It’s been close to two years since leaving elected office, and up to now, but for a few occasions, I have sat back and listened to false information being disseminated to Revere residents. However, with the conversation turning to the Police Department, the time has come when I have to respond to Mayor Brian Arrigo’s lies and mistruths. Here are just a few:
During Arrigo’s campaign, he promised ALL residents who lived in owner-occupied properties that they would receive a 10 percent tax break. Now, it has evolved into a vote on an obscure statute (Chapter 41C ½) for which, only one municipality in Massachusetts has adopted. The reason? The extreme cost to the taxpayers. I am sure that despite what his old political ads say, he’ll try and say this is what he was referring to the entire time.
Then there is his outright lie he told the community when he first took over saying he was left with a $2 million deficit. This too was a total falsehood and he was forced to admit that publicly before the City Council. The fact is, he had a free cash “surplus” that took him a year and a half to certify with the Department of Revenue.
He has accused the prior administration of overspending, yet the expenditures we’ve seen over the last 20 months are at minimum, outrageous. He paid his chief of staff, Omar Boukili, a Somerville resident, $124,000 a year with his promise to move to Revere, something that never materialized. This compared to my chief of staff who made under $60,000.
Arrigo spent $72,000 for an outside audit, above and beyond the city’s outside audits that are routinely performed, where he made wild accusations before the City Council saying he suspected MGL Chapter 30B violations (Public Bidding Laws), all of which were found to be untrue. Now, most recently, another $10,000 on an Assessment Center process to select a new police chief after removing Joseph Cafarelli from the job and allocating $48,000 to “study” the department.
And now, finally, he is trying to justify his actions by throwing up this smoke screen of a report that he claimed was hidden from his administration — another outright mistruth. Here are the facts about the report he points to:
In 2014, I asked Chief Cafarelli to work on a strategic plan for the Police Department and to solicit the services of the University of Massachusetts Collins Center to do so. What took place afterwards borders on breach of contract. The fact is, during my administration and to this day, I never have received this strategic plan we requested. Many, many calls from Chief Cafarelli to the Collins Center went unanswered during the process. And we now find out that this may be because the person responsible for the plan was in transition. That said, many months went by with little, to no contact at all between the city and the Collins Center. Now, after taking lots of pushback on how he’s handled the department and the selection process for chief, this plan suddenly just appears three (3) years after it was commissioned?
By the Mayor’s own letter and timeline, the draft report was given to the city in July of 2017. And when it was delivered, rather than a strategic plan, it somehow turned into a scathing report admonishing the department and its leadership. Quite a coincidence. The whole scope of what Chief Cafarelli had requested had now somehow changed … how and why did this happen? It’s worth noting that a recent hire (another non-Revere resident being paid close to $80,000) by Mayor Arrigo worked for the Collins Center during that time and should have absolutely been privy to this report.
As for the integrity of the department, when we took over in 2012, we had 84 uniformed police officers. We brought those numbers from 84 to 104 by November of 2015. We implemented an annual report, something Arrigo conveniently fails to mention, that clearly showed that under Chief Cafarelli, the city experienced a steady decrease in crime and an overall reduction in overtime costs by $400,000. Drug arrests, contrary to what was being told to the public during the election cycle was actually up by 40 percent. This was as a result of merging our Detective Bureau with our Drug Unit, and beginning to share information with the State Police, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Boston and North Shore Gang Units. Anything else anyone says contrary to that is just an outright lie. This department was free from scandal that had plagued them in the past, and they served the city proudly and effectively.
I agree that a mayor can pick his own chief. I don’t have a problem with that. But own up to your decisions and stop trying to drag a tremendous public servant through the mud to satisfy your own political ambitions. Chief Cafarelli was a decorated Marine combat veteran, an excellent lieutenant and — the numbers prove — a tremendous chief. At bare minimum he deserved to keep his job and his benefits just like the last chief did.
Words of wisdom from one of the great United States presidents, Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Dan Rizzo is the former mayor of Revere and a candidate for City Councilor at large.