Tim Toomey

Tim Toomey
2005 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
88 Sixth Street
Cambridge MA 02141

Contact information:
Tel: 617-576-6483
e-mail: timtoomey@aol.com 
website: www.timtoomey.org 

Send contributions to:
The Toomey Committee
88 Sixth Street
Cambridge MA 02141

City Councillor Tim Toomey began his work in government in 1985 when he was elected to the Cambridge School Committee. He served two terms on the School Committee and was elected to the Cambridge City Council in 1989. He is serving his eighth term as a member of the City Council, and is Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee and Chair of the Claims Committee. Tim is a graduate of Suffolk University and Matignon High School. He has served on the Boards of Directors of several non-profit organizations including the East End House and the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee.

Tim is a strong advocate for the elderly, and a leader in the fight for more open space and affordable housing.

Tim has also served the people of Cambridge and Somerville as State Representative since 1992. He helped secure passage of the law that allowed the creation of the Cambridge Health Alliance, which has led to improved health services for Cambridge and Somerville residents. He served as Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, and in that capacity fought for and secured grant programs to help the Fire and Police Departments in Cambridge and Somerville and across the state. He also advocated for local control of speed limits, increased child passenger safety, and for the right of victims of violent crimes to testify at Parole Board hearings.

Tim currently is a member of the Joint Committees on Transportation and on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy as well as the House Committee on Rules. He is a past member of the Joint Committees on Health Care, Housing and Community Development, Government Regulations, State Administration and The Judiciary. He has served as Vice-Chairman of the Joint Committee on Education and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Special Education. In January of 1997, he was appointed to the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Service. This committee reviews all matters related to state and municipal employees, public retirement systems, civil service and collective bargaining. In his first act in that position, Tim authored and sponsored Chapter 17 of the Acts of 1997, the legislation guaranteeing cost of living adjustments for all government retirees in the Commonwealth.

Tim invites all residents to visit his web site (www.timtoomey.org) for his position on numerous issues, helpful links to government agencies, as well as campaign related information. He particularly urges residents to participate in his monthly online issues poll.

Top Priorities:

Quality of Life and Public Safety:
More than anything else, the quality of life effects a person's decision on where to live. Streets must be safe, parks and playgrounds clean, and support for neighborhood initiatives promoted.

I am a strong supporter of community policing which needs to be revitalized in Cambridge. Speed limits on residential streets must be reduced to 25 MPH, as allowed by a proposed law I am co-sponsoring. I also support the installation of cameras at certain dangerous intersections to enhance pedestrian safety. In addition, the substance of the night time truck ban must be maintained in any resolution of this matter with the State. The new police station recently approved by the City Council will enhance our ability to protect our citizens.

I believe that maximizing the use of, and properly maintaining, what little open space we have in Cambridge is as important as obtaining additional open space. Initiatives such as lighting the track and field facility at Danehy Park and renovating Donnelly Field and Russell Field as well as the upcoming renovations of the Gold Star Park, Harvard Street Park and Gold Star Pool have been critical to this goal. In addition, I have been actively working with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to provide for the transfer of a parcel of land on the Binney Connector to the City for permanent open space. To keep residents active in this process, I proposed that a master list of park renovations along with a report card on the conditions of all parks and tot lots in the City be maintained on the City's website with the ability for the public to comment and rate conditions themselves.

I also believe that the City should do as much as possible to assist and promote the large number and variety of festivals organized by residents of Cambridge. These festivals are a great way to introduce our new neighbors to life long residents. I also believe that the Cambridge Common should be better utilized to include activities such as dramatic presentations, poetry readings or exhibitions by local artists.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
The most pressing transportation concern is the voluminous amount of traffic passing through residential areas. That is why I am a supporter of a city-run shuttle service that serves the entire city. I also support a rail based "Urban Ring" proposal to connect the core of the Boston area from Columbia Point through Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Everett. Additionally, I have supported the requirement that developers must go through a project review that considers the traffic impact of a project, and requires developers to put in place measures to encourage ride sharing, the use of mass-transit, and bicycling as alternative means of commuting.

Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
As a result of many of the excellent choices made by the City Council during good times, Cambridge is one of the few cities that weathered the recent economic downturn without major cutbacks in the services you deserve and expect. During the good times, I advocated for the City to keep it simple: to maintain its commitment to affordable housing, to provide more open space in neighborhoods with little open space such as Area 4, Mid-Cambridge and East Cambridge, to ensure neighborhood safety, to promote responsible and thoughtful development, and to provide more efficient delivery of City services. I fought hard for the City to spend wisely on core services during good times, and we were able to maintain these services during bad times.

