Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Evaluation of minutes of city council executive committee meetings on the Monteiro case

1. General.
2. Analysis of minutes.
3. Supplement on remaining plaintiffs.

1. General.

The case of Malvina Monteiro v. City of Cambridge is a case in which the jury awarded $3.5 million penal damages in addition to $1.1 million real damages against Cambridge based on its finding that the City Manager destroyed the life of Department Head Malvina Monteiro in retaliation for her filing a civil rights complaint.

The judge’s opinion was scholarly and very effectively destroyed all arguments of the City of Cambridge, including the arguments raised in executive session. The trial judge’s key opinion may be read at:

The key word used by the trial judge which summarizes the situation was “reprehensible.”

On appeal, the Appeals Court panel reacted to the appeal with disgust. It refused to dignify the appeal with a formal opinion, commenting that there was “ample evidence [of] outrageous actions.”

The appeals court opinion may be read at:

There has been considerable press on the failure to release the minutes of the city council discussions of the case including administrative action by the Cambridge Chronicle.

In the Cambridge Chronicle's endorsement editorial with regard to the November city election, the Chronicle specifically lamented the inability of the voters to judge the behavior of individual councilors on Monteiro because of the suppression of the minutes of the executive sessions.

The minutes of the executive sessions are posted at:

2. Analysis of minutes.

The minutes, for almost all practical purposes, are useless.

The only meetings for which substantive comments are reported in any real detail are the last two meetings: the August 19, 2011 meeting at which the City Manager reported the Appeals Court decision to the city council and September 26, 2011 meeting at which a vote was taken on suppressing the minutes of the executive sessions.

In general, while, on occasion, there are talking points stated, who said what is not stated, nor is the extent to which there was meaningful support communicated of any of the stated positions.

The August 19, 2011 goes into apparent detail quoting the city manager’s report to the city council.

On September 26, 2011, the last executive session, there is report of the following vote:


The question came on whether to uphold the Mayor’s decision that the Monteiro case is still pending such that disclosure of the executive session minutes may have a detrimental effect on the City’s legal position in the remainder of the case and therefore the reason for nondisclosure still pertains.

The roll was called and the results were as follows:

Yeas: Vice Mayor Davis, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Seidel, Councillor Toomey and Mayor Maher

Nays: Councillor Cheung, Councilor Decker, Councillor Reeves and Councillor Simmons

And the motion was passed on a roll call vote of 5 to 4.


The coalition on either side of the vote is striking in particular for the vote of Councillor Kelley. Kelley has run in such a way as to give the impression that he is the only opponent to the Cambridge City Manager. But his vote could be considered the swing vote to keep things secret.

3. Supplement on remaining plaintiffs.

The Cambridge Chronicle has reposted its analysis of the final two actions in the five related cases of which the most visible case was that of Malvina Monteiro. It is posted at

Cambridge, MA Releases Monteiro Records from Executive Sessions

Cambridge Day has posted on line the just release records of the Cambridge City Council’s executive committee meetings on the Monteiro case.

They may be read at: