Campaign Digital Newsletter: Week 1
It has been a busy week here at campaign headquarters. Election season officially began in Cambridge on July 1st with the ceremonial pulling of the papers from the municipal election office. Each candidate has until the end of the month to collect 50 signatures in order to officially get onto the ballot. There are currently ~28 potential candidates for 9 city council seats. I am in the process of building a website, but until then you can find a brief summary of my platform at my Cambridge Civic candidate page here:
As many of you know, this campaign is in large part an extension of the efforts of myself and my friends over the last year to oppose the developer-sponsored proposal called the Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO). This proposal is a radical up-zoning of the entire city that would allow for-profit developers to skirt essentially all existing zoning laws and build 50-foot tall buildings in residential neighborhoods with limited green space and no protections for mature trees. These for-profit developers would retain ownership of these properties and would collect substantial management fees from the tenants in perpetuity. For a more detailed explanation of all the many flaws with this proposal, please visit the website of the recently formed resident's group Cambridge Citizens Coalition:
To give one example of the way this works, I refer you to this 2016 article regarding a local for-profit developer, Richard McKinnon, who paid a civil forfeiture of $16,000 for campaign finance violations:
Mr. McKinnon was allegedly attempting to skirt campaign donation limits by giving bonuses to his employees that were intended for city council campaign coffers. As part of his settlement, Mr. McKinnon agreed to not give donations to city council candidates for 3 years. However, this has not stopped Mr. McKinnon from attempting to influence city politics by giving money to corporate PACs. Mr. McKinnon is one of the largest contributors to the ABC - A Better Cambridge political action committee. This group is the main group pushing for the AHO. They organize most of the support for the AHO at city council meetings. They also provide endorsements and financial backing to most of the city council candidates who are the strongest proponents of the AHO.
This past Tuesday, I attended the Ordinance Committee Meeting for the first meeting on the AHO. You can watch my public comments by clicking on the "video" button at the link below. During my brief comments, the committee chair interrupted me and the mayor stormed out of the room (off camera). My comments begin at 9:08 PM by the clock on the screen.
Also in attendance were four other council candidates who gave public comment: Franklin, Williams, and Simon speaking against the AHO and Musgrave speaking in favor of the AHO. Each candidate gave their statement and then left without staying to listen to the council deliberate, so it is unclear if they are following the issue closely.
On June 27th, I attended the Ordinance Committee meeting on Cannabis permitting with my friend, Dr. Lisa Price, an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry. Dr. Price and I are concerned by the increasing body of evidence showing the harmful effects that the high THC concentrations of modern cannabis products can have on children. Cambridge has taken a very lax approach to cannabis permitting near schools, daycares, residential neighborhoods, etc. We are advocating a cautious and conservative approach to the permitting of recreational cannabis near schools and daycares. Much of this advocacy will have to happen at the state level. Message me if you want to be involved.
At this hearing, a cannabis business had apparently offered a free gram of weed to people from out of town if they came to give public comment in favor of the Simmons' amendment. This may have been the most bizarre meeting I've attended yet. The place smelled like pot. Dr. Price's comments begin at the 5:17 PM mark at the below link:
Hope you are all enjoying the weather. If you would like to be involved with the early days of this campaign, here are some ways you can help:
Make sure you're registered and ready to vote in November.
Tell your friends about our campaign. In the last election, 1000 #1 votes were enough to win. If all of you spread the word to 3 or 4 people, we can do this.
Help me build this email list. If you know of someone who would like to receive weekly emails or hear about this campaign, please put us in touch.
Meet with me in person. Many of you on this list I have yet to meet.
Organize a small get together with your friends where we can discuss issues facing the city.
Help me with graphic design. I could use a hand designing flyers, yard signs, websites, etc. Work can be paid or volunteer.
Put me in touch with people with local political campaign experience. According to the most recent filings, the top 4 most well-funded campaigns are those of AHO proponents, 3 of the 4 are sponsored by ABC. Beating them will be tough, but not impossible.