EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 12, 2013

Council approves 20 for city boards

(Continued)

Frometa sat in the back of the council chambers while the council discussed his nomination, but the councilors did not invite him to the microphone, as it did with other nominees who attended the meeting.

The council also cast several 4-4 votes on Giovanni Bonet’s nomination to the Airport Commission, then finally voted to table it, which means he would be automatically approved if the council does not act on his nomination within 30 days. Bonet is the son of city Personnel Director Frank Bonet, which some councilors said could allow the mayor to pressure the father to sway the vote of his son on airport issues.

City Council President Frank Moran disagreed.

“He’s got a great education and he’s being rejected because his father works for the city,” Moran said as he put Bonet’s nomination up for vote after vote. “We’re penalizing the poor kid because of his father — not because he doesn’t have the ability to serve, not because he’s not qualified, but because of his father.”

His father jumped into the battle that erupted over the nominations last month, when he accused the Personnel Committee of “prejudice, favoritism and stupidity” in its handling of the nominations, including rejecting some nominees because they work for the city while approving others who also work for the city.

Giovianni Bonet is a clerk in the city’s Public Works Department. State law allows municipal employees to serve on local boards and commissions if they are unpaid, Frank Bonet said.

The nominations got another rough ride when the Personnel Committee reported them out to the full City Council last week, when Councilor Marc Laplante invoked a rarely used privilege to block the council from voting on them until its next meeting.

Moran reacted by scheduling last night’s special meeting.

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