Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

May 29, 2017

Cambridge Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony – 2017

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 8:45 pm





















May 23, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 229-230: May 23, 2017

Episode 229 – Cambridge InsideOut: May 23, 2017 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on May 23, 2017 at 5:30pm. Topics included ranked choice voting advocacy in Cambridge and elsewhere in Massachusetts; the role of City Council committees vs. unofficial (and not especially public) working groups. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Episode 230 – Cambridge InsideOut: May 23, 2017 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on May 23, 2017 at 6:00pm. Topics included the May 22 City Council meeting, affordable housing in Somerville, short-term rentals and more. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in these episodes]

May 21, 2017

Budget Passage – Notable May 22, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Items

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,transportation — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:45 pm

Budget Passage – Notable May 22, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Items

Allston projectIt is expected that the City’s FY2018 Budget will be approved at this meeting. In addition, there are a few other items of interest.

The Pike
Manager’s Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a letter written by Community Representative and former Mayor Henrietta Davis to Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack regarding the Allston I-90 project.

Order #1. City Council endorsement of the letter of Community Representative and former Mayor Henrietta Davis to Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack regarding the Allston I-90 project, prepared in consultation with the community and City of Cambridge officials.   Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern

You should really understand the whole proposed project and not get too caught up in the details of whether or not the River Street exit ramp from Storrow Drive should be preserved as is. [Jan 19 Cambridge presentation] It’s a VERY interesting project and there’s no question that the current state of the affected area is ripe for significant change in every way.


The FY2018 Budget
Unfinished Business #7-10 relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow (7) $20,000,000 to provide funds for various water pollution abatement projects, including construction of sewer separation, storm water management and combined sewer overflow reduction elimination improvements within the City’s Alewife Watershed, Cambridgeport neighborhood, and the Port neighborhood; (8) $4,000,000 to provide funds for the reconstruction of various City streets and sidewalks; (9) $2,000,000 to provide funds for various School building infrastructure projects including roof repairs at the Fletcher Maynard Academy, and a new boiler at an elementary school; and (10) $5,000,000 to provide funds for the Municipal Facilities Improvement Plan.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for public hearings held on May 2, 2017, May 10, 2017 and May 9, 2017 relative to the General Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2018 and recommending adoption of the General Fund Budget in the amount of $568,246,680.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 10, 2017 relative to the Water Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2018 and recommending adoption of the Water fund Budget in the amount of $13,973,850.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 10, 2017 relative to the Public Investment Fund for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2018 and recommending adoption of the Public Investment Budget in the amount of $19,912,815.

Councillors – Please limit your "thank you" remarks to under one minute per councillor. Your unanimous vote on the Budget will send that message clearly enough.


Peace, Love and Understanding
Resolution #8. Declare June 12 to be Loving Day in Cambridge.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons

It’s not what you think. Then again, maybe it is.

Order #2. City Council in support of Somerville officials in their efforts to achieve 20% affordable housing in all development projects.   Councillor Carlone

This is pretty clearly about whether or not a waiver should be granted in the Assembly Row project. The situation there was that the developer (Federal Realty) was eligible for the waiver because it had entered into a master planned agreement with the City of Somerville prior to the raising of the affordable housing requirement for a building of that size from 12.5 percent to 20 percent. On Thursday, May 18 the waiver was granted, so this Order is essentially moot (unless there are additional projects permitted prior to the increase in the inclusionary requirement).

There is, however, one very questionable aspect to this City Council Order. It is not addressed to the Somerville Board of Alderman but rather calls on the Cambridge City Council "to stand in support of Somerville officials, like Alderman Matthew McLaughlin, in their efforts to achieve 20% affordable housing in all development projects." This reads an awful lot like a candidate endorsement. The Order also calls specifically for sending "a suitably engrossed copy of this resolution to Somerville Alderman Matthew McLaughlin on behalf of the entire City Council." This Order should really be amended to address the issue rather than the incumbent Somerville Alderman seeking reelection this November. – Robert Winters

May 19, 2017

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! – May 2017

Filed under: Cambridge,recycling — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 9:15 am

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! – May 2017

recycling symbolRecycling Advisory Committee Appointments
Spring Cleaning/Move-Out Reminder
Did You Know?
See Your Recycling Get Sorted!
Rain Barrel Discount Ends May 27


Recycling Advisory Committee Appointments

The City Manager appointed new members to the Recycling Advisory Committee (RAC) for a 3-year term. The RAC meets monthly to support, advise and volunteer for DPW. Since 1991, the RAC has helped make Cambridge a regional leader in waste reduction and diversion. The RAC’s impressive wealth of knowledge and experience will help Cambridge reach its goal of reducing trash 30% by 2020.

Recycling Advisory Committee


Spring Cleaning/Move-Out Reminder

Whether you’re doing Spring cleaning or moving, please donate and recycle. Here are a few helpful ways to get rid of it right:recycling symbol

  1. Bring fluorescent bulbs, batteries, metal, electronics, and other items to the DPW Recycling Center. Visit the site for more details on materials accepted.
  2. Sell or give away furniture and other items on Freecycle, Craigslist, or Nextdoor.
  3. Donate all textiles (any condition), household goods, books and other items at your local thrift store (i.e. Goodwill and Boomerangs).
  4. Schedule pickup of items to donate with companies such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters or Epilepsy Foundation.

Plastic Bag JamDid You Know?

Plastic film (i.e plastic bags, bubble wrap, trash bags, etc) cause costly shutdowns at our recycling facility. Plastic film should never be placed in curbside recycling.

Did you know:

  • Workers at Casella, Cambridge’s processor of single-stream recycling, spend hours each day clearing equipment of plastic film.
  • Cambridge’s Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) Ordinance helps mitigate these issues, as the City has seen a 50-80% reduction in single-use bag consumption.
  • Our friends in Chicago created a wonderful story and video showing the magnitude of the plastic film contamination problem.

Bottom Line: Don’t discard your plastic film into curbside recycling. This includes using plastic bags for your recyclables; throw all recyclables loose into your curbside bin/cart. You may bring plastic film to the DPW Recycling Center for special recycling.


See Your Recycling Get Sorted!

Take a tour of the Casella recycling facility in Charlestown on Thursday, June 15, 8:30am-11:30am. Requisites for attending:

  • 16 years of age or older.
  • Cambridge resident or employee.
  • Capable of walking on narrow catwalks and stairs, close to heavy equipment.
  • No health complications associated with a dusty/dirty facility.

We meet at DPW and carpool to Charlestown. Register to attend.

Can’t make it? Take the Virtual Tour to see how your recycling gets sorted.


Rain Barrel Discount Ends May 27

GLocal ChallengeThe Glocal Challenge is an annual competition at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School (CRLS) to tackle a global issue at the local level.

DPW wants you to capture rainwater and store it in a rain barrel for later use on your lawn or garden. By capturing rainwater you are reducing stormwater runoff, conserving water and recharging the groundwater. A 60-gallon rainwater collection system is available for $69 until May 27. Choose “Massachusetts” and “Cambridge” when ordering.

Note: Green Cambridge is offering to install rain barrels for Cambridge residents free of charge.

Order Your Rain Barrel


Missed bin? 2017 Collection Schedule Morre? Less?
Need anything?
Next Household Hazardous Waste Day:
June 17, 9am-1pm

May 18, 2017

INMAN EATS! 2017 – An Inman Square Festival: Sunday, May 21

Filed under: Cambridge,Inman Square — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 3:00 pm

INMAN EATS! 2017 – An Inman Square Festival

East Cambridge Business AssociationThe East Cambridge Business Association (ECBA) is proud to present Inman Eats! 2017, on Sunday May 21, 2017 from 12:00 noon – 4:00pm. The Inman Eats! Festival will take place on Cambridge Street in Inman Square, between Springfield Street and Prospect Street.

Inman Eats 2017Inman Eats! is a celebration of everything Inman Square. From our eclectic retail to our artistic venues, from our casual eats to our culinary treats, Inman Eats! hopes to deliver a full Inman Square experience to new visitors and residents alike.

Inman Square shops and restaurants will be open for business as usual, but to experience Inman Eats! you will need to purchase Inman Bucks. Inman Bucks are your ticket to try the samplings being offered by Restaurant vendors taking part in the event. Inman Bucks can be purchased in advance through Eventbrite or www.EastCambridgeBA.com and are on sale now. Inman Bucks are limited so advanced purchase is recommended. Inman Bucks will be for sale day of the event based on availability.

Inman Eats! is open to all that want to experience Inman’s many delights. Come listen to local bands, try some local beer, and enjoy tasty food from the best restaurants in town!

