THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – Friday, July 5, 2019 Page 17 ASKS | FROM PAGE 16 fore the 20th A: Yeah, I wanted to have it be; I wanted to change it to the 19th, but it was too late. I think we had 48 hours where we had to have it in by. It would have been nice to have it on the 19th [June], but in the end, it really didn’t matter, because it was May 8 when they voted. Q: Are up surprised at the level of support that you received at Town Meeting on this – 34-2 supporting your nonbinding resolution to oppose privatization of custodial services? A: Yes. I was very, very proud at that Special. Everybody spoke very well. Everybody was civil. I left feeling really proud that night because of the overwhelming support. Q: So, what were you expecting on the Town Meeting vote? A: I wasn’t sure, but it went a little better than what I expected. Q: You were expecting that people would support it? A: Yeah, I was, but not to that extent [overwhelming support]. Q: Did you have concerns whether they were even going to hear it at all? A: No, I wasn’t concerned about that. And the bylaw passed, too, which is great, because now, going forward, we have a clear set of rules. Q: So, what happened to you can’t happen to anybody else? A: Yes. It won’t happen again. I was really surprised that we got that bylaw change. And it’s great, but for years we had many resolutions and never had this problem; it was never an issue. And I never thought of it the way Bob Long [former Town Moderator] said it the other night, that “All it is … is an opinion.” I never thought of it that way. You’re giving your opinion and you’re speaking to residents. And I want to make that clear – that everything I do is 100 percent for the residents. I have no hidden agendas at all – none – zero. Q: It’s a nonbinding opinion. And at Town Meetings throughout New England, there have been a lot of opinions expressed over the years in nonbinding resolutions on a variety of different issues. A: Yeah. I heard that resolutions were taken about the library and Wheelabrator. I heard about all PRIVATIZE | FROM PAGE 6 June 24: Special Town Meeting votes 34-2 to approve nonbinding resolution to oppose privatization of custodial services. June 26: After emerging from a three-hour Executive Session meeting, School Committee Member Linda Gaieski read the motion which she represented as the action taken by the kinds of other things that were discussed – the health care. The health care, I think, technically, involves the schools, just like the custodians. That’s a huge controversial thing – the health costs, that 90-10 split – but nobody wants to talk about it. Q: What did you think about the debate on Article 3, the procedures for filing resolutions, which was the second article that passed at Special Town Meeting unanimously? A: Yeah. I thought everything went great that night. Like I said, everyone was very civil, nobody raised their voice, everyone acted professionally. A bunch of residents got up and were very well spoken. It was just a great night all around. I went home feeling really good that night. I thought that the School Committee was going to reconsider after people got up and pleaded their case, but now it seems like the custodians never had a chance. Q: Did you get much feedback from the custodians? A: A bunch of them shook my hand that night. I don’t really know any of them anyway. Q: A lot of them were in the audience. If not for the resolution issue, there wouldn’t have been much discussion. A: Yeah, I have no regrets; I’m very proud of what I did, and I would do it again. Q: Now, you mention that you went to the Roby School as a student. A: Yes. Q: How many years ago? A: In the mid-70s. I think I left there in ’79 maybe. I left Roby in the Fourth Grade and they closed it about a year later. It was still open when I left to go to the Waybright School, so I went to the Roby School five years maybe – and I remember my custodian very well. He lived right near me and his name was Jim Penney; Jim Penney was the custodian and he was a great guy. Q: Is he still around? A: No. I think he’s been gone for quite a while. But it’s just amazing how I remember him from all of those years ago. Q: What do you remember best about Jim Penney? A: He was just a nice guy, and I was a nervous kid, and he used to help me out. I still remember him for being a good guy. All of my brothers and sisters committee at that May 8 meeting: “Outsource the custodial duties of the Saugus public schools with a private cleaning company due to the substantial savings accrued that will be applied to a multifaceted plan to restore and create new educational programs and to continue impact bargaining over separation and termination on June 30, 2019 based upon our discussion today.” went there, too. Q: What do you think about the intangible qualities of a custodian? A: Well, I don’t remember what grade it was, but I fell off the fire escape and hurt myself. I remember that he came over and comforted me until I got brought to the hospital. That’s one thing I really remember and will never forget. But my kids are not going to remember the cleaning company people. They’re not going to have any memories of that. I could look in my Class of ’87 yearbook and the custodians are all in there. Q: When the superintendent addressed Town Meeting on the budget, some of your members questioned him about the money that was earmarked for custodians. A: Yeah, he made it