Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

February 24, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 115-116: Feb 23, 2016

Filed under: Cambridge InsideOut,City Council,elections — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:37 am

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 115 (Part 1) – Presidential Politics

This episode was broadcast on Feb 23, 2016 at 5:30pm. In this episode we stepped outside of Cambridge and talked about the presidential primaries a week before Super Tuesday. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 116 (Part 2) – More Local Matters

This episode was broadcast on Feb 23, 2016 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

February 21, 2016

Back to Work (Really) – Monday, Feb 22, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 2:05 pm

Back to Work (Really) – Monday, Feb 22, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Committee Members
Ordinance Carlone (Co-Chair), Cheung (Co-Chair)
(committee of the whole)
Finance McGovern (Chair)
(committee of the whole)
Government Operations,
Rules, and Claims
Maher (Chair), Cheung,
Mazen, McGovern, Toomey
Housing Mayor Simmons (Co-Chair),
McGovern (Co-Chair),
Carlone, Devereux, Maher
Economic Development and
University Relations
Devereux (Chair), Carlone,
Cheung, Mazen, McGovern
Human Services & Veterans McGovern (Chair), Devereux,
Maher, Mazen, Toomey
Health & Environment Devereux (Chair), Carlone,
Kelley, McGovern, Toomey
Neighborhood and Long Term
Planning, Public Facilities,
Art, and Celebrations
Mazen (Chair), Carlone,
Cheung, Devereux, Maher
Transportation
& Public Utilities
Toomey (Chair), Carlone,
Cheung, Kelley, Mazen
Civic Unity McGovern (Chair), Devereux, Kelley,
Mazen, Mayor Simmons
Public Safety Kelley (Chair), Maher, Mazen,
McGovern, Toomey

Back to WorkNote: Much of this meeting’s agenda was originally set for February 8, but all City of Cambridge offices were closed that day due to snow. All of those items were carried over to the February 22 agenda.


The 2016-2017 City Council committee assignments have been announced by Mayor Simmons. There are also proposed amended 2016-2017 City Council Rules on the agenda for this week’s meeting. The proposed changes include uniformizing most City Council committees at 5 members and allowing for the possibility that some Roundtable meetings may be televised. One curious departure from tradition is that Mayor Simmons will co-chair the Housing Committee and also be a regular member of the Civic Unity Committee. In all my year’s of Council-watching, I don’t recall the Mayor being anything other than an ex-officio member of any subcommittees (other than committees of the whole) and certainly never a co-chair. I have to interpret this a strong desire of Mayor Simmons to continue work begun on these committees during the last term.

I’m especially pleased by the appointments to the Government Operations, Rules, & Claims Committee – especially with the City Manager’s contract discussion coming up (very) soon. The City Council must give notice of its intentions no later than March 1.

Other interesting items on this coming Monday’s City Council agenda:

Manager’s Agenda #17. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Sharlene Yang as the new STEAM Coordinator.

So much of the focus on STEM/STEAM has seemed like little more than political fashion, but if any of these efforts result in matching young people growing up in Cambridge with real opportunities in the local economy of today, it will all have been worth it. That said, a coordinator needs to have something to coordinate and it will be interesting to see if the required opportunities develop.

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Sage Cannabis, Inc., to amend the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Overlay District Section 20.700 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance and Map.

Communications #8. A communication was received from Michael Dundas, Chief Executive Officer, Sage Cannabis, Inc., 13 Commercial Way, Milford, MA, regarding a status update on the zoning amendment petition APP 2015 #72 filed with the Cambridge City Clerk on Nov 9, 2015.

Order #3. That the zoning petition filed by Milford Medicinals, Inc. be placed on file.   Mayor Simmons

It’s hard to say where this matter is going to ultimately end up, but it’s important to note that the City Council and City staff spent a considerable amount of time on the current zoning that delineates two areas where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate. Has the case really been made that those districts are inadequate and that additional mini-districts have to be established whenever a medical marijuana dispensary wants to operate elsewhere? It’s also worth considering how the marijuana sales landscape will take shape in the event that the ballot question on legalization prevails later this year.

Resolution #18. Congratulations to the MIT-based members of the LIGO collaboration on their contributions to the observation of gravitational waves.   Councillor Cheung

Occasionally my worlds collide. The "chirp" of two black holes colliding was the talk in every corner of MIT on February 11. Even MIT President Rafael Reif was as excited as a kid at a carnival.

Order #5. That the amendment to the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge to amend the provisions of the PUD-KS District set forth in Section 13.10 of the Zoning Ordinances and which includes a majority of the Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, be refiled as of Feb 9, 2015.   Councillor Carlone

This re-filing has been anticipated for some time, and now there will be an Ordinance Committee to work on it.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant City departments to study the benefits of a wellbeing index and plan for how it might be incorporated into various City planning processes, including the city wide Master Plan.   Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor McGovern

Call me skeptical. I just read the following description of a wellbeing index: "The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is designed to be the Dow Jones of health, giving a daily measure of people’s wellbeing at the close of every day. With a daily measure, determining the correlation between the places where people work and the communities in which they live, and how it impacts their wellbeing, is now possible. Additionally, the index will increase an understanding of how those factors impact the financial health of corporations and communities." This seems to be in part a continuation of the spectrum of policies that Cambridge planners have been using for years in promoting transportation alternatives and integrating passive and active recreational opportunities wherever possible. My skepticism comes from the potential subjectivity of such a measure. I’m reminded how when various measures of cycling safety led to inconclusive results, a new "comfort index" was invented in order to justify specific policies regarding road design that some planners wanted. How shall we measure "wellbeing"?

