ATTLEBORO — Council vice president and mayoral candidate Heather Porreca has lashed out at Mayor Paul Heroux on her campaign website, calling him “inept and incompetent.”
Her post came in response to the mayor’s allegation last week that the council’s refusal to authorize the purchase of new boilers for City Hall as an “emergency measure” was based on the “politics” of an election year, which he characterized as the “silly season.”
“The mayor couldn’t be more wrong and I am troubled by his statements,” Porreca said in the post at heatherforattleboro.com/do-your-job . “Unfortunately this is far from the first time he’s tried to cover up his mistakes by blaming others.”
She said Heroux failed to provide documentation for the request, such as quotes for the work, that the council needed to make a decision. It left them no choice but to reject an immediate vote under emergency measure rules, Porreca said.
The council voted 7-4 last week to reject the request as an “emergency” and will take up the matter next week as a result.
She blasted the mayor for not appearing at the meeting to explain the need for the boilers and answer questions.
“With very little information, and the absence of the Mayor to discuss the details of his proposed emergency, the council agreed the two-week delay was unlikely to have a negative impact on city workers,” Porreca said. “As is so often the case with our mayor, this measure was grossly underprepared.”
Councilors need to vet requests for cash thoroughly, Porreca said.
“The council’s responsibility is to question such requests, especially in the case of emergency measures,” she wrote. “It is our duty to ensure proper procurement procedures are followed and the need is valid.”
She said the emergency request stemmed from “ineptitude.”
“This was far from the first time the city council has had to maintain decorum and dance around the ineptitude of this mayor for the good of our city and our residents,” she said. “We quite simply needed more information before spending taxpayer money.
“There was real concern that city workers should not be punished due to the incompetence of their boss.”
Heroux fired back.
“I thought ‘nice matters,’” he said, referring to one of Porreca’s campaign slogans. “‘Incompetence’ is not very nice especially when it was a city employee in my office who did the actual work of preparing the communication and supporting documentation.”
He said “we’ll see” in response to Porreca’s contention that the failure to vote was “unlikely to have a negative impact on city workers.”
Heroux said no mistakes were made and that his request mirrored other emergency requests including one former mayor Kevin Dumas made in 2015 that did not include quotes.
“The fact is that the communication was a copy and paste with some edits from the 2015 fire department boiler replacement,” he said. “It was the same request, same issue, same documentation, different building.”
Heroux said a contractor invoice was provided to the council which recommended replacement of both boilers.
He noted that the council was aware an emergency measure was being sent prior to the meeting and they could have requested his presence if they thought they needed more information.
In addition, he took issue with Porreca’s contention that it’s the council’s responsibility to make sure procurement procedures are followed.
“While they can do that, they never have in the past,” Heroux said. “It has been the mayor’s office that makes sure that proper procurement is followed.”
And he argued the council should know that he can’t send a request for an appropriation unless he has three quotes, which he said they have not requested in the past.
“The bottom line is that I’m not allowed to send anything to the council unless I have three quotes. If I didn’t have three quotes, I’d be breaking the law.”