Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

June 10, 2016

Opening of the First Section of the Grand Junction Path – June 9, 2016

It’s only between Main Street and Broadway so far, but it’s a start!

Cambridge City Councillor and State Representative Tim Toomey

Cambridge City Councillor and State Representative Tim Toomey

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi

Sarah Gallup, MIT Government and Community Relations

Sarah Gallup, MIT Government and Community Relations

John Sanzone, Friends of the Grand Junction Path

John Sanzone, Friends of the Grand Junction Path

City Councillors Marc McGovern, Jan Devereux, and Tim Toomey and City Manager Rich Rossi

City Councillors Marc McGovern, Jan Devereux, and Tim Toomey and City Manager Rich Rossi

Cutting the Ribbon: Margaret Drury (CRA), Conrad Crawford (CRA), Jan Devereux, Rich Rossi, Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Kathy Born (CRA), Tom Evans (CRA Exec. Dir.), Sarah Gallup, Barry Zevin (CRA), Jason Zogg (CRA Program Manager)

Cutting the Ribbon: Margaret Drury (CRA), Conrad Crawford (CRA), Jan Devereux, Rich Rossi, Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Kathy Born (CRA), Tom Evans (CRA Exec. Dir.), Sarah Gallup, Barry Zevin (CRA), Jason Zogg (CRA Program Manager)

You can't cut the ribbon without these

You can’t cut the ribbon without these

Michael Owu (MITIMCO) and Anya Bear (MIT Government and Community Relations)

Michael Owu (MITIMCO) and Anya Bear (MIT Government and Community Relations)

The Grand Junction Path after the Grand Opening

The Grand Junction Path after the Grand Opening

The Trains Keep Rollin'

The Trains Keep Rollin’

June 8, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 145-146: June 7, 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:52 am

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 145 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 146 (Part 2) with Luis Vasquez

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 6:00pm. Our guest was Luis Vasquez. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Stories written by Luis Vasquez for the Cambridge Chronicle:

Q&A: Cambridge Rindge principal talks opportunity, student relations, being a Yankees fan (June 17, 2016)

Q&A: Albert Pless helps lead men’s health advocacy in Cambridge (June 10, 2016)

Q&A: Couple to open martial arts school in West Cambridge (June 3, 2016)

Q&A: Acting Cambridge police commissioner, Christopher Burke (May 23, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Alissa Musto, Miss Cambridge 2016 (May 13, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Suzanne McKenzie, executive director of Breakaway Foundation (Apr 29, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Cambridge Vice Mayor Marc McGovern (Apr 22, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Phil Rizzuto, new owner of Lizzy’s Ice Cream (Apr 7, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Lance Dottin, head coach, Cambridge Rindge boys basketball (Mar 31, 2016)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaev is paying for two (May 22, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaev should write a book (May 14, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: The Boston Bomber finally cries (May 5, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaev’s middle finger is back to haunt him (Apr 28, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Is Tsarnaev paying for sins of his brother? (Apr 14, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should live (Apr 7, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaev’s plea for help serves as a reminder (Mar 31, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaevs at odds over homeland (Mar 23, 2015)

June 6, 2016

Goodbye, Columbus? – On the Cambridge City Council Agenda – June 6, 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:01 pm

Goodbye, Columbus? – On the Cambridge City Council Agenda – June 6, 2016

Christopher ColumbusThis week’s meeting is a sure bet to bring out hordes of people speaking in favor of (a) housing preferences for "certified artists", (b) voting rights for non-citizens in local elections, and (c) striking the phrase "Columbus Day" from the list of acceptable speech within the City of Cambridge. There are also a few agenda items that actually matter, but they will likely have to wait until after what is expected to be a prolonged period of Public Comment featuring a long list of invitees from one particular city councillor.

Here are the items that drew my attention this week:

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $42,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Finance (Personnel) Other Ordinary Maintenance account to be used to procure consultant services to assist in the hiring of a new City Manager.

