Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 31, 2019

Street Cleaning, Yard Waste Pickup, Hazardous Waste Collection, Rabies, and some really cool Watertown history

Filed under: Cambridge,history — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 1:35 pm

Street Cleaning and Yard Waste Pickup Resume Monday, April 1
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event on Saturday, April 6

City SealStreet cleaning and yard waste pickup in Cambridge will be resuming for the season on Mon, Apr 1, 2019. The next Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day in Cambridge will be held on Sat, Apr 6, from 9am–1pm, at the Volpe Transportation Center; entrance near 125 Munroe St. Below are more details regarding these services and information on registering for notifications.

Street Cleaning
Public Works mechanically sweeps each street in Cambridge once per month, April through December (weather permitting). Signs are posted on each residential street indicating the schedule. In order to ensure that streets are properly cleaned, cars must move off the side of the street being swept to avoid being ticketed and towed. Cars must remain off the side of the street until the time indicated on the sign, even if the sweeper has already made a pass down the street, since it will often return to do it again. Citywide street sweeping includes twice yearly vacuum sweeping to improve storm water quality.

Yard Waste Collection
Separate yard waste collection begins Apr 1, 2019 and continues through Dec 13, 2019. Please be sure to set yard waste out by 7:00am on your regular collection day, or after 6:00pm the night before. Yard waste is not accepted in plastic bags by recycling or trash crews. Place yard waste in barrels marked with City-issued stickers and facing the street, or in lawn refuse bags sold in most hardware stores. Barrels and bags must be set on the curb apart from the trash. Do not staple or tape bags. Bundle small twigs and branches with string. Contact Public Works at 617-349-4800 to request Yard Waste stickers.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day
The City of Cambridge holds four Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Days in 2019. Proper disposal of materials helps protect public health and the environment. A list of accepted items can be found at www.CambridgeMA.gov/HazardousWaste.

Service Schedules and Notifications
Residents can find their curbside collections and street cleaning schedules by entering their address in the “My Cambridge Schedule” tool at www.CambridgeMA.gov/theworks. Notifications are now available by text message, email, or app notifications by downloading the “Zero Waste Cambridge” app for iPhone/Android. Those previously signed up for reminders through ELine should re-subscribe using the scheduling tool or by downloading the app. Residents are also encouraged to visit www.CambridgeMA.gov/theworks and use the “Get Rid of It Right” tool to search how to properly dispose of items.


Rabies Vaccination Clinic for Dogs Only – Saturday, Apr 6
Annual Dog Licenses also Available

Dog LicenseCambridge Animal Commission will be holding a Rabies Vaccination Clinic for dogs only on Saturday, April 6, from 9-11am, at the Cambridge Department of Public Works, 147 Hampshire St. Cost is $15 per dog; cash or check only please.

State laws require that all dogs and cats over the age of 6 months be vaccinated against rabies. A vaccination clinic for cats has not been planned, though there are clinics in the area that administer low cost programs for rabies vaccinations.

Annual dog licenses for Apr 1, 2019 – Mar 31, 2020 will also be issued at the Rabies Vaccination Clinic. The fee for a dog license for a spayed/neutered dog is $10, or $30 for a dog that is not spayed or neutered. State law requires that all dogs over 6 months have a current dog license. Please note that all current dog licenses expire on Mar. 31, 2019. The fine for an unlicensed dog is $50. In order to obtain a dog license, owners must have a current rabies vaccination.

Cambridge residents can apply for or renew their dog’s license online, CambridgeMA.gov/doglicense, or download the paper application and renew via mail or in person, following instructions on the respective form.

For your pet’s safety at the Rabies Vaccination Clinic, dogs must be leashed at all times. You are still welcome to attend if your dog is up to date on its rabies vaccination and you just need a license. Please bring a current rabies vaccination certificate and proof of spay or neuter if your dog has not been licensed in Cambridge before.

Rabies has and will continue to be present in Cambridge and throughout the Commonwealth. The best thing you can do for your pet (dogs and cats) is to have it vaccinated and to teach your family and friends to avoid contact with wild animals. The basic rule is to “leave wildlife alone.”

