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The people of Cambridge, at least those surveyed as they passed through Harvard Square yesterday, expressed little sympathy and a lot of indignation for Cambridge Mayor Thomas W. Danehy who, it was revealed last week, owes the city close to $40,000 in back taxes.
Several of those questioned recommended that the mayor step down. Others thought that all he had to do to clear his name was pay his bill to the city. But all those questioned were definitely mad at the mayor.
"Get him quick," Thomas Donahue, a long-time area resident said. "Everybody else pays his taxes, all except the politicians," he said, adding, "it's the same all over. And it they don't pay then why should anyone else?"
Danehy and his brother John, a Middlesex County Commissioner, owe the city property taxes on a commercial block on Mass. Ave. Danehy told a reporter that "a problem with cash flow" has kept him from paying the taxes.
A University of Massachusetts--Boston professor who asked to remain anonymous has taken an intellectual view of the situation. "I believe in original sin," he said. "This country is greased on money; as long as it's a capitalist system this sort of thing will happen," he added.
Peter Lowber, a taxi-driver and Cambridge resident, made the same point. "I'm not at all surprised," he said, "because all politicians are crooks. They should all resign, and the workers should control the country."
"If only we could all have it that good," a Harvard employee and Cambridge resident who asked not to be identified said. She added that hearing about the mayor's back taxes was the "highlight of my day."
"I've always considered him [Danehy] somewhat of a joke," she said, but added "I don't think it will hurt him with the voters. They don't seem to care." The next Cambridge municipal election will be held this September.
Danehy has been aware of his tax situation for some time. Michael A. Moreau, project director for the Cambridge tax office, said last week that his office notified the city manager and the mayor's office about the "problem" last May.
Danehy said last week he would wait "for all the [newspaper] articles to be written "before he issued a statement, but did say he had paid back some of the debt already.
Moreau said no other Cambridge elected officials were on the city's list of tax delinquents.
Harvard freshman Mark R. Bennett called the Danehy incident "typical." He blamed part of the problem on "Cambridge's mismanaged mayoral election system."
Danehy has promised to pay his back taxes, and for some Cambridge residents, that is enough of an answer. "He should pay them, but he shouldn't resign," said one. "He does his job: I have the fullest confidence in him."
"I mean, wow, it is really so demoralizing," another woman added. "I read a list somewhere three feet long of people who owed over $5,000 in taxes. The thing has just pervaded the whole structure," she said, adding "It's a wonder anyone in the political arena can keep their integrity."
The next guy they get up there, he's probably going to do the same thing," she added.
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