Wednesday, December 19, 2007

City of Cambridge's ADA Self-evaluation given reprieve In City Council Monday night!

The City of Cambridge was required to conduct a Self-evaluation by the Department of Justice, as spelled out in Public Law 101-336, the Civil Rights Act of 1990, otherwise known as the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Section 35.105 Self-evaluation.
(a) A public entity shall, within one year of the effective date of this part, evaluate its current services, policies, and practices, and the effects thereof, that do not or may not meet the requirements of this part and, to the extent modifications of any such services, policies, and practices is required, the public entity shall proceed to make the necessary modifications.
(b) A public entity shall provide an opportunity to interested persons, including individuals with disabilities or organizations representing individuals with disabilities, to participate in the self-evaluation process by submitting comments.
(c) A public entity that employes 50 or more persons shall, for at least three years following completion of the self-evaluation, maintain on file and make available for public inspection:
(1) A list of the interested persons consulted
(2) A description of the areas examined and any problems identified; and
93) A description of any modifications made.
(d) If a public entity has already complied with the self-evaluation requirement of a regulation implementing section 504 of the Rehabilition Act of 1973, then the requirements of this section shall apply only to those policies and practices that were not included in the previous self-evaluation.


1. Designate a Responsible Employee as ADA Coordinator 1/26/92
2. Provide Notice 1/26/92
3. Establish Grieveance Proceedure 1/26/92
4. Conduct Self-Evaluation completed by 1/26/93
5. Develop Transition Plan completed by 7/26/92
6. Complete Structural Changes completed by 1/26/95


Three-Phase Process

Phase I: Planning for compliance
Phase II: Conducting the self-evaluation
Phase III: Implementing modifications

The three phases are not chronologically distinct. Phases II and III, in particular, overlap extensively. Discriminatory policies, practices, and procedures identified in the self-evaluation should be modified as soon as possible, even before the self-evaluation is completed.

On Monday evening the City Council, on a voice vote, referred the City Manager's report back to City Council, re requesting that the City's ADA Self-evaluation be placed on the City's web site, to next year's City Council and placed the matter on unfinished business.

Thanks to everyone who is helping with this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Senior Computer Lab closed most of the day

The Computer Lab at the Senior Center in Cambridge, MA. has two rows of computers, making a total of ten. We have three printers.

This photo was taken at 1:12pm, after several folks came in to the lab, only to be disapointed because it was closed. IE, not staffed. The pool room ajacent to the computer lab is open, however, as staff need not monitor the pool tables.

The hours of the city of Cambridge's Senior center computer lab are quite limited. Currently they are Mon: 9am-12 and 3pm-5; Tues: 1-3pm; Wed; 1-4:15pm; Thurs: 9-11:15am; Fri: 1-3pm; and Sat 9:30 -11:15am. Actually, they are sometimes cut short, because, in most cases it is volunteers who staff the computer lab. Sometimes the lab time will be cancelled without notice, whit seniors who arrive, expecting to be able to check their email, without access. Total schedualled hours this week = 16 1/4 hrs!!!

The Sr Center is closed Friday afternoons, which we used to have access to the computers from 1-4;30pm. There are schedualed computer classes on some mornings: this week for 1 1/2 hrs on Wed and informally on Friday morning.

The computer lab at the Sr center is a great resorce and provides acces to the web, email, education, keep in touch with family across the country, and world wide, access to City Council meetings, and other city services and programs, information, entertainment, photography, etc. We have 10 computers, which are usb capable, and 3 printers, one blk and wt, and two colour. This is truely a wonderful recorce, but....

What a shame that it goes to waste most of the time. Out of a possible 48+ hours, the lab is available less than 1/3rd the time. I have many times observed seniors come to the center expecting to be able to use the computers, only to discover the schedual on the black board, showing when the lab is open. Most folks are surprised, and have expressed frustration. But seniors don't want to complain, they don't want to be a burdon.

Perhaps the city could solve two "problems" with one program? Why not employ youths part time one afternoon per week each, to keep the lab open, and provide quality employment for students with computer skills? why not seek a private partnership to "fund" this worthy effort? gee, how much could it cost? Lets see, @10 per hour, from 2pm-5pm, that is 3 hours, 5 days a week, that would be, oh my, $150.

Would providing the necessary resorces to staff the Senior Center lab fully, so seniors can access the computers even as folks who play pool have access to the pool tables be such a burdon to the City of Cambridge? Are we that poor?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is Cambridge Really the Most Walkable City??

The Cambridge Chronicle has a story on their web site, see link below, reporting about the "survey" done by the AARP. However, as yopu can see in my comments, it is not the survey done by the AARP that is relevant, but the survey done by the Mass Architectural Access Board that counts. The City of Cambridge has been maintaining or sidewalks in violation of Mass State Safety Code for years, and we have been paying for this faulty work.

Here is the comment I left on the Chronicle's blog...

The City of Cambridge has been ignoring both the Mass State Safety Code and the Federal Standards mandated by the Americane With Disabilities Act of 1990 for years now. Even after
I, and others, complained to the City in writing, and in testimony at various hearings, the City continued to reconstruct and maintain the sidewalks in violation of regulations and standards.

Many folks fell and suffered serious injuries during this period of trying to get the City to repair and maintain the sidewalks legally. The City, even with injured folks coming to City Council meetings to testify, continued to defy all laws governing how sidewalks should be reconstructed or maintained. Therefore, last year, March 2006, I began filing a series of Mass Safety Board complaints with the MAAB. In order to review such complaints, the MAAB must determing jurisdiction. To do that they request information from the City, namely, the date and permitting records for the most recent alterations of the sidewalk complained about. When a City allows a sidewalk to be dug up, and concrete or bricks removed, and a new surface to be installed, a permit should be issued. These records, when they are kept by the City of Cambridge, are kept by date and not be location, making it exceedingly hard to "find."

However, it seems that the City of Cambridge never issued permits for the illegally repaired sidewalks, because, as was explained to me, "We paid for it out of the minor repair budget." I was told that because they used the minor repair budget, the alterations didn't trigger compliance with safety board regulations. However, the City is wrong. It is the extent of the work performed, and not the budget that was used to pay the contractor that is at issue. After all, why would the Taxpayers want to pay millions of dollars to fix our sidewalks, and do the work wrong, so pedestrians safety was still a problem?

In spite of the City's failure to issue or "find" permitting information, I was able to supply the Safety Board with enough factual information, including photos, so the Board was able to determing jurisdiction in half the complaints I filed. The City continued avoid the issue, and finally the Safety Board came to Cambridge and surveyed the sidewalks in question. Result? Many outstanding violations. Although the AAPD may be wellmeaning, they may lack the expertise, and the knowledge of safety standards, and access standards required by both State and Federal Law, therefore, it is not the AAPD survey that is important, but the survey conducted by the MAAB that is relavent.

The MAAB ordered the City of Cambridge to fix the bad sidewalks by december 1, 2006, and provide photos, or a plan to prove the violations were corrected, or impossible to correct. To date, the City has not complied with the MAAB's orders. I will update folks on this issue on my blog, at, or my All About City Council blog at

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Leaf Blowers, Noise and Fumes

This is the City's landscape maintainance company, with a truck spewing black fumes into the air. This was taken at Dana Park on a hot day, when folks who like to save energy were keeping their windows open to get a breath of fresh air instead of using the air conditioner. As you can see, the puff of black smoke got bigger and bigger and the breeze blew it right into the open windows of the homes of folks who lived across from the park. This is a "high tech" application of mulch, which is blown out through hugh tubes onto the base of the trees in the park. The black fumes are from the engine.

I oppose leaf blowers for the same reason. Although both this truck and the leaf blowers make a huge racket, it is the fumes, dust and debris, containing small particles, including virus, bacteria and fungus that I really am concerned about. let me ask you this, would you use a leaf blower in your living room?

Katie and Friends

My, what big ears you have, Katie!

No matter how hot it is, these pooches love going out to the Dog Park in Cambridge.

Sweet, sweet sweeties...

Cambridge Dogs are just beautiful!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Take Me Out To The Dog Park!!

Here are some photos of dogs living it up in the Fort Washington Dog Park in Cambridge MA. below please find my answers to questions posed by The Cambridge Dog owner's group.


Candidate’s Name:
Kathy Podgers

Area of City in which you reside:

Have you served on Cambridge City Council before? If yes, for how many years have you served (including this one)?

Although I have never served on Cambridge City Council before, I have attended City Council meetings regularly for the past six years or so. I have also attended committee meetings, testified at hearings, provided written testimony, complete with accurate information, and attended various board and commission meetings. I understand how the current City Council works, and that is one reason that I am running for City Council.

Question 1:
What do you see as the most important issues facing Cambridge right now?

Unfortunately, there are many important issues facing Cambridge that have not been addressed or resolved in previous years by the Current City Council. They include, but are not limited to, Transparency and Truth in City Government, the proper balance of the Built Up Environment with the Natural Environment, Effective Community Policing, Quality of Life Issues, such as Dog Parks and Snow Clearance, Housing, Budget Management and Taxes, and Transportation and Traffic, such as the impending decision about the Urban Ring, among others.

