Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

January 16, 2020

Follow the Money – Cambridge City Council Campaign Receipts 2019

Filed under: 2019 election,Cambridge,campaign finance,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:58 am

Why do labor unions pour so much money into City Council campaign coffers?

Money![Originally posted Aug 15, updated periodically] – One thing I have always found puzzling is the amount of money donated to the campaign accounts of incumbent city councillors. I suppose this could be interpreted as financial support for those who have supported unions in their noble quest for better wages, benefits, and working conditions, but the fact is that all incumbents and challengers appear to share this sentiment. So perhaps it’s something different. There is a longstanding pattern of labor representatives being recruited by some of the larger real estate developers to speak in favor of new development – supposedly because of the jobs involved, but that always struck me as too simplistic. Many of the people who control the funds of these political action committees are, to say the least, politically connected.

There’s also the matter of political contributions from people tied to real estate development. This is always difficult to evaluate because of the simple fact that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to determine motive. There are people who have been generous charitable contributors for ages who also happen to own and/or develop Cambridge real estate. Are their contributions related to their real estate interests or not?

Of course, there’s also the matter of whether or not contributions come from Cambridge residents. It’s not always easy to draw conclusions from this – primarily because some candidates have family and friends scattered across the rest of the state and the country.

Here’s a revised account of the (a) Cambridge contributions, (b) union contributions, (c) real estate contributions (as best as I could discern), and (d) total of union and real estate money contributed over this election cycle starting from Feb 1, 2018 through the latest data available for all City Council candidates (notes: – receipts include loans from candidates to their campaigns; refunds deducted if clearly a refund):

Table of reported City Council campaign receipts (Feb 1, 2018 - present) - Total, Cambridge, Unions, Real Estate - updated Jan 21, 3:08pm
Candidate (and PACs)ReceiptsCambridgePctunionsPctReal EstatePctunions+REPct
Total $716,223.68 $453,410.1563.3% $45,250.006.3% $70,851.009.9% $116,101.0016.2%
McGovern, Marc C. $107,006.21 $46,638.0043.6% $12,550.0011.7% $30,200.0028.2% $42,750.0040.0%
Simmons, E. Denise $64,111.19 $31,466.1949.1% $6,250.009.7% $20,600.0032.1% $26,850.0041.9%
Toomey, Timothy J., Jr. $63,112.80 $33,325.1452.8% $5,100.008.1% $13,350.0021.2% $18,450.0029.2%
Mallon, Alanna $42,475.25 $28,537.2567.2% $6,450.0015.2% $1,900.004.5% $8,350.0019.7%
Siddiqui, Sumbul $33,654.68 $19,871.6859.0% $5,250.0015.6% $350.001.0% $5,600.0016.6%
Musgrave, Adriane $42,278.35 $20,919.3549.5% $4,200.009.9% $600.001.4% $4,800.0011.4%
Kelley, Craig A. $40,385.00 $32,378.0080.2% $2,500.006.2% $1,650.004.1% $4,150.0010.3%
ABC - PAC $24,259.26 $20,207.2383.3% $ -0.0% $1,866.007.7% $1,866.007.7%
Sobrinho-Wheeler, Jivan $28,430.00 $18,710.4265.8% $1,500.005.3% $ - 0.0% $1,500.005.3%
Carlone, Dennis $33,648.00 $27,098.0080.5% $500.001.5% $250.000.7% $750.002.2%
Mednick, Risa $19,541.00 $13,908.0071.2% $500.002.6% $ - 0.0% $500.002.6%
Azeem, Burhan $14,719.35 $11,654.3579.2% $450.003.1% $35.000.2% $485.003.3%
Williams, Nicola A. $31,501.78 $24,251.5277.0% $ -0.0% $50.000.2% $50.000.2%
Akiba, Sukia $3,000.00 $980.0032.7% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
BikeSafety-PAC $3,480.00 $2,155.0061.9% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
CCC - PAC $19,130.00 $18,250.0095.4% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
CResA - PAC $3,173.08 $3,005.0094.7% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
Franklin, Charles $34,392.78 $22,639.7865.8% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Kopon, Derek Andrew $8,873.16 $7,295.0182.2% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Levy, Ilan S. $650.00 $550.0084.6% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
McNary, Jeffery $ - $ - - $ -- $ - - $ - -
Moree, Gregg J. $1,500.00 $1,500.00100.0% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Nolan, Patricia M. $21,961.23 $13,555.0061.7% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
ORC - PAC $1,992.00 $1,892.0095.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
Pitkin, John $14,072.00 $12,172.0086.5% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Simon, Ben $12,540.33 $6,892.0055.0% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Zondervan, Quinton $46,336.23 $33,559.2372.4% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%

