By Michael Gaffney
Let’s start from the beginning. As reported by Patrick Sergent with This Week in Worcester, March 24, 2019:
“Earlier this month, District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera expressed her displeasure with the School Department’s plan to place a full-time police officer at Claremont Academy as requested by the school’s principal Angela Plant for next school year’s budget.”
Worcester School Superintendent Maureen Binienda refused to budge on the school resource officer and Councilor Rivera was livid.
Things got worse last week when, as Sergent reports, Rivera found out she had no power over Binienda:
“In a communication from Moore to City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr., Moore said that (1) the city council has no jurisdiction over the policies, practices or programs of the school department, (2) since the WPD and the school department are both part of the legal entity ‘City of Worcester,’ they cannot make a legally binding contract with themselves — and are responsible for their own operations, and (3) both departments are free to choose to continue their agreement so long as its in their best interests.”
In sum, Rivera had it handed to her and she didn’t like it. So, she teamed up with her ally, former drug dealer and now School Committee member Dante Comparetto. He took time out of his busy schedule of calling Worcester teachers and residents racist and members of the KKK to file an order requesting that the school administration reconsider assigning a school resource officer at Claremont.
As reported by Scott O’Connell with the Worcester Telegram and Gazette on March 22, 2019, Binienda still didn’t back down, apparently she cares more about the teachers and kids than preserving her job:
“Amid calls to retract the request, Superintendent Maureen Binienda this week stood by Claremont Academy Principal Angela Plant’s request for a full-time police officer to be assigned to the middle/high school next school year…
Ms. Binienda and several School Committee members also praised the district’s school resource officer model in general at Thursday’s committee meeting, after committee member Dante Comparetto suggested the program should be scrapped. . .
City Councilor Sarai Rivera, who represents Main South, also opposed the request for an officer at Claremont, citing her worries it would lead to an unnecessary police patrol of the school. At Thursday’s meeting, Cara Berg Powers, who is running for School Committee this year, also spoke against the proposal.”
See how Rivera and Comparetto played off on each other? They even brought in Cara Berg Powers, a supporter of both, and campaigning with both, to pretend that there was some sort of collation behind ending the school resource officer and opposing Binienda.
O’Connell should have informed his readers that all three: Rivera, Comparetto, and Powers have all opposed the school resource officers since they were implemented several years ago. He also should have disclosed that Comparetto is a regular at Rivera’s church during election season, Rivera was on Comparetto’s host committee, and they campaign together:
O’Connell and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette knew the connections, but chose to misinform their readers. If they didn’t know they are the least informed group in the entire City.
Normally, this is where the story ends. But, the vindictiveness and deliberate misleading reporting only gets worse.
Rivera, in obvious competition for who can be the bigger jerk than former City Councilor now turned candidate Tony Economou, is trying to get Binienda fired because she dared disagree with her. (If you follow this blog, Economou got a city employee, Brittany Legasey fired because her roommate ran against him. You, the taxpayer, had to pay for that settlement.)
So, Rivera called in Clive McFarlane at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette to write one of his hatchet-job columns claiming that:
“A local community group . . . is asking the School Committee to fire the superintendent of schools, and to get rid of her safety officer, Rob Pezzella.”
Buried in the article is the statement that:
“The Rev. Jose A. Encarnacion, chairman of Worcester Interfaith, is also a member of the equity coalition.”
What McFarlane and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette don’t bother to tell their readers is that Encarnacion is Rivera’s husband. If they didn’t know, they should just close up shop and go home.
Here is a picture of the “lovely” couple
Quite a conflict of interest to fail to disclose there Mr. McFarlane and Worcester Telegram!
[Disclosure: McFarlane, ever the classy guy, once accused me of being a slave master, to further the ends of this same mob. Apparently, his pattern of distorting facts and engaging in outrageous statements is completely acceptable to the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.]
It appears that McFarlane, a columnist with the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, is actively conspiring with Rivera and company to get a city employee fired. Shame on the Telegram for publishing this column.
Of course Mayor Joe Petty, the Chair of the School Committee, “empathized with the group”, because he and Rivera are best buddies. Keep in mind he never wanted Binienda as the superintendent and had worked to prevent her from getting the position.
Petty allegedly told McFarland (as McFarland likes to play fast and loose with facts as shown here, I use the term allegedly and advise that Petty may or may not have actually said the following):
“Every time we are in contract negotiations, performance records come under full review,” he said.
“The superintendent will be judged by how she deals with all these issues, on whether she is taking ownership in resolving them and moving the system forward.”
If McFarland is correctly reporting Petty’s statements, it would appear that Petty is actively working with Rivera and company to either get Binienda fired or threaten a city employee with disciplinary action for doing her job.
They are all dancing the razor’s edge on this one and certainly setting the City up for another costly and embarrassing lawsuit should there be any appearance of impropriety at Binienda’s review. Keep in mind, Binienda received a 5-star review on her last evaluation.
Binienda’s response was likely longer and more in-depth than McFarlane reported:
“’They are not well informed,’ she said of coalition members.”
No, Ms. Binienda, they are all very well informed, they just hope no one else is.
They are a vicious lot of vengeful, evil, people that will destroy anyone that opposes them.
Using the McFarland farce, Rivera’s husband’s group has gone onto social media and set up an event that demands that the school committee does “not renew the superintendent’s contract.”
The Worcester Telegram and Gazette should be ashamed of itself for playing a part in Rivera’s childish game of revenge. They have published misleading garbage that has ginned up the mob to fire a woman that has the audacity to care more about the people she serves than some petty politics. No one expects Rivera, Comparetto, or McFarland to show any class, but they do expect the Telegram to report the truth.