Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 15, 2017

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (October 15, 2017)

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 9:42 am

Member Sought for Cambridge Planning Board Vacancy

City SealOct 4, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Planning Board. Planning Board members must be residents of the city; and women, minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

The Cambridge Planning Board plays a significant role in planning for the future of the city and oversees its development and growth as prescribed by zoning. The Planning Board serves a quasi-judicial role as the special permit granting authority for certain types of development proposals, especially large projects. In evaluating special permits on behalf of the city, the board conducts public hearings and votes on the project based on the proposal’s conformance with the provisions of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance. The board also makes policy recommendations to the City Council about proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance, and engages in general planning efforts related to land use and development within the city. The work involves reviewing and commenting on building and site plans, planning and engineering studies, and zoning documents.

The Planning Board meets approximately three times each month. Meetings take place on Tuesday evenings, each lasting approximately 3-4 hours. Meetings are open to the public and are video and audio recorded. As part of their time commitment, board members are expected to review application and petition materials prior to each meeting. Materials typically include development plans, impact studies, narrative descriptions, provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, information from city departments, written comments from the public, and other documents. The board typically reviews 1-3 major cases at each meeting. Occasionally, representatives of the Planning Board may be appointed to other city committees and working groups.

Ideal candidates would possess the ability to participate in a collaborative process, work with other Board members to consider diverse ideas, and reach a decision. Members should also have strong attentiveness and listening skills. While there is no requirement for a technical background, interest and understanding of development, architecture, urban design, and zoning is desirable.

Interested persons should submit a resume and a brief letter to City Manager DePasquale describing their interest. Individuals interested in being considered should apply by using the city’s online application system at cambridgema.gov/apply and finding “Planning Board” in the list of Current Vacancies. A cover letter and résumé or summary of applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, November 13, 2017.


Members Sought for Cambridge Peace Commission

City SealSept 22, 2017 – City Manager Louis DePasquale 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 p.m., at 51 Inman St., 2nd Floor Conference Room, Cambridge. Prospective members must reside in Cambridge.

Commission members are volunteers appointed by the City Manager and work with the staff in fulfilling the mission of the 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 wider community 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 Peace Commission, visit: www.cambridgema.gov/peace.

Individuals interested in being considered can submit a cover letter, résumé or summary of applicable experience using the city’s online application system at www.cambridgema.gov/apply. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, Oct. 23, 2017.


Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities Vacancies

City SealSept 8, 2017 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) advisory board.

Made up of 11 members who serve three-year terms in a volunteer capacity, the CCPD board meets on the second Thursday of every month at 5:30 p.m. CCPD seeks to build a membership that reflects the cultural and racial diversity of the city, is cross-disability in nature and representative of the different geographical areas of the community. Members must be current residents of Cambridge.

CCPD works dynamically to maximize access to all aspects of Cambridge community life for individuals with disabilities, and strives to raise awareness of disability matters, to eliminate discrimination, and to promote equal opportunity for people with all types of disabilities – physical, mental and sensory. CCPD members are expected to work with other members and CCPD staff to fulfill the goals and objectives of the CCPD Ordinance (CMC Chapter 2.96). CCPD members are expected to attend monthly meetings, participate in subcommittees, and work on various short and/or long-term projects, as needed.

For more information, contact Kate Thurman, Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities at ccpd@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4692 (voice) or 617-492-0235 (TTY).

Individuals interested in being considered should apply by using the City’s online application system at www.cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter and resumé or summary of relevant experience and the kinds of disability-related issues or projects that interest them can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, Oct 23, 2017.

September 25, 2017

Preview of Sept 25, 2017 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council,cycling — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:28 am

Preview of Sept 25, 2017 Cambridge City Council meeting

City HallHere are the items that drew my attention this week:

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Numbers 17-55 and 17-64, regarding an update on Bicycle Lane Implementation and Outreach.

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of 17 persons as a members of the Pedestrian Committee for a term of two years.

Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of 18 persons as a members of the Bicycle Committee for a term of two years.

Manager’s Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of 20 persons as a members of the Transit Committee.

While I’m glad to see all of these appointments and reappointments to these volunteer committees, there is an important point that needs to be stated. These are ADVISORY committees. They consist of a lot of really dedicated people who put a lot of time and thought into their committee work, and we are grateful for their service. However, recommendations from these or any other advisory committees should never be the final word. City staff and ultimately the elected officials bear that responsibility, especially when a committee consists primarily, if not exclusively, of advocates for a single point of view. Do members of the Bicycle Committee take into account the needs of all residents and others who need to travel through the city? Do they factor in all four seasons? Are the needs of delivery vehicles taken into account? What happens when what is ideal for transit users is in conflict with a proposal from the Bicycle Committee? What happens when the needs of residents and local businesses conflict with the demands of a subset of cycling advocates?

I served on the Recycling Advisory Committee for two decades. During that time I always tried to evaluate any proposals from the point of view of all residents – and not just the most zealous recycling advocates. I’m not at all convinced that this is done in some of these other advisory committees. In fact, I honestly believe that anyone with a contrary view would never even be appointed to the Bicycle Committee.

One day the Envision Cambridge consultants, its associated Advisory Committee (of which I am a member), and City staff will issue its recommendations and hopefully lay out a workable vision for city planning for the near future and the long term. Should the City Council adopt those recommendations without debate? Will modifications to the plan be forbidden? Of course not. When the Recycling Advisory Committee offered recommendations they were rarely accepted without question.

Nonetheless, as Mr. Barr’s report spells out, the Cambridge Bicycle Plan "lays out a vision for where the City intends to implement bicycle facilities in the future". Did the Cambridge City Council ever really analyze that plan? Was any of it open to revision or negotiation? Or was it just accepted as a non-negotiable plan for the sake of political expedience? Does it address actual safety or is it primarily about "comfort", convenience, and "turf"? Most importantly, was any effort ever expended to balance the needs of all road users?

Manager’s Agenda #13. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 17-30, regarding a report on partnering with DCR and the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association to revitalize Magazine Beach.

I’m grateful to all of the people who are helping to transform this space into something great.

Manager’s Agenda #14. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to an amendment to the Foundry Demonstration Project Plan.

How many years has it been now?

