The View From Outside Everett
Forbe’s Magazine writer Walter Pavlo wrote a scathing piece on the evolving casino/hotel mess down the street.
He wrote about salvaging the mess since the resignation of Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chair Steve Crosby has sent the whole investigative process into a nosedive.
Then he asked this question: “Everett, the host city for the casino, is grappling for funding for its schools despite receiving nearly $20 million from Wynn Resorts. Who’s looking into that?”
The Leader Herald is looking into this. We have been on it for quite some time.
We are not casino haters here. We don’t want the project to fail or to shudder under the weight of incompetency and avarice. This project needs to get done and to begin producing streams of money, tons of cash, truckloads of tax dollars for hungry treasuries.
That being said, the Leader Herald wonders loudly and clearly:
“If Everett has received all these millions and millions – more than $30 million from the casino and it hasn’t even opened, why then, why, must the School Department lay-off teachers and aids and fight a city government that tells the School Department: “We don’t have the money. You need to cut your budget, not add to it!”
Another conundrum, a virtual gaggle, are the city CFO’s prediction that taxes will be going up another 11% this year, capping an incredible decade of steep and unforgiving tax increases.
“Everything is right and Everett is heading to the stars,” the folks at city hall tell the people.
But not everything is right when the city doesn’t have money to fund the public schools.
What is right about an 11% tax increase coming, and schools fighting for funding with classroom size at an average of 30 or more, and some teachers who lost their classrooms trying to point fingers at the school administration instead of pointing their fingers at the guys that count the mayor and his propaganda minister CFO Eric Demas.
The mayor and Demas have presided over Everett’s financial ship of state during a golden era when the income stream from the coming casino and higher taxes have bloated the city treasury with money.
Yet the mayor and Demas both agree – there isn’t enough money to fund the public schools.
Taxes must rise another 11%.
Is something wrong with this picture?
Yes there is.
Every property owners should be up at city hall in rebellion to this theft of city money by people who call themselves leaders who ought to know better.
What the mayor and Demas do with their own money is one thing.
What they do with Everett’s money is another.
Bottom line – these guys don’t know how to save a dollar. They are constitutionally incapable of reducing taxes and keeping the casino millions in the bank, which would make of Everett the richest city in the Commonwealth today.
Instead, everything that comes in is scheduled immediately to be spent.
The way he runs the city is a microcosm of the mayor’s personal financial trials and tribulations.
It would appear in his private life that spending outpaces income, always. This despite being one of the highest paid mayor’s in the Commonwealth.
He lives in the biggest single family home in Everett. He vacations 6-8 times a year, many of them to Aruba, staying at the Ritz, and many to his beloved Arizona at a family spot where he can unwind.
He doesn’t go to work everyday like the people he represents.
Unwind from what, we wonder?
Overspending at every instance is an issue many of us have in our private lives.
I have had three kids in college for the past decade. The mayor faces the same situation.
He can’t be paying for college on his mayor’s salary no matter what it is – the numbers don’t work.
Money must come from elsewhere to provide for our children this way.
The city’s treasury, however, cannot be treated like our own.
The city’s money should be piled into its account – not spent out of it before the funds get there.
The vast amount of the city’s money coming in from the casino/hotel needs to be saved and to be put away, and to be dispersed very carefully.
Wanting to do everything all the time with every dime that comes into the treasury, and then to inform the public schools there is no money (and to try to make the case there is no money because the public schools are spending all of it) is criminal.
Classrooms with 30 or more students as we have here dooms every school system to social, moral and educational bankruptcy.
The 27-story monster rising down the street was intended to make Everett as financially solid as any city in this state past or present.
Instead, Everett remains essentially broke.
Taking money out of one account to pay bills from another account doesn’t work.
The mayor and Demas can’t have their cake and eat it although they are always attempting this feat.
They can’t receive all these tens of millions of extra dollars, spend them, and quite often spend them before they hit the city treasury and then cry out that city doesn’t have enough money to pay for the schools and that every dime must be watched just to stay even.
These two are from the nothing matters genre of public leadership.
Spend everything. Save nothing. Tell everyone things are great and then announce an 11% tax rise while underfunding the public schools.
Back to the Homecoming that didn’t happen, to the parade that the city couldn’t afford.
When you have a giant rising down the street as we do and you can’t afford a parade – well – that says it all doesn’t it?
The casino is just about here and the mayor and Demas are telling you to get out your checkbooks and pay the city 11% more this year than last.
You can’t spend more than you take in.
You want to have money in your account there is only one thing you can do if you are running the account.
What is that?
Spend less money.
But not at the expense of the school children of this city.
Demas and the mayor worry and worry about the bond rating.
They hold the bond rating as a Sword of Damocles over the heads of everyone in this city.
Are they getting ready to borrow more money on top of what is owed?
That is the question.
The Exelon Lawsuit
When we last looked, the city had gone over the $1 million mark, paying former Governor William Weld and his law firm Mintz Levin, to represent the city in its lawsuit with Exelon.
Exelon, the largest taxpayer in the city (will have paid $15 million in 2018) is being sued by the city because the mayor and Demas insisted – “They should be paying more.”
Perhaps they should. If anyone can afford to pay more it is Exelon.
“Pay more for what?” Exelon has protested. “A deal is a deal,” their attorneys insist. “A deal is not a deal,” the mayor has told them in the city’s lawsuit.
Our estimate is the city has paid Mintz Levin about $1.3 million so far.
No one will say anything about the legal proceedings.
Exelon is a monster energy corporation worth more than the city of Everett by a multiplier of about 40 times. Exelon dwarfs Wynn Corporation. The casino rising across the street from its sprawling waterfront properties here is like an ant compared to a colossus.
Mintz Levin is on a big high.
They’ve told the mayor the city is going to win and to win big.
In the end, Mintz Levin and the stodgy older former governor Bill Weld win no matter what.
Win or lose, Mintz Levin wins.
Mischief Though Art Afoot
That’s a bit of Shakespeare an old friend always used to describe the evil empire – the city – as it prepared yet another assault on the people.
We have heard from a prominent member of the city council that the mayor will withholding the $2.5 million Senator Sal DiDomenico got for the local schools.
According to the mayor and his CFO Demas – “They have enough money. They are not getting anymore.”
To counter these rumors, the superintendent of schools has already reached out to every city councilor with a letter detailing how the money the mayor does not want to give up, is intended exactly for the public schools – no questions asked.
“The city needs the money,” is the mayor’s thinking.
We wonder what Senator Sal must think of this?
He and the mayor are very close friends for a lifetime.
Friendships get strained when the mayor wants to hoard the school money Sal got in order to spend it elsewhere immediately.
This is the kind of issue that places the mayor and the senator at loggerheads, with the city council waiting to hear from the mayor about what it ought to do.
If I were Sal, I’d be very angry.