Send contributions to:
About Lawrence J. Adkins: One of the ideas behind electing a City Council chosen 'at large,' by proportional representation, was diversity: diversity of profession, knowledge, opinion, education, and life experience. These are important in securing responsible democratic government. Therefore it becomes important to know for whom you are voting when you decide to work for the election of a diverse City Council. How long has it been since we elected a City Councillor who graduated from Rindge Tech, someone who learned and worked at a trade, a City Councillor whose education prepared him to deal with the realities of working people?
Family: Lawrence is a 4th generation Cantabrigian on his mother's side. She, Gloria Phillips, and her mother, Marion Bowen, were born and educated in Cambridge. Grandfather Leon Phillips came to Cambridge from Boston, and Lawrence's parents bought the house at 45 Hayes Street over 50 years ago. His mother, father and an uncle worked at the nearby Riverside Press.
His father Alfred Adkins settled in Cambridge at the end of the war, having been stationed at Hanscom Field where he served in the Air Force during the Korean War. There was plenty of industrial work to be had in the neighborhood after the end of the war. When this changed, Alfred Adkins went to Boston for work and was employed at the Boston Insulated Wire & Cable Co., in Dorchester. He continued to be active in Cambridge civic affairs, as well as in his immediate neighborhood to protect it from HUD, and other hostile government interference in the 1970s. After Lawrence's birth, Gloria and Alfred Adkins had three more children: Steven who lives here in Cambridge and works for the MBTA, Marcia living now in Alabama, and Carolyn in Maryland. All of them attended the Houghton School (now the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School). Lawrence, as the oldest shared in the responsibility for his younger siblings. They remain a close family.
Education: Lawrence was fortunate to have as his 8th grade teacher at Houghton, Regina B. Key, an inspiring teacher in language, writing, drama, and all the arts, who developed a program called 'World Conference' in which each child was assigned an area of the world to study and develop an oral public presentation for adults as well as children. Lawrence remembers doing his presentation on -- Pakistan.
Going on to Rindge Technical High School, Lawrence brought his skill with tools and language with him, but soon ran into the problem of low expectations, and teachers who were hostile to students 'ambitious beyond their station in life.' His experiences at high school taught him what the social situation was and how it affected his schooling. But by the time Lawrence finished, he had been exposed to the computer field -- from his sophmore to his senior year, he took Computer Science and had learned Fortran, Cobalt, and a 3rd programming language on an 1130 IBM A-frame -- Rindge Tech was the first school nationally to have such a computer.
Lawrence participated in high school sports. He played defensive guard on the Rindge Tech team, The Warriors, that beat Cambridge High's team, Cantab, Thanksgiving 1973.
Work: Lawrence worked while in High School, at the Harvard Coop, Stop & Shop, the Cambridge Public Library. After High School, he followed his father to work at Boston Insulated Wire & Cable, where he started as a taping machine operator, working his way up to Foreman. He worked there from 1973 to 1980.
During the same period, he worked for the Cambridge Recreation Department at the Hoyt Team Center, ending as Assistant Director. There he had the greatest personal interaction with the community, working with teenagers and having a good influence on them.
Continuing his desire for civic involvement -- to work and live in Cambridge -- he wanted to be a fire fighter, went through training, but was injured, and could not be hired.
In 1990 he went into business together with his mother and brother, opening Phil's, an eatery on Western Ave.
Other experience: Lawrence is a single parent; he lives at the family home on Hayes St. He brought up two sons. The youngest son suffered a grave illness from age 2, and Lawrence's attention and care has continued until the present day. Because of this, he has a vast direct experience of the available health, medical and social services.
The Union Baptist Church, on Main Street, is the family church.
Lawrence is a Past Master of Castle William Lodge #11, which is a subsidiary of Prince Hall Masonic Grand Lodge.
Civic/Political Involvement in Cambridge: Lawrence helped to revive the Riverside Neighborhood Association and has been serving as President for some years. He became involved after Mr. & Mrs. Loose (who had already been involved in a successful rezoning) alerted the neighborhood to Harvard's plans for a museum at the Mahoney site (with Renzo Piano as architect) -- and called for a moratorium on development. During the building moratorium Lawrence served on the Riverside Study Committee appointed by the City Manager, as a local business representative. He continues to serve on the oversight committee charged with insuring that the intent of agreements with Harvard University be protected.
