By Councilor Michael McLaughlin
I write to discuss the unfortunate, and frankly shocking, display by our Mayor in the Council chambers just last week. It was my hope that we would have an open and thoughtful discussion with the Mayor and department heads regarding the issues related to the Wellness Center, but sadly what happened last Monday night was nothing more than an insult to the residents and taxpayers of the community by the Mayor.
Several department heads requested that I write and submit any questions I had related to the Health and Wellness Center seven days prior to the committee meeting. I was happy to do so, and did so as a requirement of the City charter, not in response to a demand by the Administration. Again, my hope was that this would be the start of a respectful dialogue, but what occurred was anything but respectful.
Today I am forced to defend myself from the baseless, one-sided attack from the Mayor, who was quick to name-call and point fingers at, what he called, “poor leadership” on my part, while this same Mayor failed to lead when tackling this issue, and when addressing his colleagues in the Council chamber. The Mayor went on to accuse me of carrying water for a local newspaper and damaging our community. I take great offense to these remarks and have consistently prided myself on being an independent voice, working solely for the best interests of the residents here.
As City Councilors, we have a duty and responsibility to ask questions and seek answers. If the Mayor disagrees with this role, I would be curious what he thinks we’re actually doing here. The fact remains that if there were not instances of misusing power and nepotism, we would not be here discussing the matter, and perhaps we would have a Mayor conducting himself as an adult. I have had a number of conversations with past Human Resources directors and Mr. Steve Supino about this department and the Mayor’s tendency to use it as a personal employment agency for insiders and friends. The mayor so wrongfully accused me of hoarding complaints for political reasons, while ignoring the reality: If the Mayor had chosen to meet with all of the City Council members, instead of a select few, he would have heard this from me directly and not during a very public address before the Council.
Moreover, I was extremely disappointed and disheartened to see my colleague – the chairman of Government Operations, Public Safety and Public service – grossly misuse his power to shut down a member of the City Council, in a clear effort to protect the mayor and his department heads at all cost, regardless of what is best for the residents and taxpayers here.
The Mayor owes me – and the people of Everett – an apology for such abhorrent and embarrassing behavior. Insults aside, no one should ever physically intimidate or lunge towards another person, particularly in the Council Chamber as we conduct City business on behalf of the people who elected us. This is a sad moment in Everett’s history.
I respectfully ask the Council considers my words here, and take appropriate steps to ensure that what occurred in the Chambers last week will never happen again. I strongly believe corrective action steps are required and the Council President needs to prove to the residents and taxpayers that the Council serves to seek independent checks and balances to the administration.
This step is not about what happened last Monday night, but rather it is about what will happen going forward if this matter is not addressed. We, the City Council, can never feel comfortable sending an item to this committee going forward without fear of repercussions – or refusal to be heard – from the Chairman if the Mayor does not approve of the contents.
To end my remarks, I feel it is important to correct the record and say that rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I imagine this comes as a disappointment to my colleagues in the Administration, but I will not be stepping down from my seat this evening, despite reports and persistent rumors to the contrary.
I look forward to finding a way to turn the page on this ugly incident, and moving forward to serve the people of Everett.