The City Council debated long into the night on Monday, April 22, during a three-and-a-half hour meeting while torrential rains buffeted City Hall. The key agenda item was the long-awaited vote on the City’s administrative code, which principally divided Councilors over the language regarding the Library Board of Trustees (LBoT) – eventually approving the change in a 6-4 vote.
The Council was due to hold a vote on the administration’s proposed changes to the City’s Administrative Code, and the meetings leading up to the vote made it clear that the issue would be contentious and divisive. There had been significant pushback from community members, library trustees and Councilors on the reduced role of the LBoT implicit in the new language. The changes had been proposed in accordance with Massachusetts State Law and also the last will and testament of the library’s founder, Frederick E. Parlin.
The new language regarding the LBoT narrows the scope of its duties to the following:
•The City would take over the human resources duties of the LBoT;
•the City Treasurer would become the default treasurer of the LBoT;
•the LBoT would go from overseeing the whole library system to overseeing the management of the trust left by founder;
•and the trust would be used to purchase items benefiting the library but for no other purpose.
Prior to holding the vote, those in opposition pleaded their case as to why the Council should reject the admin code changes outright. (There wasn’t an option to reject only part of the proposed changes.) Councilors, as well as community members, spoke again in opposition, espousing an “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality.
Councilor Michael McLaughlin said he would have to reject the changes to the admin code based on its language referring to the LBoT.
“This is an up or down vote. I support a lot of what’s in this document, but I can’t support changes that would affect our libraries that have run for decades,” he said. “Not on my watch.”
Councilor Fred Capone echoed his colleague’s sentiments.
“The Board of Trustees has been in place for 139 years,” he said. “There is absolutely no reason to change this. They’re doing a stellar job.”
Those in favor of the new admin code spoke in support of the changes to the library language.
“Nobody should be taking this personally,” said Councilor Rosa DiFlorio. “I’m a checks and balances person. If something works 80 percent and doesn’t work the other 20 percent, then you vote for it.”
Councilor John Hanlon originally thought he could approve just part of the admin code, which he had worked laboriously to amend, before being told that it was an up or down vote.
“I put tons of hours into that code, and I have to stand by the work that I did on it,” he said.
Councilor Anthony DiPierro also spoke in defense of the changes to the admin code, specifically the language redefining the duties of the LBoT.
“I was surprised to learn that [the LBoT doesn’t] function under an experienced and trained Human Resources department like the rest of the City does,” he said.
Ultimately, six Councilors (Dell Isola, DiFlorio, DiPierro, Hanlon, Matewsky and Simonelli) voted for the new administrative code while four (Councilors Capone, Marchese, McLaughlin and Napolitano) voted against it.
Councilor McKinnon was absent.
According to Assistant City Solicitor Matt Lattanzi, the newly revised administrative code for the City of Everett will go into effect this Saturday, April 27, as per Article 5 Section 1 of the City of Everett Charter.