Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 23, 2015

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Mar 23, 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 10:05 am

Members Sought for Cambridge Peace Commission

City SealCity Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking individuals interested in serving on the Cambridge Peace Commission. Composed of up to 20 members who serve three-year terms and represent the socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic diversity of the city, the Peace Commission meets on the third Wednesday of most months at 6:00pm, at 51 Inman St., 2nd Floor Conference Room, Cambridge. Prospective members must reside in Cambridge.

Commission members are volunteers appointed by the City Manager who work with the staff in fulfilling the mission of the Cambridge Peace Commission and in accomplishing its goals. Members are expected to attend regular meetings, participate in organizing the Commission’s events and activities, and do some work outside of Commission meetings. Members are encouraged to learn about the day-to-day work and projects of the staff, and offer advice and viewpoints that reflect the Commission’s mission and role within City government.

As a department of the City of Cambridge, the Peace Commission works with other municipal agencies, communities of faith, nonprofit organizations, and the community as a whole to build connections and strengthen relationships, and to promote positive dialogue and foster understanding. The Commission fosters a community where differences and diversity are understood and celebrated, so that all residents can contribute to making Cambridge an equitable and peaceful community. It pays special attention to traumatic events and violence affecting Cambridge and its residents, and coordinates and supports compassionate community responses to support recovery and healing.

The Commission supports Cambridge’s Sister City relationships, including those with: Les Cayes, Haiti; San José Las Flores, El Salvador; and Yerevan, Armenia. It also celebrates Cambridge residents and local efforts with recognition programs and events, and raises awareness about local and global peace and social justice issues through educational forums, discussions, and presentations. For more information about the Commission, see its web page at www.cambridgema.gov/peace.

A letter of interest with a brief résumé should be sent via e-mail, mail or fax by April 27, 2015 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Ph. 617-349-4300; Fax 617-349-4307
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

March 20, 2015

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (March 20, 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:47 am

City of Cambridge Health and Human Services Job Fair April 1

The City’s Office of Workforce Development is sponsoring a Health & Human Services Job Fair on Wednesday, April 1, from 11:00am-1:00pm at Central Square Library, 45 Pearl St., Cambridge.

This will be a great opportunity for job seekers to connect with employers such as Cambridge Health Alliance, Crittenton Women’s Union, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Perkins, Senior Whole Health, Spaulding Hospital/Cambridge, and many others.

Those who plan to attend should remember to research companies and job opportunities before the job fair and to apply for appropriate positions online. For more information, contact Josh Foley at 617-349-6259 or jfoley@cambridgema.gov.

Participating organizations include:Job Fair 2015

Cambridge Health Alliance Perkins
Spaulding Hospital / Cambridge Fenway Health
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health     Bay Cove Human Services
Arbour Counseling Services Nurtury
The Edinburg Center Senior Whole Health
Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries Crittenton Women’s Union

Tip: Take the time to apply for positions online and research companies before attending


How Would You Spend $500,000 to Improve Cambridge?
Vote on Participatory Budget Capital Project Proposals March 22-28

City HallIf you’re a Cambridge resident age 12 or older, YOU can VOTE on how to spend $500,000 in FY16 Capital Funds to improve the community! In December 2014, the City of Cambridge launched the Participatory Budgeting (PB) initiative inviting community members to share ideas on projects to improve Cambridge.

Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process through which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Cambridge’s pilot PB project will for the first time, directly involve residents in the budgeting and city-building process, foster civic engagement and community spirit, and help ensure that the city’s Capital Plan reflects the priorities of Cambridge residents.

From January-March, over 40 volunteer Budget Delegates evaluated the 380 ideas that were submitted, and developed project proposals to meet community needs. From March 22-28, 2015 Cambridge residents are invited to vote on which projects will get funded! Projects on the ballot will be for capital improvements related to:

  • Culture & Community Facilities
  • Environment, Public Health & Public Safety
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Streets & Sidewalks

Each voter can select 5 projects on the ballot, regardless of the amount they add up to. The city will allocate $500,000 for the winning projects. Vote week begins with a kickoff event Sunday, March 22, from 2-4pm, at Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. Residents will be able to talk with Budget Delegates and view project displays at two Project Expos on Tuesday, March 24, from 5:30-8:30pm, at Windsor Street Health Center, 119 Windsor St., and on Saturday, March 28, from 10am-2pm, during the Winter Farmers’ Market at Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender St. Paper ballots at voting events will be available in English, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Residents can also vote online, as long as they have a cell phone. Online voting will be text message authenticated. Voters will enter their cell phone number online and then will receive a code via text that must be entered for one-time access to the ballot. A link to the online ballot on the Participatory Budget webpage will be made available during the voting period March 22-28, 2015. The online ballot will be available in English and Spanish. For information on project proposals on the ballot and a full list of voting dates and locations, please visit www.cambridgema.gov/yourbudget.


