Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cambridge (MA) City Council plays games on Monteiro?

1. Introduction.
2. Analysis of City Council Action.
3. City Council motion.
4. Follow up to prior report.

1. Introduction.

We have followed the case of Malvina Monteiro v. City of Cambridge for quite awhile.

This is the case in which a Superior Court Judge and Jury and an Appeals Court panel found that the Cambridge City Manager destroyed the life of department head Malvina Monteiro because she filed a civil rights complaint alleging that she was discriminated against by the City of Cambridge because she is a woman.

The disgust of the Courts for the behavior of the Cambridge City Manager was extreme.

The jury awarded $1.1 million in real damages and $3.5 million in penal damages. The penal damage award was more three times the real damages award. This penal damages award was a multiple of the real damages award so extreme that it could possibly be illegal.

The trial judge wrote an excellent opinion which can be summarized in one of her words: “reprehensible.”

She very effectively demonstrated the Cambridge City Manager’s behavior to be “reprehensible.”

The Appeals Court panel expressed its disgust at the City of Cambridge’s behavior by refusing to issue a formal opinion although their refusal to issue a formal opinion was pretty extensive in itself. They cited “ample evidence [of] outrageous behavior”.

In addition to the general nonsense of the appeal, it is possible that the multiple of damages was a reason for not issuing a formal opinion. Clearly the panel saw the Cambridge City Manager’s behavior adequately “reprehensible” to justify such an unusual multiple of penal damages.

The trouble is that of setting precedent.

Hard cases make bad law. The “outrageous behavior” clearly justified the extreme award. It is possible that the court did not want the case to make precedent to support such an extreme award.

Succinctly, this combination of awards and findings places the Cambridge City Council in solid position to fire the Cambridge City Manager without his golden parachute and possibly without pension.

2. Analysis of City Council Action.

In section 3, below, I have copied from the official record the vote of the Cambridge City Council on June 18, including the role call vote.

The motion would place the City Council on record apologizing for the City Manager’s actions and communicating its disapproval to the Cambridge City Manager.

This motion is considerably more kind to the Cambridge City Manager that are the formal judicial rulings.

This motion does not support the immediate implementation of the judicial actions, but the language is so strong that it could be preliminary to taking action to fire him.

The very major trouble with such preliminary actions is that they are silly. They have final judicial determination of malfeasance in office. Malfeasance in office is grounds for firing.

The motion was apparently killed by referring it to a committee appointed by the Cambridge City Manager which has little power. Appointees of the Cambridge City Manager, in addition, have to be fully aware of the possible impact on them of the Cambridge City Manager’s treatment of Malvina Monteiro and of the City Manager and City Council’s fighting the Monteiro matter way beyond the limits of reason.

I would appreciate input from folks who remember past action by this committee. I vaguely recall somebody, through this committee or, perhaps, a comparable committee trying to get information on the case and being stepped on by the Cambridge City Solicitor.

Particularly interesting on this vote is the vote itself.

The motion to refer the proposal was made by one of its sponsors, Councillor Reeves. It was supported by a second sponsor, Councillor Decker.

Voting against referral were the other two sponsors plus Councillors Maher and Toomey.

My reaction has been and continues to be extreme skepticism.

The Machine and the Cambridge City Council routinely play con games.

I continue to see exactly zero Cambridge City Councilors supporting and trying to implement the court decisions. I see exactly zero City Councilors supporting firing the Cambridge City Manager because of Monteiro.

I do see a motion of apology and disapproval submitted by four members of the nine member city council which was apparently killed with two authors supporting the killing.

I am constantly hoping for miracles when dealing with the City of Cambridge. I am constantly disappointed.

I would hope that a miracle would occur and that the referral to this committee appointed by the Cambridge City Manager would turn out to be part of a miracle.

The normal con is to sound great and do nothing. This as it stands is sounding great and doing nothing.

I will not hold my breath waiting for something meaningful to happen.

3. City Council motion.

I apologize for the format. This is an electronic copy of the public record and this is what I wound up with. I am leaving it untouched simply to communicate the public record. Order number 1, June 18, 2012.



WHEREAS:A combination of discrimination and wrongful
termination complaints have resulted in many millions of
dollars of costs and damages for the City of Cambridge;

WHEREAS:The actions that led to these complaints, plus
the filing of the complaints and subsequent law suits,
caused much anguish for the city employees involved; and

WHEREAS:It is not clear that the City Manager has ever
apologized to the City of Cambridge or anyone else
involved for any role he may have played in creating
this situation; and

WHEREAS:It is not clear what practices and policies the
City has instituted to help ensure that similar
situations do not arise in the future; now therefore be

ORDERED:That the City Council extend its apologies to
both the City employees who filed the complaints and to
the taxpayers and residents of the City of Cambridge for
both the angst created by its employee, the City
Manager, and the cost to the City as a result of these
cases; and be it further

ORDERED:That the City Council hereby lets the City
Manager know of its disapproval of his judgment and
actions regarding this situation; and be it further

ORDERED:That the City Manager be and hereby is requested
to report back to the City Council with an explanation
of what processes and procedures have been instituted to
help ensure that such a situation does not arise in the

Votes from June 18, 2012



The Official Role Call Record of the Vote is as follows. I tried to upload the PDF without success. The following is the vote with my added words of explanation of the meaning of the vote.

The vote was:

Refer to City Manager appointed committee.

Decker: Cosponsor of motion.
Refer to City Manager appointed committee.

Kelley: Cosponsor of motion.
Do not refer to City Manager appointed committee.

Do not refer to City Manager appointed committee.

Reeves: Cosponsor of motion. Maker of motion to refer,
Refer to City Manager appointed committee.

Simmons: Cosponsor of motion.
Do not refer to City Manager appointed committee.

Do not refer to City Manager appointed committee.

Refer to City Manager appointed committee.

Refer to City Manager appointed committee.

5 in favor of referring to City Manager appointed committee.
4 opposed to referring to City Manager appointed committee.

4. Follow up to prior report.

Please note that I previously commented on this decision by the Cambridge City Council. My analysis was based on the report in Cambridge Day.

This analysis is based on my actual review of the papers which constitute the actions. This analysis, of course, supercedes my prior evaluation.