Chaotic Council Meeting Ends Abruptly Over President, VP Vote

Debate over potential conflicts of interest in voting leads to a meeting that ended shortly after it began.

UPDATE, WEDNESDAY: Thursday's council meeting will take place at 8:15 p.m. and not 7 p.m. as originally reported. Here is the announcement on the city website.

ORIGINAL STORY: Rancorous debate, shouting matches and a malaise of motions marred Tuesday night's brief Medford City Council meeting, which ended after councilors didn't vote for a new president and vice president for 2013.

Debate was halted after Councilor Robert Penta asked Section 22, a council bylaw ending all discussion on a topic, be invoked first on election of the new president and then for the election of the new vice president.

The council is expected to hold a special meeting Thursday at City Hall at 7 p.m. to take up Tuesday night's agenda.

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It all started when Councilor Michael Marks raised a concern over councilors voting for themselves after being nominated for either president or vice president.

Marks questioned if such an action would present a conflict of interest as those council positions carry higher compensation.

Marks said he obtained a legal opinion from a staff attorney at the state Ethics Commission on the matter.

"I think it's only appropriate that based on the feedback I received from the Ethics Commission that anyone running should refrain from voting for themselves based on a conflict of interest," Marks said.

Marks added the council could receive an official opinion from the commission "swiftly."

After Councilor Frederick Dello Russo, Jr., entered Councilor Robert Maiocco's name for nomination as president, Councilor Robert Penta asked the vote for president be put off until an official opinion could be obtained.

At first, Councilor Paul Camuso asked the pay for those two positions be withheld pending the opinion of the commission.

"This body has the responsibility to put someone up there on the chair," Camuso said.

"We can't pick and choose whether or not we want to adhere to state law," Marks said in response. "The law is very clear."

Eventually, the names of Camuso, Penta and Marks were all included in the pool for presidential nominations along with Maiocco.

Camuso then attempted to "invoke the rule of necessity," as four members of the seven-person body would be unable to vote due to the appearance of a conflict of interest and the meeting would be allowed to proceed.

Penta noted that "something of a game is going on here" and invoked Section 22 to end the discussion.

When Camuso suggested that meant there could no longer be a meeting without a president, Penta said City Clerk Edward Finn could conduct the rest of the meeting. Other councilors vehemently disagreed.

"How does this council proceed?" asked Maiocco, who has served 14 years as council president. "It can't. In my 30 years on the Medford City Council I have never seen anything like this."

Maiocco accused Penta of not understanding the rules of the meeting, saying it was an "organizational" one and without organization there could be no meeting.

Several members of the public addressed the committee during the proceedings, including resident Joe Viglione, who called Maiocco an "immature man, drunk with power."

Finn moved on from the presidential vote to the vice presidential vote, where Dello Russo's name was entered by Camuso, who said councilors had voted for themselves for president and vice president in the past.

Penta again tried to table the vote for vice president. When Camuso moved to delete the line item in the city budget for council president and vice president salaries, Penta again invoked Section 22.

"I guess this all just about playing games then," Camuso said, and moved to adjourn.

"You can't have a meeting without an organization," Maiocco said. "It's illegal. We can get a ruling from the Ethics Commission on that."

Members of the audience shouted at Maiocco, saying he was "embarrassing himself."

After a motion to table all remaining items on the agenda failed, Maiocco himself invoked Section 22 to end the meeting.

The council took a brief recess at Finn's suggestion and when they reconvened Camuso moved to hold the special Thursday meeting to take up Tuesday's business.

Camuso called Marks' decision to bring up the conflict of interest matter a "sneak attack" while Marks called the entire ordeal "business as usual."

Finn and others apologized to the people who came out to Tuesday's meeting just to see it end so abruptly.

"If they don't come back after this whole fiasco, I don't blame them," Camuso said.

After the meeting ended, Councilor Richard Caraviello called the committee's actions "embarrassing."

Caraviello said the committee may have endangered the opening of the new Stop & Shop on Salem Street Friday by its actions. The store needs approval of its common victualler license before it can open, and that was on Tuesday's agenda.

"That could mean 100 people are out of work," he said.

stevieB January 09, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Wow..the circus has come to medford
Richie M January 09, 2013 at 03:48 PM
The circus has indeed come to Medford with Robert Maiocco being the main attraction. What an embarrassment Maiocco is to the City of Medford. His juvenile behavior, angry outbursts, and his lashing out at his fellow residents was horrifying to watch. He displayed a staggering lack of class and maturity. But that's Maiocco for you. He struts around the city like he's someone special. Watch him at Colleeen's when he strolls in during his visits to have his ring kissed. Then fast forward to last night's City Council meeting. He sauntered in like a king going to his coronation and then threw a temper tantrum and acted like a petulant little brat when he couldn't have his way. His lashing out like a raving lunatic at his fellow citizens was without a doubt the low point of the evening. What a classless, boorish clown Maiocco is. As sad as it was to watch I'm glad Medford got to see the real Robert Maiocco. Ditto for the Cicero of Alden Chambers: Paul Camuso. It was just another night for the candy man to play follow the leader and act like an obnoxious brat. As for Freddie "I don't know why I'm even here" Dello Russo. Neither do a lot of other people. I urge you to step aside for someone who will take the position of Medford City Coucillor more seriously than you do. Medford deserves better.
Arthur DeLuca January 09, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Did you actually WATCH the meeting last night? Maiocco was one of the voices of reason in the whole fiasco. Bob Penta was the childish one, raising article 22 to end the proceedings when it became apparent that Paul Camuso had found the correct venue for proceeding (by having 4 people nominated for Council President). Penta exhibited it a second time when Fred Dello Russo offered to forego the extra pay (thereby eliminating any conflict of interest) in the interests of being able to conduct the people's business. Bob Penta once again raised article 22 (or is that section 22?) thereby ending the Vice President vote and rendering the Council unable to continue. Let me state this again; some of the Council members TWICE managed to find a way to legally and properly proceed and TWICE Bob Penta shut them down. Bob Penta (who complains about the mayor's length in office while being himself in office longer than the mayor) TWICE stopped things from proceeding until it reached a point where the Ciity Council could NOT conduct the People's business. Please revue their Oath of Office and tell me which Councilors were trying to live up to that oath and which were not. You'll find Bob Maiocco on the side of those trying to live up to their oath.
David January 09, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Read this blog: http://medfordinformationcentral.blogspot.com/ Not sure who wrote this, but its quite interesting. Also, the author seems to have a person vendetta against certain councilors, but still makes you chuckle. http://medfordinformationcentral.blogspot.com/
Robbie Reed January 09, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Arthur, I wouldn't go so far as call Maiocco a voice of reason. I'd say the only real voice of reason was Rick Caraviello. Lungo-Kohn said basically nothing which was more reasonable than every member of the council other than Rick. Michael Marks should have brought up this ethics issue far earlier than the meeting in which they had to vote in new officers, and should have been more thorough in his quest for information from the ethics commission. He also should not have gotten so petty with Paul Camuso. Maiocco failed to keep a cool head. He also could have immediately volunteered to go along with Marks's request to not vote, which would have had absolutely no bearing on anything. Camuso meanwhile should not have tried to get cute and skirt the law, and Maiocco and Dello Russo should not have gone along with him. Penta capped off all the incompetence in typical fashion by being reactionary and shutting down all debate without thinking about the consequences. Let's vote all these fools (other than Caraviello and Lungo-Kohn) out.
Arthur DeLuca January 09, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Yes, I know many people who turn this blog regularly for their daily chuckles. It usually reminds me of the SNL news humor of when Emily Litella used to give her Op Ed piece, although in the case of this blog the hook is NOT being hard of hearing, but rather (for lack of a better name) hard of thinking. The blogger has admiited many times that it's all just parody meant for a laugh, but you'd be surprised how many clueless people miss this point and take it seriously. Methinks these clueless ones are the people whose thinking is being emulated in the parodies. Very funny... they don't even realize that they're being made sport of.
JoeyM January 09, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Thank you! That was about an astute an observation of the council as I have ever read. All of it true. Sadly. It all makes me think the Mayor is not so bad compared to this group of fools.
Ken Krause January 09, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Tuesday night’s display was particularly disappointing this week as the city mourns the passing of one of the most gracious gentlemen ever to sit behind the rail at the Alden Chambers, the long-time School Committee member Mr. Alfred P. Pompeo Sr., who also served as a City Councilor and as Mayor during his more than 60 years of public service. In another publication just today, City Councilor Robert Maiocco is quoted as saying, “Fred was always the voice of reason. When things would get heated, he would always offer a reasoned voice to calm things down.” Let us hope that all the parties involved take some time to reflect on Mr. Pompeo’s example and return to the Council chambers on Thursday night with a renewed collegial spirit befitting his legacy.
Robbie Reed January 09, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Here, here!
Robbie Reed January 09, 2013 at 10:36 PM
I'd also like to hear apologies from all councilors involved in Tuesday's debacle. Not for the actions of the council general, but their own hand in it. They all seem to think everyone else is at fault and not themselves. I hope they have a hard look in the mirror before Thursday.
Patricia Davis January 09, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Well said, Ken. I was at the meeting (my first in over a year), because I wanted to know who would be Council President, and perhaps comment on the uselessness of winter parking rules with no enforcement. I considered calling 911 at one point because of all the yelling from Mr. Maiocco up front, and the cursing and yelling behind me and in the isles from spectators, who also kept approaching the citizens' podium and offering opinions - and insults - without being recognized. I do not know enough to side with one party or another, but the whole meeting was a fractious, embarassing mess.
Arthur DeLuca January 09, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Well sockamagee Robbie, I didn't mean maiocco was the sole voice of reason, but Brianna did contribute a bit more than you heard. When Ed Finn felt unsure about continuing and Penta said it was okay because of what some other Cities had done, Ed stated that since he had no papers from these cities before him, he wasn't comfortable continuing. At this point Brianna agreed, stating it's heresay. That's not to say that I'm endorsing her for November. If she behaved the rest of the year as she did last night, she'd be okay, but I find fault with her for other reasons not in evidence last night. To JoeyM - good observation! I've alwyas said that to revitalize Medford Square one must first revitalize the City Council. last night reaffirms my opinion. To all, I liked Fred Dello Russo's suggestion best of all - remove the extra pay for those positions and the problem goes away. Regardeless of what the State Ethics Commission decides. I'd like to see the bonus pay for those positions eliminated. I'd like to see this happen for ALL Government offices, including State and especially Federal Govts. No extr pay for sitting on boards, commissions etc. You've been elected to do the people's work for a fixed price, regardless of the hours put in. So if you sit on committee or some such, you're still doing the people''s work - no more $$$ is merited! If you don't like that, then don't accept the extra position. How do the rest of you feel about this?
Arthur DeLuca January 09, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Ouch - that is a shame. And the behaviors last night were so opposite to what he brought to the position when he served the City. We need more people like Alfred Pompeo in Government!
Bsheldon January 10, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Yep - that blog is written by the "so called" public access producer. surely he was at the meeting, and surely he'll be back tonight. this fiasco must be hurting him - as he tries to bury the Mayor all the time (and only the council will listen to him...every tueday!), he hates McGlynn and blogs nonsense. So much so that when a local woman sued him for defamation; the court actually ruled it was not dafamtion...because no reasonable person could possible take him seriously !!! my husband and i read his blog weekly. silly i know, but funny.
Arthur DeLuca May 18, 2013 at 05:39 AM
Just having a look back 4 1/2 months later... Bob Maiocco has proven himself to once again be an able leader as Council President. But with all that hoopla and grandstanding and indignation those two nights, have any of the State's or City's laws/ordinances/regulations been changed to "correct" what went "wrong"? No? ... Then I guess no one was and/or is doing anything wrong in picking the City Council President and Vice President the way it's being done.


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