— Eye on Everett —

Looking inside at city hall

By Josh Resnek

What a thing to be the rep from this city.

I saw the rep yesterday. He was mingling with all the big shots at city hall waiting on the third floor to congratulate Wynn Resorts/Encore, for handing over to the city a check for $12.5 million.

This was an all fun moment for everyone who attended.

After all, it isn’t everyday a municipality like Everett receives a check for $12.5 million into the city treasury.

Everyone was there – well everyone who matters – the laughing, smiling and engaging folks from Encore led by Greg John and his boss, Robert DeSalvio, both men tan and relaxed, making the rounds and hobnobbing with the likes of former Mayor John Hanlon, and a handful of city councillors and State Senator Sal DiDomenico.

Encore Jobs
Encore Boston Jobs Center inside City Hall    (Josh Resnek Photo)

The extravaganza began at 5:30 with a ribbon cutting for the new Encore employment office – another wonderful moment in the life and times of the city and for this casino/hotel economic juggernaut, which is injecting so much money, energy and goodwill into this sprawling project.

The event reminded me of being at synagogue when I was a youngster growing up in Marblehead when it was holiday time and all the big shots stood in a line greeting all the little people streaming into the synagogue.

There would be hugs and handshakes galore, as there were up on the third floor at city hall Monday afternoon.

Then the master of ceremonies arrive, the mayor, who dove into this crowd making like honey bees swarming as the event got underway in this tiny corner of the third floor near to the elevators.

The mayor stood in the doorway with DeSalvio, who reminds me just a bit of a Hollywood star, handsome, charming, smiling generously, perhaps too generously, and presiding over the type of event he has done probably a 100 times in his life.

Great deference was given to Seth Daniel from the Independent Newspaper Group. Everyone from Encore made sure Daniel got just the right photographs and that he was all set – and then they were all set.

The mayor gave a small speech, something he has done 500 times. For him, it was another photo op at a time in his life when he is probably growing just a bit tired of doing what he is doing. After all, he could have been something else that he wanted to do – anything else for that matter, whatever he wanted. But he was there, in all his city hall grandeur and bombast, the mayor of Everett opening an employment center.

The rep kind of mumbled a few words – but he really had nothing to say or to add to the drama taking place on the third floor of city hall other than to lend his countenance to the event. This is to say – he showed those who cared he was there.

I overheard him saying how busy is he is and how tired, so great are the responsibilities of serving the people of Everett at the State House!

Great stuff. Loved it.

I loved the ribbon cutting for the employment center.

Then came the big moment, the official presentation of a facsimile $12.5 million check to the city inside the city council chamber.

This event was a bit more robust.

Everyone present did the obligatory line-up behind the dais with the mayor at the center and everyone else spreading out on either side of him like the wings of an eagle.

Photographs were taken – and that was that – the drama of the day in Everett, was officially over.

And like the old synagogue rallies I used to attend when I was growing up, everyone started to leave and were probably happy to leave, and to get on with their lives.

I bounded down the three flights of stairs. I walked out into the parking lot and ran into Councilor Mike Marchese and Council President Peter Napolitano.

Napolitano had been working all day. He was mildly upset that the event was held before he could get out of work.

Marchese, always true to himself at whatever he does or says, felt no need to attend the ribbon cutting and the check presentation.

And that’s the way it was at city hall on Monday afternoon from 5:30-6:15.

The Rep Race

The rep won’t debate with his two opponents.

So what else is new?

He is too busy with his duties on Beacon Hill to do something as ill-advised as to participate in a debate with Stephen State Smith or Gerley Adrien.

Smith has said that debates don’t change the minds of voters here.
I think this is a sage belief.

For his part, Smith has accepted Adrien’s debate offer anytime anywhere.
The rep has not.

Very likely he will not. His public speaking and extemporaneous thinking abilities are not in sync with the necessities of a debate.

He knows he cannot win a debate.

It is smart for him not to debate his opponents – and yet it allows his opponents to gain precious ground on him.

The rep has been campaigning. He has been doing some door knocking.

Door knocking for the rep is like Chinese water torture or water boarding, the stuff CIA people and US military did in Iraq to the enemy.

Can you imagine the rep having to knock on doors?

How humiliating – and yet – he is about thew first rep in the city’s long history to have to knock on doors at this point in his political career to introduce himself to voters – most of whom say: “Who are you? Why haven’t I seen or heard from you before”

Yes, it isn’t easy being the rep these days.

The work is so tiring on Beacon Hill, and then there is the election effort, and this too, is tiring, wearying almost.

Wearying, because when the rep thinks about it, he thinks he could lose.
He did a poll or two last week.

My understanding is that the poll didn’t go so well.
What does this mean?

His numbers were weak, almost embarrassingly so, according to the sources I talk with.
Smith was apparently on top, Adrien second and the rep third!

Could this be true?

It is up to the rep to tell us.

Had his numbers been commanding, we would have heard about them already.

Then there were the interesting off the record comments from people who claim to know about the grand jury thing going on over at the Federal Courthouse having to do with the Waters Avenue project.

There is quite a cast of characters in this unfolding bit of local drama – and it is led by Gary DeCicco, who was a central figure in this project taking shape and form.

Decicco just dodged a bullet in Federal Court two weeks ago when he was found not guilty of a variety of charges.

He was also released from Federal custody and is now a free man until his next round in court which is coming up on other difficult matters.

I know DeCicco.

I have always found him to be a very interesting character, the way I find the rep a character, and the mayor, and everyone DeCicco hung out with who were his friends from Everett.

That grand jury is apparently making connections, not about the rep race, but about the cast of characters who represent this city.

It could be something. It could be nothing. Only they know – and they aren’t about to say.

Back to the rep race…I have noticed as everyone who cares about politics in the city will also have noticed, that a bunch of rep signs have been put up.

This was followed during the weekend by the appearance of better placed signage by Smith at nearly every important traffic confluence in the city.

This weekend and next about 300-350 Smith signs will go up all over the city, giving the pace the look of a Smith sign factory, according to my sources.

Then there is the campaign of Adrien, the young, attractive, educated, intelligent, Hatian, lifelong Everett resident who is knocking on doors more vigorously and with great passion than the other two.

She reported to me that her reception has been welcoming and that she likes to go where the rep has already gone and has been surprised again by the responses from those who the rep had talked with the day before.

Interesting, isn’t it?

A last thought…Adrien had a ice-cream time for kids in Everett Square last Saturday.

According to those who attended, the rep showed up and held a campaign sign right there as the kids ate their ice-cream.

Nice touch?

Great campaigning?

Not really.

At The School Department

All the big shots at the school department – Superintendent Fred Forestiere and his assistant superintendents Charlie Obremski and Kevin Shaw, were busy with a different matter as the big shots at city hall were meeting to accept the $12.5 million check from Encore for the city.

They were going over names and numbers, the real difficult job of making cuts because the mayor and the city council have told the schools – “There’s just not one more dime for you.”

So these three have been determining who shall stay and who shall go, who shall survive and who not in their teaching jobs.

It reminds me a bit of the ancient Jewish prayer that goes like this, “And on this day God shall decide who shall live and who shall die. Who shall be happy and who shall be sad. Who shall be rich and who shall be poor. Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low and on and on.

One hundred teachers are going.

One hundred men and women losing their jobs.

The smiling folks up at city hall collecting that $12.5 million check didn’t have an ounce of concern about the chaos and the misery about to befall 100 teachers in the system.
The system itself is affected.

These layoffs are the equivalent of a major earthquake.

And there will be no repairs made after the earthquake, thank you, because the money isn’t there.

Or is it rather, the money is there but the will is missing from the folks at city hall – the council, the mayor and the city CFO Eric Demas- to do anything meaningful with it?

For Demas, who attended the check handover gushing with bureaucratic pride, and who presides over the city’s spending habit, the promise of not one more dime for the public schools is an exclamation point for what he and the city believes is more important than the public schools – that is –  the city’s bond rating.

The 100 teachers chopped from the block, their heads rolling with dizzying thoughts and pains about how they will run their own homes and lives, pay the mortgage, the car loan, the college loans, the health needs that are so costly…at least they will all come to understand that the city’s bond rating is safe. That the bond rating that is almost perfect, was made more perfect by the $12.5 million check from the casino to the city.

How is that for irony?

What does this tell you about how the most powerful folks in city government here think about education?

The Summer So Far

Everyone in this city understands how bad the weather has been so far this summer. Last weekend’s rain and clouds heaped upon all the rain and clouds we’ve experienced nearly all of June, is a cause for minor depression and worry.

“What if all of July and August are like this?” we wonder.

Not to worry, weathermen and women are predicting the 90’s for FridaySaturday and Sunday.

After that, we’ll all be complaining about the heat and on and on.

And so it goes in New England…and in Everett,,,where the weather can change from hour to hour.

And quite often does!

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