Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

January 17, 2016

A Conversation with Tip O’Neill (1992) on Cambridge Inside Out

A Conversation with Tip O’Neill

Here’s a taste of one of the best local Cambridge television programs ever produced – the original Cambridge Inside Out. This was a 1992 conversation with Cambridge’s own former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. Host Glenn Koocher, Barbara Ackermann, Tom Rafferty, Saundra Graham, and Marty Foster join in the conversation.

These videos are taken from an aged VHS extended-play recording. The video quality may not be the best, but Tip O’Neill’s humanity and political savvy come through very clearly.

Cambridge Inside Out – Talking with Tip O’Neill (Part 1) – 1992

[On YouTube]


Cambridge Inside Out – Talking with Tip O’Neill (Part 2) – 1992

[On YouTube]


Cambridge Inside Out – Talking with Tip O’Neill (Part 3) – 1992

[On YouTube]

January 15, 2016

Cambridge MLK Day of Service – Monday, January 18, 2016

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 1:12 pm

Cambridge MLK Day of Service Event
More Than 2,000 Volunteers Expected

Many Helping HandsOn Monday, January 18, 2016, Many Helping Hands 365, along with representatives from other agencies, will lead community volunteers in projects to benefit the homeless, homebound elderly, and children and families in honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy. This event is one of the largest community service events in New England.

Service projects will take place at the YWCA and Cambridge City Hall from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. There will also be a brief welcome gathering for this year’s MLK Day of Service on the steps of City Hall at 2:00pm.

Volunteers can register in advance at http://manyhelpinghands365.org/registration-mlk/.

"Cambridge is an extraordinary and generous community," said Lori Lander, the chief organizer and founder of Many Helping Hands 365 and the Cambridge MLK Day of Service. "Last year, we had over 2,500 volunteers, and we expect many more this year."

During the free community event, local volunteers of all ages stop in at one of several Central Square locations to "lend a helping hand" to neighbors in need. They make fleece blankets for children at Cambridge’s family shelters and homeless adults found sleeping outdoors; bookmarks for literacy programs; Valentine’s Day cards for elders served by Meals-on-Wheels as well as Cambridge veterans and military personnel; and activity kits for the children of families in need. Thanks to donations from generous Cambridge hotels, volunteers also assemble toiletries kits for people served by the city’s domestic violence and homeless shelters, sort food donations for food pantries and organize donations of clothing for a variety of programs.

Thousands of individuals and more than 70 different Cambridge service organizations benefit from the city-wide event.

"I was thrilled to bring my child to the inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in Cambridge and many years since," said volunteer Corinne Espinoza, a parent at the Amigos School. "What better way to teach him about our legacy of civic engagement, work towards social justice and equality, and determined service than to have a "day on" instead of a "day off."

"The needs in our community are great," said former Cambridge Mayor David Maher. "Raising the awareness of these needs takes a sustained effort, and we hope many who volunteer at the Many Helping Hands MLK Day of Service will make an ongoing commitment to serve in the Cambridge community throughout the year."

He added: "There is no better way to honor the work and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. than by serving your community. The Many Helping Hands MLK Day of Service brings together residents from all neighborhoods of our city to work together and to improve their community. It is truly inspiring to see thousands of Cambridge residents from all backgrounds join together to volunteer and to serve in honor of Dr. King’s life and teachings."

Volunteers are asked to not come empty-handed and to donate items such as winter clothing, non-perishable food, and children’s books. The event is free and all ages are welcome. Volunteers can register in advance at http://manyhelpinghands365.org/registration-mlk/.

January 12, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 105-106 with Anthony Galluccio

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:07 pm

A Conversation with Anthony Galluccio

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 105 (Part 1) Anthony Galluccio

This episode was broadcast on Jan 12, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. Topics included City updates, some political history of the 1990s, and the upcoming citywide planning process. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 106 (Part 2) with Anthony Galluccio

This episode was broadcast on Jan 12, 2016 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. Topics included the upcoming citywide planning process, where things stand with the taxicab industry and Uber, and connecting Cambridge kids to Cambridge jobs. [On YouTube]

January 10, 2016

Starting from Scratch – Agenda Items from the Jan 11, 2016 Cambridge City Council Meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:18 pm

Starting from Scratch – Agenda Items from the Jan 11, 2016 Cambridge City Council Meeting

City HallIt’s hard to characterize as "new" an elected body that’s 8/9 the same as the previous one, but it’s a clean slate nonetheless with a new Mayor. We’ll have to wait and see where this train takes us. Also, the City Clerk’s Office has changed the way they make meeting materials available starting with the new Council term. It’s good in some ways, but it’s a lot more difficult in other ways, especially in linking to specific documents without having to open up a 30MB PDF file just to find a single item buried among 300 pages. Here are a few agenda items that seem worthy of comment:

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, in response to the City Council’s request for a legal opinion on whether the City can act either through ordinance, home rule petition or additional avenues to protect tenants from dramatic rent increases or unfair evictions, and whether the City has the ability to strengthen the tenant protections provided under the state Condominium Conversion Act.

