Council Updates, Susan B. Anthony, Caitlin Clark, And More

Suffragist and bicyclist, Susan B. Anthony


On the front page of most sports pages and newspapers this morning a woman was featured – and a basketball player! I don’t follow many sports (shhh) but I am a total fan girl of Caitlin Clark. So yesterday made me happy to watch the videos of her phenomenal 3 pointer FROM THE LOGO to break the record for the most points ever scored in NCAA women’s basketball history.

The news from Punxsutawney was an early spring but with the weather vicissitudes of the last couple of weeks it’s unclear when spring will spring. Last weekend was warm enough for strolling and biking but the last few days have felt more firmly in winter. February School Vacation is coming up next week, so I’ve listed a lot of city-sponsored events down below for parents (or anyone) looking for activities.

As this council term is beginning to take shape, we have had a number of different committee meetings. On Tuesday we held a council goal-setting meeting with city staff and a facilitation group. We talked about priorities and ways to improve collaboration, effectiveness, and accountability. Similarly, with the start of a new term, the Government Operations and Rules Committee held a meeting on Thursday morning to begin to review and update our own council rules. Many of the changes are to update outdated language and to clarify meetings and procedures. Other changes are about how we run meetings. I am supportive of considering larger ways in which our council processes can be improved, such as creating a more functional and robust public commenting format, how to integrate city manager input into policy orders, and improving our sub-committee structure. There is more work to do, but I’m glad that we are considering how to improve many of these functions.

I am once again co-chairing the Finance Committee and chairing the Health and Environment committee this term and I have been formulating plans for both committees. In the Finance Committee, my co-chair, Councillor Pickett, and I have been working to build on the momentum of last term in increasing budget accountability and improving the ways in which council has input on the budget process, throughout the process. In the Health and Environment committee I plan to build on the great work of the last term and focus on implementation and accountability around issues including climate infrastructure, tree canopy, public health, and BEUDO implementation. There will be a range of other issues to be addressed including continuing work on miniature liquor bottles, PFAS contamination, and more. As always, read Cambridge Day for local journalism on council work.

This week we celebrated Valentine’s Day as well as Susan B. Anthony Day! It was an excellent day to celebrate, which I did with some friends at the igloo rooftop bar overlooking the Charles River. And it’s fitting that Caitlin Clark broke the all time NCAA women’s record for points on that day. We celebrate Susan B. Anthony for her courage, determination, persistence, orneriness, strategic mind, and focus on justice. I am here to celebrate a fierce abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights, but I also think it’s important to recognize the fact that her anger over political maneuvering and broken promises on suffrage led to some acts that blended into racism on her part. This record is not entirely substantiated by all historians, but it’s still important to acknowledge. And, with her citing cycling as a feminist activity – per the picture – what’s not to like?

I attended a fabulous panel at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where Chelsea Clinton led a panel which included the head of the National Black Child Development Institute, Cambridge’s own Dr. Gaurab Basu, and two other eminent leaders. The reason I loved the panel was to hear how child development experts and educators are considering and preaching about the importance of climate in child development.

There is no regularly scheduled council meeting on Monday due to the Presidents’ Day holiday, so the next regular meeting will be Monday, February 26, 2024. Below are some comments on a few top line items and a few quick notes from the last two weeks. 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.


Congratulations to University of Iowa's star basketball player, Caitlin Clark, for breaking the all-time scoring record last night
Harvard Graduate School of Education panel on climate and child development

Council Updates

Exciting News: City Climate Chief
The City Manager announced a reorganization of the Community Development Department, to better manage the workflow and multitude of projects. One of the exciting changes is the creation of a Chief Climate Officer reporting directly to him. This position will oversee a new Sustainability Office that will take over all the environmental planning staff from CDD’s Environment and Transportation Planning Division. I believe this reorganization will help us prioritize climate and sustainability within the city. The urgency of addressing the climate crisis has been a focus of mine since I was elected and I look forward to working to make this new department as effective as possible. Once positions are posted, I would love everyone to spread the word.

