Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

February 26, 2012

To Halve and Halve Not – Feb 27, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Kendall Square,MBTA — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:28 pm

To Halve and Halve Not – Feb 27, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Now that Cambridge has a Mayor, all things are now possible – world peace, affordable space travel, and eternal life – just to name a few. Regarding more mundane affairs, perhaps Mayor Davis will set a new standard by appointing the City Council committees in record time. I hope so – I have a rocket to catch.

The Really Big Item on the agenda this week seems to be City Manager’s Agenda #1 – a recommendation that the City Council approve a plan submitted by Boston Properties to cut in half the rooftop garden that exists in Kendall Square between Cambridge Center Buildings Four and Five. If you haven’t yet visited that garden, you should. You can get to it via the Marriott. It’s an unexpected oasis nestled among the taller buildings in Kendall Square perhaps 70 feet above ground. Apparently the playful folks at Google want to connect their rented spaces in two adjacent buildings by constructing a connector that will consume half of the rooftop garden – the sunnier half, by the way. And wouldn’t you know it – if they can’t do this they’ll have to move and Cambridge will lose the jobs, the prestige, the taxes, and the firstborn males of its residents. Search engines will cease to function and the Charles River will turn to blood.

The proposal asks that the Ancient Covenants mandating the rooftop park be modified in exchange for landscaping a narrow, triangular piece of land at the bend of Binney Street abutting the railroad tracks for use as a "Dog and People Park". Methinks there’s room to negotiate for something better. It’s also a bit strange to have proposals like this come forward while the K2C2 (Kendall Square/Central Square) planning process involving the Goody/Clancy firm is ongoing. The Manager’s recommendation calls for diminution of process and a quick decision. The Council shouldn’t needlessly delay, but it’s doubtful that a few more weeks of consideration will cause Google to move to Ashtabula. [Read the full proposal (9.5MB)]

It’s an interesting juxtaposition that Manager’s Agenda #8 is also on the agenda. This is an appropriation of $1,000,000 received from Alexandria Real Estate (ARE) that will be used to enable the City to plan and design improvements at the Rogers Street Park and the Triangle Park while ascertaining the appropriate open space needs of eastern Cambridge.

Elsewhere on the agenda, Councillor Kelley filed for Reconsideration of his failed Feb 13 Order that asks the City Manager "to direct City staff to replace the words ‘approve’ and ‘disapprove’ with the words ‘support’ and ‘do not support’ or, as appropriate, by some other terms that will help clarify where relevant authority rests when considering curb cuts." The Order failed with only Councillors Kelley, Decker, and vanBeuzekom supporting it. Or maybe approving it. Never mind. This is also the subject of Charter Right #2 that would refer the matter to the Gov’t Operations & Rules Committee which may or may not ultimately approve or support it or possibly not approve or not support it.

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 12-23, regarding the continuation of the Longfellow Community School program and Longfellow Neighborhood Council.

The Manager proposes that starting this fall when the King/Amigos building closes for renovations that the Community School currently operating in the King/Amigos building will move to the Amigos Building (on Upton Street) where the majority of its program participants will attend school. The Community School operating in the Longfellow neighborhood will provide programming to the King School and neighborhood children in the Longfellow building. With the reopening of the Longfellow Building this summer, the program will be able to offer robust programming in the building for children who attend the King
School or come from the neighborhood. In addition, the Longfellow Community School will be able to continue to provide community programming for the Longfellow neighborhood. The City will contract with the Cambridge Community Center, located around the corner from the King School, to provide community support until the King School reopens. All in all, this seems like a good solution for each of the affected schools and neighborhoods.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to look into the feasibility of hiring an ombudsman to serve as a liaison and internal advocate for community members.   Councillor Cheung and Councillor vanBeuzekom

