Hope you are well – and happy autumn! I have been busy with council work and happy to see progress on a number of initiatives – from COVID vaccinations slowly increasing to testing to schools in session and people back to work – hoping the progress continues. And the council this week engaged in a number of weighty issues – from approving the tax rate to pushing for accountability in jobs to announcing a College Savings Accounts for all Kindergartners (an idea I first raised in 2017) we have a lot of celebrate, a lot to ponder and a lot to do.
This weekend I attended the opening of Tim Toomey Park in East Cambridge – and it is incredible to see the park… the playground is great, there is a small dog park an area with tables and seating and an expanse of lawn that doubles as a sledding hill – so folks who live near there don’t have to go to Danehy Park to sled! And to carve out 2 acres in the middle of one of the densest areas of our city is a testament to what we sometimes lack – thoughtful urban planning.
After the census, the city is required to confirm if the precincts are more or less evenly populated – there has been a review done by the election Commission – and some draft proposals for redrawing some precincts lines. If interested, read the information at the end of this email from the Election commission and weigh in. For example, some folks have raised the question of why have an entire precinct mostly MIT – where few residents vote. I plan to ask the Commission for responses to the questions raised.
This week I was a panelist in a webinar on eco-labels, based on the work I did to get labels on gas pumps in Cambridge to have a warning of the impact of using gas on public health and the environment. Cambridge is still the ONLY city in the country with such an ordinance. Sweden just approved labels (more detailed than ours – would love to upgrade ours) for all gas pumps, and a group organized a webinar on eco labels including some researchers on the impact of labels. You can watch it – please give feedback.
This upcoming weekend we will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, with several regional events in honor of the holiday. We will continue with committee meetings, but there is no full council meeting next Monday – so I won’t be doing a newsletter this Friday. We will pick up the regular schedule next Friday.
Last Week’s Update:
City Manager’s Agenda:
CMA 2021 #216 – A Communication Update on COVID-19: City Manager Louis DePasquale provided an update on the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the City of Cambridge. The City offers COVID-19 testing four days per week, in four hour sessions. Drive-through testing will be reestablished at the CambridgeSide testing location starting today, Monday, October 4th. Additionally, public vaccine clinics for both COVID-19 and the flu will be running throughout October – please see here for further information. We also learned that 76% of Cambridge residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. Unfortunately, the communication did not address the two policy orders I introduced: PO #192, requesting that the City Manager work with the Public Health Department to issue a report on when the mask mandate will be lifted, and PO #168, requesting a report on the vaccination rate of City staff.
POR 2021 #201 – DHSP Report on Changes in Programming: I have heard from many concerned citizens regarding the changes the Department of Human Services programs has made. Specifically, changes were made to after school programming involving the lottery system for enrollment, and DHSP failed to notify families until right before the start of the school year. This left caregivers scrambling to find after school placements, often with little to no communication from DHSP. I was happy to cosponsor a policy order that directed the DHSP to issue a report, including but not limited to, the specific changes in programming that were made this year; this policy order passed unanimously and I am anxiously awaiting the report.
Communication and Report from Other City Officers:
COF 2021 #88 – Communication Regarding the Children’s Savings Account Program:
This communication about the new program was exciting and wonderful. This program will encourage young children to save early and learn about the importance of having a financially secure future and savings for college, vocational school, or post-secondary education. The City of Cambridge will open a bank account for kindergarteners with $50 on their behalf to help begin the investment in their future. I started working on establishing the College Savings Accounts [CSA] in 2017 when I was on the School Committee. I met with several of the leaders in the field in Massachusetts, including Inversant, which had started a program in Boston. I also met with our own WorkForce program which had a CSA for participants. Since I was on the School Committee, and not City Council, I couldn’t establish the program – so I reached out to my former SC colleague Marc McGovern, who was on the Council. He and I started the conversations – which were taken up by Mayor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Mallon, Councillor McGovern over the past year and a half. I am thrilled for Cambridge and happy if my small role bringing this to the city 5 years ago had a little impact.
Policy Orders and Resolutions:
POR 2021 #208 – Paddle tennis and Pickleball Opportunities: I was happy to introduce a policy order requesting that the Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee hold a hearing to discuss the ways the city might support residents interested in having pickleball and paddle tennis opportunities available. Paddle tennis and pickleball are outdoor sports both of which are growing in popularity nationwide. However, despite substantial citizen interest, there are zero public courts available in the state of Massachusetts. I hope that these sports could be accessible to everyone in Cambridge, and I was glad that this order passed the council and I will now schedule a committee hearing on how the city might move forward.
