Cameras In Superintendent’s Office Put In Years Ago, Mayor Claims

How Did He Know? Did He Alert The FBI?

By Josh Resnek

During a hastily called recess during last week’s school committee meeting Mayor Carlo DeMaria and School Committeeman Marcony Almeida Barros had an off-camera exchange.

In front of a number of people standing close by, the mayor complained to Barros that the hidden video cameras found inside the ceiling of the superintendent’s office and removed from the ceiling by the FBI for investigation several months ago, were put in years before.

“The school department put them in,” he told Almeida Barros, the school committeeman told the Leader Herald.

The mayor did not explain how exactly they got there, who ordered them installed, and for what reason, or whether or not they were installed with or without the mayor’s knowledge, according to Almeida Barros.

“How did he know about the video cameras in the ceiling in the first place?” the Leader Herald asked Almeida Barros.

“He gave us no clue,” Almeida Barros added.

The mayor did not reveal if he had been given an update by the FBI or whether he had spoken with the FBI or informed the FBI of what he knew independent of questions they are apparently investigating.

The Leader Herald reached out to the mayor for comments but he failed to respond.

The recess highlighted the contentiousness of the meeting. It also magnified and called attention to the mayor’s grim mood.

At one point his chief of staff Erin Deveney nudged him away Almeida Barros.

The mayor attended the school committee meeting – the second time in about 8 meetings – presumably to vote against moving forward with the extension to her contract being sought by Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani.

Many city hall observers believed the may- or would not show up to vote down Tahiliani’a contract extension.

He proved them wrong.

Some believed the mayor should have recused himself as he is the subject of a complaint by Tahiliani with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

The superintendent has charged the mayor with racism and sexism. The MCAD is investigating the complaint but has not publicly commented about any action it might be considering, if any at all.

That complaint has been followed by US Attorney Rachael Rollin’s announcement two weeks ago of a Federal investigation into racism, discrimination and retaliation against the city of Everett and the administration.

At last Monday’s meeting, the mayor expressed dismay at the behavior of his colleagues on the school committee.

“Personal attacks made at meetings continue to divide our city. It’s sad that certain people make comments. I’ve never seen the city in such a bad way in all my 30 years,” he said during the meeting.

“This (school) administration has allowed students to organize outside the realm of their position,” he added – a slight of the School Department’s chief equity officer, Cory McCarthy, and, according to Almeida Barros, a slight of the 500 EHS students who organized and who protested en masse in front of city hall three weeks ago.

“I’m not prepared to extend the contract this evening,” the mayor announced.

That statement provoked Paula Sterite, a staunch critic of the administration.

“Tell us honestly why you won’t vote for her, tell us why?” Sterite repeated loudly standing near the mayor.

The mayor responded predictably.

“Madame chairman can you control the audience? If they are going to speak out they should be removed from meetings. Madame chairman can you please…” and then Chair Cristiano called for a five minute recess.

This meeting of the school committee produced a number of startling defections for the mayor.

Chairwoman Jeanne Cristiano, and School Committee members Mike Mangan said they

Spying on the superintendent from above?

would support Tahiliani to the mayor’s surprise and dismay. Speaking of their willingness to vote for Tahiliani because of the great job she has done against all odds, and doing so in front the mayor, took courage and spine.

“Let’s give her this extension and let’s pay attention to what is important. Let’s extend her contract. I listen. I learn and I experience. The leadership team presently in place here in all of our buildings are top notch – but especially in the administration building. I never thought I’d be saying this but I am. I value the leadership of this superintendent. She carries a big stick. She’s done the right thing. This isn’t about tak- ing sides. I had another opinion when I was elected. I’ve changed that opinion. Let’s give her the extension,” Cristiano pleaded.

The mayor did not see this desertion coming. Mangan made the same move as Cristiano. He said he needed more time before voting for the extension but that he would likely vote for it. This was another profile in courage and another infuriating desertion for the mayor.

School Committeewoman Samantha Lambert asked the committee to approve the superintendent’s extension request.

“This would be the smartest decision. She is asking for an extension without a raise – and she deserves a raise…I would ask that everyone here summon the courage to vote for the extension. It’s crazy if you say no,” Lambert said.

On the other side of the political tally sheet, the mayor counted School Committeemen Jason Marcus and Mike McLaughlin.

McLaughlin made memorable and meandering remarks comparing Tahiliani’s request for an extension of her contract to a contract renegotiation request two weeks ago by a city vendor that the school committee refused to hear because the vendor is a big contributor to the mayor’s political campaigns.

McLaughlin followed the DeMaria script like a good soldier.

“I stand by every vote I take. I’m proud of the votes I take,” said McLaughlin.

“The rules must be followed.”

What he didn’t say was that the administration wanted the renegotiation of a vendor’s contract two weeks back, and that he was doing the mayor’s bidding to gain revenge.

“If you didn’t take care of that bit of business,” he seemed to argue, on point, “then I can’t support the extension of the superintendent’s contract.”

McLaughlin did not say that but he has a tendency to believe his own rhetoric no matter how contrived it is. His support for the mayor to do his bidding at this point is absolute.

The measure to discuss the extension failed 5-4.

It will likely be taken up again in December.

And as a post script to the changing political tide in Everett, the mayor looking glum was seen walking out of the high school with Jason Marcus and Erin Deveney.

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