FRAMINGHAM – When the City of Framingham sent Monifa Charles and offer letter to become the the City’s next Health Director, the written offer letter never mentioned the job was contingent on City Council approval.
In fact, Charles needed to receive 8 votes from the 11-member City Council in order to be confirmed as the next Health Director, as Mayor Yvonne Spicer nominated the department head in her fourth year of a four year term
Under the City’s Charter, director positions need a 2/3rd approval in the fourth year but only a simple majority in the first through third years.
The City Council voted 4-7 to approval Charles, and thus she did not receive the necessary votes.
Voting against the appointment was City Council Chair George P. King Jr., Janet Leombruno, Christine Long, Michael cannon, Robert Case, Phil Ottaviani Jr., and John Stefanini.
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.
“This is quite disappointing,” said Mayor Spicer in a phone interview with SOURCE on Wednesday, June 16. “given the fact that this woman had tremendous skill sets” and “certainly came highly recommended” with an “unanimous vote from the board of health.”
City of Framingham HR Director Dolores Hamilton told SOURCE there were 11 applicants for the position.
Mayor Spicer told the news outlet only three of them met the minimum qualifications for the “leadership position.”
“Eight were not qualified for the position,” said Mayor Spicer.
A selection committee scheduled three candidates for interviews, said Hamilton. “2 were interviewed and the third withdrew.”
SOURCE asked Hamilton was Charles “told in writing that the position was contingent on a 2/3rd vote of the City Council?
Hamilton answered “No, she was aware of the requirements of the City Charter, including the 2/3rds vote of the City Council.”
The offer letter to Charles was dated on May 7.
Charles was scheduled to start Monday, June 21, if she received 8 Councilors’ votes.
The full offer letter is below:MCHARLES-SIGNEDOFFER-003
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.
on Tuesday, June 15, 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 digital news outlet plans to appeal that decision to the State.
All three members of the 3-member Board of Health spoke last night and gave their support to Charles as the City’s next health director to the City Council.
As Charles was not approved, interim health director Alex DePalo will continue in her role. She can only serve as an interim for 180 days, under the Charter.
Wong left his position in December 2020.
DePalo has been interim since January 2, 2021, but Hamilton said officially she has only been interim since February 26, so her 180th day is August 25.