Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

November 28, 2019

Demographic Mixed Bag – November 2019 Cambridge municipal election

Filed under: 2019 election,elections — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:59 pm

Demographic Mixed Bag – November 2019 Cambridge municipal election

I have been curious since the recent election whether there were any patterns in voter turnout that might be discerned when the information about who voted became available. That data became available recently and it’s kind of a mixed bag. There are still a lot more younger voters than there were before 2017, but not as many as in 2017. There was a modest increase in the youngest range (up to about age 26 – credit for that probably goes to the supporters of Burhan Azeem and Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler), but the numbers actually disproportionately dropped for most age ranges from about 27 through the middle age years. Interestingly, the number of voters increased for those in the 70-80 range. We can all speculate about why those numbers would be up when overall turnout was down.

Overall the number of registered voters increased from 66,354 in 2017 to 68,839 in 2019 (including those with listed birthdates) – a 3.7% increase. The number of people who actually voted decreased 4.8% from 22,407 to 21,329. Voter turnout in 2017 was 33.8% of all registered voters. That dropped to 31.0% in 2019, but that’s still relatively high for a municipal election (it was 28.2% in 2015 and 25.2% in 2013).

Here are some graphics to illustrate this, starting with the distribution of voters by age (in 3-year intervals, 18-20, 21-23, etc.) in the Nov 2019 election.

Voted 2019

Compare this to the 2017 distribution – especially the peak at 27-29:

Voted 2017

Notice that in 2015 there were far fewer people in their 20s and 30s voting with a clear dominance in the 65-70 range.

Voted 2015

When we look at 2017 and 2019 side-by-side you can more easily how some age ranges saw significant decreases (more than the ~5% overall drop) and other age ranges actually saw increases.

Voted 2017 vs. 2019

Here’s an annotated graph highlighting some of the more interesting changes.

Voted 2017 vs. 2019 - highlighted

November 27, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 435-436: November 26, 2019

Episode 435 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 26, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 26, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Karp Petition; Planning vs. “Let’s Make A Deal”; how high is high, how dense is dense?; the YIMBY-NIMBY War to Nowhere. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 436 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 26, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 26, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Harvard Square zoning petition, “super crosswalk”; zoning change vs. cultural change; riding the latest bandwagon; License Commission authority. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

November 24, 2019

Turkey Trot – Nov 25, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

Turkey Trot – Nov 25, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

Turkey TrotPerhaps we should call this the Lame Turkey Session and give the ducks a break. Here are a few agenda items that caught my eye:

Manager’s Agenda #8. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $1,924,594.18, associated with Education First’s EF 3 Building, SP#328) from the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund to the Public Investment Public Works Extraordinary Expenditure account which will be used to support utility work associated with the Port Project and were paid by Education First to fulfill their Inflow and Infiltration requirement.

This is what "mitigation money" is supposed to be all about – actual mitigation and infrastructure improvement. Contrast this with the current practice of granting upzoning not for the sake of good planning but for cash and prizes – and, of course, subsidized housing units. At least the proposal to glue subsidized housing units onto a self-storage facility didn’t fly. Mark my words – this is only going to get weirder in the next City Council term.

Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-140, regarding Harvard Square plaza area safety improvements.

During my four decades in Cambridge I have seen the Harvard Square pedestrian environment reconfigured several times – each time under the belief that nirvana had been achieved. The last iteration was the "Super Crosswalk" that apparently was never all that super. The next iteration is coming. No matter the outcome, we will be assured that congestion and delay is not a negative consequence but is instead good for us and we should shut up and be grateful – and all parties involved will continue to bend the traffic laws as they see fit.

Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $107,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Finance Other Ordinary Maintenance account as initial support of the recommendations of the Mayor’s Arts Task Force regarding the Central Square Cultural District.

Yippee! Money for Central Square! Now if we could only categorize sidewalk repair and improvements to the T station as "art" we’ll be all set.

Manager’s Agenda #12. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-122, which requested a legal opinion on the License Commissions authority.

This is by far the most important item on this agenda. Though this legal opinion merely states what many of us have known and understood all along, it should put to rest some of the outrageous misunderstandings that have been circulating. That said, I read an opinion today that it was somehow problematic that a quasi-judicial body like the Cambridge License Commission can act without micromanagement by the City Manager – even though any decision of the License Commission can be appealed. Imagine how outraged people would feel if it was suggested that the Planning Board should not issue or deny a Special Permit without the approval of the City Manager. Ultimately the City Manager is "the appointing authority" and could appoint only yes-men (and yes-women) to all the City’s Boards and Commissions as well as the Police Commissioner and Fire Chief, but that practice would likely head south pretty quickly. City Solicitor Glowa’s legal opinion is both impressive and timely, and I hope it puts to rest some of the falsehoods from the Lower Port to the Upper West.

