Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

August 2, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 161-162: August 2, 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:00 pm

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 161 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, August 2, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 162 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, August 2, 2016 at 6:00pm. [On YouTube]

References for tonight’s programs

August 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 21, 2016

Nominations Sought for City Manager Search Process Preliminary Screening Committee

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

Nominations Sought for City Manager Search Process Preliminary Screening Committee

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

The Preliminary Screening Committee will be composed of:

(4) City Council members;

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

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

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

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

(1) Person with demonstrated knowledge of municipal finance;

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

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

(1) Higher education/institutional partner;

(1) Public art and/or recreational representative;

(1) Affordable housing advocate;

(1) Non-profit community representative;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 26, 2016

Taking a Break – Preview of June 27, 2016 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 2:51 pm

Taking a Break – Preview of June 27, 2016 Cambridge City Council agenda

This will be the last regular meeting of the City Council before the summer break. They won’t reconvene until the Special Midsummer Meeting on August 1. Here are a few items that I found at least somewhat interesting.

859 Mass. Ave.
859 Massachusetts Avenue

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $750,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Extraordinary Expenditures account to pay for design services for the building located at 859 Massachusetts Avenue and a feasibility study for municipal facilities. [The interesting part is the statement that "The renovation project at 859 Massachusetts Avenue is estimated to cost approximately $5 million."]

I am curious about the costs. I can perhaps understand the $750,000 price tag if this includes a feasibility study for a range of municipal facilities (as opposed to just for this one building). What I cannot grasp is the statement: "The renovation project at 859 Massachusetts Avenue is estimated to cost approximately $5 million." Sure, as a municipal facility it will have to be made fully handicap accessible, and a lot of reconfiguration will be necessary for its new use. That said, it seems as though you could knock it down and build an entirely new building for well under $5 million. This estimate works out to nearly $1000 per sq. ft. I do hope at least one city councillor asks for some explanation of this estimated cost.


UPDATE: City Manager Richard Rossi explained at the meeting that the facilities study as well as the $5 million renovation cost will cover three buildings – the newly acquired 859 Mass. Ave. building as well as 831 Mass. Ave. (the Lombardi Building) and 3 Bigelow St. (currently used for transitional housing). One possible outcome is that 859 Mass. Ave. would be used for housing and 3 Bigelow St. would be converted municipal uses and possibly joined to an expanded 831 Mass. Ave. This actually makes a lot of sense and would be well worth the cost of renovation.


Manager’s Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item 16-29, regarding the implementation of the C2 non-zoning recommendations. [Report]

This update does include some timeframes for some of the more achievable and generally acceptable goals, but the involvement of the Central Square Advisory Committee (CSAC) in helping to shape this has been hampered by staff changes at CDD. Hopefully this will be resolved soon, and perhaps the CSAC may be useful in facilitating additional public dialogue. Lest the perfect become the enemy of the good, some of the more controversial and difficult-to-achieve stuff can probably wait. Meanwhile, a new zoning petition to implement some of the more universally acceptable C2 zoning recommendations is expected later this year.

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a communication from the Affordable Housing Trust relative to the Inclusionary Housing Study. [Report]

This is a great statement of support from the Affordable Housing Trust, but it’s still not so easy to see how the economics of the proposed changes would work without at least some adjustment of the density bonus to cover the additional costs associated with increasing the inclusionary housing requirement to a full 20% of a new residential building.

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Healthy Pharms Inc., to amend the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Overlay district section 20.700 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance and Map.

You had to know this and other similar petitions were coming when the most recent borderline spot zoning change was made for the vicinity of Ellery St. and Mass. Ave. (Sage Cannabis). At some point the City Council will have to take a more comprehensive look at the Medical Marijuana Overlay district section of the Zoning Code instead of taking these one petition at a time. It may make more sense to just eliminate that section entirely and delegate the regulation of these facilities to the License Commission or other appropriate agency.

Resolutions #1-16. Congratulations to students elected for 2016-2017 to the CRLS student government and as representatives to the School Committee.

The CRLS student government voted earlier this year to use Ranked Choice Voting (and Proportional Representation) in their elections. I had the honor of tabulating the votes for them using the same software that the City of Cambridge uses in its municipal elections. Congratulations to all the winners!

