Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

January 9, 2011

Jan 10, 2011 City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: 2011 Election,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:34 pm

Jan 10, 2011 City Council Agenda Highlights

The 2011 Election Year is now in progress. Look for extra City Council committee meetings in the next few months as otherwise dormant councillors dream up items before it’s too late for their campaign literature and newsletters. Interesting items on Monday’s agenda include these:

City Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 10-134, regarding a report on reducing energy consumption by ways of deleting and/or limiting email storage.

The originating Order was this:

O-15     Sept 13, 2010
WHEREAS: It has come to the attention of this City Council that while for the most part email is a more environmentally sound way to communicate, there are concerns related to energy consumption and emissions; and
WHEREAS: The amount of data being stored today accounts for two percent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, the equivalent of the airline industry; and
WHEREAS: Sending large picture or video attachments can use the energy equivalent of boiling seventeen kettles of water; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to consult with the Director of Information Technology Department to address issues of energy consumption and emissions used by the City of Cambridge to include distribution of and dissemination of information to city employees and residents about ways to reduce energy consumption by way of deleting and/or limiting email storage; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council on this matter.

The City Manager’s response informs us: "The IT Department implemented an e-mail storage tool called ArcMail which allows us to store all e-mail received on one server. We limit the amount of e-mail that any staff member can store to 300MB…. The ArcMail server has a copy of all e-mail received and it will never exceed the one server it runs on."

So I guess this means that the impact is somewhat less than the two percent of all carbon dioxide emissions generated by the City as suggested by this alarmist Order – one little computer quietly purring away in City Hall. Polar bears can sleep easy tonight in North Cambridge. Councillor Davis is already planning ways to provide heat and hot water for City Hall from the waste energy from that computer.

Resolution #30. Congratulations to City Councillor Marjorie Decker and her husband Bahij Bandar on the birth of their daughter, Laurice Catherine Bandar.   Mayor Maher, Vice Mayor Davis

The Resolution pretty much sums up what all of us are thinking. Congratulations and I hope everyone’s OK.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate department heads and report back to the Economic Development, Training and Employment Committee with the current policies impacting food trucks, the reasoning behind said policies and potential impact it has on the food truck industry and on the city in general.   Councillor Cheung

Anything that can be done to make Cambridge a welcoming place for these vendors should be done (within reason, of course). They were always the best option at MIT and at Harvard. What I’d really like to see are a few old-fashioned hot dog stands selling those snappy Sabrett hot dogs. Oops, my New York City roots are showing….

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Commissioner of Public Works and other City departments to look into practices that will mitigate problems that occur (plowing snow into areas that have been shoveled by residents) and the insufficient and/or improper shoveling of the pedestrian way.   Councillor Simmons

Another winter, another version of this Order. There is, however, one new wrinkle on this old story. With the new single-stream recycling toters, the option of laying the blue bins atop the snow is now no longer an option for some. This means that residents have no choice but to dig a channel from the sidewalk to the street in which to roll the toter for curbside collection. My advice is that after you’ve shoveled out a channel, erect a barricade at the curb to deflect the snow when the plows come by. When the plows are done, take down the barricade and you still have clear path to the street.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the total number of same-sex married City employees currently receiving health benefits, the estimated valuation of the federal tax placed on those health benefits of employees currently impacted by this discrimination and a proposed plan for how the city will take a stand as a national leader who values all city employees as equal and how the City will carry the burden of discriminatory taxation on behalf of the impacted employees beginning with 2011 tax filing.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor Seidel, Councillor Cheung and Councillor Kelley

The operative phrase is: "how the City will carry the burden of discriminatory taxation on behalf of the impacted employees." Translation: Open your wallets, Cambridge taxpayers. Isn’t this an outgrowth of the federal health care legislation? You know, the one everyone would love once they actually read it?

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to investigate the possibility of allowing owners alternatives to alter flat roof structures for the purposes of creating better rain water runoff collection through a zoning mechanism.   Mayor Maher

The odd thing about this Order is how it is cast as a zoning issue. It seems more like a plumbing issue. Will we next be seeing charts and tables prescribing where rain barrels can be situated in different zoning districts? Will they have to pass a design review?

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to appoint appropriate city staff, including the City Solicitor, to work with the Cambridge GLBT Commission to create a city-wide ordinance on gender-neutral bathrooms.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor Seidel, Councillor Cheung and Councillor Kelley

I’ll let the Kinks respond.

Order #9. That the City Manager is hereby requested to report back to the City Council with immediate clarification on the City’s interpretation of the Responsible Employer Ordinance statute and a detailed report on how it is implemented and enacted.   Councillor Cheung and Councillor Decker

Translation: Keeps those campaign checks from the labor unions coming fast. November’s not so far away. – Robert Winters


  1. O-3 is a consequence of DOMA – since the Federal government doesn’t recognized same-sex marriages the value of spousal medical benefits which is not taxable to opposite marriages is taxed. A number of companies have implemented a policy to subsidize the extra financial burden so that people with equal pay and jobs can actually get equal pay.

    O-8 is to help relieve the anguish, confusion, and sometimes harassment encountered by Trangender individuals, parents with opposite gender children, and people with opposite gender companions when they choose a designated gender bathroom. Some places, but not all, have single-stall handicapped bathrooms but people without handicaps are often unsure whether they may use such bathrooms and sometimes get harassed by people when do use them. (In some states you can get arrested if you enter an opposite gender bathroom – not true for Massachusetts but out-of-state visitors may not know that it is not illegal.)

    Comment by John W Gintell — January 10, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  2. So, um, what’s the symbol they’re going to put on a trans-gendered bathroom?

    Comment by Matt — January 12, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

  3. I suppose they could simply say “Toilet” or “Bathroom” on the door. Any attempt to put some clever symbol on it will likely lead to controversy, especially in Cambridge, the Capitol of Political Correctness.

    Comment by Robert Winters — January 12, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

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