Council Sets Modern Record With Eight Minute Meeting

Veteran Cambridge city clerk Paul Healy pronounced it a modern city council record.

Monday's council meeting lasted a mere eight minutes, starling a group of about 20 spectators and reporters who have come to expect marathon sessions from the nine strong-willed and vocal councilors.

The record-breaking meeting was made possible by the unexpected absence of Councilor Alfred E. Vellucci, the usual swing vote on the sharply divided body and a contender in the race for mayor.

The council has yet to elect from its own ranks a mayor, who sits on the school committee and chairs council meetings. With Vellucci sick, the council decided to postpone for a week the mayoral sweepstakes.

Walter J. Sullivan, the senior council member with Vellucci absent, chaired Monday's brief meeting. Fellow Independent Councilor Leonard Russell told Sullivan that "you did such a great job maybe we should appoint you mayor."

Councilor Saundra Graham, a member of the rival Cambridge Civic Association, joked to Russell that the CCA would "think about it," but it is extremely unlikely that the CCA would ever support Sullivan.

Some compromise is necessary, however, because neither the CCA, with four councilors, nor the Independents, who without. Vellucci's support also have four votes, can alone elect a mayor.

During last week's mayoral balloting, Vellucci indicated he would become a free agent in the mayoral negotiations-a strategy some observers say may earn him the chair.

Several councilors contacted yesterday said that no deal has yet been suggested for the mayor's chair.

"It's as far away as the day we started," Independent Thomas Danehy said.

"Everything is still the same as far as I can see," Walter Sullivan said, adding, however, that "we hope we can do it by next week."

The one issue that sparked even minor discussion at Monday's meeting was the council's unanimous acceptance of a $500 donation from Harvard to help pay for last month's council inaugural ball.

Though he did not vote against the acceptance, CCA member David Wylie criticized the philosophy behind the funding of the $10,000 affair, which was financed through private donations instead of tax revenue.