Henry’s successor could be in place as soon as Dec. 7

November 19, 2009
By

With one signature of Gov. Deval Patrick, candidates for City Clerk are once again lining up for the chance to succeed interim City Clerk John Henry.

On Tuesday, November 10, the governor signed a new law that repealed life tenure for the Revere City Clerk – making the job a three-year appointment.

“For all intents and purposes, there will no longer be life tenure in the City Clerk’s office,” said Henry. “It will be a three-year appointment.”

The effort began in 2008 to repeal tenure when Henry privately began discussing the idea of retirement. Councillor Bob Haas was the first to attack the issue, putting in a petition to the State Legislature to repeal tenure for the City Clerk, the City Collector and the City Engineer.

That legislation languished over a year, but was finally approved last week.

The new City Clerk will be elected by a majority vote of the City Council. However, Henry said that according to the City Charter, a new clerk election cannot take place until at least December 7.

On Monday, Council President Dan Rizzo sent out a memo to all councillors indicating that he would like to see the process start. He said that he would like to see a process that includes all the proper due diligence.

“This would mean posting and advertising the position, accepting applications, and conducting public interviews in the Committee of the Whole under the Chairman of Appointments, Arthur Guinasso,” wrote Rizzo in the memo. “This would allow all of us to ask pertinent questions, and make a determination after conducting these interviews who the best candidate is to fill the position. I hope that all Councilors feel the same way I do in wanting to get the most capable and qualified replacement. It is also my hope that Councillor Guinasso will start the process at his earliest possible convenience.”

One of the earliest contenders for the position is current Assistant City Clerk Ashley Melnik.

Councillor George V. Colella said he wasn’t interested in a long process, interviews or due diligence. He said he was ready to cast his vote for Melnik.

“It’s her only work and only job,” he said. “She’s not an attorney with a law office or a CPA with an accounting firm. She’s not going to run any other business out of the City Clerk’s office. I think she is very qualified and I want to do this very soon. I’ve already been waiting for two or three months to do so. I’m all set to say the least.”

However, many other councillors appear to want to take things a little slower.

City Assessor John Verrengia said he is still interested in the position, but given the change in tenure and possibly in job description, he said he has to think hard about it.

“I like the position that John Henry had,” he said. “I don’t know what this new position would be. I have some interest in it.”

Verrengia has rock solid support from Rizzo, but seemingly not many others.

One of the oft-mentioned frontrunners for the position is Attorney Larry Simeone, who does not live in the city but is a native of Revere and has practiced law here for years.

Simeone, too, was hesitant to give a commitment due to the recent restructuring of the position.

“Obviously, it’s a job I think will be of interest only because it should be one of the most important positions in city government,” he said. “I don’t know if, frankly, the intent of the Council is to make it as dynamic as when John Henry was there…It would be hard to say right now if I’m interested. It makes it hard to tell people you’re interested when you don’t know what you’re interested in.”

Another monkey wrench – and in Revere politics there always is such a tool – is Councillor Haas, who had a great interest in the position earlier this year.

One anonymous councillor said this week that a majority of the Council right now is setting the table for Haas to walk into the Clerk’s office.

Haas was not available for comment this week as he is on vacation.

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