Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

January 24, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 201-202: January 24, 2017

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:38 pm

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 201 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 24, 2017 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. Topics include the Women’s March, Inaugural comments, Volpe site, Envision Cambridge. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 202 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 24, 2017 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. Topics include a recap of the Jan 23 City Council meeting, and some upcoming events. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in this episode]

January 16, 2017

Members Sought for New City Manager’s Advisory Committee

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:02 pm

Members Sought for New City Manager’s Advisory Committee

City SealJan 13, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking volunteers to serve on the new City Manager’s Advisory Committee. Community input is a vital component of the decision making process in Cambridge and the City strives to engage and involve all stakeholders. In an effort to foster community collaboration and deepen the understanding of community issues, the City Manager is forming this new advisory Committee.

The City Manager’s Advisory Committee will consist of 12-15 residents and stakeholders who will meet at least quarterly to discuss issues happening in the city, develop working relationships, work with organizations, bring different opinions to the table, and work to resolve problems in advance.

Selection of individuals to serve on the City Manager’s Advisory Committee will be based on their ability to represent the diversity of the Cambridge community. The final group of committed participants selected will be broadly representative of many backgrounds including: small/local business community, large business community, non-profit community, neighborhood associations, higher education, arts community, primary/secondary education, public health and human services, housing advocacy, faith community, new immigrant/under represented communities, youth community, senior community, LGBTQ+ community, and mobility community (bike/transit/pedestrian).

Applicants should be Cambridge residents or individuals with a strong connection with the City.

For more information, contact Lee Gianetti, Director of Communication and Community Relations, at 617-349-3317 or lgianetti@cambridgema.gov. Letters of interest, including resume and/or applicable experience, can be sent via email or mail by the deadline of Friday, February 17, 2017 to:
City Manager Louis A. DePasquale
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

December 27, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 193-194: December 27, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 193 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on December 27, 2016 at 5:30pm. The theme of this show was a “Look Back at 2016”. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 194 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 27, 2016 at 6:00pm. In this episode we continued our “Look Back at 2016” blended with a “Look Ahead at 2017”, including the names of some of the new candidates expected to run for City Council in 2017. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in this episode]

October 4, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 173-174: October 4, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 173 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 5:30pm. The main topic was the recent vote to hire Louis DePasquale as the next Cambridge City Manager. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 174 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 6:00pm. [On YouTube]

September 29, 2016

Louis A. DePasquale Selected as Next Cambridge City Manager

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:32 pm

Cambridge City Council votes to make an offer of employment

September 29, 2016 – The Cambridge City Council voted unanimously to make an offer of employment to Louis A. DePasquale as the next City Manager at a special meeting held on Thursday, September 29, 2016. Mr. DePasquale will succeed City Manager Richard C. Rossi who is retiring on September 30, 2016. The appointment of Mr. DePasquale is contingent on successful contract negotiations. He is currently the City’s Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs.

The City Council also voted to appoint Deputy City Manager Lisa C. Peterson as Acting City Manager effective October 1, 2016. She will serve as Acting City Manager until Mr. DePasquale is appointed.

Additional information on the Cambridge City Manager search process can be found at: www.cambridgema.gov/citymanagersearch

Louis A. DePasquale was appointed Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs in 2002 after serving as the City’s Budget Director for twenty years. As Assistant City Manager, Mr. DePasquale is responsible for setting financial policy direction for the City; planning, implementing and overseeing the City’s operating and capital finances; and managing the City’s investment, debt service, and reserve policies. In his current role, he also oversees the management of eight City departments, is a member of the City’s senior management team, and has been actively involved in major City policy and programmatic initiatives.

Mr. DePasquale currently serves as the Finance Chair of the Board of Trustees of Cambridge Health Alliance, an appointed member of the Neville Communities, Inc. Board, and as member of the Cambridge Community Preservation Act Committee and the Cambridge Family Policy Council. Louis is a lifelong Cambridge resident and is married to Cheryl DePasquale and has two children, Kristen DePasquale and Louis DePasquale, both of Medford. He has been a coach in the Cambridge Youth Baseball Programs for 35 years. He received a Bachelor of Science from Boston State College and a Masters of Public Administration from Northeastern University.

Louis A. DePasquale


The City Clerks and City Managers of Cambridge


Special Cambridge City Council meeting – Sept 29, 2016

ORDERS
1. Offer of employment as City Manager to Louis A. DePasquale.   Councillor Toomey
Adopted 9-0

2. Appointment of Lisa C. Peterson as Acting City Manager   Mayor Simmons
Adopted 9-0

3. City enter into a contract with Elizabeth Valerio and John Foskett.   Councillor Maher
Adopted 9-0

TEXT OF ORDERS
O-1     Sept 29, 2016  Adopted 9-0
COUNCILLOR TOOMEY
ORDERED: That the City Council make an offer of employment as City Manager to Louis A. DePasquale, conditioned upon the successful negotiations of a contract with terms agreeable to both parties.

O-2     Sept 29, 2016  Adopted 9-0
MAYOR SIMMONS
ORDERED: That the City Council appoint Lisa C. Peterson as Acting City Manager commencing on Oct 1, 2016 and continuing until a new City Manager is appointed and that during her appointment as Acting City Manager that she be compensated with a weekly stipend of $1,000.00 in addition to her regular salary.

O-3     Sept 29, 2016  Adopted 9-0
COUNCILLOR MAHER
ORDERED: That the City Council request that the City enter into a contract with Elizabeth Valerio and John Foskett of the Deutsch, Williams Firm to advise the City Council in negotiating a contract with the prospective City Manager.

September 28, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 171-172: September 27, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 171 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 5:30pm. The main topic was the upcoming vote to hire the next Cambridge City Manager. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 172 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 6:00pm. [On YouTube]

September 25, 2016

Decisions, Decisions…. Notable items on the Sept 26, 2016 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:57 pm

Decisions, Decisions…. Notable items on the Sept 26, 2016 Cambridge City Council agenda

Barring any unexpected turns of events, this will be the last regular City Council meeting with City Manager Richard Rossi.

Decisions, Decisions....Here are the items that seem most interesting:

Appointments by the Manager
Manager’s Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as a members of the Affordable Housing Trust: Reappointments: Peter Daly (2-year term), Florrie Darwin (1-year term), Gwendolen Noyes (1-year term), Susan Schlesinger (3-year term), James Stockard, Jr. (3-year term), William Tibbs (2-year term). New Appointment: Elaine Thorne (3-year term)

Manager’s Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as a members of the Water Board for a term of 5-years, effective Sept 26, 2016: Kathleen Kelly, Jason Marshall

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the reappointment of the following persons as members of the Planning Board for a term of five years, effective Sept 26, 2016: Steven Cohen, Hugh Russell and Tom Sieniewicz

Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the Steering Committee for the City’s Birth to Grade Three Partnership.

Manager’s Agenda #13. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as a members of the Cambridge Arts Council Advisory Board for a term of 3 years effective Oct 1, 2016: Christine Lamas Weinberg, Katherine Shozawa and Olufolakemi Alalade

I have come to look upon those who choose to serve on City boards and commissions as possessing a sort of nobility. Regardless of their age, these public-spirited people are like the Village Elders. They serve without compensation and, in some cases, most notably the Planning Board, they devote a significant amount of time in this voluntary capacity. Perhaps we should form a congress of all those who serve or who have served at one time – The League of Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen.


Manager’s Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Outdoor Lighting Zoning recommendations.

These are the zoning amendments that would go along with the proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance. It has been interesting, and at least somewhat entertaining, watching how this reasonable proposal to regulate intrusive lighting has led to some people wanting to expand it to deal with all lighting, including advertising signage that shine into the bedrooms of no one. This seems like a particularly Cambridge sort of thing – a proposal to regulate something turning into a proposal to regulate everything. I like the idea of establishing some standards for outdoor lighting, particularly in residential areas, as a courtesy to those who would like to get a good night’s sleep. What this has to do with decorative lighting, especially garish and aesthetically questionable lighting in places like North Point, escapes me. Perhaps that’s the real point of these zoning recommendations – to grant the Planning Board some regulatory authority for this other stuff while the Municipal Lighting Ordinance remains focused on ensuring that spotlights don’t shine into people’s bedroom windows or darken the night sky.

Manager’s Agenda #12. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the votes necessary to seek approval from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue of the tax rate for FY2017:
A. Authorize the use of Free Cash of $10,180,000 to reduce the FY17 tax rate;
B. Authorize $2,000,000 in overlay surplus/reserves to be used for reducing the FY17 tax rate;
C. Authorize $1,700,000 from the City Debt Stabilization Fund to be used as a revenue source to the General Fund Budget;
D. Authorize $517,970 from the School Debt Stabilization Fund to be used as a revenue source to the General Fund Budget;
E. Appropriate $8,000,000 from Free Cash to the City Debt Stabilization Fund;
F. Classify property into five classes;
G. Adopt the minimum residential factor of 55.9103%;
H. Approve the residential exemption factor of 30% for owner-occupied homes;
I. Vote to double the normal value of the statutory exemption;
J. Vote the FY17 exemption of $309.00 allowed under MGL Chapter 59, Section 5, Clause 17D;
K. Vote the FY17 asset limits of $61,298.00 allowed Under MGL Chapter 59, Section 5, Clause 17E;
L. Vote the FY17 income and asset limits allowed under MGL Chapter 59, Section 5, Clause 41D as follows: income and assets limits for elderly persons from income limits of $25,346 for those who are single and $38,019 for those who are married, asset limits of $50,689 for those who are single and $69,698 for those who are married;
M. Vote the income limit for deferral of real estate taxes by elderly persons as determined by the Commissioner of Revenue for the purposes of MGL Chapter 62, Section 6, subsection (k) for a single person ($57,000) and for married ($85,000).

As Bob Healy would always say, the City doesn’t set the property tax rates. The Department of Revenue does. He would also add that once these votes are taken these rates are virtually guaranteed to be the same as those given in the communication: "Based on a property tax levy of $372.7 million, the FY17 residential tax rate will be $6.49 per thousand dollars of value, subject to Department of Revenue approval. This is a decrease of $0.50, or -7.2% from FY16. The commercial tax rate will be $16.12, which is a decrease of $1.59, or -9.0% from FY16." Don’t jump for joy just yet. Property values have been escalating so rapidly (average of 13.5% in one year for residential properties) that you should expect to pay a bit more, especially in Riverside and Cambridgeport.

Manager’s Agenda #14. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Broadband Task Force recommendations and Tilson Report.

Boondoggle alert. One estimate is that it would cost $187 million dollars to build such a network, and there’s no guarantee that customers would leave Comcast or another Internet service provider in favor of such a new network, especially if Comcast adjusts its pricing structure a little. That’s a lot of public money expended for a discount. Anyway, this report just calls for a Feasibility Study.

Manager’s Agenda #15. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to City accomplishments during City Manager 2013-2016.

Read Rich Rossi’s memo. It has been a busy few years. Then think for a while about all of the major capital projects Richie has played a lead role in over the last few decades. It will make you feel pretty good about City government in Cambridge – even on the evening when votes are being taken to determine how much property tax you’ll be paying this year.

Manager’s Agenda #16. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-16, regarding the plan to take Vail Court by eminent domain.

Hallelujah! The City takes this step only when absolutely necessary, and this is long overdue.

Manager’s Agenda #17. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the City’s Agreement with MassDOT and MBTA regarding funding contribution agreement for Green Line Extension Project.

These are the details associated with the announced agreement that was made several months ago.


Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to refer the attached short-term rental draft ordinance to the City Solicitor, Inspectional Services Department and any other relevant department for comment and review as components of a potential short-term rental ordinance and be referred to a joint hearing of the Housing and Public Safety Committees scheduled on Oct 26, 2016, at 5:30pm for discussion, and to hear back from the City on the proposed policies.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux

The Statement of Purpose says it best: "The purpose of this ordinance shall be to make the operation of short-term rentals legal for Cambridge residents, protect the safety of renters, owners, visitors, and neighbors, and ensure that short-term rentals will not be a detriment to the character and livability of the surrounding residential neighborhood."

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 Aug 30, 2016 to continue public discussion regarding the recent completed Inclusionary Housing Study and the Draft Recommendations of the Community Development Department.

Committee Report #2. 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 Sept 8, 2016 to continue the public discussion regarding the recently completed Inclusionary Housing Study and Draft Recommendations of the Community Development Department.

The Housing Committee has now voted that the Community Development Department’s recommendations for Inclusionary Zoning be forwarded to the full City Council with a favorable recommendation. Primarily this will set the Inclusionary Housing required percentage for new construction over a minimum size at 20% net, though the City Council could still modify this proposed percentage. There will apparently still be some discussion about whether this will be phased in and, if so, over what period. I still remain skeptical whether this requirement will be economically feasible beyond the short term. I also have some misgivings about a future in which only wealthy people will be able to afford market housing with everyone else having to apply to a government agency to access housing that is affordable to them. The biggest mistake made over the last 20+ years was in allowing most of the housing stock of two- and three-family houses to be converted into now-unaffordable condominiums. That had previously been one of the most significant sources of affordable housing for both owners and renters.

Thurs, Sept 29
5:30pm   Special City Council Meeting to vote on extending an offer to a finalist for the position of City Manager. Additionally, the City Council may meet in Executive Session to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with the prospective City Manager or to conduct contract negotiations with the prospective City Manager.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Later this week the City Council will vote on whether Jay Ash, Paul Fetherston, or Louis DePasquale will be the next City Manager of Cambridge. As I stated at the microphone last Monday – I wish the City Council good wisdom and good luck. – Robert Winters

September 18, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tues, Sept 20

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

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

Wed, Sept 21

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

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

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

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