Silvia Glick

Silvia Glick
2009 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
188 Auburn St.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact information:
Tel: 617-216-6939

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Silvia Glick
188 Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Longtime Cambridge Resident With Background in Public Interest, Small Businesses, and Law
For over 22 years, Silvia has been proud and grateful to call Cambridge her home. She believes in Cambridge and relishes its unique nature, its multi-layered complexity, and the wonderful spirit and energy of its residents.

Education and Experience:
Silvia graduated from Smith College with honors in Government, the subject in which she majored. While in college, she worked to increase understanding between people of different faiths and of different backgrounds, through her work with various student organizations. Her interest in religion and her desire to work for a better world led her to study at Harvard Divinity School.

Silvia earned a Master of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School. While in divinity school, Silvia interned at the Anti-Defamation League, where she worked on programs designed to reduce prejudice and discrimination. During this time, Silvia also volunteered at shelters for homeless women and men, spending many nights listening, and learning from, people whom society has left behind.

After divinity school, Silvia worked at a variety of jobs. She worked in the bookkeeping department of the Fenway Community Health Center, was a bookseller at WordsWorth in Harvard Square, and worked at a residence for individuals living with mental illness.

Silvia’s interests ultimately led her to Boston University School of Law, where she earned a JD degree. She served as an articles editor for the Boston University Public Interest Law Journal. Silvia also was a student attorney in the Boston University Civil Litigation Program, which allowed her the opportunity to represent individuals who needed free legal representation in the areas of divorce, unemployment benefits, employment discrimination, and tenant issues.

Public Interest and Public Service:
After law school, Silvia continued to work for the public interest. She worked on cases involving housing discrimination and employment discrimination at Greater Boston Legal Services. She also volunteered at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, providing general information and referrals to individuals with questions regarding domestic relations, employment matters, and housing discrimination.

She has also provided pro bono assistance to individuals who have been discriminated against in their attempts to obtain rental housing because of prejudice based on people’s race, receipt of public assistance, or the fact that they have children. In 2005, the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston awarded Silvia an Open Doors Award for her efforts to provide assistance to those facing discrimination in housing. Prior to starting her private practice, Silvia served as Counsel in the Policy and Procedures Bureau of the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

Law Practice in Central Square:
Silvia opened her law practice in Central Square in 1995. In opening her practice, she was inspired by both of her grandfathers. Her mother's father was a lawyer in a small town in New York, who never turned away a client because of inability to pay. Her father's father immigrated from Russia and built a hardware store in New York City, with little more than hard work and sheer determination. Silvia's father still runs the business today at the age of 81.

Silvia learned from her family that working for oneself and running a small business is hard work, but is also rewarding. As an attorney, Silvia assists small business owners in creating and growing their businesses, and represents individuals in buying and selling real estate. She has represented many individuals who are buying homes for the first time. Silvia has also handled cases involving landlord/tenant matters, gay and lesbian family matters, and employment discrimination.

Silvia is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, the Harvard Square Business Association, the Women in Business Connection, the Massachusetts Specialty Foods Association, and the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Boston Business Council. She is a member of Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley.

Silvia lives in the Central Square neighborhood with her spouse, Connie. Her recreational interests include playing with her cat, Squeaky; her English Cocker Spaniel, Homer; and her Great Pyrenees/yellow lab mix, Brandy. She also enjoys spending time with friends, agonizing over the Red Sox, and watching NCIS.

Top Priorities:
Government Reform, Fiscal Accountability, Responsible Development That Preserves Neighborhoods

Government Reform (Elections, Plan E, the City Charter)
I believe that we need to closely examine how our city is run. Under Cambridge's form of government, known as "Plan E," the city manager, and not the mayor or the City Council, run our city. The position of city manager is not an elected position, and there is no limit on how many years a city manager may hold the job. I advocate reforming our government structure to a more democratic form of government-where the voters elect our leaders, and the leaders must answer directly to the voters. While changing our government structure will take time, 130 Massachusetts cities and towns have accomplished this successfully since 1966.

Municipal Finance and Fiscal Accountability
When I talk about "fiscal accountability," I am talking about spending money wisely. I am not talking about reducing the funding levels of programs that increase the health and well-being of Cambridge residents. In fact, being fiscally accountable leads to the availability of more funds for such programs, not less.

