Saturday, March 31, 2007

Veneer of Civility

Recently the debate about continued censorship of submissions to the list serve of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association has heated up again, after a rash of posts were refused, and one lovely and well respected lady was coerced into apologising for stating her (very polite) opinion about development in lower Cambridgeport.

Several of my posts have been rejected, and I have often been called a liar in so many words by none other that the President of the CNA as well as other CNA board members, and then not allowed to respond with documented evidence of facts supporting my submissions, therby allowing list serve members to be mis informed at the whim of the list serve moderators and CVA board.

Board members reqularly talk trash, make false accusations, and even call people "paraniod" etc, when views and opinions posted differ from their own, and allow other list serve members to bash those with different opinions, even when it breaks the rules. The Board then attempts to instruct others on "civil discourse" and how to be a "good neighbor."

Recently I had to inform the president of the CNA that if my submission was not posted I would post it on my blog, send it a a letter to the editor to the Chronicle and post it in Dana Park. After a standoff, my submission was posted.

A board member, who moderates the list serve recently posted this re censorship on the CNA list serve in response to many, and I repete many complaints of censorship of ideas under the guise of breaking the rules...

I would not characterize what the moderators of this list are doing as censorship. But if that's the word some would like to use, so be it.

The only motivation of rejecting certain posts is to conform with the purpose of this list is as stated on the home page: "This group is designed to be a forum for issues related to the Cambridgeport Neighborhood. Issues of note include
development, community meetings and/or events, crime alerts, etc."That shouldn't be confusing. It is a forum to share information pertinent to the neighborhood, and to discuss in a civil manner those issues.

The list must not serve as a forum where individuals are insulted. If that is how a member decides to write
in a posting, that post may be rejected.

Marco Werman

Here is my most recent submission, and which breaks no rules. It has not been posted, even though many others submitted after I submitted mine were posted. Now, why would this be? When the list serve announced it would delay posting submissions to make sure the one per day limit was observed, it promised no censorship. Now many posts are censored, and for no way for list serve mambers to see just what is not allowed. In fact, my most recent submission discusses, in a most civil way, the dangers of censorship in a democracy.

The Veneer Of Civility

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 08:46:48 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kathryn Podgers
Subject: Veneer of Civility

Hi Folks, genuine civility being rare, some adopt a veneer of civility to promote their adgenda, even to the detriment or the community. Surely, there must be a forum, in a democracy, where the open exchamge of ideas is not only "permitted" but welcome. Free Speech is not the issue, the issue is self government. Not exclusive cliques excluding others by invoking arcane "rules" under a veneer of civility, which hides the basest of all human weakness, the notion that "I am your better, because I have a better education, more money, bigger car, more esteemed title." And excluding others using the veneer of civility in group settings by projecting onto others, that they are not really welcome, because they are inferior to the civilized elite.

Objections to abuses delivered by this sham include claiming one is not "behaving" and calling the police to remove the "violent" individual. We saw this during the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's, and we saw this when our neighbor, Eli Yarden was falsly accused of not speaking to an adgenda item, when in fact he was. Under the colour of law, to enforce the "rules" and preserve the veneer of civility, the mayor of our City, with the reporters all watching, and even the invited school children enthralled by this improbable action, called the police to remove the offender, an 83 year old man, who had broken no rules, was speaking on an agenda item, and, unlike many of the City Councillors, who remained covered by their thin veil of the Veneer of Civility, knew what the adgenda item was about and was articulating his educated opinion acording to the rules.

One cannot expect to wear the veil if one also wants to remain silent when vile acts are perpetrated publically. To remain silent in the face of oppression of an individual in the public areana, makes one a silent partner of the oppressors, and lends support to this form of use of force to perpetrate a crime against civil discourse, a crime against humanity, and human sensibilities.

One cannot remain silent when another uses the veneer of civility under the colour of law to violate our most hard one liberties.

Here in CNA group, some of those who cry foul the loudest, how invoke the veil against others, are often the worst attackers when they wish to be. So, we also get to see "the pot call the kettle black."

Much has been writen about the veneer of civility, and the best is probablly the Eisenhower paper re Civil Rights. The worst abuser in my life was probabally McCarthy, who destroyed the lives of many good people, before the rest of congress finally overcame the gag of the veneer of civility and put an end to the witch hunt. below, please find a definition, and a section of a collegiate paper discussing this issue.

Take care

The VENEER OF CIVILITY...a definition and an interesting discussion...

"We have avoided fighting and discourtesy.

We have kept up a facade of good manners at the cost of not accomplishing much."

A frequently cited reason for communication difficulties is the veneer of civility that pervades faculty interactions. Faculty often appear unwilling to pursue issues that may be divisive or provoke debate. Unpleasantness is avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, as several of those interviewed stated, this often means that the most crucial issues facing the department are never discussed. One faculty member, explaining why the department had not made changes in the curriculum in 20 years, said, "I think we are afraid to look at it [the curriculum] because of the big fights over what should be required."

Another professor noted, "By not discussing departmental policy we don't disagree too much - on the surface." Relations may seem calm, but this calm is achieved at the expense of common purpose and community.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

All but one present and accounted for! Cambridge City Council learns to obey Open Meeting law?

Once again I arrive at City Hall to find a vehicle illegally parked and blocking access both the the emergency egress to City Hall during a schedualled meeting, but also blocking the accessible route and dedicated HP space. click on the photo for a large view and see the Traffic and parking supervisor in the window looking at me, even as I photograph the car. Below is the supervisor, who identified himself to me as Paul Doyle. he responded to my question of why he didn't ticket the car that was illegally parked by ststing that he disagreed with me that it was illegally parked, blocking the emergency egress, the accissible route and the Accissible HP space, because he observed, "people can walk around the car so it is not illegal, it is not blocking anything." The cambridge Police later told me the police do not have jurisdiction over the parling at City Hall, because it is "private property!" LOL I sent an email question about this to Michael Muehe, and I am still awaiting a reply. (Don't worry, I won't hold my breath.) BTW, by law the State Police do have jurisdiction over State Property.
Below is a photo of three City Councillors in attendence at the march 19th City Council meeting. Craig Kelley, Anthony galluchio and Michael sullivan are usually present at the start of City council meetings. The empty seat belongs to Marjorie Decker, who, usually is not in her seat at the beginning of meetings.
Surprise, Surprise! In the photo below, all four City Councillors that sit by the windows were in their seats at the begining of the City Council meeting. Everyone commented on this, the public section was abuzz with this unusual appearance of our elected representivitives. We, those members of the public who came to speak, and be heard by the City Council before they vote on matters before them, we were treated to a special and surprising treat. These four city councillors were actually present and accounted for at the meeting and for public comment! This is very unusual, as, like Marjorie Decker, these four, Vice Mayor, and State Rep Tim Toomey, Denice Simmons, Henrietta Davis and Brian Murphy are usually absent for public comment.
Below is the Mayor, and master of ceremonies, Ken Reeves. he was unusually subdued, and stated that everyone had to obey the rules. The Cambridge Chronicle had documented the failure of the City Council to obey it's own rules, and the state of Mass Open Meeting Law. I am wondering if some secret admonishment was handed down by the State, requesting the Cambridge City Council to please, if you don't mind, stop breaking the toothless law.
Whatever was the reason, it sure felt good to be speaking to actual City Councillors, Marjorie Decker excluded, and not to empty chairs. Even if they don't actually listen to us, and are busy updating their palm pilots, if feels different to see faces and bodies, that empty space.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

City of Cambridge Plows Street Snow Onto Sidewalks

This is the corner of Crp McTiernan at Pearl St. It makes a T. In the photo above you are looking down McTiernan Street toward a large pile of snow that the plow pushed down Cp McTiernan St, across Pearl St, and onto the sidewalk. Of course, it takes up a parking space as well. In the photo below you can see the impression of the plow blades on the heaps of snow.

The photo below shows what happens when this much snow is pushed into a parking space and onto the sidewalk. This is the backside of the piles of snow. You can see how the snow falls and slides down onto the sidewalk. What on earth is the City thinking? Abbuttors are required by the City to shovel their sidewalks shortly after the snow stopps falling. However, are the abuttors expected to shovel heavy street snow, too? This is an outrage! The result of this poor practice is some abuttors are actually shoveling snow from the streets. This pile is so huge it won't melt for a long time!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cambridge City Clerk Posts Notice of Public Meeting of Special Task Force on Neighborhood Safety that Mayor Ken Reeves Had Opposed

The photo above shows the glassed case where official notices are posted by the City Clerk. You can see several notices on white paper attached to the brown cork backing and enclosed by glass. Most of these notices cannot be read by PWDs because the case is so high up from the floor.

The photo below is of the Notice of the first(?) meeting of the "Special Task Force on Neighborhood Safety" that was created in response to a Policy Order by the City Council on August 2, 2006. You can click on this to make it larger, and easier to read. Please notice the time stamp by the City Clerk.

The meeting will be held in Sullivan Chamber in City Hall on March 5th, from 11am to 1pm. I do not know if public commentary will be allowed, nor do I know if the meeting will be televised. Public Meeting Law allows for taping of meetings open to the public.

Councillor Denise Simmons has asked, through a second Policy Order In City Council of Feb 5th, that these meetings include more members of the public, be held at a time when the public can attend, and that there be an independent note taker. However, although the order was adopted, a week later, with only Councillor Marjorie Decker and Anthony Galluchio objecting and the Mayor Ken Reeves, who had previously Charter Righted the order, abstaining, there was an attempt by the Mayor to hold this meeting in secret, in his private office. Members of the public objected, wrote emails and letters and memorandum, and the Chronicle, the Bridge and bloggers reported on this blatent attempt to subvert public process and in defiance of Open Meeting Law, resulting in the secret meeting being cancelled at the last minuite.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Here is an automatic door opener. It is a flat round metal disk aprox 6" wide and has a blue stencil of the unvirsal symbol a person in a wheelchair. When I push it it should open the accessible door to City Hall. However, it often is not working! Is it broken? Or has someone forgotten to turn it on? Or has someone turned it off early? Above photo taken on Feb 8, 2007. In the past 3 weeks I have gone to City Hall 4 times, and 3 times the auto door opener was nor working. Is it disabled? Above photo taken Feb 13, 2007. Photo below taken Feb 26, 2007.