Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

April 1, 2013

April 1 Cambridge News

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:01 am

Healy Changes Mind – To Remain as City Manager through 2020

Robert HealyRichard RossiRossi cries foul. Will challenge Healy to settle matter via baseball contest.

"Don’t get me wrong." said Rossi. "Bob has been a great city manager. I’m sure he has a few good seasons left in him, but I can hit with power and can also run the bases."

Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs Louis Depasquale will serve as umpire. "I don’t take sides," said Depasquale, "except when it involves the New York Yankees." It has been reported that both sides are making offers to former Budget Director and long-ball hitter David Kale to return in time for the game.

City Councillor and State Representative Marjorie Decker is still undecided whether she will sign on with the Healy or the Rossi team. Said Decker, "I’ve been going to bat for both of these guys for years." Meanwhile, Councillor Kelley has announced that he will refuse to attend the contest. "I’ve been voting No for a decade. Why should I switch now?" said Kelley.


Casinos to Replace Pharma in Kendall

Gambling"We must have been on drugs," said industry representative Viagra Q. Zantax.

DiceMIT/Kendall Petition amended to add gambing as allowed use in PUD-5 district.
House Speaker DeLeo Vows to Fight Plan

"Why anyone would locate a casino outside of Saugus or Winthrop is beyond me," said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. " I could see Revere, maybe, but no way Cambridge." Cambridge’s Economic Development Division (CDD) is working with the Tourism Board to develop a slogan for this new addition to Cambridge’s diverse economy. "We wanted to use ‘whatever happens in Cambridge stays in Cambridge‘ as our slogan, but Nevada officials have informed us that the phrase is owned by a desert town in Nevada not far from Hoover Dam."


City Faces Lawsuit over Roundtables

RoundtableA Cambridge resident has filed suit in Massachusetts Superior Court seeking an emergency injunction to end meetings that the Cambridge City Council has dubbed "roundtable" meetings. According to the Council, roundtable meetings allow a more relaxed give-and-take. While these meetings are public, neither public comment nor television broadcasts are possible. Tom Stohlman, a previous candidate for the Council who has tangled with them over interpretations of the Open Meeting law, said that he was seeking injunctive relief because the Council had gone too far. "The Council has the right to make its own rules, but it doesn’t have the right to make new meanings for old words," Stohlman said. "There’s nothing round about these roundtable meetings.

"The tables are set up in almost a square, and the tables themselves are rounded rectangles." Stohlman, an architect by training, said that the misrepresentation of meeting geometry was a betrayal of the public trust and a symptom of a deeper distrust between the Council and Cambridge residents. Mayor Henrietta Davis, who chairs the City Council, declined comment on Stohlman’s suit, but noted that, in our litigious society, these sort of suits were, in her words, "the shape of things to come."


Late Changes to MIT/Kendall Zoning Petition

Miniature Golf KendallIn response to overwhelming pressure from the MIT and East Cambridge communities, MIT officials today announced their intention to include miniature golf as an allowed use in the proposed PUD-5 District. "It’s an essential part of the innovation ecosystem for this area," said Steve Marsh, Managing Director of Real Estate, MIT Investment Management Corporation – MITIMCo. "We realize this is only a start. We are now working with MIT’s Mechanical Engineering faculty to develop what will likely be one of the greatest rollercoasters ever conceived. We had plans to build a Go-Kart track, but City officials informed us that this would violate the City’s Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance." When informed that the Go-Kart Rally might require the zoning petition to be again re-filed, MIT Executive Vice President Israel Ruiz said, "No way we want to do that. We feel that miniature golf will fulfill the shared goals of MIT, the Kendall Square Association, and the City’s Planning Board. It’s entirely consistent with the recommendations of the K2C2 Committee."

Future plans include water skiing on the Charles River. "If this doesn’t connect the people of East Cambridge and our Kendall Square entrepreneurs to the river, I don’t know what will," said Marsh. Even former MIT Director of Campus Planning Bob Simha agrees with the concept. "It’s consistent with the 1965 plans for the eastern end of the MIT campus."

