Five of Hyde Park Councillor Ricardo Arroyo’s colleagues on Wednesday asked for him to be reinstated as chair of committees overseeing redistricting efforts and government operations.
City Council President Ed Flynn weeks ago temporarily removed Arroyo from the chairmanships after the Boston Globe reported on sexual assault allegations leveled against him when he was a teenager. No charges were ever filed and Arroyo, who was a candidate for Suffolk County district attorney at the time and ended up losing to interim DA Kevin Hayden, maintained he was never told of the allegations.
Arroyo’s removal had a time limit of 60 days. The move drew outcry from fellow city councillors, who said Flynn was unfairly treating Arroyo. Flynn had rescinded his endorsement of Arroyo for DA and also removed him as vice president of the council.
On Wednesday, Arroyo joined his colleagues in requesting his return to his positions, saying there was a rush to judgment after the Globe stories.
“I think it goes without saying that this process frankly lacked due process,” he said, adding that Flynn had not spoken to him about the matter. “That’s disappointing, frankly, from a leadership perspective.”
Jamaica Plain Councillor Kendra Lara said Flynn removed Arroyo unilaterally and against the wishes of the majority of the council, even though Arroyo didn’t break any laws or rules, and wasn’t under investigation.
The removal was another example of unequal and unfair treatment of councillors of color, she added.
Councillors Julia Mejia, Ruthzee Louijeune, Gigi Coletta and Brian Worrell joined Lara and Arroyo in requesting Arroyo’s reinstatement and a discussion about how councillors are removed from chairmanships.
Flynn said he has an “open door” policy as Council president and he is in his office five days a week. “I haven’t taken a day off in five years,” he said, adding that they can have a discussion about Arroyo’s positions when an order going over council rules goes through the committee process.
Flynn’s order for a meeting on council rules was spurred by a chaotic City Council meeting on Aug. 31, when there were expletives and name-calling in the chamber.
During the Sept. 14 meeting, which had a more subdued atmosphere, Flynn said, “Our actions as a body were unacceptable.”
He did not single any councillor out, and he asked the clerk to read the rules of conduct, which say councillors “shall not use unbecoming, abusive, or non-parliamentary language and shall avoid personalities.”
At the Aug. 31 meeting, Councillor Tania Fernandes Anderson swore in a speech that veered from a defense of Arroyo to a “mistake” she made but did not elaborate on, and included her playing a voicemail left for her by a white supremacist. Fernandes Anderson did not attend the Sept. 14 meeting.
Separately, Councillor Frank Baker, who opposed Arroyo’s DA candidacy, ended his Aug. 31 speech by saying, “If a predator continues to roam, the killing field only becomes larger.”
During the same meeting, Lara said she’s received racist threats sparked by City Councillor At-Large Erin Murphy’s sister Darragh and Lara had asked Flynn to speak with the councillor about her sister. Lara alleged that Murphy told Flynn she would not get her sister to back off.
Councillor Murphy, in an interview with the Reporter after the Sept. 14 Council meeting, disputed Lara’s comments about what transpired.
Councillor Murphy said she does not have a relationship with her sister and hasn’t spoken with her since December.
“I can’t force other people to do things,” Councillor Murphy said, adding that she was willing to speak with Lara about the issue.