Pope John out of the mayor’s mix; he changed his mind

“Pope John should be housing,” mayor insists

By Josh Resnek

At a public pre-Christmas celebration for the city’s elderly last week, the mayor apparently showed his true colors during remarks where those who watched and listened said he was “on fire.”

In one fell swoop he apparently said: “Pope John should be housing…I’m going after the newspaper…I am going nowhere.”

With those alleged statements, the mayor revealed his private thinking about very public thoughts.

Monday night at the city council, all of that coalesced.

The Pope John project right now is dead on arrival.

The mayor promised to do as the city council asked weeks ago, following months of meetings, discussions and public discussion and protest.

“If it is the will of the council, I will do it,” he said, more or less, for better or worse, in response to an outcry from the public looking for overcrowding relief in the public schools.

Peggy Serino said as much during public remarks before the Monday meeting of the city council.

Serino told the council the mayor out and “lied” about Pope John to each and every one of you. “What are we going to do here?” she asked the council.

“I have never seen a mayor lie to the common council. What is going on…I hope you will do something about this.”

The city council recently asked the administration to put together a Request for proposal (RFP), which would mark the kick-off of the project as no major building project can begin without an RFP to get the ball rolling.

Steve Ianocco said he was baffled by the time it is taking to provide figures to the council about the cost of a rehab of the old high school. He said the council should wonder, as taxpayers should wonder, what’s up with the mayor failing to act?

Builders will vie for the right to gain approval to lead the project by submitting detailed bids which are examined by the administration with the most qualified, lowest bidder presumably chosen.

The mayor has already demanded an upper end rehab of the Pope John facility. This will require more money (approximately $76 million) rather than less money.

It is expected the city will be paying attention more closely to the qualifications of the builder than to the lowest bidder’s price.

Speaker Maria Bussle urged the council to order the mayor to do the right thing, to listen to the city’s young people.

School Committeewoman Samantha Lambert also sought to ask the mayor about the RFP and what is up with it.

In the end, none of the discussion seemed to matter.

The mayor said he is opting for modular classrooms and that he will not be rehabbing the former Pope John High School.

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