Boston Globe editorial questions Cambridge City Council oversight

Watchdog New England and Cambridge Day’s recent story on Cambridge city manager Robert Healy’s rich salary and retirement package has spurred a Boston Globe editorial that asks city council: Who is making sure the Cambridge public is getting its money’s worth?

The editorial cites the private matter in which Healy’s most recent contract was negotiated, the handling of the Malvina Monteiro lawsuit and wonders whether city government in Cambridge resembles a fiefdom.

Healy’s supporters contend that Cambridge residents are comfortable with Healy’s leadership. But the essential drawback of a city-manager system of government is that a willful manager can gain so much leverage over the City Council that the government begins to resemble a fiefdom. After 30 years in office, Healy has assumed vast power in Cambridge. The council, which assigned two of its members to negotiate Healy’s latest pact and then approved it without discussing its costs, should take its oversight role more diligently.

Read the full editorial: Cambridge city manager’s pay shows lack of council oversight

Reporters from New London’s “The Day” Shine a Spotlight on Local Pastor

Watchdog New England’s latest pick for the region’s best investigative reporting comes from The Day, based in New London, Conn. Journalists Jenna Cho and Karin Crompton peeled back the layers of the questionable history of an Old Lyme pastor, Michael Calo. They combed through financial data for debt obligations, filed FOIAs and interviewed people from his past and present to shed light on the question: Is this a man redeemed or is he still up to his old ways of fraud?

Read the full story here: “Old Lyme pastor says he’s a different man than the one convicted of larceny

Globe columnist takes aim at city manager based on Cambridge Day story

Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker focused his column this week on Watchdog New England and Cambridge Day’s recent story on Cambridge city manager Robert Healy and his lucrative salary and retirement package.

The fact that his name may ring only a faint bell just serves to confirm the sweetness of his sinecure. The longtime Cambridge city manager pulls down a staggering $336,317 a year. For perspective, that’s roughly twice what Tom Menino makes to run a city nearly six times the size of Cambridge.

But that is only the beginning of the windfall for the 30-year manager. According to a report by the website Cambridge Day and the Initiative for Investigative Reporting at Northeastern University, Healy, 67, will reap millions more in retirement thanks to an astonishing deal negotiated with the Cambridge City Council. The acquiescent council gives new meaning to the notion of “strong manager’’ city government.

One-third of Dorchester households now use food stamps

Anh Vo: Assists customers at Maria's Market on Dorchester Ave., one of many convenience stores with a high volume of SNAP purchases. (Photo Credit: Steve Kurkjian)

By Rachel Zarrell, Gal Tziperman Lotan and Stephen Kurkjian

The last year has been a difficult one for Matthew St. Andrews. In March, he was let go from his full-time job as a FedEx manager. Then in November, he went on unemployment after he lost his temporary construction job. With his income drastically reduced and heightened concern about how he could take care of the needs of his daughter, who stays with him three days a week, St. Andrews successfully applied for the federal food stamps program.

“If I didn’t have a three-year-old, I’d probably be more likely to sleep on friends’ couches,” he said, “and just survive on my own, however I could.”

With a new food stamp card tucked in his wallet, St. Andrews is like so many other people in Dorchester who are having their own bad times. In the past four years, almost 17,000 Dorchester residents have joined the program, making nearly a third of those living in the neighborhood dependent on stamps to buy food for their families. At the end of last year, residents of two of the four Dorchester zip codes placed third and eighth, respectively, in the state for the greatest use of the program.

This increase in the numbers of recently unemployed and the concerted drive by the Patrick Administration to get the poor and elderly who qualify to participate in the program have elevated the numbers of those on food stamps in Massachusetts to the highest levels in history.

Read the full story from the Dorchester Reporter.

Boston Globe and WBUR do stories based on Cambridge Day investigative story

Cambridge Day and Watchdog New England published the first product of their collaboration yesterday, reporting on the extraordinary salary and retirement package of Cambridge city manager Robert Healy. You can read The Boston Globe’s coverage of the story here and WBUR’s version here.