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Somerville Neighborhood News #25

Posted by a 2:02 pm on October 24, 2014

Oct. 21, 2014 – Visit the Kiley Barrel site, march with the Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band, learn how Tufts is trying to improve its treatment of victims of sexual abuse, see what’s up with…


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Posted in Arts and Culture, Civil and Human Rights, Government Reform, Health Care, Housing, Investigative Reports, Media, Neighborhoods and Squares, Transportation, Tufts, Video | 1 Comment »

Watch the latest Somerville Neighborhood News

Posted by a 8:53 am on October 8, 2014

Oct. 7, 2014 – Hear what health and school officials have to say about the dozens of kids who recently arrived here from Central America, hit the streets to learn what Somerville residents think about…


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Posted in Government Reform, Housing, Immigration, Politics, Union Square, Video | No Comments »

Alderman won’t Give Up Push for Campaign Finance Reform

Posted by a 12:05 pm on September 25, 2014

Somerville, MA, September 24 2014 – Even though the mayor vetoed their proposed campaign finance reform ordinance, Alderman-at-Large Bill White and his colleagues aren’t giving up.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA9jzPaQrUc#t=30

Known as a “pay to play” law, the…


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Posted in Government Reform, Politics, Video | No Comments »

The Rise of Somerville Homeless Youth

Posted by a 10:49 pm on April 1, 2014

The Rise of Somerville Homeless Youth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLoFyRgrTeiKjjT0QWCrA8dSg_ZxDk_V1M&feature=player_embedded&v=6ZTS9fMrNo8

by Somerville Neighborhood News


Youth homelessness is on the rise; at least…


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Posted in All Ages, Civil and Human Rights, Economy & Poverty, Education, Government Reform, Housing, Schools and Youth, Teens, Video | No Comments »

4/3/14 Joint Hearing of Planning Board and Land Use Committee

Posted by a 9:06 pm on March 23, 2014

The Somerville Planning Board and the BOA Land Use Committee are holding a joint hearing on an amendment to Section 5.2.5 of the Somerville Zoning Ordinance to require the following special permit findings: a) to avoid creating adverse impacts on the stock of existing affordable housing, and, b) to ensure compliance with the objectives of the SomerVision plan.

It is is everyone’s interest to see to it that affordable housing is maintained and the SomerVisionPlan is advanced. Come and speak your mind. More…


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Comprehensive Plan, Development and Zoning, Events, Government Reform, Housing, Neighborhoods and Squares | No Comments »

12/3/13 Somerville Legislative Matters Committee Meeting

Posted by a 8:55 pm on December 1, 2013

Agenda includes a Home Rule petition to change the method of filling BOA vacancies, and an ordinance regulating “pay-to-play” public contracting and campaign contributions for municipal elected office.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Events, Government Reform, Politics | No Comments »

11/12/13 Public Hearing on Filling BOA Vacancies

Posted by a 6:25 pm on November 4, 2013

Historically, Aldermen filled vacancies by personally selecting successor candidates with minimal public input. The proposals work to improve that.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Events, Government Reform, Politics | No Comments »

Mark Niedergang endorsed for Ward 5 Alderman by 6 Local Elected Officials, 8 Organizations and Unions

Posted by a 4:39 pm on October 20, 2013

Mark Niedergang announced today that he has received endorsements from State Representative Carl Sciortino; Somerville Aldermen Rebekah Gewirtz and Tony Lafuente: and Somerville School Committee members Adam Sweeting, Christine Rafal and Paul Bockelman.  Niedergang is a candidate for Ward 5 Alderman and has represented Ward 5 on the Somerville School Committee for eight years.…


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Posted in Announcements, Government Reform, Politics, Press Release, Uncategorized, Ward 5 | No Comments »

7/17/13 Citizenship and Governance in Somerville

Posted by a 9:21 pm on July 14, 2013

The Somerville Public Library and the Welcome project are sponsoring a discussion with Tufts Professor Susan A. Ostrander about how “beneath current high levels of engagement by Somerville residents lies a struggle about who should be the city’s elected leaders and how they should conduct the city’s affairs.”


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Development and Zoning, Government Reform, Housing, Neighborhoods and Squares, Politics, Transportation | No Comments »

6/18/13 Somerville Legislative Matters Committee Meeting

Posted by a 8:15 pm on June 16, 2013

Agenda includes discussing alternative methods for choosing aldermen in case of a resignation before the end of term.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Events, Government Reform, Politics | No Comments »

5/7/13 Rules Committee Meeting as a Whole

Posted by a 10:53 pm on May 5, 2013

Agenda includes a rules change to make the replacement of Board members subject to time-limited community review. Selection of replacement by the previous Alderman has been controversial.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Events, Government Reform, Politics | No Comments »

Mark Niedergang’s Campaign Kickoff on March 3

Posted by a 4:33 pm on February 22, 2013

The Committee to Elect Mark Niedergang invites you to enjoy delicious free food from Redbones, Taco Loco, and Gauchão , fun entertainment, good company, and provocative discussion at a party and fundraiser to kick off Mark’s campaign for Ward 5 Alderman. Alex the Jester will entertain. State Representative Carl Sciortino (Somerville/Medford) will speak.


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Posted in Announcements, Ball Square, Davis Square, Development and Zoning, Education, Environment and Open Space, Events, Government Reform, Housing, Lowell Street, Magoun Square, Politics, Porter Square, Schools and Youth, Ward 5 | No Comments »

11/6/12 VOTE! Local, State, and National Elections

Posted by a 1:59 pm on October 28, 2012

VOTE! In addition to the Presidential and Senatorial elections we all know about, there are seven initiatives on the ballot.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Development and Zoning, Events, Government Reform, Neighborhoods and Squares, Politics, Transportation | 1 Comment »

11/5/12 Peer-to-Peer Politics: Moving Beyond Left and Right

Posted by a 1:55 pm on

2012 election year rhetoric features “The market versus the state”, “Big capital versus big government”, and so on. What about creating a web of collaboration where no one is in charge because everyone is in charge?


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Events, Government Reform, Housing, Neighborhoods and Squares, Politics | No Comments »

Mayor @JoeCurtatone Misses Own Deadline for OpenData Initiative

Posted by a 9:58 pm on August 1, 2012

In June, the City proudly announced that it would be posting lots of operational data in July online at data.somervillema.gov.  Well, it’s August 1st and that webpage hasn’t been set up yet. …


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Posted in Government Reform | 2 Comments »

Brociner Justified in Calling Letter Patently Dishonest

Posted by a 10:45 am on June 22, 2012

Clearly, Curtatone dodged his responsibility to properly ensure the event was accessible for persons with disabilities. We deserve better from our mayor!


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Posted in Accessibility, Civic Action, Government Reform | No Comments »

6/21/12 Somerville Board of Aldermen Budget Hearing

Posted by a 4:44 pm on June 17, 2012

Where does the money come from and where does it go?


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, City Finances, Events, Government Reform, Neighborhoods and Squares | No Comments »

Local Hacktivists Organize for Government Transparency

Posted by a 3:44 pm on May 5, 2012

My friend and Somerville hacktivist, Adam Friedman, recently alerted me to two new local transparency groups which both seem to have a strong Somerville focus and include another Somerville hacktivist Michael @Morisy (from the FOIA-made-easy site MuckRock).…


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Posted in Civic Action, Government Reform | No Comments »

Mayor Curtatone’s ACE Webpage for Responsiveness Data Late Again

Posted by a 3:15 pm on

The City’s transparency initiative has again fallen into neglect.…


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Posted in Civic Action, Government Reform | No Comments »

Why @311Somerville Does Not Track Loose Utility Wire Calls

Posted by a 11:24 pm on March 25, 2012

Here’s what I’ve learned so far via the following Twitter conversation (in chronological order):…


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Posted in 311 Requests, Government Reform, Public Health & Safety | 2 Comments »

Somerville Variance Hearing 2/27/12: Community Path Cedar to Lowell

Posted by a 1:54 pm on February 24, 2012

This Monday, the Architectural Access State Board will hear the City of Somerville’s request to waive the necessity to place an accessible ramp adjacent to a proposed shortcut between the Lowell St. bridge and the future Community Path Extension. Public transportation stewardship begins at home! Let’s encourage Somerville’s deciders to sTop wasting local and sTate transportation resources on exclusive facilities- and instead, plan for the future by designing accessible multi-modal pedestrian routes at every step.


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Posted in Accessibility, Civil and Human Rights, Government Reform, MBTA, Pedestrians, Public Health & Safety, Transportation, Transportation Projects | 4 Comments »

Representative Provost’s Smart Framework For Sustainable Transportation

Posted by a 1:04 pm on February 5, 2012

Somerville Representative Provost has just published a piece at bostinno called: MBTA Troubles Just a Symptom of Systemic Crisis.
This Monday February 6, 2012 at 11:30 will be the Public Hearing on Rep. Provost ‘s House Bill 2659, a bill relative to transportation finance and equity. Location: State House, room A-1.
Rep. Provost article link: http://bostinno.com/2012/02/01/mbta-troubles-just-a-symptom-of-systemic-crisis/


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Posted in Accessibility, Government Reform, Politics, Public Health & Safety, Transportation | No Comments »

City’s ACE Webpage for Responsiveness Data Now 3 Months Stale

Posted by a 12:02 am on January 4, 2012

“We should not have to tell you we are doing well. We should be able to show we are doing well. And if we are falling short in some areas, then you should be able to see that too. ” – Mayor Curtatone, in his 7/15/2011 op-ed to the Somerville News announcing his new ACE program and stating a customer bill of rights.


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Posted in Civic Action, Government Reform | 4 Comments »

Passing the Local Hiring Ordinance Will Help Raise Labor Standards in Somerville

Posted by a 9:07 pm on November 26, 2011

Somerville’s economic development policies should place the highest priority on creating the good jobs our community needs.…


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Posted in Civil and Human Rights, Economy & Poverty, Government Reform, Politics, Workers' Rights | No Comments »

11/29: Ward 1 ResiStat Community Meeting

Posted by a 8:17 am on November 25, 2011

Mayor Curtatone, Alderman Roche and the ResiStat program invite you to a community meeting in West Somerville to discuss the latest city data, news, updates and issues most important to you.


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Posted in Announcements, East Somerville, Government Reform, Neighborhoods and Squares, Politics, Ward 1 | No Comments »

ResiStat Community Meetings for Wards 3 and 6 coming up

Posted by a 8:27 am on November 8, 2011

Reminder: The beginning of next week community leaders will get together with you in Wards 3 and 6

  • Meet with Mayor Curtatone, Alderman, City officials, aldermen-at-large and police
  • Share your concerns and ideas
  • Stay for a Meet & Greet with light refreshments

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Posted in Announcements, Government Reform, Politics, Ward 3, Ward 6 | No Comments »

Somerville, MA: Millions Wasted on Deficient Walkability Improvements

Posted by a 4:31 pm on November 2, 2011

Over 80% of Somerville’s new sidewalks and curb cuts, installed since 2004, are hazardous for people with various types of disabilities (one-in-five). These infrastructure improvements don’t even adhere to basic, standard building code. See a listing of the first 50 locations that the City of Somerville promises to re-do, equalling about $500K wasted the first time around- for starters.


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Posted in Accessibility, Civil and Human Rights, Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Government Reform, Pedestrians, Public Health & Safety, Public Records / FOIA Requests, Schools and Youth, Seniors | 8 Comments »

Special, if irrational, permits in Somerville

Posted by a 11:05 pm on October 12, 2011

I was looking at plans for a house that’s going to be built behind mine, and just got it’s ZBA stamp of approval, and realized that they hadn’t fixed the stairway.  For the first three…


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Posted in Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Government Reform | 8 Comments »

FOIA to OSPCD: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing?