This brings to mind a time when the Cambridge Police Department had a separate Community Oriented Policing liasson. When Ronnie Watson took over as Police Commission one of the first things he did was to eliminate this position. His argument was that the entire department should be doing Community Oriented Policing as a matter of policy. This same argument can be made regarding the Community Development Department. Is the genesis of this Order the perception that CDD is not doing "community oriented" planning and development? Are existing staff not effectively mediating between the City’s need to grow the tax base, the needs of property owners/developers, and the needs of residents? If this is not the case, then hiring an additional "liaison and internal advocate for community members" will solve nothing. My personal experience with CDD has generally been very good, though I do sometimes feel that the economic development staff don’t understand the need to keep neighbors in the loop. Everyone at CDD should be acting as community liassons. Most of them already do.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to provide the City Council with a written annual report for the Parking and Transportation Demand Management (PTDM) Ordinance within four weeks time.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

The PTDM Ordinance was developed as a replacement for the Interim Parking Freeze that was part of a settlement over alleged violations of earlier agreements relating to the Clean Air Act. Quite a few consequences grew out of that settlement and subsequent ordinances – dedicated bike lanes, required traffic impact studies, mandatory PTDM plans for new developments, unregulated parking spaces transformed to metered or otherwise regulated parking, etc. These things have become almost a matter of religion without periodically assessing their need or impact. Things do change. When the price of gasoline exceeds $5 or more, things will change even more and the City’s ordinances should not remain stuck in time. Periodic reports, assessments, and possible modifications should be the rule and not the exception. Good Order, Minka.

Order #4. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to appoint a local MBTA Advisory Council of CDD staff and residents to meet regularly and assess MBTA funding, programming and service cuts and report back to the City Council.   Councillor Decker

This is another good Order, though it brings to mind a curiosity in the way City departments are currently structured. The Transporation Planning staff is now part of the Community Development Department (CDD), though one might wonder why it’s not part of the Traffic, Parking, & Transportation Department (TPT). In other cities, you might expect to see parks and open space planning integrated into the public works department, but in Cambridge it’s part of CDD. Community Schoools are staffed through the Human Services and not by the School Department. MBTA services affect Cambridge residents in many ways and it’s appropriate that there should be more than just ad hoc gatherings when a crisis arises. Whether this should be staffed by CDD or by the Transportation, Traffic & Parking Dept. is worth considering. The fact that CDD produced a great document regarding the proposed MBTA fare increases and service cuts for last week’s Special Meeting is a point in their favor, but I can’t help but think that we’d all benefit from having the focus of TPT shift away from tickets and fundraising toward a broader view of all transportation.

It must also be noted that this will be the last City Council meeting for retiring City Clerk D. Margaret Drury. She has been an invaluable asset to every city councillor with whom she has served since her appointment in 1992. – Robert Winters

February 22, 2012

A Very Special Cambridge City Council Meeting – Feb 22, 2012

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,MBTA — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:20 pm

A Very Special Cambridge City Council Meeting – Feb 22, 2012
It’s Mayor Henrietta Davis and Vice Mayor Denise Simmons

Tonight The Nine shall meet to gather information and public testimony on the effects on Cambridge of the proposed MBTA cuts and fare increases and to develop a policy statement in preparation for the Feb 29 MBTA public hearing at the Senior Center City Hall. It is also expected that one or more additional mayoral ballots will take place at some point in the meeting. Perhaps MBTA also stands for "mayoral balloting tried again".

Today’s date coincides with the date two years ago when the previous mayoral impasse was broken and David Maher was elected mayor. Though I don’t recall the date in 1996 when Sheila Russell was finally elected mayor, I believe that impasse lasted longer. Since then, the dates were Jan 26, 1998 (Duehay, 3rd ballot), Feb 15, 2000 (Galluccio, 5th ballot), Jan 7, 2002 (Sullivan, 1st ballot), Jan 5, 2004 (Sullivan, 1st ballot), Jan 2, 2006 (Reeves, 1st ballot), Jan 14, 2008 (Simmons, 2nd ballot), and Feb 22, 2010 (Maher, 6th ballot). If this history is any indication, there’s a good chance this wuill be resolved tonight or at next Monday’s regular meeting. The 1948 mayoral marathon required 1,321 ballots before Michael J. Neville was elected mayor in late April.