Live music programed by Lily Pad featuring The Gill Aharon Trio, Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorers Club, and Los Chincharillos. The family will enjoy crafting activities with Gather Here, and interactive family activities and abstract face painting by Practice Space. Get your Inman Square T-Shirts at the live screen printing tent by QRST’s. Enjoy local brews from Lamplighter, Cambridge Brewing Co., and Bantam Cider.

The growing list of participating restaurants include 1369 Coffee House, Atwood’s Tavern, Beauties Pizza, BISq/Bergamot, Bukowski’s, The Druid, East Coast Grill, Hops & Scotch, Lone Star Taco Bar, Ole Mexican Grill, Puritan & Co, The Rising, S&S Restaurant, and Tupelo.

Inman Eats! is a perfect opportunity to get a taste of the local fare in and near East Cambridge and Inman Square and is produced by The East Cambridge Business Association and sponsored by Cambridge Savings Bank, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Commonwealth Alternative Care, East Cambridge Savings Bank, Cambridgeside Galleria, Geek Offices, and Rich KBE King School Joint Venture, Spencer Austin Consulting.

The mission of the East Cambridge Business Association is to promote and maintain sustainable commerce in East Cambridge and Inman Square; to be a single voice for its members; to promote activities that bond East Cambridge and Inman Square businesses with their neighborhood; to preserve the historical integrity and importance of East Cambridge and Inman Square; and to promote an active stewardship of our neighborhood. We believe that by working together with the community and by working toward improving our businesses we can make East Cambridge and Inman Square a better place to live and work.

Visit www.EastCambridgeBA.com or contact Jason Alves by email baecamb@gmail.com for further details.

City of Cambridge Awards Record $210,000 in Scholarships

Filed under: Cambridge,schools — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 2:26 pm

City of Cambridge Awards Record $210,000 in Scholarships
84 scholarships given out to residents pursuing higher education

May 18, 2017 – The City of Cambridge on Monday, May 15, 2017, hosted a special ceremony to honor the recipients of the 2017 City of Cambridge Scholarship. This year, the City awarded a record $210,000 in scholarships to 84 Cambridge high school seniors and others Cambridge residents pursuing higher education. The City of Cambridge provides these scholarships through the generous contributions of many residents and businesses.City Seal

While speaking to the recipients during the ceremony, City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said, “I know how expensive higher education has become, and I hope that today’s scholarship will make a difference.” He went on to say, “When you complete your higher education, I hope that you will seriously consider returning to Cambridge to work for one of the amazing companies located here, or better yet, you will consider working for the City of Cambridge. I can personally tell you that there is no career more rewarding than public service.”

The City Scholarship program is open to all Cambridge residents who are currently attending, have an application pending or have received acceptance to attend an institute of higher education beyond high school level. Award recipients were selected from the 198 applications received this year based on a number of criteria including academic achievement, school and community involvement, work experience, aspirations and goals, financial need, and special circumstances. The City encourages individuals who did not receive a scholarship this year to consider applying again, as awardees do not have to be graduating from high school to receive this scholarship.

The City extends its gratitude this year’s selection committee: Colin Dicke, John Kosko, Bill Neukomm, James Peck, Elaine Thorne, and Craig Yearwood.

The 2017 City Scholarship recipients are:
Eden Abebe, Zahyyeh Abu-Rubieh, Nusrat Africawala, Demi Akins, Alexander Alvarado Cortez, Samprity Ankita, Malate Aschalew, Hicham Asekkour, Alyxandra Bassile-McCarthy, Reya Begum, Helen Bekele, Bouchra Benghomari, Serena Bialkin, Johnson Blaise, Alia Campbell, Milo Cason-Snow, Kevin Chavez, Emily Chowdhury, Savanna Clegg, Amaniya, Cotton, Celeste De Lancey, Andre Domond, Nedjine Doreus, Emiliano Duran, Hend Elkatta, Carmen Enrique, Noah Epstein, Ayub Farah, Marian Farah, Bukhaari Farah, Misam Farsab, Roan Farsab, Emmanuella Fede, Yvette-Simon Figaro, Alexander Flamm, Mariamawit Gashaw, Walker Gillett, Kamaria Gooding, Anna Griffin, Nathaniel Habtom, Syed Hoque,Jacob Hunter, Amena Indawala, Jeremie Jean-Baptiste, Rebecca Jean-Louis, Gabrielle Joella, Ruksat Kabir, Nina Katz-Christy, Zainab Lakhani, Maisha Lakri, Diego Lasarte, Angel Lazar Osegueda, Albert Lee, Zoe Levitt, Samantha Liu, Jemima Mascary, Ean McDonald Wojciechowski, Natalie McPherson-Siegrist, Yeabsera Mengistu, Alexander Michael, Juliet Nadis, Sheikh Noohery, Rihana Oumer, Christelle Paul, Zian Perez, Ra-vonne Pierre, Asif Rahman, Fnu Ratna, Ariann Renaudin, Elliott Ronna, Charlotte Rosenblum, Akeru Sakakibara, Veronica Sargent, Hugo Schutzberg, Asikrahima Shajahan, Daniel Shin, Rikka Shrestha, Oliver Sussman, Miles Toussaint, Sana Vegamiya, Alyssa Watson, Eric White, Kenan White, and Alessandra Zona.