Source: Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF)

ABC-PAC: “A Better Cambridge Political Action Committee”
BikeSafety-PAC: “Cambridge Bicycle Safety Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee”
CCC-PAC: “Cambridge Citizens Coalition Political Action Committee”
CResA-PAC: “Democracy for Cambridge Political Action Committee” – Cambridge Residents Alliance
ORC-PAC: “Our Revolution Cambridge Political Action Committee”

January 15, 2020

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 445-446: Jan 14, 2020

Episode 445 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 14, 2020 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 14, 2020 at 5:30pm. Topics: New year, new City Council; Jan 13 Council meeting, Tree Removal Moratorium extension debated; practical vs. ideological; committee appointments; City Manager contract and budget growth. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

Episode 446 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 14, 2020 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 14, 2020 at 6:00pm. Topics: Schmidt Petition, definition of “family” in zoning, rooming houses; rent control vs. helping people; What’s Next? chasing a crisis vs. promoting a good idea; Will this be a confiscatory Council?; incentives vs. mandates. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

January 13, 2020

It’s Opening Day – Jan 13, 2020 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 2:14 pm

It’s Opening Day – Jan 13, 2020 Cambridge City Council meeting

City HallThe is the first regular City Council meeting of the 2020-21 term. The mayoral vote at the Jan 6 Inauguration was a single take, and newly minted Mayor Siddiqui broke the record for fastest City Council committee appointments. Here are a few items on the agenda of some interest.

Unfinished Business #4. Amendment to Chapter 8.12 of the Municipal Ordinances of the City of Cambridge. [Passed to a Second Reading on Dec 16, 2019 To Be Ordained on or after Dec 29, 2019]

This is the proposed municipal ordinance that would ban mobile fueling operations throughout Cambridge, i.e. where a vehicle shows up where you are and fills your gas tank for you. As I said when this was first introduced as a zoning amendment last October: "Yet more evidence of the lazy ass, ‘call the servants’ times that we now live in. If pumping your own gas at the filling station is so burdensome that you must use a phone app to have the ‘little people’ show up to do it for you, then maybe it’s time to reconsider your life choices."

Applications & Petitions #1. A Zoning Petition has been received from Christopher Schmidt, regarding an amendment to Section 2.000 of the Zoning Ordinance.

This is a simple and sensible proposal that would amend the definition of "family" in the Zoning Ordinance to remove restrictions on unrelated family members. Specifically, it would simply say: "Family. One or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit."

The current definition is this:

Family. One or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit; provided that a group of four or more persons who are not within the second degree of kinship shall not be deemed to constitute a family.

Notwithstanding the definition in the preceding paragraph, a family shall be deemed to include four or more persons not within the second degree of kinship occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single, nonprofit housekeeping unit, if said occupants are handicapped persons as defined in Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the “Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988.” Such unrelated individuals shall have the right to occupy a dwelling unit in the same manner and to the same extent as any family in the first paragraph of this definition.

It’s unknown when the last time the current definition was ever enforced, and households consisting of several unrelated persons are very common in Cambridge and the region. The only potential downside of this simplification might be that an apartment specifically designated as "family housing" may become just another roommate situation.

Resolution #2. Resolution on the death of Carol Cerf.   Councillor Simmons

Resolution #5. Resolution on the death of Susan Noonan-Forster.   Councillor Toomey

Resolution #9. Resolution on the death of Thomas F. Courtney.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Simmons, Councillor McGovern

I knew Carol Cerf from the CCA Board over 25 years ago and would often run into her on her bicycle for years after that. She was one of the more kind and generous people I met in local politics over the years. There was a moment of silence at the Jan 6 School Committee Inauguration noting the death of Susan Noonan-Forster. Thomas F. Courtney, among many other notable distinctions, was the father of our most beloved Deputy City Clerk Paula Crane.

Order #4. TPO Extension PO.   Councillor Zondervan

The cryptic summary refers to a proposed extension of the Tree Protection Ordinance, i.e. Moratorium, from the current expiration date of March 11, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The Order also encourages that more permanent language be soon established based on recommendations of the Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force. I can only hope that some flexibility is written into the more permanent ordinance to allow reasonable homeowners to do reasonable things without exorbitant cost, but recent trends tend to be the opposite.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, transmitting information from the Jan 7, 2020 Regular Meeting of the School Committee.

