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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
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Every election, various organizations ask City Council candidates to fill out questionnaires. Some questionnaires, while posing challenging questions, are from legitimate organizations interested in furthering public debate about important issues in Cambridge. Other questionnaires, though, are from organizations that are more interested in assisting specific candidates or furthering narrow agendas and they tend to pose questions that twist public debate in unfortunate ways.
I have posted two questionnaires below, the first of which was a valid questionnaire and which I answered, the second of which was overly slanted and did not, I feel, have a useful role to play in important public dialogue. For the second questionnaire I have included my reply, explaining why I have not responded to it.
Black Lives Matter Cambridge
City Council Endorsement
CANDIDATE NAME: Craig Kelley COMMITTEE NAME: Committee to re-elect Craig Kelley
ADDRESS: 6 St. Gerard Terrace, Cambridge, MA 02140
PHONE #: 617-354-8353 EMAIL: Craig@CraigKelley.org
EDUCATION: BA (University of Rochester), JD (BCLS), MPA (HKS)
PAST AND PRESENT COMMUNITY SERVICE OFFICES HELD: USMC infantry officer, 1984-1989, NCSC chair roughly 1995-2003, City Council 2005-present, Baldwin School Council roughly 2004-2010; Church school teacher roughly 2003-present, Cambridge School Volunteer 2008-present
CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: City Council
SPECIFIC QUALIFICATIONS FOR OFFICE: Understanding of public policy and the intersection of and the importance of effective public dialogue on ensuring effective policy implementation.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? Cambridge is a microcosm of the world. We have the same challenges in education, in wealth disparities, in public safety, in traffic mitigation, in housing prices and more that larger, more complex places like Boston, Detroit, Baltimore and so on also have but we have infinitely more resources given the scale of our challenges. If anywhere can figure out how to give a good public education to people who have historically not received one, if anyone can figure out new housing and transportation options that allow people of diverse backgrounds and incomes to live together, it’s going to be Cambridge. We have to show others that these challenges can be met. Then we can start thinking about what solutions are scalable, but first we have to have solutions.
WHAT ISSUES WILL YOU BE FOCUSING YOUR CAMPAIGN ON? I don’t have all the right answers for all our challenges. In fact, I can’t even claim to perfectly understand all the questions, given their enormous complexity. But I am committed to having honest, open and transparent discussions about the issues we face and how we might best solve them. While at the Kennedy School, I saw firsthand just what a stunningly wide variety of experts there are in the worlds of social justice, of economic reform, of transportation advocacy and of public safety and how committed so many of us are to making the world a better and more just place for everyone. Bringing more people into healthier discussions around the challenges we must face together is, for me, the first step towards making a healthier world.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER IN CAMBRIDGE AND BEYOND? WHY OR WHY NOT? When my oldest son, Robbie, was a JK 14 years ago, I met a number of young children of color, and their parents, at the school he went to. In the intervening decade-plus, I served on the school council for close to a decade, have volunteered at the High School for 7 years and have pushed for the City Council and the School Committee to more effectively work together to make sure that our educational programs, in and out of school, work for all of our kids. But when Robbie graduated this past May, I could see firsthand how I have not yet succeeded in achieving my goal. Too few of his classmates of color wore honor society sashes, too few were in the band or choral group performing in front of the audience, too few said they were going on to four year educational institutions and too many had no solid plans for their future. We knew, statistically, 14 years ago that we’d get the results we got if we didn’t suitably rethink and reinvest in public education and also improve the conversations around public education and poverty but, despite having spent over a billion dollars on educating our kids, we failed to move the needle in a meaningful way. That thought, literally, keeps me and my wife (who is a math interventionist at the Graham & Parks school) up at night. We are squandering the human potential of countless people right before our eyes and if Cambridge cannot figure out how to reverse that trend, what hope do more fiscally challenged cities have of making meaningful change. I will continue to push the need for the City Council and the School Committee to work together to give our kids, all of our kids, the education they need to succeed in today’s world.
