Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 31, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 267-268: Oct 31, 2017

Episode 267 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 31, 2017 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 31, 2017 at 5:30pm. Topics: The upcoming Nov 7, 2017 municipal election. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]


Episode 268 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 31, 2017 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 31, 2017 at 6:00pm. Topics: The upcoming Nov 7, 2017 municipal election. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]

[Materials used in these episodes]

October 30, 2017

Wishin’ & Hopin’ & Thinkin’ & Prayin’ – Oct 30, 2017 City Council meeting agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:05 am

Wishin’ & Hopin’ & Thinkin’ & Prayin’ – Oct 30, 2017 City Council meeting agenda

City HallWith the 2017 municipal election just a week away and the Volpe Petition settled last week, it’s doubtful that more than a handful of people are even paying attention to this meeting. Here are the items that piqued my interest:

Charter Right #1. Right of first refusal 2 [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Cheung on Oct 23, 2017]

This was one of three interrelated Orders submitted last week. The first, Oct 23 Order #6, was a statement of support for House Bill 3017 that would give tenants the Right of First Refusal in the event that a property is put on the market for sale. The second, Oct 23 Order #7, is a proposed Condominium Conversion Ordinance that would, among other provisions, also grant a right of first refusal to existing tenants. Both of these Orders were referred to the Housing Committee. The third, Oct 23 Order #8, calls for Home Rule legislation to adopt a local Right of First Refusal Ordinance in Cambridge independent of any action the State may or may not take. Order #7 and Order #8 both appeared as Late Orders at the Oct 23 meeting.

Personally, I believe any longtime-owner-occupied property should be exempt from any such proposed regulation. Such homeowners may choose to offer long-term tenants a chance to own, but that should be their choice and not a government mandate.

Order #1. That the regular City Council Meeting scheduled for Mon, Nov 6, 2017 be changed to a Roundtable/Working Meeting to discuss the Comprehensive Housing Policy that was forwarded to the Housing Committee on Sept 18, 2017.   Mayor Simmons

Honestly, few if any of the six councillors who are seeking reelection will be focused on this topic or any other topic unrelated to their reelection, and that’s perfectly understandable.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City Departments to develop a document explaining how to ride a bike safely in Cambridge, and post in visible locations, on every Hubway station in the city.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Kelley

That’s a document I may wish to write. I would make it a multi-part project with several sections: (1) How to Drive Safely in Cambridge (and elsewhere); (2) How to Bike Safely in Cambridge (and elsewhere); and (3) How to Walk Safely in Cambridge (and elsewhere). The City’s answer to all of these questions during the past year generally involved white plastic posts, minimal public process, and segregation. Judicious use of green paint on the pavement in Inman Square, in contrast, has done more to enhance safety than any of the "demonstration projects" or future proposals to relocate cyclists onto busy sidewalks.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to convene a Comprehensive Arts Working Group, comprised of people from across the broad spectrum of ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds in our community, in order to begin drafting a Comprehensive Arts Planning Framework that shall help better incorporate the Arts into City planning and update the City Council on progress made toward appointing the members of this working group by the final City Council meeting of this term.   Mayor Simmons

Art by committee is unlikely to inspire anyone, but it would be good to give more thought to the aesthetics of new and reinvented urban spaces from the very start along with the function of those spaces. I don’t mind all the murals, but we could do a lot better than just murals. – Robert Winters

October 28, 2017

Cambridge City Council and School Committee Candidates – 2017

Filed under: 2017 election,Cambridge,City Council,School Committee — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:03 pm

