Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

November 13, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 431-432: November 12, 2019

Episode 431 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 12, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Municipal election results; effectiveness of slates; role of major issues (if any); what’s next. Hosts: Robert Winters, Patrick Barrett [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 432 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 12, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 12, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Election last details; Harvard Square Zoning Petition; where do we go from here. Hosts: Robert Winters, Patrick Barrett [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

November 4, 2019

The Last Thing on their Minds – Nov 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

The Last Thing on their Minds – Nov 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

CountdownThis is your classic night-before-Election-Day City Council meeting where Council business places a distant second behind concerns about having all their incumbency protection ducks in a row. If this meeting goes beyond 6:15pm it will likely be because they were forced to listen to the repetitive whining of Public Comment. Anyway, here is my very short list of interesting items on this very short agenda:

Manager’s Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the creation of a new municipal Renewable Energy and Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) Reduction Revolving Fund (“Revolving Fund”) to serve the City of Cambridge’s (“City”) municipal energy aggregation, and adoption of the proposed new ordinance, Chapter 3.24, entitled “Departmental Revolving Funds.”

From the Manager’s letter: "The Aggregation adder is expected to raise approximately $650,000 annually, or a total of $1.3 million during the current supplier contract period (January 2019 – December 2020)." Proposed uses are: (a) Invest $1.3 million in a solar energy project located on a municipal building; and (b) Deposit income earned from the sale of generated Net Metering Credits annually into the Revolving Fund. Those funds would subsequently be used to finance other solar energy/renewable energy projects and all resulting GHG reductions would be attributed to the Aggregation’s participants.

Seems like a reasonable plan of action.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff on determining the most appropriate signage and messaging that would best educate cyclists on the importance of following traffic laws, particularly stopping at red lights, for their own safety and the safety of other cyclists and pedestrians.

30 out of 31 Communications in which cyclists recoil in horror because a City Council Order from last week suggested "signage and messaging that would best educate cyclists on the importance of following traffic laws, particularly stopping at red lights, for their own safety and the safety of other cyclists and pedestrians."

Only in Cambridge would a resolution calling for enhanced safety yield an avalanche of protest. The turf wars continue.

Resolution #5. Congratulations to Sekazi K. Mtingwa.   Councillor Simmons

Sekazi and I worked together at MIT. I did the math and he did the physics in the MIT Concourse program. I’m glad to see him getting the recognition.

Brattle RoundaboutOrder #3. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the Council by the end of this term on progress toward identifying a source of funding and a timetable for the design and construction of a modern roundabout at the Brattle-Sparks-Craigie intersection, to share the consultant’s 2017-18 report on the feasibility of a modern roundabout, and to schedule a community meeting in early 2020 to further discuss this project.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone

I don’t know whether or not this is the best alternative for this intersection but it is an interesting proposal. I don’t like the way it "pedestrianizes" cyclists and I would likely just ride through the roundabout with the rest of the traffic. It’s a bit strange that the Council Order calls for a source of funding and a timetable for the design and construction prior to there being any decision on even doing such a redesign, but it’s fair to say that this isn’t the first instance of engineering via politics by this Council.

Order #5. Resolution in support of the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW’S demands for a fair contract now.   Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon

Finish your thesis, kids. There are better opportunities than being an ABD (All But Dissertation) graduate student. I’ll add that it still seems funny that the United Auto Workers are representing Harvard Graduate students.

99 Items Awaiting Report (sung to the tune of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall")

Wouldn’t it be just marvelous if one of these weeks one of the councillors simply asked the manager to run through the list and say (a) which items he has no intention of reporting (possibly because it’s either moot or ridiculous); (b) which items somebody somewhere is actually working on; and (c) which items he considers to be timely and important. For example, should we all be waiting with bated breath on the future of wood-fired ovens or electronic device usage by City-elected officials? I thought that the request for "a comprehensive, independent planning, and parking study of the neighborhood and use of the First Street Garage" had already been completed. Would it be so difficult to report on the "feasibility of allowing small businesses to host live acoustic music performances without a license?" Can anyone shed any light on the proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance that has apparently gone missing? – Robert Winters

