Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 31, 2013

Episode 16 of Cambridge InsideOut with City Council candidates Denise Simmons and Minka vanBeuzekom

Episode 16 of Cambridge InsideOut with City Council candidates Denise Simmons and Minka vanBeuzekom. This aired on Oct 29, 2013 at 6:00pm.

October 30, 2013

Episode 15 of Cambridge InsideOut with City Council candidates Dennis Carlone and Dennis Benzan

Episode 15 of Cambridge InsideOut with City Council candidates Dennis Carlone and Dennis Benzan. This aired on Oct 29, 2013 at 5:30pm.

October 28, 2013

School Committee Candidates Respond to PANGEA Questions

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections,School Committee — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:04 pm

Parents for a Global Education Association

Dear Cambridge Families,

Six of the nine (6 of 9) School Committee candidates participated in our forum on World Languages: Fran Cronin, Alfred Fantini, John Holland, Elechi Kadete, Patricia Nolan, and Mervan Osborne. One (1) candidate responded that she was a strong advocate for world languages, but was not able to answer the questions: Joyce Gerber. Two (2) candidates did not respond: Richard Harding and Kathleen Kelly.

We are grateful to have received responses from 6 candidates. We have enclosed these here in alphabetical order.

You can also find them on PANGEA’s website under latest updates:

We have reached out to all the candidates and are hopeful that other responses will soon follow. If you know any of the candidates who have not responded and desire to hear their opinions on these issues, we’d encourage you to reach out to them and ask for their responses.

When we receive further responses, we will forward them along.

Paul Ciampa, PANGEA member
Jane Chiang, PANGEA member

Fran Cronin responses (2 pg. PDF)

Fred Fantini responses (6 pg. PDF)

John Holland responses (4 pg. PDF)

Elechi Kadete responses (5 pg. PDF)

Patricia Nolan responses (11 pg. PDF)

Mervan Osborne responses (2 pg. PDF)

PANGEA is an organization of parents and community members advocating for the development, support, and promotion of language immersion programs in Cambridge for all children. We believe that effective cross-cultural and communication skills are integral to a global education. Language immersion programs are one way to fill that need. Strong world language programs can also provide these skills. Families should have the option of choosing the model that best fits their circumstances.

October 27, 2013

A Better Cambridge (ABC) Grades the City Council Candidates

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,City Council,elections,planning — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 8:53 pm

"A Better Cambridge" (ABC) Grades the City Council Candidates

ABC Scorecard
Leland Cheung 10
Marc McGovern 10
Sam Seidel 8.5
Denise Simmons 8.5
Janneke House 8
Ken Reeves 8
Tim Toomey 8
Kristen von Hoffmann   8
Craig Kelley 6
Dennis Benzan 5.5
Mushtaque Mirza 5.5
Minka vanBeuzekom 5
James Lee 3
Nadeem Mazen 2
Luis Vasquez 1
Gary Mello 1
Dennis Carlone 0.5
Ronald Peden 0

Oct 26 – "A Better Cambridge" (ABC), the Cambridge resident group that describes itself as "working to build a more diverse and livable city on the path towards sustainable growth," has released the results of its 2013 City Council Candidate ratings. Since its inception, ABC has been a consistent supporter of the planning principles of "smart growth" and transit-oriented development, especially housing for a broad spectrum of incomes. Of the 18 City Council candidates who responded to the group’s questionnaire, top scores went to Leland Cheung and Marc McGovern, and lowest scores went to Dennis Carlone and Ron Peden.

"A Better Cambridge looks forward to working with all 9 members of the next City Council to help build a more diverse and livable city," said ABC chairman Jesse Kanson-Benanav. He added: "We believe a better Cambridge is a Cambridge that grows smart and sustainably, taking advantage of Cambridge’s proximity to public and alternate transportation to expand housing choices for all Cambridge families." The full ABC mission and vision may be viewed at

ABC’s analysis, including charts listing the candidate ratings on the individual question plus summary analyses of each candidate’s positions, may be found at the ABC website:

The group’s press release noted that its candidate questionnaire and analysis is intended to give information about how the various candidates stand on the issues that ABC has focused on and is not intended to be an exhaustive analysis of their stance on every issue currently facing Cambridge.

