The city’s highest-ranking water official has said this week that petty personal politics got in the way of public safety in the planning of local efforts during the recent water emergency.
Water Facilities Director Joe Maglione said that – despite being the highest ranking licensed water operator in Revere – he wasn’t even invited to Sunday’s planning meeting or even called about a situation that had everything to do with the water system.
“In my opinion, it’s a personal thing,” said Maglione. “One shouldn’t have anything to do with the other here. It’s a public safety issue here we’re dealing with. I’ve been on the emergency management team since the Bob Haas administration. Am I out of it now? Am I out of the loop? This is all about one person [in the DPW] who can’t let something go from the past. This had nothing to do with that.”
Maglione has been on the Water Department in the Department of Public Works (DPW) for more than 20 years and did his job quietly and commendably.
About two years ago, two former, disgraced DPW workers falsely accused him of taking bribes to approve their illegal drain laying side jobs.
Maglione was put on paid leave for nearly one-year and then was forced to defend himself in a long, drawn out hearing in front of the State Ethics Commission – a hearing that further stressed his relationship with the administration and some in the DPW.
The Commission eventually cleared him of any wrongdoing, and two weeks ago it was reported that a mediator awarded him $25,000 in overtime pay that he lost while on paid leave.
Now, he thinks that his public struggles in the DPW over the last two years have clouded the judgment of city leaders.
“I think this was not handled the way it should have been,” he said. “They had an emergency management meeting and there wasn’t one licensed water facilities operator there…I wasn’t involved with it and I didn’t even get a courtesy phone call before or after…I feel that leaving me and my other licensed operators out of the loop was not proper. Every other city and town had water people involved. On all the news conferences, sitting alongside the officials were licensed operators…I think it’s an embarrassment personally we weren’t fully involved. My men aren’t too happy about it either.”
Chief Gene Doherty, who headed up emergency management, said that he sent notice to the DPW and they sent representatives. He said that Maglione probably should have had a seat at the table, but that wasn’t his call.
Maglione indicated that neither he nor his men – among whom there are a handful of licensed water operators – are upset because of money. In other words, he said that no one is ticked off only because they didn’t get to cash in on overtime pay.
“I feel this is a little slap and I don’t consider it a money issue,” he said. “Money is tight, but I think enough guys here have the heart to come in and do the work and worry about getting paid later.”
Maglione said he would have suggested that water be delivered to the nursing homes and elderly shut-ins, that the emergency 9-1-1 call go out earlier and that there be a live phone operator to answer questions from residents.
“Those would have been some of the suggestions I would have made, but I wasn’t invited to attend and I wasn’t going to put myself into it because I’m tired of fighting all this,” he said.