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council regarding how the decision to move these festivals out of Central Square was reached, what plans the City has to initiate other festivals in Central Square to replace these lost activities, and what can be done to return these festivals to Central Square.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons

It would be great if the Central Square Worlds Fair could one day be revived, but these events don’t come cheap, and they don’t all yield benefits for the existing businesses in Central Square.

Order #11. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Community Development Department, the Public Works Department, and any other relevant City department to level the sidewalks and add new lighting to Carl Barron Plaza prior to any renovations taking place.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons

Any significant renovations to Carl Barron Plaza will likely be delayed until the River Street improvements happen a couple of years from now. That said, basic maintenance of the sidewalks and better lighting shouldn’t be delayed. One comprehensive improvement that could also be made now would be a jointly operated storefront abutting the plaza that would house a Cambridge Police substation, coordination of MBTA bus activities, an information kiosk, and the promised public restroom from the last Participatory Budget process. An outside public restroom (the Portland Loo) recently open in the Harvard Square area, but it would be so much better (and more secure) if such a facility in Central Square was done jointly with enhanced police presence. The plumbing will also be a lot simpler.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the progress made in acquiring the Vail Court property, including a financial impact statement and a plan to move forward in acquiring this property through eminent domain.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons

The perennial sore thumb continues to throb. Non-friendly eminent domain takings are a huge hassle and don’t always end well, but this situation is ridiculous.

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Clerk to communicate the City Council’s strong support of Harvard’s graduate research and teaching assistants to choose collective bargaining to the Harvard University administration.   Councillor Cheung

Some form of collective bargaining may make sense here, but being a graduate student teaching assistant is not a career option and should not be categorized the same way as long-term jobs are – unionized or not. More than anything else, this is really a test of the ethical standards of universities like Harvard, and any discussion of what constitutes fairness should also be extended to adjunct faculty for whom this often does constitute a career choice.

Order #17. That the City Manager is requested to seek permission from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for the use of two lanes (one in each direction) of Memorial Drive for non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians only and further to coordinate with the appropriate city departments to close two lanes to cars (one in each direction) on Memorial Drive on Apr 29, 2016, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Walk/Ride Days, and the kick-off of the 5th Annual Walk/Ride Day Corporate Challenge.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Devereux, Mayor Simmons

Though there may be some popular appeal in doing something like this, the unfortunate reality is that the DCR "parkways" have become essential links between the urban core and major roads like the Massachusetts Turnpike and Route 2. This includes the need for a through lane as well as a turning lane at numerous locations. Removing two travel lanes or even shutting these roads down altogether may be fine on weekends and holidays, but the road already operates at capacity during rush hour on working days. It is hard to imagine the DCR agreeing to such a road closure on a busy Friday. If so, perhaps the name should be changed from "Walk/Ride Day" to "Piss Off Thousands of Commuters Day." – Robert Winters

February 20, 2016

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,campaign finance,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:08 pm

Vote!This year (2015) is a municipal election year and the roster of candidates is now final. Here is where the campaign accounts stand for incumbents and challengers for Cambridge City Council. This information will be updated as the year progresses.

It will be interesting to see how the new individual contribution limit of $1000/year (up from $500/year) affects campaign receipts and expenditures.

City Council Campaign Finance - 2015 (based on bank reports, updated Feb 20, 2016)

CandidatesStartEndOpenReceiptsExpendBalance#1 Votes$ per #1 Vote
Benzan, Dennis1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$8207.45$70200.89$78273.51$134.84
1159$67.54
Carlone, Dennis1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$4272.67$33079.30$37256.45$95.521002$37.18
Cheung, Leland1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$6002.06$95266.51$39430.61$61837.961189$33.16
Connolly, Mike16-Jul-1515-Feb-16$0.00$50381.44$39581.86$10799.58841$47.07
Courtney, Kim1-Jan-1515-Dec-15$0.00$1869.94$1869.94$0.0072$25.97
Davidson, Mariko25-Jun-1515-Feb-16$0.00$15232.25$15232.25$0.00853$17.86
DeGoes, Plineo16-Jun-1515-Dec-15$0.00$4550.00$4550.00$0.0051$89.22
Devereux, Jan1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$0.00$55720.44$53162.94$2557.501307$40.68
Dietrich, Xavier13-Jul-1515-Dec-15$0.00$2360.00$2360.00$0.0027$78.90
Kelley, Craig1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$2601.58$39626.05$37858.49$4369.141434$26.40
Levy, Ilan13-Jul-1531-Dec-15$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00153$0.00
Maher, David1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$28741.21$55839.21$83063.27$1517.151637$50.74
Mahoney, Paul F.2-Jul-1515-Feb-16$0.00$5075.00$2376.64$2698.36251$9.47
Mazen, Nadeem1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$12273.54$69320.74$81508.96$85.321929$42.25
McGovern, Marc1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$6098.45$67556.62$72900.57$754.501202$60.65
Mello, Gary1-Jul-1531-Dec-15$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00119$0.00
Moree, Gregg1-Jul-1515-Feb-16$0.00$13320.00$13316.42$3.5878$170.72
Sanzone, John1-May-1515-Feb-16$0.00$3085.28$2280.50$804.7832$71.27
Simmons, Denise1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$7447.29$59939.41$61288.24$6098.461715$35.74
Toomey, Tim1-Jan-1531-Dec-15$18782.29$48207.68$60573.92$6416.051416$42.78
vanBeuzekom, Minka 1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$7380.40$46013.45$52113.55$1280.301014$51.39
Waite, Romaine2-Jul-1515-Feb-16$0.00$3687.95$3687.95$0.00
274$13.46
Williamson, James1-Jul-1531-Dec-15$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0072$0.00