MIT Graduate Student Association President Brian Spatocco also expressed excitement: "Sure, we were looking for more graduate student housing, but this is gonna be AWESOME!" The petition is expected to come to a vote on April 8.


Central Square Urban Renewal District Created

Felafel TowersCambridge Redevelopment Authority to Oversee Clearing of Buildings
and Kickstarting of New Development

Plans include replacing Moody’s Falafel Palace with a 300 ft. tall slender residential tower. "With the new microhousing units", said City urban design specialist Roger Boothe, "we should be able to accommodate at least 4-5 units per floor. We estimate about 1200 units with this property alone." When asked about other possible development in the area, recently appointed CRA Executive Director Tom Evans said, "The sky’s the limit."

Residential Towers proposed
Two Towers have been proposed for Massachusetts Avenue at both the eastern and western ends of Central Square. The tentative name for the western tower is Minas Tirith which will feature 7 distinct levels consistent with the bulk control plane requirements of the zoning code. The eastern tower will be known as Minas Morgul and will feature 24-hour concierge service. Her name is Shelob and she promises that you’ll sleep well for all eternity in these new residences.


Cambridge Historical Commission recommends landmark status for Central Square MacDonalds

Historical Commission Executive Director Charles Sullivan presented the detailed report of the Commission last week. He noted the important cultural asset that this property represents. "The latter half of the 20th Century was, in large part, defined by the explosive growth of the fast food industry. Many of the historical remnants of this storied history are rapidly vanishing as new cafes and fancy-ass restaurants are displacing these community institutions." Sullivan continued, "I shudder at the thought that one day there will be no more golden arches to be found except along highways. It’s the cities that always suffer." The report recommends that in the event that the MacDonalds cannot be saved in the face of extraordinary development pressure, the golden arches could still be incorporated into the facade of any new building. "We must respect the past even as we welcome the future."


City Discovers Master Plan – It’s the Zoning Ordinance!

Members of the Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods and its alter-ego group, the Cambridge Residents Alliance, issued a statement upon the announcement of the discovery of the document. "Who knew?" said ACN cameraman Charles Teague. "We were looking far and wide, high and low for the City’s master plan, and there it was all the time!" Said Assistant City Manager Brian Murphy (CDD), "We thought we had done a pretty good job with the department’s website redesign, but I guess a few documents just fell through the cracks. It may be that we filed it under ‘zoning’ instead of ‘master plan’ where it should have been. We promise to immediately rectify this unfortunate confusion."


City to Propose Ban on Fossil Fuels

Pursuant to City Council Order #14 of April 1, 2013, Cambridge hopes to pass a local ordinance banning the use of fossil fuels "for all purposes not to include leaf blowers." The proposed ban came as a surprise to no one. "We have long been aware of the threat of climate change," said Councillor Minka vanBeuzekom, chief sponsor of the ban. "If we don’t start this process here in Cambridge, the relentless march toward extreme weather and disappearing shorelines will continue unabated." Major oil companies have stated their intention to seek an injunction to the ordinance if it should be ordained, but they’re not the only parties lining up to protest the ban. Robert "Red" Fawcett of Fawcett Oil Co. was quoted saying, "What about local businesses like mine? If we can’t sell oil, what are we supposed to do? Fill our tanker trucks with Nantucket Nectars? We may have to go back to selling Hay & Grain."

Rat RaceA legitimate question is, of course, how people will heat their homes in the absence of fossil fuels. While some have proposed solar panels heavily subsidized by the City’s unlimited wealth, Councillor vanBeuzekom had a more novel plan. "Rat power," she said. We can harness the rodent power of Cambridge by installing batteries of ‘hamster wheels’ in each home and put these rodents to work!" Speculators have already taken out permits to open new industrial pet food supply outlets to keep up with the expected demand for rodent chow. "Shares in the Ralston-Purina company soared in anticipation of the proposed ban.

