Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

September 18, 2016

Choice Items on the September 19, 2016 Cambridge City Council Meeting Agenda

Choice Items on the September 19, 2016 City Council Meeting Agenda

Peoples Republic of CambridgeHere are the items that struck me as most interesting:

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-73 and Council Order Number 4 (of Sept 12, 2016), regarding lowering speed limits in the City.

In short, the City Council jumped the gun last week. For starters, the City Council must first vote to accept those sections of the new state law that would give them the authority to lower local speed limits. They cannot even do this until Nov 7. The intention of City traffic officials was to lower the speed limit on City-owned roads to 25mph, and this communication makes quite clear that a 20mph speed limit would be a challenge to enforce – to say the least. I challenge anyone driving in Cambridge to maintain a consistent speed of 20mph or less while driving in Cambridge. It’s not unreasonable on a relatively narrow street that’s parked on both sides, but it borders on the absurd on many other streets. A limit of 25mph is doable, but not 20mph. That lower limit should be reserved for locations where it actually makes sense.

Manager’s Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a report from Public Works Commissioner Owen O’Riordan, regarding the Polystyrene Ordinance implementation. [Report]

One more example of how the City Council likes to take steps that they think will make them look "progressive" without actually thinking through the possible consequences. Few people would dispute the parts of this Ordinance that deals with expanded polystyrene (EPS), i.e. "Styrofoam". The issue is with other polystyrene products like straws, cups, lids and utensils. The available alternatives – bioplastic compostable products – decompose at much slower rates than are acceptable at any of the facilities that accept organic waste from the City of Cambridge. These materials will be rejected at these facilities. Public policy has to be based on more than just wishful thinking. I was at the committee meeting when these other materials were abruptly added to the proposed ordinance without so much as a conversation.

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to CPA [Community Preservation Act]. [Report]

As always, it’s 80% for affordable housing projects ($6,880,000 plus $1,280,000 in state matching funds), 10% for open space acquisition ($860,000 plus $160,000 in state matching funds), and 10% for historic preservation projects ($860,000 plus $1,280,000 in state matching funds). Additional fund balances will also be expended toward these three areas.

Resolution #2. Thanks to City Manager Richard Rossi for his 45 years of service to the City of Cambridge and best wishes for a truly happy and joyful retirement.   Mayor Simmons

Having known Rich Rossi for 27 years of those 45 years of service, I join in wishing Richie all the best in his many years of blissful retirement. I have known very few people who are as expert at getting things done as Rich Rossi. The people of Cambridge owe him a world class "thank you".

Tues, Sept 20

6:00pm-9:00pm   Meet the Finalists Forum  (Fitzgerald Theater, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School)

The City Council’s Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee, is inviting the public to a Meet the Finalists forum on Tues, Sept 20, 2016, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm in the Fitzgerald Theater located in the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. This forum is an opportunity for the public to meet the three finalist vying to succeed outgoing City Manager Richard C. Rossi. The meeting will be broadcast live on the City’s Municipal Cable Channel, 22-CityView.

Wed, Sept 21

5:30pm   Special City Council Meeting to publicly interview finalists for the position of City Manager, the City Council may meet in Executive Session to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with the prospective City Manager or to conduct contract negotiations with the prospective City Manager.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Vote on the selection of the next City Manager expected week of Sept 26 (possibly Thurs, Sept 29).

I have watched this process evolve from the beginning and have kept a safe distance throughout. Now that we have three candidates before us it will be interesting to see if the 9 city councillors can reach consensus (and a majority vote) on one of these three excellent candidates (Jay Ash, Louis DePasquale, and Paul Fetherston). It will also be interesting to watch how the activists may try to influence the decision and how they will respond when a decision is made. If the City Council can actually come to some kind of unanimous or near-unanimous agreement on this most important decision, it may signal their ability to thoughtfully and cooperatively decide on other matters of significance. Hope springs eternal. – Robert Winters

September 15, 2016

Preliminary Screening Committee Announces City Manager Finalists

Preliminary Screening Committee Announces City Manager Finalists
Schedule for Public forums and meetings announced

City SealSeptember 15, 2016 – Today, City Councillor David P. Maher and City of Cambridge Personnel Director Sheila Keady Rawson, co-chairs of the Cambridge City Manager Preliminary Screening Committee (PSC), announced the names of the three finalist candidates being forwarded to the entire City Council for consideration. The PSC’s decision was unanimous.

