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. . . This group of residents received no substantial information and on 8 February, 1999, over four months after its original order, the Council was once more considering an Order that the City Manager provide information about the property ownership in this neighborhood . . .
Nonresponsive City Manager must be replaced
6 Saint Gerard Terrace
On 27 July, 1998, eight citizens in the Porter Square area of North Cambridge wrote the City Manager asking that the City help determine what parts of their neighborhood were publicly owned. With various easements, numerous public and private property owners and terrific development pressures impacting their neighborhood, these citizens realized that they needed to understand the exact nature of local property ownership in order to effectively manage the growth that was occurring on their densely populated streets.
Evidently, the City Council understood the neighborhood's concerns, for on 5 October, 1998, eight of the nine Councilors passed an order requesting the City manager "follow up on a request made…by residents…for information regarding the current of property in their neighborhood."
With a responsive City Manager and a City Council that could effectively supervise the tasks it gives the Manager, these concerned residents would soon have had their property information. Unfortunately, the City Manager is frequently non-responsive and the Council is chronically unable to force him to carry out its will. This group of residents received no substantial information and on 8 February, 1999, over four months after its original order, the Council was once more considering an Order that the City Manager provide information about the property ownership in this neighborhood. All this second Order lacked was a "pretty please" clause to show the Manager that the Council really meant it this time.
As this property search story illustrates, Manager Healy, and his administration, frequently does what he wants, confident that the Council will muster neither the backbone nor the organization to admonish him when he ignores its requests and guidance. From the Residency Ordinance to the Gas Station Task Force, the Council has told the Manager how it wants Cambridge to evolve and, time and time again, the Manager has ignored the Council's wishes. Whatever good he may have done for the City in the past, and I am sure his supporters could muster a long list of notable accomplishments, Mr. Healy is no longer providing the dynamic leadership, vision and communication skills that Cambridge needs in a time of global markets, hyper-development and tense race/class relations. It is time for him to move on.
While several of the Councilors may have difficulty in replacing Mr. Healy, it is something all nine Councilors must decide to do. The only issue that should be up for debate is whether the Council fires the Manager immediately or simply refuses to renew his contract when it expires in 18 months. In either case, the Council must start searching for a new Manager, one with whom there will be a mutual exchange of respect and communication, immediately.
February 25, 1999