When you are outside with your dog, please adhere to the leash law. When you are in shared use areas in the city, always have your dog under control and within your sight (particularly at Fresh Pond). Regulations are posted in shared use areas and at designated dog parks in the city. Cat owners should keep their cats indoors as it’s a safe and controlled environment.

As always, the Cambridge Animal Commission would like to remind dog owners of the three L’s of dog ownership – License, Leash, and Love your pet.

For more information, please call the Cambridge Animal Commission Office at 617-349-4376. If we are not in the office, please leave a voicemail with a convenient time and number to return your call.


The Belmont Historical Society Presents – Destination Watertown: The Armenians of Hood Rubber
A Program by Local Filmmaker Roger Hagopian

Date: Sunday, April 7, 2019, 2:00pm     Location:
Assembly Room — Belmont Memorial Library (336 Concord Ave., Belmont)
A documentary of the immigrant workers of the Hood Rubber Company, a once bustling shoe and boot factory from 1896 until its closing in 1969. Learn about life in the factory and the factory’s impact on the local community. [Flyer for event]

March 26, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 383-384: March 26, 2019

Episode 383 – Cambridge InsideOut: Mar 26, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Mar 26, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topic: The Old Middlesex Canal. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 384 – Cambridge InsideOut: Mar 26, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Mar 26, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Middlesex Canal; Mar 25 City Council meeting; Plan E and Proportional Representation – proportional to what? Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

January 8, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 365-366: Jan 8, 2019

Episode 365 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 8, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 8, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: History; Political Trichotomy; Trees; Infrastructure & Inundation. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 366 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 8, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 8, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Significant passings; arts funding and earmarking; proposed Home Rule petition for a real estate transfer tax; and more. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

December 9, 2018

Lotsa Ordainin’ To Do – Dec 10, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Lotsa Ordainin’ To Do – Dec 10, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Information Security Begins With You!The ordaining queue has been growing over the last few weeks – Surveillance Ordinance, Revised Street Performers Ordinance, Revised Fair Housing Ordinance, and the Mandatory Book-Burning Ordinance (OK, not really). Perhaps next year we’ll also see the Don’t Touch That Tree Ordinance, the Chicken Farming Ordinance and Handbook, and the Socialized Housing Ordinance. The business of municipal ordinances was always complicated – even in days of yore, i.e. Cambridge in 1899 (Revised Ordinances of 1892) which even contains a precursor to the zoning ordinance that would not be enacted for another quarter century. Here’s a sampler of some of the ordinances of the day:

CHAPTER 37. SECT. 1. Any minor, between the ages of seven and fifteen years, convicted of being an habitual truant, or wandering about in the streets or public places of Cambridge, having no lawful occupation or business, not attending school, and growing up in ignorance, and such children as persistently violate the reasonable rules and regulations of the public schools, shall be committed to the Middlesex Truant School for a term not exceeding two years. The Middlesex County Truant School is the place provided for the confinement, discipline, and instruction of such children.

CHAPTER 38. SECT. 1. There shall be established in the city of Cambridge a workhouse for the employment and support of the following description of persons, that is to say, poor and indigent persons that are maintained by or receive alms from, the city; persons who, being able of body to work, and not having estate or means otherwise to maintain themselves, refuse or neglect to work; persons who live a dissolute, vagrant life, and exercise no ordinary calling or lawful business; and persons who spend their time and property in public houses, to the neglect of their proper business, or who, by otherwise misspending what they earn, to the impoverishment of themselves and their families, are likely to become chargeable to the city.

CHAPTER 45. SECT. 2. No person shall climb a tree in any street, or fasten or tie a horse or other animal to, or post a bill upon, any such tree, or allow any horse or other animal owned by him, or under his control to stand so near any such tree, that such tree may be gnawed or otherwise injured by such horse or other animal so allowed to stand, and no person shall place a sign upon or around any tree on any street of the city.

Penny FarthingCHAPTER 45. SECT. 16. No person shall coast upon a sled on any street of this city without the written permission of the mayor; and without such written permission no person, in any public street or square of this city, shall ride a bicycle or tricycle at a rate of speed exceeding ten miles an hour, and only for the time, and upon such portions of the public ways, streets, or squares aforesaid as may be specified in said permit. Such reasonable conditions shall be attached to such permits as the mayor may deem proper, and in accord with the circumstances and for the occasion for which the permits may respectively be granted. Between the hours of eight o’clock in the morning and five o’clock in the afternoon, children under the age of fourteen years may use velocipedes on any sidewalk in any public way, street, or square of this city. In no part of any public grounds, commons, enclosures, and parks, now or that hereafter may be under the general charge of the park commissioners, shall children use a velocipede without the written permit of the park commissioners.

CHAPTER 45. SECT. 19. No person shall have in his possession a club or bludgeon, on any street, with intent to use the same in a sport, sham-fight or strife, or to intimidate any person or horse.

CHAPTER 45. SECT. 21. No person shall behave himself in a rude or disorderly manner, or use any indecent, profane or insulting language, in any street or public place.

CHAPTER 45. SECT. 35. No person, except by permission of the mayor, shall deliver a sermon, lecture, address, or discourse on any common or other public grounds.

CHAPTER 46. SECT. 1. No person in any public street of the city shall ring a bell or gong, between the hours of ten o’clock P.M., and six o’clock A.M., except as a warning of danger.

CHAPTER 48. SECT. 1. No child under sixteen years of age shall be, loiter or remain upon any street, highway, park or other public way or place in this city after the hour of half past nine o’clock in the afternoon of any day, unless accompanied by, or under the control or care of a parent, guardian or other adult person, or performing or returning from employment or from the performance of some duty, directed in writing by said parent, guardian or other adult person, and no such child, while performing such duty, or returning from the performance thereof, or from employment, shall loiter upon any such street, highway, park or other public way or place.

Back in the present (2018), here are a few items on the agenda that drew my attention this week:

Manager’s Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of an Advisory Committee on Climate Resilience Zoning.

Unfinished Business #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-85, regarding a report on the feasibility of appointing an advisory committee to work through resilience elements raised during the Envision process and through the Brown Petition.

The City Manager’s original 25 appointees included four city councillors and a representative from the Mayor’s Office. This led to concerns of possible Open Meeting Law violations unless the entire advisory committee was rethought as an ad-hoc City Council committee – but that would have diminished the role of all the other appointees. The new list of 20 appointees has zero councillors and nobody from the Mayor’s Office, and one MIT appointee was reclassified from "Institutional/Non-Profit Representative" to "Business Representatives/Property Owners".

Charter Right #1. Legal Opinion on Portland’s Relocation Assistance Ordinance.

Yes, it would require a Home Rule Petition. Needless to say, if the threshold for triggering this is a 10% rent increase (even if the rent was unchanged for years) I would expect a 9.5% rent increase every year to become commonplace.

Unfinished Business #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to proposed revisions to the draft Surveillance Ordinance. QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER DEC 10, 2018.

Unfinished Business #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the proposed amended Street Performers Ordinance. QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER DEC 10, 2018.

Time for some ordainin’. Please be advised that street performers may not deliver a sermon, lecture, address, or discourse on any common or other public grounds except by permission of the mayor.

Order #1. Improving Pedestrian Safety.   Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

This Order is primarily a request for information on how various "traffic calming" treatments have been working. The current policy seems primarily to be to create as much congestion as physically possible so that traffic cannot move very quickly. This has the added goal of infuriating drivers to the point that they consider alternate modes of transportation.

Order #2. Tree on City Hall Lawn.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor ZondervanCity Hall

I would suggest having conversations with both Charlie Sullivan (Historical Commission) and former City Councillor Kathleen Born before moving on this. There used to be a perimeter hedge around City Hall as well as a couple of spruce trees straddling the main entry to City Hall. About 20 years ago the consensus was that it would be ideal to restore the appearance of City Hall to its late 19th Century magnificence. This led to the removal of the hedge and the trees – as well as the ivy that had crept over much of the building surface. An additional unanticipated benefit was that the front lawn of City Hall became a significant open space resource for Central Square and a popular place for sunbathers during the warm weather months. We all love trees but any choice to plant a significant tree in front of City Hall should be weighed against these other factors.