It seems as though everyone who pays attention to the mayoral balloting has their own theory about what should happen or what might happen. I have my own theories as well. In fact, I have written out a scenario of how I believe this thing will ultimately play out. In the spirit of Werner Heisenberg, I won’t yet reveal my theory lest it influence the experiment. It will be revealed in 39 days. Hopefully, The Nine will have decided on The One by then. In the meantime, any mayoral ballots will be recorded at http://cambridgecivic.com/?p=1750.

The real substance of this meeting are the proposed MBTA fare increases and service cuts. It’s not clear how much leverage the Cambridge City Council or the City of Cambridge has in this, but some kind of coherent response is needed. A major focus in Cambridge over the last decade or so has been on transit-oriented development and shifting away from dependence on automobiles. It would be a major setback to have this derailed by disincentives to public transit use, especially when calculations indicate that increases in efficiency and a very modest increase in the gasoline tax could resolve this. The state legislature also has an obligation to unburden the MBTA of the debt caused by mitigation costs related to The Big Dig. However this is ultimately resolved, it’s important that future MBTA financing be primarily self-sustaining so that we won’t be faced with similar threats every few years. – Robert Winters

February 18, 2012

Cambridge Mayoral Vote – 2012

Filed under: Cambridge government,City Council,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:50 am

The 1st Ballot for Cambridge Mayor took place at the Inaugural Meeting on January 2, 2012. The 2nd Ballot took place at the January 9 meeting and again no mayor was elected. The 3rd ballot took place at the end of the January 23 meeting with the vote identical to the previous vote.

At the January 30 meeting, there were three mayoral ballots.

One mayoral ballot took place at each of the February 6 and February 13 meetings.

A Special Meeting has been called for Wed, February 22 for the dual purposes of additional balloting for mayor and to discuss possible policy statements relative to the proposed fare increases and service reductions by the MBTA. It is not known which purpose will be taken up first or whether mayoral votes might take place at different points of this meeting.

If and when a Mayor is elected, the City Council will then proceed to the vote for Vice-Chair of the City Council (commonly referred to as Vice Mayor).

It is worth noting that in 1948 the Cambridge City Council required 1,321 ballots before electing Michael J. Neville as Mayor.

CouncillorBallot #1
(Jan 2)
Ballot #2
(Jan 9)
Ballot #3
(Jan 23)
Ballot #4
(Jan 30)
Ballot #5
(Jan 30)
Ballot #6
(Jan 30)
Ballot #7
(Feb 6)
Ballot #8
(Feb 13)
Ballot #9
(Feb 22)
Ballot #10
(Feb 22)
Vice-Mayor Ballot #1
CheungCheung (2)Cheung (3)Cheung (3)Cheung (3)Cheung (3)Cheung (3)Cheung (3)Cheung (3)Cheung (2)Cheung to Davis [4]
unanimous
Cheung to Simmons
unanimous
DavisDavis (1)Davis (1)Davis (1)Davis (1)Davis (1)Davis (1)Davis (1)Davis (1)Davis (2)DavisSimmons
DeckerDecker (2)Decker (3)Decker (3)Decker (3)Decker (2)Decker (2)Decker (2)Decker (2)Decker (2)Decker to Davis [1]Simmons
KelleyKelley (1)Kelley (1)Kelley (1)Kelley (1)Reeves (2)Reeves (2)ABSENTKelley (2)Kelley (2)Kelley to Davis [3]Simmons
MaherMaher (2)DeckerDeckerDeckerDeckerDeckerDeckerDeckerDeckerDavisSimmons
ReevesDeckerDeckerDeckerDeckerReevesReevesReeves (1)KelleyKelleyKelley to Davis [2]Simmons
SimmonsSimmons (1)CheungCheungCheungCheungCheungCheungCheungDavisDavisSimmons
ToomeyMaherToomey (1)Toomey (1)Toomey (1)Toomey (1)Toomey (1)Maher (1)Maher (1)Maher (1)DavisSimmons
vanBeuzekomCheungCheungCheungCheungCheungCheungCheungCheungCheungDavisSimmons

February 16, 2012

Suzanne Green

Filed under: Cambridge — Robert Winters @ 10:57 am

Cambridge lost one of its most significant people last week. Suzanne Green, former member of the Cambridge Historical Commission and a prominent civic figure, died on Friday, February 10 at the age of 99. She was the devoted wife of the late Attorney Robert H. Green, beloved sister of James Revaleon (Theresa) and the late Paul Revaleon. She also leaves a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. Funeral services will be held on Friday, February 17, at 11:00am at St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Bishop Allen Drive and Columbia St. Visiting hour at the church is Friday 10:00-11:00am. Relatives and friends most kindly invited. Interment will follow at Cambridge Cemetery. [A.J. Spears Funeral Home CAMBRIDGE, MA 617-876-4047]
[Obituary and Guest Book]


From William B. King, Cambridge Historical Commission

Suzanne Green was our colleague on the Cambridge Historical Commission from 1982 to 2005. When the City Manager had the good sense to appoint her to the Commission, her principal career as a school teacher was behind her. She did not, however, stop being a teacher. She had a lifetime of learning, experience, intelligence — particularly of events, people and places in Cambridge — that she would import to us fortunate to serve with her over those 23 years. She was of course intimately familiar with the Central Square surroundings where she had lived her entire life, but she knew the rest of the city, too, and when we discussed cases in the Old Cambridge Historic District, she shared with us her recollections of teen-age girlfriends on Brattle Street.

Until her stroke slowed her down towards the end of her tenure, Suzanne rarely missed a meeting of the Commission. She was never late to a meeting. Even in snowy or rainy weather, she would walk to our late afternoon meetings, whether at the City Annex on Inman Street, the Lombardi Building, or in recent years the Senior Center. Many evenings after our meetings, I had the pleasure of driving her back to her beloved Worcester Street home; and she would share her pride of having moved only once during her lifetime, from the house in the back yard to the one on the street, and occasional snippets of her and Cambridge’s past.

At our Historical Commission meetings, she was always well-dressed and dignified. Although not as vociferous as some other Commissioners, when Mrs. Green spoke, the rest of us paid particular attention. Her points were respected and were usually reflected in our decisions on the matters before us. We — and the citizens of Cambridge — were and are better for the contributions she made to the Historical Commission and to the broader civic life we share in Cambridge.

William B. King, Chair, Cambridge Historical Commission, February 15, 2012

A brief biography of Suzanne Green may be found here:
http://www2.cambridgema.gov/historic/cwhp/bios_g.html#GreenSR

Susan Hockfield to Step Down as MIT President

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 9:17 am

Feb 16 – Susan Hockfield to Step Down as MIT President

To the Members of the MIT Community:

I write to share with you my decision to step down from the presidency of MIT. Over the past seven years, working together we have accomplished far more than I set out to do. The Institute is now moving forward on a new set of ambitious goals, and I have concluded that the powerful momentum we have built makes this an opportune moment for a leadership transition.

I came to MIT in December 2004 with a profound sense of the privilege and the responsibility of the president’s role. But nothing could have prepared me for this remarkable community of creative minds. Together, we have made tremendous progress in dozens of ways, strengthening MIT’s foundations and setting our sights for the future. We are designing the policy, technology and education required to address the global need for sustainable energy. We have accelerated MIT’s ability to synthesize the strengths of science and engineering to fight disease and to invent new powers of computation. We have expanded the Institute’s global connections. We are charting a course to a new future for American manufacturing. We have also built a framework for the future of our campus and neighborhood, fortified the Institute’s financial structures, strengthened MIT’s culture of inclusion and increased the number of undergraduates we can educate. With the recent introduction of MITx, we are changing the conversation around affordability, access and excellence in higher education. Through last year’s celebration of MIT’s Sesquicentennial, our community emerged reenergized and refocused on our mission of service to the nation and the world. And we achieved all this and more while steering the Institute through the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The momentum of all that we have accomplished has tempted me to stay on to see our many efforts bear their full fruit. But to support our ambitious goals for the future, MIT has begun the crucial work of planning for a significant new fundraising campaign. A campaign on this scale will require the full focus and sustained attention of the Institute’s president over many years. I have concluded that it would be best for the Institute to begin this next chapter with new leadership.

Presidential searches generally take time; I will serve until my successor is selected by the MIT Corporation and is ready to assume the role. I look forward to continuing to be a member of the MIT faculty.

The coming months will offer many opportunities to reflect on our work together, but for now, let me simply thank the faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends of MIT who have given of themselves to advance the mission of MIT. While I expect new intellectual adventures ahead, nothing will compare to the exhilaration of the world-changing accomplishments that we produced together.

Most sincerely,

Susan Hockfield

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/hockfield-0216.html

February 12, 2012

The Nine Mayor Problem – Feb 13, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,cycling — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:29 pm

The Nine Mayor Problem – Feb 13, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

The City Council took its 7th Mayoral Ballot last week even though one of the councillors (Kelley) was absent. It’s really getting ridiculous at this point, and maybe the councillors will soon realize that the choice has nothing to do with substance or leadership and everything to do with personal ego and aspiration. If common sense miraculously prevails, perhaps they’ll settle on a compromise [Hey, weren’t all of you satisfied with how David Maher handled the job last term?] and move on to the appointment of City Council committees, the business of representing the citizens, and just doing their job. Now there’s a concept! In the meantime, let’s refer to all nine of them as "Mayor" just to neutralize the false sense of importance.

It’s pretty much certain that there will be one or more mayoral ballots taken at this meeting. Hopefully they’ll settle this early in the meeting and we’ll have Council committees in place by the time of the following meeting (Feb 27). If not, their pay should be docked. Any mayoral votes taken at this meeting will be posted at http://cambridgecivic.com/?p=1750.

There are a few agenda items for this meeting, starting with the Big Ticket Items:

City Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the rescission of $14,881,482 which is the balance of the loan order approved by the City Council on Nov 17, 2008 for renovations to the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS).

City Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation of an additional $6,515,000 to cover unanticipated costs related to renovations to the old police station at Five Western Avenue in Central Square. This appropriation will be financed through a loan order for $5,770,000 and a transfer of $745,000 in bond proceeds from the Radio Replacement project.

Unfinished Business #5. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the authorization to borrow an amount not to exceed $36,800,000 for the purpose of refinancing existing General Obligation Bonds to acquire lower interest rates than those currently being paid. The question comes on adoption on or after Feb 13, 2012.

The first of these is good news – the CRLS renovations cost less than anticipated, but it was still a lot of money. The second is the reverse – the renovations of the old Police Station will cost another $6.5 million on top of the $14.5 million loan already authorized. The third is the refinancing Order passed two weeks earlier which is now up for final adoption.

City Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the proposed MBTA fare increases and service cuts.

There has been a lot of public reaction to the proposed substantial MBTA fare increases and service reductions. The theme running through much of this is that the debt loaded onto the MBTA by the state legislature is the main cause of its structural deficit: "The financial problem is compounded by the MBTA’s approximately $5 billion in debt, the majority of which is from the Central Artery/Tunnel project (CA/T). Transit expansion projects were included in the CA/T project to mitigate the traffic growth and environmental impacts caused by the greater capacity of the tunnel, as compared with the former elevated expressway. One third of current MBTA operating expenses pay for this debt service, meaning investments that would keep the system in a state of good repair and running reliably are repeatedly postponed." Without that debt, the current fares would cover most of the operations. The MBTA will hold a public meeting in Cambridge on February 29, 2012 from 6-8pm at the Cambridge Senior Center.

On the Table #1. The Wyman Street curb cut.

Regardless of the merits, this whole matter has become very tiresome. There must be some form of Solomonic wisdom that will satisfy the concerns of all parties. It’s a curb cut – not an international peace treaty.

Unfinished Business #2. Election of the Mayor and Vice Mayor

See comments above. Please end this absurdity.