IF ELECTED, HOW DO YOU PLAN TO MAKE SURE THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER IN CAMBRIDGE? WHICH BLACK LIVES MATTER ISSUES WILL YOU AGREE TO WORK ON? Education is critical to success for everyone, but people of color are all too often on the wrong end of the educational success spectrum. We need to change that, to give students of color the foundational education they, like everyone else, need to succeed in the 21st century. I am not only talking about formal education in a classroom, but also about life skills such as becoming a proficient public speaker, a creative artist, an engaging advocate. I’m talking about creating the conditions in and out of school necessary for academic success, about having a police department and a Housing Authority and a Health Alliance and a youth center program and a library system, in fact, having an entire City that constantly sends the message to all of us that education of all sorts is important.
Our schools, as important as they are in educating our children, are not the only parties responsible for educational success. The basis for many of life’s skills and a successful education begins with a healthy home environment and good pre-school opportunities and continues through effective K-12 educational opportunities and then beyond. Through Baby-U and other programs, Cambridge addresses some of these issues but we need to do more. I remain committed to working with City staff, early childhood specialists, educational professionals, housing professionals, employment professionals, CPS staff, public safety professionals and anyone else who wants to be a part of these discussions to improve educational success among people of color. With a good education, in and out of school, the world offers so many opportunities that are simply not available for those without such an education.
Black Livelihoods Matter
Black LGBTQQI People Matter
CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR NAME: Justin Hartley
ADDRESS: 6 St. Gerard Terrace, Cambridge, MA
PHONE #: 617-909-9513 EMAIL: KelleyCambridge2015@gmail.com
Dear Ms. Rieman:
Having thoroughly reviewed the CRA’s 2015 Cambridge City Council questionnaire, we have chosen not to respond to it because we do not believe a questionnaire that is so focused on overly-simple ‘yes/no’ and ‘check the block’ style answers with limited text options furthers useful public dialogue about the important issues facing Cambridge, and its voters, this election season.
We would be delighted to answer a questionnaire that gives voters an opportunity to read our considered responses to its questions without such a focus on simplified “yes/no” or “check the block” answers. Such a questionnaire would, we feel, add value to the public debate about Cambridge’s future in a way that your current questionnaire does not.
Should the CRA prepare a useful questionnaire such as we describe above, please distribute it for our responses.
2015 Cambridge Residents Alliance Questionnaire
for Cambridge City Council Candidates
Please complete and return to Shelley Rieman <email@example.com> by Tuesday, September 8th. This form can be filled in by clicking on the box next to your answer or filling in text in the area provided. Then save and return as an attachment. CResA will share the answers with its more than one thousand members and post them on our website. If you have questions, you can contact Nancy Ryan: firstname.lastname@example.org; 617-868-1334 (h); 617-642-5449 (c).
NAME: Click here to enter text.
1. City Manager Appointment Process: A central responsibility of the City Council under the Plan E form of government is the appointment of a City Manager. The current City Manager’s contract ends on June 30, 2016, nine months from now. He was appointed without a public search process.
1A. Will you advocate for and support a public, national search process, similar to that being conducted for the school superintendent, that would commence as soon as the new City Council is seated in January, 2016 that would include the current City Manager if he desires to be reappointed?
YES☐ NO ☐
1B. Will you advocate for and support an evaluation of the current City Manager’s performance that utilizes an outside consultant and includes public input?
YES ☐ NO ☐
2. Affordable Housing and Inclusionary Zoning: The Cambridge Residents Alliance (CResA) considers affordable*, family-size housing a top priority to preserve racial and economic diversity and fairness in Cambridge, and, therefore, has several proposals to increase affordable housing and middle-income family housing.
2A. CResA proposes the Zoning Ordinance be changed to require that inclusionary zoning result in a minimum total of 25% affordable housing, instead of the current 15% (which becomes 11.5% after bonus units are added). Of this 25%, CRA proposes that 20% of the units should be set aside for low- and moderate-income residents and 5% should be for middle-income residents (see definitions at end).