Order #4. City Budget and Council Goals.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

While it’s a good idea to have the budget presentation highlight how it reflects City Council goals and priorities (and let’s be clear that the City Manager already does this every year), I would not want to see every City department have to justify every expenditure against that short list of Council priorities. If DPW needs to buy another packer truck or if the Fire Department needs to purchase another fire engine or hire additional firefighters, I would hope they would not need to justify this by proving how it will "implement equity policies for the people of Cambridge". Most of the City budget goes to maintaining operations, and the goals expressed by individual departments in the annual Budget Book usually highlight how they can best deliver their services. – Robert Winters

September 25, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 341-342: Sept 25, 2018

Episode 341 – Cambridge InsideOut: Sept 25, 2018 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Sept 25, 2018 at 5:30pm. Topics: Charter Rights and Wrongs, opioid lawsuit, Sancta Maria salvation, zoning & housing affordability, property taxes, tax rates, tax classification, tax levy, assessments. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 342 – Cambridge InsideOut: Sept 25, 2018 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Sept 25, 2018 at 6:00pm. Topics: time travel, Middlesex Canal, Constellation Center and future possibilities, resident permit parking fees, street cleaning/towing, current zoning petitions. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

February 11, 2018

Rhetorical Conflict – Safe Streets and Vision Zero: February 12, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:46 pm

Rhetorical Conflict – Safe Streets and Vision Zero: February 12, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting

BicycleThe battle for turf in the Rhetorical War continues this week with troops massing at the borders over the meaning of Vision Zero and Safe Streets. Continents could be sinking and frogs raining from the sky, but we’ll once again get to witness the turf war over allocation of space on Cambridge roads (and sidewalks). Word has it that the Boston Cyclists Union has already rung the alarm and asked all troops to report for duty in the Sullivan Chamber on Monday to argue against "safe streets for all" if that might translate into giving up an inch of sand on the beachhead of segregated bike lanes. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition with the City hosting a Big Press Conference this past week announcing its Vision Zero Plan – basically reducing the speed limit to 20mph in the major Squares (a good thing) and creating a rhetorical framework to hush up anyone who questions future road reconfigurations. After all, you know, Vision Zero. If you don’t like flexi-posts or traffic congestion or if you raise issues about road conditions in winter and safety considerations at intersections, surely you must be against traffic calming and in support of danger. Public Comment on Monday promises to be great (that is to say – bad) theater with about a 30 year age difference in opposing sides in the battle over the definition of safety.

Frankly, I’d rather talk about public transportation, but that would have far less drama. I was also unable to witness the presentation last week on the Battle of Inman Square that pitted tree huggers vs. bicycle segregationists (which actually pitted some people against themselves) in the elusive redesign of this crossroads.

Here’s the menu of my personal favorite dishes being served up at this gathering:

Manager’s Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the Lechmere National Bank building at 225/227 Cambridge Street.

Manager’s Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the Hovey & Markham Cottages located at 40 and 44 Cottage Street.

Communications #3-10,12-17. Fourteen letters opposing historical landmark designation of 40 Cottage Street.

We are blessed with our most excellent Historical Commission who generate landmark designation reports (and other publications) that are incredibly good. These two reports are no exception. In a city with so many significant historic buildings it’s not surprising that the Historical Commission is recommending landmark status in both of these reports. What makes this noteworthy are the communications – many of which were generated from the same template. Some of them even make reference to the "weaponization of the Historical Commission landmark study and designation process". Personally, I hope the homeowners of 40 Cottage Street will be allowed to renovate their home to the highest energy efficiency standards while maintaining as much historical integrity as possible. That said, either your building is landmark-worthy or it’s not, and I’d say the report strongly suggests that this one is. It’s true that various legal processes are routinely used in Cambridge to stall or block projects, but I guess it apparently does matter whose ox is gored. If you know the right people then it’s called "weaponization", and otherwise it’s called "neighborhood preservation". In any case, it will be good to hear more about how the Historical Commission balances preservation vs. modernization in a time when energy conservation and sustainability are prioritized.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of a Sustainable Materials Recovery grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in the amount of $38,800 to the Grant Fund Department of Public Works Other Ordinary Maintenance Account which will be used toward the purchase of food waste collection bins for the citywide curbside organics program.

