Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

June 23, 2016

Cambridge Historical Commission Announces 2016 Preservation Award Recipients

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:29 pm

Historical Commission Announces 2016 Preservation Award Recipients

Preservation AwardsThe Cambridge Historical Commission is pleased to announce the recipients of the 20th annual Cambridge Preservation Awards. Inaugurated in 1997, the program celebrates outstanding historic preservation projects and the commitment of the individuals that make Cambridge a more attractive and desirable place in which to live and work.

Charles Sullivan
Charles Sullivan, CHC Exec. Director

This year’s awards ceremony took place on May 25 at the MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Avenue. MIT is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its move to Cambridge and has also recently completed the renovation and restoration of the Simons Building, the Morris and Sophie Chang Building, 195 Albany Street, the MIT Chapel, Kresge Auditorium, and the DuPont Gymnasium.

Winning projects include residential restorations at 194 Franklin Street, 27 Grant Street, and 75 Norfolk Street. The renovation by Just-A-Start of the Bishop Allen Apartments at 70 and 77 Bishop Allen Drive, 51 and 62 Norfolk Street for affordable housing was honored, as was the restoration and renewal of Dunster House by Harvard University. Winning commercial projects are Capital One Café at 24 John F. Kennedy Street for restoration of masonry arches and storefronts; Clover Restaurant at 1326 Massachusetts Avenue, for restoration of its decorative 1913 tile interior; the adaptive re-use of the former MBTA Conductors Building at 112 Mt. Auburn Street as a restaurant space; the restoration and adaptive re-use of the former Hathaway Bakery complex at 33 Richdale Avenue for new apartments near Porter Square; and Verizon’s full restoration of its brick facility at 10 Ware Street.

The Anthony C. Platt Award, which honors a project in a neighborhood conservation district, was awarded to the exterior renovation of a Mansard house at 12-14 Trowbridge Street in the Mid Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District.

Several participants in the Cambridge Community Development Department’s Storefronts-For-All program received Certificates of Merit including retail improvements at Loyal Nine, 660 Cambridge Street; a first floor retail space conversion to dance studio at The Dance Complex, 536 Massachusetts Avenue; and a new restaurant retrofit for Shepard Restaurant at 1 Shepard Street.

Two individuals were honored for their contributions to historic preservation and the community. Jane Rabb was recognized for her commitment to the preservation of her home, a former 1872 stable remodeled in 1919 by noted local architect Lois Lilley Howe. Richard C. Rossi, soon to retire as Cambridge’s City Manager, was honored for his tireless dedication to improving the lives of all Cantabrigians.

The list of award winners, contributing design professionals, contractors, and consultants is available on the website of the Cambridge Historical Commission, www.cambridgema.gov/historic/aboutchc/preservationawards.

June 21, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 149-150: June 21, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 149 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 150 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

City of Cambridge names new Director of Libraries, Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:34 am

Library LogoMcCauley returns to Cambridge to serve as Director of Libraries after building her library career at Northeastern University, the Somerville Public Library and the Santa Monica Public Library for over 17 years.

June 21, 2016 – The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Public Library Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley to serve as Director of Libraries. She replaces Susan Flannery who retired in April. McCauley comes to Cambridge from the Santa Monica Public Library where as Director of Libraries she managed five branches and a staff of over 200 employees.

Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley“Her interests and experience are wide ranging: fostering early literacy and computer literacy; working with dual language learners, low-income populations and teens; and ensuring new immigrants receive the assistance needed for navigating the system,” said Richard C. Rossi, City Manager of the City of Cambridge. “Maria has the knowledge, abilities, and energy to continue the long tradition of excellent leadership for the Cambridge Public Library.”

McCauley began her career at Cambridge Public Library (CPL) in Circulation Services and as a Reference Librarian. She quickly rose through the ranks, showcasing her talents for leadership and innovation in libraries.

“I am thrilled to return to where I first got hooked on a career in libraries– at the Cambridge Public Library,” said McCauley. “CPL is recognized as a leader in providing outstanding library services for all. I look forward to joining an inspired team of colleagues, volunteers and a diverse city of readers and learners to build upon CPL’s important programs and services and to look toward the future.”