The table can be sorted by category in ascending or descending order by clicking on the category name in the top row.

The $ per #1 Vote figures will continue to rise as expenditure reports continue to be filed.

All 2015 Campaign Finance Report Summaries (PDF) – last updated Feb 20, 2016

You can also look up these periodic reports (and more) yourself at the OCPF website.

The information in the tables below was compiled in early December 2015. Some additional receipts, expenditures, returned donations, etc. have occurred since then. The tables may be updated at some point in the future to reflect these changes.


Dollars Spent per #1 Vote


Percentage of Campaign Receipts from Cambridge


Additional Campaign Finance Details

February 1, 2016

Groundhog Eve – A Few Items from the Feb 1, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:16 am

Groundhog Eve – A Few Items from the Feb 1, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting agenda

groundhogPerhaps there will be just six more weeks of winter, then it will get cold again. Until then, here are a few comment-worthy items on tap for this Monday:

Resolution #1. Happy Birthday wishes to former Mayor and City Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves.   Councillor Maher

Happy birthday, Ken!

Order #1. That the Cambridge City Council go on record in full support of H.3019/S.1810, H.3073/S.1807, and S.1809 as needed protections for area bicyclists.   Councillor Kelley

It’s interesting that 55 years ago the same-numbered bill read: "1961 House Bill 3019. An Act Providing A Penalty For Operating A Motor Vehicle So Dangerously Under The Circumstances That The Operator Should Be Conscious That He Is Unreasonably Endangering The Lives Or Safety Of The Public."

The first of these measures would mandate better mirrors and side guards on some vehicles as a means of helping to prevent catastrophic injuries to cyclists. (A significant fraction of cyclist fatalities involve altercations with very large vehicles). The third of these measures would clarify the rights of a cyclist in a crosswalk (which could make a big difference in terms of legal liability in the event of injury or death). Bicycles are vehicles, but in a situation like the Minuteman Bikeway where there are crosswalks at intersections it’s currently not clear what a cyclist is supposed to do – proceed with caution or dismount and walk.

The second of these measures is the most significant. It attempts to define "vulnerable user" and includes cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, people in wheelchairs, tractor operators, and people riding an animal. The proposed law would require that a safe distance of at least three feet be maintained for a motor vehicle traveling at thirty miles per hour or less, and one additional foot of clearance for every ten miles per hour above thirty miles per hour. The law would also require that if a passing vehicle cannot maintain this safe distance when overtaking a "vulnerable user", the overtaking vehicle shall use all or part of an adjacent lane, crossing the centerline if necessary, if it is safe to do so or wait for a safe opportunity to overtake. This should be standard practice anyway for any good driver, but it will be great if this is enshrined in law. The greatest danger for cyclists (and pedestrians) occurs when there are turning vehicles, but there is also some risk (and some fear) of getting "brushed back" by a careless motor vehicle operator who does give a wide berth when passing a cyclist, a pedestrian or, for that matter, even a slower motor vehicle.

If I could wave a magic wand and command the legislature to do right, I would also mandate lower speed limits on any road where the distance between moving vehicles and parked vehicles is below some minimum, e.g. many Cambridge one-way streets with cars parked on both sides. Nobody should be driving more than 25mph on streets like Lee St., Fayette St., or Antrim St. (just to name a couple of streets in my own neighborhood). I will also point out that according to the above proposed law regarding vulnerable users it may not even be physically possible to legally pass a cyclist on such road.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development with the intention of organizing a Volpe Task Force made up of representatives from abutting neighborhood groups and Kendall Square residents and businesses.   Councillor Toomey

I would have thought that such a group would already have been formed, but this does again bring up the dilemma of who really represents the people in the various neighborhoods of Cambridge. I am reminded of Al Vellucci’s oft-stated phrase "the self-anointed, self-appointed."

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Information Technology Department and any other relevant City departments on ways the City of Cambridge can implement such a service with the goal of notifying residents of city-wide and neighborhood events and meetings via automated calls or text messages.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux

This isn’t a bad idea, but I have to wonder who will decide which meetings and events will be deemed call- or email-worthy and which residents will be contacted (abutters, immediate neighborhood, citywide).