The starting date is now less than two months away. Speaking as the man formerly known as "Compost Man", I’m eager to see how this plays out and what problems arise as this service is rolled out citywide. I’m also mindful of the fact that this is just as much a rediscovery of former best practices as it is of innovative new practices.

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 17-111, regarding the feasibility of implementing neighborways.

In short, the report doesn’t endorse using art to calm traffic. We had a good way of handling this when I was a kid growing up in Queens, New York. We painted bases and baselines on the street and played stickball. The message to drivers was abundantly clear and there was never an altercation. We would also chant "Car Car C-A-R" when a car was coming. Other streets had hockey goals in the street that had to be moved to allow cars to pass, but nobody ever complained. We never called these "neighborways." We just called them streets.

Manager’s Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-01, regarding a report on possibility of a supermarket opening at 20 Sidney Street.

Perhaps nothing will come of this, but at least there’s this: "Community Development Department (CDD) staff have reached out to real estate representatives at several grocery chains, including Market Basket, Aldi, Trader Joes, and bFresh to inform them about the opportunity and connect them to Forest City. Several grocery store representatives mentioned that they do not have plans to expand at this time, or that the space is too small for their traditional size requirements. Regardless, CDD staff has relayed the grocery store chains contact information to Forest City staff. Staff will continue to explore options and communicate with Forest City about possible tenants.” In my view Aldi is the one that might work best at this site, but only if the rental agreement makes it economically feasible.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and the Cambridge Public Health Department regarding the current status of zoning language and public health regulations for the keeping of hens and food cultivation and proposed next steps to advance the Urban Agriculture initiative.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern

Perhaps we can just dispense with the supermarkets and just buy our milk and eggs from Farmer Jones down the street.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Department of Public Works to report back to the Council on the success of the Polystyrene Ordinance, including implementation, enforcement, and remaining concerns among the business community.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

When I was on the Recycling Advisory Committee (22 years, I believe) I often learned how some initiatives that were very appealing were actually counterproductive or, at best, a break-even proposition. For example, a "paper" drink cup is still lined with plastic, and when you take away the paper there is still a significant amount of plastic – perhaps more than in a "Styrofoam" cup. This Order asserts that expanded polystyrene (EPS), a.k.a. "Styrofoam", has been shown to leach harmful chemicals into food and beverages, but most reliable sources dispute that or note that any potential hazard is negligible. The real problem is that it’s difficult to recycle economically and it doesn’t really biodegrade.

Regarding the ban of plastic bags, except for the fact that the plastic gets caught in the machinery at the materials recovery facility (MRF), the environmental benefits of paper bags over plastic bags is not a slam dunk. Reusable bags, on the other hand, win the argument easily. That’s why the Cambridge ordinance is best referred to as the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) Ordinance rather than as a plastic bag ban (which it isn’t).

The jury is still out regarding the polystyrene ban. Some places now provide "compostable" plasticware, but recyclers aren’t keen on it because it doesn’t really biodegrade along with other organics except under very specialized conditions. Also, biodegradable plastic is often hard to distinguish from other plastic and this compromises the recyclability of all plastics. I suppose none of these details matter to city councillors as long as it makes them appear "environmental". I am, of course, interested to hear what DPW has to say about how the polystyrene ban has fared.

Order #4. That the City Manager and the Mayor’s Office are requested to establish a new working group consisting of a diverse set of stakeholders, including cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, small business owners, EMS/first responders, and City Officials to discuss the results of the protected bike lane pilot using clear evaluation criteria, and how best to construct a cohesive network in the future.   Councillor Mallon, Councillor Kelley, Mayor McGovern

This is simply the fulfillment of the Jan 25, 2017 memo from Iram Farooq (CDD), Owen O’Riordan (DPW), and Joseph E. Barr (Traffic). That memo states in regard to the Cambridge St. reconfiguration:

Evaluation Process
A critical part of the process will be evaluation of this corridor, both to make adjustments for future installations and to help stakeholders understand how this demonstration project is working. To provide adequate time for users to adjust to the changes, we expect the demonstration to last at least six months, after which we will make decisions about whether to retain the demonstration as a permanent improvement and whether any changes or tweaks are required based on the performance during the demonstration period.