The amount isn’t so important nor is the particular consultant (GovHR – based in Chicago) that has been chosen to assist in the search for the next City Manager. What is noteworthy is that according to materials made available at the June 2 meeting of the Government Operations, Rules, and Claims Committee is that a series of 19 Focus Group meetings involving 96 "key constituency groups" is scheduled to take place between Thurs, June 9 and Thurs, June 16 – plus additional Focus Group meetings to bring the total to 28 such meetings. There will also be two drop-in sessions for City employees, one-on-one interviews with each City Council member, and approximately 16 one-on-one meetings with key City staff. The ultimate goal is to identify candidates leading up to a City Council vote to select the next City Manager (hopefully) by the end of September.

You can access schedules, documents, and more at www.cambridgema.gov/CityCouncil/citymanagersearch.

Manager’s Agenda #14. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-9, regarding the organization of a Volpe Task Force.

The Community Development Department (CDD) proposes that a small working group (composed of a mix of residents from the surrounding neighborhoods – East Cambridge, the Port/Area 4, and Wellington-Harrington – along with representatives of the Kendall Square business community) be appointed. In Phase 1, the working group would work with staff and a consultant to support the Ordinance Committee’s development of a Volpe framework and would involve assembling the broad program parameters for the project including key ideas such as urban form, public realm, and goals for the character of the area. In Phase 2, the working group’s work would inform the rezoning of the Volpe parcel after the General Services Administration (GSA) has selected a developer for the Volpe site.

Manager’s Agenda #26. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter as Director of Libraries, effective Aug 23, 2016.

Ms. Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter will have some pretty big shoes to fill, and we all wish her well when she takes the reins of the Library later this summer.

Charter Right #1. That the Housing Committee hold a meeting to discuss the Inclusionary Zoning preferential point system to determine if there are certain occupations that should receive preferential points to prioritize their position on the Inclusionary Zoning list. [Order #7 of May 23, 2016, Amended by Substitution. Charter Right exercised by Mayor Simmons.]

This is the first of the three agenda items that will likely draw a crowd of invited guests to Public Comment. As I stated when this Order was proposed, this is a walk down a very slippery slope when you start giving housing priorities to people who have chosen specific lifestyles, professions, or hobbies. The original Order specifically called out "certified artists", but this was amended to be non-specific.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with appropriate City personnel to determine the cost and feasibility of adding additional parking levels to the Green Street Garage.   Mayor Simmons

That whole block on which the Manning Apartments, the Central Square Branch Library, and the Green Street Parking Garage could use a more comprehensive look. The Manning Apartments are now undergoing renovations. If other Central Square parking lots eventually give way to housing, there will be at least some need for replacement parking and this is the most logical site. There are, of course, some who would simply wish away all motor vehicles, but even with a net drop in motor vehicles there will still be the need for some additional capacity on or near this site should new housing be built or if some additional density weaves its way into Central Square.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Executive Director of the Cambridge Election Commission to publish at an appropriate and clearly identified central location on the City’s website by Aug 1, 2016 all Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Office of Campaign and Political Finance information.   Councillor Toomey

All of this information will eventually be available on the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) website. The problem is that it’s only available in a timely way for candidates with depository accounts – and this does not include any of the State Representative or State Senate candidates. Those candidates only have to report immediately before each primary and general election and at the end of each year. Since all of the data is reported through the State’s OCPF site, there’s really little that the City can do other than to provide a link to this site that will only have updated information relatively late in the game.

