Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

January 26, 2015

Early Marathon Monday – Coming up at the January 26, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,cycling,transportation — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 2:58 am

Early Marathon Monday – Coming up at the January 29, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

NOTICE: Due to the expected snowstorm this meeting has been postponed
to Thurs, Jan 29, 5:30pm at the Attles Meeting Room (CRLS)

This should be a rollicking meeting (still up at the high school) with plenty of interesting and controversial items on the agenda. Honestly, there are enough significant items to fill the agendas of several meetings. To provide time for a fair discussion of all of them, this would be a good time to use the Charter Right option to spread some of them over the next several weeks. It may also be wise to refer some of them to the appropriate Council subcommittees for more detailed discussion. Here are some of the items that are especially noteworthy together with some brief comments.

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an appropriation of $10,000 for the Healthy Aging through Healthy Community Design grant from the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging to the Community Development Grant Fund Other Ordinary Maintenance account which will allow for the Community Development Department to collaborate with the Council on Aging and the Cambridge Public Health Department to ensure that the bicycle network planning process incorporates measures of and actions for mobility and accessibility for the 55+ population on bicycle infrastructure.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the status of the reconstruction plan of Pearl Street.

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager is requested to report back on any progress made in acquiring state funding for design and construction of the portion of the Watertown branch B&M Line railroad property to construct the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway and on the feasibility of a low-cost, temporary paving solution for the Greenway in order to realize the community benefits while the path awaits permanent construction. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Order Number Two of Jan 5, 2015.]

Charter Right #4. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the Community Development Department to abandon the "Complete Street" plan for Pearl Street. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Order Number Seven of Jan 5, 2015.]

BicycleThese are some of the bike-related items on the agenda. Manager’s Agenda #3 is a bit mysterious to this 55+ daily cyclist since I’ve always understood the "bicycle infrastructure" to be the street network. There are, unfortunately, some people in the City administration who are convinced that cyclists need to be segregated into separate facilities rather than share the roads with motor vehicles. This is also the central issue with Manager’s Agenda #5 and Charter Right #4 which is a proposed City Council Order to stop the City from removing all parking from one side of Pearl Street in order to segregate those pesky cyclists. My sense is that the Order in Charter Right #2 was only delayed as a response to the Pearl Street plan in order to force a discussion. There is, however, a big difference between making use of an abandoned rail line as a bike/pedestrian path and radically changing the way an existing residential street functions.

Expect some serious self-righteous commentary during Public Comment about how the unenlightened residents of Cambridgeport are standing in the way of progress by not bending over and accepting what is being shoved at them.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a communication from Director of Environmental Health Sam Lipson relative to proposed amendments to the Tobacco Ordinance along with new red-lined draft amendments addressing the most recent changes requested by the Council at its meeting of Dec 15, 2014 regarding e-cigarettes being banned in workplaces and hookahs being allowed in restaurants. Also attached is the Appendix A list of parks and plazas (Option B) that was previously sent to the Council.

Unfinished Business #15. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 30, 2014 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.28 entitled "Restrictions on Youth Access and Sale of Tobacco Products and Smoking in Workplaces and Public Places. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Jan 5, 2015.

Not much to say on this other than to observe that the last several City Council meetings have brought out a significant number of people passionately opposed to the banning of smoking in public parks.

Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-116, regarding a report on Cambridge Youth Programs usage rates and space.

This report reminds me of similar reports back around 2000 that showed less than full utilization of some of our well-intentioned youth programs and facilities.

Manager’s Agenda #15. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Joseph Barr as the Director of the Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department, effective Mar 2, 2015.

Welcome back, Joseph.

Manager’s Agenda #21. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-103, regarding a report on making the Foundry Building available for a major installation of the 2015 Fab Lab Conference.

Manager’s Agenda #24. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Disposition Report for the Foundry Building.

The evolving story of "The Gift" continues.

Manager’s Agenda #22. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-144, regarding the drafting of a framework for a Community Benefits and Mitigation Plan. [Attachment]

Manager’s Agenda #23. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Incentive Zoning Nexus Study.

Both of these reports have been a long time coming, and the substance of either one of them could dominate an entire City Council meeting. Read the reports and form your own opinions.

Resolution #1. Congratulations to Yoni Appelbaum on being named The Atlantic’s politics editor.   Councillor Cheung

Yoni Appelbaum is an incredibly insightful fellow, and The Atlantic chose well in naming him as their politics editor. Perhaps he can exchange notes with Thomas Edsall, a son of Cambridge, who currently writes a weekly New York Times opinion column and who was political editor of the Huffington Post from 2007 to 2009 after working many years as a newspaper journalist.

Resolution #86. Congratulations to Jim Braude on being named the new host of Greater Boston.   Councillor Toomey

Another great choice of our friend and former Cambridge City Councillor Jim Braude.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Mayor to reach out to representatives and city officials in Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Everett and Somerville to gauge interest in forming an inter-city committee which would meet three times per year to discuss and develop strategies for common issues that would be best handled regionally with support from the state.   Councillor McGovern, Vice Mayor Benzan and Councillor Cheung

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments and elected officials from Somerville to arrange a public meeting of the two cities to discuss regionalism and potential regular scheduling.   Councillor Mazen

I have spoken with several city councillors during this past year about this very idea and I think it’s an idea whose time has come, especially in regard to regional housing and transportation planning and economic issues of mutual interest. Somerville has big plans for Union Square and there’s a need to expand housing opportunities in the urban core of Greater Boston. Few would disagree about the need for a more coordinated discussion of regional transportation. Some of our elected officials and their counterparts in neighboring cities and towns would be well-suited for this kind of inter-city committee.