Order #1. Declare that the five black marble slabs that comprise the perimeter of the Prince Hall Monument, which were mined in Africa and now are located upon the historic Cambridge Common, represent the more than 5,000 Black men who helped fight for this country’s independence during the Revolutionary War.   Mayor Simmons

This is one of the reasons I really love Mayor Simmons. She knows and cares about history – especially local history. It was Mayor Simmons who several years ago was responsible for bringing the Prince Hall Monument to the Cambridge Common.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council regarding the feasibility of the City of Cambridge filing its own home rule petition regarding reduced speed limits in thickly settled areas in conjunction with the City of Boston’s current efforts.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Cheung

Boston and Cambridge filing Home Rule petitions to be able to adjust some speed limits is not the ideal way to do this. What is really needed is for the Massachusetts Legislature to amend the Massachusetts General Laws so that there are more distinctions than just "thickly settled areas" in determining local speed limits. For example, a one-way street that is parked on both sides with a relatively narrow travel lane (like many Cambridge streets) should be declared a "neighborhood street" (or something like that), and it should have a speed limit of no more than 20-25 mph. There are other streets that by their very geometry should also be put in this category without having to carry out a detailed traffic study to justify the reduced speed. This should be established statewide. The 30 mph standard is still perfectly fine for many streets. All of Cambridge is "thickly settled", but not all roads in Cambridge can safely accommodate the same speeds.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to work with the appropriate departments to determine the feasibility of implementing a truck ban on Prospect Street during certain times of the day, or to otherwise mitigate the impact of the trucks utilizing this street.   Mayor Simmons

Heavy truck traffic on Prospect Street (except for local deliveries) has been banned for a long time.

Order #10. That the proposed addition to Title 6, entitled “Animals,” regarding the restriction on the sale of animals in pet shops be referred to the Ordinance Committee for a public hearing.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone

Many people choose to seek pets from local shelters, but it’s really wrongheaded to unfairly restrict the ways a person can obtain a pet. The proposed ordinance would require that "A pet shop may offer for sale only those birds, mammals, or reptiles that the pet shop has obtained from or displays in cooperation with… an animal care facility… or… an animal rescue organization." A simpler ordinance would simply require that any such sales be accompanied by appropriate documentation of the source of the animal up for adoption/sale.

Not on the Agenda, but important:
This past Thursday (June 23), a Cambridge cyclist (Amanda Phillips) was killed on Cambridge Street near Inman Square. The indications are that the cyclist was riding close enough to parked cars that when a driver opened a car door into the path of the cyclist this caused her to fall to the street where she was then fatally struck by a motor vehicle. The incident was eerily similar to a incident in July 2001 when a woman (Dana Laird) was killed in Central Square. (My photos of that day were actually subpoenaed in the subsequent civil case.) Though there are some serious issues associated with traffic safety in Inman Square (especially for cyclists and pedestrians), this fatality is not directly related to those issues. This could just as well have happened elsewhere. Is there anything that can be done to prevent such an incident in the future?

There is no one right answer to this question. For starters, cyclists should never ride close to parked cars. Motor vehicle operators should always check and double-check before opening doors into a travel lane. Some will argue that the only solution is to move all cyclists off the roads so that they become the sole domain of motor vehicles. I disagree. There is a place for separate facilities, such as twisting roads and places where there is a great speed differential between bikes and motor vehicles (like along Memorial Drive or any DCR parkway), but in a local setting the best streets are still shared streets where all vehicles are clearly visible to each other. We have to do a much better job of educating cyclists and motor vehicle operators about how to safely operate their vehicles.


