Amid political controversy, Boston City Council President Ed Flynn Monday suspended councilor and Suffolk County District Attorney candidate Ricardo Arroyo for two months from his chairmanship of two of the council’s powerful committees.
The move comes as the Sept. 6 primary enters its final stretch and Arroyo — who is engaged in a bitter competition for DA with interim prosecutor Kevin Hayden — tries to address questions surrounding two sexual assault investigations reported last week by the Boston Globe. The newspaper reported that Arroyo was investigated for sexual assault in 2005 and again in 2007, but he was not charged with a crime in either matter.
“In what I believe to be in the best interest of the Boston City Council as a legislative body, I have decided to temporarily readjust committee assignments for the next sixty days," said Flynn in a letter to the City Clerk, pledging to reassess the move “with all available information."
The council president, according to council rules, exclusively appoints committee chairs and members. Flynn rescinded his endorsement of Arroyo’s District Attorney candidacy last week.
The change means that leadership of the council’s Government Operations and Redistricting Committees will change.
At-Large Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune, a freshman on the body, will chair the Government Operations Committee, which includes jurisdiction over pending legislation on the makeup of the Boston School Committee; Allston-Brighton Councilor Liz Breadon will oversee Redistricting, another contentious issue that could shift the boundaries of each district councilor’s home base through a pending readjustment process.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Arroyo said: "There are no grounds for my removal from any of my committees. What Ed Flynn is doing is undemocratic and is a clear attempt to impact redistricting. Maps are due by the start of November, sixty days away, and this is nothing more than a blatant attempt to hinder my mission as Chair to create more diverse and inclusive districts citywide."
Sources familiar with the council’s regular operations said the Redistricting committee's work has been moving slowly, but that critics have avoided going public because of the ongoing DA race.
The fallout from the allegations against Arroyo have roiled the council.
Last week, Dorchester Councilor Frank Baker, one of the body’s more conservative members, filed a subpoena to make public redacted documents related the Boston Police investigations of Arroyo.
In an apparently retaliatory action, Jamaica Plain Councilor Kendra Lara, a long-time friend and endorser of Arroyo, filed a similar subpoena related to Baker's guilty plea to a 1993 charge of marijuana possession with intent to sell. Marijuana was still illegal at that time, and Baker was not elected to the council until 2011.
“It is absurd to believe that a closed matter that didn’t even lead to charges being filed is relevant to whether or not you’re fit to serve in elected office, especially since one of the main tenets of our country is innocent until proven guilty,” said Lara in a statement on social media Monday.
“Even more surprising is that, to my knowledge, Councilor Baker is the only one of my colleagues ever to be convicted of a crime. So, if he thinks the documents he’s requesting are relevant, he must also think that documents related to his conviction for possession with intent to distribute are pertinent and should be considered by the City Council,” she added.
When contacted by GBH News, Baker declined to comment.