As the Malden community knows, I am not one to mince words or beat around the bush. I also have no time for the lies and subterfuge of Malden’s longtime politicians. Unfortunately, lies and propaganda are all some politicians have to stand on because the rest is a cheap facade.
In politics, the basics for success are to be truthful, work hard, and at least try to not intentionally break the law. It’s a pretty simple recipe for success. There are plenty of examples of reputable elected officials in Malden who live up to that standard. First and foremost, is Paul Condon.
Paul and I go back to 2015, when we were both elected to the City Council. For him it was a return after a brief hiatus. For me it was a chance to shine a light on the dysfunction of our city government. Natural gas leaks, lead water pipes, empty tree pits, deteriorating roads and sidewalks, and a City Council that was unwilling to follow the Open Meeting Law.
I mention Paul because no matter how controversial the matter, he always tells the truth as he understands it to be. I do not always agree with Paul, but I respect him because he respects me. It’s pure and simple. He’s a real gentleman whom I look up to and a reason why I love Malden. Now, I am not here to start the Paul Condon Fan Club – although that would be a noble endeavor.
I am here to correct false statements made by a less principled politician: Craig Spadafora. After almost two decades on the City Council, you would think Craig would have learned the basics by now. You’d think he’d tell the truth. You’d think he’d follow the law. He doesn’t. That’s at least what the Attorney General determined. Not me, not Craig, not Santa. The AGO.
On June 29, 2021, Craig Spadafora moved to act on a matter that was not properly before the City Council. This matter added millions of dollars in unfunded liabilities to the City of Malden. He knew this action was fiscally questionable and a violation of the Open Meeting Law. He laughed off his oath to follow the laws of the Commonwealth saying, who cares “if this is going to be an Open Meeting Law violation, we get one a week.” He then moved for a vote.
The Attorney General’s Determination (OML 2022-135) clearly states that:
“Based on the video evidence, we find that the Council intentionally violated the Open Meeting Law. We therefore order each member of the Council to attend a comprehensive Open Meeting Law training, either by participating in one of the Division of Open Government’s monthly webinar trainings or by attending a training presented by the Council’s legal counsel. Additionally, we refer this matter for a hearing pursuant to 940 CMR 29.07(3) and recommend that the Council be assessed a fine of $1,000 pursuant to G.L. c. 30A, § 23(c).”
Craig Spadafora’s disregard for the law cost the City of Malden at least $1,000. So much for being fiscally prudent. The Attorney General’s determination can be found at the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/10NnoAhudTp-C7WdpTSONZLVR6goNYUJZ/view?usp=drives dk
Less than a year later, on June 28, 2022, Craig Spadafora doubled down on his potentially lawless behavior by working with Mayor Gary Christenson’s staff to disrupt a public meeting of the Parks & Recreation Committee. Councillors Karen Colón Hayes, Amanda Linehan, and I had been trying to get a meeting posted for months but scheduling conflicts prohibited that.
The situation was also rapidly changing around Roosevelt Park and we wanted to make sure the community and the Friends of Roosevelt Park would have a seat at the table. This is likely why the meeting was disrupted. Craig Spadafora and Gary Christenson appear to have been upset that the community is rising up against turf at Roosevelt Park and the Parks & Recreation Committee was giving these “pesky” residents a place to assemble and speak their minds.
Most alarmingly, this unprecedented disruption was likely a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protections: “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Time will tell, if this was a serious and willful violation of Malden residents’ constitutional rights. If so, the sanction will likely be more substantial than a $1,000 fine. It could be our liberty.
Cavalier attacks on our constitutional rights must be taken seriously, if we have any chance to preserve our current form of government. No matter what level of government threatens them. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, the United States is “a Republic, if you can keep it.”