Cambridge Exposed... It's not pretty! -- part 5 -- two faced...?

Cambridge Exposed... It's not pretty! -- part 5 -- two faced...?

It's been a week now since my last entry, wanted to let the dust settle and give everyone a chance to review the information I posted in my last blog.

Been waking up every morning thinking this should be the day to follow up... But a little bit of fear, too much frustration and my own imperfection...held me back.

Well today is the day... I need to get it of my chest... my mind... so I can go back to my real job and be more focused.

But before I start... On the 9th when I walked up the stairs to the Sullivan Chamber for the City Council meeting, on the wall hung a big banner with the words of President Obama talking about change and citizen participation... Very powerful stuff, they resonated with me, there was hope....

But it's easier to hang the words than to live by them...

Second Rant... The City Council (the bottom of the U)... continued...

I did a little more research, heard some of the reactions and more then ever I think I have been played, used,... I, we, the residents, were the cover for the behind the scene maneuvering. Why this conclusion, well lets review the facts.

1. ARE comes to ECPT and presents it's rezoning petition, it includes a 2 acres park, the bait. East Cambridge is desperate for open space and they know it. They tell us this is the initial proposal and they would like to work with the neighborhood to finesse and adjust their proposal so it will help East Cambridge develop into a vibrant, eclectic and thriving destination in Cambridge. We bite the bait... a sub-committee, composed of all willing to spend (in hindsight waste would be more correct) their time on this, is formed...

2. August, neighborhood meeting regarding the proposed rezoning, bio safety and its shear size, drawing a crowd large enough to be noticed by city councilors, is held.

3. September 17, Ordinance takes up the proposal. Five residents of East Cambridge, the Co-chairs, Councilors Maher and Murphy and the Developer ARE, meet once to twice a week for discussions and negotiations.

3. December 08, after lots of discussions, sub-committee identifies a list major concerns that need to be address before approval of project. Negotiation hit a wall. No feedback from ARE, councilors think we are too demanding.

4. November-December 08, Vice President of ARE and Assistant Vice President of ARE make substantial political contributions to four city councilors. The co-chairs of the Ordinance committee, both receive maximum allowed contribution ($500), from each ARE executive. After some more research, I found that the only other contribution ever made by these individuals, in Massachusetts, were in 07 to Senator Gallucio and three city councilor, the city councilor received monies in December 07. Let me repeat this, these executive have never made, according to Searchable Campaign Finance Database, any other contribution to any political entities in Massachusetts.
Once more, they introduce project in February 2008, only prior contributions were 2007 to Senator Gallucio and December 07 to 3 city councilors, November-December 08, max contribution to 4 City councilors, by the way not the same as December 07.
One last time, because this is just too unbelievable, Co-chaire of the Ordinance committee Maher and Murphy received max contribution from senior executives at ARE in Dec 08 as they were negotiating the rezoning petition of ARE. Contributions made to city councilors prior to Dec 07 by ARE executive: NONE...

5. End of December beginning of January negotiation stall. January 20th, the Planning board reviews, and passes the buck to the City Council, a last minute subimission of the rezoning language submitted by ARE, they had no time to actually read it or have it fully explain by city stuff.

6. Feb 4th, the resident of East Cambridge, plead for more time. The co-chairs go through the renegotiated rezoning petition. The development has grown by an additional 300,000 sqft, to 1.8 Million, which include housing and retail. The co-chairs are very happy with themselves... they negotiated hard and this is what they got and the city council should vote to approve... and the neighbors are just asking for too much... although without them we couldn't have gotten what we have... vote to approve this rezonning...

6. Feb 9th, City council votes to approve the rezonning. Residents, all of them, want more time, needed more time, a more thorough review of the proposal is needed... ARE give the city the foundry building, 50,000 sqft of community or municipal use... value: $13 Million... the councilors during their vote justification... hail this as the best they've ever gotten... and therefore cannot help but vote to approve it. Maybe, dear councilors, if you did your job, you could get more, more often... but then again... maybe not... ;)

7. Feb 9th, City Councilor Murphy resigns to take the Deputy Secretary of Transportation position for the State of Massachusetts...

Wow.... just rereading the facts... I'm blown away...
Why am I still against this rezonning... well ARE got plenty of building, 1.8 Million sqft, they were asking for 1.5 Million, the city got a new municipal building. The resident got walled in, more building, more people, more development... same neighborhood. How is the city gone help deal with such a huge development and avoid the North Point pitfalls....? So many questions were left unanswered. But why would the councilors care, they don't live here, won't be living here, will never live here....

What offends me is the likes of councilor Toomey uttering the words... angrily... "Not under my watch"... when talking about the East End House, a private non-profit entity... Trying to stifle the growth of this amazing organization, because his mother and grand mother danced in the building where the East End House currently resides... First we are told the East End House is not part of the negotiation, it's a private entity, then we are treated to a diatribe by Councilor Toomey ... some consistency would be good.

What offends me is city councilors screaming let's build green and only requiring silver LEED standards.

What offends me is city councilors saying one thing, doing another.

Councilor Murphy certainly didn't have more time to give to the neighborhood. A grander job was awaiting...

What offends me is councilors telling me it's perfectly normal to receive contributions... Sure it is we all know that, everybody has the right to contribute... but really... don't take me, us, for idiots. Don't insult our intelligence. When individuals, who don't live in Cambridge, contribute for the first time, the maximum possible contribution, while their are negotiating on behalf of their employer, don't tell me this is normal... if it is, you, dear city councilors have lost yourselves... The obviously wrong is now normal... "that's how it works"...

Words, for politicians, are the reflection and expression of their actions. When they become purely rhetorical and obfuscated, they lose any relationship to the action they are suppose to express. Reality becomes blurred, truth is corrupted and the democratic process loses one of it's major pillar: TRUST.




Dear City Councilors, you have lost my trust.













PS: I wonder what I would find if I digged a little deeper... if only I had more time...

PS2: Campaign finance info: www.efs.cpf.state.ma.us
1. click on contribution in left menu
2. enter the name of ARE executives
3. Surprise....

PS3: If any real journalist ever decides to pick up on this story... do your job, investigate... don't just be a mouth piece... we already have too many...