Saturday, July 20, 2024

A motorist uses one of the disliked city parking meters in November 2005. (Photo: Schuyler Pisha)

A motorist uses one of the disliked city parking meters in November 2005. (Photo: Schuyler Pisha)

In an act of protest, last night City Council member Tim Toomey exercised his charter right to bump everything on the manager’s agenda until the council’s next meeting.

Toomey said he made the move not because of what was on the agenda, “but what was not on there.”

Parking meters.

In particular, the new ones on Warren Street that require drivers to walk back to their cars with a ticket from a central parking machine. Citizens say they don’t work and should be removed.

At a previous meeting, Toomey asked for a report from the city manager, Robert Healy, on the infernal machines.

Having not gotten a response, Toomey exercised his right to bump the city manager’s entire agenda — 12 items.

“There was nothing pressing on the agenda that couldn’t wait until Dec. 5,” the next council meeting, Toomey said.

One contender for pressing issue centered around a report on how many children are affected by Criminal Offender Record Information checks — specifically how many children are in city homeless shelters because their parents can’t get housing or employment because of a criminal record.

“Even if their parents make good on a bad check, they still have a CORI report. And it affects children,” resident Laurie Leyshon said.

In a report not discussed by the council last night, assistant manager of Human Services Ellen Semonoff noted that “while CORI information is not typically a factor in why families enter a family shelter, it may extend their stay there.”

“Among family housing search clients seen at the multiservice center in 2005, an estimated 13 percent of families in shelter, [16 families] have had housing denials because of their CORI reports. Typically a family in a shelter has one or two children,” she wrote. “Offenses involving drugs, weapons or violence are more likely to lead to a denial.”

There is a process for appeal and for a housing applicant to show mitigating circumstances or rehabilitation, but the report tended to confirm Leyshon’s argument about the permanence of the reports.

On a less serious note, several citizens expelled some hot air over leaf blowers.

Elie Yarden insisted that leaf blowers are a male invention that should be done away with in favor of rakes.

“I have never seen a woman with leaf blowers,” he said, calling the machines an example of “thwarted masculinity.”

“The idea that a man with a gasoline engine on his back has to generate a hose of air to move leaves: There is no excuse for it.”

In a report from the city manager, never discussed because of Toomey’s issue with the parking meters, Healy assured the council that only quality leaf blowers would be used, and under the most stringent environmental guidelines.

The report, prepared by Department of Public Works commissioner Lisa Peterson, explained a city policy written in 2002 stating that all gas-powered blowers must be three years old or less and meet Environmental Protection Agency standards, as well as those of the American national Standards Institute.

The machines cannot be used in Cambridge before 8 a.m. With the exception of fall leaf collection, only one blower at a time shall be used within parcels less than 15,000 square feet in size or directly abutting a school in session.

Mufflers and all air intakes as well as filters shall be checked routinely… and so on.

After the meeting, Yarden reiterated that he doesn’t want anyone using the Freudian things.

“I’ve watched guys with these things,” Yarden said.