Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

December 7, 2013

RECOUNT UPDATE (Dec 7, 5:15pm)

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,City Council,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 3:56 pm
Changes in Cheung Surplus Transfer (Official to Recount)
Candidate   expected   Official   Recount   Gain 
Kelley, Craig 66 74 65 -9
Maher, David 63 68 69 +1
vanBeuzekom, Minka  60 64 56 -8
McGovern, Marc 64 61 60 -1
Simmons, Denise 47 49 51 +2
Reeves, Ken 46 37 46 +9
Seidel, Sam 40 37 47 +10
Mazen, Nadeem 33 36 41 +5
Smith, Jefferson 31 28 26 -2
Benzan, Dennis 24 25 20 -5
Carlone, Dennis 27 25 21 -4
Toomey, Tim 26 24 24 0
von Hoffmann, Kristen 19 20 20 0
House, Janneke 26 19 21 +2
Lee, James 10 10 11 +1
Leslie, Logan 10 10 14 +4
Vasquez, Luis 7 9 11 +2
Phillips, Lesley 4 7 4 -3
Mirza, Mushtaque 6 5 4 -1
Mello, Gary 3 4 5 +1
Williamson, James 2 2 0 -2
Moree, Gregg J.  0 1 0 -1
Yarden, Elie 1 1 0 -1
Peden, Ron 2 0 1 +1
write-ins 0 0 0 0
Total surplus 617 616 617 1
Dec 7 Update: Based on that actual ballot data, the expected
values for the surplus transfers are shown in the 1st column.

RECOUNT UPDATE (Dec 7, 5:15pm)

The distribution of Leland Cheung’s 617 surplus ballots was completed today. There were a few big swings in the number of ballots transferred to particular candidates, but it appears at this point unlikely that there will be any change in who will ultimately be elected.

The candidates who gained the most in the new surplus distribution are Sam Seidel (+10) and Ken Reeves (+9), though neither will ultimately benefit from these gains. Nadeem Mazen also picked up an additional 5 ballots. The candidates who suffered the greatest loss from Original Count to Recount are Craig Kelley (–9) and Minka vanBeuzekom (–8). Dennis Carlone also lost 4 ballots in this surplus distribution.

What this basically means is that the likely outcome when this gets to the deciding round (the 17th Count this time) will be that Craig Kelley and Nadeem Mazen should have approximately the same number of ballots (7th and 8th place) followed by Dennis Carlone (9th place); and the gap between Carlone and Minka vanBeuzekom will likely be greater than in the original count.

Perhaps the only uncertainty in this may be in how the additional ballots picked up by Sam Seidel and Ken Reeves may eventually find their way to the continuing candidates when they are counted out in the 15th and 16th Counts.

It was anticipated that as soon as Leland Cheung’s surplus distribution was made official, the election workers would commence the counting out of candidates with fewer than 50 ballots (Gregg Moree), then Ron Peden, then James Williamson. This all depended upon how far they would get before the expected close of the day at around 5:00pm, but they never got past the 2nd Count. The counting out of minor candidates will begin Monday morning at 8:30am. The ballots of most, but not all, of the continuing candidates have already been matched and sequenced in accordance with the original count, so many of the next few rounds should go relatively quickly. – Robert Winters

December 1, 2013

Home Stretch – Dec 2, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Home Stretch – Dec 2, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

This Monday should be an interesting day. The City Council Recount commences at 8:30am at the Moore Youth Center (12 Gilmore St. by Hoyt Field), and at 5:30pm the City Council will meet in City Hall at the same time the Central Square Advisory Committee will be meeting next door in the Lombardi Building to hear testimony and discuss a housing proposal for 10 Essex Street. [The Planning Board will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the same proposal.]

There’s not a single City Council Order on the agenda this week, but there are a few noteworthy items as the 2012-13 City Council heads into its final month.

Central SquareManager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Council Order No. 28, dated Sept 9, 2013, regarding establishing a committee to monitor the progress of the non-zoning recommendations of the C2 Committee.

The proposal is to fold consideration of the non-zoning C2 recommendations into the scope of the existing Central Square Advisory Committee which has been around since the creation of the Central Square Overlay District over two decades ago. This will coincide with upcoming appointments to the committee to bring it back up to the 9 members specified in the ordinance. The zoning-related recommendations of the C2 Committee (as developed by CDD staff) will likely be where most of any controversy will play itself out, but the non-zoning recommendations will have a lot to do with defining the fabric of Central Square in the sense of "place-making."