UPDATE: There was plenty of public comment at this meeting in response to the death of cyclist Amanda Phillips in the vicinity of Inman Square – much of it arguing for the need of "separated bike lanes" or "cycle tracks" that would remove cyclists from the regular travel lanes on Cambridge Street. However, the well-circulated description of what happened may not actually coincide with the facts. It has now been reported that this may not have been a simple case of a cyclist riding along a road when a door was opened into her path. It may actually be the case that Ms. Phillips was transitioning from the sidewalk into the street when she came around the parked car and either struck the door or swerved to avoid it. If this turns out to be the case, then the driver may well have checked for cyclists and saw none prior to opening the car door. We’ll have to wait to see the report of the investigation before knowing exactly what happened next. This is important because the primary objection to cycle tracks is that they may actually be more dangerous at intersections and driveways by obscuring cyclists from the field of view of motorists – and there are plenty of intersections and driveways along that stretch of Cambridge Street.


There was also another murder (Anthony Clay, 49) in The Port on Friday night/Saturday morning on Harvard Street across from Greene-Rose Park. This neighborhood, and especially the area on or near Windsor Street has been the site of several murders over the last few years. We’re all hoping for justice to be served in this latest murder, but at what point do we say "Enough is Enough"? We can "Envision Cambridge" from now until eternity, but it doesn’t really mean much when the most basic human right is denied. – Robert Winters

June 21, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 149-150: June 21, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 149 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 150 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

June 20, 2016

Hot Town, Summer in the City – Coming up at the June 20, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:39 am

Hot Town, Summer in the City – Coming up at the June 20, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

City HallHere are a few of the more interesting agenda items this week:

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative the transfer of $860,000 within statutory accounts of the Public Investment Fund Extraordinary Expenditure account for the acquisition of two parcels of the Watertown Branch railroad from B&M Corporation for the purpose of creating a future multi-use path and greenway.

The communication doesn’t specify exactly which railroad parcels are being purchased, but presumably this includes at least the section adjacent to Fresh Pond. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will soon be constructing the connection to the existing multi-use path in Watertown.

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to recommendations from the Outdoor Lighting Task Force that address the potential detrimental impact of outdoor lighting and propose solutions that diminish existing problems and address problems that may be created by new development. [Report][Proposed Ordinance (HTML)]

The Task Force was appointed Dec 2, 2013 and was originally expected to complete its report and draft Ordinance by Spring 2014. It clearly took a lot longer than that with many different iterations of the proposed Ordinance. It’s worth noting that the Ordinance will apply not only to new construction but to all properties in Cambridge with several years to bring all properties into compliance with the Ordinance.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the approval and appropriation of an additional One Million, Two Hundred Thirty-Six Thousand, One Hundred Twenty-Five ($1,236,125) Dollars from Free Cash to the General Fund Law Department Travel & Training (Judgment & Damages) account, in order to settle the damages to be paid to the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (the “Chamber”) with regard to the City’s eminent domain taking of the Chamber’s property on June 13, 2016.

This will complete the transaction. No word yet on exactly what use this building will serve.

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-48, regarding a report on posting Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) information on the Election Commission website. [Election Commission page on Campaign and Political Finance][OCPF Reports]

Though this makes navigation from the Election Commission website a bit clearer, it’s unfortunately still the case that campaign finance reporting for State Representative and State Senate candidates remains very sparse. The need only file periodic reports 8 days before each primary election or general election and at the end of each calendar year. In contrast, municipal candidates in cities the size of Cambridge must maintain depository accounts with reports twice per month. One has to wonder why the reporting requirements are far less frequent for state candidates.

Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a report on the continued progress on the application for funding under the Commonwealth’s Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program (I-Cubed) for the North Point area of the City. [Report]

As the report states: "The Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program (known as “I-Cubed”) is a Commonwealth program and proven economic development tool that uses new state tax revenues to build public infrastructure in areas that will generate economic and community benefits." In addition: "The I-Cubed infrastructure improvements will reconnect North Point to East Cambridge and jump-start the development of the North Point neighborhood."

Resolution #2. Retirement of Terry Dumas from the Cambridge Housing Authority.   Mayor Simmons

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

Order #1. That the City of Cambridge stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando, the LGBTQ community, the LatinX community, the Muslim-American community, and all people in this country who reject the kind of violence that has visited far too many communities in recent years.   Councillor Cheung, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

This is a strong statement of solidarity from the City Council, though the last "Whereas" could perhaps have stayed more on point.

