Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 5, 2009

Oct 5, 2009 City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: City Council — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 12:08 pm

Oct 5, 2009 City Council Agenda Highlights

Tonight’s City Manager’s Agenda is dominated by many responses (16) by the City Manager and staff to Council Orders requesting information. The City Council Orders may prove interesting. They run the gamut from violence in the Congo to tree wells, flagpoles, greyhounds, and the Police Review and Advisory Board. Some that drew my attention are:

Order #10. That the City Council hold a special meeting on the status of the Police Review and Advisory Board [PRAB] and all related topics. Councillor Kelley

Perhaps Councillor Kelley could be more nonspecific, but I doubt it. If the intention of this Order is to clean house on the Unfinished Business item that has been languishing on the agenda for half a decade, then this is good housekeeping at its best.

Unfinished Business #3. A communication was received from D. Margaret Drury, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a meeting held on Nov 18, 2004 for the purpose of considering proposed amendments to Chapter 2.74 of the Cambridge Municipal Code, the Police Review and Advisory Board Ordinance. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Feb 14, 2005. [Four sections of the proposed amendment were passed to be ordained as amended. Ordinance #1284. The remaining proposed amendments to chapter 2.74 remain on Unfinished Business.]

However, the vagueness of Kelley’s Order seems to open the door for a free-for-all during which we may be treated to speeches on a) the ongoing legal challenge to the Monteiro v. City of Cambridge verdict; b) the recent PRAB decision to take up the a case filed by a Boston-based advocacy group on the Great Gates Affair; and c) anything under the sun. I hope there’s at least one city councillor who will force a little more specificity on this.

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with an explanation of the Cambridge Police Department’s policy on making available to the public information about crimes and suspects and other information not prohibited from public release. Councillor Kelley

This brings to mind a Council meeting a while back when Councillor Kelley asked that the Police Department publish a list of all the places where they regularly look for speeding violations. I’m all for public disclosure of useful information, but is it sensible for the Cambridge Police Department to announce in advance where they will or will not be looking for speeders? Regarding Councillor Kelley’s latest foray into police work, I would like it if complete descriptions of bad guys were made available after every crime, regardless of concerns about political correctness. Public safety is more important than concern for delicate sensibilities. On the other hand, I definitely don’t need to know about details in an ongoing investigation that might possibly compromise the investigation or subsequent prosecution. In some matters, you just have to trust the cops to do their job.

Order #17. Urge members of the Cambridge Legislative Delegation to support House Bill No.3643 which would reduce the prevailing speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph in urban districts on local roads. Councillor Davis

This Order is notable only because of how many times we’ve seen it. It must be a dozen or more times that I’ve read essentially the same Order over the last decade.

Order #18. Urge members of the Cambridge Legislative Delegation to support H.853 which would prohibit new buildings that cast new shadow on parks except during the first hour of sunrise or before 7:00 a.m. or during the last hour before sunset. Councillor Davis

It’s important to note that the proposed law would apply only to specific parks. There is already a law affecting the Boston Public Garden, the Boston Common, and the Lynn Common. This would expand that list to include Magazine Beach Park, the Esplanade, Christopher Columbus Park, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, and Copley Square Park and would not apply to the long shadows of early morning or late afternoon. I suppose the devil is in the details and I would anticipate a few reasonable exceptions that may have to be made.

Order #20. That the City Manager is requested to provide a status report to the City Council on traffic safety measures in place at the intersection of Fresh Pond Parkway and Mount Auburn Street. Vice Mayor Seidel

They could start by painting some lanes to guide the traffic on Mt. Auburn as it passes through that intersection. However, all the traffic engineering in the world will likely have minimal effect on those drivers who continue to enter the intersection after the light has turned red. Red light cameras might help a lot. Let’s not forget that vote on March 23: Order #20. The City Council go on record supporting red light camera enforcement. Councillor Kelley and Councillor Toomey. Voting in favor: Davis, Kelley, Maher, Seidel, Toomey; voting against: Decker, Reeves, Simmons, Ward. — Robert Winters

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