From Greenpeace, Craig moved on to Boston College Law School, where he served as Chair of the Environmental Law Society. Craig graduated cum laude in 1993 and earned the Susan B. Desmaris award for Public Service Achievement and Leadership for his work on environmental issues at school.
Following law school, Craig became an environmental consultant, married Hope (whom he met while she was biking with a cast on her leg) and, eventually, moved from a Porter Square apartment to a small house in North Cambridge. He served as the Chair or Vice-chair of the North Cambridge Stabilization Committee from 1996 to 2005, wrote the environmental grant that resulted in the founding of Alewife Neighbors, Inc. and played a major part in revitalizing the Sierra Club's Boston Inner City Outings program. He has served in various leadership positions for the local chapter of the Sierra Club, was on the Baldwin school’s School Advisory Council from 2004-2012, chaired the City Council’s traffic subcommittee for six years and currently chairs both the Veterans and the Public Safety subcommittees.
Craig is an avid cyclist (he was The Ride's September, 2005 "Supercommuter of the Month.") and is the author of an environmental thriller and an environmental textbook. He is a trained asbestos assessor and is qualified in hazardous material response operations.
2nd Priority: Cambridge Public Schools must be improved to the point where everyone is willing to send their kids to our public schools. Far too many families are selling their Cambridge homes and moving to Belmont, Arlington, Brookline and Newton. As a result, our both our City and our public schools are becoming less economically diverse. This is not an issue that rests solely with the School Department, though. CPS only has our children six hours a day, 180 days a year. The rest of us- to include the public libraries, the Department of Human Services Programs, large landlords, the Police Department and the regular public- must also learn to work together to create an environment where all of our children learn to value and benefit from a public education.
3rd Priority: Managing the growth of the City budget and not overextending long-term debt are crucial to keeping tax payments as low as possible. Despite large increases in Cambridge's budget in the past several years, our traffic and parking problems are still horrendous, many of our neighborhoods are feeling squeezed by over-development and our schools continue to have far too many students who fail to meet their academic potential. The Council, the City Manager and the School Committee cannot continue to spend money (in some cases, like our aggressive school construction program, vast amounts of money) without a clearer understanding and explanation of how those expenditures will make Cambridge a better place to live, work and visit. If we need to increase funding for programs, it should be done in a thoughtful manner that furthers a better understanding of what we are getting for our money.
Quality of Life and Public Safety:
Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
Government and Elections:
Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
The City must listen to its residents. The people who live in our neighborhoods know more about traffic patterns parking problems, density issues and how important the local Laundromat is than any panel of City-hired experts.
Cambridge residents know that people will bike around town when it really is safe to do so, not simply because the City painted some lines on a few roads. Locals know that large housing developments make it tougher to find parking on nearby streets unless we find creative ways to have density without bringing in new cars.
The City should also explore other types of housing and transportation options than what is currently pushed on our zoning codes. Allowing denser development if a project's residents are not allowed on-street parking stickers is a possible option, recently adopted by MIT and also followed by Harvard in one of its student dormitory projects.
Most of all, I will try, as hard as I can, to make my peers understand that our neighborhoods are fragile and the City must support them in every way it possibly can.
Human Services Programs:
Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
The City's open space is not "free." Whether it is a park or a community garden, our green space is precious and must be valued accordingly in any city decision. Once this land is built on - be it for housing, health care or educational uses- it will never be available as open space again. The City must give this open space the value it warrants.
When it comes to traffic, it is important that we minimize the exhaust from cars and trucks idling at our intersections and clogging our streets. First and foremost, we must get people out of their cars, making alternative or public transportation a more attractive alternative to the people who live and work in our town. The City Council could set a wonderful example by eliminating its own reserved parking spots behind City Hall. Once our elected officials start relying on mass transit or biking toe meetings, it seems very likely we'll see an improvement in transit service and safer roads and sidewalks for all of us.
We all must also remember that Cambridge is a City with a very industrial history. Working with others, I helped obtain tens of thousands of dollars to help monitor remediation work at the contaminated W.R. Grace site in North Cambridge. Alongside other neighborhood advocates, against the will of the City, I helped prove that not only was the Grace site contaminated with asbestos, but so was nearby City-owned playing fields. As a result of this discovery, and lots of hard work by the neighborhood and former Councilor Triantafillou, Cambridge now has an asbestos protection ordinance that will help minimize the public's exposure to this dangerous fiber.
Few things are as important as providing housing for Cambridge residents who can't afford it. But there is a limit, financially, to what the City can do and without any sort of formal policy in this regard, it is not possible to decide whether the City is spending its housing resources wisely. The city must do a better job of ensuring that government-subsidized housing is also decent, desirable housing, not simply housing of last resort. Affordable units, to include limited equity condos purchased with City assistance, should be scattered across the City in ones, twos and threes, not concentrated in economically segregated areas.
Further, while the City can only do so much to provide affordable housing, it can, and should, do a much better job of making sure the inhabitants of our affordable housing units receive an education that will, in future years, allow them to compete successfully for high-paying jobs and market rate housing. This is goal that can only be met if all sectors of our City work together to help create the sort of environment that supports and values education at all levels.
As your Councilor, I will continue to work to:
Arts and Public Celebrations:
And the Foundry Building in East Cambridge should become a model for housing neighborhood-based non-profit and arts organizations.
That being said, the power of these universities to change our City with their massive development plans is very intimidating. Whether it be Harvard wanting to build on the Charles River or Lesley planning to expand in Porter Square or MIT rethinking the future of the Kendall Square area, far too many parts of Cambridge face disquieting university expansion challenges. While there is no perfect solution, the City should continue to work on getting universities to be taxed as the corporations they essentially are. When it comes to constructing dorms or research labs, local universities are more like well-funded developers than they are benign non-profits and the relevant planning discussion should consider them as such. Land owned by, or coveted by, these universities should be zoned to protect local neighborhoods just as if any other developer were interesting in building there and variances should be granted over community opposition only with great care.
Interagency 'favors' should continue as is. For example, the universities provide assistant teachers for our schools. Cambridge allows street closures for university events. This arrangement is not exactly a quid pro quo, but simply a reflection of the belief that everyone, and everything, co-exists in Cambridge and we all should do our best to accommodate and help each other. These positive aspects of Cambridge's relationship with its universities should continue even as we explore ways to ensure that these institutions of higher learning are fulfilling their own civic responsibilities.
For starters, participation on City Boards and Committees should be expanded beyond the current core group from which the City Manager has traditionally picked members. The long-term effect of the City Manager's close control over Board appointments is that the general public has begun to view these public forums as uneven contests between developers and impacted neighborhoods.
A second, and very easy, thing the City Council should do is to follow its rules without the constant suspensions for Late Orders, extended speaking opportunities or missed votes. And the Council should start televising its meetings at the advertised start time, showing the empty chamber if a quorum has not arrived at City Hall in time to start promptly. And while the public is speaking, the Councilors should be in their seats, paying attention, not in the room next door eating dinner. Few things discourage civic participation more than taking the time to go to City Hall to speak at a Council meeting only to find just one or two, if that many, of the Councilors are paying the slightest attention to what the public is saying.
Finally, and perhaps most important, the City Council and all City officials should avoid using harsh or hurtful language in public. Insulting or belittling citizens who are simply voicing their opinions is harmful to the public dialogue. Opinions can, and should, be expressed clearly, but there is no need to be offensive when doing so.
Cambridge Public Schools:
The plan for excellent education must be more than simply merging or closing schools and extending the school day.
My wife, Hope, and I have been happy with virtually every aspect of our children's public school education thus far, (we have 11th and 8th grade boys), but it is clear that many students, perhaps most especially those in the middle school grades, need the Cambridge Public School system to challenge them more. It is equally clear that many other CPS students are not succeeding academically. This "performance gap" threatens to overwhelm our schools and needs immediate attention through a planning process that is based on sound educational policies, effective classroom management and school climate programs and appropriate teacher and staff training and support.
AS CITY COUNCILLOR, I WILL CONTINUE TO
Work to ensure that the City Council passes a budget that provides our Public Schools with the funds they need to educate our children to reach their highest personal potentials.
Promote healthy neighborhoods, through zoning reform, appropriate affordable housing creation and child-friendly streets--neighborhoods that will support a vibrant school system.
|Page last updated Saturday, September 14, 2013 2:07 PM||Cambridge Candidates|