Stripped of the party roll calls and political scaffolding that greet each election, this November 4th approaches as a disorganized but crucial ballot for Cambridge's city government and school system. The elections to decide the future City Council and School Board have been campaigned on the basis of individual preference rather than party affiliation. With each candidate, excepting those men endorsed by the Cambridge Civic Association, conducting his own campaign, there has been no concerted effort to overcome voter inertia or crystallize important issues for the benefit of the electorate. The race for ballots seems to be diffused towards class bigotry and vicious recrimination while the vital questions remain securely muzzled.
By leveling a stream of earthy adjectives at the men responsible for Plan E, a system of administering civic duties through an appointed city manager, a few shrewd politicians seek to divert attention from both their own incompetence and the achievements of Plan E. Cries of "political domination by a bunch of Tory Rowers" cannot entirely cloud the record. Over a six year period the proponents of Plan E have accomplished a consolidation of four city departments with resultant economies, four playgrounds have been rebuilt and eight more are under construction, the public libraries received 40,000 new books as the result of a survey, and forty miles of pitted streets were repaved at one-third the previous cost. While reducing the city debt from $12,000,000 to $2,000,000 and dropping the tax rate $10.80, the Councilmen favoring Plan E managed to effect a forty percent salary increase for all city employees, buy $1,200,000 worth of war surplus equipment for $300,000, and appropriate $1,500,000 for permanent veterans housing. The majority of these improvements were passed by a slim 5-4 vote in the nine-man Council. Any decision by Cambridge voters either to reelect the five Councilmen favoring Plan E or to discard managerial government should be made with regard to the merits or demerits of the system and not because of the truculent howls of frustrated politicians.
A battle to fill six seats on the seven man School Board shows the same irrelevant arguments that tend to confound the real issues. Wracked by incompetence, politics, and inertia in its administration, the Cambridge school system is barely adequate, often verging on poor. The administration cannot be changed without a five-to-two vote on a school board that is well stacked against progress. Opponents of any change berate those candidates endorsed by the C.C.A. with charges of personal dislike and the same bad joke of political domination while the real educational issues remain shackled.
The overall picture of the campaign for control of Cambridge schools and its city government seems couched in terms of progress versus inertia and politics. City administration by an appointed manager becomes vastly unpopular with politicians when lucrative sub-contracts are no longer available. Today Cambridge shovels its own snow instead of contracting for a fleet of $5.00-an-hour trucks and 400 men at a net cost of more than $75,000 per snow storm. Those men eager to keep Cambridge from becoming a politician's plum are endorsed by the Cambridge Civic Association. The C.C.A. has also endorsed Richard Morris '44, Roland Shaine '38, Bradley Dewey '08 LL.D. '45 hon., Thomas H. D. Mahoney Ph.D., and Mrs. Elizabeth M. Minot for the Cambridge School Board. Drafted for nomination, these candidates consider education and not politics the realm of Cambridge schools.