Brian Murphy has been providing persistent leadership for the people of
Cambridge as a city councillor since 2002. Brian listens carefully,
develops solutions thoughtfully and collaboratively, and works
relentlessly to get solutions to everyday problems. He is determined to
get results, passionate about progressive issues, and committed to
bringing people together to implement positive solutions to city
Brian is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Chicago Law
School. He is a long-time community activist, an attorney, and has been
active in local, state, and national Democratic political organizing for
over twenty-five years. Brian and his wife, Kate Champion Murphy have two
children, Molly and Joseph.
Brian is a member of:
Cambridge Democratic City Committee, ACLU, the Sierra Club, Amnesty
International, MassPIRG, MassBike, and ACE- Alternatives for Community and
Endorsements for 2007 (in progress):
The Cambridge Chronicle, The Alewife, Massachusetts Sierra Club, National
Organization for Women - Greater Boston Chapter, Progressive Democrats of
Cambridge, Ward 6 Democratic Committee, Laborers Local 151, Carpenters
Local 40, Plumbers Local 12, Pile drivers Local 56, IBEW Local 103,
Plumbers Local 12
Cambridge is a great city. Our challenge is to focus on why it is a great
city, and work to keep and enhance those qualities. My approach is further
outlined on my website at www.brianmurphy.org.
Here are three priorities:
- Healthier, safer, more livable neighborhoods
- Responsible, progressive fiscal management
- Finding creative ways to provide more affordable housing
Quality of Life and Public Safety:
It is vitally important for all of us to preserve elements of our
neighborhood life that make Cambridge livable and attractive for all of
us. I believe we should be able to do much of our daily life on foot,
which means neighborhoods need access to essential small businesses, as
well as safe neighborhoods that offer a sense of community and development
that fosters vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods. Strong, safe, accessible
neighborhoods are one of my top priorities for Cambridge.
- I was the only city councillor to walk the entire North Cambridge
Safety Walk with Police Commissioner Haas and filed several
council orders in response the concerns raised by residents. I'm
committed to working with Commissioner Hass and his department to
continue to seek ways to make community policing more effective.
- As Chair of the Ordinance committee, I pushed through recent changes
in the trash ordinance to allow for greater enforcement of trash
regulations to help address the rodent problem. I also listened to
residents concerns and provided for greater involvement in the task
force on rodents.
- I successfully worked with the Community Development Department on Harvard
Square Visioning meetings. That work, coupled with continued
lobbying, is leading to a new supermarket in Harvard Square at
the former Sage's site.
- I am committed to additional regulations on leaf blowers to reduce
the impact of noise and air pollution on workers and neighbors.
- Work with Cambridge Local First to promote fun independent
local businesses which enhance the quality of life in our community.
Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
Ease of use, safety, and predictability are some of the factors that
influence use of public transportation.
- Respond to neighborhood concerns for effective traffic calming
- Work with neighbors to ensure that proposed development does not
overwhelm neighborhoods in a variety of ways, including excessive
increased parking demands
- Work with the MBTA to increase the number and distribution of bus
shelters throughout the city.
- Requested that the MBTA do a better job of marking bus numbers.
- Promote increased covered bus stops and more comprehensive maps.
- The erratic availability of the elevators for Harvard and Central
Square stations is disgraceful. The City Council has and will continue
to pressure the MBTA to expand handicapped accessibility in
both T and bus stations.
- I support and will push for 24 hour weekend MBTA service.
- Member of ACE, Alternatives for Community and Environment which
includes the T Riders Union. Working with them, have opposed MBTA
policies which make public transportation less affordable and less
- Proposed council order to make easier for residents to have covered
Municipal Finance, Budget, Assessments, Property Taxes:
I am passionate about progressive, responsible municipal finance. I
have been the chair of the city Finance Committee, the Chair of the
National League of Cities Panel on Municipal Finance, and I sit on the
Finance Committee of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. If
re-elected, I will be the National League of Cities representative on the
Government Accounting Standards Board.