Cycling Safety Ordinance Economic Impact Report
On Monday night the council received the results of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (CSO) Economic Impact Report. I’m glad to have this report, which builds on many of the themes we discussed in the July 20, 2023 Economic Development Committee meeting. Unfortunately, many of the concerns and issues discussed last summer are still present in the final report – namely, limited availability of data sets. I appreciate the full context of the report and the lengths gone to understand the effects on local businesses – both with objective measures of vacancy rates and subjective business surveys. And while those data points are not definitive in this case, I appreciate ACM Farooq’s memo which notes how the process of going through this study will be able to improve our own data collection practices and our community process practices going forward. We don’t know the exact impact. We do know that there is data from other communities that are similar to Cambridge – and at least one is close to a gold standard, essentially a controlled study in Minneapolis – and I hope that we can use our data and take comfort in those other studies to better understand the impacts here, and make adjustments when warranted without compromising safety of cyclists and the installation of bike lanes in a connected network across the city. I agree this report warrants a deeper conversation, and I look forward to the report being discussed again in detail in the Economic Development Committee to unpack some of the nuance not only in the data presented, but also in considering what recommendations can be drawn from this report.

Racial and Gender Disparity Study
I was happy to support a policy order sponsored by Councillor Wilson that asks the council to convene a meeting to evaluate the recently released Racial and Gender Disparity Study. As background, this study comes out of a long history of the council and the city trying to confront racial and gender gaps within our purchasing practices. There was a November 2020 Economic Development Committee meeting convened by then Vice Mayor Mallon to discuss challenges and opportunities that exist in City purchasing, procurement, and programs for historically disadvantaged businesses and nonprofits in Cambridge. As part of that committee, I then worked on a policy order with Vice Mayor Mallon that passed in February 2021 to conduct a formal Disparity Study, which was completed in September 2023. We have a great opportunity to reflect on and work to improve racial and gender disparities after receiving what was a disappointing, and expected, accounting of city contracting. Boston’s disparity study found only 1% of contracts going to women and BIPOC companies. This is hard, introspective work, and I’m grateful to all of the people who have worked on this over the years. I look forward to continuing the effort.

Community Safety Department Update
We have received another update from the city’s new Community Safety Department (CSD) and Community Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) Team. I have appreciated the regular updates to council in developing the community safety department. I  am thrilled to meet and glad that the CARE Team is on the job and is finally in a position to help provide for community alternative response. I am excited to see how the team builds relationships, offloads services from the police department, and helps residents. I was happy to hear about visiting other programs and the emphasis on evaluation and measuring effectiveness. As I mentioned during the meeting and update, I look forward to the city working with HEART which is moving forward.  HEART has funds from the city through a grant of federal recovery funds and is working towards getting to the point where the city can issue a contract for services. The vision of having a city department as well as a contracted non profit is one I support. We know that for some in the community, a city-run service is essential. We also know that for some, they will not feel comfortable without a non-city alternative. I continue to support both services to help meet the needs of the community.

Central Square Zoning
This policy order and the process it recommends are long overdue and could be a great example of following through on years and years of work by the city, the council, and the community to shape development in Central Square. I think it’s important to consider the work in Alewife in the last two years and how comprehensive a process that was and the kinds of zoning results that came out of it. I appreciate that this policy order calls out a lot of the previous work done which will hopefully inform this process – which may allow for a quicker timeline than the Alewife work last year. I also hope for this work to be in conjunction with the Central Square Lots Study which we have been considering over the last year.

Micromobility Devices
I was happy to cosponsor this policy order because it’s clear that in our fast-changing transportation environment, we need to do some legal research to understand the city’s authority to regulate use of electric micromobility devices. It is very exciting that e-bikes are now FINALLY part of BlueBikes. And that people are using e-scooters, e-skateboards and other micromobility devices. As the policy order itself notes clearly, the expansion of these types of transportation options supports our goals of emission pollution reduction, and hopefully more people will use these transportation options instead of single occupancy vehicles. And there needs to be a shared understanding of what limits may be placed – speed limits and allowed locations on all such devices. It is not clear what we can regulate, as the state law is clear on e-bikes but not on other devices. Before filing this policy order, the question of possible regulation was posed to city staff – legal and transportation – and the feedback was that a policy order was necessary so we can all understand the parameters. We know and I celebrate that electric bikes and scooters are going to play a larger role in our transportation outlook going forward and it’s important that we are clear about our road safety efforts as we cater to an increasing diversity of transportation options. I also want to be responsive to many of the communications we have received about this policy order and be sure to set clear expectations for the community: this policy order isn’t a declaration for or against any kinds of electric mobility devices, it’s a recognition of the reality of the changing transportation and regulatory landscape and request for a legal opinion so that we can better consider regulations that will help with street safety for everyone.