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, regarding the creation of a short term task force that will consider drafting a municipal ordinance related to outdoor lighting.

The Teague Petition on this subject may have died last year due to its shortcomings, but a task force was promised to come up with a more appropriate proposal. These appointments mark the beginning of that process. Recommendations are anticipated in the spring. It’s not surprising that Charles Teague is one of the appointed members, but it will be interesting to see whether or not he can work cooperatively with the other 11 appointees. As with most things it’s better to have a balanced committee that can gather input from all stakeholders. This also applies to the soon-to-be-appointed "Net Zero" task force.

Unfinished Business #13. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 7, 2013 on the petition received from Boston Properties to amend the Zoning Ordinances and Zoning Map in the Ames Street area. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 2, 2013. Planning Board hearing held Nov 12, 2013. Petition expires Feb 5, 2014.

Communications #2. A communication was received from Kathleen Born, Chair, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board transmitting the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Support for Boston Properties Ames Street Zoning Petition including a response to a request from the Ordinance Committee regarding fast food permits for the MXD District together with a Letter of Intent for the Ames Street Housing Project between the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority and Boston Properties Limited Partnership.

The Ames Street Zoning Petition has another City Council hearing scheduled for Dec 9, so this matter won’t be voted until at least then. The communication from CRA Chair Kathy Born provides some details behind various provisions in the petition which is primarily about facilitating construction of housing on this stretch of Ames Street.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 20, 2013 to discuss a petition by the City Manager to amend the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge to define and list Registered Marijuana Dispensary, delete Section 11.700 and create a new Section 20.700 entitled Medical Marijuana Overlay Districts.

The proposed ordinance change is now taking shape, but it’s probably a good idea to think of this in conjunction with proposed statewide ballot questions that could potentially legalize marijuana outright. It would be reasonable to speculate that regulations now being developed for dispensaries would become the basis for future regulations for general sale of this drug should any such ballot questions prevail.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 21, 2013 to conduct a public hearing on a zoning petition filed by Christopher H. Lutz, et al requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge by rezoning an area on the northern border of Richdale Avenue from Upland Road to Walden Street from its C1-A designation to residential C-1.

There’s not much to say about this except to note that the petition arose from a proposed redevelopment of the former Hathaway Bakery on Richdale Ave. for up to 54 units of new housing. Because the petition is opposed by owners of more than 20% of the affected area, it will require 7 votes out of 9 city councillors to pass the petition. As this may be difficult to achieve, it may well be the case that negotiation will be the preferred course of action for those unhappy with the proposed development. – Robert Winters

November 18, 2013

Aftermath – Nov 18, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:54 am

Aftermath – Nov 18, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

The election has passed and the lame duck session commences from now through the end of December. Depending upon how a possible City Council election recount turns out, in addition to the two councillors who did not seek reelection (Davis, Decker), two incumbents will not be returning in January (Reeves, vanBeuzekom). The atmosphere this Monday should be somber at best, but the business of the City continues. Here are a few notable items:

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the zoning requirements that will allow a Registered Marijuana Dispensary as regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to be sited in Cambridge. [proposed text and maps]

Perhaps some people will soon be able to legally score some weed at the Fresh Pond Shopping Center or in NorthPoint.

Manager’s Agenda #10. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Ames Street Disposition Land Report, pursuant to Chapter 2.110 of the Cambridge Municipal Code. [attached letter]

Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the Boston Properties Ames Street Zoning Petition.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 21, 2013 on the petition received from Boston Properties to amend the Zoning Ordinances and Zoning Map in the Ames Street area.

This seems pretty straightforward – particularly for those who actually believe in the need for new residential construction in the Kendall Square area.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to appoint a special committee, to be comprised of both City Councillors and of Cambridge residents, to take up the work of holding monthly conversations about the lessons learned from the Malvina Monteiro lawsuit, and about how the City can improve upon its internal handling of race and class matters as an employer, beginning as of the start of the next calendar year. [Charter Right exercised by Vice Mayor Simmons on Order Number Eight of Nov 4, 2013.]

I’ll simply reiterate what I said two weeks ago when this was introduced: "In accordance with the City’s Plan E Charter, this is a matter properly handled within the Personnel Department with the guidance of appropriate City Council Orders directed through the City Manager. If the next City Council chooses to again take up this matter in one of its standing committees, they are free to do so."

