City officials told the City Council on Monday they are having a hard time filling critical positions in the administration, including the Election Commissioner, Diversity Director and the Planning and Development Director, among others.
To that end they told the Council they would be hiring an outside job recruiter to try to lure candidates to these City positions, some of which have been vacant for some time.
Councilor Fred Capone brought the matter up in an order on the agenda asking about the Elections Commissioner and the Library Director. The Council just recently filled the ISD Director position with long-time Facilities Director George Lane, but so far many key positions remain vacant and the City continues to have difficulty finding a good group of candidates.
“We really want a diverse group of candidates that we have not been able to attract to date,” said Mayoral Chief of Staff Erin Deveney.
City Solicitor Colleen Mejia said they do plan to hire a recruiting company to help draw attention to the many key positions that are and remain vacant.
For the Planning Director, the City got 12 applications, but none of them were fully qualified and that position remains open.
“We hope to get a better array of candidates to meet our needs,” said Deveney.
For the new director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – proposed more than a year ago – that position also remains open and has not had qualified candidates to date. The City has sought help from Boston on the matter, while at the same time Chelsea had more than 60 candidates apply for a similar position there and are in the final stages of making a hiring choice.
The City has advertised that position several times over the past year, but has yet to get the pool of applicants it wants to move forward.
“It’s troubling what we’re hearing and a city as vibrant and flourishing as ours would have that problem,” said Capone.
With a Municipal Election on the horizon, many on the Council were troubled that there is not an Elections Commissioner yet. The job has fallen to City Clerk Sergio Cornelio, who ran the last Presidential Election in 2020, but does need a Commissioner in place.
Councilor Michael McLaughlin said having such a person in place for the upcoming election is going to be a top priority – especially with so many changes to voting methods.
“Things can and do happen quickly if there isn’t someone watching what is going on,” he said. “I’ve experienced some disheartening things in the past and don’t want to see those same things in this election.”
That was echoed by Councilor Gerly Adrien, and Councilor Jimmy Tri Le.
“This needs to happen sooner rather than later to hire outside personnel to take charge of these positions,” Le said.
Capone was also interested in the Library Director, which he has been talking about for some time. The former Library Director resigned abruptly in 2019, and City Solicitor Matt Lattanzi has been serving in that role since then. Deveney said he can serve for up to three years in the position, and they did look for a director but didn’t find one they wanted. Apparently they got qualified candidates, but most wanted to do the job remotely at the time and the City didn’t want to go that direction.
Deveney said they are currently using existing resources to run the library, which is at very limited capacity due to COVID-19 realities.
Capone said he would rather see the hiring of a Library Director rather than a restructuring and a temporary post for Lattanzi.
“You need a librarian running a library system and a director of libraries putting a long-term plan together,” he said. “While I appreciate what is being done now, you need a full-time Library Director in there.”
• Face Pages and the Like
For some on the City Council, Facebook, e-mails and Zoom are just one big electronic mess and a lot of members would rather avoid including them as part of their meeting structure. However, the Council voted 6-3 to return broadcasting their meetings on Facebook live as well as the typical cable TV and online portals. Those voting against were Councilors John Hanlon, Wayne Matewsky and Jimmy Tri Le.
Councilor Stephanie Martins brought the matter to the Council on Monday night at the meeting and indicated she would like to bring the Facebook broadcast back to help expand accessibility to the public.
The Council took the broadcast off of Facebook live last year, even though others like the School Committee kept it on. Councilor Rosa DiFlorio said she took it off because members were complaining to her about negative and distasteful remarks that were being made in the ‘Comments’ section during the meetings. Some of those comments were directed at councilors, and she said a number of the members wanted it shut down, so she did.
However, she said she’s a “strong woman” and she’s in favor of the Facebook broadcast, and can take the negativity. She did say having it on Facebook drew criticism from “outside people” as far away as New York, New Jersey and Baltimore, and she would only like to hear such criticism from Everett residents.
Martins and Councilor Anthony DiPierro implored the Council members to call on their supporters and family members to be kind and courteous if the Facebook broadcast returns, along with the comments, which by law can be erased en mass at the end of the meeting. It has been alleged that the negative comments last year were coming from supporters and family members of elected officials.
Councilor Hanlon, who has emerged during the pandemic as one thoroughly opposed to anything technological or electronic, said having the Facebook, or Face pages, would be a huge mistake.
Council President Wayne Matewsky agreed with him, noting that the City is only required to broadcast the meetings on cable television by law, and everything else is just a courtesy. “I’m absolutely not in favor of this,” said Hanlon. “I think it will extend our meetings three times longer…I get 165 e-mails a day and I don’t need Face pages to make it worse.”