Charter Review
The Charter Review Committee has delivered their long-awaited final report. I want to give my sincere thanks to the entire charter review committee for this comprehensive report. All 15 members, including and especially Chair Kathy Born, have dedicated a significant amount of time and energy over the last year and a half into considering the ways in which our city’s charter can be improved in order to support the committee’s goals of: “Equity and Enfranchisement”, “Participation in and Accessibility of Government”, “Government Effectiveness”, and “Responsibility and Accountability”. These are of course many of the goals of this council and our charter should reflect those as well. Another huge thank you to Anna Corning, the dedicated staff person hired to manage the charter review project as well as the Collins Center for providing consulting expertise throughout the process. I was impressed with the committee’s commitment to grapple with difficult issues and to work through hard questions that didn’t have clear answers – and were honest about their uncertainty at times. I commend the committee’s commitment to public outreach – holding many different kinds of events, reaching out to dozens of neighborhood groups and community groups of all kinds. They sent out a mailer to every residence in Cambridge to publicize the effort and launched a survey to help understand how the residents of Cambridge felt about city government. They took time to interview numerous city officials, including the finance team, the elections staff, and the city manager. They interviewed municipal leaders from all over the state who have been a part of very different government structures to unpack the nuance of different structures. This is a massive undertaking and we, as the council, will now need to determine a process by which we unpack the contents of the report and consider each of the recommendations.

Register for tickets to go see the movie, Left on Pearl, at the Cambridge Public Library

Local Events/Notes

Left on Pearl – Cambridge Library
On Thursday, March 7, from 6:00pm-7:30pm, the Cambridge Public Library will be showing the “Left on Pearl.” The movie chronicles a highly significant but little-known event in the history of the women’s liberation movement, the 1971 takeover and occupation of a Harvard University-owned building by hundreds of Boston area women.

February School Vacation Week Events

  • Meet the Orchestra” presented by Boston Music Project Tuesday, February 20, 3-4 pm, Valente Branch, 826 Cambridge St. Join for a performance of a youth chamber orchestra. A hands-on instrument petting zoo follows the performance, offering a chance for children to try playing a string instrument and to learn about different orchestral instruments. No registration is required. 
  • Pineapple Project Tuesday, February 20, 3-3:45 pm, O’Neill Branch, 70 Rindge Ave. Enjoy a fun and engaging original show that explores gender, creativity, and each child’s freedom to be who they are. Recommended for children ages 4-8 and their caregivers. No registration is required.
  • Nintendo Switch Party for Ages 10-13 Thursday, February 22, 1;30 pm, Main Library, 449 Broadway. We’ll have two multiplayer games available to play on our library consoles. Feel free to bring your own Switch console to play other library Switch games. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis on the day of the program. The gamer must be present to receive a ticket. Please call 617-349-4038 for more information. 
  • Button Making Workshop Thursday, February 22, 3-3:45 pm, Boudreau Branch, 245 Concord Ave. Draw your design and then use our button maker to make it into a button you can wear or put on your backpack! Recommended for children ages 5 and up and their caregivers. Registration is required.
  • Crafternoon: Origami Cranes Thursday, February 22, 4-5 pm, Collins Branch, 64 Aberdeen Ave. An ancient Japanese legend tells that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish. A symbol of hope and healing during challenging times, please join us to fold origami cranes and see how many we can create together. For ages five and up with a caregiver. No registration required. 
  • Rockabye Beats Friday, February 23, 11-11:45 pm Collins Branch, 64 Aberdeen Ave. Join for an interactive, musical program experience. We’ll sing, play, explore instruments, dance, pretend, learn a little Spanish and show off our goofy side. For children of all ages and their caregivers. No registration is required.
  • Family Movie at the Library Friday, February 23, 2-3:45 pm, O’Neill Branch, 70 Rindge Ave. Join us over winter vacation for a cozy family movie (Trolls Band Together) at the Library. Snacks will be provided. No registration required.
  • Meet the Orchestra” presented by Boston Music Project Saturday, February 24, 11 a.m.-12 p.m., Main Library, 449 Broadway. Join us for a performance of a youth chamber orchestra. A hands-on instrument petting zoo follows the performance, offering a chance for children to try playing a string instrument and to learn about different orchestral instruments. No registration is required.

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.

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