Capone to Mayor: “Pay Back $180,000. ”
By Josh Resnek
In a dramatic and unexpected back pedal, Mayor Carlo DeMaria issued an announcement to the city council Monday night that he will not be taking the $40,000 longevity payment he is set to receive in January.
The move indicated to many of those disturbed by the questionable longevity payment that the law is on their side and not the mayor’s in this matter.
“I will not be taking the longevity payment…until such time as the city council has decided what to do,” the mayor informed the council.
Embattled Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas tried to gloss over the issue. He said nothing is illegal or hidden about the longevity.
“I have done nothing illegal. I have never been instructed by the mayor to do anything unlawful or deceitful.”
Demas made his thoughts known with a three page letter read to the city council by City Clerk Sergio Cornelio.
Demas insisted the questionable $40,000 a year longevity payment, which is not revealed as a line item in the city budget, was a reasonable interpretation by the administration.
The mayor’s unwillingness to take the January payment reveals otherwise.
The mayor refrained from coming to the council to discuss the issue, Demas claimed, “because it concerns his salary.”
Employment and salary discussions before the council are not allowed.
Capone was infuriated by Demas’ denunciation that Capone had referred to the longevity payment to the mayor of $40,000 a year as a fraud.
“I have been trying to handle this in a professional manner,” Capone began after Cornelio finished reading Demas’ letter.
“The letter is inaccurate in many parts. The only thing in this letter that speaks to the issue is that the matter will be held off, that the mayor will not be taking the $40,000 in January.”
Capone ridiculed Demas’ assertions that the payment to the mayor was not hidden and that every councilor knew about it.
Demas did not answer or indicate how the $40,000 was not itemized in the past three “award winning” city budgets.
“Longevity is not listed anywhere for the mayor,” Capone righteously complained.
“The language was manipulated. It was done in a concealed way. Hidden from all involved. If there was a line item in the budget that said the mayor was getting $40,000 in a year the roof would have blown off this building.”
Capone finished his council tenure with a flourish.
“It should be repealed in its entirety. There is no need for longevity (for the mayor). It is not necessary. I ask that this be referred to the mayor and the CFO that if a longevity is given it must be listed clearly for everyone to see…the mayor should pay back the $180,000 he has received.”
Capone received a standing ovation from the packed council chamber.
Capone’s supporters turned out Monday night to say farewell to him as this was his last meeting after almost two decades of city service.
Two well-known and highly respected longtime residents of the city, Maria Bussell and John Puopolo, spoke during the public portion of the meeting held before the council tackles its agenda.
Bussell, the administrative assistant to the fire chief, implored the city councilors to vote more for the constituents of the city than for the mayor.
“I hope the new council will vote objectively,” she said.
She received a standing ovation.
Puopolo, a longtime businessman and man about town, read the Everett City Ordinance to the council.
“I don’t understand all the confusion. The wording is clear. The mayor should get $10,000 for every four years he has served not $40,000. Why did this not show up in the annual audit of the city’s spending?” he wondered.
“Someone is not doing their job,” he added. “It is not in the budget.”
Puopolo received a standing ovation when he finished.
Councilor Mike Marchese, on behalf of the council, sent out a letter last Friday requesting insight and overview and action if necessary to Attorney General Maura Healy.
It is not known whether Healy will respond.