Order #3. That a joint hearing of the Public Safety and Housing Committees be formed for the purpose of gathering testimony from stakeholders in the City regarding the impact of short-term rentals on our communities with a view in mind to draft an ordinance that meets the goals outlined above, and to refer that proposed ordinance to the Ordinance Committee at the appropriate time.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Cheung

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Craig Kelley, regarding Short-Term Rentals in Cambridge: An Overview of Current Usage and Patterns as well as Policy Recommendations. [Kelley Communication]

The "sharing economy" is evolving and the question of whether to regulate or exactly how to regulate such enterprises as Uber and Airbnb is now coming into focus. Just as some taxi regulations should naturally also apply to Uber, the question of whether frequent Airbnb rentals should be treated the same way as hotels of lodging houses has to be eventually addressed. This is especially true in the case where housing originally built for regular tenancy is now being used effectively like a motel.

Order #8. That the City Council hold a joint meeting of Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration, and the Government Operations committee to discuss different models for campaign finance reform and publicly-funded municipal elections in Cambridge.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux

Hot on the heels of a recent Order calling for cash prizes for voting (based on some rather shoddy "research"), this week’s edition reintroduces an Order from a year or so ago calling for taxpayer-financed local election campaigns. There really isn’t any legal way to restrict what a candidate chooses to spend on his or her campaign, so any such program would only apply to those who agree to specified limitations/restrictions. As much as I abhor the stratospheric spending on recent City Council campaigns, my strong sense is that this proposal would open a rather large can of worms. I also don’t think it should be imposed without the prior approval of voters.

Order #10. The City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to determine the feasibility of introducing a municipal ID program in the city and respond to any and all community feedback regarding its possible implementation.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

I seriously doubt that the cost of obtaining a state ID is prohibitive, and a state ID would be applicable outside of our small city. A program providing assistance in getting a state ID would make a lot more sense.

Order #12. The City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to organize regular suppers on the second Saturday of each month, starting on the 13th of August, with free food for the Cambridge community in open public spaces throughout the various Cambridge neighborhoods.   Councillor Mazen

Who pays for all the free food?

Order #13. That the City Council go on record in support of S.2327, an act promoting housing and sustainable development.   Councillor Toomey

It will be interesting to see how much of this bill survives after all of the suburban legislators hack out all the really important provisions that might require their respective communities to share in the burden of providing affordable housing.

June 13, 2016

Kicking Off the Post-Columbian Era – June 13, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:18 am

Kicking Off the Post-Columbian Era – June 13, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Now that Christopher Columbus is persona non grata in the City of Cambridge, the search for the New World continues…

Manager’s Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the reappointment of Larry Ward and appointment of Charles Marquardt as Election Commissioners.

Congratulations to Larry Ward on his reappointment to another term (through 2020) and to Charlie Marquardt on his appointment (through 2017) to complete the term of the late Peter Sheinfeld.

Manager’s Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation not to adopt the Rainwater Separation from Flat Roofs Zoning Petition. [Report]

Manager’s Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation not to adopt the Riverside Neighborhood Protective Zoning Petition. [Report]

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 25, 2016 to amend the Zoning Map in the Riverside neighborhood from the existing Residence C-1 to Residence C within the area bounded by Franklin and River Streets and Putnam Avenue.

That’s two negative Planning Board recommendations. In addition, the Flat Roofs Zoning Petition was Placed on File due to the Ordinance Committee hearing not being held pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 40A. The Flat Roofs Zoning Petition does have merit but needs refinement.

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a recommendation that the City Council approve an Order to take by eminent domain a parcel of land comprising approximately 5,000 square feet of land located at 859 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge which is presently owned by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and that the City Council approve an Order appropriating One Million Three Hundred Sixty-Three Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy-Five ($1,363,875) Dollars to the General Fund Law Department Travel & Training (Judgment & Damages) Account from Free Cash.

