Maiocco, Dello Russo Elected to Council President, VP
More controversy for council at second meeting this week.
There were more fireworks at the second Medford City Council meeting of the week Thursday, but the council finally found a way to elect a president and vice president.
After Tuesday's meeting was derailed amidst questions about conflict of interest for councilors voting for themselves for president and vice president, a special Thursday meeting led to the re-election for Councilors Robert Maiocco to president and Fred Dello Russo for vice president.
On Tuesday Councilor Michael Marks said he'd received an opinion from the state Ethics Commission that councilors who vote for themselves for president and vice president could have a conflict of interest.
This is because the president and vice president carry higher stipends than other councilors.
Councilor Robert Penta invoked "Section 22," a bylaw that ends all debate on a topic until the next meeting, on both votes, effectively ending the meeting.
In the case of Thursday's vote for council president, four councilors were nominated for the office. The "rule of necessity" was invoked by those four councilors (Maiocco, Dello Russo, Paul Camuso and Richard Caraviello) as a means of allowing a vote to move forward.
City Solicitor Mark Rumley informed the council that if a majority of the seven-person council had a conflict of interest on a vote, they could invoke the rule of necessity, state their conflict for the record and then proceed with a vote.
Penta and Marks both vehemently disagreed with Rumley's position. Marks was angered that Rumley provided the opinion without the direction of the council, but Rumley stated City Clerk Edward Finn had come to Rumley on the matter.
Marks called that action "underhanded," which caused Rumley to ask if Marks' decision to go to the state Ethics Commission in the first place was any less underhanded.
For his part, Penta did not believe the rule of necessity would override the conflict of interest issue.
Finn called for a vote. Marks and Penta voted "present" while the rest of the council voted for Maiocco, including Maiocco himself.
"This whole thing was a ploy to get around electing the person to this particular position," Penta said. "It's wrong, it's not good, it's not healthy for the city and it doesn't do justice to this Medford City Council."
After being sworn in by Finn, Maiocco said he was grateful to be a city councilor and looked forward to doing the best for the community "despite our differences."
Maiocco also apologized for what happened at Tuesday night's meeting.
The vote for vice president appeared to be headed in the same direction with the same four councilors being nominated, including Maiocco, who had just been sworn is as president.
Maiocco was originally comfortable with being nominated for vice president but Rumley said it would be "ridiculous" for Maiocco to accept the nomination.
Penta felt councilors were misusing the rule of necessity in this instance.
"Why is everyone so intent on trying to get around this?" Penta asked.
Maiocco criticized Penta for his "diatribe" on the topic and for several moments the two longtime Medford councilors were shouting over each other.
According to Rumley, it would be impossible for Maiocco to serve in both capacities and eventually Maiocco withdrew from consideration.
After Camuso withdrew, it left a vote between Caraviello and Dello Russo. Dello Russo, Penta and Marks all voted "present" with the other four councilors voting for Dello Russo.
Dello Russo thanked his colleagues and said he would do his best to "serve the City Council and the residents of this community."
With an organization finally in place, the council moved forward with business Thursday. That included granting the common victualler license for the new Stop & Shop on Salem Street, the final permit needed for the opening of the supermarket.
The Stop & Shop's grand opening will take place at 10 a.m. today.