By Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora
It’s that time. Time to provide factual information to the public concerning the recent antics of Ward 4 Councillor Ryan O’Malley and the Parks and Recreation Committee he chairs.
Let’s start with a little background. When I was forming Committees for 2022, Councillor O’Malley asked that he chair the Parks and Recreation Committee. He indicated he had some great ideas and was committed to putting in the time. I obliged.
Fast forward to the end of June. From January to June 28th, O’Malley scheduled zero meetings for the committee. None. Not a single one. Frustrated by the lack of commitment to a topic of great interest to the community, a fellow councillor started to take matters into his own hands to address some of the issues the Parks and Recreation Committee should have addressed. This set off a sequence of events that really were a low moment in Malden politics.
Over the past several months, the Technology Committee, headed by Councillor Amanda Linehan, has been working diligently to establish transparent and consistent parameters under which Council Committees would provide for remote attendance and/or participation. It’s more nuanced than many realize as those who are involved will attest. Until such time as a policy has adopted, the Council has been conducting all meetings in person. This ensures consistency and compliance with laws until the Policy is approved by the Council.
When O’Malley realized that another Councillor was going to start working to fill in the gap O’Malley had left by not meeting, O’Malley started scrambling. He scheduled a last-minute meeting, after the City Council deadline for scheduling meetings and in violation of Council rules. O’Malley isn’t one for following rules. He also indicated he wanted to hold it via zoom. I reminded him that the Council had yet to adopt a policy allowing such meetings. The agenda got posted with the information on the meeting, including the room where the meeting would be held, and without information on remote participation.
O’Malley proceeded to post to social media a zoom link to the meeting, in an obvious attempt to stir things up, and in clear violation of Open Meeting Laws. Our legal department did an excellent job outlining the issues, and O’Malley was told by our attorneys, professionals who have already been licensed to practice law, in terms as clear as could be that a zoom meeting that was not advertised as part of the agenda was a violation of Open Meeting Laws. O’Malley scoffed at the advice and indicated his intent to violate the law regardless.
In response to the above, in my role as Council President, I ordered the link to be disabled to the meeting, so that we would not be found in violation of Open Meeting Laws and fined. I did not consult with the Mayor, as this was City Council business. We had clear legal guidance on the matter, and O’Malley was trying to intentionally get the city fined. That wasn’t acceptable. The link was subsequently disabled.
What has transpired since this meeting has been nothing short of shameful. O’Malley has filed complaints with HR directed against the employees who were directed, by me, to shut down the illegal link. O’Malley has ordered that an investigation take place and that these employees face disciplinary action. The employees in question are long tenured, highly respected employees.
The residents of Malden deserve to know the truth. The employees of the City deserve to be treated with respect, in a workplace free from harassment and intimidation. O’Malley should be held accountable for the shenanigans he has been engaging in.