Manager’s Agenda #15. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Community Preservation Act (CPA) recommendations for FY2018. [Attachments]

No surprises here – the legal maximum of 80% for subsidized/regulated housing, and the legal minimum of 10% each for open space acquisition and historic preservation.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Law Department, the Community Development Department, and any other appropriate City departments to update the City Council on what is being done to address the Council’s request for actions on vacant and abandoned buildings.   Councillor Devereux

There are plenty of good steps that can be taken, but the City Council needs to start by rethinking their earlier non-starter proposal that would have levied fines so steep that any court on the planet would recognize it as a regulatory taking. They can also try working with these property ownerts to bring about best outcomes.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Information Technology Department and other appropriate City personnel and report back to the City Council on the effectiveness of the SeeClickFix system.   Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern

The system works well in some ways, but it really depends a lot on which department is responding. It has also degenerated in some ways into a vehicle for advocacy where some users flood the system just to push their point of view. – Robert Winters

July 13, 2017

Cambridge City Manager Announces New Police Commissioner

Branville G. Bard Jr. of Philadelphia, PA Selected

Branville G. BardJuly 13, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale today announced that Branville G. Bard, Jr. has been selected as Cambridge’s Police Commissioner.

"I am pleased to appoint Mr. Bard as our next Police Commissioner. He has a proven track record and will be a strong leader for our 21st-century Police Department," City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said. "I am confident that under Mr. Bard’s leadership, the Cambridge Police Department (CPD) will continue growing its commitment to community policing, crime prevention, cultural awareness and sensitivity, department-wide equity and inclusiveness, procedural justice, and visionary, effective, and strong police leadership."

Bard currently serves as the Chief of Police and the Director of Public Safety for the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Police Department. Prior to this, he served in numerous positions for the Philadelphia Police Department, including Police Inspector, and Police Captain for the 22nd District. Bard holds a Doctorate in Public Administration from Valdosta State University. Bard’s contract is for 3 years with a starting salary of $210,125 ($205,000 base salary with a 2.5% cost of living increase that went into effect July 1). His first official day as Commissioner is August 21.

"It is a tremendous honor to be appointed as the next Commissioner of the Cambridge Police Department," Bard said. "This is a nationally regarded and accomplished department and I am committed to building on the success of CPD’s talented and established personnel, programs and collaborations."

"I am pleased that we were able to involve so many people in the Commissioner search process and that the public was able to hear directly from Mr. Bard during the process," City Manager DePasquale said "I hope the entire community will join me in welcoming incoming Commissioner Bard and I look forward to introducing him to the community in the coming months."

A full timeline of the process is available at http://camb.ma/BardTimeline. [Branville Bard’s resume]

February 21, 2017

Black ice blindness

Snowmelt drains across "protected" bikeway on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge

Snowmelt drains across “protected” bikeway on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge

The photo is of a stretch of barrier-separated bikeway recently installed on the north side of Massachusetts Avenue between Sidney Street and Douglass Street in Cambridge. The headline of the February 17, 2017 Boston Globe article with this picture is “Snowbank becomes accidental hero for area cyclists”.

But — the shiny area in the bikeway is meltwater from said snowbank. When the temperature drops, the water freezes into a sheet of black ice. The usual drainage techniques don’t work here because, if you will excuse me for belaboring the obvious, the “hero barrier’ is uphill and water runs downhill. I discussed bikeway drainage issues in more detail recently in a post on another blog and years ago in connection with the 9th Avenue bikeway in Manhattan. Just to make it clear, I do have  nice things to say about other features of the 9th Avenue bikeway.

Neither Steve Annear, author of the Globe article, nor anyone quoted in it, makes any mention of the black-ice problem. They are all enthusiastic about the snow-barrier.

From the article: “I like this snowbank-protected cycle track,” Ari Ofsevit, a local cyclist, said on Twitter.

Ari is more than just a “local cyclist”. He widely, imaginatively and thoughtfully discusses transportation improvements his blog. I usually agree with him, except when he turns a blind eye to problems with barrier-separated on-street bikeways.

The article cites Joe Barr. Director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation for the City of Cambridge:

Barr acknowledged that the snow mound separating the bike lane and the road has offered a sense of protection to cyclists, but he said it could also be masking damage to the base of the flexible posts.

“We won’t know that until we get some more melting. But it certainly looks good on the street,” he said.

And Richard Fries, Executive Director of the massachusretts Bicycle Coalition, commented:

It’s great. It won’t last that much longer, but it does help to hammer into people’s heads [road] patterns and driving habits,” he said. “Because it’s there, it makes the existing bike lane more visible to drivers and more prominent.

Segregation promotes a sense of entitlement on the part of the majority group –in this case, motorists. How do I explain to horn-honking motorists that I have to ride my bicycle in “their” travel lane, now narrowed to make room for the barrier, to avoid crashing on a sheet of black ice?

Or for that matter, to travel at my usual 15 miles per hour so I’m not stuck behind a cluster of bicyclists who are traveling at 8 miles per hour?

Or to avoid being right-hooked and crushed under the back wheels by a right-turning truck where the bikeway ends at Douglass Street?

Just asking.

January 16, 2017

Members Sought for New City Manager’s Advisory Committee

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:02 pm

Members Sought for New City Manager’s Advisory Committee

City SealJan 13, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking volunteers to serve on the new City Manager’s Advisory Committee. Community input is a vital component of the decision making process in Cambridge and the City strives to engage and involve all stakeholders. In an effort to foster community collaboration and deepen the understanding of community issues, the City Manager is forming this new advisory Committee.

The City Manager’s Advisory Committee will consist of 12-15 residents and stakeholders who will meet at least quarterly to discuss issues happening in the city, develop working relationships, work with organizations, bring different opinions to the table, and work to resolve problems in advance.

Selection of individuals to serve on the City Manager’s Advisory Committee will be based on their ability to represent the diversity of the Cambridge community. The final group of committed participants selected will be broadly representative of many backgrounds including: small/local business community, large business community, non-profit community, neighborhood associations, higher education, arts community, primary/secondary education, public health and human services, housing advocacy, faith community, new immigrant/under represented communities, youth community, senior community, LGBTQ+ community, and mobility community (bike/transit/pedestrian).

Applicants should be Cambridge residents or individuals with a strong connection with the City.

For more information, contact Lee Gianetti, Director of Communication and Community Relations, at 617-349-3317 or lgianetti@cambridgema.gov. Letters of interest, including resume and/or applicable experience, can be sent via email or mail by the deadline of Friday, February 17, 2017 to:
City Manager Louis A. DePasquale
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

December 28, 2016

Cambridge Civic/Political Review 2016

Cambridge Civic/Political Review 2016

Great Events:

May 7 – Moving Day at MIT celebrating the 100th Anniversary of MIT’s move from Boston across the river to Cambridge

MIT Moving Day
Crossing the Charles
MIT Moving Day
Suffragist Katharine Dexter McCormick (who is a dead ringer
for our friend Martha Eddison) and MIT President Rafael Reif

June 4 – Cambridge River Festival along Cambridge Parkway and Lechmere Canal.

Aug 25 – The 2016 Oldtime Baseball Game at St. Peter’s Field on Sherman St. in North Cambridge


Glory

March 12 – Under the guidance of Coach Lance Dottin, Cambridge defeated Lowell by a score of 54-38 to win the Division 1 North Championship.

March 14 – At the Boston Garden, the Falcons won over Catholic Memorial in the semifinals by a score of 77-73.

March 19 – In Springfield, Cambridge defeated St. John’s by a score of 66-51 to win the Division 1 State Championship.

Falcons


Louis A. DePasqualeRetirements and Appointments (just a few significant ones of many):

Susan Flannery retired as Director of the Cambridge Public Library. She was succeeded by Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley.

Police Commissioner Robert Haas retired and Police Superintendent Christopher J. Burke was appointed as Acting Police Commissioner, effective May 8, 2016.

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

On July 1, CPS welcomed Dr. Kenneth Salim as the new Superintendent of Schools succeeding Jeffrey Young.

Appointments by the City Council:

Mar 11 – Announcement by Richard Rossi that he would not seek a contract extension as City Manager.

Sept 12 – Reappointment of James Monagle as City Auditor.

Sept 12 – Reappointment of Donna P. Lopez as City Clerk.

Sept 29 – Appointment of Louis DePasquale as City Manager.

Nov 14 – Oath of Office for Louis DePasquale as Cambridge City Manager

The City Clerks and City Managers of Cambridge


Deaths (only a few of the significant passings this year):

Feb 18Death of Marci Mitler in Porter Square

Feb 28 – Death of Dorothy Steele on Columbia Street

Mar 28 – Death of Election Commissioner Peter Sheinfeld.

April 14Death of Suzanne Schell Pearce.

June 23Death of cyclist Amanda Phillips in Inman Square

June 25Murder of Anthony Clay on Harvard Street

Oct 5Death of Lexington cyclist Bernard "Joe" Lavins in Porter Square

In the wider world, let’s take special note of the passing of musicians David Bowie (Jan 10), Glenn Frey (Jan 17), Paul Kantner (Jan 28), Keith Emerson (Mar 11), Prince (Apr 21), Leonard Cohen (Nov 10), Leon Russell (Nov 13), and Greg Lake (Dec 7).


Mayor SimmonsPolitics and Elections:

Inauguration of City Council and School Committee

One new city councillor: Jan Devereux

Election of the Mayor (Denise Simmons) and Vice Mayor (Marc McGovern)

Two new School Committee members: Manikka Bowman and Emily Dexter

Election of School Committee Vice Chair (Fred Fantini)

March 1 Presidential Primary (Super Tuesday)

September State Primary: Connolly defeats Toomey; Jehlen defeats Cheung

November 8 – Election of "He Who Shall Not Be Named" as President

Initiative Petition on Lifting of Cap on Charter School Defeated

Initiative Petition on Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Narrowly Wins

David Maher selected as next President & CEO of Cambridge Chamber of Commerce
  • Maher will not seek re-election to City Council


Day-to-Day Stuff and Around Town:

The Plastic Bag Ban went into effect on March 31.

Sept 19 – DPW Commissioner Owen O’Riordan reported on issues relating to the implementation of the Polystyrene Ordinance.

October – Harvard dining hall workers strike over wages, benefits (Cambridge Chronicle, by Amy Saltzman)

Cambridge and much of eastern Massachusetts suffered a severe drought that required Cambridge to purchase water from the MBTA so that the Cambridge reservoirs would not fall below critical levels. [October 31 Committee Report].

PB Winners 2016Dec 14 – Participatory Budgeting Results Announced
[Total Budget $706,000]

Solar Power Shines! ($260,000)

Safer Crosswalks for Busy Roads ($104,000)

Solar-Powered Real-Time Bus Tracker Displays ($150,000)

Kinetic Energy Tiles ($50,000)

Hydration Stations in Four Locations! ($37,000)

Upgrade the Moore Youth Center ($80,000)

Cambridge Street Art Trail ($25,000)


Many Election-Related Proposals:

Mar 21 – City Council Order seeking to allow Cambridge to institute municipal lobbying regulations. [Never went anywhere]

Mar 21 – City Council Order to hold hearings on the feasibility of facilitating the appointment of an “Non-Citizen Representative” to the City Council. [Never went anywhere]

May 2 – City Council Order seeking to publish a Cambridge voter guide to be distributed to each household in Cambridge a month before the 2017 municipal election.

June 13 – City Council Order asking that Cambridge operate at least 5 early polling locations, for the entire day, for the entirety of the 11-day early voting period.

Turnout figures for Early Voting (complete)

Early Voting Location Oct 24 Oct 25 Oct 26 Oct 27 Oct 28 Oct 29 Oct 31 Nov 1 Nov 2 Nov 3 Nov 4 Total
Main Library (449 Broadway) 619 396 465 262 289 688 483 376 624 436 848 5486
Election Commission (51 Inman St.) 576 399 465 304 304 401 532 399 571 455 564 4970
O’Neill Library (Rindge Ave.) 387 208 302 171 207 373 273 216 395 279 478 3289
Water Department (at Fresh Pond) 368 207 218 131 157 429 233 216 348 254 474 3035
Police Department (East Cambridge) 290 186 225 93 104 263 251 205 349 260 508 2734
All Locations 2240 1396 1675 961 1061 2154 1772 1412 2287 1684 2872 19514

June 13 – City Council Order asking to explore voter reward options for municipal elections.

June 20 – City Council Order to hold hearings of the 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.

Nov 7 – City Council Order asking opinion of City Solicitor on the possibility of allowing non-citizen Cambridge residents to vote in municipal elections without a home-rule petition. [This Order was subsequently amended to actually send such a Home Rule Petition to the State Legislature without holding any hearings or debate on the proposal.]


Civics and Government:

Envision Cambridge continues: Workshops, Outreach, Appointment of Advisory Committees, Committee Meetings, Updates

Charter School Roundtable and Ballot Question [Divide widens on Question 2 in Cambridge (Cambridge Chronicle, by Natalie Handy)]


Traffic/Transportation:

Mar 21 – The City Council adopted the Complete Streets Policy and Council Order.

Mar 21 – The City Council adopted a Policy Order committing Vision Zero, a set of goals of eliminating transportation fatalities and serious injuries.

Apr 25 – City Council Order requested information on the feasibility of waiving the motor vehicle excise tax for electric vehicles.

Apr 25 – City Council Order asking if any progress has been made on the willingness of the City of Cambridge (and local developers) to contribute to a successful Green Line Extension.

May 9 – City Manager Richard Rossi communicates to City Council that City intends to commit $25 million toward successful completion of the Green Line Extension (GLX) Project. Somerville will commit $50 million and Medford will also commit funds.

May 31 – Waverly Path Project Opening Celebration

June 9 – Grand Opening of the first phase (Main Street to Broadway along Galileo Galilei Way) of the Grand Junction Pathway.

June 20 – Communication from Richard C. Rossi regarding 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.

25mphJune 22 – City presentation of possible reconfigurations for Inman Square roadways

June 27 – City Council Order regarding feasibility of the City of Cambridge filing its own home rule petition to reduce local speed limits (as Boston was then also seeking to do).

Sept 12 – City Council Order prematurely call for declaring all residential zones in Cambridge to be “Safety Zones” with 20mph speed limits and all office and business zones reduced to 25mph. [Council adopted state’s enabling legislation two months later and set citywide 25mph speed limit.]

Sept 12 – City Council Order asking City Solicitor and other relevant City departments to report back to the City Council on next steps on how to go about lowering our speed limits as well as the timeline for these actions.

Sept 12 – City Council Order seeking to increase the parking permit fee and consider other changes to towards reducing vehicle miles traveled and promoting alternative forms of transportation.

Sept 26 – City Manager Richard Rossi conveys City’s Agreement with MassDOT and MBTA regarding funding contribution agreement for Green Line Extension Project.

Oct 17 – City Council Order seeking to form a Vision Zero Working Group comprised of staff from the relevant City departments and residents to collaboratively develop and review traffic safety plans, street designs, public education initiatives, traffic enforcement and related policies with the shared goal of eliminating crashes that result in serious injuries and deaths as quickly as possible.

Oct 17 – City Council Order seeking to restrict the routes of travel and delivery hours of oversized trucks on City streets.

Nov 7 – City Council adopts Chapter 218 of the Acts of 2016, “An Act Modernizing Municipal Finance and Government”, Sections 193 and 194 giving municipalities the authority to reduce speed limits on all ways other than state highways.

Dec 8 – Speed Limit on City-Owned Streets Reduced to 25mph
City of Cambridge implements component of Vision Zero Initiative


Bicycle Specific Blitz of No-Process Orders:

Sept 12 – City Council Order asking for hearing of Transportation and Public Utilities Committee to discuss how City staff review use of bike infrastructure to determine what works, what does not work and what could be improved and to specifically discuss the possibility of making the Western Avenue cycle track a two-direction bike facility.

Oct 17 – City Council Order seeking information from Community Development Department and the Cambridge Police Commissioner on specific recommendations and measures the City should consider in order to prevent future bicycle accidents and fatalities from occurring, and to make our streets safer for bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians.

Oct 17 – City Council Order calling for pilot system of flex-post separated bike lanes and intersections, along Massachusetts Avenue, Hampshire Street, and Cambridge Street.

Oct 17 – City Council Order to schedule hearing of Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee to discuss the possibility of adding a bike-bus lane to Pearl Street and any measures that can be taken to accommodate on-street parking preferences of residents.

Oct 17 – City Council Order asking to include separated bicycle facilities or adjacent off-street paths in any plans for reconstructing all or part of Massachusetts Avenue.

Oct 17 – City Council Order seeking a pilot program of segregated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue between Cedar Street and Harvard Square; on Cambridge Street between Inman Square and Quincy Street; and on Broadway between Prospect Street and Quincy Street.

Oct 17 – City Council Order asking for segregated bike lanes on both sides of Huron Avenue for the full length of its reconstruction.

Nov 7 – City Council Order seeking a deadline of Nov 1, 2017 for fully implementing the various street improvements and safety measures for increasing bicycle safety that were passed during the Oct 17, 2016 meeting.


Housing/Zoning:

Jan 11 – Ordination of Barrett Petition to modify zoning relating to Accessory Apartments and Basement Space

Apr 11 – Inclusionary Housing Study followed by many hearings of the City Council’s Housing Committee
[Aug 11 Committee Reports: Report #1, Report #11, Report #12]
The proposals are now before the Ordinance Committee with action expected in early 2017.

Multiple Medical Marijuana Dispensaries filed zoning petitions for favorable sites.
The City Council is currently attempting to address this by alter the allowed uses in certain business zones.

Aug 1 – City Council Order seeking update on the status of the Classification of Commercial Land Use and Recommendations Study.
Sept 12 – The Classification of Commercial Land Use and Recommendations study is reported to the City Council
This may play a significant role in 2017 if the City Council chooses (as is expected) to update the "Table of Uses" for the various business zones in the city.
The series of marijuana dispensary zoning matters plus the recent initiative petition regarding recreation marijuana and potential retail stores may necessitate this discussion.


Harvard Square:

Aug 1 – Committee Report of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee on topic of possible formation of a special working group tasked with developing a framework for the continued stewardship, curatorship and oversight of the Out of Town News Kiosk in Harvard Square.

Sept 12 – City Council Order asking Historical Commission to produce a new status report that reviews the Harvard Square Conservation District’s effectiveness since 2005, and that considers whether new zoning regulations may be necessary to fulfill the community’s goals.

Oct 17 – Committee Report of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee on the redesign of the Out of Town News Kiosk.

The year ended with significant activism regarding the future of Harvard Square and specifically the plans for the Abbot Building (Curious George) and neighboring buildings recently purchased with plans for significant alterations. The status of some major vacant spaces, esp. the Harvard Square Cinema, have also been central to this discussion.


Central Square:

Dec 19 – Ordinance Committee Report on zoning petition submitted by Nabil Sater, et al to amend the Zoning Ordinances in the Central Square Overlay District, Section 20.300 (a.k.a. – the Central Square Restoration Petition). This petition received unanimous approval by the Planning Board at its initial hearing.


Kendall Square and Nearby:

Sept 12 – Notification from City Manager of approval of the Kendall Square Foundry Development Partners as the development entity for the Foundry.
This was followed by irate reaction from at least one city councillor. [Councilor calls Foundry process egregious; city manager says project not finalized (Cambridge Chronicle, by Adam Sennott)]
The latest word is that the entire process is being restarted.

Volpe Working Group Formed

Oct 3 – As part of the City’s continuing effort to plan for the future redevelopment of the Volpe National Transportation Research Center site in Kendall Square, the City Manager has appointed a "Volpe Working Group" consisting of residents of the surrounding neighborhoods – East Cambridge, the Port, and Wellington-Harrington – along with representatives of the Kendall Square business community and other community stakeholders.

Nov 15 – MIT tapped to redevelop Volpe Center in Cambridge (Boston Globe)


Berkshire St. fire, Dec 3, 2016Wellington/Harrington Neighborhood:

Dec 3 – The Berkshire Street Fire

The Dec 3, 2016 fire in the Harrington/Wellington/East Cambridge neighborhoods caused significant damage to six buildings, and fire or water damage to at least five others.

Initial estimates were that there were 48 displaced families, representing 104 individuals, registered with the Red Cross of Massachusetts.

The public can donate to the Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund online at www.cambridgema.gov/firefund or by sending a check to:

Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

By all accounts, the City, many relief agencies, and a tremendous number of individuals really stepped up to the plate to assist others in the wake of this catastrophic event.


Other City Council Initiatives:

Minimum Wage:
June 13 – City Council Order asking 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.

Outdoor Lighting:
There were various hearings and other meetings on the recommendations from the Outdoor Lighting Task Force (and related proposals for zoning changes) 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]. The Task Force was appointed Dec 2, 2013 and was originally expected to complete its report and draft Ordinance by Spring 2014. It took a lot longer than that with many different iterations of the proposed Ordinance.

Short-Term Rentals:
June 20 – City Council Order calling for a joint hearing of the Public Safety and Housing Committees 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’s June 20 Communication on "Short-Term Rentals in Cambridge: An Overview of Current Usage and Patterns as well as Policy Recommendations".
Aug 1 – Committee Report of Public Safety Committee and Housing Committee on the presence and impact of short-term rental units (Airbnb, FlipKey, VRBO, etc.) in Cambridge.

Broadband Task Force:
Sept 26 – Broadband Task Force recommendations and Tilson Report.
One estimate is that it would cost $187 million dollars to build such a network with no guarantee that customers would leave Comcast or another Internet service provider in favor of such a new network.

Nov 17 – Joint Statement of Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale Regarding Cambridge as a Sanctuary City


Eminent Domain:

June 13 – City Manager’s recommendation that the City Council approve an Order to take the property at 859 Massachusetts Avenue by eminent domain at a cost of $1,363,875. (This would be a friendly taking from the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.)
June 20 – City Council approves this taking and related expenditure. City Manager Richard Rossi explained at the meeting that the facilities study as well as the $5 million renovation cost will cover three buildings – the newly acquired 859 Mass. Ave. building as well as 831 Mass. Ave. (the Lombardi Building) and 3 Bigelow St. (currently used for transitional housing). It is anticipated that 859 Mass. Ave. will be used for housing and 3 Bigelow St. will be converted to municipal uses and possibly joined to an expanded 831 Mass. Ave.

Sept 26 – After multiple City Council Orders calling for the City to take the long-derelict Vail Court property on Bishop Allen Drive, the City Manager brought in a recommendation and plan to take Vail Court by eminent domain. This was approved by the City Council, and the cost is now being challenged by the previous property owners.


Now, on to 2017 – a municipal election year!

December 27, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 193-194: December 27, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 193 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on December 27, 2016 at 5:30pm. The theme of this show was a “Look Back at 2016”. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 194 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 27, 2016 at 6:00pm. In this episode we continued our “Look Back at 2016” blended with a “Look Ahead at 2017”, including the names of some of the new candidates expected to run for City Council in 2017. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in this episode]

November 6, 2016

The Municipal Situation in Cambridge (1904) – by Henry N. Wheeler

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,history — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:51 pm

Wheeler - 1904

The Good Government League of Cambridge
Bulletin No. 2
MAY, 1904

THE MUNICIPAL SITUATION IN CAMBRIDGE
A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904

BY
HENRY N. WHEELER
PRESIDENT OF THE LEAGUE

PRECEDED BY
A PROGRAM OF THE WORK OF THE LEAGUE FOR 1904


JUNE, 1904

Good Government League of Cambridge

PROGRAM OF WORK FOR THE SUMMER AND FALL OF NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FOUR

1. Continuation of the work in behalf of the extension of the Merit System of Appointments to Heads of Departments.
This work has been vigorously pushed preparatory to securing favorable legislation from our next Slate Legislature.

In response to a request for the co-operation of our City Council a hearing was recently granted by a joint committee of the Board of Aldermen and Common Council, at which Messrs. Richard H. Dana, Alvin F. Sortwell, and Dr. Edward R. Cogswell made carefully prepared arguments in favor of the plan.

2. Continuation of the work of the Educational Committee in behalf of the better preparation for citizenship by our Public Schools.
Every public school in Cambridge has been visited by some member of this committee, and the sympathetic co-operation of the Masters has been secured. The School Committee has shown its interest in this work by emphasizing its importance and increasing the time allotted to the subject in its proposed new Course of Study.

In order to secure still further co-operation, the Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Francis Cogswell, issued a call to all the public school teachers to meet the Educational Committee on May 25. This joint meeting was presided over by Mr. A.M. Howe, the Chairman of the Educational Committee, and was addressed by President Charles W. Eliot, who is a member of the Committee, and by Masters Grover, Billings, Bates and Morse. It was voted to invite the Superintendent of Schools to appoint a Committee of Masters and League Members to help carry on the work.

3. Revision of our City Charter.
A committee of ten (or more) citizens, made up principally of men who have had wide experience at City Hall, under the chairmanship of ex-Mayor Alvin F. Sortwell, will give special study to this subject and will report what changes, if any, should in their opinion be made in our City Charter.

4. The City Election of 1904.
On May 19, 1904, the Executive Committee voted to announce that shortly before the next municipal election it intends to furnish as complete and impartial information about all the candidates as it is able to obtain. When such information is full and sufficient, it intends to draw conclusions and designate any candidates whom it considers fit or unfit for office. When two or more candidates for the same office appear to be equally qualified, it will so state, and in case not enough information about a candidate can be obtained to enable the Committee to form a just conclusion, it will print only the facts without comment.

No material fact about a candidate which has any bearing on his fitness or unfitness for office will be suppressed, and all candidates will be treated alike. It will be the aim of the Executive Committee to give the information about candidates in clear and convenient form. The Secretary of the League will have charge of this work, as last year, and solicits the aid of all members.

Executive Committee.

HENRY N. WHEELER, Chairman.     ROBERT WALCOTT, Secretary.
JOSEPH H. BEALE, Jr. RICHARD HENRY DANA.
ALEXANDER H. BILL ARCHIBALD M. HOWE.
LOUIS R. COBB. EDMUND REARDON.
EDWARD R. COGSWELL WILLARD REED.
GEORGE HOWLAND COX. HUNTINGTON SAVILLE.
ALVIN F. SORTWELL.

THE MUNICIPAL SITUATION
IN CAMBRIDGE, MASS.

A PAPER READ AT THE TENTH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL MUNICIPAL LEAGUE AT CHICAGO ON APRIL 28, 1904

BY
HENRY N. WHEELER
President of the Good Government League of Cambridge, Mass.

The Fort Hill Press
SAMUEL USHER
176 TO 184 HIGH STREET
BOSTON, MASS.


THE MUNICIPAL SITUATION IN CAMBRIDGE

Early Town History
A GLANCE at the early history of Cambridge reveals many similarities between the civic problems of the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries, and points out that most of the roots of the good and the evil in our institutions began their growth between two and three hundred years ago.

In Young’s "Chronicles” we read – in regard to the prevention of fire in dwellings in 1631, the year after New Towne, now Cambridge, began its existence: "For the prevention whereof in our new town . . . we have ordered that no man shall build his chimney with wood."

We are told that in 1632 the Court of Assistants imposed a tax of sixty pounds sterling upon "the several plantations within the lymitts of this pattent towards the making of a pallysadoe about the New Towne." The palisado has gone, but in place of it we have a parkway, for the construction and maintenance of which taxes are now imposed.

In 1639 Stephen Daye set up in Cambridge the first printing press in America north of Mexico, and the General Court enacted a law that no printing should be done in the colonies except in Cambridge. Mr. H. O. Houghton, the founder of the Riverside Press, used to say that the Daye Press died from lack of competition, and that it was not until this legislative ban was removed that the art of printing began to make progress in the colonies. The evil custom then begun of legislating for the benefit of individuals or corporations still exists.

We read that in 1645 "every family in each of the colonies gave to the college at Cambridge 12 pence, or a peck of corn, or its value in unadulterated wampumpeag"; and that the college in return exerted a powerful influence in forming the early character of the country. Our community is still contributing to the cause of education, and a committee of our Good Government League is trying to find out whether our contributions still tend to form character.

Mr. Fiske says: "We find that in 1652 the townsmen do grant liberty to Andrew Belcher to sell bread and beer for entertainment of strangers and the good of the town." This same Belcher family continues to sell bread in Cambridge, but whether it may sell beer is a question in reply to which the voters now say Yes or No each year.

In 1655 President Dunster of Harvard was censured by the magistrates and dismissed from office for what was styled his damnable heresy, that infant baptism was unscriptural. "The magistrates" no longer have control over a Harvard president, but only a few years ago a president of a nearby university was led to move farther West on account of his views on the silver question.

Cambridge becomes a City
In March, 1846, Cambridge became a city, but she did not adopt then, and has not yet adopted, the scientific, businesslike, and economical methods of work which characterize the private business of her own citizens, and which have been long in vogue in the cities of Great Britain and Continental Europe. Cambridge has probably suffered less, however, from remissness in these directions than has any other American city, and we who live in Cambridge believe that on the whole she has done more for her people than has any other American city, and that Cambridge is the best city in the world to live in, to rear a family in, and to die in.

Public Spirit
The salvation of our city has been the fact that she has always had among her citizens an unusually large number of able, public-spirited men, of knowledge, common sense, and experience, who, whenever occasion has demanded it, have given generously of their time, strength, and money. That they have not been better represented in our City Council is the fault of our municipal system; that they have initiated improvements which our city has been glad to adopt, and that they have served long and faithfully on committees and commissions which are not subject to the fickle changes of annual elections, is well known. Let me cite a few illustrations.

Eminent Public Servants
On a list of those who have served as members of our School Committee may be found: Alexander Agassiz; Prof. Francis Bowen; W. S. Chaplin, now chancellor of Washington and Lee University ; Prof. F. J. Child; Prof. Ephraim Emerton; Pres. C. C. Felton; Prof. W. W. Goodwin; Prof. A. B. Hart; Col. T. W. Higginson; Miss A. M. Longfellow; Rev. Alexander McKenzie; Prof. Charles Eliot Norton; Rev. Fr. John O’Brien; Dr. A. P. Peabody; Horace E. Scudder; Prof. F. W. Taussig; and Dr. Morrill Wyman. With these and others notable as scholars and teachers have served also some of the ablest business men of our city.

For twenty-five consecutive years the late Chester W. Kingsley, one of our ablest and most esteemed citizens, served on our Water Board, of which he was the chairman for fourteen years. For thirty-seven consecutive years Mr. George S. Saunders served faithfully and well as a cemetery commissioner. His brother, Charles H. Saunders, served twenty-five years as a commissioner of our Sinking Fund. Mr. George H. Cox has served continuously on our Park Commission since its formation eleven years ago, and has just accepted a reappointment for three years. These are only a few of the many instances that might be quoted of long, able, and faithful public service.

Some of the Fruits of Public Spirit
The following are some of the progressive movements for the public good that were initiated, and maintained in their beginnings, by public-spirited citizens:

In 1648 and 1669 the first two schoolhouses in Cambridge were built and conducted at private expense.

In 1888 our Manual Training School was founded by our fellow-citizen, F. H. Rindge, who also paid all its running expenses up to 1900, when it was taken over by our city.

For eleven years before they came under the care of our School Committee, free kindergartens were maintained by Mrs. Quincy Shaw and other Cambridge women.

Vacation schools were conducted by private subscription before the city was ready to assume the burden of maintaining them.

The Cambridge Public Library was also started through private munificence.

We are sometimes told that Cambridge is ruled by its aristocrats; if this be so then the aristocrats of Cambridge are the public-spirited men and women whose names will be found on the subscription lists and lists of workers of those movements which I have referred to, and of other similar movements that are still maintained by private support. The following are some of the private organizations supported by our citizens for the public good:

The Associated Charities, organized in 1881. In addition to its regular work it has exterminated the tramp nuisance; it has done away with the chattel mortgage evil, which was making nearly five hundred of our poor families pay from fifty to one hundred and twenty per cent a year on small loans; it has established nine stamp savings stations for children, which show a record of over seven thousand depositors; and it has aided in almost every other charitable work done in the city.

The Prospect Union and the Social Union: These organizations have supplied numerous courses of instruction, principally by Harvard students, at nominal rates to hundreds of working people each year.

The East End Christian Union, with library, gymnasium, bath-rooms, workshops, etc.

The Avon Home for Destitute Children.

The Cambridge Hospital, at an annual expense of over $20,000.

The Holy Ghost Hospital, recently aided by the united efforts of many of the women of Cambridge.

Perhaps the best illustration of co-operative work is the No-License movement, which has resulted in a ”No" vote for eighteen years in succession. Among the ablest workers in this cause may be mentioned Rev. D. N. Beach and Rev. Fr. Thomas Scully.

Good work was done in the winter of 1902-3, throughout the scarcity-of-coal period, by the Citizens’ Fuel Committee. It at once restored confidence to frightened citizens, and, while it urged them to look out for themselves so far as possible, and did not become a relief committee, it was able to deliver coal promptly in small quantities to every applicant. Among the workers on this committee were John H. Corcoran, J. H. H. McNamee (then Mayor), A. M. Howe, President C. W. Eliot, and Bishop William Lawrence.

The Politics of the City
Although the adoption of a city charter in 1846 produced the usual result, namely, the introduction of national politics into municipal affairs, we find that as early as 1854 there was a meeting of citizens who believed that party politics should not be a test of qualification for municipal offices. It was not until 1866, however, that all municipal nominations began to be made on a non-partisan basis; and this state of affairs continued until the fall campaign of 1901.

The Library Hall Association
Of the origin of the association we glean the following information from a report of Mr. George G. Wright.

In 1889, after the nomination by caucuses of many unfit candidates for office, there was a meeting, in the rooms formerly occupied by the Public Library, of those opposed to such candidates. A new list of candidates endorsed at this meeting was presented to the voters, under the title of " The Library Hall Candidates." After a hard contest the objectionable candidates were defeated, and all but four of the forty-three Library Hall candidates were elected. This meeting led to the formation of the Library Hall Association.

The objects of the association are shown by the following extract from its by-laws:

The purposes of this Association shall be to secure the nomination and election of proper candidates for municipal offices; to procure the punishment of all persons who may be guilty of election frauds, maladministration of office, or misappropriation of public funds; to advocate and promote a public service based upon character and capability only; and to promote intelligent discussion of municipal affairs by the publication and distribution of reliable information in relation thereto."

During the first eleven years of its life over eighty-eight per cent of its endorsements were ratified at the polls. Candidates for office who were members received no more consideration than those who were not, and in many cases the association endorsed candidates who were not members in preference to those who were. Its action in one case resulted in the election of a candidate for Mayor who was not a member and the defeat of another who had been a member of its own Executive Committee the same year.

For several years Library Hall prepared and published a record of the acts of each member of the City Council, including attendance at meetings. It nipped in the bud the beginnings of corruption by calling public attention to the excessive number of car tickets used at the city’s expense by some of the members of the City Council, and the use by members of the labor patronage of public service corporations.

Members of the Executive Committee attended the meetings of the City Council, and made reports on what they saw and heard.

The Library Hall Association became at length so large that its method of endorsing candidates was thought unsatisfactory. It was claimed that it was impossible at a single meeting of three hundred or more members to discuss the merits and demerits of candidates thoroughly enough to ensure a vote for the best men. It therefore decided to change its method of work and to intrust the management of its business to a committee, and to change its name to the Good Government League of Cambridge. This decision was hastened by the appearance, in the fall of 1901, of the Democratic party in city affairs, and, in 1902, of a regular Non-Partisan party in opposition to it. In the fall elections of 1901 and 1902 the Democrats were successful, and were therefore in power in 1902 and in 1903; in the fall of 1903 the Non-Partisans won.

Partisanship
While the partisan party in Cambridge calls itself the Democratic party, it might more properly be called the Opposition party. It was formed to oppose those whom it regarded as in control at City Hall, and to secure control for itself. That its politics were local rather than national would appear from the fact that its leader at first advised against choosing its present name. Some Republicans were induced to join its ranks, and many Democrats refrained from doing so. The present Non-Partisan Mayor is a Democrat; the first leader of the Non-Partisan party was a Democrat; and a large minority of the Executive Committee of Library Hall which failed to endorse any of the so-called Democratic candidates for office in 1901 were Democrats. That partisanship is not believed in by all its members is shown by the fact that one of its ablest supporters recently said in a public speech that non-partisanship in its true sense is an ideal form of government. His reason for becoming a partisan being his belief that the present non-partisan administration is not representative of true non-partisan ideals.

The contest between the Democratic and Non-Partisan parties is a bitter struggle for power. This struggle consumes annually months of time and thousands of dollars. From the nature of the case there is little time or strength left for the perfection of a system by the aid of which the business of the city may be best performed. Even the public-spirited citizens who have accomplished the good results I have spoken of have not yet waked up to the necessity of constructing proper municipal machinery.

The American Municipal Idea
We are told by some of our good citizens that the American idea regards municipal offices as honors to be given first to one good man and then to another, and demands a city government in which three men must be hired to do the work of two. De Tocqueville is quoted in support of this idea, although his observations were made in 1831, when there were only 26 cities in the entire United States and the urban population was less than 7 in a 100, whereas, in 1900, there were 517 cities and the urban population was over 32 in 100. Supposing De Tocqueville to have been right in his conclusions, should we be so non-progressive in municipal affairs as to be willing to be governed to-day by an 1830 idea, when Cambridge, for example, had a population of 6,072 against nearly 100,000 now, when her streets were unlighted and thorough sewerage was unknown, when there were only three policemen, and when the tax rate was $2.26 on a total valuation less than the present annual outgo? We are also told that it is nonsense to compare a city government which has to do with moral and social as well as financial needs with a money-making business corporation. These two ideas – the one that in city work two thirds of a man must count as a whole man, and the other that work for an individual is business, while work for a community of individuals is not business – form the capital stock of the demoralized and demoralizing, place-hunting, graft-seeking elements of our population.*

[* The city statistician of Chicago tells me that owing to the excellent civil service rules in vogue there, a city employé makes a better return for the wages he gets than does the employé of a private corporation.]

Let us rather regard the American idea of to-day as that progressive idea· which has achieved success in innumerable private undertakings and which can and should be applied to municipal affairs.

Our City Charter
This progressive idea, however, has not yet found its way into our city charter. Our charter says that "all officers of the city not elected by the qualified voters shall be resident citizens of the city of Cambridge." What private institution or private business of Cambridge would ever hamper itself by such an unAmerican suicidal requirement as this? In 1864 one of our citizens went abroad and brought back with him the best workmen he could find, and largely by their aid built up a business which to-day pays heavy taxes to the city and supports hundreds of our most respectable citizens. President Eliot has drawn his professors from all parts of the world; had he not been allowed to do this, would he have increased the number of Harvard’s students from 1,059 to 4,328 in the thirty-five years that he has been president?

In the same section with this demoralizing requirement, power is given to the Mayor, subject to the confirmation of the Aldermen, elected at the same time with himself, to make appointments to salaried offices without any provision being made for ascertaining their fitness for the work which they are to perform. In regard to a Mayor’s appointments being "subject to confirmation by the Board of Aldermen," Dr. Albert Shaw says: " The Council’s power of rejecting appointees nominated by the Mayor very considerably diminishes his responsibility for the proper exercise of the appointing power …. The relation between the two cannot at best be other than that of a shifting, unprofitable and illogical compromise." One of the best mayors we ever had once said to me, " I would have removed Mr. A., who was incompetent, if I could have gotten the Aldermen to sustain me." This means that the party will of an unpartisan Board of Aldermen was a block to efficient service.

All of these charter provisions make for partisanship: First, a Mayor cannot appoint the best man if he lives outside the city limits; second, he is not required to apply any test of fitness; and third, he must appoint only those who can get the votes of Aldermen, who naturally and honestly perhaps feel that they represent constituencies.

Our charter also requires that the Mayor and City Council shall be elected annually. They are elected in December; they are inducted into office in January, and a month later, without experience, except in the case of re-elections, and usually without knowledge of such matters, they pass on a city budget which calls for the expenditure of over $3,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money. Is it an American business principle for a corporation to intrust matters of such importance to a set of workers of one month’s standing? We are told that it takes a Mayor or member of the City Council five months to learn even the routine of his office, and that if he is to retain his position he must devote four months to the work of securing his re-election. This leaves him the three vacation months, often partly spent by him away from home, in which to attend comparatively unhampered to the requirements of his oath of office.

Our city charter also calls for a two-chambered City Council, a requirement which only adds to the inefficiency already so well provided for.

Our city charter by its division of power among the three branches of the city government deprives each branch of a proper sense of responsibility and puts stumbling-blocks in the way of progress. Last year vacancies in the Overseers of the Poor were not filled for months because the Board of Aldermen and the Common Council could not decide whether to act conjointly or concurrently. This month a two-thirds vote of the Common Council, for a much-needed water loan, could not be obtained because some of the Councilmen, though favoring the loan, would not vote for it without a guarantee that only Cambridge citizens should be employed by the Water Board. This obstruction has already cost the city thousands of dollars, through a rise in the cost of material, and has made more imminent a feared water famine. Should the required guarantee be given the added cost for labor alone would amount to $150,000, or from thirty to forty per cent. This illustrates the evils of a division of power and the ability of a misguided minority of a useless third branch of our city government, regardless of their oaths of office, to sacrifice the needs of all our citizens to the chance of getting positions for a few of them, which sound business policy might require the Water Board to give to others.

Can it be a matter of surprise that under our present charter many of our best and most experienced men, who are willing to put their shoulders to the wheel and to sink their hands deep down into their pockets in behalf of a specific municipal improvement, are unwilling to become candidates for the Common Council or Board of Aldermen? Instead of securing, as we should in a community like ours, men the market value of whose business ability and experience is high, – as high, for example, as that of solicitors of municipal concessions with whom they carry on an unequal contest, – we get men whose average market value is low. While excellent young men sometimes become members, they almost always retire as soon as they have acquired ability and experience enough to warrant private citizens in intrusting them with matters of importance. We want such men, but we want them after they have gained some experience in affairs rather than before.

We are told that partisanship is the source of all that is bad in municipal affairs, but the root of our municipal evils lies deeper than partisanship; it lies in our unsound, unbusinesslike, demoralizing municipal system, which produces and fosters partisanship even in a party which honestly tries to be non-partisan.

If neither of the existing municipal parties can be induced to take up the question of reform in our system, then let us have a third party with a platform which will challenge the common sense, intelligence, and public spirit of our people.

Our present system, however, instead of being a source of despondency is a source of hope, for it is so unsound, so unbusinesslike, so unscientific, so sure to produce unbearable inefficiency and high taxes, that the public spirit of Cambridge, the Cambridge idea as it is sometimes called, will surely come to the rescue. The business principles in vogue in our private affairs and in the municipal affairs of foreign cities can and will be introduced into the management of the affairs of American cities. Dr. Shaw tells us in regard to filling offices in Great Britain: " It is usual to advertise for a vacancy …. If a chief of police is wanted for a town, even of a moderate size, there are likely to be applicants by the score or hundred from all parts of the United Kingdom." A reference to the experience of France and Germany would only confirm the thought that it is not at all impossible to establish a system of appointment by which merit shall be the only "pull." Such a system neither cheats the public nor degrades the wage-earner.

The Good Government League of Cambridge
While the objects of the Good Government League are the same as those of its predecessor, the Library Hall Association, it has devoted itself principally during the past year to the promotion of a study and discussion of questions relating to the improvement of our municipal system. Its first recommendation favored the extension of the Merit System to the appointment of heads of departments. In behalf of this recommendation, Mr. R. H. Dana, a member of the Executive Committee of the League, prepared a paper which the League has published as one of its bulletins. This paper was read and discussed at the last annual meeting of the National Civil Service Reform League, and the subject has been discussed in Cambridge whenever an opportunity has presented itself. It is hoped that the legislation necessary to bring about this reform will be secured from our next State Legislature.

A line of work which has for its aim the better preparation for citizenship by our public schools is being carried on by a committee of the League, of which President C. W. Eliot is a member. Every public school in Cambridge has been visited by some member of this committee; these visits of inquiry have, it is believed, already lead to an increased interest in the subject on the part of teachers and pupils, and the interest of the Librarian of the Public Library has been secured in the direction of obtaining and bringing to the attention of teachers and pupils the best books on the subject. When the report of the committee is presented, it will surely contain helpful suggestions.

The work referred to above was under way at the time of the annual meeting of the League in Sanders Theatre, on February 7, 1904. At this meeting addresses were made by President Eliot, Mayor Daly, Edmund Reardon, and R. H. Dana of Cambridge, and R. Fulton Cutting of New York, and the annual report of the League was presented in which the following suggestions for future work are to be found:

1. The continuation of the work already begun in regard to the extension of the Merit System and to securing a better preparation for citizenship by our public schools.

2. An early study and discussion of the question of lengthening the terms of office of the Mayor and members of the City Council.

3. A study of the advisability of a single chambered City Council.

4. A careful study of the relationship between the city and the public service corporations which use its streets, whether the use of our streets for private gain should not be paid for at the same rates that the city would have to pay for a similar use of private property; and whether the city should ever grant irrevocable rights to the use of its property.

5. A study of our city charter with a view to finding out what changes should be made in it, that the management of our city affairs may become more economical, more businesslike, and more efficient.

Most of these suggestions have already been taken up.

Mr. Louis D. Brandeis of Boston recently delivered to members of the League and others a most helpful address on "The Legal Rights of Public Service Corporations in Our Streets," which will be published shortly as one of the League’s bulletins, and a meeting has been held at which the question of lengthening the terms of service of the Mayor and Aldermen was discussed.

Among other lines of work may be mentioned a public protest from the Executive Committee against the hold up of the water loan, to which I have referred, and the publication of impartial information about candidates for office just previous to the last city election.

More stress has been laid upon measures than upon men, because an improvement in our system is a permanent change for the better and tends to produce good men, while a contest over men alone has to be fought over again every year.

I feel that in closing I should quote the following passage from the by-laws of the Good Government League:

"All publications and recommendations shall be over the signatures of the members of the committee issuing such information or making such recommendations."

It will be seen therefore that since this paper bears only my own signature neither the League nor its Executive Committee is in any way responsible for any of the heresies to be found in it.

HENRY N. WHEELER.

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