By Juhi Varma
The Malden City Council voted, 6–5, against releasing the minutes and associated materials of the now infamous Executive Session of October 23. The order calling for the release of these minutes was introduced at last week’s full council meeting by Ward 6 Councillor Neil Kinnon. After a lengthy debate with other members of the council and the city solicitor, the council chose to table the paper. However, soon after the council adjourned, Kinnon told the press that he did not believe the council would vote for the release of the minutes. Councillors Kinnon, Barbara Murphy, Craig Spadafora, Jim Nestor, and David D’Arcangelo were in favor of releasing the minutes; while Councillors John Matheson, Judi Bucci, Peg Crowe, Steve Ultrino, and Greg Lucey and Council President Neal Anderson voted against it.
“There is nothing in those minutes which would harm negotiations, as all of that information is indeed out,” said Kinnon after Tuesday evening’s meeting. “At this point, the question is what does the Council want to hide from the public and for what reason? It probably won’t stop the attempt to purchase Boston Steel, but their release would certainly let the public know whether a negotiation was conducted before the Requests for Proposals were advertised, as I have contended or whether they did not, as the mayor and the former council president [Judi Bucci] claim.”
The October 23 Executive Session marked the beginning of the “Battle of Boston Steel,” Kinnon’s feud with Mayor Gary Christenson over the proposed purchase of a 96,000 square foot parcel currently owned by Boston Steel. The mayor is in favor of relocating Malden’s Department of Public Work’s (DPW) yard to this location and reinventing it as an annex of the Malden City Hall by shifting certain departments there. Kinnon accused the mayor of violating Open Meeting Laws by bringing up the matter behind closed doors. Kinnon has also spoken out against the plan, calling it “financially and operationally unsound.”
According to many of the people who work there, both the current DPW yard—and to a lesser extent—the Malden City Hall Plaza, are no longer fit to serve as safe and suitable work environments. The location of the new headquarters, Malden’s new City Hall Plaza, is still under discussion.
One possible location site is the old Ruderman’s Furniture store on Ferry Street, which has been proposed by Councillor-at-Large David D’Arcangelo.