Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Respect for Law, Harvard University and the City of Cambridge

Bob La Trémouille reports:

A. Bad Guy #1.
B. Roy Bercaw.
C. Bad Guy #2.
D. Response of Roy Bercaw.
E. Bad Guy #1 again.
F. Roy Bercaw.
G. Terry McKay - Which side is Bad Guy on?
H. Your Editor.

The following exchange occurred on a local listserve. I am not positive what the omissions refer to. The omissions are not from me. Passed on because I like Roy’s and Terry's input, obviously.

This report has expanded and expanded as good comments have come from good guys. The bad guy comments are reported to maintain context. I have kept in some comments by me which are now dated, once again to provide context.

Based on comments from Jeff Manzelli, I have added some commas to Roy's input, corrected one or two spellings and split one run-together sentence. Thank you Jeff.

Actually I think I made one comparable edit to Bad Guy #2 as well, and I may have corrected a spelling in Bad Guy #1.

It should be noted that, as of this point (February 15), at least three other people have jumped on Bad Guy #1. I am getting tired of this line and this entry really has gotten as large as I want it to get.

It, however, is a very major item of pleasure to me to see so many people doing so much good on that listserve right now. Roy Bercaw deserves very major praise for his efforts.

[Added 2/16/07] I gave in. Item H is my response to all the nice comments, with a couple of edits.

A. Bad Guy #1.

1. The complaints about the former Mahoney's site and Radisson sound similarly overblown. [Ed. The Mahoney’s site is a Harvard project going up just west of Western Avenue on the North Side of Memorial Drive. Truly outrageous stunts were pulled to obtain an upzoning there a few years ago. The Radisson site received its own upzoning last year, I believe. It is across from the Magazine Beach Swimming Pool. The usual characters ran around getting both upzonings, although the latter featured a smaller number of the usual characters] [...]

2. The Allston opponents of Harvard expansion will never be satisfied. If the sites were going to be developed privately rather than by Harvard, there would be similar "noise, air, and visual pollution," without a lengthy public meeting and comment process. [...]

3. Stem cell research and other biological research is actually not that controversial, especially in Massachusetts, and concerns about protests or threats are both unlikely and premature, given the early planning stage.

4. Harvard has dozens of plans out, newspaper articles, websites, meetings, etc. but apparently that is not enough for them to be considered "forthcoming. "

B. Roy Bercaw.

1. The legal process for the Mahoney's site was corrupted about 22 times. The Open Meetings Law was violated about 20 times. The permanent easement for the land under Hingham Street was transferred to Harvard before the City complied with the Procurement Act, another state law violation. The City's ordinance on transferring city land to a private person was ignored because of Harvard's offer of affordable housing.

2. Harvard is a private developer. All developers must go through a public process. What rules are you thinking about?

3. Like stem cell research abortion, is not controversial in Massachusetts. Yet there are regular protests.

4. The idea of Harvard being forthcoming depends upon the beholder, like beauty. Historically they never made neighbors aware of their plans. It is a major reason for much of the distrust among Cambridge residents. It is why at University Relations Committee meetings the facilitator bars negative comments, preventing the search for truth and any ability to correct past abuses.

C. Bad Guy #2.

1. Let's keep recall Cambridge is what is is mostly because of Harvard. Denying that would be a stretch.

2. Not sure about the details of how the legal processes were corrupted or which laws were violated, but it would be great if specifics could be provided. Otherwise, the comments are likely to be dismissed as zany opinion, at least by this member. [...]

3. I kind of liken it to the way President Clinton responded about his use of marijuana or his relations with "that woman." [...] I'd understand if Harvard were to do the same.

4. Anyway, I think Cambridge is such a thriving city in part becuase of Harvard and MIT and the trickle down effects [...]

Thank you.

[Bad Guy #2]

D. Response of Roy Bercaw.

1. Now that the working class has been forced out of Cambridge, and all of the factories have left and are being converted into upscale condos, yes, Harvard and MIT and the Biotech companies are what remains of Cambridge. But the charm and the safety is also gone replaced by uncaring yuppies who worship Harvard and MIT and the Biotech companies. That is not what made Cambridge unique.

2. If I took the time to repeat all of the details, the "member" would also think of it as "zany." So let's save my time, and leave him with his fantasy view of the legal process between Harvard and the city facilitators.

3. Actually the comparison of Harvard to Clinton's follies is a good one for different reasons. Until Summers resigned, five top administrators were former Clinonistas. If I don't name them for you will you think that is "zany" also?

4. "Trickle down effects?" Now that's a great system of sharing that always worked in this country.

