UPDATED: Framingham City Council Rejects Mayor’s Nominee For Health Director

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Originally posted at 8:27 p.m. June 15. Updated at 8:28 a.m. on June 16.

FRAMINGHAM – The 11-member Framingham City Council, after a 45-minute interview process, voted not to hire the Mayor Yvonne Spicer’s nominee for Health Director.

The vote was 4 in favor and 7 against.

As the vote was coming in the 4th year of the Mayor’s 4-year term, the nominee needed 8 votes to start.

 On May 24, Mayor Spicer nominated Dr, Monifa Charles of North Carolina to be the City of Framingham’s new health director.

Voting in favor of Charles was District 2 City Councilor Cesar-Stewart-Morales, District 3 City Councilor Adam Steiner, District 7 City Councilor Margareth Shepard, and District 9 City Councilor Tracey Bryant.

Charles has worked in public health for the last 18 years, most recently working for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service Office in Raleigh, where she identified innovative models of care and collaboration in underserved areas.

She is an expert in rural health and health research, and several Councilors felt while highly educated and highly qualified in some areas of health, she was just not a good fit for the City of Framingham.

If approved, she would have started, Monday, June 21 at a salary of $123,000.

Now, the Mayor needs to make a major decision on the Health Director position this month, as Assistant Framingham Health Director Alex DePalo has been serving as acting Health Director since January 2021.

Under the charter, she can only serve as interim for a maximum of 180 days.

Former Health Director Sam Wong left the City of Framingham in December 2020. Wong has since taken a position with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The City of Framingham said they received 11 applicants, and that interim DePalo did not apply.

A couple of Councilors said they would be in favor of DePalo as Director, including District 4 City Councilor Mike Cannon and District 6 City Councilor Phil Ottavianni Jr.

Mayor Spicer used a selection committee to help her narrow the 11 applicants for the Director post. The selection committee included Mayor Spicer; Human Resources Department Director Dolores Hamilton; Chief Diversity, Equity; and Inclusion Officer Dr. Maritsa Barros and; Board of Health chair Gillian Carcia, Board of Health member Dr. David Moore and Board of Health member Laura Houseman.

SOURCE filed an Open Meeting Law violation with the City of Framingham on May 24, as all three members of the Board of Health served on the selection committee, and the Board of Health never posted any meetings, not even executive session meetings. A quorum of a Board of Commission should not meet without posting notification 48 hours in advance, even if the meeting will be closed to the public.

Earlier today, the City’s attorney issued a ruling that it did not violate the Open Meeting law for all three health board members to meet behind closed doors and never post a meeting. The news outlet plans to appeal that decision to the State.

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