"I’m more than happy to volunteer as wrangler for this new four-legged workforce," said vanBeuzekom. "We should start by removing all the rat baits now distributed around the city. We need to maintain a healthy workforce." The alternative is to use people for power generation, but they’re far more expensive to keep.


The Consolidation Plan

The City will announce this week plans to consolidate its many boards and commissions. Some expected that the Peace Commission, Human Rights Commission, and a variety of other boards might be joined into a single "mega-board" to deal with complaints from disgruntled citizens. Instead, the Board of Zoning Appeals will merge with the Planning Board. Chair Hugh Russell said, "This will be a great step forward in streamlining government." He added, "We’ll be able to incorporate all the exceptions as part of the plan."

recycling symbolFuture plans include folding the Licensing Commission into the Planning/BZA commission as well. The Recycling Advisory Committee will merge with the Police Review Advisory Board (PRAB). While current PRAB Director Brian Corr worried that the additional focus on recycling might delay investigation of police misconduct, Recycling Advisory Committee members expressed excitement at the fact that they will now have subpoena power. "There will no longer be the need to beg citizens to comply with recycling regulations," said long-time member Robert Winters. "We’ll now be able to just haul their asses before the Board."


MIT to Refocus its Mission

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an institution in Boston and Cambridge since the days of the Civil War, announced today that it would retool as a training school for the hotel/motel industry. "We have for far too long focused on technological innovation," said MIT President Rafael Reif. "It’s time we focused on the people. Like no other institution, we have the capacity to engineer ways to deliver comfortable accommodations to travelers around the globe." In acknowledgement of the many financial contributions toward this exciting new initiative, it was announced that Killian Court will be renamed "Marriott Plaza." Protests are already planned. In addition, the large dome at 77 Massachusetts Avenue will be substantially altered to better reflect the hospitality industry. Several designs now being considered by a faculty advisory committee are shown below.

MIT Hiway House
Sign planned for 77 Massachusetts Avenue
 
MIT El Rancho


Neon 2
Signs



Neon 1
Signage planned for the new Kendall Square Hotel Innovation Cluster

Mathematics Department officials were excited. Said an unnamed department spokesperson, "The Differential Equations course (18.03) was getting kind of tired with its inhomogeneous nth order linear differential equations and Laplace transforms. Now we can do something really transformative. Opportunities like this grow neither on trees nor along rural highways."

Harvard University to Fold

In response to the announcement that MIT had already developed extensive plans to refocus its mission on the hospitality industry, Harvard announced yesterday that it would be closing at the end of the current academic year. "We’ve had a great 377 year run," said Harvard President Drew Faust. "But discretion truly is the better part of valor. We have no need to spill our crimson blood in a battle with MIT. With the sale of our extensive real estate holdings, we’ll make out like bandits." The Harvard Board of Overseers has yet to comment on the proposed closure, but rumors suggest that they may dedicate the remaining endowment funds toward the rapidly expanding gaming industry.


Williamson to Get Job

James Williamson, long-time public commenter, announced yesterday his intention to seek employment. "I’ve had a long and storied career in the commenting industry, but the lack of a paycheck has limited my ability to do many things." While thanking City, State, and Federal authorities for housing him all these years, Williamson said, "It’s time to give back to the community."


City Council Announces Retirement Plans

In a group statement, the nine incumbents announced, "We’ve had a good run, but there’s got to be more to life than just public service."

There is no word yet from incumbent School Committee members.

9 Comments

  1. Fantastic! The Rossi article on top, the zoning to
    protect McDonald’s, and the Williamson comment had me rolling. He is always on the last 82 from Central and regales us all with his tales of corruption and AIPAC conspiracy theories.

