Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

April 1, 2017

All the News That’s Printed to Fit – April 1, 2017

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 4:00 am

Roadway cross-section

Plans unveiled for segregated lanes on major Cambridge thoroughfares.
City has long-term plan to install “protected lanes” for bikes, mopeds, cars, trucks, pedestrians, seniors, and hoverboards.

After hours of research, City transportation planners and the newly appointed Vision Zero Advisory Committee released preliminary plans for fully segregated lanes on several major Cambridge thoroughfares. “We must do this for the greater good,” said City Manager Louis DePasquale. “This will unfortunately require the removal of all trees along the city’s major thoroughfares and well as land takings needed in order to create sufficient (100 ft.) road width."

Not all city councillors were on board with the plan. Councillors Devereux and Mazen argued that the trees could be preserved by simply eliminating the lanes for motor vehicles. City Arborist David Lefcourt acknowledged that most trees would have to go as they might cast unsafe shadows on the cycle track, the child track, the senior track, and the hoverboard tracks.

One member of Cambridge’s Bicycle Committee summed it up best, saying “The whole concept of ‘sharing’ is an outdated vestige of the pre-millennial age.” Traffic Director Joseph Barr explained further, saying “Separation of the various modes will be achieved by building a wall, … and the drivers are going to pay for it."

City Poised to Ordain new Inclusionary Shopping Ordinance

After nearly a year of proposals, counterproposals, and last minute amendments at the Ordinance Committee, the Cambridge City Council is expected to ordain the new Inclusionary Shopping Ordinance this Monday, April 3. All retail establishments will now be required to provide a minimum of 20% affordable goods at all retail locations in Cambridge.

A related ordinance is also on the verge of passage – the Inclusionary Drinking Ordinance. Barring any last-minute amendments or legal challenges, all bars will be required to have a mandatory minimum of 20% affordable beverages or risk losing their license. This must apply to all alcoholic beverage categories. Councillor McGovern wisely amended the original language after noticing that a drinking establishment could get away with selling nothing but cheap beer in order to meet the requirements of the ordinance. McGovern explained: "We had grave concerns that low-income drinkers would be forced to choose from a very limited menu. With the new language, they can now order any drink they like as long as they can prove income eligibility."

Additional initiatives to follow later this year include Inclusionary Driving, Inclusionary Sleeping, Inclusionary Dating, and Inclusionary Housing.

BYOTP Ordinance

Now that the Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) Ordinance has been in place for a year, progressive activists are now proposing the Bring Your Own Toilet Paper (BYOTP) Ordinance that would require residents to Bring Their Own Toilet Paper to all publicly accessible bathrooms in Cambridge (or pay a 10¢ per sheet fee). Representatives of the Sierra Club hailed the proposal as an idea whose time is now. They have also requested that the ordinance be expanded to include a ban on paper towels. “Surely it’s not so much to ask residents to bring a simple piece of cloth when travelling about the city,” said one of the Sierra Club representatives.

Privilege Checkpoints to be Established

As a convenience for guilt-ridden Cambridge residents, the City Council approved an appropriation to build and staff privilege checkpoints at various locations around the city. Volunteers from various advocacy groups will assist in taking confession, distributing sackcloth and ashes, and accepting cash donations. Turnstiles will be made available at all public rallies for those who simply want to "check their privilege" on the fly prior to repeating the chants of charismatic leaders.

Also planned are limits on critical thinking as it constitutes microaggression – which is now banned within City limits.

New SeeClickFix/Commonwealth Connects categories added to City menu

In addition to complaints about potholes, motor vehicles in bike lanes, and A-Frame sidewalk signs, City staff have agreed to add the following new categories to the popular SeeClickFix/Commonwealth Connect online tool:

  • slightly off-color sidewalk color (02138 only),
  • inability to find parking space, and
  • being stalked by obsessive-compulsive SeeClickFix reporters.

Complaints about poor snow plowing by City contractors will no longer be accepted. The Department of Public Works (DPW) is instructing any resident besieged by snow plows to wait until spring when the problem will be resolved.

Bernie Sanders to Relocate to Cambridge in Preparation for the Revolution

Current Vermont Senator and cult figure Bernie Sanders announced at a rally on Friday, March 31 that he plans to purchase a 4th home – in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sanders explained that he wanted to establish residency in the "Peoples’ Republic of Cambridge" in advance of the rumored relocation of the nation’s capitol from Washington D.C. to Cambridge after The Revolution. “I’ve always been a capitolist,” joked Sanders.

Brattle Street residents are generally supportive of Sanders’ long-term plans to establish a Venezuelan-style government here, but they do remain wary of the threat of redistribution of wealth as their estates could be nationalized to be used as affordable communes. Local Sanders acolytes are organizing a “Revolution Slate” for the municipal election that features a platform calling for the eventual transition of all rental apartments to “social ownership” and a steeply graduated City income tax.

Resistance News

Self-declared “Members of the Resistance” in Cambridge have establish an “underground railroad” for undocumented Cambridge residents who have been benefiting until now from the Sanctuary City policies adopted in Cambridge in 1985. Harboring these residents will now largely take place using the new habitable basement space made possible by the Barrett Petition that legalized accessory apartments in most parts of the city. Previously, only locations in Old Cambridge would have been available for this purpose.

Resistance fighters have been doing training exercises in local cafés. “Posting on social media is exhausting work,” said one bearded member of Our Revolution and former Occupant in Dewey Square. “The danger of tweeting in the wrong echo chamber simply cannot be overstated.”