We don’t see too many eminent domain takings, though this is a "friendly taking". It hasn’t yet been determined whether this will end up as housing or for expansion of City offices. However, having watched the trend over the last 15+ years where city councillors got expanded office space, magnificent salary increases, and their own designated parking spots (previously were available to others), my guess is that unless this building is used for affordable housing somebody will get bumped up the street to provide even more full-time space in City Hall for our part-time city councillors.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager review City policies on the availability and use of City office and meeting space for non-City appointed functions by non-City officials. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Mazen on June 6, 2016] [Order #4 of June 6, 2016]

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager review and report back to the City Council on the City’s policies and best practices in the use and supervision of City Council interns. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Mazen on June 6, 2016] [Order #5 of June 6, 2016]

These two Orders were the subject of quite the kerfuffle at last week’s City Council meeting. The Orders themselves were worded so neutrally that you had to wonder what motivated Councillor Kelley to write them, but the heated exchange revealed that the attendees of one unofficial gathering somehow connected to one councillor was in conflict with an official meeting scheduled to take place in the same location. It seems pretty clear that if councillors intend to use City Hall as a staging ground for "civic engagement" only peripherally related to the business of the City Council, there will need to be some greater clarity about the rules and protocols. This isn’t Dewey Square and people can’t just Occupy wherever they please whenever they please.

Order #1. That the Mayor convene a Task Force charged with establishing recommendations for the City Council on what the ideal minimum wage in Cambridge should be, and how to best implement this increase without creating unintended consequences in Cambridge or elsewhere.   Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mazen, Councillor Toomey

I suppose one could argue that the Community Advisory Board on the Living Wage has already been working on this, but what’s wrong with a little redundancy? In any case, it has already been established that the City Council does not have the authority to impose a citywide minimum wage. That could change if the state legislature chose to grant such authority, but there are plenty of good reasons why it would be better to maintain a uniform statewide minimum wage in addition to the federal minimum wage.

Order #2. That the City Council reaffirm the month of October as Italian Heritage Month in the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Maher

Columbus $5 stampIt was interesting to read the actual language of the City Council Order of last week declaring the 2nd Monday of October to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Nowhere in that Order does it say anything about it no longer being recognized as Columbus Day, so it really now has two designations instead of one having replaced the other. This week’s Order simply reinforces the idea that Columbus Day hasn’t really been so much about Columbus but rather a commemoration of our brethren with Italian heritage.

Order #4. The City Manager is requested to coordinate with the Election Commission in order to operate at least 5 early polling locations, for the entire day, for the entirety of the 11-day early voting period, coordinate with the appropriate departments to develop and launch an awareness campaign that will educate Cambridge voters, and operate the polling locations as non-precinct based, “Vote Centers,” thereby allowing anyone desiring to vote early the ability to do so at the center most convenient location.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux

Why not also prescribe the color of the curtains on the voting booths as long as you’re micromanaging down to this level? It’s one thing for the City Council to express a policy regarding expanded early voting opportunities, but how this should be carried out is still a management issue with real cost consequences. It’s not at all clear how many early voting days, hours, or locations are realistically needed, and the cost per day quoted by Common Cause seems completely unrealistic.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate city departments to determine the feasibility of requiring gas pump labels with information about the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels at all gas stations in the City.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

Why stop there? I’m sure the authors of this Order may also wish to mandate appropriate labeling of beef products based on the same criteria. I’m just wondering what the gas pumps would say. Perhaps something like: "You are an evil bastard for using fossil fuels in your earth-killing machine. Shame on you!" I’m sure they’ll also insist on placing signs in front of homes that use natural gas for heating and cooking declaring them to be unmutual enemies of the people.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to explore voter reward options for municipal elections that are most appealing for citizens and businesses alike.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

Suffice to say that higher voter turnout is not a desirable end in itself if the only reason for the additional (likely uninformed) voters is a cash reward or other prize. Perhaps our elected officials could instead start by doing a better job of explaining why casting an informed ballot matters before doling out the cash.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public hearing held on June 2, 2016 to discuss and review a proposed list of community focus groups that the search firm will be conducting with various groups during the month of June and any other business that may properly come before the committee.

The process continues and your input is being actively sought. You can access schedules, documents, and more at www.cambridgema.gov/CityCouncil/citymanagersearch.