The Cambridge Public Library opened in 1889 to provide free access to information for its citizens and currently boasts over 82,000 library card holders and circulates over 1 million books each year at 6 locations.

McCauley will usher in a new era of libraries in Cambridge. She will start her new post on August 23, 2016. CPL will announce an open house to the community at a later date so that Cantabrigians will have a chance to meet their new Director of Libraries in person.

Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley Bio:
Maria McCauley (or Ms. McCauley) has served as Director of Libraries for the City of Santa Monica since 2014. She began her library career 17 years ago at the Cambridge Public Library in Circulation and Reference Services. Over the course of her career, she advanced through several library positions at Northeastern University. Prior to moving to Santa Monica, she served as the Director of Libraries for the City of Somerville and was active in the Minuteman Library Network.

Maria received a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University, a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and is a PhD Candidate at Simmons. She is an elected American Library Association (ALA) Councilor-At-Large. Her research has been published in College & Research Libraries, Library Management and portal.

June 20, 2016

Hot Town, Summer in the City – Coming up at the June 20, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:39 am

Hot Town, Summer in the City – Coming up at the June 20, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

City HallHere are a few of the more interesting agenda items this week:

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative the transfer of $860,000 within statutory accounts of the Public Investment Fund Extraordinary Expenditure account for the acquisition of two parcels of the Watertown Branch railroad from B&M Corporation for the purpose of creating a future multi-use path and greenway.

The communication doesn’t specify exactly which railroad parcels are being purchased, but presumably this includes at least the section adjacent to Fresh Pond. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will soon be constructing the connection to the existing multi-use path in Watertown.

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to recommendations from the Outdoor Lighting Task Force that address the potential detrimental impact of outdoor lighting and propose solutions that diminish existing problems and address problems that may be created by new development. [Report][Proposed Ordinance (HTML)]

The Task Force was appointed Dec 2, 2013 and was originally expected to complete its report and draft Ordinance by Spring 2014. It clearly took a lot longer than that with many different iterations of the proposed Ordinance. It’s worth noting that the Ordinance will apply not only to new construction but to all properties in Cambridge with several years to bring all properties into compliance with the Ordinance.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the approval and appropriation of an additional One Million, Two Hundred Thirty-Six Thousand, One Hundred Twenty-Five ($1,236,125) Dollars from Free Cash to the General Fund Law Department Travel & Training (Judgment & Damages) account, in order to settle the damages to be paid to the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (the “Chamber”) with regard to the City’s eminent domain taking of the Chamber’s property on June 13, 2016.

This will complete the transaction. No word yet on exactly what use this building will serve.

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-48, regarding a report on posting Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) information on the Election Commission website. [Election Commission page on Campaign and Political Finance][OCPF Reports]

Though this makes navigation from the Election Commission website a bit clearer, it’s unfortunately still the case that campaign finance reporting for State Representative and State Senate candidates remains very sparse. The need only file periodic reports 8 days before each primary election or general election and at the end of each calendar year. In contrast, municipal candidates in cities the size of Cambridge must maintain depository accounts with reports twice per month. One has to wonder why the reporting requirements are far less frequent for state candidates.

Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a report on the continued progress on the application for funding under the Commonwealth’s Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program (I-Cubed) for the North Point area of the City. [Report]

As the report states: "The Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program (known as “I-Cubed”) is a Commonwealth program and proven economic development tool that uses new state tax revenues to build public infrastructure in areas that will generate economic and community benefits." In addition: "The I-Cubed infrastructure improvements will reconnect North Point to East Cambridge and jump-start the development of the North Point neighborhood."

Resolution #2. Retirement of Terry Dumas from the Cambridge Housing Authority.   Mayor Simmons

Terry Dumas served as Director of the Planning and Development Department for over 25 years, and as a staff member of the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) for a total of 33 years.

Order #1. That the City of Cambridge stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando, the LGBTQ community, the LatinX community, the Muslim-American community, and all people in this country who reject the kind of violence that has visited far too many communities in recent years.   Councillor Cheung, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

This is a strong statement of solidarity from the City Council, though the last "Whereas" could perhaps have stayed more on point.