Connect Kendall Square Competition Finalists to Present Open Space Plans

Connect KendallFour finalist teams will soon be presenting their visions for open space in Kendall Square and eastern Cambridge as part of the City’s Connect Kendall Square open space design competition.

This project presents a unique opportunity to create a framework for the entire open space network in Kendall Square and eastern Cambridge. The competition attracted a wide range of planning and design firms, which were encouraged to consider new thinking regarding not only open space design, but also connections, programming, place making, and the overall public realm.

The vision as well as the planning and design goals for the framework are the culmination of work by the Eastern Cambridge Kendall Square Open Space (ECKOS) Planning Committee, which began meeting in May 2013 and has worked closely with city staff and the community throughout the process.

The four multidisciplinary teams selected as finalists are Somerville based Richard Burck Associates, Cambridge and Brooklyn based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Seattle based Framework, and San Francisco based SITELAB. A public exhibition of the teams’ proposals is currently on display in the Google Connector lobby at 355 Main Street, Cambridge. The plans can also be viewed online at www.connectkendallsquare.com and www.cambridgema.gov/kendallopenspace.

The finalist teams will present their framework plans to the Competition Jury March 25-26 at Cambridge City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, 2nd floor meeting room. Presentations are open to the public and are scheduled as follows: Wednesday, March 25 (SITELAB Urban Studio 1:00-2:30pm; Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. 3:00-4:30pm), and on Thursday, March 26 (Richard Burck Associates 8:30-10:00am; Framework Cultural Placemaking 10:30am-12:00pm).

Over the past several decades, Kendall Square has transformed from a former industrial area into a world-renowned center of biotech, high tech research, and innovation. In the past few years, the City of Cambridge has acquired three parcels in the area, which will be part of more than 5 acres of new and redesigned public open space. The framework derived from this competition will help determine the character and role of the new public open spaces in the area (which will be designed as part of separate, subsequent processes), and guide private entities as to potential programming and design of both existing and future open space as part of private developments.

For more information, contact Taha Jennings, Assistant to the City Manager, at 617-349-4302, tjennings@cambridgema.gov.


Sidewalk Poetry is Coming to Cambridge!

Quick Chair!The City of Cambridge is pleased to announce the launch of a Sidewalk Poetry Program, designed to stamp poems written by Cambridge residents into freshly poured sidewalk locations throughout the City. A collaboration of the Department of Public Works, Cambridge Arts, and the Cambridge Public Library, the Sidewalk Poetry Program will launch with a Poetry Contest to select several poems for 2015.

The Cambridge Sidewalk Poetry Program was inspired by a similar ongoing program in St. Paul, Minnesota, begun in 2008 by artist Marcus Young as artist-in-residence in the St. Paul Department of Public Works. St. Paul has over 450 poems in St. Paul sidewalks to date. The Cambridge program will integrate poetry into its routine sidewalk repairs. The fresh concrete necessary when the City pours new sidewalk panels will provide an opportunity to stamp a poem in selected locations throughout the City.

Any Cambridge resident of any age is invited to submit up to two poems to the 2015 Sidewalk Poetry Contest. Poems will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of representatives from Cambridge Public Works, Cambridge Public Library, and Cambridge Arts, as well as a former Poet Populist and a Cambridge high school student. The deadline for submissions is 11:59pm on Sunday, April 12, 2015. Winners will be announced on Thursday, April 30, 2015. For more information on submission guidelines and how to submit poems, please visit www.cambridgema.gov/sidewalkpoetry


Cambridge Rolls Out Lovin’ Local Raffle Card to Encourage Patronage of Businesses

Lovin Local CardThis winter has been rough on both Cambridge residents and businesses. The good news is that spring is just around the corner. In an effort to encourage increased shopping at Cambridge businesses, the City of Cambridge is launching the Lovin’ Local raffle card game from March 16-April 3, 2015. Here’s how it works: download a raffle card at: http://www.cambridgema.gov/lovinlocal or pick up a game card at one of the following locations:

  • Mayor’s Office, Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave.
  • Cambridge Main Library, 449 Broadway (Q& Desk)
  • Cambridge Community Development Department, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway

Follow these rules:
Step 1: Shop at a local business.
Step 2: Have the local business sign a cell on the card
Step 3: Take a picture of yourself visiting at least 1 business and tweet, Instagram or Facebook a picture using the hashtag #LovinCambMA. Please tag the business you are visiting, too!

