In the War to Annex Somerville, Cambridge Is the Loser

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone has an amusing response to our piece.



What’s clear in the coming regional war between eastern Massachusetts municipalities is that Cambridge is going to lose.

In our latest issue, Colin Kingsbury suggested that Boston forcibly annex the surrounding communities of Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy … he gets pretty ambitious. Just one problem:  “Somerville mayor Joe Curtatone can be counted on to mount a defense worthy of the Alamo,” Kingsbury writes.

Indeed he can. Curtatone posted his lengthy reply to the piece on Facebook, Wednesday. If Boston tried to launch a regional takeover, Somerville would form a northern alliance, he suggested, and with the benefit of higher ground, it would defend itself, and reach out to more distant allies like Quincy to overwhelm Boston from all sides. Finally, he adds:

Though Boston might initially be able to annex Cambridge, we’d retaliate with an open streets festival offensive. Waves of street performers, local bands, artists and artisans, specialty foods vendors and craft brewers would descend upon Cambridge. The spontaneous celebration it kicked off would drive the Boston forces back across the Charles. It would essentially be like the allies liberating Paris in World War II.

And then, as Mayor of the newly formed Somerbridge, I’d offer Boston generous terms of surrender.

Curtatone’s point is that a charismatic leader could mount a united resistance. Divided, communities like Chelsea and Dedham might fall. But together, they would maintain sovereignty, all thanks to Curtatone. Like Stalin at Yalta, all he’d ask his disparate allies in return is to stand aside while he takes what’s his—in this case, Cambridge.

Oh yes, did you notice that subtle pivot? In Curtatone’s hypothetical, though the surrounding communities won their war with Boston, Cambridge didn’t keep its independence. Instead, overwhelmed by the artisanal jams and twee tiny museums, it submitted itself to Somerville’s dominion. Who knows how this weird, fictional game of Risk we’re all playing would actually turn out, but one outcome is certain.  Caught between two warring powers, like WWII Poland, Cambridge must accept that its days as an independent municipality are numbered.