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City Council Slams Business as Usual

Job loss in Cambridge creates tension with Boston

By David H.A. LeBoeuf, Crimson Staff Writer

The Cambridge City Council expressed uneasiness about collaborating with the City of Boston on future development efforts last night after Vertex, a Cambridge-based pharmaceutical company, announced that it will move its headquarters to Boston’s Fan Pier waterfront in 2013.

Councilors estimate that the city will lose approximately 1,600 jobs in addition to commercial tax revenue from the office space being vacated.

City Councilor Kenneth E. Reeves ’72 referred to the City of Boston as “the major poacher of them all.”

Reeves criticized collaborating with Boston on future economic ventures, concerned that a regional partnership might not be mutually beneficial to both cities.

City Councilor and State Representative Timothy J. Toomey Jr. echoed Reeves’ comments.

“Whatever they [Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Boston City Council President Michael P. Ross] are going to do to take the business out of here, in Cambridge, they are going to do,” said Toomey. “I don’t want to be held hostage by the City of Boston.” Councilor Leland Cheung—who organized a joint meeting with the City of Boston last December to address retaining tech jobs in the area—took issue with other councilors’ suggestions that efforts to collaborate resulted in the move. Cheung mentioned that $60 million dollars in state funding caused Vertex to relocate and called for increased economic partnerships on a regional level.

“We can’t just stick our heads in the sand and pretend they [Boston] don’t exist,” said Cheung, adding that the creation of jobs in Boston will benefit unemployed Cambridge residents.

The two orders relating to Vertex were sent to the City Manager’s office for a report to be completed and presented to the Council at a later date.

The Council also passed a resolution urging the telecommunications company Comcast to comply with the National Labor Relations Act, a series of union protection laws.

“We want people in our community to not live in fear,” said Jennifer A. Doe, an organizer with the community coalition Jobs with Justice, who stressed the need for regulations dealing with quality of life issues in the City’s contract with Comcast.

Cheung said the order addressed “another aspect of the tyranny of Comcast that reigns on this city.”

“It’s the minimum we can ask,” Cheung said. “I know they can afford it because they charge all of us too much.”

The resolution unanimously passed and was forwarded to the Cable TV, Telecommunications, and Public Utilities Committee.

—Staff writer David H. A. LeBoeuf can be reached at leboeuf@college.harvard.edu.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.

CORRECTION: FEB. 3, 2011.

The Feb. 1 article "City Council Slams Business as Usual" misspelled the first name of Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung.

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