November 1, 2019

Follow the Money – Cambridge City Council Campaign Receipts 2019

Filed under: 2019 election,Cambridge,campaign finance,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:00 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Table of reported City Council campaign receipts (Feb 1, 2018 - present) - Total, Cambridge, Unions, Real Estate - updated Nov 15, 11:15am
Candidate (and PACs)ReceiptsCambridgePctunionsPctReal EstatePctunions+REPct
Total $669,682.15 $424,293.5563.4% $41,250.006.2% $67,751.0010.1% $109,001.0016.3%
McGovern, Marc C. $102,962.21 $44,418.0043.1% $12,050.0011.7% $30,200.0029.3% $42,250.0041.0%
Simmons, E. Denise $63,371.19 $30,751.1948.5% $6,250.009.9% $20,100.0031.7% $26,350.0041.6%
Toomey, Timothy J., Jr. $55,361.68 $31,048.5856.1% $4,600.008.3% $10,750.0019.4% $15,350.0027.7%
Mallon, Alanna $41,195.25 $27,612.2567.0% $6,450.0015.7% $1,900.004.6% $8,350.0020.3%
Siddiqui, Sumbul $30,064.68 $18,186.6860.5% $4,250.0014.1% $350.001.2% $4,600.0015.3%
Musgrave, Adriane $41,308.35 $20,624.3549.9% $3,700.009.0% $600.001.5% $4,300.0010.4%
Kelley, Craig A. $33,504.00 $26,772.0079.9% $2,500.007.5% $1,650.004.9% $4,150.0012.4%
ABC - PAC $24,259.26 $20,207.2383.3% $ -0.0% $1,866.007.7% $1,866.007.7%
Carlone, Dennis $32,173.00 $25,698.0079.9% $500.001.6% $250.000.8% $750.002.3%
Mednick, Risa $19,237.00 $13,854.0072.0% $500.002.6% $ - 0.0% $500.002.6%
Azeem, Burhan $13,199.35 $10,494.3579.5% $450.003.4% $35.000.3% $485.003.7%
Williams, Nicola A. $27,272.59 $20,413.5274.8% $ -0.0% $ 50.000.2%$ 50.000.2%
Akiba, Sukia $3,000.00 $980.0032.7% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
BikeSafety-PAC $3,230.00 $1,905.0059.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
CCC - PAC $18,805.00 $17,925.0095.3% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
CResA - PAC $2,905.00 $2,905.00100.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
Franklin, Charles $31,321.55 $20,253.5564.7% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Kopon, Derek Andrew $8,203.71 $6,817.6683.1% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Levy, Ilan S. $ 450.00 $ 450.00100.0% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
McNary, Jeffery $ - $ - - $ -- $ - - $ - -
Moree, Gregg J. $ 1,500.00 $ 1,500.00100.0% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Nolan, Patricia M. $21,961.23 $13,555.0061.7% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
ORC - PAC $1,992.00 $1,892.0095.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0% $ -0.0%
Pitkin, John $14,022.00 $12,122.0086.4% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Simon, Ben $12,255.33 $6,742.0055.0% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Sobrinho-Wheeler, Jivan $25,331.77 $18,337.1972.4% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%
Zondervan, Quinton $40,796.00 $28,829.0070.7% $ -0.0% $ - 0.0% $ - 0.0%

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

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

2019 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports

Filed under: 2019 election,Cambridge,campaign finance,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:51 pm