Order #6. That the attached amendment to the Municipal Code entitled "Prohibition on the Use of Polystyrene Based Disposable Food Containers," together with the input of the Recycling Advisory Committee, be referred to the Ordinance Committee for a hearing and report.   Councillor Cheung

On balance this is probably a good thing but, as we saw with the discussion of the proposed plastic bag ban, the alternatives are not always so obviously beneficial from an environmental perspective.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to contact the current owners of the Vail Court property and demand that graffiti be removed, exterminators assess the property, and any other maintenance that would improve the appearance and safety of this building be conducted immediately.   Councillor McGovern, Vice Mayor Benzan and Councillor Simmons

The Vail Court saga continues. Perhaps the political contributions of the property owners to local City Council campaigns can be redirected toward rodent extermination and graffiti removal. That might be a good step toward clean elections.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to ask all City Departments to have documents and presentations made available to the public and the City Council at least three business days in advance of the scheduled meeting to allow ample time for review.   Councillor McGovern and Councillor Carlone

Why stop there? Each City Council committee should have its own web page where information on all matters before the committee is posted so that it’s easy to understand all issues that have been decided, are under consideration, or are planned to be taken up by that committee. Instead of City Council personal aides, there should instead be staff charged with gathering, organizing, and posting this information and facilitating the business of the committee. Each Roundtable meeting should also have a page containing all relevant reference material, but meetings should not be postponed simply because of late submissions of reference materials.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to create and fund the position of ombudsman, with degrees of both organizational independence to serve as an advocate and organizational ties to be effective, to serve as a liaison with and an internal advocate for community members.   Councillor Cheung

I’m sure there will be a number of people speaking during Public Comment in favor of this proposal. I respectfully disagree with that point of view. There are plenty of helpful City staff who are always available to assist the public, but advocacy should be left to residents and their various organizations.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to take the necessary measures to formally designate the 2nd Floor meeting room at the City Hall Annex, located at 344 Broadway, as the Bayard Rustin Meeting Room.   Councillor Simmons

Bayard Rustin was a great man, but it is perhaps advisable to reserve the naming of public meeting rooms for distinguished Cantabrigians.

Order #15. That the City Manager is requested to work with applicable boards and commissions to assist them in clarifying yearly goals and initiatives, to provide increased administrative oversight and accountability where necessary, and where possible, discuss ways to increase resident involvement.   Councillor Mazen

I’m not quite sure what the real intention of this Order is. Most if not all of the City’s boards and commissions already do set annual goals and objectives. Public input is generally very welcome, but it’s not always so easy to know the specifics of what is before a given board – even if they have a posted agenda. It is, however, a lot better than it used to be.

Order #16. That the City Manager is requested to report to the City Council any existing agreements that may have been signed between the City of Cambridge and Boston 2024, the US Olympic Committee, or any other organizations representing Olympic interests and that the City Manager is requested to bring any proposed agreement regarding the Olympics to the City Council for discussion and debate prior to signing.   Councillor Cheung, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley

Perhaps I’m misreading this, but it sure seems as though we’re setting Cambridge up to be voice of the Loyal Opposition in all matters relating to the 2024 Olympics bid. Boston employees will be under a gag order and all of the criticism will be routed through voices in Cambridge and Somerville.

Order #17. That the City Council go on record in support of the We the People Act.   Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen

It’s a sure bet that some people will step up to the microphone in support of this Order. The referenced Act centers on a proposed U.S. Constitutional amendment in response to the Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Order #18. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested not to enter into any future contracts to obtain electricity from TransCanada and to investigate the possibility of entering into an agreement to obtain up to 100% renewable power for all municipal electricity needs.   Councillor Carlone

Buy the cheapest electricity regardless of the source. Focus your advocacy on making alternate energy sources more economically competitive rather than just making economically poor choices based on political criteria.

Order #19. That the City Manager is requested to work with all relevant City Staff to explore the potential for installing composting facilities inside City Hall and other key municipal buildings.   Councillor Carlone

Perhaps the intention of this Order is to facilitate organics collection at City Hall and other municipal buildings. That’s NOT the same thing as installing composting facilities in these buildings which will likely be problematic and ill-advised.

Order #23. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to determine if they can be of further assistance in understanding how the portion of the [Grand Junction Multiuse] path from Binney to the Somerville border can be completed and to report back to the City Council.   Councillor Toomey

Order #24. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development and report back to the City Council with language that could create a Grand Junction Overlay District that would help to create incentives and ensure the completion of the Grand Junction Multiuse Path.   Councillor Toomey

Anything that helps to facilitate the improvement of this corridor to support a multi-use path is worth it – as long as future rail passenger service can still be accommodated. This corridor has great potential for linking Cambridge and MIT with new and existing housing in Somerville and Allston and beyond.