If you were elected, how would you begin to address the above-mentioned issues? Briefly describe using measurable goals and objectives.

The City Council is responsible for Policy Making in the City, and the City Manager charged with implementing the Policies set by the City Council. Currently the Council adopts goals every two years, and the City Manager forwards these to the Departments where, if they do write measurable objectives, I have never seen them.

I would, if elected, recommend a plan where Council sets goals, and sends a Policy Order to the City manager, requesting he have the pertinent department/s write measurable objectives to meet the goals that are set. Then, periodically, the Council can send the Manager a Policy Order requesting a progress report. This will result in better management and oversight, and result in issues and concerns actually being resolved in a timely way.

Question 2:

Would you support the creation of “dedicated dog parks” (safe, fenced parks created for families with dogs to recreate with one another and their pets) in Cambridge?

Yes, I support Dog Parks.

If YES, please list measurable goals and objectives you, as a city councilor, would pursue If NO, please state why not.

I would set goals by working with others, all the stake holders, such as providing a Dog Park within walking distance in each major neighborhood in the City. Then I would write a policy order requesting the City Manager to have the relevant Departments to write measurable objectives, including but not limited to, a time line, obtaining the space, developing a budget, and including community input, etc, with a provision that these objectives be reported back In City Council, and with periodic progress reports to City Council.

Question 3:

Would you support the creation of “shared use parks” for families with dogs (allowing dog owners to engage recreationally with one another and their pets during specified hours in specified parks and athletic fields) in Cambridge?

Yes, I support shared use parks. This must be managed wisely to avoid complaints and unintended consequences.

If YES, please list measurable goals and objectives you, as a city councilor, would pursue If NO, please state why not.

Please see above…I do not believe in setting goals by one person or group, but goal setting, to work properly, must be done in such a way that the community as a whole is agreeable. The City Manager is by law responsible for implementing policy, and he should have his departments write the measurable objectives. This should be reported back In City Council, and if there are concerns, then referred to Committee for resolution, or returned back to the City Manager for more work. The City Council should not just vote to accept and place on file, the Manager’s reports, especially when they are not responsive to the Policy Order.

Question 4:

Do you typically spend time in Cambridge parks, playgrounds or athletic fields?

Yes, I enjoy the outdoors, and spend much of my time there.

If YES, please list the parks you visit, an approximate number of times you visit in the average week, and the general activity/ies in which you engage
(e.g., watching soccer games, reading, picnicking)


Dana Park
Walking dog, photography, socializing

Pacific St Dog Park
5x weekly
Enjoying my dog running free, socializing

Magazine Beach
2x weekly
Photography, enjoying natural environment, viewing wildlife

Question 5:

Have you visited Pacific Street Park, Cambridge’s first dedicated dog park? Fort Washington? Fresh Pond or the Danehy Park dog run?

Yes, I used to go to Fort Washington, but after the death of the little dog who and the fencing issues, I now go to Pacific St Park. I have been to Fresh Pond several times.

Question 6:

Are you or a member of your household responsible for the care of a pet?
I own and care for my Service Animal, a Siberian Husky, which by law is not a pet. Service Animals, which include guide dogs, need to run and socialize as much as pets.

Question 7:

Is there anything else you would like Cambridge dog owners to know?

I have always supported Dog Parks, and the integration of dogs in society. I have never equivocated on this issue. Dogs are an essential aspect for human health. Please see the link on my campaign blog to Delta Society, which has a wealth of information on the value of dogs in society. In addition, we must realize that dogs are dumb, that is they are unable to speak for themselves, and we should, therefore, speak up for them and their welfare.

Kathy Podgers
148 Pearl Street, 02139

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

After you shovel the snow

After ypou shovel the snow from the sidewalk in front of your house, and, if you live on a corner, from the sidewalk along the side of your house, and from the curb ramp, so your neighbors, who are disabled can access the sidewalk from the crosswalk, and folks who use baby strollers can get by, and seniors using walkers, and folks whpo are blind with canes...
The City comes by and plows a snow poop into the curb ramp you cleared the day before.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Safety Code Violations?

The State of Mass has regulations that include what is called in the law as 521 CMR 3.10, which requires that wgen the construction of a street or sidewalk blocks the walkway, that an accessible route be provided, and that appropiate signs and other protective devises by used.

We often see the City of Cambrridge comply with this regulation in Harvard Sq, especially during the current construction projects. A sign will be set up stating Pedestrians ----> and there will be a temporary curb ramp set in place so strollers and wheelchairs and others can negitiate the curb. Cones and even tape is put in place to seperate pedestrians from traffic. This remains in place even when the workers leave for lunch, or for the day.

These photos were taken this summer on Pearl Street, where no accessible route was ever setup, and where a gaping open pit was left overnight for folks to trip into when crossing the street. This is a safety hazard, and the City should make sure that the regulations are followed in our neighborhood streets and not just in Harvard Sq.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Red Sox Clinch! Here's My Pitch...

Podgers NOT the Dodgers!!
On this day, September 30, in 1926, Robin Roberts was born. Among other thing he played in the 1950 World Series, and had 6 consecutive 20 game seasons. He was never a dodger!
On this day, September 30, 1932, Johnny Podres was born. He appeared in two World Series, and played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the LA Dodgers.
On This Day, September 30, 1947, the World Series came to TV. The Brooklyn Dodgers were beaten by the NY Yankees, 5-3.
Today I am launching my new campaign pitch, using a slogan given to me by my neighbor who was concerned folks couldn't rember my name...Podgers not the Dodgers! What does this slgan mean? It means that the Dodgers in City Council, nice people, our friends and neighbors, but who have been dodging serious issues for all too long, can and should be beaten in the race for City Council.
So, folks, now you can rember my name, and of course cheer me on, even as you cheer on our Red Sox, the underdogs for all too long.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Public Safety: Sidewalks in the City of Cambridge

Below please find my comment as published on the Ragged Edge, an online magazine. Since I have been advocating for safe sidewalks in Cambridge, and even though I have provided a wealth of information to all the current City Councillors, as well as DPW and the City's Disabilities Commission, and the Cambridge Commission for Persons With Disabilities, I have had nothing by harrassment from the City.

Please refer to the comment within the main story, Dying in the Streets, that I was responding to, from another citizen who tried to insure safe passage for folks in his town...

Yet a Meadville PA man who sued his city over the lack of curb cuts was reportedly harrassed by fellow citizens, who evidently did not approve of his taking the city to court.

I have tried to shed light on this serious Public Safety issue, but in response to a question, Mayor, what is your response to what Ms Podgers just presented?" during the Candidates Forum held at the Graham and Parks school, the current Mayor of our City referred to me as "Darkness."

The sad fact remains that it is the residents and taxpayers of this City who are in darkness because our City Councillors fail to tell you what is really going on. They do not want you to know, and I suspect that is because they do not want you to be involved. They do want you to know all the wonderful things they are doing, however, and they often take credit for things that have either not been done, or that someone else has done.

The best way dis-include the public is to fail to provide the pertinant information. After all, if the public does not know about it, they won't complain.

Please do refer to the rather lenghty article, and find my comment, near the end, and please also leave your own comments below. (you can leave anonymous comments)

Although I have filed these complaints, I prefer to work from within. I am effective working from within, and can get the best results from bringing folks together to find effective and sustainable solutions.

From the Ragged Edge....

I am not "no one" anymore! {{No one had filed a complaint about the lack of curb cuts along Bensen's street, said police. Starkloff called that response 'a poor excuse."}}

On March 9th, I filed a complaint agains't the City of Cambridge MA with the Mass Architectural Access Board. The City has sidewalks, city services, that are in a continous state of disrepair due to the City's Sidewalk Inspection and Minor Repair program. This Program inspects for vertical displacement only. And makes repairs when vertical displacement is 1 1/2", which makes this program, itself, non compliant! In addition, the City's curb ramp measurement assessment does NOT include landings or level landings!

The City of Cambridge has over 3900 curb ramps, and claims that only 109 continue to be "in bad condition" and non compliant!

I kid you not, that is what is claimed by the most recent report In City Council re the progress of the City's compliance with the ADA!

What has been going on is the City will repave or repair, or even rebuild the curb ramp or sidewalk, and do it wrong! They fix it wrong. So after thousands of dollars in repairs, improvements, etc, the curb ramp remains non compliant and the sidewalk inaccessable! Thousands of folks are forced into the streets in the city of Cambridge everyday!!

I filed this complaint using one intersection as "an example" both to protect the taxpayer and to make sure that as we repave our streets and sidewalks, access is provided. Ooops, that is the law, isn't it?

The two main problems of this intersection are the recently repaved sidewalks and curb ramps are inaccessable due to the extreem cross slope, in some places 7%; and there are no landings on the curb ramps, you come up and run into a wall or fence, and the cross slopes are to steep to allow safe turning. These curb ramps do not line up with the sidewalks.

The complaint is Docket number C06 017, and you can certainly let folks at the MAAB know how you feel about this. Write to...

The Commonwealth of Mass
Department of Public Safety
Architectural Access BoardOne Ashburton Place,
Room 1310
Boston MA, 02108-1618
Fax 617 727 0665
Posted by: Kathy Podgers March 26, 2006 11:16 PM

Friday, September 28, 2007

Violent Crime On the Increase in Cambridge?

We welcome the new Police commissioner Robert Haas to Cambridge, and his arrival comes none to soon. The photo above shows the Commissioner in Sullivan Chambers last August 29th, and we were all back for public input for the Crime Task Force last Tuesday evening.

The photo above shows police searching for baliatic evidence, and they found plenty, at a shooting that took place right across from my home. The bullet casings were found on the street and sidewalk, strewn along the whole block. Most residents feel this shooting is drug related, and this kind of "disturbance" is being seen all too frequently throughout Cambridge.

The photo above shows that the crime scene was expanded as the police found more evidence. Neighbors were justifiably frightened and I observed several neighbors fleeing the scene of the shooting by running up the street. In North Cambridge, in a Friday evening meeting with the Police Commissioner, folks expressed dismay at what they felt was an increase in violent crime.

The photo above shows bullet holes in a home on Pleasant Street from another recent shooting. Today there are reports that Govenor Patrick met with his anti-crime task force behind closed doors for two hours with dozens of police chiefs, lawmakers and prosecutors to discuss crime trends in the state and what can be done to address the problem, the meeting was held at the Massasoit Conference Center. While many communities reported a drop in violent crime, communities reporting increases in violent crime included Arlington, Woburn, Everett, Revere and Cambridge. This was reported today in the Brocton Enterprise on line.

We must all work together to understand this challenge, and find effective solutions. Last year I circulated a petition writen by my neighbor, asking for more bike police, and now we have that. But more needs to be done. Please stay tuned to read more of my ideas on how to reverse this unwelcome trend.

Sidewalks in Cambridge

Hi folks, I am working on finding a scanner so I can upload the site reports and other documents issued by the MAAB in response to my complaints about the unsafe coondition of the sidewalks in Cambridge, AFTER the City repaired/reconstructed them. Please come back, I hope to have them up by wed evening at the latest.

In the meantime you can get a copy of my comunication to the City Council, with the site reports and documents, it's in last Monday's agenda by requesting a copy from the City Clerk as these comuncation items are not yet provided on line.

To see the istem on the agenda go to the City of Cambridge web site and click on City Council at the top of the page. Then, on the right, see the date, September 24, and click. This should bring you to the agenda. Scroll down to communications and click to see what communications were recieved into the City Council agenda. The documents should be available in city Hall in the City Clerks office.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Should Cambridge City Council post communications on line?

Folks can submit letters and other documents to the City Clerk to be included in the agenda for the next upcoming City Council meeting by dating and signing the document and addressing it to the City Council. The deadline for submitting this to be included in the upcoming City Council Meeting is 5pm usually the Thursday before the Monday meeting.

I and others often submit documents and letters of importance to the residents and taxpayers. For example, last week I submitted information about the safety of the City's sidewalks and their failure to repair them as ordered by the MAAB.

Please see exerpt from City Council agenda ....

Communications received from Kathy Podgers, regarding repairing and bringing sidewalks/walkways/curb ramps into compliance as ordered by the MAAB.
Additional Attachments are available at the City Clerk's Office.

If the City does not place these communications on line the only way you can view the information is to pick up a copy of the agenda between Friday and Monday's meetings, ot to go to the office of the City Clerk and request a copy.

So, what do you think? Is this information you wish you could view on line?

Will Cambridge City Council allow folks to speak??

In City Council last monday evening the City Council considered a policy order from Craig Kelley that would expand the items on the agenda that folks who come to City Council meetings on Monday night would be allowed to speak on.

Currently, and as a result of a rules change, folks are allowed to speak on only those items that the Council will vote on. It means one cannot speak about items on the Consent Communications nor the Awaiting Report items.

In the past folks could send a letter to City Council to be placed in the Agenda, and then appear In City Council and speak to the letter they submitted. This practice has been curtailed, so many folks find they are unable to petition their government because the topic or issue they wish to address is not on the action agenda.

What action did the Council take on Monday? The Council voted to refer this proposal to the Rules Committee. I will update this post later when we are notified of the final result, and if they have a hearing about this.

So, in while we are waiting for the final decision, what do you think? Should members of the public, and taxpayers, be allowed to come to City Council meetings and speak about those things that concern them and other residents of the City? Please leave your comments or questions below.

I'm on the Ballot for City Council!!

Wow! I am on the Ballot for City Council!

Thanks to all of you who signed my nomination papers!Please leave any comments or questions you have for me right here. You can even leave anonymous questions and I will check back to answer them.