Do you support this proposal? YES ☐ NO ☐
Do you support a lower percent? WHAT %? Click here to enter text.
Do you support a higher percent? WHAT%? Click here to enter text.
2B. CResA proposes the Zoning Ordinance be changed to require that all middle-income inclusionary units be family-sized two or three bedroom units.
Do you support this proposal? YES ☐ NO ☐
3. Affordable Housing and Incentive Zoning or “Linkage Fees”: A 2015 Nexus Study found that certain new commercial developments in Cambridge should pay $24.30 per square foot (a “linkage fee”) to the Affordable Housing Trust to offset the increased need for residential housing caused by the developments. The City Council is considering a proposal to set the fee at $12/ sq. ft. with an increase of $1 per year for 3 years.
3A. What linkage fee per square foot do you support for 2015?
A) $12 ☐ B) $15 ☐ C) $20 ☐ D) $24.30 ☐
3B. Because it is hard to find funds to build new affordable housing, CResA proposes that up to 50% of any new linkage funds be dedicated to preserving “expiring use” residences and at least 50% to creation of new low- and moderate-income housing. What percent of linkage funds would you dedicate to creation of new low- and moderate-income housing?
A) at least 50% ☐ B) 30% ☐ C) 10% ☐ D) there should be no fixed amount ☐
3C. The increased linkage funds can be used for low, moderate, or middle income housing. Middle income people have many more housing opportunities than do low and moderate income families, who are especially threatened with being forced out of Cambridge, according to the Nexus study.
Would you support setting the maximum amount of linkage funds that can be used for middle income rental housing at:
A) 5% ☐ B) 20% ☐ C) 40% ☐ D) unlimited ☐
4. Increasing Height and Density for Significant Benefit to the Community: Zoning laws exist to protect the quality of life for a city’s residents. The CResA proposes that additional height and density should be approved only when a significant benefit to the community can be proven. We strongly oppose the practice of granting zoning increases or variances or special permits when there is no proven significant benefit..
4A. For a residential building to be considered a “significant benefit,” what % over existing zoning (currently 15% that with bonus units becomes an actual 11.5%) should be affordable housing?
A) 15% ☐ B) 20% ☐ C) 40% ☐ D) 70% or more ☐ E) None ☐
4B. If a larger development project applies for significant height and/or density over the current zoning, should the developer be required to provide a higher percent of affordable housing that increases in proportion to the increased square feet? (Possible example: building under current zoning must provide 15% affordable housing; building that is twice as big as current zoning provides 30% affordable housing.)
YES ☐ NO ☐
5. 100% Affordable Housing on City-owned Land: The City has discussed selling city-owned land such as parking lots to developers. The CResA has proposed that the city should retain ownership of any public land and parking lots, and find ways to develop the land with 95% low- and moderate- income housing and 5% middle-income housing, while keeping up to 25% of the total area for open space.
5A. Do you support this proposal?
YES ☐ NO ☐
5B. Should the city use tax dollars along with other subsidies to create this housing?
YES ☐ NO ☐
6. Priority for the Community Development Department (CDD): Historically the Community Development Department has directed much of its resources to support programs and policies for developers. The CResA thinks that the focus for the new director of CDD and the department should be to prioritize data, research and creative ideas for affordability and sustainability and that support livability for Cambridge families.
6A. Would you advocate for CDD to begin in January, 2016 to develop, as part of the citywide master planning process, a data-based Housing Plan that includes how many units are needed and for what income levels? YES ☐ NO ☐
6B. Would you advocate for guidelines that direct the Community Development Department to prioritize community interests?
YES ☐ NO ☐
7. University Housing for Students: With Cambridge housing in such high demand and short supply, CResA believes MIT must supply more housing for its 5000-plus graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who live off-campus. This population competes for limited housing and puts pressure on the housing market while driving up rents. Now MIT proposes to build 1.2 million square feet of new office, lab and housing in Kendall Square, with only 740 apartments to serve a combination of students/fellows, qualified affordable tenants and market rate tenants.