May 16, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 227-228: May 16, 2017

Episode 227 – Cambridge InsideOut: May 16, 2017 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on May 16, 2017 at 5:30pm. Our guest co-host again was Patrick Barrett. In this program we had a free-wheeling discussion about Cambridge politics and especially the municipal election. We delved into the individual candidates during the 2nd half hour. Robert Winters was the other host. [On YouTube]


Episode 228 – Cambridge InsideOut: May 16, 2017 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on May 16, 2017 at 6:00pm. Our guest co-host again was Patrick Barrett. In this program we took a look at all the current City Council candidates, their political bases, and their viability. Robert Winters was the other host. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in these episodes]

May 14, 2017

Interesting Items on the May 15, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 10:26 pm

Interesting Items on the May 15, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Here are a few choice items on this week’s menu:Yeah, it's Robert's birthday

Charter Right #1. A communication was received from Councillor Craig A. Kelley, apologizing to his Colleagues, City Manager and City Staff for not attending tonight’s meeting in order to attend a conference on climate change adaptation and expressing his thoughts and apology for the events at the Budget Hearing. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Simmons on May 8, 2017.]

Let’s get this one all clear up front. The issue here is that one city councillor (Mazen) acted abusively toward City employees during a recent Budget Hearing and used a malcontent resident’s letter as cover to justify his inquisition. Last week’s (May 8) City Council meeting ended with a heated interchange resulting from Mayor Simmons’ defense of City employees which upset the super-sized ego of the offending councillor. The story should probably end there since nobody wants the drama to continue. There is an Order on this week’s agenda (#7 – see below) that may represent some sort of resolution of this matter.

My hope is that one positive outcome of this kerfuffle is that councillors might get a better grip on what constitutes decent behavior toward City employees and of what is appropriate under the City Charter (which spells out quite clearly that if a city councillor wants to take issue with a department or any individual employee he or she should deal with the matter through the City Manager). If a councillor wants to propose any policy changes, that’s what City Council orders are for, and they require a majority vote – though, quite frankly, city councillors often vote for policy orders without challenge or discussion out of a misplaced sense of courtesy toward their colleagues. If a matter is referred to a City Council committee for further discussion, it is incumbent on the sponsor(s) of the Order to convince his or her colleagues about the merit of the proposal. In the case of proposals involving elections (such as paying people to vote or using public money to subsidize City Council election campaigns), a convincing case was never made for those proposals.

Applications & Petitions #3. A petition was received from Cambridge Arts Council requesting eleven temporary banners to be hung on light poles along the north bound traffic lane side of First Street between Binney and Cambridge Streets, announcing the Cambridge Arts River Festival on Sat, June 3, 2017 from 11:00am to 6:00pm along the East Cambridge Waterfront in Lechmere Canal Park and in the DCR parklands adjacent to Cambridge Parkway.

Applications & Petitions #4. An application was received from Cambridge Arts Council requesting permission for two temporary banners across Massachusetts Avenue at City Hall and across JFK Street at Mount Auburn Street announcing the Hong Kong Boston Dragon Boat Festival on Sun, June 11th.

I highlight these only to remind everyone of the many attractions that occur during the months of May and June. The Riverfest worked out pretty well in the Lechmere Canal area last year, though many of us still would like to see it eventually return upstream to the area near the Weeks Footbridge.

Resolution #7. Resolution on the death of Harold J. Aseph III.   Councillor Maher, Councillor Toomey

Just read this. It’s one of the most thoughtfully and beautifully written death resolutions I’ve ever seen from the City Council. [It was written by Fran Cronin.]