While the exact details of the evaluation are still being determined and will be discussed as part of the community process, we expect to look at the following data both before and after implementation:

  • Parking use: occupancy and availability along both the main corridor and the adjacent side streets
  • Traffic volumes: motor vehicles and bicycles
  • Transit performance: stop dwell time, travel time, and ridership
  • Traffic compliance with parking and lane use: motor vehicles and bicycles
  • Speed
  • Crashes (acknowledging that it can be difficult to draw conclusions based on a limited period of time)
  • Ability to maintain bike path, in winter and for street cleaning.
  • Retail access: customer mode share survey
  • Retail success: sales tax receipts (if available) or other data

In other words, there was always supposed to be a evaluation of this Separated Bicycle Lane Demonstration. It’s interesting that at least one city councillor seems unable to grasp this in saying, "The protected lanes are here to stay and this order may suggest to some they are not." There is little question that enhanced bicycle (and pedestrian and motor vehicle) safety is the rule of the day (because, you know, Vision Zero), but the question remains how best to achieve this. Furthermore, saying that an evaluation will be "data driven" is insufficient. For example, banning all motor vehicles would surely produce data showing a reduction in motor vehicle crashes, but that would not imply that the ban was good policy or that a better solution was not possible.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to create additional opportunities for the community to evaluate and understand the plan to redesign Inman Square and to provide input, including: walk-in clinics between now and the next community meeting and making more details available online including alternative designs considered but deemed unworkable, traffic simulations, and other relevant data or information.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

Perhaps nobody wants to hear this but there really are currently two feasible options available for Inman Square. One is the "current plan" to wipe out the trees in Vellucci Park, relocate some of that space to the north side, and move all bicyclists onto the sidewalks. The other is to keep Inman Square more or less as it is with its newly painted green stripes for bicycles and maybe with some tweaking of the signals, lane markings, and pedestrian phases. Do we have any safety data on how the intersection is working since the "temporary" changes were made last year?

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to report on progress and efforts made to date to provide greater access to internet services citywide for low income residents.   Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Simmons

Translation: Some advocates want municipal broadband whether or not there is the demonstrated need or demand, and the fact that Cambridge has a significant "free cash" position will be perpetually used to justify any required expenditures. I also wonder sometimes what fraction of people nowadays use only their phone to access anything online (and to, of course, post silly pictures).

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for an additional public hearing held on Jan 24, 2018 to discuss the Zoning Petition filed by Peter Kroon, et al, to amend Section 20.50 of the Zoning Ordinance in the " Harvard Square Overlay District" dated Sept 28, 2017.

This might win the all-time award for longest committee meeting leading nowhere. At least we now know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

January 14, 2018

Civic Nerdiness

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 7:42 pm

Civic Nerdiness

Annual Documents SealThis week on Tuesday, Jan 16 at 2:30pm, the City Council’s Ad-Hoc Rules Committee will conduct a public hearing in the Sullivan Chamber to discuss and suggest changes to the City Council Rules. This committee consists of Vice Mayor Devereux (Chair) and Councillors Mallon and Kelley; as well as Donna Lopez, City Clerk; Nancy Glowa, City Solicitor; Maryellen Carvello, Office manager to the City Manager, and Wil Durbin, Chief of Staff to the Mayor.

I suppose it must be the pinnacle of civic nerdiness to care about the City Council Rules, but the structure of the City Council subcommittees, their mission, the number of members on each committee, and what constitutes a quorum are actually contained within the City Council Rules. From this civic nerd’s point of view this actually is significant. In an ideal world the subcommittees should be where most of the detail work takes place. Unfortunately, it has sometimes been the case that these subcommittees become little more than discretionary devices for their respective Chairs where matters that sometimes have little to do with the purpose of the committee are pursued. In addition, there have been some topics in the last few years that didn’t really have a natural match to any of the existing City Council committees or which were taken up by what might be viewed as the wrong committee. For example, if there is a Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, why were matters relating to bicycle transportation handled within the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations Committee? [I would restructure the committees just to shorten the name of that one.]