Order #3. That a joint hearing of the Public Safety and Housing Committees be formed for the purpose of gathering testimony from stakeholders in the City regarding the impact of short-term rentals on our communities with a view in mind to draft an ordinance that meets the goals outlined above, and to refer that proposed ordinance to the Ordinance Committee at the appropriate time.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Cheung

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Craig Kelley, regarding Short-Term Rentals in Cambridge: An Overview of Current Usage and Patterns as well as Policy Recommendations. [Kelley Communication]

The "sharing economy" is evolving and the question of whether to regulate or exactly how to regulate such enterprises as Uber and Airbnb is now coming into focus. Just as some taxi regulations should naturally also apply to Uber, the question of whether frequent Airbnb rentals should be treated the same way as hotels of lodging houses has to be eventually addressed. This is especially true in the case where housing originally built for regular tenancy is now being used effectively like a motel.

Order #8. That the City Council hold a joint meeting of Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration, and the Government Operations committee to discuss different models for campaign finance reform and publicly-funded municipal elections in Cambridge.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux

Hot on the heels of a recent Order calling for cash prizes for voting (based on some rather shoddy "research"), this week’s edition reintroduces an Order from a year or so ago calling for taxpayer-financed local election campaigns. There really isn’t any legal way to restrict what a candidate chooses to spend on his or her campaign, so any such program would only apply to those who agree to specified limitations/restrictions. As much as I abhor the stratospheric spending on recent City Council campaigns, my strong sense is that this proposal would open a rather large can of worms. I also don’t think it should be imposed without the prior approval of voters.

Order #10. The City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to determine the feasibility of introducing a municipal ID program in the city and respond to any and all community feedback regarding its possible implementation.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

I seriously doubt that the cost of obtaining a state ID is prohibitive, and a state ID would be applicable outside of our small city. A program providing assistance in getting a state ID would make a lot more sense.

Order #12. The City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to organize regular suppers on the second Saturday of each month, starting on the 13th of August, with free food for the Cambridge community in open public spaces throughout the various Cambridge neighborhoods.   Councillor Mazen

Who pays for all the free food?

Order #13. That the City Council go on record in support of S.2327, an act promoting housing and sustainable development.   Councillor Toomey

It will be interesting to see how much of this bill survives after all of the suburban legislators hack out all the really important provisions that might require their respective communities to share in the burden of providing affordable housing.

June 17, 2016

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! – June-July 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,recycling — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:15 pm

recycling symbolPrevent Waste, Pollution and Habitat Destruction – and More! Shop Second-Hand Instead of New
Moving Season Tips
Reduce Food Waste and Save Money
Compost That Stuff!
Bring “POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION” Items to HHW Collection: Sat June 18
Volunteer at the City Dance Party: Fri June 24
Yard Waste Season
Of Interest
Recycling Questions Answered
Opt-Out from Unwanted Mail

Prevent Waste, Pollution and Habitat Destruction – and More! Shop Second-Hand Instead of New

There are MANY environmental benefits to shopping second-hand, including reducing energy and water use, protecting animal (and human) habitats, reducing pollution, and reducing the use of chemicals and pesticides. Additionally, it’s been said that seventy times more waste is generated upstream to make a new product, so by buying used you’re preventing seventy times the waste of the item you just bought from being created as well!

Shopping second-hand is much more affordable, fun, green, supports the local economy, and you can find great stuff! Visit this site for locations of second-hand shops, and don’t forget about the biggest yard sale in Cambridge this weekend:

Harvard Habitat for Humanity’s Stuff Sale, June 18 & 19
The biggest yard sale in Cambridge occurs every summer at the Harvard Science Center Plaza at 1 Oxford Street. The Stuff Sale offers mini-fridges, rugs, lamps, futons, storage bins and hundreds of other items useful to college students and anyone setting up an apartment. All proceeds go to support Harvard Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build housing for the needy. The sale is open to all from 9AM-5PM on these dates:

  • Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19
  • Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21
  • August 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and September 3, 4, 5

Yard sales are great places to shop second-hand! Check out this site that helps you find nearby sales, as well as Craigslist’s garage sale page.