Posted by a 6:34 pm on September 16, 2011

Disabled residents of Somerville experience disproportionate poverty, substandard housing conditions, and face pervasive exclusion, even in the city’s inclusionary and affordable housing opportunity programs. Today, a FOIA request was lodged to learn how four influential nonprofits guide the City to step up to its obligations to affirmatively further Fair Housing for economically disadvantaged residents.


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Posted in Accessibility, Civic Action, Civil and Human Rights, Development and Zoning, Government Reform, Housing, Public Records / FOIA Requests | 2 Comments »

Curtatone Administration Not as Transparent and Open as Promised

Posted by a 1:26 am on July 28, 2011

As the following examples indicate, the Curtatone administration routinely ignores, delays, or over-charges for data sought under the state’s public records law, in contrast to what the Mayor calls an “open, transparent and efficient government”.…


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Posted in 311 Requests, Government Reform, Investigative Reports, Public Records / FOIA Requests | 5 Comments »

Contract for the American Dream Meeting

Posted by a 9:48 pm on July 17, 2011

A good way to get to know interesting neighbors and maybe even accomplish something:
My husband and I hosted a MoveOn.org “American Dream” house party Saturday. …


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Posted in Economy & Poverty, Government Reform, Politics | No Comments »

Union Square: The test

Posted by a 1:38 pm on July 16, 2011

Collaboration beats what we see in Congress, and…in…the Planning Board’s “solution” to Union Square affordable housing.


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Posted in Civil and Human Rights, Government Reform, Housing, Neighborhoods and Squares, Politics, Union Square | No Comments »

Over 100 Organizations Ask Gov. Patrick to say NO to “Secure Communities”

Posted by a 2:05 pm on May 27, 2011

At least seven Somerville organizations, including civil rights, immigrant, anti-poverty, churches and peace groups, have signed on to a letter urging Governor Patrick “to decline to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement to participate in a program that damages the social fabric of our Commonwealth and makes our communities more vulnerable and less safe.” The letter was delivered on May 27, 2011 by the ACLU of Massachusetts.


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Posted in Announcements, Civil and Human Rights, Government Reform, Immigration, Politics | 1 Comment »

Budget Forum April 12

Posted by a 9:20 pm on April 3, 2011

The budget crisis continues, as local aid and programs from those for disabled children to assistance for vulnerable seniors are threatened with cuts or closure. This year’s budget promises to be the worst yet. So what can we do this year?


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Posted in All Ages, Economy & Poverty, Events, Government Reform | No Comments »

Apr 5th, Re-Districting: What is it all about?

Posted by a 10:32 pm on March 12, 2011

The City Democratic Committee presents special guest, Representative Mike Moran (Brighton) House Chair of Elections to speak about the re-districting process and its implications.


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Posted in Announcements, Events, Government Reform, Politics | No Comments »

ISD Report Conspicuously Fails to Mention that Dept Head was Unqualified for Job

Posted by a 11:58 pm on January 27, 2011

The recently released departmental review of the City’s Inspectional Services Division lists many problems and suggested solutions, but strangely neglects to mention that the department head, George Landers, was unqualified to hold that position.…


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Posted in Government Reform, Investigative Reports | 1 Comment »

Towing Company Profiting from Public Land Use?

Posted by a 6:19 pm on January 21, 2011

Happy snow emergency! Do you know where your towing dollars go?


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Posted in 311 Requests, Beat Reporter, Consumer Money Saving, Environment and Open Space, Government Reform, Investigative Reports, Politics, Teele Square, Traffic & Parking, Ward 7 | 40 Comments »

Help Uncover Trends in Parking Ticket Appeals

Posted by a 7:41 pm on January 1, 2011

When Watertown, MA resident Mark Pickering received a parking citation during a visit to a friend in nearby Somerville, he figured a simple letter to the Office of the Parking Clerk would result in a scheduled hearing or a ticket dismissal. Instead, he received an anonymous note of rejection with an extra $5 fine.


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Posted in Government Reform, Investigative Reports, Public Records / FOIA Requests, Traffic & Parking | 3 Comments »

11/18/10 Planning Board Meeting

Posted by a 5:07 pm on November 14, 2010

The proposed changes to simplify the review process for ZBA cases will consolidate all direct citizen input into one public hearing. Unless handled well, this could make it harder for citizens to make their voices heard.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Development and Zoning, Events, Government Reform | No Comments »

11/17/10 BOA Legislative Matters Committee Meeting

Posted by a 4:59 pm on

The sole item on the agenda is adopting the Stretch Energy Code as Energy Code for Somerville. This important sustainability measure is in jeopardy in Somerville.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Events, Government Reform | No Comments »

11/9/10 Teleconference on Standards for Public Meeting Notices and Agendas — Beat Report

Posted by a 2:48 pm on November 10, 2010

This teleconference dealt with new exciting work on addressing a perennial problem: how do people find out when issues they care about are being discussed?


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Posted in Beat Reporter, Government Reform | 4 Comments »

11/9/10 Teleconference on Standards for Public Meeting Notices and Agendas

Posted by a 4:17 pm on November 7, 2010

Public meeting notices and the open meeting law are fundamental to transparency and public participation in government.


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Posted in Accessibility, All Ages, Beat Reporter, Events, Government Reform, Special | 1 Comment »

11/4/10 Joint Public Hearing by Planning Board and BOA Land Use Committee — Beat Report

Posted by a 2:56 pm on

Large Retail Cluster Parking: Proposal is to double the parking requirement for large retail (> 25,000 s.f.). Staff believes that because Somerville has little parking available, the effect will be to discourage suburban format in Somerville. Developers would have to build parking garages, which is expensive.


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Posted in Assembly Square, Beat Reporter, Bicycles, Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Government Reform, Housing, Neighborhoods and Squares, Orange Line, Pedestrians, Somerville By The Numbers, Traffic & Parking | 1 Comment »

Public comment on the nearly finished Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan

Posted by a 1:35 pm on October 25, 2010

The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan of the Somerville Public Schools, due to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on 12/31, is open for public comment online at www.somerville.k12.ma.us/no_bullying.

