Saturday, November 09, 2013

Cambridge, MA, USA Election Results — Voter Revolt Against Environmental / Civil Rights Outrages?

1. Introduction.
2. Actual Vote.
3. Update, Direct Quote, November 10 Cambridge Day.
4. Analysis.
A. General.
B. Benzan v. Reeves — Monteiro?
C. Environmental analysis. Civil rights generally. Finally, a decent human being?
D. Updated analysis.

1. Introduction.

It is impossible to exactly analyze an election in Cambridge, MA, USA. You can guess and guess and guess. Whether you are right is impossible to say, but you try.

The vote is a floating at large election stacked so that each winning candidate is awarded exactly the minimum number of votes to win and their “excess” is transferred to other candidates until enough of those candidates get up to the needed amount. The same applies to losers. If they cannot win, their votes are transferred to other candidates whose accumulated total has not reached the needed minimum. This is done in a series of transfers.

Before computerization, the “count” took more than a week every year.

Right now, the bottom line is that an incumbent city councilor is on the wrong end of a final count by seven votes and is demanding a recount. According to the Cambridge Chronicle, in the key transfer seven votes separated losing incumbent Minka Y. vanBeuzekom from apparent winner Nadeem A. Mazen.

Two incumbents did not seek reelection. These were Henrietta Davis and recently elected State Representative Marjorie Decker.

Two incumbents were apparently defeated. These were Minka Y. vanBeauzekom and Kenneth Reeves. Reeves came in 11th with 9 candidates elected to City Council. Also of interest is that Samuel Seidel came in 12th. Seidel is a former city councilor who lost in the last election.

2. Actual Vote.

Persons elected to the Cambridge City Council, taken from Robert Winters report of the preliminary results, which the Cambridge Chronicle says did not change, were as follows, in order of election success:

Leland Cheung, Incumbent
David P. Maher, Incumbent
Dennis A. Benzan, Challenger
Timothy J. Toomey (also State Representative)
E. Denise Simmons, challenger
Dennis J. Carlone, challenger
Craig A. Kelley, incumbent
Nadeem A. Mazen, challenger, and
Marc C. McGovern, challenger

Minka Y. vanBeuzekom, incumbent.
Kenneth Reeves, incumbent
Samuel Seidel, former incumbent.

The reason for a different order such that Mazen wound up 8th rather than 9th, with vanBeuzekom 10th is the result of transfers from vanBeuzekom after she was declared loser and her votes transferred. Saying that is as far as I will go. That final transfer has no real meaning because all the recipients have already won.

3. Update, Direct Quote, November 10 Cambridge Day.

After Wednesday’s hand count of auxiliary ballots, which are the ballots polling-place machines didn’t accept and count Tuesday, only six transfer voters lay between vanBeuzekom and council newcomer Nadeem Mazen. Thirteen votes separate vanBeuzekom and Dennis Carlone, another council newcomer, and 20 separate her from returning incumbent Craig Kelley. All three are considered vulnerable to losing a seat from the redistribution of votes that can result from a recount under Cambridge’s proportional representation form of balloting.

4. Analysis.

A. General.

The new councilors are Dennis A. Benzan, Dennis J. Carlone, Nadeem A. Mazen and Marc C. McGovern.

I know nothing about Mazen. Benzan has run for city council or state representative many times in the last 10 years or so. This is his first win. He has not been friendly. McGovern supported destruction at Magazine Beach, bragging that it would improve recreational uses. The exact opposite is true. The fourth new city councilor, Carlone, has a long record on the wrong side of development issues. He is squarely Cambridge Machine.

B. Benzan v. Reeves — Monteiro?

Looking at the overall numbers, it would appear that one key result is that Benzan and Reeves seem to be courting the same votes and Benzan won this time.

Seidel made a comment in the last election that the destruction of the life of Malvina Monteiro by former Cambridge City Manager Healy was no big thing. By contrast, the court system up to the Appeals Court rather clearly gave the Cambridge City Council strong power to fire Healy for cause. The big issue would have been whether Healy could be stripped of his pension as part of the firing.

Healy was civilly found guilty of firing Monteiro in retaliation for her filing a women’s right / civil rights complaint. The trial judge’s opinion can be summarized in one word: “reprehensible.” The appeals court refused to dignify Cambridge’s appeal with a formal decision: “ample evidence of . . . outrageous misbehavior.” The technical term is “malfeasance in office,” one of the listed grounds under which the Cambridge City Council can fire the Cambridge City Manager.

Exactly zero members of the Cambridge City Council made any attempt to meaningfully implement the Court Decisions. None of them voted to fire Healy or to initiate the firing of Healy.

A supporter of vanBeauzekom publicized Siedel’s no big thing comment in the appropriate circles during the 2011 election. Seidel lost. VanBeuzekom won.

In the months building up to the 2013 election, Cambridge’s irresponsible City Council tried to get votes on the Monteiro issue. They conducted public meetings on the lessons to be learned from the Monteiro case. I did not bother attend this obvious whitewash. However, those meetings could very well have backfired. Reeves was supposedly a reformer, a civil rights activist. It is entirely possible that enough folks simply got disgusted with him and voted for Benzan.

C. Environmental analysis. Civil rights generally. Finally, a decent human being?

VanBeuzekom has the nerve to include a graphic of a tree leaf on her signs. She was part of the unanimous city council which voted to destroy 22 excellent trees on the Cambridge Common, many because they blocked the view. She explained her vote to me saying that the city staff proposing the destruction told her that destroying those trees was ok.

Cambridge has had a unanimously rotten city council on environmental issues.

On the real votes on civil rights, there was one member wishy washing about funding the Monteiro defense outrage. I forget which way that member finally went. He certainly did not vote to fire.

Environmentally, Carlone is worse than either of the losing incumbents. It is a tossup whether he is worse than Davis who falsely ran as an environmentalist and was very, very destructive of the environment. Decker, unfortunately, is still in state office. She and Davis were the worst members environmentally and very difficult to praise. Decker ran for city council based on congressional issues and ran for state representative based on congressional issues.

Net result: I would be interested in seeing which way Mazen falls. I have no reason to anticipate he is a responsible person, but I can dream.

Eight rotters versus one responsible city councilor? I can dream. And in Cambridge, MA, USA, one environmentally responsible member of the Cambridge City Council is a dream.

D. Updated analysis.

Incumbent Craig Kelley can possibly replace vanBeuzekom on the chopping block.

Kelley got elected as an environmentalist. Another flat out lie using the definitions of the real world.

He is worse than vanBeuzekom as city councilors tend to be worse. There is no meaningful difference on the environment among the nine when it comes to votes. Davis and Decker were for practical purposes the worst, but that is not on votes, that is on aggressiveness. Kelly is worse than vanBeauzekom because he has been around longer and has had a chance to do more harm. Kelley also has his base in North Cambridge. The crucial Alewife reservation is very important to North Cambridge, and he is destroying it.

Good riddance to either, but it would be nice to get a replacement worthy of environmental respect.