Divide and Flounder

On January 5th, nine ambitious men gathered at City Hall to elect a Mayor of Cambridge. Today, seven weeks and 841 futile ballots later, the City Council is still unable to decide which one among them shall serve as the chief executive. The filibuster has seen the Council Chamber criss-crossed by vicious political tracers, it has turned simple ambition into bitter perversity, and has delayed vital legislation. Resulting from a hopelessly disorganized political system and a calculated smear campaign by a few professional politicians, the lengthy stalemate can only give the Councilmen enough rope to hang themselves and possibly the city along with them.

The fact that a deadlock has been allowed to drag on for seven dreary weeks is an eloquent commentary on the current state of Cambridge politics. Although elections are fought on a broad reform and anti-reform basis, there is a complete absence of party discipline among members of the same faction. Each man views his legislative duties in the light of his personal ambitions and thus obviates any hope for concerted action. The returns from the November election gave the backers of Managerial government and proportional representation a clear cut majority of five men on the City Council. It should have been a simple matter to elect a Mayor by a majority vote. The reformists, all backed by the Cambridge Civic Association, promptly developed a schism and gummed the work. Former Mayor John D. Lynch claims a supernatural mandate from the people. His dearest friend, Hyman Pill, has cast 841 votes for the man with a mandate. Messrs. Deguglielmo, Crane, and Swan, also of the CCA, dislike and distrust Lynch and have split their three votes among themselves. These men are the backers of Plan E. They are responsible for its continuing success in a city that still wants to be shown. If, through personal ambition and mutual dislike, they discredit that most excellent plan, one can only guess to what depths their I.Q. has plummeted.

What was originally a worthless minority of four anti-Plan E votes on the City Council now looms as the strongest group. The unexpected fratricide among reformists has proved a strategic godsend to the men intent on discrediting Plan E and proportional representation in the eyes of the electorate. PR forces a candidate before the entire city for re-election instead of allowing him the relative security of a small well-organized Ward. Such a plan constitutes a direct menace to professional politicos like Sullivan, Foley, Sennott, and Neville. Their political futures demand an inoperative government and a continuing stalemate. Although these men have had it within their power to elect one of themselves Mayor several times they have always split their vote. At one point Neville, having three anti-reform votes, received an unexpected CCA ballot. Mickey (the dude) Sullivan was last to vote and cast a ballot for John D, Lynch, one of his bitter political enemies. There was no Mayor elected that day. As long as the opposing factions in the reform camp insist on feuding, these men will be able to extend the filibuster indefinitely.

All improvements, budgets, and vacancies come under the jurisdiction of a School Committee headed by the Mayor. If there is no Mayor, the committee cannot function and any successful operation of the schools becomes impossible. Cambridge's educational program, recently the target of a lengthy report by Professor Simpson, is badly antiquated and desperately in need of overhauling. Any such revision of the school program can come only from the School Committee and for this reason alone the election of a Mayor is a matter that should be placed outside the realm of petty politics. Along with the general loss of prestige for Plan E, a more specific evil of this senseless stalemate is its crippling effect on the city's school system.