This week has been full – some summaries below of two recent important meetings. The city is also in the midst of gathering public input into the City Manager search process. Vice Mayor Mallon, as Chair of the Government Operations Committee, is leading the effort and has been working nonstop getting the word out. She is hosting dozens of meetings to ensure voices are heard and the council has the benefit of input from a variety of stakeholders and residents. Check out the City Manager search page and spread the word. The new hire will be the most important decision I – and the council – will make this year. If you know anyone who might be a good candidate, recruit them now. Seriously – I have been reaching out to people to ask them to keep this position in mind. Even before the job description is finalized, we know we want a competent, bold visionary leader to take our city to the next level.
I have been busy finalizing some work with the Climate Crisis Working Group and looking forward to continuing to work on many initiatives that have come from that work. The proposals to end new fossil fuel infrastructure, to require reductions in emissions and to consider how to incentivize more EVs are all a direct result of that group.
I am grateful that Covid is waning from the prior spike, although I am aware it is still with us, and people are still getting sick. I know that scientists and public health officials are working overtime to figure out how to ease us back to a more normal life. I trust those experts to guide us and hope to get past this surge and this pandemic.
This month I have attended some Black History Zoom events – continue to learn – and can’t wait until such events can be in person. I encourage all to check out events. History Cambridge is doing a lot of work in this area, and the Cambridge Black Heritage Trail and group have done stellar work as well.
Next week is a holiday Monday, so no regular City council meeting – although there will be a budget meeting, some ongoing City Manager search opportunities for input and the never ending opportunities to support small businesses and restaurants. Send me your favorite local restaurant and I will randomly pick one and promise to patronize it.
I hope you are well, and will send a restaurant suggestion, and treat yourself this month. My favorite Valentine’s Day present was a fresh loaf of bread my husband baked…picture above.
Happy flowers and sunsets… (picture from my living room window… stuck inside doing remote meetings at least occasionally there is a colorful sunset….)
Last Week’s Update:
An Ordinance Meeting on the BEUDO Amendments: Last week, the Ordinance Committee convened to discuss the proposed amendments to BEUDO. The CDD presented their amendments, then I presented the amendments Councillor Zondervan and I created. The main difference between these two proposals is timeline and intensity: our proposal asks for net zero by 2035 with no exemptions for labs, whereas the CDD proposes net zero by 2050 with alternative compliance opportunities for labs. After these presentations, there was an opportunity for public comment, where the majority of people supported our version of amendments. Since there were several questions regarding the differences between the amendment proposals, the Ordinance Committee decided it would be best to refer this item to the Health & Environment Committee for a more nuanced discussion – which will take place on March 8th.
School Committee Roundtable: In lieu of a Council meeting this past monday, the Council met with the School Committee in a joint roundtable to discuss universal Pre-K. Universal Pre-K is a policy framework that gives all families with preschool-aged children the opportunity to enroll their child in a publicly-funded pre-kindergarten care and education program without an additional cost to the family. Such a program would increase access and affordability to families in Cambridge, allowing all children a head start on their education and socialization. I was glad to participate in this conversation – access to education for all is an essential factor for equity within our community.
This Week’s Update:
Finance Committee Meeting: Today, I chaired a meeting of the Finance Committee which was planned with my co-chair, Councillor Carlone. In March of 2021, the City Council passed a policy order requesting that the Council discuss budget priorities and conduct a roundtable for the fiscal year of 2022. It was too late in the budget planning process to amend the budget for FY22, so we are convening now to allow the Council a chance to participate in the planning for FY23. The meeting will begin with opening remarks from myself and Councillor Carlone, followed by a City presentation on the budget process and discussion with the councillors. Next week, on February 23rd, the meeting will reconvene at 5:30 PM to hear public comment. The conversation is to assert that the City Council and the City need to work more closely together in a coordinated, open and collaborative way on the budget. The discussion was passionate, which is understandable. However, I was taken aback by the criticism by the city staff, at the council seeking to have the discussion. I hope that we will build trust and have more collaboration in the future.
Next week there will be another Finance committee meeting, with an explicit request for input and comments from the public on the budget.