailed to voters, or such voters may choose to vote at the Commission office during regular city office hours: Monday, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30am-5:00pm; Friday, 8:30am-Noon. The office will also be open for Absentee Voting on Friday, February 26th from 8:30am until 5:00pm and on Saturday, February 27th from 9:00am until 5:00pm. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7:00am until 8:00pm.

For any additional information, please visit the Cambridge Election Commission office at 51 Inman Street, call (617-349-4361) or visit our website at

January 24, 2016

Tasty menu items for the Jan 25, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:22 pm

Tasty menu items for the Jan 25, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

MenuMore than anything else, I’m hoping that the membership and Chairs of the City Council subcommittees will be completed in time for this Monday’s meeting. There’s also the possibility that the committees themselves could undergo some changes. In 2014 the number of committees was reduced from 17 to 11 via consolidation. It’s unlikely that this number will be further reduced, but some reconfiguration is not out of the question.

Other than the committee appointments, here are some morsels that aroused my interest:

Order #1. City Council support of H.3933 which will create a parity between the effective tax rates paid by the richest and poorest in Massachusetts.   Councillor Toomey

Regardless of the merits of the proposal, it’s hard to tell what is meant here by "parity between the effective tax rates paid by the richest and poorest in Massachusetts". The proposed constitutional amendment would add an additional 4% tax on top of the current 5.1% state income tax on earnings in excess of $1 million in any tax year.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to communicate the Cambridge City Council’s full support of the Cambridge Housing Authority’s proposed project funding to the Commonwealth and MassDevelopment and to convey the immediacy of the Cambridge Housing Authority’s need in requesting that the Commonwealth approve tax-exempt bond financing without delay.   Councillor Cheung, Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern

This would be one more step to ensure that the financing is available to carry out the necessary renovations to the Manning Apartments in the Central Square area.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate City departments to report back with a rough estimate of capital and operating expenditures for a pilot City of Cambridge tool library for the year 2017.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux

This is an intriguing proposal, though it seems like the best model would be more like a public-private partnership. Compare with Parts and Crafts in Somerville.

Order #6. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to coordinate with the Clerk’s Office and the appropriate departments to implement within three months an electronic public comment display in the Sullivan Chamber, listing the speaker’s name and affiliation as well as a timer.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Cheung

Just get a better timer – perhaps one with a green, yellow, and red light to alert the speaker when his or her time is drawing to a close. There is no need for "an electronic public comment display…. listing the speaker’s name and affiliation". Each speaker now provides that information verbally and that is sufficient.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Department of Public Works and the Community Development Department to work with Eversource and other power providers to plan and implement infrastructure improvements to fully support future development in Cambridge and further to confer with the appropriate departments to draft an amendment to the City’s Zoning Ordinance that would see projects needing a special permit undergo a power needs assessment as part of the permitting process.   Councillor Cheung, Councillor Devereux

This is a modified version of an order from the Dec 21, 2015 meeting. More attention needs to be given to the evolving infrastructure needs in Cambridge as new housing and other structures are introduced – not as a means of blocking development but to ensure that such things as electrical power are adequate to support future needs.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 14, 2015 to discuss the climate change vulnerability assessment.

I make note of this report only because my testimony at this hearing relates to the above Order regarding electrical infrastructure needs.

Order #9. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs with a view in mind of scheduling two finance committee hearings to be chaired by a Councillor of the Mayor’s choosing, one as an update from the head of the Finance Department and the other to review budget priorities, to be held in the middle of February.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux

It is likely that this Order will simply be redirected to the Finance Committee to schedule these meetings if the City Council committee assignments are completed in time for this meeting.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a response to amend Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Kim Courtney and Xavier Dietrich dated Jan 5, 2016.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a response to an Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Hasson Rashid dated Jan 8, 2016.

Shoo, fly. When well-meaning laws like the Open Meeting Law degenerate into vehicles for malcontents to act out their psychological issues, it’s time for the State Legislature to consider amending the laws to better respect their intended purpose. City officials should not be required to waste their time on complaints such as the two listed above. – Robert Winters

January 17, 2016

A Conversation with Tip O’Neill (1992) on Cambridge Inside Out

A Conversation with Tip O’Neill

Here’s a taste of one of the best local Cambridge television programs ever produced – the original Cambridge Inside Out. This was a 1992 conversation with Cambridge’s own former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. Host Glenn Koocher, Barbara Ackermann, Tom Rafferty, Saundra Graham, and Marty Foster join in the conversation.

These videos are taken from an aged VHS extended-play recording. The video quality may not be the best, but Tip O’Neill’s humanity and political savvy come through very clearly.

Cambridge Inside Out – Talking with Tip O’Neill (Part 1) – 1992

[On YouTube]

Cambridge Inside Out – Talking with Tip O’Neill (Part 2) – 1992

[On YouTube]

Cambridge Inside Out – Talking with Tip O’Neill (Part 3) – 1992

[On YouTube]

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