Moving Season Tips

Reduce Box Waste
Consider reusable boxes: https://www.boxsave.com. Have moving boxes? After you’re all moved in, consider posting your boxes on Freecycle or Craigslist, or a neighborhood email list, so someone else can use them. Some moving companies have box sharing programs, such as U-HAUL. There’s also this resource: http://www.usedcardboardboxes.com/about-us.

Donate Stuff
If you have items in good-condition that you no longer want, take a little time to get them to a thrift store or consignment shop. See our Donate Map and our "Get Rid of It Right" resource. Don’t forget all clean and dry textiles can be donated — learn more here.

Special Disposal Required
Many materials require special disposal, including fluorescent bulbs and non-alkaline batteries. Learn more with our "Get Rid of It Right" resource. Don’t miss our next Household Hazardous Waste Day this Saturday, June 18.

Visit the Recycling Center
Many items are accepted at the Recycling Drop-off Center, located at 147 Hampshire Street in the back of the Public Works yard, during open hours (Tu/Th 4pm-7:30pm, Sat 9am-4pm). The yard is closed to the public at all other times.

Spread the Word

  • Order or print the “Donate More Trash Less” flyer to post at your building. The flyer is the last bullet of the “Educate Residents and Troubleshoot Problems” section of this page. To order, email recycle@cambridgema.gov. They’re great for move-out season!
  • Order or print the recycling flyer for new residents. The recycling flyer can be found in the second bullet of the "Educate Residents and Troubleshoot Problems” section of this page. To order, email recycle@cambridgema.gov.
  • Landlords: Include that recycling is mandatory in Cambridge in your lease.

Reduce Food Waste and Save Money

Make It Last: Fruit and Veggie Storage Tips
Make your fruits and veggies last longer to reduce waste and save money!

Store Inside the Fridge: apples, berries, cherries, grapes, kiwi, lemons, oranges, almost all vegetables & herbs. After ripening at room temperature: apricots, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes.

Outside the Fridge: Store in a cool place: bananas, mangos, papayas and pineapples. Store in a cool, dark place: potatoes & onions. Basil & winter squashes: store at room temperature – once cut, store squashes in fridge.

  • If you like your fruit at room temperature, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the fridge in the morning.
  • Many fruits give off gases that hasten the spoilage of other produce. Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves and store fruits and vegetables in different bins. Check out storage bags and containers designed to help extend the life of your produce.
  • To prevent moldy berries, wash them just before eating.
  • For some really great resources on reducing food waste from our friends in Seattle, click here.

Freeze or Share Your Extra Food
If you’ve got extra food, consider freezing it. Learn more about freezing food here. Or, reach out to friends and neighbors to see if they are interested in your extra food.


Compost That Stuff!

Do you compost? Thank you! Ready to start? Learn more here. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Recycling Division. Composting is nature’s way of recycling and a terrific way to reduce waste and protect the climate. Learn more about the composting-climate connection here.

Curbside pilot participants, please be sure to put out your green bin every week, and call us by noon the following day if your green bin was missed: 617-349-4815. Purchase more compostable bags at Tags Hardware, Pemberton Farms, Cambridge Naturals, and Whole Foods. Email morr@cambridgema.gov if you need a coupon.


Bring “POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION” Items to HHW Collection: Sat June 18
9am-1pm, Volpe Transportation Center Lot 4 (via Munroe off 3rd St.) MAP

Click here for what’s accepted at the next Household Hazardous Waste Collection, including alternative options and what you can bring to the Recycling Center during open hours. Cambridge residents only, bring proof of residency. We accept auto fluids, non-alkaline batteries, car tires, glues, medications, fluorescent bulbs, thermometers, thermostats, paint products, solvents, and propane tanks (20 lbs or less). If the product label includes the words POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION, bring to HHW collection. Property Managers: if you’re bringing more than 25 pounds or 25 gallons from a Cambridge residential building or if you have no proof of residency, email recycle@cambridgema.gov in advance. Remaining 2016 dates: Sat, Sept 10 and Sat, Oct 29.