The three finalists are:

Jay AshRobert “Jay” Ash Jr. – Mr. Ash is currently the Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Previously, he served in a variety of roles in the City of Chelsea, including fourteen years as City Manager. Mr. Ash also served as a legislative aide to Representative Richard Voke. He is a graduate of Clark University.

Louis DePasqualeLouis A. DePasquale – Mr. DePasquale is the City’s Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs in Cambridge. Prior to taking on that assignment, he was the City’s Budget Director, and also worked in other capacities in the City’s Budget and Treasury Departments. Mr. DePasquale is a graduate of Boston State College and received his MPA from Northeastern University.

Paul FetherstonPaul J. Fetherston – Mr. Fetherston is currently the Assistant City Manager in Asheville, NC. He has previously served as Deputy City Manager in Boulder, CO, and has held a variety municipal management positions in Connecticut. He is a graduate of Trinity College, CT, and received his J.D. from Western New England School of Law.

Note: Photos from Commonwealth of Massachusetts, NEREJ, and City of Asheville

A “Meet the Finalists” forum will be held on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, from 6:00-9:00pm., in the Fitzgerald Auditorium at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 459 Broadway, where members of the public will have an opportunity to meet and hear each finalist’s vision for the City and answer questions. On Wednesday, September 21, beginning at 5:30pm, in the Sullivan Chamber at Cambridge City Hall, the City Council will conduct public interviews with the three finalists.

The City Council is expected to vote to appoint the next City Manager during a Special City Council Meeting on Thursday, September 29. Each meeting will be broadcast on 22-Cityview (the municipal cable channel) and can also be livestreamed online at www.CambridgeMA.GOV. Those attending the “Meet the Finalists” forum and the City Council’s public interviews will be provided the opportunity to give written feedback to the City Council.

The PSC was appointed by Mayor E. Denise Simmons and was comprised of 15 community members reflecting citywide constituencies, and four City Council members. GovHR USA, the professional consulting firm hired to assist with the recruitment and hiring process, presented candidates for the committee’s review. According to Joellen Earl, CEO of GovHR USA, the Cambridge position attracted a diverse group of 55 candidates. The PSC conducted an in-depth review of 15 candidates, 27% of which were women or persons of color. The PSC ultimately offered interviews to 8 candidates. The interviews were held on September 12 and 13.

“This was a comprehensive well organized process to review and screen City Manager candidates for submission to the City Council,” said committee member Elaine DeRosa. “This was the first time that the City initiated a national search for the City Manager’s position. The committee worked hard to complete its task. I was honored to be a part of the process.”

The PSC members included resident representatives Peter Traversy, Elaine Thorne, and Laura Booth; large business representative Jay Kiely; small business representative Patrick Magee; Cambridge Public School representative Richard Harding; public safety representative Gerald Reardon; a person with demonstrated knowledge of municipal finance representative Fred Fantini; health and human services/public health representative Claude Jacob; person with knowledge of city planning/urban development representative Susan Schlesinger; higher education/institutional partner representative Kevin Casey; public art and/or recreational representative Ellen Semonoff; affordable housing advocate Susan Connelly; nonprofit community representative Elaine DeRosa; advocate for the quality of our community’s civic and social well-being representative Reverend Lorraine Thornhill; and City Councillors Leland Cheung, David Maher, Nadeem Mazen, and Timothy Toomey.

“The screening committee was an extremely diverse and well informed group representing a wide range of interests in Cambridge,” said committee member Susan Schlesinger. “The process was professionally conducted and we had a talented group of candidates to consider. “It was honor to participate with other Cambridge residents and I look forward to following the extensive process which will occur in the next few weeks to select the next City Manager.”

The initial interviews performed by the PSC were preceded by a series of community focus groups, public meetings, and surveys, leading to the development of a leadership profile used during the recruitment phase.

“It was an honor to serve on the City Manager’s Preliminary Screening Committee with people who are committed and passionate about the growth and well-being of the City,” said committee member Rev. Lorraine Thornhill. “The diversity of opinions that were expressed highlighted the incredible richness of resources that this City is known for.”

For additional information about the City Manager search process, please visit www.CambridgeMA.GOV/CityManagerSearch.

