By Josh Resnek
The mayor has acted much like an undefeated heavyweight boxing champion in the Everett political arena for the past 12 years.
Monday night, at city hall in the council chamber before a largely angry and vocal crowd of residents, the mayor went down for the count for the first time.
It was a stunning moment – that is – the 6-4 vote of the council to reduce his questionable and probably illegal $40,000 a year longevity payment to $1,700 a year.
What was also stunning were the comments of freshman councilor Al Lattanzi. He said he was disgusted by the proceedings, that the mayor is worth every penny of the $40,000 and that it’s a drop in the bucket and should be paid to the mayor.
“The mayor deserves it,” he told his colleagues.
Lattanzi is a city employee now. His wife works for the mayor in his office at city hall and aids in raising money for the mayor. Lattanzi’s son, Matt Lattanzi is a city lawyer. Lattanzi’s business benefitted from the coming of the casino and hotel. The city does business with Lattanzi’s hardware store despite Home Depot in Everett offering a better deal.
Lattanzi should have recused himself from the vote Monday night if he had an ounce of common sense.
Then there is the softly spoken, seemingly reasonable and affable Councilor Anthony DiPierro, the mayor’s cousin.
He said the longevity payment of $40,000 a year made sense.
Not only did it make sense to DiPierro, he wondered aloud why “we’re trying to change this.”
“A five term mayor is worth more than a one term mayor,” he said.
Translated loosely this means: the city needs to pay the mayor more than anyone else because he’s been there longer and done more.
This may be true in the private sector.
It doesn’t work this way in the public sector.
The mayor’s position is not akin to that of a company CEO. The mayor is not like a baseball team manager winning the pennant, or a football coach taking his team to the Super Bowl and cashing out with a big bonus because of the victories.
Mayors aren’t measured like that. They are not paid like that.
In Everett the mayor’s relatives and friends are so blinded by their allegiance they no longer know how to do the right thing for the residents of this city.
They exist to do for the mayor no matter the level of conflict of interest.
Councilor Richie Dell Isola tried acting dumb and stupefied. He was very good at this. This was one of his finest “I don’t know what I’m doing”performances for the mayor. He couldn’t figure out what was being voted on or how it needed to be done. His stupefaction was so complete as to cause some others to become affected by his comments as though catching a quickly spreading virus.
All the posturing by all the mayor’s friends and relatives on the council added up to a convincing knock out in the last round.
The mayor went down hard Monday night.
He’s still the champion but he is no longer undefeated champion.
I suspect this turn of events will cause the mayor serious indigestion and head ache.
This loss of money that was not his which he should never have been paid, was brought about by a 6-4 vote.
For weeks, Councilor Mike Marchese led the fight to reduce the mayor’s longevity. At the start of this effort he was like Sysiphus: a legendary king of Corinth condemned eternally to repeatedly roll a heavy rock up a hill in Hades only to have it roll down again as it nears the top.
Monday night, Marchese helped to push the rock to the top of the hill.
Councilors Stephanie Smith, Stephanie Martins, John Hanlon, Vivien Nguyen and Jimmy Tri Le all played a major role in righting what is believed to be the illegal payment to the mayor of $40,000 a year when it should have been $2500.
Bringing down the heavyweight champion is big medicine.