Richard Rossi, Cambridge City Manager
City Manager Rossi did an admirable job keeping the city running smoothly. Streets were cleared of snow after storms. Police keep the streets safe for residents and visitors. Businesses thrive, and universities educate the next generation of citizens. He was unable to teach city councilors not to talk so much repeating what each other said at council meetings. They continue to waste everyone's time including the city manager's. Congratulations Mr. Rossi.
The city manager position, arguably the most powerful in the city, carries great influence in Cambridge. As the chief executive of the city government, the city manager is responsible for enforcing laws and ordinances, advising the City Council and implementing their decisions, appointing city officials, and crafting the city budget.
The decision to retire was difficult, Rossi said, in part because he has worked for Cambridge for more than four decades.
“I have worked for the city for 45 years. I’ve been city manager for the past three, and I’ve been deputy city manager for 32 years prior to that,” Rossi said. He also served as acting director of the Water Department and acting commissioner of public works during his tenure with the city government.
Rossi said he believes his ability to work with his office to serve the residents of Cambridge as best he can has made his time as city manager effective.
“We have an incredibly talented and competent team of public officials,” Rossi said. “This is an outstanding city that is far and ahead the best in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
City officials praised Rossi for his work bringing organized lobbyists and community members together during his term as city manager.
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While Rossi’s contract ends in June, the City Council requested that he remain involved in the government should a successor not be found before the contract deadline. Rossi said he intends to stay on as long as needed to facilitate an “orderly transition.”
Cambridge City Manager Rossi Announces Retirement
By JOSHUA J. FLORENCE,
March 21, 2016
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Richard Rossi, City Manager
Here's a man who can look back on his life and be proud of what he accomplished. He was unable to condition the City Council to shorten their speaking time in order to reduce global warming. Cambridge human hot air continues increasing unabated.
After 45 years serving the city of Cambridge, City Manager Richard Rossi announced Friday that he plans to retire this June.
With a palpable love of Cambridge and a seemingly endless knowledge of its inner workings, Rossi is an irreplaceable leader, say his colleagues.
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But Rossi, a champion of affordable housing and public education, leaves a legacy that will be hard to replicate.
Rossi was born and raised in the city, living in East Cambridge and graduating from the city’s public schools, making him a unique advocate for residents. He said he knows first hand the importance of providing low-income housing as his own father lived at Millers River public housing.
“We lived in really cheap apartments, to be frank, and that was really because of rent control,” Rossi told the Chronicle last week. “As I got older, I recognized how important housing stability was to my father and it was really troubling him. He had to move out of Cambridge for two years until he was accepted into Millers River and in those two years he was miserable."
"I always felt the great thing about this city was the people from all different spectrums of life," he added. "I believe it’s an important thing for a city like this to maintain.”
Rossi’s service began at an early age, working summers at the Department of Public Works. He started an internship at the Water Department in 1971, which led to his first full-time job in the city. He eventually became the deputy city manager, working alongside then-city manager Bob Healy for 32 years.
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I’ve really hung on for some time and I felt conflicted,” said Rossi. “I’ve been here 45 years and I’ve loved everything I’ve done. I’ve enjoyed my job. My family has been so supportive and so great and never not considered what I want to do. So it was the right thing for me to do.”
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Turning Danehy Park from a 50-acre “dump” into an award-winning park is one of Rossi’s crowning achievements. He is also proud of his work in rebuilding and renovating the public schools, including transforming the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School into a near net-zero building.
But most of all, Rossi has enjoyed being a mentor figure and friend to his colleagues.
“Being in a position where I can influence the lives of employees, to mentor them and help them. … I really feel I was able to help people who have come along and have become great leaders in this city,” said Rossi.
It’s this connection to Cambridge and its workers that make Rossi an especially unique leader, his colleagues say.
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Lisa Peterson, Deputy City Manager
Rossi said part of the reason he feels comfortable retiring at this time in his career is that the city is in great shape with consistent AAA bond ratings, plenty of money in the reserves and strong leadership.
“The quality of the people who are leading this administration right now and the fact that they’re natural-born collaborators, is just amazing,” said Rossi. “The fact that we have that kind of leadership, across the board, the strength that we’ve built in all these departments and having Lisa [Peterson] as the deputy, I feel the city is in good hands.”
At a Government Operations and Rules Committee meeting in Sullivan Chambers on Friday, Rossi made the announcement that he would not seek to extend his contract. The news came as a shock to his colleagues, many of whom were unaware of his plans. An emotional Rossi had trouble getting through his announcement, while his wife, Jane, stood by his side.
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Rossi said Peterson would be a great choice as the interim manager, and he hopes the council moves in that direction.
“She is great with public process, great with people and employees and loves this city,” said Rossi. “I would hope that the council would really think long and hard. … You do need someone acting and there’s no better person. If asked, that’s the advice I’d be giving.”
BREAKING: Rossi to retire as Cambridge city manager in June
By Amy Saltzman
Posted Mar. 11, 2016 at 11:00 AM
Updated at 3:23 PM