Two recent examples of spending money unwisely are the following: the raises that the current members of the City Council voted for themselves, and the handling of the lawsuit in which our current city manager was found to have retaliated against a city employee for filing a discrimination complaint.

Lack of Fiscal Accountability: The Current City Councilors Give Themselves a Raise
On May 6, 2009, State Senator Anthony Galluccio wrote a letter to all municipal officials within his district, including Cambridge officials, regarding the state budget crisis. He stated: "During the past year, almost 2,000 jobs have been cut in state government." After noting the huge funding cuts in the state budget, Senator Galluccio noted that "each State Senator has also agreed to take a small pay reduction to give back income to the state." While our State Senators were reducing their pay, our City Councilors were raising theirs. On May 18, 2009, the City Council passed a budget giving itself a 3.5 percent raise, bringing each Councilor's salary to $70,329. Our City Councilors gave themselves these raises less than two weeks after being told by Senator Galluccio that local aid was being cut 17% in comparison to last year's amount. The City Councilors should not have voted themselves a raise during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Lack of Fiscal Accountability: Endless Litigation
On May 23, 2008, a Superior Court jury awarded Malvina Monteiro, a former Cambridge city employee, over $4.5 million in damages after finding that Cambridge, through its city manager, had retaliated against Ms. Monteiro because she filed a discrimination claim against the city. As of July 10, 2008 (over a year ago), the taxpayers of Cambridge had spent a total of $1.6 million defending the lawsuit. The city hired a high-priced Boston law firm to handle the case. After losing several post-trial motions, the city manager recently directed the city's lawyer at Ropes and Gray to appeal the verdict. And still, the City Councilors have declined to seek an independent legal opinion. Such a legal opinion would help the City Councilors to determine whether the potential benefits of continued litigation outweigh the potential losses. Such an independent legal opinion would help the City Councilors to decide whether or not they want to persuade the city manager to settle the lawsuit. Of course, under our current system of government, the City Councilors would have to ask the city manager to give them funds to pay for a lawyer who could give them a legal opinion. All Cambridge taxpayers should be outraged by this state of affairs.

Responsible Development That Preserves Neighborhoods (Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density)
We must preserve our neighborhoods and communities and protect them from overdevelopment. Concerns about development are at the top of the agenda of virtually every neighborhood association in this city. Communities must receive earlier notice of zoning and development proposals. Our neighborhoods are entitled to be involved in discussions regarding proposed development at an early stage in the planning. New buildings should not overshadow residences; they should not block sunlight out and box people in. We should consider rezoning land where more restrictive zoning is required in order to preserve the stability and vitality of our neighborhoods. New development must be compatible with the unique character of our neighborhoods. Environmental concerns must always be addressed, including issues related to traffic congestion and neighborhood density.

We must hold developers to their promises and we must obtain those promises in a form that will be enforceable in a court of law. We must ensure that our historic buildings are preserved, and we must prioritize the preservation of open space and urban wilds. Once they are gone, they are gone forever. We need to ensure that street-level retail spaces remain available for small, independent businesses. Lastly, affordable housing development must be spread throughout the city. We must achieve a balanced distribution of affordable housing in all of the city's neighborhoods.

Economic Development and Commerce
The City Council should work with landlords and developers to help independent, locally owned businesses stay in Cambridge. We need to find new ways to help these businesses grow and thrive. Any investment in these efforts would more than pay for itself by creating increased tax revenue, a more vibrant city, and a better quality of life for residents. When new developments are constructed, the city should work with developers to ensure that street-level retail spaces remain available for locally owned businesses.

Human Services Programs
The programs in the city's youth centers must be changed so that they meet the needs of Cambridge youth. In particular, the centers must have programs to draw more girls into the centers. With the Cambridge Health Alliance no longer providing services at the Senior Center, the city should make it easier for seniors to get to their appointments for medical and mental health services. The city should contract with a private transportation company to provide services for seniors to get to these appointments.

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation
We must preserve and protect our open spaces, including the Alewife Reservation, the Mystic River, and the Charles River. I would advocate for the termination of all activities that add toxic chemicals to the Charles River Estuary, including Magazine Beach. I would work with the Friends of the White Geese and support that organization's efforts to protect the wildlife and plant life on Magazine Beach. I would advocate that construction work be limited to what is necessary for public safety (such as repairing the BU Bridge), and that when such construction work occurs, the staging for the construction be placed so that it minimizes harm to wildlife and to plant life. I would prioritize the protection of wildlife and plant life, so that they can thrive well into the future.

