Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

July 1, 2013

Welcome to Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:20 am
James L. Sullivan
James L. Sullivan
Cambridge City Manager

June 28, 1968 – April 1, 1970
April 1, 1974 – July 1, 1981
Robert W. Healy
Robert W. Healy
Cambridge City Manager

July 1, 1981 – June 30, 2013
Richard C. Rossi
Richard C. Rossi
Cambridge City Manager

July 1, 2013 – present
The City Clerks and City Managers of Cambridge

June 29, 2013

NPR story on my new friend Zev Dickstein

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,School Committee — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 8:19 pm

Zev DicksteinZev is the 11-year-old campaign manager for School Committee candidate Joyce Gerber. He was the subject of a recent WGBH radio story which aired June 21 and was subsequently picked up on NPR’s Weekend Edition on June 29. [Listen to the 3-minute audio segment]
Honestly, Zev is by far the most refreshing thing so far in this municipal election season.

A few weeks ago, President Obama was in town for a political rally. Zev had a business card he wanted to give to the President, and he did. In fact, not only did he hand his business card to Mr. Obama, as the pictures below indicate, the President actually stopped to read it. Though not recorded in pictures, Mr. Obama put Zev’s business card in his pocket. You never know when he might need another campaign manager. – RW

Zev and Obama Zev and Obama

June 28, 2013

The Strange Symmetry of Cambridge History

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 4:16 pm

June 28, 2013 – A recent controversy over a proposed residential project at 93 Kirkland Street for which a curb cut was sought was recently settled via a June 17 City Council vote. This was followed by a motion to Reconsider the vote at the June 24 City Council meeting. The motion to Reconsider failed and the granting of the curb cut was made final. The proponents seeking the curb cut were Mark Boyes-Watson and Muireann Glenmullen. The primary opposition came from the Dewire Family Trust representing the wishes of James and Thomas Dewire of 2 Holden Street whose families have a very long history in the neighborhood and just across the border in Somerville. There was also a petition campaign to block the curb cut initiated by some nearby residents.

To those of us who have a passion for Cambridge history, there was a magnificent symmetry in this controversy that pitted longstanding residents against what was characterized, perhaps unfairly, as an unwelcome intrusion into this established neighborhood. Indeed, in an historically significant incident 127 years earlier, it was the arrival of a saloon across the street at the site where Savenor’s Market now stands that triggered a firestorm that would help to shape the civic battle lines in Cambridge for the next century. The proprietor of that saloon was a Mr. Dewire who had recently moved his business there from just up the street in Somerville. The story of "the Dewire incident," and much of what it inspired, is told in the book "Ten No-license Years in Cambridge: A Jubilee Volume" published in 1898 by the Citizens’ No-License Committee.

The full story of this period is fascinating, especially when understood in the context of the civic reforms that it inspired which ultimately culminated several decades later in the adoption of the Plan E Charter (1940) and the establishment of the Cambridge Civic Association (1945) that owed its existence, at least in part, to the controversy triggered in 1885-86 when the saloon arrived across the street from Harvard Professor Charles Eliot Norton. The letter from Prof. Norton that sparked the movement follows. – Robert Winters


LETTER OF PROF. CHARLES ELIOT NORTON
Cambridge, 27 April, 1886

Editor Cambridge Tribune:

I desire to call the attention of the citizens of Cambridge to a recent proceeding of the majority of the committee on licenses supported by a majority of the Board of Aldermen which seems to me to deserve the serious consideration of every one interested in the good government and the moral condition of our city and to warrant severe condemnation.

