I want to make one thing perfectly clear.
Much like Alderman Joseph McGonagle, I was not present on the evening of May 29 in the City Hall parking lot, when members of the School Committee allegedly verbally accosted Aldermen President Sal Sachetta about their desires for a pay raise and Sachetta’s desire not to give it to them.
According to Sachetta, the incident left him “shaken” and it took him “a few days to get over that feeling.”
According to the School Committee, the members were talking amongst themselves when Sachetta approached their group and initiated the conversation and the discussion about school committee raises.
Both sides wrote letters to Police Chief Steven Mazzie, explaining their version of events.
The dueling letters essentially created a “he said, they said” scenario, which only has two potential outside witnesses that anyone has identified.
According to School Committee member Richard Baniewicz, Councilors Rosa DiFlorio and Cynthia Sarni were both on hand for at least part of the conversation that took place in the parking lot and Sachetta himself has said that a “female councilor” had advised him to calm himself during the incident out of fear for his (Sachetta’s) health.
McGonagle who raised the issue at last week’s Aldermen’s meeting based on what he had read in Sachetta’s letter, has said that Sachetta knew nothing of his intent to take the incident public. However, McGonagle himself was not present at the incident and only learned about the incident after being given a copy of the letter.
After last week’s meeting, Sachetta said that he had no intention of going public with the matter.
The School Committee for its part feels the publicity surrounding the alleged incident was designed to make the School Committee members look bad and distract residents and voters from the issue at hand, namely the proposal to raise School Committee salaries.
As I said before, I do not know what transpired on May 29. I was not there.
What I do know is that the entire controversy that has erupted over this issue is a black eye for Everett.. As far as I am concerned, no one comes out looking good in any of this. I’ve chosen not to ask the Councilors for their impressions of the brouhaha, because frankly I do not think it is worth my time or the ink that it would take to tell the story.
The bottom line, I have noticed groups of elected officials gathered outside of Everett City Hall engaged in small talk, conversation and sometimes even real policy discussion after just about every Council meeting or committee meeting that I’ve ever covered.
I don’t know who started the conversation. It doesn’t matter.
The potential fact that one councilor told Alderman Sachetta, by his own account, to “calm down before you have a heart attack,” only tells us that Sachetta may have been animated and argumentative during the discussion that night. It gives us no insight into the demeanor of the other members.
The School Committee’s written comment that “the last thing we’d ever want to do is rile an elected official who’s in the ninth decade of his life,” I take as a cheap shot at Sachetta’s age and could probably be considered ageism by those who wish to argue the point.
That kind of behavior on both sides, is not what the people of Everett should want to see in their elected public officials, or any even their appointed public officials.
I know that people who get involved in local government, as either elected or appointed officials, often are very passionate about what they do and their reasons for doing it.
I cannot fault any of the men, or women, involved for that passionate. Ultimately, it is what makes them good at what they do and feeds their successes.
However, there is an old adage about politics in a democratic environment that I think works well in this case.
You can disagree, without being disagreeable.