Raffle cards can be emailed, dropped off to the Mayor’s Office or City Hall Annex, or mailed in by Friday, April 3, 2015. More information and how to participate are available at: http://www.cambridgema.gov/lovinlocal.

"The Lovin’ Local contest is a creative way for residents and area workers to come together and support our local, small business economy," said City Manager Richard C. Rossi.

For more information on Lovin’ Local, go to www.cambridgema.gov/lovinlocal or contact Pardis Saffari at 617-349-4654 or psaffari@cambridgema.gov.


Cambridge CityRun 5-Mile Road Race and Henrietta’s 3-Mile Fun Walk
Sunday, March 29, 10:30am, Russell Youth Center, 680 Huron Avenue

Tim Toomey, Ace RunnerCambridge CityRun, a 5-Mile Road Race and Henrietta’s 3-Mile Fun Walk, is a popular rite of spring that attracts over 1,500 participants annually and was named one of the top 10 road races in New England for the 12th consecutive year by New England Runner magazine.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Friends of Cambridge Athletics and The Andrea Harvey Memorial Fund. The first 1,000 pre-entrants will receive a free T-shirt.

Registration:
Entry Fee is $30 on or before March 21, $35 after. Register online at www.cambridgecityrun.com, in-person through March 21 at Marathon Sports, 1654 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. On the day of the event, register from 8:30-10am and race begins promptly at 10:30am.

Race Route:
The scenic, flat, tree-lined course starts and finishes at the Russell Youth Center, 695 Huron Ave. From the start point, turn right on Grove St., right on Blanchard Rd., right on Concord Ave., right on Fresh Pond Parkway, right into Cambridge Water Department, then right onto Fresh Pond Reservoir Loop, right onto Fresh Pond Parkway, right onto Huron Ave.

For more information or to volunteer at event, contact Paul Ryder, 617-349- 6229 or pryder@cambridgema.gov.


Fair Housing Award Nominations Sought

April is Fair Housing Month and the Cambridge Human Rights Commission is accepting nominations for its Innovations in Fair Housing Awards. Consider nominating individuals and/or groups who are working hard to continue Cambridge’s long history of fair housing and diversity.

Individuals or groups should be Cambridge-based, involved in the promotion of fair housing, and have had a significant achievement within the last two years, with a focus on innovative work in support of fair housing.

When submitting nominations, please tell us why you think this person or group deserves this award and provide a description of the work performed in Cambridge to promote Fair Housing. Selected nominees will be honored at the Fair Housing Month Awards Ceremony Tuesday, April 14, 5-7pm, at Cambridge City Hall, Sullivan Chamber, 795 Mass. Ave.

Please send nominations via mail or email by March 30, 2015 at 8pm to: Nancy B. Schlacter, Fair Housing Project Coordinator, Cambridge Human Rights Commission, 51 Inman Street, 2nd floor, Cambridge, MA 02139; Email: nschlacter@cambridgema.gov.


Affordable Rental and Homeownership Programs Information Session March 24

The City of Cambridge will be holding a free, walk-in informational session on affordable rental and homeownership programs Tuesday, March 24, 6-8pm, at the Central Square Branch Library, 45 Pearl St. Additional information sessions will be held in different locations.

Housing personnel from the Community Development Department will be available to discuss the City’s affordable rental and homeownership programs. For more information, please contact us at 617-349-4622.

March 16, 2015

Items of Interest on the March 16, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Deaths — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 11:11 am

Items of Interest on the March 16, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Perhaps the most notable items this week are the announcement of the annual water/sewer rates, a couple of committee reports relating to the proposed Twining/Normandy petition, and a resolution on the tragic death of Marcia Diehl – a friend to thousands of Cantabrigians, including me.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $6,000,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Public Works Other Ordinary Maintenance account ($4,825,000) and to the General Fund Public Works Extraordinary Expenditures account ($175,000) and to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Extraordinary Maintenance account ($1,000,000) to cover winter 2014-2015 snowstorm expenses associated with snow plowing contracts, salt and other material, and repair costs.

Some years the "Rainy Day Fund" can be a "Snowy Winter Fund". Few should be surprised at this additional cost after a record-breaking winter. Spring (technically) arrives with the vernal equinox this Friday at 6:45pm EDT.