Order #4. That the City Council go on record in support of the Bikeshare Transit Act.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Mazen, Councillor Devereux

This would provide an additional source of funds for expanding services like Hubway. Let me just say that as a cyclist who likes to work on my own bike, there’ nothing like getting to know your own wheels.

Order #9. City Council support of a grant application by the City of Cambridge to the U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge, proposing the development of an automated, connected-vehicle transportation system that has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   Councillor Toomey

Beyond all the greenhouse gas stuff, this grant could help in the development of the future Grand Junction Multi-use path which will help link together residential, commercial, and educational centers in Somerville, Cambridge, and Allston. There are reasons for doing this that go beyond climate change, but I suppose that’s where the money is to be found in this political environment.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting notification from the President of the Massachusetts State Senate, calling for a special election to be held on Tues, May 10, 2016, to fill an existing vacancy in the First Suffolk and Middlesex Senatorial District [Petruccelli].

This means that there will also have to be a primary on Tues, April 12 and, since it’s unlikely that we’ll see a viable Republican or other party candidate, that’s when the actual decision will be made with the Democrat running unopposed or minimally opposed on May 10. Special elections like this should not be conducted in this way. If there is to be a primary, it should be a single open primary where the top two finishers, regardless of party, advance to the final election. Better yet, require ranked-choice-voting (RCV) with transferable votes to elect a single winner and eliminate the primary altogether. It’s idiotic that legislators should be determined in a low turnout primary. Isn’t Massachusetts supposed to be a hotbed of intellect and innovation? Why can’t we get elections right?

Don’t forget – the Presidential Primary is also taking place on Tues, March 1.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., transmitting a series of articles regarding the affordable housing crisis. [San Francisco’s Self-Defeating Housing Activists] [What’s the Matter with San Francisco?]

The comparison of San Francisco and Cambridge may be imperfect, but the underlying issues explored in these articles do have some relevance here.

We’ll also likely get the 2016-17 City Council Committee Assignments at this meeting (or at least we hope so). – Robert Winters

January 24, 2016

Tasty menu items for the Jan 25, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:22 pm

Tasty menu items for the Jan 25, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

MenuMore than anything else, I’m hoping that the membership and Chairs of the City Council subcommittees will be completed in time for this Monday’s meeting. There’s also the possibility that the committees themselves could undergo some changes. In 2014 the number of committees was reduced from 17 to 11 via consolidation. It’s unlikely that this number will be further reduced, but some reconfiguration is not out of the question.

Other than the committee appointments, here are some morsels that aroused my interest:

Order #1. City Council support of H.3933 which will create a parity between the effective tax rates paid by the richest and poorest in Massachusetts.   Councillor Toomey

Regardless of the merits of the proposal, it’s hard to tell what is meant here by "parity between the effective tax rates paid by the richest and poorest in Massachusetts". The proposed constitutional amendment would add an additional 4% tax on top of the current 5.1% state income tax on earnings in excess of $1 million in any tax year.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to communicate the Cambridge City Council’s full support of the Cambridge Housing Authority’s proposed project funding to the Commonwealth and MassDevelopment and to convey the immediacy of the Cambridge Housing Authority’s need in requesting that the Commonwealth approve tax-exempt bond financing without delay.   Councillor Cheung, Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern

This would be one more step to ensure that the financing is available to carry out the necessary renovations to the Manning Apartments in the Central Square area.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate City departments to report back with a rough estimate of capital and operating expenditures for a pilot City of Cambridge tool library for the year 2017.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux

This is an intriguing proposal, though it seems like the best model would be more like a public-private partnership. Compare with Parts and Crafts in Somerville.

Order #6. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to coordinate with the Clerk’s Office and the appropriate departments to implement within three months an electronic public comment display in the Sullivan Chamber, listing the speaker’s name and affiliation as well as a timer.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Cheung

Just get a better timer – perhaps one with a green, yellow, and red light to alert the speaker when his or her time is drawing to a close. There is no need for "an electronic public comment display…. listing the speaker’s name and affiliation". Each speaker now provides that information verbally and that is sufficient.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Department of Public Works and the Community Development Department to work with Eversource and other power providers to plan and implement infrastructure improvements to fully support future development in Cambridge and further to confer with the appropriate departments to draft an amendment to the City’s Zoning Ordinance that would see projects needing a special permit undergo a power needs assessment as part of the permitting process.   Councillor Cheung, Councillor Devereux

This is a modified version of an order from the Dec 21, 2015 meeting. More attention needs to be given to the evolving infrastructure needs in Cambridge as new housing and other structures are introduced – not as a means of blocking development but to ensure that such things as electrical power are adequate to support future needs.

Committee Report #1. 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 Dec 14, 2015 to discuss the climate change vulnerability assessment.

I make note of this report only because my testimony at this hearing relates to the above Order regarding electrical infrastructure needs.

Order #9. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs with a view in mind of scheduling two finance committee hearings to be chaired by a Councillor of the Mayor’s choosing, one as an update from the head of the Finance Department and the other to review budget priorities, to be held in the middle of February.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux

It is likely that this Order will simply be redirected to the Finance Committee to schedule these meetings if the City Council committee assignments are completed in time for this meeting.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a response to amend Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Kim Courtney and Xavier Dietrich dated Jan 5, 2016.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a response to an Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Hasson Rashid dated Jan 8, 2016.

