Council Approves Slate of New Board and Commission Members

After holding up several new appointments to various Boards and Commissions for a few weeks, the Council voted nearly unanimously on Monday night to approve 11 new Board members to various posts.

There had been one contentious appointment to the Zoning Board – Tyler Cao – who was nominated to replace long-time member Mike Dantone. There were allegations that it was politically motivated, but that was disputed by Mayor Carlo DeMaria.

Nevertheless, the Council asked that all the appointments be sent to Committee before being voted upon – a rarely used rule that has not typically been enforced.

On Monday night, action was again called for and some were still not quite ready.

Councilor John Hanlon said he was hoping those being appointed could come up to the Council Chambers to be seen, or at least that their photo could be put up on the broadcast for the public to see. He asked that the votes be delayed until that is done.

That set off a lot of discussion.

“I can sympathize with my colleagues that may not know all the individuals, but it’s no reason to hold them up,” said Councilor Anthony DiPierro. “We had the resumes…The reason some of us don’t know all of them is because the Administration is trying to diversify the boards. It’s not a slight to us if we don’t know some of these candidates.”

Councilor Peter Napolitano said enforcing the Committee rule now is a bad look, as the effort is to get more diversity on the Boards. He said they’ve had that rule for seven years, and not one appointee has been sent to Committee for review.

“It sends the wrong message,” he said. “If you want to set a precedent, do it after the pandemic.”

Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who eventually cast the lone ‘no’ vote against Cao, said that Cao lives in Stoneham, and the City should be appointing people who live in the City at the time of their nomination.

“We have 50,000 people or more that live in this city, so let’s appoint our residents first,” he said.

That set off Councilor Hanlon, who said his colleagues were out of line in their discussion.

“I never said I didn’t know these people,” he yelled. “Some of the public doesn’t know who they are. I only asked for their picture to be put on TV and that’s all I asked for. Everything everyone said is only because you want to talk.”

Those approved were:

•Patty Cheever, Election Commission (two-year term)

•Eleanor Gayhart, Library Board (three-year term)

•Scott DeSalvo, DPW Commission, (three-year term)

•Paul Degenkolb, Youth Commission (two-year term)

•Holly Garcia, Youth Commission (two-year term)

•Martha Lynn Chason-Sokol, Cultural Council (three-year term)

•Rousie Noel Thomson, Council on Aging (two-year term)

•Jordana Torres, Council on Aging (three-year term)

•Tyler Le Cao, Zoning Board (three-year term)

•Ednard Micelin, Library Board (three-year term)

The Ever-Popular Councilor Matewsky

Councilor Wayne Matewsky has a way of rising to the occasion at most Council meetings, knowing when to be serious and when to keep it light.

So it is that many times late in the agenda that Councilor Matewsky often keeps the legislative body in stitches. Those of the serious nature who follow the Council meeting might be frustrated by the humor, and sometimes puzzling comments, but those who have followed the Council for a while figure – what the heck.

•Councilor Matewsky brought about more than a few double-takes on Monday night’s second in-person meeting when he was quizzing the Public Health Nurse Sabrina Firicano and dropped the bomb that he had been tested for COVID-19 five days prior and still didn’t have his result yet. While the councilor was making a point about how long it takes to get a result in some cases, others of his colleagues scrammed for another part of the Chambers.

•There was great discussion on Monday night about figuring out how to slow down drivers on the streets of the city, as many are speeding in the neighborhoods. Councilor Matewsky advocated for more three-dimensional crosswalks, like ones in other cities and one that is at Everett High.

“Those things work,” he said. “I was driving by one the other day with my dog on my lap and jammed on the brakes when I saw it and the dog almost went out the window.”

•Finally, Councilor Matewsky put in a very timely piece on eliminating the robo-calls that he said are inundating the City – particularly bothering senior citizens and those with landlines.

“The don’t-call list – please,” he said. “They call you more. I have a landline, but I talk to people with cell phones and they get these calls too.”

Then he diverged into what he said was a humorous script he follows when he gets the calls at home.

“It is quite humorous what I do,” he laughed. “I do all the talking. They don’t get a word in. It’s really hilarious. I should probably tape record it.”

No one got to hear the contents of that script.

Perhaps it better left to the ears of the robo-callers.

•More than a few members and observers of Monday’s meeting were perplexed by Councilor Napolitano using the term “rice burner” to describe loud motorcycles and cars that speed through the neighborhoods. Though it’s hard to know what is and isn’t fully appropriate in speech these days, a quick look online does list the term as having roots as a derogatory term for East Asians, as well as a demeaning comment towards those owning and/or making foreign cars. Others entries indicate it isn’t derogatory but a mild slang term that is, though, antiquated language.

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