As the City Solicitor’s opinion makes clear, municipalities have very limited authority in such matters, especially in the regulation of rents, but some specific tenant protections could possibly be enacted via a successful Home Rule petition.

Manager’s Agenda #10. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Barrett, et al, Zoning Petition.

Unfinished Business #9. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 19, 2015 to discuss a petition filed by Patrick W. Barrett III, et al. to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by amending Article 2.000 ("Definitions") and Article 4.000, Section 4.22 ("Accessory Apartment"). The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 28, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held on Oct 27, 2015. Petition expires Feb 17, 2016.

Communications #1. A communication was received from Patrick W. Barrett III, Esq., regarding the Barrett Petition.

These three items refer to the Barrett Petition that would modify zoning relating to Accessory Apartments and Basement Space. With a Feb 17 expiration date, now would be a good time to get the City Council Committee assignments completed so that the Ordinance Committee could reconvene and iron out any desirable amendments to this petition.

[UPDATE: The Barrett Petition passed (as amended only to insert an effective date of May 1, 2016) by a 7-1-1 vote (Cheung, Kelley, Maher, Mazen, McGovern. Simmons, Toomey voted YES; Carlone voted NO; Devereux voted PRESENT).]

Charter Right #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item #15-32 (2015), regarding a report on the economic analysis for Central Square. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor McGovern on City Manager Agenda Number Twenty-six of Dec 21, 2015.]

The timeliness, scope, and accuracy of this report hardly makes it a good starting point to reactivate discussions on the future of Central Square, but it’s something. Even a refutation of some of its assumptions would refocus some attention back to this area.

Charter Right #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to amend article 4.000 of the Zoning Ordinance to require that a power needs assessment be a requirement for appropriate projects that undergo special permit review. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Maher on Order Number Twelve of Dec 21, 2015.]

There was a residential project proposed for 10 Essex Street that went through its required hearings and approvals two years ago and was never built. At the time, one topic discussed was the need to accommodate an electrical vault accessible from the street. This otherwise technical detail was relevant in light of the fact that the abutting new H-Mart in Central Square (which would have an entrance through this proposed building) had its opening delayed for a long time due to inadequate electrical infrastructure to service that block. Only a temporary waiver permitted the opening of this now very popular store and one might speculate that this could be related to the failure to build this welcome transit-oriented development. Either that or it’s the usual inaction of this particular property owner.

When the City’s latest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment findings were announced recently, I made the point that the adequacy of the city’s electrical infrastructure should have been given more attention in that study. Councillor Cheung’s Order of Dec 21 is relevant in that it seeks to ensure adequate electrical infrastructure for new large developments, but greater attention also needs to be paid to the entire electrical network of the city, especially in view of potential additional burdens – often on very aged and inadequate electrical lines – that may come with extended summer heat waves.

Charter Right #6. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to give recognized community groups the ability to present alongside or directly after city staff, on the record and as part of the presentation agenda during meetings of the Ordinance Committee. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Maher on Order Number Thirteen of Dec 21, 2015.]

I really hope this proposal is discarded outright or radically amended into something sensible. There simply is no standard for what constitutes a "recognized community group", and the proposal would in all likelihood simply confer a special status upon a political entity such as the "Cambridge Residents Alliance" to present their official review of all proposals to come before the Ordinance Committee. Nothing now prevents members of this or any other organization from presenting oral or written testimony just like any other citizen or interested party.

[UPDATE: After a curious discussion, this matter was referred to the Government Operations & Rules Committee (not yet appointed).]

Unfinished Business #8. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 18, 2015 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to amend Article 6.000 to create a new Section 6.24 Car-sharing Provision that will create a definition and general provisions for Car-sharing and will allow the limited use of parking spaces. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 28, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Oct 27, 2015. Amendment submitted by Councillor Cheung on Dec 21, 2015. Petition expires Feb 16, 2016.

This will likely be ordained at this meeting (or very soon) now that the public notice requirements have been met.

[UPDATE: The Car-sharing Zoning Amendment passed on a 7-2 vote with Councillors Kelley and Toomey voting NO. Councillor Toomey has since filed for Reconsideration of the vote.]

Applications & Petitions #3. A zoning petition has been received from Peter L. Cohen, with regard to a proposed amendment to the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance to restrict garage development in dimensionally non-conforming lots.

I don’t know much about this petition, but judging from the signatures on the petition it sounds like someone wants to build a garage on a dimensionally non-conforming lot on or around Donnell St. or R.C. Kelley St.

