By Josh Resnek
Councilor Mike Marchese called the mayor’s $40,000 a year longevity payment a travesty.
“It stinks,” he told the council at Monday night’s meeting.
A measure he proposed to erase the longevity as an ordinance didn’t make muster for a vote of the council.
Instead, the council passed by voice vote a measure offered by Councilor Stephanie Martins calling for the issue to be discussed among others at a committee hearing to be held in the next two weeks.
Marchese and Councilor Wayne Matewsky were adamantly opposed.
Marchese insisted the wording of the ordinance is simple, and easily understood. He repeated again and again that the mayor taking the $40,000 a year is all wrong.
“It’s supposed to be $2,500 a year – not $40,000 a year. Someone changed this somewhere. There’s no way it’s $40,000 or $50,000 a year. Let’s get rid of this. Even the mayor isn’t taking the money because he knows it stinks,” Marchese said.
With that payment, the mayor is the highest paid in Massachusetts.
The dispute has led to a Boston Globe report and a letter sent to the Attorney General by the council.
The Attorney General has not yet responded.
The mayor claims the matter was reviewed by City Solicitor Colleen Mejia and outside counsel and that the $40,000 yearly disbursement was just and legal.
The outside counsel was not named.
A request by the Leader Herald for the name of the outside counsel was not answered by the mayor.
The mayor has set aside taking the yearly $40,000 longevity payment in January.
There is speculation about why the mayor is not taking the money.
His Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas delivered a three page letter to the council recently that expressed his outrage at his integrity being questioned about the longevity payment the mayor is receiving.
Councilors wanted to know why the $40,000 a year payment was not listed for the public to see in the city budget.
Demas insisted the payment is perfectly legal and justified, as did City Solicitor Mejia.
Never the less, the mayor is refusing to take the money, a sign to some that taking the money is somehow illegal or unethical.
Why is the payment hidden, they wonder?
Why is the mayor not taking the payment if it is legal?
“The damage is done. You either work for the corner office or the people of Everett. You want to discuss it and kick it down the street. You shouldn’t want to do this. I want this eliminated. Why do we have to give longevity? Is there one mayor that receives longevity?” Marchese asked his colleagues.
Councilor Jimmy Le said he had thought long and hard about the payment.
He suggested an easy fix.
“$2500 a year, $10,000 for a four year term. This is easy to fix,” he said.
The measure to strike the longevity ordinance did not succeed to a vote.
A vote to send the question to committee was passed.
Marchese and Matewsky voted against it.