Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

December 4, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 437-438: December 3, 2019

Episode 437 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 3, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 3, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Analysis of voters by age, turnout, possible causes; cost of a campaign, effectiveness. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 438 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 3, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 3, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Karp Petition ordination pending; Universal Pre-K, Tobin School renovation/relocation; participatory budgeting. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

December 2, 2019

2019 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports

The following table shows the summary bank reports (Feb 2018 to present) for 2019 Cambridge City Council candidates and active local political action committees involved in the municipal election. These reports are updated at the middle and at the end of every month. You can sort by any of the fields shown by clicking on the field name – one click ascending and second click descending. #1 Votes and $/Vote fields added Nov 10 and will be updated as bills continue to be paid.

CandidateToStartReceiptsExpendBalanceAs Of#1 Votes$/VoteNotes
PAC - ABC11/30/190.0021436.4119235.372201.0412/02/19--A Better Cambridge
PAC - CCC11/15/190.0018095.1911739.356355.8411/19/19--Cambridge Citizens Coalition
PAC - CResA11/30/190.003166.771717.911448.8612/02/19--Cambridge Residents Alliance
PAC - Cambr. Bike Safety07/15/190.000.000.000.0007/15/19--Cambridge Bike Safety
PAC - Our Revolution Cambridge11/30/190.001427.001367.0060.0012/02/19--filed 10/9/19 w/OCPF
Akiba, Sukia11/30/190.003000.032308.97691.0612/02/19362 $6.38
Azeem, Burhan11/30/190.0014223.9613491.98731.9812/02/19961 $14.04new candidate, May 7
Carlone, Dennis11/15/1910088.5831171.2432674.778585.0511/19/191479 $22.09
Franklin, Charles11/30/190.0033326.6030972.752353.8512/02/19323 $95.89new candidate, Mar 5
Kelley, Craig11/30/194951.6533974.3429255.609670.3912/02/191422 $20.57
Kopon, Derek11/15/190.009047.278726.33320.9411/19/19493 $17.70new candidate, July 2
Levy, Ilan11/30/19-44.32650.51517.4188.7812/02/19110 $4.70
Mallon, Alanna11/30/195380.4541744.7641836.635288.5812/02/191256 $33.31refund deducted
McGovern, Marc11/30/196376.17105247.2793284.0818339.3612/02/191621 $57.55$600 refund deducted
McNary, Jeffery11/30/190.000.000.000.0012/02/1977 $0.00will not raise/expend funds
Mednick, Risa11/30/190.0019618.9916171.283447.7112/02/19244 $66.28new candidate, July 15
Moree, Gregg11/15/190.001500.001500.000.0011/19/1947 $31.91
Musgrave, Adriane11/30/19474.6740136.8336036.684574.8212/02/19726 $49.64
Nolan, Patty11/30/190.0022587.0216437.836149.1912/02/191685 $9.76new candidate, June 11
Pitkin, John11/30/190.0014041.6810485.193556.4912/02/19536 $19.56new candidate, July 17
Siddiqui, Sumbul11/30/199334.0533594.4827501.7415426.7912/02/192516 $10.93
Simmons, Denise11/30/197595.5063191.6553570.7017216.4512/02/192007 $26.69
Simon, Ben11/30/190.0012145.9510989.411156.5412/02/19294 $37.38new candidate, Apr 2
Sobrinho-Wheeler, Jivan C.11/30/190.0026346.5525624.74721.8111/18/191321 $19.40new candidate, Mar 11
Toomey, Tim11/30/1910024.4961560.8154838.3316746.9712/02/191729 $31.72$15,000 repaid loan deducted
Williams, Nicola A.11/30/190.0030514.5029651.58862.9212/02/19631 $46.99new candidate, Mar 12
Zondervan, Quinton11/30/191279.6646863.5847227.05916.1912/02/191382 $34.17
Summaries of potential 2019 City Council campaign bank reports. Adjustments to the totals have been made to reflect returned donations and other factors. [updated Dec 2, 2019 at 5:28pm]

Campaign Finance Reports – 2019 City Council (updated Dec 2, 5:30pm)

Vote!

November 28, 2019

Demographic Mixed Bag – November 2019 Cambridge municipal election

Filed under: 2019 election,elections — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:59 pm

Demographic Mixed Bag – November 2019 Cambridge municipal election

I have been curious since the recent election whether there were any patterns in voter turnout that might be discerned when the information about who voted became available. That data became available recently and it’s kind of a mixed bag. There are still a lot more younger voters than there were before 2017, but not as many as in 2017. There was a modest increase in the youngest range (up to about age 26 – credit for that probably goes to the supporters of Burhan Azeem and Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler), but the numbers actually disproportionately dropped for most age ranges from about 27 through the middle age years. Interestingly, the number of voters increased for those in the 70-80 range. We can all speculate about why those numbers would be up when overall turnout was down.