Shoo, fly. When well-meaning laws like the Open Meeting Law degenerate into vehicles for malcontents to act out their psychological issues, it’s time for the State Legislature to consider amending the laws to better respect their intended purpose. City officials should not be required to waste their time on complaints such as the two listed above. – Robert Winters

January 10, 2016

Starting from Scratch – Agenda Items from the Jan 11, 2016 Cambridge City Council Meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:18 pm

Starting from Scratch – Agenda Items from the Jan 11, 2016 Cambridge City Council Meeting

City HallIt’s hard to characterize as "new" an elected body that’s 8/9 the same as the previous one, but it’s a clean slate nonetheless with a new Mayor. We’ll have to wait and see where this train takes us. Also, the City Clerk’s Office has changed the way they make meeting materials available starting with the new Council term. It’s good in some ways, but it’s a lot more difficult in other ways, especially in linking to specific documents without having to open up a 30MB PDF file just to find a single item buried among 300 pages. Here are a few agenda items that seem worthy of comment:

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, in response to the City Council’s request for a legal opinion on whether the City can act either through ordinance, home rule petition or additional avenues to protect tenants from dramatic rent increases or unfair evictions, and whether the City has the ability to strengthen the tenant protections provided under the state Condominium Conversion Act.

As the City Solicitor’s opinion makes clear, municipalities have very limited authority in such matters, especially in the regulation of rents, but some specific tenant protections could possibly be enacted via a successful Home Rule petition.

Manager’s Agenda #10. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Barrett, et al, Zoning Petition.

Unfinished Business #9. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 19, 2015 to discuss a petition filed by Patrick W. Barrett III, et al. to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by amending Article 2.000 ("Definitions") and Article 4.000, Section 4.22 ("Accessory Apartment"). The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 28, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held on Oct 27, 2015. Petition expires Feb 17, 2016.

Communications #1. A communication was received from Patrick W. Barrett III, Esq., regarding the Barrett Petition.

These three items refer to the Barrett Petition that would modify zoning relating to Accessory Apartments and Basement Space. With a Feb 17 expiration date, now would be a good time to get the City Council Committee assignments completed so that the Ordinance Committee could reconvene and iron out any desirable amendments to this petition.

[UPDATE: The Barrett Petition passed (as amended only to insert an effective date of May 1, 2016) by a 7-1-1 vote (Cheung, Kelley, Maher, Mazen, McGovern. Simmons, Toomey voted YES; Carlone voted NO; Devereux voted PRESENT).]

Charter Right #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item #15-32 (2015), regarding a report on the economic analysis for Central Square. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor McGovern on City Manager Agenda Number Twenty-six of Dec 21, 2015.]

The timeliness, scope, and accuracy of this report hardly makes it a good starting point to reactivate discussions on the future of Central Square, but it’s something. Even a refutation of some of its assumptions would refocus some attention back to this area.

Charter Right #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to amend article 4.000 of the Zoning Ordinance to require that a power needs assessment be a requirement for appropriate projects that undergo special permit review. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Maher on Order Number Twelve of Dec 21, 2015.]

There was a residential project proposed for 10 Essex Street that went through its required hearings and approvals two years ago and was never built. At the time, one topic discussed was the need to accommodate an electrical vault accessible from the street. This otherwise technical detail was relevant in light of the fact that the abutting new H-Mart in Central Square (which would have an entrance through this proposed building) had its opening delayed for a long time due to inadequate electrical infrastructure to service that block. Only a temporary waiver permitted the opening of this now very popular store and one might speculate that this could be related to the failure to build this welcome transit-oriented development. Either that or it’s the usual inaction of this particular property owner.

When the City’s latest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment findings were announced recently, I made the point that the adequacy of the city’s electrical infrastructure should have been given more attention in that study. Councillor Cheung’s Order of Dec 21 is relevant in that it seeks to ensure adequate electrical infrastructure for new large developments, but greater attention also needs to be paid to the entire electrical network of the city, especially in view of potential additional burdens – often on very aged and inadequate electrical lines – that may come with extended summer heat waves.

Charter Right #6. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to give recognized community groups the ability to present alongside or directly after city staff, on the record and as part of the presentation agenda during meetings of the Ordinance Committee. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Maher on Order Number Thirteen of Dec 21, 2015.]

I really hope this proposal is discarded outright or radically amended into something sensible. There simply is no standard for what constitutes a "recognized community group", and the proposal would in all likelihood simply confer a special status upon a political entity such as the "Cambridge Residents Alliance" to present their official review of all proposals to come before the Ordinance Committee. Nothing now prevents members of this or any other organization from presenting oral or written testimony just like any other citizen or interested party.

[UPDATE: After a curious discussion, this matter was referred to the Government Operations & Rules Committee (not yet appointed).]

Unfinished Business #8. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 18, 2015 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to amend Article 6.000 to create a new Section 6.24 Car-sharing Provision that will create a definition and general provisions for Car-sharing and will allow the limited use of parking spaces. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 28, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Oct 27, 2015. Amendment submitted by Councillor Cheung on Dec 21, 2015. Petition expires Feb 16, 2016.

