Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 4, 2013

In Like A Lamb – March 4 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 1:32 am

In Like A Lamb – March 4 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

February went out like a lion last week with the signing of a 3-year contract with Manager-to-be Richard Rossi and the unanimous ordination of the Forest City zoning petition that had been the subject of much contrived controversy. In contrast, March arrives in comparative calm. Here’s what caught my attention this week:

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to work with the appropriate City departments to expand enforcement of the prohibition on Cambridge pick-ups by non-Cambridge cabs not specifically called to Cambridge.   Councillor Cheung

Councillor Cheung’s Order asks "to expand enforcement of the prohibition on Cambridge pick-ups by non-Cambridge cabs not specifically called to Cambridge." Well, it’s in the regulations, as they say. That said, doesn’t it seem ridiculous that taxi service is completely balkanized with local city councils dictating who can and cannot pick up fares in their towns? Shouldn’t there be some kind of compact among the various municipalities of Greater Boston – like a taxi free trade zone? I would personally take it a step further and eliminate taxi medallions completely. Whoever can offer the best service at the lowest price should get the business – not who pays the most for a medallion.

Order #3. That the Chair of the Civic Unity Committee is requested to inform the City Council of plans to hold a committee meeting to discuss the Monteiro case and any lessons to be learned from it prior to the current City Manager’s leaving office.   Councillor Kelley

Beat that dead horse, Councillor Kelley. The chief lesson learned should be the importance of jury selection.

Three-fifthsOrder #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff and report back to the City Council on the feasibility of creating a development program, whether through density bonuses or other means, where residents of new buildings would not be allowed to obtain on-street City parking stickers.   Councillor Kelley

I believe the illegality of this idea has already been settled, but why not get creative? How about we give those residents three-fifths of a parking sticker in honor of their less-than-citizenship status. It should hold us until the 13th Amendment to the City’s Plan E Charter is ratified by two-thirds of the city’s neighborhoods.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Information Technology Department to explore the possibility of adding an RSS feed feature to all of the City of Cambridge websites.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

I suppose there’s a way to do that, but I don’t believe the City of Cambridge uses a content management system (CMS) like a typical blog might have. I’m guessing here that Councillor vanBeuzekom wants the content of these pages to be fed directly into news aggregators and the like. Having played around this weekend with RSS feeds for the CCJ site, I know that it’s possible to do this (assuming I haven’t made any huge errors), but it seems like a rather poor idea to do this for "all of the City of Cambridge websites" as stated in the Order. There are, however, particular City web pages where important updates and events are posted. Those pages should have all the appropriate features added to make them easy to be picked up by the various electronic robots roaming the internets.

Communications and Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Councillor David P. Maher transmitting a copy of a letter sent to Attorney Kathryn Brown of Forest City Boston requesting clarifying language contained in the "Letter of Commitment".

I’ve been reading with amusement an account elsewhere that makes this letter into some kind of controversy and a validation of things discussed during last week’s vote on the Forest City petition. To paraphrase Dr. Freud, sometimes a letter is just a letter.

Communications and Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Councillor Craig Kelley regarding discussion about pending lawsuits.

I sometimes wonder if some of our elected councillors are working against the interest of the City and its residents. – RW

2 Comments

  1. The Cambridge web site does use a Content Management System – Sitecore – and setting up an RSS feed for each department’s web presence isn’t hard. Right now, the only RSS feed from the City is News and Alerts. If you start with the premise that information gets put onto the City’s web site so that people can see it, using every means to promote its widest distribution seems appropriate.

    Comment by Saul Tannenbaum — March 4, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  2. Interesting to hear that the City of Cambridge site is on a Content Management System. I guess that makes sense if you want the various departments to update their pages with minimal expertise. I think it would still make sense to be somewhat selective in what gets widely distributed since much of the material on the City site is there for reference more than news and alerts. Information overload can be as much of a problem as information obscurity.

    Comment by Robert Winters — March 4, 2013 @ 9:55 am

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