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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
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. . . the Councilors . . . cannot get Mr. Healy to do what they want and . . . appear unwilling to try . . .
City Council needs to develop teeth
At the end of last year, with relatively little public notice or hearings, the Cambridge City Council unanimously extended City Manager Robert Healy's contract for an additional two years.
To those of us who watch City Hall, this extension came as no surprise. In addition to, and probably far more important than, keeping the City's bond rating at a superior level, Mr. Healy has proven to be an admirable flak catcher for the Council. They tell him what to do, he does what he wants and life goes on with little or no meaningful corrections from the Council.
From promoting pedestrian safety in crosswalks to managing shade trees in Linear Park to maintaining the North Mass Ave median strip to investigating non-affordable housing uses for the North Cambridge VFW, I have a stack of Council Orders that the City Manager has, apparently, utterly ignored. The Councilors who have submitted and voted for these Orders are generally delighted to use them as evidence of their support for these issues. However, when the Manager completely ignores the Council's stated desires, these same Councilors are utterly unwilling to bring him to heel. At the most, they may tongue-lash him a bit at a Council meeting, his unspoken duty being to put up with such hypocritical abuse knowing that, when the time comes, he will always get rehired.
In short, the Councilors seem to feel that they, as a body, cannot get Mr. Healy to do what they want and, therefore, they appear unwilling to try. As long as the bond rating is good, the tax rate is low, their payraise is implemented and the boat isn't rocking too much, the Councilors are happy to avoid major conflict with the City's most powerful employee. Sadly, this go along/get along attitude forestalls any serious reflections on how the City Government could better serve its Citizens. According to their campaign literature, we should expect more from these elected officials.