Resolution #12. Retirement of D. Margaret Drury from the City Clerk’s Office.   Mayor Reeves

It would be nice to read the text of this Resolution online. Ironically, it is the policy of the City Clerk that only the Policy Orders are viewable online – not the ceremonial Resolutions. I’m sure there are many nice things expressed in the Resolution, but we can only guess.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to direct City staff to replace the words "approve" and "disapprove" with the words "support" and "do not support" or, as appropriate, by some other terms that will help clarify where relevant authority rests when considering curb cuts.   Mayor Kelley

This is the biggest load of semantic crap I’ve seen in the City Council in ages. Perhaps Mayor Kelley also feels that when a pollster calls asking if he approves of the President’s handling of the economy, this will automatically establish or extend federal economic policy.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the ownership status of the Cambridge Street overpass plaza and any relevant conditions of that ownership, to include responsibilities for maintenance, the ability to close off areas of the plaza to the general public and the power to grant location rights to food trucks.   Mayor Kelley

One of the joys of sticking around for a few years is that you can better appreciate the recurrence of events. I still have fond memories of Councillor Al Vellucci filing a virtually identical Order more than two decades ago. None of the sitting councillors have the flair of good old Al Vellucci. In applying pressure on Harvard University for some issue of the day, Al took to the Council floor telling of his vision of families from East Cambridge setting up victory gardens on the overpass where they could grow basil and other garden delights. I don’t recall if this led to any definitive statements about who was responsible for what, but my recollection is that the land is City-owned and that Harvard is responsible for maintaining it. Whether this extends to permitting food trucks to operate there (a very good thing, in my opinion) may be in that grey area that I’m glad still exists.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager for Community Development to ascertain the date or approximate date on which the shelter at Brookline and Erie Streets will be installed and report back to the City Council.   Mayor Simmons

Speaking of the recurrence of events spread over the years, this proposed bus shelter across the street from Mayor Simmons’ insurance company office has been the subject of so many Council Orders that I’ve lost count.

Order #8. That the City Council urges the Community Development Department to work with the Floating Rock and their landlord Just Mass LLC toward finding an equitable compromise that would be fair to both parties, and that would allow the Floating Rock to remain in operation in Central Square.   Mayor Simmons

This is an interesting new role for CDD – negotiating leases for commercial tenants. Better get in line, folks. As the gentrification of Central Square continues, there may be the need for many more such Council Orders and CDD intervention as familiar haunts are squeezed out in favor of more upscale venues.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the Council on the continuation of the Longfellow Community School Program and its companion program, the Longfellow Neighborhood Council.   Mayor vanBeuzekom

We were down this road before when the Longfellow Elementary School was relocated/merged with the Kennedy School in East Cambridge about ten years ago. The Community School Program was originally designed to more fully utilize public school buildings to provide additional community benefit, so in that sense it was somewhat logical to end the Longfellow Community School when the school was closed. However, over time each community school and its associated community council does assume a life of its own – independent of the physical building – and an argument could be made for its preservation even if the building closed. The Longfellow program was temporarily relocated and was preserved.

In the case of the Longfellow School, the building never went away. It was simply re-purposed for other school uses as well as for the temporary location of the Main Library during its renovation/expansion. It’s quite justifiable for the associated community school and the Longfellow Neighborhood Council to be preserved. It is, however, a fact that the identity of these community schools is often tied to the person who is in charge of the program – in this case, Penny Kleespies who recently retired. This is a natural time for the City and the City Manager to evaluate the future of the program.

I personally believe there is value in maintaining this community school and its neighborhood council with the understanding that it must identify what its future mission is to be. Mid-Cambridge is the most populous neighborhood in the city and this program has the potential to be a great benefit. The Longfellow building is currently moth-balled, and the Community School is not able to remain in the building (I’m not sure exactly where it is now operating). Next year (presumably) the King School will be temporarily moved into the Longfellow building while its current building is demolished and reconstructed. I assume that the King School’s community school program may come with it for the duration. This will then be repeated with two other schools later in the decade.

This does not bode well for the existing Longfellow Community School Program if the other programs move with their respective schools. If a community school program is to serve the local neighborhood, it seems to me that simply cycling several other community school programs through the Longfellow building does nothing for Mid-Cambridge. On the other hand, our brilliant School Committee saw fit to eliminate all elementary schools from the city’s most populous neighborhood when it closed the Longfellow School a decade ago.

