Tim Toomey

Tim Toomey
2007 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 ninth term as a member of the City Council, and is Co-Chair of both the Public Safety Committee and the Government Operations and Rules Committee as well as 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 Committee on Public Health, the Joint Committee on Public Safety 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, Transportation, Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy 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 affects 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 advocate of community policing and support the new Police Commissioner's innovative community policing activities, including increased bicycle patrols and an expanded drug unit. 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 to be completed next year 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, Russell Field, Gold Star Park, Harvard Street Park and Gold Star Pool, the construction of a new park at 238 Broadway and the planned renovation of Costa Lopez Taylor Park 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 and that these activities should be extended to our neighborhood parks.

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 have also actively worked for the extension of the Green Line through Somerville and that the relocation of the Lechmere Station be designed to include safe and accessible pedestrian access. 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 and I recently submitted a Council Order that the city should subsidize the cost and encourage the use of bicycles by city employees.

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 downturns 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. And the City continues to maintain a unique AAA bond rating and has held the line on taxes without cutting critical services or imposing hundreds of dollars in fees such as those on student activities or trash removal as other cities have required
In addition, several years ago, 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.
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 online. Council meetings and meetings of Council committees are now available on the city's website as a result of a Council Order I introduced and I will continue to advocate for all public boards and commissions to be available online.

Government and Elections:
I agree with the recent comment that “voter turn out in municipal only elections has been embarrassingly and dismally low” and I strongly believe that we must begin to open up the electoral process to foster an enthusiasm for voting.

While I support same day registration, community outreach by the Election Commission on a year round basis, rather than during election season, is a more important way to make residents aware of the level of involvement that they can play in municipal and State government. In this process, we need to engage young people and make them truly understand the importance that their vote has and the changes that it can make.

And while I am a fiercely partisan Democrat, we must explore ways to ensure that we select Election Commissioners for their commitment to opening up and enlivening the electoral process rather than just being enrolled as a Democrat or Republican.

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

I will continue to fight to ensure that the further development of NorthPoint results in the open space we have been promised and that NorthPoint is fully integrated into the East Cambridge community.

I continue to support the creation of additional affordable housing but the city and the housing authority must seriously consider the effects of overcrowding that can be caused when certain neighborhoods carry the burden of overpopulation while others enjoy a disproportionately low number of affordable housing units.

I will support the creation of a city data base that will help to link newly vacated store fronts and retail spaces with prospective business owners to ensure that small business thrives in Cambridge.

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. 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 to that end my Council Order established the Cambridge Commission on Immigrant Rights and Citizenship.

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

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
I fully support a requirement that all new municipal construction utilize green technologies. In addition, I believe that it is important that all city funded renovations be required to recycle old building material and to use energy efficient and renewable materials wherever possible. Personally, I am an avid recycler and a stickler for shutting off lights, even in City Hall, when a room is not in use.

I am a firm believer that in 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 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.

With my support, the City Council has made it clear that we expect new construction projects over a certain size be required to meet LEED certification standards and require higher levels of LEED certification for all new developments by 2010. Cambridge has a proud history of supporting environmentally sound building practices and we intend to pass new zoning laws to insure that new construction meets LEED standards in order to continue this legacy.

I have supported the City's efforts to obtain solar panels for a municipal building through the Mass Wind Project. I support ride-sharing initiatives and believe that the city should look into subsidizing the cost of bicycles for city employees. I fully supported the creation of the Cambridge Energy Alliance and their goals of 10% GHG emission by 2011.

The City needs to be more aggressive with the DCR to ensure that they fulfill their obligation to maintain and oversee the open spaces for which they are responsible. Cambridge needs to explore acquiring open spaces from DCR that have been neglected.

There are many trees in the City that lack the proper care they need to flourish. We need to better maintain and care for these trees by adding additional staff to water and prune when necessary. My goal is that every empty tree well in the city be filled with a new planting.

I spend a lot of time enjoying the Charles River, including almost daily walks along the Charles, and it is a treasure that we must not take for granted. Great success has been made in cleaning the Charles, and I fully support all attempts to make the Charles swimmable and safe once again for recreation. The City should offer a subsidy and encourage local companies to take part in “Clean-Up the Charles Days” and that the City replicate the efforts of the Charles River Cleanup Boat.

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. Today we hear residents lament that there is no more available space in the City for large scale open space and often think about the opportunity the City Council missed by not agreeing with my proposal.

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.

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 by strictly enforcing the City's trash ordinance. 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 $209-million affordable housing investments. I also voted in favor of the Community Preservation Act and the allocation of the majority of these funds to affordable housing which has produced 508 units of affordable housing in the last 5 years. 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 450 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.

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, exceeding $500,000 a year. In addition, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007, Harvard University's endowment grew by $5.7-billion to a total of $34.9-billion. In that fiscal year, Harvard paid to the city only $2.1-million in payment in lieu of taxes. To put this into perspective, Harvard's endowment earned enough from midnight to 3:10 AM on January 1, 2007 to pay its total payment in lieu of taxes to Cambridge. How long would it take you to earn enough on your investments to pay your real estate taxes?

It's time for Harvard and other large non profits to pay their fair share of taxes to pay for the services they receive. I will continue to advocate for my Council Order implementing a 1% surcharge on a portion of the earnings on their endowments to fund programs, for example, to allow for the reduction of the real estate tax burden on low-to-moderate income owners and renters helping to 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 to open 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, while improving, 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.

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 with the experience and leadership to get 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 6, 2007, I look forward to continuing my work making Cambridge an even better place to live.

Candidate's 2005 responses 

Page last updated May 10, 2009 Cambridge Candidates