Overall the number of registered voters increased from 66,354 in 2017 to 68,839 in 2019 (including those with listed birthdates) – a 3.7% increase. The number of people who actually voted decreased 4.8% from 22,407 to 21,329. Voter turnout in 2017 was 33.8% of all registered voters. That dropped to 31.0% in 2019, but that’s still relatively high for a municipal election (it was 28.2% in 2015 and 25.2% in 2013).

Here are some graphics to illustrate this, starting with the distribution of voters by age (in 3-year intervals, 18-20, 21-23, etc.) in the Nov 2019 election.

Voted 2019

Compare this to the 2017 distribution – especially the peak at 27-29:

Voted 2017

Notice that in 2015 there were far fewer people in their 20s and 30s voting with a clear dominance in the 65-70 range.

Voted 2015

When we look at 2017 and 2019 side-by-side you can more easily how some age ranges saw significant decreases (more than the ~5% overall drop) and other age ranges actually saw increases.

Voted 2017 vs. 2019

Here’s an annotated graph highlighting some of the more interesting changes.

Voted 2017 vs. 2019 - highlighted

November 20, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 433-434: November 19, 2019

Episode 433 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 19, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 19, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Final Official Municipal election results; ballot data; ward/precinct distribution; #2 Vote Distribution; Instant Runoff mayor. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 434 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 19, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 19, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Election last details; Replacements in the event of a vacancy; campaign finance reform. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

November 18, 2019

Lame Duck Walking – November 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

Lame Duck Walking – November 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

Lame DuckIn between the inevitable hushed meetings to secure the necessary five votes to become mayor for the 2020-21 term, the lame duck session continues quacking. The agenda is quite short, but a few items worth noting are listed below. Honestly, I’ve been having more fun studying the 2019 ballot data now that the election results were finalized Friday evening [Council][School]. This includes things like the ward/precinct distribution of #1 votes [Council][School], the #2 vote distribution behind each candidate’s #1 votes [Council][School], who would replace each of the newly elected members in the event of a future vacancy, and an Instant Runoff simulation to see how the ballots would choose a mayor (which, of course, is not how it’s done!). Anyway, back to the Council agenda (with minimal comment)…..

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt with comments and suggested improvements, the CambridgeSide Galleria Associates Trust Zoning Petition.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $4,475,844.18 from Free Cash to the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund which will be used to fund specific future projects, requiring individual appropriations by the City Council at a later date.


Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the Exterior Building Insulation Zoning Petition.

Committee Report #3. A report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 12, 2019 to discuss the Insulation Zoning proposal A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Article 5.000 and Article 22.000 pertaining to setback requirements and exterior building insulation.


Manager’s Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt Article 22 Green Building Requirements Zoning Petition.

Committee Report #2. A report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 12 at 12pm to discuss Green Building requirements A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Section 22.20, which governs Green Building Requirements, and also applicable definitions contained in Article 2.000.


Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department to fully restore sharrows to Broadway, alongside the new door-zone bike lane, as a reminder to motorists that cyclists are always allowed to take the full lane.   Councillor Zondervan

I completely agree with this Order (as a person who prefers biking along with other traffic on most roads with ordinary speeds), but I continue to marvel at the trend among city councillors to assume roles which previously were the domain of the professional staff. I can’t decide if this is great wisdom or micromanagement or just a vote of "no confidence" of City staff.

Committee Report #1. A report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public meeting held on Nov 14, 2019 to discuss the Solicitor’s Response to Policy Order O-9 from the June 10, 2019 City Council Meeting.

