Public Chimes in with Support for Mayor-School Committee Charter Change: Councilor Martins Calls Poor Internet Service a Public Health Crisis

In a Council meeting that churned beyond midnight, the highlight was supposed to be the hotly-contested charter change vote regarding the mayor getting a vote on the School Committee.

Though that vote was postponed due to a death in the family for Councilor Wayne Matewsky – a sponsor of the matter – there was still plenty of input from the public at the meeting with most of it in support of Mayor Carlo DeMaria getting a vote on the School Committee. Currently the mayor is a member of the Committee, but without a vote.

At least a dozen supporters called in to favor the Charter Change – which also is packaged with a change that will stop citywide voting for ward seats. Only one person called in with concerns about the concept and the process that has played out with the proposed change.

“I am in favor of the mayor having a vote,” said Maria Santiago. “This will give a bridge between the School Committee and the City Hall. We need to think about the children please.”

Georgia Collins said it would help in monitoring fiscal and funding issues in the School Department.

“I think it’s important for the mayor to have a vote on the School Committee because it give transparency to the community,” she said. “I think it does the City a disservice if the mayor isn’t on the School Committee.”

Sue Variella was the only person that opposed the matter during the Council’s public comment – though other organizations have opposed it in writing.

“I believe this should be a change that the voters decide on,” she said. “You’re a panel of 11 members and there are more than 50,000 people in the City…You guys have been talking about this other charter change for three years and this one just gets one week…This affects everybody and there’s one week to talk about it.”

The matter was postponed by the Council unanimously, 10-0, and is expected to be taken up in two weeks at the Council meeting.

Martins Calls Internet a Public Health Crisis

It’s been no secret in the remote working and schooling world that Everett’s internet infrastructure is horribly insufficient.

It’s also no great secret that the Council has been one of the main obstacles to companies trying to improve the build-out of a better network in the city – frequently voting against new cell towers and cell antennae over a period of many years. The Council is actually now being sued by Verizon Wireless for blocking that company’s attempted upgrade to 5G service earlier this year.

So it is, though, the Councilor Stephanie Martins hopes to reverse that course, calling on her colleagues Monday night to declare the poor internet service in the city a “public health crisis.”

“Public health is not just our personal health,” she said. “It has to do with everything that affects our whole health. We have to use the internet for everything now…The condition of our infrastructure to provide quality internet is a public health crisis that has been by our schools and those working from home.”

Martins said even her own internet is bad enough that she cannot participate fully in most Council meetings without getting kicked off. Meanwhile, students and parents report getting “bumped” off their Zoom classes on a daily and, sometimes, hourly basis.

The measure was approved 9-1, but it was uncertain who voted against the measure as during that part of the meeting…the internet went out.

Turkeys in November

During a very deep discussion on an ordinance amending the ways and means that wild animals can be trapped by pest control companies, Councilor Jimmy Tri Le brought in a little levity – or so it seemed.

While the conversation was circling around varmints such as raccoon, skunks and those pesky squirrels on the roof – Councilor Le inquired about turkeys.

“What about turkeys?” he asked.

“What do you want to know about turkeys?” asked Animal Control Officer Stacia Gorgone.

“Do you tend to see more of them around Everett this time of year?” he asked.

With Thanksgiving in mind, everyone had a good laugh, except Councilor Le.

“Was that a joke?” asked Council President Rose DiFlorio.

“No, that’s a serious question,” said Councilor Le.

Gorgone explained turkeys that roam around Everett nowadays are fully wild animals and cannot legally be trapped, killed or removed. She did add that one turkey recently attacked two police officers at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Councilor Le is also not a fan of geese, he said, a gaggling group that flouts the jaywalking laws consistently at Sweetser Circle and apparently has made him late for appointments by up to 30 minutes. They, too, are protected from harm, said Gorgone.

Wehner Park Completion

Councilor Fred Capone received his long-awaited update on the completion of Wehner Park, with City officials noting that the park is about to be completed by the laying down of sod. Once that’s done, the fencing will remain up for two weeks to let the grass grown, and then the park will be open.

Capone learned that the overall budget for the Park was $1.327 million when all was said and done. He said it seemed like quite a waste of money since the park was very nice before all the work was done to it.

“I think I’ve pretty consistently said this was a project that made pretty, prettier, and at more than $1 million that seems excessive,” he said.

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