Committee Report #1 & Committee Report #2. A report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Sept 26, 2019 and Nov 14, 2019 to discuss the petition by Stephen R. Karp, Trustee of Cambridgeside Galleria Associates Trust, to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge by adding a Section 13.100 that creates a new PUD-8 District and to amend the Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge by adding the new PUD-8 District, which District would include the property located at 100 Cambridgeside Place (currently zoned in the Business A and PUD-4 Districts).

I do hope that the City Council passes some version of this zoning amendment solely because I think we could a lot do better in that corner of the city than what exists now, and some reconfiguration of the Cambridgeside Galleria should be part of that. However, I find aspects of the committee report to be problematic, e.g. "the Petitioner will pay the City $50 million dollars in mitigation funding" and "what would happen to the proposed community benefits if the Petitioner decided to proceed under their current zoning" and "she felt that the height and massing could be appropriate depending on the community benefits." In short, approving changes in zoning should be primarily about good planning and not about any "quid pro quo". Unfortunately, this brand of zoning negotiation as commodity trading is not exceptional in Cambridge these days – and it may only grow worse. – Robert Winters

November 20, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 433-434: November 19, 2019

Episode 433 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 19, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 19, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Final Official Municipal election results; ballot data; ward/precinct distribution; #2 Vote Distribution; Instant Runoff mayor. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 434 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 19, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 19, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Election last details; Replacements in the event of a vacancy; campaign finance reform. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

November 18, 2019

Lame Duck Walking – November 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

Lame Duck Walking – November 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

Lame DuckIn between the inevitable hushed meetings to secure the necessary five votes to become mayor for the 2020-21 term, the lame duck session continues quacking. The agenda is quite short, but a few items worth noting are listed below. Honestly, I’ve been having more fun studying the 2019 ballot data now that the election results were finalized Friday evening [Council][School]. This includes things like the ward/precinct distribution of #1 votes [Council][School], the #2 vote distribution behind each candidate’s #1 votes [Council][School], who would replace each of the newly elected members in the event of a future vacancy, and an Instant Runoff simulation to see how the ballots would choose a mayor (which, of course, is not how it’s done!). Anyway, back to the Council agenda (with minimal comment)…..

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt with comments and suggested improvements, the CambridgeSide Galleria Associates Trust Zoning Petition.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $4,475,844.18 from Free Cash to the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund which will be used to fund specific future projects, requiring individual appropriations by the City Council at a later date.


Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the Exterior Building Insulation Zoning Petition.

Committee Report #3. A report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 12, 2019 to discuss the Insulation Zoning proposal A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Article 5.000 and Article 22.000 pertaining to setback requirements and exterior building insulation.


Manager’s Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt Article 22 Green Building Requirements Zoning Petition.

Committee Report #2. A report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 12 at 12pm to discuss Green Building requirements A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Section 22.20, which governs Green Building Requirements, and also applicable definitions contained in Article 2.000.


Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department to fully restore sharrows to Broadway, alongside the new door-zone bike lane, as a reminder to motorists that cyclists are always allowed to take the full lane.   Councillor Zondervan

I completely agree with this Order (as a person who prefers biking along with other traffic on most roads with ordinary speeds), but I continue to marvel at the trend among city councillors to assume roles which previously were the domain of the professional staff. I can’t decide if this is great wisdom or micromanagement or just a vote of "no confidence" of City staff.

Committee Report #1. A report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public meeting held on Nov 14, 2019 to discuss the Solicitor’s Response to Policy Order O-9 from the June 10, 2019 City Council Meeting.

I used to be somewhat agnostic regarding campaign donations from people with business before the City Council, but the recent municipal election campaign has pushed me into the camp of those who feel that some limitations should be the rule. I’m still not convinced that public financing of municipal election campaigns would be worth it either practically or bureaucratically. I also can’t wrap my head around the fact that some of our local elected officials (and their ardent supporters) feel outrage about the Citizens United court decision that opened the floodgates in campaign spending yet have no qualms whatsoever in doing the same thing at the local level. – Robert Winters

November 14, 2019

CRLS, CHLS & Rindge Homecoming 2019

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

CRLS, CHLS & RINDGE HOMECOMING 2019

A series of events for alumni and staff of CRLS, CHLS and Rindge Tech beginning Saturday, November 9, 2019 through Sunday, December 1.

CRLSEVENTS:

MUSICAL: Saturday, 11/09, Sunday 11/10, Friday 11/22, Saturday 11/23 and Sunday Matinee 11/24 – CRLS Musical "Sister Act" – 7:00pm @ the Fitzgerald Theater, Broadway, Cambridge MA with Alumni Night, Saturday 11/23

PANEL DISCUSSION: Tuesday, 11/26 -"Fifth Annual Alumni Panel Discussion" for CRLS Jrs and Srs at CRLS during first and second block for CRLS Juniors and Seniors

ALUMUNI REUNION NIGHT: "In the Square" Wednesday, 11/27/2019 from 8:00-12:00 midnight @ Hong Kong Restaurant, 1238 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 Free Hors d’oeuvres. Free Drink to the first 100!

