Members rage, suggest Adrien resign, before Capone called for shocking meeting to end
By JOSH RESNEK
The Monday night council meeting turned into a hate Gerly Adrien roundtable from a number of councilors who turned the technical problems that made the meeting a farce into somehow being about Adrien attending the meeting on Zoom instead of attending in person.
After an hour and half of going from nothing to nowhere and hurling insults at Adrien, Councilor Fred Capone saved his colleagues from further embarrassing themselves by asking that the meeting be terminated.
Seven councilors voted for that measure which was easily the only ounce of common sense anyone could understand Monday night watching ECTV.
In fact, several councilor’s individual protests about Adrien not being brave enough to attend the meeting smacked powerfully of prejudice and contempt. Misogyny in all its depressing mightiness was alive and well at city hall Monday night.
The only voice against this type of language and attack of Adrien was Capone’s. His admonition to his colleagues that what they were alleging about Adrien was improper and insulting and had no place in the chamber speaks reams about his integrity.
From the start of the meeting, the councilors couldn’t be understood on the television.
The negative voices against the only Black woman on the council epitomized old Everett and highlighted the persistent prejudice that is alive at city hall in its hiring practices and its treatment of assertive women who happen to be Black.
Those colleagues who hate Adrien couldn’t resist from punching her from a distance, denouncing her, calling her a traitor, with one councilor suggesting that if she can’t attend the meetings in person, she should consider doing something else with her life.
A local lawyer told me he thought some of the councilors had likely committed civil rights violations by denouncing her for not being there in person. He suggested that Adrien file a multi-million lawsuit against the city council.
Another city hall employee, Kevin Dorgan, who apparently spoke with Adrien said he was told by the councilors before the meeting to make her “inaudible.”
National CDC edicts and Massachusetts State Government orders don’t require Adrien, or anyone else worried about contracting the virus to be at the meeting no matter where she is.
Some councilors tried to make the case Adrien was not doing her job because she was off-site, attending remotely, on Zoom.
No one implied the city was responsible for the meeting to be conducted so they could be understood. There was not even the limited understanding that the meeting must make sense for the viewing public or it shouldn’t be broadcast, except for Capone. It was like broadcasting a snowstorm.
Not one councilor who voted recently to appropriate $500,000 for flowers to be displayed around the city offered up the idea that a similar or larger sum of money was necessary to be appropriated to make the council hearings open, public hearings as they are advertised and required by law.
“This is a multi-million dollar facility,” Capone instructed his colleagues. “Whatever it takes to make these public hearings work must be spent for the people to see and to hear what we do,” Capone told the Leader Herald after the meeting.
This week’s meeting was made all the more ridiculous and inaudible because of a persistent echo. Two weeks ago, the meeting was a shamble, technical reasons apparently. No one seemed to care.
This time, Monday night, the situation was so silly and ridiculous that it was more like a Saturday Night Live skit than a public meeting of the city council.
Again, no one seemed to care. As long as the councilors could hear themselves speaking that was what mattered, and that Adrien wasn’t there.
Each time one of the members spoke, whatever they said was repeated a second time. And as what was being repeated echoed a second time, new statements covered up the repeat and then the new statements echoed themselves into an inaudible blur of nothingness.
The bottom line, the meeting was about two things, total gibberish and an attack on Adrien.
“This is no way to run a city government or a public hearing,” Capone said.
Communications with several councilors during the meeting by text to explain they could not be understood were largely overlooked
There seemed to be a great deal of indifference about the meeting being inaudible.
That morphed into several councilors responding, “The picture is fine.”
Yes, the picture was fine.
The only problem, “No one can understand what you’re saying,” the councilors were told.
The echo chamber effect on what was supposed to be a public meeting was more embarrassing than anything long time followers of the city council could recall.
Hearing Chairwoman Rosa DeFlorio repeating herself every time, with everything jumbled and not understandable a second time and then hearing with disbelief after being told everything being said was being repeated like an echo chamber, she said: “It’s a big old room.”
No one felt it was important enough to corral the ECTV technician Dorgan and tell him to make the hearing right or to find another job.
Finally, a recess was called to see if the problem could be corrected.
When the meeting returned to the TV, the echo persisted, making everything inaudible.
At 8:16, Councilor Capone attempted to put the circus out of its misery by asking that the meeting be adjourned to fix the problem.
Not being audible didn’t stop DeFlorio from belittling Councilor Adrien.
At one point DeFlorio said: “It’s a big chamber. It’s a big chamber. We need new equipment. We need new equipment. New Equipment costs a lot of money. New equipment costs a lot of money” and on and on and on.
“Let’s go back to the old days,” she said. “Let’s go back to the old days,” was the echo.
That made for quite the echo!
The bottom line, it is hard enough to listen to this stuff in perfect conditions.
Listening to Councilor Capone ask for a point of personal privilege and then Adrien asking to be heard and then DeFlorio shouting back at her, “She’s out of control. She’s out of control.” Everything being said was jumbled into an inaudible mess of words and phrases that could not be understood.
Capone talked about an obligation to make the meeting work with equipment that is suitable. “The reality is not being able to hear. This is why I am asking for adjournment,” he offered up to his colleagues.
No one mentioned that a number of previous meetings somehow went off without a flaw.
Councilor Wayne Matewsky said everything was fine. “I’m here. Everyone should be here.” He didn’t say he cared about the public being able to listen to what was being said. He gave Adrien a good dig. “I’m here. She should be here.”
Most of the councilors shared that belief.
To his credit, Councilor Anthony DiPierro seemed to understand how foolish the meeting was appearing to those taxpayers and voters trying to make sense out of it on ECTV.
Everyone was quick to lay blame anywhere but on the ECTV technician.
“It might sound a little echoish…” Matewsky said.
But he had no idea how it sounded.
He thought everything was fine because he could see himself on the tv screen. If only
he could have listened to himself and heard how foolish he and everyone else sounded he would have voted to adjourn.
Councilor Peter Napolitano said he can attend the meeting with preexisting conditions and so everyone else should do the same…or don’t be part of the council.
He made it sound like he had landed at Normandy and made it through withering fire to get off the beach.
“She ought to be here,” he complained. “I’m here.”
That was his answer to the inaudible public meeting. It was a direct attack on Councilor Adrien.
No councilor explained that it is the duty of the city council to produce a hearing on ECTV that the public can understand.
Councilor Mike McLaughlin tried to make the point that Adrien was the problem because she was not at the meeting and attending it on Zoom.
He made the case that city government could not go on without Adrien appearing personally at the meeting.
One lawyer said that the council, en masse, was guilty of a possible civil rights violation by condemning Adrien for not wishing to be at city hall.
No one understood how ridiculous they sounded, how pathetic and obnoxious the meeting was.
Their behavior toward Adrien needs to be revisited by all those who felt manly denouncing her, many who listened and watched this travesty have suggested.
There have been hundreds of complaints all over the city about the meeting.
A 7-4 vote for adjournment blessedly passed.
Councilor Capone’s common sense motion saved what was left of the day.