Manager’s Agenda #17. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-04, regarding a report on next steps to converting the Watertown Branch rail line.

We’re getting there – slowly but surely. This will one day be a nice addition to the off-road recreational facilities for the local region, and will also provide pretty handy access to the Arsenal Mall area.

Manager’s Agenda #18. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the block rates for water consumption and sewer use for the period beginning Apr 1, 2015 and ending Mar 31, 2016.

The recommendation is for a 0% increase in the water consumption block rate and a 6.8% increase in the sewer use block rate, resulting in a 4.9% increase in the combined rate for the coming year. This is the fifth consecutive year that the City has been able to produce a 0% increase in the water rate.

Average Changes in Water/Sewer Annual Bills
Residential Type FY15 Average FY16 Projected Annual Variance % Change
Single Family $730 $766 $36 4.9%
Two Family $1,020 $1,070 $50 4.9%
Three Family $1,480 $1553 $73 4.9%

Unfinished Business #12. That any committee report that has not been signed by the Chair of the committee within seven days after submission of the committee report by the City Clerk be placed on the City Council Agenda unsigned. Order Number Eight of Mar 2, 2015 Referred to Unfinished Business.

It’s interesting that at the first meeting after Councillor Toomey introduced the Order calling for this modification in the City Council Rules to hasten the delivery of committee reports, this agenda contains 5 committee reports.

Resolution #27. Condolences to the family of Marcia Deihl.   Councillor Simmons

Marcia was killed while riding her bicycle last Wednesday afternoon, March 11. Reports indicate that she was likely exiting the Whole Foods onto Putnam Ave. or riding along Putnam Ave. when she was struck and killed by a truck traveling on Putnam Ave. Many of us are eager to learn more details about this tragedy. Though I didn’t know Marcia nearly as well as some others who are now really suffering from this loss, I really loved her sense of humor and her distinctive way with words. Our shared interests included old VWs, kitsch, Zippy the Pinhead, and everything about Cambridge. [Globe story on Marcia Diehl]

Marcia Diehl (early '70s)
Marcia Diehl (early 1970s)

While looking over old email messages from Marcia, I came across this one from 2009: "We really need a Cambridge History thing, or class, or institutionalized available web site. My specialty is the 70s, and I loved working with Charlie (Sullivan) and the Historical Commission looking for old photos. I have performed a few Cambridge history in music shows, one of which ‘When Hippies Roamed the Earth’ is centered around the Inman, Harvard, and Central Square cultural and political counterculture. Another one was songs related to social justice history at Old Cambridge Baptist Church."

Two years ago (Feb 2013) Marcia wrote this in the CCJ Forum: "I remember being called a ‘barnie’ and having garbage thrown at me when a bunch of us college grad hippie pinkos lived in communes on the Broadway and Columbia corner in 1971-2. CRA paid us a thousand each to relocate and we carried our stuff across the street to a Chiccarelli building. At a rent control strike hearing, she yelled ‘THEY WANT MY BLOOD, THEY WANT MY BLOOD!’ Ah, memories. I’ve lived kitty corner to Villa Vellucci in almost-East Cambridge, attended many times, and busked in Harvard Square. Now retired and living two blocks from where I did 35 years ago in my favorite spot in the universe, Cambridgeport, I know I am not worthy to be a Cantabrigian."

You were as worthy as anyone who has ever lived here, Marcia. I hope we can name a park or a garden after you.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to review the questions raised from Kim Courtney and report back to the City Council on such matters the City Manager considers appropriate to address.   Councillor McGovern, Mayor Maher, Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen [Attachments]

I suspect there must be some connection here between the apparent licensing irregularities with Mr. Kapsalis (owner of The Cellar and a neighboring liquor store) and a petition that was submitted to the License Commission several months ago attempting to block Ms. Courtney and her partner from opening a competing establishment near to Mr. Kapsalis’ businesses. That petition was pretty much 100% fraudulent and even included fake names at my address. I was able to see the petition when an investigator from the License Commission came to my house verifying the names of those who had apparently signed the petition. It also had the name of at least one friend of mine who said he had never signed such a petition. Even a casual look at the petition showed that it was all likely written by the same person. Who does something like that? I never patronized The Cellar or his liquor store anyway, so they won’t be missing my business.

Committee Report #2. 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 Jan 22, 2015 to discuss the Normandy/Twining zoning petition to amend Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new Section 20.800 entitled Mass. and Main Residential Mixed Income Sub district within the Central Square Overlay District.

