Mayor DeMaria’s inaccurate narrative of the December 23, 2019 Council meeting
requires a response. The two items of concern are 1) the requested eminent domain proceedings for the Pope John High School property and 2) the financing of $10,500,000.00 to fund the taking. The Mayor misstated, at the Council meeting and again on his Facebook page, that all members instructed him to negotiate the purchase of the parcel for the exclusive use as senior and veteran housing. He also posted on his Facebook page that three Council members changed their position once the election was over. This is simply untrue.
On October 15, 2019, the matter first appeared as a resolution to discuss possible
purchase for senior and veteran housing. I questioned why the parcel wasn’t being considered for use as a school to address the overcrowding issue we have in our current system. I discussed potential contamination and suggested input from the neighborhood at a public meeting. This was the only time the matter was discussed before the November election.
On November 25, 2019, well after the election and without any further discussion, the
matter appeared as an Order for an Eminent Domain Taking along with a request to borrow $10,500,000.00 to do so. I expressed concern that the transaction went from a mutually agreeable purchase to a unilateral taking. The matter was postponed several times as the votes to support it were not present.
On December 23, 2019, the final meeting of the current Council, I again asked about
potential use as a school. The Mayor stated that we don’t have a school crowding issue and reported that there weren’t any written communications between the Archdiocese and himself. I was surprised that there was nothing in writing, not even a single email, given the size of the transaction. Despite Mayor DeMaria’s assurances that this was a “friendly” taking, the appraised value was approximately $2,000,000.00 more than we were compensating the Archdiocese. Without objective proof, this $2,000,000.00 “discount” could potentially lead to a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. Moreover, the Mayor’s idea of giving the property to a developer for free after Everett residents pay $10,500,000.00 did not sit well with me.
As this vote would create financial obligations for our City that would extend over the
next twenty to thirty years, I asked that the newly elected members be given an opportunity to weigh in. The Mayor then issued an ultimatum that if we didn’t vote that night, the proposal would not be submitted again. In his Facebook post after the meeting, the Mayor identified several members of the Council by name and stated that they turned their backs on our seniors and veterans. Such commentary is not only inappropriate, it is irresponsible. Mayor DeMaria’s use of our seniors and veterans as political pawns is disgraceful. Our seniors and our veterans have earned and are deserving of our complete respect.
Mayor DeMaria interrupted Council members while they spoke and attempted to talk
over them. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. What is new is the fact that he called me a liar while I was speaking. I take my responsibilities as a City Councilor seriously and my integrity even more so. My vote is always focused on the merit of the piece, rather than who presented it. I ask questions until I am comfortable that I fully understand the item before me. That is exactly what the residents of Everett elected me to do. Courtesy and respect should be extended to all Council members and all guests. Mayor DeMaria’s unbecoming conduct, especially while invited to speak in the Council Chamber, brings dishonor to himself, the office of Mayor and the City of Everett. We, as elected officials, should be able to disagree in an agreeable manner. I am hopeful that the Mayor will show more respect for others as we enter the new session of the City Council.
Councilor Ward 1