Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

June 4, 2012

Of Lesser Importance – June 4, 2012 City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 1:38 pm

Of Lesser Importance – June 4, 2012 City Council Agenda Highlights

Tonight’s meeting is not the main thing on the minds of most Cantabrigians today. Last night’s shooting on Willow Street in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood that left one girl (Charlene Holmes, age 16) dead and another (Thania-Lee Cotto, age 17) in critical condition is on the minds of everyone today. According to reports, the two girls were best friends and neither of them was the intended target. A candlelight vigil is planned for 7:00pm.

Of lesser importance are the following agenda items:

Communications #1. A communication was received from Forest City transmitting expanded shadow studies for the proposed Forest City Project on Massachusetts Avenue.

Attention is being misdirected toward whether or not the proposed 165 foot residential tower next to the Lafayette Square fire station would cast shadows on the park across the street. The more significant issue is whether this is an appropriate height for Central Square and whether it would set a precedent for future development proposals. What’s appropriate for Kendall Square is not necessarily appropriate for Central Square. Most of the public reaction to the proposed tower has been decidedly negative, but it has served to distract attention from the core proposal to redevelop the nearby 300 block of Mass. Ave. to a very significant height (145 feet) and density.

Resolution #22. Resolution on the death of Robert I. Winters.   Councillor Maher, Mayor Davis

This is the father of Planning Board member (and friend) Pam Winters. He died last week at the age of 90. Because of our shared name, several people who saw the obituary came up to me with comments like, "You look well." As sad as this is, it’s good to have friends who can make the best of things.

Resolution #25. Congratulations to City Councillor Leland Cheung on the occasion of his graduations from Harvard University and MIT.   Councillor Reeves, Councillor Toomey, Mayor Davis, Councillor Decker, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Maher, Vice Mayor Simmons and Councillor vanBeuzekom

Yes indeed, congratulations to Leland. I guess this means he’s now going to have to look for a job….

Resolution #38. Welcome Reverend Al Sharpton and Reverend Melvin E. Wilson to the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Reeves

I don’t know about the latter, but I’ll pass on the former.

Order #1. That the City Manager confer with the Director of Traffic, Parking and Transportation with a view in mind of changing the "Traffic Regulations in Appendix D, City of Cambridge – Traffic Department Parking Ticket Violations – Schedule 13 by striking out the penalty fee of $30.00 and inserting in place thereof the fee of $5.00 as it relates to Section 16.7 entitled" Street Cleaning.   Councillor Cheung

I don’t know about the need for the fee reduction, but maybe there should be a cap put on the capture and storage fees charged by the towing companies as a precondition for their getting a contract with the City. Those are the fees that really hammer you – not what the City gets.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Police Commissioner and discuss increasing patrols aimed at preventing graffiti in the Wellington Harrington and East Cambridge area.   Councillor Toomey

It’s often the case that tagging is associated with other illegal activity. Removing the graffiti will not abolish gangs any more than removing Central Square benches will cure alcoholism, but tolerance of tagging and negligence in removing it is inexcusable. It should be noted that this is the area of last night’s murder.

Order #8. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the appropriate departments on the cost, user price, and payback period if Cambridge were to build its own broadband network and report back to the Cambridge City Council.   Councillor Cheung

An old idea comes round again. There were plans to do this some time ago and I even volunteered my roof as a site for a wireless router for the network. This would, of course, directly challenge Comcast, a.k.a. The Evil Empire. I’ve always suspected that it was the objection of Comcast that put an end to the previous initiative.

Order #11. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to ascertain how the potential increase in student loan rates might impact Cambridge students and report back to the City Council.   Councillor Cheung

This is an example of a Democratic Party Talking Points memo being repurposed in the form of a City Council Order. The answer is clear enough – it would negatively impact students just as any increase in costs would. The text of the Order makes clear that this is really criticism of a recent vote in the U.S. Senate. For what it’s worth, I agree with the sentiment that these loan rates should remain comparable with other (currently low) interest rates. What offends me is that forgiveness of (significant) student loan debt is being used as a tool to rally votes in the upcoming presidential election. Some of us "old school" types still believe in the principle that, whether or not the rates are negotiable, you should still repay your debts.

Order #16. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to look into the feasibility of providing a map of long term parking spots for rental on the city website and report back to the Cambridge City Council.   Councillor Cheung

Though this Order refers to "long term parking spots for non-residents looking to visit family members for extended periods of time", it should be quite obvious that such a map will inevitably be used by other non-residents. A better resolution would be for the Department of Traffic, Parking, & Transportation to issue temporary permits for family members on a case-by-case basis. They most likely already do so. – Robert Winters

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