Order #4. That the City Manager review City policies on the availability and use of City office and meeting space for non-City appointed functions by non-City officials.   Councillor Kelley

Order #5. That the City Manager review and report back to the City Council on the City’s policies and best practices in the use and supervision of City Council interns.   Councillor Kelley

I’m not quite sure what exactly is being sought here, but I will once again express my misgivings with the whole idea of personal aides for city councillors. There are some people currently serving in this role who would be great as additional staff working for City Council committees, but not as personal assistants. Interns are, I believe, something entirely different. These have generally been unpaid volunteers who work with individual councillors of specific initiatives. Even if they produce great things, they are not City employees and they should not have any special access to City resources, including offices, meeting rooms, or anything else over and above what any ordinary resident may access. More specifically, it needs to be emphasized that City Hall is not a place to build a political organization or movement dressed up as a personal initiative of any individual city councillor.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to assess the cost and feasibility of placing sunscreen dispensers containing broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher at Cambridge parks and playgrounds.   Vice Mayor McGovern

Two words – nanny government. These "dispensers" already exist – they’re called "stores". You can buy sunscreen there.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Civic Unity Committee, for a joint public hearing held on May 12, 2016 to discuss all issues related to non-citizen representation and outreach in Cambridge.

This is the second of the three agenda items that will likely draw a crowd of invited guests to Public Comment. In addition to the completely relevant and useful discussions about resources for people who have moved to Cambridge from elsewhere, this report also contains a proposed Order furthering the idea of non-citizen voting in Cambridge municipal elections. Cambridge has a long history of being welcoming to immigrants and for providing resources for them. The idea of voting is something completely different and any standards regarding age or citizenship status should be uniform across all cities and towns. If the state legislature wants to take up this issue, so be it, but this is not something Cambridge should be doing unilaterally. Furthermore, there are many people, including me, who feel that Voting and Citizenship are intertwined and that the appropriate way to acquire the right to vote is to become a citizen.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public hearing held on May 20, 2016 to review and consider an extension to the current City Manager’s contract, to review and approve a response to the May 4, 2016 Open Meeting Law complaint of John Hawkinson and to continue development and approval of the new City Manager search process.

To the part of this report relating to this frivolous Open Meeting Law complaint, I will only say that just because one has a legal right to do something that consumes time and resources for no useful purpose, this hardly justifies doing so – unless you’re primary goal is to waste everybody’s time and to alienate those with whom you might otherwise have a cooperative relationship.

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on May 24, 2016 to discuss the Green Line Extension Project (GLX).

Just read the report. The Cambridge and Somerville contribution toward making this a reality should be moved along without hesitation, i.e. on the fast track.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem A. Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of Civic Unity Committee, for a joint public hearing held on May 26, 2016 to discuss Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

This is the third of the three agenda items that will likely draw a crowd of invited guests to Public Comment. Suffice to say that regardless how the City Council votes on this, almost everyone, including me, will continue to refer to Columbus Day as Columbus Day – even if we acknowledge some of the more despicable aspects of world history. Most of us don’t know much about Christopher Columbus nor do we particularly care about what he did or represented over five centuries ago. Columbus Day has for many of us represented the start of the migration of European people to this continent. That is not something I find in the least way objectionable. It is how my ancestors came to be here generations ago, so it is, in a sense, how I personally came to be here. If there is to be a name change, let’s call it Immigration Day and have it be a celebration of all immigrants who came to this continent and who continue to come to this continent and specifically to this country. This is not dismissing any of the great things that may be said of those whose ancestors were here earlier, but let’s not choose sides. How about declaring the day before or after Columbus Day to be "Indigenous Peoples’ Day" and we can celebrate our choices in our own way. Many people will, of course, just go shopping. – Robert Winters


Update #1: The City Council voted 9-0 to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. So in Cambridge, it’s Goodbye Columbus. Elsewhere, nothing has changed. I suppose the most substantial effect will be in the Cambridge schools where from now on Columbus’ name will be associated with Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, and Charlie Manson.

Update #2: The City Council voted to extend the contract of City Manager Rossi through the end of September to allow time to (hopefully) complete the search for the next City Manager.

June 1, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 143-144: May 31, 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:09 am

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 143 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 144 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

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