City Council continues City Manager search

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The Mayor and Council pose with Dr. Carl Barham, who gifted the city a photo of the Ten Men who Made a Difference.

CAMBRIDGE — News of some progress on the City Manager search was presented to both the City Council and the public at the scheduled meeting on June 22. The search committee is composed of five appointed members and has been praised by both the Mayor and Mary Losty, the member who explained the committee’s progress. Committee members have prepared a comprehensive list of what they are looking for, they have a preliminary job description, they have an application form, and specific questions for the interviews that will follow. To gather needed knowledge, they have consulted with professional organizations (ICMA, MML, NFBP, and the Cities League.)

Additionally, this week the search committee will be interviewing a consultant to bring the process along. The City Commissioners could have instituted a search for a consultant, but they have delegated that to the committee. That expense has already been budgeted. The question arises, “What about the position of interim city manager?” Can the committee work fast enough to make that position unnecessary? Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley has received some applications for the temporary position and she will ask the applicants if they also want to be considered for the permanent job. For those who answer yes, the Mayor will forward their applications to Mary Losty and the search committee. The Commissioners will make the final selection from the top contenders, a list of three to five applicants submitted by the search committee.

In other business, Dr. Carl Barham, executive director of the Historical Freedom Shrine Project, gifted the city with a memorial photograph of the men who caused the Maryland Constitution to be amended in 1986 so that county councils are represented by districts. Previously, an at-large system favored the densely populated areas. The 10 men who led the voter reform took their case to the courts and won. The Historical Freedom Shrine in Hurlock is inscribed with their names and commemorates their efforts.

Two new owners of properties bought at tax sales came to council seeking relief from old liens on the properties when the sums are moved to the tax bill. The city charges for grass cuttings and fines for violations, and places a lien on the property, which is then converted to the tax bill. “No fair,” is the claim of James Schneider and Laurence Chitlik. Mr. Schneider finds unexpected amounts added on to be burdensome to his investment and Mr. Chitlik, who is buying a vacant lot to improve, is protesting past fines and claims the city is discouraging improvement by victimizing the would-be improver. Further investigation will be needed; no immediate action taken.

Habitat for Humanity is asking the Council for a resolution in support of an application to the state to give Community Investment Tax Credits which will attract donations. Asked if it will impact on Cambridge taxes, the answer was no; so the city will support the resolution.

Noise variances and parking permits are usual business for the Council and gives the Commissioners a varied picture of the governed, who’s doing what, when, and why. The Dorchester Center for the Arts sought a noise variance and assistance from Public Works for the High Street Showcase on Sept. 27, the 39th year of this lovely event. Permission granted.

Sheyne Adams asked for parking permission for motorcycles on Pine Street from Cedar to Cross Streets on June 26 from 9 p.m.-1p a.m. for a benefit at the Elks. Why motorcycles? Because their motorcycle club is holding a benefit for Lamaya Beasley, mother of four, whose house on Race Street burned down and Ms. Beasley was left with nothing.

“The redevelopment of Sailwinds is ready for the next phase,” said Frank Narr. Three properties have been acquired and it’s time to move forward with demolition, design, and development on a project that had its beginnings in 1992. Narr needs a Gateway Planning Committee to be appointed.
Mary Calloway of Economic Development says grant applications due on July 13 are being drafted for three beautification projects, one a facade; two, street lights on Maryland Avenue; and three, Historic Cambridge at 505 Race St. Commissioner Sydnor wonders why none of the grant money goes to his ward. The rationale, according to one source, is that the revitalization of the city will have positive effects for all.

Chief Dan Dvorak asked for a budget amendment, not for more money but for a shift of funds. Retirements have left open seven positions in the department and he wants the money for training four new officers, starting July 6. He, the chief himself, needs to be certified for Maryland credentials through training. Approved.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley read a proclamation recognizing the 80th birthday of Social Security. (Personal opinion: If you’re over 66, you’re probably happy about that, but if you’re 25, you may wonder if a future mayor in 2060 will be reading a similar proclamation.)

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