This will likely be ordained at this meeting (or very soon) now that the public notice requirements have been met.

[UPDATE: The Car-sharing Zoning Amendment passed on a 7-2 vote with Councillors Kelley and Toomey voting NO. Councillor Toomey has since filed for Reconsideration of the vote.]

Applications & Petitions #3. A zoning petition has been received from Peter L. Cohen, with regard to a proposed amendment to the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance to restrict garage development in dimensionally non-conforming lots.

I don’t know much about this petition, but judging from the signatures on the petition it sounds like someone wants to build a garage on a dimensionally non-conforming lot on or around Donnell St. or R.C. Kelley St.

Resolution #5. Resolution on the retirement of Elaine Thorne.   Mayor Simmons

Elaine Thorne has, in addition to other duties, served as the staff person for the Central Square Advisory Committee for many years. She has been a great friend for over two decades and I wish her well in her retirement. Perhaps one day we may see her again as a citizen member of on the City’s boards & commissions. Her expertise and her perspective as a life-long Cantabrigian would be a welcome addition.

Resolution #7. Congratulations Chip Norton and Henrietta Davis.   Mayor Simmons

It is very appropriate for this year’s Fresh Pond Stewardship Award to be awarded to Chip Norton and Henrietta Davis. It was nearly two years ago that Chip Norton died unexpectedly, but he served many years working to protect the watershed areas of the Cambridge water supply. Henrietta Davis has also been an advocate for Fresh Pond and the watershed areas for many years (though I do wish she would return the MAPC Cambridge watershed study I loaned her many years ago!).

Order #3. That the City Council Ordinance Committee be and hereby is requested to review the attached proposed amendment to §12.16.030 Trees—Climbing, Signposting, Fastening horses.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Cheung, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey

You certainly have to read the text of the Order to appreciate its intent, namely to address the problem of bicycles being recklessly locked to living trees. I do enjoy occasionally looking at the sometimes obsolete language of some of Cambridge’s more dated ordinances. For example: "9.04.070 – Throwing objects in streets or on bridges. No person shall play ball or throw a stone or other missile in any street, or upon or from any bridge." You didn’t know that stickball was illegal in the streets of Cambridge, did you?

Order #4. That the matter of creating smoke free places of employment to protect all workers in unenclosed areas be referred to the Ordinance Committee for consideration.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone

A motivation for this proposed amendment seems to be to address the potential dangers of smoking at construction sites where there are flammable materials present. The fire at the new Putnam Ave. school that delayed its opening for six months seems to be the most obvious example of this hazard.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and other relevant departments to draft a zoning ordinance that would see the installation of solar panels be as of right in all zoning districts in the City.   Councillor Cheung

This is a reintroduction of an Order from Oct 19, 2015. It remains an excellent idea after any potential conflicts have been resolved.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development and report back to the City Council with language that could create a Grand Junction Overlay District that would help to create incentives and ensure the completion of the Grand Junction Multiuse Path.   Councillor Toomey

This is basically a reintroduction of an Order passed on Feb 23, 2015. The only difference now is that there is some sense that funding may be more difficult to come by in light of the scaling back or indefinite delay of other MBTA projects, e.g. the Green Line Extension. Some "Occupy" types have suggested that "Cambridge should just build it", but that’s problematic if you don’t own or control the right-of-way or, most importantly, the RR bridge over the Charles River that carries an active rail line. That said, creating an overlay district with incentives for abutting property owners to facilitate the construction is a good start.

Order #8. That the City Council go on record accepting the attached provisions of Chapter 162 of the Acts of 2015, the same being ‘AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE TAX STATUS OF CERTAIN LAND OWNED BY A HOUSING AUTHORITY WITHIN THE CITY OF CAMBRIDGE.”   Mayor Simmons

It’s hard to say whether this was done for a specific property or in connection with some of the creative financing plans the Cambridge Housing Authority has been exploring and adopting. In any case, the Act was adopted and signed by the Governor, so all that’s left is for the City Council to accept its provisions.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Transmitting An Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Kim Courtney and Xavier Dietrich, 955 Massachusetts Avenue #259, Cambridge, regarding the amended Minutes of the City Council meeting of Aug 10, 2015.

We can only hope that these two mosquitoes will soon fly away or find another host on which to feed. – Robert Winters

December 23, 2015

Cambridge InsideOut – Episodes 99 and 100: Looking Back at the 2014-15 Cambridge City Council

Looking Back at the 2014-15 Cambridge City Council

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 99 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 22, 2015 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 100 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 22, 2015 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

December 21, 2015

Last Call – Dec 21, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:37 am

Last Call – Dec 21, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting highlights

This is the last meeting of the 2014-2015 Cambridge City Council. The new term begins with the Inaugural Meeting on Monday, January 4 at 10:00am in the Sullivan Chamber of City Hall. Here are a few notable items for this last meeting of the term grouped by topic:

2015 to 2016Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, regarding two commitment letters received from Boston Properties relative to the 88 Ames Street project.

Unfinished Business #8. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 3, 2015 to continue discussion on the petition filed by the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) to amend the Zoning Ordinance in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan area (KSURP) and to amend the current zoning for the MXD District in Kendall Square to reflect the proposed changes to the plan. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 21, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Oct 13, 2015. Petition expires Dec 22, 2015.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting modifications to MXD Zoning Petition and Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan Amendment.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development and Executive Director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to provide a better economic analysis of the MXD District in Kendall as it would compare to a more typical land acquisition and development deal and to report back to the City Council.   Councillor Toomey

Essentially every modification requested by the City Council in regard to this has been successfully negotiated, so it’s difficult to see any rational basis for not ordaining this proposed zoning amendment on Dec 21. Letters from the Cambridge Residents Alliance and the current incarnation of the East Cambridge Planning Team seek delay solely for the sake of delay. We’ll see if the tail wags the dog on Monday evening. The petition expires Dec 22.

[Update: The petition to amend the Zoning Ordinance in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan area (KSURP) and to amend the current zoning for the MXD District in Kendall Square both passed on 7-2 votes with Councillors Kelley and Toomey voting in the negative. There was also an additional commitment from Boston Properties to have a minimum of 20% of the housing be made available for homeownership.]

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 1, 2015 to continue discussions on a petition by the Planning Board to amend Section 13.10 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance so as to change the development controls applicable in the Planned Unit Development at Kendall Square (PUD-KS) Overlay Zoning District. The majority of the PUD-KS District is occupied by the Volpe Transportation Systems Research Center operated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The zoning petition associated with the Volpe Center property seems not ready for prime time. The petition has a Feb 8 expiration date, so it could still be acted on during January or, more likely, be re-filed.


Manager’s Agenda #13. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-120, regarding a report on the Alewife Bridge/Platform project.

Manager’s Agenda #14. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an appropriation of $190,000 from the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund to the Public Investment Fund Community Development Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account which will be used to pay for completion of the feasibility study and preliminary design of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Fitchburg Line commuter rail tracks to link the Alewife Triangle and the Alewife Quadrangle.

This would be a far better proposal if it allowed full vehicular access over the proposed bridge – not just bikes and pedestrians. Without a 2nd means of egress, the Alewife Triangle is just a giant cul-de-sac with insufficient means to enter and exit the area. A full-service bridge would unite the Triangle and Quadrangle as was originally proposed in the Fishbook (Alewife Urban Design Study, 1979). This would improve both areas significantly.


Unfinished Business #9. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 1, 2015 to discuss the proposed Community Benefits Ordinance. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 21, 2015.
[Update: This was ordained on an 8-1 vote with Councillor Kelley voting in the negative.]

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for public hearing held on Dec 10, 2015 to discuss the financial aspects of Community Benefits.

Manager’s Agenda #15. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, the appropriation of $250,000 from the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund to the Public Investment Fund Community Development Department Extraordinary Expenditures account which will be used for conceptual and schematic design for proposed improvements to Point Park, at the intersection of Broadway and Main Street in Kendall Square. The funds were given to the City as a part of a 2012 agreement between the City and Boston Properties, LP.

Manager’s Agenda #16. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $2,000,000 from the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund to the Public Investment Fund Community Development Department Extraordinary Expenditures account which will be used for the design and construction of a new public open space along Galileo Galilei Way and bounded by Binney Street, Broadway, and the Grand Junction railroad tracks, as part of a 2012 agreement with Boston Properties.

Manager’s Agenda #17. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $8,336,980 from the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund to the Public Investment Fund Community Development Department Extraordinary Expenditures account which will be used for the construction of two new public open spaces in the eastern Cambridge/Kendall Square area: Rogers Street Park on Rogers Street between Second Street and Third Street, and Triangle Park, between First Street, Binney Street, and Land Boulevard.

Manager’s Agenda #18. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a transfer in the amount of $3,728,500 associated with the MIT PUD-5 Zoning, Ordinance #1355 ($3,500,000) and Education First’s agreement for the North Point Building project, Ordinance #1337 ($228,500) from the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund to the Community Benefits Stabilization Fund which will be used to provide financial support to non-profit charitable community benefits organizations serving Cambridge residents determined by a process established by the City.

Manager’s Agenda #19. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $112,100 from the Mitigation Revenue Stabilization Fund to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Department Extraordinary Expenditures account which will be used to remove stormwater (inflow) from the sewer system to offset the new sewer flows associated with the development at 22 Water Street.

When it rains it pours. After being batted around for much of the last decade, the proposed Community Benefits Ordinance appears to be ready for ordination, and with it comes a flood of expenditures utilizing funds generated from a range of commercial developments. It’s interesting that this culmination comes at the last meeting of this City Council term.


Manager’s Agenda #22. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-138, regarding a report on the feasibility of having a comprehensive housing plan as part of an early action item of the citywide planning process.

The Housing Division of the Community Development and other parties have been involved in this issue for a long time and will continue to be very actively involved during the entirety of the upcoming citywide planning process. It was never clear what the expectations were as a "early action item" and it seems abundantly clear that this will be perhaps the single most dominant issue throughout the whole process.

Manager’s Agenda #26. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-32, regarding a report on the economic analysis for Central Square.

