Racism probe continues; billing continues; when does it stop?

By Josh Resnek

The city is right now into the federal probe into racism and discrimination here in the amount of $850,000.

Without an add up and a public accounting of the billings to date, it is impossible to know how much more in legal hours billed the city owes to Greenberg Traurig.

The resignation of US Attorney Rachel Rollins is not expected to sink the probe nor is it expected to accelerate the probe.

Exactly what happens now in Rollins’ absence is what will ultimately matter to Everett and to whomever the Justice Department civil rights team of lawyers working on this case are looking at – if anyone.

The new acting US Attorney Joshua Levy is now the man in charge. He has been named the acting US Attorney replacing Rollins who has gone into a rather disgraceful sunset.

Levy has been both a prosecutor and a plaintiff’s attorney over a three decade career.

He was a lawyer for the noted Boston law firm Ropes and Gray.

He had been working for Rollins for almost 2 years.

A report in Monday’s Boston Globe described Levy as “empathic.”

A nearly complete media blackout continues as this probe expands of contracts.

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The spring is quiet

Following months and months of rancor and protests having to do with Everett city government there appears to have come a calm in the storm.

The news airways have quieted down.

It does not seem like the ship of state is sinking.

In fact, it is difficult to assess exactly what is going on.

The quiet is as confusing and off putting to clear thinking as a thick fog.

Mainly, it seems as though not very much is going on.

That being said, the biggest news outside all of this sudden quiet came about last week when the city wanted to get its legal bill paid with Greenberg Traurig.

According to documents that were discussed at last week’s city council meeting, the city has changed its ask for funding to be provided to pay the legal fees from $250,000 to $350,000 – which is frankly quite a leap in spending.

The money is needed to fund the ongoing Federal probe into racism and discrimination now being conducted by the US attorney’s office and the Justice Department.

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The mystery of legal probes

The city remains in the midst of a title V11 federal investigation being run by the US Attorney’s office and the Justice Department.

A shroud of secrecy doesn’t allow for much light to be cast on what exactly is happening – or what is not happening.

Neither the US Attorney’s office nor the city or its lawyers, Greenberg Traurig will jeopardize lawyer client privilege by making public statements about where the probe is, where it might be heading or when it will be resolved, if in fact it is resolved in favor of the city.

What we know for sure is that so far the city’s lawyer’s costs have exceeded $750,000 and are apparently rising by about $50,000 a month at least until June, or so the public has been led to believe through public questioning led by Councilors Darren Costa and Stephanie Smith.

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City’s lawyers tell no secrets

By Josh Resnek

Lawyers representing the city during the government’s Title VII probe have informed the city council that they are bound

by lawyer client privilege and cannot speak to specifics or give exact details about the ongoing US Attorney’s Office/Justice Department probe.

At Monday’s city council meeting a request from the city for$ 250,000 to meet current legal billings was asked to be increased to $350,000 to cover the costs of the probe.

Councilor Stephanie Smith ordered that the appropriation measure before the council be held in committee, a move approved by the city council.

In relation to questions asked about the probe and billing practices by Councilors Smith and Darren Costa, Attorneys John Pappalardo and Linda Ricci of Greenberg Traurig, the international law firm representing the city, wrote to the council in a letter dated April 5, 2023, that to protect the integrity of their representation and of the internal review they are conducting, that they were required to maintain the details of the inquiry as confidential.

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US Attorney’s Probe

City Solicitor Mejia details probe to city councilors

By Josh Resnek

City Solicitor Colleen Mejia said she was bound by attorney client privilege requirements and that she was unable to reveal who and or what city departments exactly are being investigated by the US Attorney’s office.

She said the ongoing probe into racism, discrimination and retaliation by the city and its elected and appointed officials is apparently ongoing and that the city has apparently satisfied the information production aspect of the probe.

A copy of the billing information for Greenberg Traurig, the attorneys representing the city, reveals about $500,000 in legal billings through November.

Greenberg Traurig also represents Mayor Carlo DeMaria personally and has done so for a number of years.

The details of the Greenberg Traurig billings were heavily redacted to maintain lawyer client privilege, Mejia told the councilors.

“There is confidential information with respect to individuals. Confidential information that cannot be divulged,” she added.

Mejia detailed how tens of thousands of pages of information had been turned over to the US attorney’s office.

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