Fall River City Council Was Professional Despite Chaos [OPINION]
The Fall River City Council is in a tough position. Mayor Jasiel Correia II has been indicted on multiple federal charges and is refusing to step aside.
Nobody on the Fall River City Council wants to be in the position they find themselves in right now. The city's mayor is facing serious time in the federal prison system if he is convicted at trial or pleads guilty. The mayor has to put on a defense--and fund that defense--while he tries to run the city and avoid contact with witnesses and potential witnesses in his criminal case.
And he is also being evicted from his Fall River apartment.
At a press conference Tuesday at City Hall, Young Jasiel the Second told his supporters and the media that the federal investigation and the upcoming trial have already drained him mentally, physically and financially.
The City Council has the ability to remove the mayor temporarily if that person is incapable of performing the functions of the job. There is lots of room for the lawyers to argue the meaning and intent of this power only recently given to the Council by an update to the city charter.
It was standing room only at the City Council meeting. The meeting was called specifically to address the indictment of the mayor. City Council President Cliff Ponte did a remarkable job controlling the room and running the meeting.
The majority of the Council is in favor of the indicted mayor resigning immediately. They discussed the chaos of the media and constituents calls on the matter of the Correia's indictment. Councilor Shawn Cadime was calm and deliberate in his presentation and questions. He pointed out that if the chief of police or the fire chief was in the same situation as Jasiel Correia, they would be temporarily removed from the job until the matter was resolved in the courts. Cadime isn't an attorney, but he was a skilled questioner of the retired Judge Macy, who is the attorney for the city under the Correia administration.
Councilor Brad Kilby, an attorney with experience in the federal criminal courts, spoke directly to Jasiel's father, who was in the audience, about the pressure on his son and family and his concerns for all of them. He looked the grieving father in the eye and told him he would vote to temporarily remove his son, the mayor, from office. It was a moment of pure honesty in a city currently draped in accusations of dishonesty.
The lead defender of Mayor Correia is the long-serving City Councilor, Steven Camara. He made the point that he has driven around the city and seen a city functioning as normal despite the indictment of the current mayor. The argument to temporarily remove the Correia is because he is incapable of running the city under the weight of the federal indictment. Councilor Camara is passionate about the fundamental American belief in innocence until proven guilty, and the natural suspicion of charges made against political activists by the government. History is on his side, even if it isn't ultimately on Correia's side.
There were numerous motions and parliamentary procedures at the meeting. That is the proper function of government. The discussion was civil and dignified among the members of the city's legislative branch. The important votes on the mayor's future have been delayed until the next meeting of the City Council.
Fall River has had a rough few days, but the city should have confidence and pride in the professionals they have elected to their City Council regardless of their position on the removal of the mayor. The tone and temperament of each City Councilor in this pressure cooker should serve as an example to the residents who elected them.
The world is watching Fall River, and we all just may learn something about civility from this small New England city.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.