More than three dozen seniors protested on the front steps of the Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS) headquarters Friday afternoon and demanded CEO Paul Crowley come out to speak with them.
The angry crowd stood in support of Stacey Minchello. The former Lynn Council on Aging director resigned following a complaint she filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination alleging Crowley harrassed one of the seniors.
“Paul (Crowley) stripped her (Minchello) of everything, all her titles,” said Peggy Murphy, a former Lynn Senior Center employee of 20 years. “He stripped everything bit by bit and made it hard for her to stay. She was here for 10 years and was loved by everyone. Paul has too much power, just like Trump, and we have to take him down somehow.”
Don Parker, a longtime member of the Lynn Senior Center, called out to Crowley several times during the protest. Parker said he was filled with frustration over questions left unanswered from the GLSS CEO.
“He’s gone power hungry,” said Parker. “He’s playing God and wants his own little kingdom. He bullied the two boards he is supposed to report to. Now, they report to him.”
Crowley did not emerge and declined to be interviewed. In a statement, John Baker, president of the GLSS Board of Directors, failed to address any of the questions raised by the protestors.
Pamela Edwards, director of organizing for the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, said the complaint Minchello made was regarding an incident with a member of the senior center, whom she described as an African-American woman. Edwards alleged that the member and Crowley would normally go “tit for tat” with each other in heated conversations. One day, he knocked her hat off her head. Crowley did that three more times, said Edwards, and on the last one he knocked off her wig as well.
“I have a letter of him admitting it to her, saying he was sorry that she took it as offensive and he thought they could joke together,” said Edwards.
When Minchello went to Crowley to address the complaint, among several other complaints, Edwards said, that is when the professional relationship between the two “really started to go downhill.” Shortly after, Edwards said Crowley cut the center’s budget by $30,000 and began stripping Minchello’s titles. She was allegedly removed as Council on Aging executive director and named the center’s Activities Coordinator in 2017, until she resigned a few weeks ago.
Ward 5 City Councilor Dianna Chakoutis, who attended Friday’s protest, said she came to support the seniors.
“I feel a big loss for the senior center with her absence,” she said. “Her heart and soul was with all the seniors. She treated every one like they were her own mother or father.”
Minchello declined to comment.
At stake is GLSS’ contract with the city to staff the senior center and pay for rent at 8 Silsbee St. for partial use on the first floor. Lynn allocates more than $360,000, half from the city budget, for staff and rent.
Lynn is supposed to have five representatives on the GLSS board to make sure the city is represented when decisions are made about the senior center, Edwards said. Since 2012, GLSS has blocked all appointments to that board made by the Lynn Council on Aging, she added.
Mayor Thomas M. McGee declined a request for an interview. In a statement he said the city and GLSS have been in negotiations about the future of the Lynn Senior Center and its management agreement with the nonprofit. He declined further comment.
“In the last two years the Senior Center staffing has been targeted by the management of the GLSS board, hindering our ability to raise funds and recruit a part-time driver so we could have more trips and offer more activities,” said Edwards. “Our hope is that, while the city is in negotiations with GLSS over the Silsbee Street lease agreement, that these inequities will be addressed and we can have a working relationship with the city and GLSS to make sure the Lynn seniors have the senior center they deserve.”
The protestors stated they will continue their actions every Friday at noon until Crowley comes out and speaks to them and/or the seniors and GLSS can come to an agreement.
Thomas Grillo contributed to this report. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BosBizThomas.