Originally posted July 24, 2017, updated July 31, 2017 at 5:00pmFINAL

Cambridge City Council Candidates – 2017

SorttermsCandidateAgeaddressZIPOccupationsignaturescertified
Benjamin0Ronald Benjamin46172 Cushing St., 0213802138-66yes
Burgin0Josh Burgin41812 Memorial Drive #1411, 0213902139-77yes
Carlone2Dennis Carlone709 Washington Ave. #6, 0214002140Architect68yes
D'Ambrosio0Olivia D'Ambrosio346 Arlington St. #1, 0214002140Theatre Arts56yes
Devereux1Jan Devereux58255 Lakeview Ave., 0213802138City Councillor64yes
Gebru0Samuel Gebru25812 Memorial Dr., 0213902139Self-Employed73yes
Harding0Richard Harding45189 Windsor St. #1, 0213902139Administration78yes
Kelley6Craig Kelley556 Saint Gerard Terr. #2, 0214002140Politician82yes
Lenke0Dan Lenke70148 Richdale Ave., 0214002140At Home67yes
Levy0Ilan Levy50148 Spring St. 0214102141Software Engineer85yes
Mallon0Alanna Marie Mallon463 Maple Ave., 0213902139Designer93yes
McGovern2Marc McGovern4815 Pleasant St., 0213902139Social Worker83yes
Moree0Gregg Moree6025 Fairfield St. #4, 0214002140-80yes
Musgrave0Adriane Musgrave325 Newport Rd. #1, 0214002140-57yes
Okamoto0Nadya Okamoto19220 Banks St. #5, 0213802138Student86yes
Pillai0Hari I. Pillai42165 Cambridgepark Dr. #234, 0214002140Business59yes
Santos0Jeff Santos54350 3rd St. #809, 0214202142Radio Host79yes
Siddiqui0Sumbul Siddiqui29530 Windsor Street, 0214102141Attorney78yes
Simmons8E. Denise Simmons66188 Harvard St. #4B, 0213902139Mayor90yes
Sivongxay0Vatsady Sivongxay3559 Kirkland St. #2, 0213802138-93yes
Sutton0Bryan Sutton35764 Cambridge St. #6, 0214102141Management56yes
Tierney0Sean Tierney3212 Prince St., 0213902139Lawyer75yes
Toner0Paul Toner5124 Newman St., 0214002140Teacher, Lawyer84yes
Toomey14Timothy J. Toomey6488 6th St., 0214102141City Councillor98yes
Volmar0Gwen Volmar3213 Ware St. #4, 0213802138University Admin.59yes
Zondervan0Quinton Zondervan47235 Cardinal Medeiros Ave., 0214102141Entrepreneur54yes

Cambridge School Committee Candidates – 2017

SorttermsCandidateAgeaddressZIPOccupationsignaturescertified
Bowman1Manikka Bowman37134 Reed St., 021400214092yes
Cronin1Fran Albin Cronin651 Kimball Ln., 0214002140Aide72yes
Crutchfield0Jake Crutchfield30281 River St. #1, 0123902139Teacher69yes
Dexter1Emily Dexter609 Fenno St., 0213802138Research68yes
Fantini17Fred Fantini684 Canal Park #203, 0214102141Retired99yes
Kadete0Elechi Kadete2810 Laurel St. #4, 0213902139Accountant57yes
Kelly2Kathleen Kelly5717 Marie Ave. #1, 0213902139Social Worker65yes
Kimbrough0Laurance Kimbrough3824 Aberdeen Ave., 0213802138Educator54yes
MacArthur0Will MacArthur1918 Shea Rd., 0214002140Student70yes
Mitros0Piotr Flawiusz Mitros389 Michael Way, 0214102141Engineer78yes
Nolan6Patty Nolan60184 Huron Ave., 0213802138School Committee64yes
Weinstein0David J. Weinstein4445 S. Normandy Ave., 0213802138Writer/Communications65yes

All candidates have now been officially certified by the Election Commission. Certified candidates may still choose to withdraw their names any time prior to the Wed, Aug 16, 5:00pm deadline.

2017 Cambridge Candidate Pages

Vote!

October 24, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 265-266: Oct 24, 2017

Episode 265 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 24, 2017 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 24, 2017 at 5:30pm. Our guest was Emily Dexter, candidate for re-election to the Cambridge School Committee. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]

Emily Dexter’s Candidate Page


Episode 266 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 24, 2017 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 24, 2017 at 6:00pm. Topics: Ordination of the MIT Volpe Petition, national party endorsements in nonpartisan municipal election. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]

[Materials used in these episodes]

October 23, 2017

The Sanders Backlash

Filed under: 2017 election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , , , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:08 am

The Sanders Backlash

Oct 23 – Vermont Senator/Cult Figure Bernie Sanders is scheduled to appear this morning in Somerville for the purpose of endorsing candidates in local elections in Cambridge (and Somerville) based solely on the advice of the newborn group "Our Revolution Cambridge". This not-yet-registered political action group has endorsed a slate of 5 candidates (who just happen to coincide with the slate endorsed by the Cambridge Residents Alliance) based on a process that seemed to have the outcome determined well before the questionnaire was even sent to candidates. Sanders is apparently adding a sixth name – Jeff Santos – whose primary qualification is that he’s had Sanders on his radio show on several occasions. Many view the "Our Revolution Cambridge" group primarily as the local political machine of newly-minted State Rep. Mike Connolly – a Sanders disciple.