September 14, 2016

Cambridge City Manager Candidates will Share Their Vision and Answer Questions at Public Forum on Tues, Sept 20

City Manager Candidates will Share Their Vision and Answer Questions at Public Forum
Public Invited To Participate In Meet The Finalists Forum

City SealSept 14 – The City Council’s Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee, is inviting the public to a Meet the Finalists forum on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm in the Fitzgerald Theater located in the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. This forum is an opportunity for the public to meet the three finalist vying to succeed outgoing City Manager Richard C. Rossi. The meeting will be broadcast live on the City’s Municipal Cable Channel, 22-CityView.

City Councillor David Maher, Chair of Committee that is leading the search process, said “During this forum, each finalist will present their vision for the City, answer questions, and meet members of the public. This is a great opportunity for the public to hear directly from the finalists selected by the Preliminary Screening Committee.”

A Preliminary Screening Committee, comprised of 15 community members reflecting citywide constituencies and four City Council members, has been interviewing the most qualified applicants and is recommending the three finalists to the City Council. The names of the finalists are expected to be released by Thursday, September 15, 2016.

The public can submit suggested candidate questions to the Committee until to noon on Monday, September 19. Based on the submissions received, GovHR USA, the professional recruiting consultant assisting the City Council with the hiring process, will generate questions based on the themes submitted by the public. Suggested questions can be emailed to cambridge@GovHRUSA.com.

Following the formal presentation and question part of the program, the finalists will be on hand to answer individual questions from members of the public.

For additional information or questions about the Meet the Finalists forum, please contact Fran Cronin, at 617-349-4276 or fcronin@cambridgema.gov. For information on the City Manager Search Process, please visit www.CambridgeMA.GOV/CityManagerSearch.

Note: There’s also this Special City Council meeting the following day:

Wed, Sept 21

5:30pm   Special City Council Meeting to publicly interview finalists for the position of City Manager, the City Council may meet in Executive Session to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with the prospective City Manager or to conduct contract negotiations with the prospective City Manager.  (Sullivan Chamber)

August 19, 2016

Preliminary Screening Committee for New City Manager Selected

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:29 am

Preliminary Screening Committee for New City Manager Selected

City SealAug 19, 2016 – The Mayor is pleased to announce the appointment of the following people to participate in the Preliminary Screening Committee for a new City Manager. We also extend our appreciation to the 50 people who submitted applicants and were generously willing to volunteer their time in support of our search efforts.

The Preliminary Screening Committee, comprised of 15 community members reflecting citywide constituencies and four City Council members, will be facilitated by our search firm GovHR USA. The purpose of the Committee will be to interview the most qualified applicants and determine the three finalists to present to the public and to the City Council for their vote.

The public will have opportunities to meet the three finalists and provide feedback prior to the nominating vote taken at a City Council meeting in late September.

The following provides a list of the Committee’s constituent members and a brief recap of their qualifying credentials.

Constituency Applicant Choice Bio
Resident representative Peter Traversy Peter is a resident of North Cambridge. He’s a small business owner and active in youth sports.
Resident representative Elaine Thorne Elaine is a Riverside resident and was a longtime Project Planner for the City of Cambridge with extensive experience working in all neighborhoods in our City. She is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Cambridge Community Center.
Resident representative Laura Booth Laura is a resident of the Port neighborhood. She’s a CPSD parent who brings extensive work experience in the local nonprofit community and is a longtime advocate for affordable housing. She has experience with senior level hiring.
Large Business representative Jay Kiely Jay currently serves as Chair of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. He is a senior level manager with Forest City and has been active in Cambridge’s civic, nonprofit, and corporate arenas.
Small Business representative Patrick Magee Patrick is a Wellington/ Harrington resident who owns and manages Atwood’s Tavern on 877 Cambridge Street. He is a founding member of ECBA and has served as President for the past five years.
CPS Representative Richard Harding Richard is a resident of the Port and has been a longtime elected member of the School Committee. He is Co-president of the Cambridge NAACP and served as a member of former Police Commissioner Haas’ Community Advisory Board. He’s been a leader in the Men of Color Task Force.
Public Safety representative Gerald Reardon Chief Reardon is a nationally recognized leader in Fire Safety. He has spent his entire professional career with the City of Cambridge Fire Department and the last 17 years as its Chief.
Person with demonstrated knowledge of municipal finance Fred Fantini Fred is an East Cambridge resident and served as Deputy Treasurer for the Town of Arlington for 35 years. He’s a former CCTV president; a longtime member of the Cambridge School Committee; and has experience with executive searches.
Health and Human Services/Public Health representative Claude Jacob Claude is Cambridge’s Chief Public Health Officer at the Cambridge Health Alliance. He’s also Chair of the Board of Directors for the National Association of County and City Health Officials and has experience with executive search hires.
Representative with knowledge of City Planning/Urban Development Susan Schlesinger Susan is a Cambridgeport resident and longtime advocate for affordable housing. She’s been an active member of the Affordable Housing Trust and with the Community Preservation Act Board. She has experience with high level executive searches.
Higher Education/Institutional partner Kevin Casey Kevin is Associate Vice President at Harvard University with oversight of nonprofit engagement, government relations and local economic development.
Public Art and/or Recreational representative Ellen Semonoff Ellen is a Mid-Cambridge resident and has longtime served as Cambridge’s Assistant City Manager for Human Services, which has oversight of the city’s recreation department. She’s the Chair of the Cambridge Public Health Committee and former Chair of the Cambridge Health Alliance. She has experience with high level executive searches.
Affordable Housing advocate Susan Connelly Susan is a North Cambridge resident and a CPSD parent. She has extensive experience working in the field of affordable housing and serves as Director of the Community Housing Initiatives at the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and serves as Treasurer of the Cambridge Housing Authority Commissioner’s Board.
Nonprofit Community representative Elaine DeRosa Elaine is a Cambridgeport resident and has extensive experience working on behalf of low-income individuals and families serving as Executive Director of CEOC for past 28 years. She has committee experience working on city public policy, affordable housing, health care and delivery of community services issues.
Representative who advocates for the quality of our community’s civic and social well-being Reverend Lorraine Thornhill Rev. Lorraine Thornhill has served as Lead Pastor in the Port neighborhood for the past 19 years. She’s also Lead Chaplain, Cambridge Police Department; Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees Cambridge YWCA; Commissioner, City of Cambridge Human Services Department; and President, Cambridge Black Pastors Alliance.
City Council member Councillor Leland Cheung
City Council member Councillor David Maher
City Council member Councillor Nadeem Mazen
City Council member Councillor Timothy Toomey

August 1, 2016

Selected Agenda Items for the Aug 1, 2016 Cambridge City Council (Midsummer) meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:59 am

Selected Agenda Items for the Aug 1, 2016 Cambridge City Council (Midsummer) meeting

There are a lot of substantive matters on the agenda for this meeting – primarily on the City Manager’s Agenda and in a dozen City Council committee reports covering a range of topics. Here’s a sampler of some items that I found especially interesting. The meeting is taking place at the Attles Meeting Room at CRLS (where the School Committee usually meets).

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-43, regarding publishing a Cambridge Voter’s Guide to be distributed to each household in Cambridge a month before the 2017 municipal election.

Order #2. That the regular City Council meeting scheduled for Oct 24, 2016 be a Roundtable/Working meeting to discuss election issues with the Election Commission.   Mayor Simmons

My guess is that the best we can hope for on the City side will be an improved and expanded guide to PR voting, relevant dates, and a list of candidate names with addresses and possibly photos. Having assembled the Cambridge Candidate Pages for over a decade, I will attest to the fact that voters do want information about candidates, especially in the days immediately preceding the election, but asking the Election Commission (and inevitably the Law Department) to manage this will open a huge can of worms. It would be preferable to get local media outlets to work out a cooperative arrangement to make unbiased information available about municipal candidates. Better coordination of candidate forums would also be helpful, but that also is out of the hands of City officials.

Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of a $45,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 604b Water Quality Management Planning Program, to be used to fund conceptual green street design plans for three public rights of ways, as well as guidance on green street implementation in space-constrained residential settings; with a focus on smaller scale reconstruction projects that are not part of larger utility reconstruction projects.

For those who haven’t yet seen some of the innovative stormwater management projects in West Cambridge and along Western Avenue, you should check them out. It would be great if more of these projects could be done on a smaller scale. If done right, street trees might actually have a chance to flourish.

Manager’s Agenda #14. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation on the "Friends of MAPOCO" Zoning Petition.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on June 22, 2016 to discuss a petition by Peter B. Kroon, et al, also known as Friends of MAPOCO, to expand the requirements of the North Massachusetts Avenue Sub-district (Section 20.110) applicable generally within the portions of the Massachusetts Avenue Overlay District (MAOD) zoned Business A-2 (BA-2).

This zoning petition will likely now sail through to a 2nd Reading and eventual adoption as amended.

Manager’s Agenda #15. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to authorizing the Purchasing Agent to award a five (5) year, two (2) month contract to the successful proposer on the Metropolitan Area Planning Council Bike Share System RFP.

The idea is for Cambridge, Somerville, Boston, and Brookline to jointly put out a longer-term request for proposals in order to entice more vendors, hopefully allow for more consistency in service, and possibly get a better price.

Manager’s Agenda #29. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to pursuing the planning and development of a multi-use, bicycle and pedestrian pathway along the Grand Junction corridor that links East Cambridge, Kendall Square, MIT, and Cambridgeport, with potential connections into Boston and Somerville.

Manager’s Agenda #30. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Items Number 16-46 and 16-59, regarding the Grand Junction Greenway, including the status of construction, developer contributions, and the zoning overlay.

It’s nice to see the cooperation of the Mass. Dept. of Transportation in these efforts.

Manager’s Agenda #32. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-22, regarding the opposition to investment funds from the Retirement System.

Some of you may remember the extensive public testimony and countless communications on the topic of the Cambridge Retirement System divesting any funds from any entity that is in any way supporting the production or upgrading of nuclear weapons systems. As it turns out, this was a typical Cambridge tempest in a teapot. As this report states: "upon reviewing the summary, that the Fund’s investments in the production and/or upgrading of nuclear weapons systems is de minimis." I hope everyone at least had fun making their speeches and writing all those letters that all turned out to be about nothing.

Manager’s Agenda #33. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-54, regarding finding a long term solution to adding a dog park in East Cambridge by the end of 2016 and fencing in a temporary location for off leash use by the end of Summer, 2016.

Take note, politicos: There are a lot of Cambridge voters who really love their dogs and want places for them to run and play. Actually, there’s a lot more interest in dogs than in nuclear weapons divestment.

Manager’s Agenda #36. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the submission of the attached Home Rule Petition that would authorize the City of Cambridge to include in the planned reconstruction (the “Project”) of the King Open / Cambridge Street Upper School and Community Complex (“KOCSUS”) the area that is presently occupied by the public swimming pool known as the Gold Star Pool (the “Gold Star Pool Site”) and to construct subsurface geothermal wells in a portion of Donnelly Field that lies directly along and adjacent to the current southerly boundary of the KOCSUS site (the “School Site”).

This is really a formality, but I always find it interesting which things require state authorization and which things do not.

Manager’s Agenda #37. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the request that the City Council move to Executive Session.

Manager’s Agenda #38. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the transfer of $42,655 within statutory accounts of the Public Investment Fund Community Development Extraordinary Expenditure account to complete the purchase of two parcels from the B&M Corporation for the purpose of creating a future multi-use path and greenway.

These items are about making the necessary purchases to complete the Cambridge-owned portion of the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway along the now-abandoned railroad right-of-way. This will be a nice off-road addition when it’s finally complete a few years from now.

Applications & Petitions #3. An application was received from Pill Hardware, requesting permission for a display of merchandise in front of the premises numbered 748 Massachusetts Avenue.

Central SquareWhenever I hear people talk about preserving the "funkiness" of Central Square, I want to remind people that before Central Square was "funky" it was an incredibly vital shopping district. It’s really worth looking back at some of the available "Perceptual Form of the City" photos from over 50 years ago. This application to allow the display of mechandise on the sidewalk in front of Pill Hardware reminded me of one of those old photos. It’s also a scene you can see today in Inman Square. The image shown is actually the frontage where the Mass & Main project is planned. This is the kind of thing some of us would love to see in some form as Central Square rediscovers its past and defines its future. It doesn’t have to be just overpriced bars and restaurants.

Applications & Petitions #4. A zoning petition has been received from William Noyes Webster Foundation, Inc. to amend the provisions of the Medical Marijuana District Section 20.700 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance and Map.

Order #11. City Council support to Commonwealth Alternative Care to operate a Registered Marijuana Dispensary at 61 Mooney Street pursuant to local zoning and permitting.   Councillor Cheung

It should pretty clear by now that the way the City Council is handling the siting of medical marijuana dispensaries in totally wrong. Will there be a new zoning petition every time one of these facilities is proposed?

Resolution #6. Congratulations to Patrick and Norma Jean Barrett on the birth of their daughter Gemma Evelyn Barrett.   Councillor Toomey

Resolution #8. Congratulations to Jada Simmons and Toju Ononeme on their nuptials.   Councillor Toomey

Resolution #11. Resolution on the retirement of James Cullinane from the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department.   Mayor Simmons

This is a triple celebration – a birth, a marriage, and a retirement. Cambridge feels like such a little village sometimes.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Commissioner of Public Works with the intention of reinstating trash and recycling pick up for small businesses.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Maher

This proposal has been made at various times over the last 25 years. A case can be made for this based on the fact that the commercial property tax rate is considerably higher than the residential tax rate and perhaps there should be some benefits to go along with the payment of those taxes. The additional cost and time could be significant, but perhaps there could at least be some accomodation for mixed residential/commercial buildings where the lines are often already intentionally blurred. [This happens, for example, right next door to me, and this has been the case for decades.]

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on how traffic laws pertaining to crosswalks are currently enforced throughout the City, whether there are any regions where the City has found motorists tend to ignore crosswalk laws, and whether there are additional methods of reporting violators, raising awareness of applicable laws, and enacting stricter laws to ultimately increase pedestrian safety.   Mayor Simmons

Traffic laws pertaining to crosswalks are enforced? That’s news to me. If we’re taking requests, how about let’s also start enforcing the requirement that motor vehicles must be parked less than a foot from the curb. That would make cycling safer. I never see that enforced.

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Purchasing Department, the Community Development Department and any other appropriate departments to provide the City Council with an update on the status of the Classification of Commercial Land Use and Recommendations Study.   Councillor Devereux

This is included here only because I’m curious what’s behind it. [Read the Request for Proposals] The RFP says: "In short, the expected result of this study is a commercial land use classification system that makes sense in modern Cambridge, that would be understandable to all community members, and that would be able to effectively regulate commercial use types as they evolve. Based on the study recommendations, the City would determine how the zoning could be amended to fit the recommended system, through either targeted changes to the current ordinance or a more substantial restructuring of the Table of Use Regulations." Uh, OK.


Inclusionary Housing Committee Reports:
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on May 31, 2016 to continue discussion regarding the recently completed Inclusionary Housing Study with community feedback from the May 18, 2016 hearing being shared and discussed with consultant David Paul Rosen & Associates.

Committee Report #11. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Mayor E. Denise Simmons and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Co-Chairs of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on July 11, 2016 to continue the discussion regarding the recently completed Inclusionary Housing Study and the Affordable Housing Trust’s recommendations to the City Council.

Committee Report #12. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on May 18, 2016 to discuss the recently completed Inclusionary Housing Study and will focus on receiving feedback from the community.

Some revisions to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance seem inevitable later this year, but the economic foundations in the study still seem (to me) to be a bit shaky, especially the idea of increasing the net affordable housing percentage from 11.6% to 20% without any allowance for additional density. My first concern is that if the requirement is too high then it may be more economically advantageous to build something other than housing, e.g. labs. My other concern is that since zoning changes require a two-thirds vote for ordination there might never be the political will to actually lower the requirement even if the economics warrant a decrease. It would be better if there was some way to index the requirement based on current economics.


Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on June 28, 2016 to discuss the parameters for a potential zoning proposal that includes the Volpe Transportation System Center.

The Volpe zoning dilemma is unique in that it is contrained not only by the funding mechanism for a new Volpe building and the need to ensure that a developer might actually be able to deliver a development without financial loss, but also by a range of competing interests from residents for housing and open space. This may not even be a solvable problem even though the potential benefits could be enormous.

Committee Report #7. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Public Safety Committee and Mayor E. Denise Simmons and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Co-Chairs of the Housing Committee, for a joint public hearing held on July 19, 2016 to discuss the presence and impact of short-term rental units (Airbnb, FlipKey, VRBO, etc.) in Cambridge, and to hear suggestions from community members and operators on how best to address the challenges of this emerging market.

This was an incredibly informative hearing. My guess is that short-term rentals in owner-occupied buildings may get the blessing of the City Council but perhaps not so for residential properties that are effectively being operated as hotels by non-resident owner/investors. Another hearing on this topic is scheduled for Wednesday, August 3rd.

Committee Report #8. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public hearing held on June 29, 2016 to receive an update regarding the City Manager’s Search in the Focus Groups that took place and the development of the draft profile.

I’m taking bets now on whether the City Council will successfully meet its proposed September 26 date for selecting the next City Manager. Even if they do make a decision by then, it’s likely that there will still be a period of time before the new City Manager can take the reins (unless it’s an internal candidate).

Committee Report #9. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, for a public hearing held on June 23, 2016 to discuss the proposed changes to the current liquor license regulations and the City Council policy goals on liquor licenses, economic development, the impact on neighborhoods and local businesses.

This was also an interesting hearing at which the rationale for these proposed changes was clarified.

Committee Report #10. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee and Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, for a public hearing held on July 19, 2016, to discuss safety issues as it relates to cyclist and pedestrians in Inman Square, and to hear suggestions from community members and on how best to address the safety challenges of this intersection.

This was a very well-attended meeting, especially by cyclists who were invited through various social media channels. The presentation by City officials was informative. The only down side was the manner in which attention to the safety of Inman Square was deflected by some, especially during public comment, toward other infrastructure proposals that have little to no bearing on the safety of this or any other Cambridge intersection. It was also interesting that numerous residents of Antrim Street were in attendence with concerns over the possiblity that one of the proposed realignment schemes might have the unintended consequence of redirecting more traffic onto Antrim Street.

Barring any emergencies, the next City Council meeting after this will be on September 12.

July 21, 2016

Nominations Sought for City Manager Search Process Preliminary Screening Committee

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:30 am

Nominations Sought for City Manager Search Process Preliminary Screening Committee

City SealJuly 21, 2016 – In anticipation of the expected great interest in the City Manager position, City officials are assembling a 19-member Preliminary Screening Committee, facilitated by its consultant, GovHR USA, to screen résumés and conduct preliminary interviews with the highest-qualified candidates. The Preliminary Screening Committee will determine the finalists to be presented to the City Council for their consideration.

The Preliminary Screening Committee will be composed of:

(4) City Council members;

(3) Resident representatives* (who have demonstrated advocacy in support of community needs);

(2) Business related representatives (with demonstrated partnership experience, ideally from a large and a small business);

(1) Representative from Cambridge School Committee or a senior School Department administrative representative;

(1) Public Safety representative (Police/Fire departments);

(1) Person with demonstrated knowledge of municipal finance;

(1) Health and Human Services/Public Health representative;

(1) Representative with knowledge of City Planning and Development (experience in urban design and transportation issues preferred);

(1) Higher education/institutional partner;

(1) Public art and/or recreational representative;

(1) Affordable housing advocate;

(1) Non-profit community representative;

(1) Representative who advocates for the quality of our community’s civic and social well-being;

* Please note: The total number of resident members will be significantly higher as many of the designated category representatives will be Cambridge residents.

Criteria for Preliminary Screening Committee Membership:
Committee members will be selected by their ability to represent one or more of the identified constituency groups. All applications will be reviewed and the goal is to select a broadly representative and diverse group of committed participants. Experience with executive recruitment is highly desirable. Availability is a key criteria. Participants must commit to each of the following three (3) predetermined days. Day one will be Thursday, Aug. 25 for participant training. The group will convene again for two consecutive days on Wednesday, Sept. 7 and Thursday, Sept. 8 to conduct candidate interviews. Meals will be provided. The Cambridge location for the training and interviews has yet to be determined. This phase of the City Manager hiring process is strictly confidential, and as a result, all Preliminary Screening Committee participants will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement.

How to become a member of the Preliminary Screening Committee:
To be considered for the Preliminary Screening Committee, applicants can either self-nominate or be nominated. Online applications are due by 5pm on Friday, August 12, 2016. The online application can be found on the City Manager Search webpage, www.cambridgema.gov/citymanagersearch.

Paper applications are available upon request from the Personnel Department, Cambridge City Hall, Room 309, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA 02139, or by calling 617-349-4332. Completed paper applications must be submitted to the attention of Sheila Keady Rawson, Personnel Director, by 12pm on Friday, August 12, 2016.

If you would like to recommend a participant for consideration or have questions, please email managersearch2016@cambridgema.gov or call Sheila Keady Rawson at 617-349-4332.

The City of Cambridge appreciates your interest and extends its gratitude for your support of this search process. Community involvement and participation is critical to selecting the right and best new City Manager for our great city!

March 11, 2016

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi to retire later this year

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:08 am

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi to retire later this year

Richard C. RossiCity Manager Richard C. Rossi informed the City Council on Friday, March 11 at the Government Operations, Rules, and Claims Committee meeting that he will retire when his contract expires on June 30, 2016.

Mr. Rossi has worked for the City for over four decades – including serving as Deputy City Manager from August 1982 through June 2013 and as City Manager since July 2013 when he succeeded Robert W. Healy.

Mr. Rossi explained that after working so long in the service of the city of his birth, he felt like it was time to dedicate more of his time to his family and other interests.

Though the departure of Mr. Rossi will be a substantial change, one of the hallmarks of the Cambridge City administration in recent years has been its remarkable bench strength – department heads and all those involved in maintaining the fiscal health of the City. There are more than a few people in the City administration who could step up to fill Mr. Rossi’s shoes or, at the very least, serve essential roles in the administration of any new City Manager.

In a city where various political factions have often clashed, Richard Rossi has long been viewed a "someone we can work with" by people on all sides. During his tenure as City Manager he has responded to concerns about vacancies on City Boards and Commissions by methodically reviewing all of the boards and deliberately making appropriate reappointments and new appointments to many of these boards. During his time as Deputy City Manager, Mr. Rossi was often seen as the "point man" on significant capital projects, and he earned the trust and admiration of the great majority of residents who had an interest in getting the best outcomes for projects that include renovations of the Cambridge Hospital, the Walter Sullivan Water Treatment Plant, City Hall Annex, the new Main Library, and various school renovation and reconstruction projects. Indeed, one of the things that both Robert Healy and Richard Rossi will be remembered for decades from now is their relentless focus on renewing the infrastructure of the city and its public buildings while maintaining the City’s fiscal health through it all. This is no simple task.

Speaking personally, Richard Rossi was our greatest ally during 1989-1991 when we were getting the City’s recycling program off the ground – long before environmental initiatives like this became a core part of the City’s play book. Deputy City Manager Lisa Peterson was our other great ally, and she has not wavered in her support during the more than two decades that followed. Rich Rossi earned my respect and friendship through those recycling initiatives as well as during the work of the Library 21 Committee and the Green Ribbon Open Space Committee. Any hesitance by then City Manager Bob Healy to be actively engaged with the public was more than compensated for by the presence of Rich Rossi.

On more than one occasion Rich Rossi has marveled to me in conversation about just how far we have come since those early days when were trying to figure out how best to create a citywide recycling program. That focus has now expanded to include transportation planning, energy conservation, and other initiatives. So many of the things we take for granted in City planning today evolved during the years with Robert Healy and Richard Rossi at the helm. I wish we could keep Richie in the Manager’s Office for another few years, but we will all be happy to simply express our gratitude for his dedication over these many years in helping to make Cambridge the city it is today. – Robert Winters

Full statement here

March 8, 2016

Nominations Sought for 2016 Outstanding City Employee Awards

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:00 am

Nominations Sought for 2016 Outstanding City Employee Awards

Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking nominations for the 2016 Outstanding City Employee Awards program which recognizes employees for exemplary performance and contributions that go above and beyond job requirements.

Cambridge city government is made up of dedicated employees who strive to provide a high level of quality services to all its citizens. The annual awards ceremony provides a special opportunity to give extra recognition to a few exemplary individuals. Winners will be recognized at a special awards ceremony on Friday, May 6, 2016.

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

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

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

Online Nomination Forms can be accessed from this news story on the city’s website, www.cambridgema.gov. A signed nomination letter may be submitted instead of the nomination form. Completed nominations must be submitted to the Personnel Department by Friday, April 8, 2016. In addition, you may email nominations to mcarvello@cambridgema.gov or fax to the Personnel Department at 617-349-4312. For more information, contact Maryellen Carvello at mcarvello@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4301.

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