Friday, May 09, 2014

Law excitement? Cambridge, MA, USA City Councilor Mazeem reads law; disputes City Solicitor position on development issue.

1. Mazeem disputes Glowa.
2. Past Experience.
A. Mine.
B. Monteiro v. Cambridge.
3. Mazeem v. the Cambridge City Council.

1. Mazeem disputes Glowa.

Cambridge Day is reporting on a dispute with regard to conversion of the former Cambridge Superior Courthouse.

It is reported at:

The particular dispute occurred over whether the Courthouse was exempt from zoning.

City Solicitor Glowa announced that it is, based on a case in Falmouth, MA, USA, concerning a post office conversion.

Quoting Cambridge Day:


“It is a lawful nonconforming structure,” writes City Solicitor Nancy Glowa, “because the courthouse structure when built was nonconforming but immune because of its governmental use.” As precedent she cites Durkin v. Board of Appeals of Falmouth, a 1986 case about the sale of a government post office into private hands.


Cambridge Day follows, quoting an attorney for the neighbors:


In a memo to the board and city solicitor, Bobrowski explained that Durkin relied on the fact that the Falmouth post office complied with zoning when it was built, because that zoning allowed structures for “all municipal purposes.” Cambridge’s zoning had no such catch-all.


Quoting new councilor Nadeem Mazim:


Councillor Nadeem Mazen said he understood Durkin to be based on a significant number of errors by the Falmouth Board of Zoning Appeals, which was why the appeals court granted a “do-over” in the case. He suggested to Glowa that Durkin was therefore poor precedent for the East Cambridge courthouse.

2. Past Experience.

A. Mine.

One way a corrupt city government gets away with corrupt behavior is because it is easier for the victim to comply with bizarre demands rather than going to court. “That is the way things are done in Cambridge.”

One personal experience that comes to mind came in 2003 when I ran for City Council and the City Manager’s Election Commission staff threw out enough nominating signatures to render my nominating papers invalid.

They threw out the papers based on the fact that the papers exactly complied with the papers issued by the Election Commissions except that I created additional copies by xerox to make it easier for folks to run around with the papers. I reviewed the law before doing this and based my actions on the then recent Jack E. Robinson case in which copies were made in a manner less conforming with the official printings.

The Supreme Judicial Court allowed the Jack E. Robinson actions clearly and undisputedly. (See for the decision.)

My representative spoke with the Secretary of State’s office who stated it was inconceivable for any City Solicitor to support the Election Commission’s actions.

Glowa, then Assistant City Solicitor, blessed the violation of law by the Election Commission staff using language strikingly similar to other language quoted by Cambridge Day.

A panel of lawyers on the Election Commission, including many who certainly looked Cambridge Machine, blessed the blatant violation of law. The lawyers were incapable of reading very clear law. This is Cambridge, MA, USA, after all.

I keep on using the word “corrupt” with regard to the Cambridge Machine’s behavior. Ignoring the law in matters of legal importance with a clear opinion readily available in a department charged with understanding and obeying election law is bad enough. For the City Solicitor to issue a bizarre, blatantly false “opinion” makes it that much worse.

What word would you use?

B. Monteiro v. Cambridge.

This was an example of how irresponsible the Cambridge City Government can be.

The Cambridge City Manager fired Malvina Monteiro, a black Cape Verdean department head, in retaliation for her filing a women’s right / civil rights complaint.

The jury awarded more than triple damages as a penal award in response to the outrageous acts of the Cambridge City Manager. The judge summarized the behavior as “reprehensible”. The appeals court panel refused to honor the appeal with a formal decision. They cited “ample evidence of . . . outrageous misbehavior.”

The combination of decisions gave the city council ample reason to fire the City Manager for malfeasance in office, which, being the Cambridge City Council, they failed to do, but continued pious noises on a whole bunch of nonsense.

I recall a Globe op ed referring to the Cambridge appeal, essentially, as beyond common sense.

Shortly after the decision became firm the then City Solicitor retired.

The victim was due $1.1 million for her actual damages. The City of Cambridge wound up giving her a check for $8.3 million. Total payments for the case ran $10.9 million. Payments in the case and related cases ran $14.6 million.

3. Mazeem v. the Cambridge City Council.

The Cambridge City Council, without meaningful objection, backed the Cambridge City Manager long past the time for rats to desert the sinking ship in Monteiro. And there was no attempt to fire him in spite of appeals court and superior court decisions which gave firing him legal blessing.

Would the Monteiro outrage have been beaten to death as it was were Mr. Mazeem on the city council then?