Council Updates, FY25 Budget, CSO Extension, And More

Our beautiful "bleeding heart" blooms, alongside our lackluster hostas (that have provided quite the meal for our local bunnies)


It was quite a meeting this week at City Hall. We had such a long public comment period on Monday that we had to complete the regular council meeting agenda on Tuesday morning. Some of us met with National League of City representatives. The NLC chose Cambridge as one of the 100 cities to visit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NLC. This week saw lots of events in our city, from Harvard’s annual Arts First extravaganza with an astonishing number and array of performances, to the Chamber of Commerce’s small business award celebration, to a legacy long-standing businesses luncheon, to the Dig It! event for nonprofit, CitySprouts.

On Monday, we voted on a controversial policy order that extended the deadline to complete separated bike lane installations on three streets (Cambridge Street, Broadway, and Main Street). After much deliberation, I voted in favor of the extension, to give the city staff  additional flexibility in installing the bike lanes. I have heard from many in the community regarding their disappointment in that decision, since I am (and in their view: was) a supporter of bike lanes. An important note is that any mention of a ban or moratorium is wrong. And I do want to clarify that the extension relates to the completion of the network, not to the start of the installation of bike lanes along the major arteries on the east side of town: Broadway, Cambridge Street and Main Street. Each of those projects will begin, as scheduled, next summer. It was not an easy decision, but I believe it is the right decision for the city and will make for the best possible bike lane network. I have been working to put all of my thoughts together for you to read, and I share a bit more below.

Next week are the initial budget hearings for the 2025 Fiscal Year. I have more information below, I am excited to discuss the new budget proposal with city staff and my colleagues.

There has been national, state, and local attention paid to the many pro-Palestine protests on campuses that are calling for a ceasefire. This issue is complex, and sadly dialogue too often is not respectful, nuanced, or productive. On Monday, the Council will be voting on a resolution supporting the students in encampments. The wording presented in this resolution in my opinion was too one-sided, and as the City Manager informed us, is problematic in a number of ways. At Monday’s meeting I hope we can pass a resolution supporting free speech and peaceful protest, for all students on all issues, without condoning unlawful activity. Civil disobedience has a place in each individual’s reaction to events, and should be done knowing and accepting the consequences of violating law.

Next week there are two great opportunities for the community: learn about community solar and an urban forestry seedling giveaway. There will be a virtual information session for the community solar program on Tuesday, May 7, from 4:00pm-5:00pm. Community Solar allows you to save money on your electricity bill without installing solar panels on your roof. Anyone who pays a residential electricity account is eligible to enroll, including renters. You can learn more about Community Solar and register for the information session here. On Monday, May 6, from 11:00am-1:00pm, stop by the Main Library at 449 Broadway to meet with the Department of Public Works Urban Forestry Division. They will be tabling and giving away free Hornbeam, Winterberry, and Lilac seedlings to plant on your own.

I encourage you all to consider “adopting a drain” as part of Cambridge’s new Storm Steward volunteer program. You can register to take responsibility for clearing a storm drain near your home and help to protect the health of our local rivers and reduce street flooding. Residents and business owners are encouraged to participate by claiming (and naming!) a storm drain in their neighborhood and keeping the drain clear of debris, particularly ahead of rain events. You can read more about the program and adopt your own drain here. Take some inspiration from the photo below and get creative with your name!

Below are some comments on a few top line items and a few quick notes for Monday’s meeting. If you have questions or comments on these or anything else I’ve been working on, please feel free to reach out at any time.


Some inspiration to adopt a storm drain of your very own, courtesy of Amy Waltz
A great opportunity to meet with representatives from the National League of Cities

Council Updates

CSO Policy Order
On the main contentious issue from this week’s meeting, I have a longer statement that will soon be on my website, and I will link to it once it is published. If you want to read a transcript of my statement on the floor before then, please email me and I will send it to you as a PDF. And, for a shorter version of what happened, read the articles by The Crimson and Cambridge Day.

FY25 Budget Hearings
As I mentioned above, we are underway with the formal process for the FY25 budget. As co-chairs of the Finance Committee, Councillor Pickett and I have done some work with the City Manager’s office over the last few weeks to prepare for hearings. On Tuesday, May 7, beginning at 9:00am, we will have our first hearing as part of the formal budget adoption. We will review half of the city departments on May 7 and continue with the rest of the departments the next week on May 14, again, starting at 9:00am. On Wednesday night, from 4:00pm-6:00pm we will meet to discuss the School Department FY25 budget. You can see the full hearing schedule linked here. Please note the hearing for the School Department budget has been moved slightly earlier than in years past to accommodate an event in commemoration of the Holocaust, which starts at 7:00pm, which you can find more information on below. The budget is a complex document that is formulated over the course of the year and includes input from council in a number of different ways. These formal budget hearings are one way in which we consider the budget. As finance co-chair I have also tried to find other opportunities for council and resident input, holding a variety of other committee meetings on operating and capital budget priorities, and going to neighborhood groups to discuss the budget process. That work will continue throughout this year and I hope to bring more residents and stakeholders into the process.

An a capella performance at Harvard's annual Arts First festival

City Council Meeting - Monday, May 6, 2024

PFAS Monitoring Efforts
This week I am sponsoring a policy order which asks for a report on monitoring Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyls, known more commonly as PFAS, which are  a group of human-made chemicals not found naturally in the environment that are linked to a variety of diseases and health conditions. You may have heard them referred to as “forever” chemicals. The city has addressed PFAS in a number of ways and we should be continuing to monitor levels throughout our water, products, and food cycles so that we can address sources and reduce dangerous side effects. I look forward to discussing the policy order in more detail on Monday night and hearing back from city staff.

Local Events/Notes

The Harvard Undergraduate Contemporary Collective perform during Harvard's annual Arts First festival
The Boston Public Garden as I walked to a Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus event

Viva Central Block Party
Viva Central and Naco Taco will host a block party on Saturday, May 4, 4:00pm-11:00pm in the Port. State Street will close between Mass Ave and Village Street. It promises to be a fun-filled event with music, food, and good vibes. From music to delicious food, this event is a celebration not to be missed.

MayFair – Harvard Square
The 39th Annual MayFair is on Sunday, May 5th from 11:00am–6:00pm. Experience food inspired by cultures from all over the world, unique one-of-a-kind gifts and crafts, al fresco beer gardens, music, entertainment and dance. MayFair is a great and family-friendly celebration of spring.

Commemoration of the Holocaust
Cambridge’s Annual Commemoration of the Holocaust will take place on Wednesday, May 8, from 7:00pm-9:00 pm, at Tremont Street Shul, 8 Tremont St. Recalling all who perished during the Holocaust, this year’s virtual program features music, greetings, and remarks from Canton resident and Holocaust Survivor Esther Adler, who celebrated her 100th birthday in February. Ether Adler was born in Germany to Polish parents and escaped as a teenager after experiencing the events of Kristallnacht – The Night of Broken Glass in 1937, where Nazi paramilitary gangs rampaged across Germany destroying Jewish schools, businesses, and synagogues. Learn more about the event here.

Somerville Open Studios
Even though it’s in Somerville, I want to encourage everyone this weekend to wander and enjoy Somerville Artist Open Studios There are many Cambridge artists participating. I will be visiting – and then next week plan to enjoy PorchFest, also in Somerville, something I hope Cambridge can learn from…

Thank You

Thank you to everyone for reading. If there are any topics you want me to cover in future newsletters, I’m always happy for the input! As always, please feel free to reach out to my aide, Patrick (, or me for any of your City Council needs.

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

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