Committee Report #3. 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 Feb 26, 2015 to discuss the refiled Normandy/Twining petition to amend the Zoning Ordinances in Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and the zoning map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new section 20.800 entitled Mass and Main Residential Mixed Income Subdistrict within the Central Square Overlay District.

The next couple of months should prove interesting. The Cambridge Residents Alliance was spawned a few years back in response to proposals for new housing in and around Central Square. [In short, they don’t want it.] They’ve now spawned yet another entity specifically trying to block new housing at this Lafayette Square location. It’s anybody’s guess how this zoning proposal will fare and how the actual building will take shape should the zoning change make it possible.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Jan 13, 2015 to discuss the production of language for a city-wide affordable housing overlay district, to be considered by the City Council to identify areas in the city that would be best suited for an affordable housing overlay district.

I’m still curious to see what people have in mind with this proposed "affordable housing overlay district." So far all I’ve heard is the sentiment that only low- and moderate-income people are welcome in areas like Central Square, and that’s not a particularly sustainable (or even friendly) perspective. – Robert Winters

March 15, 2015

Cambridge School Committee 2013-2014 Campaign Finance Summaries

Cambridge School Committee 2013-2014 Campaign Finance Summaries (updated March 15, 2015)

CandidateStartReceiptsExpendituresBalanceIn-Kind#1 Votes$/voteNotes
Fran Cronin$0.00$17,004.00$15,443.97$1,560.03$1,000.001832$8.43$0 liabilities
Fred Fantini$4,501.93$5,788.00$6,503.66$3,786.27$0.002859$2.27$14,396 liab. to candidate
Joyce Gerber$105.20$6,669.94$6,775.14$0.00$450.001126$6.02Dissolution; $333.66 balance donated to RAUC
Richard Harding$8.06 $10,764.73$10,772.79$0.00$0.00 2359$4.57$6,595.54 liab. to candidate
John Holland$15.78$3,504.00$3,506.91$12.87$0.00589$5.95$0 liabilities
Elechi Kadete$0.00$870.00$870.00$0.00$0.00494$1.76$0 liabilities
Kathleen Kelly$0.00$16,830.00$15,075.15$1,754.85$100.002102$7.17$3,000 liab. to candidate
Patricia Nolan$48.44$9,370.00$8,337.04$1,081.40$0.003921$2.13$8,850 liab. to candidate
Mervan Osborne$1,025.58$18,039.34$18,529.20$535.72$325.001238$14.97$0 liabilities

School Committee Receipts 2013-2014

School Committee Expenditures 2013-2014

Number One Votes (2013 School Committee Election)

Cost per Number One Vote (2013 School Committee Election)

March 6, 2015

Nominations Sought for 2015 Outstanding City Employee Awards

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 9:48 am

Nominations Sought for 2015 Outstanding City Employee Awards

Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking nominations for the 2015 Outstanding City Employee Awards program which recognizes employees for exemplary performance and contributions that go above and beyond job requirements.

Cambridge city government is made up of dedicated employees who strive to provide a high level of quality services to all its citizens. The annual awards ceremony provides a special opportunity to give some well deserved recognition to a handful of deserving individuals. Winners will be recognized at a special awards ceremony on Friday, May 1, 2015.

Outstanding City Employee Awards are designed to recognize contributions that are above and beyond job requirements. Criteria for determining outstanding performance include:

  • City HallDemonstrated strong leadership and a high level of commitment to the City and its residents.
  • Demonstrated outstanding customer service to the public and/or fellow employees.
  • Developed an innovative or creative solution to a problem.
  • Made superior contribution to the success of a project, completing work on time and within budget.
  • Donated significant time to activities that benefit the Cambridge community.
  • Encouraged and valued community involvement.
  • Demonstrated an exceptional ability to work in a multicultural organization.
  • Consistently contributed to better City operations.

All City employees at all levels of the City workforce are eligible for nomination. Anyone who lives or works in Cambridge may nominate one or more City employees for recognition. Individuals are not limited as to how many employees s/he chooses to nominate but must submit a separate Nomination Form or letter for each employee. An employee may not nominate her or his own supervisor or department head for recognition.

Online Nomination Forms can be accessed from this news story at www.cambridgema.gov. A signed nomination letter may be submitted instead of the nomination form. Completed nominations must be submitted to the Personnel Department by Monday, April 6, 2015. In addition, you may email nominations to mcarvello@cambridgema.gov or fax to the Personnel Department at 617-349-4312. For more information, contact Maryellen Carvello at mcarvello@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4301.