Order #25. That the City Manager is requested to determine the feasibility of executing the recommendations of the STEAM Working Group with the appropriate City departments.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor Carlone and Councillor McGovern

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee and Councillor Nadeem A. Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration Committee conducted a STEAM Summit on Dec 10, 2014 to present research by the STEAM Working Group and to present the Working Group’s recommendations.

I can’t speak to the specifics and I’m still skeptical of the focus on creating new agencies and new staff positions to support this, but I do agree with the underlying goals. I would much prefer realigning existing staff in the schools and elsewhere to achieve the goal of matching local residents, especially those who have been traditionally disadvantaged, with job opportunities in fields requiring science, mathematics, and engineering skills.

Order #26. That the City Manager is requested to determine the feasibility of creating a survey in collaboration with the Community Development Department and other appropriate departments to gather data on the positive impact of the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance on the lives of Cambridge residents and families and to determine the feasibility of hosting a town hall meeting where tenants and families who benefit from the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance can come together to share their experiences and provide valuable feedback on how to perfect the program.   Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor McGovern and Councillor Cheung

Together with the Incentive Zoning Nexus Study and possible revisions to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, we may see a lot of activity this year on the various tools for producing housing and other benefits from the money generated by new development.

Order #27. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to determine the feasibility of renaming Area 4 "The Port."   Vice Mayor Benzan

There’s really no need for a feasibility study for a change like this. Just do it and have future documents reflect the change. It will be a little confusing having one neighborhood called Cambridgeport and another called The Port. Perhaps we should again refer to them as The Upper Port and The Lower Port. There’s also the annoying little detail that there hasn’t actually been a port in either neighborhood for ages. Perhaps we should also change the name of a part of North Cambridge to The Brickyards in honor of another discontinued use. – Robert Winters

January 18, 2015

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Jan 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 4:16 pm

Cambridge Officially Launches Open Data Portal
Public Invited to Community Training Event at CCTV

Open Data PortalOn Wed, Jan 21, 2015, the City of Cambridge will officially launch its Open Data Portal during a community training event held at CCTV, 438 Massachusetts Avenue, from 6-8pm. This event, co-sponsored by CCTV, will include a brief overview of the Open Data Movement, a Q&A with members of the Open Data Community, and a hands-on training provided by representatives of Socrata, the cloud based platform powering Cambridge’s Open Data portal. Computer terminals will be available during the event, though participants are encouraged to bring laptops or tablets to help ensure enough computers are available. This event is free and open to the public.

“Cambridge’s Open Data Initiative reflects the City’s commitment to using technology to increase accessibility to and transparency of information owned by the City,” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi. “Cambridge’s Open Data Portal is one means through which the City can foster engagement and collaboration with its citizenry.”

The portal went live in July for a six month review and internal staff training period. During this time, the site was accessible to the public and the city also engaged with Code for Boston, the local brigade chapter of Code for America, and the Open Data Discourse (ODD) Street Safety Challenge.

The overall goal for Cambridge’s Open Data Initiative is to make government data available in easy to find and usable formats, therefore creating meaningful opportunities for the public to help solve complex challenges. Other goals of the City’s Open Data Initiative are: providing greater access to city data; creating greater transparency; improving delivery of city services; and realizing social and commercial value.

The public can access Cambridge’s open data at

The Open Data Portal gives citizens the opportunity to access and use public information. Datasets can be reviewed, compared, analyzed, and used to create different visualizations such as graphs, charts, and maps, all within the Socrata Platform. Socrata’s Open Data Portal has been implemented in multiple government organizations across the country and even across the world.

Event information is available at

– ### –

Cambridge Community Television: an award-winning, nationally recognized community media center that provides tools and training to foster free speech and creative expression, involving people from across the city as producers and viewers of media that is informative, engaging and as diverse as the Cambridge community. CCTV operates local cable channels 8, 9 and 96, offers hands-on media production and technology workshops for people of all ages, runs, an innovative citizen journalism project, and a vibrant Youth Media Program, hosts computerCENTRAL public computer labs, and manages a dynamic, media-rich website at

Socrata: the world’s leader in cloud solutions for open data and data-driven governments. Its innovative customers include the cities of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Melbourne and Eindhoven; the states of New York, Illinois and Texas; US Health and Human Services; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; the UN, the European Commission, and the World Bank. Socrata’s solutions – including the recently launched Open Data Network™ which unleashes the full potential of government data to help drive connected communities around the world – assist government leaders in improving transparency, modernizing citizen access to information and bringing data into every decision, all with unprecedented speed and cost savings. Delivered as turnkey services, Socrata’s technologies unlock data trapped in enterprise silos, mobilize and transform it into useful information that everyone can easily access, visualize, share and reuse. To learn more about Socrata, visit

Code for Boston – a Code for America Brigade: a volunteer civic innovation organization created by Boston-area developers, designers, urban planners, and data geeks with an interest in solving civic and social problems through the use of creative technology.

Open Data Discourse (ODD): collaborates with non-profit and government agencies to leverage their open, public data to inform data-driven public policies and social research. ODD connects citizens to open data and provides an innovative outlet for civic participation. ODD develops insights from data and impacts policy by establishing a discourse between citizens, stakeholders, and policy makers.