Affordable housing must continue to be a priority. I would advocate for a balanced distribution of affordable housing in all of the city's neighborhoods. The city should ensure that owners of affordable housing maintain their property in accordance with all safety and health requirements.

Arts and Public Celebrations
It is important for the city to maintain its support of public celebrations and the arts. The city should continue to support events that celebrate the diversity of Cambridge and that promote an appreciation of the city's cultural and natural resources. Public celebrations and the arts enhance our communities and our quality of life.

University Relations
Cambridge benefits from all the colleges and universities within the city. The City Council should continue to work with these educational institutions to increase their Payments In Lieu of Taxes and to expand existing programs that provide mentoring and other opportunities for public school students.

Cambridge Public Schools
Our public schools must continue to improve so that they provide the best education possible from kindergarten through high school. We must be willing to terminate programs that are not serving our students and to implement innovative programs that have worked well in other school systems.

Quality of Life and Public Safety
We need a better strategy for keeping our streets clean and safe. We should clean certain areas of the city more frequently if warranted. Each neighborhood association should have a specific police officer to talk to about neighborhood concerns. The city manager should move quickly to hire an Executive Secretary for the Police Review and Advisory Board; he has let the position remain unfilled for nine months.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation
We need to get creative with traffic problems. Perhaps the city could work with Cambridge's largest employers to stagger the start and end times of workdays. We should ensure that new developments have adequate parking for the people that will be working and living in the new buildings. The city should ensure that the transportation needs of seniors citizens are being met.

Civic Participation
Voter turnout in municipal elections is dismally low. I attribute low voter turnout to several factors. Residents see very little reason to vote, since they believe that the City Council's authority is limited, and residents do not receive much information regarding what the Council does. And the fact that we do not elect the person who actually runs our city diminishes the importance of our votes. In addition, people do not vote because the same people get elected over and over again, due in part to the overwhelming advantages that accompany incumbency. People believe that their voices do not matter, and so they do not vote.

Changing our form of government would do a great deal to increase voter interest and participation in our municipal elections. One beneficial change would be to reconfigure our city council so that some of the councilors represent particular districts within Cambridge. If residents had one person whom they knew to be their city councilor, they would be more motivated to vote.

Ultimately, creating a form of government that is more democratic will lead to more civic participation, including increased voting rates. If we change our city charter to a more democratic form of government, in which we elect a city council and a mayor who actually have the legal authority to run our city, residents' votes will matter more, and more people would vote.

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health
In 2007, Cambridge set a goal to become the "greenest" city in America and launched the Cambridge Energy Alliance. This step put Cambridge on the National League of Cities' list of cities that are leading the way in becoming green! We are also constructing new buildings so that they meet the requirements of LEED green building certification. These are huge steps towards our goal, and I strongly support continuing these efforts. In addition, I support instituting single-stream recycling (ending the requirement that paper be separated from bottles and cans) in order to encourage higher recycling rates. And more generally, I believe that the most important step that we can take in becoming a greener city is acting with intentionality in all that we do. We must intentionally shape the future that we want for ourselves and for our children. We must strive to grow our economy in ways that enforce our connection to our natural environment, rather than in ways that disconnect us from our spectacular Charles River, forests, and other open spaces. We must value our city's environmental health as much as we value its economic health. Only then will we become the greenest city that we can be.

Real Leadership
We need real leaders now, even before we are able to change the city's form of government. Cambridge needs real leaders, people who won't stick their heads in the sand hoping that problems will disappear. We need leaders who will look at what is going on around them and will not wait for a problem to turn into a crisis before taking corrective action. Cambridge needs leaders who are not afraid to question the status quo. We need leaders who look at the empty storefronts along Mass. Ave. and ask: "What can we do to stop the bleeding?" We need leaders who look at our dismal voter turnout for municipal elections and ask: "How can we give more residents a reason to vote?" We need leaders who look at our neighborhoods and ask: "What are residents most concerned about, and how can we work together to address their concerns?"

Cambridge needs leaders who will move us through the twenty-first century ready to try new approaches to old problems, ready to put aside egos to work for the common good, and ready to acknowledge systemic problems rather than pretend that they do not exist. I am committed to being such a leader.

CCTV candidate video
Sept 9, 2009 Candidate Forum (video)

Page last updated October 25, 2009 Cambridge Candidates