March 2, 2015

In Like a Lion: Mar 2, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 5:05 pm

In Like a Lion: Mar 2, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

In Like a LionHere’s my list of interesting agenda items. Additional comments may follow after the meeting (not my usual practice), but here are a few words for now:.

Reconsideration #1. Councillor Mazen notified the City Clerk of his intention to file reconsideration of the vote taken on Feb 20, 2015 failing to adopt an order that the City Manager is requested to identify an organization or organizations to study and present options to the City Council regarding possibilities for publicly funded municipal elections that takes into account issues unique to Cambridge. Order failed of adoption 3-4-1-1 and Reconsideration was filed by Councillor Mazen on Feb 23, 2015.

My great suspicion is that this initiative is part of a greater plan for this year’s municipal election to portray any candidate who accepts money from a property owner/developer as inherently "unclean" in the "clean elections" sense of the word. Perhaps a better measure would be the percentage of a candidate’s campaign receipts that originate from outside Cambridge or from ANY identifiable "special interest group." At least commercial property owners in Cambridge have a direct interest in the future of the city.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the City of Cambridge retaining the noteworthy distinction of being one of approximately 34 municipalities in the United States with three AAA ratings from the nation’s three major credit rating agencies. [Attachment]

There is simply no way to disassociate this year’s round of great bond ratings with the tragedy of Brian Murphy’s death that occurred while City officials were in New York City meeting with the rating agencies.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to create and fund the position of ombudsman, with degrees of both organizational independence to serve as an advocate and organizational ties to be effective, to serve as a liaison with and an internal advocate for community members. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor McGovern on Order Number Ten of Feb 20, 2015.]

Just vote it down. City employees already do a fine job assisting the public, and for everything else there are nine city councillors from which to choose to represent you and any concerns that you may have.

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager is requested to contact the current owners of the Vail Court property and demand that graffiti be removed, exterminators assess the property, and any other maintenance that would improve the appearance and safety of this building be conducted immediately. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Mazen on Order Number Seven of Feb 23, 2015.]

In addition to the obvious deplorable state of this property, it should be obvious to anyone who heard the debate last week on this matter that this is as much about Councillor Mazen’s "special relationship" with this property owner as anything else. If he can resolve it, he’ll be able to claim some credit. Otherwise, enjoy that albatross, councillor.

On the Table #12. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the Community Development Department to abandon the "Complete Street" plan for Pearl Street. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Order Number Seven of Jan 5, 2015. Placed on the Table on the motion of Councillor Cheung on Jan 29, 2015.]

I expect the Council will just leave this permanently On the Table rather than seize the opportunity to define limits on how much residents can be abused in the name of a proposal that never achieved anything close to consensus in that neighborhood.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with local business associations, the Arts Council, and other appropriate city departments to determine the feasibility of hosting a series of "End of Winter" Festivals in our City Squares (Harvard, Central, Inman, Porter, Huron Village, and Kendall) to celebrate our city’s resilience and strength.   Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor McGovern, Councillor Cheung and Councillor Toomey

Having proposed exactly this sort of thing a week or so ago, I do hereby declare this to be the best damn proposal on this entire agenda. Bring on Martha and the Vandellas.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Information Technology Department to create a space on the city website, where agendas can be made available prior to committee meetings.   Councillor Mazen

This is a good start, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Every City Council committee should have (and maintain) its own web page that indicates all the business that has been addressed by that committee, what matters are currently under consideration (along with all relevant documents), and any future plans under consideration by the committee. – Robert Winters

February 27, 2015

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Feb 27, 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 1:28 pm

Parking Space Saver Removal Operations Begin on March 2
Efforts to Occur on Regularly Scheduled Trash Collection Days

The WorksOn March 2, 2015, the Department of Public Works (DPW) will begin to remove parking “space savers”. This includes any items placed in the roadway to hold an on-street parking spot (ie chairs, toters, barrels, crates). Items will be removed from each neighborhood on its regularly scheduled trash collection day.

“We understand the challenges that residents and businesses have experienced due to the near back-to-back snow storms that have impacted the region, Your patience and cooperation has helped us significantly with our snow removal operations,” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi. “Any major snow storm in an urban setting will cause on-street parking challenges. While we are sensitive to and acknowledge the effort that goes into shoveling out a vehicle that is parked on a public street, City regulations do not allow for space savers.”

Article 18 section 8 of the City of Cambridge Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Regulations states that “No person shall place, erect or cause to be placed or erected within any roadway, any fixture or structure unless or until a permit has been issued by the Traffic Director.” Public Works has not removed space savers during past month because of the demand that record snow clearing operations have placed on personnel and equipment. While snow clearing continues, the current status of operations is such that trash collection trucks are now able to incorporate the removal of space savers in their weekly collection efforts.