We invite…


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Posted in Announcements, Crime, Government Reform, Public Health & Safety, Schools and Youth, Teens | No Comments »

Rally for Jim Henderson!!!

Posted by a 9:36 am on

Dear Somerville Voters:

This Wednesday, Jim Henderson, the independent candidate for Secretary of the Commonwealth,  may have his one and only opportunity to debate the incumbent, Mr. Galvin, and he needs your support and…


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Posted in Events, Government Reform, Politics | No Comments »

11/4/10 Joint Public Hearing by Planning Board and BOA Land Use Committee

Posted by a 2:29 pm on October 20, 2010

The agenda includes the following:

* Change to the zoning ordinance to allow self-storage in Assembly Square
* Changes to the zoning ordinance to revise the procedures for reviewing Special Permits, Special Permits with Site Plan Approval, and variances
* Changes to the zoning ordinance to revise the parking requirements for large scale retail
* Change to the zoning ordinance to allow Historic Carriage House as a use in certain districts
* Special permit to allow Federal Realty to exceed signage size requirements in Assembly Square.


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Posted in All Ages, Announcements, Assembly Square, Beat Reporter, Bicycles, Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Events, Government Reform, Orange Line, Pedestrians, Traffic & Parking | 1 Comment »

8/10/10 Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee Planning Meeting

Posted by a 1:40 pm on August 7, 2010

Currently the Steering Committee is working on policies and actions to implement the plan. Somerville’s citywide development for the next twenty years will be shaped by the comprehensive plan.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Development and Zoning, Economy & Poverty, Environment and Open Space, Events, Government Reform, Housing, Neighborhoods and Squares, Somerville By The Numbers, Transportation | No Comments »

6/22/10 Public Hearing About City Budget

Posted by a 8:39 pm on June 20, 2010

All hearings on the City Budget are important, because the Budget decides where the money goes.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, City Finances, Events, Government Reform, Somerville By The Numbers | 1 Comment »

6/1/10 Somerville Planning Board and Land Use Committee Joint Meeting

Posted by a 5:50 pm on May 31, 2010

This meeting is important because it deals with citizen-initiated zoning changes.


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Posted in All Ages, Beat Reporter, Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Events, Government Reform, Neighborhoods and Squares | No Comments »

BOA Legislative Matters Committee Meeting as a Whole

Posted by a 9:03 pm on May 23, 2010

This meeting is important because charter amendments are always important, and adopting the Stretch Energy Code will reduce environmental impact throughout Somerville.


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Posted in All Ages, Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Events, Government Reform, Housing | No Comments »

Superintendent of Inspectional Services Misleads Architectural Access Board

Posted by a 9:55 am on May 20, 2010

The Architectural Access Board will hold a Hearing on 18 Architectural Access Code Violations for Arts at the Armory facility on Monday, May 24, at 1 p.m.

back story: On February 8, Building…


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Posted in Accessibility, Announcements, Arts and Culture, Civil and Human Rights, Development and Zoning, Government Reform, Public Health & Safety | 40 Comments »

Joe’s All American Barriers- the DPW Facility

Posted by a 11:23 pm on March 25, 2010

The City of Somerville was one of 10 cities honored as an All America City by the National League of Cities in 2009. During the announcement, the audience was informed that, “this is a community that uses information to improve the lives of its residents.” Here’s some information about the inaccessible DPW facility.


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Posted in Accessibility, City Finances, Civil and Human Rights, Development and Zoning, Government Reform, Somerville By The Numbers | 2 Comments »

BOA Committee on Housing and Community Development

Posted by a 10:38 pm on March 15, 2010

BOA Committee on Housing and Community Development

Tues. Mar 16 6:30 PM

Somerville City Hall
2nd Fl. Comm. Rm
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville MA (map)

Agenda


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Posted in All Ages, Development and Zoning, Environment and Open Space, Events, Government Reform, Green Line, Special, Transportation, Transportation Projects | No Comments »

BOA Legislative Matters Committee

Posted by a 10:06 pm on March 14, 2010

BOA Legislative Matters Committee

Tues. Mar. 16 8:00 PM

Somerville City Hall
Aldermen’s Chamber
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville MA (map)

Agenda (PDF)

This is…


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Posted in All Ages, Events, Government Reform, Special | No Comments »

BOA Legislative Matters Committee of the Whole : Charter Changes

Posted by a 9:22 pm on March 7, 2010

BOA Legislative Matters Committee of the Whole

Tues. Mar. 9 7:00 PM

Somerville City Hall
Aldermen’s Chamber
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville MA (map)

Agenda (PDF)


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Posted in All Ages, Events, Government Reform, Politics, Special | No Comments »

MPO Listening Session on Public Participation Program Revision

Posted by a 10:56 pm on March 1, 2010

MPO Listening Session on Public Participation Program Revision

Wed. Mar. 3 4:00 PM

State Transportation Building
Suite 2150
10 Park Plaza
Boston MA (map)

The Metropolitan Planning Organization…


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Posted in All Ages, Events, Government Reform, Green Line, Special, Transportation, Transportation Projects | No Comments »

BOA Land Use Committee and Planning Board Joint Meeting

Posted by a 9:08 pm on February 28, 2010

BOA Land Use Committee and Planning Board Joint Meeting

Thurs. Mar. 4 6:00 PM

Somerville City Hall
Aldermen’s Chamber
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville MA (map)

Agenda


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Posted in All Ages, Development and Zoning, Economy & Poverty, Events, Government Reform, Neighborhoods and Squares, Seniors, Special | No Comments »

BOA Land Use Committee Meeting

Posted by a 7:42 pm on

BOA Land Use Committee Meeting

Tues. Mar. 2 7:00 PM

Somerville City Hall
2nd Fl. Comm. Rm.
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville MA (map)

Agenda (PDF)


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Posted in All Ages, Development and Zoning, Economy & Poverty, Events, Government Reform, Seniors, Special | No Comments »

It ain’t wicked smaht to exclude people

Posted by a 2:58 pm on February 23, 2010

The City of Somerville, with it’s clear mandates and civil rights obligations from Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, continues to be really , truly, obviously unskilled at inclusive community-building.


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Posted in Accessibility, Arts and Culture, Civil and Human Rights, Development and Zoning, Government Reform, Neighborhoods and Squares, Public Health & Safety, Uncategorized | 21 Comments »

Close out the Bad Accounts

Posted by a 10:05 am on February 11, 2010

Banks and Verizon need to be held to the kind of standards they use to torture their customers.


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Posted in City Finances, Civic Action, Economy & Poverty, Government Reform | 10 Comments »

Planning for the Unplanned: Recovering from Crises in Megacities – Lessons for Metro Boston

Posted by a 10:10 pm on February 8, 2010

Planning for the Unplanned: Recovering from Crises in Megacities – Lessons for Metro Boston

Thurs. Feb. 11 6:00 PM

MAPC Offices
60 Temple Place
Boston MA (map)…


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Posted in All Ages, Events, Government Reform, Public Health & Safety, Special | No Comments »

Committee on Legislative Matters – Home-Rule Petition to Amend the City Charter

Posted by a 9:43 pm on

Committee on Legislative Matters

Tues. Feb. 9 7:00 PM

Aldermen’s Chamber
Somerville City Hall
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville MA (map)

Agenda (PDF)

This is…


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Posted in All Ages, City Finances, Civic Action, Events, Government Reform, Politics, Special | 1 Comment »

Workshop on Redirecting Military Spending to Meet Human Needs

Posted by a 10:48 pm on January 2, 2010

From http://justicewithpeace.org/node/819 :

Redirecting Military Spending to Meet Human Needs

The 25% Solution Task Force of UJP is conducting an interactive workshop on…


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Posted in Economy & Poverty, Events, Government Reform, Special | 11 Comments »

less parking idiocy; more snow vigilance!

Posted by a 9:33 pm on January 1, 2010

We all know that the city has enacted onerous and unpopular parking regulations because it’s desperate for funds.

What if the city were as aggressive about clean, i.e. non-icy, sidewalks as it is about parking?…


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Posted in Government Reform, Public Health & Safety | 29 Comments »

A Call For Greater Transparency At Somerville City Hall

Posted by a 8:50 pm on December 25, 2009

To have an effective democratically-elected Government, the People must trust that their elected officials are acting as good stewards of public resources. This trust is hindered when people can not verify the integrity of candidates and office-holders.…


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Posted in Government Reform | 4 Comments »

Hey! Will Capuano’s Hometown Be Accessible on Primary Day?

Posted by a 2:25 am on December 6, 2009

Judging by the fumbles on Election Day, 11/3/09, we can’t assume that Somerville will provide Accessible Voting on Primary Day, December 8. Despite the fact that the Secretary of State’s Office ordered structural accessibility changes at 7 Somerville polling sites after an audit in July, a spot-check of 9 Somerville Polling sites on Election Day 2009 proved that the current Mayor’s heart is still not in the game.


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Posted in Accessibility, Civil and Human Rights, Government Reform | No Comments »

The Pittsburg Precedent

Posted by a 10:01 pm on November 19, 2009

Pittsburgh floats a sales tax on college tuition!


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Posted in City Finances, Government Reform, Schools and Youth, Traffic & Parking, Tufts, Workers' Rights | 2 Comments »

Why the Debate About Expanding Legalized Gambling is a Big Deal

Posted by a 2:03 pm on October 14, 2009

If you’re on the fence about attending Sen. Pat Jehlen’s forum on expanded State gambling tomorrow night (Thurs. Oct 15 from 7-9pm at Century Bank, 400 Mystic Avenue in Medford), at which State Sen. Sue Tucker and State Rep Kathi-Anne Reinstein will debate the issue, here are some reasons why you should come, and why this really is a big deal.


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Posted in Economy & Poverty, Government Reform, Politics, Public Health & Safety | 2 Comments »

garbage out, maybe not garbage in?

Posted by a 1:59 pm on September 27, 2009

I received this via email from Sean O’Donovan, my alderman, as a follow-up to a phone conversation about trash citation screw-ups.  Would it be useful for others to contact their aldermen as backup?…


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Posted in Civic Action, Government Reform | 8 Comments »

Climate Action Party!

Posted by a 9:49 pm on September 26, 2009

2 degrees of warming. 350 parts per million. Does it seem as though we are on track to achieve these? Are you concerned about the chance of passing a meaningful global climate treaty in Copenhagen? Do you want to have a say in the future of our planet? Come to our Climate Action Party! [October 3rd, 7 p.m.] We will broaden our local network of activists, strategize how to make our voices heard, and plan for the days between now and December.


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Posted in Announcements, Civic Action, Environment and Open Space, Events, Government Reform, Politics, Public Health & Safety | No Comments »

Joe’s Original Crosswalks

Posted by a 1:23 pm on September 17, 2009

Q:  Why Didn’t the Rolling Somerville Pedestrian Cross the Road at the Crosswalk?

A:  Because the City of Somerville Deciders have been playing chicken with standards.

This photo essay will show 30 lost opportunities to create a safer community on Mayor Curtatone’s watch.


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Posted in Accessibility, Civic Action, Civil and Human Rights, Development and Zoning, Government Reform, Neighborhoods and Squares, Pedestrians, Public Health & Safety, Traffic & Parking, Transportation Projects | 20 Comments »

SomSigns Lie

Posted by a 8:57 pm on August 22, 2009

Whoda thunk that a simple sign could be a liar?  Here’s a photo essay of some misleading signage in three City of Somerville facilities.

1.  Somerville Schools Administration Building, 181 Washington Street:   At…


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Posted in Accessibility, Civil and Human Rights, Government Reform, Schools and Youth, Sports | 4 Comments »

Public Information Response from ADA Coordinator Raises Red Flag

Posted by a 3:23 pm on August 17, 2009

Thanks to SomervilleVoices for providing this venue to post our Public Information Requests -and to share the responses (or lack therof) that we receive.

Here’s one example of a PIR response that raises red…


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Posted in Accessibility, Civic Action, Civil and Human Rights, Government Reform, Investigative Reports, Public Health & Safety, Public Records / FOIA Requests | 12 Comments »

Evening of civility ends with abrupt rejection at Traffic Board Meeting

Posted by a 12:39 pm on August 15, 2009

Thursday’s event at City Hall was a far cry from the tense, emotion-high fracas that went down at the Traffic Commission meeting two weeks ago. The stately Aldermanic chamber was likewise filled with concerned Somerville citizens, but this time, the city’s controversial May 21 vote was the agenda.…


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Posted in Civic Action, Government Reform, Investigative Reports, Neighborhoods and Squares, Politics, Traffic & Parking | 3 Comments »

Somerville Parking Advocacy and Reform Coalition (SPARC) forms in response to parking regulation changes

Posted by a 2:43 pm on July 18, 2009

Somerville Parking Advocacy and Reform Coalition (SPARC), a group of business groups, neighborhood associations and concerned residents advocating for a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach to parking regulation in Somerville, has formed to addresses the recent citywide parking changes.…


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Posted in Announcements, Government Reform, Traffic & Parking | No Comments »

Fund Our Communities, Reduce the Military Budget

Posted by a 2:30 pm on June 25, 2009

We’re working on educating the public about the incredible amount of money spent on weapon systems, and the need to get the government to redirect that money to basic human needs, such as jobs, education, housing, and health care. … and that’s where you can help. We’re going to ask the Board of Aldermen of Somerville to endorse the campaign. As preparation for that, we’re asking you to call your alderman/ woman to urge their endorsement of this campaign.


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Posted in Civic Action, Economy & Poverty, Government Reform, Politics | 33 Comments »

Parking, SomerStat and Politics

Posted by a 6:50 pm on June 21, 2009

In spite of the overwhelming cupidity of the Board of Aldermen, one or more may ask why or how the Mayor connects “access” to higher tickets across the board? … The obvious conclusion is that he cares nothing about access, and everything about money. While that may be good for his budget, it is at real cost to citizens and businesses, and, ultimately, to the management system that justifies – or rationalizes – that cost.


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Posted in Accessibility, City Finances, Development and Zoning, Government Reform, Public Health & Safety, Transportation | 28 Comments »

Senate Budget update

Posted by a 8:07 am on June 9, 2009

I thought Somerville Voices readers might be interested in my recent newsletter about the state budget.  If you’d like to receive future newsletters, you can sign up at www.patjehlen.org


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Posted in City Finances, Economy & Poverty, Government Reform | 14 Comments »

10 Days to Go! Submit your Comments about the use of $772,044

Posted by a 2:29 pm on May 4, 2009

The City of Somerville, as an Entitlement Community, receives millions of Federal dollars from HUD each year from the Community Development Block Grant, Emergency Shelter Grant, and HOME programs.  These monies must be spent on…


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Posted in Accessibility, City Finances, Civic Action, Civil and Human Rights, Economy & Poverty, Government Reform, Neighborhoods and Squares, Politics | 3 Comments »

4/28 Public forum on Somerville’s FY2010 budget

Posted by a 10:04 pm on April 26, 2009

From Mark Niedergang… The Board of Aldermen and School Committee together will be holding a public forum on the FY 2010 budget this Tuesday, April 28th, at 7 PM in the Aldermen’s Chambers in City Hall. This is an opportunity to get an update from the Mayor and the Superintendent of Schools on the City and School budgets for next year and to share your concerns, ideas, and suggestions about priorities and ways to make the FY 2010 budget stretch further.


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Posted in Announcements, Economy & Poverty, Government Reform, Schools and Youth | 7 Comments »

Lowell Zero, Somerville 221. Mistakes, that is.

Posted by a 6:12 pm on April 19, 2009

On March 19, 2009, the City of Somerville was one of the 118 recipients of an “e-government Award,” from Common Cause. This citation is given for providing online access to Board


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Posted in Accessibility, Civil and Human Rights, Government Reform, Media, Politics | 7 Comments »

An Interview with Ward 1 Alderman Bill Roche

Posted by a 2:12 pm on April 18, 2009

Following up on my 4/10 article “Ald. Roche wants to keep public business “privileged and confidential”” is my email exchange with him below from last weekend. Since he intended this to be a public conversation (“I do this openly and not behind closed doors.”), I felt it was appropriate to share it with the community and hopefully provide some insight into his thinking. …


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Posted in Government Reform | 4 Comments »

Verizon bill only benefits Verizon

Posted by a 3:28 pm on April 15, 2009

As Executive Director of Somerville Community Access Television, I am concerned that the community may lose resources and benefits from changes to the cable TV franchise rules.  After failing in 2007, Verizon is trying again to modify the rules to their benefit with a new bill put forward in the MA House and Senate. …


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Posted in Government Reform, Media | 5 Comments »

FY 2010 Earmarks Betray Capuano’s Role as Enabler of the Military-Industrial Complex

Posted by a 7:21 pm on April 11, 2009

As the following pie chart shows, nearly 60% of Rep. Capuano’s 2010 earmark requests (totaling almost $80 million of tax-payer money) are for military research programs out of a total of close to $136 million in pet projects. He claims he didn’t know about the political contributions he received from the PMA Group lobbying firm, but he should have checked into it before earmarking millions of dollars for its members! We need to send Capuano a strong signal that we’re watching him and we won’t tolerate his earmarks!


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Posted in Government Reform, Investigative Reports | 18 Comments »

Ald. Roche wants to keep public business “privileged and confidential”

Posted by a 9:52 pm on April 10, 2009

It sounds like the reason he was upset was not that his email was leaked early, but that there was organized opposition to his idea. The only rational conclusion is that he hoped his motion would come to a vote without much public scrutiny. When a legislator wants to keep the public out of the legislative process, that should be grounds for impeachment!


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Posted in Government Reform | 3 Comments »

Neighbors share parking ticket stories and seek reform

Posted by a 3:15 pm on March 8, 2009

My neighbor, Dave, got so fed up with the unfairness of Somerville’s parking regulations, he started an online discussion group to collect stories of similarly aggrieved residents.

So far the stories touch upon a variety of issues, including:…


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Posted in Announcements, Government Reform | 29 Comments »

Support the Proposed Condo Conversion Ordinance – Speak Out Now

Posted by a 3:01 am on February 23, 2009

On March 3rd, the Somerville Board of Aldermen will hold its hearing on the proposed Condo Conversion Ordinance. If you are a Somerville homeowner, you know that the Libertarian, Cambridge-based Small Property Owners Association (SPOA) — which mailed letters to every Somerville homeowner — is seeking to derail that legislation by disseminating inflammatory and baseless claims about how passage will result in plummeting property values and escalating property taxes.


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Posted in Development and Zoning, Government Reform, Housing | 19 Comments »

An extra measure of transparency?

Posted by a 11:18 pm on February 7, 2009

So far, all we’ve been told by the city about the people appointed by Mayor Curtatone to serve on Somerville’s new Financial Advisory Committee is their names and titles. But, the residents of this city deserve to know more about these advisors who will have such big influence on how we cope with massive budget cuts.


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Posted in Economy & Poverty, Government Reform | 8 Comments »

Upcoming Caucuses for Issues Convention: Why Bother?

Posted by a 5:29 pm on February 1, 2009

PDS Vice Chair Rachel Heller sent around information about the Democratic Party Caucuses scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 5th (see below). Readers may be wondering “Why bother to go to an “issues” convention … or to the Caucus where delegates are elected? Here are my thoughts on why it’s worth our time.


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Posted in Government Reform, Politics | 1 Comment »

Is the mayor’s Financial Advisory Committee good for Somerville?

Posted by a 9:50 pm on January 28, 2009

This sounds like a proactive and timely step on the part of the mayor, but is this “outside” panel of “experts” truly a good source of guidance for our city in these dire times?


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Posted in Economy & Poverty, Government Reform, Politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

No Honeymoon

Posted by a 9:25 pm on December 3, 2008

I’ve been reviewing some of the reasons Obama will need to be pushed if he is going to be a progressive President, and some of the major areas in which we need to push him. The key thing is, we can’t wait.


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Posted in Government Reform, Politics | 4 Comments »

Open Letter

Posted by a 10:33 pm on December 1, 2008

To the Charter Review Committee, I sincerely appreciated the opportunity to give testimony at your November 10th public hearing. I hope you are not discouraged that, from mildly to passionately, all but one person who spoke was critical of your preliminary recommendations.


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Posted in Government Reform, Politics | No Comments »

My Testimony to Charter Advisory Committee

Posted by a 2:21 am on

If you’ve been waiting to submit your written testimony to the Charter Advisory Committee, now’s the time. If you haven’t reviewed the Committee’s preliminary recommendations, check them out here. Here are my thoughts:


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Posted in Government Reform | No Comments »

Did Somebody Mention Corporate Power?

Posted by a 11:51 pm on November 23, 2008

How do we in Somerville know that the Obama administration will be under pressure to cave to corporations? I couldn’t say it any better than Derrick Jackson did in the Globe…


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Posted in Government Reform, Politics | 1 Comment »

Legislative Workshop Thursday

Posted by a 10:44 am on November 18, 2008

You’re invited to a Legislative Workshop I’ll be holding on Thursday, November 20 from 7PM to 8:30PM at the Somerville Public Library, at 79 Highland Ave, Somerville.


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Posted in Announcements, Events, Government Reform | No Comments »

Not Far Enough on the Rule of Law

Posted by a 9:23 am on November 14, 2008

Somerville went heavily for Obama in the last election. Now we have to push him to make good on some of his promises; where he doesn’t go far enough, to go further; where he is silent, to speak up and act; and where he is wrong, to change.


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Posted in Government Reform, Immigration, Politics | No Comments »

Testimony at the Charter Reform Hearing

Posted by a 8:56 am on November 13, 2008

This past Monday, the Charter Advisory Committee held a public hearing … Perhaps the most frequent themes of testimony were · Opposition to the appointment (instead of election) of School Committee members · Filling Vacancies on the BOA / Instant Runoff Voting as the means of


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Posted in Government Reform | 5 Comments »

Charter Advisory Committee – Background & Recommendations

Posted by a 8:49 am on

In April 2008, Mayor Curtatone convened a Charter Advisory Committee “to examine the City of Somerville’s current municipal charter and make recommendations aimed at modernizing city government.” (snip) After a series of meetings between June and early November, the Committee held a public hearing on Monday, November 10 to present and receive comments about its preliminary recommendations…


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Posted in Government Reform | No Comments »

JOE THE MAYOR’S IRRESOLUTE PLEDGE

Posted by a 12:11 am on November 12, 2008

On Martin Luther King day, January 15, 2006, during his introduction to invited speaker (then-candidate) MA Governor Deval Patrick in front of a full house at the East Somerville Community School, Mayor Joe Curtatone pledged to search far and wide in order to hire the very best possible staff leadership to implement the civil rights of constituents with disAbilities in Somerville… But meaningful change and independent choice still seems out of reach for some voters here in the ‘Ville.


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Posted in Accessibility, Government Reform | 1 Comment »

Charter Reform: Bill Shelton’s Thoughts, Public Hearing 11/10

Posted by a 2:30 am on November 6, 2008

In anticipation of next week’s public hearing on Charter Reform, Fred Berman and Bill Bumpus interviewed local activist Bill Shelton, who favors a City Manager form of government, as compared with our current “Strong Mayor” form of government…..