The City should give no further approval to any project proposed on land owned or controlled by MIT until such time as MIT presents a plan and timetable for housing 50% of graduates and post-doctoral fellows on its own land.
7A. Do you support this proposal? YES ☐ NO ☐
7B. Do you support a different % of its students/fellows that MIT should house?
WHAT % Click here to enter text.
8. Master Planning and Neighborhood Protection: How strongly do you feel that the citywide master plan should include specific steps to ensure that the "edge" area between large developments and adjacent residential neighborhoods will protect the neighborhood's scale, character, and current ethnic, racial, and socio-economic mix?
AGREE ☐ SOMEWHAT AGREE ☐ THIS ISSUE IS NOT A PRIORITY ☐ DISAGREE ☐
9. Maintaining Strong Inclusive Public Schools: As housing has become more expensive, Cambridge has lost over half of its low and moderate income families with children, which means less of an income mix in our public school population (as well as less racial diversity). Would you advocate that the Citywide Master Plan for Cambridge include goals regarding the residential makeup of Cambridge that are aimed at retaining and improving the socio-economic diversity of the Cambridge Public Schools?
YES ☐ NO ☐
10. Racial Diversity and Economic Justice: Cambridge's racial and ethnic diversity, particularly for members of Cambridge's historic communities of color, is being eroded. These communities, rather than benefitting from the city’s enormous economic growth, are left out of the high-paying jobs and leadership positions in nearly every sector of recent development.
10A. Would you actively support a review of hiring and promotion practices in Cambridge, in both the public and private sectors, that identifies the employers who use the best practices for increasing racial and ethnic diversity?
YES ☐ NO ☐
10B. Would you actively support a comprehensive analysis of policies and practices in Cambridge that address experiences of discrimination that are defined by and have affected communities of color?
YES ☐ NO ☐
11. Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability: Buildings account for 82% of Cambridge's emissions, and transportation accounts for 17%. The 2014/2015 Getting to Net Zero Task Force was very successful in creating a clear plan for the city to reduce our building emissions by at least 70% over the next 25 years. While the city’s planning efforts regarding vehicle emissions have been successful in reducing parking and vehicle miles traveled and increasing bicycle and pedestrian friendliness and travel, emissions from vehicles will also need to be reduced drastically through a comparable plan.
11A. Would you support the full implementation of the Net Zero Task Force recommendations on an expedited timetable?
YES ☐ NO ☐
11B. Would you help lead the creation of a Net Zero Transportation Task Force to establish a plan for transportation emissions reductions?
YES ☐ NO ☐
11C. Will you support the specific conservation standards in the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment study for development that address the particular geographical and climate vulnerabilities of Cambridge and may go beyond the current minimal state and federal regulations?
YES ☐ NO ☐
12. Good Government and Campaign Contributions: Cambridge is facing unprecedented pressure from large real estate developers bringing forward projects of 50,000 square feet or more for concessions to build millions of square feet of new construction that will affect overall livability, health and affordability of our community. Large developers have made donations to many City Council candidates.
To ensure public confidence in all City Council decisions, will you refuse campaign donations from large corporate real estate interests that are seeking zoning and other relief before the City Council or City boards? YES ☐ NO ☐
13. Feel free to submit any comments below - maximum 300 words to clarify any answers.
Click here to enter text.
*“Affordable housing” means incomes below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The City of Cambridge says 80% of AMI for a family of four is $75,520. For other family sizes, see http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/housing/resourcesandadditionalinformation/housingprogramincomelimits.aspx
*Middle-income is defined as 80-120% of AMI. Cambridge says for a family of four, 120% of AMI is $113,280. However, Cambridge provides assistance to households with up to 100% of AMI to buy homeownership units. Cambridge says for a family of four, 100% of AMI is $94,400. The Cambridge Residents Alliance supports providing homeownership assistance for families with up to 100% of AMI.
Please complete and return to Shelley Rieman <email@example.com> by Tuesday, September 8, 2015