Renew Cambridge Resident Parking Permits by Jan 31, 2015

Alewife T SculptureCambridge residents are encouraged to renew their Resident Parking Permits, if they have not already done so, prior to the expiration date of Jan 31, 2015 to avoid getting a ticket on Feb 1. Renew online at,, by Mon, Jan 26 to avoid the walk-in lines at the Traffic Department and allow time to receive your 2015 permit via mail. Please note that you must have an active 2014 residential parking permit in order to renew online.

New this year, households without vehicles that have an active 2014 visitor permit may also be eligible to renew online.

The winning entry from the 2015 Resident Permit Photo Contest was Alewife T Sculpture submitted by Takako Tokuoka. The City is again offering the opportunity for residents to make a voluntary contribution. Proceeds will be allocated to the City’s climate change initiatives. For more information, call 617-349-4700 or visit:

Cambridge Advances in $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize
Cambridge among 50 communities nationwide leading the way on energy efficiency

Jan 14, 2015 – Today, the City of Cambridge officially advances to the Semifinal round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition that is challenging communities across the U.S. to rethink their energy use. At a press event in Washington, D.C. today, Cambridge was announced as one of the 50 communities who are leading the way on energy efficiency.

“We are excited to get underway in this competition and to establish Cambridge as a national leader in energy efficiency in the United States,” said Mayor David P. Maher. “For many years, Cambridge has been a strong advocate for a variety of innovative sustainability methods and the Prize competition will help challenge our city to contribute further to a high quality of life for our residents. Competitions like these bring out the best in municipalities and Cambridge is thrilled to be a part of it.”

Cambridge is working on many levels to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions to make the city more sustainable. The city, Harvard University, MIT and a group of major business partners created the Cambridge Community Compact for a Sustainable Future to leverage the intellectual and entrepreneurial capacity of the business, non-profit, education and municipal sectors in Cambridge to foster collaboration on creating a healthy, livable and sustainable future. Last year, the Getting to Net Zero Task Force advanced the goal of putting Cambridge on the path towards becoming a net zero community, with the focus on carbon emissions from building operations. The City Council passed the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance that will provide data and transparency around how energy is used in large buildings citywide, with the goal of providing the marketplace data to enable better implementation of energy efficiency opportunities. In Kendall Square, the city’s largest area of energy use, a new model of public-private partnership is being piloted using the EcoDistricts Framework, which emphasizes the integration of smart infrastructure, green buildings and community engagement to achieve district-scale sustainability. All these initiatives are occurring while the city is conducting a climate change vulnerability assessment. The energy competition will heighten the City of Cambridge’s drive to unite the entire community to embrace energy efficiency on a large scale.

“The City of Cambridge is committed to sustainability and we recognize that serious gains in energy efficiency are needed to reach our climate change mitigation goals,” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi. Participating in this competition will help invigorate the community around innovative ways to save energy as we look to putting Cambridge on the trajectory of becoming a net zero greenhouse gas emissions community.”

“Cambridge as well as cities across the county, have told us that this Prize gives them the momentum to accelerate their energy efficiency efforts,” said Dr. Francis Slakey, Founder and Executive Director of the Georgetown University Energy Prize. Slakey continued, “these Semifinalist communities are leading the way for other small- and medium-size cities and counties to secure their energy efficient future.”

“The competition looks truly like America,” said Dr. Slakey. “Not only do these communities come from across the map, they represent the nation’s full political, social and economic diversity. Some are paying the highest prices for energy, some have the ambition to be carbon net-zero, but all communities share the goal of transforming America’s energy future.”

To learn more about the Georgetown University Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit, or follow the Prize on Twitter (@GUEnergyPrize) or Facebook (

For more information about Cambridge’s efforts and ways you can get involved, please visit and or contact Meghan Shaw at 617-349-5323.

January 14, 2015

Campaign Finance – 2013 Cambridge City Council candidates

Filed under: 2013 Election,campaign finance,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 11:20 pm

The campaign finance reports are continuing to tell a story about which candidates made serious runs for a seat on the Cambridge City Council in 2013, how costly their campaigns were, and how effective their expenditures proved to be. Here are the figures from January 2013 through the latest (Dec 31, 2014) reports:

SummariesStartEndOpenReceiptsExpendBalance#1 Votes$/VoteNotes
Benzan, Dennis16-Jan-1331-Dec-14$0.00$66954.84$58747.39$8207.451302$45.12$2000 refunded donation subtracted
Carlone, Dennis1-Aug-1331-Dec-14$0.00$45999.96$41727.29$4272.671151$36.25includes late $10,000 candidate loan (Dec 2013)
Cheung, Leland1-Jan-1315-Jan-14$7016.78$50586.80$37041.34$20562.242392$15.49$800 overpayment deducted;
figures do not include Lt. Gov. campaign;
actual balance at end of 2014 is $6002.06.
House, Janneke1-Jun-1331-Jan-14$0.00$13518.97$13538.95-$19.98411$32.94$1132.76 reimbursed candidate loan subtracted
Kelley, Craig1-Jan-1331-Dec-14$5262.08$11461.80$5122.30$2601.581093$4.69$9,000 candidate loan reimbursement subtracted
Lee, James1-Aug-1315-Nov-13$0.00$1207.42$1207.42$0.0092$13.12$1,149.64 loan reimbursed subtracted
Leslie, Logan16-Jan-1331-Dec-14$0.00$26371.40$26371.40$0.00505$52.22
Maher, David1-Jan-1331-Dec-14$19131.76$85943.30$76333.85$28741.211460$52.28
Mazen, Nadeem1-May-1331-Dec-14$0.00$60532.70$48259.16$12273.54984$49.04$100 refunded donation subtracted;
cost of school bus and parking costs not in any reports;
account overdrawn; horrible accounting
McGovern, Marc16-Feb-1331-Dec-14$0.00$64325.86$58227.41$6098.451189$48.97$1,903.58 School Committee balance included in receipts
Mello, Gary1-Aug-1315-Dec-13$0.00$549.99$549.99$0.00107$5.14
Mirza, Mushtaque16-Aug-1331-Jan-14$0.00$20083.00$20083.00$0.00284$70.71
Moree, Gregg J. 1-Feb-1315-Jan-14$0.00$3850.00$3896.46-$46.4638$102.54account overdrawn
Peden, Ron2-Aug-1329-Aug-13$0.00$500.00$500.00$0.0050no depository reports
Phillips, Lesley16-Aug-1315-May-14$0.00$3994.50$3994.50$0.0083$48.13$1267.31 from previous campaign account not recorded,
$500 loan subtracted
Reeves, Ken1-Jan-1331-Dec-14$16034.27$56540.07$70489.88$2084.46932$75.63Only $1,000 campaign hdqtrs. rent
to 3MJ Realty recorded
Seidel, Sam1-Jan-1331-Dec-14$253.96$22247.60$22360.30$141.26700$31.94
Simmons, Denise1-Jan-1331-Dec-14
Smith, Jefferson1-May-1331-Dec-14$0.00$45669.46$45665.90$3.56579$78.87credit card debt apparently being paid down
Toomey, Tim1-Jan-1317-Oct-14$6035.62$65152.14$56676.91$13010.851459$38.85$1500 loan reimbursement subtracted from expenses,
includes partial State Rep. campaign finance
vanBeuzekom, Minka 1-Jan-1331-Dec-14$5201.71$36085.19$33906.50$7380.40874$38.79$8,007.68 bank transfer included in expenditures
Vasquez, Luis16-May-1315-Jun-14$0.00$2387.33$2387.33$0.00264$9.04
von Hoffmann, Kristen16-Feb-1331-Dec-13$0.00$16919.17$16919.17$0.00421$40.19$109.67 reimbursed loan subtracted
Williamson, James1-Jan-1331-Dec-13$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0074no reports on record
Yarden, Elie2-Aug-1331-Dec-13$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00102no reports on record

The table can be sorted by category in ascending or descending order by clicking on the category name in the top row.

The Dollars Per Vote information continued to rise as outstanding bills were paid. In addition, some reimbursed candidate loans have been subtracted in order to give a more accurate picture of actual expenses.

Two candidates in particular, Nadeem Mazen and Jefferson Smith, have financial reports that are especially difficult to decipher due to their liberal use of credit cards which resulted in some expenses being counted twice. I corrected the data as much as I could, but both campaigns could have used a competent treasurer.

All 2013-2014 Campaign Finance Report Summaries (PDF) – last updated January 14, 2015

You can also look up these periodic reports yourself at the OCPF website.

This post and the table may still be updated, but the focus will soon shift to the 2015 election.

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2013

January 9, 2015

Cambridge Public Library Receives National Honor Award in Architecture

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:13 am

Jan 9, 2015 – The Cambridge Public Library has received the 2015 National Honor Award for Architecture from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). A jury of nine professionals selected the project as one of 11 buildings nationwide to receive this prestigious award. The AIA Honor Jury states that “the architecture skillfully joins the library to its clearly delighted community,” and describes the “graceful, transparent” new building as “offering great expanses of beautiful sunlit space with vistas of the surrounding park.”

The Cambridge Public Library, which reopened in November 2009, includes a striking new glass building of 76,700 square feet joined to the restored 27,200 square foot landmark, designed in 1887 by Van Brunt & Howe and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building has capacity for over 275,000 books, 90 computer stations, community meeting rooms and a 220-seat auditorium. Over 2,000 patrons visit the building every day. The project also includes an underground parking garage with a 33,000 square foot green roof and the restored Joan Lorentz Park. The building is a model of innovative sustainable design with the first of its kind double-skin curtainwall in the U.S. The front façade has a 3’ deep airspace, multi-story flue, and movable 12” sunshades that create thermally-comfortable and glare-free reading spaces. The library was designed by William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. (Lead Architect) with Ann Beha Architects (Associate Architect/Historic Building Architect), both of Boston.

This award represents one of the 22 honors and awards that Cambridge Public Library has received since it opened in October 2009, including the 2010 Harleston Parker Medal for “The Most Beautiful Building in Boston” from the Boston Society of Architects (BSA).

Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi noted, “During the library project planning process, Cambridge residents expressed a desire that their new main library serve as the civic heart of our community. The evident delight with which our residents use the library every day is probably the best acknowledgment that we have achieved their goal.

We fully embraced Library Director Susan Flannery’s vision that the building must feel like a library, that you must see books the minute you walk in.” said William L. Rawn, Co-Principal for Design, FAIA, LEED AP. “We think this vision has led to the building becoming a literal Town Common for the City of Cambridge.

Here are a few comments from library users:

“The library is like an oasis in the busy and sometimes callous world. A calm, light-filled, pleasant, clean, and open place to do my work alongside people who look as diverse as Cambridge itself. It feels like home. I love the fact that there are dozens of people waiting to go in when the doors open. And I love the calm, helpful, and friendly staff. Thank you!” – Alice LoCicero

“Every time I walk into this building, I am filled with overflowing gratitude and happiness. It is such a gift to me – and our community!” Liz Salomon

“The library is a beautiful and welcoming place where everyone has access to a vast array of resources for free! At the library, everybody is equal. Knowledge, entertainment, communication, culture, and climate control are all available here to people of all socioeconomic levels. I love the library!” – Janis Navikas

“I think the Cambridge Public Library is a testament to all that is great about Cambridge – it was conceived and built with great thought about every detail, to ensure that everyone would feel welcome and every culture would be represented. It embraces new thinking about what a library and a public space should be, yet pays respect and honor to the past.”

“Cambridge Public Library is a gem. From the friendly customer service provided by library staff, to the light-filled spaces available for reading, working, or just day-dreaming, to the amazing collection of media of all kinds, this library provides a haven of rich resources, available for all, and I, just as one patron, am deeply grateful.”

Cambridge Public Library at Night
Cambridge Public Library at Night – Robert Benson Photography

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January 4, 2015

Looking ahead – January 5, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:42 pm

Looking ahead – January 5, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Happy New Year!Here are a few items of interest at the first meeting of this brand new municipal election year. Though the Sullivan Chamber in City Hall appears to be fully renovated, this meeting is taking place in the Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room at CRLS.

Reconsideration #1. Reconsideration filed on Dec. 16, 2014 by Councillor Mazen on Part (2) relating to granting special Permits in Section 10.43, remained in committee. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 29, 2014 Part (1). Planning Board Hearing held Nov 18, 2014. Petition expires Feb 10, 2015.

The Teague Petition consisted of three parts – the obvious, the misinterpreted, and the absurd. The obvious part calls for making the expiration dates for zoning petitions consistent between state law and the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance. This first part was passed to a 2nd Reading on Dec 15 and is expected to be ordained shortly. The misinterpreted part is the basis of Mazen’s filing for Reconsideration. At issue is the distinction between the phrases "Special permits will normally be granted" vs. "Special permits may be granted". There was a Late Order passed at the Dec 15 meeting asking for further clarification. The Planning Board unanimously recommended leaving the "will normally be granted" language intact and the City Council on Dec 15 voted to leave the matter in committee. Councillor Mazen apparently disagreed and feels that the proposed new language should have been passed to a 2nd Reading. In truth, the Planning Board has always had discretion in the granting of Special Permits and the existing language is perfectly consistent with this. The 3rd part of the Teague Petition that "All permits, including, but not limited to, Building Permits, Special Permits, and Variances shall comply with the Master Plan for the City of Cambridge" was a non-starter for a variety of reasons.

Manager’s Agenda #13. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the authorization to borrow an amount not to exceed $39,000,000 for the purpose of refinancing existing General Obligation Bonds to acquire lower interest rates than those currently being paid.

Excerpts: "The purpose (of this Order) is to refinance existing General Obligation Bonds to acquire lower interest rates than those currently being paid."… "While the City received favorable interest rates at the time of the sale of these bonds because of its Triple A rating, current market conditions would allow the City to refund the remainder of the eligible maturities (those with 10 years or longer remaining in principal and interest payments) to realize savings of approximately $190,000 annually through 2028, which equates to $2.4m in gross savings."

Resolution #8. Resolution on the death of George L. Hinds, Sr.   Councillor Toomey
[George was known to many of us as "The Mayor of Fayette Street". Obituary]

Resolution #12. Resolution on the death of Sister Mary Mark Pizzotti, DM.   Mayor Maher
[Sister Mary Mark was Administrator of Sancta Maria Nursing Facility for 42 years. Obituary]

Having lived in Cambridge for only 37 years, I don’t always appreciate the passing of significant Cantabrigians. In the case of Sister Mary Mark, I only know of her role at Sancta Maria through the words of others. George Hinds, on the other hand, has been a neighbor of mine for all the years I’ve lived here. He died on Christmas Day at the age of 85. I knew him first about 30 years ago as that grumpy guy who didn’t appreciate when I would sometimes park my old VW Beetle near his house. As the years passed, talking with George became an indispensable part of my walking down Fayette Street, and I always looked forward to talking with him. I will really miss seeing him. George’s son and other family members will, no doubt, continue the tradition among the sidewalk ambassadors of Fayette Street.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to report back on any progress made in acquiring state funding for design and construction of the portion of the Watertown branch B&M Line railroad property to construct the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway and on the feasibility of a low-cost, temporary paving solution for the Greenway in order to realize the community benefits while the path awaits permanent construction.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Kelley and Councillor McGovern