I will not rally around the preservation of any program simply because it exists or because there is some sentiment to preserve somebody’s job. That’s the kind of patronage attitude that has corrupted the state and this city for years. I do, however, believe that if the whole purpose of community school programs is to "foster community" and provide a space and programming for local neighborhoods, then the city’s most populous neighborhood should not be denied this service.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department about developing a process which would require developers seeking zoning relief to build a model of the area impacted by the proposed developments prior to coming before the City Council for voting purposes.   Mayor Decker

This is already done with many, perhaps most, major proposed developments when they come before the Planning Board. Whether this should be required by the City Council is questionable. The architectural expertise is at the Planning Board, and if they feel the need for cardboard or styrofoam models (or pop-up books) for projects, that should be their call. City councillors are not elected to serve as architects. They always have the option of attending Planning Board meetings if they feel the need for a more enriched architectural perspective.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Mayor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Transportation, Traffic and Parking Committee for a public meeting held on Sept 15, 2011 to discuss bike parking, enforcement, bike sharing and facilities.

There are a few odd topics from this meeting held 5 months ago and only now reported. For example:

"Ms. Seiderman noted that Cambridge parking meters do not, contrary to Mayor Kelley’s statement, have bike rings attached to them as City staff and drivers needing to access the meter heads can find attached bicycles difficult to get around." – This is a statement that needs to be challenged. Cyclists have been locking the bikes to parking meters for as long as there have been locks and parking meters. The possibility that someone cannot access the meter head due to a parked bicycle seems extraordinarily unlikely.

"Mayor Kelley stated that he is not a cycle track advocate." – On this we agree. With all the rhetoric about conflicts caused by bicyclists riding on sidewalks, it seems wrong-headed to set up "cycle tracks" on sidewalks that are guaranteed to significantly increase conflicts with pedestrians. This is what I see nearly every day on Vassar Street where those tracks are installed. It’s one thing to build separate facilities to parallel Memorial Drive or another highway, but they make little sense elsewhere where vehicular speeds are moderate. Children can and do ride on the sidewalk, but this is not the place for adults. – Robert Winters

February 5, 2012

Feb 6, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:36 pm

Feb 6, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Actually, there aren’t any. Councillor Kelley announced last week that he would not be at this meeting, so unless that changes, don’t expect a mayoral ballot to take place at this meeting. Also, two of the more controversial matters that were tabled last week via Charter Right were the following Orders from Councillor Kelley that likely have minimal support from his colleagues. Expect them to be "Placed on File under Rule 19" without action, or possibly be amended by substitution to introduce plans more suitable to the majority of councillors.

Charter Right #12. That the Acting Chair of the City Council is requested to appoint a temporary committee of three Council members to start the process of searching for and hiring a replacement City Clerk. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Davis on Order Number Four of Jan 30, 2012 submitted by Councillor Kelley.]

Charter Right #13. That the Acting Chair of the City Council is requested to appoint a temporary committee of three City Council members to start the process of setting up a City Council review of the City Manager and to start the discussion with the City Manager of his intentions. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Davis on Order Number Five of Jan 30, 2012 submitted by Councillor Kelley.]

Unfinished Business #15. That the matter of the election of the Mayor and Vice Mayor be referred to Unfinished Business. Jan 30, 2012 ballot #4 (Councillor Cheung three votes; Councillor Davis one vote; Councillor Decker three votes; Councillor Kelley one vote and Councillor Toomey one vote) ballot #5 taken (Councillor Cheung three votes; Councillor Davis one vote; Councillor Decker two votes; Councillor Reeves two votes and Councillor Toomey one vote) ballot #6 taken (Councillor Cheung three votes; Councillor Davis one vote; Councillor Decker two votes; Councillor Reeves two vote and Councillor Toomey one vote)

That’s pretty much it until next week. It will be more interesting to see what happens Tuesday night at the School Committee meeting when they are expected to vote on the "Academic Challenge Plan" that’s part of the ongoing Innovation Agenda implementation. Will the School Committee vote in favor of mediocrity? Probably. Or maybe they’ll delay the vote. – Robert Winters

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: