Tim Toomey

Tim Toomey
2009 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
88 Sixth Street
Cambridge MA 02141
Tel: 617-576-6483

580 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 02141
Tel: 617-250-8630

Contact information:
e-mail: timtoomey@aol.com 
website: www.timtoomey.org 
community blog: http://timtoomey.blogspot.com

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 tenth term as a member of the City Council, and is Chair of both the Public Safety Committee and 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 housing opportunities for all.

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.

Recently, Tim filed An Act Relative to the Provision of Services to the City of Cambridge by the Cambridge Energy Alliance which would allow the City of Cambridge to contract with the Cambridge Energy Alliance (CEA) for municipal energy advisory services, and would in turn require CEA to use all net revenue from contracting with the City to support energy efficiency initiatives for municipal buildings in Cambridge.

Tim currently is a member of the Joint Committee on Public Health, the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security 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, which guarantees 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 and to submit items for the Community Event Calendar on his community blog (http://timtoomey.blogspot.com).

Top Priorities:

Quality of Life and Public Safety:
More than anything else, I believe people decide where to live based on the quality of life they believe they'll find. 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 Police Commissioner's innovative community policing activities, including increased bicycle patrols and an expanded drug unit. I am pleased with the Police Commissioner's visibility in our neighborhoods through his active participation in community meetings and commend him for his access to residents of our City. I encourage all residents to visit our new police station, located at 125 Sixth Street, which enhances our ability to protect our citizens.

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 red light cameras at certain dangerous intersections to enhance pedestrian safety, a technology whose beneficial applications have been seen in other communities. In addition, the substance of the night time truck ban must be maintained in any resolution of this matter with the State.

I believe that maximizing the use of and properly maintaining the open space we currently 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, Costa Lopez Taylor Park and community gardens, and Gold Star Pool along with the recent construction of a new park at 238 Broadway have been critical to achieving this goal. Yet much more needs to be done.

This year, I worked closely with the community in East Cambridge during vigorous discussions with Alexandria Real Estate Equities (ARE), and we succeeded in securing significant benefits for the neighborhood. Responding to the needs and concerns of people in the neighborhood, we fought for and won a mitigation package that offers an exciting opportunity to revitalize the greater Kendall Square area. In addition to the 220 units of housing and 20,000 square feet of retail space, the neighborhood will see the creation of a 2.5-acre park and 52,000 square feet of community and municipal space. Additionally, East Cambridge residents will see even more open space thanks to the $6 million East Cambridge Open Space fund created during these negotiations which will make Cambridge an even stronger community.

Finally, 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 use as a dog park. 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 to keep residents active in this process.
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, and 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. I am working closely with our neighbors and the MBTA to ensure the new Lechmere station will be easily accessible to all Cambridge residents, attractively designed, and user-friendly.

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. I will again submit a Council Order to require the City to subsidize the cost and to encourage the use of bicycles by City employees.

Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
As a result of many of the prudent 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 expect and deserve. During the good times, I advocated for the City to keep it simple: to maintain its commitment to housing opportunities for all, 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 thanks to our prudent management, we have been able to maintain services in bad times. Cambridge remains one of only twelve cities in the country with an AAA bond rating, and we have held the line on taxes without cutting critical services or imposing fees on youth sports, arts programming, and trash collection - painful steps other cities have had to take but we have managed to avoid.

In addition, several years ago Cambridge homeowners won a major victory over Governor Mitt Romney when, through my efforts, the Massachusetts House and Senate passed and 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 the internet. 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, and 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.

I support a wide variety of proposals that will remove existing barriers to the process and encourage civic participation among people of all ages. Initiatives such as same day registration, allowing 17 year-olds to vote in municipal elections, and expanded use of early voting for those who are not able to make it to the polls on Election Day will help to reinvigorate our local elections.

Additionally, community outreach by the Election Commission on a year round basis is an 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 of their vote and the change they can create.

Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density:
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.

Economic Development:
I support the reasonable request by residents to protect their neighborhoods from large developments. Our negotiations with Alexandria Real Estate Equity Inc. (ARE) are a case in point.

Since the build-out of Kendall Square began in the 1970s, eastern Cambridge has witnessed a massive transformation in which the vacant lots of the 1960s have become the high-tech, cutting-edge facilities that now silhouette the skyline. While the developments have provided jobs to residents and substantial tax revenue to the City as a whole, they have also exposed the inequity of open space east of Inman Square.

When the City Council voted in February to approve zoning changes proposed by ARE, the occasion marked a significant victory in East Cambridge's long fight to acquire more open space and revitalize the neighborhood. In exchange for the eased zoning restrictions, ARE will provide to the neighborhood a comprehensive compensation package that provides for much-needed new open space, community space, housing, retail and commercial space, and mitigates the traffic and noise impacts of the project.

Responding to the needs and concerns of the people of East Cambridge, ARE's mitigation package has presented their neighborhood with an exciting opportunity for enhanced urban revitalization; with an emphasis on residents' quality of life, and maintaining the rich cultural heritage that makes East Cambridge unique, the provision of a 2.5 acre park with $8.5-million for construction of that park, $6 million for the acquisition of additional open space, 220 units of housing, 20,000 square feet for retail space and 52,000 square feet of community and municipal space will help to continue to build and strengthen the neighborhood.

The measured and deliberate back-and-forth of negotiations and public meetings with ARE represents the best aspects of a new approach and sets a precedent for transparency and community involvement in large-scale development. Instead, residents are speaking up, taking part in the discussion, and reshaping the direction of development in the City.

Over the past year there has been an inclusive and extensive public discussion about ARE's proposal and the opportunities being provided to the community. Through more than thirty public meetings, City ordinance meetings, and neighborhood discussions, a comprehensive set of community priorities was developed and refined by the residents and community leaders and was presented to the developers.

In an opinion piece published by the Cambridge Chronicle on January 1, 2009, titled More planning needed before East Cambridge lab project begins, the East Cambridge Planning Team (ECPT) outlined the community's priorities. The op-ed highlighted the need for mitigation in four general areas: Mixed use development; noise; traffic and parking; and, open space.

I am pleased to say that ARE responded to community input, offering a mitigation package of a size and scope unprecedented in the development of the area.

Highlights of the mitigation package:

  • A 2.5 acre park, with $8.5 million for design and construction
  • $6 million for the acquisition of additional open space
  • 220 residential units (some market rate, some low income affordable house, and some for a pilot program for middle income residents)
  • The 52,000 square foot Foundry Building for community and municipal space
  • 20,000 square feet of retail space
  • 10,000 square feet of commercial space
  • Strictest noise regulation available today.
    o  Complete overhaul of building mechanicals.
    o  Noise will be inaudible from over 100 feet.
  • Incentives and accommodation for employees who use alternate forms of transportation.

In addition, the development will provide much-needed job opportunities to local residents, and help to keep taxes low for individual property owners.

Other benefits from the development include:

  • $12 million in annual property taxes for the City
  • 3,000 life science jobs
  • Hundreds of construction jobs

As this development proceeds there will be ample opportunities for the neighborhood to help guide the development process moving forward, and community input will be essential at every step to ensure that the developer's commitments are met.

The need for this ongoing vigilance is shown in two ongoing projects. First, because of the legal wrangling over the ownership of NorthPoint, I have requested constant updates on the status of the project 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. Second, the developer of 303 Third Street is attempting to renege on its promise to the City to develop "a community alive with intellectual curiosity" by failing to honor its agreements to those who have signed purchase and sales agreements, most of whom are current residents of the City. My colleagues supported my Council Order to support these residents in their legal actions against the developer and to inform the appropriate City departments and boards that the Council will not support any attempts to change the developer's agreements with the City.

I will support the creation of a City database 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.

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

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
I am proud of the work Cambridge has done to become a leader in reducing greenhouse emissions, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to improve our efforts. I will continue pushing for stringent regulations that require all new development projects and zoning changes to consider and mitigate their environmental impact with the use of solar panels, efficiency standards, public transportation incentives, and development of open green space.

With my support, the City Council has required large new construction projects to meet LEED certification standards and require higher levels of LEED certification for all new developments by 2010. Our City has a proud history of leadership on environmentally sound building practices, and every year we need to look at the most recent ideas and technology to continue that track record. I will support measures or legislation that will expand these practices outside of Cambridge and across the state.

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. I have supported the City's efforts to obtain solar panels for a municipal building through the Mass Wind Project.

I strongly supported the creation of the Cambridge Energy Alliance and its goals of reducing the City's greenhouse emission by 10% by 2011. And, in support of the Cambridge Energy Alliance I filed An Act Relative to the Provision of Services to the City of Cambridge by the Cambridge Energy Alliance. This legislation would allow the City of Cambridge to contract with the Cambridge Energy Alliance (CEA) for municipal energy advisory services, and would in turn require CEA to use all net revenue from contracting with the City to support energy efficiency initiatives for municipal buildings in Cambridge. It would also allow for maximum usage of funds from available programs like the Forward Capacity Market funds, which compensate customers for reductions in energy usage. Along with the free energy audits offered by CEA, residents, businesses, and municipal buildings will have the incentives and the knowledge to lower energy costs and increase efficiency. Leading by example and exploring creative opportunities for energy efficiency will keep our city firmly positioned as a national leader for Green initiatives.

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

I support ride-sharing initiatives and subsidizing bicycle costs for City employees, with the goal of reducing the need to drive a car for people who live and work in the City.

I have also been working with elected officials in Somerville and Medford to expand the Green Line to our neighboring cities to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

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 cherish the Charles and walk along it nearly every day, so I understand that it is a treasure 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 the City should also replicate the efforts of the Charles River Cleanup Boat. The recently opened Boardwalk along the Broad Canal in Kendall Square has been a wonderful addition to the Charles River environment.

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 the taking by eminent domain 10 acres of the once 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 vehicle. 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 and strengthening the City's trash ordinance such as the recently enacted dumpster registration and permitting regulations. The City's commitment to public health and the quality of life for all its residents, not just those in affluent neighborhoods, demands immediate action.

In addition, as a result of a council order I submitted the Public Health Department has been ordered to promulgate a public health regulation that will officially ban Bio Safety Level (BSL) 4 labs from the city of Cambridge and further restrict BSL 3's. The biotechnology industry has been very important to Cambridge's financial stability and ensuring we have strict guidelines in Cambridge will keep our residents safe and further ensure that biotechnology companies want to continue doing business in Cambridge for years to come.

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 have worked to improve my personal habits to reduce my own carbon footprint. I only buy CFL light bulbs for my home and office, I walk to meetings and local events whenever possible, and I have avoided central air conditioning and fans where possible. I am a member and have worked closely with the Sierra Club, the Charles River Conservancy, The Charles River Watershed Association, and the Mystic River Watershed Association.

I am proud to be endorsed for re-election by the Massachusetts Sierra Club.

I have voted every year in support of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund which has so far leveraged $ 152-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 638 units of affordable housing in the last 7 years. In addition, I have supported changes in zoning to allow residential construction in areas previously zoned for industrial use, as well as the requirement for inclusionary zoning which has already created 453 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 housing opportunities for all 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:
I believe that the presence of world-class universities helps make Cambridge great, but our neighbors at Harvard and MIT must pay their fair share as residents of our City. Therefore, I will continue to advocate for my Council Order and proposed State legislation 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.
Only two years ago, 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. Despite the current economic downtown, in the long run such a program, incorporating a base amount payment in lieu of taxes, would protect the City during more difficult economic times but require these large non-profit institutions to share in windfall earnings from their large endowments during prosperous times.

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:
While I will be giving the new Superintendent the opportunity to address my concerns, I believe drastic changes are needed to improve the education of Cambridge schoolchildren. Despite spending more per student than nearly anywhere else in the Commonwealth, Cambridge schools' test scores, while improving, still rank among the lowest in Massachusetts. I believe we need to focus on an equal distribution of our educational resources so that we can provide educational opportunities to the students who need it most.

In addition, building on our renovation program at Cambridge Rindge & Latin, we must continue to invest in our aging educational infrastructure, ensuring that all of our school buildings meet current standards required for educational and environmental excellence.

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.
Your Neighborhood ~ Your Voice 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 3, 2009. I look forward to continuing my work making Cambridge better for all who live here.

Candidate's 2007 responses 

CCTV candidate video 

Page last updated September 19, 2009 Cambridge Candidates