Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

November 25, 2015

Morning Thoughts – Nov 25, 2015

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:06 am

Morning Thoughts

Vision Central SquareWed, Nov 25 – I walked through Central Square on my way to MIT this morning and finally reached the breaking point concerning the complete disregard of residents, business and property owners for the area. I removed posters (many outdated and some not) from most of the poles along the way – some many months old. If you operate a business or occupy offices in Central Square, would it be so much to ask for you to just give a shit about your surroundings? These are not things for which you should pass the buck to the Department of Public Works. Just clean up your act. You’re adults. Try acting like it.

Maybe it’s time for vigilante cleaning crews. From now on, whenever I have more than a few free moments, I will tear down every illegal poster I see anywhere in Central Square. If this means having one less person at your "Occupy Something" rally, then tough shit. You’re a parasite and we don’t need you. Maybe I’ll give a grace period for Yard Sales but, seriously, is it so much to ask you to take down the posters that you put up after your event is over?

How about the proprietors of the Middle East (wonderful people by all accounts) taking responsibility to remove all the stickers from the poles within several hundred feet of their clubs put there from the fans and members of the various bands who play at their clubs? Do you think that maybe, just maybe, the people who operate The Dance Complex might hire somebody to remove the grafitti from their building? Don’t get me going about Morris Nagger and his perpetual negligence of the properties he and his family own in Central Square. Thanks, Morris, for bringing H-Mart to Central Square (we love you for it), but could you now start removing the enormous amount of graffiti that has been growing unabated on your buildings over the last decade?

If anyone would like to sit down with me and help write the Code of Conduct and How-To Guide for Living, Working, and Owning Property in Central Square, I’ll be accepting applications over the next few days. I’m not interested in waiting for others to do this. Email me at Robert@rwinters.com or call me at 617-661-9230. Once we’re clear about this basic stuff, we’ll take on some of the bigger issues. – Robert Winters

November 22, 2015

Notable Floatables on the Nov 23, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:42 pm

Notable Floatables on the Nov 23, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

These items have floated to the top of my barrel this week:

Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Coolidge Place Land Disposition Report, pursuant to Chapter 2.110 of the Cambridge Municipal Code.

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Planning Board recommendation favoring the Coolidge Plan Land Disposition.

In a rational world, this would be a routine minor land disposition. This was a well-known component of the Mass&Main zoning package that was passed by the City Council last spring but, just like curb cut approvals, these can sometimes become opportunities for continued efforts to block projects or extract additional concessions. Honestly, this was all settled in May and the exchange of this passageway for a far better one (plus cash) should be a slam dunk. Perhaps we can get a player to be named later in the trade. The hearing starts at 7:00pm.

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to further study the Barrett, et al Zoning Petition.

This petition has already had one pass at the Planning Board (Oct 27) and at the Ordinance Committee (Nov 19). Parts of the proposal will likely be kicked down the road as part of the citywide planning exercises, but some could be acted upon sooner. At the heart of the petition is the basic concept of allowing residential property owners to make better use of existing, underutilized space in their buildings for additional rental housing. People already do this under the radar all over Cambridge.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt with changes the Carsharing Zoning Petition (refiled).

The Planning Board remains convinced that this is generally a good thing but that there should be a registration mechanism to allow the City to monitor how expanded carsharing on residential properties evolves and if any problems arise.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the purchase of the premises numbered 0 Winter Street, Assessor’s parcel #165-21-1, in the Town of Lincoln ("the Property") consisting of 54.35 acres of undeveloped land for the purposes of protecting the City’s drinking water supply and for land conservation.

Watershed protection is one of those unseen and underappreciated things the City does. This is money well spent.

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-85, regarding a report on the feasibility of having the City purchase the buildings on Harvard Street and Harding Street.

The short version is:  No Deal.

Unfinished Business #6. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to proposed amendment to the Living Wage Ordinance. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Nov 16, 2015.

I’m not so sure this is ready to rock and roll, but that hasn’t stopped this City Council in other votes during the last two years. Why let legal enforcibility or economic viability get in the way of a popular vote?

Communications #3. A communication was received from Kim Courtney, regarding Xavier Dietrich’s Open Meeting Law Complaint against the Board of Zoning Appeal and Chair Constantine Alexander.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a response to the Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Kim Courtney and Xavier Dietrich, 955 Massachusetts Avenue #259, Cambridge, regarding the Minutes of the City Council meeting of Aug 10, 2015.

Mosquitoes are annoying pests, but you have to at least respect their need for nutrition. I have yet to see any basis for respect for this not-so-dynamic duo of Courtney/Dietrich whose sole reason for being is to be an annoyance. Perhaps they should open a whine bar.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to report back on the feasibility of making a comprehensive housing plan an early action item of the pending citywide planning process.   Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen

Sound great just as long as "comprehensive" doesn’t translate into "build nothing that doesn’t sit well with our political supporters."

Order #3. City Council support of the efforts of the Harvard Graduate Student Union and urging the Harvard administration to commit to refrain from legal or other action that would delay graduate employees’ right to choose collective bargaining, to refrain from efforts to influence research assistants and teaching assistants in their decision to vote on HGSU-UAW, and to commit to commence good-faith negotiations for a contract immediately upon confirmation of a majority vote by research assistants and teaching assistance in favor of HGSU-UAW as their union.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor McGovern, Councillor Simmons and Councillor Cheung

Volpe Tower?Like many others, I was once upon a time a graduate student upon whom many responsibilities were heaped for a fixed stipend – so much so that it interfered with my own studies. [Well, at least they gave me an award for all my good work!] That said, I can’t completely get behind the idea that this should be the subject of collective bargaining in the same way that a long-term job might be. The bottom line is that graduate students should not be put in the position where their graduate studies are unreasonably extended due to underpaid commitments within their respective academic departments. This is a larger issue that has to be addressed at universities everywhere along with the often abysmal pay scales and heavy workloads for adjunct faculty (the dirty little secret of colleges across the USA, including some very prestigious ones). What we should really work toward is appropriate workloads for graduate students that enhance their ability to work in the future at full-time jobs – tenured or otherwise – at reasonable pay scales. Graduate school work is ultimately just temporary employment.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development with the vision of including within the Master Plan and Alewife Study a plan for the relocation of the DPW facilities.   Councillor Toomey

Let me guess – the semi-suburbans of West Cambridge will want to host a relocated DPW Yard at their end of town about as much as they would welcome the CASPAR wet shelter, a methadone clinic, or any of the many social service agencies now in the Central Square area. Where would you move the DPW Yard?

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the Election Commission in order to operate at least 5 early polling locations, for the entire day, for the entirety of the 11 day early voting period and that the City Manager and Election Commission confer further as to the feasibility of operating a greater number of early polling locations, and issue a report detailing their findings.   Councillor Mazen

This is a solution in search of a problem. Is it really a hardship when there is scheduled to be a 11 day early voting period in addition to normal Election Day voting? Councillor Mazen has concluded that the voters of Cambridge are so completely incapable of finding their way to Inman Street that there is the need to have "5 separate early polling locations, for the entire day, for the entirety of the 11 day early voting period". But that’s not all – he also proposes that the Election Commission "confer further as to the feasibility of operating a greater number of early polling locations, and issue a report detailing their findings". This translates into staffing for a minimum of 440 hours (plus security considerations) for something that is almost certainly unnecessary. I could see perhaps having a 2nd location open for a portion of a few days as an added convenience, but the scale of this Order makes no sense whatsoever.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 12, 2015 to discuss a petition by the Planning Board to amend Section 13.10 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance so as to change the development controls applicable in the planned Unit Development at Kendall Square (PUD-KS) Overlay Zoning District. The majority of the PUD-KS District is occupied by the Volpe Transportation Systems Research Center operated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

There’s another Ordinance Committee hearing on this topic scheduled for Tues, Dec 1. The trend of late is to load up the proposed zoning with so many constraints (affordable housing, open space, etc.) that the only way for anything to be financially feasible would be to permit building heights on the order of twice the scale of anything currently in Cambridge. Then everyone will complain about the heights. – Robert Winters

November 17, 2015

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 91 and 92 – Digging into the ballot data

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge InsideOut,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:09 pm

Cambridge InsideOut this week took a close look at the ballot data from the 2015 Cambridge municipal election.

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 91 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 17, 2015 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 92 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 17, 2015 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

References materials for these shows

November 15, 2015

CRLS Alumni Association – 2015 Homecoming Calendar

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 8:35 pm

CRLS Alumni Association – 2015 Homecoming Calendar

CRLSA series of events for alumni and staff of CHLS, CRLS and Rindge Tech from Sat, Nov 21, 2015 through Sun, Nov 29, 2015 including the Annual CRLS ALUMNI Luncheon & Association Meeting "Back to the Future" on Fri, Nov 27, 2015.