It’s interesting to look at what the standing committees have been at various times in Cambridge history. Here are a few snapshots, including some recorded in the City’s Annual Documents (yes, I really do have these original books on my shelf):

Joint Committees: 1887
Accounts
Almshouse
Assessor’s Department
City Engineering
Claims
Finance
Fire Department
Fuel
Health
Lamps
Ordinances
Printing
Public Instruction
Public Property
Roads and Bridges
Rules and Orders
Water Supply

Standing Committees
of the Mayor and Alderman

Bonds
Claims
Elections and Returns
Fire Department
Health
Licenses
Police
Roads and Bridges
Sewers

Standing Committees
of the Common Council

Bills in the Second Reading
Elections and Returns
Enrolled Ordinances

Joint Committees: 1911-1912
Accounts
Assessor’s Department
City Engineering
City Home
Claims
Finance
Fire Department
Health
Highways
Legal Matters
Legislative Matters
Ordinances
Parks
Printing
Public Property
Public Instruction
Water Supply
Wires and Lamps

Standing Committees
of the Board of Alderman

Bonds
Cemeteries
Claims
Elections and Returns
Fire Department
Health
Highways
Licenses
Parks
Police
Rules and Orders
Sewers
Soldier’s Aid
Street Railways

Standing Committees of the Common Council
Bills in the Second Reading
Elections and Returns
Enrolled Ordinances
Rules and Orders

City Council Committees: 1938
Americanization and Education

Bonds

City Engineering

City Planning

Claims

Elections and Printing

Finance

Health

Industrial Development

Legislative Matters

Licenses

Military Affairs

Ordinances

Parks and Cemeteries

Public Celebrations

Public Property and Public Institutions

Public Safety

Public Service

Roads and Bridges

Rules and Orders

Soldier’s Aid

Water Supply

Wires and Lamps

City Council Committees: 1998
Cable TV and Communications

Civil and Human Rights

Claims

Economic Development, Training, and Employment

Elder Affairs

Environment

Finance

Food Policy

Government Operations

Health and Hospitals

Housing and Community Development

Human Services and Youth

Ordinance

Public Safety

Public Service

Rules

Sister Cities

Traffic and Transportation

Veterans

City Council Committees: 2000
Cable TV, Telecommunications, and Public Utilities

Civic Unity

Economic Development, Training, and Employment

Finance

Government Operations, Rules, and Claims

Health and Environment

Housing

Human Services

Neighborhood and Long-term Planning

Ordinance

Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

Public Safety

Transportation, Traffic, and Parking

Veterans

City Council Committees: 2012
Cable TV, Telecommunications, and Public Utilities

Civic Unity

Claims

Community Health

Economic Development, Training, and Employment

Environment

Finance

Government Operations and Rules

Housing

Human Services

Neighborhood and Long Term Planning

Ordinance

Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

Public Safety

Transportation, Traffic, and Parking

University Relations

Veterans

City Council Committees: 2016
Civic Unity

Economic Development and University Relations

Finance

Government Operations, Rules, and Claims

Health and Environment

Housing

Human Services and Veterans

Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

Ordinance

Public Safety

Transportation and Public Utilities

City Council Committees: 2018
?????

It’s likely that prior to the adoption of the Plan E Charter that went into effect in 1941 there was either the need or the desire for more oversight of City departments, and both the number and the nature of the City Council (and Board of Alderman) committees seem to reflect this. Some standing committees are essentially permanent (Ordinance, Finance), but others clearly change with the times and even with the desires of individual councillors. What should be the focus of City Council subcommittees for the 2018-2019 City Council term? Should they remain the same? Are there any priorities that warrant a redefinition of the Council subcommittees? Should we revive some committees from the long past?

If you have any ideas, come to the meeting Tuesday afternoon. – Robert Winters

August 29, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 253-254: August 29, 2017

Episode 253 – Cambridge InsideOut: Aug 29, 2017 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Aug 29, 2017 at 5:30pm. Topics included Hurricane Harvey and resiliency of cities, the Volpe Petition and a related new petition. Hosts Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]


Episode 254 – Cambridge InsideOut: Aug 29, 2017 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Aug 29, 2017 at 6:00pm. Topics included some history of the Plan E Charter and some of the realities of PR elections. Hosts Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]

[Materials used in these episodes]

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