By Cary Shuman
Mayor Brian Arrigo’s administration responded to the City Council’s vote about honoring the contract of former Revere police chief Joseph Cafarelli in a statement released on Tuesday.
The Council voted unanimously at its July 24 meeting to honor the contract of Cafarelli, who stepped down as chief of the Revere Police Department on June 30. During a lengthy discussion at the meeting, Council members stated that Cafarelli is likely entitled to additional salary and continued health care benefits, and citing precedent, the option to return to a role in the department as a lieutenant.
But Joseph Gravellese, aide to Arrigo, said, “Under state law, if you are separated from your civil service position for five years, you are not able to return to this position if there is an active list of officers seeking promotion to lieutenant.
“Additionally, the Superior Officers Union raised their concerns about this to the city, as several of their members are currently on the list for lieutenant,” continued Gravellese.
Arrigo added, “We acknowledge that this is a difficult situation. Unfortunately, the former chief signed a contract with the previous administration that had terms that are against state law. The city has been actively working to resolve this issue and hopes to come to a resolution soon.”
Cafarelli told the Journal in a telephone interview after the council meeting that he was unable to comment on the matter, but that he was “thankful” to the City Council and the community for their support.
The council expressed its strong support for Cafarelli at the July 24 meeting and additionally voted in favor of Councillor-at-Large Steven Morabito’s motion to invite all parties to discuss the matter in executive session.
Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto was the first to weigh in on the motion at the Council meeting.
“There is certainly precedent here. I sat on this Council when Chief Reardon was replaced, and he was offered a position at his former rate. For some reason, this [Arrigo] administration decided not to do that. I’m certainly in favor of the motion [to honor Mr. Cafarelli’s contract], and that’s why I decided to present it for my colleagues . Why are we deviating from precedent?”
Councillor Charles Patch, a retired Revere Police officer, said he had the pleasure of voting for Cafarelli five years ago and that he had worked with him and other members of his family.
“Joe became my shift supervisor and my commander,” said Patch. “He is the most honorable guy I know. He has a family to support. This same thing happened with Chief Reardon. I don’t see why he (Cafarelli) should go without his pay and he is going to be without insurance. Joe should get the money back he lost and his position back as lieutenant. He was a very good leader and I want his contract honored.”
Councillor-at-Large Jessica Ann Giannino noted respectfully that Cafarelli had “dedicated his entire professional career” to the city.
Giannino said while she respects [current and past] mayors’ decision to select whom he wants as Revere Police Department chief, “We as a Council have to make sure that our city employees are respected and their contracts are honored.”
Powers also agreed that the mayor has the right “to name a chief of his choosing.”
“However, Joe [Cafarelli] was an excellent police officer and did a great job as chief. If there are problems the mayor should call us in to executive session and give us the opportunity to understand the problems. To strip Chief Cafarelli of his pay and his health care, I will not support that.”
Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo said all contracts with city employees are negotiated in good faith and should be honored. He called the mayor’s decision not to honor the contract, “reprehensible.”
Councillor Arthur Guinasso said that Cafarelli should be allowed to return to a position in the department.
“He did a first-class job. Not one time was there ever said a bad word about Chief Cafarelli. If there is an underlying factor [why the contract is not being honored], the mayor should let us know.”