Fall River Now a City with a Tale of Two Mayors
FALL RIVER — One of Fall River’s mayors was being represented in court Friday, while the other was in front of the cameras.
While beleaguered Mayor Jasiel Correia had to have his lawyer represent him federal court in Boston Friday on a bail review matter, Fall River City Council President Cliff Ponte stood outside Government Center shortly after the 5 p.m. deadline the council had given Correia to step down and hand over his keys to the building.
“As far as I am concerned, I am the acting mayor,” Ponte told the assembled reporters, stating that Correia was a “no show” by the deadline to temporarily step down while facing 24 federal charges.
Ponte sent a letter to the mayor asking for his resignation, and “the letter indicated that since Mr. Correia refused to comply with the council’s emergency vote, he has forced the council to take appropriate action up to and including seeking government enforcement of the order in court.” Ponte said the council had retained KP Law to represent its interests in the matter.
“While I would most likely prefer to avoid all of this turmoil,” Ponte said, “That is the decision of Mr. Correia to make.”
The Fall River City Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, in which Ponte said the council will most likely enter into executive session with its attorney to discuss the next steps to be taken. The meeting will be held Wednesday because Fall River has a preliminary election scheduled for Tuesday, in which Correia is facing off against challengers Scott Coogan and Erica Scott-Pacheco.
Correia had previously indicated he had no intentions to step down, and expects to continue working while free on a $25,000 bond. He said the council does not have the authority to remove him from power.
That means Correia will likely show up for work Monday morning as usual, and Fall River is a city with two mayors as everyone involved attempts to figure out exactly who is in charge. One thing that won’t happen, however, is an awkward moment in the hallway as the two mayors both attempt to enter what each thinks is his office.
“If you’re looking for a showdown Monday morning between Mr. Correia and I, that’s not happening from me,” Ponte said, before later noting he will be attending to a previously planned personal matter on Monday.
According to the Associated Press, Correia's lawyer Kevin Reddington's appearance at U.S. District Court in Boston Friday morning was for a bail review hearing, and during a meeting in the judge's chambers, the defense and prosecution agreed to lift the no-contact ban for several of the 27 people listed in the terms of Correia's release.