By Josh Resnek
The School Committee has approved about $552,000 in unpaid, accumulated vacation days for three School Department employees (one former and two still with the department).
These payments have brought to light the legalities of contracts, and of how a contract’s language, and then a contract approved by unanimous vote of the School Department becomes something as good as the law. In the case of all three of these employees, there is no question about their work ethic.
Two are at their jobs everyday and always go beyond the call of duty.A contract signed by the School Committee can be considered a law as that contract can’t be changed or abridged when all is said and done. After the fact, the School Department can make any and all the changes it wants regarding who gets accumulated vacation pay and who does not, how much it can be for and where that dance must be stopped, if in fact it is the will of the School Committee to take such an action.In this instance, we believe it is a good idea for the School Committee to require all School Department employees to take their vacations and to require as a matter of local law that vacation days can’t be accumulated over one year, five years or 30 years. The city’s financial condition requires that such a law be enacted.
The city of Everett cannot afford to pay out $550,000 for accumulated vacation pay in a one year period.End of discussion? Not really.During this election season now upon us, there are a spate of School Committee hopefuls mulling a run.If I were running for a seat on the School Committee, I’d ask every member who voted for accumulated vacation days to be accumulated, and then to be paid, if they were under mind control, or did they had nervous breakdowns, or were they beaten and shackled, then forced to vote for such a bit in a city contract?Now comes the elephant in the room, Kickback Carlo’s vacation days, what he is allowed, what he takes, and what he owes the city after years of abuse of the policy and no enforcement whatsoever by anyone in government about the terms and limits of his vacation time.
To be frank and honest, we are uncertain exactly how many vacation days the mayor is allowed to take or to submit for payment.We can guestimate that Kickback has taken 40-50 “vacation” days off, away from the city and city hall during the past year.This we know, the mayor makes it well known he doesn’t have to be at city hall to be working. He is rarely there.OK. We’ll give him that. He is the leader of the city. He can work wherever he wants.Can he?Does that include working out of the Ritz Carleton in Aruba?Does it include Arizona and maybe a quick jaunt over to Las Vegas for a bit of casino gambling? He called himself a “gambling degenerate” in a comment he made to Tina Sinatra, the Wynn Resorts chief lawyer who was fired many months back.
Or how about swinging out to the Bahamas where he feels so comfortable and at home with his friends there?We know Kickback likes to gamble.Does kickback’s paid or unpaid vacation appear to be out of whack?
We believe so – but we can’t etch this story into stone.When he is working and when he is not seems to us to be the rough equivalent of the Atlantic mixing with the Pacific with no boundaries to delineate the two. Trying to figure out when he is on vacation and when he is not is to consider light to be the same as darkness. Bottom line, how many vacation days does the mayor receive statutorily and how many did he take during the past twelve months?
What did he put in for?What was he paid? How many days in total?And what about the days out of the city or country he wasn’t paid vacation for but received his salary instead?How many days away from city hall were spent on the city’s dime vacationing in Aruba? How many were paid for in Arizona? How many in the Bahamas? How many spent at his mansion by his pool at home right here in the city?What was the total number of days the mayor vacationed with his family in places around the world and here in Everett?Thirty or forty? More?
While most of us work schedules and are paid based on our contract to perform, the mayor runs at his own discretion much the same way the owner of a company can do as he pleases because the company is his.
The mayor is not the owner of a company. City hall is not his. He does not own it. He does not create his contract with the city. The mayor is like the rest of us – he gets vacation days. He receives sick days. He is allowed only so much time under the law to be away from work.Where the mayor, this mayor, Kickback Carlo, pulls the wool over everyone’s head is that his vacation time is double and triple the average city employee. We believe it is way beyond this.
Can you imagine the head of the DPW going away five or six times a year and when the mayor calls to shout at him about not being on his job and taking vacation time that is not sanctioned or approved by his contract, he says back to the mayor: “Mind your own business. I don’t have to be inside my office or even in the city. I am working 24/7 for the city. I keep my cell phone with me. I am totally in touch.I am doing exactly what you do.”How would that conversation end? “You’re fired,” Kickback Carlo would tell him. Indeed. There’s the rub.
The mayor should have that conversation with himself, which would end with Kickback doing the right thing, that is, firing himself.What exactly was the number of days Kickback worked during the past year, and how can anyone be certain he was working when he was away from city hall or outside of the city?Why is so much attention being paid to the School Department vacation policy and none whatsoever being paid to the mayor’s?
These are juicy political and financial questions for the city council to ask of the mayor.But no one has the gumption to ask.The mayor has everyone in public office here under mind control.Beyond that, voters don’t seem to care, either, a peculiar situation during a time when public officials everywhere must be carefully watching their work schedules, expenditures, their pay requests and their paid vacation and what their workday is supposed to be all about.In cities where the rule of law is a matter of fact, Kickback would be called on to explain his total number of work days and to account for what he did on a given day he was compensated for.US Attorney Andrew Lelling, if he wanted, could indict the mayor for misuse of city funds, misuse of his vacation time and failure to work as required by the job description.
At almost $190,000 a year, Kickback makes more than the Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh. The mayor of Miami made $149,000 last year. In Seattle, the mayor was paid $185,000 last year. And on and on.Kickback is one of the most highly paid mayors in the state, proving the ages old adage that qualifications have little to nothing to do with being a mayor.
I wonder what Walsh must think of the mayor of Everett making more than he does?There is not a day, hardly a day, that Walsh is not inside his office at city hall or tooling around the city.He has not been to Aruba four or five times, a week or longer at a time, and to Arizona and to wherever else Kickback’s desire for free time takes him.Voters and city councilors, even the city solicitor should express grave concern to Kickback about his vacation excesses.
The rules should be no different for him than they are for any other city employee – but they aren’t.That is the disconnect.Kickback makes his own rules. He has free reign and he is using it.We want to know how many vacation days the mayor took during the past twelve months – and how many he is allowed – and how much was he paid by the city to be away from his office?More than this – residents, taxpayers and voters need to ask – what is the mayor’s required workweek? What are the requirements he must follow or does he make his own rules because he is the mayor?
Is the mayor abusing his position?What he’s doing here would not be allowed in any other city in the state of Massachusetts.What Secretary of State Bill Galvin think about the mayor’s vacations and his work ethic?If I were Kickback, I’d start watching the clock a bit more and to vacation on the city’s time a lot less.The mayor needs to reveal to all of us exactly how many vacation days he took last year – and how many days he got paid for doing nothing having to do with the city. What a tally that will be!