For a considerable number of years a man named Dewire has kept a grocery, and sold liquor in a shop at the corner of Washington and Beacon streets in Somerville, close to the boundary of Cambridge. Washington Street is the continuation of Kirkland Street in Cambridge. In 1884, when Somerville voted that no licenses should be granted for the sale of liquor in that city, Dewire, finding his chance of profit diminished, bought a lot over the line in Cambridge at the corner of Lynde and Kirkland streets, a few hundred feet from his original shop, and proceeded to erect upon it a double house of some pretension, fitting up the lower story in a showy and attractive manner, with large windows and other arrangements suitable for a drinking saloon. His more modest establishment in Somerville had been a nuisance to the neighborhood; his new one in Cambridge promised to be still more objectionable. He applied to the committee on licenses in 1885 for a victualler’s license, and a license to sell liquor. A protest against the granting of the license, numerously signed by residents on Kirkland and the neighboring streets, was laid before the committee; and Dewire’s petition was rejected. He, notwithstanding, proceeded to open his new establishment, and, if evidence which seems trustworthy may be relied upon, to sell liquor without a license and against the law.

Soon after the beginning of the present year, he made a fresh application for a license to the committee. A remonstrance similar to that of last year was handed in. The remonstrance was signed by such well known citizens as Professor Child, Prof. B. A. Gould, Prof. J. P. Ames, ex-Alderman C. H. Munroe, the venerable Eben Francis, Mr. L. E. Jones, three ladies, householders and residents in the immediate vicinity of Dewire’s saloon, myself, and numerous others. The remonstrants asked a hearing of the committee in case there should be any question as to the granting of the license, which they did not expect. To their surprise, they were summoned to a hearing on the 10th inst. Professor Child was prevented by illness from appearing, but ex-Alderman Munroe, the Rev. Eben Francis, Jun., Mr. F. L. Temple (the proprietor of the nursery gardens on the corner of Kirkland and Beacon streets), Professor Ames, Mr. Arthur E. Jones, and myself attended, and presented clearly the reasons against the granting of the license. The main objections we made were, – the lack of any legitimate ground for the existence of a drinking-shop in the neighborhood; the injury done and the nuisance created by it; the difficulty of keeping strict police supervision over the establishment on account of its position on the line of division between Cambridge and Somerville; the want of due regard to the express wish of the majority of voters of Somerville in case a license should be granted for the sale of liquor on its immediate boundary. We urged that the petitioner for a license ought to show cause that the granting of his petition would be for the public advantage, or, at least, would enable him to supply a legitimate public need. We pressed upon the committee the fact that the remonstrance of well-known respectable citizens of the neighborhood against a license ought to be a sufficient ground for rejection of any such application; that the committee were primarily bound to consider the moral interests of the community, and to protect it from the grave injury resulting from a practically indiscriminate granting of applications for licenses. We urged that an excessive number of licenses had been granted in previous years; that intemperance had thereby been promoted in Cambridge; that this was a case plainly of a sort in which no just ground whatever for the granting of the petition could be shown to exist.

The chairman of the committee, Mr. J. J. Kelley, avowed with a cynical frankness that did credit to his honesty, that a majority of the voters of the city of Cambridge having voted for license, and the estimates for the expenditure of the city having been made upon the basis of a receipt from licenses of at least thirty five thousand dollars, the committee proposed to grant licenses in sufficient number to secure that sum; and that they did not regard the moral interest of the community as a matter which deserved their consideration in the administration of the license system. Further, upon being questioned, he with equal frankness admitted that the number of licenses, nearly two hundred and twenty, granted last year, was in excess of any legitimate need of the inhabitants, leaving it to be inferred that, by the granting of a number so excessive, the habits of intemperance and drunkenness in the community were inevitably encouraged.

In spite of the views held by the chairman of the committee, the remonstrants against Dewire’s petition could not believe that their arguments would not, in this case at least, prevail with the committee. They could not believe that the reasonable desires of such a number of the respectable citizens of the neighborhood, most of them old residents, all of them known well as having the real interests of the city at heart, most of them payers of large taxes, would not be heeded as against the petition of a recent inhabitant, one who had taken up his residence in the city for the avowed purpose of carrying on traffic injurious to the morals of the community and condemned by every good citizen.

