Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

November 18, 2019

Lame Duck Walking – November 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

Lame Duck Walking – November 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

Lame DuckIn between the inevitable hushed meetings to secure the necessary five votes to become mayor for the 2020-21 term, the lame duck session continues quacking. The agenda is quite short, but a few items worth noting are listed below. Honestly, I’ve been having more fun studying the 2019 ballot data now that the election results were finalized Friday evening [Council][School]. This includes things like the ward/precinct distribution of #1 votes [Council][School], the #2 vote distribution behind each candidate’s #1 votes [Council][School], who would replace each of the newly elected members in the event of a future vacancy, and an Instant Runoff simulation to see how the ballots would choose a mayor (which, of course, is not how it’s done!). Anyway, back to the Council agenda (with minimal comment)…..

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt with comments and suggested improvements, the CambridgeSide Galleria Associates Trust Zoning Petition.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $4,475,844.18 from Free Cash to the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund which will be used to fund specific future projects, requiring individual appropriations by the City Council at a later date.


Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the Exterior Building Insulation Zoning Petition.

Committee Report #3. A report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 12, 2019 to discuss the Insulation Zoning proposal A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Article 5.000 and Article 22.000 pertaining to setback requirements and exterior building insulation.


Manager’s Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt Article 22 Green Building Requirements Zoning Petition.

Committee Report #2. A report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 12 at 12pm to discuss Green Building requirements A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Section 22.20, which governs Green Building Requirements, and also applicable definitions contained in Article 2.000.


Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department to fully restore sharrows to Broadway, alongside the new door-zone bike lane, as a reminder to motorists that cyclists are always allowed to take the full lane.   Councillor Zondervan

I completely agree with this Order (as a person who prefers biking along with other traffic on most roads with ordinary speeds), but I continue to marvel at the trend among city councillors to assume roles which previously were the domain of the professional staff. I can’t decide if this is great wisdom or micromanagement or just a vote of "no confidence" of City staff.

Committee Report #1. A report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public meeting held on Nov 14, 2019 to discuss the Solicitor’s Response to Policy Order O-9 from the June 10, 2019 City Council Meeting.

I used to be somewhat agnostic regarding campaign donations from people with business before the City Council, but the recent municipal election campaign has pushed me into the camp of those who feel that some limitations should be the rule. I’m still not convinced that public financing of municipal election campaigns would be worth it either practically or bureaucratically. I also can’t wrap my head around the fact that some of our local elected officials (and their ardent supporters) feel outrage about the Citizens United court decision that opened the floodgates in campaign spending yet have no qualms whatsoever in doing the same thing at the local level. – Robert Winters

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