I don’t believe anyone will object to the intent of this Order. Off-road options for biking and walking, when they become available, are great additions as linear parks and as transportation resources. I don’t know that I agree with temporary solutions as they have a way of becoming semi-permanent. There’s really no down side for Cambridge or our neighboring towns in getting this done. I only wish we had better inter-governmental mechanisms to make these kinds of things happen with fewer bureaucratic delays.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to report back on Policy Order #5 of May 19, 2014 regarding the feasibility of taking the Vail Court lot by eminent domain for the “public good.”   Vice Mayor Benzan

This blight has existed for ages and it’s about time something was done. I don’t know what the best use is for this property or whether an eminent domain taking is the best course of action, but there needs to be some pressure applied. When this Order was passed 8 months ago, some explanation was offered by one city councillor who knows the owner and who has used that abandoned property as a parking space for the bus he used during his 2013 campaign, presumably at no cost even though the in-kind value of that parking must now be in the thousands of dollars dating back to Fall 2013. [Correction: Rent has been paid for this parking space. Suffice to say that all elected officials should take care to avoid the appearance of any conflicts of interest, including a situation where the City Council threatens an eminent domain taking.] – Robert Winters

PS – It will be interesting to see what the City Council does with the following:

LATE ORDER     Jan 5, 2015
WHEREAS: The reconstruction of Pearl Street and the subsequent removal of a significant amount of parking spaces to create a bike lane has caused much concern and opposition; and
WHEREAS: Cambridge is dedicated to increasing safe biking opportunities and providing means for alternative transportation; and
WHEREAS: Cambridge also must maintain a balance with residents who have a real need for automobiles as well as a place to park them; now therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the City Council go on record opposing the option of removing parking along the length of Pearl Street to create a bike lane; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the Community Development Department to abandon the "Complete Street" plan for Pearl Street.

Quick Update on last night’s (Jan 5) City Council meeting:

(1) There were many people there for the Public Comment portion of the meeting addressing the proposed changes to the Smoking Ordinance – specifically the prohibition of smoking in public parks and outdoor patios of restaurants. One definitely gets the sense that any support for those proposed prohibitions is quickly going up in smoke.

(2) Discussion of Reconsideration #1 bordered at times on the ridiculous. It seems that the real issue may simply have been the failure to take a vote to close discussion at the previous meeting before disposing of the underlying matter (Teague Petition – Part 1 passed to 2nd Reading, other parts left in committee for further discussion). Reconsideration failed 3-6 with only Councillors Carlone, Cheung, and Mazen in favor and the vote of the previous meeting stands. Late in the meeting Councillor Mazen brought up Part 1 (uniformizing expiration dates for zoning petitions) and it was ordained unanimously as expected.

(3) There was a good discussion between the City Council and representatives of the Cambridge Police Department that covered a number of topics. Vice Mayor Benzan was prominent in that discussion and spoke of his brother being a Cambridge police officer and of Deputy Superintendent Joseph Wilson having previously been his Assistant Scoutmaster. This was definitely one of those "little town within the big city" moments.

(4) There were several Late Orders at the end of the meeting on which some councillors exercised their Charter Right to delay discussion and consideration until the next regular City Council meeting (Jan 26). Perhaps the most significant was a proposed Late Order from Councillor Toomey that the City Council go on record opposing any plans to remove parking along the length of Pearl Street to create a separated bike lane (as opposed to an ordinary bike lane striped on the road surface) and to instruct the Community Development Department to abandon the "Complete Street" plan for Pearl Street. There will, no doubt, be a lot of public comment on this later this month. – RW

Age Distribution of Voters in Cambridge Elections: 2007-2014

Filed under: Cambridge,elections — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:30 pm

Age Distribution of Voters in Cambridge Elections: 2007-2014

  Nov 2007
Nov 2008
Nov 2009
Nov 2010
Nov 2011
Nov 2012
Nov 2013
Nov 2014
Cambridge voters 13703 43482 16001 33840 15907 49835 17800 32569
Median Age 55.9 41.3 55.2 47.4 56.5 40.1 56.4 49.3
Average Age 55.6 44.8 56.1 48.4 55.3 44.5 54.6 49.8
November 2014 November 2013
November 2012 November 2011
November 2010 November 2009
November 2008 November 2007

Note: Data used for this analysis comes from the Cambridge registered voter database and voter history files for the respective years. Voters without specified birthdates have been excluded (very small number). In addition, a small number of public safety officials are also not included in the publicly available registered database.