Resolution #9. Congratulations to the 2013 preliminary elected School Committee members and City Councillors.   Councillor Decker

Yes indeed, but not everyone his happy about the fact that the City Council will be going from four women to just one woman. Rumor has it that some residents are already looking toward the next municipal election in 2015.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report for Nov 8, 2013 from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Government Operations and Rules Committee, to discuss City Clerk’s Office staffing.

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from Councillor David P. Maher regarding informal discussions relating to staffing in the City Clerk’s Office.

Apparently, in the aftermath of the election this committee wasn’t able to muster a quorum – hence the additional communication to report on informal discussions that took place in the absence of a quorum. One of the issues under discussion relates to a point that I brought up at a previous Gov’t Operations Committee meeting. The City Charter specifically states that the City Council directly hires just three people – the City Manager, the City Clerk, and the City Auditor. These appointees then chose their staff which includes such important positions as the Deputy City Manager, various Assistant City Managers (department heads), and the Deputy City Clerk. However, it has been the recent practice of the City Council to actually vote on the appointment of the Deputy City Clerk which is not really in agreement with the City Charter. The Gov’t Operations committee is now trying to clarify this and other related issues.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Vice Mayor E. Denise Simmons transmitting congratulations to everyone who ran for election in the City Council race and notifying her colleagues that she will be unable to attend City Council meetings for a period of three or four weeks due to recovery and recuperation from a medical procedure.

In the hectic atmosphere of a municipal election we sometimes forget that the candidates are human beings. We all wish our good friend Denise Simmons the very best during her recovery and recuperation. – Robert Winters

November 15, 2013

Official 2013 Cambridge Election Results (Nov 15, 2013)

16th Count
Cheung, Leland 1775
Maher, David 1775
Simmons, Denise 1775
Toomey, Tim 1775
Benzan, Dennis 1775
McGovern, Marc 1679
Kelley, Craig 1565
Mazen, Nadeem 1549
Carlone, Dennis 1548
vanBeuzekom, Minka 1535

Nov 15, 6:55pm – The Official results in the City Council election gave the same winners as the Unofficial Results from last week. The only significant change due to the 7 additional ballots was a partial change in the Cheung surplus due to two additional #1 votes for Leland Cheung. The deciding margin at the end of the 16th Round grew to 13 votes separating Dennis Carlone and Minka vanBeuzekom. (Mazen had 1 more than Carlone.) In the final Round, Carlone surpassed Mazen to yield the following winners in the order they reached the election quota (1775).

City Council (in order of election): Leland Cheung, David Maher, Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Dennis Benzan, Marc McGovern, Craig Kelley, Dennis Carlone, Nadeem Mazen. [Detailed Report]
Incumbents defeated: Ken Reeves, Minka vanBeuzekom

Nov 16 Update: Minka vanBeuzekom has sent word to her entourage that she will be asking for a Recount.

School Committee (in order of election): Patty Nolan, Fred Fantini, Richard Harding, Kathleen Kelly, Fran Cronin, and Mervan Osborne. [Detailed Report]
Incumbents defeated: None

Official Final Election Results – City Council and School Committee (PDF)


Official Final City Council #1 Vote Distribution by Ward/Precinct (PDF) added Nov 20

Official Final School Committee #1 Vote Distribution by Ward/Precinct (PDF) – added Nov 20


Cambridge 2013 Election Count (in case you missed it)

Just in case you missed the live broadcast of The Count on Tues, Nov 5, the good folks at CCTV have now uploaded it in 3 parts for your viewing pleasure (not to suggest that will be your reaction, of course!). You’ll find the program (hosted by Susana Segat and Robert Winters) at: http://cctvcambridge.org/electioncount2013.

November 13, 2013

Boulder vs. Cincinnati vs. Fractional transfer methods in Cambridge’s PR elections

Episode 18 of Cambridge InsideOut – Boulder vs. Cincinnati vs. Fractional transfer methods in Cambridge’s PR elections:

If you would like to look at the demonstrations used in these videos, you’ll find them at http://rwinters.com/experiment/.