  • Sat, Nov 21 – "Homecoming Kick-off" – Meet and greet the new Visual and Performing Arts Director, Mr. George Simpson prior to the Fall Musical – 6:00pm @ the Fitzgerald Theater, Broadway, Cambridge.
  • Sat, Nov 21:  CRLS Musical "Footloose! The Musical" – 7:00pm @ the Fitzgerald Theater, Broadway.
  • Mon, Nov 23:  Annual Rindge Tech Dinner – 6:00pm @ Hellenic Cultural Center, 25 Bigelow Avenue, Watertown.
  • Tues, Nov 24:  "First Annual Alumni Panel Discussion" for CRLS Juniors and Seniors at CRLS.
  • Wed, Nov 24:  Annual Football Team Reunion – 6:00pm @ Russell Field, 335 Rindge Ave., Cambridge.
  • Wed, Nov 25:  Welcome Back to the Future – at the renovated CRLS with tours, discussions and meeting with Principal Damon Smith – 10:30am @ the CRLS Campus, 459 Broadway, Cambridge.
  • Wed, Nov 25:  Annual Alumni Reunion Night – 8:00pm @ Grendel’s Den, 89 Winthrop St, Harvard Square, Cambridge.
  • Thurs, Nov 26:  CRLS vs Somerville Football Game Pre-Game Tailgate – 8:30 to 10:00am @ Russell Field, 335 Rindge Ave., Cambridge.
  • Thurs, Nov 26:  CRLS vs Somerville Football Game – 10:00am kickoff @ Russell Field, 335 Rindge Ave., Cambridge.
  • Fri, Nov 27:  Boys Alumni Soccer Game – 9:30am to 11:00am at Danehy Field, Cambridge.
  • Fri, Nov 27:  “Back to the Future” Annual CRLS Alumni Luncheon and Association Meeting – 11:00am @ CRLS Media Cafe, 459 Broadway, Cambridge.

REUNIONS:

  • Fri, Nov 27 – Classes 1971-1979 Reunion @ 7:00pm to midnight, Sons of Italy, Woburn. Contact Lenny Vigilante 781-301-1973 or lennyv838@aol.com.
  • Fri, Nov 27 – Class of 1995 Reunion, Our 20th high school reunion at 7:00pm @ Fire & Ice in Harvard Square. Click here to register: Eventbrite page
  • Sat, Nov 28 – Class of 1970 Reunion, VFW, 600 Huron Ave., Cambridge @ 7:00pm to midnight. Tickets $20.00. Contact John Campbell, 617-291-3222 or soup287@comcast.net.
  • Sat, Nov 28 – Class of 1980 Reunion, Crowne Plaza Woburn, 15 Middlesex Canal Park, Woburn. Cocktails @ 6:00pm, Dinner @ 7:30pm, $55 in advance, $70 at the door. Visit: http://www.crlsalumni.org/ for more information or e-mail crls80reunion@comcast.net.

Visit:  http://crlsalumni.org for more Homecoming 2015 information.

Visit:  CRLSHomecoming2015 to RSVP and/or purchase tickets.

Visit:  Reunions for information on Class Year Reunions.

November 13, 2015

Final Official Election Results – Cambridge 2015 Municipal Election

Final Official Election Results (Nov 13, 2015) – including all ballots

City Council (in order of election)
Nadeem Mazen
Denise Simmons
David Maher
Jan Devereux
Tim Toomey
Craig Kelley
Leland Cheung
Marc McGovern
Dennis Carlone

Incumbent Dennis Benzan is defeated

Vote!School Committee (in order of election)
Patty Nolan
Fred Fantini
Richard Harding
Kathleen Kelly
Manikka Bowman
Emily Dexter

Incumbent Fran Cronin is defeated

Full Final Official Election Results (Nov 13, 2015) – City Council & School Committee

City Council #1 Vote Distribution by Ward/Precinct (PDF)

School Committee #1 Vote Distribution by Ward/Precinct (PDF)

Alternate measures of Popularity – 2015 City Council Election (PDF)

Unofficial Election Results (Nov 4, 2015) – including all auxiliary ballots

City Council (in order of election)
Nadeem Mazen
Denise Simmons
David Maher
Jan Devereux
Tim Toomey
Leland Cheung
Craig Kelley
Marc McGovern
Dennis Carlone

Incumbent Dennis Benzan is defeated

School Committee (in order of election)
Patty Nolan
Fred Fantini
Richard Harding
Kathleen Kelly
Manikka Bowman
Emily Dexter

Incumbent Fran Cronin is defeated

Full Unofficial Election Results (Nov 4, 2015) – City Council & School Committee
Preliminary Election Results (Nov 3, 2015) – not including auxiliary ballots