However, because the current state-mandated real estate tax is not progressive, an increasingly heavy burden falls on those owners and renters who can least afford it. To provide necessary tax relief for them, I have recently introduced Council Orders to implement a real estate transfer fee on sales in excess of $1,000,000 and a 3% surcharge on the hefty fees received by real estate agents selling property in Cambridge, as well as a 1% surcharge on the interest in excess of $1-million received on endowments by certain tax exempt organizations in the City. The estimated $15-million received annually from these fee programs would be used to reduce the real estate taxes of low-to-moderate income owner-occupants of residential property as well as that of non owner-occupants of residential property who rent to low-to-moderate income individuals at below market rate.

In addition, residential homeowners of Cambridge won a major victory over Governor Mitt Romney when, through my efforts, the Massachusetts House and Senate passed, then overrode the Governor's veto of, Cambridge's home rule petition to increase the residential property tax exemption from 20% to 30%. This has saved the average homeowner hundreds of dollars per year in owner-occupied residential property taxes.

As you consider the candidates for City Council, be very wary of those candidates who promise to reduce your real estate taxes while maintaining and even increasing municipal services. We have seen Republican Presidents and Governors promise the same thing only to have our services drastically cut and the most vulnerable in our society have suffered the most.

Finally, I have been an active sponsor of increasing the ability of the public to interface with local government through its website. I was the first to sponsor many e-government initiatives such as allowing residents to use the City's website to pay certain fees, requiring the Election Commission to post campaign finance reports online, as well as providing the City's ethics forms available online. I have recently introduced a Council Order to have all Council meetings on streaming video and meetings of all Council committees and public boards and commissions on streaming audio.

Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
I support the reasonable requests by residents to protect their neighborhoods from large developments.

As Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, I was pleased to work with my colleagues to recently adopt a zoning amendment providing that any proposed development in the Massachusetts Ave Overlay District involving the addition of more than 2,000 sq ft. but less than 50,000 sq. ft. of gross floor area be subject to a larger project review consultation. This amendment was in response to the problems which occurred in connection with the Long's Funeral Home site.

In addition, the Council also adopted a zoning amendment that requires that one parking space be provided for every dwelling unit in any existing building converted to residential use which was not necessarily a previous zoning requirement.

Human Services Programs:
As a former member of the Board of Directors of several non-profit organizations including the East End House and the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC), where I served as President, I know the need and the City's commitment to providing for our most vulnerable residents. I am proud that, through effective financial management, the City has been able to continue the broad range of services it provides to our neighbors.

Cambridge has always been a city that welcomes immigrants from many countries into our neighborhoods. The work and cultural diversity they contribute is an enormous benefit to the City. But real political power can only come through citizenship. Proposals, such as voting in school committee elections, does not provide real political power. The City must fund a sustained citizenship program to encourage, train and process non-citizens through the citizenship bureaucracy so that they can participate fully in the political process. And we must renounce organizations, such as the Sierra Club, with Board members who espouse an anti-immigrant program.

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation: (see Quality of Life)

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
As an avid recycler, I am a firm believer that every attempt at new construction or renovation, environmentally friendly products and technologies should be used, as they can represent a small fraction of overall construction costs. I wholeheartedly support, where possible, the switch to zero emission and low speed municipal vehicles; especially with the delivery of City services that necessitate a regular travel route. With larger transport vehicles, I support the purchase of more fuel-efficient and cleaner burning vehicles. To ensure that these goals are met, I would work with the City Manager's office and other departments to arrive at a timetable when a certain percentage of purchases, services delivery, and municipal assets meet these environmental guidelines at a reasonable cost to the city. I would then file a City Council order that sets a firm deadline for departments to meet these goals.

I firmly believe in bonding for providing open space, requiring developers to either fund or construct a significant amount of useable open space as part of any proposal, or allocating funds as part of the budget process for creating open space. I was the only City Councilor to propose and advocate through bonding the taking, by eminent domain, 10 acres of the then abandoned and unused land in East Cambridge to be utilized to create a reservation similar to the Fresh Pond Park in West Cambridge. Not only would this have provided much needed open space in the most congested part of the City, it would have prevented the massive Lyme Properties development currently being built on that site.

I support airport shuttle vans, private shuttles, business shuttles, etc., anything that takes 10 or 20 drivers and their cars off the road and puts them into one van. There are just too many good economic, public safety, environmental, and public health reasons to ignore this alternative means of transportation that, with planning, can be implemented with minimal impact on our neighborhoods.

I fully support that all new municipal construction utilize green technologies. I supported the creation of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which takes funding from a small surcharge on energy bills and hands out awards for Green Buildings, Green Schools, and Green Power initiatives. Through this innovative program, the state provides matching funds to private and public projects to encourage the use of green materials and technologies. As State Representative I secured $630,000 from the Commonwealth's Green School's initiative to install solar panels, a wind turbine demonstration project, classroom skylights and other cutting edge environmental design strategies for Somerville's new Capuano Elementary School which was recently opened in the district I represent.

Finally, I believe the City must be pro-active when confronted with public health problems, such as the recent increase in rodents in certain neighborhoods. We must immediately discover the causes of the current rodent problem and take the appropriate steps to eliminate them quickly. The City's commitment to public health and the quality of life for all its residents, not just those in affluent neighborhoods, demand immediate action.

I have voted every year in support of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund which has so far leveraged $200 million affordable housing investments. I also voted in favor of the Community Preservation Act and the allocation of 80% of these funds to affordable housing. In addition, I have supported changes in zoning to allow for the construction of housing in what were previously zoned for industrial use as well as the requirement for inclusionary zoning which has already created 139 units of affordable housing with more to come. I strongly believe that these are the best responses we currently have to preserve the unique character of Cambridge neighborhoods. I will continue to support creative solutions to the difficult problems of providing affordable housing in this City such as the proposal to expand the eligibility requirement for affordable housing to residents of moderate income. The current ballot question on rent control is not the solution.

Arts and Public Celebrations: (see Quality of Life)

University Relations:
It is time for a paradigm shift. Throughout our history, these large institutions have been considered not-for-profit organizations. We must recognize these large institutions as the big businesses that they really are. We must require them to pay their fair share for the City services they use while protecting those organizations that are in fact and deed providing charitable services.

The salaries and benefits paid by these institutions to top management would be the envy of many businesses in the country. My Council Order implementing a 1% surcharge on a portion of the earnings on their endowments to fund a program to allow for the reduction of the real estate tax burden on low-to-moderate income owners and renters will help ensure that Cambridge remains a diverse city.

Civic participation:
Cambridge is blessed with a long history of community service by a wealth of talented residents. Unfortunately, many boards require that its members put in long hours. This often limits the ability of members of working families with children to offer their services and skews the composition of these boards. And while we tend to choose people with professional experience for particular boards, we should not overlook community involvement and common sense. We should also consider the possibility of stipends for members and other creative solutions such as childcare for members. I also believe that the meetings of all boards be made available on the City's web site through streaming audio to open up the process.

Cambridge Public Schools:
I believe drastic changes are needed to improve the education of Cambridge school children. Despite one of the highest per capita spending amounts in the State, Cambridge students' test scores rank among the lowest in the State. I believe one of the reasons for this has been the unequal distribution of resources so that students who need the most help are not getting it. In fact, I have voted against school budgets to express my dissatisfaction.

Although I was cautiously optimistic that the new Superintendent would instill a new sense of enthusiasm and interest throughout the system - in teachers, administrators, parents and, in particular, students - I have been disappointed that this has not occurred. My goal of bringing educational equity to all our students has not been realized and any progress has been extremely slow. I was willing to give the new administration the benefit of the doubt this past Council term, but if re-elected I intend again to closely monitor the activities of our school system.

I choose to run for office to do what I love: helping the hard working families of Cambridge secure a better quality of life. Whether it is putting up stop signs at dangerous intersections, fixing potholes and streetlights, ensuring that the City budget provides for additional police officers, or fighting for the immediate resolution of the rodent problem in certain neighborhoods, I treat every constituent issue with the same commitment and determination to make Cambridge better for all that live here. No issue is too small to be overlooked, or too big to tackle. You expect and deserve the best, and I put my best into everything I do.

It is an honor and privilege to serve as your City Councillor. I am prepared to continue to provide the leadership to face the challenges of our diverse and ever-changing City. But the important things never change: hard work, persistence, and a commitment to the values of community and family that make Cambridge such a wonderful place to live. Getting the job done FOR YOU is more than a campaign slogan. I work hard every day to meet that commitment to the residents of Cambridge.

As you review the candidates and the issues, I believe that if you are looking for someone who gets the job done, for someone to fight for your concerns, and for someone who cares deeply about the future of Cambridge, the choice is clear. With your help, and your #1 Vote on Election Day, November 8, 2005, I look forward to continuing my work making Cambridge an even better place to live.

Page last updated July 01, 2007 Cambridge Candidates