It's probably the only word which does justice to the political shenanigans surrounding Tuesday night's election of Francis H. Duehay '55 as mayor of Cambridge.
By a 5-4 vote on the very first ballot taken at City Hall, the city councilors elected Duehay, a 13-year local lawmaker, to the largely ceremonial position.
The nine Cambridge councilors, who choose the city's mayor from within their own ranks every two years, picked Duehay over two other contenders for the spot.
In an apparent deal made last week with the liberal Cambridge Civic Association (CCA), newly elected City Councilor Alfred W. LaRosa cast the all-important swing vote to give Duehay the majority needed to become mayor.
But in return for LaRosa's support of their candidate, the four CCA councilors made the first-term legislator Cambridge's vice mayor for the remainder of the term.
The city's highest elected office became vacant when the late mayor, Leonard J. Russell, died on June 13. Before a new mayor could be chosen, Russell's city council seat had to be filled by recounting his ballots from the 1983 municipal election.
"One could say there was some sort of an agreement that [the CCA-supported city councilors] would elect him vice mayor," Duehay said of LaRosa's appointment.
"Of course it was a CCA cabal," City Councilor David E. Sullivan said about the political coup pulled off by his colleagues.
Membership in the nine-member City Council is balanced between the CCA and the more conservative Independents, although City Councilors Alfred E. Vellucci and LaRosa claim they are aligned with neither faction.
A resident of East Cambridge, LaRosa was defeated in his city council bid two years ago, but gained a seat on the city legislature after the ballot recount on July 2.
"Since the death of our late mayor Lenny Russell, the task of proceeding with the duties and responsibilities of mayor's office have been diligently and successfully performed by Acting Mayor Duehay," LaRosa said about his motives.
Political observers around the city question whether LaRosa's support for the CCA might spell political trouble for the first-term councilor and a new coalition for the CCA or a boon for his reelection chances this November.
Despite the unusual summertime election, city councilors will vote again in January for a new mayor after the fall's municipal elections. All nine sports on the council will be up for grabs.