MALDEN — A recent Fox 25 Boston news report caused quite a stir during the City Council’s Sept 24 meeting.
Last week, the news agency ran both a written and televised report detailing the potential of a new drug addiction recovery center in Malden. The account, according to several councilors, got some facts wrong, including the exact level of the city’s involvement in bringing such a facility to Malden.
The charge is currently being led by Malden Overcoming Addiction, which is in the process of seeking state grant funds for the project. MOA’s president, Paul Hammersley, was hired by the city last year as its Addition Recovery Resource Specialist, a position that was newly added in the fiscal year 2019 budget. Hammersley still serves in both positions, likely leading to some confusion.
After the Fox report ran, Councilor John Matheson submitted a resolution, stating “that the city of Malden shall not pursue” such a facility without first having the council’s Citizen Engagement Committee holding a public meeting on the matter.
“I care deeply about this issue,” said Matheson.
After several councilors pointed out that it is MOA, not the city, that is conducting the fundraising efforts for this project, Matheson withdrew the paper.
Some on the council saw this resolve as Matheson politicizing this issue, with Councilor Debbie DeMaria call the matter “shameful.”
“It’s people’s lives that you’re playing with, Councilor Matheson,” said Councilor Ryan O’Malley. “I can’t believe that you decided to throw a non-profit under the bus.”
Another drug-related matter came up earlier in the meeting, as Police Chief Kevin Molis addressed rumors that his department was no longer investigating drug-related crimes.
“Some have said that this police department has abandoned the task of drug enforcement. That is absolutely not true,” he said.
He continued, calling the hearsay a “false obstacle” and “harmful to public trust” in his department.
Molis gave an example of a major arrest in June of person who was trafficking Fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid which, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. He also said he has expanded the number of detectives of drug-related crimes.
“If you need us, call us,” said Molis. “We’ll help wherever we can.”