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A Liberal Dose of Masochism


By Leo FJ. Wilking

Cambridge City Council meetings have always been volatile affairs, usually with a liberal minority hurling accusations at a conservative Mayor and his majority.

But this year a liberal dose of masochism has made the debates even livelier. Things were supposed to be different when the CCA-endorsed ticket won a majority of the Council seats in November and elected Barbara Ackermann as Mayor. However, as this week's meetings demonstrate, all is not well in the liberal camp.

A bitter feud is developing over the selection of a new City Manager, although the liberal five--Ackermann, Henry F. Owens III, Robert Moncreiff, Saundra Graham and Francis H. Duehay--made the replacement of City Manager John Corcoran the top issue of their campaign.

Owens wants to make sure that his black candidate for the job be given equal consideration with white candidates. But Ackermann, Duehay and Moncreiff think they have already found the best man for the job, and he is white.

Meanwhile, Saundra Graham is fed up with everyone: "All this politicking going on--if it doesn't stop, I'll resign my position. I want a City Manager and I want him now."

Early in the week, Ackermann proposed that President Nixon be billed for the recent mini-riot in Harvard Square. Her motion, not entirely a symbolic protest, was defeated 7-1. Outraged by this suggestion, two conservative councillors proposed a resolution calling on Ackermann to resign as Mayor.

This motion was defeated by a vote of 4 1/2-3 1/2, with crusty Alfred Velucci straddling the issue by voting both Yes and No. Saundra Graham was not at the meeting, so the vote wasn't as close as it appeared.

Whether the liberals can get their house in order and stop maneuvering for political advantage is an open question. As Moncreiff says, the problem is no longer of getting the majority of five out of nine, but of getting the five to agree on something.

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