HOMECOMING FOOTBALL GAME: Thursday, 11/28/2019 – CRLS vs Somerville at Russel Field @ 10am, Cambridge (Tickets available at Gate)

ALUMNI SOCCER GAME: Friday, 11/29/2019 – Danehy Field 4, starting at 10:00am

REUNIONS:

ALUMUNI REUNION NIGHT: "In the Square" Wednesday, 11/27/2019 from 8:00-12:00 midnight @ Hong Kong Restaurant, 1238 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 Free Hors d’oeuvres. Free Drink to the first 100!

LINKS:
Alumni Website: http://www.crlsalumni.org/
EventBrite Homecoming 2019: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chls-crls-and-rindge-tech-2019-homecoming-tickets-80188769769
Contact: Andy Farrar: af@handsontoys.com

November 13, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 431-432: November 12, 2019

Episode 431 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 12, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Municipal election results; effectiveness of slates; role of major issues (if any); what’s next. Hosts: Robert Winters, Patrick Barrett [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 432 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 12, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 12, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Election last details; Harvard Square Zoning Petition; where do we go from here. Hosts: Robert Winters, Patrick Barrett [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

November 4, 2019

The Last Thing on their Minds – Nov 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

The Last Thing on their Minds – Nov 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

CountdownThis is your classic night-before-Election-Day City Council meeting where Council business places a distant second behind concerns about having all their incumbency protection ducks in a row. If this meeting goes beyond 6:15pm it will likely be because they were forced to listen to the repetitive whining of Public Comment. Anyway, here is my very short list of interesting items on this very short agenda:

Manager’s Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the creation of a new municipal Renewable Energy and Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) Reduction Revolving Fund (“Revolving Fund”) to serve the City of Cambridge’s (“City”) municipal energy aggregation, and adoption of the proposed new ordinance, Chapter 3.24, entitled “Departmental Revolving Funds.”

From the Manager’s letter: "The Aggregation adder is expected to raise approximately $650,000 annually, or a total of $1.3 million during the current supplier contract period (January 2019 – December 2020)." Proposed uses are: (a) Invest $1.3 million in a solar energy project located on a municipal building; and (b) Deposit income earned from the sale of generated Net Metering Credits annually into the Revolving Fund. Those funds would subsequently be used to finance other solar energy/renewable energy projects and all resulting GHG reductions would be attributed to the Aggregation’s participants.

Seems like a reasonable plan of action.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff on determining the most appropriate signage and messaging that would best educate cyclists on the importance of following traffic laws, particularly stopping at red lights, for their own safety and the safety of other cyclists and pedestrians.

30 out of 31 Communications in which cyclists recoil in horror because a City Council Order from last week suggested "signage and messaging that would best educate cyclists on the importance of following traffic laws, particularly stopping at red lights, for their own safety and the safety of other cyclists and pedestrians."

Only in Cambridge would a resolution calling for enhanced safety yield an avalanche of protest. The turf wars continue.

Resolution #5. Congratulations to Sekazi K. Mtingwa.   Councillor Simmons

Sekazi and I worked together at MIT. I did the math and he did the physics in the MIT Concourse program. I’m glad to see him getting the recognition.

Brattle RoundaboutOrder #3. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the Council by the end of this term on progress toward identifying a source of funding and a timetable for the design and construction of a modern roundabout at the Brattle-Sparks-Craigie intersection, to share the consultant’s 2017-18 report on the feasibility of a modern roundabout, and to schedule a community meeting in early 2020 to further discuss this project.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone

I don’t know whether or not this is the best alternative for this intersection but it is an interesting proposal. I don’t like the way it "pedestrianizes" cyclists and I would likely just ride through the roundabout with the rest of the traffic. It’s a bit strange that the Council Order calls for a source of funding and a timetable for the design and construction prior to there being any decision on even doing such a redesign, but it’s fair to say that this isn’t the first instance of engineering via politics by this Council.

Order #5. Resolution in support of the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW’S demands for a fair contract now.   Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon

Finish your thesis, kids. There are better opportunities than being an ABD (All But Dissertation) graduate student. I’ll add that it still seems funny that the United Auto Workers are representing Harvard Graduate students.

99 Items Awaiting Report (sung to the tune of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall")

Wouldn’t it be just marvelous if one of these weeks one of the councillors simply asked the manager to run through the list and say (a) which items he has no intention of reporting (possibly because it’s either moot or ridiculous); (b) which items somebody somewhere is actually working on; and (c) which items he considers to be timely and important. For example, should we all be waiting with bated breath on the future of wood-fired ovens or electronic device usage by City-elected officials? I thought that the request for "a comprehensive, independent planning, and parking study of the neighborhood and use of the First Street Garage" had already been completed. Would it be so difficult to report on the "feasibility of allowing small businesses to host live acoustic music performances without a license?" Can anyone shed any light on the proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance that has apparently gone missing? – Robert Winters

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