Saturday, May 18, 2024


City Solicitor Donald Drisdell is retiring Jan. 20, according to an item on the city manager’s agenda for Monday’s meeting of the City Council. Deputy City Solicitor Nancy Glowa will become acting city solicitor on that day.

Drisdell has been city solicitor since 2003 and before that was assistant city solicitor.

He has given “many years of valuable service to the city,” City Manager Robert W. Healy said in his agenda item.

Drisdell got a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, graduating in 1975, and went on to attend the Suffolk University Law School from 1977-80, after which he spent about five years as deputy regional counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, according to his LinkedIn account.

As leader of the city’s Law Department, the city website says, he has been responsible for providing legal representation and advice to the city and its officials. Solicitor staff attends and provides advice at council and council committee meetings and to city boards and commissions. There are eight full-time attorneys and a support staff — an office manager and two administrative assistants.

While there are undoubtedly countless successful legal services provided to the city that the public doesn’t hear about, the department has had a few notable embarrassments, failings or controversies in the past few months involving a lack of transparency in Freedom of Information cases, laws written in a way that confused city councillors, laws written in ways that contradicted the very intent of the councillors, bad performances in defense of department-written laws and even an apparent conflict of interest in the recent civil rights lawsuits filed against the city.

In that case, testimony suggested Glowa had a race problem at one time with Linda Stamper, who recently won an undisclosed amount of money from the city for claiming she was discriminated against during the seven years she worked in the Law Department. In addition, Glowa was at an internal city hearing concerning the firing of another city employee, Malvina Monteiro, who won $8.3 million from the city in her own civil rights lawsuit — and also sat at the counsel table throughout Monteiro’s court case, said Ellen Zucker, the attorney who represented Stamper, Monteiro and a third woman in their lawsuits against the city.

The department has left several requests for comment from Cambridge Day, left in a variety of ways, unanswered over the past weeks.