City Council (in order of election)
Nadeem Mazen
Denise Simmons
Jan Devereux
David Maher
Craig Kelley
Dennis Carlone
Leland Cheung
Tim Toomey
Marc McGovern

Incumbent Dennis Benzan is defeated

School Committee (in order of election)
Patty Nolan
Fred Fantini
Richard Harding
Kathleen Kelly
Manikka Bowman
Emily Dexter

Incumbent Fran Cronin is defeated

Full Preliminary Election Results (Nov 3, 2015) – City Council & School Committee

Note 1: On Tuesday night, Nov 3, the Election Commission announced the preliminary winners in the order of election.

Note 2: On Wednesday, Nov 4, hundreds of additional "auxiliary ballots" were scrutinized for voter intent and then included with the Tuesday ballots to determine the "Unofficial Results". This produced the same winners, though in the City Council race the order in which candidates were elected changed.

Note 3: On Friday, Nov 13, the Final Results were determined when a small number of overseas absentee ballots and provisional ballots were examined. This resulted in an additional 8 ballots for each of the City Council and School Committee races. The margins in both the City Council and School Committee elections were such that there was no realistic possibility that the candidates elected would change, though the order in which Craig Kelley (6th) and Leland Cheung (7th) were elected was reversed.

election2015official

Council2015wdpct

School2015wdpct

November 11, 2015

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 89 and 90 – Making Sense of the 2015 Cambridge Municipal Election Results

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 1:22 am

Cambridge InsideOut this week took a look at the 2015 election results.

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 89 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 10, 2015 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 90 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 10, 2015 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Full Unofficial Election Results (Nov 4, 2015) – City Council & School Committee

November 8, 2015

After the Storm – Nov 9, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

After the Storm – Nov 9, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

In Counting there is StrengthThe election results from this past week are now known and the theories are flying about why some candidates fared well and why others will say farewell. Most of this pseudoanalysis is just for entertainment purposes, but there are some basic political truths that continue to be self-evident. Most of all, local elections continue to be won or lost not so much on big issues and big money but rather on old-fashioned hand-to-hand retail-level politics. In particular, in a PR election it’s important to secure your political base whether that’s based on the positions you take, the favors you perform, the neighborhood you come from, or what you look like. It also remains the case that voter turnout is what secures the margins that give victory to some candidates and defeat to others. While others exchange theories, I’m just sitting here waiting for information on how many people voted in each precinct and how that affected the #1 vote totals of particular candidates. Until then, I’ll just allow myself to be entertained by the punditry of others.

The City Council returns on Monday with an agenda long on congratulations and short on substance. The real business took place last week. Here are a few items that may be of interest:

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Milford Medicinals, Inc., to amend the Cambridge Zoning Map to include 1001 Massachusetts Avenue in the MMD-1 Zoning Overlay.

The last 4 signatures on the petition were obviously done by the same person. Also, this proposal calls for a change to the existing zoning for a single address to permit a use that is inconsistent with the abutting district (at least in the sense that districts have already been established elsewhere for this proposed use). It may therefore be illegal spot zoning. More significantly, what exactly then was the purpose of the zoning change enacted on Dec 16, 2013 establishing zones where medical marijuana dispensaries may be located?

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to update condo conversion numbers from 2010.   Councillor Cheung

Is my triple-decker the last one left in Cambridge that hasn’t been converted into overpriced condominiums? I’m thinking of digging a perimeter moat filled with alligators that feed on real estate agents.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting modifications to the proposed MXD Zoning Petition and Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan Amendment.

This is really the only agenda item that seems remotely interesting. It’s a huge document (98 page PDF) that seems to promote all the right things, but you be the judge.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a response to the Subpoena Duces Tecum issued by the City Council on Oct 30, 2015 pursuant to Policy Order #27 adopted on Oct 19, 2015.

I pride myself on being well informed on most matters that come before the Cambridge City Council. This item may be the most cryptic agenda item I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I haven’t got a clue what it means.

That’s all for now, folks. I’m still just waiting patiently for those ward/precinct turnout and vote distribution numbers. I’m also eager to analyze the ballot data after the Final Election Results are determined this coming Friday the Thirteenth. – Robert Winters

November 4, 2015

Election Day Discussion – Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 87 and 88

Cambridge InsideOut this week focused on what to expect on election night (Nov 3).

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 87 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 3, 2015 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 88 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 3, 2015 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Full Unofficial Election Results (Nov 4, 2015) – City Council & School Committee

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