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Little Saturday Night Fever at Outdoor City Council Debate

CITY & REGION

By Richard M. Burnes, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

Saturday evening's "Bread and Butter Cambridge City Council Debate" at Carberry's Bakery in Central Square had plenty of bread and butter--even piping hot coffee.

The trouble was, there didn't seem to be any debate.

With hardly any sharp words and even fewer outright attacks, some suggested that the event--held outdoors in the bakery's chilly parking lot--actually achieved more relating than debating.

"I get the feeling that sometimes at these debates there is an attempt to have the best idea," incumbent candidate Henrietta E. Davis told her colleagues after about an hour of pleasant discussion.

The topics of choice--preserving low-income housing, encouraging the arts and supporting neighborhood cohesiveness--manifested themselves in an endless laundry list of not-so-polemical ideas.

Incumbent Anthony D. Galluccio proposed turning vacant fire stations into community arts centers; incumbent and former mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 spoke of a possible new performing arts center; challenger Roger D. Frymire encouraged fighting crime on a neighborhood level; challenger Ian C. MacKinnon suggested encouraging more street performers; and challenger Rev. Douglas C. Whitlow proposed requiring all police officers to live in the city.

Nobody seemed to disagree with any of them.

Rhetoric caused even less of a stir than the specific proposals. Whether it was wild-card challenger William B. Cunningham or incumbent Kathleen L. Born, the candidates all seemed to be reading from the same scripts.

"My goal is to preserve what makes this community special," Born pronounced just before Cunningham announced that "everything that I stand for is based on strengthening [our] sense of community."

But while tension did not dominate, a few feathers did get ruffled.

After listening to a series of candidates elaborate on ways to improve the city's arts community, incumbent Katherine Triantafillou tried to seize the high ground with realism.

"I'm glad everybody supports the arts, but it takes a little more than just supporting the arts to actually get something done," she said.

Citing a recent Cambridge License Commission battle that nearly barred Carberry's from showing outdoor movies, Triantafillou challenged candidates to take steps to implement programs encouraging the arts.

There were also a few sharp words when Reeves down-played the issue of crime.

"I'm from Detroit, so Cambridge seems pretty safe to me," Reeves said, adding that he would not support hiring additional police officers.

Few councillors came to his rescue.

"As a woman, I don't feel safe to walk around Cambridge at night," Triantafillou said, pointing out that while some crime rates have fallen in recent years, instances of rape and domestic violence have not.

And while ideas ranged across a broad gamut, none were as well-received as those of Cambridge comedian Jimmy Tingle, who warmed up the crowd before the debate.

"I think we need to merge the Catholic Church and Planned Parenthood," Tingle said. "They could be the Planned Catholics of Cambridge."CrimsonDarryl C. LiMOUNTING A CHALLENGE: City Council candidate IAN C. MACKINNON speaks out at debate.

But while tension did not dominate, a few feathers did get ruffled.

After listening to a series of candidates elaborate on ways to improve the city's arts community, incumbent Katherine Triantafillou tried to seize the high ground with realism.

"I'm glad everybody supports the arts, but it takes a little more than just supporting the arts to actually get something done," she said.

Citing a recent Cambridge License Commission battle that nearly barred Carberry's from showing outdoor movies, Triantafillou challenged candidates to take steps to implement programs encouraging the arts.

There were also a few sharp words when Reeves down-played the issue of crime.

"I'm from Detroit, so Cambridge seems pretty safe to me," Reeves said, adding that he would not support hiring additional police officers.

Few councillors came to his rescue.

"As a woman, I don't feel safe to walk around Cambridge at night," Triantafillou said, pointing out that while some crime rates have fallen in recent years, instances of rape and domestic violence have not.

And while ideas ranged across a broad gamut, none were as well-received as those of Cambridge comedian Jimmy Tingle, who warmed up the crowd before the debate.

"I think we need to merge the Catholic Church and Planned Parenthood," Tingle said. "They could be the Planned Catholics of Cambridge."CrimsonDarryl C. LiMOUNTING A CHALLENGE: City Council candidate IAN C. MACKINNON speaks out at debate.

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