November 6, 2013

Unofficial 2013 Cambridge Election Results

Unofficial 2013 Cambridge Election Results (Nov 6, 2013)

16th Count
Cheung, Leland 1774
Maher, David 1774
Simmons, Denise 1774
Toomey, Tim 1774
Benzan, Dennis 1774
McGovern, Marc 1682
Kelley, Craig 1560
Carlone, Dennis 1553
Mazen, Nadeem 1546
vanBeuzekom, Minka 1540

#1 VotesNov 6, 8:30pm – The plot thickens in the City Council election. At the end of Tuesday’s ballot count, there were only 51 votes separating the 7th through 10th candidates with only 15 votes separating the 9th place candidate (Nadeem Mazen) and the 10th place candidate (Minka vanBeuzekom) in the decisive 16th Count. When Wednesday’s auxiliary ballots were included, the gap between the 7th through 10th candidates (Kelley, Carlone, Mazen, vanBeuzekom) narrowed to just 20 votes and only 6 votes now separate the 9th place candidate (Nadeem Mazen) and the 10th place candidate (Minka vanBeuzekom) in the decisive 16th Count.

At this point the winners have not changed, but the margin of victory is now shockingly small. There will be one last official count on Friday, November 15 that will include any overseas absentee ballots and provisional ballots. In some recent elections, due to the method of surplus distribution, the addition of just a few extra ballots has caused swings of 20 or more votes in the tabulation.

City Council (in order of election): Leland Cheung, David Maher, Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Dennis Benzan, Marc McGovern, Craig Kelley, Dennis Carlone, Nadeem Mazen. [Detailed Report]
Incumbents defeated: Ken Reeves, Minka vanBeuzekom

School Committee (in order of election): Patty Nolan, Fred Fantini, Richard Harding, Kathleen Kelly, Fran Cronin, and Mervan Osborne. [Detailed Report]
Incumbents defeated: None

Unofficial Election Results – City Council and School Committee (PDF) [link corrected]

Preliminary 2013 Cambridge Election Results

Preliminary 2013 Cambridge Election Results (Nov 5)

Nov 6, post midnight – It was an interesting night at The Count. Susana Segat and I did the live broadcast from the Senior Center and had many guests on the show including many of the City Council and School Committee candidates. In years past I would have been the first person to deliver the results, but tonight we were busy from the beginning of the show at 9:00pm all the way until 11:30pm or later. In case you have not yet heard the preliminary results, here they are:

City Council (in order of election – modified Wednesday to reflect actual order of election in final round): Leland Cheung, David Maher, Dennis Benzan, Tim Toomey, Denise Simmons, Marc McGovern, Craig Kelley, Dennis Carlone, Nadeem Mazen. [Detailed Report]
Incumbents defeated: Ken Reeves, Minka vanBeuzekom

School Committee (in order of election): Patty Nolan, Fred Fantini, Richard Harding, Kathleen Kelly, Fran Cronin, and Mervan Osborne. [Detailed Report]
Incumbents defeated: None

The City Council election quota was 1713 with 17,128 valid ballots counted. Only Leland Cheung exceeded quota with a surplus of 604 ballots.

The School Committee election quota was 2292 with 16,040 valid ballots counted. Three candidates reached quota on the 1st Count: Patty Nolan with a huge surplus of 1502 ballots, Fred Fantini with a surplus of 493 ballots, and Richard Harding with 3 surplus ballots.

It’s important to emphasize that these are the preliminary figures. There are an additional 710 additional City Council ballots that will be inspected and included on Wednesday. Many of these may be blank ballots, but most will likely contain valid choices. In the City Council race, in the deciding round the vote totals for the 7th through 10th place candidates were: Kelley 1517, Carlone 1510, Mazen 1481, and vanBeuzekom 1466. That’s only a 15 vote margin between 9th and 10th place, so it’s possible that the unofficial results on Wednesday could change.

In the School Committee race, there are an additional 1,673 ballots to be inspected and counted on Wednesday. Most of these will likely be blank ballots without valid choices. However, even if there is a substantial number of valid ballots yet to be counted, the margins between candidates are such that it’s essentially impossible for the results to change.

I’ll be at the Senior Center on Wednesday and will post the final, unofficial results when they are known. – RW

November 3, 2013

Counting Down to the Count – Nov 4, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:39 pm

Counting Down to the Count – Nov 4, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

It’s the Eve of The Count – the night before the 2013 Municipal Election, and there’s no getting around the fact that there will be some nervous energy flowing through the Sullivan Chamber. Some activists would have preferred to have a controversial issue or two voted at the 11th hour which might sway some voters, but this is not the case. There are, however, a few noteworthy items on what has traditionally been a short agenda on the eve of an election.

