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Cambridge City Manager James L. Sullivan may soon be out of a job.
Over the weekend, local political circles were filled with reports that a majority coalition of five city councilors was ready to fire Sullivan, perhaps as quickly as this afternoon's council meeting.
Councillor Edward A. Crane '35, who has frequently opposed the manager in the past, denied he was the leader of a move to fire the manager.
"All I know is that at least a majority of the council, to my knowledge, are displeased with the management of the city," he then added. "When this [firing] would happen is a matter of conjecture. I don't know whether it would happen on Monday."
A Real Dogfight
The executive board of the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA), a local good government group whose members have generally supported the manager, met last night to discuss the manager's position. After the meeting, one CCA councilor commented, "It was obvious that the CCA executive board isn't happy with the prospect of seeing Jim Sullivan fired. We don't know exactly what we'll do, but we're likely to be in for a dogfight."
Last night, Sullivan declined to discuss the reports that he might be dismissed by the council.
Sources close to the manager hinted, however, that if the council moves to dismiss him, the manager will ask for a statement of the reasons for the action, and for the public hearing to which he is entitled by law. No specific reason for the possible firing of the manager has yet been mentioned.
Under Cambridge's Plan E form of government, the city manager-the administrator who runs the city on a day to day basis-serves at the pleasure of the council, which is supposed to set policy guidelines for him.
Others Also Fired
If Sullivan is fired, he will be the third city manager to suffer this fate in recent years. Most observers agree that the successive maneuvers over the manager-ship have been the product of a complex mix of political differences and personality clashes among the nine city councilors.
In January, 1966, a coalition of five councilors fired John J. Curry '19, who had served as manager for 13 years, mostly in close alliance with Crane. This firing was seemingly prompted by two motives among councilors: resentment of Crane's influence, and a feeling that the City had not progressed fast enough under the Curry administration.
The 1967 elections shifted the balance of power back to a group of five councilors led by Crane. This coalition fired City Manager Joseph A. DeGuglielmo '29 in January 1968, but disagreed on a successor.
A shift of positions brought Sullivan to the manager-ship in June, 1968. Since then, election results and retirements have eroded his support on the council.
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