Mark Jaquith

Cambridge Massachusetts
Member, Ward One Democratic Committee, East Cambridge Planning Team and Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods. 35 year Cambridge resident, 29 year East Cambridge resident. Big issues: Environment, quality of life, open space, arts, good government.
click to enlarge

Mark Jaquith

Recently posted by Mark Jaquith

December 3, 2013 - 10:45pm I spent most of Tuesday as an official observer of the City Council vote recount. Back in the day, as they say, this is the way all the votes were counted. By hand while being observed by volunteers from the various campaigns and members of the public. I’ve heard stories about the hand count since I came to Cambridge in the 1970’s. It was always described as sort of the socio-political event of the year, almost a big party. The atmosphere in the room at eh Moore Youth Center was not what I would call a party. It was quite congenial, but the staff and observers were not as relaxed as they might have been if this were still the common practice. The Election Commission members were not as quick they might have been with answers to procedural questions, and many observers, including me, were learning as they worked. While we waited for instruction the common questions were “What are they doing now?” and What’s the delay?” The answers were generally “Matching number one vote totals to the machine tally.” and “Waiting for all the groups of counters to get finished.” The procedures are all quite clearly laid out in the instructions provided by the Election Commission, but in the middle... read more
November 28, 2013 - 12:37am The City Council vote recount will begin on Monday December Second at 8:30 am at the Moore Youth Center located at 12 Gilmore Street. The recount was called for by Councillor vanBeuzecom who came in tenth, leaving her just shy of re-election, according to the official result announced last week. Coming in just thirteen votes behind first time candidate Dennis Carlone, and fourteen votes behind newcomer Nadeem Mazen. There is some irony in the fact that this trio of candidates probably align more closely on many issues than any other group I could put together. I would like to see all three with their names on desks in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall. Alas, two out of three is probably the best I’m going to get. If you supported any of these candidates, they could really use your help as an official observer during this recount. It is projected to last more than ten days, and as many as twenty seven counting tables may be in use at once. I’ve heard many people say that we shouldn’t have a recount for reasons such as expense, satisfaction with the results, and the belief that an accurate count has already been done. Regardless, Councillor vanBeuzekom is well within her rights... read more
October 26, 2013 - 12:34pm One million pounds of food. That’s the number that stuck with me after attending Food for Free’s fundraiser Party Under the Harvest Moon. I learned lots of numbers about Cambridge’s premier provider of food to those in need. What does a million pounds of food even look like? If it were apples at forty lbs. per case, they would stack over five and a half miles high. If laid end to end on Mass. Ave. starting on the Cambridge end of the Harvard Bridge they would almost reach Lexington center. That’s how much food they provided in a year. Twenty five thousand people are fed over the course of a month. Eighty three agencies and programs, in Cambridge and nearby cities receive high quality food. All this food comes from about seventy five sources including, farms (including their own farm, Field of Greens), orchards, farmers’ markets, bakeries, retailers, wholesalers and the Greater Boston Food Bank. Much is donated, but most is rescued. Nearly forty percent of the food produced in the U.S. is thrown away. Food for Free “rescues” most of that. Overstocks and products nearing their expiration dates that would otherwise be discarded are redirected to people who need it. About fifteen... read more
October 16, 2013 - 8:39am Three City Council candidates, all challengers, have just done something that we haven’t seen in Cambridge for a long time. They have allied into a slate. Calling their group the “Clean Slate”, Dennis Carlone, Nadeem Mazen, and Janneke House will be working together to get themselves elected in November. Progressives in Cambridge have a history of this strategy. The Cambridge Civic Association is remembered for always endorsing a slate of candidates advocating rent control when that was legal, and other issues. According to an article in Cambridge Day, the last time we saw this was in 1994. A slate can be an effective way of getting one or more of the members elected. It gets attention for one thing. It brings their common ideas into focus. It brings synergy to their campaigns, all for one and one for all. I heard rumors of this last week at a house (no pun intended) party for this trio in East Cambridge. It was interesting hearing them talk to us on issues such as urban planning, effective and inclusive governance, dog parks, the environment, and community benefits from development. While they did not always agree on all points, it was clear that they have good ideas, good... read more