I used to be somewhat agnostic regarding campaign donations from people with business before the City Council, but the recent municipal election campaign has pushed me into the camp of those who feel that some limitations should be the rule. I’m still not convinced that public financing of municipal election campaigns would be worth it either practically or bureaucratically. I also can’t wrap my head around the fact that some of our local elected officials (and their ardent supporters) feel outrage about the Citizens United court decision that opened the floodgates in campaign spending yet have no qualms whatsoever in doing the same thing at the local level. – Robert Winters

November 13, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 431-432: November 12, 2019

Episode 431 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 12, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Municipal election results; effectiveness of slates; role of major issues (if any); what’s next. Hosts: Robert Winters, Patrick Barrett [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 432 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 12, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 12, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Election last details; Harvard Square Zoning Petition; where do we go from here. Hosts: Robert Winters, Patrick Barrett [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

November 4, 2019

The Last Thing on their Minds – Nov 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

The Last Thing on their Minds – Nov 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

CountdownThis is your classic night-before-Election-Day City Council meeting where Council business places a distant second behind concerns about having all their incumbency protection ducks in a row. If this meeting goes beyond 6:15pm it will likely be because they were forced to listen to the repetitive whining of Public Comment. Anyway, here is my very short list of interesting items on this very short agenda:

Manager’s Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the creation of a new municipal Renewable Energy and Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) Reduction Revolving Fund (“Revolving Fund”) to serve the City of Cambridge’s (“City”) municipal energy aggregation, and adoption of the proposed new ordinance, Chapter 3.24, entitled “Departmental Revolving Funds.”

From the Manager’s letter: "The Aggregation adder is expected to raise approximately $650,000 annually, or a total of $1.3 million during the current supplier contract period (January 2019 – December 2020)." Proposed uses are: (a) Invest $1.3 million in a solar energy project located on a municipal building; and (b) Deposit income earned from the sale of generated Net Metering Credits annually into the Revolving Fund. Those funds would subsequently be used to finance other solar energy/renewable energy projects and all resulting GHG reductions would be attributed to the Aggregation’s participants.

Seems like a reasonable plan of action.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff on determining the most appropriate signage and messaging that would best educate cyclists on the importance of following traffic laws, particularly stopping at red lights, for their own safety and the safety of other cyclists and pedestrians.

30 out of 31 Communications in which cyclists recoil in horror because a City Council Order from last week suggested "signage and messaging that would best educate cyclists on the importance of following traffic laws, particularly stopping at red lights, for their own safety and the safety of other cyclists and pedestrians."

Only in Cambridge would a resolution calling for enhanced safety yield an avalanche of protest. The turf wars continue.

Resolution #5. Congratulations to Sekazi K. Mtingwa.   Councillor Simmons

Sekazi and I worked together at MIT. I did the math and he did the physics in the MIT Concourse program. I’m glad to see him getting the recognition.

Brattle RoundaboutOrder #3. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the Council by the end of this term on progress toward identifying a source of funding and a timetable for the design and construction of a modern roundabout at the Brattle-Sparks-Craigie intersection, to share the consultant’s 2017-18 report on the feasibility of a modern roundabout, and to schedule a community meeting in early 2020 to further discuss this project.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone

I don’t know whether or not this is the best alternative for this intersection but it is an interesting proposal. I don’t like the way it "pedestrianizes" cyclists and I would likely just ride through the roundabout with the rest of the traffic. It’s a bit strange that the Council Order calls for a source of funding and a timetable for the design and construction prior to there being any decision on even doing such a redesign, but it’s fair to say that this isn’t the first instance of engineering via politics by this Council.

Order #5. Resolution in support of the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW’S demands for a fair contract now.   Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon

Finish your thesis, kids. There are better opportunities than being an ABD (All But Dissertation) graduate student. I’ll add that it still seems funny that the United Auto Workers are representing Harvard Graduate students.

99 Items Awaiting Report (sung to the tune of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall")

Wouldn’t it be just marvelous if one of these weeks one of the councillors simply asked the manager to run through the list and say (a) which items he has no intention of reporting (possibly because it’s either moot or ridiculous); (b) which items somebody somewhere is actually working on; and (c) which items he considers to be timely and important. For example, should we all be waiting with bated breath on the future of wood-fired ovens or electronic device usage by City-elected officials? I thought that the request for "a comprehensive, independent planning, and parking study of the neighborhood and use of the First Street Garage" had already been completed. Would it be so difficult to report on the "feasibility of allowing small businesses to host live acoustic music performances without a license?" Can anyone shed any light on the proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance that has apparently gone missing? – Robert Winters

November 1, 2019

Follow the Money – Cambridge City Council Campaign Receipts 2019

Filed under: 2019 election,Cambridge,campaign finance,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:00 pm

Why do labor unions pour so much money into City Council campaign coffers?

Money![Originally posted Aug 15, updated periodically] – One thing I have always found puzzling is the amount of money donated to the campaign accounts of incumbent city councillors. I suppose this could be interpreted as financial support for those who have supported unions in their noble quest for better wages, benefits, and working conditions, but the fact is that all incumbents and challengers appear to share this sentiment. So perhaps it’s something different. There is a longstanding pattern of labor representatives being recruited by some of the larger real estate developers to speak in favor of new development – supposedly because of the jobs involved, but that always struck me as too simplistic. Many of the people who control the funds of these political action committees are, to say the least, politically connected.

There’s also the matter of political contributions from people tied to real estate development. This is always difficult to evaluate because of the simple fact that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to determine motive. There are people who have been generous charitable contributors for ages who also happen to own and/or develop Cambridge real estate. Are their contributions related to their real estate interests or not?

Of course, there’s also the matter of whether or not contributions come from Cambridge residents. It’s not always easy to draw conclusions from this – primarily because some candidates have family and friends scattered across the rest of the state and the country.

Here’s a revised account of the (a) Cambridge contributions, (b) union contributions, (c) real estate contributions (as best as I could discern), and (d) total of union and real estate money contributed over this election cycle starting from Feb 1, 2018 through the latest data available for all City Council candidates (notes: – receipts include loans from candidates to their campaigns; refunds deducted if clearly a refund):

Table of reported City Council campaign receipts (Feb 1, 2018 - present) - Total, Cambridge, Unions, Real Estate - updated Nov 27, 8:42am
Candidate (and PACs)ReceiptsCambridgePctunionsPctReal EstatePctunions+REPct
Total $686,663.38 $435,549.3663.4% $42,250.006.2% $67,751.009.9% $110,001.0016.0%
McGovern, Marc C. $106,951.21 $46,608.0043.6% $12,550.0011.7% $30,200.0028.2% $42,750.0040.0%
Simmons, E. Denise $63,446.19 $30,801.1948.5% $6,250.009.9% $20,100.0031.7% $26,350.0041.5%
Toomey, Timothy J., Jr. $55,875.81 $31,573.5856.5% $4,600.008.2% $10,750.0019.2% $15,350.0027.5%
Mallon, Alanna $42,200.25 $28,262.2567.0% $6,450.0015.3% $1,900.004.5% $8,350.0019.8%
Siddiqui, Sumbul $30,064.68 $18,186.6860.5% $4,250.0014.1% $350.001.2% $4,600.0015.3%
Musgrave, Adriane $41,308.35 $20,624.3549.9% $3,700.009.0% $600.001.5% $4,300.0010.4%
Kelley, Craig A. $34,864.00 $28,132.0080.7% $2,500.007.2% $1,650.004.7% $4,150.0011.9%
ABC - PAC $24,259.26 $20,207.2383.3% $ -0.0% $1,866.007.7% $1,866.007.7%
Carlone, Dennis $32,173.00 $25,698.0079.9% $500.001.6% $250.000.8% $750.002.3%
Mednick, Risa $19,541.00 $13,908.0071.2% $500.002.6% $ - 0.0% $500.002.6%
Sobrinho-Wheeler, Jivan $27,330.00 $18,610.4268.1% $500.001.8% $ - 0.0% $500.001.8%
Azeem, Burhan $13,199.35 $10,494.3579.5% $450.003.4% $35.000.3% $485.003.7%
Williams, Nicola A. $27,707.78 $20,453.5273.8% $ -0.0% $ 50.000.2%$ 50.000.2%
Akiba, Sukia $3,000.00 $980.0032.7% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
BikeSafety-PAC $3,230.00 $1,905.0059.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
CCC - PAC $19,055.00 $18,175.0095.4% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
CResA - PAC $2,905.00 $2,905.00100.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
Franklin, Charles $34,392.78 $22,639.7865.8% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Kopon, Derek Andrew $8,873.16 $7,295.0182.2% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Levy, Ilan S. $ 450.00 $ 450.00100.0% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
McNary, Jeffery $ - $ - - $ -- $ - - $ - -
Moree, Gregg J. $ 1,500.00 $ 1,500.00100.0% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Nolan, Patricia M. $21,961.23 $13,555.0061.7% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
ORC - PAC $1,992.00 $1,892.0095.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
Pitkin, John $14,072.00 $12,172.0086.5% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Simon, Ben $12,540.33 $6,892.0055.0% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Zondervan, Quinton $43,771.00 $31,629.0072.3% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%

Source: Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF)

ABC-PAC: “A Better Cambridge Political Action Committee”
BikeSafety-PAC: “Cambridge Bicycle Safety Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee”
CCC-PAC: “Cambridge Citizens Coalition Political Action Committee”
CResA-PAC: “Democracy for Cambridge Political Action Committee” – Cambridge Residents Alliance
ORC-PAC: “Our Revolution Cambridge Political Action Committee”

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