By William Tauro
The famous movie titled “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” just should maybe have an exclusive sequel produced and retitled just for a Somerville version named “How the Curtatone Administration Stole Christmas in Somerville!”
We all like Christmas and enjoy the festivities and the joyous decorations, but to spend $325,000 for just Christmas wreaths it’s a little absurd. It actually could be considered criminal to some where the money is coming from the city of Somerville taxpayers without they’re consent or knowledge of the careless, wasteful and out-of-controlled spending by the administration.
But the figures are absolutely correct and their not just being pulled from a hat. Commissioner Koty, with the approval of the Curtatone Administration was allowed to make these extremely careless and absolutely wasteful purchases of Christmas wreaths for up to $500 each every year and pay for them out of the city taxpayer’s pockets.
“Stunts like this haven’t only occurred just now only this year.” “The Commissioner’s out of control wasteful spending of city taxpayers dollars has been going on every year but nobody has ever had the courage to come out and report similar situations because of fear of retaliation from the Curtatone Administration” said one unnamed SMEA union member representative who we ran into holding a picket sign at Saturday’s protest event and who actually assisted in unloading the recently delivered boxes containing the wreaths which are now stored at the DPW garage waiting to be installed.
Last year Mayor Joseph Curtatone and DPW Commissioner Stanley Koty spent over $125,000 for Christmas wreaths in 2016.
This year for 2017 they spent a whopping $200,000 for just Christmas wreaths. Please keep in mind these totals don’t include installation of outside contractors as well as more DPW employee overtime and other needed expenses in order to mount the wreaths such as wiring material to hang these over a quarter of $1 million of these extremely over-costly decorations around Somerville.
Some taxpayers have taken this situation to a higher level and have already reported this to the Massachusetts Inspector General’s Office as unnecessary municipal government waste.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is an independent agency that promotes good government by preventing and detecting the misuse of public funds and public property. The Office conducts confidential investigations, improves transparency in government, helps government run more effectively and educates government employees and the public.
The OIG serves the residents of Massachusetts, state and local governments, and those who work with the government. The Office investigates crimes involving public funds and identifies waste and abuse in government spending. Anyone may call the Office’s confidential hotlines to report suspected fraud, waste or abuse of taxpayer funds: you do not have to give your name. The Office also provides trainings, manuals, guides and other assistance to help state and local agencies run more efficiently and use public funds appropriately. Information about the Office’s investigations and other activities, as well as links to free webinars, publications and other resources, are available online.
This outrageous and careless spending comes especially at a time when the Somerville Municipal Employee Association (SMEA), the hard-working backbone employees of the city, are taking to the streets demonstrating in protest of the mayor and Somerville the All American City for unfair wages and unfair treatment to Somerville families.
Somerville Municipal Employees Association (SMEA) members and other city public service workers held multiple rallies for Dignity, Justice and Respect this past week in Somerville.
SMEA members work as School Nurses, Librarians, Custodians, Clerks, Laborers and many other job titles for the Dept. of Public Works, Traffic and Parking, City Hall, Recreation, Inspectional Services, and Health Dept. and many other city departments.
“We are proud of the work we do to keep the city running efficiently,” said SMEA President Ed Halloran. “Yet over the past decade our members have seen the steady erosion of their wages. Most of our members earn only low to moderate salaries, and now many can no longer afford to remain in the city where they were raised.”
“The Mayor’s administration continues to oppose any major wage increase for our membership and has not addressed the ongoing housing crisis that affects all of us,” Halloran continued. “Less than half of the members of the SMEA now live in the City of Somerville. It’s simply tragic that our members are leaving the city for other communities that they can afford.”
Since stories like this have been recently uncovered, more and more people are coming forward with additional claims, proof and allegations regarding corruption and municipal fraud and waste of Mayor Curtatone and his administration.