Cambridge, The Pantomime Republic of the 1%

Cambridge, The Pantomime Republic of the 1%

Behind the scene, Cambridge exihibits all the signs of a corrupt Democracy

2014 once again exposed the undemocratic ways of the City of Cambridge. The most obnoxious and obvious one is clearly the way the City approcaches the residents and their concerns, most of the time in a condescending manner trying to 'educate' instead of actually listening and taking into consideration what we say. As a fellow activist, Nicolai, stated

our resident organizations are led on wild goose chases by the city - where there are no geese? Is it possible this is a deliberate means of discouraging resident activism, by dragging issues on and on, and eventually ignoring all that residents requested?

In the latest recommendation of the CDD (Community Development Department) to the Planning Board regarding the Sullivan courthouse, it seems all the concerns and issues raised by the residents are ignored, dismissed, or substantially minimized as to become inconsequential, which is insulting to say the least. To read the recommandation please follow this link:

Here is where they get wrong ( thx to my friend and fellow activist Beth for this ):

First and foremost let me express my outrage at the fact that the Vice President of ECPT (East Cambridge Planning Team), Chris Matthews is used as a representative voice with his email as an exhibit to the new application of Leggat McCall. It is trully offensive, first because of the status of Mr. Matthews, secondly because he didn't attend any of the last 3 ECPT meeting, and third because ECPT voted 34 to 19 against the new proposal and NAEC (Neighborhood association of East Cambridge) voted 54 to 6 against it. As a member of ECPT, I'm trully dismay by this behavior and it should be the main topic of the next ECPT meeting, Mr Matthews should resign from the ECPT board.

Now let's move on to the more substantive matter of how the CDD

1. The city’s memo seems to be suggesting that the preference of housing would allow the nonconforming building to be turned into housing at its full height and bulk . . . is this scary or what... Does this mean, Leggat McCall is gone flip the property so it becomes housing only... This is exactly what is wrong with selling a property was dedicated to public use the private sector, greed takes over!

2. Everyone acknowledges mistake - question is whether the mistake can be fixed. The answer so far is that no, it cannot, it can only be made a little less of a mistake, but nevertheless a mistake. Does anyone really believe or understand this? It is the perfect excuse to sell? The private sector will correct the mistakes of a corrupt State/City, I'm sorry to say I'm not buying it and you shouldn't either. I feel like the Tea Party is in control of the City.

3. There is no mention that the structure is grossly noncompliant, it is unlawful and illegal with respect to zoning regulations.

4. The overall assessment of the City’s recommendation letter is that East Cambridge has had a crappy courthouse with a loud jail on top and it’s been here long enough that people have to be considered to have accepted this condition, and there is no right to demand anything better. Once a building is there, and is above a certain size we can never change it, ie if a developer was to suggest tearing it down, would it be denied?

5. A crappy oversized building was built, and since it was so crappy it is expensive to do anything better so we are stuck with it. It is worth repeating how crazy this is. So the financial crisis was crappy and expensive and we should just have done nothing about it?

6. The report then goes on to note in the TIS at p. 8 that there is a lack of pedestrian and bicycle facilities at O’Brien, First, Second and Third. The recommended mitigations are:
• Install/maintain Hubway Station
• Install/maintain benches at First/Otis EZRide stop
• Improve pavement markings, ramps and sidewalks at all corners of site according to DPW standards
• Study crash data at Third/Spring, recommend improvements
But the issue is there is no lane for the bikes to go in on 2nd and 3rd or the cross-streets, not whether there is a hubway station. On top of it doesn’t make sense that the vehicle trips are going to be mitigated by pedestrian and bicycles. . .

7. The reference to the working group and to the agendas and the “goal” - Tim’s goal was not the same as the City Council policy order; the ask at the very first meeting (by Chris Matthews, yes Chris Matthews mention above! is there a huge contradiction, conflict, whatever we might call it) was to look at alternative options and that never happened. The McGrath paragraph in McCall’s letter makes it sound like its finances were actually reviewed when all that was confirmed was the cost of remediation. But we don’t know if that cost has already been factored in with a discounted purchase price and, if it wasn’t, there was no exploration of whether that cost could be covered with some creative combination of lowered purchase price, city subsidy, bonds, tax revenue financing (like i-cubed), and even a lower profit margin.

Altogether if you've followed the Sullivan courthouse or read my prior article, the CDD is given the Planning Board the Green light on the Leggat McCall Proposal... and ignores most of the input of residents on the matter.
But there is not giving up ... we have to keep on fighting... get back our Democracy, fight to have our voices listened to and repsected.

Don't forget to attend Planning Board meeting regarding Sullivan Courthouse on July 29th, 7pm @the Kennedy-Longfellow School, 158 Spring St, East Cambridge, 02141.

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