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

CandidateToStartReceiptsExpendBalance#1 Votes$/VoteNotes
PAC - ABC10/31/190.0021084.2716770.494313.78--A Better Cambridge
PAC - CCC10/31/190.0016900.2411739.355160.89--Cambridge Citizens Coalition
PAC - CResA10/31/190.002522.70735.951786.75--Cambridge Residents Alliance
PAC - Cambr. Bike Safety07/15/190.000.000.000.00--Cambridge Bike Safety
PAC - Our Revolution Cambridge10/31/190.001427.000.001427.00--filed 10/9/19 w/OCPF
Akiba, Sukia10/31/190.003000.031738.181261.85362 $4.80
Azeem, Burhan10/31/190.0012979.5811938.161041.42959 $12.45new candidate, May 7
Carlone, Dennis10/31/1910088.5829068.3322556.5416600.371478 $15.26
Franklin, Charles10/31/190.0030297.7127037.453260.26323 $83.71new candidate, Mar 5
Kelley, Craig10/31/194951.6529149.2026458.097642.761422 $18.61
Kopon, Derek10/31/190.009047.277973.841073.43493 $16.17new candidate, July 2
Levy, Ilan10/31/19-44.32555.71432.1379.26110 $3.93
Mallon, Alanna10/31/195380.4540515.3738248.677647.151256 $30.45refund deducted
McGovern, Marc10/31/196376.1796408.1481075.1421709.171619 $50.08$600 refund deducted
McNary, Jeffery10/31/190.000.000.000.0077 $0.00will not raise/expend funds
Mednick, Risa10/31/190.0016955.5615255.451700.11244 $62.52new candidate, July 15
Moree, Gregg10/31/190.001500.001427.1072.9047 $30.36
Musgrave, Adriane10/31/19474.6738370.1633149.405695.43726 $45.66
Nolan, Patty10/31/190.0020012.7414878.575134.171683 $8.84new candidate, June 11
Pitkin, John10/31/190.0012648.975519.807129.17536 $10.30new candidate, July 17
Siddiqui, Sumbul10/31/199334.0530183.3122895.9316621.432516 $9.10
Simmons, Denise10/31/197595.5053626.6235370.1725851.952006 $17.63
Simon, Ben10/31/190.0012145.958787.403358.55294 $29.89new candidate, Apr 2
Sobrinho-Wheeler, Jivan C.10/31/190.0024407.5619930.524477.041321 $15.09new candidate, Mar 11
Toomey, Tim10/31/1910024.4955361.8041349.6724036.621729 $23.92$15,000 repaid loan deducted
Williams, Nicola A.10/31/190.0027874.6324933.802940.83631 $39.51new candidate, Mar 12
Zondervan, Quinton10/31/191279.6640775.9939855.032200.621380 $28.88
Summaries of potential 2019 City Council campaign bank reports. Adjustments to the totals have been made to reflect returned donations and other factors. [updated Nov 5, 2019 at 4:38pm]

Campaign Finance Reports – 2019 City Council (updated Nov 5, 4:38pm)

Vote!

October 30, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 429-430: October 29, 2019

Episode 429 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 29, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 29, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Election coming; voter success; dirty politics, warring slates, and inflammatory issues; “Who defines ‘the issues’?”. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 430 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 29, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 29, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: dog people; awaiting report; the “gift” of the Foundry; renewable energy, municipal utilities, cost effectiveness; “weaponizing” the issue of campaign donations; shaming as a political strategy. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

October 23, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 427-428: October 22, 2019

Episode 427 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 22, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 22, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Election coming; election systems, district vs. at-large; Candidate page updates; slates & endorsing organizations; incumbency protection and feeders; how to vote a PR ballot. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 428 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 22, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 22, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Candidate forums; Cambridge Club event; some Plan E history; Devereux piece; myths about single-family zoning and density; Green Line Extension; growing the metropolis. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

October 16, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 425-426: October 15, 2019

Episode 425 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 15, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 15, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Candidate slates and election outlook; a look at municipal elections over the years; CCA history; Flotsam & Jetsam. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 426 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 15, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 15, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Slates, candidate forums, strategies, campaign spending, “developer money”; Ranked Choice Voting; MIT, energy; Opening King Open. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

October 12, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 423-424: Oct 8, 2019

Episode 423 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 8, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 8, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Tax rate hearing; property tax classification; residential exemption; tax levy; Harvard Square Zoning Petition; and more. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 424 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 8, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 8, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Energy (gas & electric) infrastructure and City Council proposals; other topics from Oct 7 Council meeting. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

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