Council Kills Frisoli Referendum
Supporters of recently ousted Cambridge School Superintendent Frank J. Frisoli '35 lost another battle in their campaign to reinstate Frisoli, when the City Council voted Monday night to keep the issue off the ballot.
City councillor Alfred E. Vellucci introduced a motion asking that the question of Frisoli's reappointment be put on the ballot at the next general or special election as a referendum question.
Vellucci said, "Those who voted to remove Frank Frisoli claimed they had a mandate from the people, but there never was such a mandate. All the citizens of Cambridge should have a chance to express themselves on this matter through the ballot box."
After a short debate among the nine councillors. Vellucci's motion failed by a 5-4 vote with the five Cambridge Civic Association councillors--Mayor Barbara Ackermann, Saundra Graham, Henry F. Owens. Robert Moncreiff, and Francis Duehay--voting against the motion while independents Vellucci, Walter Sullivan, Daniel Clinton, and Thomas Danehy voted for the order.
Following the vote Vellucci vowed that he and other Frisoli supporters would be out in the streets the next day collecting signatures for a referendum petition.
In order to have the question placed on the ballot Frisoli supporters must collect signatures from 12 per cent of Cambridge voters or approximately 5,000 signatures Petitions must be filed with the Election Commissioners within 20 days of the School Committee's vote--which took place last Wednesday--if the question is to be considered as a referendum proposal.
Only about 50 citizens attended Monday's Council meeting and response to the motion's defeat was moderate in comparison to the many speeches and demonstrations made by citizens at previous School Committee meetings.
Speaking against the order. Duehay remarked that the motion might not even be legal and even if it was, "such a measure can do nothing to help Frisoli."
The School Committee voted to fire Frisoli by a 4-2 vote with one abstention after going over a list of 29 grievances against him and conducting an open meeting at which both supporters and challengers of Frisoli were present.
Frisoli supporters will be on hand at next weeks school committee meeting, hoping that the vote will come up for reconsideration.
All four of the school committeemen who voted against Frisoli promised to do so when they campaigned for office in the fall.
Vellucci's introduction of the Frisoli motion highlighted division between the five CCA councillors and the four independents.
When Ackermann refused Vellucci's request for early consideration of the order, Vellucci charged the mayor with "complete gag rule," and Danehy remarked that "this is government by cabal."
Later in the evening, following Council passage of a Vellucci order appropriating city funds to support college education for Cambridge policemen by a unanimous vote, Vellucci remarked that it was the first unanimous vote of the new Council.
Another unanimous Council vote came on a motion by Sullivan honoring the late P. James Cunniff. Equipment Manager for Harvard's Athletic Department.