Resolution #5. Resolution on the retirement of Elaine Thorne.   Mayor Simmons

Elaine Thorne has, in addition to other duties, served as the staff person for the Central Square Advisory Committee for many years. She has been a great friend for over two decades and I wish her well in her retirement. Perhaps one day we may see her again as a citizen member of on the City’s boards & commissions. Her expertise and her perspective as a life-long Cantabrigian would be a welcome addition.

Resolution #7. Congratulations Chip Norton and Henrietta Davis.   Mayor Simmons

It is very appropriate for this year’s Fresh Pond Stewardship Award to be awarded to Chip Norton and Henrietta Davis. It was nearly two years ago that Chip Norton died unexpectedly, but he served many years working to protect the watershed areas of the Cambridge water supply. Henrietta Davis has also been an advocate for Fresh Pond and the watershed areas for many years (though I do wish she would return the MAPC Cambridge watershed study I loaned her many years ago!).

Order #3. That the City Council Ordinance Committee be and hereby is requested to review the attached proposed amendment to §12.16.030 Trees—Climbing, Signposting, Fastening horses.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Cheung, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey

You certainly have to read the text of the Order to appreciate its intent, namely to address the problem of bicycles being recklessly locked to living trees. I do enjoy occasionally looking at the sometimes obsolete language of some of Cambridge’s more dated ordinances. For example: "9.04.070 – Throwing objects in streets or on bridges. No person shall play ball or throw a stone or other missile in any street, or upon or from any bridge." You didn’t know that stickball was illegal in the streets of Cambridge, did you?

Order #4. That the matter of creating smoke free places of employment to protect all workers in unenclosed areas be referred to the Ordinance Committee for consideration.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone

A motivation for this proposed amendment seems to be to address the potential dangers of smoking at construction sites where there are flammable materials present. The fire at the new Putnam Ave. school that delayed its opening for six months seems to be the most obvious example of this hazard.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and other relevant departments to draft a zoning ordinance that would see the installation of solar panels be as of right in all zoning districts in the City.   Councillor Cheung

This is a reintroduction of an Order from Oct 19, 2015. It remains an excellent idea after any potential conflicts have been resolved.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development and report back to the City Council with language that could create a Grand Junction Overlay District that would help to create incentives and ensure the completion of the Grand Junction Multiuse Path.   Councillor Toomey

This is basically a reintroduction of an Order passed on Feb 23, 2015. The only difference now is that there is some sense that funding may be more difficult to come by in light of the scaling back or indefinite delay of other MBTA projects, e.g. the Green Line Extension. Some "Occupy" types have suggested that "Cambridge should just build it", but that’s problematic if you don’t own or control the right-of-way or, most importantly, the RR bridge over the Charles River that carries an active rail line. That said, creating an overlay district with incentives for abutting property owners to facilitate the construction is a good start.

Order #8. That the City Council go on record accepting the attached provisions of Chapter 162 of the Acts of 2015, the same being ‘AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE TAX STATUS OF CERTAIN LAND OWNED BY A HOUSING AUTHORITY WITHIN THE CITY OF CAMBRIDGE.”   Mayor Simmons

It’s hard to say whether this was done for a specific property or in connection with some of the creative financing plans the Cambridge Housing Authority has been exploring and adopting. In any case, the Act was adopted and signed by the Governor, so all that’s left is for the City Council to accept its provisions.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Transmitting An Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Kim Courtney and Xavier Dietrich, 955 Massachusetts Avenue #259, Cambridge, regarding the amended Minutes of the City Council meeting of Aug 10, 2015.

We can only hope that these two mosquitoes will soon fly away or find another host on which to feed. – Robert Winters

January 5, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 103-104 with Vice Mayor Marc McGovern

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:00 pm

A Conversation with Vice Mayor Marc McGovern

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 103 (Part 1) with Marc McGovern

This episode was broadcast on Jan 5, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 104 (Part 2) with Marc McGovern

This episode was broadcast on Jan 5, 2016 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

December 29, 2015

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 101-102: Looking Ahead to 2016-17

Filed under: Cambridge InsideOut,City Council,School Committee — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 9:18 pm

Looking Ahead to 2016-17

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 101 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 29, 2015 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 102 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 29, 2015 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

December 24, 2015

White Squirrel at the Volpe Center in Kendall Square enjoying a Spring day on Christmas Eve

Filed under: Cambridge,Kendall Square — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:28 pm

White Squirrel at Volpe Center
White Squirrel at the Volpe Center in Kendall Square enjoying a Spring day on Christmas Eve

December 23, 2015

Cambridge InsideOut – Episodes 99 and 100: Looking Back at the 2014-15 Cambridge City Council

Looking Back at the 2014-15 Cambridge City Council

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 99 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 22, 2015 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 100 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 22, 2015 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

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