It’s good to see intermural communication like this from the Mayor to the City Council regarding School Committee matters.

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, announcing the formal 2020-2021 appointments to the City Council Committees.

This has to be a new record for fastest City Council committee appointments. It usually takes weeks and Mayor Siddiqui had it done in three days. – Robert Winters

January 8, 2020

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 443-444: Jan 7, 2020

Episode 443 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 7, 2020 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 7, 2020 at 5:30pm. Topics: City Council and School Committee Inaugurations; Election of Mayor, Vice-Chair of City Council; School Committee & Cancel Culture; City Manager Contract on the horizon; Liberalism vs. Radicalism; Freakonomics in affordable housing, small business, and the Achievement Gap; money doesn’t solve everything. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

Episode 444 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 7, 2020 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 7, 2020 at 6:00pm. Topics: City Council priorities; return of Subsidized Housing Overlay proposal or alternatives; tenant protections and condo regulation; protection vs. control; zoning & development in Central Square, near Union Sq./Green Line Extension; Alewife possibilities, including multiple bridges. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

January 5, 2020

The Eve of Inauguration

Filed under: 2019 election,Cambridge,School Committee — Tags: , , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:02 pm

The Eve of Inauguration

City HallSun, Jan 5 – It’s the Eve of Inauguration of the 2020-21 City Council (10:00am start, City Hall) and School Committee (6:00pm start, Cambridge Public Library, Lecture Hall, 449 Broadway). Upon inauguration of the City Council, they will proceed directly to the Election of the Mayor (and then the Vice Chair should a Mayor actually be elected). There has been the usual chatter among residents (as well as some posturing of incumbents meant to suggest who might have disproportionate influence in the process) but other than the logic of those with high vote totals deserving an advantage in the selection, I have no specific information on how the vote will go. Often the person who is seen as delivering the decisive vote is rewarded by being elected Vice Mayor or getting choice committee assignments. I have attended these inaugurations every two years for a very long time and have generally found the mayoral maneuvering to be interesting, especially in trying to decipher which favors are granted to whom in exchange for votes. It would so much more interesting if there were actual horses being traded.

Whoever does end up with the five votes to become Mayor will then have the distinct privilege of becoming the 7th voting member and Chair of the School Committee. If the tone and focus of the upcoming School Committee is even remotely similar to the outgoing one, a prison sentence might be preferable to being Mayor. Perhaps with mostly new members things will be different. A Mayor who is capable of resolving differences rather than exacerbating them will help. Time will tell.

One City Council Committee appointment (by whomever ends up as Mayor) will be Chair of the Government Operations, Rules, and Claims Committee. We are now entering the final year of the contract with City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. The process of deciding whether to extend that contract or to seek a new City Manager has traditionally been shepherded by the Chair of Government Operations, though any route to five votes would be completely consistent with the Plan E Charter under which the Manager "shall hold office during the pleasure of the city council". As to the timing, the current contract states: "If the City intends to continue Mr. DePasquale’s employment beyond January 8, 2021, it shall give written notice to Mr. DePasquale on or before September 14, 2020, and initiate negotiations for a successor employment contract, which contract, if agreed to, shall become effective January 9, 2021. Absent agreement on a successor employment contract, this Agreement shall terminate on January 8, 2021." – Robert Winters

PS – At this time it appears to still be the case that Emily Dexter may not accept her election to the School Committee. If this does prove to be the case, her replacement will be officially determined later this month. I sincerely hope that this situation is somehow reversed, that the will of the voters is respected, and that a "teachable moment" is somehow recovered. There is an opportunity here for a new Mayor to actually show real leadership. Or not. – RW

City Councillors-Elect: Dennis Carlone, Alanna Mallon, Marc McGovern, Patty Nolan, Sumbul Siddiqui, Denise Simmons, Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, Tim Toomey, Quinton Zondervan

School Committee Members-Elect: Mannika Bowman, Emily Dexter, Alfred Fantini, Jose Luis Rojas Villarreal, Rachel Weinstein, Ayesha Wilson

January 3, 2020

2019 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports (and $/Vote)

The following table shows the summary bank reports (Feb 2018 to present) for 2019 Cambridge City Council candidates and active local political action committees involved in the municipal election. These reports are updated at the middle and at the end of every month. You can sort by any of the fields shown by clicking on the field name – one click ascending and second click descending. #1 Votes and $/Vote fields added Nov 10 and will be updated as bills continue to be paid.

CandidateToStartReceiptsExpendBalanceAs Of#1 Votes$/VoteNotes
PAC - ABC12/31/190.0021436.4119355.532080.8801/02/20--A Better Cambridge
PAC - CCC12/31/190.0017867.2212661.465205.7601/03/20--Cambridge Citizens Coalition, $300 refund deducted
PAC - CResA12/31/190.003166.771811.541355.2301/02/20--Cambridge Residents Alliance
PAC - Cambr. Bike Safety07/15/ Bike Safety
PAC - Our Revolution Cambridge12/31/190.001427.001367.0060.0001/02/20--filed 10/9/19 w/OCPF
Akiba, Sukia12/31/190.003000.032820.03180.0001/03/20362 $7.79
Azeem, Burhan12/31/190.0014459.2513860.37598.8801/03/20961 $14.42new candidate, May 7
Carlone, Dennis12/31/1910088.5833141.6335850.177380.0401/03/201479 $24.24
Franklin, Charles12/31/190.0033326.6031624.441702.1601/02/20323 $97.91new candidate, Mar 5
Kelley, Craig12/31/194951.6539413.2029964.5014400.3501/02/201422 $21.07
Kopon, Derek12/31/190.009716.729716.720.0001/03/20493 $19.71new candidate, July 2
Levy, Ilan12/31/19-44.32650.51534.4171.7801/02/20110 $4.86
Mallon, Alanna12/31/195380.4541744.7642078.485046.7301/03/201256 $33.50refund deducted
McGovern, Marc12/31/196376.17105295.6895375.0816296.7701/03/201621 $58.84$600 refund deducted
McNary, Jeffery12/31/ $0.00will not raise/expend funds
Mednick, Risa12/31/190.0019618.9916171.283447.7101/02/20244 $66.28new candidate, July 15
Moree, Gregg12/31/190.001500.001500.000.0001/03/2047 $31.91
Musgrave, Adriane12/31/19474.6741091.1936832.544733.3201/03/20726 $50.73
Nolan, Patty12/31/190.0022587.0216495.886091.1401/02/201685 $9.79new candidate, June 11
Pitkin, John12/31/190.0014304.6813328.57976.1101/02/20536 $24.87new candidate, July 17
Siddiqui, Sumbul12/31/199334.0533624.2827522.3415435.9901/02/202516 $10.94
Simmons, Denise12/31/197595.5063834.3362278.199151.6401/02/202007 $31.03
Simon, Ben12/31/190.0012145.9511132.411013.5401/02/20294 $37.87new candidate, Apr 2
Sobrinho-Wheeler, Jivan C.12/31/190.0027478.1325647.491830.6401/02/201321 $19.42new candidate, Mar 11
Toomey, Tim12/31/198024.4963166.7255998.8615192.3501/02/201729 $32.39$22,000 loan repayment deducted
Williams, Nicola A.12/31/190.0030532.8830815.01-282.1301/02/20631 $48.84new candidate, Mar 12
Zondervan, Quinton12/31/191279.6646916.4047836.53359.5301/02/201382 $34.61
Summaries of potential 2019 City Council campaign bank reports. Adjustments to the totals have been made to reflect returned donations and other factors. [updated Jan 3, 2020 at 7:38pm]

Campaign Finance Reports – 2019 City Council (updated Jan 3, 7:38pm)


December 17, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 441-442: December 17, 2019

Episode 441 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 17, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 17, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: On Elections & Vacancies; The Departure of Councillors Craig Kelley & Jan Devereux; Karp Petition and East Cambridge development, Contract Zoning a.k.a. “Let’s Make A Deal”; Mall Tales and Mini-Retail. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

Episode 442 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 17, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 17, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Harvard Square Zoning Petition – how zoning might help retail.; Form-Based Zoning – Citywide Somerville Rezoning; Finding the “Sweet Spot” in zoning density. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

December 15, 2019

That’s All Folks! – Featured Items on the Dec 16, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

That’s All Folks! – Featured Items on the Dec 16, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

That's All Folks!The last meeting of the 2018-2019 Cambridge City Council takes place this Monday (thanks to the cancellation of the remaining two meetings). This will also mark the final meeting for both Vice Mayor Jan Devereux (served 2 terms, first elected 2015) and Councillor Craig Kelley (served 7 terms, first elected 2005). With the exit of two of the most reasonable members of the City Council we may well be heading toward the Wild Card Council for 2020-2021 where the only real question will be "how far left?"

