Fall River Citizens Providing the Only Leadership [OPINION]
The Fall River City Council has embarrassed itself, either through their own legal concerns if they scorn him, or if it's some unsavory loyalties to indicted Mayor Jasiel Correia.
Or even if it's due to some lack of nerves.
Either way, not a good look. The 26-year-old mayor is under indictment with 13 federal charges ranging from fraud to tax issues.
Correia has said that feels he can lead the city even as he heads to a courtroom in the Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, where 96 percent lose against the federal prosecutors. The FBI has been gathering evidence for many months, something the embattled mayor denied for almost as long.
He could not deny it for another second after he was pulled over and arrested by special agents of the FBI in Bridgewater on the morning of October 11. He was shackled and arraigned within hours.
What he is doing is expected. He has hired very competent legal defense. He has denied the charges. He is fighting to keep his job as mayor.
What the City Council doing is inexplicable. Motions to remove him through a charter rule have failed in a 5-4 vote with seven needed to pass. Joe Camara, Steve Camara, Leo Pelletier and Derek Viveiros all voting no, although Viveiros' vote had to do with his lack of clarity of Council powers.
Weeks prior, they have tabled real action numerous times after announcing "special meetings" to the press that amounted to nothing.
Oh, on November 7, they did pass a "no confidence" vote by 8-1, and another vote passed 6-3 recommending Correia resign voluntarily. So that's pretty bad ass, right? (Yawn)
The Councilor who still has confidence in Correia: Steve Camara
The three councilors who refused to ask him to resign: Steve Camara, Joe Camara and Leo Pelletier.
Something stinks here. Does Correia possess knowledge of some illegalities involving members of the committee? What leverage does he have to explain their cowering away from doing what is a no-brainer, to kick him out?
Instead, those without power, those without influence, the people of Fall River have had enough of the lack of spine (or CYA moves) of the Council and have used their collective powers to sign yet another petition to ouster their mayor, the second in four years. Mayor Wil Flanagan was catapulted out of office in this way as well.
Jasiel has decided to do what is best for him personally over the best thing for the city. He has promised an expensive, taxpayer-funded legal battle to keep his job. He has promised to run for re-election if there is a recall, despite the dark cloud of aspersions put over the city he claims to love. He needs to be an adult here, and I see a child holding his breath.
He may be wrong about what is best for him. By stepping down to face this enormous problem of criminal charges, he would be viewed very favorably if he wins in court and returns in another city election someday, if the city is not happy with a future mayor.
Today's pitchforks and torches come in the literal form of a civil petition, but these 4,000-plus people are every bit as angry as those who once held them long ago. Mad at Correia, obviously, but possibly as pissed off at the obstructing City Council members who may also find themselves out on their keisters for not representing their constituents' obvious wishes.
Whether the reasons are nefarious, out of blind loyalty or for lack of a spine, Fall River can surely do better than this bunch--right?
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @RadioKenPittman. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.