Tenure Danger

The Mail

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

In your editorial of March 26 you suggested "limited tenure for city managers" as an amendment to Plan E. Such a solution is, like the Twenty-second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, both inadequate and at times dangerous. If the Cambridge City Council "cannot agree on a candidate to replace Atkinson," it means two things: a satisfactory replacement for Atkinson cannot be found at this time, and the City Council is not unanimously agreed as to the inadequacy of Atkinson or his policies. If the Cambridge City Council can agree that Atkinson's policies are wrong, they can either force him to change them or replace him with a man more suitable to their wishes.

At any civic election, the Cambridge voters can get rid of Atkinson by voting in a Council unfavorable to his policies, or, for that matter they can throw out Plan E itself if they so wish. Limiting Atkinson's tenure in office would not give either the voters or the Council more power over the City Manager, but would mean that every ten years (the figure your editorial set) the City Manager would have to be replaced regardless of whether the Council approved of his policies or could not find a better man for the job. The result is that for no immediate reason a good City Manager (or President for that matter) must be replaced by a man often far inferior to the incubent. Such a solution, therefore, can do no good, but can do much harm. As is the usual case in a democratic society, the dangers lie not in the system but in an apathetic or unenlightened electorate. Bronson Binger '52