A request to appropriate $250,000 to the Litigation fund from Free Cash to the City Solicitor 2023 budget for the ongoing Title VII inquiry launched by the district attorney stayed in committee during Monday’s Ways and Means Subcommittee meeting at City Hall.
Ward 3 Councillor Darren Costa asked City Solicitor Colleen Mejia, Esq., for clarification on what transpired since Costa was appointed last June, as the lawsuit preceded his term. “It is hard to get comfortable making an appropriation for something I don’t understand,” said Costa.
Mejia said the U.S. Attorney’s Office sent a letter to the Mayor’s Office, asking for certain documents about possible allegations regarding discrimination based on race, sexuality, gender and religion. The City Solicitor’s Office, city councillors and all City of Everett employees are subject to that inquiry as well, so they hired lawyers, who were either assistant or former United States attorneys.
The Title VII inquiry was instigated through false accusations emanating from articles written by the Everett Leader Herald’s corrupt publisher, Joshua Resnek, back in 2020-2021 claiming that the mayor, along with the city solicitor, asst. city solicitor and city’s chief financial officer, were guilty of acts of racism. Resnek admitted in multiple depositions in the ongoing defamation lawsuit filed by the mayor that he fabricated and lied over a period of four years in newspaper articles and editorials in order to ruin the mayor’s chances of reelection in 2021. Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani, through a former school dept. employee, Corey McCarthy, used Resnek’s stories for the claims of racism by the mayor.
Examples of Resnek’s false accusations of racism by the mayor were shown in communications between McCarthy and Resnek, which were offered during Resnek’s deposition where he admitted to lying and fabricating multiple stories about the mayor and his administration.
Mejia, along with Asst. City Solicitor Keith Slattery and Eric Demas, the city’s chief financial officer, have also filed a defamation lawsuit, in 2022, against Resnek, Leader Herald owner Matthew Philbin, Andrew Philbin, Sr., and “John Doe” of the Everett Reporter social media site for making inflammatory accusations which Resnek wrote, including illegally posting a video on social media that was determined to be edited in order to defame the three city employees – going so far as superimposing a photo over a person in the video.
Currently, Tahiliani, whose contract was not renewed by the School Committee last week, and Deputy Supt. Kim Tsai, have filed a lawsuit against the mayor and the city – including for Tahiliani not having her contract renewed due to poor performance.
Councillor-at-Large Stephanie Smith, on behalf of the motion’s sponsor, Councillor-at-Large Michael Marchese, asked for the inquiry’s time period. Mejia replied that it was when the Mayor’s Office received the letter. Smith suggested it was before 2021, before new city councillors took the oath of office.
Mejia said the invoices that the City Council received have been for telephone calls, Zoom meetings and live meetings, including sorting through documents. “That portion is done,” Mejia said. “Now, they’re doing the inquiry, which includes the Attorney General speaking to city employees.”
She added that the city is optimistic that the Attorney General won’t find any discrimination. The Everett Advocatecalled U.S. Atty. Rollins’ office two months ago inquiring about the status of the investigation, but a representative replied via email that they would not be commenting.
“The U.S. Attorney General is asking for documents,” Mejia said. “Usually, when something goes to them, it’s a complaint, but this is completely different.”
Councillor-at-Large John Hanlon asked where they were in the process. Mejia said the documents were received by the Attorney General’s office and that they would be interviewing City of Everett employees. Mejia said she expects the investigation to end by spring.
Costa made a motion to obtain School Department invoices, confirmation that it’s only an inquiry, School Committee litigation requests and a point of contact at the District Attorney’s Office. Smith requested that the request stay in committee until she and Costa receive answers to their questions by the next meeting on Monday, March 27.
- James Mitchell contributed to this article.