ABC’s Candidate Grid (2 page PDF)     ABC’s Candidate Analysis (56 page PDF)

The ABC questions/topics posed to the candidates were:

  • DIVERSITY: If elected, what policies will you support or propose to help strengthen the diversity of our community through increased affordable housing and greater economic opportunity for all Cambridge residents?
  • SUSTAINABILITY: If elected, what policies or initiatives will you support to ensure that there is adequate housing near public transportation that supports sufficient retail to meet neighborhood needs, meets the needs of current and future residents, reduces auto usage and encourages energy efficiency?
  • GROWTH: Do you agree that in order to support diversity and meet the housing needs of sustainable growth in Cambridge increased density may be necessary? If elected, what specific policies or initiatives will you support to achieve sustainable urban growth and to increase low and moderate income housing for all populations, including families?
  • LIVABILITY: What traits of Cambridge neighborhoods do you find most distinctive? If elected, what policies or initiatives will you support to help reinforce these characteristics through new development, public and open spaces and other means?
  • DIALOGUE: In your opinion, do public planning processes in Cambridge support open and constructive engagement between stakeholders? If elected, how will you help ensure transparent and mutually respectful planning for the future of Cambridge?
  • K2C2: Which three K2C2 recommendations do you believe should be top priorities for the City of Cambridge over the next few years? What specific policies or initiatives recommended will you support to ensure these priorities are achieved during the next City Council term? Are there policies and recommendations that you oppose?
  • CONNOLLY "NET ZERO" PETITION: Does this candidate oppose the Connolly Petition?
  • BUILDING HEIGHTS: Does this candidate support the possibility of increased height allowances for certain transit-­oriented developments?
  • MORATORIUM ON NEW DEVELOPMENT: Does this candidate oppose a moratorium on development?
  • CITYWIDE MASTER PLAN: Does this candidate oppose a master planning process that freezes smart growth projects?

October 24, 2013

Members Needed for Cambridge’s “Getting to Net Zero” Task Force

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

Members Needed for Cambridge’s "Getting to Net Zero" Task Force

Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking volunteers to serve on a new "Getting to Net Zero" Task Force that will advise the City Manager on ways to advance the goal of putting Cambridge on the trajectory towards becoming a "net zero community," with focus on carbon emissions from building operations. This includes reducing energy use intensity of buildings and taking advantage of opportunities to harvest energy from renewable resources.

The Task Force will work collaboratively to examine strategies and develop recommendations that address the following topics:

· reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment
· improve energy efficiency and conservation in existing and new buildings
· support renewable energy generation both on- and off-site
· best practices to engage/educate users and influence occupant behavior

The City seeks individuals with a high degree of experience and expertise in these topics and demonstrated ability to work effectively on a team with diverse opinions to craft consensus solutions. The intention is to create a task force that includes subject matter experts in topics such as building design, construction and operation, development economics, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technology & policy, including the concept of Renewable Energy Certificates, as well as community advocates/residents, business/property owners/developer representatives, and representatives of local universities/the Cambridge Climate Compact.

The Task Force will work collaboratively to develop actionable recommendations that are comprehensive, practical and implementable and at the same time bold in their vision; these may include changes to City ordinances, zoning, policies and other directives. The work of the Task Force should continue to advance Cambridge’s role as a regional and national leader in addressing environmental issues.

It is expected that Committee appointments will be made by the City Manager before the end of the year. The group will meet at least monthly starting December 2013 and deliver final recommendations by December 2014.

To apply, please send a letter by Nov 12, 2013 describing your interest in the study and any experience you have working on similar issues to:

Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge , 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
Fax: 617-349-4307

Toomey Highlights Work on Grand Junction Train Issues, Vision for Future Bike Path

Filed under: Cambridge,East Cambridge,transportation — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:48 am

Toomey Highlights Work on Grand Junction Train Issues, Vision for Future Bike Path

On Wednesday, City Councillor Tim Toomey released a new video ( highlighting his work on issues related to the Grand Junction Railroad in Cambridge. The Grand Junction, which traverses several Cambridge neighborhoods, has become a hot button issue in recent years with proposals for Commuter Rail trains and ethanol transport being considered at the state level. Toomey, who resides in East Cambridge several blocks from the tracks, has been a strong supporter of creating a mixed-use bike and pedestrian path in the Grand Junction’s right-of-way.

"Grand Junction is an incredible asset for our community," Toomey said Wednesday. "While it has an important regional significance, being the only rail link between the northern and southern halves of the MBTA Commuter Rail system, it is also essentially a large swath of undeveloped, lightly-used land in the heart of Cambridge. With the exception of Commuter Rail maintenance trains and a freight train that carries produce to Chelsea several times per week, the tracks are seldom used. It’s pretty clear that there are many outside of Cambridge that have an eye on it, but unfortunately their plans tend not to benefit abutters of the tracks in any way."

In 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) began studying ways to use the Grand Junction Railroad for Commuter Rail service from Worcester to North Station. Their plans, which included more than twenty trains per day travelling at high speeds through six intersections in Cambridge and Somerville, were met with intense community skepticism and opposition. Councillor Toomey’s outspoken opposition helped force the state to more closely study the plan, and it was eventually shelved.

"That was a real victory for our community," said Toomey. "There is such a strong need for better public transportation in our state, but that was not the way to do it," Toomey said, adding that the Massachusetts Sierra Club joined in opposition to the state proposal. "By blocking that proposal, we kept Grand Junction open to uses that will provide tangible benefits to Cambridge residents."

In 2013, Toomey emerged as a leading voice in the fight to stop a Fortune 500 company’s plan to use railroads in Cambridge and Somerville to move millions of gallons of flammable ethanol each week. The plans included the possibility that Grand Junction could be used for trains carrying more than 60 tanker cars full of flammable chemicals. This proposal was met with intense community opposition not only in Cambridge, but in many of the surrounding communities. After a successful push by legislators at the State House, Global Partners, the petroleum company behind the proposal, backed down from their plans.

"Again, this was an immense victory for our neighborhood and the entire region, really," Toomey said. "An accident in a place like Cambridge or Somerville would have disastrous effects. While we have one of the best trained and best equipped fire departments in the entire country right here in Cambridge, an ethanol accident in an urban residential area would necessitate a regional response capability that just does not exist right now," Toomey said, adding that this was another plan that would have potentially precluded a positive community use for the Grand Junction Railroad.

"I think the fact that our community has had to fight back against destructive uses of these tracks twice in as many years highlights the urgency of building the rail trail," said Toomey, referring to a proposal to use unused space next to the Grand Junction railroad tracks to construct a mixed-use bike path. "This corridor passes through Kendall Square, where we have seen enormous growth in the numbers of people who bike and walk to work as opposed to driving cars," said Toomey. "The rail trail would offer a safer place for people to commute and recreate. The demand is already there."

In a video released on Wednesday, which can be found on Toomey’s website, the City Councillor describes work he has done to bring the rail trail closer to construction, including his work to include the path in the East Cambridge Open Space Planning Study and secure $500,000 in funding from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"More and more people are realizing just how much sense this project makes," Toomey said. "Just as we have been successful in opposing problematic proposals in the past, I firmly believe we can be successful if we support the rail trail with the same intensity."

Note: This was taken from a press release.

October 23, 2013

Episode 14 of Cambridge InsideOut with guest Jesse Kansen-Benanav

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 5:32 pm

Episode 14 of Cambridge InsideOut with guest Jesse Kansen-Benanav. This aired on Oct 22, 2013 at 6:00pm.

Episode 13 of Cambridge InsideOut with guest Jesse Kansen-Benanav

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 5:31 pm

Episode 13 of Cambridge InsideOut with guest Jesse Kansen-Benanav. This aired on Oct 22, 2013 at 5:30pm.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: