Once in a Generation:

City Manager and Police Commissioner Retiring

IMG_5373.jpegby Nancy Ryan

Since 1940, when the City of Cambridge adopted the Plan E form of government in which the City Council hires a City Manager, there has never been a national search for the position. Former Manager Bob Healy rose from Assistant City Manager and served for 32 years after being hand-picked by his predecessor. In 2013, then Deputy City Manager, Rich Rossi (photo at left by Phyllis Bretholtz), was elevated to the position after more than 35 years in various positions in City Hall. Now, Rich Rossi has announced his retirement at the end of June, 2016 and a process begins to seek his replacement.

The next City Manager will select a new Police Commissioner now that Commissioner Bob Haas (photo below by Phyllis Bretholtz) has announced his retirement as well.  Vacancies in these two top positions in city government offer residents a “once in a generation” challenge and opportunity to voice our priorities for the direction of the City.

The City Manager wields enormous power, especially in appointing all city staff,Bob_Haas___T_House.jpeg boards, commissions and committees. Law enforcement is grappling with balancing surveillance and safety with civil rights and privacy. The first citywide planning process in decades has just begun that will determine what housing, open space, environmental sustainability, walking and driving mobility we need and more.

We in the Cambridge Residents Alliance will be monitoring and participating in each of these important processes. We urge all our readers to become involved.


Nancy Ryan is president of the Cambridge Residents Alliance, Board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and former head of the Cambridge Women’s Commission.

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