I don’t think there are any great revelations here. If anything, this report simply underscores many of the things said and learned during the Mass & Main petition process. Specifically, the Woodworth report emphasizes how difficult it is to get "family-size" affordable units into a project at an assumed height of about 12 floors. It also makes abundantly clear that building lab space or something comparably profitable is economically advantageous compared to residential projects, and that at 12 floors and a 4.0 FAR the only way to generate family-size affordable residential units is to have that profitable lab space subsidize it. Nobody ever claimed that the C2 recommendations got everything exactly correct. The whole purpose of analysis like this is to get a more accurate sense of the economic realities and necessary incentives to get the desirable outcomes outlined in the C2 report.

Put all this into the Mass & Main context. Mass & Main showed that you can get some of the desirable outcomes if you allow a little more height and density. Can anyone now reasonably question that the only way to get a workable residential project (no lab) with an acceptable number of affordable units was to allow a building greater than 12 stories? This also makes pretty clear that there really was an economic basis for wanting to build lab space and that there was great wisdom in taking the necessary votes to get a residential project instead.

I find most of the assumptions in this analysis to be reasonable. I might perhaps question the assumption that "family-size" (3 bedroom) requires an average of 1300 sq. ft. The floors of most Cambridge triple-deckers are less than 1300 sq. ft. and many families lived well within those apartments.

Personally, I have never bought into the argument that it is so vitally important to build many "family-size" apartments into new residential buildings in all locations. The most plentiful source of those family-size units has long been in existing multi-family housing much of which has been lost to overpriced condominium conversion over the last decade or so. One of the main arguments for building new housing – with or without a high fraction of "affordable units" or family-size units – is to absorb some of the demand that is otherwise removing existing housing units from affordability. That said, I understand that there actually is a demand for such family-size units in Kendall Square (Ames Street, for example) and there’s plenty of lab/office revenue to support its provision.


Unfinished Business #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to proposed amendment to the Living Wage Ordinance. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Nov 16, 2015.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 14, 2015 to continue discussion on the proposed amendments to the Municipal Code Chapter 2.121 entitled "Living Wage Ordinance."

The proposed amendment to the Living Wage Ordinance still doesn’t seem ripe for ordination, but that won’t necessarily stop this City Council from once again ordaining something prematurely. The most telling statement in the committee report is this: "Mr. Rossi noted that it is his job to give his professional advice. He can do a better job for citizens and he disagrees with this proposal."
[Update: This was ordained unanimously.]


Unfinished Business #6. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 18, 2015 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to amend Article 6.000 to create a new Section 6.24 Car-sharing Provision that will create a definition and general provisions for Car-sharing and will allow the limited use of parking spaces. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 28, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Oct 27, 2015. Petition expires Feb 16, 2016.

Unfinished Business #7. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 19, 2015 to discuss a petition filed by Patrick W. Barrett III, et al. to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by amending Article 2.000 ("Definitions") and Article 4.000, Section 4.22 ("Accessory Apartment"). The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 28, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Oct 27, 2015. Petition expires Feb 17, 2016.

Either of these zoning petitions could be ordained with possible amendments at this meeting, but both petitions have expiration dates in mid-February and are not so time sensitive. [I believe that zoning petitions are governed by state law and do not expire at the end of a City Council term.] There is also still a report due from the Inspectional Services Dept. on some aspects of the Barrett Petition. [A brief preliminary report from Inspectional Services arrived as a late addition to the City Manager’s Agenda.]


Order #1. That all items pending before the City Council and not acted upon by the end of the 2014-2015 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 2014-2015 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 Maher

This is the traditional "clean slate" order at the end of every City Council term that makes clear that most items still in committee, on the Calendar, and listed under Awaiting Report expire with the end of the Council term unless forwarded by the respective committee Chairs to the new City Council.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to direct Inspectional Services to work with businesses in Central Square to clean unwanted graffiti on area buildings.   Councillor McGovern

In truth, this problem goes well beyond just the graffiti, though some of the spectacular examples of negligent Central Square property owners should get special and immediate attention. I would also prefer that people refer to this as vandalism rather than suggest some inherent artistic value.

Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to give recognized community groups the ability to present alongside or directly after city staff, on the record and as part of the presentation agenda during meetings of the Ordinance Committee.   Councillor Mazen

This is a spectacularly misguided order. Its intent appears to be to confer special standing upon specific self-proclaimed entities. There is absolutely nothing today that prevents any resident from testifying at an Ordinance Committee meeting and any group of residents can petition the Chair to present as a group if this makes the testimony more efficient. Who exactly is to decide what constitutes a "recognized community group?" Should this Order pass, I will personally start circulating petitions creating a half dozen "community groups" in order to reserve the right to have a place on the presentation agenda of every meeting of the Ordinance Committee. Perhaps the sponsor of this Order only means to reserve this privilege for organizations that have endorsed his candidacy.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, regarding the work the Housing Committee has conducted throughout the course of the term and recommendations what the Housing Committee and the City Council will continue to work on in the coming term.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, to briefly reflect upon the work the Civic Unity Committee has conducted throughout the course of the term and issue some recommendations what the Civic Unity Committee, the City Council, and the City Administration will continue to work on in the coming term.

This is something new – a city councillor writing up summary statements at the end of a City Council term of the work of her committees. I think this should be standard procedure in the future. Way to go, Councillor Simmons! – Robert Winters

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