Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 6, 2011

March 7, 2011 City Council Agenda: Foreign Affairs Redux… and the Muddy Charles Under Siege

Filed under: City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:48 pm

March 7, 2011 City Council Agenda: – Foreign Affairs Redux… and the Muddy Charles Under Siege

There are at least two potentially flammable items on this week’s agenda. First, there’s this:

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 11-02, regarding a report on unfair financial burden placed on same-sex married employees of Cambridge.

Though the report seems reasonable enough, some of the more activist elements may come out demanding something more than mere reason. The response from the Personnel Department is worth the read.

Sadly, Councillor Toomey’s exercise of his Charter Right last week on an Order of Councillor Decker could lead to a bad rerun of last week’s anti-Israel speechmaking. It would come as no surprise if this issue also brought out the other side this week. The relevant item is this:

Charter Right #2. That the City Council go on record seeking information about the nature of a delegation to Israel. [Charter Right exercised on Order #20 of Feb 28, 2011.]

Members of the "Peace Commission," their friends, and their former executive director will likely once again (from the safety of the Sullivan Chamber) inexpertly instruct the city councillors about Middle Eastern affairs. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go on for another two hours. On a lighter note, the prophet of Franklin Street apparently has some late-breaking news about either the Rapture or the Apocalypse – set to occur sometime this month:

Communications #1. A communication was received from Peter Valentine, 37 Brookline Street, to assist a planet wide understanding of an upcoming major planet wide event.

Resolution #13. Retirement of Richard Scali from the License Commission.   Mayor Maher

According to Marc Levy’s Cambridge blog, Mr. Scali has been on a personal leave of absence for at least the last four months.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to begin a process with City Department Heads to determine possible projects that could be completed with the help of Code for America and be prepared to apply for their 2013 program.   Councillor Toomey

This Order comes on the heels of last week’s Order #3 and Order #19 of a similar nature. Perhaps there may be further "innovation agendas" down the road for City departments unrelated to the middle school proposal now before the School Committee.

Order #3. That the City Manager is hereby requested to direct the appropriate department heads to look into whether the City of Cambridge would benefit from a curb side composting program and the means in which we could implement such a program.   Councillor Cheung

Having spent many years as Cambridge’s "Compost Man," I could say much about this Order. Ultimately it’s a great idea for a host of reasons, but there are financial and logistical challenges that cannot be denied. Nonetheless, perhaps one day soon we may see the return of the "honey wagon" to the streets of Cambridge.

Order #4. That the Cambridge City Council go on record encouraging MIT to allow for the Muddy Charles Pub to remain open.   Councillor Cheung and Councillor Toomey

Though one could accuse Councillors Cheung and Toomey of butting into university affairs, I’m with them on this one. The Muddy was always a favorite of mine when I was in graduate school at MIT. It’s also the place where I watched Bucky "Bleepin’" Dent hit the home run in the playoff game in 1978 between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Having grown up as a Yankees fan, I was on the unpopular side that day and had to leave the Muddy via the window at the end of the game. Eventually, I changed allegiances. It will be a sad day indeed should the Muddy Charles Pub be forced to close – not to mention completely inconsistent with MIT traditions.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council in the immediate future on the feasibility of using City-installed and City-managed cameras as part of an overall safety program for the immediate Clifton Street area.   Councillor Kelley

Mayor Maher will also support this. Anyone else? Or is Nancy Murray of the ACLU still pressing your buttons?

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with data regarding demographic and population trends through the year 2025 for the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Seidel

It’s hard to imagine that City staff can actually make such predictions going out more than a few years, but whatever they come up with will likely be interesting and potentially provocative. – Robert Winters


  1. There were no current Peace Commission members at last weeks hearing. Only former.

    Comment by frank connelly — March 7, 2011 @ 8:19 am

  2. If anyone attends (or watches) this Council meeting, please feel free to jot down some notes here. I have a monthly meeting tonight that prevents me from making it to City Hall, but I’m interested to hear about any highlights or lowlights.

    Comment by Robert Winters — March 7, 2011 @ 9:39 am

  3. “Though the report seems reasonable enough, some of the more activist elements may come out demanding something more than mere reason. The response from the Personnel Department is worth the read.”

    Well obviously if it’s something the homosexuals want there must be some vast “activist” conspiracy behind it. Or maybe everyone is going to be reasonable and talk about it and see if something can be done about it. Ever think of that? Or are homosexuals and other such “activist elements” always “demanding more than reason” in your personal opinion?

    Comment by JWH — March 7, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  4. Well, JWH, I ask only that you and others read the report. The gist is that there is a host of reasons, including collective bargaining agreements, that make giving one group of employees different pay than others problematic. For what it’s worth, I completely agree that the federal law is unfair, but I don’t think this is something the City can solve with a checkbook and still remain within the law and without violating prior agreements.

    In the private sector, there is far more flexibility. In government, short of applying for public assistance and meeting the necessary qualifications, it is very difficult to legally give a benefit to specific individuals. Until the federal laws change (and I hope they do), some individuals may have to accept some things that are inherently unfair.

    When I turned 18, I was eligible for the draft. None of my women classmates in high school had that concern. Unfair? Yes. Did we live with it? Yes. It would be interesting to see how this would play out today.

    [PS – We use real names in this forum.]

    Comment by Robert Winters — March 7, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

  5. I have read. It read it this morning. It’s perfectly reasonable but also debatable.

    Comment by JWH — March 7, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

  6. Wait a minute– my 401(k) finally starts getting back into shape again, and now Judgment Day is going to come along sometime this month? Dammit.

    Comment by Matt — March 7, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  7. Regarding delegations to foreign lands, Cambridge prides itself in being a wealthy municipality, but as a taxpayer, I am concerned that travel paid for by the city to international destinations is so commonplace that our local leaders do not know about it unless some sort of trouble takes place. What other international travel is our tax money paying for?

    Before the city pays for ANY international trip, the cost, destination, length of project, and name & affiliation of the traveler should be collected and published on an easy to find listing dedicated to the task.

    Comment by J Chase — March 8, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

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