By Josh Resnek
An effort by Michael McLaughlin to allow Malden Transportation to speak before the School Committee about receiving a 4.5% fuel premium added to the price of their contract was rejected by the School Committee wholeheartedly by a 7-2 vote.
McLaughlin said he felt he was caught in a political crossfire – and he was right in that assessment.
During the public speaking session at the start of the meeting, John Puopolo delivered resounding remarks condemning McLaughlin’s efforts to do a favor for the mayor’s friends who own the bus company.
“The attempt here to adjust the contract by 4.5% is outrageous and an insult to Everett’s taxpayers,” Puopolo said.
“When you take into consideration that this is a “significant” donor to the Mayor this increase does not pass the red face test no matter how anyone in this room tries to spin it,” he added.
Puopolo’ swords resonated with the School Committee.
What a difference a few days makes.
The announcement Friday that the city and the mayor are being investigated by the US Attorney’s office in a wide ranging probe affected the outcome of McLaughlin’s effort to allow a favored vendor and major contributor to the mayor’s political campaigns to bargain for an additional payment.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria did not attend the meeting to support his old friends and political supporters, Lester and David Morovitz, the owners and operators of the bus transportation company that transports hundreds of the city’s school children.
McLaughlin’s colleagues did not buy into his request for the Morovitzs to speak before the School Committee.
Increasing contracts to meet higher gasoline prices is not a practice the School Committee said it wanted to get into.
“A contract is a contract,” said Marcony Almeida-Barros.
Barros was adamant that the issue didn’t de- serve or merit any discussion.
McLaughlin’s effort to have the Morovitzs heard was perceived by the membership, except for Millie Cardello and Jason Marcus, as a political move desired by the mayor.
The School Committee would have none of it.
The School Committee remained undaunted despite the appearance of two of the mayor’s chief supporters, policy makers and mouthpieces, Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas and Purchasing Agent Robert Moreschi who came to the meeting ostensibly to represent the mayor in his desire to have the Morovitzs granted a premium because of the high price of gasoline.
When McLaughlin et al began this journey on March 14, the mayor still held the hope of controlling votes on the School Committee.
It was obvious Monday night that that train has left the station with the announcement Friday that the mayor and the city are being investigated for racism, discrimination and retaliation by the US Attorney.
“I committed to the vendor to be heard. It was their only request,” McLaughlin pleaded.
However, it was apparent his colleagues did not want to be perceived as doing anything political for allies of the mayor.
A letter from the Morovitzs was read into the record.
The owners of the transportation company expressed dismay at their second class treatment following 30 years of service.
The School Committee didn’t vote against the Morovitzs as much as they voted against the wish of the mayor, McLaughlin, Cardello and Marcus.
Malden Transportation transports 180-190 students during the summer Months.
Malden Transportation withdrew its request to speak before the School Committee.
McLaughlin didn’t vote for his own motion. He voted against it and in the end, the matter was returned to the maker of the motion at McLaughlin’s request