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City of Cambridge gets new City Manager

On Monday night, the Cambridge City Council voted eight to one to install Deputy City Manager Richard Rossi as City Manager for a three-year term beginning June 30, 2013. The current City Manager, Robert Healy, has held the position for over thirty years, but announced this May that he would retire. Rossi has also been a longtime member of Cambridge governance, serving as Deputy City Manager since 1981.

At Monday’s meeting, much of the public comment section was filled with Cambridge residents discussing Rossi’s potential appointment. Those lending their support to Rossi discussed his experience as a member of Cambridge management and suggested his appointment would avoid a long and expensive search for Healy’s replacement that would likely still name Rossi Interim City Manager.

Several residents, however, strongly opposed the direct appoint
ment. Most of the commenters did not question Rossi’s qualifications directly, but instead claimed that the City Council was avoiding proper civic process with the appointment. Some called for a nationwide search for a new City Manager, and one commenter even compared the Cambridge City Council to a “political machine.”

Before voting on Policy Order 6 to approve Rossi’s appointment, several City Councilors briefly described their reasons for supporting it. Most cited Rossi’s qualifications and the importance of avoiding a more complex or expensive search. Only a simple majority was needed, and it passed with eight votes in the affirmative.

Rossi will have the power to directly appoint the next Deputy City Manager. Councilors suggested amendments requiring a municipal lawyer for Rossi’s new contract. Rossi’s term will last until June 30, 2016.

—Austin Hess