For current information on snow operations visit Cambridgema.gov. Updates are also available on Twitter at @CambMA and Facebook at CambridgeMA.Gov. The City is utilizing the hash tag #CambMASnow on Twitter to help the public follow the conversation.


Do You Have What it Takes to be a Cambridge Police Officer?
Register for the 2015 Police Officer Written Exam

Cambridge PoliceDo you or someone you know possess integrity, courage, and a willingness to help those in need? Perhaps you are ready to pursue a career as a police officer!

The City of Cambridge is currently recruiting applicants to take the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Open Competitive Examination for Police Officers scheduled for Saturday, Apr. 25, 2015. An Informational Open House for Cambridge residents will be held Monday, Mar. 9, from 6-7:30 p.m., at the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Building, 125 Sixth St., Cambridge. Check out this informative new video from Cambridge Police Department. For more information, call 617-349-4332, 617-349-3374 or 617-349-4331.

The Open Competitive Examination for Police Officers is held to establish an eligible list from which to fill Police Officer vacancies in civil service cities and towns, and MBTA Transit Police. This eligible list may also be used to fill Police Officer vacancies in non-civil service jurisdictions. The early application deadline for the next Open Competitive Examination for Police Officers is March 13, for a $100 fee and the final deadline is March 26, for a $150 fee. To apply, visit www.mass.gov/civilservice or call 617-878-9895.

More job information is available online at www.CambridgeMA.gov/Jobs or by contacting Personnel@cambridgepolice.org.


Cambridge Works Transitional Jobs Program Graduates 14th Class

Feb 20, 2015 – Cambridge Works, the City’s transitional jobs program for younger residents (age 18-35) who haven’t been able to get or keep jobs, celebrated its 14th graduating class during a special ceremony Feb. 19, at Cambridge City Hall. The program provides a temporary job with the City of Cambridge, and/or other partner employers, while also offering intensive case management, soft skills development and job search assistance to help participants secure an unsubsidized job upon program completion.

Cambridge Works is coordinated through the Office of Workforce Development for the Department of Human Services Program (DHSP).

Mayor David P. Maher congratulated the graduates from the latest class. “We are so proud of you,” Maher said. “We are all so lucky to live in a community that cares deeply about its residents and works hard to get it right. This is a community that is built on neighborhoods and the people that live here. And this program is about government and businesses coming together to effect positive change.”

A former Cambridge Works graduate, Chris Rodriguez, returned to give the recent class some words of advice, encouraging them to never give up and reminding them of the dedicate staff team that will be there for them even after the program has ended, to help them secure employment utilizing the skills they learned.

Comments from the Cambridge Works Class of 2015:
“I’m grateful to them (referring to staff at Cambridge Works) for believing in me and coaching me through tough times.” – Christine Boireau

“The support of the staff and my fellow participants helped me become an enhanced version of myself. The reflection I see in the mirror is of someone who is equipped with the tools needed for success. Thank you.” – Isaiah Jackson

Cambridge Works graduates - Feb 2015
Cambridge Works participants and program staff


Forward FundHOW WILL YOU MOVE CAMBRIDGE FORWARD?

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) announced on Feb 18, 2015 the establishment of the Forward Fund, a new microgrant program intended to support innovative pilot projects by non-profit organizations, community groups, and small businesses throughout Cambridge. They will be awarding Planning & Design grants up to $2,500 and Capital grants up to $10,000 for a wide variety of projects that contribute to the civic and social capital of Cambridge.


Select Stories from the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):

Cambridge Planning Board wants more info on Central Square zoning petition (Sara Feijo, Feb 25, 2015)

First step toward redeveloping Volpe Center (Erin Baldassari, Feb 25, 2015)

Cambridge City Council rejects study of public campaign funding (Monica Jimenez, Feb 25, 2015)
[Note: the actual vote was 3-4-1-1 and one councillor has filed for Reconsideration]

A ‘visionary’ leader: Friends, colleagues pay tribute to Cambridge’s Brian Murphy (Erin Baldassari, Feb 11, 2015)

February 22, 2015

Flotsam and Jetsam – Coming up at the Feb 23, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:47 pm

Flotsam and Jetsam – Coming up at the Feb 23, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

“Flotsam and jetsam are terms that describe two types of marine debris associated with vessels. Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship’s load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison.”