June 6, 2016

Goodbye, Columbus? – On the Cambridge City Council Agenda – June 6, 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:01 pm

Goodbye, Columbus? – On the Cambridge City Council Agenda – June 6, 2016

Christopher ColumbusThis week’s meeting is a sure bet to bring out hordes of people speaking in favor of (a) housing preferences for "certified artists", (b) voting rights for non-citizens in local elections, and (c) striking the phrase "Columbus Day" from the list of acceptable speech within the City of Cambridge. There are also a few agenda items that actually matter, but they will likely have to wait until after what is expected to be a prolonged period of Public Comment featuring a long list of invitees from one particular city councillor.

Here are the items that drew my attention this week:

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $42,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Finance (Personnel) Other Ordinary Maintenance account to be used to procure consultant services to assist in the hiring of a new City Manager.

The amount isn’t so important nor is the particular consultant (GovHR – based in Chicago) that has been chosen to assist in the search for the next City Manager. What is noteworthy is that according to materials made available at the June 2 meeting of the Government Operations, Rules, and Claims Committee is that a series of 19 Focus Group meetings involving 96 "key constituency groups" is scheduled to take place between Thurs, June 9 and Thurs, June 16 – plus additional Focus Group meetings to bring the total to 28 such meetings. There will also be two drop-in sessions for City employees, one-on-one interviews with each City Council member, and approximately 16 one-on-one meetings with key City staff. The ultimate goal is to identify candidates leading up to a City Council vote to select the next City Manager (hopefully) by the end of September.

You can access schedules, documents, and more at www.cambridgema.gov/CityCouncil/citymanagersearch.

Manager’s Agenda #14. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-9, regarding the organization of a Volpe Task Force.

The Community Development Department (CDD) proposes that a small working group (composed of a mix of residents from the surrounding neighborhoods – East Cambridge, the Port/Area 4, and Wellington-Harrington – along with representatives of the Kendall Square business community) be appointed. In Phase 1, the working group would work with staff and a consultant to support the Ordinance Committee’s development of a Volpe framework and would involve assembling the broad program parameters for the project including key ideas such as urban form, public realm, and goals for the character of the area. In Phase 2, the working group’s work would inform the rezoning of the Volpe parcel after the General Services Administration (GSA) has selected a developer for the Volpe site.

Manager’s Agenda #26. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter as Director of Libraries, effective Aug 23, 2016.

Ms. Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter will have some pretty big shoes to fill, and we all wish her well when she takes the reins of the Library later this summer.

Charter Right #1. That the Housing Committee hold a meeting to discuss the Inclusionary Zoning preferential point system to determine if there are certain occupations that should receive preferential points to prioritize their position on the Inclusionary Zoning list. [Order #7 of May 23, 2016, Amended by Substitution. Charter Right exercised by Mayor Simmons.]

This is the first of the three agenda items that will likely draw a crowd of invited guests to Public Comment. As I stated when this Order was proposed, this is a walk down a very slippery slope when you start giving housing priorities to people who have chosen specific lifestyles, professions, or hobbies. The original Order specifically called out "certified artists", but this was amended to be non-specific.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with appropriate City personnel to determine the cost and feasibility of adding additional parking levels to the Green Street Garage.   Mayor Simmons

That whole block on which the Manning Apartments, the Central Square Branch Library, and the Green Street Parking Garage could use a more comprehensive look. The Manning Apartments are now undergoing renovations. If other Central Square parking lots eventually give way to housing, there will be at least some need for replacement parking and this is the most logical site. There are, of course, some who would simply wish away all motor vehicles, but even with a net drop in motor vehicles there will still be the need for some additional capacity on or near this site should new housing be built or if some additional density weaves its way into Central Square.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Executive Director of the Cambridge Election Commission to publish at an appropriate and clearly identified central location on the City’s website by Aug 1, 2016 all Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Office of Campaign and Political Finance information.   Councillor Toomey

All of this information will eventually be available on the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) website. The problem is that it’s only available in a timely way for candidates with depository accounts – and this does not include any of the State Representative or State Senate candidates. Those candidates only have to report immediately before each primary and general election and at the end of each year. Since all of the data is reported through the State’s OCPF site, there’s really little that the City can do other than to provide a link to this site that will only have updated information relatively late in the game.

