By JOSH RESNEK
A front page Boston Globe story on Councilor Gerly Adrien following last week’s virtual city council meeting depicted her and the council at odds, with the council president calling her a “problem” who had been trying to destroy our city from day one.”
Those were the exact words of Everett City Council President Rosa DiFlorio as published in the Boston Globe on the front-page Saturday.
By themselves, they are a stunning affirmation of Adrien’s claims that the council treats everyone with respect but her – and that they have answers for everything except for what she asks about.
“I honestly think it has to do with me being a Black woman,” Adrien said. “What could happen if we let this Black woman change things or make noise? I’m getting a lot more popular and they’re acknowledging that. And I think they’re scared of it.”
“First Black womanThe Boston Globe, June 26
on city council stands alone.“
At the last meeting, Adrien sponsored 14 resolutions and dominated a debate that stretched for nearly four hours, according to the Globe report.
A similar report was published in last week’s Leader Herald, highlighting the animus that exists between Adrien and DiFlorio and many of the city council members who make a visible and audible effort to segregate her from the pack.
Adrien’s fellow councilors rejected her proposal for a committee on racism, and one took umbrage at the very notion of racism in Everett, challenging Adrien’s assertion that constituents have told her they feel unwelcome in City Hall, the Globe reported.
Even more inexplicable is a Globe quote from Councilor at Large Wayne Matewsky claiming he had never personally experienced racism in Everett.
The Globe described the meeting as “uncomfortable” especially in view of the nationwide reckoning on police brutality and institutional racism that has ignited protest all over the nation with whites joining blacks in marching.
“Though it’s considered one of the most diverse communities in the state — 19 percent Black, 26.5 percent Latino, and 40 percent foreign-born — Everett had elected only four councilors of color be- fore 2019. Along with Adrien came the city’s first Latina councilor, Stephanie Mar- tins, and first Asian-American, Jimmy Tri Le — part of a national wave of candidates determined to make governments look more like the communities they serve.
However, Martins and Le have signed on to the mayor’s camp, an unusual response from two members of minorities at a time when their colleague Adrien is standing alone.
The Globe failed to note that the Everett employee work force under the mayor’s leadership for the past 12 years has remained almost entirely white and is as segregated as it was the day he took office.
According to the Globe, Adrien’s colleagues see her as a troublemaker, attention-seeker, never satisfied with the answers to her many questions.
This is the Globe’s take on last week’s council meeting as previously reported in the Leader Herald.
“At Monday’s meeting, Adrien expected the superintendent of schools to report on the number of students who never participated in remote learning. Two weeks earlier, the council had passed her resolution requesting such a report.
“But the superintendent was not asked to speak at the meeting, and DiFlorio said Adrien’s resolution had been “reconsidered” between public meetings after one of the councilors changed her mind.
When Adrien protested that she’d never heard of such procedure, Councilor Peter A. Napolitano pointed to her inexperience.
“You haven’t seen it in the five months you’ve been on the council,” Napolitano told her. “But I’ve seen it on the 20 years I’ve been on council.”
“One by one, councilors chided Adrien for requesting the information, reminding her that the superintendent reports to the elected school committee, not to them.
“You’re barking up the wrong tree. It’s not in our purview,” said Napolitano.
“Adrien began to speak up, only to be interrupted by DiFlorio. That led Adrien to protest that she would use her allotted time. “You do not cut anybody else off, but you cut me off every single time.”
“Later, Adrien cut off Di- Florio as she name-checked councilors for their volunteer efforts during the pandemic and Adrien pointed out her own efforts at coronavirus fund-raising.
“Stop interrupting me because I’m not going to take it,” said DiFlorio, who then accused Adrien of violating ethics policy with that fundraising. (A spokesman for the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance said candidates can raise money for charitable causes and confirmed that Adrien had sought the office’s guidance beforehand.)”
The Globe piece ended with the following:
“Some of her fellow councilors made clear on Monday night they think she is the problem. Matewsky said although he understands racism is “the issue of the day, besides the virus,” he hoped to move on.
“We can’t keep beating a dead horse here,” he said.
Reiterating that he does not perceive racism in Everett, he described his vantage point.
“I’m a Polish-American,” he continued. “I’m really a minority myself here.”