Ward 6 Councilor Michael McLaughlin is disputing a complaint put forward to the City Council by Rebecca Le of Montrose Street alleging he behaved erratically and angrily towards her last summer due to the fact she put up the sign of his opponent, Al Lattanzi.
After several months since the event took place in late July, Le told the Independent that she was still bothered by what she said was an aggressive attack on her peace. So much so, in fact, that last week she wrote an e-mail complaint against McLaughlin to Council President Richard Dell Isola and others on the Council detailing what she said happened.
“I think his behavior was reprehensible,” she told the Independent. “We sat there stunned on the porch after it happened. It had been a nice, enjoyable night and to have some lunatic come up and screaming at you about a sign and you don’t know where it’s coming from – that’s too much.”
McLaughlin, for his part, denies all parts of her account, and produced a police report showing that on the night in question he actually helped her have cars towed that were blocking her corner. He also questioned her timeline, saying he suspects that dirty politics is playing a large part in the situation.
“We’re 27 days from Election Day and I have known Al Lattanzi for a long time and I respect Al Lattanzi and I hope over the next 27 days we can work to keep this campaign above board,” he said. “Sadly, I’m not just running against Al Lattanzi. I’m running against the DeMaria Administration. On their account, I cannot be assured how the next 27 days will play out on their part. On the City Council, I can only control my actions and answer to the people of Everett. I have no time or energy for dirty politics and I will continue to conduct myself in a professional and upright, positive manner. That’s what I’ve always done.”
Le would disagree.
She said on the night in question, she and her boyfriend were sitting outside just after midnight when McLaughlin pulled up and got out of his truck. He began screaming at them about the Lattanzi signs in the yard, she said. Le said he kept saying, “Jerry and Lattanzi are the biggest crooks in City Hall and they’re trying to steal my job.”
She said McLaughlin allegedly came into the yard and cut down the two signs and put them to the side, saying a trash truck would come to get them in a few days.
“I’ve voted since I was 18,” said Le. “I vote for whoever is the right person for the position. I vote for who I want to and not who is going to scream at me about someone else. If he did that to us, maybe he did it to other people too.”
Le said she called City Hall afterward and asked for Lattanzi’s number. After getting ahold of him, he came down and replaced the signs.
“Now, we not only have two signs replaced, but we have two more for a total of four on our property,” she said.
Le said she couldn’t recall exactly when the incident happened, but suspected it was some time in late July or early August. She only recalled that Lattanzi came down on Aug. 7 to replace the signs. That did contradict what she wrote to the Council when she said it was Aug. 8 that she went to City Hall to find Lattanzi.
Asked why she took so long to file a complaint with the Council on the matter – as more than two months elapsed from the time of the incident to the complaint – she said it just never sat well with her. In the end, she couldn’t ignore it.
“The more I thought about how we’re coming to the vote soon, the more I got really mad,” she said. “I told my boyfriend it’s what happened here. He said that is just what American people do. I said that it isn’t what they do and it’s not normal. It matters to me and I got mad and I sent Council President Dell Isola an e-mail. I expressed my outrage. The more it sat in my stomach, the more I was outraged. I put it all out there.”
None of it could be further from the truth, according to Councilor McLaughlin.
He said the incident happened on July 23, and that followed a house visit he had made to Le on June 14 while campaigning. He said he has also helped her several times in the past with cars parked illegally.
He produced a police report from the Everett Police showing that cars were towed on July 23 at her home, and said that was the nuts and bolts of their interaction – which was witnessed by his girlfriend, Patti Frati.
McLaughlin said they were coming home from his brother’s home late that night, and he went by Le’s house to check on the cars. He saw Le out on the porch and stopped to ask how the parking situation was.
He said she was upset because cars were parked illegally right then and there too close to the curb. After checking on it, he said they were and he called in for a tow.
While there, he noticed the Lattanzi signs and asked her if she knew Lattanzi was running against him.
“I did that because while campaigning I have found that a lot of owners have put the signs out on a house, and the tenants don’t know or have a say,” he said.
After that short conversation, he said Le asked him numerous times to take the Lattanzi signs down.
He refused several times, but he said she asked him to get a box cutter. He said he got one from his vehicle, and gave it to her to take the signs down. She again, he said, begged him to do it. He said he did it, as long as she agreed to call Lattanzi and let him get the signs back to re-use.
She agreed, and he took them down for her, McLaughlin said.
When the parking control was about to arrive, he and Frati left.
“The conversation was just a regular conversation,” said Frati. “They stayed on the porch talking. The story is crazy how it’s been concocted.”
Added McLaughlin, “She wrote in her letter it was the evening of Aug. 7 and she called City Hall on Aug. 8. Even if that’s true, that’s a 17 day discrepancy of when this episode occurred to when she supposedly called City Hall to ask for Mr. Lattanzi’s phone number.”
For her part, Le denies that Frati was there, and said she has a neighbor who witnessed it and will soon tell his story. She said she waited to go to City Hall because Councilor McLaughlin had told her a truck would come to get the signs from the sidewalk. When that never happened, she decided to go to City Hall.
Councilor Anthony DiPierro – who is involved with the Lattanzi campaign – has said he find the allegations troubling, and he called for an investigation by the Election Commission or the City Council.