It was with astonishment, therefore, that they learned a few days after the hearing that the majority of the committee on licenses, consisting of Mr. Kelley and Mr. P. A. Lindsay, had, in spite of the earnest opposition of the third member, Dr. E. R. Cogswell, himself a resident on Kirkland Street, voted to recommend to the Board of Aldermen that the petition of Dewire be granted.

The remonstrants still believed that the Board of Aldermen, upon learning the facts of the case, would refuse to adopt the report of the majority of the committee.

But, on the contrary, the Board of Aldermen, at their meeting on the 21st inst., in spite of Dr. Cogswell’s presentation of the objections to the granting of the license, voted, by six to four, that the license should be granted. The names of the majority ought to be known to the citizens of Cambridge, that their course in the matter may be remembered against them. They were E. W. Hincks, G. Close, J. J. Kelley, J. Cogan, C. W. Henderson, and P. A. Lindsay.

The personal interests involved in this special case may be of small moment; it may be of little matter that the desires and arguments of a weighty body of the best citizens of Cambridge have been unceremoniously disregarded. The interests involved are not local or personal. They are those of the whole community. An outrage to the moral sense of every good citizen has been committed by those to whose guardianship not only the material but the moral interests of the city are committed. A great wrong has been done, not to the residents on Kirkland Street alone, but to every inhabitant of the city. It is a matter in which the fundamental principles of good municipal government have been brutally violated. I trust that the voice of other citizens, who have the interests of the community at heart, will be heard concerning it. I am, sir,

Your obedient servant,

Charles Eliot Norton

June 25, 2013

Janneke House to Run for City Council

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,City Council,elections — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:44 pm

Janneke HouseJanneke House is pleased to announce her candidacy for Cambridge City Council.

Janneke is the daughter of a police officer and a school teacher and said: "My parents taught me about the importance of public service and working for the common good."

"I grew up in a middle-class family that struggled at times. I know from personal experience how important it is to get a good education, have a roof over your head, and secure a job that pays a living wage. I will make sure that the City of Cambridge does everything it can to ensure the best possible opportunities for every citizen."

Ms. House graduated from the University of Utah with a Masters of Urban Planning, worked for Mayor Rocky Anderson in Salt Lake City on economic development and small business planning. She was the first Executive Director of Cambridge’s Local First and is currently Director of Member and Community Relations for the Kendall Square Association.

Janneke House is a proud Democrat who believes in the Democratic foundation of social justice, including living wages to support families, housing availability for all levels of life’s progress and a voice for everyone in their government.

She serves on the board of Emerge Massachusetts, an organization that trains and recruits women to run for office and is an active member of the Ward 8 Committee and the Cambridge Democratic City Committee.

"In my political and professional life, I support pragmatic solutions, consensus building, and good civil discourse. I recognize the strengths that make Cambridge attractive to employers, students, residents, and workers from all over the world."

"With a new city manager, a retiring councilwoman, and the continuing evolution of our neighborhoods, this election is the voters’ opportunity to elect new and collaborative voices on the Council."

"I want to put my experience in local government, business, economic development, urban planning, and community building to work as a full-time City Councillor for the residents of Cambridge."

The Janneke House for City Council kickoff will be held on Sunday July 14, 2013, 4-6pm at Tasty Burger in Harvard Square. Everyone is welcome.

For more information visit: www.votehouse.org.

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2013

2013 Campaign Event Listings and Candidate Forums     [Send event listings to election2013@cambridgecivic.com]

June 24, 2013

Happy Trails – Agenda Highlights for Monday, June 24 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:03 am

Happy Trails – Agenda Highlights for Monday, June 24 Cambridge City Council meeting

This will be the last Cambridge City Council meeting with Robert Healy as City Manager.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-63, regarding a report on the progress on the non-zoning recommendations submitted by the Central Square Advisory Committee.

There is much to be said about these generally excellent recommendations. More later. Your homework assignment is to read them. There will be a quiz.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-71, regarding a report on how the structure of boards and commissions can be adjusted.

The key statement: "I will state, as the City Council is aware, that it is my long held belief that there is significant overlap and duplication of effort and expense in the current structure." The real question is whether this group of 9 city councillors or their successors have either the vision or the capacity to correct the status quo. Now is the best opportunity to initiate some changes.

Manager’s Agenda #8. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the Foundry Building "Reuse Study" prepared by HFMH Architects.

The key recommendation: "The cost estimate of bringing this building ‘up to code,’ including an elevator for ADA accessibility, and meeting Silver LEEDS status is over $11,250,000. Funds for such a project are nowhere included in the Five Year Capital Investment Plan. It is my strong recommendation that the City Council authorize the sale of this building in accordance with all applicable laws and subject to all the existing zoning conditions. The requirement for 10,000 square feet of community use would be protected in the proposal."

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the current Awaiting Report list.

The Right Thing To Do: "I am hereby recommending that, as one means of allowing the City Manager, effective July 1, 2013, to commence his successful efforts, that all items on the current Awaiting Report list be ‘placed on file.’" A clean slate for incoming City Manager Richard Rossi is exactly the best course of action.

Applications & Petitions #5. A zoning petition has been received from Mike Connolly, et al., requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge to ensure that all new construction or changes in use requiring Project Review Special Permits are built to avoid emission of greenhouse gases in daily operation and thereby mitigate the risks of extremely dangerous climate changes. A clear and enforceable definition of "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions is proposed. [HTML version of petition]

This will be surely be controversial, and that may well be the intention of this petition timed to coincide with the calendar of the municipal election. Most will agree that "net zero" is a great goal, but I do not believe it is permissible under state law for a local zoning ordinance to prescribe what vendors a property owner, developer, or tenant must use to purchase goods or services. This includes the purchase of electricity or other forms of energy. The proposed zoning amendment includes not only provisions for extensive reporting of energy use, but also requires that the property owners and all of their tenants must purchase electricity from a restricted list of suppliers OR pay an additional fee indefinitely into the future for "energy credits". This goes well beyond what zoning is legally allowed to do. It would be like requiring that all tenants in a building must buy only environmentally friendly products. We may all wish that they do so, but we cannot use the zoning ordinance to mandate such things.

It should also be noted that this proposed zoning amendment is being filed before MIT has submitted designs for future buildings that will eventually be built under a recently passed zoning amendment relating to the Kendall Square area. An 11th hour attempt to insert a "net zero" requirement in that zoning (or perhaps in the accompanying memorandum of understanding) almost derailed the overall vote. The people who are proposing the current zoning amendment are precisely the same people who were adamantly opposed to the MIT/Kendall zoning. There is good reason to believe that the underlying motivation is to again try to derail the MIT/Kendall proposal.

Resolution #1. Congratulations to Teddy Darling on his retirement from the Middlesex Superior Court.   Councillor Toomey

Best wishes in your retirement, Teddy.

Resolution #17. Congratulations to Owen O’Riordan on being named Acting Commissioner of the Department of Public Works.   Mayor Davis

Another excellent choice of leadership in one of the City’s most essential departments.

Resolution #18. Thanks to City Manager Robert W. Healy, Jr. for over three decades of dedicated service to the City of Cambridge and best wishes on his transition to the Kennedy School of Government.   Mayor Davis

I’m happy that Bob Healy achieved many of the long-term goals he wanted to achieve, including several major replacements in our water infrastructure, the new Library, new Police Station, renovated City Hall Annex, and more. He’s also shepherded the many changes on the environmental front beginning with the establishment of the recycling program through the broad arrange of programs now in place.

I personally have tremendous respect for Bob Healy, and I like him personally even though he sometimes seems gruff and hard to approach. I don’t think there’s another person alive who has cared as much about this city. I also look forward to the next phase of history in Cambridge. With a new city manager there will likely come new initiatives. It’s the perfect time to modify the things that have not worked so well and to build on those things that have worked well, and Richard Rossi is the kind of person who likes to get things done. This bodes well for Cambridge.

Professor Healy – I’d like to make an appointment for office hours when you arrive at the Kennedy School.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to commission a portrait of Robert W. Healy, Jr. to be hung in the newly named Robert W. Healy, Jr. Executive Suite.    Councillor Cheung

That’s a great gesture and appropriate for someone who has given so much of his life to the City of Cambridge. – Robert Winters

June 23, 2013

Clean Up Central Square!!!

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 3:55 pm

Jill Brown-Rhone ParkDate: Sunday, June 23rd
Time: 9:00am until 12:00noon
Meeting Location: Toscanni’s

On June 23, 2013 Toscanini’s Ice Cream in conjunction with the Central Square Business Association will be hosting the annual Central Square Clean Up. Everyone is welcome! Gloves, garbage bags, and brooms will be available to anyone who wants to help keep the greatest place in Cambridge clean for the summer. Coffee and a free Toscanini’s one scoop cone will be offered to anyone brave enough to come down at 9:00am to help the Central Square community clean Mass Ave., Bishop Allen Dr., and Green St. until 12pm. Please contact Patrick W. Barrett III if you have any questions at jbrealtyllc@gmail.com.

Meeting time is 9:00am at Toscanini’s Ice Cream in Central Square – Sunday June 23rd, rain date June 30th.


Addendum

On Sunday morning, June 23rd, Cambridge residents came out to pitch in cleaning up its greatest Square – Central Square. Volunteers met at Toscanni’s to pick up the necessary gloves and tools before heading out to clean up sidewalks, tree wells, and all the other nooks and crannies along Mass. Ave. and side streets from Lafayette Square to Carl Barron Plaza. All this for the promise of a scoop of ice cream and a cup of coffee.

The main organizers were Patrick Barrett (who also happens to own the building in which Toscanini’s Ice Cream serves its delicious ice cream) and Dan Goldstein (formerly of the Clear Conscience Cafe). Patrick’s wife Norma Jean (9 months pregnant with their first child) also pitched in with the organization and work crews.

There was no shortage of City Council candidates at the event – some of whom actually pitched in and worked. This, by the way, is the first step in a candidate proving his or her committment to Central Square. Candidates included Minka vanBeuzekom, Sam Seidel, Luis Vasquez, Janneke House, and Nadeem Mazen. Councillor Tim Toomey and School Committeman Fred Fantini also made an appearance. Anyone who took pictures is encouraged to submit them to complete the day’s celebration.

Above all, folks, let’s continue to take care of our Central Square and to allow it to achieve its full potential.

June 20, 2013

City Employees Bid a Fond Farewell to Retiring City Manager Robert W. Healy

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 5:41 pm

City of Cambridge and Cambridge Public Schools elected officials past and present, as well as a large group of city Employees bid farewell to retiring City Manager Robert W. Healy at a special ceremony at City Hall on June 20. This was one of a number of events to honor Healy who has dedicated almost four decades to public service. He leaves behind a great legacy but told city department heads and city employees at the gathering that they were a big part of his legacy with their level of professionalism and commitment to public service. Although Healy is retiring on June 30, he won’t be away from Cambridge for very long. Healy will begin a Fellowship at Harvard in mid-July. The Fellowship will allow Healy to work with faculty, scholars and students on a range of academic and research projects and to participate in seminars, workshops and public events. Healy will also teach at the Kennedy School as an adjunct lecturer.

Robert Healy Employee Farewell

Robert Healy Employee Farewell

June 17, 2013

MLK School Groundbreaking – June 17, 2013

Filed under: Cambridge,schools — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 5:10 pm

MLK School Groundbreaking

June 17, 2013 – City and School Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School & Putnam Avenue Upper School Monday, June 17. The existing structure at 100 Putnam Ave., Cambridge will be replaced with a new energy efficient NET ZERO building design. The final construction phase shall begin following final project bids due in December 2013 and occupancy is scheduled for September 2015.

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