New candidates outspoken on issues
By JOSH RESNEK
If Monday night’s city council meeting is an indication of things to come, Mayor Carlo DeMaria needs to make some changes, and fast.
Councilor at Large Gerly Adrien’s performance Monday night was Academy Award-winning.
She decried the city’s do-nothing attitude towards non-English speakers, Blacks, and browns. She postured rather thoroughly how the mayor does not answer her legislative requests or reach outs for aid for her constituents.
“He hasn’t spoken to me in three months. He doesn’t answer my e-mails,” she said.
Councilor Fred Capone echoed Adrien’s complaints at each instance but using his own lingua franca. That is, “We know things need to change. We must all work together.”
Adrien’s fire and might, followed by Capone’s calm and rational response to the administration’s failures, were juxtaposed against the Administration’s paid Hessians, who pleaded they were doing everything possible to help those residents who need it.
“I’m just so busy. There is not enough time to write everything down. We’re not attorneys for all the residents,” Assistant City Solicitor Keith Slattery told the council in response to Councilor Mike McLaughlin’s exhortation – ‘tell them, Keith, how hard everyone is working for the mayor.’
Adrien asserted that Slattery called her a liar.
“You want to attack me, go ahead,” she told her colleagues, Slattery, and the Administration.
“We need to advocate for every single resident,” she added vehemently. McLaughlin seemed to want to congratulate and celebrate the great jobs being done by Slattery, the mayor’s chief of staff Erin Devaney, the mayor’s office, and everyone in government.
He would have done more for himself and his position by remaining quiet. Acting council president Anthony DiPierro would like to have ridiculed Adrien, and Capone, but he didn’t.
It was not a night for congratulations, not with Adrien’s iron-fisted protests that the city is failing the poor, the needy, Blacks, browns and Spanish speaking, small businesses, and on and on.
“If I wasn’t here, would any of these issues be discussed?” she asked her colleagues.
No one but Capone replied. His replies were studied and serious.
The council remained silent in the face of her righteous onslaught. The mayor was nowhere within ear’s reach. He likely watched the proceedings on television and roasted inside his mansion on Abbott Avenue.
The council discussed and passed a term limits rule.
Adrien was contemptuous of the legislation, which allows for present members to serve at least ten more years before someone else gets a chance.
The ruling allows for the mayor to serve another 8 years before his limit has expired.
“This bill does not change anything,” Adrien argued.
The Administration claimed, “this is the way it should be done.”
Adrien revealed she had looked at what other cities had done which invalidated the administration’s specious thinking.
She is right.
Her colleagues said nothing in reply.
“Making special conditions for those presently serving is wrong. The measure needs to be retroactive,” she said, a position completely dismissed by the Administration and the council.
“These term limits are not equitable and are not equal,” Adrien complained.
Capone said he did not believe it is proper for the council to change City Charter regulations, that such changes should be made by the voters of the city.
He refused to vote for the term limits measure on that basis.
Councilors John Hanlon and Mike Marchese both agreed – elections are the way to impose term limits on candidates.
“You have to get elected,” Hanlon argued.
“The voters are the ultimate makers of term limits for all of us who serve.”
The term limits farce measure passed, 7-3.
Diversity and funding
The mayor’s failure to hire a diversity office chief, and to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population here, met with Adrien’s disdain.
Also, Adrien railed against the Administration for not hiring Black or minority vendors.
“The city workforce needs to look like the city’s population,” Adrien reasoned.
Her colleagues bristled as Adrien went on and on about how unfair it is for the privileged and the friends of the Administration to get whatever they want while the Blacks, browns, women, and small business owners are left at the mercy of the administration and the city government.
This prompted a quick reply from the unflappable Erin Devaney.
Devaney’s manner is that of a Washington attorney speaking to the US Senate on a matter of national urgency. At the same time, she does mainly what the mayor orders her to do.
“We just hired the first Black vendor to run the Wellness Center,” she said almost gleefully as if expecting Adrien to say hallelujah.
Adrien was swift and angry in responding.
“You’re telling us the mayor has been in office for twelve years and the first Black vendor has been chosen? Is this what you’re telling us?” she asked.
Adrien’s response to Devaney and Devaney’s response epitomized the tension that was palpable in the council chamber throughout the meeting.
Devaney asked to be heard again.
“I just want to clarify that the Wellness Center hire is not the first Black hire in twelve years. I want to be clear about this,” she said as she attempted a polite backtrack.
However, she could not or would not name any other Black hires made by the Administration during the past twelve years.
Adrien was incensed.
“I am fighting for equitable and equal opportunity for everyone,” she said.
“The workforce and those hired as vendors need to rep- resent what the city looks like,” Adrien said again and again.
When it was reported by Devaney that the city had distributed only $56,000 to small business owners so far, Adrien said that was an indication that the city does not respond to her and to those who cannot speak or write in English.
Devaney answered that application complexities were stopping the flow of money to some applicants seeking not to be evicted from their apartments or to receive government-sponsored and paid-for pandemic aid.
“They don’t have the insurance or the information requirements that are necessary,” said Devaney of the working poor and the needy who have been left out of the cycle of pandemic aid because the city government does not do outreach.
Adrien made the case that only those on the inside of the Administration get aid. The “privileged,” she called them.
No one from the Administration and none of her colleagues but Capone, who supported Adrien, had anything to say.
Their silence was deafening.
Adrien and Capone versus Administration
Monday night’s council meeting was most likely a strong indication of things to expect in the months leading to the Primary.
It appears that Adrien will be vigilant about equity, and of what is not equitable about how the city does its business with the mayor in charge.
Capone by default will receive the support of those who Adrien turns off. Capone always himself – confident, calm, righteous in his own way.
Unless he changes his actions and strategies and rather quickly, Monday’s meeting showed just how of it the mayor is in the face of withering fire coming from Adrien and backed up by Capone.