Bill Hees is committed to lowering property taxes, controlling spending,
and protecting you from a city government that too often thinks what's
yours is theirs. Bill has worked on and supported Carla Howell's 2002
ballot initiative to end the state income tax in Massachusetts, as well as
various other local, state and national Libertarian campaigns and
non-partisan initiatives for protecting peoples' economic and civil
liberties. This is his first time running for public office.
Bill has lived in Cambridge for 6 years, and has been "hanging
around" Cambridge for ten years before that. He is a Cambridge
homeowner and a trustee of his condo association. He has two young sons
who will be entering the Cambridge school system in a few years. Currently
Bill works from home as a computer consultant, and is enrolled at Harvard
Extension School. He earned a B.S. in Management Engineering at Worcester
Polytechnic Institute. In his free time he is President of Charles River
Investment Club. He runs with the Cambridge Running Club. He is also a
member of the Cambridge Comedy Clobberative and performs in their annual
charity benefit. Bill is a former two-term president of Boston Mensa,
where he honed his skills in getting intelligent yet opinionated
individuals to work together.
My top priority is lowering taxes. Yes, this requires controlling
spending. It doesn't work to *say* you want lower taxes then propose
fanciful new programs that will continue to bloat the budget.
Quality of Life and Public Safety:
Recently two teenagers attempted to steal my upstairs neighbor's bicycle
off our front porch. Fortunately a neighbor across the street saw them cut
the lock and he chased them away, thereby 1) preventing the theft, and 2)
letting the teenagers know that stealing a bike is not acceptable behavior
in our neighborhood. If he had dialed 911 instead, the police would have
arrived after the bike was stolen, filled out a form, and not tried to
catch the thieves because "nobody's going to convict teenagers for
stealing a bike" (this is what they later told him when he reported
the incident). Of course dialing 911 is the right thing to do in many
situations. The point is simply that the police can't be everywhere.
Anything we can do that can instill a sense of responsibility for
neighbors looking after each other is a good thing.
Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
Drivers in our region often show a lack of respect for traffic laws, but I
attribute this to the designers of roads having a lack of respect for
drivers. When you come over the bridge on River St. in thick traffic,
cross Memorial Drive and the lane you're in suddenly disappears without
warning it's easy to think traffic signs, lights and markings have no
relevance in Cambridge. Then there are the two rotaries on Route 2 near
Fresh Pond. I defy any traffic planner, road builder or cop to define when
it is appropriate to drive in the inner lane of a two-lane rotary. Or
crossing Route 2 on Mt. Auburn St. -- you can barely even see where you're
suppose to aim for on the other side. The list of poorly-designed
intersections goes on and on. They tie up traffic causing pollution,
congestion, risk of accidents, and disrespect for the rules of the road.
Most could be fixed within the available space; some just for the cost of
some paint. This would help those without cars too. Buses sit in the same
traffic jams that cars do. So do taxis, Zipcars, and other such adjuncts
to mass transit that allow residents to live life without a car of their
own. I'm a pedestrian more often than I'm a driver. Sometimes drivers
don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks; other times pedestrians with
"Don't Walk" signals fail to yield to drivers with green lights.
Both problems are hazardous to pedestrians. We need to warn the drivers to
yield when they're supposed to without encouraging pedestrians to step out
into traffic against the light.
The topic of parking spaces is an interesting one in Cambridge. One
group demands that developers provide enough parking spaces for everyone
to have a car, while another group wants to reduce the number of parking
spaces in Cambridge because the last thing we want is for everyone to have
a car. I oppose requiring developers to provide one space per unit because
1) it removes some of the incentive for locating new housing near T
stations, and 2) it drives up the cost of housing.