Volunteer at the City Dance Party: Fri June 24
Join us at the City Dance Party at City Hall next Friday evening! We are building a team of recycling volunteers to mingle in the crowd at the beginning of the event and tell people about little known recycling tips (textile recycling, furniture donation, opt out of unwanted junk mail!). No experience needed! If you are super enthusiastic, we even have costumes available. Volunteers get a free reusable bag. Contact Camilla at celvis@cambridgema.gov to sign up! We have a lot of additional outreach opportunities this summer. Let us know if you would like to get involved!


Yard Waste Season
Yard waste season is in full swing! Here’s the link to our website where you can review what is accepted and how to prepare it. Remember, if you hire a contractor, they are responsible for removing yard waste. Call DPW for “YARD WASTE ONLY” stickers (617.349.4800) or email.


Of Interest
Get It Fixed! Fixer Fair, This Sunday June 19 – Father’s Day!
The Somerville Arts Council is sponsoring another Fixer Fair on Sunday, June 19 from 2pm-5pm, Union Square Plaza, organized by the Somerville Tool Library. Fixer Fair is a free, public, outdoor event devoted to repair! Don’t throw it out, fix it!

ReuseConex is Coming to Boston – Oct 17-19, 2016
ReuseConex is a conference all about innovative reuse programs that happens every other year. Previously held in Austin, TX, Portland, OR, and Raleigh, NC, this year it will be in Boston – October 17-19, 2016. Please help spread the word to interested stakeholders.

Donate Your Laptop and Help a High School Student – Through July 10
The Laptop Project is accepting laptop donations to distribute to students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school who do have not have adequate computer access. Learn more here.

See recycled art by artist Bobby Brown at the Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second St, Cambridge, from July 5 – September 9. Opening reception July 14 from 6pm-8pm. Bobby created the trophies for this year’s Go Green Challenge in the schools.

More Recycling Stations Coming to the Red Line
MASSRECYCLE has received a grant from the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to expand the MBTA Public Space Recycling Pilot Project on the Red line. They will be placing recycling kiosks at Davis, Porter, Harvard, Central and Kendall Stations. Marketing opportunities for businesses can be found here.

Cambridge Trees Need You!
Have a City tree near your home? It would be great if you would water it periodically. Young trees need extra TLC. If you can care for a young tree(s) near you by watering it, and weeding and mulching the tree well, please contact the Parks Division at 617.349.4885. Gator bags can be provided.


Recycling Questions Answered

Why Should Shredded Paper Go in a Clear Plastic Bag?
The bag needs to be clear so staff see that it’s not trash. Shredded paper that is loose in the recycling bin likely won’t get recycled as it will fall through the cracks and end up with broken glass and other small debris. Will a stapled paper bag work for my shredded paper? It should, though it’s more likely to break open in the recycling truck. Clear plastic bags are a better bet. Another option is to bring shredded paper to the Recycling Center during open hours and put it in the paper roll-off.

Please shred sparingly. Shredding paper reduces the number of times the paper can be recycled, because it makes the fibers in the paper shorter. Longer fibers make higher quality paper. Learn more here.

Can Clear Plastic Bags Be Used for Other Recycling?
NO.

Can I Recycle Plastic Plant Pots?
YES! Just rinse off the dirt and place in your curbside recycling bin. See the full list of what to recycle.

What If My Recycling Bin Is Full?
You can place excess recycling outside the recycling toter at the curb. Flatten or nest boxes if possible. If this happens frequently, use this form to request another toter at no charge or email recycle@cambridgema.gov.


Opt-Out from Unwanted Mail and Reduce Waste

In just a few steps you can start clearing out your mailbox with these organizations. Remember, reducing is better than recycling!


recycling symbolKnow that recycling is easy and mandatory in Cambridge! Review what to recycle and help educate new residents! Encourage others to stay in the loop and sign up for the City’s monthly e-newsletter on recycling, composting and reducing waste. Just email us at recycle@cambridgema.gov.