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Mr. Owen O’Riordan as Public Works Commissioner effective Nov 1, 2013.

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Mr. Stephen J. Lenkauskas as City Electrician for the City of Cambridge effective Nov 1, 2013.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Ms. Andrea Spears Jackson as the full time License Commission Chair for the City of Cambridge, effective Dec 9, 2013.

The Rossi Administration continues to take shape with a trio of excellent appointments.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a proposed Home Rule Petition which would provide an exception to the residency preference requirement for Cambridge police officer and fire fighter appointments for those high school graduates who were Cambridge residents at the time of graduation from high school.

Though I’m not entirely familiar with the background of this, it seems to be a simple case of fairness.

Resolution #28. Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox on the occasion of becoming Major League Baseball’s World Series Champions.   Councillor Toomey

We approve of this Resolution unanimously (and the crowd roared its approval).

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to consult with City personnel regarding the enforcement of rules and regulations governing bicycle riding, mandatory white lights on bicycles, and data collection of injuries resulting from cyclist-pedestrian conflicts.   Vice Mayor Simmons

Let’s make a list of some of the laws we would like to see actually enforced in Cambridge. I completely agree that cyclists must obey the same laws as motorists or pay the consequences, but I would also aggressively fine people who park their cars more than a foot from the curb (very unkind to cyclists) and motorists who "block the box" causing traffic congestion. It’s not exactly martial law when police and parking control officers simply enforce existing, sensible laws.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the report of the net direct debt per capita which lists Cambridge as one of ten cities with the highest amount of net direct debt per capita; specifically how this report should be interpreted and what this means for Cambridge, now and in the future.   Councillor Cheung

I read something about this the other day. I don’t think it’s an issue of great concern, but am looking forward to the response.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to appoint a special committee, to be comprised of both City Councillors and of Cambridge residents, to take up the work of holding monthly conversations about the lessons learned from the Malvina Monteiro lawsuit, and about how the City can improve upon its internal handling of race and class matters as an employer, beginning as of the start of the next calendar year.   Vice Mayor Simmons

The Vice Mayor has been hosting meetings on this topic for some time, and dissenting opinions (like mine) were greeted with flagrant hostility by some of the attendees. In accordance with the City’s Plan E Charter, this is a matter properly handled within the Personnel Department with the guidance of appropriate City Council Orders directed through the City Manager. If the next City Council chooses to again take up this matter in one of its standing committees, they are free to do so.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Mayor Henrietta Davis transmitting to the City Council an Open Meeting Law Complaint from Charles Teague together with a proposed City Council response to the Attorney General, prepared by the City Clerk in consultation with the City Solicitor, for the City Council’s review and approval. [HTML version of draft response]

The bottom line is simply this: Mr. Teague wants the City Council to be compelled to take the following actions in response to his allegations: 1) admit intentional violation of Open Meeting Law on April 8, 2013 which led to the failure of the "Net Zero Emissions Amendment" (NZEA) to MIT’s zoning petition; 2) order correction of Zoning Ordinance by including the NZEA as Davis’ first vote was legal, her change of her vote was not legal, and therefore cannot be honored. MIT can simply file another zoning petition to remove the NZEA; and 3) not appoint Councillors Maher & Reeves as chairs of any committees for the next two-year term.

A few observations: Anyone who was at that public meeting witnessed the very public response of the MIT representatives when this 11th hour amendment was introduced. There was nothing secret about it. They simply alerted the City Council that their "memorandum of understanding" (which was the basis upon which the votes of several city councillors depended) would be null and void if the NZEA was approved. In response, Mayor Davis chose to very publicly rescind her vote for that amendment so that the zoning petition would be voted favorably in accordance with the many concessions that had been made during months of negotiation. She took the time to very carefully explain her actions at that time. Some activists did not like the outcome, so they took issue with the procedures. Teague’s Remedy #2 is especially comical in that he wants that single amendment to now be made law without regard to the rather obvious fact that the whole zoning petition may have failed had it been included. Simply noting that "MIT can simply file another zoning petition to remove the NZEA" ignores the fact that it would require a 2/3 majority to do so. Teague’s Remedy #3 simply proves what an arrogant fool Mr. Teague is (as if this was ever in doubt). – Robert Winters

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