Here are a few items on this final meeting agenda worthy of note:

Unfinished Business #5. A revised Petition has been received from Stephen R. Karp, Trustee of Cambridge Side Galeria Associates trust to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by adding a new Section 13.100 to Article 13.00 of the Zoning Ordinance and to amend the Zoning Map to add a new PUD-8 District overlay that certain area (which includes parcels and portions of ways and streets) labeled as "PUD-8 district". [Passed to a 2nd Reading on Nov 26, 2019 to be Ordained on or after Dec 16, 2019]

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Anthony I. Wilson, Esq. transmitting a communication from John E. Twohig, Executive Vice President of New England Development, regarding the proposed CambridgeSide PUD-8 District. [Cover letter] [Redline_CambridgeSide 2.0 – PUD-8 Zoning Text (12.11.19 edits)] [CambridgeSide 2.0 – PUD-8 Zoning Text (12.11.19)]

I’ll say it one last time before the Council either ordains this on Monday or punts: I hope the City Council passes some form of this thing so that the area can get a shot in the arm, but I find this whole "Let’s Make a Deal" aspect of how zoning petitions are approved lately to be very problematic. Rezoning is becoming less about good planning and more about generating revenue and goodies.

Order #1. Zoning Amendment Articles 2.00 and 4.32 regarding opposition to permitting on-demand mobile fueling services to operate in Cambridge.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan

This was introduced on Oct 21, 2019 and I can’t see any difference between that petition (which expires Mar 9, 2020) and this supposedly amended petition.

Order #3. That section 11.202(b) of Article 11.000, entitled SPECIAL REGULATIONS, of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge, be amended the table as follows: Jan 28, 2020 (Annual Adjustment) $19.10 per square foot.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone, Mayor McGovern

This was discussed at the Dec 9 meeting – an itsy bitsy zoning amendment that changes a dollar amount. Let the hearings begin!

Order #5. That all items pending before the City Council and not acted upon by the end of the 2018-2019 Legislative Session be placed in the files of the City Clerk, without prejudice provided that those proposed ordinances which have been passed to a second reading, advertised and listed on the Calendar under "Unfinished Business" during the 2018-2019 City Council term, along with any other pending matters on the Calendar listed as "Unfinished Business," shall be forwarded to the next City Council and further provided that any items pending in committee may, at the discretion of the committee, be forwarded to the next City Council.   Mayor McGovern

….. and, of course, 97 Items Awaiting Report. There are 6 responses, so we’ll apparently end the term at 91 items awaiting report. Some will be carried over to either languish in Managerial Purgatory or maybe see the light of day.

I repeat – let ’em all expire and start fresh. Perhaps for the next City Council term the City Council and City Manager should establish a cap on how many items are allowed to languish on the Awaiting Report pile.

Order #6. That the City Manager instruct the City Solicitor to provide and update on the previous two orders requesting draft legislation for a Real Estate Transfer Fee Home Rule petition   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

Though this will likely only affect the relatively large real estate transactions, I expect the next City Council will have as a primary goal to separate as much money from property owners – large and small – as they can legally justify. And when that runs out they’ll just change the laws for more.

Order #7. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the CPSD Superintendent to ensure that the CPSD budget is enough to meet the educational needs of all children in Cambridge rather than a formulaic increase over past CPSD budgets.   Councillor Kelley

I would have thought the statement contained in this Order would have been the rule all along.

Order #8. Continued Anti-Bias Training in 2020 and beyond.   Councillor Simmons


Order #9. Removing Sackler family name from Harvard University Museum.   Mayor McGovern

I pass by a portrait of David Koch every day at MIT. It has never bothered me. Should we obliterate the family name of everyone whose business interests include some things we don’t like even if they have contributed tremendously toward other things that we do appreciate? Cancel Culture is insanity.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Councillor E. Denise Simmons regarding an "End of Term Report from the Housing Committee".

That little matter of tearing the civic fabric to shreds didn’t appear in this report.

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from Vice Mayor Devereux.

A classy exit message from a classy lady (even on those occasions when we have disagreed). – Robert Winters

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