    Comment by James Conway — April 1, 2013 @ 12:12 am

  2. Robert

    The Planning Board/Zoning Board merger only part of the story. Also included in the new mega-board will be the Harvard and Central Square Advisory committees, the N. Camb Stabilization Comm., the East Cambridge Planning Team, Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods, Area 4 Coalition, Mid Cambridge Neighborhood Association, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committees. We believe including everyone will lead to greater efficiency, if we can only find a place to meet. The first order of business will be to elect a new chairperson, which will be done by a consensus process to be developed by Iram Farooq of the CD department.

    Comment by HUGH RUSSELL — April 1, 2013 @ 8:04 am

  3. I fully endorse these articles and the journalist integrity behind them.

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — April 1, 2013 @ 8:12 am

  4. An update from the megaplan Board:
    The Affordable Housing Trust, Half-Crown NCD Commission, Avon Hill NCD, Board of Survey, Climate Protection Action Committee, Pole & Conduit commission, Traffic Board, Community Preservation Commission, Redevelopment Authority, and City Council Ordinance Committee have petitioned to join the Board.

    Steve Marsh of MIT has donated Kresge Auditorium to the City as a meeting place for the Megaplan Board. It will be renamed the Megadome. The first 12 rows of seating will be reconfigured to a regulation little league baseball diamond to be used in the city’s new dispute resolution process. Marsh also announced that the Kresge name will live on at MIT through an agreement reached with the Cambridge Historical Commission in which the MIT Press Building in Kendall Square will be become an historically accurate reconstruction of an SS Kresge store, which will anchor the new retail development planned in Kendall Square.

    In unrelated news, a late order has been submitted to the City Council banning the teaching of mathematics in the city because it is intended to develop critical thinking.

    Comment by HUGH RUSSELL — April 1, 2013 @ 9:06 am

  5. It is now fully apparent to me that the piece of debris that fell into the Fresh Pond Resevoir from the meteor last week has indeed changed more than just the flavor of the water.

    Comment by Curt Paden — April 1, 2013 @ 9:18 am

  6. Excellent work! You know, when I first read that the City wants to replace the grass on the Danehy fields with plastic grass, I thought that was a joke too. Unfortunately not.

    Comment by Keren S. — April 1, 2013 @ 9:49 am

  7. Actually, the plastic grass at Danehy Park makes a lot of sense now that the City has decided to build a dome over the park. There’s a plentiful supply of methane under the field to provide sufficient heating for year-round use.

    Comment by Robert Winters — April 1, 2013 @ 10:51 am

  8. Flash: The New York Times which has been attempting to sell its share of ownership of the Boston Globe announced that the Boston Globe has been sold to Cambridge Civic Journal and Robert Winters has been named Publisher/Editor in Chief. Winters reports that the Globe comics will be replaced by humorous vignettes of City Council, School Committee, and Board meetings. Plans had the Sports section to feature MIT and Harvard sports instead of what appears there but news that both Harvard and MIT are closing rules out that option; it will probably instead feature Bridge, Chess, and TiddlyWinks matches. The Stock Market listings will be replaced by listings of prices of milk, bread, moxie, twinkies, and other members of the basic food groups in all stores in Cambridge.

    Comment by John Gintell — April 1, 2013 @ 11:22 am

  9. The Mystic & Charles River Watershed Associations announced a collaboration with the Stone Zoo to eradicate water chestnuts in local clogged water bodies. On a recent trip to Africa, Board Member Michael Fager noticed that hippos were successfully being used to keep water chestnuts under control. He proposed a loan of several Zoo hippos to the watershed associations and the Zoo was delighted to comply. Zoo director thought it was a win win since they would avoid food costs for the summer and fall months for the hippos who eat more than a ton of vegetative matter each day. DCR personnel were delighted with the proposal because they no longer have to pay for heavy equipment to harvest the water chestnuts and dispose of the waste. The Cambridge Board of Tourism thought it was another way for Cambridge to differentiate itself. They announced today the start of canoe sightseeing tours in the Alewife Reservation and along the Charles River.

    Comment by minka vanBeuzekom — April 1, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

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