January 3, 2015

Cambridge City Council Campaign Receipts: 2013 – 2014

Cambridge City Council Campaign Receipts: 2013 – 2014
(candidates exceeding 500 #1 votes in Nov 2013 election)

Ranked by Percent Receipts from Cambridge

Candidate Receipts Cambridge Percent
Kelley, Craig $11,441.00 $10,591.00 92.6%
Leslie, Logan $26,232.53 $22,745.00 86.7%
Carlone, Dennis $45,410.00 $37,506.00 82.6%
vanBeuzekom, Minka $31,757.70 $22,762.00 71.7%
Seidel, Sam $22,245.82 $15,362.00 69.1%
Cheung, Leland $344,288.91 $189,654.92 55.1%
Smith, Jefferson $39,940.00 $20,140.00 50.4%
McGovern, Marc $60,438.13 $29,294.00 48.5%
Simmons, Denise $41,809.92 $19,763.28 47.3%
Maher, David $85,918.30 $40,454.00 47.1%
Benzan, Dennis $67,096.00 $31,471.00 46.9%
Toomey, Tim $65,152.14 $25,507.80 39.2%
Mazen, Nadeem $61,962.14 $18,157.96 29.3%
Reeves, Ken $54,464.03 $15,493.88 28.4%

Ranked by Percent Receipts from Real Estate Interests

Candidate Receipts Real Estate Percent
Maher, David $85,918.30 $27,300.00 31.8%
Reeves, Ken $54,464.03 $16,875.00 31.0%
McGovern, Marc $60,438.13 $16,942.61 28.0%
Simmons, Denise $41,809.92 $9,650.00 23.1%
Toomey, Tim $65,152.14 $11,350.00 17.4%
Cheung, Leland $344,288.91 $30,350.00 8.8%
Kelley, Craig $11,441.00 $400.00 3.5%
vanBeuzekom, Minka $31,757.70 $850.00 2.7%
Seidel, Sam $22,245.82 $200.00 0.9%
Benzan, Dennis $67,096.00 $500.00 0.7%
Carlone, Dennis $45,410.00 $200.00 0.4%
Mazen, Nadeem $61,962.14 $0.00 0.0%
Smith, Jefferson $39,940.00 $0.00 0.0%
Leslie, Logan $26,232.53 $0.00 0.0%

Note 1: The totals for Leland Cheung include all money raised for his campaign for Lt. Governor, including $118,981.92 from the candidate.

Note 2: The reports for Nadeem Mazen contain many errors – wrong dates, many missing addresses, etc. The data has been corrected to the best of this writer’s ability and patience.

Note 3: The totals above include money loaned or given by the candidates. Since they are all Cambridge residents this greatly affects the totals and the percentages coming from Cambridge addresses.

Note 4: In some cases, candidate loans have since been repaid. The data shown has not been adjusted for this.

Note 5: Some additional receipts for 2014 may still be recorded. The tables may be updated to reflect this.

Note 6: The individual campaign contribution limit of $500 per year has been raised to $1000 per year starting in 2015.

Candidates listed alphabetically including total receipts, receipts from Cambridge addresses,
receipts from political action committees (PAC), receipts from identifiable real estate interests (RE),
percent from candidate (loan or donated), percent receipts from Cambridge,
percent receipts from PACs, percent receipts from identifiable real estate interests

Candidate Total Receipts Cambridge PAC RE Loan % Cambridge % PAC % RE
Benzan, Dennis $67,096.00 $31,471.00 $2,450.00 $500.00 $4,100.00 46.9% 3.7% 0.7%
Carlone, Dennis $45,410.00 $37,506.00 $480.00 $200.00 $16,000.00 82.6% 1.1% 0.4%
Cheung, Leland $344,288.91 $189,654.92 $7,850.00 $30,350.00 $118,981.92 55.1% 2.3% 8.8%
Kelley, Craig $11,441.00 $10,591.00 $0.00 $400.00 $25.00 92.6% 0.0% 3.5%
Leslie, Logan $26,232.53 $22,745.00 $1,000.00 $0.00 $15,325.00 86.7% 3.8% 0.0%
Maher, David $85,918.30 $40,454.00 $6,100.00 $27,300.00 $0.00 47.1% 7.1% 31.8%
Mazen, Nadeem $61,962.14 $18,157.96 $1,100.00 $0.00 $7,750.00 29.3% 1.8% 0.0%
McGovern, Marc $60,438.13 $29,294.00 $6,100.00 $16,942.61 $2,949.80 48.5% 10.1% 28.0%
Reeves, Ken $54,464.03 $15,493.88 $6,950.00 $16,875.00 $0.00 28.4% 12.8% 31.0%
Seidel, Sam $22,245.82 $15,362.00 $250.00 $200.00 $2,001.00 69.1% 1.1% 0.9%
Simmons, Denise $41,809.92 $19,763.28 $5,550.00 $9,650.00 $0.00 47.3% 13.3% 23.1%
Smith, Jefferson $39,940.00 $20,140.00 $3,475.00 $0.00 $17,220.00 50.4% 8.7% 0.0%
Toomey, Tim $65,152.14 $25,507.80 $9,225.00 $11,350.00 $0.00 39.2% 14.2% 17.4%
vanBeuzekom, Minka $31,757.70 $22,762.00 $500.00 $850.00 $7,500.00 71.7% 1.6% 2.7%

January 1, 2015

Mario Cuomo (June 15, 1932 – January 1, 2015) – Mirrors

Filed under: Deaths — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 8:38 pm

Mario Cuomo - Mirrors
from the November 1985 "Mad as Hell" Issue of the National Lampoon
Mario Cuomo
June 15, 1932 – January 1, 2015

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