Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

January 21, 2020

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 447-448: January 21, 2020

Episode 447 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 21, 2020 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 21, 2020 at 5:30pm. Topics: Red Sox; campaign finance, money talks; Vacancy Recount – David Weinstein elected; Patty Nolan joins the 20,000 Club. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 448 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 21, 2020 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 21, 2020 at 6:00pm. Topics: Impeachment, judicial appointments; seeking a culture of compromise; Board vacancies, regulatory vs. advisory boards, Plan E limitations; proportional representation – proportional to what? Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

January 16, 2020

2020 School Committee Vacancy Recount – David J. Weinstein elected

Filed under: 2019 election,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:55 pm

David WeinsteinJan 16, 2020 – As expected, David Weinstein was elected at the Jan 16 Vacancy Recount to the Cambridge School Committee seat vacated by Emily Dexter (who was elected in the November 2019 municipal election but decided not to serve the term to which she was elected).

Dexter Vacancy Recount (Jan 16, 2020) – David Weinstein elected


2020 School Committee Vacancy Recount

City SealJan 9, 2020 – A vacancy has been created in the School Committee due to the decision of Emily Dexter to not serve as a member of the School Committee for the term beginning January 6, 2020. Pursuant to the Cambridge Charter and Massachusetts General Law Chapter 54A, the Cambridge Election Commission will hold a Vacancy Recount to fill the seat.

This “Vacancy Recount” of Emily Dexter’s ballots will be held on Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 5:30pm in the Election Commission office, 51 Inman Street (1st Floor), Cambridge, Mass. Tanya L. Ford-Crump, the Election Commission Executive Director, has been designated as the Director of the Count for this purpose.

Eligible candidates will be invited to attend and are entitled to appoint two witnesses and two alternative witnesses provided that written notice of the names and addresses of the appointees signed by such candidate is filed with the Election Commission no later than 24 hours before this Vacancy Recount.

December 17, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 441-442: December 17, 2019

Episode 441 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 17, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 17, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: On Elections & Vacancies; The Departure of Councillors Craig Kelley & Jan Devereux; Karp Petition and East Cambridge development, Contract Zoning a.k.a. “Let’s Make A Deal”; Mall Tales and Mini-Retail. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 442 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 17, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 17, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Harvard Square Zoning Petition – how zoning might help retail.; Form-Based Zoning – Citywide Somerville Rezoning; Finding the “Sweet Spot” in zoning density. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

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]

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

October 30, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 429-430: October 29, 2019

Episode 429 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 29, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 29, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Election coming; voter success; dirty politics, warring slates, and inflammatory issues; “Who defines ‘the issues’?”. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 430 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 29, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 29, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: dog people; awaiting report; the “gift” of the Foundry; renewable energy, municipal utilities, cost effectiveness; “weaponizing” the issue of campaign donations; shaming as a political strategy. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

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