In the wake of the property revaluation three years ago, and the spike
in property taxes for many residents, I have worked to make city policies
more open and transparent, and to hold the line on budget expansion. As a
result on my work on the Special Commission on Property Taxes, the city
now sends out three newsletters explaining the city budget, the
property tax, and how to apply for abatements and exemptions. I also work
with constituents who have concerns about their taxes, meeting with
them and city staff to ensure that their concerns are heard.
This year, 79% of residents received a decrease in their property
tax bill, and another 13% saw an increase of $100 or less. We need to
be disciplined and sensible in setting our budget priorities, thinking
about the city's long term fiscal and community well-being. We are very
fortunate to have significant reserves and significant room under the
Proposition 2½ levy limit.
I hate the property tax: it's regressive, and hurts long-time residents
who simply want to stay in their homes. Unfortunately, state law forbids
Cambridge from using more equitable alternatives. I have been partnering
with Governor Deval Patrick to pass the Municipal Partnership Act, but
it will be a long, tough battle against entrenched interests at the state
Government and Elections:
I support the Plan E form of government and think that the City Manager
form of government has worked well for Cambridge. We on the council will
face a challenge in selecting the next city manager, and I am committed to
having an open and deliberate process for the selection of the next
I have used my staff assistant for research on a wide variety of issues
and to support the implementation of my policy initiatives, such as the
Poet Populist program. My own preference would be to have a professional
research bureau that the entire council could draw upon. Failing that, I
would prefer to see the council aides program under the city council
office rather than in the Mayor's office.
Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
Development, university expansion, and the skyrocketing costs of housing
are destabilizing our neighborhoods and changing the character of the
city. I work with neighbors to counter the destructive effects of these
trends, and to create a regulatory and policy framework that allows
expansion only when it benefits the city and protects the surrounding
community. Development in Cambridge should always be approached within the
context of the neighborhood it will join.
I worked successfully with the Tobin-Danehy neighborhood to
downzone their neighborhood in response to potential overdevelopment. I
work with members of the Porter Square community, Agassiz
Neighborhood Council, and Neighborhood Nine to support their
negotiations with Harvard and Lesley and to focus on ways to ensure that
Mass. Ave. works for local businesses and the community.
Too often, neighborhoods find themselves on the defensive, reacting to
institutional development proposals with too little time and information.
I am committed to ensuring that Cambridge residents have the time and
resources they need to help plan and shape development in their
Along those lines, I have filed orders to improve Cambridge's approach
through zoning for improving the environment, working to ensure that large
building projects and built green and to remove conflicts in the zoning
code with environmental protection. For example, I have filed orders to
promote green roofs (penalized under the zoning code in certain cases) and
bike sheds. I've also filed a council order requesting the Planning Board
and city council to work together to increase side and rear lot setbacks.
Too often, I have seen neighborhoods come before the council in response
to infill development that harms their neighborhood. I'd like us to update
the zoning code to more accurately reflect neighborhood expectations for
Human Services Programs:
Cambridge takes seriously its commitment to provide resources and
opportunities for our most vulnerable residents. This means we often pick
up the financial slack when funding human service programs is cut by
federal and state administrations. We need to work to improve our youth
programs to engage more of the young people who are falling through the
cracks. The programming improvements in the Teen Centers, and the
expansion of the new West Cambridge Youth Center to a West Cambridge
Community Center should help in our efforts to engage more people in those
As the baby boom generation ages, we as a city need to thoughtfully
approach the continuum of care needed as that large cohort of our
population ages. Supporting programs like Cambridge at Home helps for many
who want to age in place. We also need to build upon the successes of
Neville Place and Neville Manor, facilities that provide wonderful care
for seniors with a variety of health care needs. It's worked quite well
for my family as my in-laws live there.
Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
One of our city's most important missions is to defend our precious open
space. I am committed to protecting our existing open space, and as
co-chair of the Ordinance Committee, I was successful in securing a new
park in the Riverside neighborhood during downzoning negotiations.
