City councillor Tim Toomey

City councillor Tim Toomey observes recent council action from the door of the offices beside Sullivan Chamber.

A criticism of lax meeting attendance has drawn objections from city councillor Tim Toomey.

In a Cambridge Day interview with city councillor Nadeem Mazen last Tuesday, this reporter quoted Mazen referring to councillors Toomey (who until recently was a longtime state representative as well) and Leland Cheung:

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for someone to take a full-time salary and miss a large number of full City Council meetings and a large proportion of proceedings.”

Toomey responded after tonight’s council meeting: “You should check your facts. In 28 years here in the council, I’ve missed one regularly scheduled meeting of the council. And my record at the State House is 98 percent-plus attendance. So before you write articles that have no basis in fact, you should check with the individuals,” Toomey said.

“Compare my voting record to councillor Mazen’s voting record. Let’s see how you report this exchange now!”

Toomey then ignored follow-up questions regarding his attendance at committee meetings, turning to his aide and ignoring this reporter for several minutes.

Toomey is correct about his attendance at full council meetings. Although he is often out of the room, he has not been absent for the entirety of full meetings. According to the city clerk’s legislative management system, Toomey’s only missed votes this term were two during the Sept. 12 meeting.

But he is frequently absent from Ordinance and Finance committee meetings, which are made up of the full council. This year, Toomey attended two of nine Ordinance Committee meetings, according to minutes from the City Clerk’s Office.

He is less often absent from Human Services & Veterans (absent from the one this year) but has been present for the  sole meetings held by the Health & Environment and Public Safety committees. He is a member of each but does not chair. He chairs the Transportation & Public Utilities Committee, which has met once this year.

Toomey was also absent from the council’s daylong offsite meeting to set goals that took place April 27, saying he had “a conflict,” but declining to be more specific. He was not the only absent councillor: Mayor E. Denise Simmons, David Maher and Leland Cheung also skipped the meeting.