Featuring recent policy orders and community events PLUS a look ahead to our upcoming
Activist Potluck and April office hours!
Committee Hearing on Digital Access
On March 22, I chaired a committee hearing on Digital Access. The city has been wrestling with this topic, and the prospects of one particularly popular solution, a municipally owned broadband network, for more than a decade. Resident expert Saul Tannenbaum gave some historical context, Dr. Viswanath of the Harvard School of Public Health presented his research on the benefits of narrowing the digital divide, and we got some information from Otelco, a 3rd party ISP. City Staff made it clear that the City Manager has no interest in pursuing a "full build" municipal broadband network, but wants to take steps to increase digital access. I'm committed to the goal of ensuring that every resident in our city has access to a fast, reliable, affordable, and secure internet connection in their home, and I will continue to work with the staff and the council to move this foreward.
Support Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants
Please support the Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants if you are able to. As you may know, I'm an immigrant and naturalized citizen myself. When I was a teenager, my family struggled for years with legal challenges to our immigration status, and it was thanks to the help of generous community members that we were able to stay, and thrive. Please support the many immigrant families in our community today who need our help. Thank you.
April Office Hours
This month's office hours will be on Tuesday, April 17, from 6-8 PM. Come join us after work to learn about what I have been working on recently, and discuss anything you'd like. You can RSVP on Facebook or just send an email to let us know you are coming.
We will be hosting an activist potluck dinner on Sunday, April 29 from 6-8 PM. The evening will feature delicious food and representatives from many different kinds of organizations. Hopefully, everyone will get a better sense of how they can get active within their community. More details to come, save the date!
National League of Cities Conference, Washington D.C.
This annual conference is a great opportunity to learn what other municipalities are working on, and how federal policy is impacting our municipal work. It was a very productive few days with my colleagues. I especially enjoyed meeting our very impressive high school students who participate through the Cambridge Youth Council. Senator Cory Booker gave an inspiring keynote address, while HUD Secretary Ben Carson rambled to a depleted audience, which deliberately did not include me.
In this photo, our very own Police Commissioner Branville Bard is featured on a very informative panel on adult use cannabis. We were all proud of his contribution to the dialog, which centered around our educational approach to enforcement. While cannabis consumption is legal in Massachusetts and Cambridge, public consumption is not, and our police department has to gently remind folks of that fact on a regular basis.
Protesting the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince at MIT
I spoke at a protest of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) on MIT's campus. He recently visited Harvard and MIT as part of a tour of the country. Watch my remarks on Youtube or Facebook. I also submitted a resolution which passed unanimously and put the council on record both in opposition to the oppressive policies of MbS and in expressing disappointment with the way MIT and Harvard handled the visit. MbS rose to power through undemocratic ways including the detainment of more than 200 princes, businessmen, ministers, as well as prominent scholars and critics. Though MbS has introduced some minor reforms, he has not shown any intent to truly liberate the country from oppression, and Saudi Arabia continues to rely on oil, a dangerous fossil fuel that needs to be phased out rapidly, as the basis for its economy. Thanks to Mass Peace Action and many others who organized the protest.
King Open/CSUS Topping Off Ceremony
I attended the topping off ceremony for The King Open and Cambridge Street Upper School complex, which is being rebuilt net zero! Here I am pictured with city staff, elected officials, and members of Iron Workers Local 7. Both of my kids attended KO and CSUS, so these schools are extra special to me. Also special was to be there with State Rep. Mike Connolly, the 2013 net zero zoning petition namesake. Seeing these net zero buildings become a reality is very exciting, after years of advocacy by Mike and I and so many others in our community. Many thanks to the many people who made this possible, especially the city staff, city council, the architects, designers, project managers, and the construction workers. Congratulations to all on successfully reaching this important milestone. We all look forward to the schools re-opening and serving many future generations of students without exacerbating climate change.
Now in effect: Citywide Curbside Composting!
If you live in a building with 1-12 units, keep an eye out for your composting bin. The big bin is put out with your trash/recycling and will be collected weekly, while the small bin is for your kitchen. Removing food scraps and other compostable waste could reduce our trash that goes to landfills by 40%. I hope that the program will be expanded to large residential buildings in our city soon! Watch the city's video for more information including what can and cannot be composted.
March Policy Orders
Recreational Cannabis- I submitted two policy orders on recreational cannabis. The first asks the City Manager to find ways to implement the state law in a manner that addresses the racial and economic injustices of the past, and specifically asks them to use the term "cannabis" in official documents instead of "marijuana", which has a racist history in the United States. The second order asks the City Manager to not delay in signing off on applications which include maximum taxation and language substantially similar to that which is required of medical cannabis establishments. Applications must be reviewed at the state level before they can proceed, and the goal is to allow that review to proceed while Cambridge grapples with zoning requirements for adult use cannabis, so that establishments are able to open as quickly as possible. My overall goals are to make sure that we minimize regulatory obstacles while maximizing social justice in our approach to legalizing the sale of cannabis to adults, as this will have many benefits for our community including reduced access by minors, reduced crime, and improved pain management for many.
Longfellow Bridge Bike Lane- I submitted a resolution putting the council on record in support of the state installing a protected bike lane on Longfellow Bridge when it reopens in a few months. The bridge has been limited to one lane of inbound traffic for quite a while now, and bicycle traffic has been sharply increasing, by as much as 10% last year. A protected lane would encourage even more adoption and the time to do it is now as the bridge re-opens because people are already used to one lane of inbound traffic.
S.2302- I submitted a resolution in support of S.2302, the statehouse bill titled "An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future". This bill is a comprehensive blueprint to taking on climate change, encompassing everything from fossil fuel divestment to public utility reform to making sure low income communities have access to the benefits of solar energy. I hope you will call your representatives today and ask them to do whatever they can to ensure this bill gets onto Governor Baker's desk.
S.548- I submitted aresolution in support of U.S. Senate Bill 548 which provides significant opportunities to increase funding for affordable housing construction and preservation through federal tax credits. Cambridge's Congressional Reps have both signed on as co-sponsors, but neither of our Senators have done so!
Get In Touch!
I hope that you will reach out to let me know your thoughts on matters before the council or otherwise of importance to you. My council office number is 617-349-9479 and my email is [email protected]. You can also reach out to my aide, Dan Totten, at [email protected]. We love to hear from constituents. Be sure to follow our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages for regular updates!