Three city councilors were not invited to a press conference held by Mayor Michael McGlynn Monday, and they aren’t pleased about it.
One said McGlynn’s actions were "Hitler-like," and another ended up getting into a shouting match with the city solicitor during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
McGlynn held a press conference Monday afternoon at Medford High School to announce a grant the city received for Hormel Stadium, a planned proposal for school technology upgrades and progress in bringing Verizon cable TV to the city.
Councilors Robert Maiocco, Paul Camuso, Mark Arena and Fred Dello Russo were notified of the conference, and all but Maiocco attended. But councilors Breanna Lungo-Koehn, Michael Marks and Robert Penta were not notified.
“We should be working together, the executive branch and the legislative branch and to personally not be invited…I’m appalled,” Marks said.
Marks said he was elected to be the “eyes and ears” of the public, and by leaving him out of the press conference, McGlynn left the public out.
“By omitting me from a meeting he’s shutting out the public and it’s a disgrace,” Marks said.
When Marks referred to the press conference as a meeting, City Solicitor Mark Rumley – who was on-hand for the council meeting – took exception. Rumley said the press conference was legally not a meeting, and McGlynn held no legal obligation to invite the entire council, which set off the following exchange:
“It’s great the mayor sent out his two hench-people tonight,” Marks said, referring to Rumley and Community Development Director Lauren DiLorenzo, on hand for another matter. “…This is not a matter of the law.”
“To be called a henchman is insulting,” Rumley said.
“It’s kind,” Marks said.
“Kind? Then take your worst shot,” Rumley said.
Marks said Rumley should support the excluded councilors.
“We don’t need the city solicitor to come up and scrutinize what words I use in my speech…” Marks said. “The city solicitor should be behind members of the city council who were not notified.”
Penta said he didn’t think McGlynn respected any of the city councilors and had played them “like a ping-pong ball." He later said campaign literature McGlynn distributed in South Medford took credit for things the city council had a hand in.
“He makes it sound like the Gestapo,” Penta said. “He runs this place any way he wants.”
When Camuso said to Penta that “Gestapo” can be considered offensive to Jewish people, he made a different comparison.
“Fine - the Hitler-type tactics the mayor uses in this community,” Penta said.
"He's not the only one who runs this city, he needs this council more than we need him," Penta said. "But if you look at what he says and does, it's he did this and he did that. That is wrong."
The exclusion from the press conference was brought up in a resolution brought forward by Lungo-Koehn, which requested an update on school technology improvements.
"I had to bring it up that wasn’t invited because I was upset about it,” Lungo-Koehn said. “But this has to do with technology in our schools. This is about the kids.”
Camuso said he was “very happy” with the news from the press conference.
“I hear you in your frustrations," Camuso said, "but the fact of the matter is, we have a lot of very positive things to look forward to."
Dello Russo said he did not realize other councilors were not notified of the conference and did not mean to be exclusionary. But, if he had not gone, he would have learned the information through the media.
“Had I not had the time to go to that press conference yesterday, I would have heard of it by reading one of the internet news providers we have serving the community or in one of the two newspapers serving our community," Dello Russo said.