The Apprentice, starring Richard Rossi – Dec 3, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights
Everything else on the agenda pales in comparison to:
Order #6: That the City Council appoint Richard C. Rossi as City Manager of the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts beginning on July 1, 2013 for a period of three years ending on June 30, 2016. Councillor Maher, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Reeves, Councillor Toomey, Mayor Davis and Councillor Decker
Though some of the usual suspects are throwing fits about this sudden turn of events, it is neither surprising nor unwelcome. The only surprising thing about the City Council taking this action is how quickly they chose to do so. Several weeks ago I wrote on this page, "I would not be at all surprised if the whole process falls apart by next summer and 5 councillors just make a motion from the floor to hire someone they like." My estimate was perhaps a bit too cautious. The City Council should be congratulated for their wisdom and their decisiveness. The goal-setting and soul-searching will proceed as planned. This important crossroads in the life of the city will be more like a bend in the road, and that’s a good thing. The next steps for Kendall Square and Central Square are on the horizon, and it will be helpful to have competent city management firmly established as these waters are navigated.
Rich Rossi has been Deputy City Manager for decades. If serving as an apprentice prepares someone for a job, then there is no question that Rich is the most qualified person for this job at this time. An expensive intergalactic search could have been conducted, but it’s hard to imagine there being another candidate as well-prepared for the job and who knows Cambridge as thoroughly. As Bob Healy said several months ago, "He’s the best athlete in the draft."
Elsewhere on the agenda, there are these:
Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 12-88, regarding a report on how the City plans to maintain grade separated bikeways and keep them free from sand, branches and other debris.
The report states, "Grade separate bikeways are being swept clear of debris at least as frequently as residential street sweeping, monthly from April through December. The City sweeps these areas more frequently, if time permits. During the winter months, cycle tracks are cleared of snow and ice as soon as practicable." For the proposed Western Avenue sidewalk track, it will lie precisely where winter snow is normally piled, and where rubbish and recycling will be set out for curbside collection. It is unlikely that salt or other substance will be spread on the sidewalk to keep the lane free of ice. Even if miraculously the track is kept clear, the number of poor-visibility intersections will make this boondoggle an adventure. It will also reduce cycling speeds and mobility, and the narrowed road lanes will be less safe for those of us who choose to travel in the road (as we do on every other street).
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the impact the recently passed medical marijuana referendum might have on Cambridge and provide any suggested zoning or local ordinance changes relevant to this new law. Councillor Kelley
Many cities and towns in Massachusetts are now grappling with how this will be managed, and Cambridge is no exception. Zoning laws were originally designed to manage the conflicting interests of residents, businesses, and industry, but they are now used (rightly or wrongly) to dictate almost to a microscopic level what may or may not exist in every zoning district. It will be interesting to see what efforts will now be made to monkeywrench the result of the recent referendum. Where would you want this use permitted?
Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public meeting held on Oct 3, 2012 to discuss the zoning petition filed by Patty Chen, et al. to amend the Zoning Ordinance in Section 20.300 Central Square Overlay District in Section 20.304.5 Use Limitations and Restrictions.
This is the zoning petition that would modify Section 20.300 to allow clubs to have an entrance on a portion of Prospect Street (and not just on Massachusetts Avenue or Main Street). This is a sensible modification that does not overreach what is needed to allow the All-Asia to relocate to its proposed new location on Prospect Street. The new name of the club was originally supposed to be Valhalla, but it is now being reported that it will instead be called the Prospect Lounge. Shades of the old Prospect Buffet that used to grace the east side of that formerly tough stretch of road.
On a related note, the Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 just wrapped up its year-long process. The complete recommendations will have their initial presentation at the Planning Board on Tuesday (Dec 4). The members of the Advisory Committee drafted a Memorandum from the Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 on its Final Recommendations. It’s worth the read. – RW
Addendum – After much public comment and some heartfelt statements by councillors, the City Council voted 8-1 to approve Order #6 appointing Richard Rossi as City Manager to succeed Robert Healy beginning July 1, 2013. Only Councillor Kelley voted in the negative. After the vote, Richie gave a marvelous speech about growing up in Cambridge, of his priorities, and of his great appreciation for being given this opportunity. It was a great evening.
The Public Comment period was predictable with the usual suspects flinging criticism based on their indignance at not being consulted. Perhaps the lowest of the commentary came from Pebble Gifford who wanted the Council to amend the Order to have Mr. Rossi appointed as Interim City Manager or Acting City Manager. It’s really so thoughtful of the Hilliard Street upper crust to make sure that people know their place. – RW