July 17, 2013 - 3:23pm On June 19th, 2013, A group of Cambridge residents submitted a petition to the City Council to amend the zoning ordinance to insure that new large buildings and some major rehabs meet so-called “net zero” energy use criteria. This would mean that qualifying developments would use a combination of conservation, on site sustainable generation and purchase of “green” energy or renewable energy tax credits. Compliance reports are also required. On July 14th the Cambridge Chronicle published a “Right View” column by Peter Wilson in opposition of the petition. I am compelled to offer what I think of a more “Correct View” Writing on another 90 plus degree day makes me think that this net zero energy thing might be a pretty good idea. Of course we've always had heat waves, but every week or so you can read another article reporting the hottest seasonal temperatures ever recorded somewhere. Mr. Wilson seems to think that everything is fine and that being "paternal", i.e. doing something that may actually have the desired effect, is the real evil. That is a pretty silly argument. We do these things all the time and like the results just fine. Seatbelts, fire codes, traffic regulations, and... read more
February 9, 2013 - 10:11am It's a fun and safe day so far. Thanks to my neighbor Peter Vellucci who cleared the whole block with his snow blower. read more
January 23, 2013 - 6:36am Public open space is always in short supply in a city as dense as Cambridge.To build an urban environment worth living in, parks and places to freely gather are one essential component. To insure that this happens in a reasonable way we have zoning and planning. In Cambridge, zoning is very often written by developers to enhance the value of their property.Providing open space is at odds with that goal and is generally minimized. There are exceptions, notably Alexandria’s provision of two plus acres and the funds for its improvement. The city rarely adds to its inventory of open space. Parks and other city owned property do not generate real estate taxes and are near the bottom of the list when it comes to acquisition and improvements. They cost the city money. As anyone who pays attention to the goings on at City Hall knows, the top priority is keeping the city’s bond rating at triple-A. So, what do you do if your neighborhood wants a new park? While I’m sure there are many answers, some of us in East Cambridge have found one way to make it happen. When of Lyme Properties bought land east of Third Street that would eventually become Cambridge Research Park, residents began... read more
September 25, 2012 - 6:22pm Today the groundbreaking ceremony for EF’s (Education First) new building on the Charles River was held in North Point Park. This was not what one usually expects of a groundbreaking. Far from a small knot of men in suits and a shiny shovel, it was a party for a thousand people. Attendees were given commemorative jackets, free beer and wine (at 11:00 am), pizza, sushi, a cold buffet, treats from a half a dozen food trucks, and a live set by Cambridge band Passion Pit. There were videos and speeches by Governor Patrick, Mayor Davis, and many more praising EF and everyone involved in getting the project permitted. That process is an interesting bit of local history. The site which abuts the park is stats land taken as part of the Big Dig and designated for development when the final plans for the crossing to Cambridge were made. The project was complicated by several factors. Special legislation was required to convey the land to EF. It is within areas covered by the state tideland law (Chapter 91), and required a license and list of public benefits. It is within Cambridge’s North Point Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning area which had to be amended to accommodate the building... read more
September 4, 2012 - 5:30pm Photo of Registry of Deeds at 208 Cambridge Street My day job is being a title examiner, so I am extremely interested in one race that has not gotten much ink (although billboards, lawn signs and mass mailings are an entirely different matter). After 24 years, the current Register of Deeds for the Southern District of Middlesex County is retiring. Six Democrats are running, and the winner of Thursday's primary will have no opposition on the ballot in November. Few people outside my line of work have any idea what the registry of deeds is and what the register does, but the records in that building are nonetheless very important; they form the basis for the title to every piece of real estate in 44 cities and towns, including Cambridge. I have a few links to candidates nights and to interviews I conducted with two of the candidates (the others have not returned my multiple phone calls and/or emails) that may help you make up your mind: http://www.newtv.org/video/decision2012/registerofdeeds/ (a candidates night sponsored by the Newton League of Women Voters at which Frank Ciano, Tom Concannon, Maria Curtatone, Tiz Doto and Maryann Heuston appeared; Robert Antonelli did not)... read more
August 15, 2012 - 5:37pm Last Saturday saw the second annual Hungry Tiger Food Festival held in Union Square, Somerville. I know this site is supposed to keep to topics within Cambridge, but “greater Cambridge” will have to be good enough here. After all, it is within walking distance for many of us, and it was way too awesome to miss. Sponsored by the Somerville Arts Council and the Boston Circus Guild, the festival featured food stands from restaurants around the square and local crafts. The Square was decorated with Japanese lanterns and parasols with a huge open mouthed tiger at the entrance. There was some very tasty spicy grilled corn on the cob, but my fave was the fare from Dosa Temple down by Market Basket. The main attraction had to wait till darkness fell. The performance of fire arts by members of the Boston Circus Guild was worth waiting a year to see. Play the slide show to see a few pictures of these spectacular performances. Some of the pics are a little fuzzy because of low light and no tripod, but I hope they will inspire you to be on the lookout for more of the same. read more

Pages