By Mayor Brian Arrigo
My focus is always on the work we are doing to build a better Revere for the 21st century. I do not spend much time worrying about misleading attacks on social media.
Unfortunately, the increasingly bizarre, untrue nature of the attacks on my administration require me to respond and provide the facts.
-The Police Department review: On Monday I will go before the Council to show two years of emails and records that demonstrate the following facts regarding the former administration’s work with the Collins Center on the Revere Police Department:
- The previous administration paid the Collins Center $25,000 for expert analysis of the Revere Police Department. There is nothing wrong with doing this, and I am in fact carrying out a similar process now – one which the former Mayor attacked as an “insult” and a waste of money. Unlike the previous administration, we will actually see our work through to a completed report, which will be shared with the public.
- In July of 2015, the former Mayor met with Kym Craven, the consultant completing the Collins Center report. Emails from his office undeniably confirm this meeting. He followed up the meeting with an email to Craven saying “In light of this conversation, maybe we keep our discussion just between us.” That was the last communication between the former Mayor and Craven, after two years of well-documented, frequent communication with his office.
- These records correspond with the version of events presented to us by Craven, who stated that she verbally presented her initial findings in July of 2015, only to not be asked to produce or share a final report with the public. In spite of this, the $25,000 was paid in full. At best, this was a blatant waste of money. At worst, it’s an alarming shielding of uncomfortable findings.
I have no issue with the former Mayor having carried out this work, nor would I have even had an issue with its completion being delayed until after an election. What I do take issue with is the dishonesty and the hypocrisy of the attacks on my administration’s efforts to complete a similar review. The former Mayor is not only attacking me, personally, but he is also disrespecting the integrity of this office and frankly, the trust of residents.
I also take issue with the fact that following the 2015 election, the Mayor did not seek to bring to completion this work by providing either the public or my administration any information about an ongoing review of the Revere Police Department – something that is critical to the public safety of every Revere resident. Unfortunately, during the transition period, the former Mayor spent no time working with me or my staff to brief us on ongoing city issues.
-The financial situation inherited in 2016: Unfortunately, at the end of 2015, when free cash is normally certified with the state’s Department of Revenue, the previous Mayor made no efforts to actually get it certified.
The fact is that the City’s spending rate as of January 1, 2016, if continued with no changes, indicated a $2 million hole.
Later, our outside auditor discovered a major source of this problem. The previous administration received authorization to borrow $2 million to pay for capital projects, but failed to actually float the $2 million bond. This oversight contributed to the projected deficit.
-Senior Tax Relief: The process to introduce tax relief for homeowners is not an easy one. It was a promise I made during the election and one I plan to deliver on. This fall, voters have a chance to approve our first step in this process – a 10% residential tax exemption for qualifying senior citizens who own and occupy their homes – providing some relief to those most impacted by Revere’s rising property values.
As I’ve stated publicly on several occasions, this is the first phase in a plan to ultimately do what many of our neighboring communities have done – but Revere never has – by adopting a 10% exemption for owner-occupied homes. I look forward to going door to door this fall to discuss this program with voters and urge a yes vote.
I firmly believe that targeting the first step in relief to our community’s most vulnerable senior citizens is a smart, worthwhile, and responsible thing to do. I think voters will agree.
Ultimately, this entire debate points back to a bigger picture, and a question Revere voters need to ask themselves: are we looking to move forward and embrace a Revere for the 21st century, or look backwards?
In the last 20 months, we have made significant progress together as a community toward building a 21st-Century Revere.
We’ve seen world-class investors purchase property in Revere and propose a hub of robotics, advanced manufacturing, and life sciences. We’ve seen three new hotels approved along the MBTA corridor, after not having a hotel built in Revere since the 1990s.
We beat back the attempts of a fly-by-night, sleazy group trying to pull a fast one on Revere residents and get approval for a low-rent slot parlor – a group that fooled the former Mayor into calling them “top-notch, world-class developers,” despite being exposed in the Boston Globe as frauds.
We established a Human Resources department for the City, posting positions publicly and transparently, and improving our ability to attract a talented, qualified workforce.
We are preparing to fully launch our 311 constituent services center and app next month, which will improve customer service and convenience for residents seeking to get a pothole filled, report a missed trash pickup, or request assistance from a city department. We also finally implemented online bill payment for Revere residents after years of delay, and will soon be implementing electronic permitting, which will make it easier for our residents and businesses to apply for licenses and permits from the comfort of their home.
We invested $250,000 to carry out a significant sidewalk repair project in an effort to wipe out a multiple year backlog of old repair requests. We contracted with StreetScan to use cutting edge technology to develop a fair, transparent, long-term plan for future street repair based on need.
We finally made long-overdue investments in our DPW, starting the process of both moving the DPW into a temporary facility and studying the appropriate long-term solution for the city yard. We also invested $1.5 million in new equipment for the DPW after years of neglect.
We’ve become one of the only cities in the Commonwealth with an office dedicated to the fight against opioids and drug addiction, and put staff on the front lines to combat this scourge that is destroying the lives of a generation of Revere residents.
While we’ve made all of this progress as a community, we’ve unfortunately also seen relentless backlash from those looking to build themselves up by tearing others down – those desperate to cling to “business as usual” and the old-school Revere politics that voters soundly rejected in 2015. These individuals have resorted to a strategy of throwing as much nonsense at the wall as possible to try to see what sticks.
This is to be expected. Change can be difficult, and it takes time.
But when Revere voters go to the polls this fall, they should continue to support a positive vision for the future of our community – not efforts to go back in time 30 years, and throw the brakes on our successful efforts to build a 21st century city.