Jasiel Correia Should Step Aside Gracefully [OPINION]
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia is vowing to stay and fight a multi-count federal indictment handed down last week, charging him essentially with stealing private investments to an internet business he started before becoming mayor. But Correia's detractors, and there are many, have other ideas.
City Council President Cliff Ponte has scheduled an emergency meeting for Tuesday night during which the Council could vote to remove Correia from office. Seven of the nine councilors must vote "no confidence" in order for Correia to be ousted. It would be the second time in four years that a Fall River mayor was removed from office. Will Flanagan was recalled in December of 2014.
An anti-Correia rally is planned for Fall River Government Center just prior to the Council vote.
There has been a lot of anger directed at Mayor Correia since the indictment was announced last week. That is understandable. Fall River has been through hell and back again. But we must remember that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. An indictment is simply an allegation.
It would be extremely difficult to manage a city the size of Fall River while preparing a defense in such a high-profile corruption case, and perhaps Correia should consider stepping aside for the betterment of the city. A resignation would not necessarily be an admission of guilt, but would take a lot of pressure off of him and the citizens he is elected to represent.
What is important to note here is that the voters of Fall River overwhelmingly re-elected Correia last fall knowing full well that he was under federal investigation. Governor Charlie Baker was also aware of the investigation when he accepted Correia's endorsement last month, an endorsement that Baker now rejects in calling on Correia to resign.
For Senator Ed Markey to call on Correia to step down is purely laughable, as it is the most attention he has paid to Fall River in two years. And someone needs to refresh Congressman Joe Kennedy's memory about how Uncle Ted was given the benefit of the doubt when he left a woman to die after rolling his car off a bridge.
I think Mayor Correia owes it to himself and to the people of Fall River to step aside while this matter is adjudicated. If Correia is cleared of the charges against him, he will have an opportunity to seek redemption. If not, he will need to pay the price for violating the trust of the people.
Mayor Correia, resign gracefully before the City Council votes to remove you from office.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.