It was Sanders who last year railed against what he saw as a political machine who rigged the Democratic Party presidential nomination process against him. It is ironic, to say the least, that he is now using his cult-like status to influence the election of local candidates about whom he knows essentially nothing. It was refreshing to see this morning a letter co-signed by a substantial list of Cambridge activists and prominent political figures questioning Sanders’ judgment.

Read the letter

October 22, 2017

Countdown – Preview of Oct 23, 2017 Cambridge City Council Meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:37 pm

Countdown – Preview of Oct 23, 2017 Cambridge City Council Meeting

CountdownThe municipal election campaigns are heading into the home stretch right alongside the disposition of the MIT Volpe Zoning Petition. The Volpe vote is expected next week (Oct 30) and Election Day is Tues, Nov 7. Here are the items I found most interesting on the agenda:

Update: The MIT Volpe Petition was ordained as amended on an 8-0-1 vote with Councillor Carlone voting PRESENT. The associated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining MIT’s commitments was also approved on the same 8-0-1 vote.

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a communication from the Planning Board relative to the Christopher D. Smith, et al., zoning petition regarding graduate student housing production associated with development in the proposed PUD-7 district.

I will simply say that any zoning petition that is only applicable to one specific owner/developer (as opposed to the property – independent of ownership) should not be approved. The underlying goal of universities providing more housing and more affordability for its students is great – and necessary, but lobbying for that goal should not be done via a zoning petition. It’s worth noting that MIT is now proactively addressing this need for additional housing, especially for graduate students. It’s also worth emphasizing that not all graduate students want to live in campus housing.

Manager’s Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to information in response to discussion at the Ordinance Committee hearing of Oct 17, 2017 regarding the Volpe Petition.

Unfinished Business #7. An amendment to the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge by adding a new Section 13.90 to Article 13.000 and amend the Zoning Map to add new PUD-7 District. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Oct 16, 2017. Planning Board hearings held July 25, 2017 and Sept 12, 2017. Petition expires Oct 31, 2017.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 3, 2017 to continue discussion on a zoning petition by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create a new Planned Unit Development Overlay District (PUD-7) over the area known as the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center site in Kendall Square; said discussion to include the Planning Board and Community Development’s response to the petition and staff recommendations as to changes and remaining issues to resolve and any other matter that comes before the committee.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 17, 2017 hearing to continue discussion on a zoning petition by MIT to create a new Planned Unit Development Overlay district (PUD-7) over the area known as the Volpe National Transportation systems Center site in Kendall Square; said discussion to focus on a final review of the zoning, review of the Design Guidelines and review of the Letter of Commitment.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting the Letter of Commitment from Massachusetts Institute of Technology relating to the amended zoning petition for PUD-7 District for the Volpe Transportation Center Site.

I won’t go into all the details here, but there are many reasons to support the MIT Volpe Petition (as currently amended and coupled with the proposed Memorandum of Understanding) and few reasons to oppose it. That said, this is coming before the City Council a week before Election Day, and there may be some political reasons that one or two councillors may manufacture in order to justify voting against it just to appeal to a particular constituency. In contrast, both co-chairs of the Ordinance Committee (Councillors Carlone and Cheung) deserve a lot of credit for moving this forward and shaping it along the way. MIT officials and those associated with the MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo) also deserve praise for addressing so many of the requested changes and benefits from a range of stakeholders while still maintaining their fiduciary responsibilities. I don’t think the City could have had a better partner in this than MIT.


