Council updates – a welcome break after an intense week


There is no council meeting on Monday due to Memorial Day so there is no agenda to discuss below. However, next week there are a number of committee meetings that may be of interest so read below and let me know if you have additional questions about any of them. Please note – the city has recently updated its meeting portal and the kinks are still being worked out. There are a few key differences so note that it may be a bit confusing if you are used to the old system. For one, meeting videos are not posted until a few days later (they used to be uploaded immediately, hopefully we can return to that soon). Additionally, the video link is now at the top of the home page, instead of each individual page (see “New Video Streaming Link”). 

If you follow council news, you know that this past week in the council was taken up by a wrenching discussion on Israel/Palestine due to a policy order that sought to have the council endorse ending city ties to Hewlett-Packard, which is a part of the Boycott Divest Sanction [BDS] movement. I took the lead in sponsoring a substitute motion that passed unanimously – in the hopes that we can come together, condemn the violence by the Netanyahu government and Hamas, without endorsing BDS. I am glad that I was able to make that happen. My statement on this issue is (or will be soon) available on my newsletter page My hope is that we will put this divisive debate behind us, and focus anew on the work of the Council. 

Last weekend I went to Starlight Square for the A Taste of Carnaval…and got a henna design from a local entrepreneur, heard some great music, bought a wonderful book from FusionDoll a local entrepreneur “Celebrating Diversity with Beautiful Multicultural Dolls & Accessories” and I already gave away the book I bought to a young Cantabridgian. With this weekend’s weather shaping up to be a perfect time to explore small local shops and stock up on items from them, not to mention giving business to those restaurants we love, please enjoy, refresh and send any suggestions for your favorites.



Upcoming hearings:

June 1st, 3:00 pm: Economic Development Committee on small business grants and loans – the intent of this hearing is to review the small business grant and loan programs managed by the Economic Development Division of CDD throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been thrilled by the amount of assistance we have been able to provide to our small businesses over the last year as many were in danger of closing. That said, I have also pushed the city manager to do more to ease business fees that we have continued to collect because I know from speaking to several business owners that even the small fees are a burden right now.  

June 2nd, 11:30 am: Special meeting on charter review – this meeting was delayed a week and will take place next Wednesday. This is one of the most important topics that I believe we will discuss as a Council this term, and one of my highest priorities as a Councillor. The balance of power in the City and the role of the Council has been called into question many times over the last 20 years –  we have not reviewed our charter in 80 years so it is no wonder why these questions arise. I am excited to see my work on this issue moving forward and I hope that next week’s hearing ends in a continuation of much of the work I did with the Mayor last year to get the ball rolling on charter review. The Collins Center will present at this meeting their initial findings and recommendations and I look forward to a good discussion on the next steps. The Collins Center produced two memos for the council – both are available for reading and/or download through the meeting link above. The first memo was on charter history, change, review, and specific ideas for potential areas of change for Cambridge. The second memo summarizes council feedback on charter change and presents some recommendations for a path forward if the council chooses to proceed with some changes. I am glad that we are at this point and will be advocating for some changes.  

June 2nd, 2:00 pm: NLTP Committee on the Alewife Envision Plan – I am chairing this hearing next week on Alewife Envision because I believe there are many questions that remain about Alewife Envision and how the city plans on realizing that vision. Be it parks, a library, a school – I am concerned that we are not moving fast enough to ensure vital community resources exist in the Quad. Furthermore, there is a big emphasis in Envision on connectedness in the Alewife area, and we need to be proactive about the bike and pedestrian paths that will eventually string the entire area together. And, of course, CC&Fs proposal was voted down, so we must rethink a bridge connection. 

June 2nd, 5:30 pm: Ordinance Committee on chemical crowd control agents – This ordinance committee is to amend the municipal code to ban the use of tear gas and other crowd control agents. This has been an ongoing conversation since last year and hopefully we can get this ban on the books shortly. While the police commissioner told the Council earlier this year that the department does not use or even possess any tear-gas (or related items), it makes complete sense to nonetheless ensure they are illegal to use in our city. After seeing tear gas deployed against protestors across the country last year, this is an important ban for Cambridge to ordain. 

June 9th, 5:00p pm: NLTP Committee on Neighborhood Groups – The following Wednesday I will be chairing another meeting to discuss the relationship between neighborhood groups and City staff. The first meeting was a huge success – over 50 people representing 14 neighborhood groups sharing ideas for how the City could better support their work. I believe that the staff has worked hard since then to respond to the ideas raised and I believe this hearing will serve as an opportunity for them to share that work and get feedback from groups.

City updates:

Lifting Covid Restrictions – Last week Cambridge announced that, with the Commonwealth’s State of Emergency ending on June 15, 2021, and the significant improvements in public health metrics, it will align with the Commonwealth in lifting the City’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday, May 29, 2021, and will rescind its March 19, 2020, Declaration of Public Health Emergency in Cambridge effective June 15, 2021. Due to the rescission of the City’s Declaration of Public Health Emergency, the City’s Temporary Eviction Moratorium as amended on July 23, 2020, will also be rescinded, effective June 15, 2021. 

City Hall is opening soon – Please check here to see instructions for contacting and making appointments at various departments. Departments will soon be open for walk-in appointments and the library will open for walk-in browsing with no appointment necessary on June 2nd. 


Memorial Day Parade – Due to the pandemic, the City will not have our Memorial Day parade. There will be an online event commemorating this important holiday starting at 11 am. The Memorial Day video will air on 22-CityView on May 31 at 11 a.m. and posted on their YouTube page. Once available, the Memorial Day video will also be added to the City’s website. Additionally, Cambridge City Hall will be lit up in gold on May 31, 2021, to pay tribute to those who have died for our nation, and to remember their service and devotion.

Incomplete Victory: Why 2020 Wasn’t Really the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage – June 2nd, 12:00 PM – Join the library for a workshop with Dr. Laura Prieto, professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies at Simmons University in Boston, as we look beyond the surface of the 19th amendment that granted women the right to vote. Although white women were enfranchised in 1920, voting rights were not as easily recognized for women of color. Laura will discuss the issue through the individual stories of women and their continuing fight to vote in the decades since 1920.

Virtual Story Time with Drag Kings, Queens and Friends – June 5th, 11:00 AM – Celebrate PRIDE with Story Time for Drag Kings, Queens and Friends! Join us for songs and stories about what makes each of us fabulous. For children of all ages and their caregivers. Registration required. Zoom link will be emailed to registrants one hour before the program begins. This virtual event is free and open to the public and is not recorded. If you register but later find you cannot attend, please remember to cancel your registration to make space for others.

Cambridge Arts Stream Festival / River Festival –  June 5, from 6-9 p.m Join Cambridge Arts for our 2021 Stream Festival! The City’s annual River Festival is reimagined for the second pandemic year as an online showcase. The virtual program offers jazz and a retrospective of the festival’s history, produced in partnership with the Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge Jazz Foundation, JazzBoston, and Cambridge Community Television.

Trivia question:

Last week’s question: what year did Maria L. Baldwin become principal of the then-named Agassiz School, and now the Baldwin School? Answer: 1899, making her the first Black woman in the Northeast to hold that position. 

This week: see pictures at the very top of the email – where in Cambridge can you find this artwork?

A reminder that you can find all previous newsletters on my website. Please share with anyone you think would be interested:

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