E. Bad Guy #1 again.

[Ed. I have had past experiences with Bad Guy #1 in the past in which he kept tossing in personal insult after personal insult after personal insult.

[I find Bad Guy #1's subsequent response falling into the same level of lack of meaning, but Roy responded to it again. I will not follow this line any more. If we get constructive add-on's, I will further amend. Otherwise, this is it.]


1. And? If whatever they supposedly did was so egregious, why didn't you and all of the other frequent opponents do something about it then?

2. Harvard voluntarily has gone above and beyond what is required of it and what the average private developer does.

3. Abortion is much more controversial than stem cell research, in Massachusetts and everywhere else. Have you ever seen a stem cell research protest at a research lab in Massachusetts?

4. I have yet to see anything of much benefit come out of these meetings, certainly not the "search for truth," as you called it, and I am rather busy, so I generally don't have time to attend. This also goes to Carolyn's very fair point about my anonymity, but I don't believe understanding these local issues requires first-person interaction and attendance at every community meeting.

F. Roy Bercaw.

1. At Harvard and other institutions, there are well-paid men and women who spend their time teaching people like you history. There are as you may have noticed many different versions of history. Seldom are the official versions accurate. But it usually takes 50 or 100 years for the truth to be revealed.

2. You report Harvard's version of history. Harvard promotes your version and denies all others.

3. You report your version of what is more controversial.

4. No one else is busy. In fact all of us have nothing to do, so we go to meetings and then we make up stories for others about what happened at the meetings. If you weren't there we can say what we want because you are too busy to check. And anyway those of us who don't have anything else to do, we represent you and all the others who are too busy to go to the meetings. Sometimes, we get 150 votes each because so few people show up.

That is what we did in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. You didn't listen when Woody Allen said, 90 percent of life is just showing up. I always show up because I'm never busy. I'm bored and never have anything to do.

I never sleep either, no time, too many meetings. I just wait for people who are too busy so I can tell them all of what happened over the past five years at the meetings so they don't have to attend.

Thanks for explaining what happened and what we should do for you. We are here to serve you better.

Roy Bercaw, Editor
ENOUGH ROOM P.O. Box 400297
Cambridge MA 02140 USA [...]

G. Terry McKay - Which side is Bad Guy on?

[Ed. I said the above was the last one. Well, I will try this for the last. Paragraphing added by ed.]

It's curious to me that some on this listserve feel that we (the commuity) should feel beholden to Harvard University and sit holding our breath....for the 'trickle down' of good things that come when a major University is within ones community. We should be happy that Harvard gobbles up any and every parcel of land that it can get its hand on and then proceeds to overdevelop it...frequently as the powers that be at Harvard smile and tell the community "we will work with you...this will be good for your neighborhood. "

Well Mr. Listserve individual (who shall remain un-named)some of us have been around long enough to know how things really work when Harvard is involved. And although it may be hard to comprehend, some of us have nothing at all to do with Harvard and are not so impressed with this University and its tactics. Some are concerned about something called 'quality of life' and how the areas that we inhabit are effected by things such as overdevelopment, benefit to the community as a whole, affordable housing, parking,etc. This is why we take time out of our busy lives (yes, we're busy too)and try to keep tabs on what is happening within our community and how it will effect us.

Your being on this listserve would suggest that you too care about the community in some way but your words suggest something else....curious?

Terry McKay

H. Your editor.

I have done a lot of leafletting at the Destroyed Nesting Area.

You will recall that Boston University, in October 1999, as agent for the DCR/MDC destroyed the nesting area of the Charles River White Geese. They started their actions BEFORE a meeting of the Cambridge Conservation Commission to discuss it. BU then DENIED doing the destruction until the CCC condemned their destruction. BU then blamed all the false denials of the secretary to their president.

It was a pleasure talking to normal people at the Destroyed Nesting Area, and most people were normal people. They sounded strikingly different from TWO people telling us how great Harvard is.

Then there were several people who sounded strikingly similar to the TWO people telling us how great Harvard is.

Oh, these people sounded so terrific. They would toss out one piece of nonsense after another piece of nonsense after a piece of blatant insults at the geese.

They would offer to resolve all our problems with fast solutions which sounded so great, unless you knew what they were really talking about.

I have seen people with similar smoothness destroy citizen zoning initiative after citizen zoning initiative. They always sound so great, and they are always so destructive.

I have read the thread of the responses to the TWO people who tell us how great Harvard is.

I have counted with pleasure the many people who have stood up to the TWO.

Thank you to all of you.