Recently, it seems the news is full of sadness and backsliding on so many issues about which I care, which is why I was thrilled to be able to be uplifted by attending Harvard Commencement last week. The speech by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adhern was stellar, and being able to say hello and thank you to sheros Gloria Steinem, retired Justice Margaret Marshall, soon to be Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Prof. Martha Nussbaum (who taught a philosophy course I took) was a dream come true. And to top it all off, AG Merrick Garland gave an important speech urging grads to enter and commit to public service. It confirmed my choice to enter public service, after twenty years in business.
June is Pride Month – check out the pride flag at City Hall I saluted at the raising earlier this week. The whirlwind of council work the past few weeks has been exciting. On Monday, we will vote on the City Manager candidates, and the budget of over $800 million. I look forward to moving forward as a city.
Covid doesn’t dominate city discussions the way it did for a long time, and yet it is still a critically important issue the city is addressing. Many in the community have urged a return of the mask mandate and others are urging us not to impose a mandate. It is not the council decision, and I do support a message to folks encouraging masking indoors. However, a recent NY Times article has confirmed for me that it is not time to have a mask mandate. Covid cases in Cambridge are high, so take care and isolate yourself if you get sick.
Happy June, and let’s hope summer plans can be made and enjoyed.
POR 2022 #114 – Charter Review Commission: As you know, a ballot initiative passed in November of 2021 regarding the formation of a commission to review Cambridge’s City Charter. Mayor Siddiqui has introduced a policy order asking for the formation of an ad hoc committee, composed of four City Councillors, to appoint members to the Charter Review Commission. The committee will be composed of the Mayor, myself, Vice Mayor Mallon, and Councillor Toner. I look forward to serving on this committee and moving this process forward!
COF 2022 #71 – City Manager Hiring: At the upcoming Council meeting, we will discuss the City Manager finalists and vote on candidates. As a reminder, the candidates are: Iram Farooq, Cheryl Fisher, Yi-An Huang, and Norman Khumalo. Over the past week, there was a community forum with all candidates and public interviews with the City Council. If you want to watch those forums, the recordings are available. I am reading every email and seeking input and information from a broad range of people so I can make the best decision for the city. I am excited about this next phase for the city and the vote on Monday.
POR 2022 #107 – Harvard Release of Remains of Indigenous and Enslaved Peoples: Recently, it has come to public attention that Harvard University is currently in possession of the human remains of nearly 7,000 indigenous people and 19 enslaved people. A draft report issued by Harvard states that the collections represent the University’s engagement and complicity” with slavery and colonialism, and urges Harvard to return the remains as soon and deliberately as possible. Councillor Simmons has introduced a policy order urging the University to that effect, and I intend to support it wholeheartedly.
Health & Environment Committee Meeting – Leaf Blowers: On June 7th at 3 PM, the Health & Environment Committee will meet to discuss the adverse impacts of gas-powered leaf blowers and recent bans on their use in other jurisdictions. Gas-powered leaf blowers release unconscionable amounts of greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere, as well as create health issues for those who operate them. I am in favor of a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, which may be replaced with electric ones. I know there is work to do to discuss and decide and I am committed to listening to all stakeholders and figuring out a path forward. I look forward to our discussion next week.
CRT 2022 #1 – Budget: The Finance Committee was referred the proposed budget and has recently held two public meetings on the topic. After these meetings, the Finance Committee has referred the full general budget to the Council with a favorable recommendation – now, the Council must vote on adoption of the entire FY2023 budget.