RES 2021 #238 – Miyawaki Forest in Danehy Park: On September 25, volunteers planted the first Miyawaki mini-forest in the Northeastern United States in Danehy Park in Cambridge. These types of forests increase tree canopy, promote biodiversity, protect against flooding,
and restore native ecosystems. I was able to go to the planting – and planted two of the trees. Definitely visit when you can. Below is a picture of the planting, and one of the dump/landfill that was there on which Danehy Park was built. Change does happen – when people for it. The Park at Danehy was created with some pushing from the community about transforming an eyesore and contaminated land into a green oasis. . I am proud to co-sponsor the resolution introduced by Councillor Zondervan congratulating the people at Biodiversity for a Livable Climate on this achievement.
POR 2021 #204 – Green Jobs Program: I was happy to see this time on the agenda – since it addresses three things close to my heart and work: green jobs, youth development and oversight/evaluation of programs. Over a decade ago, an effort to create a Green Jobs training and employment program did not yield the results that were initially hoped for. This new policy order implores the City Manager and relevant parties to discuss lessons learned from the previous Green Jobs program, and how to move forward with re-establishing a Green Jobs Program for the City of Cambridge.
Some City Meetings:
Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane School Community Meeting: For those interested, please join the City of Cambridge on Wednesday, October 6th for a discussion of the ongoing construction at Tobin school. The meeting will begin at 5:30 PM and will take place over Zoom.
And for those interested in the River Street project, there is a meeting on the same day, Wednesday, October 6th: 6:00pm-7:00 pm: Green Street Reconstruction Project Community Meeting
News from the Election commission – which will have a meeting tomorrow on changes in precincts due to the census.
What is Reprecincting?
Every ten years after the Federal Census is complete, new ward and precinct boundary lines are drawn to reflect changes in the City’s population and to anticipate the needs of the City’s election system for the next decade.
Voting precincts established by a city or town must meet the following requirements:
- Each new precinct must be “composed of compact and contiguous territory” without protruding fingers or long tails to the extent possible.
- Precincts must be bounded by the center-line of streets or other well defined boundaries such as streams or other bodies of water, railroad tracks, power lines or other clearly visible geographic figures.
- No precinct may contain more than 4,000 residents.
- Every precinct’s population must be within five percent (5%) of the average precinct population for that ward or town.
- Ward populations must be within five percent (5%) of the average ward population for the city.
- Redrawn ward and precinct boundaries must not result in the dilution of minority group members’ votes
Cambridge Reprecincting Proposal
The population of Cambridge increased from 105,162 in 2010 to 118,403 in the 2020 Census, however the changes were not evenly distributed throughout the city. Some precincts increased dramatically in population, while others stayed the same or decreased. With 33 precincts, each precinct must have a population within 5% of 3,588. Any change that is made in one precinct has a cascading effect on the entire map as other precincts will need to be adjusted to keep the population of every precinct within that range.
Below, please find:
Current Ward and Precinct Map (based on 2010 census)
Proposed Ward and Precinct Map (based on 2020 census)
Proposed Map with Current Precinct Boundary Overlay
2020 Population by Census Block Map
The Board of Election Commissioners took a number of factors into consideration in creating this proposal, such as minimizing the number of voters who need to cross major thoroughfares in order to vote and keeping most voters in the same precincts whenever possible. It should be noted that reprecincting changes will not take effect until the 2022 elections. Some of the current polling locations may be changed in 2022 in order to better accommodate voters under the new map.
The Election Commission is seeking feedback from the public regarding the proposed map. Members of the public are invited to join the Board of Election Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, October 6, 2021, at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Click here to sign up
Written comments, questions, or suggestions can be sent by email to email@example.com or by mail to 51 Inman Street, Cambridge, MA 02139. Please submit written comments by Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 5:00 PM to be considered at the 5:30 meeting.
Last week’s answer: The first *viable* female candidate for the US presidency was Belva Lockwood, who ran with Marietta Stow, in 1884 (and then again in 1888). She was born in the US, an American citizen, and over the age of 35.
Mark Schneider was the first with the correct answer to the first candidate, viable or not –
The first woman to run was Victoria Woodhull, who ran with Frederick Douglass in 1872, but she was under the age of 35.
Trivia question: When did the first, and second Native American graduate from Harvard College?