Order #4. That the City Manager review City policies on the availability and use of City office and meeting space for non-City appointed functions by non-City officials.   Councillor Kelley

Order #5. That the City Manager review and report back to the City Council on the City’s policies and best practices in the use and supervision of City Council interns.   Councillor Kelley

I’m not quite sure what exactly is being sought here, but I will once again express my misgivings with the whole idea of personal aides for city councillors. There are some people currently serving in this role who would be great as additional staff working for City Council committees, but not as personal assistants. Interns are, I believe, something entirely different. These have generally been unpaid volunteers who work with individual councillors of specific initiatives. Even if they produce great things, they are not City employees and they should not have any special access to City resources, including offices, meeting rooms, or anything else over and above what any ordinary resident may access. More specifically, it needs to be emphasized that City Hall is not a place to build a political organization or movement dressed up as a personal initiative of any individual city councillor.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to assess the cost and feasibility of placing sunscreen dispensers containing broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher at Cambridge parks and playgrounds.   Vice Mayor McGovern

Two words – nanny government. These "dispensers" already exist – they’re called "stores". You can buy sunscreen there.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Civic Unity Committee, for a joint public hearing held on May 12, 2016 to discuss all issues related to non-citizen representation and outreach in Cambridge.

This is the second of the three agenda items that will likely draw a crowd of invited guests to Public Comment. In addition to the completely relevant and useful discussions about resources for people who have moved to Cambridge from elsewhere, this report also contains a proposed Order furthering the idea of non-citizen voting in Cambridge municipal elections. Cambridge has a long history of being welcoming to immigrants and for providing resources for them. The idea of voting is something completely different and any standards regarding age or citizenship status should be uniform across all cities and towns. If the state legislature wants to take up this issue, so be it, but this is not something Cambridge should be doing unilaterally. Furthermore, there are many people, including me, who feel that Voting and Citizenship are intertwined and that the appropriate way to acquire the right to vote is to become a citizen.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public hearing held on May 20, 2016 to review and consider an extension to the current City Manager’s contract, to review and approve a response to the May 4, 2016 Open Meeting Law complaint of John Hawkinson and to continue development and approval of the new City Manager search process.

To the part of this report relating to this frivolous Open Meeting Law complaint, I will only say that just because one has a legal right to do something that consumes time and resources for no useful purpose, this hardly justifies doing so – unless you’re primary goal is to waste everybody’s time and to alienate those with whom you might otherwise have a cooperative relationship.

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on May 24, 2016 to discuss the Green Line Extension Project (GLX).

Just read the report. The Cambridge and Somerville contribution toward making this a reality should be moved along without hesitation, i.e. on the fast track.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem A. Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of Civic Unity Committee, for a joint public hearing held on May 26, 2016 to discuss Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

This is the third of the three agenda items that will likely draw a crowd of invited guests to Public Comment. Suffice to say that regardless how the City Council votes on this, almost everyone, including me, will continue to refer to Columbus Day as Columbus Day – even if we acknowledge some of the more despicable aspects of world history. Most of us don’t know much about Christopher Columbus nor do we particularly care about what he did or represented over five centuries ago. Columbus Day has for many of us represented the start of the migration of European people to this continent. That is not something I find in the least way objectionable. It is how my ancestors came to be here generations ago, so it is, in a sense, how I personally came to be here. If there is to be a name change, let’s call it Immigration Day and have it be a celebration of all immigrants who came to this continent and who continue to come to this continent and specifically to this country. This is not dismissing any of the great things that may be said of those whose ancestors were here earlier, but let’s not choose sides. How about declaring the day before or after Columbus Day to be "Indigenous Peoples’ Day" and we can celebrate our choices in our own way. Many people will, of course, just go shopping. – Robert Winters


Update #1: The City Council voted 9-0 to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. So in Cambridge, it’s Goodbye Columbus. Elsewhere, nothing has changed. I suppose the most substantial effect will be in the Cambridge schools where from now on Columbus’ name will be associated with Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, and Charlie Manson.

Update #2: The City Council voted to extend the contract of City Manager Rossi through the end of September to allow time to (hopefully) complete the search for the next City Manager.

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