Cannon withdraws support for city charter amendment

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
An initiative to give the Cambridge City Council control of employment decisions, supported by First Ward Commissioner La-Shon Foster, at left, and Second Ward Commissioner Donald Sydnor failed Monday by a 3-2 vote.

CAMBRIDGE – In a surprise move Monday evening, City Commissioner Dave Cannon (Fourth Ward) withdrew his support for a controversial charter amendment that would have given the city council control of hiring and promotion of municipal employees.

Mr. Cannon had voted April 8 with commissioners La-Shon Foster (Third Ward) and Donald Sydnor (Second Ward) to begin the process. Commissioners Stephen Rideout (First Ward) and Robert Hanson (Fifth Ward) voted against the move.

A headline in Wednesday’s Banner, already sent to press just before the meeting, says the three commissioners are looking for control over city jobs. But that changed about 6:10 p.m., when Mr. Cannon made his announcement.

Monday’s agenda scheduled a first reading for the amendment, which would have triggered advertising, hearings and another public reading before the amendment could become city law.

Public response to word of the first reading had been strongly opposed to the change. Commissioner Rideout said over the weekend that the change would introduce “cronyism” to the hiring process and expose the city to law suits.

City Council Chambers were packed to standing room only on Monday, when, at the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Cannon asked to speak. He said after much consideration, talks with constituents and prayer, he had decided to rescind his vote, and made a motion to recognize that, seconded by Mr. Hanson.

A testy exchange followed. Ms. Foster said, “First of all, you guys sit up here and you violate all the time, especially Robert’s Rules of Order.” As voices were raised, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley brought the meeting to order and clarified that the vote being taken was not to rescind a vote, which could not be done in this way, but only to remove the first reading from the agenda. The vote passed, 3-2, with commissioners Sydnor and Foster opposed.

Removing the item from the agenda prevents the process from beginning. As a result, City Attorney Charles McLeod said, “There is no pending change in the city charter.”

NOTE: Mr. Cannon is employed at the Dorchester Banner, where he is advertising manager.

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