REVERE — It’s Revere’s Watergate.
Instead of “What did the president know and when did he know it? It’s “What did former Mayor Dan Rizzo know and when?”
The controversy over a report critical of the city’s Police Department has pitted the former chief executive, now a candidate for councilor-at-large, against Mayor Brian Arrigo.
Both sides agree on a few things. Rizzo asked then Chief Joseph Cafarelli in 2014 to hire a University of Massachusetts Boston think tank to do an organizational analysis of the department.
The report, released this year by the Arrigo administration and authored by the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management, was critical of police management. It recommended, among other things, that the rule to require the chief of police come from the ranks be repealed.
“While often it is desirable to promote from within, Revere has experienced a fair amount of turbulence over the past several years and the ability to bring an outside leader with a different set of experiences could benefit the department in the future,” the report said.
But everything that followed is in dispute.
Rizzo insists he never saw the report and that the author, Kym Craven, was transitioning to a new job. He said calls from the former chief to the Collins Center went unanswered.
Arrigo said while Rizzo may not have received a copy of the report, he knew of its contents and records indicate the city paid the $25,000 bill for the review. He addressed his concerns when he presented the report to the Revere City Council in August.
“When the findings of this review were presented to the former administration in July of 2015, they chose not to share the findings with the people of Revere,” Arrigo said during the Aug. 28 council meeting. “In fact, they did not even ask for a written copy of the draft report — despite paying the full $25,000 to the consultant. I’ll leave you to consider the reasons why this might have occurred.”
In addition, Arrigo provided The Item with a series of email exchanges dated July 2015 from Craven to Rizzo and his chief of staff about a meeting to be held on that day. The next afternoon, an email from Rizzo to Craven said “Kym, had an excellent talk with the chief this morning. In light of this conversation, maybe we keep our conversation just between us. I think we’re on the same page.”
In response, Craven said “Mayor, it was great to meet with you yesterday. Thank you for your time.”
Since the controversy erupted, Cafarelli’s contract was not renewed in June, and the mayor is seeking a change in the city ordinance to allow for a nationwide search for a new chief.
Rizzo acknowledged that he met with Craven once in July 2015, but insists they did not discuss the police department review.
“I think I met with her once … but nothing in the report was discussed with me … I really don’t recall what we talked about, but it wasn’t anything substantive.”
On the email that mentions the chief and keeping the conversation “between us” Rizzo said he doesn’t recall an email sent more than two years ago.
Arrigo said the critical police report came to light this year when the mayor contemplated a review of the department.
“It’s clear based on the emails that all conversation about the report ended on that day when the former mayor said ‘Let’s keep our conversation just between us,’” Arrigo said. “There was no follow-up by the previous administration and no effort to receive the report.”
Craven could not be reached for comment and a call to the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management was not returned.