Order #1. That the City Manager is advised that ensuring the safety of cyclists at intersections is of critical importance to the Council, and providing for that safety will require a review of the causes and response to these two listed collisions, as well as other collisions and near collisions.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Devereux

There have been more than two such collisions, and the number of near misses is much higher. There are places where separated facilities make sense, but what the City did to Cambridge Street is ludicrous and I fear that they may repeat this error elsewhere unless there is some kind of intervention.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with Commissioner of the Department of Public Works to update the City Council on the plan for snow removal relating to the new infrastructure in Cambridge.   Councillor Toomey

In this, I believe global warming may be an essential part of the City’s future plans for minimizing snow impacts on their poorly conceived road reconfigurations. If it does snow, some streets may simply become impassable for motor vehicles and for bicyclists. Where will they pile the snow? My guess is that they’ll just ban all parking on some streets until springtime even for relatively minor snow events. – Robert Winters

October 17, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 263-264: Oct 17, 2017

Episode 263 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 17, 2017 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 17, 2017 at 5:30pm. Guest: David Weinstein, candidate for Cambridge School Committee. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]

David Weinstein’s Candidate Page


Episode 264 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 17, 2017 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 17, 2017 at 6:00pm. Guest: Elechi Kadete, candidate for Cambridge School Committee. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]

Elechi Kadete’s Candidate Page

[Materials used in these episodes]

October 16, 2017

Notable Items on the Oct 16, 2017 City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 1:11 am

Notable Items on the Oct 16, 2017 City Council Agenda

Harvard Square - from an American Splendor story by Harvey PekarThe posted agenda is relatively light, but there may be more to come from MIT on the Volpe Petition which must be ordained no later than Oct 31. The items I found at least a bit interesting were:

Manager’s Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 17-78, regarding a Police Substation in Central Square.

It seems pretty clear that the Police Commissioner understands the need for police presence in Central Square. The issue is whether this is best accomplished with a fixed structure (whether it be a storefront or a stand-alone structure) or a more mobile presence. We should see a more detailed plan within the next several months.

Manager’s Agenda #18. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 17-80, regarding a report on the Eastern Cambridge Kendall Square Open Space Planning Study.

Just some good information about what’s underway regarding open space. If, in addition, plans for the Volpe Center parcel proceed as proposed, the whole Kendall Square area will one day be dramatically improved and better connected. Better sooner than later.

Manager’s Agenda #21. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the City Council’s draft Guiding Principles and Goals developed with the assistance of Big Sky Blue Consulting over the course of three public goal setting meetings held during this term.

I have to admit that I don’t put a whole lot of stock in these goal-setting processes, but it is interesting to see what the Council comes up with as a snapshot of current sentiments. The devil is usually in the details, and goal statements are generally light on the details.

Unfinished Business #7. An amendment to the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge by adding a new Section 13.90 to Article 13.000 and amend the Zoning Map to add new PUD-7 District. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Oct 16, 2017. Planning Board hearings held July 25, 2017 and Sept 12, 2017. Petition expires Oct 31, 2017.

There have been some indications that MIT may come forward at this meeting with some commitments and timelines – possibly including greater details on its current and future plans for greater on-campus housing options for graduate students and other affiliates. The expiration date of this zoning petition is October 31 and there are just two more regular Council meetings before then (Oct 23 and Oct 30) [corrected]. An additional Ordinance Committee meeting on this topic has been scheduled for Tues, Oct 17 at 2:30pm.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Community Development Department, the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, the Department of Public Works, and the Arts Council regarding the feasibility of implementing neighborways on certain streets in Cambridge, propose two streets to pilot as neighborways, and create a process by which a group of residents can request that their street be considered as future neighborways.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

This sounds interesting, but a few specific illustrations would be helpful. Just think how things might have played out if Cambridge Street residents and businesses were allowed to participate in a process like this instead of the "take it or leave it" approach the City took in reconfiguring that street with no real public process.

Order #8. The City Manager is requested to consult with relevant City staff to propose immediate and forward-looking measures to improve and prioritize conservation of Cambridge’s tree canopy before the Urban Forest Master Plan is in place.   Councillor Devereux

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on Sept 26, 2017 to follow up on Policy Order #2 of June 20, 2016 to discuss the City’s Tree Protection Ordinance and possible ways to improve this ordinance to protect the tree canopy while protecting individual property rights.

We all love trees, right? One assumption that seems to run through this report is that tree removal on a neighboring property is something neighbors necessary oppose, but there are cases where a resident may actually want a neighboring property owner to remove a tree. I happen to be one of those residents. If neighbors mutually agree that a tree should be removed would any of the proposed ordinances stand in the way of this? – Robert Winters

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