M, the partner who appeared to simply be shirking and dumping his work on other people, had a good reason: the reason he couldn't get his cgi code to run was not his fault.
The bad news:
I have no idea why any cgi code we try to run gives an internal server error. Old cgi stuff works fine, but anything new doesn't. Even if new stuff is two lines which we know should work, it still gives a 500 (internal server error). And so far, the webmaster people have not been overly helpful (i.e. pointing out errors in the code that exist, but should not have caused this error).