Lawrence was one of the founders of the Cambridge Town Meeting Association, which for four years conducted public forums that allowed all candidates for public office to present themselves equally.
A leader in combating racism in Cambridge, Lawrence was active in 1999 in organizing effective citizen response to the search and seizure of elementary school kids by Cambridge school security. He helped to form and served on a committee to develop policies to protect children from abusive behaviors by school employees. In 2004 he was party to a lawsuit that would require the City Manager to obey City Ordinances in the matter of appointments to the Police Review and Advisory Board. Dealing with the special needs of his son, he learned how to navigate the school system, and has a good understanding of how that system works.
Lawrence is a participating member of the board of the Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods.
Active on behalf of the Kids' Council Out-of-School Time Subcommittee, he helped develop a city-wide policy to benefit all young people, including special needs kids, and to secure approval of the Inclusionary Out-of-School Time Policy , voted and unanimously passed by both the Cambridge City Council and the School Committee.
Lawrence has a 30-year history of active City participation. He will bring to the newly elected City Council, abilities, skills and values of a kind unique to his life experiences.
• encourage development of inexpensive housing for people who work in Cambridge, want to live here with their families and send their children to our public schools.
• stop taxing residents more on space they live in to make up for tax revenue losses on vacant commercial spaces
• provide relief from sudden large tax increases for long-term home owners
• make clear that the triple-A bond rating should be used to benefit everyone by providing first-rate public services
• make the budgeting process for city departments transparent and hold all city offices accountable
• encourage you to take ownership of your city. Ask yourself these questions: Do you know your city? What is your own role in city governance as a citizen under a Plan E form of government?
• make sure the City Council, when approving the school budget, considers whether the system meets the needs of every child, rich and poor
• make sure that all students are expected to succeed and are taught accordingly, starting in Kindergarten and continuing through High School
Quality of Life and Public Safety:
Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
Human Services Programs:
Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
Preserve the housing of low-income residents whose work is essential to our economy. We must intervene to prevent our neighbors being driven out of the city by 'market forces' and not put all the blame on federal and state government. Some prefer a government rolling in cash, using 'diversity' as a marketing tool while hiding poverty. My city respects the hard work we do to keep this a place where all can live whole lives. An elite town of the wealthy would destroy that collaboration of citizens leading the sort of civilized life that makes a city thrive.
Arts and Public Celebrations:
When a University or any institution embarks on rapid, unlimited, competitive growth, the burden of the economic imbalances can severely damage healthy development in its social environment: increased poverty, insufficient housing, environmental pollution, and inability to deal with the unintended consequences.
The most important lesson to learn from the destruction in the Gulf is that all governmental authorities left the inhabitants unprepared to deal with both the threat and the disaster. All government, whether local, regional, state, or federal will be unable to handle situations in which only a portion of the inhabitants have the wherewithal to follow government instructions. If the poor and disabled are instructed as if they own a car and they do not, and have no place to go to, the recipe for disaster is there.
Top down planning does not work. Having a City Manager working and planning under the Homeland Security rules, takes the ability to protect themselves away from our residents, and ignores the fact that FEMA's ability to respond was severely hampered by being placed under that administration. By helping to revive the Riverside Neighborhood Association, becoming a member of the board of the Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods, I have continued to encourage residents of Cambridge to participate actively in the management of their city, and would continue to do so as a City Councillor. "What I know, you will know." is the first principle of sound representative government. It does no good to tell be people to be responsible. In this, like many other things, we have to help each other. Education beginning in kindergarten has an important role to play.
Cambridge Public Schools:
I know the Cambridge Public School System. Civic education is essential. It was American Native Indians who first tried to teach the settlers the importance of taking care of the environment “mother earth”, man can not only take from the earth without returning something to it.
When the rubber first hit the road, our awareness of the environment was already late. But as we go through our daily intercourse with human kind, educating the public about our surroundings becomes more important to each of our existences. Since we are a society of human beings and trying to make each of our days on earth better for one and all, our schools should explain and commence the thought of alternative means. There should be a daily consideration during the early school days of the consequences of human production, waste, and general bad habits. This will make the social balance between the money voluntarily spent for an environment for the world -- as opposed to thinking first of profit margin -- and using what is left for other desires that do not put the environment as a priority.
|Page last updated July 08, 2009||Cambridge Candidates|