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to determine the feasibility of installing one or more park benches around the Fresh Pond Reservation for the benefit of Cambridge residents, particularly senior citizens who would benefit from such conveniences.   Mayor Simmons

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate staff about providing some appropriate seating on the grassy hill at Kingsley Park.   Councillor Devereux, Vice Mayor McGovern

These would be welcome additions – and not just for senior citizens.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the School Department, Human Resources, and any other relevant City departments to determine what it would look like financially and logistically for the new Tobin School to house half of Cambridge’s 3 and 4 year olds with the goal of providing universal pre-k split between the Tobin School and another school to be redesigned in the near future.   Councillor Cheung, Councillor Devereux

I’m interested to see what the cost implications of this might be. It will likely be quite expensive. Having looked at what parents with good incomes shell out for the two pre-K schools and a day-care facility on my (very short) block in Cambridge, I’m sure some of those people would love to have a "public option". It could be the only affordable option for people of lower income.

Update: Councillor Carlone (wisely) suggested that it would be preferable if any pre-K options were diversified in the sense that they should be smaller groupings spread throughout the city rather than be concentrated into one or two school buildings.

Order #4. That a Standing Committee made up of three School Committee members, three City Councillors the Superintendent, the City Manager, as well as other members to be determined, be established to meet monthly to discuss issues pertinent to the School Department and the City and to improve communication between the School Committee and City Council.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons

The City Council should think long and hard about the wisdom of this. It could go either way in terms of resolving conflicts or creating conflicts between these two elected bodies. I could easily see this becoming a place where some city councillors try to steer things that are really meant to be decided by the School Committee and the School Department. On the other hand, there are some matters such as community schools and after-school programming, that falls under the Department of Human Services Programs even though they take place in public school buildings and which the City Council clearly has some policy-making role. They may want to reconsider the plan of meeting monthly. That seems too frequent. Quarterly (and as needed) would be more than enough. Even then it would be meeting more frequently than half of the other City Council committees.

Update: Councillor Kelley floated the idea that perhaps there should be a charter change that "combines the School Committee and the City Council". This, of course, can only be interpreted as a suggestion that the School Committee be eliminated and its functions turned over to a subcommittee of the City Council. I am eager to hear how School Committee members feel about the idea.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and any other relevant City departments with a view in mind for a city-wide expansion of the piloted North Massachusetts Avenue and Kendall Square store frontage limitations, entrepreneurial co-working space, and local retail zoning regulations.   Councillor Cheung

A current topic of discussion in the Envision Cambridge process is "Corridors", i.e. main thoroughfares in the city, including most retail locations. I doubt whether a single city-wide standard is appropriate, but some of these "corridors" could use a little reinvention.

Update: Councillor Mazen expressed his desire that an co-working space be subsidized – either from taxes or through some kind of nebulous "inclusionary" requirement. This, I suppose, would then require some City department to decide who will be eligible for this subsidized space – and the slow shift toward government control continues. Councillor Devereux suggested that this needs more study in concert with the ongoing Retail Strategic Plan. Councillor Carlone suggested that this proposal should be put on hold for now and that it is becoming clear that retail can no longer be supported everywhere.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Mayor’s Office, the City Clerk’s Office, and the Finance Chair to establish a framework for periodic Roundtables throughout each term that will provide City Councillors opportunities to invite different Department Heads in for open, unrestricted discussions on topics of interest to the City Councillors.   Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mazen

This was exactly the intention of the City Council when Roundtable meetings were first established – way back around 1999. The City Council unearths its own history. As for "unrestricted discussions", I do hope that this does not include inquisitions and/or browbeating of department heads or other City employees. – Robert Winters

Update: Though most councillors seemed generally supportive of the idea, Councillor Devereux suggested that rather than do this as City Council Roundtable meetings they should be done within meetings of the Finance Committee which would allow public comment. Mayor Simmons explained that the idea was to have a more general discussion – not just about finance-related matters. Councillor Devereux wanted some clarification of what the expectations would be noting that Roundtable meetings with City departments often center around some kind of formal presentation followed by questions and discussion.

Councillor Carlone won the wisdom prize by proposing that such freewheeling discussions with City departments take place within existing City Council committees whose focus aligns with the particular department – and not just the Finance Committee. In fact, many years ago most of the City Council committees aligned almost exactly with City departments. It might be a good idea to move back closer to that system so that City Council discussion could be better aligned with what City government actually does.

At the very least, we can probably do with much shorter PowerPoint presentations at City Council Roundtables and more freewheeling informal discussion. That was the original idea when Roundtable meetings were established nearly two decades ago. – RW

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: