City Council Preps for Election Day

As red, white, and blue privacy curtains were set up in the City Hall basement Monday night in preparation for the election, the Cambridge City Council convened upstairs to revisit a heated discussion about voter accessibility.

The debate was over a malfunctioning elevator at the Baldwin School polling location in north Cambridge, which was out of service in the September primaries.

At the last City Council meeting, the Election Commission maintained that no action was taken to fix the elevator. The Commission said they were unaware it was broken.

However, a report released this week revealed that the polling place’s warden informed office staff that the elevator was not in service at 6:45 a.m.

Councillor Marjorie C. Decker filed a complaint with the city manager’s office after seeing the elevator was still broken around 1 p.m.

“This kind of casual and complacent approach to handling a major disruption and barrier into voter accessibility is really disconcerting,” Decker said.

City Manager Robert W. Healy admitted that the situation could have been handled better.

“We’re all human beings,” Healy said.

Decker concluded the discussion by requesting the city manager’s office review the issue again. Decker also plans to discuss the matter with the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

Also on the Council’s agenda was a report from the city manager about installing more parking meters that accept credit cards in addition to quarters.

Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr. was particularly vocal in his opposition to new meters, expressing concern that the only way to offset the implementation costs would be to raise existing parking rates significantly.

Though the city manager’s report noted a slight uptick in revenue from parking meters that accept credit cards, it concluded that an additional increase in parking fees would be necessary to install more of them.

Councillor Craig A. Kelley suggested that the city was losing out on revenue by undercharging for parking.

Toomey, however, was left unconvinced.

“Everybody loves these newfangled things we’re going to do, but sometimes simple is the best,” Toomey said.

The meeting closed with a brief discussion of a citizen’s concern about dog owners not cleaning up after their pets on a children’s playground at Paine Park.

Councillors E. Denise Simmons and Leland Cheung agreed that the matter should be pursued by the Council.

“Happy to pick this up for Vice Mayor Simmons,” Cheung said.

“No pun intended,” Kelley deadpanned.

—Staff writer Amanda E. McGowan can be reached at amanda.mcgowan@college.harvard.edu.

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