Maura In The News

Longtime City Council clerk quietly retires
By Kevin Joy, Globe Correspondent, 1/30/2004

He was a familiar face in Boston City Council chambers for nearly 14 years, reading the weekly agenda before council members each Wednesday, but Edward Kelley left his job as assistant city clerk this week with little fanfare.

Kelley, known as Eddie, requested not to be recognized following the end of Wednesday's council meeting, normally a time when departing employees receive applause and words of appreciation from councilors. He briefly appeared at a goodbye party with cake in the Curley Room, according to councilors who attended.

As Kelley read over what would be his final council agenda on Wednesday, some strained to hear his quiet voice as the microphone sound cut in and out as he spoke.

Described by City Councilor Michael P. Ross as "a man from an era of government long gone," Kelley possessed a "historic kind of connection to our past that made people like talking to him."

He had previously worked on the council's central staff, at the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, and for the legendary Mayor James Michael Curley. When asked about the prospect of retirement, Kelley was famous for giving the same response: "sometime next year."

He gave little advance notice of his departure.

"Ed expressed his wishes to spend more time with his wife, Loretta," said Councilor Stephen J. Murphy. "We thank him for his 14 years of service."

But there had been rumors of friction between Kelley and City Clerk Rosaria Salerno and reports that they had openly bickered during council meetings. By his own admission, Kelley wasn't much of a go-getter and performed little more than the minimum duties while collecting an $84,000 yearly salary. "I sign the time sheet, she authorizes it, I get paid," he told the Globe last year, referring to Salerno.

Still, he had been an institution in council chambers. And because of an obscure council motion enacted 25 years ago, Kelley's job was guaranteed for life. Unless the council votes to change it, the successor receives the same highly unusual job security.

Rumors are circulating about a possible replacement. Among the potential candidates are David Vernon, an administrator with the city's housing resource center; John Bruno, a Newton business owner and part-time assistant to Councilor Jerry McDermott; and Joe O'Keefe, an aide to council President Michael Flaherty.

Councilor at Large Maura A. Hennigan said she hopes the council can amend the language of the position's lifetime tenure before a replacement is filled. She helped lead a similar effort in 1995 but did not receive enough votes to change it.

"We must correct this oversight in the city ordinance to make sure we have a system of accountability," Hennigan said.

Kelley did not come to the phone when contacted at home yesterday.

? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

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