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Posted in Government Reform, Politics | 2 Comments »

City holds public hearing on 2008 Charter Committee

Posted by a 9:32 pm on November 1, 2008

The following is quoted from the City of Somerville Website PR of October 27, 2008:

The City of Somerville’s Charter…


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Posted in Announcements, Events, Government Reform | No Comments »

What to cut? How about preliminary elections?

Posted by a 1:29 am on

I just read the article in the Somerville Journal in which the aldermen discussed various ideas for trimming the city’s budget. That motivated me to write the following Letter to the Editor in favor of replacing the preliminary elections with a single election with Instant Runoff Voting.


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Posted in Government Reform | No Comments »

Dear Charter Advisory Committee: Recommend IRV

Posted by a 11:39 pm on September 15, 2008

I submitted the following letter on behalf of several individuals to the initial public comment period of the Somerville Charter Advisory Committee advocating the use of Instant Runoff Voting for municipal elections in Somerville.


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Posted in Government Reform | 4 Comments »

Charter Advisory Committee Announces Initial Public Comment Period

Posted by a 8:58 pm on September 4, 2008

Committee Urges Residents to Submit Comments on City Charter Beginning September 1st through September 8th; Comments Accepted Via Email, Mail and Voicemail


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Posted in Announcements, Government Reform | 1 Comment »

Young Somerville Advisory Group

Posted by a 12:56 pm on August 6, 2008

Attention Young Somerville,, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the City of Somerville’s Young Somerville Advisory Group announced today (7/31) that they are now accepting applications for all interested Somerville residents, ages 21-35, to serve on the Advisory Group for the 2008-2009 term.


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Posted in Government Reform | No Comments »

This morning’s Charter Advisory Meeting

Posted by a 10:52 am on

I attended another positive, constructive Charter Advisory Meeting this morning. Discussion focused on the Board of Aldermen structure (elections, terms, make up, selection of president).
Proportional representation and other changes that could increase participation and representation were discussed. All agreed that increased participation and representation are a top goal for any changes.


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Posted in Government Reform | 3 Comments »

How should Board of Aldermen be improved?

Posted by a 10:54 am on August 5, 2008

My name is Greg Nadeau and I am serving as a resident representative on the Mayor’s Charter Advisory Committee. This committee will spend 6 months developing recommendations to change the city’s charter (base constitution). All changes would need to be ratified by the Aldermen, then Legislature,then voters.

One of the questions that is being considered is the structure of the Board of Aldermen.

I would be interested if anyone on this service has had experiences with our current Alderman structure that suggest improvements to the structure(at-large vs ward, terms, committees, public participation, etc).


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Posted in Government Reform | 4 Comments »

This day in Civil Rights history

Posted by a 9:39 pm on July 25, 2008

In the first week of May 2008, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone placed a “Welcome Desk” in the foyer of City Hall that utterly disregards MA Access Building Code. [snip] It seems that yesterday’s design standards are as tenacious as yesterday’s attitudes, even today: the 18th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


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Posted in Accessibility, Government Reform | 3 Comments »

Somerville’s FY09 Budget trivializes Human Rights agenda

Posted by a 6:44 pm on July 19, 2008

I certainly agree with Barry’s post of 7/15/08 in this SomervilleVoices blog entitled, “City’s Commission Staffing Plan Hurts Human Services.” Three questions seem particularly germane to this issue: 1. Are Somerville’s municipal resources distributed equally and fairly to all residents? 2. Are all residents offered equal participation within public programs, without regard to differences in age, income, birth culture, abilities, religions, race, gender, job status, or city address? 3. Do certain Somerville residents experience social and economic inequities that would support the fuller engagement and investigation of the specialized Human Rights Commissions?


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Posted in Accessibility, Government Reform, Politics | No Comments »

City’s Commission Staffing Plan Hurts Human Services

Posted by a 12:02 pm on July 15, 2008

I share Melissa McWhinney’s concerns about the impact of the Mayor’s new commission staffing reorganization on the quality of the city’s human services. The HRC and other commissions should not have to compete with each other for staff services as they now do under the new arrangement.


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Posted in Government Reform, Politics | 1 Comment »

Ward 7 Sidewalk Access Report, Endicott to Alewife along Broadway

Posted by a 8:37 pm on June 29, 2008

If a municipality’s Bus stops are unreachable and inaccessible, due to badly built street facilities, then its residents are restricted from accessing public transportation systems, etc..For some individuals, the challenges created by these issues cause them to be nearly or fully housebound.
Do you think such quality of life issues should continue to be put off until “tomorrow?” …


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Posted in Accessibility, Government Reform, Neighborhoods and Squares, Pedestrians | 4 Comments »

National Council on DisAbility Seeks Your Input

Posted by a 11:12 pm on June 26, 2008

The National Council on Disability (NCD) is gathering public input for a study of emerging issues and trends affecting the lives of people with disabilities. Information gathered will be used in the development of NCD’s next annual progress report to the President and Congress, “National Disability Policy: A Progress Report,” which is required by Section 401(b) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.


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Posted in Accessibility, Arts and Culture, Government Reform, Health Care, Housing, Politics, Schools and Youth, Sports, Transportation, Workers' Rights | No Comments »

Intro to Instant Runoff Voting

Posted by a 5:52 am on June 21, 2008

Somerville for IRV is a group I started for exploring the benefits of Instant Runoff Voting for local elections here in Somerville. In the coming weeks, I’ll begin a series of posts that highlight the many benefits of using IRV for our municipal races, but first, let me explain what in the world IRV is.


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Posted in Government Reform | No Comments »

My application for the Charter Advisory Committee

Posted by a 8:56 pm on May 13, 2008

This would be a great way for the public to engage in a process that could impact Somerville in a big way. There are five resident seats on this committee, so I encourage you to apply and invite others who might be interested.


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Posted in Government Reform | 4 Comments »