By Seth Daniel
Former City Clerk John Henry is once again the city clerk.
The City Council voted Monday 10-0 to elect retired City Clerk John Henry as a temporary city clerk to serve without pay, temporarily staving off a major political battle between councillors over who to elect as the next city clerk.
Councillor George Rotondo was absent from the vote.
Henry has agreed to continue with the city clerk’s duties temporarily until the State Legislature renders a decision on whether or not to rescind lifetime tenure for the Revere city clerk’s position.
Likewise, while the council deliberates about the new clerk, Henry will fill the void.
He will work for no compensation, though he is now collecting a retirement pension from the city.
Meanwhile, councillors appeared to be working behind the scenes to secure a legitimate candidate.
There are four people who apparently have votes pledged from councilors: Councillor Bob Haas, Assessor John Verrengia, local attorney Larry Simeone, and City Sealer Robert Cronin.
Several councillors seem to be changing their minds daily, though now it appears that Haas has the most votes, and he is campaigning quietly amongst his colleagues for votes.
Assistant City Clerk Ashley Melnik has several pledges as well, while Verrengia has the diehard support of Council President Dan Rizzo.
Simeone, who once had the required six votes, seems to have lost traction since Haas threw in his name.
Cronin, reportedly, has one vote.
Meanwhile, on the surface, Council President Rizzo has called for an involved process that many believe will go on for months.
Rizzo said he wanted open interviews in the Council Chamber with all interested applicants. He wanted to draw up a job description and receive resumes.
“I think we’re all in agreement that we want to take time with the process,” said Rizzo.
Rizzo then assigned the matter to a Committee of the Whole, bypassing Councillor Arthur Guinasso’s Appointments Committee. That sparked some hard feelings from Guinasso.
“If this were an issue important to the city budget, would you send it to a Committee of the Whole?” asked Guinasso. “No. We would send it to the Ways and Means Committee…I take strong exception to this. This is an appointment, and the Appointments Committee was established by yourself.”
Rizzo said he wanted everyone to be involved in a selection process.
“You’re not appointing anybody; this is a selection process,” he said.
Rizzo conceded he would allow Guinasso to chair the Committee of the Whole.
“I’m determined to bring this to a Committee of the Whole,” he said. “What I’ll do is appoint Councillor Guinasso to chair that Committee of the Whole…My hope is that each and every councillor will be part of these deliberations and will be invited to these deliberations…That’s going to be my call on that.”