Wednesday, May 16, 2007

“Neighborhood Association” Honors Bureaucrat Who Shafted Neighborhood.

Bob La Trémouille reports:

1. Introduction.
2. Announcement of Intended Presentation.
3. Reality, my response.
4. Marilyn's Response.

1. Introduction.

The announcement in section 2 was sent to the Cambridgeport listserve. The author has been censoring communications on the listserve as stated below, with apparent emphasis on protecting the Upzoning Which Destroyed Zoning Protections on Memorial Drive.

The core group of this group has made very pious comments about how unreasonable is the expansion of the hotel next to Trader Joe’s and across from Magazine Beach.

What they do not want people to hear is that the unreasonable expansion was made legal by an upzoning whose advocates claimed they were fighting for to protect Memorial Drive. The advocates told people that their very destructive upzoning did EXACTLY the opposite of what is done by fine print they did not tell people about.

This outrage is part of a series of related upzonings which related individuals have fought for over the past ten years. It is a standard package. These upzonings are always written by city employees. These upzonings more often than not include secret fine print which does the opposite of key claimed benefits (or interrelate with fine print sneaked into the zoning ordinance before with the same result).

The key city employee in this continuing outrage has been invited to talk to the group, without mentioning his record or his part in the false statements made to destroy zoning protections on Memorial Drive.

Comments which accurately describe the fake downzonings have been suppressed from the listserve.

Some comments favorable to certain people (yours truly) have been suppressed on the list serve, no matter now true. The censor finds my reality based comments unacceptable and thus finds comments favorable to me unacceptable.

The announcement in section 3 was sent to the Cambridgeport Free List, a list I created to counter the censorship.

2. Announcement of Intended Presentation.

Titled: "Get Smart!" Come to the Monthly CNA Meeting!

[omitted] wrote:
From: [omitted]
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 20:33:55 -0000
Subject: [cportneighbors] Get Smart! Come to the Monthly CNA Meeting!

If you are wondering whether modern glass buildings will be the new face of Memorial Drive from River Street to Magazine Street, you need to come to the monthly Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association meeting.

If you want to know what the most accident-prone intersections are in Cambridgeport, you should also come to this meeting. The Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association will hold that monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at the Woodrow Wilson Court apartment community room on Fairmont Street from 7 to 9 pm.

Les Barber, from Community Development, will present an overview of Cambridgeport zoning, and address CNA concerns about overdevelopment, specifically within the Memorial Drive Overlay District.

Susanne Rasmussen, also of Community Development, will address traffic and transportation issues in light of the recently conducted "hot spots" survey on the CNA list serv.

And we'll hear the latest news on the CNA's Dana Park Party for June 9th.

Bring a friend! See you then.

3. Reality, my response.

We have had flat out censorship by the listserve, [censor’s name omitted to protect the guilty] apparently, for the purpose of keeping the outrageous upzoning that the Development Department wrote.

Now, rather than kill this outrage, we are told that we should pay obeisance to the author who, as usual, FAILED TO INFORM of the fine print which destroyed his lovely and FALSE promises.

Why believe the author of this outrage?

Why does the chief censor give credibility to the author of this outrage after belligerently censoring objections to the outrage while allowing attacks on the principal person standing up to the outrage? [Ed. Badly worded. Big brother clearly censored favorable comments about me.]

And why is swallowing further nonsense from a proven misleader supposed to be "smart?"

FALSE promises belied by undisclosed fine print is not somebody it is "smart" to listen to, especially since the behavior is part of a long-standing package.

4. Marilyn's Response.

[Ed. This was printed on the Cambridgeport Listserve. The fact that it has been printed indicates to me that the bad guys who control the organization figure that their censorship has successfully squelched the indignation of their victims.

[So now they can resume giving the impression that they are the good guys.]

Dear Neighbors

Soon after the Planning Board vote on the Radisson, I sent this to the Cport list. Possibly through some error of mine, it wasn't posted. Time and topics move on, and we're all busy, so I didn't follow up. However, as the issue is on the agenda for tomorrow night's meeting, I resubmit this, slightly revised:

Given the law about special permits, it was almost certain the Planning Board would vote as it did on the Radisson. Given the Board's history, it's not surprising it seemed contemptuous of the public, as several neighbors commented.

The City Council has sprinkled special permits throughout the zoning ordinance. To gain immediate advantage in any one zoning issue, affected neighbors have chosen to believe the special permits are either 1.) good in themselves because they talk about design issues or the like; and 2.) the price they have to pay to get the immediate benefit at issue.

The most recent example of this was the provision for Planning Board special permits in projects less than 50,000 SF in Bus-A2 zones, I believe, as a condition for adequate setbacks of development parcels along North Mass Ave. where they abut residential zones. I think the vote was in March this year.

The special permit provision will come back to bite, as the ones in the Memorial Drive Overlay District did at the Radisson and will do again. But by the time that special permit does in North Cambridge, people will have forgotten warnings about special permits and their own agreement to them for the reasons given above--as we've seen on Memorial Drive.

Neighborhoods expend a great deal of misplaced time and energy at the Planning Board. Accountability for special permits and the tangible benefits they deliver to developers rests with the City Council. The Council has been happy to pass off hard choices between developers and neighborhoods in regular zoning (where they are forced to a public vote) to the discretion of the Manager's appointees on the Board. It is the Councillors who collude in this expansion of Manager's and Planning Board's powers at the expense of the Council's own accountability.

All the wheel-spinning at Planning Board hearings exhausts residents' political energies and diminishes the life of the city. These are significant costs as well.

Nevertheless, people seem to like things as they are and re-elect, time and again, the Councillors who insulate themselves from public accountability. When the special permits are granted and the building in question is done, who will remember the Overlay District, Area of Planning Concern, or whatever category its special permits fall into? Or who spoke in their favor, or who voted for them?

Marilyn Wellons