Most of the business from the three delayed or cancelled City Council meetings was taken up on Friday, Feb 20 at the first of these twin meetings, but there are a few items left, including all of the Calendar. Before getting to the flotsam and jetsam on Monday’s agenda, I would like to say a few words about something extraordinary that took place at the Friday meeting. Specifically, the City Council showed some resolve, and I hope this continues – especially if and when more serious matters are before the Council later this year. We sure could have used this last year when the misguided Carlone Petition was dragged out for months even though only fools believed it ever had the votes of more than 2 or 3 councillors (and it needed as least 6 to be ordained). Of course the Carlone Petition was really all about political organizing and not especially about governance.

Specifically, there was an Order on the Friday agenda contained in a report from a Government Operations Committee meeting that called for developing one or more approaches to publicly financed municipal elections in Cambridge. There are many reasonable people who can make a good case for doing this at the state and/or federal level, but I have not yet heard any convincing rationale for doing this for our municipal PR elections. There has also been more than a passive suggestion that such "clean elections" would be a response to implied corruption among elected city councillors who have accepted donations from major property owners/developers. I have never personally seen any evidence of this. There is also a very low threshold for candidacy in the municipal elections – just 50 valid signatures – and Councillor Kelley has convincingly proven that you don’t need a big bankroll to be reelected as long as you can maintain the respect of the people who have voted for you in the past. New candidates often face a challenge in wrestling away #1 votes from incumbents or corralling their own quota of ballots from uncommitted voters to gain election, but the most recent election showed that it’s not impossible and it may even be getting easier in this day of social media.

Councillor Kelley asked simply: "What’s the problem that this proposal is trying to fix?" That’s exactly the point. Normally I would have expected the City Council, out of some misguided notion of courtesy, to kick this can down the road, generate a shelf full of studies, waste lots of staff time and ultimately say, "Never mind." This time, they voted and defeated this pointless initiative on a 2-4-1-2 vote (2 Yes, 4 No, 1 Abstain, 2 Absent). Had there not been two councillors absent, I suspect it would have been a 3-5-1 or a 3-6 vote. [Note: Mazen arrived late and added his YES vote to make this 3-4-1-1.] In any case, I would like to commend Councillors Cheung, Kelley, Toomey and Mayor Maher for their resolve in throwing this overboard. There may yet be discussion about this in Government Operations, but at least the Council will then be deciding whether or not to do something prior to drafting plans for how it is to be done.

Another Order that called for the creation of an "ombudsman" position came close to a similar fate, though ultimately it was made subject to the Charter Right by Councillor McGovern. Anyone who has ever dealt with the Community Development Department or just about any other City Department knows just how helpful and cooperative (to a fault) most City staff are. Councillor Toomey and Vice Mayor Benzan also correctly pointed out that one of the most fundamental roles a city councillor plays is as a go-between when residents feel they need an advocate. I really had hoped the City Council would have just voted this Order down, but the Charter Right is nondebatable and we’ll just have to wait until another day (maybe Monday) to see what happens.

Oh, yeah, and on Friday they also talked a lot about snow. That’s why they’re our representatives. We’ve all been talking a lot about snow.

As for this Monday’s agenda, there are only the 12 Orders pulled (most as a courtesy to Councillor Mazen who did eventually show up over 2 hours late to the meeting) plus the items on the Calendar. The only remaining items of some interest to me are these (and there may be some misnumbering caused by the unusual nature of this double-meeting):

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager is requested to create and fund the position of ombudsman, with degrees of both organizational independence to serve as an advocate and organizational ties to be effective, to serve as a liaison with and an internal advocate for community members.   Councillor Cheung, Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen [Charter Right exercised by Councillor McGovern on Order Number Ten of Feb 20, 2015.]

See my comments above or in my notes for the Fri, Feb 20 meeting. I’m not sure if this item can be properly acted upon yet. If the interpretation is that these twin meetings are really formally the same meeting, then we’ll have to wait until the March 2 meeting before the City Council can take up the question.

On the Table #11. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the Community Development Department to abandon the "Complete Street" plan for Pearl Street. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Order Number Seven of Jan 5, 2015. Placed on the Table on the motion of Councillor Cheung on Jan 29, 2015.]

Again, see my comments in my notes for the Fri, Feb 20 meeting or in my notes for the Jan 29 meeting. There are much better ways to make Pearl Street better for all users, and the City Council really should send a message that it’s not OK to railroad residents based on a biased and nondemocratic process to force an outcome based on the agenda of a select group of individuals, especially when that agenda will compromise resident parking needs and other curbside activities and yield no net safety or environmental benefits. – Robert Winters

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