The spiraling-out-of-control Revere City Council engaged in another catfight Monday night as Councillor George Rotondo tried to clear his name and other councillors took exception to his statements.
It’s the same story that has played out since January when Rotondo became an at-large councillor and declared an interest in running for mayor against long-time mayoral hopeful Councillor Dan Rizzo.
Rotondo asked for five minutes without interruption during the meeting on Monday to clear up statements that were made about him at the April 12 Council meeting by Councillor Charlie Patch and Council President Tony Zambuto.
A small contingent of councillors – including Rotondo – were upset by the comments because Rotondo was not present that night and, in speaking about him negatively, the councillors broke a long-standing gentlemen’s agreement that doesn’t allow negative comments about a colleague unless that colleague is in the Council Chambers.
Zambuto granted Rotondo his latitude and everyone let him speak.
“The problem here is people, unfounded and unwarranted, chastise people who aren’t present and do so falsely,” said Rotondo.
He went on to criticize those who called him a liar and those who said he has been accused of plagiarizing motions.
“Motion after motion by each and every councillor is going to be repeated from time to time because the simple fact is the business of this city has to be addressed,” said Rotondo. “That’s not plagiarizing. That’s called city business or following up on something that wasn’t done.”
After a little over three minutes, he was given the word by Zambuto that he was out of time.
However, it set off a flood gate of discussion as the Council began another session of arguments and fighting – something that has happened more in the last two years than probably at any other time in the last 10 years.
Zambuto led off with a speech against the Journal and one of its reporters. He said that the Journal had been attacking him and was wildly inaccurate.
“The Revere Journal has been inaccurate at best,” he said.
Later, he added that he had been misquoted and that maybe he would start transcribing the meetings word by word and submit them to the media.
“If that’s what it takes, that’s what I’ll do,” he said in a determined tone.
Rotondo then blasted in with a criticism of Zambuto for giving credit to Councillor Dan Rizzo for establishing the successful Rainy Day Fund – something that has been in dispute lately.
That sent off a firestorm of argument and finger pointing.
Councillor George V. Colella broke into the argument to try and focus everyone back on the issue – though he did so by blaming Rotondo for starting the discussion.
“It’s about time this City Council left all the diatribe for someone else to deal with and let us get down to the people’s business,” said Colella. “We’re in desperate and dire financial straits and here we are talking about motions that were given seven years ago. Do you think the people in the audience care?”
Rizzo blamed Rotondo for starting the argument and saying Rotondo exists only to attack him from week to week.
“I find it pathetic that once again we have to address this councillor’s feelings and how he’s being treated,” said Rizzo.
That brought former mayor and Councillor Bob Haas into the fray, who began asking why it was that the Council broke their longstanding rule of not talking about people when they’re absent.
At that simple question, Zambuto cut off Haas, turning off the microphone as he was speaking.
“He’s shut me off,” said Haas. “I want the people out there to know he’s shut me off.”
“I’ll shut anyone off,” retorted Zambuto.
However, Haas did get his say and said that he didn’t want arguments, but he felt it wasn’t right what the Council did on April 12 to Rotondo.
“What we did last meeting [was wrong],” he said. “This is pathetic what’s going on here the last year or two.”
The fruitless serenade ended with Councillor Charlie Patch getting the final say.
“This has been going on since that election for state senate,” said Patch, referring to the fact that Rotondo has been offering motions that pertain to Ward 6. “He’s been constantly trying to make myself look bad.”
Patch’s two cents brought on more heated and chaotic discussion, to which Zambuto finally asked, “Can’t we all just get along?”