Political Updates

Devereux SignCouncillor Jan Devereux announced that she will not be distributing bumper stickers for this year’s election “because I don’t wish to send the wrong message by affixing my name to a motor vehicle.” She will instead be promoting her campaign primarily via well-placed A-Frame signs on well-travelled city sidewalks. She has hired Jackson Place resident James Williamson to fabricate the signs, arrange for the locations, and transport and set up the signs at these locations. Said Williamson, “I’m just glad to have the work.”

New Candidates

The field of City Council candidates grew significantly larger this week when it was announced that the entire Foundations of Political Theory (Gov 10) class at Harvard University would be filing papers to seek City Council seats.

As the course description says: "Is democratic rule the uniquely just form of collective decision-making? What political institutions best express the democratic values of equality, deliberation, and participation? What are the moral responsibilities of citizens – whose representatives exercise political power in their name? Is democracy a human right?"

When informed that if elected they would have to actually take calls from constituents about mundane things like potholes, incorrectly pigmented sidewalk concrete, and crime, several of the new candidates responded by saying, "What? You’re shitting me!"

Election Commission Executive Director Tanya Ford expressed concern that with hundreds of candidates on the ballot they might have to limit the number of rankings voters can express on the PR ballot. She was even more concerned about how to fit all the names on the ballot. One option being considered was using specially cut 8½" x 90" ballots, but it’s unclear how this might work with the privacy sleeves. Ms. Ford also shuddered at the thought that a candidate might ask for a recount.

Neighborhood Associations to hold elections

Former Cambridge City Councillor and Mayor Alfred Vellucci often referred to officers and activists associated with various neighborhood associations as the "self-annointed, self-appointed.” In order to address perceptions that they are not reflective of the neighborhoods they claim to represent, several major Cambridge neighborhood associations have scheduled open elections for later this year in which any resident of the neighborhood can ask to be placed on the ballot after collecting the minimum 500 signatures. Existing board members would still retain veto power over unfavorable election outcomes.

Odd Rumblings on Dana Hill

Residents of Centre Street on Dana Hill in Mid-Cambridge have been complaining of late about mysterious rumbling sounds that occur at random times during the day and night. City geologists studying the matter have concluded that this portion of Mid-Cambridge is actually a long-dormant volcano that’s been worn down over millions of years but is still active. “It’s really only a matter of time before a significant eruption occurs,” said Chief Geologist Mike Etna. Cracks that have been developing in basement walls are apparently due to a relatively small lava dome that has been gradually building. It is expected that if ever the lava is released, hopefully not cataclysmically, it will flow gently down into the Riverside neighborhood.

Inman Square Restoration Petition

Following the lead of the recently successful Central Square Restoration Petition that could one day lead to the restoration of several floors of buildings cut down once upon a time for tax purposes, residents of Inman Square have now filed their own zoning petition designed to restore the former greatness of Inman Square. If fully implemented, the petitioners hope to bring back Rosie’s Bakery, Legal Seafood, and the Inman Square Men’s Bar. Of course the name of the bar will have to be changed to the Inman Square Men’s, Women’s, Lesbian’s, Gay’s, Bisexual’s, Transgender’s, Queer’s Plus Bar in keeping with modern standards of inclusivity.

A similar Alewife Restoration Petition seeks to bring back historic warehouses and brick and steel manufacturing to North Cambridge. Sponsors showed up wearing distinctive red hats for the filing of the petition at City Hall. Lead signer Charles Teague explained their goal in simple terms, saying "We’re going to make North Cambridge great again."

Major New Residential Developments in the Pipeline

The Mass+Main project is about to rise in Lafayette Square. What’s next in the long-term plans for this developer? Alex Twining and his partners are seeking to develop thematically in other Cambridge neighborhoods using their distinctive alliterative style. Preliminary plans have been leaked showing the following future projects – each with its own related zoning petition: Pearl+Putnam; Mass+Meacham; Rindge+Reed; and Walden+Wood

Members of A Better Cambridge (ABC) endorsed the plans based on the sheer numbers of residents they could pack into the city limits. Members of the Cambridge Residents Alliance (CResA) argued that these sites would be better suited for either farmland or public housing. Several activists have filed a petition to rename various Cambridge streets so that no two streets beginning with the same letter will intersect anywhere in Cambridge. Consultants from the MIT Mathematics Department have been hired to determine the feasibility of the petition.

In an unrelated development, the long abandoned Vail Court property at Bishop Allen Drive and Temple Street will soon become the new home of the relocated Middlesex County Courthouse. The previous site of the courthouse in East Cambridge will be turned into a community garden.

City Board weighs in on the Living Wage

The City’s Community Advisory Board on the Living Wage last week issued a report stressing the urgency of establishing a citywide minimum wage of $15 per hour. Though many Cambridge jobs have wages well in excess of this proposed minimum, some jobs such as cashiers, burger-flippers, baristas, house cleaners and child care workers currently earn considerably less than $15 per hour.

One profession often overlooked in this discussion is petty criminals and others who violate any of the Ten Commandments, a.k.a. "sinners". The report makes clear that even for this job category, the wages of sin should be $15 per hour.

1 Comment »

  1. Good one! James and I are busy assembling my A-frame campaign signs and will be heading out to put them on a narrow sidewalk near you just as soon as the sleet stops!

    Comment by Jan Devereux — April 1, 2017 @ 8:58 am

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