Gloves are the new garbage, spotted on walks to get exercise during coronavirus distancing. (Photo: Martha Henry)

Homeless aid, Covid-19 impact on budget draw look

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. Councillors are starting to wonder what the city’s response to the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis will do to the city’s budget and free cash, especially since proposals to mitigate the effects of the pandemic keep coming – even playing a role in the city manager’s request for small-business tax relief by exempting personal property accounts of $10,000 or less (jumping to twice that, if approved as a special act by the Legislature and governor). In dollar terms, that’s only as much as $254 annually, but “this proposed exemption would decrease the administrative burden upon small businesses and upon the city assessing and finance departments,” City Manager Louis A. DePasquale says. There’s also a few items having to do with the homeless and lower-income residents, including a council request for more tax-filing and stimulus benefit help for them in light of the coronavirus, an expected manager request for $16,620 to keep the First Church in Cambridge Shelter running for the duration of the crisis and a council request to figure out a regional response to issues of the homeless rather than let Cambridge and other cities wrestle with the problem alone. Meanwhile, the city’s temporary shelter at the War Memorial Recreation Center is due to begin operations Monday, and Mid-Cambridge residents are unhappy about having it thrust upon them and a lack of response to their concerns. Though city staff plead that things have been moving too quickly for a full process, residents point out that work has been ongoing at the site for two weeks.

The potential closing of Memorial Drive and some neighborhood streets to cars – to make more room for people to be outdoors without getting too close to each other to potentially infect others with coronavirus – also return this week after being set aside by “charter right” order by councillor E. Denise Simmons.

The meeting will be televised and stream online. Sign up for public comment here to get instructions about how to use the necessary Zoom video conference platform.


Move to improve remote learning equity and access

School Committee, 6 p.m. Tuesday. Coronavirus response remains top of mind, with an update on the district’s response due from Superintendent Kenneth Salim and a member order to improve remote learning plan with an ongoing emphasis on “equity and access.” There will also be a district calendar to approve and a revised budget calendar, and Salim will present on a proposed Office of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging that would be funded in that budget. Members are expected to meet privately afterward to discuss educator contract negotiations.

The workshop will be broadcast over Cambridge Educational Access TV channels 98 and 99 and should stream online.