Tahiliani v DeMaria Moves Center Stage
By Josh Resnek
Sending Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani packing might well become a defining moment in Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s effort to clutch victory out of the jaws of recent defeats.
City Clerk Sergio Cornelio’s convincing reappointment vote by the city council two weeks ago was not one of the mayor’s finest hours.
The 7-3 affirmative vote by the city council, which would have denied Cornelio’s reappointment to a five year term six months ago, represents an extraordinary turnaround and one which reveals how the mayor’s political fortunes are changing.
Cornelio’s victory was the mayor’s defeat, plain and simple. Even the mayor would have to admit this if any of his chief appointees or attorneys felt it necessary to ask.
The dynamics of the mayor’s effort to find a new superintendent rather than to renew Tahiliani’s contract implies this: he needs for the school committee to refuse to renew her contract in December.
December might seem an eternity away but the time will pass quickly.
What might well have been an 8-2 vote of the school committee some months back to be rid of Tahiliani is now very likely a tie vote, with the tie vote losing.
It is impossible to know where city politics will be in December.
The mayor and the city are right now facing a Federal probe into racism, discrimination and retaliation.
The mayor is also facing Tahiliani’s complaint before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination for sexism and racism.
Several months back, Cornelio went to the FBI with his criminal attorney Joe Machera and apparently detailed what he knew about the mayor’s longevity payments as well as the situation that led to Cornelio having to sign over $97,000 to the mayor for a real estate deal that Cornelio claims the mayor was not a part of.
The mayor claims he was a part of the deal.
This dispute has led to action now ongoing in the Superior Court with the mayor suing Cornelio and the Leader Herald for defamation.
The resignations of former councilor Anthony DiPierro, the mayor’s cousin and the mayor’s chief of communications, Deanna Deveney, for their part in racist actions which led to the Federal probe, has revealed another weakening of the mayor’s hold on his chief staffers at city hall.
Hundreds of protesters shut down city hall several months ago crying out for an end to the city’s racist policies.
Numerous Leader Herald, Boston Globe and major television and radio media stories about protest and racial imbalance in Everett have brought the city’s trials and tribulations into the public light.
And there is the rising up of dozens of new voices clamoring to have their say, researching city spending, questioning the mayor, disrupting public meetings and creating what some people believe is a political uprising.
All of this has caused city councilors to change their minds, as was shown with the vote to reappoint Cornelio for five years.
Now comes Tahilani.
The school committee has been largely persuaded by Tahiliani that she is a good fit for the position based on her work performance.
The mayor remains undaunted. He wants Tahiliani gone.
School Committee Chairwoman Jeannie Cristiano and Committeeman Mike Mangan have become believers in Tahiliani’s ability to manage and run the department.
The mayor no longer owns their votes.
Cristiano’s change of heart is consistent with her morphing from a mayoral appointment to a strong voice and position of leadership showing a powerful strain of independence.
Mangan has showed the same.
Committeeman Marcony Almeida-Barros is a Tahiliani supporter as is Committeewoman Samantha Lambert.
Committeewoman Cynthia Sarnie is perceived as a question mark but she has shown a tendency to vote on issues rather than to do the mayor’s bidding
School Committee members Jason Marcus, Joe LaMonica and Millie Cardello all jump to attention and act like robots when the mayor asks.
Then there is School Committeeman Mike McLaughlin, now carrying out a leadership role for the mayor’s get rid of Tahiliani effort.
McLaughlin has been with the mayor. He’s been against the mayor. He’s been for himself and now, he is again with the mayor.
McLaughlin is a tough guy for the mayor to depend upon because he switches colors so often and in the end, cannot be controlled.
The effort to get rid of Tahiliani could well be effected by the Federal probe, the mystery of the video cameras in the ceiling inside the superintendent’s office (apparently still under FBI investigation), a finding by the MCAD and the continuation of the political uprising destabilizing the mayor’s power base.
In the words of a local sage, “Let’s see what happens.”Indeed.