  • Missed recycling or trash? Please use Commonwealth Connect and report it online or via mobile app (iPhone / Android) or call DPW at 617-349-4800 by 12 noon the day after collection to make a request.
  • Need toters, brochures, labels, or posters? Email recycle@cambridgema.gov.
  • Following a weekday holiday, curbside trash, recycling, compost and yard waste collection is delayed one day. Check the 2016 collection schedule.
  • Next Household Hazardous Waste Collections: Sat, June 18; Sat, Sept 10; Sat, Oct 29. Learn more here.

June 15, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 147-148: June 14, 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 1:25 am

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 147 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 148 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

June 13, 2016

Kicking Off the Post-Columbian Era – June 13, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:18 am

Kicking Off the Post-Columbian Era – June 13, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Now that Christopher Columbus is persona non grata in the City of Cambridge, the search for the New World continues…

Manager’s Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the reappointment of Larry Ward and appointment of Charles Marquardt as Election Commissioners.

Congratulations to Larry Ward on his reappointment to another term (through 2020) and to Charlie Marquardt on his appointment (through 2017) to complete the term of the late Peter Sheinfeld.

Manager’s Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation not to adopt the Rainwater Separation from Flat Roofs Zoning Petition. [Report]

Manager’s Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation not to adopt the Riverside Neighborhood Protective Zoning Petition. [Report]

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 25, 2016 to amend the Zoning Map in the Riverside neighborhood from the existing Residence C-1 to Residence C within the area bounded by Franklin and River Streets and Putnam Avenue.

That’s two negative Planning Board recommendations. In addition, the Flat Roofs Zoning Petition was Placed on File due to the Ordinance Committee hearing not being held pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 40A. The Flat Roofs Zoning Petition does have merit but needs refinement.

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a recommendation that the City Council approve an Order to take by eminent domain a parcel of land comprising approximately 5,000 square feet of land located at 859 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge which is presently owned by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and that the City Council approve an Order appropriating One Million Three Hundred Sixty-Three Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy-Five ($1,363,875) Dollars to the General Fund Law Department Travel & Training (Judgment & Damages) Account from Free Cash.

We don’t see too many eminent domain takings, though this is a "friendly taking". It hasn’t yet been determined whether this will end up as housing or for expansion of City offices. However, having watched the trend over the last 15+ years where city councillors got expanded office space, magnificent salary increases, and their own designated parking spots (previously were available to others), my guess is that unless this building is used for affordable housing somebody will get bumped up the street to provide even more full-time space in City Hall for our part-time city councillors.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager review City policies on the availability and use of City office and meeting space for non-City appointed functions by non-City officials. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Mazen on June 6, 2016] [Order #4 of June 6, 2016]

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager review and report back to the City Council on the City’s policies and best practices in the use and supervision of City Council interns. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Mazen on June 6, 2016] [Order #5 of June 6, 2016]

These two Orders were the subject of quite the kerfuffle at last week’s City Council meeting. The Orders themselves were worded so neutrally that you had to wonder what motivated Councillor Kelley to write them, but the heated exchange revealed that the attendees of one unofficial gathering somehow connected to one councillor was in conflict with an official meeting scheduled to take place in the same location. It seems pretty clear that if councillors intend to use City Hall as a staging ground for "civic engagement" only peripherally related to the business of the City Council, there will need to be some greater clarity about the rules and protocols. This isn’t Dewey Square and people can’t just Occupy wherever they please whenever they please.

Order #1. That the Mayor convene a Task Force charged with establishing recommendations for the City Council on what the ideal minimum wage in Cambridge should be, and how to best implement this increase without creating unintended consequences in Cambridge or elsewhere.   Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mazen, Councillor Toomey

I suppose one could argue that the Community Advisory Board on the Living Wage has already been working on this, but what’s wrong with a little redundancy? In any case, it has already been established that the City Council does not have the authority to impose a citywide minimum wage. That could change if the state legislature chose to grant such authority, but there are plenty of good reasons why it would be better to maintain a uniform statewide minimum wage in addition to the federal minimum wage.

