en English
en Englishes Spanishpt Portuguesear Arabicht Haitian Creolezh-TW Chinese (Traditional)


Your Local Online News Source for Over 3 Decades

Controversy, delays mar City Council’s confirmation of longtime Planning Board member Ioven’s reappointment

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Several Councillors express dismay, rancor over handling of Mayor’s request


By Steve Freker


Originally, it may have appeared a routine, “no muss-no fuss” vote for a well-known, experienced municipal board member. By the time it was over – four weeks, a lengthy City Council subcommittee meeting, two full City Council meetings, many hours of public debate later – it was far from that. Ironically, the same vote result that many may have first expected, actually happened.

Twenty-year Malden Planning Board Chairperson Charles “Chuck” Ioven – who has served close to 40 years overall on the board, since 1985 – was unanimously confirmed for reappointment to another five-year term, his name being put forth by Mayor Gary Christenson. Voting 10-0, unanimously, in favor of his reappointment were Ward 2 Councillor Paul Condon, Ward 1 Councillor Peg Crowe, Ward 3 Councillor Amanda Linehan, Councillor-at-Large Carey McDonald, Ward 4 Councillor Ryan O’Malley, Ward 8 Councillor Jadeane Sica, Ward 7 Councillor Chris Simonelli, Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora, Ward 5 Councillor Ari Taylor, and City Council President Stephen Winslow (Ward 6).

Councillor-at-Large Karen Colón Hayes recused herself from all of the debate and the final vote itself, citing that her husband Patrick Hayes is a member of the Planning Board. The second-term Councillor said she had consulted the State Ethics Commission before making the decision to recuse herself.

The decision was made after an often confusing and rancorous debate where several Councillors expressed feelings of irritation and frustration and at times saying the situation “is embarrassing to this Council” of the manner in which it was handled overall. At no point, in either meeting, did any Councillor speak negatively or disparagingly of Ioven or his performance over his lengthy term on the Planning Board.

In two separate full Council meetings, one on March 28 and the second this week on Tuesday night, there was lengthy discussion about related topics, such as:

—The past, present and future direction of the Malden Planning Board

—The role and exact function of the Planning Board

—The state of the working relationship between the Planning Board and the City Council

Clearly the most pressing related issue, right now and in the immediate future, that was discussed, was the planned creation and implementation of a new, strategic Master Plan for the city of Malden. This process has and will continue to involve a close examination and eventual joint decision-making between the Planning Board and City Council, every step of the way, a point that was alluded to a number of times by many of the Councillors – including Council President Stephen Winslow, Councillors-at-Large Craig Spadafora and Carey McDonald and Councillors Jadeane Sica, Peg Crowe, Ryan O’Malley, Amanda Linehan and Chris Simonelli.

All of the lengthy debate circled back often to the main premise, the request from Malden Mayor Gary Christenson for Council confirmation of the reappointment of Ioven to a new five-year term on the Planning Board. The request was discussed at length, originally, in the Personnel and Appointments Subcommittee, which is chaired by Councillor Linehan. It was reported out to the full Council at the March 26 meeting “with no recommendation.”

That prompted the first of two lengthy and at times argumentative debates among the Councillors, both over their expressed dismay over their perceived treatment of longtime Planning Board Chairperson Ioven and the general challenge to his requested reappointment and also – at both meetings – challenges and disagreement over Council President Winslow’s decisions over procedural issues during the meetings, votes and motions.

Councillors Sica, Condon, Spadafora and Crowe all spoke strongly in support of Ioven’s reappointment, and Sica and Spadafora were highly critical of some of the interpretations and decisions Winslow made from the President’s chair. “He [Ioven] is probably the most dedicated member of any board we have ever had,” said Councillor Condon, who has served over 30 years on the Council in parts of four different decades. “When he is [endorsed] by one of the most respected Department heads we have ever had, as he was tonight by [City Planner] Michelle Romero, she knows who does the job up there.”

“Chuck [Ioven] is pure dedication. It’s an insult to everyone who has ever served [to challenge his reappointment],” Condon added. “I can’t figure this one out. I hope we can come together and do the right thing.”

Councillor Sica, at Tuesday’s meeting, was pointed in some of her remarks directed toward the Council President, who cited a number of rules of “Robert’s Rules of Order,” which governs the Malden City Council meetings and most other municipal bodies nationwide. One of the statements that Council President Winslow made regarding what he said would be strict enforcement of a Council rule limiting Councillors to three times speaking on a particular issue, especially appeared to affect Councillor Sica. “You [Winslow] mentioned the rules, on three chances to speak. In my 11 years on the City Council, I have never seen that rule enforced –  ever. Forget about it,” Sica said. “This is a personal thing for you. You probably should have recused yourself. It’s a horrible way of doing things.”

As to the direct question of Ioven’s reappointment, Councillor Sica continued, “This is a respect thing, as in respect to the Mayor [on the request for Ioven’s reappointment]. If this vote fails, 5-5, [Ioven] will still be on the Planning Board; our vote will change nothing. If the Mayor serves another 10 years as Mayor, [Ioven] will still be there if we vote or don’t vote.”

On the matter of bringing the matter back to the Council docket in the category of “old business,” Councillor Sica said, “I have tried to figure out why you are doing this. That is horrible – that you would play that dirty – bringing it back as old business. You really need to choose your words [moving forward]. I will be counting every single time on every single paper [on three chances to speak], mark my words.”

Councillor O’Malley said, “Councillor Sica is correct. [No matter what the Council votes] Chuck [Ioven] will be on the Planning Board. There isn’t a problem with Chuck and the Planning Board. The Council will continue to work with them on many matters. If there are differing opinions, that produces better results.”

On several occasions during both lengthy meetings, Council President Winslow had to vacate the chair when Councillors made “challenges to the chair,” and O’Malley adeptly assumed the Interim President role and ran the meetings from the chair.

Councillor Spadafora also had some heated remarks. “If I was Chuck Ioven, I would have walked out the door a long time ago,” Spadafora said. “This is one of the least demonstrations of respect I have seen. It [looks like] a personal vendetta to continue to put it on the agenda to see if the [vote] numbers change. So is the plan to have this come up every two weeks?”

“What we are doing is a travesty. This is not how we do things. This is not how we treat people; it is cruel and unusual punishment,” Spadafora added.

Ward 7 Councillor Simonelli said, “I don’t understand how we got here. Not one has made any argument whatsoever on what [Ioven] has done wrong [to be challenged].”

“We are supposed to be professionals here. We should start to act like it,” Simonelli added.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the vote finally came with Councillor Spadafora making the motion to confirm Ioven’s appointment, seconded by Councillor Crowe, and it was 10-0.

Council President Winslow did not respond directly to any of the comments made by any of the Councillors during Tuesday’s meeting, sticking directly to managing the meeting as to protocol and citing the Robert’s Rule occasionally.

After the meeting, he said he congratulated Ioven on his reappointment and looked forward to continuing to work with him and the other Planning Board members. “I will work with Chuck [Ioven] and congratulated him on the biggest comeback since the 2004 Red Sox,” Winslow said. “I will continue to advocate for our boards and commissions to ensure that city and state policies that focus on making our streets for all users, and for actions to keep Malden an affordable place to live and raise a family.”


Contact Advocate Newspapers