Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

May 3, 2010

May 3, 2010 City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:40 am

May 3, 2010 City Council Agenda Highlights

The City Manager will give an overview of the FY2011 City Budget early in tonight’s meeting followed by the usual platitudes from councillors. The Budget Hearings start this Wednesday (see schedule below). Word is going around that hordes of townies will be at tonight’s meeting for Councillor Toomey’s tabled Order from the previous meeting. [That the City Manager is requested to restore funding for School Department clerical positions until a proper and negotiated process can be achieved with the Cambridge School Department and Unions representing the employees, and to report back to the City Council on the progress.] School Committee members have commented that these changes occurred only after appropriate process and that these staff reductions are consistent with a long-held commitment to cut back on excesses in central administration within the School Department. It would seem that some of these jobs may have their roots in political friendship. More significant is the question of whether it is appropriate for the Cambridge City Council to intervene in personnel issues within the School Department and under the supervision of that other elected body – the Cambridge School Committee.

There are also these other items of minor interest:

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate department heads on the feasibility of offering closed captioning for streaming video on the City’s website.   Councillor Cheung and Councillor Decker

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate department heads on the feasibility of updating the City of Cambridge’s website with automatic translation software.   Councillor Cheung

Very well to make this information accessible to all, but it does raise the issue of diminishing returns. How much additional investment and staff support will it take to provide these marginal benefits?

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to investigate the possibility of making the property at 93 Kirkland Street part of Cambridge’s affordable housing stock through purchase and renovation by the City or by a qualified non-profit.   Councillor Seidel

Once again, the knee-jerk response is that taxpayer money should be spent without question on “affordable housing” projects. Maybe it’s a good idea, but taxpayers should really question where their money is going.

Communications and Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Mayor David P. Maher, transmitting changes in the membership of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Committee. [Councillor Decker has been removed from this committee, per her request. Councillor Simmons has been appointed to this committee. The committee now consists of Councillors Seidel (Chair), Cheung, and Simmons.]

The entertaining thing about this communication is that Councillor Decker wishes to cut down on her committees because of “the breadth of work I expect to be engaged in as Chair of the Housing, Health, and Finance Committee.” Suffice to say that Councillor Decker’s record of attendance at Council committees has been at or near the bottom for as long as she’s been on the City Council. It will be interesting to see the “breadth of work” of which she speaks. She will now serve on just 6 committees while all of her Council colleagues will serve on 8, 9 or 10 committees. — Robert Winters


Wed, May 5

9:30am The City Council’s Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the FY10 City Budget. This hearing to be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)

Police Department
License Commission
Mayor’s Office
Executive
City Council
City Clerk
Law
Finance Admin.
Budget
Personnel
Assessing
Purchasing
Auditing
Treasury/Revenue
Information Technology
Employee Benefits
General Services
Election Commission
Public Celebrations
Reserve
Animal Commission
Fire Department
Traffic, Parking & Transportation
Police Review & Advisory Board
Inspectional Services
Weights & Measures
Electrical
Emergency Communications

Date changes for individual departments may occur.

Wed, May 12
6:00pm The City Council’s Finance Committee will conduct a public meeting for the purposes of providing a summary to community leaders of the city’s current and proposed budget and an explanation of how state and federal budget cuts have impacted the city’s budget. This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Thurs, May 13
9:30am The City Council’s Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the FY10 City Budget. This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Cambridge Health Alliance
Public Works
Water
Community Development
Historical Commission
Conservation Commission
Peace Commission
Cable TV
Debt Service
Library
Human Services
Women’s Commission
Human Rights Commission
Veterans
MWRA
Cherry Sheet
Summaries Section
Revenue Section
Public Investment

Date changes for individual departments may occur.

Wed, May 19
6:00pm The City Council’s Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the FY10 School Department Budget. This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Thurs, May 20
9:30am The City Council’s Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the FY10 City Budget (if necessary). This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Mon, May 24
5:30pm City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber) – Expected date of Budget Adoption.

1 Comment

  1. “Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate department heads on the feasibility of offering closed captioning for streaming video on the City’s website. Councillor Cheung and Councillor Decker

    “Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate department heads on the feasibility of updating the City of Cambridge’s website with automatic translation software. Councillor Cheung

    “Very well to make this information accessible to all, but it does raise the issue of diminishing returns. How much additional investment and staff support will it take to provide these marginal benefits?”

    Isn’t that what a feasibility study will demonstrate — how much additional investment and staff support it will take to provide these marginal benefits? If it’s a de minimis investment, what’s wrong with that? If the order were to require the City Manager to make these changes, I’d join you in objecting. But trying to figure out the cost-benefit implications? Isn’t that what we want our city government to do?

    Comment by Gerry McDonough — May 4, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

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