Order #2. That the City Council reaffirm the month of October as Italian Heritage Month in the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Maher

Columbus $5 stampIt was interesting to read the actual language of the City Council Order of last week declaring the 2nd Monday of October to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Nowhere in that Order does it say anything about it no longer being recognized as Columbus Day, so it really now has two designations instead of one having replaced the other. This week’s Order simply reinforces the idea that Columbus Day hasn’t really been so much about Columbus but rather a commemoration of our brethren with Italian heritage.

Order #4. The City Manager is requested to coordinate with the Election Commission in order to operate at least 5 early polling locations, for the entire day, for the entirety of the 11-day early voting period, coordinate with the appropriate departments to develop and launch an awareness campaign that will educate Cambridge voters, and operate the polling locations as non-precinct based, “Vote Centers,” thereby allowing anyone desiring to vote early the ability to do so at the center most convenient location.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux

Why not also prescribe the color of the curtains on the voting booths as long as you’re micromanaging down to this level? It’s one thing for the City Council to express a policy regarding expanded early voting opportunities, but how this should be carried out is still a management issue with real cost consequences. It’s not at all clear how many early voting days, hours, or locations are realistically needed, and the cost per day quoted by Common Cause seems completely unrealistic.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate city departments to determine the feasibility of requiring gas pump labels with information about the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels at all gas stations in the City.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

Why stop there? I’m sure the authors of this Order may also wish to mandate appropriate labeling of beef products based on the same criteria. I’m just wondering what the gas pumps would say. Perhaps something like: "You are an evil bastard for using fossil fuels in your earth-killing machine. Shame on you!" I’m sure they’ll also insist on placing signs in front of homes that use natural gas for heating and cooking declaring them to be unmutual enemies of the people.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to explore voter reward options for municipal elections that are most appealing for citizens and businesses alike.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

Suffice to say that higher voter turnout is not a desirable end in itself if the only reason for the additional (likely uninformed) voters is a cash reward or other prize. Perhaps our elected officials could instead start by doing a better job of explaining why casting an informed ballot matters before doling out the cash.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public hearing held on June 2, 2016 to discuss and review a proposed list of community focus groups that the search firm will be conducting with various groups during the month of June and any other business that may properly come before the committee.

The process continues and your input is being actively sought. You can access schedules, documents, and more at www.cambridgema.gov/CityCouncil/citymanagersearch.

June 10, 2016

Opening of the First Section of the Grand Junction Path – June 9, 2016

It’s only between Main Street and Broadway so far, but it’s a start!

Cambridge City Councillor and State Representative Tim Toomey

Cambridge City Councillor and State Representative Tim Toomey

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi

Sarah Gallup, MIT Government and Community Relations

Sarah Gallup, MIT Government and Community Relations

John Sanzone, Friends of the Grand Junction Path

John Sanzone, Friends of the Grand Junction Path

City Councillors Marc McGovern, Jan Devereux, and Tim Toomey and City Manager Rich Rossi

City Councillors Marc McGovern, Jan Devereux, and Tim Toomey and City Manager Rich Rossi

Cutting the Ribbon: Margaret Drury (CRA), Conrad Crawford (CRA), Jan Devereux, Rich Rossi, Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Kathy Born (CRA), Tom Evans (CRA Exec. Dir.), Sarah Gallup, Barry Zevin (CRA), Jason Zogg (CRA Program Manager)

Cutting the Ribbon: Margaret Drury (CRA), Conrad Crawford (CRA), Jan Devereux, Rich Rossi, Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Kathy Born (CRA), Tom Evans (CRA Exec. Dir.), Sarah Gallup, Barry Zevin (CRA), Jason Zogg (CRA Program Manager)

You can't cut the ribbon without these

You can’t cut the ribbon without these

Michael Owu (MITIMCO) and Anya Bear (MIT Government and Community Relations)

Michael Owu (MITIMCO) and Anya Bear (MIT Government and Community Relations)

The Grand Junction Path after the Grand Opening

The Grand Junction Path after the Grand Opening

The Trains Keep Rollin'

The Trains Keep Rollin’

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