I have also been chairing community meetings designed to explore
locations and facilities for off-leash dog runs. I am committed to finding
safe places for dogs to run free in Cambridge, because I believe
dog runs will help make our communities both safer and more cohesive. I am
pleased that thanks to my efforts, we have a new dedicated dog run at
Pacific Street and will have an improved facility at Danehy Park.
I have also led the council efforts to preserve the open space at Shady
Hill Square, filing the order requesting the Cambridge Historical
Commission to begin the process to landmark Shady Hill Square. I have also
worked with the neighbors in their efforts to understand the city's
administrative process and have advocated on their behalf to prevent
imminent development from destroying this historic open space parcel.
Opportunities for both active and passive recreation are precious in
Cambridge. I am committed to working with groups and other governmental
agencies to find ways to improve existing recreational opportunities and
to expand new ones. I was proud to have worked with Vice Mayor Toomey and
former Councillor Sullivan to secure city funding that will help build the
new skate park near the Zakim Bridge, a world class facility that
will benefit generations of Cambridge skateboarders. I also work with city
officials to find ways to partner with the Massachusetts DCR to improve
Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
Health care costs are a personal, local, state, and federal issue.
Double-digit increases in health care costs threaten our ability to
provide quality services at a reasonable rate. I served on the National
League of Cities Health Care Task Force, collaborating with local and
national municipal leaders to seek out results-oriented public health and
preventative medicine initiatives that can lower costs without
sacrificing quality of care.
Cambridge is and should be a leader in efforts to raise environmental
awareness and to reduce energy consumption. I am excited about the work of
the Cambridge Energy Alliance, http://www.cambridgeenergyalliance.org,
a new non-profit organization that will create and implement a
groundbreaking program to significantly reduce energy use in Cambridge.
- I support requiring and enforcing new city and university
construction to comply with 'green building' LEED standards.
- I introduced the order to have large private developments be built
green, and as Chair of the Ordinance committee have been leading the
effort working with the Planning Board to get these changes
- I support statewide legislation that encourages healthier lunch
choices for our public schools.
- I introduced legislation to ensure that Cambridge did not knowingly
purchase from vendors who will profit from drilling in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge.
I worked with Harvard, MIT and the city on ways to increase recycling
rates and, in public testimony, I have challenged the state legislature to
expand the bottle bill so that it includes bottled water and
similar products. For my work on these and other issues, I am proud to
have been endorsed by the Sierra Club of Massachusetts.
The affordable housing problem in Cambridge is truly a housing emergency.
The price of housing in Cambridge has skyrocketed in recent years. We need
to be entrepreneurial in our efforts to find new ways to build and
maintain affordable housing.
I worked with the Garment District owners, the Cambridge Affordable
Housing Trust Fund, the Cambridge Historical Commission and neighbors to
prevent developers from tearing down the Garment District's historic
building and overwhelming the neighborhood. My work helped save the
building, the store and hundreds of jobs - and led to the addition of
twenty-six units of affordable housing for Cambridge families.
As co-chair of the Ordinance Committee, I led the Riverside
negotiations with Harvard, requiring Harvard to build and turn over to the
city thirty three affordable housing units for Cambridge families.
- I voted to allocate the maximum 80% of Community Preservation Funds
- over $19 million - for affordable housing.
- I work to strengthen the city's linkage and inclusionary zoning
ordinances to build more affordable units.
- As artists begin to get priced out of living, studio and gallery
space, we are in danger of losing an important part of what makes
Cambridge special. I support the reuse of vacant commercial
buildings as live-in studios for artists. This type of creative
reuse would not only provide additional affordable housing stock, but
would also help us maintain the vibrancy of the Cambridge cultural
- In order to pursue this idea and similar innovative approaches to
the housing issue, we need to engage the participation of younger
renters, including working professionals and students, in the
political process surrounding this issue.
Arts and Public Celebrations:
Cambridge wouldn't be Cambridge without its artists. But in times of tight
budgets, governments often make their first and deepest cuts in funding
for the arts. From an economic standpoint, this can be a misguided
strategy. As Richard Florida noted in The Rise of the Creative Class,
diversity, tolerance and a thriving arts community are all important
elements in assuring that a community thrives and prospers. As artists
begin to get priced out of living, studio and gallery space, we are in
danger of losing an important part of what makes Cambridge special. To
this end, I support creative reuse of public buildings as affordable
live/work space for artists. I am chair of the Public Facilities,
Arts, and Celebrations Committee and a sponsor of neighborhood and
community-focused programs such as CAOS.
As chair of the Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations committee, I
heard the concerns of dancers who were going to lose their dance facility.
I held hearings, negotiated with administration officials, and convinced
colleagues to expand the scope and mission of the West Cambridge Youth
Center to provide dance and community space.
As Finance Chair, I used the city's budget process to resolve a
conflict between two of the city's leading arts organizations. My
understanding of the budget process and perseverance led to a successful
resolution - the volunteer-based, artist run Dance Complex was
able to gain clear title to their building, ensuring their success for
years to come.
Cambridge will also have its first Poet Populist [http://www.cambridgeartscouncil.org/poet_populist.html]
this year. I modeled the program after Seattle's program, and look forward
to expanding the awareness and appreciation of poetry in Cambridge.
I am a longtime supporter of the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, and have
assisted them in their fundraising efforts to keep the historic theatre
Harvard, MIT, Lesley, and Cambridge College help define Cambridge as a
unique, sophisticated, and richly diverse community, but institutional
expansion can undermine the character and livability of our neighborhoods.
Our universities need to remember that the vitality and excitement of
Cambridge contribute significantly to their ability to attract students
and faculty. Cambridge's residents and workers share a common stake in
assuring that university expansion does not overrun our community nor
destroy the character of our neighborhoods.
I am working with colleges and universities to develop tangible,
lasting community benefits whenever they expand their presence. These
include meaningful public open space; affordable- and moderate- income
housing for community members; restrictions on density, height and use of
new buildings; and, of course, traffic and parking policies that are
sensitive to neighborhood concerns. I also seek out ways where university
and community interests align, and seek to maximize those areas of
In his book "Bowling Alone," Robert Putnam noted the
fraying of our social fabric as Americans belong to fewer organizations
and are increasingly disconnected from their families, neighbors and
communities. Cambridge is not immune from this phenomenon, but we must
strive to resist and reverse this trend. Neighbors need to get to know
neighbors, and neighborhood block parties help. I support
continuation and expansion of mini grants for residents who are willing to
organize these block parties. Community wide events like the Cambridge
Dance Party in front of City Hall and Danehy Park Family Day also help to
bring residents together.
In this era of ipods and instant messaging, we need to find new ways to
bring people together to maintain their community.
Cambridge Public Schools:
Equity and Excellence need to be the twin goals of our school system. We
have unique strengths in our diversity and civic participation and it is
absolutely imperative that we defend and support our public school system.
I support the school committee and Superintendent Fowler-Finn in their
efforts to close the achievement gap. I'm encouraged by the recent
increase in student enrollment and the excitement surrounding the new
I worked with the superintendent and School Committee to ensure our
education spending focused resources in a results-driven and
student-focused way. We increased spending directly on students and in the
classroom by reducing administration and operations costs. I am currently
working with Superintendent Fowler-Finn and the School Committee on a
five-year finance plan that will expand resources where most needed.
In the coming months, the city council and school committee will work
together to define the scope of renovations to CRLS, the city's high
school. I'm committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that the
renovations reflect the value our high school has to our community, and to
have the renovations done with the least possible amount of disruption.
Cambridge also has an excellent City scholarship program. I will work
with the high schools to encourage an increased number of applications we
receive each year. I was recently successful at increasing the financial
amount of each scholarship, as well as doubling their duration, from one
year to two.
Please visit my website for more information: www.brianmurphy.org.
I have a blog that highlights life on the campaign trail there, as well as
additional information on me. Here's some additional information as well:
Response to Cambridge Chronicle Survey: www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/town_info/your_vote/x1302711216
Response to Progressive Democrats: pdcambridge.org/PDC/PDC_questions.htm#Murphy
Candidate's 2005 responses