Both Can Serve as School Committee Members
By Josh Resnek
A rejuvenated City Council, powered by new members and a changed attitude, made two decisions last week.
First, the city council voted against allowing newly elected School Committee members Jeannie Cristiano and Mike Mangan to collect two salaries.
Cristiano and Mangan are city employees.
The city charter does not allow for city employees to collect two paychecks from the city.
The duo, both elected for the first time last November, will be serving but will not be paid.
How did this come about?
That’s part of the second decision made by the city council to allow all the members of the School Committee to be considered as “special employees.”
The city council approved this last week.
By doing so, the city council carried out the city charter’s imperative.
It allows for city employees to serve on the city council or the school committee with the proviso they cannot be paid for serving.
Cristiano’s case, it doesn’t make much difference.
She is the city’s Veterans Agent. She will be retiring from her position sometime in March.
At that time, she will receive her pay as a member of the school committee.
Mangan, however, is not retiring.
He serves as one of three clerks for the city council.
He will be allowed to serve but he cannot receive a salary as a school committeeman.
Mangan is the mayor’s man on the council, a sure vote in the effort to be rid of Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani. Cristiano’s vote and allegiances lie elsewhere. That being said, during her first three meetings of the school committee or its sub-committees, Cristiano’s proposals have been voted down.
I don’t believe this is the type of service Cristiano signed up for.
Looking as though she is being muscled by the mayor to vote as he wants her to is not a position Cristiano wants to be in.
In addition, Tahiliani’s complaint against the mayor filed on Martin Luther King Day, claiming he is harassing her and being racist, should have a chilling effect on the mayor.
Or maybe not.
New members, old members, and the mayor as a voting member of the school committee, seem tied together in the effort to get rid of Tahiliani.
The effort to remove her as the secretary of the school committee failed last week.
Members, chief among them Michael McLaughlin, tried to make the case that Tahiliani is so busy she needs to be removed from the secretary’s position to allow her more time to work.
Such reasoning is ludicrous – unless you are backing the mayor’s desire to rid the public schools of the woman of color running them as McLaughlin is doing.
Some political experts dissecting the double dip ruling say allowing the entire committee membership to be considered “special employees” allows the mayor to appoint all city employees who are school committee members to be given higher paying jobs with the city in return for their votes. They are allowed to serve and to be paid a higher salary without receiving the school committee salary.
It is a blatantly transparent scheme that will ultimately allow the mayor to fully pack the school committee with members he has given city jobs to.