Council Tightens Its Code Of Ethics

The City Council tightened its code of ethics at its pre-election meeting last night, passing an amendment that would force all of Cambridge's elected officials as well as its top civil servants to report all of their business transactions and real estate holdings.

The amendment states that public officials must report to the Cambridge Election Commission any major business transaction, debt or gift. The official's family members must do the same.

"People are entitled to know that the people they elect do not have financial ties to the people they work with," Vice Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 said.

While the original ethics code only required officials to report real estate holding worth more than $1000, the amendment requires that officials report all their property.

"It basically says that city employees should not have a financial interest in things they do with the city," James D. Vorenberg '49, former dean of Harvard Law School said at a council meeting on October 21.


Vorenberg explained that while the idea of a financial disclosure statute is not a new concept, adoption of such legislation at the city level is.

"It takes courage prior to an election to state where you stand on issues like public disclosure and this is a terrific statement...I am proud of this council," Councillor Edward N. Cyr said.

Although many councillors said they were concerned that discussion would run too long into the night before election day, the council considered several further amendments.

Councillor William H. Walsh proposed an amendment, defeated six to two, that would make mandatory a public referendum of City Council salary changes. The public, under Walsh's proposal, would have the final approval on any council salary increase.

But some councillors said that Walsh's plan would effectively fix councillors' salaries. Public referenda on salary increases is already an option for citizens under Massachusetts law. The proposal would have made a referendum legally mandatory