Efforts to Designate School Committee Members ‘Special Employees’ Put Off

By Josh Resnek

Two School Committee members employed by the city seeking special employee status so they can be paid two salaries met with stiff opposition to that pleasant notion at Monday night’s city council meeting.

Actually, before they can be paid, it must be determined if they are allowed to serve on the school committee.

An effort is being made by the administration (although it is difficult to determine who exactly is acting for this) to have School Committee members Jeannie Cristiano and Mike Mangan certified as “special employees” in order to receive two salaries.

Cristiano is the city’s Veterans Affairs Director.

Mangan is a clerk of the city council.

The measure to make them “special employees” was offered by city council president John Hanlon.

When City Solicitor Colleen Mejia was asked if such an effort was legal and right, her reply shocked some and satisfied others.

“The Ethics Commission has told the city to do this. This is what you have to do for these two to serve,” Mejia told the city council.

However, Mejia had no answer as to whether or not they can be paid if they are allowed to serve.

‘Can they be paid if they serve?” Mejia was asked.

“I really don’t know,” she replied.

Councilors Mike Marchese, Stephanie Martins and Stephanie Smith demanded answers before going forward with the agenda item that asked they be made “special employees.”

Marchese was blunt as usual.

“This is a real stinkaroo. There’s a lot of things that stink up here,” he said of the effort to make the two “special employees. These two are my friends but maybe they won’t be anymore,” Marchese said.

Martins agreed.

“They do a great job for us but I was part of Charter Review. Double dipping is not allowed. They ran for office as city employees. They knew they couldn’t be paid. This goes against our rules. Let’s get a ruling.”

Smith was contrite.

“I don’t think they should be allowed to take two pay checks,” she told her colleagues.

The matter was sent to the city solicitor for her to make a ruling.

Cristiano have not officially asked to be paid.

It is believed they were assured by the administration efforts would be made to pay their salaries as councilors if they won seats.

This could not be confirmed or denied.

The mayor did not respond to the Leader Herald’s request for comments on the matter.

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