The following is a letter from Ward 6 City Councilor Neil Kinnon:
In response to Matt Byrne’s article regarding “City Council makes move to support Malden Park deal” it is unfortunate that Mr Byrne did not quite understand the nature of the motion which was made the other evening as it had nothing at all to do with the City of Malden and Mystic Valley Regional Charter School contract which was signed in March of this year. That item was not even up for discussion during this past weeks deliberations and vote. What is truly more troubling is that Councilor Fallon still after forty minutes of going back and forth still does not understand that.
The City Solicitor ruled that in her “opinion that this Agreement(the Malden and Mystic Valley agreement from April concerning Roosevelt Park) is void because it is not authorized by the Malden City Council, is not ratified by the Malden City Council, and in any event is not fully executed.” As a City Councilor I accept that opinion.
In the Solicitors released opinion of September 17th, she also reviewed a Request for Proposals (RFP) that the MRA sought “proposals from entities that wish to enter long term lease arrangements for use of the Roosevelt and South Broadway Parks.” This request for proposals was advertised in local newspapers and on the City’s website in August and September. This RFP has nothing to do with the agreement signed between the City and Mystic Valley Regional Charter School. Clearly Mr. Byrne based upon his article did not understand this nor does it appear that City Councilor Fallon did either based upon her statement Neil Kinnon “should have recused himself from all proceedings involving the charter school, saying his involvement constitutes a conflict of interest.” There can be no conflict in ratifying and affirming the MRA’s right to only advertise for requests for proposals as nobody could know what those bids were or who from prior to allowing the process to move forward. Nor could one know whether such bids would be acceptable to the MRA for a viable future plan. As I stated during the meeting if and when MRA were to come back to the City Council with plans to renovate either park and it included a partnership with an entity that I was involved with I would, as I have in the past recuse myself from any dealing on said subject.
The solicitor went on to state in her opinion last week on the MRA’s RFP that “as in the past with specific grants sought by the MRA on behalf of the City, the MRA must be authorized by a vote of the Malden City Council to act on its behalf concerning the RFP, including any lease or license agreements resulting there from, where the power to lease and license remains under the authority of the Malden City Council.”
As the City Councilor, representing Ward Six, my primary objective in this matter is the renovation of South Broadway Park and at the same time potentially alleviate the ongoing flooding issues in the Hanover Street Area. My motion “to affirm and ratify the MRA Requests for Proposals for both South Broadway Park and Roosevelt Park” was strictly to authorize the MRA, as the city solicitor stated should happen in her opinion by a council ratification, to move forward with the process that it had already begun to undertake, which was to look for partners in the potential renovation and reconstruction. Barbara Murphy the Councilor from Ward Five also signed on and thus I added Roosevelt to the motion. I have been working on the South Broadway issue for three years. This motion only gives the MRA permission to open any bids it may have received and to attempt to formulate plans that it believes might create a public private partnership to fix South Broadway Park which is decades overdue.
If after working through the proposals and acquiring any CDBG grants available, the MRA believes it has a viable plan, it must come to the City Council to present its case for any type of agreement to bond, finance or partner etc. This according to the Solicitor’s ruling is required for ratification and was stated numerous times during the Council meeting. Thus only two outcomes can occur because of the vote that took place: 1) the MRA opens the proposals finds them interesting and puts a package together to take to the City Council for discussion and authorization to move forward or to stop and 2) the MRA opens the package and finds it can’t put anything viable together to fix the parks and they go back to the drawing board. Thus nobody can know today if or who might be a participant and absolutely no decisions or harm in any way can come of last week’s motion. This is why the Council voted 10-1 in favor of the motion. Councilor Fallon either didn’t understand or she is just so tied into one citizens group she is not even willing to see what the proposals looks like.
As to Councilor Fallon’s allegations that my fellow Councilor’s met in a quorum prior to the meeting to shore up support it is a baseless allegation and unfortunate that Councilor Fallon would make such a claim. The idea that she is floating that somehow she didn’t know about all this or that there has been some secret backroom deal going on is patently false and untruthful on her part. In April the MRA Director presented the Council with its goals for the coming year and one of those was the renovation of South Broadway in which it was stated, minutes exist, the MRA was looking for such partners. Councilor Fallon never once questioned this at the time nor did she raise an eyebrow to the fact that the project could cost $5,000,000. The CDBG budget had seed money for design etc. Councilor Fallon voted for it. The same type of documentation, MRA public meetings minutes, and finance committee votes in which Councilor Fallon participated existed since January as well regarding Roosevelt Park but the Councilor either doesn’t remember legitimately or conveniently forgets to gain political sway. It is almost like her story that she voted against the budget. What she fails to tell the public is that she voted for the budget as a member of the finance committee but chose to do the expedient thing when it came on the floor. I can only hope that this pattern does not continue.
As I stated my passion for Maplewood runs deep and I can assure the residents of Ward Six I will fight as if it were my own money at any attempt to re-allocate or put at risk the hundreds of thousands of potential CDBG dollars that are slated to come to Ward Six. Finally Councilor Fallon continues to feed the allusion that somehow perhaps CDBG money could be used to save public safety personal. Your newspaper has an obligation to call her out on that as it is not something those funds can ever be used for and she is unconscionably leading many to believe that indeed somehow they could be used in that manner.
Furthermore before Councilor Fallon begins to claim anyone on the City Council is in conflict she had better first consider that only after she took the side of the group against the City’s contract for Roosevelt did her sister the Solicitor decide to make a ruling on it. I would contend that once Councilor Fallon took any position on this issue Solicitor Fallon, who reports directly to the city council, should have assigned the opinion to one of her assistant solicitors and recused herself. To my knowledge the Solicitor did not begin to look into this issue until after Councilor Fallon took a public stance against it.
Ward 6 City Councilor