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This week, the City Council-elect will caucus to determine Council leadership for the next term. The president will likely be Councilor Susan Albright (AL2) or current president Marc Laredo (AL7). As I understand it, several people have their hats in the ring for vice-president, including current VP David Kalis (AL8), Councilor Rick Lipof (AL8), and Councilor Vicki Danberg (AL6). 

With a possible shift to a new president and with Councilor Greg Schwartz (AL6) having been defeated, there is likely going to be changes to the chairs of the top four committees (current chair in parentheses): Finance (Councilor Lenny Gentile (AL4)), Land Use (Councilor Schwartz), Zoning and Planning (Councilor Albright), and Public Safety and Transportation (Jay Ciccone (AL1)). Let’s hope that we get a new Finance Chair.

Take a look at this vote analysis done by a Newton resident.

The list is ranked by attendance, and Councilor Gentile is right near the very bottom, with 32 missed votes more than the median (12). More concerning, though, is his rank for voting in the minority: dead last. And, it’s not even close. He was in the minority on 18 votes man more the than Councilor with the next highest total, Councilor Lisle Baker (W7), and in the minority 32 votes more than the median (18).

How is the guy who least tracks with the Council the chair of one of the four major committees? It’s one thing to reflect some diversity of thought among the leadership. It’s quite another to choose for a top position the least representative member of the Council. 

Inevitably, someone will argue that, as the long-time Finance chair, Councilor Gentile has critical experience. There will come a time when Councilor Gentile is not on the Council and making him chair based on his tenure is not an option. No time like the present to find the next Finance chair.

After all, there was once a time when Councilor Gentile was a newly appointed chair.


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