sound like he was happy with the amount of money he was getting, but I don’t know how true that is. Q: Do you have any concerns about what he said that night at Town Meeting? A: I wasn’t overly impressed with what he was saying. I don’t know what to believe. I think the town manager said the superintendent was okay with the amount of money he was receiving for the schools, but I wish we could fully fund the schools. Obviously, there are no custodians in that budget anymore. The other problem I have with the privatization of the custodians: We haven’t been shown a cost savings if there really is one. The residents, Town Meeting, everybody … we have no idea if this contract is even going to save the town any money. Q: That was a discussion that should have been taken place publicly. A: I know they can’t talk during contract negotiations, but to be totally left out of it – it was not right. The residents wanted to hear something. They are the people who pay the taxes in this town. Q: The vote the School Committee took last week – that was sort of a conceptual vote and something that should have been discussed in public. A: Yes. They should have let the public speak. The custodians didn’t get put on the agenda. Every time somebody wantGaieski, School Committee Chair Jeannie Meredith and Marc Magliozzi voted in favor of the motion to privatize custodial services. Lisa Morgante and Elizabeth Marchese – the two committee members who questioned the validity of the Executive Session in interviews with The Saugus Advocate earlier this month – voted against the privatization proposal. ed to speak about it, all we heard was they can’t talk about it. With me at Town Meeting and the residents trying to speak at the School Committee, it was ridiculous the way everybody was shut out. It’s not supposed to be like that. It’s supposed to be transparent. I believe at Town Meeting, somebody said it perfectly – that they [the School Committee] lost the people. And they really did. It’s going to be a very interesting election year. Q: Do you have any other concerns about the custodians and how they were treated? A: I don’t know what went on behind the scenes, and I wasn’t involved with the negotiations, but it seems like they weren’t treated fairly. Everything can’t be about money. You have to have a happy medium. With these guys, the kids all loved them. Teachers love them. I think the morale has got to be very low in the School Department right now. And I’m worried that we’re going to lose talented people and teachers are going to want to leave. They’re just fed up with what’s going on. That was the second group in the School Department to get canned, so I’m wondering who is next. I think the union bashing is far from over. It’s going to keep going on, which really bothers me. Who’s next? The paras? Whoever else? I’m sure there’s going to be more to come. Q: Anything else that you would like to share, either about the custodians or about your resolutions? A: I’m just really thankful that I got to read it, and like I said, I’m really proud about the Special. The June 20 School Committee meeting was not good. I watched it with my kids and my wife and it was really embarrassing, almost to the point where I was going to change the channel, and it’s not supposed to be that way. Q: You were out there supporting the campaign for the new Saugus Middle-High School? A: Yes, I was there, working in favor of it. Q: This is sort of a hypothetical question. Do you think if the custodians were on the ballot, they would get strong support? A: Oh, there is no way that the custodians would have lost their jobs if it was on the ballot. From what I can tell, the residents didn’t want it [privatization]. I did not speak to one resident in Precinct 5 who wanted it. And that’s the reason why they voted in private on May 8. They had no support – and they knew they didn’t, so they voted in private. They [the School Committee], selectmen and Town Meeting – we all work for the residents, and we need to do what the residents want. That’s my opinion. If I had people in my precinct screaming about something, that’s probably the way I’m going to vote. Q: So, you think most residents are not happy about what happened to the custodians? A: Yes. I think it’s going to be a very tough election year for everybody. Q: Are you still contemplating whether you are going to run for reelection or not? A: Yes, I need to do some soulsearching, but I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me and tell me I need to run again. That’s very encouraging, but I’m really discouraged with how hard it was for me to read that resolution. And then the custodians [losing their jobs] was like the final straw for me. I really thought after the Special that they [the School Committee] were going to vote differently; I was actually floored when I learned that the custodians had been eliminated. Q: So you are having second thoughts because of what happened to the custodians? A: I told my wife if they voted for privatization, I was done, and I still might be, but I’m not totally ruling it out. I love this town and I like to help out, but it was very discouraging. I had hoped the outcome would have been different. I forgot to mention, my two youngest are both in Drama Club, and my daughter told me she’s going to miss the custodians at her shows. That one hurt. I felt like I let everyone down at that point.

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