Wednesday, July 24, 2024

From Gary Mello of Franklin Street, July 27: Et tu, Craig?

Putting it mildly, I’m mighty disappointed to hear you’ve decided to join the City Council’s PayPal program. Lots of people Letterare. Couldn’t you have been a little more discreet and wait till filing your reelection papers before putting your campaign manager, ahem, councillor’s aide on the payroll? Is Wilford Durbin going to score an inclusionary apartment as well?

As you’ve pointed out so accurately in the past, the aide positions are a blatant patronage reward for buddies who get full time paychecks, benefits and more on the city’s dime. The whole program doesn’t exist under Cambridge’s Plan E charter. Councillor aide appointees circumvent the entire civil service process, have no application or hiring requirements and serve exclusively at your pleasure. The rest of us call that a lackey.

Voters must appreciate their elected representatives’ prioritization of make-believe jobs for loyalists. Soon after he became mayor, David Maher convened a “review” of the councillor aide positions. There was nothing to review – councillors met solely to boost their buddies’ pay and benefits. Maher wanted to formalize a racket that’s not really supposed to be on the books and needed City Manager Rich Rossi’s help to find some money.

There was an additional special, unique urgency to Maher’s “review.” Due to councillor Ken Reeves’ unforeseeable electoral loss, his aide John Clifford fell off the municipal gravy train. How better to reward a friend than a taxpayer-funded lifetime pension? That’s right, folks. Reeves, whose legacy as the man who ended rent control in Massachusetts, is also the best goodbye kisser. Not a peep in protest, not even from Craig Kelley.

Councillors tripped over themselves praising their flunkies and extolled 80-hour workweeks, Ph.D.-level job skills and a stronger work ethic than Santa’s elves. After a few weeks’ review, Maher and Rossi managed not only to come up with hefty retroactive raises for the aides, but longevity benefits as well. Working for Cambridge pols is better than marrying the boss’ daughter.

To councillor Kelley: KSG is BS. If you really want to improve your public servant skill set, move a few blocks north and run for Somerville alderman. For $28,000, no benefits and no career possibility, you’ll learn how to run a city about our size for half the money. Good government’s not about spending all of it. It’s about spending it wisely. You won’t have to express your doubts about things such as school budgets, because tight money makes managers a lot smarter.

Since you’ve listed your occupation as “politician” instead of “city councillor” on nomination papers, you must know the difference. If you’re not confident of your ability to do the job on your own, move over and let some very motivated challengers take a shot.

This whole councillor’s aide scam has to stop. You were our only hope.