I applaud the new email reminders of street cleaning days. I recently
met a voter who offered a brilliant idea for handling cars illegally
parked during street cleaning times. Instead of towing the cars miles
away, why not just tow them around the corner to the section of street
that has just been cleaned? The driver would still pay a fine and a towing
fee but wouldn't have to waste half a day getting their car back. What a
Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
Nobody should have to sell their home and leave Cambridge because they
can't afford the property taxes. Currently our commercial tax revenues are
low, so it's fortunate that our residential values are high... unless
you're one of the homeowners whose property taxes shot up. Sure, you may
be "lucky" and your home is worth twice as much as it was five
years ago, but it's still the same home. It's not twice as big, city
services aren't twice as good, and your ability to pay hasn't doubled.
My opponents say the problem is the unfair allocation of the existing
tax burden. I agree that small rental properties shouldn't be taxed as
though they'd been sold as condos, and we must fix this. However, other
attempts to rearrange the tax burden ignore the real source of the
problem: the city's $401 million budget. This is an enormous burden for a
city of only 100,000 residents and leaves us open to disaster when the
economy heads south, e.g. if the housing bubble bursts and/or commercial
real estate remains down. Rather than look for more ways to spend money we
should be looking for ways to save, reducing the risk. Cambridge wastes
money, by some accounts $30 million in overspending each for the library
renovation and new police station. Perhaps it's too late to do anything
about these expenditures, but if we're not careful there will be new
things to waste money on next year, and the year after.
Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
Human Services Programs:
Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
I support increasing the percentage of Cambridge's Community Preservation
Act funds that go towards preserving and expanding open space in
Cambridge. I also support a shared-use dog park policy similar to
Brookline's Green Dog Program in which off-leash use is allowed during
early morning hours in certain park areas where on-leash use is already
Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
Saving energy saves money, and reducing fossil fuel consumption in
particular cuts down on CO2 emissions and other forms of pollution. Given
the current cost of oil, spending money on energy efficiency in municipal
buildings will pay itself back sooner than in the past, and we must make
it a higher priority.
Post-consumer recycling saves money on trash fees and is better for the
environment but unfortunately it is a hassle in many ways. A low-cost way
to make recycling easier I'd like to explore is to move some of the large
bins at the recycling drop-off center to a location where they could be
accessed 24/7, like clothing drops usually are, not just when the
attendant is on duty.
Concerning the city's rat problem: Proper garbage disposal is crucial
to fighting this problem, whether it be residents keeping their garbage in
tight-fitting containers or restaurants making sure to keep the area
around their dumpster clean. I support education and enforcement of
existing city ordinances regarding proper garbage disposal. I oppose
spending property tax money to buy every property a “free” trash can.
I oppose increasing garbage fines. Garbage ticketing should be a reminder,
not a new tax.
I want to reduce regulatory obstacles to the creation of more inexpensive
free market housing in Cambridge.
Arts and Public Celebrations:
Community dance groups (contra, swing, and tango) that meet at the VFW
post on Huron Ave. are a cultural resource in danger of being lost, as the
city is arranging to purchase this space and repurpose it as a
youth/community center resulting in the destruction of the building’s
unique dance hall. I’m in favor of implementing the youth/community
center improvements in such a way that the dance hall is not lost. The
$75,000 per year in fees the dance groups already pay ought to be more
than enough to finance the slightly more complicated design required to
keep the dance hall intact.
Financially, Harvard and MIT are in many ways like separate cities with
different concerns than ours. Inventing new ways to tax what goes on
inside their “borders” would be like trying to tax Somerville. We
should not be looking at Harvard’s endowment with wide eyes trying to
get a piece of it to fund our programs. To the extent they use our city
services such as our streets, water, fire department, etc., I believe
Payment In Lieu Of Taxes is the right mechanism to pay for this.
University expansion is a separate problem, and is no longer an issue
of “what goes on inside their borders is their business”. They should
obey the same rules required of any large developer.
When citizens come to speak during the public comment period at City
Council meetings the councilors should be there listening to them.
Cambridge Public Schools:
At $20,000 per student per year, we're not getting our money's worth. We
need to prioritize teachers, not overhead.